/*When forms fade away and memories become blurred, voices faint and strong, are all that remain...*/
I didn’t know that one day, I would pull out a fully loaded beretta, out of thin air, at the will of my thought, and point it right into the forehead of someone whom I loved more than anything or anybody in this whole world. But I was left with no other choice. She had betrayed my trust and broken my heart. She deserved to get blown away into pieces by the sharp bullet heads. I had no control at that point. I couldn’t completely get her picture but I was sure that she had no expressions of fear on her face. She seemed to be smiling and that strengthened my resolve to pull the trigger, even more. She showed no signs of repentance. She was not sorry for what she had done to me. She was standing right there like a rock as if she was very much prepared and ready for this. I had to pull out my other arm and place it under the magazine as support, since my hands were quivering. I placed my finger around the trigger and was still in a slight dilemma. I closed my eyes for a moment and that’s when I heard the faint voice, “Go on. Pull the trigger. What are you waiting for?”. It was her voice and it was accompanied by a cunning laugh that irked me and my anger furthermore. I opened my eyes and felt that it was the go ahead she had given me. I was about to pull the trigger towards myself and right that moment another strong voice of a female hit me from the back of my head with a pleading tone, “DON’T PULL THE TRIGGER. Please listen to me. Do not do this.”
“SHUT UP and get out of my head.” I screamed back at her voice cause I couldn’t find her anywhere.
“I won’t leave you, my Hero..”, she refused my words.
“You are nobody. You are just a voice in my head upon which I do not have any control. But you can never stop me from doing this.” I rejected her advice.
“DON’T. YOU WILL DIE if you do that.” She tried her best to stop me again.
“I was dead way back. And it is her that needs to die right NOW…” I turned my full attention towards the betrayer, as I replied the voice.
Few months ago…
It was the evening time and I was waiting for her in our office cafeteria so that we could get back to our home. The home where we stayed together all these years. It was the exact day and place, I proposed her 6 years back and I was sitting there remembering all the good and bad times we had spent with each other all through. But I didn’t know how to talk to her anymore. My doubts were gaining strength and I felt that it was about time, I confronted her. So, I opened the conversation with her, on the mobile, with a straight question, “What’s happening between you and Arjun?”
“Nothing..”, I received her reply after couple of minutes.
“Tell me the truth please.”, I wanted her to confess.
“He is just a good friend.”, she lied again
“Can you stop this and tell me the truth? I came to your desk and you didn’t even notice me. I was sitting behind you all the while and you were crying and talking to him over the phone.”, I confirmed her that she was caught.
There was silence and I was waiting for her reply. I had seen her talking to him emotionally and conveying how much she loved him and I couldn’t stand there any longer and rushed back to my desk.
“I am sorry.”, she responded after couple more minutes. “I don’t want to hide it any longer. I don’t know why, and I don’t know when, but I started loving him…”, she revealed herself.
Looking at her reply, I fell silent and tears rolled down from my eyes. It was like, a huge part of me died at that moment. A huge void had been created and my mind had become numb. All the years of love and affection, were shattered into pieces at that instance. I couldn’t type anymore. But she continued.
“It’s because of my parents. I cannot marry you as they won’t agree and I don’t want to go through this stress anymore. Arjun had approached my parents and they agreed for our marriage since we belong to same community. We will be getting married soon. Please forgive me, if you can..”, she stabbed my heart with her direct statements.
Reading through her lines, I had infinite number of questions for her. I wanted to start with “Why?? Why did you do this to me??..” But my heart was feeling so heavy that I couldn’t talk to her anymore. I felt cheated big time. It hurt me a lot and the pain was unbearable. But I just sat there, curbing all the tidal waves that were surging to come out from the inside. It hurt my ego as well, as she had rejected me for somebody else. She had chosen somebody else over me. Slowly but surely, my emotion was turning into anger. I closed my fists firmly and tightened the nerves around my neck. I was sure that if I had stayed there for some more time, I would have surely rushed to her and harmed her. But I had loved her so much that I didn’t want anything of that sort to happen. So, I just stood up from there and left the place without replying a word to her.
I withheld everything inside me. I was back to where I had started, 6 years ago, to being alone. I felt suicidal at times but I didn’t have the courage to do it. As with all the love failure people, I too got addicted to alcohol. Days and months passed by but the pain within, never subsided. All the questions that I had for her and all the questions that I had for myself, were never answered by anybody. And one fine day, finally, I had gathered the courage to bid farewell to this incomplete life.
