The story that came too late

Sadness pulled his arms around me and held me close. In the close comfort of grief, I could cry.I could weep and it was justified because I was literally enveloped in Sadness. Sadness waited until the hiccups were gone, until my eyes had run bloodshot and the tears had saturated all the tissue paper I had to spare. It was a strange feeling relishing the sheer volume of tears that I wept and the way my body actually responded to Sadness.

“Are we done with this now?” Reason tapped my shoulder, exhausted from the ordeal and requesting on behalf of the rest of my body and life that I stop stringing my high-strung brain even further. Reason does not understand why I’m sitting here weeping, and why this weeping has to happen. It must be allowed to continue, tissue paper or otherwise. He tapped my shoulder in an attempt to get me to my senses.

“Go. Away. Please.”

“I’ll leave you two to it, then,” said Reason, unable to hide the disgust and left to make my excuses to the rest of the world.

When I woke up the next day, I was cold and without the comfort of Sadness. Perhaps it was a good thing he wasn’t here, and I could tell that Reason was very glad to see him go. I used to ask Reason why and he would always say that he could get across to me only when Sadness was not around.

“Um, so what’s her condition?” I asked of the patient upstairs.

“I don’t know. Someone asked me to leave.” By someone I knew Reason meant me and when he was not on his best behavior, I could tell that I had done something wrong. Something that went against Reason.

“I would have checked in on her if she wanted me anywhere near her”, muttered Reason. He wanted to be helpful. He wanted to show that he could genuinely care, if caring was within reason. But she didn’t want him anywhere near her and she was adamant, even on her possible death-bed, about enforce this restriction. “Reason has nothing to do with this,” she screeched. The rest of us were too intimidated by her to argue otherwise.

I walked into the patient’s room, bracing myself for the storm that was to follow, rehearsing every single line I had thought of to her face and an enumeration of the ways I could convey it to her.

“You’ve been crying last night,” she said.

“I have…”

“Sadness does have comfortable shoulders, doesn’t he?”

“He does…”

“You don’t seem too affected by his presence though.”

“I’m not. For once in my life, I genuinely don’t regret crying.”

“It’s a sign that you’re still alive.”

It’s also why he left me cold in the morning. What can I possibly say to this fragile creature who was withering away before my very eyes, letting go of life finger by finger and taking her time to slide gracefully to death?

“Bet Reason must have been beyond confused.”

“He was. He wanted to talk to you about some things, which he feels might make you better.”

“Poor Reason. Trying to be useful all the time.”

“He’s only trying to help you. You should listen to him.”

“I never listen to reason. It’s in my nature. You, of all people, should know that.”

“I am acutely aware of that.”

“Will you miss me when I’m gone?”

“I don’t know. I suppose if Sadness is around, I might.”

“Otherwise?”

“There’s always Reason.”

“You don’t listen to him as often as you should.”

I was not going to tolerate shrewd observations from her once wild, tumultuous and untamed form. “Maybe if you had, things would not have come to this.”

“Maybe.”

“……There’s something I have to tell you.”

“What?”

“I’m scared of what will happen if you go away and never come back.” Is this what all the trepidation had fallen to? The words sounded like an anticlimax in my own ears.

“You mean when I die? Don’t worry, it’s only natural.”

“Is it though? Sadness never seems to die.”

“Yeah, but that’s what makes him old and immortal and weird. Rebirth is how I keep my skin glowing.”

“Shallow.”

“But true nonetheless. You could say I have an affliction like Reason does. We have to feel useful. We have to feel like we’re driving our goals to an end.”

“….Why can’t the endings be happy?” The tears were about to come back and she nearly hissed at me.

“For God’s sake, I love you and I wanted to talk to you and not Sadness. Don’t you dare invite his creepy form in here.”

“I thought you liked him. As in, you enjoyed his company. Or his shoulders. Or something.” I started to wipe the tears that hadn’t yet fallen.

“Sometimes. Now is not one of those times.”

In all of this conversation, she had been growing increasingly pale and I suddenly realized that if she grew any paler, she would have merged into the background and that would have been almost as good as dying on me.

“Um. So. You’ve wasted all of my time arguing with me. I’m about to go now.”

“Please don’t,” I said, desperately clutching her hand, keenly aware of the shadow of Sadness that waited just outside the door, waiting for me to explode into his arms again.

