The Gone

I am sorry

I stare at the text message for the umpteenth time. It has been two weeks and yet the guilt fails to leave my mind. Each time I look at it I am reminded how much of a failure I really am. I could have saved her. I could have spent more time with her, got to share her pain a little more. I should have sensed the change. I should have known that she had learnt to fake an actual smile. I should have known that she had decided to cease her battle.

Each time I close my eyes I see her lying in a pool of blood.

I could have bloody saved her!!

I collect myself and get up and turn towards the closed room. Placing my hand on the knob I slowly turn it afraid that even the slightest disturbance would somehow pollute the room. Her desk has accumulated dust. Gracing my finger on the table I move towards her closet. I touch the green silk dress which she had worn last month on her birthday. It had looked beautiful on her. The way it flowed across her legs swiftly with her each move, how her skin felt against the dress beneath my fingers as she mumbled a thank you into my ear. Everything was so…her. Feminine yet daunting.

I take a deep breath to calm myself but her smell engulfs me and again after all these years I forget my existence. It was the smell of fresh lily mixed vanilla that had captivated me. It was exotic. She was exotic.

I remember the first time I saw her; she was sitting on the bench outside the campus tea stall holding her tea within her dupatta. She was wearing an orange salwar and red kameez engulfed in the morning fog. The road was still wet with the previous night’s rain and she was a bottle of sunshine, simply present there, existing through the havoc, calmly enjoying her tea. It felt like I was hit by the first ray of sunshine after months of storm. She was simply serene.

It had taken me months to decipher her. At first, she was this puzzle which I was trying to solve. I wanted to know the reason behind each of her smile because I wanted to know what made her happy and I wanted to feel the same. I was perplexed at how a person can keep a smile throughout the day. I finally befriend her and I realised that she was not the sunshine and rainbows that I had thought her to be. But surprisingly as clichéd as it sounds, it only made me fall deeper.

She showed me her scars and let me trace it with my fingers. Each touch was something chilling and altogether different. I was scared and excited at the same time. It was the first time I admired something flawed. I wanted to fix the cracks and fill every broken piece with everything that I could find and give. I was frightened to hold the fragile yet most human being I was ever bound to witness, but at the same time I wanted to hold her close to ward off the constant nightmares she was fighting beneath that layer of smile.

Now as I stand in our bedroom facing the wall which contains our framed picture I find that she was never healing. I thought she was, but she wasn’t. I never got through her veil. Maybe I did see through her better than others, but not enough. I was scrambling through our lives trying to fix her when what she needed was not fixing, but a person who understood her need to heal. I was holding her raw broken pieces trying to glue her together like a precious china without knowing what goes where, all the while damaging her further.

As any other torn man, now all I can think of is a second chance. An impossibility which will haunt me till my last breath.

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Death

I often imagine how death looks like; not whether there is a possibility of afterlife or the thought of me being a sinner, encapsulated in this body. What captivates me most is how I will be reacting to death. Not precisely mine, but others with whom I share my blood with or of certain people in my life I consider myself a close acquaintance.  I used to think that it would slowly kill me. I thought that with each passing day I would be reminded of the void they would have left and the later part of my life would be lived with a stoic expression.

Years ago I used to believe the aforementioned statements of someone’s death making my life deteriorate. But now as I stand on the tip of this iceberg, I no longer see myself mourning.  I have come in terms with death as a poignant reminder of our need to be alive. Each day at the break of dawn, we force ourselves to get out of bed hoping that one day we won’t have to have the same conversation in our head persuading ourselves to get up and live. With that kind of routine, I fail to see the occurrence of us being anywhere close to alive.

Live-to be alive.                                                 

 This is the definition which my dictionary has given me. As I look at the denotation I can’t help but wonder what it means to be truly alive; to feel your heart beating in your ears and feel your entire body pulsing with energy waiting to be released into the world.

 I ponder over the feel of a new-born baby held close to my heart as it curls its fingers around mine brining the light of hope into the world. I trace its smile with my hand making myself mirror its action and at that moment I feel alive. But that’s it. That is the only moment I felt even close to any feel of smile in my body or mind, truly.

