For the longest time all I heard were voices. I barely spoke english, but I understood hate and I did not need a translator to feel how much of it was directed at me since I was taken from my home. I can’t tell why, but I can presume what the Americans thought about my people. I was sleeping with my wife and Amir, my baby son, when they broke through the doors, swarming in with fluidity that was imprinted in their bones.

Instinctively, I rose up to defend my family, but within seconds I was knocked down to the floor, my arms tied quickly at my back; dark cloth placed over my head. I was screaming out my wife’s name in fear, but got no reply from her. Last thing I remember of my home was the sound of my boy crying.

I hated them at that moment, and I hate them now even more. I was questioned by my own people for days before the Americans did the same. I was threatened, told my family is in their hands and the only way I will ever see them again is to talk. But they wouldn’t listen. I had nothing to do with terrorism, I hated violence and I couldn’t answer any of their questions. I kept repeating the truth, kept telling them I’m not who they think I am. They wouldn’t hear it.

I was moved from one place to another every couple of days; roughly pushed into a car or a van, blindfolded every time, cursed at, shoved and pushed around like a ragged doll. At one point, I simply gave up. I only held on to the truth. If they didn’t believe it, God will know. The truth and who I am – those can never be taken away from me; everything else I’ve let go.

Five days ago the torture begun. I was treated roughly, but I was never beaten or tortured physically. They were smarter than that. Instead, I’m sitting here in a small, empty room, my legs and arms tied to a metal chair. The chair was made to be extremely uncomfortable, with bumps and lumps. I couldn’t rest or sleep. Every few minutes loud music would shake me to the bones, with screams and unimaginable inhuman voices hitting at me from the speakers.

I tried to think of my family, to pray, to hope, but with every minute that passed by a piece of me died. I know that’s what they wanted, to break me completely, but I will not tell them lies. I am NOT who they think I am. That thought was the only thing that kept me sane.

I sat there in agony, minute after minute of a hell I never imagined existed before. The pain was unbearable, both mental and physical. I felt my mind cracking open, splitting in hundreds of small pieces; emotions and thoughts mixing with memories and pain. My mind desperately tried to cling to something, anything. I was angry one second, laughing hysterically the next. My body was shaking and it only made the pain worse. But, somewhere under all that pain, hurt, humiliation and madness, I held on to the truth. I felt it at one point, just as I started dying from within.

It was nothing but an unrecognisable thought, something I felt only as a tiny, hidden presence in the back of my mind; just one more of the ghosts my mind created to cope with all this madness. But as I grew weaker, it grew stronger. When the breaking point came, it caught me off-guard. I gave up, ready to tell my captors anything they wanted to hear, and then, at the very same instant, my thoughts collapsed. I have no other words to describe it, but there was no more pain, mental or physical.

On the outside, nothing changed. I was still here, tied up to the chair, music blasting into my ears, every part of my body aching. My thoughts collapsed and my mind somehow re-discovered itself. I could feel it coming, but the change was instantaneous. I re-emerged from the depths not as a new person, but as myself, finally.

Everything suddenly made sense; every breath I ever took, every smile I gave, every thought that passed through my mind since I was old enough to notice them. In one small fragment of time, I re-lived lifetimes of learning, growing, expanding and contracting. I was happy thousands of times and sad just as much. I was a thief and a saint; a wise man and a fool. The curtain lifted on all things known and unknown and I realized how wonderful this world is and how precious our lives are. We waste so much time on doubts, war and revenge, fear and hatred and so many foolish, silly things our mind created to keep us entertained and busy. We use so much energy to differentiate ourselves from each other; we ignore the simple truth – we are all the same. Not just connected and similar, but really exactly the same. Remove the dirt from our souls and we all, each and every one of us, shine the same Light.

I was overwhelmed with so much love at that point I couldn’t contain it. I cried, but this time those were tears of joy. The soldiers rushed in, shouting and waving their guns and fists at me, but all I saw was fear and confusion in their eyes. All I felt was love, even for those who tortured me for days. They were just kids in uniforms, scared of everything they have been told so much they couldn’t even see a crying man in front of them. They don’t know, just as I did not know, that Life is so much bigger than all of us; so much more complex and wonderful that we allow ourselves to see; so much more meaningful than any of our lies and ideas we have of this world. The truth is waiting patiently, deep within us, under layers of illusion and concepts, beyond our thoughts, dreams and aspirations. It has always been there, waiting to be rediscovered again. The key to finding it is as complex and unique as we all are, but also so incredibly simple. There is nothing new to learn, nothing to do, no tricks to use. You just need to forget who you think you are first; let go of everything you think is real and right there, in between the cracks of your old, imaginary self falling apart, the truth will seep through. It is a divine nectar, warm and soothing, hidden there between two thoughts.

The torture continued for three more days, but I felt no pain or discomfort at all. The truth came out eventually and I was released back to my country and returned to my family, changed and never the same again, but more peaceful and more myself than I have ever been. That is what I will teach my children, that there is a secret hidden in plain sight and our lives are nothing but passing time if we don’t use them to grow and learn and constantly push ourselves into the unknown. They will grow to understand that having things is not living life; that thoughts are just a distraction, a fog that our mind creates to protect itself. They will grow up without leaving wonder and curiosity behind. And if they are lucky, persistent or deserving enough, their mind will collapse under its own weight and silence will emerge. Who knows…

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