I had a dream just few minutes ago that I will likely never forget. It was scarier than any dream I’ve ever had, and it was strangely relevant to the happenings of my real life at the moment. Let me tell you the story of my dream that woke up the fear of death in my mind.
It is almost never that I write about religion. Chances are, this post will turn out to be not about religion as well. But to give you a context of what’s about to come, I should write a bit of what our religion says about life after death.
Without writing too much about it, for I may not be able to write as accurately in English as I remember in Bangla, Islam — the religion I follow — says mankind has to answer for all their deeds in their life. Death will only begin what’s to come afterward, and when that journey begins, the door to forgiveness is closed forever.
It is why all prophets have conveyed the message of Allah and said to offer prayers to Him. There is bone-chilling details in Al-Quran and Al-Hadith about life after death for those who have committed sins, did not offer prayer to Allah, and has not been forgiven by Him. In other words, hell has been portrayed in all the religious texts in a way that draws a clear picture on the back of your mind.
Most religious texts indicate that if a dying person’s ultimate destiny is hell, it will all begin with their death. The angel of death will appear as a horrifying figure, and will take his life in a way that nobody can even imagine while alive.
Whether you believe these things or not is completely up to you. As a muslim by heart, I believe these. And when I remember these, for a period of time I feel the fear of afterlife and regret not leading a much better life according to the rules of Islam.
That is to say, like many other (yeah I had to say that to justify!) I don’t say prayers five times a day. I know I should. But I’m not that religious person just yet.
So What Happened?
A good part of my childhood was spent in an islamic institute. There are three parts of those institutes. For better understanding of the reader, I’ll just say like this: According to the structures of the institute I went to, you go to the third floor to learn the A B C of Arabic (Arabic letters). When you’ve got a good grasp of reading Arabic, you graduate to the ground floor, where you start to read Al-Quran more efficiently. The third part is optional and some people choose to never get into there. I didn’t.
During my time in the third floor, the head teacher of that section was like a father to me. Later in the life my father, and eventually my family, would become intimate with him. He looked out to me like his own child. He has even helped us in various family matters where he didn’t have to at all. I grew up in partly in his guidance and later in the life he helped my whole family many times.
Later during my study at the institute, I graduated to the ground floor where I learned to read Al-Quran better. In that section, I had another head teacher. Needless to say there were more teachers, but we all loved and feared the head teacher most. He was kind, supporting, forgiving, but at times he could be very strict in following rules. In the end, all of us liked him a lot.
You Still Didn’t Say What Happened
Around evening yesterday, my mom told me that my head teacher from the third floor of the institute had been released from the hospital with ‘no hope’ to survive. He has been sick for a very long time now, and I have visited him a couple of times in the past, albeit for my own necessity. When mom told me that he would be going to his village today, and there’s a chance we might never be able to see him, I didn’t care much. Sure, in my mind, I prayed that he get well. But I was kind of tired and I didn’t want to go out after the long, hot day in the first day of summer.
My mom blamed me a lot and I, like the jerk I am, did not listen to a word.
When I went to sleep around 12:30am, everything was okay. The light was turned on because I was feeling too tired to get up and turn off the light. Unlike most other nights, my eyes became blurry and I fell asleep.
As you can guess, it wasn’t an easy sleep. I had a dream.
I saw the institute in my childhood days. A lot has changed over the past decade or so, but everything I saw in my dream felt like I jumped into a portal as soon as I had fallen asleep and I was back into my childhood.
But no, I wasn’t in the third floor. I was in the ground floor. And I did not remember a thing from the present day.
It was like any other day in the institute. I found myself going for the bathroom in the middle of the day. The sun was shining outside. I don’t know if I was thinking anything while I was walking, but shortly I discovered I had entered the room of my head teacher at the first floor. His room was adjacent to the entrance of the bathrooms. It’s more or less like I made a wrong turn and went inside of his room instead.
Funny that I don’t remember making that mistake ever — not by anyone.
The head teacher appeared to be asleep. I tried to tip-toe my way out, but he gently asked, “Who is it?”
I became embarrassed, not afraid, for the stupid mistake I had made. But I came honest about this. I said “I wanted to go to the bathroom, but I entered this room by mistake.”
He told me it was alright and that I could go ahead and leave the room. I left.
On my way out of the bathroom, I noticed a strange, small crowd of fellow students gathered around the area of performing ablution. It wasn’t a rare glimpse but they all had this strange, jaw-dropped face on them that I got curious and went ahead to see what it was they were looking at.
I could not believe my eyes. In fact, I forgot anything and everything.