There are moments in our lives when we all feel that maybe death would be the one factor which would bring us happiness or at least salvation. We all are buried deep in the same race fighting each other to infinity, but would it be worth it in the end? And what if there is no end? What if even after the end we continue to be the same inhuman practices, where do we end up?

Death happened to be the ultimate answer for everything until I started to question it. I fear that I would be caged in my mind, which coincidently transpires to be my form of death. When I write an article I try to end it with giving my readers a glint of hope. I did try to find another perspective of death, but I failed. Maybe it is plain ignorance or it could be that I am indeed confined to the walls of my mind.  Therefore, I am sorry.

Ignorance

Being the offspring of a parent, who thinks that writing about yourself and publicising it is similar to selling your body, can put you on restrictions. I thought of myself as an exuberant human being living the life. When people called me strong I was proud of myself for “acting out of my age” as they said. The pitiful glances were never subtle and the words of recycled advice which I had accustomed to had become something which I had to accept their undesired presence.

Ignorance. That was the secret behind it. Being oblivious to what was happening had held me together for over six years. Writing these words will never be easy because once I let the words print themselves on these pages then there is no going back to the safe bubble of ignorance. Every time that I had taken my pen in my hand and let it flow it used to bring me relief. But now when I try to give life to my six years of misunderstanding I feel redundant.

If I had realised that hugging or any other form of contact could not really be superfluous or had I known that not everyone is faking their emotions for reasons unknown or that it is okay to show how affectionate you are towards others, then I wouldn’t have been the pieces I am today. I would have stayed. I wouldn’t have walked the trail left by the once dear ones. I would have actually stayed.

Having read words of wisdom from victims of the world; them being identified as the “strong” ones, I held on to their words because my existence depended on the number of words which struck me. They all told me to stand up on my own because the only person one can rely upon is oneself. They did warn me that it would never be easy and the thorns one will find on the way could be too deep into the skin that while extracting it, it might hurt more and the battle scars would be forever woven into the skin.

I acted upon their instructions. I had hoped to act brave and the face I put up helped me to keep up the façade. Yes, I have had my own occasional breakdowns which were the only sign that I am human. If only had I opened my eyes and acknowledged the display of emotions for what it truly was; nothing but longing, I wouldn’t have been the chaos I am now known as.

For years I was angry at the world for nothing when the truth was mocking me at my weak observations. I could have saved two souls had I not been immersed in hate; the only emotion I was able to channel.

My ignorance is my greatest regret.

Him.

The time is 5:58 pm. Staring into the nothingness I drown myself in my own thoughts. The last ray of sunshine peeps through the window and hits the plain blue wall. I try to smile at the wall for reasons unknown. But fails, again.

You see, I tell you that I am over him. But still I wonder whether he would be smiling seeing my lame attempt to joke when we chat. Would there be that crinkle in his eyes just like how it appears when he is with his friends laughing at something someone has said. Would he be suppressing a small chuckle so that others won’t look at him weirdly? Would there be a light in his eyes seeing my name on his mobile screen? Does he still think about how things were a few years back? Is he genuinely happy with the way we are now?

You see, I get all these images in my head which films have managed to incorporate in my mind. Him, sitting near the window, looking at his phone with that enchanting smile which everyone hopes to see from that somebody special. I can’t help but imagine how he would be waking up in the morning. Does his hair have that tousled messy look which only books have told me about? Does he rub his eyes to make himself adjust to the morning sun because the idiot won’t get up until its 9:00 am!

You see, I am a writer. And we are a bunch who is really hard to love. We talk of a universe which was never there. We immerse ourselves in the beauty of ink rather than the real existing world. We feel at peace at the library surrounded by the smell of books even if they are something which we may never read. We are a lot who falls in love with literal definitions of the real world rather than actually attempting to experience it because we are scared. Scared, because we know what life is capable of doing to us. How it can either make you into something magnificent or a disappointment. The thought baffles us making us revert into our own well formed cocoon.