“It has to be done,” she said with a finality that left me hollow.

“Will you never ever come back? Please? Not even for Reason’s sake?”

But she had gone. She had left me without answering the question and I did not know how to interpret her permanent silence. I reeled for a while knowing that she hadn’t answered. Did she mean yes? Did that mean that she would truly abandon me?

Reason was the first one to come to me when I left the room, but Sadness was waiting behind him, almost respectfully. I wanted to show Reason how much Sadness respected his presence, how humble he was in the presence of Reason, but I knew that Reason would not listen to me as much as I didn’t listen to him.

“Love has died, hasn’t she?”

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Nightmare diaries: Greyscale Lessons

The last echoes of the child’s scream faded away into the bustling metropolis of the city. While he screamed, the sounds of the traffic, the skyscrapers and the unspoken voices of the multitude drifted in and around him and did nothing to save him.

Cauchemar prepared himself for a second round. He needed to prove himself to be a good nightmare.

At least he had started by choosing the right victim. Children with wild imaginations were such good targets. They were so fragile, and so filled with fear that they could spontaneously generate the most horrible fantasies of their own. Cauchemar wove in and out of the recesses of the child’s mind, pulling out horrible secrets from the subconscious, absorbing all the violence and pain and anguish that the child’s mind had registered from his immediate environment. Cauchemar crafted them into shapes, characters and scenarios and let them wreak havoc upon the sleeping child’s eyes.

The screams became progressively louder. Very encouraging. Maybe this time, he would frighten out the very soul of the child.

“Stop,” said Karabasan, watching his protege at work. His command interrupted the continuity of Cauchemar’s work and the child woke up and wept into his pillows. Immediately, his parents and guardians rushed over to him, calming him, comforting him, telling him that it was just a bad dream.

Cauchemar watched in seething dismay as his victim wept into the arms of his mother. “Why did you stop me, Master?”

He almost had him. Almost. In a just few minutes, he could have scarred the child forever. But now, the dream was interrupted and no more could he claim another soul.

“You’ve been doing well,” noted Karabasan casually. A little too well, he wondered.

“Thank you, Master” bowed Cauchemar, confused and flattered at the same time. How could an incomplete task prove that he had done his job well? As long as the Master was satisfied, he was pleased.

“I think it’s time we take you to the next level,” said Karabasan, the older, deadlier vision.

Cauchemar paused to consider the consequences. He was no stranger to ambition, but then Karabasan had a reputation for escalating matter rather quickly. But then again, he had not been asked. It was a command. Subtle, but assertive. Nowhere had Cauchemar been given a choice.

“Come,” said Karabasan, deciding for Cauchemar. He pulled up a new portal to another world. “You’re going to find this interesting, I promise,” he grinned, somehow adding more evil to a face that embodied it. And Cauchemar was whisked away…

They appeared in a gloomy, forgotten lane. It was now surprisingly quiet, and appropriately horrible, just as the nature of their deeds should be. There was black muck that slithered along the drains and the road was a shabby city of grey.

“Where are we?” asked Cauchemar, arriving after his Master.

“Telling you would spoil the fun,” countered Karabasan. Cauchemar wondered if it was appropriate to press further for a response.

The sky was white, but as they moved into brighter regions, the environment blurred around them. They were still in the city, the skyscrapers were still there. But the environment convulsed and quivered often.

“I’m going to wait here,” said Karabasan pointedly, finding a sacrifical altar that sprouted from the middle of nowhere and sitting on it.

“Well, go on. Creativity counts.” he suggested to Cauchemar, gesturing over the dried black blood that coated it.

Cauchemar paused. This was a test. He had better not fail it.

He started with looking for a victim. For a while, he let his mind search for someone with passion, someone with secrets, someone who had something they were earnestly trying to run away from. He turned around to look at Karabasan, who wasn’t there anymore. The altar, the shrine, the cities had disappeared. Black grass sprouted from a grey forest instead. It grew in huge incoming waves and swept over the terrain, over running civilization, pushing out the remnants of sanity.

When Cauchemar finally realized what was going on, he couldn’t help but smile. Of course, Karabasan wasn’t going to let him find a victim. He was already in the mind of a victim.

