So it’s 3:25 am and I’m awake and feeling kind of…ill. At three am (25 minutes ago) Owlie and I both sat up in our respective beds when we heard the sound of what seemed like a woman shrieking. We ran upstairs, (I stubbed my toe on the way) to investigate. The dog was alert and growling, but the screaming had stopped. We waited a few more minutes in tense silence and this time the woman, for it was definitely a woman, screamed again. Then two of the neighborhood chawkidaars (night watchmen) drove past the house in a hurry.
I went out and walked down the driveway, hoping to catch another night watchman and tell him what we were pretty sure we had heard, but no one else came by. It was cold on the driveway, and silent, and scary in that I was standing utterly alone on the street. It gave me a horrible creeping sort of fear, what if it had been me screaming? What if had only gotten the chance to raise my voice once before it was stifled, and what if, in that moment, no one woke up? Or even if they woke up and ran up the stairs and stood on the end of their driveway, what could I hope of them? What help?
At this moment I feel like two people, the person screaming in fear and the person shivering uselessly at the end of the driveway. I can tell you that the other woman must have felt worse, but I tell you, not by much. I feel horrible.
I stood on the driveway for a while before Owlie called me back in. The woman hadn’t screamed again, and no night watchman had come by, and the stillness of the air was so complete that I had even started to wonder whether I had heard screaming at all. But I know I did, and Owlie did too.
Sometimes, when you stand beneath the vastness of the sky, or put your bare feet into the blueness of an ocean that curves away into the horizon, you remember your insignificance. Sometimes when you are sick, you are reminded of your own weakness. And sometimes, when your strength fails you, you look to strength greater than your own. Please take a moment to pray for the safety and well-being of the woman who was screaming in her distress. Being weak and alone and cold at 3 am on the driveway, I failed her.
La hawla wa la quwwata illa billahi ‘Ali-ul Azeem.