A nocturnal affair

Darkness envelops you. It’s been too dark for way too long. Like a madman, you scurry along towards what you hope is the light. There’s someone there with you, in the darkness. You cannot see them, but their presence can be felt. Maybe they’re your nocturnal friends, creatures of the night, not much unlike you. Or, maybe it’s just the wind playing tricks with your diseased brain or maybe, just maybe, it’s the grim reaper closing in on you. You want to turn around, walk away from the light but in spite of yourself you keep on drifting towards the ‘light’.

You wake up with a start, beads of perspiration lining your forehead. It’s always been the same dream or would you rather call it a nightmare’ It’s a full moon night. Not a single cloud in the sky. There’s a gentle breeze flowing through the window which had previously seemed comforting but now, it just makes you cold. The nightmares had started from last year. Since the time you’d been diagnosed with cancer. Such little time and so much left to do. You have the sympathy of your family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors and that makes you sick. It’s not their sympathy or their empathy you want. You’re in the prime of your life, a whisper away from reaching your goals; turning your dreams to reality, but cruel fate. Cancer, a six letter word that strikes fear in all hearts. What is it but just a few rapidly multiplying cells. 

Helplessness, that’s the only thing you couldn’t tolerate. What are you to do when you have been diagnosed with 3rd stage cancer’ Sit and mourn your terrible fate or do you live your life’ You’d never been the kind to take kindly to sympathy. You always misinterpreted it as pity. And pity was something you just wouldn’t tolerate. Maybe that’s why you kept it a secret, didn’t let others in until the very end when you absolutely had to. The sorrowful glances, people talking in hushed tones about you- maybe that’s what made you feel sicker than you already were. All you want is for everyone to behave as they normally would. You want to hang out with your friends, go to work, read a good book and go to bed without the worry if you’d wake up the next morning or not.

It was a beautiful night, the kind perfect for reading or dreaming. Dreaming those kinds of dreams which are dreamt with eyes wide open. You dream of Paris in summer, walking down the Champs-Elysees, you dream of graduating from the college you’d always wanted to graduate from, you dream of friends who were growing more and more distant by the day and you’re helpless to stop it. Again, helpless. You dream, you dream of jumping off the Burj Khalifa, of paragliding, of swimming with the sharks. You dream of keeping the grim reaper at bay, you dream that you can keep dreaming.

Why was it that out of the millions out there, it was you who had caught my eye’  Was it your calm acceptance of your fate or was it your tragic story that drew me to you like a magnet’ I am shunned by everyone, feared, the uninvited visitor, but you, you accept me for what I am. You may even welcome me as a friend.Suddenly, you feel lonelier than ever. You’d always valued your privacy but this kind of isolation left you gasping for air. You wanted to reach out, talk to someone. Someone who’d just listen. Not show you his sympathy or empathy or whatever they chose to call it. Your life was being unfairly snatched away from you- that was the bottom line. It was unfair and the helplessness almost makes you choke. What you fear in reality, is the fear of oblivion. You fear your mere 18 years of existence will be forgotten in a year or two. You fear everyone will move on with their lives and you’ll be reduced to a picture on the wall. Knowing your parents, maybe not even that. They weren’t the kind to hang pictures on the wall. You’re scared you won’t be missed. Silly silly you. You’re childish insecurities make me smile. Such foolishness is not to be expected from you of all people. How is a person to forget you’ The annoying topper, the over-achiever, the friend.  

You walk towards your desk and pulling out your trusty red diary, you start to write. I’d kill to know what you were writing. Did you hope someone would read that or was it just a vent of the emotions inside of you’ Sighing you pull out your sketchbook and start sketching. It looks like a self sketch. You sketch the image of an older self.

A tear falls on my cheek. I’m not as ruthless as they say I am. I feel your heartache. Something makes you turn around. You see me sitting at the foot of your bed. You’re not startled. A lazy smile crawls up to your lips, your mesmerising grey eyes staring into my black ones. It’s almost as if you were expecting me, it’s just that I don’t look as intimidating as you’d come to expect.You make me feel as if I’m not the unwanted visitor. You smile at me almost as if I’m the friend you’d been waiting for. In jest, you ask, 
‘Where’s the black cloak’ The sickle’’
I can’t help but smile. I feel for you. I feel your pain. You shut the sketchbook and play some of your favourite classical music and head to bad. Isn’t it Beethoven’s moonlight’ You go to bed unsure whether you’ll wake up again or not, unsure whether to ask me to leave or stay. I nod in reassurance to you.You’re afraid of the nightmare. But you shouldn’t be. I’m here now. I won’t let you have those nightmares. Nor will I let you suffer anymore. I’m a friend, a well-wisher. I’ll be the listener you wanted. I’m the one you’ve been waiting for so long, for almost a year now. Finally, I’m here. Now’s the right time. I promise you won’t feel a thing. Just follow me, and I’ll show you a completely different world where all your dreams come true. It’s time we met. And the fate you believed in destined me to be here, tonight, to take you with me. I need you to sleep. I need you to bid goodbye to this world, because now you’re ready. And then only can I take you with me to my kingdom. A kingdom where there’s no end – a place where you’ll be happy. 

‘In the middle of summer I discovered in me, an invincible summer,’- Albert Camus

 —- Adrita Mitra 
This was one one of the top 20 entries into the Nationwide writing competition Melonade’3 (2012 – 13)  


Leave a Reply