I bought 5 bottles of sleeping pills from 5 different medical stores. Each of them contained 10 capsules. I remember that night I swallowed capsule after capsule, sometimes 2 and sometimes 3 and 4, as I gathered experience in that short while. It took me more than 6 minutes to swallow all of them and I just sat there looking at the wall clock in my room, waiting for something to happen. I wanted to witness my final moments and feel how death would bury me in its arms. The clock was ticking along and exactly 5 minutes later, I felt senseless. I had no control of my sight but I tried hard to look at what was happening. One glimpse, I was sitting and next glimpse, I was lying on the floor but I couldn’t feel a thing. I could see some dark fluid splashing on the floor, right beside my mouth and at that point I was sure that I had achieved what I wanted and I didn’t try to open my eyes anymore.
I had thought that that was the end. But it was not so. I was still there, somewhere. Someplace dark. The darkest that I had ever been and I could see couple of trains crossing each other with the speed of the light and they never seem to end. They were making hell lot of noise and the scene was continuous. I was feeling irritated but still the trains didn’t cross each other completely. I closed my ears and thought, “I want this ruckus to stop..”, and all of a sudden, they vanished into thin air. All that was left was the dark space again. I was looking all around for something or someone to appear in front of my vision but in vain.
Then I turned my gaze to my right and I could find my home, at some distance. The home where we both lived. I knew that place and I moved further towards it. Took the stairs and knocked the door of the apartment in the second floor. But there was no response. I knocked again but still there was none. I closed my eyes with my hand and thought, “I want to be in..” and the next moment I was inside the house. I looked around and thought that it had been a while since I came back to it after she had left me. It was the home we so lovingly built with all those small and big things of our interest. It was the place where I felt happy and safe in my soul mate’s company. I went to the kitchen, the balcony, the rooms and felt good. But suddenly, a thought occurred to me, “Where is she?” The house was empty with no one, except me. She was supposed to be there, I thought, and slowly opened my mouth and called out her name, “Pooja..” but there was no response. I called out again. This time with bigger voice, “Pooja..??”
“I am here..”, she responded
I came back to the living room from where I had entered the home and saw her sitting on the deewan, holding the remote control and watching her favorite show on TV, as always.
“I…I didn’t see you..”, I said.
“I was right here..”, she replied.
I sat down on the sofa and was looking at her. But I couldn’t get her clear picture. She was blurred. I could only see her when I really wanted to see her. I mean I could only see her when I focused all my concentration on her. Else, she appeared blurred and I felt that she would disappear even with the slightest turn of my head away from her. So I fixed my gaze upon her, keeping all my focus. I thought that she must have been feeling guilty with whatever she had done to me. But she didn’t seem to care even a bit.
As I was thinking about asking her the questions which I wanted to ask her all the while, she looked at me and said, “A friend of mine is coming to meet me on my birthday. He stays in US and he came here for few days”
I was taken aback by what she had said. Cause that scene had already happened. That very incident. The friend was Arjun and it was the first time he visited our home when he came to India. I couldn’t believe what was happening. But I nodded my head in agreement and she smiled. That moment I felt that I still had a chance of winning her back if only I could do something different to what I had done previously.
I turned my vision down to the ground and looked up and found myself sitting beside her, and Arjun sitting opposite to her in the restaurant where we used to go regularly. As we were about to have our food, a band of 4 people surrounded our table singing the happy birthday song for her. The waiter placed a big cake in front of us, looking at which, her eyes gleamed like the stars. She was surprised and turned towards me. But I knew that it was not me, but Arjun who had arranged her birthday. She was about to pull out her arms and hug me, and that’s when a voice was heard, “Hey..How did you like the surprise?” from the other side of the table. She turned her attention towards Arjun and said with whole lot of excitement, “It was you???!!!” and he smiled. She immediately got up from the chair, went to him and hugged him for what he did, right there, and right in front of me. I couldn’t stand that anymore. This was like re-living the same pain that I had gone through and I spoke in a stern tone, “It was ME who arranged all this and not Arjun..”. Hearing my words Arjun got surprised and before anybody could say anything, she said, “You? No way. I know this was all arranged by Arjun. He had told me that he would surprise me.” She spoke, in favor of him and I felt embarrassed in front of everybody. I wanted to run away from the place but I still didn’t want to let her go.
Arjun turned out to be an even bigger player. He smiled and spoke to her, “Are you kidding? Just this cake is a big surprise for you? No dear. Here is your birthday present.” And he handed her a package. She took it, opened it hurriedly and found a watch that had diamonds studded all over its dial and she hugged him again for that luxurious gift.