Cauchemar waited until he had the victim’s attention. He had finally found it. He had found the victim’s subconscious. He was a man curled up on the center of the ground. Asleep and completely at Cauchemar’s mercy. As he watched the grass take over, random black vines sprouted over it, poisonously grouping the grass together, spawning into more hideous shapes.

Good, now he could begin weaving the images and characters.

He started with horror of death, and the fear that followed. Images and memories of death sprouted all around him. Titans of gore, grey blood dripping from their black fangs appeared from nowhere and sought to rise the man from his sleep. He awoke and gazed at them all around. But he did not register fear nor surprise. These were expected demons of his head. He yawned and went back to sleep. Cauchemar conjured up more blood and gore, each new phantasm taking on a more hideous role than another, and yet he was not afraid. His fearlessness seemed to breed from intimate familiarity with the subject.

Cauchemar was confused. For the first time ever, he had encountered a victim who was not afraid of death, not afraid of murder or crime or any form of violence. He had utilized every possible terror in his sleeve. Who was this victim, so unafraid? So corrupted by horror that he owned it as the brainchild of his own?

Karabasan appeared beside Cauchemar. “Making progress, are we?”

Cauchemar floundered. He did not want to fail this test. From having his last victim lost in residual nightmares, this one appeared to simply yawn and go back to sleep. Beyond a point, he wasn’t even roused.

“You can’t frighten a killer with death, because he already owns it from within,” Karabasan sniggered.

Right, or course! That would explain everything. Cauchemar cursed himself for not seeing the obvious. Well, it was an unfamiliar environment and this wasn’t a victim of Cauchemar’s own choosing, so he felt that he was allowed to make a few mistakes. But then again, he had been upgraded to this level for a reason.

Then the next target of his attention moved to guilt. If it wasn’t fear, it must be guilt. Cauchemar scanned for memories. As he searched for them, he realized that the victim had seen images of such evil in his waking life, that there was no nightmare that could hope to instill fear by conjuring up images of the same. More so, he relished those images. He had relived there motions several times, without once hesitating at the sight of violence again.

Guilt, guilt. He searched for guilt. Motivations as to his crimes would have worked as well. The closer Cauchemar penetrated to the victim’s fear, the more restless the victim seemed to become. Finally, he had some progress to show the non-present Karabasan.

It struck him as very odd that all the memories were black and white. From his mind, Cauchemar could see the entire city relived in black and white and shades of grey. A life without color. But wait, wait, from this panorama of grey, a shadow peeked out at the sleeping figure splaying restlessly in the middle of it all.

Day would be here soon. Cauchemar was running out of options.

Instead of waiting for her to come to him, he chased her. He found her memory watching the victim, and she flitted in and out of his grasp. Cauchemar chased, pushing her out of the woods, out of the weirdly morphing scenery that changed from the city skyline to an overrun forest and had shortly been a butcher’s warehouse. With every change in scenery, the victim flailed in his sleep as Cauchemar approached nearer. It was so easy to create nightmares in a mind that was so filled with them anyway. If there was any way he could automatically harness this spontaneity, he would be the terror of all nights very soon. But ambition follows later. First, the task at hand.

Cauchemar morphed into the girl and watched her as she approached the victim. She had a soft, sweet voice and the terms she used to address the victim were loving, almost endearing. The victim seemed to be sensitive to the sound of her voice. Cauchemar egged her on to the victim. She reached out a pale, fragile hand and touched him, rousing him instantly. He was already terrified.

It struck Cauchemar as somewhat odd that something so innocuous as a girl who addressed him lovingly could incite so much fear. When the entire spectra of horror had been splayed in full view, the victim hadn’t even flinched. Cauchemar had used up every single trick in his book to incite fear and failed. But this girl was the key.

Cauchemar waited for her to sprout into a monster or something more hideous. Perhaps she was something else . A phantasm in disguise, a horrible memory masked by a pretty face? But no, she stayed the way she was, harmless in comparison to any other terror that Cauchemar had conjured up or seen or dreamed of.

The victim was now literally shivering as she approached nearer. Cauchemar crept up behind the victim’s back to watch their physical interaction. She didn’t even do anything.

That was when Cauchemar noticed it. Color dripped from her lips. The only form of color in a world that was black, white and grey.

