“Just say it,” you silently remind yourself. You knew you’d regret it if you didn’t. Tears stream down your face as you look in the mirror. You see brown eyes staring back at you. You see the neat braid that is secured at the nape of the neck. You see the plump of the cheeks. You see the pink of the lips, the generous pout which quivered as a stream of tears dropped from it.
You close your eyes and take a deep breath. “You can do this,” you say to yourself. You repeat it like it a chant. You say it five times. 10 times. 20 times. 40 times. 100 times. You lose count of it at one point. You try to find courage. You think of all those self-help motivational books that were stacked up by the bedside in your apartment. You think of all the TED Talks you’ve watched on YouTube while you sat on your desk at work. It seems like a lifetime ago. A time when you believed in yourself, worked hard for your dreams, trusted the law of attraction.
All of it was bullshit, you think as anger starts to simmer in your chest. You regret wasting hours consuming that sort of content. It didn’t help you. Not at all. The demon is still in you. It took hold of you and has made a residence inside you.
You sense something move inside you. Your eyes flash open with fear. You feel the demon waking up. You run to the bed and get into a fetus position. You hold your stomach tightly with your arms as you try to squeeze the demon out of you. You try to stop this feeling, this feeling of something sneaking inside of you, this feeling of something eating you, one big chunk after the other. Your try to make it stop, but instead, you start to daze away. You mumble something. You passed out.
You try to open your eyes. Your head feels groggy. You see bright white lights that immediately makes you squeeze your eyes shut. You want to rub your eyes awake, but you can’t move. You make an attempt to lift your hand, but you seem to be stuck. Your wrists are tied at the edge of the bed. You hear voices. “She’s waking up.” “Slip her some more, I’m not done yet.” You feel a needle in your arm. Your muscles relax as you go off into a dreamless slumber.
“Just say it,” you silently remind yourself again. You knew you’d regret it if you didn’t. Tears stream down your face again as you look in the mirror. You don’t recognise the person in the mirror. “Who are you,” you ask. You see the mouth move in the mirror, but there was no sound. You stare back at the brown eyes. You notice the eyelid droop. You notice the hallows of the cheeks. You notice the black tint on the lips. You try to recognise your reflection.
You sense the demon move in you. It grumbles. You ignore it. You wipe the tears off your face and go to the bed. It’s still bright outside, but you feel dizzy. You look at the ceiling. You notice the white paint chipping off. It reminds you of the ceiling you saw in your dreams from where you hung yourself. You feel the demon rise inside. You feel it smiling. You feel it plotting against you. You squeeze your eyes shut and pass out.
You open your eyes and realise you’re not in your room. The bed feels hard against your boney figure. Your wrists are tied again. You hear voices. “This time she put a pillow on her face. We got there just in time.” “Poor thing.” You hear scuffling of the feet. You feel a hand on your cheek. It felt soft and pleasant. You hear someone whisper in your ear, “Don’t die.” You’re stunned, you're paralysed. Then suddenly, you feel muscles relax. You body lets go. You feel light. Don’t die. You mumble the words. That’s all you have to say to yourself. Don’t die. You repeat it like a chant. You say it five times. 10 times. 20 times. You feel a needle prick in your arm. You pass out.
You are in the kitchen. They trust you with knives now. They think you are recovering. You think you are recovering. You know the demon is bruised. Wounded. Hurt. It was you who hurt the demon. It was you who soared over him. You feel proud. You smile as you put butter on a slice of bread.
“You seem happy today.” You turn to see Nurse Pinto smiling at you. You smile back. “Would you like some coffee?”, she asks you. You nod. You go towards the dining area with your plate of bread in one hand and a mug of coffee in another. You find Roy and he waves at you. You go and sit next to him. He is talking to Mr. Walia. Mr. Walia smiles at you and you smile back. They talk about movies. Old Hindi movies. You remain silent.
You don’t know anything about movies, or remember it, if you have to embarrassingly admit it yourself. You do remember being in front of the TV countless number of times, with mind adrift, eyes hazy and needles sticking from your arms. You do remember the rise of the demon in you. You do remember your parents shouting at you, the fights, the arguments, the tears - rivers and rivers of tears. You do remember your mother slapping you, hugging you, crying all over you. “You need help”, she said.
You hear laughter and tune yourself back to the present. You smile as Mr. Walia roars over the chatter of the room. You like Mr. Walia. You like that despite being as old as her father, he is so young at heart. You look at Roy's smiling face. He looks pleased with himself. You shake your head in amusement and get back to your breakfast. You blow air in the cup of coffee and drain it down in one gulp. You feel its warmth sliding inside you. You feel the demon scream as it burns, bit by bit.
You smile and join in the laughter. You feel light. You haven’t felt like this in years. “Is this what happiness feels like?,” you ask yourself, pleasantly surprised.