I was standing there like a loser and couldn’t do anything. I wanted to overplay Arjun but I couldn’t. It was not under my control. But I still wanted her at any cost. So I interfered them saying, “I gave him the money to buy you that watch.” And before she could reply, a strange voice from the top left corner of my head spoke, “Oye Hero. What in the god damned hell are you doing?”. It was a female voice and it was new. I had never heard her before. I thought that I was just imagining some sounds but then the voice came back saying, “Look at you! You are just making a fool out of yourself.” And I was forced to turn my concentration towards the direction from where this voice was coming. But I couldn’t find anybody there. I remembered that whenever I focused more, I was able to achieve what I wanted. So I focused more, thinking that I wanted to see the face behind the voice. But still I couldn’t. I turned back to Pooja and Arjun but I couldn’t find anybody or anything there except the pitch black darkness. I got angry over the voice and asked, “Who the hell are you?”
“I am your friend.”, she said.
“Come under my vision. Let me see you.”
“You cannot.”, she replied
“Why?”, I asked and there was no answer to that question.
After a moment, the voice spoke again, “Just leave her with him. Forgive her.”
“Why should I leave her? We are going to get married soon.”, I lied
“Stop fooling yourself. I know everything about you.”, she said in a stern voice
“What do you know?”, I asked her
“I know that she cheated you and that she is going to get married to Arjun.”, she told the secret which only I was aware of.
I was taken back listening to her reply and I asked her, “H..How do you know all this?” but there was no answer.
But she spoke again, after sometime. “You wanted to ask your questions to Pooja and you didn’t have the courage. So gather yourself, go and ask whatever you wanted.”
“It’s not that I don’t have courage. I didn’t want to look at her and talk to her again.”, I responded.
“But you wanted to die instead?”, she asked.
“hmm..yes..”, I replied
“For a girl who cheated you? Is it all worth it?”
“I don’t know…”, I got confused what to say to her.
“You will know for yourself. Go and confront her Now..” she said.
And the very next moment, I was at Pooja’s desk and she was talking to somebody over the phone. I was standing there behind her listening to her conversation. Pooja, her desk and I were situated on top of some 200 storied skyscraper. The wind was blowing hard which made it difficult for me to listen to her conversation. But I went close to her and overheard her. She was talking to Arjun and she said,
“I love you Arjun. I love you so much. Please take me away with you. I cannot live without you. I will be waiting for you and I wish to marry you. Please accept me as your wi..” and before she could say anything further, I placed my hand on her shoulder. She turned around and saw me standing there with tear-filled eyes.
“Y..you? W..when did you come?”, she faked her smile at me.
“Came at the time you were proposing Arjun to marry you.”, I told her the obvious.
“Ohh..that was my friend and it’s not what you are thinking. I love you.”, she tried to continue her lies.
“Shut up, will you? You do not love me. You love him and you will marry him.”, I spoke her truth.
She held her head low and couldn’t look into my eyes and this time, I couldn’t stop myself from asking all the questions which I couldn’t ask her previously.
“Why?? Why did you do this to me? After all these years we were together, we built a lovely home to live and you just destroyed everything? What wrong did I do? How could you do this to me? Didn’t you know that your parents won’t agree when it all started? You knew that right at the beginning. So why?? Why didn’t you leave me then? Why you had to cheat me for someone else? I need an answer and it better be a straight one.”, I shot all my questions at her.
“I just needed you until the time I got married to someone. I was alone and you were my security. I never had the intention of getting married to you. Now that I got what I wanted, I don’t need you anymore. So please forgive me if you can.”, she replied the harsh truth that I wanted to hear.
At this point, I couldn’t tolerate her words. I was angry and I felt my heartbeat raise to the level which I could hear even on top of that tall building amidst the gushing wind. The fact that I had killed myself for such a selfish woman doubled the anger levels within me. And I couldn’t stop myself from searching for a gun around me. I looked here and there. But I couldn’t find one. I focused my concentration and thought about a beautiful and deadly baretta and the next moment I found that floating in the thin air towards my right. It all appeared senseless to me but I grabbed the gun, plucked it from the air and pointed it straight at the forehead of the person whom I loved the most.
“DON’T pull the trigger. You will die if you do that.”, I heard that voice again.
“I am dead already and she is the one who has to die NOW..”, I replied her tightening my grip around the weapon.
“You are NOT DEAD.”, the voice replied.
“No. I am DEAD. I know.”, I refused her words.
“Then who the hell are you? Standing here pointing a gun and replying me all the time?” she asked. And I felt confused. “I..I don’t know. And it doesn’t matter anymore. This betrayer has to die and I am going to do the honors.”, I replied her with a stubborn voice.
“Don’t do it. Please.”, the voice begged me.
“Why?”, I asked her. And this time I got the reply.
