Dormsday: A Granted Wish on a Regular Day
October 16th, 2017
You were a special day after all!
After having a long –yet enjoyable— day studying then having one of those “skate the whole city” sessions –where I would go out and take a tour throughout the city roads discovering new paths on my skateboard, the night has fallen. The life in the dorm starts beating around this time usually. Some people are filling bottles of water from the public water tap, others are sitting outside telling stories, some are all feeling high in their rooms, and very few are resting in peace with themselves. Well, I wished I was one of the latters, but I wasn’t.
I entered our room –“our” means mine and my roommate’s, but at that moment you couldn’t distinguish who’s room it was, because it contained seven people including me. Despite that, I washed, changed, while thinking about how I would rest my mind in that crowded place, which is my room in the main. You may sarcastically suggest I should have some guts and ask them to leave. Unfortunately, it wasn’t about guts. This is a kind of tradition in the dorm’s life, where in order to keep yourself safe and balanced you need to have a couple of close friends that act like a family. We gather in each other’s rooms from a time to another. We talk, we laugh, we listen to each other; sometimes we exchange chargers, food, and even money if it’s urgent. So you can imagine how hard asking them to leave was. It was the last option in fact. My first alternative was showing how much tired I was. I gave it a try but that was literally like doing nothing at all. Everybody was either so focused, or better say lost, in a video game, a fidget toy, a phone,…and more phones. Soon, they gathered on a multi-player video game on the PC allowing four persons to have their own control. I felt even worse, because as much as I enjoyed this game with them before, I’ve always suffered a lot from it by the time I get to watch them playing. It has always created a great energy that is positive in a way and negative in many ways. It was competitive, addictive, and hypnotizing; but they never considered such side at all. As a result, I was put in the same situation: either you watch what you hate, or join the game; either you witness hypnosis, or be a part of it. I couldn’t go with the first option because I simply couldn’t stand the process of watching unconsciously-manipulated subjects and the great impact of that while doing nothing of significance to change –but that doesn’t mean I didn’t speak up. I’ve always did, but that just didn’t seem to work. Therefore, I joined the game…forcingly.
I chose my profile settings, and set it up to Ready. “Maybe by playing a long round they will get enough and disappear each to his room!” I was wondering within my deep thinking while waiting the three others to get ready. “This could be a second alternative!” However, that was far-fetched. “Looser gets substituted;” this is a widely used rule among Gamers and players of any type of game usually, and the rule that killed my hopes even more. The game had begun and I was literally the last on the ranking. The others were all fired up, and each one was concentrating on his ranking. All that noise, chaos, and hypnosis felt so bitter. “I wish they stop immediately and go to their rooms,” I said under a painful yet hopeful breath. Minutes after, they noticed I was last, and we started laughing at how unskillful I was in that game in particular. I noticed something else though. “Wait, look! My speed is limited compared to yours guys!” I said feeling a little unfair. Yes, it is just as you might have already inferred, it’s a racing video game, car race. This just appeared to them as a part of being less skilled, but it turned out to be a serious problem. We tried every possible option, nothing worked. Whether it was a software or hardware problem, no one knew. Playing was less enjoyable then. “Guys, I think we should get going,” one of the friends desperately said. That saying shined through my whole soul. It was as if he had had a look at what I mostly needed that time. I even thought for a moment that my wish is being granted for me instantly. Nonetheless, I decided to keep calm and not to show any feeling. “No! We will fix this,” another friend replied. I leaned back wondering in silence and confusion: “So it’s not my wish. We’ll see what it’s gonna be then!” They tried different combinations of control system patterns, different creative options, and even rebooting the system; but nothing was doing any good. “Okay I’m done here. You can play without me. Just carry on the game, and I’ll be fine,” I told them, and I was already standing up clearing my place.
After being a little witty of how bad my luck was, they carried on playing. Consequently, I ended up watching them getting fired up again and fully swallowed in a realistic graphic adventure; and as I expected, it’s horrifying watching them playing. Noise, chaos, and tension are back. “You need to chill out guys, you really are taking it too far,” I spoke with passion, and with a serious tone. “Sorry, but it has to be like that bro,” one of them replied in a sarcastic yet serious tone. “That’s what you think,” I replied. “You know what, I’m going to sniff some air and buy something.” I stood up, went out of the room, and headed down to the café. I brought something scrummy to eat for the night. There was chill in the air. I felt a little cold but I sensed every atom that contributed in the making of the air I was inhaling. It wasn’t for too long before I returned to the room though. I was climbing stairs step by step thinking “What’s next!” but that was soon interrupted by a savage fuss coming out of my room. The long-disabled feeling of anger started to raise up. I opened the door in a hurry. All I can remember is that I felt so sorry for them behind that anger. I’ve always hated neighbors of such kind, and now this image of what I mostly hated about the dorm’s life all placed in my room made no sense for me, except of extra hatred towards this place, and mainly its people –although I wasn’t that hater-kind of person at all. “Seriously! What is going on with you guys?!” I said with a significantly negatively-charged tone. “We’ve always complained about such neighbors and now you are being them! Come on, for God’s sake!” No one replied. They just looked at me, then looked back to the screen. However, their eyes displayed more than just an attraction towards the game. I could read in them the desperation they were living. As if they were saying: “We’re truly aware of that, but it’s not like we have control over our bodies nor our minds anymore.” I had a rush of many malicious feelings that instant. “It’s all yours!” I yelled, got out, and slammed the door. Silence was finally there, but that time I’m the one who wasn’t there. It was too late.
