I am twenty-three years old, and I have a phobia of coming across dead bodies of humans and butterflies (and feeling weirdly shaken and heavy-headed if I ever do). Years later after the incident I'm going to recount now happened, I still don't understand the purpose of it all.
Before I start, it is important to note that almost all the people in the maternal side of my family have shown (and some still do) the ability to receive accurate premonitions of loved ones being in danger or trouble. I have seen it in my grandmother, uncle, aunt, and mother when I was younger. So when it started happening to me after my preteens, I did not get alarmed. These premonitions are gut-twisting, throat-tightening, heart-racing feelings of overwhelming dread that can last anywhere between a few minutes to a whole day, rendering me unable to breathe until I come close to retching. These usually rare episodes were still bearable compared to what happened in late February of 2009, when I was seventeen.
I went to an all girls convent school, and most of us in our class were pretty close-knit, having grown up together. In February of my last year of school, we were busy preparing for our annual Sports Week (in our school, it used to be held at the beginning of the year). Those were the days when I used to have horrific nightmares almost every night.
Just a couple of days before Sports Week, I had a dream at the wee hours of dawn. In the dream, I was on the third and highest floor of our high school building and I saw two of my teachers at the periphery of my vision. The scene that caught my attention was the dead body of a girl wearing our school uniform lying on the floor a few feet in front of me. She had curly shoulder length hair and her body was bloodied and injured. As crazy as dreams are, I heard someone saying in the background that she had been mauled by a tiger. It was such a terrible dream that I remember consciously struggling to pull myself out of it and wake up. And just as I was about to wake up, a booming masculine voice almost shouted in the head, "Your schoolmate is going to die." 'He' said this three times, and I woke up with a frantically beating heart, very shaken.
I lay in bed for a few minutes, then pulled myself together to get ready for school. I actually forgot all about the dream until I was standing in line during the morning school assembly, praying. The dream came to me in a flash, and for a few moments, filled me with foreboding. I thought how was I to know who was going to die, since the term 'schoolmate' would apply to any one of the 1400 girls in school. Then I shook my head to clear it, and told myself to stop dwelling on 'bad stuff' like that. Like many others, I had been conditioned by my parents and society to never think of dying or even discuss death, because 'we weren't supposed to wish ill of anybody'. The conditioning kicked in; I pushed the memory away and totally forgot about it for the rest of the day.
Later that night at around 8:30 pm, I got a text message from a friend saying that one of our classmates (one of the only twins in my class) had been run over by a train at about 5:30 pm that evening while she was hurrying to cross over the closed off railway line because she was late for her coaching classes. Her sister crossed the line and got behind the safety barrier fencing, but while she was crossing, her shoe caught between the tracks and before she could free herself, the train had already passed over her. (Such railway accidents in India are sadly very common.) She died on the spot. My first reaction after reading the message was disbelief. And a strange reaction at that, because I actually laughed thinking it was a joke. When my friend retorted asking if I thought so lowly of her that she could crack a joke like that, reality kicked in and I started wailing. My parents came running, and all I remember is that my crying was over in less than thirty seconds before shock and submission set in.
Later I sat alone in my room and thought back to the events of the day, trying to recall if there was any incident that had made me know in advance. And that is when the memory of the dream flashed. It shocked me more than the bad news itself. I kept thinking of the warning that I had received. I tried to remember every detail in the dream and the curly hair made an impact. The friend who had died had the same curly hair and the same general features of the dead girl in my dream. I felt so guilty that I just didn't know what to do. I held myself responsible for having known it, but having brushed it off as a mere bad dream when maybe I could have warned somebody, done something, anything. The guilt prevented me from visiting her family to pay my condolences like all my other classmates had done.
We were a class of friends, true. But teenagers can be horrible to each other too, as proved by the disdain my classmates showed towards the twins. I won't proceed to explain possible reasons, because those are trivial. I was always friends with them though. I disliked the behaviour of the others towards them. I could not understand why the next day at school, a few girls in my class made such a huge show of crying when they were the ones who had never said a kind word to my dead friend.
For many nights after that, I would force myself to stay awake so I wouldn't dream of someone else dying and see them dead for real within the next few days. It happened again though, a few months later, but that is another story. I can still hear the voice in my head, and I was already conscious when it had delivered the warning. It was like a blaring loudspeaker had been inside my skull.
Years later, the guilt has gone because I understood I couldn't have done anything. But sometimes, I do question myself if there WAS something I could have done. I need to know why I was the one who had been alerted. Some people have said I need to work on my issues with death (I've been trained in past life regression therapy and it has tremendously helped me). I have hardly a clue how to go about doing that. The only thing I know is that I have no regrets because I had never treated her poorly, and had never denied her anything.
The last memory I have of her was her in class asking to check out a drawing on a chart paper I was holding, and even though I was exhausted and irritable from running around the school on errands the whole day, I didn't refuse to pass her the paper. I just remember her smile while admiring the drawing, and that is a pretty peaceful memory.