“Cause someone loves you and she doesn’t want you to die.”
“Who is it?” I asked her.
“It’s me, my hero. I love you more than anything else in this whole world. Just like the way you do when you love someone. And I don’t want to lose you at any cost.”, she replied with a shivering voice.
“Why the hell do you love me?”, I asked her.
“Cause you are no different to me. You are my own self and how can I not love my own self. I love you. Please believe me..”, she replied.
I felt confused and lowered my weapon a bit. But then I felt that I was being cheated again. I didn’t have any logic behind what was going on and so I wanted to hold on to what I firmly wished to execute at that moment. That is to shoot the betrayer. I raised my weapon again and was about to pull the trigger.
“Please don’t. I love you.” I heard the voice trying hard to stop me again.
After hearing her words I brought back the weapon to my forehead and shouted. “DAMN it. If you try to stop me one more time, I am going to shoot myself and I assure you. DO NOT come in between. It’s a fight between myself and her…”
“NO. Please don’t. I will not stop you again. But please remember one thing. It was never the fight between you and her. It has always been the fight with yourself and I pray that you win and come back to the one who truly loves you. I will be waiting for you on the other side and I love you… Goodbye…” she said and I didn’t hear her voice back again.
“Go on. Pull the trigger. What are you waiting for?”, I heard the voice of the betrayer standing in the front.
I waited for sometime in silence. Looked into her eyes and said, “I can’t...”
“Why? Cause someone told you not to?”, she replied.
“No. Cause it’s not my instinct to hurt anyone. If I had to hurt you, I would have harmed you the day you got caught. But I am feeling guilty now. Guilty because I went against my nature and killed an angel who was walking on this earth. Do you know who that was? That was ME and I don’t know how to bring myself back to where I belonged..”
“So, what do you do then?” she smiled and asked me.
I was silent for a moment, gathered myself and said, “I forgive you…have a happy life with Arjun. I let you go…”.
As I spoke those words, tears flooded my eyes and everything around me got blurred. I could hear the tall building trembling as if it was hit by a huge earthquake. But I never cared its destruction. There was complete darkness for a moment and then there was light blazing through my eyes. I struggled hard to open my eyes to the bright light but I finally woke up to a beautiful sunrise shining through the big glass window beside me.
I closed my eyes and opened them again just to check if the darkness would come back. But it didn’t. I touched myself and I felt real. I tried to get up from the bed on which I was lying, but there was hell lot of a pain in my back. I ignored it, got up on my feet and I felt feeble. I then slowly walked towards the window and saw the entire city and the traffic flow on the roads below. “I came back”, I thought, and as I was feeling happy, an important thought ricocheted in my mind. About the voice that guided me. “She said that she would wait for me on the other side.”
I turned around and scanned the entire surrounding. I was in a hospital room and there was one girl leaning her back to the pillows of another bed. She was immersed into the book she was reading. I felt that she was the one and slowly walked towards her. She had noticed me but was stealing away her eyes from me. She was looking into the book and looking at me, by turns. I approached her and sat down on the chair beside her bed. I observed that her left hand and left leg were completely bandaged and there was blood stained bandage tied around her forehead. And despite all her bruises, she was looking beautiful. I tried to start the conversation,
“Hi…” I said and she looked at me and smiled. Closed her book and greeted me with the nod of her head.
“So, it was you?!”, I asked her with a mix of curiosity and excitement. And she raised her eyebrows doubtfully as if she didn’t get my question.
“You know me, right?”, I asked her again and there was no change in her expression. I felt doubtful about her. But something told me that she was the one and I couldn’t stop myself from shouting at her, “DON’T ACT please. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. Please talk to me and tell me that you were the one who was with me in my darkness.” But still she didn’t speak out and I held her bandaged hand and shook it hard and asked her in a stern tone, “SPEAK OUT…” and a hand landed on my shoulder which said, “Sir…What are you doing?” I turned back and found the nurse. “I need to inform the doctor that you woke up. Can you please go back and lay down on your bed? You need to rest.”, she told me
I pointed to the girl and asked the nurse, “W..Why isn’t she speaking?”
“Oh..I am sorry but she cannot speak or hear since her birth. She told me when I asked her the same question…”, the nurse replied.
“What happened to her?”, I asked by looking at her bandages.
“She fell down from the first floor of her house accidentally.”, the nurse replied.
I looked back at the girl’s eyes and they were calm and glittering, and she smiled at me all the time. I apologized her by raising my hand. I got up from the chair, without budging my sight away from her eyes, slowly walked back to my bed and sat down looking at her. She saw me for some time and then opened her book and got immersed into it again.
