I am inside the almost total darkness in a liquid cell. I do not know how I got here. I do not remember anything of my life up to now, who I am, how I lived. To be a prisoner, perhaps I have committed a crime. Maybe this is my punishment.
I must remember the past to find out what I did to end up here. Unfortunately I have no memories. Darkness covers my mind. My first thought is “Perhaps I have died”. But I know I am alive. I breathe normally, I can move my hands, my feet in my liquid cell.
“Who am I? How did I end up here?” This thought wanders through my mind. Whenever I open my eyes, I see some faint colours, colours that I cannot discriminate. At times suffocating, I want to cry, to shout out loud. Not so much to ask for help, but to hear the sound of my voice, help me recall who I am. But in vain. The more I try the less sound I make.
How strange life is! Suddenly, out of nowhere, to be imprisoned, not to remember who I am or what I have done!
My hands shift again. My cell is strange. Beyond the moisture, the walls are strange. It isn’t concrete; it is as if they’re made of rubber.
Now I start to feel more afraid… Probably I am in some mental hospital in a semi-conscious state, worried that if I come round I’ll begin beating on the walls.
“So then I’ve gone mad? Is that it?” The thought takes a stronger hold. Unfortunately this is the only explanation. A shame, because I thought when you went mad, you would be in a beautiful place, with music, with colours, able to live every moment as if it were eternal.
Immersed in my darkness, suddenly I hear sounds like someone talking, something being said. Perhaps it was all in my mind. After all, in the state I have found myself in anything is possible.
A little while later I hear the same sound again. It’s a woman’s voice. It must be coming from the neighbouring cell. I try to shout to her, talk to her, and tell her something, anything. But still I remain voiceless, without even hearing myself.
The woman continues to talk; now I can hear it more clearly. However, the language she speaks is unknown to me. I have never heard it before. Nevertheless, I try to listen as carefully as I can. I will be happy if I understand what she says.
After a while, I hear another voice too. It’s a man’s voice this time. It is quite loud, sounding too harsh on my ears, not allowing me to understand anything.
Is the guard shouting about something that has happened, something that has angered him?
How much I would like him to come to my cell, to see him a little, to be able to talk to him to find out who I am and how I ended up here. But the guard is just speaking with the woman in the next cell. To be precise, shouting. I hear him shouting loudly.
Suddenly, there is a deafening noise. I pass out. I do not remember anything else.
I am brought round by the crying of the woman in the adjacent cell. I try again to talk to her, to say something, to hear my voice at least. Unfortunately, I only hear the woman continuing to cry.
The only thing I manage to do is to open my eyes to see the usual strange pictures with strange colours.
I do not know what drugs they could be giving me, I do not know if all these things are real or dreams we have when fainting. I know that lately, when I open my eyes, the colours have become a little more intense. However, I cannot differentiate between them, and I do not remember their names. Only the flashes that I see are distinguishable, but these too may be a figment of my imagination.
I look around me again. Again I cannot see anything, not even my cell door. Now I hear another noise — intense in monotonous repetition. I have been hearing it now for some time, but nowit is much louder. The sound pierces my ears, does not allow me even to think, does not stop at all.
This sound must be some method of treatment. If it is to test my strength, then yes, they have succeeded. I have to overcome it. Try to ignore it, to gather my thoughts, on who I am, and why they are keeping me here.
I get up with difficulty. My body hurts everywhere. I probably hurt myself before, when I fainted. I proceed towards the cell door but as much as I look, as much as I grope my way around, I cannot find it. “If only there were at least a little more light in here” I think. My thoughts are interrupted by the guard’s voice. He speaks again to the woman. Now his voice sounds a little clearer. I hear only scattered phrases, words such as “will not …” “never …” “… what do you think.” I hear the woman crying, begging him. The guard now sounds angrier, shouting loudly, so loudly that I cannot make sense of the words. The woman cries loudly, sometimes I hear her begging him. I start to shout loudly myself: “Stop!! STOP!! “. My cell is violently shaken by the same strange noise. Again I faint.
Now there is silence. I come round a little dazed. Naturally the loud noise continues to pierce my ears. Nevertheless, I manage to make out the argument, the scattered words of the jailer with the prisoner next to me.
I make another attempt to talk to her. She does not answer. I shout out to her, but again nothing. I get nervous, I get claustrophobic. I feel as though the walls are bearing down on me. I can’t take it anymore! I shout out “Who am I? Where am I?”
I begin to strike hard against the walls falling on them with all my strength. I do not care if I bleed; I do not care about anything except knowing why they have me in this cell. I am screaming, beating the walls. “Can anybody hear me?”
An hour later, I do not have any more strength. I lie down on the floor, and start crying. Someday I will learn what has been done; only I do not know when. With these thoughts, lying on the warm floor of my cell, I fall asleep.
I wake up again with a start. My cell has started to shake again. I stand up, not knowing exactly why. Perhaps to better understand what is happening. And then, I hear voices again. Many voices. Speaking quickly, I cannot understand what they are saying. I do not even have the strength to cry. Fortunately there are no more earthquakes, or whatever it was that made my cell shake.
Now the voices can be clearly heard. Very clearly! I hear the voice of a man say: ‘Scalpel’, ‘Incision’. I hear the sound that the skin makes as it is being cut! I hear the phrase, “at least save the baby!”
And I understand! All my queries disappear immediately! Dissolved as if they had never existed! Even the monotonous noise I heard has now stopped!
I am smiling. I smile ironically, because I have finally decided not to take part in this “game”. I have decided to abstain. Decided not to become ME. To stay whatever I am now. Not to come with you. Not to become a child of a dead mother. Not to become a child of an imprisoned father. I see only my cell illuminated brightly. I see two huge hands taking me out into the light! I hear the doctor saying emotionally: “A pity the child was born dead. A shame – it has such a beautiful smile on its face.”
Story by: Konstantinos Pamfiliss
Translated by: Laurence Pilfold
Illustration: Sofia Kyrisoglou