Ten years back, when it rained, I used to run out of my apartment and dance around as the raindrops blurred my vision. I used to jump into puddles and get drenched. Now, when it rains, I pull my chair beside the window and read a novel as the petrichor fills the atmosphere. Ten years back, I used to play cricket and football with my cousins, break a bone while trying to prove them that I am strong, or fall and scrape my knees as I ran a little too fast. Now, I meet my cousins and we sit down and laugh at the old memories. No more scraped knees or broken bones. Ten years back, my mum would teach letters and poems to me and now, I teach her technology. Ten years back, growing up sounded fun, but now it looks like a huge responsibility. Ten years back, i would read fairytales and let my imagination take me to places which could never be forgotten and now I read thick novels, keeping myself in the character’s shoes and loving each moment of the book. Ten years back, inhibition was not even introduced to me. I was one of the most confident children around. But now, it seems like a lot of things changed. Now, with each step I take, a part of me thinks about what everyone else might think about it. Ten years back, things were easier and now they’re not.
She was alone that day. She lived on the sixteenth floor. Just a floor below the terrace, which did not have any elevated edges. It was dark outside even if the day had just begun. ‘It is going to rain soon’, she thought. She was wearing a baby pink colored cropped hoodie and gray colored sweats. Even when she wore such pretty colors, she felt plain. She felt so lifeless. She wanted to end it all. As she let her emotions take over her, tears rolled down her cheeks. She picked her cup of coffee and walked up to the terrace. She sat down on the floor with her back being supported by the wall behind her. She drank the coffee in silence and after finishing it, she got up and took a step forward like a ballet girl does. Ballet. Something that she had learned over the years. The only thing that made her look elegant. Something she was so proud of. She started dancing slowly. She turned and spun so perfectly. She danced in silence as the cold breeze blew her her out of her face, making her look beautiful. It started raining. It started slow but picked up speed real fast. She kept dancing as the tears rolled down her cheeks with the droplets of rain. The clouds cried too, to make her feel like she wasn’t the only one dancing. She spun towards the edge. Then she took a step, then a spin, then a step, then a spin. She danced on the edge, not fearing the fall. As she reached the corner of the building with a spin, she lifted her left feet, hung her arms loose in the air and let herself fall forward. That’s how she ended the mess which she called her life.
I remember it so clearly. Almost like it all happened yesterday.
September 16, 2006.
I was four back then. I was a cheerful and mischievous girl. Everyone said that I was like the sunshine of the house. Always running around and talking to everyone. I loved my great grandmother the most. I called her ‘Amma‘. She was the purest in her way and loved me more than anything.
On September 16, 2006, I woke up a little later than I usually do. I usually woke up by eight am, but that day I woke up at ten. I ran down to Amma’s room, just like I did every day, as soon as I woke up. I knew I was late somehow and even after that, she wasn’t awake. Amma would wake up way before I did, but not that day. So I leaned on her bedside and tried to wake her up by calling out her name. She didn’t wake up. Even if I was only four, I realized that something is wrong. I shook her lightly while calling out her name, thinking that it would wake her up. When she didn’t wake up, I went to my mother and let her know. She was making rotis in the kitchen and she just left everything and hurriedly came to Amma’s room. I stood beside the bed as my mother tried to wake my great grandma. After a few minutes, she panicked. She kept her finger really close to Amma’s nose and when she didn’t feel her breathing, she collapsed on the floor and started crying. Back then, I didn’t know what all this was. I was a fast child but I never knew what death was. I was never introduced to it. When mom started crying out loudly, everyone came rushing to the room. They asked my mother what was wrong and she looked at Amma again and started sobbing. My grandfather moved forward and looked at Amma, trying to check what’s wrong and once he realized that she is not going to wake up, his eyes filled up. When I saw that, I asked my mom, ‘ maa, what’s wrong?’. Instead of answering me, my mother got up and picked me up and walked up the stairs and closed me in a room after telling me to not to cry and wait inside till she opens the door. She never answered my question and I still didn’t know why Amma didn’t answer my calls. I sat beside the huge window of that room and waited. No one came and I got tired and sleepy and went to sleep. After some hours, I heard the beating of drums. It was loud and woke me up. I went to the window and looked out and saw my Amma being carried away on shoulders of my father and his brothers. Her whole body was covered in white and her face looked paler. Everyone around was wearing white clothes and had tears in their eyes. Her eyes were still closed and she was taken away and that made my eyes fill up, even though I didn’t know why. All I knew was that she was gone. I sat in one corner of the room till my mother came back. As soon as she opened the door, I hugged her and started crying and she cried along with me.