You see, when you start to write, you begin to observe others as well as ourselves. We fall for a bunch of well formed words without giving heed for their physical appearance. We are in a complete trance fully captivated by the beauty of words. We are enthralled by words but at the same time we are scared of them. We understand the complexities words bring and how with the change in each syllable the meaning changes. We are agitated by the fact that we could be manipulated easily. We are too scared to take the risk.

We hope to find home in a person with a tinge of sadness in their eye and a love for words. We want them to be the light in our black hole; somehow existing in our world defying the laws of nature.

We all yearn for a time when we could find the courage to be who we truly are. A time we would not need to “figure out” a person by reading about their favourite character or judging by their music taste. We all wait for a time when we could all tell each other what we really are without the convention of society or our inner anxiety-induced self coming in our way.

We wait for a time when we wouldn’t need to crawl up the walls of a person because it never existed.

The Farewell

At the end of the academic year the 12th class students are given a farewell, at the end of which everyone will go back home with tears in their eyes as they glimpse back at their twelve years. Everyone would be parting ways with plans to meet on every 31st December promising to keep in touch as we say our final goodbyes.

But for me my school life ended at the beginning of 12th standard itself; my father got transferred back to Kerala. We were then at Andaman. When my father told me that we will have to go back I did not really realize what was happening. All I said was an okay and I was back to being me. On the first week of July I announced that I will be going back to Trivandrum. Some were sad, others not. At that time I felt that there is nothing to cry about because I was going back to my home. When someone or the other started to swell up I used to sit beside them and say something stupid until they smiled

At that time I didn’t know what home was. For me it was my room which saw me struggle. It was the purple walls I stared at for hours at length. It was my diary which I clutched in my arms every night without having any words to express myself. It was the sadness I kept within me. It was the effort I took to keep myself happy.

I was too caught in my own universe to realise that people matter. Even though I had a difference of opinion with some others, they had a place in my life too. And I perceived this information a little late. I could not show the people I cared that I did care for them. I want to hold them in my arms engulfing in a tight hug for one more time showing that I will treasure them in my heart till my last breath.

We all are caught up in our own world chasing our dreams without having time for  emotions.  We keep them in check every now and then without knowing that we are keeping ourselves from our basic right to express ourselves. And that, will be another regret I will forever carry within me.

Two days before I was supposed to leave, in the last last period my English sir came to our class. I was sitting beside Gargi. Kajol and her were the most emotional at that time. And I was stupid enough to not comprehend that either. I did not see the point in crying. Back then, I considered it as weak. The seventeen year old me was too ignorant for anyone’s liking. Out of the blue sir announced that I would be giving a speech as in two days I would be leaving. I stood in front of the class and looked at everyone. I am a person who daydreams a lot and in one such session I had imagined this exact moment; me addressing my classmates one last time. Though I had imagined this moment I hadn’t thought about what I would be saying. As of any other farewell speech I told them that I would miss everyone. I was used to letting go a lot more than I like to accept. But what I wasn’t ready for was that, at that moment some actually cared. My friends’ eyes were a bit red. As always I went up to them and cracked some jokes and they stared to smile.

On the last day of my school I did not really feel anything different. I went inside my class, sat at my usual place, cracked the same lame jokes, ate my same old dosa chutney, fought with Hari for his roti, so all in all the same usual day. But still there was some difference. My English sir did not try to joke about anything, whenever I joked I got sympathy smiles and I did not have to put a hard fight with Hari for the first time in one year for his roti. Everyone knew what was coming; except me. At the end of the day I hugged everyone and said my goodbyes giving my phone number and address. Kajol’s eyes were red but I made it okay with my quip.

After packing everything my father and I were visiting all the quarters. When I finally said goodbye to the patti downstairs it hit me. Her hazel eyes which are always shining were not exactly bright that day. At that moment all my friends’ unspoken words came to my ears as a loud scream- we won’t be seeing each other again.

