You hear the last few drops of the shower as they yield themselves to the embrace of the windowpane, finally resting after a long day.
Averting your gaze from the pale whiteness of the pages you have been reading, you look towards the window to behold the beauty of those little droplets whose sound has captivated your ears. In no time, the three dimensional reality of Noah and Allie’s world gets pulled back into the two-dimensional corporeality of the book in your hand.
As you head towards the window with small light steps, you feel an alien yet pleasant current rush through your entire physical existence. You try to open the window to fondle the beauty which is still beyond your reach. The window has become rusty having not felt the touch of a human hand in years. But you don’t want this sensation to melt away. You turn towards the clock which is hung right above a photo frame that has a picture of you and Rohan.
You were confused about where to hang it when Rohan gifted it to you on your last birthday. But you eventually decided to hang it below the clock so that whenever you looked at the time, you would be reminded to live, live wholeheartedly.
You look at the clock—it is ten minutes past two. In an instant, you press your face against the window to look at the street outside—it’s clear of all living souls. Then slowly you gaze at the moon. After being cleansed by a heavy downpour, the hazy and foggy moon is now sticking out as a bright and clean ball of silver-white, like a round aluminium plate. The moon and his little but innumerable friends seem to invite you to an intimate soiree of their own.
You go and open the drawers of the table placed beside your bed, and grab the house keys. Holding the keychain around your forefinger, you listen to its jingle as it twirls around your finger-pole. You grab hold of your mobile phone, wear your slippers, and start moving towards the main door with quick long steps. But as soon as you lock the door from outside and step on the staircase, you take off your slippers because you don’t want to ruin the neighbours’ sleep and become the subject matter of the next society meeting, for the tenth time in this month.
You walk down the steps and reach the street which looks like a set for the premiere of a movie, with a carpet of a thin layer of water rolled down on it. You grab a seat on a bench and look at all the stars rippling on the carpet, a little more stretched out than the stationary ones looking down at the street from the vastness of the sky. You love the fact that you have learnt to feel, to experience, and appreciate the beauty around you; that you have learnt to love happiness again; that you have finally learnt to love life again.
You look at the moon which has a calming effect on your body and consciousness. You feel the moonlight embracing you in its infinite invisible arms, forming a protective shield around you. You think of capturing the fleeting riveting beauty around you in a still camera shot in your mobile phone, to have a chance to revisit this scene in your memory in the future.
You unlock your phone. Instead of clicking the option for taking new pictures, you accidentally tap a folder which you haven’t opened since past one year. As soon as you become conscious of your eyes looking at the smiling faces of yourself and your parents celebrating your seventh birthday, you feel the protective shield around you shatter into pieces. Just when you hear the sound of the pieces fall inside your head, you notice a strange yet familiar figure moving in your direction. You recognize him, you know it’s him. You have known him for so long. But how is he here? How can he? And Why? Why now?
He is heading towards you quickly as he takes long and haughty strides in his black wolverine boots. He is wearing black chinos, and a black crisp shirt tucked inside them. His goatee beard and black rectangular spectacles make him look more a tyrant than he ever did before. You know that the presence of black in his external appearance is only a faint reflection of the dark dungeons and gaols he holds inside him.
You are scared of him. You don’t want to look at him, you don’t want him to rip you apart . . . again, like he has done a million times before. But there he is, right in front of you, getting closer with each passing moment. But you can’t escape, even if you want to. There is something in him that pulls you towards him, holds you hostage; maybe it’s the fact that he forces you to think of your parents, to think of life when they were here with you, to think of their death. But no! You don’t want to go through all that torture again.
As he comes nearer, you notice a smile on his face, a menacing one, which frightens you even more. You feel powerless in front of him. But how is he even here? You killed him; you stabbed him right through his heart. You remember it clearly. It was a month ago. You drove the knife into his chest multiple times to ensure that he was gone . . . gone forever. At least you had thought he was. You were finally happy, relieved of the weight on your heart.
But he’s back. He has been resurrected to life like the Bible’s Lazarus. But who resurrected him? Was it you? No! It can’t be. You think that he must have forced his entry into your body, your mind, your soul, your heart, your whole being.
He is standing right in front of you now. You beg him to leave. For sixteen years until the last one, you were the closest to him; but you never loved him. He knows you; he knows where to hit you hard. He has exploited you for sixteen long years, from the time when you were just a seven-year-old kid; from the day your parents had died in a car accident and you were sent to live with your maternal aunt.
Vulnerable and helpless as a child, like you were when you first met him, you ask him why he is back.
Hey! Let’s have a chit-chat first. It’s nice to look you in the eye after so long. How have you been doing? Great, I guess. Missed me?
You don’t say anything. You feel the air pierce through your skin. The moon hides behind the clouds who seem to have lent you all the water they carried inside them. The picture on your mobile phone turns blurry as your emotions wash it down.