The victim was now driven to a wild screaming frenzy, desperately trying to escape that vision in his dreams, hopelessly thrashing for some form of assistance, any form. Interrupted for the second time in the night, Cauchemar waited between dimensions, dizzy and wondering what cataclysm had struck his victim. The victim awoke, just like the last one, but no comfort came to him as the time-pressed Cauchemar slowly sucked his soul out of him.

Karabasan was also leaving the mind environment. “Well done,” he beamed at Cauchemar, who was still tidying up his business. He pulled Cauchemar out into the real world and they watched as their victim woke up, picked up a loaded syringe lying beside him and pulled the plunger as deep into his arm as it could possibly go.

They watched as he died a quiet death.

Karabasan broke the silence. “You have passed the test. I’m very proud.”

 “What did you expect me to learn from this, Master?”

“Evil doesn’t take on traditional forms always.”

“How does the memory of a harmless girl….?”

“….Not so harmless. Remember, she had color dripping from her lips.”

“Color?”

“To someone who sees the world in stark differentiations of black and white, the idea of color is something else entirely….You are still a young nightmare, Cauchemar. We have more souls to conquer,” said Karabasan indefinitely, shrugging his shoulder.

They watched the victim’s soul drift up into the stars. They were back in the city, surrounded by the pressure and heat of the metropolis. But now, the streets were empty. Even to the callous Cauchemar, they seemed a bit cold. Too cold.

She Waits Softly

In her childhood, she was warned it might not last long. The world had enough children as is, what they needed more of was more mature adult citizens. So she was asked to grow up. The world was tired of her supposed immaturity. The generation before needed great successors, for as they were accelerating to age, the young ones were exhorted to adolescence. She had abandoned her childhood and watched it fall to the floor and crumple in on itself, like the soft fabric of a former lover. Indeed, they had been well-fitting times, but now all that the fabric could be used for was wrapping up memories.

It was hard to get used to. Far away from the comforts of childhood, she had stood bare and exposed. She watched the world leer, and take away everything she held precious, values of love, morality, ethics, and absorb them like one giant unclean globule of oil on the surface. Death was spilled along the way. She screamed and begged for help, and none came. Not even death. You’re too young, they still said.

The world didn’t value her innocence. It’s ignorance, they claimed. They thought it was their job to make her aware of specifically all of those things that made the world an unpleasant place to live in. Watch our mistakes with your adult understanding, they said, wanting justification as to the horrible deeds of the world. Still not quite sure of herself as an adult, she watched. Battle, bloodshed, death and abuse colored the new panorama of adulthood in many awful shades. She tried to keep her canvas clean, of all the filth of the world. But it was insidious and so it persisted anyway. These are the ways of the world, said her predecessors. Get used to it.

For a while, she paused and wondered if death indeed was the solution. Death did not come. So, she continued on her journey, understanding that the reason for surviving these trials and tribulations was that she could someday enjoy a great magnificent departure from them. She would have earned the right to die.

Clothed in the sparse remains of what were once lofty and cherished ideals, she now accepted the humble attire of the more mature person. Wisdom was indeed shabby, for without the persisting quality of time, it would not have been so coveted as it now is. Even then, many people do not recognize its true shape. So, it started with one layer, and then as time moved on, she found other grubby bits of value to add to herself and thus the layers grew, until she was well-protected from the cold and dark. Though she felt prepared for Death, it did not come.

The other aspects of the world caught up with her as well. Fortune and wealth changed her clothes back to cheap imitations of childhood. Lovers, or people who had attempted to be them, had come as well and shown her to respect and value not just her emotional vulnerability, but also her corporeal being. For the body was a carrier of the soul, and required it’s own needs to be met just as much did the yearning lost soul. Fortune changed sides way too often for her liking and love was as transient as the soft satin blouse that appeared to be there but did not actually cover her. The world proceeded to sully them both and she was once again, left with the grey scraps of nothing. Her heart ached intolerably. Once again, she asked Death to appear and claim her. But not yet, whispered the cast off identities. Not just yet.

Then she wore huddled under the grey shades of responsibility. She was expected to tell of a younger generation of what the world comprised of. Responsibility cut into her, deep and heavy, expecting her to continue the very same cycle of which she had been a victim. They chipped into the wisdom of her time, expecting more from her than she could provide with no hope whatsoever with reciprocity. Thus she waited for death to come, relieving her of her duties. But it did not come. Probably, she hadn’t suffered enough. Probably she wasn’t courageous enough to deserve death.

