The Cure (Short-story)

**This story contains suicidal themes that may be triggering to some readers**

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The Cure

“I was suicidal for two months when I was writing this book,” I would say to people when it’s done – thought Meera, as she turned in bed once more, digging into the pillow with her head in an effort to stifle another bout of mad sobbing. But deep within, she knew that she could never admit to being suicidal in public. Expressing the fact that you are raw inside makes you the kind of vulnerable that Meera would die before letting others see.

People who wouldn’t understand anyway mustn’t be allowed to see her at her worst. The few people who would understand – and Meera knew there were a couple of them – didn’t deserve to suffer seeing or hearing something as grotesque as her confessing about the darkest side of her being.

There will be good days, Meera whispered, trying to caress her left shoulder with her right hand as she lay in bed.

Her eyes burned from being forced by their owner to shed tears for almost a week in a row. Today, they rebelled quite outrageously – conspiring together with all of Meera’s muscles and flesh. She couldn’t blame her body. There’s only so much it could do for her.

She was drowsy and strands of tangled hair kept getting inside her mouth and eyes, adding to her misery.

In the morning today, her friend Nisha had texted her – “I know you don’t want to talk but can you send me a flower emoji every day as a reply? I don’t think I’m asking for much. Just to reassure myself that we have each other’s back. Will you do it for me?”

Meera sent a sunflower in reply with the single word – “okay.

She sat up on bed and looked at her dishevelled form in the mirror in front of her. If Nisha thought Meera might do something to herself on impulse, she was wrong. Meera had assured her just that morning – Don’t worry about me. I will be okay.

“I won’t do anything… at least not until I finish my book. I deserve at least that much from myself,” Meera said to the mirror.

She tried to think about the things she was blessed with. A helping of gratitude would do her good.

She had a roof over her head. She had decent food to eat.

People are dying on the hospitals and streets from disease, from floods and from hunger. And all you care about is your own useless troubles.

She stopped, sensing the familiar bile of self-loath rising in her gut again.

She knew from experience that if she allowed that train of thought to continue, she would end up wanting to disappear from the face of earth. She would want to jump off a cliff, or better still, a bridge.

A bridge.

She imagined herself standing on top of a long, isolated concrete bridge. She closed her eyes. It would be a dark night, with a star-lit sky. There would be a cool breeze washing over her face, her spread-out arms, her legs, her hair.

For once she felt calm.

She got up from her bed and seated herself on the wooden chair of her study-table. A lifeless pen, the blank side of a used page.

She set down to write the scene. The girl from her head would not kill herself, she would jump off the bridge to liberation and to fresh blue waters that would bring her to life.

Anything was possible in her head. In her head, she could jump off a cliff only to spread her wings wide and free. In her head, she could jump off a bridge and swim to the ends of the earth.

In her head, she could see in vivid colour, see it all happening, and when she transcribed them on paper, however badly, they would still help her feel even if a little – happy.

Liberated even.

She would live only if for the love of writing. It was beautiful, to be in love with something that makes you want to live a little longer.

And maybe someday she could grow to love life as well.

MORAL OF THE STORY: (I’m sorry but I am so often misunderstood over the smallest things that I felt the need to make the message I intended to convey through this story, clear while keeping in mind that the reader has the right to interpret howsoever they see fit) In any case:

-This story does not promote self-harm or suicide. In fact, it intends to do quite the opposite. If it failed in that respect, I am sorry for being a bad writer. Period.

-The purpose of this story is to show that writing heals. Anyone can write. I believe that just as strongly as Remy believed in Auguste Gusteau’s words, “Anyone can cook”

Thank you for reading.

Image Credit: Unsplash.com

A Cup of Tea (Short-story) Final episode

Moloy didn’t reply. Instead, he stood up to leave.

Bhaiti returned to arranging his shack for the night. All of a sudden, his stomach made a rumbling noise, loud enough to make the visitor halt.

Moloy turned, then took out his wallet and walked to the tall, lean boy with crisp black hair and brown skin. He smiled at the pair of squinting black eyes that stared back at him till he realised that Bhaiti couldn’t see him smile with the mask on.

“Take it. It’s not much but it will be enough for a couple of decent meals. The times must be hard for you, with no people around and all,” Moloy said, laying the notes on a nearby wooden slab and walking away.