There were nobody else in the room. I asked the nurse, “How long have I been here?” and she replied, “It’s been more than 6 months since you were admitted here and the doctors had diagnosed that you went into a coma.”
“Who else used to come here?”
“Your mom, dad. They went home and would come back. And few friends and colleagues used to come to see you.”
“And? Anybody else?”, I asked her with a bit of hope.
“No Sir. That is all.”, she replied and I fell silent and disappointed by the thought that after all it was just another voice inside my head.
All my friends and family were overjoyed with my return. There were smiles and laughter all around and I was the only one amongst all of them who faked it.
The day had passed and it was around half past 12 in the night. All the visitors left and I felt that I was alone again. I missed the voice. I remembered her words and what she had told me. I still couldn’t believe that it was just a voice and nothing else. The nurse asked me to sleep and I agreed to her. I thought, maybe I could find her in my sleep again, where she had left me. I wanted to talk to her for one last time. I asked the nurse to switch off the lights and I slowly tried to get into the sleep.
The darkness had returned but she was not heard. This was different to what I had felt previously. There were multiple scenes running through my mind. The hospital, my friends, their smiles, mom, dad and as these scenes were getting played in my mind’s eye, I heard a faint voice, “oye, hero…”. I tried to listen to it attentively and this time, the voice grew, “Oye, Hero…” and I felt something was crawling on my palm and I woke up with a sudden jolt from my sleep and found a dark figure sitting beside me. I lurched back and got scared. Quickly got up from my bed and switched on the lights and saw that it was the girl from the other bed. She was looking at me and smiling. I could feel my heart thump and I was sweating all over. I cleared my face with my hand and asked in a tensed tone, “W..What are you doing beside my bed?”
She gestured something with her hands and I couldn’t get what she was saying. I felt that she had disturbed me as I was about to talk to the voice. I spoke to her in a stern tone, “Can you please go back and not scare the shit out of me like this? I already apologized you in the morning.” And she was still gesturing something with her hands which I couldn’t understand even a bit and said, “Please stop. I cannot understand you..” by placing my hand on my head. She understood me and looked here and there and got the diagnosis pad attached to my bed and wrote something on it. She turned it back towards me and to my surprise it read, “I am your voice…”.
I rubbed my eyes and read it again and it was real. I came close to her, sat beside her, on my bed and said, “But you cannot speak?!!”, in sign language. She wrote again, “I can. When I get inside your mind.” I looked at her with confusion and she continued writing on the pad.
“I am a fighter too, just like you. All my life, I always wanted to speak, even though I couldn’t. I used to observe everyone speak and hear and I used to feel depressed. Then one day I decided that I would make it possible for myself. So I made it as my profession, my only goal in life. I am a psychic. I learned to do this all through my life and mastered it. I can talk to people via telepathic transmission. I found out everything about you from the nurse and wanted to know more about you. I wanted to help you out. So I worked my way into your mind and was able to communicate to you. And you were in real danger. You were about to kill that girl. Killing that girl would have been the end of you. Cause she was the only reason you held onto your life in your coma. The only way to bring you back is by not allowing you to kill her. That was the reason I was stopping you all the time.”
I read what she had written down on the pad and was awestruck. My mouth was wide open and I looked back at her speechless and she smiled at me. I thought about all that had happened in my traumatic state and felt cheated again. Cause all the questions which I put forth to Pooja, were actually answered by myself and not her. They were all my illusions and not the truth.
Looking at my dejected face, she held my chin, raised it and asked, “What happened?” and I wrote down what I had felt.
She looked at it and wrote, “It is true that those questions were answered by you and it is also true that the answers you gave to yourself were nothing but the truth. Cause my dear, a person like you can never be wrong. Believe me. I know you.”
I took the pad from her and wrote, “And you said that you loved me more than anybody else in this world?” and showed it to her.
She was taken aback by my words and she stole her eyes away from me. And I understood her.
“So it was all part of saving me and nothing else. Thank you for saving my life.” I wrote these last words on the pad, placed it on the table and got up to get out from the hospital.
As I was about to open the door to walk out, I heard a sound. I turned back and found her on the floor. She got up on her feet, with all those bandages, dragged herself hurriedly towards me and before I could say anything, hugged me so tight that all the pain and anguish, all the incompleteness and void within me just vanished into thin air…”
**********************A New Beginning *************************
Story conceived and written by,
Author Notes: Dedicated to all those Heroes out there who are battling with their own demons. Remember, the fight is always with yourself and never with anybody else. Hope you win your own battles and emerge victorious. Last but not the least, remember that you are always loved.
Story conceived and written by Subash Anjuru.