I went to a small balcony in our suite and I was taking deep breaths only not to take it any further. It was a little dark, but I could see many things from that view. I could see the city lights far away. I could see residents in their rooms only meters away. Partying, fight-playing, eating…except studying. I could hear others shouting only for the sake of that, others talking about girls, sex, drugs, in the slightest details, in the most unpleasant ways. It was everywhere. I started thinking of the reason behind my existence in this place specifically. More importantly, whether my reticence over all this equals going with the flow or not. Because one of my greatest fears is the unobservable change of one’s self. Sometimes getting used to something for a while leads to later tolerance at the unconsious level. I was afraid that it could be the case for me. Thankfully, I realized it wasn’t. Because being aware of the situation is already one proof that I didn’t lose perspective. It was just a stage in which I was being tested upon my patience and mainly my awareness. Although, I was feeling a bit dizzy. My head was full, my thoughts were shattered, and my heart was squeezing for I couldn’t even change the narrowest circle of people in which I was put. At one moment I wished everybody was gone. Even for one and only one second. “Ala! Where are you?!” I heard them calling out my name, but I was better on my own there.
Suddenly, I heard some undistinguishable noise down the building by a little distance. Some residents were speeding up their steps towards the security guards. Then, they all swiftly started running back to where those residents came from. At first, I thought some dump fight had broken, but even the people that were having an air seat near the café started running towards the same place as well. Few seconds after, everybody was rushing from their rooms down to the same place. I knew something serious had happened. I quickly came down the stairs, and I started trotting towards that place. I accidentally raised my head, and thick gray smoke was billowing into the skies dancing with the glowing embers that were twinkling higher and higher in the darkness! As soon as I got there, all eyes were wide open in a great amazement. You could hear the mumbling in the eco of that scene, as you could hear the cautiousness and doubt in the steps that were taken. Of course, they were taken towards huge flames of fire, fiercely blazing as high as the building. Thankfully, beside not inside. It was so hot and wild that it tried to burn the walls themselves and to get inside through the windows. The glass was facing an inferno in a clearly fragile will. The residents of that building had gotten out before the flames were out of contol. Except for two individuals that had no idea what was going –one because of the loud music, and the other because he had fallen asleep before that, until the smell of burn reached every corner of every room there. Everyone was safe at last. Few minutes later movement was carried out. Many people took their phones out and started filming, few others were running to get some water buckets to put a stop to that –but it was much more than to be extinguished by random people and their tiny buckets, other people were still lost in the beauty and majesty of that scene.
Apart from that, one of those who had a room around the fire was my best friend. A friend whom I left playing car race in my room. No doubt that they knew nothing about what was going on, because for them the real-world mode was simply tuned out. Therefore, I had to go back to my room to wake them up. There were still latecomers at that time, and I noticed I’m the only one who was going against the flow of people. I wasn’t so interested in fact, especially after I knew no one was hurt. As I approached my building, I finally saw them coming down the stairs in a hurry. “Where were you man! We’ve been looking for you?! …and what is this fire?!” My best friend asked me. He was confused whether to make me explain myself, or to explain the fire scene. I was still mad at the situation. I continued walking but I couldn’t leave him without an answer. “Well, I let you to it to figure it out,” it was the only thing I could say.
They carried on their trotting, and I climbed the stairs at a normal pace, slowing things down as much as I could. I didn’t go to my room though. I just decided to return to the same place, the balcony. I stood there alone again. But I noticed my heart was beating faster! “Why!” I asked myself in a total wonder. “I’m neither shocked about what happened nor tired, I was just walking at a regular pace!” Exactly at that moment, my eyes widely opened, and all what I was thinking of just disappeared. I realized that I’m standing alone, in the balcony, in the whole building, and in the whole central part of the dorm, far from any human existence. I checked and it was one of the rarest moments that could ever be witnessed at a dorm in the evening time, where you can see no one, and hear no one. "No way! It looks very like my wish" –because everyone seemed to be gone, and I could feel that. “So this is how having a big wish feels like!” I was talking to myself while a rush of strong feelings was taking hold on me, until my sight was getting blurry. Not because I was loosing my sight, I was in fact having an involuntary spurt of tear that I hardly took control of. The bigger realization was that I didn’t have the simpler wish –which is of everyone returning to his room to leave me at space, but I had a wish that could only be described as a metaphor. I only said it for the sake of discharging what was deep inside. I’ve never thought I’d be able to live such a moment!
