My encounter with a ghost

'I'm the ghost of Christmas yet to come. I am here to show you something. A mistake you are about to make.' it...

Areeb Mahamadi September 23, 2012
I was 28 when I saw this dream. My marriage had just been arranged by my parents; something, having grown up around, I didn’t give a second thought to. I went to sleep untroubled.

There was pitch black darkness everywhere ─ like a heavy blanket over everything. Then the shroud lifted to illuminate me sitting on a wooden chair at a small, round, wooden table with everything around me still completely black. Across the table from me there was another chair, and another occupant; a large cloaked and hooded ghostly figure, whose hidden eyes seemed to be fixed upon me.
“Who are you?”

I asked, my voice travelling like an echo through the air.

The spectre spoke without moving,
“I am the ghost of Christmas yet to come. I am here to show you something. A mistake you are about to make.”

“A mistake?”

I said, as I felt the darkness of my surroundings swirling.

The spectre raised its draped hand and swished it through the still air, the sound crystal clear. Something moved in the darkness beyond our table and my eyes shot towards it. I glanced back at the spectre. It, too, was staring at the same point. Suddenly a single, disembodied voice came through the darkness, extraordinarily loud and clear.
“You’ll live a happy life, boy! A nice, beautiful wife with four children, a big house close to your parents', I’d say. You need a job, you tell me. You've got your life all set in Karachi!”

A rich, jovial laugh followed this, resounding from that place out in the gloom of my surroundings.

I looked at the spectre. It was facing me again.

It asked,
"Who do you think that was?"

“Is that something from my future?”

“Who do you think that was? Speak what comes to your mind.”

My eyes sought out that place from where the voice had originated. I thought and answered after a while.
“It sounded like some stereotypical, traditional uncle telling his nephew just what his life will be like”, I said.

I looked at the spectre to see if my answered satisfied. Its hooded head shifted to look at me more directly.

I was asked,
“What significance did that intercourse hold in your mind ─ what did it say to you?”

This time I answered sooner.
“The death of individuality and the will to live our own lives our own way. It showed the stereotypes, the norms, whatever you’d like to call it, that now govern our lives.”

The ghost raised its arm and waved it once more through the air. I suddenly became aware of the unsettling silence in the darkness that surrounded us. Before I could think about this any further I became aware of the woman.

A short distance from us a bench had appeared, upon which, in an unnatural light, sat a woman. Her head was bowed in what looked like grief, her gaze upon the floor. A lock of her hair fell and remained suspended before her face, but she didn’t raise her hand to move it. Suddenly, a disembodied hand appeared in front of her and shoved something into her mouth. She obediently accepted it. Her face was hidden from me. The light faded and the woman disappeared.
“Who do you think that was?”

I slowly detached my transfixed eyes from the spot the woman had appeared and looked at the spectre before answering.
“It was a woman silently and helplessly facing repression. It might quite literally have been a prison, with her being mistreated and forced to obey her superiors.”

I paused, then added,
“That looked like a man’s hand that appeared.”

“What did it say to you?”

I looked straight at where I believed the spectre's eyes must have been.
“It shows me the obedient woman ─ the woman of our society who has found satisfaction with less than what she deserves.”

The spectre paused to allow my words to settle before it spoke.
“Those were fragments of your future. I will now show you more.”

The draped arm waved through the air once more and like life being breathed into the surroundings, a scene materialised.

From the corners of my eyes, I could see a multitude of colours come to life; people moving around ─ jewellery and watches glinting and the buzz of chatter ─ but my eyes remained on the centre bench in the spotlight upon which sat the very same woman; head bowed, but this time covered with a rich red bridal gown.

I saw the groom sitting next to her as a jovial uncle boomed to him,
“You’ll have a good office job with me, son, and that’ll be more than enough to support this beautiful bride and children!”

This was followed by that same rich, deep laugh. It was an occasion I’d witnessed many times before, but now seeing it through different eyes; the woman staring at the ground is what I had seen as grief; the man listening to his life being mapped out for him.

It was an arranged wedding.

I suddenly felt a wave of suffocation.

The spectre spoke to me.
“This is your wedding.”

Something inside me twisted and the sound of the scene around me seemed to dull out. I spoke only when I was able to tear my gaze from the groom and... from myself.

I said to the spectre,
“I understand. The marriage in our society, it’s but a symbol of everything that is killing our individuality.”

"I have one last thing to show you," it said.

This time the spectre only turned and looked in a certain direction, by which time the scene around us had dissolved to nothingness. A smaller, quieter scene replaced it, and the spectre and I looked on in silence.

It was a family room. A man and woman were sitting on a sofa laughing as two young children rolled in glee on the carpeted floor, next to an open board game. The man took the woman’s hand in his as he smiled. The children quickly returned to the game and moved their pieces before their parents could catch them.

The spectre turned to me and said,
“That is your future family.”

I turned to the spectre, confused.
“I don’t understand. I thought you wanted to show me that the arranged marriage, that is the norm in our society, only hurts us. If I end up happy with my arranged marriage, then I don’t understand why you showed me all of this.”

The spectre turned to me, raised its draped hands and pushed back the hood to reveal my own face beneath. As I stared transfixed at my own face the words that came out struck me like none ever had.
“This is why I came to you. If there is one thing you must learn, it is that even if fate deals you a good hand, it does not mean you give up your power to think.”

Read more by Areeb here or follow him on Twitter @areebmahamadi 

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Areeb Mahamadi An A' Level student at the Karachi Grammar School. His interests include acting, elocution, writing, public speaking and most recently, participation in the Model United Nations. He tweets @areebmahamadi
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Sedah | 11 years ago | Reply This is pure speculation but is the hooded figure(Death) warning the narrator she will die if she goes with the arranged marriage? After all, the power to think isn't given to fellow Muslim women since they submit themselves to a man's demands to develop an arranged marriage.
Morning Glory | 11 years ago | Reply Utterly confusing !
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