I cringed at the cue. My hands trembled. I watched at the door then eyes moved to the cut and then again to the door. Who could it be at the door? Blood had drawn a thick line of blood along the cut and was to drop on the bed. I grabbed an old cloth from cloth-stack and soaked the blood before their drip.
I heard another two consecutive knocks followed by Preeti’s tone. “Ava. I know you are in there. Open the door!” She said leaning on the door, I sensed so.
“Yeah. Coming.” I held on the cut applying more force and wiped it again and again till the blood stopped pushing out. In the faint luminosity, as I had switched off all the main lights in room except the faint moonlight filtered through the window, it was thin, still merciless and disgusting with bloods sticking around it. It made my empty stomach growl. Of course I was no vampire! I jumped off the bed and went to open the door.
“Whee! What happened to the lights?” Preeti frowned as I opened the door.
“Nothing. I have just turned them off.” My voice was raspy. I had barely talked to anyone in the past few days.
“Why? You got your eyes traded with cats?? Or lions?” Her words were full of sarcasm. She looked clueless. She came from light and obviously, she could see nothing but darkness pervaded in my room. She moved foot-after-foot into room carefully not to stomp over anything while I nonchalantly ambled through it. My eyes were sagely adjusted to this light.
As I flicked the lights on, I heard a long gasp from behind. Preeti surely didn’t like the scenario of my room. In fact I also didn’t appreciate it much. That’s why I had it in dark.
“I think it was better with lights off.”
I remained silent.
“When was the last time anyone entered into your room?” She said looking at the piles of clothes here and there in small heaps.
I kept silence.
“So who else are the new habitants of your room?” Her gaze stopped at the tea stained mugs towered on table from where ants were queued up and also the cobwebs filling up roof corner and the workaholic spiders hanging from it.
Once again silence prevailed.
“Are you gonna answer me anything?”
Silence. Silence. Silence. A big silence this time. I heard her gasp with frustration.
“Fine. You seriously need to get out of this hell. Get ready. We are going out.” She ordered.
I loosened myself into the bed. “Not in mood.” I said leaning over the piles of pillow.
“Not in a mood! Then when will you be in mood? Look at yourself.”
It’s been a while since I had met my reflection. A long long while. There was so much inferiority stacked inside me for myself that I was dubious about praising myself in mirror again.
“You are coming with me. Until that I’m not going to anywhere and will stay till I fall unconscious breathing in this acrid air of your room.”
“Please. Try to understand. I just want to be alone. That’s all.”
“Listen darling. You have wasted enough time in name of reconstruction of past destruction. It’s high time for you to come out of shell.”
I scoffed. After a long time someone again picked up the topic that I want to avoid till the end of my breathing.
She grabbed my shoulder and dragged me out bed.
“When did you have your last bath?” She wrinkled her nose.
I seriously didn’t remember it. I chose to side up with silence.
“When will you stop giving me these torturous silent treatments?”
“I- um-just” I tried to say. But it seemed like the words on mind were off on a holiday.
“Fine. Just have a bath and get ready and we are going out and I’m not gonna take a NO for answer and by looking me you must have figured out how angry I’m and nothing can stop me from taking out of this and..”
“Take a breath. Relax.” I interrupted. She seriously didn’t look like someone who could be deterred. I went into bathroom.
I shuddered as water ran through hair paring the grime on my heated skin. I also put the fresh cut on wrist under running water and looked at it. After the wash it looked less frightening, just a bare reddish line cut bias the wrist next to the etched lines on skin.
The splash of coldness was rejuvenating, refreshing and soothing; like a meditation. I stood under the shower still, without any soap or scrub, looking at the water drained into holes at the end, till I felt each inch of my skin swollen in wetness. I came out feeling better.
Preeti was standing with her back to me in an odd and frantic way.
“Why are you standing like this?” I asked her.
“Am I so distinct to you?” She asked. Her tone was grave and intense.
“Didn’t anything cross your mind before doing it? Your parents, me or any fucking person..just anyone or anything in the world?”
I quizzically looked around and found the piece of cloth I had shrouded over the knife was gone. I glanced back at her in horror.
“Listen. I can explain this. I don’t know. I jus..”
“You don’t know? You have an explanation that is gonna justify your psychic act?” She whipped to face me with the knife propped before her. It had my blood thinly staining on the sharp edge from the tip to end and she was gripping it tight, pointing at me.
“I am sorry. Please, listen to me. At that time I was out of my mind.”
“When did you do it?” She was stern. Her round eyes were red with their tenuous veins bloated.
“Just before you knocked into the room.”
Her brows curved at center and face twisted in agony.
“Where have you cut yourself?”
I silently showed my wrist to her.
She studied the cut. Tears fell violently from her eyes.
“I’m sorry. I’m really really sorry. I just could not help myself then. It was like I was tired of the voices inside blaming myself. Please. Don’t cry. I promise, I’ll never do it again. I promise.”
“How could you just think of it? Trying to kill yourself? What would we do if you had..how would your parents face to that their only child killed herself because some headless ass didn’t love her. How could you do this to them?”
The idea sounded far silly and disgusting from her mouth than in my mind. Seriously how they would have reacted to it? Their hearts would be shattered. My Mom would have surely lost her sanity. The picture of them mourning around my dead body made me cry too.
“I have to say it to your Mom.” Preeti said wiping the tears that didn’t care to stop.
“No. Please. Please don’t tell it anyone. Please. I promise I won’t do it again. Please. It will kill them alive.” By then I had realized how awful the consequences of my act was.
Her eyes narrowed at me slyly.
“Promise Preeti. Forever kinda Promise.” I pleaded at her.
“Never ever dare to even think about it; unless even if you escape alive in your attempt, I’ll kill you afterwards.”
I nodded. We hugged. “What will I do to this silly girl?” She moaned and I smiled.
She picked out a pair of modest clothing for me. I dressed up and we got out of the house. Out in the free air, it felt like some prisoner grounded for years was relieved. The evening breeze gushed into me, tickling at my ear and tangling the small hairs on forehead along hairline. I felt like walking and Preeti also agreed.
Preeti then dragged me to a roadside vendor. He was selling all the spicy, mouth-watering chaats and panipuris on a cart. Preeti ordered two plates of chaat with extra spice. Only with two bites of it into my mouth, tears came into eyes. Still we continued, sobbing, smiling and racing who will finish it first. Though tear on my eyes was not significant those days but after a long time they were there for a gleeful reason. I was exhilarated deep down at my heart. A clenched clutch of pain was gradually loosening out.
Two hours back I was on spree to kill myself and then, standing on the road, I was breathing happiness from dusty air, conveying gratitude over Preeti’s perfect timing. May be this is what they call life and I was gradually getting along with it.