Today after eleven years, I still remember it all too clearly. That was the first time I had lost someone to death. It made me feel weak and vulnerable because I couldn’t save the person I loved. That day I realized that death is always stronger than us.
And there was nothing special about her. She was ordinary. Plain ordinary. Nothing about her was too fancy. She was not like those instagram models. She was not one of those pretty girls in her school. She was not a popular kid. She faced trouble making friends. She was no good at any sports. She wasn’t one of those girl who guys swooned over. They only made fun of her. She was nothing like the girls she read about in books that she ended up falling in love with. She was an insecure little girl. She felt the most confident when she was around people who understood her. She was never the type to go and speak in front of a group of people. She sat and laughed at what others told. When she felt like people were paying attention to her, she laughed a lot because that’s when she felt the least worried about what they thought of her. She liked to live in her own little bubble. When she has a one on one person conversation, she talks properly and puts her thoughts forward but as soon as she sees people joining in, she starts shying away or starts laughing and doesn’t complete what she was saying. It’s not intentional though, she never wants to do that. She wants to be confident too but something inside her doesn’t let that happen. She was often categorised as “annoying”, “stupid”, “mad”, “kiddish”, “naive”, “dumb” and anything that she really wasn’t. People who actually had a proper conversation with her would tell you that she was like any other person. She doesn’t do stuff that any other kid her age does. She doesn’t smoke or drink. Not like she considers people who do stuff like this are bad, she just didn’t want to do such stuff yet. She didn’t feel confident in short clothes and she didn’t feel the best in the body that she had grown in. She saw all her flaws and tried to conceal them. She loved hoodies and oversized clothes. She was an empathiser. She would try her best to understand how you felt and would always try to help. She would encourage you to do good things and she would always make you feel better about yourself. She was often told that she is very loud and obnoxious. She never wanted to be that way. She had parts of her no one notices or knows of. Like the way she sung to herself when she went for her everyday walks. Or the way she danced in her closed room as she got ready. Or how she liked polaroids and wanted to learn the guitar and how she wanted to travel the world and found love stories so overwhelming. Or the way she spoke to herself while doing things she wasn’t sure of. Or the way she spoke to the moon, about things no one cared about, except her and the moon itself. Or the fact that she cried herself to sleep many times because of all the emotions that she felt. People who actually knew her, also knew that she was more than what she shows. She knew where her limit was. She had so many things she wanted to do but she would have to step out of her limits for that. She was filled with emotions that certainly were not understandable. She was not as naive as people thought. She wasn’t just that girl who laughed a lot and was really awkward and didn’t talk. She was more than that. She knew she wanted to end this walk but she kept telling herself , “come on, just another step”. She dreamt. She spoke about her dreams with a passion in her eyes. She wanted to own a small cafe in the city of France. She wanted to jump off the plane wearing a parachute because she loved the adrenaline rush. Those were two things she always wanted to do. She was just another girl with dreams that can’t be fulfilled. She was just another girl who wasn’t confident enough to face the world. Nothing too special about her.