“Thank you, dada!” shouted Bhaiti in ecstasy. Moloy didn’t turn back but lifted a hand as he walked.

He could finally have a hot meal and a lovely cup of tea. He just needed some flour, a few potatoes would do for the side-dish, some tea leaves, he could even afford sugar.

But he would be careful. He would spend the money well. It was so generous of good old Moloy da to think about him. He would find a way to repay him after the lockdown was over.

The lockdown…

All the shops were closed – where would he buy food?

Bhaiti dropped on the muddy ground, wrenching the mask out of his face. His lips trembled; his eyes burned. Everything grew hazy and all of a sudden, a strange but sure weariness took over him. Life is cruel.

He didn’t hear the sound of the approaching ambulance; he didn’t hear the heavy footsteps of doctors and policemen in PPE kits approaching him with a certain amount of cautiousness.
Was the boy dead already?

“He has a pulse”

Bhaiti came to his senses only when a doctor lifted him. He started panicking.
He tried to jump out of his grasp and the doctor let him. Once on the hard ground, he looked at the alien-like people surrounding him and tried to ask something but…he supposed he already knew what they were here for.

It brought him a strange sense of relief.

“Sir,” he said, “Will there be a cup of tea at the hospital?”

Concluded

Thank you so much for reading.

A cup of tea (short-story)

Or tea in the time of Coronavirus

He took a long breath and started wheezing. Everything is the same these days, day-after-day.
Who knew what the future held?

Dusk painted the sky a purple orange. The hours ticked by like a bullock cart dragged by a lame bull. A shadow fell upon everything in his sight – the trees, the empty streets, the recently quarantined circuit house on the left, and the park across the street with all its abandoned playthings.

He could do with a cup of tea. A strong cup to cure his dry cough.

He didn’t have a proper meal since the lockdown. The last of his meagre savings bought him a couple of potatoes. He ate mashed potatoes for two days. And now, in the wet July air, he craved for a steaming hot cup of tea. Maybe with a few biscuits too. Better dream luxuriously if you’re allowed to dream at all.

The disposable surgical mask made the lower part of his face itch. He had been wearing it since the start of lockdown and yet, he could never quite make peace with it. It made him sweat profusely on the face and then there was the persistent itch.

The worst thing about the lockdown though was not the mask, it was not even the plague. In any case, the disease had a funny name. “Karuna?” he had asked his friend Bablu in disbelief.

His late sister’s name was Karuna. He didn’t fancy his sister’s name getting ruined with a
‘virus’ tag.

“Yes. Karuna-virus,” Bablu said, chuckling as he washed a day’s worth of stainless-steel
dishes piled up behind his cart. He made the best chicken momos in all of Karbi Anglong.

That was before the lockdown started. That was when people still visited Bablu for momo and Bhaiti’s little shack for tea, biscuits, or even roti-bhaji.

The worst thing about the lockdown was the emptiness. But then it was for the best – or so they were told on the radio commercials. Yeh sannata achha hain – this silence is good.

He would just call it the plague, Bhaiti decided.

Bablu wasn’t here anymore. He had been taken away in an ambulance two days ago by some men in funny-looking raincoats that covered them from top to bottom. They returned the following day and made him open his mouth to test if he had caught the virus too. It was only then that he realised that they were doctors.

“Bhaiti, one cup of tea,” a familiar voice said, breaking his trance.

He hadn’t had a customer for weeks. He looked up to a man in a pale blue shirt and black trousers. He recognised him even with the blunt beak-like mask on. He was MLA Sir’s driver, Moloy da.

He had to tell him.
“The tea leaves are finished, dada, and there is no sugar,” Bhaiti said. There was no gas, no clean drinking water, no wood for the fire – but there are only so many things you can tell someone you don’t have.

To be continued

Unity’s Bucket (Short Story) Final episode.

Part-5

He was hungry. His larder looked like the mid-summer drought had hit it hard. There was nothing to consume other than water. He drank some more of it and tried to think about other things.

Unity…the name had come unnaturally easy to him. He was aware that it was a rather uncommon name for a dog. A shadow of a smile passed by his chapped lips.

He moistened them and gulped the lump that had formed inside his throat. Back when he was in his prime, back when seeing such outrageous dreams as working on a passion project still seemed viable – he had a dream. It was a simple dream. He would write a book. Tell a story. Let it flow out like a fountain of words and metaphors and imageries.

