Living with Thanatophobia
As the darkness was swallowing fast, the steep chasm below was turning into something impenetrable for eyes to see through, losing all its light. Julia had no idea what was going on or what was that place. All she could feel the horror of falling into that chasm of death. Suddenly she heard a voice echoing in the dark below and it was crying for help.
"Help me, baby help me."
There was no doubt left after hearing that. "Honey please hold on tight. Don't let go. Please. I'm coming." Julia was crying helplessly as she couldn't do anything to reach out her husband and rescue him from inevitable death. The entire place was covered in complete darkness. Perfectly black from which light can't reflect to make human eyes see a thing. Julia was trying with all the forces she had but couldn't do anything at all. "What am I gonna do?" Her heart ripping supplications were unable to meet her needs of that desperate moment.
"Hey, baby. Wake up. What's happened?" Julia's husband was trying to bring her into conscious as he was woken up hearing her whimpering in sleep. Woken up startled, she grabbed him in a sudden leap and hold him tight in indescribable fright.
Although it'd been more than two years of her searching answers after recovering from the phobia, Professor Julia Ross still couldn't find the exact factors behind thanatophobic behaviour among most people. "Psychiatry has gone so far but it is still at it's very basic level in solving the mystery of grief. And this thanatophobia must have made it worse."
It was nearly 1pm in the afternoon. Julia was supposed to have her lunch by now as her meeting was just after the break, but she somehow got her gaze fixed at her favourite Newton's cradle on the desk. Her blinkless eyes were not meant to count the number of the oscillation but to search for something hidden deep in her thoughts. "Why people feel so dreadful about their future? We all have to go through this. And everyone knows it of course. But this state of mystery is something no one wants to encounter, although it is happened to be undeniable."
Her state of silence suddenly got interrupted by the bizarre crackles of the door. Turning her gaze, she found one of her students standing by the slightly opened door. "Professor, someone wants to meet you". " But I've got a meeting in 5 minutes". "Yes. I told her. But she is in urgency and... ". " Okay. Bring her to me." A girl of early 20s entered her room. Her un-brushed hair and puffy eyes clearly could tell that she'd been having a rough time.
"What is it my dear?" Sensing the warmth of professor's voice, the girl bursted into tears. "It is okay sweetheart. Calm down. I've got you. Everything's gonna be okay. I promise." She stood up, went near her, held her gently, and made her sit right next to her. "I don't know, what's happening to me. I just can't stop thinking about my mom. She is fighting cancer. I don't want her to die. I love her so much. I can't think of a world without her." "It's okay honey. We all die. We can't change it. But she is still alive. And she can survive this fight. Don't stress out yourself too much now. Things can be different." "Yes but I keep having the vision that she is dying, leaving me alone forever. I don't wanna lose her", the girl now started crying loudly.
Julia was getting flash backs while driving home. She felt quite captivated by the words of that weeping girl from her office. Her mournful words kept playing one by one, in her mind all by itself. Stepping out of the car, Julia took a moment to watch the exuberant playing of her husband with the kids out in the lawn. "I love this man. I really love him. I wanna wake up right beside him, seeing his face every morning, for the rest of my life." As she was having this sweet little talk with herself, her eyes started raining tears voluntarily. It got quite hazzy for her to notice that her husband was standing right in front of her, with a crescent smile.
"Hey, beautiful. What's upsetting you? What is it?" "Why can't we be together forever? Why do we have to leave? This beautiful life, this colour, your existence, all these will be gone at some point. I'm not gonna find you again. I will not see your iridescent smile ever in my life. Why?" Julia's pain could clearly be pictured in her entangled words.
"Honey we can't change the course of life. We born. Then one day we die. We can't change that. We're just merely performing these. What we can actually do, is to live our moments, while it last. Every single bit of it." Grasping irresistible calmness in the voice, her husband took her in his arms and holds her tight with tenderness as a sign of the warmest trust, which was all she needed that time.
Trust me, it is not just Julia or that girl who are being preyed by this phobia, rather we all are, at some point of time. Every single one of us. Well, not all the time we feel paranoid like this. But the truth is, horror of death is chasing our entity, deep down. We may not know this term 'Thanatophobia', but we're quite familiar with its existence. That's why, having chance to live, even for one minute is the most precious thing to us. Poor us never want to die, never wish to leave this life. There's a saying- "Living among people is desired over dying in heaven."
The writer is a student of Statistical Research and Training, University of Dhaka