The Unwanted Visitor

by Syed Sheraz Anjum
(Islamabad, Pakistan)

'An unwanted visitor can make you mad!’. The statement looks unrealistic but believe me! If your head is throbbing with pain and you have taken a pill to kill your ill, wishing to be alone and quiet for some time, and your least expected acquaintance arrives at your doorstep with his superfluously informal manners, your ordeal can lead you to an involuntary madness.

Lying in the bed in my room, I was tossing and turning, fighting with the excruciating headache. The pain-killer had not started to show its effect. I had switched off the lights and had drawn the curtains, just to be aloof from the external world and its noisy life. Even the ticking of the wall-clock seemed to be like regular and constant explosions. “Is there anything more agonizing than the headache?” I had thought.

Abusing to the manufacturers for making ineffective pain-killers, and to those boisterous children, playing right in front of my house whose muffled shrieks were trespassing even from the closed doors and windows intensifying my miserable condition, I was about to scream in pain when the door-bell rang. That ringing of the bell seemed to me as if I had suddenly been implanted on the noisy railway station where a cruising train was passing, blowing its deafening trumpet mercilessly.

“No…! There is nobody…! Nobody at the door…! Nobody can be at the door at this hour…! I have just imagined the ringing…” I was trying to appease myself as there was no one else at home except me to attend to the call that day, when the door-bell rang for a longer period this time, bringing me right into the reality. How imploringly had I wished that whoever was there at the door, might go away thinking nobody at home but the wish remained a wish as usual and the visitor, this time glued his finger to the bell and forgot to remove it. The relentless piercing sound of the bell was enough even to stir the dead-bodies in the graveyard.

I, holding my head in my hands, bringing in my full strength to work, got up. Searching for the slippers in darkness, I hit my knee against the corner table. A sudden pang brought tears to my eyes instantly. One hand on my head, the other on my knee, I groped in the darkness for the door.

Utterly annoyed, I opened the door and there he was. An old, forgotten, least desirable acquaintance, smiling and expecting me to embrace him. I, already in a pathetic condition was paralyzed…unable to move…unable to speak… and even unable to breathe and he, in a wild fervor, lunged forward suddenly and embraced me, giving me a bear hug of my life, squeezed me to show his terrorizing affection. Pain in head, pain in knee and now my whole body was in the grasp of my unexpected, unwanted and forgotten friend (fiend would be appropriate), who, over-flowing with torturous enthusiasm, was bent upon showing his unrequited love, did not let me go until my every limb churned in agony and every bone begged for mercy.

I was on the verge of fainting when at last my lifeless body was released. The ordeal had not finished yet. Holding me from my shoulders, he shook me as if I was made of plastic, gave three or four heavy blows at my back, just to revive the informality. For the first time in my life, I came to know the meaning of spinning head and actually saw the stars dancing around my face. Resting his hands on my shoulders, he said with ever-increasing exuberance “Hi man! Remember your old friend? At last I have found time to meet you! Sorry, could not manage it earlier but see, I have spare time now and would spend rest of the day with you as you once desired!” “Could I desire such a thing” I thought and opened my mouth to say something but he stopped me and said “No, no! Please, don’t bother yourself with formalities, don’t open the drawing room, I would make myself comfortable in your room and don’t worry about dinner, I know you eat late, so do I”

The pains in my body suddenly increased, darkness spread in front of my eyes and ears started ringing with indistinguishable sounds “what the hell is happening with me…, what sin have I committed for which I am being punished this way…, this man would drive me mad…!” I thought. My condition was just like an innocent man who had been sentenced to death without having been given any chance of defence and whose fate was in the hands of a bloody hangman who was delaying the execution just for the sake of enjoyment. I was led inside by him in my own house like a lamb to the slaughter. I followed him unwillingly, giving directions towards my bedroom. He entered in my room as he was the owner and I, a visitor. Switching on all the lights and opening all the windows instantly, he sprawled himself on my bed without even bothering to remove his shoes. The darkness and quietness which I had hardly been able to establish in my room before his august arrival, were suddenly replaced by blinding light and deafening noise making me as sick as a parrot. Rolling over to his side, he reached for the stereo, turned it on, set its volume on maximum and said with ominous cheerfulness “let’s have some rocking, jolting music”. The increasing headache, teasing pangs in the knee, unbearable light, intolerable shrieks of children playing outside and now that maddening sound of the deck with his tormenting informal manners reduced me to the status of living corpse. Standing transfixed with half open eyes, hands on the ears, I was like S.T Coleridge’s regretful Ancient Mariner, experiencing the punishment by his imaginary character of Life in Death.

He, lying on my bed, resting his head on my pillow and moving his feet with the rhythm of the music, was saying something to me. His words had become muffled. My sight had become blurred. “Am I to bear all this? Do I have to die this way? I can’t stand it anymore” I thought and a strange feeling started to spread over me. Frenzy perhaps! My body started to tremble with rage. Fists clasped, eyes bulged out, nostrils widened, mouth stretched to unleash a flurry of incoherent abuses. He, watching a sudden change in me, sat upright in the bed. I, like an uncontrollable spirit, started to scream at his face, throwing at him every item of the room, which I could hold of. He, flabbergasted, dumbfounded, sprang to his feet, ran towards the door, shouting and screaming hysterically as if he had seen a ghost. I ran after him like a beast behind a prey. He, extremely frightened, crossed the door with a lightening speed, not looking back even once and vanished outside leaving the door ajar. When I reached at the door, breathless, gasping for the air, there was no trace of him. I slammed the door, returned to my room with lethargic steps, closed the windows again, turned off the stereo, switched off the lights and fell on the bed with a thud, not to rise until next day. I don’t know, for how long I remained in that condition.

The exhaustion had left me drowsy, as if drunk as a skunk. When the next day, I opened my eyes, I saw tense faces of my family members, surrounding me. I was informed that due to the incident of the previous day I had been declared as a possessed creature, a ghost-ridden man. It took me several hours to satisfy my family of my normality and sanity. I had to relate my terrible ordeal to my family several times before I could convince them that an unwanted, least expected visitor, displaying torturous informality, can make a person already suffering with pains, a Lunatic. I am happy; at least my lunacy has saved me from that acquaintance for ever and I never saw him again.

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