Now a frail woman, she shrank within the physical body she had successfully called her own. Fragile to the extent that even her skin refused to clothe her properly, she smiled. Soon, it would be time. Shadows of death leaped and jumped around her. She watched its offspring play, and the adults mislead. Come to me, she asked, as though t was the same forgotten lover who had once adored her.

Yet the shadows gleefully played beyond her reach. Patience is the final skin, my dear. The world echoed with Death’s opinions. Not just yet. Almost there, but not just yet. Thus she waits softly, hoping for the reunion with her final lover, a creature who’s perpetual fear had colored her panorama and yet never quite touched her in the way it was supposed to. In her state of repose, she smiled as time tried to avoid the gap between Death and her. How is that Death was so ashamed of meeting her now?

So, she waits softly. Death understands.

“I am not my suicidality”

This post was written by my friend, Rakhi Agrawal. She is a brave, strong, woman and I feel that in light of recent events that have happened in my life, her story has touched me very deeply and I think it is worth telling. 

"I am not my suicidality."

“I am not my suicidality.”

http://www.whatibeproject.com/portfolio-item/i-am-not-my-suicidality/

Trigger warning: suicide.

“The seventh grade. I have wanted to die since the seventh grade. Sure, it sort of started off as an attention thing. “Oh, okay. You won’t include me in your plans. That’s fine. You’ll be sorry when I’m gone.” But somewhere along the way, it became real. Very real. Perhaps it was the death threats at home. Or maybe my inability to keep any friend for any substantial amount of time. Maybe it was the hundreds of lunch periods I skipped just so I wouldn’t experience the overwhelming reality of how alone I truly was. Perhaps it was the countless nights where I drove around for hours on end until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore, and finally found a dark corner to sleep in.

Whatever the reason, as I matured, so did my suicidality. It became something I kept as a deeper secret, and that I actively desired. And craved. And fantasized about. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to kill myself. I am suicidal on a daily basis. I know that probably sounds crazy to most, but I am. Every day I wake up knowing that if I ran into the perfect situation—a gun casually lying on the sidewalk, a runaway car with no driver or oncoming traffic, a burning building—a way that minimized my pain and didn’t cause harm to anyone else—I would choose to die in a heartbeat. Philosophically, I believe people should have the right to die if they want to—it’s your body, after all. Who am I to tell you that you must live if your pain is that high, your suffering that real.

I say this as someone who has lost a friend to suicide. As someone who knows people who have lost loved ones to suicide. As a person who very much would love anyone who wanted my love. As someone who works to help stop suicide.

But there’s this: every time I am on a subway platform by myself, I look at the incoming train and have to stop myself from jumping. Every time. Every time I’m on a plane, I wish and hope that the plane miraculously crash in such a way that would keep every part of the plane in tact, and every passenger alive and unharmed, except for myself. Every time I hear of someone suffering, I wish every cancer, disease, illness, and misfortune upon myself and away from everyone else.

There are days when I am more suicidal than usual—when most things in my life seem to be going wrong and I see no light at the end of the tunnel. On these days, when I am actively suicidal, I exhibit some tell-tale signs of what everyone else would see as depression—I want to rot away in bed, shut everyone out, quit every activity, job, and commitment that I may have, and crawl into a hole.

I have tried to kill myself. I’ve made a couple shitty, impulsive attempts. I’ve come so close to being kicked out of school for my suicidality that I could taste the pavement on the street. I’ve been hospitalized four times, all which have left me worse off than I had been before.

A former friend who visited me the last time I was hospitalized sent me an article on trauma. As someone who has dealt with her share of PTSD, I eagerly read it, searching for something that resonated and rang true with me. In this piece, they described two types of people needed to survive trauma: firefighters, who will come running in a crisis, who will battle the blaze with you until you are ostensibly safe, and builders who will be there in the long run, who will give you the steady care you need to reenter the world. I think this structure holds true in life more generally, too. And as far as I have found, crises come easy (firefighters abound), but builders are the rare ones. I’ve lost most of my friends because they couldn’t handle my honesty. My dark, gloomy, intense honesty.

