• Manahil Ijaz

The Tale of Two Voices




‘No, Yes, No, What’, her mind screamed. The person on the other end was waiting for a reaction but she replied with a hushed ‘Oh great?’ and stood their frozen. The room began to feel chilly and the silence allowed for the voices in her mind to sound even louder than normal. She glanced at the chair by the window sill and allowed herself to sit down. The natural light which brightened her room felt profoundly calming. She reached for the window and opened it slightly, a gush of wind poured in with an intensely pleasant force. The air gently blew her hair away from her face away from the creases around her eyes and stroked it away with utmost ease. She shut her eyes to remember a time where she used to come into this very room, walk around anxiously and gaze at everything beyond her space in search of something that could not be defined. She smiled as that thought crossed her mind and suddenly realized the clock ticking, with every struck transcending back to the present moment. ‘Hello…’ the voice from the phone repeated. ‘Pardon me, could you repeat what you were saying?’ she tried to get her awareness back. The lady spoke to her again, and reaffirmed the news, appreciated and congratulated her for what may have been the 3rd time now. Her mind started racing as she calculated whether this feeling was foreign or lived before. She couldn’t formulate the reaction she should have or whether this was in fact something positive.



She thought to herself, ‘No wait, did I hear a validation? Did I do something right?’ Like a slap on her face, her inner critic took no time to invalidate her positive feelings which would have lasted for about 2 seconds. ‘Well just because the nice lady on the phone said one nice thing about you doesn’t change the fact that you are a failure, you probably just keep getting lucky’ the critic said unamusingly. By this time, she had realized she must say something or else the nice lady on the phone might not entertain her for longer. “Oh wow, I am so grateful for this opportunity, thank you…” she stammered. The lady on the phone began telling her the next steps and as she heard her voice, it occurred to her that this conversation was real. She had hoped for something close to this and something even bigger had just been thrown at her vulnerable self. She ended the phone call with an abrupt ‘thank you’ and put the phone down, feeling completely numb. She observed her room in absolute stillness and began to hear a different voice within her. One that was fairly new; someone who didn’t quite agree with that tormenting critic of hers. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and tried to listen within. ‘You made it sweetheart, it was all you, you actually-‘.



She opened her eyes as the critic started to pry ‘Oh don’t be so gullible, we all know it wasn’t you, they had to pick someone; you were just there at the right time. Do you really think this will last, they’re going to find out eventually that this is all just play pretend ’.

Her heart began racing and as she became unsure who to listen to, she held her face in her hands and let out a heavy sigh. The new friend started to speak to her, this time with a stronger force of empathy. ‘Don’t let him bully you like this, you are here because of you, you carry us both within you. Without your achievements or shortcomings, he has nothing to devour’ As much as this new voice was saying all the things she wanted to hear, she felt attacked as the critic was her oppressor, but undoubtedly a familiar voice she had gotten accustomed to for the longest time. Unable to feel anything, she walked out of her room with a stoic expression, and continued her day as though she had achieved nothing new.



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