She was so naive. Living in her own world. Something about her felt like home. She was not like those models they show on television, yet people always ended up falling for her. She was like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Always laughing. She was filled with innocence. She would greet people in a cheerful manner when she left her house for a morning walk. At times she stood beside that guy playing the guitar on the footpath and sing out the lyrics of the song that he was playing. She owned a small cupcake store and every now and then, she made cupcakes and went around the town, giving those cupcakes to kids and receiving warm hugs in return. She was really different. She was not like those girls who felt confident in short dresses and high heels. She was the hoodie girl. She wore a hoodie almost everywhere, which she has probably picked from the guy’s section. She cycles around the town, singing her favorite songs in her sweet voice. A voice that could make roses bloom. She dreams. Her dream is to own a small bakery in a crowded street of France. She wanted to live in Paris and learn about the love which made the city so famous. She wanted to learn new languages and meet new people. She fell in love with emotions. If you ever ask her about it, she’d explain. She’d tell you how she loved watching two people in love. Or how she loved watching moments that made her eyes fill with tears of joy. Or she’d tell you how the love that she saw in her puppy’s eyes, for her, made her feel so special. She was the type to shake her head and dance in the rain, like a small girl. She would sit in her room and read a novel watching the clouds fade, leaving the surroundings filled with petrichor. She was a clumsy girl. Always dropping things and always breaking rules. Always late and bumping into people. She never reached a place before the allotted time. She’d walk in panting heavily after running all the way to the destination because she probably missed her bus to that area. She goes to the church every Sunday morning and prays that the old man who lives in the house next to hers, survives another week against cancer. At times she would wear her headphones and dance on her favorite songs on a crowded pathway. She was made to stand out, even if she tried to fit in. Even if her mind wanted her to do things like everyone does, her heart made her do things her way. What a young naive woman, lost in a world full of sophisticated inhibitors. She had things a bit different. She found Lille’s more pleasing than roses and always carried a bunch of white lilies to her grandparents’ graves. She sat beside their graves and spoke to them for hours like they were actually there. Before leaving, she would lay her head on the gravestone and kiss goodbye to them. She had promised her grandmother to not to cry in front of their graves. She was the type of girl who never broke a promise. She was the type to make babies laugh by making funny faces at them. She would sit with a large group of people and make them laugh with the help of her ridiculous jokes. She would talk about the things she loved with sparkles in her eyes, it would make people want to know more. She always provided as a shoulder to cry on and often encouraged people into doing good things. All day, she spent her time running around and when the stars came out, she would sit beside her window and talk to the moon. She would tell him about a certain someone and end it all with a huge yawn and go to bed as the clouds covered the moon.
They say that we should love our body, but do they accept it? They say, we should accept our thick thighs and belly fat, but the same people call you fat and ugly. They ask you to be yourself for who you are but then they judge you when you are being yourself. They say that we should not feel embarrassed about our body hair but look at us in disgust when they see it. They say they love you for you are so beautiful. They also laugh at your face because you have joined eyebrows. They ask you to never be ashamed of your thoughts and they laugh at your face when you let the world know what is inside your brain. They call you pretty, yet they look at you with pity. Sometimes they make you insecure with their words and sometimes with their actions and it goes unnoticed by them, but that does make you think so low of yourself. When we think any low of us, they ask us to see the bright side of ourselves and yet bitch about us later. It’s tough for everyone to survive that way.
