‘What has gotten into you today?’ her friend asked, skeptical if she should be worried.
‘I feel hopeless…Depressed’, Reena could hear her voice from a distance. They were on a call but she could clearly imagine Shriya staring blankly at a wall, her eyes stationed on a far-off world that was visible only to her. Reena had been familiar with her friend’s recurrent bouts of depression since their college and would often provide her the much needed comfort. ‘I just can’t explain how empty my life seems right now. Like the world is casting me out and pushing me into an endless void…’ Shriya continued in almost a hollow whisper. ‘…..Forcing me over the edge and I’m falling…. Falling alone… and unwanted’. Shriya’s voice was glazy, sliding in raspy monologues over the phone, giving Reena the chill of misgiving. She wanted to console her, but waited patiently for her friend to continue pouring her feelings out.
Feelings could not turn toxic if they were free to flow
But the silence ensued for a long time, consuming the two best friends.
Deciding to break the eerie dead air, Reena probed further, ‘What happened, Shriya? Was it something at work or are you upset with Nishanth?’ Reena often handled her friend’s mood swings tenderly… Today there was something about her voice… a sense of desolation was it? Or maybe it was the cold aloofness in her words… It scared her. She could sense Shriya’s hopeless anguish that seemed to be beseeching Reena, begging to help her and save her from the darkness of her heart.
Reena heard her sob… It was muffled but distinct. ‘Hey sweetie… Would you like to tell me what happened?’ she urged.
‘I don’t know…’ Shriya blurted, amid tears. ‘I don’t think I can ever be happy’
‘You are happy…you have a loving family, boyfriend, friends… You have me’, said Reena, trying her best to comfort her.
‘I’ve got to go’, Shriya said, a short sharp sniff escaping her nose.
‘It’s the fever… Relax. You will be alright….’ and before Reena could say ‘in no time’ she heard the beeps of a disconnected call.
Shriya lay staring at the ceiling as the dim evening light pierced through the curtains, throwing a gloomy orange glow into her room.
‘I’m no one’, she thought. ‘If I disappear one day… I would soon cease to matter to everyone around me.’
‘Within a month, they will find my replacement at work’.
‘A month later, my friends and my boyfriend are going to shun away any thoughts about me, like I was nothing but a stain, dampening their memories’.
‘Another month, and my parents are going to move on with their regular lives and forget all about their daughter’.
‘I’m all alone in this world and nothing I do matters. I will never be loved.’
She tried to trace back the reason for the sudden melancholia…
Back from work, she had stumbled up the stairs that led to her room. Her legs had felt weak and she shivered despite being protected by her leather jacket. Her body had been burning with fever, making her crave for the comfort of the bed more than anything.
Dumping her bag on the bean bag that lay somberly in the corner of the room, she had lain on the bed covered with a pleasant turquoise flowered bedspread. The lights she had switched on as she entered the room had been piercing her sensitive eyes and it had taken her tremendous effort and willpower to roll over to the side of the bed that had another switch to turn the blaring light off.
The darkness interspersed with the dim evening glow intensified the quiet loneliness of her heart a thousand fold, making her feel desolated and glum.
‘My phone’, she thought and unlocked it. Her phone had always been a savior during such times, distracting her, providing her with temporary relief, until the desolation made a determined return again.
So she had called Reena, hoping desperately to shake off the depression that was beginning to frighten her.
Shriya always craved for MORE.
More than she already had.
Nothing was ever enough.
She wanted more and when she got it, she wanted even more.
She was aware of this seeming anomaly of her mind that always made her crave for more…not acquiring which made her mentally ill. But how could she stop her mind from dictating her how to feel…? She was incapable.
Her illness had clouded her senses, covering her already foggy mind with an unyielding longing to end the pain.
It was hard not to be loved…. It was harder to be loved and to be greedy for more.
There was only so much a person could give… and she expected more.
‘There was no cure. No remedy to this misery’, she thought. She slowly moved in daze, weakness making her every movement ten times more difficult. She imagined how easy it would be to bring an end to her pain, to her thoughts, to her greed… She would never feel inadequate anymore. No more miseries… No more life and its complications.
Now as she stood in the same daze at the top of her bed, she stared at the ceiling fan adorned with her dupatta which was tied around it ending in a noose. The round plastic stool stood ominously beside the bed right below the fan.
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Climbing on the stool, she pulled the makeshift rope around her neck. Her parents in the other room were completely unaware, assuming that she was taking rest after the long day’s work. Shriya wondered if they would miss her and a smile broke out at the corner of her lips never quite reaching her eyes. ‘Serves them right’, her foggy brain was urging her. ‘They should have tried harder’.
Her eyes flickered with a distinct feverish spark for the last time when she mumbled, ‘Good riddance to bad rubbish’, before kicking away the stool from beneath her pale soft feet.
It seemed to her like an eternity had passed between the time she kicked the stool and the time the rope actually tugged at her neck in one rough jerk, making her cough and choking it before it could escape her lips. Her ears rang with something shrill… Something that was painfully loud. She had expected this to be a quick end…
Oh! How wrong she had been.
The next few moments seemed to stretch for another eternity. Her mind forcing her to process every feeling and sensation in complete detail and at a pace thousand times slower.
She imagined the devastated look on her mother’s face as she saw her only daughter hanging lifeless from the fan and then imagined the shock her loving father would be in, looking at her daughter’s dainty feet dangling limp in front of his eyes… They loved her no doubt.
‘Why did I doubt?’
She was going to lose out now… and make them suffer for loving her. Her eyes, bulging out of their sockets were tear filled. She didn’t want to die. Not so soon.
She tried tugging at the noose around her neck, gasping for air and looking helplessly at the stool that was close to her toes but out of reach by just a centimetre- like her life that was so close but just out of her reach. She wanted to scream, but her voice was choked. She felt her tongue hang out as she gasped for air and pulled herself with her hands, trying to ease the strain on her windpipe. But the sickness had drained her off any energy which could have saved her. With tears streaming down her face, Shriya gave up and looked at the wall opposite her.
Her eyes glued themselves to a painting- a single yellow leaf that was cascading down, untying itself from the birch tree that had held it for so long. And slowly the leaf grew out of focus as Shriya’s eyes lost their distinct spark forever.
This hit close to home. Good work!