The Many Voices
As an introvert, I saw no difficulty in dwelling at home throughout the lockdown of South Africa. I saw no inconsistency in my life, as it had been this way for as long as I can remember. A life occasionally devoid of social interaction that fit my personality flawlessly. I thought I would be fine, however, something about these times of uncertainty carried a permanent modification to my personality I didn't even know existed. As of recent times, the outbreak has slowly infiltrated into ordinary life. I feel as though this may be the norm for the next few months if not years. Still, this is as of the current moment. When the outbreak first hit South Africa, and all the country was quarantined in a national lockdown, very powerful emotions began to entrap me. I would often ask the question "What if?" Over and over again. This may have been the start of the turmoil. Everyone has had a different experience through quarantine and, at the time, mine was no different. Before online school started, it was quite a benign time for my family. Even though things had changed, even though the world felt entirely different, we continued to function as normal. While we all knew in our heart that life would never be the same, we tried to live as we usually did. A life somewhat free of worry and stress. At least, that was what I thought I could endure. Days passed and sleep did not come easy. I knew it could not have been the darkness (as light emitting from the city constantly penetrated my room through the hours of the night) but something always felt unusual as the weeks prolonged. A deep sense of disturbance crammed my emotions. I fell silently numb as if my bones became stone. I was chained to my bed for what felt like an eternity. This continued for quite a while, me surrounded by the faint lights of the city, the distant roaring of passing motor vehicles; and my own breath. My thoughts, impressions, chased back to the question "What if?" Followed by an array of thoughts regarding loved ones and humanity. "Why am I thinking this?", "I have never thought about this before!" I thought in skepticism as the nights unfolded. Sure, I admit that I do think like this at times, but never this deep. Never this intense. Never to the point where I want to forget everything I initially felt. At first, I wasn't particularly shocked at my sudden change in personality. Perhaps this was the first mistake? Ignoring what I dismissed as mere human nature slowly transcended into a state of hallucinations. While the days would be doable, the night brought with it a demonic and alarming terror. Okay, perhaps this may be exaggerated, but if I can assure myself but one thing; it would be that I had changed forever. The days were quiet, the school went on online - which was a focus mission in itself - and the world seemed calm. At least, that was how it initially felt. Days became repetitively boring with limits on everything one would usually do in a day. But that was the day; a time of light and conversation, or for a typical human, a chance to spend hours watching hilarious videos and scrolling through social media. Daytime made sense. It was trivial but calming. The same could not be said about the night. I would wake up to strange, black figures standing in the corner of my room, peeking through my window (which was unusual considering I live on a high floor). They would be encapsulated in a hollow, yet deep, black that seemed both transparent and dense. I would be completely still, as though my body dismissed the feeling of movement in those moments. At the same time, it was as though those figures spoke to me. Not directly but, in a way, telepathically. Many voices would ignite in my head. Mere whispers at most, but I can intimately remember one darkness when I heard a clear voice in my head. What seemed to be me, just deeper. The voices' whispers seemed to reflect either: sides of myself I was unaware of, or the sentiments I may have struggled to suppress. Either way, as of now, I don't seem particularly fazed by this anymore. More so because they don't seem to divulge themselves as often as they used to, though, the figures synonymous to black holes still occasionally show their faceless face at times. One can easily write this off as sleep paralysis, but I felt something deeper happen those nights. Almost as though a mystery within myself was unlocked, and then again so in later nights. This was something much deeper than simply a paralyzed state of fear. I almost knew that it was a fearsome manifestation of my worries and concerns. In these times of uncertainty, people do not have all the answers. People start to worry about things they had never previously thought of. This exact scenario has happened to quite a few people I'm sure. In the end, I am thankful that I got to understand more about myself. What, or rather who, my personality is like. And, perhaps those voices aren't all to come?