Disclaimer: content on depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. In the memory of and a tribute to the Japanese author, Osamu Dazai.
“Aagh!! It’s raining again!” I repeated like a ritual every time it rained.
“What?! Rain is beautiful and soothing… and romantic” My coworkers who happened to be a couple held hands and looked at each other as they spoke.
“Ah the cringe! You guys can say all that but the inconvenience of walking out there is a pain!” I rested my grumpy face on my hand.
I’d hate on rain with so much confidence that over the years, even I mistook it as the truth. In the back of my head, certain memories of enjoying the rain show up like ice floats on the surface of the drink. I push it down effortlessly but it’d float backup with the same ease.
“Thanks for the coffee, I’ll head back home now.” I stood up and interrupted the lovebirds with sophistication, hiding the cringe.
“Okay, get home safe! See you tomorrow.” they responded with cheerful smiles.
I felt my chest get tighter, gulping the lump in my throat, I forced the corners of my lips upwards only to feel my eyes get moistened. I picked my bag and left the table struggling so much that the image of myself was that of an individual holding their urge to throw up.
At the café exit, I paused to look at the raindrops falling like a carefree diver and the puddle being formed on the uneven road. The cool breeze merged with my warm breath making a mini smoke cloud as I exhaled.
Why does it even rain? A voice in my head complained like a grumpy old hag and the rest of me judged it like it had just prayed for a draught. Well, technically, it kind of did.
In fear, I shut the voice and carry on walking with the unpleasant feeling. The drops falling on my skin and my glasses wasn’t the biggest inconvenience until the passing by vehicles splashed the water on my clothes and my drenched socks felt squishy in my shoes. The cool breeze worked as a salt in my wounds. I kept walking with a clenched fist and gritted teeth.
I was back at my empty apartment like every other day but somehow it seemed emptier tonight. I was weirded out at the mirror effect despite of not keeping mirrors anywhere in there, except the washroom.
Taking off all my clothes, I went straight for a hot shower.
Is it the warmth? No mud? Not having wet socks and ruined clothes? I pondered over the reasons for the contradicting feels in shower.
It was in fact the control, the control of temperature, the control to decide how much and when I get my body soaked in under the drops falling. The lack of breeze maintaining the heat was a bonus for my loneliness. I concluded.
Dressed in pajamas and sweatshirt, I sat with a hot mug of water in my hand with a flexed knee to rest my chin on and the other leg straightened under the cozy royal-blue, velvet blanket. Looking out of the window on my left. The city lights, the night sky and the pouring rain. All my discomfort slipped like the drops on the curved leaves of the branch floating in front of my window.
I lifted my head to sip in water. What’s more soothing? The heat on my cold fingers wrapped around the mug or the warm sip moving down my chest, slightly loosening the tightness in my chest. So that’s what relaxation feels like. My lips curved in a smile, without forcing it this time.
I fixed my gaze out of the window again as the sudden spark of lightening appeared piercing the sky, I felt the sharpness of it branching in my chest and my heart fluttered with the wrathful voice following it. The ice cubes raised at the surface again, this time with additions.
I saw the little girl jump and dance, laughing at the splashes, loving the rain with no care about the clothes soaked all the way. I was envious of the vision vividly playing in my head, doubting it was me ever to begin with.
“I’ve always hated the rain!” I said out loud like a reflex, turning away from my thoughts.
The ringing phone rescued me by volunteering as a distraction.
“Hello Ma!” I answered the call
“Hello my dear! How are you?”
“I’m good Ma, how are you?”
“I’m fine dear, I watched the news, it’s raining a lot in Yokohama today, the winter gets you sick every time, stay warm a-“
“Don’t worry Ma, I’m living too well to get affected by weather” I almost choked on my words.
“Ma! I have to host some friends; I will call you back!” I quickly freed myself from the source scooping my buried emotions. Scared of ways to get a grip on letting them break free so I took refuge in having the leash.
With my fingertip, I wiped the tear that managed to escape my eye and rolled down my cheek. Looking at it offended, like a child gets the death stare on messing around.
Shaking my head, I sat back, softly massaging my warm and tense forehead.
With closed eyes, I had another unwelcome thought. The voice same as this pouring rain, I stood in front of the house with cold raindrops all around the thin constant stream of warm water drops flowing through my eyes. With hiccups, I tried to plead, unable to make out the words, struggling to hold on to my breath. I had a paper in my hand protected under the tiny extension of roof and my small body shielding it anteriorly. A few drops still managed their way to the paper, just like I managed to mess up from loving to hating the rain. Or rather the factors leading me from loving to hating it.