The dimness in her eyes, is something which still haunts me because that was the first time someone was showing me that they care without any words and I actually believed it. As a writer you  have trust issues. Maybe it is because we know how words could be twisted and manipulated. We are always on the lookout for the correct wordings because nothing is ever enough. When people tell us that they will miss us we ask them why. They give us an answer but we are never satisfied and go to our own cocoon of self doub.

As soon as the realisation struck the heaviness in my chest increased.

I won’t be able to make fun of the kids upstairs, I won’t be there to taste SE aunty’s experiments, I won’t be there to give Reema a hug when she goes through a breakup, I won’t be there for Sheeja aunty when she feels like having a mother-daughter moment, I won’t be there when Chikku writes his next poem, I won’t be there to give Vashi and Kirpa water after a tough game, I won’t be there to yell at the kids when they break the window pane

It all hit me when I saw those eyes.

Then the first drop of tear escaped my eye. I knew the moment I stepped foot on that place that I will be leaving after two years. The walls were long broken by everyone around me without me even noticing. I hated myself for letting that happen. This time I was the one leaving, not the other way around.

I regret not spending more time with others instead of locking myself up in my room.  I regret stopping others when they were showing that they cared because sometimes when you are sitting inside your room holding your knees towards your chest looking for reasons to breathe, they could be the one pulling you from darkness. Those good times you spent with your people could be the one thing which is not letting you snap, giving you hope. A hope that in the future things could change. You could meet people with whom you can connect, with whom talking about your own theory of the beginning of the universe or life does not seem stupid.

I cried in front of others after a long time that day. I came back to my old room and suddenly it didn’t feel like it indeed was my home. My room had changed a bit, the familiar walls after two years were now not-so-familiar. The only thing which hadn’t changed over the years was me standing there with my diary clutched towards my chest with a pang towards my heart as I lost myself again.

Pain

Pain- one thing which ensures that we are alive. It is something which we try to overcome without realising that it is the essence which helps us to find happiness in small things.  It is something which force us to have hope even when we hit the bottom.

Heartbreaks are considered as immature and are classified as ‘teen problems’. But I beg to differ. Heartbreaks do not necessarily mean losing your partner. And what if we are sad and frustrated after losing our partner? Is the world too cruel to realise that a person below nineteen years old is also capable of loving someone? I personally know someone who lost her boyfriend when she was 16 to an accident. She was crying and shouting to go and visit him but none cared and asked her to keep mum because they were afraid that she will spoil the family name. Even her teachers asked her to cut the cackle, who by the way is asking us to be humane.

As I told earlier heartbreak do not necessarily mean losing your partner. It could be a family member, a friend or even a stranger who has influenced us. When we lose someone we are allowed to cry, yell or shout to let the pain out. But majority of us refuses to do that. Silence is what we follow through these times. People label us as strong, endearing, courageous and more. But the real pain strikes us in the form of a hole, a missing piece which has the power to make us happy.

We see someone with their family or friends having a moment and we look at ourselves and that is the moment we hit the bottom. But by that time we lose the privilege to let out our frustrations. Everyone asks us not to compare our problems with others’. But in reality we compare our problems with others’ happiness, knowingly or unknowingly.  The one thing no one tries to understand is that the hole in our heart persists to be there even after years managing to get bigger. We try to hide the emotions that come out. Slowly the fact that even when we are surrounded by people are alone gets ingrained our mind. Nothing can help to bury the pit someone has left.

The outside world becomes dangerous because sometimes one word might be enough to break the whole facade. These are the moments when a distinction between physical and emotional pain emerge. Physical pain becomes a distraction and that is the moment the real danger starts even though we promise ourselves to be in control.

You are never really sure what is wrong with yourselves. You try to research about it and come face to face with two words-anxiety and depression. You want to tell someone how you feel or what you are going through. You feel haunted.

Google becomes your therapist. You start to take online tests to make sure but the silver lining is still there- talk to a doctor. But you never have the courage to ask for help. You are never sure. After months of suffering and testing the limits of your physical pain you decide to give up. You decide to go past the limit of everything. Insecurity adds to everything. But you look around yourself and suddenly  discern that if you end everything the pain gets passed on to someone else. That thought would be the only thing which makes you stay. And you do.