The streak of light through the darkness of the corridor, the falling drops of water from the tap in bathroom echoing and the stinging creatures, finally made my curiosity win over my cowardice. As I opened the room door, hesitantly moved few steps fearing the ghost in my mind. I could hear the sweet melancholic voice barely audible in patches probably coming from the corner room. Knocking at that door hesitantly, the voice faded, lost to my knocking at the door.
After few minutes the door was open, and the guy standing in front of me, lanky, veined hands, long beard, moustache trimmed, pale visage, eyes sleepy and reflecting innocence. My faculty of recognition was late as usual here as well, after few looks I could make it who that ghostly creature was sleepless at this hour of the night. This was the “Hostel express”, opposite team fast bowler we play daily after finishing long boring lectures. Hardly had I recognised him, instead of asking him about his well being, I was trembling and sensed that I had pressed the trigger and feared his aggression. Finally summoned my courage somehow and asked him if everything was fine with him, he replied same thing back angrily .Yes was my reply. ‘Go mind your business instead of disturbing me’, he asked angrily again.
Before leaving I asked him about that voice. Reluctantly sensed his defeat to my questions and finally was about to open his heart and asked if I wanted to listen. I said no, and he said these voices are companions of the broken. Now I could judge and somewhat feel what he was going through by his behaviour, easy thing nowadays for guys like me and you also, life was showing him its darker and that real side. He was ditched by his girlfriend. When he was saying this I could see the sacred tears of love being wiped at the cheek, imprinting their path, losing their existence to time. We both were lost also, one was weeping for his lost love and other was wiping the nothingness in his life. Hesitantly I gave him few pats of consolation and was about to leave when he told me not to tell anyone about this and let this be secret between two brothers. “Brothers” I could conclude he needed someone in these circumstances of his separation. I left, slept and opened my eyes to the breeze of dawn bringing the shocking news of his attempted suicide. Everything looked shattered in his room, windows were closed with quilts, not allowing light to enter and pen and notebook placed on table wide open waiting for the writer.
Later when everybody visited him in hospital I did same, but was shocked, proud as well. He had forgot to write something on his diary by my visit ,trying to remember what he had wanted to write he spent enough time, time to be life saving for him now. After I got back from him, when I looked into that diary again, there was nothing written on it anywhere, its pages were empty completely. There was no identity and same was about its owner, Arhaan.
There was storm after this incident back home that exposed everything on its way, pulling up cover after cover and revealing secret after secret. That exposure was to determine the direction of his future life. Somehow he managed to get back to hostel, attaining celebrity status now. He would be sleeping all day, puffing Cavender cigarettes relentlessly, making his mouth an artist that could form any shape of smoke, rings, ovals, making whole ashes to stand intact and what not. Drawing pleasure and entertainment from this futile thing. His room could damage your sense of smell with its murky smell and you could be choked any time. That explained to me the importance of fresh air, which I could not understand during years of study till now. Now he was visited frequently by all hostel mates, not to look after him but to get few puffs, friends of benefits. Till now only success was attractive but for him from now its opposite was also attractive, may be only in this case. Once I asked him about quitting smoking, he told me this was his best companion till now saying “only the smokers knew what smoking is” and you do not need to perform loyalty test. Deep in my thought I asked myself what I knew about him .I knew nothing, not even a tinge. But we were “brothers” now, I could get anything and he could share anything.
She had not let him stay at home for long. He was bone of contention in his family now, fights were on, first cursing each other then turning fierce, escalating each day. There was hardly any option left, so he had returned to hostel. Relatives were long dad for him, now his father was also on the death bed, and had lost him to her. Blinded father turned deaf every time Arhaan would call home or visit, excuses after excuses, he was cursed for nothing. Now the calls were short and visits to home rare. He was facing the harsh realities of life now, he knew nothing about himself prior to the incident. But now he knew everything, he was the “other”, that made him take refuge behind the four walls of his room. He was alien and to his own home, her behaviour was killing him inside and he was wishing death every time. Others at home knew everything, but she was the authority who wanted silence. Now he knew he had to fight on his own, alone to negotiate the curves of life and alone to battle each impediment. He was on his mission now and the search for the truth of his life started. Every time he was digging deep down his life, he was sprinkling salt on his existing wounds. He was defeated in this battle, truth of his life revealed and that had turned him religious for now, wanting eternal help. Once during the wee hours of night I saw him sobbing on prayer rag, prostrate and praying with hands cupping before his face. He had lost and this was the end of his struggle. And the preparations for one more mission were started, the mission that world knew by the small word, “suicide”, mission of taking his own life. Often he would think about this word being too small for carrying such a big thing. This was his second attempt and he wanted it to be successful. Again diary of life was not written and hereby the sirens were clattering in my ears. Deep down my heart I was preparing for the burial of my “brother” and images of bier with his corpse in my mind disturbing, I thought a soul would be wasted for the nothingness in his life. But the angel of death had again been kind enough, giving him another chance to exist.
No one was there to say anything to him now, nobody to scold, nobody to pat, nobody to slap and nobody to complaint. He was fearless as ever. Yes there was she missing out the funeral prayers those were post phoned for now, cursing the doctor who saved him. He was lost to his own world, free, where others had no existence, where he was the only inhabitant. And where the circumstances of life and its sorrows had moulded into a bomb in his heart that could explode any time. The only thing he would do now was lamenting his failure, cursing his destiny, rebuking the faces unknown who saved him and wishing his breaths cease those brought him that pain of failure.
Now disturbed by all this he visited home almost after a year. Last time he had visited in summer, when the sun was scorching and she was simmering also. May be it was his last visit to the place people called home for him. Everything had changed and he was the one who had not changed. His father, siblings and she had turned strangers to him and he was the one whom they wished could turn stranger for them also. For them everything was normal and he was the one whom they all seemed abnormal. Before returning he hugged his so called “friends” and watched his childhood ways places where he played, looking for the peace those used to give him, but now even those ways were strange to him.
On return he was a changed man, he had resolves made, to be himself he used to be someday. He was jovial as ever, countenance reflecting happiness, recommenced his interest of bowling fast, attacking every batsman, aggressive by heart. Summer was being replaced by autumn, green of nature was turning yellow and the leaves were falling to ground, hapless and to be crushed without sighing. Exams were coming in parallel, he had to prepare, so he resumed his romance with studies, flirting with the pages of his book he could hardly understand anything from. Nights made days by the candles and tomorrow it was going to be his first paper. On usual visit that night I had seen him writing his diary.
Finally the mellow sun was out of its horizon, silhouetted birds tweeting under the naked branches, cold breeze peering his body, sending cold currents down his spine. He was nervous and trembling as others. Moving to the bank of Jehlum for embarking on his eternal sojourn, for his first paper. Walking on the sand he looked back at his footsteps, fading with each centimetre he moved. These were the things he was leaving behind him for the world to decipher in addition to his diary. Now he was on the boat that would take him to his exam centre, his goal. He had left his diary there in the room. Receding from the bank he was looking at the rippling waters that would take his sacred written paper to the bank, he had left on. And here was a monstrous tide, separating him from his sacred words, his “Suicide Note” nurtured till the bank by the rippling waters, stating….
My Step Mother
From your “Other” Son