Updated: Jul 19, 2022
I had always wondered what it feels like to get stuck in an elevator in pitch dark. Strangely enough, like most of my dreams, thoughts, visions have sooner or later came true, perhaps this one could not wait any longer to transmute into reality. While stepping in the elevator at the third floor of a shopping store (name withheld) I could never think what the next 15 minutes of my life would be like. Surely! Life is unpredictable (Learning 1: Never underestimate the unpredictability factor in your life. It holds immense power to surprise, scare or shock you in ways you had never imagined).
As soon as the elevator closed I started zipping the chain of my handbag (Yes, I have a careless habit of forgetting to zip my handbag. I welcome theft!) and with a sudden jerk the elevator stopped and the lights turned off. After a happy shopping experience, I was definitely not prepared for such an unusual episode. It took me a few seconds to realize that I am stuck in an elevator. My first reaction was to reach out for the emergency buttons but I could not see a thing. I searched for my phone in my handbag and flashed its light on the buttons. To my extreme horror, there was no emergency button in that lift! I immediately started banging the door for help but all I could hear in reply was weird silence. This silence was nothing less than creepy and horrifying. With each passing minute, I was losing control over my senses as my breath was getting shorter. For the first time in my life I felt claustrophobic. I could realize that the strength of the bangs on the door were getting weaker. I thought to call my loved ones before any mishap happens and at least narrate them the true incident. After all, nobody wants to die a death that conjures speculations. (Learning 2: We are obsessed with closures. We want a closure even after our death.)
I dialed my landline number but immediately cut the call fearing that it would create a lot of panic among my family members. I consoled myself that it is just a situation and I am going to get out of it, alive! I reminded myself of the worst of phases that I have lived through and reassured that this is just a minor and refined version of all that (Learning 3: Once a psychologist, always a psychologist).
Although now I feel that it was a scary yet not a dangerous situation; but in that very moment I was full of apprehensions which made me imagine the worst (Learning 4: We have the hardest laugh on situations which were the scariest. Believe me while writing this I am laughing it off).
While imagining all this, I quickly typed a few texts which were supposed to convey my feelings to the people whom I love. I planned that in case there is no help for a long time and my breath became even weaker, then I am going to press the send button. I wanted to make sure that the most important people in my life know how much I love them (Learning 5: We never miss the last chance of saying ‘I LOVE YOU’ to the most assorted people of our life. Then why not say it in time?).
Surprisingly, as I leaned on the mirror of the elevator and closed my eyes to relax, this overwhelming claustrophobic experience did not shut my reflective mind. In fact, suddenly I found myself overly empathetic towards people who have died because of suffocation. Instead of figuring a way out of that elevator, my mind took me on an eerie journey to imagine the helplessness and vulnerability of those who met their fate through drowning or getting suffocated in a car, container, small room, or even worst, an elevator. (Learning 6: We often live our entire life in an illusion that we control everything. But the truth is that sometimes we can’t even control our little intangible mind!).
Empathy gave me a lot of courage, so much so that once again I gathered my strength, took a long breath and started banging and shouting out loud for help. This time I could hear the voice of a man rushing towards the door of the elevator. He told me that there was a power cut in the building and unfortunately the generator did not start. He said that the electrician is fixing it and the elevator would start any moment. I just took a sigh of relief and chanted my prayer to thank my lord. The moment the door opened, I could see a small crowd of workers gathered outside the elevator to see me. I assume that some were standing out of genuine sense of apology and regret whereas others joined in out of curiosity to see who that girl was who got stuck in the elevator. But nothing mattered to me at that moment, neither the apologies nor the crowd. The only thing that counted was fresh air and daylight. I have been living since so long but in that one moment I realized that I am alive. Somewhere that moment taught me the essence of existence. (Learning 7: We often live a life full of apprehensions, insecurities and fears that have no rational basis. Let go off all the negativity that is pulling you down and learn to acknowledge the sense of being alive. In case you are too lazy, then wait and watch as your life takes charge and place you in a situation where you learn these lessons the ‘interesting’ way).