Categories: Non-Fiction

Mehreen Farhan

Part 1

We used to live in a remote area in Iraq. Our apartment was high up, overlooking a short mountain range starting off not too far ahead.

It used to get lonely often. So staring out of the window became a morning ritual. I would wake up, brew myself a hot cup of tea or coffee, and sit by the window. I watched the world go by, with no knowledge of someone sitting far up, watching them. 

The people around were nice. But the problem was, there were very few people around. It used to come as a wonder because the apartments we lived in were very good, with everything of need just a walking distance away. Yet, not many people occupied those buildings. 

The doors to the apartments were heavy and thick. Our floor had 3 other apartments but only one of them was occupied. It was very silent. Sometimes it was depressingly silent. I had to find ways to keep myself happily busy. 

But here’s the catch. When I used to wake up with my husband gone off to work, I almost daily sensed someone. It was as if, someone is sitting in the lounge. Someone is around. It happened daily. Not once, not twice, not on a special occasion. It happened daily. 

I used to shrug off that feeling daily and divert my mind. After all, if I let those thoughts wander in my mind, staying there would become difficult. 

The days were long and sometimes nights were longer. I sought refuge in books and I read them in abundance. Sleep would be far away and I would stay up in the wee hours of the night, reading, constantly reading, hoping sleep will creep up on me. 

And as if on cue, when sleep did came, someone in the upper apartment would decide to make some noise. It seemed they had a kid. A hyperactive kid who would play ball or something late at night. I imagined what it would be like for parents: a child who wouldn’t sleep and tired parents telling him to go and offload some of his energy by playing or whatever. 

It happened almost daily. At 2am. It took me a while to note the pattern and I complained to my husband about it. I told him that he should go talk to them and request them to keep it down.

“Go talk to who?” He asked me.

“The people who live upstairs. I can’t sleep. The child creates a racket at 2am daily. Is it a decent time?”

As what he said next, chilled me to the bone.

“Upstairs who? No one lives there…”

To be continued.

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