Oh well, do you see her? That girl sitting in the corner. She never talks much. She just listens to everyone and laughs to herself. She is smiling all the time, yet that smile doesn’t reach her eyes. No one knows about her personally and even if she is quiet on the outside, she is quitting on the inside. No one knows what she goes through. No one knows, what’s going on inside her brain. No one knows what talents she has. Everyone thinks of her as the quiet, happy girl that she pretends to be. Do you know why she refuses to show her emotions? That’s because people don’t seem to understand. They judge others and talk about others’ feelings, that they never felt. So she took her time, to trust someone! When she did, she found herself being her true self around them. She actually felt happy in their presence and she actually showcased her talents and shared their secrets to them. Because then she knew that they wouldn’t judge her for her flaws but they will love her for them. She let her guard down once she felt like it was worth doing so…
And they shared a secret relationship now. It wasn’t always this way. Even if they were in the same class, they never spoke. Until one day. She called him up one evening, asking him if he could help her with the English homework they had received. It was kind of awkward at first but eventually, they got comfortable. Then in class, they smiled at each other when their eyes met. They started texting after coming home. She kind of started noticing his habits in class then, like the way he shook his leg, sitting in the class and playing with a pencil or a pen or talking to the person next to him, as the teacher taught in class. She noticed how everyone laughed at him for his poor humor but somehow she actually found him funny. One day while walking to class, she walked beside him so she started talking to him. They spoke and laughed and it felt so good. When they entered the class, she sat in her seat and he, on his. For some days, they had secret eye contacts and occasional hand waves. One day the person sitting next to her didn’t show up at school and he was asked to sit beside her. Well, you see how the destiny plays? She shyly said a hi to him and started noting down whatever the teacher asked them to. After some time he asked her for a pencil and that’s when she started talking. They spoke to each other in a low voice and giggled as they wrote down whatever they were supposed to. When the teacher started explaining, they didn’t pay attention to her and kept laughing until she asked them to concentrate in class. After being quiet and attentive for five mins, she took a small sticky note and wrote – “hey ^~^” on it. She stuck it on his notebook so that he could read it and reply. They started passing notes to each other in class and smiling at each other. When the class ended and the teacher walked out of the class, they started laughing hysterically. That’s when it took a turn! They started hanging out more often. They started spending time together at lunch and got to know more of each other. During class, they’d keep glancing at each other but never at the same time. They went out on the weekends and they spoke on calls for hours at a stretch. They shared something, something that could not be defined in words. They shared something really beautiful yet unnoticeable.
Loving you was a choice I made. It started as a choice! It was slow and beautiful and my best decision. But as time passed, this choice became a habit. Waking up to your smiling face. Taking in your features as you sleep, I got a habit of it. Humming my favorite song as I make coffee and pancakes for you. I never got tired of it. Walking into the room and slowly waking you up with a kiss on your head. It became a habit for me. Watching you smile with your eyes still closed as you get up- became my favorite thing. Packing a lunch for you as you get ready was one of my daily chores and I loved doing it. You are all that is on my mind- when I read love stories while I’m in the subway, traveling to work. All day, as I sit in my office, your thoughts surround me. Sweet memories we shared, play as a slideshow making me giggle. When I come back home, tired, a cute candle light dinner with you makes me feel so much better. Laughing with you as we watch a romantic comedy, laying on the couch, has become a habit for me now. Dancing around the kitchen in the middle of the night with you, as we ate ice cream was a thing I was used to doing. Then, at last, I fall asleep in your arms, only to wake up to your face again. What more could I ask for?
And she was a confused soul. At some days she’d want to grow her hair as long as Rapunzel’s and at some days, she’d have the urge to cut them off like Tinkerbell. At times she’d laugh like it was the only thing she knew and at times she’d cry like a heartbroken girl. At times she’d sing like she’s performing and at times she’d be as quiet as she can ever be. At times she would want to live to see the day when she takes her last breath in the arms of her love and at times she wishes to end it all at once. At times she would dance celebrating life and at times she’d sit as still as a doll. At some days she’s a free bird and some days she’s trapped in the tower.
If you’d ask her to choose, she would always be confused. For example, if you asked her about her favorite color, she’d tell you how she likes jade green eyes and deep blue eyes. How black made her look slim and how red made her skin glow. She’d also tell you how she got fascinated by the rose gold color jewelry she saw on Pinterest. Or, if you’d ask her if she would rather go on a road trip or an airplane ride, she’d be confused. Road trips are soothing according to her and she finds the sceneries really interesting, at the same time, she likes the adrenaline rush she feels when the plane takes off and she likes to see the view above the clouds, as though she is in heaven.
For others, she saw a positive in every negative they have but for herself, she couldn’t see any good in herself. Life was a mystery she didn’t want to solve. The sky so high was her aim yet she was a caged bird. Waiting for the cage to break open so she could open her wings and fly away. Yet sky seemed too risky- for it had other creatures ready to hurt a small bird like her. So should she fly or stay in her cage and sing herself to sleep?