I’ve been poor, I’ve been homeless. I’ve been raped, I’ve been beaten. I’ve lived out of a car, I’ve starved. I’ve been essentially orphaned, I’ve been abandoned. I’ve been wished dead, I’ve been told I’m going to rot in hell, that no one will ever love me, that I’ll be found in a dumpster on the street. But nothing ruins me more than being alone. When I look around and don’t see people—any people to call my own, who are consistently there, and will be there for some time to come—this is what intensifies and solidifies my desire to kill myself.

But even with all of this, I am so much more than my suicidality. I am not crazy. I’m not insane. I’m capable. On most days, I am functional. I am warm, I am positive. I am loving, I am not dark and gloomy. (And even if I was, why is that bad?) I am intense, but I’m also fun. I am capable of laughing. I do not need to be coddled or tiptoed around. I need as much support and love as the next person. But I am not my suicidality.”

Columbia’s 2014 Mental Health Awareness and Random Acts of Kindness Weeks

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6H35s_kTmH8

Photo by Steve Rosenfield

 

2: A tribute to the last week of being a teenager

What are you supposed to feel when you discover that the person who has left you forever was the one who truly cared about you all this time? What are you supposed to feel when care, love and affection was right under your nose except now it has gone forever?

It feels like you will never be able to reconcile the fact that the one person who could have been everything was too weak to let you go. Blame destiny. Blame fate. If it was meant to happen, it should have happened. Blame yourself because you had to deny the affection, to gently, carefully reject a person because of reasons that you deemed were wise.

“Sorry, but I don’t think you’re actually attracted to me. You’re just projecting your feelings for someone else on me. You don’t know me well enough to like me. Our families would never be okay if we started dating each other. I don’t think you’re ready for a relationship. People shouldn’t be seeking relationships when they have to find inner stability first.”

I said these things. Some directly. Some indirectly. I thought my reasons were justified. I had other reasons of my own too. I was pursuing someone obviously incompatible and unavailable, because I was seeking some twisted form of internal validation. I too was lonely, and scared and investing all my effort into making this problematic liaison work. The scars of my first “relationship” will take a while to heal, and though it has been painful, it has been thoroughly enlightening.

In all those moments of pessimism, of pining away for what I obviously couldn’t have, of obvious, bone-chilling, exhausting despair, it never occurred to me that there was that one person who could, perhaps, meet all of those requirements willingly. Except now that person has died. He has left this world. He has left me with this overpowering eternal guilt that I didn’t know I had chosen to bear.

When his phone was retrieved after the incident, it had only five contacts stored on it. His mother, his father, his brother and me. I was the only person that was not family that he considered me close enough to him to think about me in his last moments.

I am left wondering. Even if I couldn’t have loved him, I would have devoted my emotion and strength to him. I would have been there for him if only he had reached out to me. If only he hadn’t ignored me. If he truly did care for me, why did he not consider reaching out? Even as a friend?

We had once gone on a date to a restaurant nearby. Just the two of us. Conversations. Him making fun of me. Me laughing along. Talking about things of all interest. He paid me a compliment, saying that I was a great conversationalist. He complained how I was under-dressed for the snowy weather and he joked that his birthday gift to me would be a pair of snow-boots.

It was my birthday yesterday.

There were no snow-boots.

 

1: A tribute to the last week of being a teenager

It’s going to be my twentieth birthday in two days. All the growing up I have had to do has happened within a span of seven days instead of 10 years.

24th of March, 2014 has till date been the worst Monday of my life. One of my dearest friends committed suicide.

I’m usually not one to support emotional writing, especially on my blog, because I feel that my opinions that I express here should be carefully thought out and balanced. But to possibly convey the depth of something as devastating as this is beyond words. For a long while I rambled on and on in my diary, trying to provide some form of expression to the sudden, mind-numbing grief that made time stop around me.

I discovered what true grief feels like. I discovered what it means to remember all the memories that were said and done, and more importantly, all the things that were left unsaid. There is this silent screaming that goes on inside, and the only thing you can do about it is wear a smile on top and pretend that everything is proceeding as normal. Only 7 of my friends know, because I don’t want anyone to pity me, or know the turmoil that I am going through.