(My body just chilled while writing this) Ahead of them, at the corner of the building where there is an empty space that goes all the way to the top of the building, there were three small-sized creatures. They were about the size of a 4-year-old child, they were wrapped up in some sort of colored cloth (I don’t remember what color), and they had this small, like the size of a tennis ball, weird, freaky head on top of their body. Their heads and faces were enough to glue our eyes on them so we pretty much forgot to look at their rest of the body.
That was until we realized this was supernatural and we had to seek shelter.
The first thing that came to my mind was to run toward the head teacher who was lying at an adjacent room. Knowing that he was a scholar, I assumed he would be able to safeguard me from these creatures. I don’t know why I had the feeling that those creatures were there for me, not for some random wrath of God.
I ran as fast as I could and upon entering his room, without even asking for permission or hesitating for a moment, I got into his bed and covered myself with his bed sheets. I only remember telling him that he needed to protect me.
But I couldn’t be there for much long. Loud arabic recitation, likely of the Al-Quran, started in the room and I began to realize something was happening to the head master. His body was suddenly becoming hot and I just assumed those creatures were taking out the life from him.
I didn’t know what to do. I just kept shivering. I didn’t want to close my eyes. I was looking at the soft, white bed sheet that I had covered myself in. It wasn’t long before it was my turn.
I do not remember any touch from them. I remember my body heating up, as if fever was rising at an insane rate. The recitation of the arabic words was louder than ever. My body kept heating up. I was realizing this was the end. I was not ready. For a slight moment, my present — from outside the dream — came back to my mind at that time. I started feeling bad about myself. I did not ask for forgiveness from Allah while I could. My continued “Forgive me Allah” in my mind felt useless even to me. It was time. I could not run. I could not ask for forgiveness. The doors have been closed.
Even in that situation, I was wondering why there was no pain. I tried to breathe and I was able to breathe. Apart from heating up the body, I did not feel any touch from those creatures. I know death will be painful. Even Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said himself that death was painful. Something was happening to me. But for a moment, it did not feel like death. Where’s the pain? Where’s the asphyxia?
My body kept heating. The arabic recitation in the room continued. I had a feeling my teacher — lying next to me — had died. And it was my turn. I did not want to give up hope. I did not want to die. I needed to purify myself before I could meet my maker. I didn’t want to face an unfortunate afterlife.
I woke up in my bed.
My body was not as heated as it was in my dreams. I was not sweating like I was in my dreams. It’s like I had gone back in time with a very small memory — the memory that says I’m not ready yet — and faced something so horrifying, I did not know what to think for a full minute.
Slowly, it all began to come back to me. Bad dreams aren’t a rare thing. But why was this dream related to the institute from my childhood? What was the connection?
As my memory began to come back to me, I realized what was the connection. It’s got to be the sickness of my head teacher from the third floor. But then I wondered, why did I see my head teacher from the ground floor?
Just to let you know, the head teacher from the ground floor section has passed away years ago. It might have been over 8 years since he died. And I saw him in my dreams, dying right next to me, in the hands of creatures that are far scarier than anything I’ve ever seen on movies and illustrations. Why is that?
Time Is Running Out
It is, at this moment of writing this point, 2.40am in the morning. I’ve switched room long ago, as soon as I woke up, and is now on the couch next to my mom’s bed, where she’s asleep. What is happening at this moment to my teacher from the third floor? I know for a fact I will never see him if he leaves today for village — which he will — and exhales his last breath anytime afterward. I keep praying for him so that he gets well soon. He’s too good of a person to leave the world this early.
This can be just another bad dream — though that is far unlikely. Or this can be a reminder from something beyond my understanding that I need to get my life back on track. I need to follow everything those two teachers have taught me. I need to understand, this world is not it.
It’s likely that I will slowly forget about this and will return to my normal life despite my best intentions to lead at least a religious life in terms of offering prayers and so on. But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the faces I’ve seen in my dreams. No, those faces did not have large teeth or glowing eyes. Those faces were far simpler, smaller, and strangely deadlier than perhaps anything that any man has ever drawn. I sure know I never, ever want to see those faces even in my wildest nightmares.
For now, in this quiet night, under the sound of the running ceiling fan on the top of my head, I feel fear. After a long time of being involved in extreme thoughts and planning about my personal and professional life, career and whatnot, right at this very moment, I feel the fear of death.
How often does that happen to you?
Important notes: I have studied all my Islamic texts in Bangla language so I had to go back and forth between Google Translate and this page while writing this post. This means certain portion of this post may not be as accurate as I’d want them to be. Also I wanted to avoid pasting an image of the many creature posters available on the web because, to be honest, I searched for them and nothing came close to what I had witnessed in my dream. I reckon this post would be better off without any illustration whatsoever.