I sat up with my eyes wide open, the scene remained in front of my eyes and my heart raced same as it did at that moment on that day. The warm stream of tears, the feeling of shame and fear.
I have worked for 5 years; I’ve climbed my way to stability followed by promotion. Now, why is it that I can never snap out of what had happened. I wanted to hide myself even in that room with no human. I felt gazes pierce through my body, deep to my soul and heard whispers, laughter all directed to me.
The year I was bullied led to the day I failed. Ridiculed, I accepted I deserved the hate. Beaten up, I was left unconscious in the rain.
The ice cubes keep floating to the surface.
The realization came out of the grave I dug for it in my heart and joined hands with the tightness in my chest. Panting, I punched my chest. my eyes ready to pop out when I desperately moved my trembling hand in the drawer until it clashed with the inhaler.
One, two, three puffs. And I felt my spirit get sucked back in to my body.
Minutes passed by, I felt funny; thinking of yearning and fantasizing death, then cry for dear life when I just get a glimpse of the other side.
Shaking my head, I then aimlessly scrolled through the phone. Then get bored and toss it away.
I look at the rain again, pouring recklessly.
People associate rain with so much… romance, calmness and life.
I wanted to confront the floating ice fully.
What was it, as a child, that got me love all this water falling from the sky? The scent of the soil, the voice of drops reuniting like a gang on the soil. The freshness on the plants as they dance with the cool breeze when raindrops are falling, slipping and sliding like overjoyed kids in the playground.
I listed my reasons.
The sunny days following the rain, when flowers bloom in the entire field with all their might, I recalled the vision of my hometown.
“It was the rain, that brought the growth” It was the gentle voice of my granny as a response to my amazement at the transformation of the field.
“The growth”, The words escape under my breath.
“You are afraid of growth! How can you toss aside your capabilities!” My brother’s words echoed in my head.
The surface was flooded with a layer of ice cubes. I fought the urge to push them down as usual… not today…
“Afraid of growth? I am being realistic and dodging the risk. Choosing a safe route isn’t fear of growth. I can grow in my new niche”, I defended myself with words that even I wasn’t convinced of.
Afraid of growth and chickening out from the path of my dreams was my reality. The reality I suppressed in college and ignored like a pro now.
Why now? The unresolved matters do not go away. They can be tossed aside but never lost. It was a bad idea to take time off to relax. Such things aren’t meant for me.
The rain, I disliked was because of the positivity associated with it. The romance, the calmness, the growth and life. All that I shy away from.
The empty void that nothing could fill except the words of someone who felt the same.
No matter what I do, where I go, there’s nothing more than what I expect… so what if I put my life in danger, what if I taste the drug called love? Because really, there’s nothing that could fill the empty void in my heart.
My chest was no longer tight, my tears and painful cries were the remains of the boulder obstructing my chest and throat. Not that I was getting my freedom from the ache, I was releasing what was accumulated, not cutting ties with fate.
Unaware of passing hours, I gazed out of the window yet again, with red eyes. The pouring rain had slowed down, as if matching the pace of the flow of my tears. The sky was darker, like the bags under my eyes. I touched the glass window to show affinity towards the raindrops slipping on the other side of the glass window and the cold glass carried the feelings of companionship.
Rubbing my tired eyes, I took in a few deep breaths, preparing like a soldier ready for salvation, I marched to the door. Taking the elevator, with a thoughtless mind, I was welcomed by the cold wind when the elevator doors opened. I stepped out in slippers, not caring about my not-warm-enough clothes. Ignoring the stares of the few passers-by, I walked in the rain like a dramatic damsel in a tragic movie scene.
I kept walking until soaked to the bone, shivering with the wave of cold breeze. My motive? It was to remove the label of cowardice, stop running away and face the storm. To experience the positivity of life and growth until my hatred is washed away and I’m open to it.
5 years later, that day, I was finally opening the shackles I put on me. so used to being caged, that freedom overwhelmed me.
I remembered the paper I held in my hand. The “F” that I accepted as my fate. I sealed my future and took the wrong train, one not meant for me and behaved as if it’s all okay.