Don’t want to talk to me? Okay. There was a time when you had none to talk to but me. But I guess you have found someone else—someone to caress you, to love you, who makes you want to live. And so you have forgotten me, forgotten everything I did for you. But I am sure you remember the day I met you, right?
You were not happy about having to live with your aunt. Although she was your mother’s sister, she was nothing like her. She didn’t love you in the same way; she just couldn’t.
One week after the car accident, you were sitting alone in your room because you didn’t want to talk to anybody. He was there in the room with you all the time. You were angry about surviving the accident when your parents didn’t. And he told you you were right. He agreed. You thought he was someone who understood you. He didn’t have a house to live in. He needed you to breathe and exist. And you thought you needed him.
You thought he was a friend, the only one you had. He always complied with how you felt and never disagreed. He understood when you broke into tears all of a sudden and nodded every time you felt that you should never smile again.
He was there whenever you were confused and needed help. Even that one time, when you were fifteen and the neighbourhood kids wanted you to go have fun with them. You weren’t sure about what to do. You wanted to hang out with them, you did. But you weren’t sure if you should. You felt that maybe you didn’t deserve to have fun again. And he agreed.
He always told you that you were right, even when you desperately wanted him to say otherwise. For sixteen years, you lived with him by your side. But life with him always felt like a torment. Many times in the past, you had wanted to close your eyes, forever, to never have to open them again. He was there when you felt that maybe you deserved to die and he promised to stand by you in your last breath.
He was there.
With you, but not for you.
For sixteen years, you waited for him to tell you that you were wrong, just for once, so that you could have an excuse to leave the darkness behind, and wander freely in the light again. You wanted him to tell you that it wasn’t your fault that you survived, that you deserved to live happily and to be loved again.
But he didn’t.
But then things changed. You didn’t wait for him any longer. You didn’t have to.
About a year ago, your aunt managed to persuade you to accompany her for a trip which she had planned with a friend of hers. He followed you there as well, but no one else knew of his presence except you.
You had no idea that your aunt’s friend would bring along her son who was almost about your age or you would have refused to go somehow. But later you were glad that you didn’t. Rohan had an unexpectedly soothing effect on you. While with him, you were indifferent to the presence of anyone else.
Rohan brought with him the key to all the dungeons you had been locked in for so long. He was the one who taught you to be happy again. He was the one to tell you that you could also be loved, that you deserved to be loved more than anyone he knew. He was the light that had been stolen from your life. He had become your life.
Rohan loved you and he taught you to love again, to have fun again, to enjoy and experience the beauty that each moment of your life possesses.
You were really happy after you met Rohan, oblivious of any toxic presence in your life, until a month ago when he showed up again. He confronted you forthright while you were smiling as you were looking at the pictures in your family album. He didn’t seem as powerful as he was when you first met him. You were startled to see him so closely again, but you were not scared.
Hello! Hello! Here I am again. Long time, yeah! You look different, definitely different, and happy, I must say. What is the secret of this glow on your face? Huh?
You didn’t say a word and just kept staring right into his eyes.
C’mon. You know you can’t live without me. Stop pretending. The happy days are . . .
And before he could complete his sentence and taint your happiness, you stabbed him right through his heart. And he vanished into thin air.
You killed him.
But you didn’t regret it.
Because he deserved to die.
Hey, listen! Enough with your emotional journey to the past. Focus in the present now. I am right here—standing alive in front of you.
You can’t help but cry. You are mad at yourself for not having the courage to stand strong in front of him again.
You were foolish to think that I was gone. I was always here, with you, in you. I was waiting outside the door when you stepped out of your home after spending sixteen years locked inside with me. I was there when you stopped cracking your knuckles and biting your nails, and penned down all your thoughts with your hands all steady and firm. I was there when you met him, when you smiled, and when you decided to give happiness a chance to enter your life again.
You belong to me . . . only me!
As you sit paralyzed, looking down at the street, you hear your phone ringing. You don’t look at the phone. He is still right here.
You will never be happy again!
You gather the courage to look at the screen. Behind the layer of watery blurriness, you see the name—Rohan. You keep gazing at the screen. It reminds you of the all the cheerful moments of your life—some hazy memories of you with your parents, your aunt’s constant efforts to make you happy, and the time you spent with Rohan.
You will be tormented in life and will be happy only in death.
You stand up, stumbling at first, but then gaining control—over your body, your mind, your heart, and your soul. You face him, and just . . . smile. You place your hand on your heart, close your eyes and think of all the happy moments of your life. You open your eyes, and look straight into his.
He takes a step backwards, looks down on the floor, and you see his existence crumble and become one with the carpet of water on the street.
You take a sigh of relief but then suddenly feel fear creeping in your nerves—what if he comes back again?
But you instantly find your composure back. You know that if he comes back, you will fight him again, with greater strength and support of your loved ones.
The sun’s starting to rise now. You head towards your home now, with a brightness inside your heart which the moon seems to have left with you.