More so, this is a suicide. There’s a large blame factor involved, although you cannot blame anyone. The sole authority who had to shoulder the blame has left us all on this earth to seek his happiness in a place far beyond us. I used to think that Death was the sort of happiness that is earned when you have survived life’s challenges. This restful, complete, full sleep untouched by any sort of sorrow or fear is a paradise that can only be earned. Except my friend has acquired it at a cost that is too expensive for us to bear.

I don’t think my wounds have healed enough that I can write a respectable eulogy to him. Or maybe keep writing eulogies to him forever.

I have discovered how strong I am. I never thought that I would have to go through this, but he has left me with no choice but to be strong on his behalf. His mother had called me earlier in the day asking of his whereabouts. I had spent the last month being upset with him because he simply refused to pick up my calls, talk to me or hang out with me. I have sent him several ignored texts and messages through ever possible communication media. When his parents called, and I was worried, I began to search for him all over campus, sure that I would find him physically. I waited. I searched. I wandered. Repeat.

He wasn’t anywhere. He was literally off the grid for four hours and nobody knew where he was. I excused his absences as perhaps a chance occurrence, maybe he wasn’t around when I had got to the venue. Maybe he went to buy a new phone and was distracted. Maybe networks were down. Maybe there were a million reasons that he couldn’t be there.

Turns out that there a million reasons he left us all. Except I cannot extrapolate what they are.

Later on in the evening, we were all informed of a demise on campus. I have never survived blind shock, but I know now that the only way I was functioning was on some sort of auto-pilot.

25th of March left me with the conflicted discovery of managing the waves of grief. First came the phase in which I felt nothing. I was empty and numb and filled with memories of him. The way he touched my hair. The arguments we had. The times when he, his younger brother and I were a trio. Our myriad adventures. Our myriad stories. The promises we made, and the promises that are left broken. He had promised to get me rain-boots on my birthday, and now he will never be able to celebrate my birthday.

Perhaps the waves of grief were compounded by the fact that this friend had once asked me out. He wanted me to be closer to him emotionally. My reasons for graciously declining were many: his mental instability (perhaps we was projecting another’s feelings onto me?), the fact that his mother and I were really close and this would have been a problem, the fact that he didn’t know me well enough to let me be so intimate with him.

I blamed myself for a while, unable to suppress the survivor’s guilt. I blamed myself for not being proactive enough. For not reaching out to him enough. For not being able to change his mind. I also carry the hidden layer of blame that maybe if I had agreed to the relationship, we both could have been in an infinitely happier place. More maybes. More what-ifs. More what-could-have-beens. I am not prepared to deal with the world at all.

I was conflicted about whether  should I tell his friends or not. Making a pathetic transient Facebook post is not something he would have liked, and it would only earn me the sympathy of many, not the respect of his memory. I am desperately searching for ways to remember him, to contain this flood of memories and feelings and emotions, to accept this pain because it is taking a lot out of me.

26th of March was the first time I went to a funeral. It was beautiful. And terrible. The family is beyond devastated. The younger brother is in denial. They broke down once again, when they saw me. I have to step up to fill in the shoes that he left behind. I have to be the surrogate older sibling. I have to be the replacement, if such a deplorable word be used, daughter to fill the gap in their hearts. I know I will never be able to take up such a responsibility completely, but I have to try.

This grief is so tiring. It is so exhausting. It remains like a heavy weight begging for expression, even when every single tear that could be cried has been wept, and every possible despair that could be felt has been felt. Why did he have to go? Why is this so hard? Why is there this never-ending capacity to feel pain and compassion?

As my professor said, “The human spirit cannot be denied to right to search for light, when it is in the darkness.”  He is in the light now. He is so eternally peaceful. He looked so rested in the box, and the world around his is destabilizing.

Everything that is now Sikh, or Punjabi or that remotely reminds me of him in any way has now become a source of attachment. Now that he has gone, I will do my best to respect the culture that he was raised in, so I can remember him in a fashion that feels right. There is no right for these things.

Afterwards, I was informed that when his phone was recovered, he had deleted all of his contacts except four of them. His father. His mother. His brother. Me. Even in his dying moments, he chose to think of me. I cannot even comprehend the depth of how much I touched him. His mother wept into my shoulder as she held me tight. “Take care of yourself. Children never know just how valuable they are to their parents. You are so special to us, you will never understand.”

The dry spell on my soul has lifted. I have to let this sorrow out.  I must depart abruptly now. I promise to come back later.