The raindrops kept hitting my face with the strong wind carrying them in my way, reminding me of the things I welcomed but didn’t deserve.
I opened all locks, dug up the graves, everything aimed at me bashfully with full force… the ice cubes colliding and flooding my brain. That’s when I realized; It was a mistake, a big mistake. The fever of bravery took a toll on me. I was overexposed and couldn’t take it.
I stood in the rain when I could walk no longer, then fell to my knees when I couldn’t stand anymore. I screamed with the skies when the dark clouds clashed, my eyes filled with water droplets, falling in sync with the one’s from the sky.
Why? Just why? I wondered.
An ice cube pushed forward during the chaos and bumped in.
The door finally opened, my mother came outside. Watching my pale face, she had hugged me tight. Looking at the paper that sucked out my life. She crumbled it and tossed it out of sight. I had forgotten the warmth and acceptance, unable to forgive myself for my pardoned mistake.
When I was defeated, on my knees right now, the locked away memory came to back to me like a revelation. Shocked to my core, I even doubted it really happened.
“It’s okay come inside, I will talk to your father, it will be alright.” The day I was locked out and declared a disappointment, I had a hand extended, letting me in with compassion and mercy. Too hooked on the criticism, I completely missed the opposites.
Dwelling on the mistakes, pushing away the support, I tried to only do the easiest job. The discomfort kept growing, my suppression and its opposition eventually blasted on a rainy night today.
Now, vulnerable, I opened all the gates. Confronting all goods and bad. I want to stay until I can cry out the burden, exhaust myself to halt resistance and let the rain do its magic. Bless me with the positivity representing it.
The darkness started spreading from the night into my eyes, then mind and lastly my ears.
I opened eyes in a room unfamiliar. My throat is dry, like a home to thorns, I gulp and pinch my eyes closed in pain. The rays of the sun, the rainbow, all that I expected to see was nowhere on show.
The door clicking grabbed my attention. I saw a nurse walk in.
Oh you’re awake. My heart ached with the empathy I heard and saw.
I umm.. w-water p-please… I murmured.
The nurse helped me up and handed me a cup of water that I gulped like a starving stray kitten. She refilled it without question, and I sipped it in, slowly now.
On talking, I found out, someone saw me passed out on the street and called for help. I have been here since last night and its night again.
After a doctor’s visit, I was ready to leave. Asking my coworkers, I got help to cover the bill.
With a 2 days leave, isolated in my flat, I waited for every tick of the clock until I eventually fell asleep. My growling stomach was all the noise I heard in 3 days so I finally got up to fill it up with edibles other than water. The weakness made it hard to move but I hadn’t lived an easy life anyway so I endured just fine.
All the poetic overnight healing that I was drenched in, it had just taken control over me because I stopped resisting...
It felt like the time when my parents would fight, them yelling loudly and breaking stuff, the chaos that felt like the end of the world and then, suddenly, its silent as a grave. The only difference being, I was much calmer at this silence. Back then, I’d be dead scared at the loud noise prior to silence, fearing the sight of my worst fears and the sirens of the ambulance approaching turned my stomach inside out. I’d run down with the taste of vomit in my mouth and be frozen on seeing the open wounds in front of me. I’d bleed with them and die a little inside…. Every single time… all those moments, and the cold nights… I’d then be home alone, with sound of pouring rain. Falling asleep to its sight from the window on my bed’s side.
After the rainy night of confrontation, with expectations of freedom and a hopeful ray of light afterwards, I was just feverish at a hospital and while recovering, I understood; what I read was right…. The empty void in my heart will remain, until the sweet escape of death escorts me out…. There’s no more to life then what I know of. The hope I search for is just an illusion, a desire, a bait to run after. People live their entire lives focusing on it so they get through all that is thrown their way. Then when they can’t anymore, they wait to for their time of death. This is the reality of life. What you do, how you live, be good or be bad, justice or injustice, pain or pleasure. It all comes to nothing but dust.
Acceptance that life of the world and harshness of the people is the essence of life… I was unable to cope up, fight back. Like someone, I was also finding myself insufficient as a human, I also sense a ghost inside… My life is that of shame and I feel disqualified to shoulder the tag of humanity. Just like the one who deserved better so he abandoned his life; but left his words of comfort for me, another ghost like him, whom humanity has declined…
I continue to live the same, except for one thing that has changed… on days like today, when it starts pouring; I don’t hate or complain; I simply stand in the rain.