People who use logic will say it was a mere accident nothing more. Romanticists will believe it was definitely a coincidence. I’m a man of logic, and my own interpretation for it is exactly like the Romanticists’. Not because I implemented my personal emotions in the process of interpretation, but because for me “Accidents happen…but not accidentally.” And for me that’s a fact, and here is why: Existence is for a reason. Nothing is “just” there, including accidents. Big or insignificant they are. Just because we don’t see the wisdom out of it doesn’t mean it’s passive. Isn’t this logical! Sometimes it’s crystal clear, other times it’s hard for us to make a distinction between what is a fact and what is a fantasy. It’s been always the unknown that we fear. So we always tend to take the easiest path there is: Ignoring. It’s like watching a movie that is full of symbols and suggestions within its storylines that complete that movie as a great piece and the only way through which we can distill the real meaning behind it, but we miss all that or we just ignore it because we feel like it’s too much to handle. And we end up not getting the full picture of that masterpiece. The more I feel that I’m missing something in any of such situations, the more curious I become. By time, I knew that our circle of knowledge is much narrower than our circle of ignorance. Accordingly, I adapted myself to grasping as much data as I can to polish my sight towards what’s in front of me. I got myself used to switching perspectives. Only then that the bigger pictures became something that clarifies many of the misteries I happen to face or wonder about along the way.
In that killing silence and sacred moment, I felt like time freezed. I went back to my room in an unlikely total calmness. I needed to do one and only one thing then. Documenting what happened. I just started writing, writing, and writing; turning one page after another in an unstoppable flow. As if someone was dictating on me upon my head and I was trying to catch up with his pace without missing a single word. By the time my roommate got back into our room, I wrote eleven pages. Around two thousand words. “Are you writing at this late time for real?!” He asked surprisingly. I switched my eyes to him quickly and then got them back on my copybook. I just kept writing. He got a bit closer and he was even more shocked of what he saw. He felt it was a very important matter. He then asked: “What is all that? What are you writing?!” “You’ll know when the right time comes.” I answered, and kept writing. After that night, I stopped writing, though the journal was not finished. For the next month, I didn’t add a single word. Whenever I was alone, I tried to infer meanings to what happned that night. I and my friends brought up that matter and talked a little about it. They understood my situation, and we were all good again. But they never knew about what really happened. It was just between me and myself.
I could finally understand what the saying ‘Be careful what you wish for’ means. No matter how small it is, no matter how big, unreal, and unreachable it is, always consider the possiblity of what you ask for to be fulfilled. If it’s someone you wish to die, be careful, it might happen and you won’t be as happy as the time you uttered that wish and put much desire into it. If it’s a lifestyle you want to live someday, put all your belief in it, work for it, and the least that you can get is a similar lifestyle, if not what you wanted and more. Sometimes a wish is not as a far-fetched as we might think it is.
When it comes to the title, it may seem like the word ‘Doomsday’ and that was intentional. According to Oxford Dictionary, ‘Doomsday’ is “the last day of the world's existence,” and in religious belief it’s: “the day of the Last Judgement.” Both indicate a day of a big destruction, a cosmic one, causing every sign of life to die, in order to revive all humans in a single land for their final judgment. It was said that humans are going to run like little ants trying to survive the unsurvivable; frightened, hopeless, clueless. The image of what happpened that day in the dorm triggered the imagination of a Doomsday in my head. Thus, the best possible depiction of all that was in creating a blend which is of both ‘Dorm’ and ‘Doomsday’: ‘Dormsday.’
Also, the new word allowed me to introduce a parallel meaning for the dorm based on my experience. By a simple juxtaposition of both words ‘Dormsday’ and ‘Doomsday’ you can notice that ‘Dorm’ parallels ‘Doom.’ A simple interpretation of this would be that, as much great dorm’s life might seem, it’s doomed upon those who fall for its charms in our area.
Another reason for which I opted for this title was of a semantic nature. My true intention behind writing this whole journal is to raise awareness around the plight of the dorm’s life in Guelma (Province n°24 in the Algerian Administrative Division), especially the boys’ dorm ‘Hebbache Ahmed Cherif’ and the only boys’ dorm there is in the whole city. ‘Dormsday’ holds within its morphemes the notion of judgment. It’s time to look after the dorm’s living conditions in our city. Our dorm is far from being put in comparison at a universal level. The truth is, it doesn’t even provide the very basics of students’ needs. This was a reason in itself for many students to take revenge in their own way. Conscious or subconscious it is. It has led them to direct focus and energy towards negativity, pessimism, and chronic misbehavior, which is only going to make it worse. It’s a vicious cycle, a self-destruction process. I’m not just referring to students, but to the whole system of ours, mainly the directorate of university services of Guelma: ‘DOU Guelma.’
© 2018 Ala Hafferssas