It was a glorious dream that kept him awake for nights in a row. He imagined the feel of it in his hands, his creation. He would call it Unity. It was a simple, mundane name. Probably wouldn’t call for much attention either, but he would work on the name later. Unity…that was what his story would be about. The name could be modified.

“Then?” Hirak said, lifting his head up to the wall ahead.

“What happened after that, you ask?” he said again, his mind painting a silhouette of Unity on the wall like he had done often in the last few days. “Then, I ran. I kept running. Ran to save enough to give myself an education, ran to get a decent job, got married and then started running a new race once again to feed my family. That book never got written. And now it’s too late.”

He didn’t mind his brain telling him that it would be just a couple of days at most before he starved himself to death.

He wouldn’t mind death bringing him some relief. But somehow, his heart wasn’t quite convinced that this was the end of the road. He sat cross-legged on the floor, staring at the wall. In a dark corner of the room, something moved.
Hirak started towards it on all fours, silent as a cat.

The thing had shiny eyes. Hirak saw fear in them. It was a meek little thing, whatever it was. The moment he reached out to hold it, it made a dash for the cot. It slipped under it, leaving the man rattling with the suddenness of it all. He reached out under the cot and got pecked on.

“Come on, little one, come on now, I won’t hurt you,” he said, almost a murmur as he reached out again. The creature complied this time, probably understanding that the human meant no harm. Even in the dark, he could tell that it was a young Waterhen.

He had often seen Unity chase them about in the swampy stretch of land on the back of his hut. He held the little bird like a baby, humming a soft lullaby. When he saw that it was at ease, he placed it gently upon his cot. There should be an old bucket somewhere under the cot. It would make for a cosy bed for the bird.

After probing for some time, he found the bucket. It lay under the bed, overturned and overflowing with some dozen packets of biscuits. He had never taken Shyamal Gogoi seriously when the man complained that his dog stole biscuits.

He would get some groceries tomorrow. Maybe he could request Mr. Gogoi for some basic supplies. He was a good man. He would help him.
A soft chuckle rumbled through his heart. Unity would live. Hirak Senapati would write his story.

Concluded.

Thank you so much for reading🙏

Unity’s Bucket

I am sorry for not posting yesterday. It was one of those days, you know. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I’ll be cheerful again before the week is over, I promise. And also, thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.

Part-4

Hirak walked back to his cot. He tried to remember the time before he had Unity. How was he surviving then?

His son had left him with a crumbling hut and a lovely dog and walked away far out of his reach. Hirak recalled, there was a storm that night. The pup was half-scared to death. And Hirak had held him for the same reason that the dog had held him back. They were two lonely creatures under heaven’s wrath. 

Hirak’s school master pension was enough to sustain two souls surviving in a little world of their own. He could still hear the screeching of brakes and the deafening silence that followed…a harbinger that Lord Yama was just round the corner.

The Lord took Unity with him that night. In the blur of realization and follow up of grief, he was all too absorbed to pay heed to the public announcement of obligatory quarantine.

The first three days were a nightmare of restless sleep and ceaseless tears. His body burned in a high fever and his head throbbed with pain like the rest of his body.

He remained inside his little home, locked in a maddening jumble between wistful dreams of playing with Unity and the overwhelming realization that Unity was gone. Today though, it seemed as if he had run out of tears and the sorrow was replaced with a cold numbness.

To be continued

Unity’s Bucket

Part-3

Hirak Senapati tossed and turned in bed. At length, he woke up in a cold sweat, panting as he got off the cot and reached out for some water. His throat felt dry, his eyes were sore, his cheeks caked with grime and dried tears and his heart, as hollow as it had been since the last three days.

He stared at the mortifying darkness of his empty home. Vigilant lights from patrolling vans casted gloomy shadows on the floor, on the walls, making even the tired old wooden table look like a corpse that was as lifeless and lonesome as he was.

He picked up the empty glass and walked into the kitchen. He watched the leaking faucet with particular interest. His stomach whimpered and the dull pain reminded him that he was still alive.

Unity was gone.

But he was left here to survive alone, without a companion or a purpose and nothing to look forward to other than long obscure days ahead; cooped up in his dreary hole. He watched as water gushed in and filled the stainless-steel glass to the brim. The cold water felt refreshing against the wrinkled folds of his pale thin hands. He splashed some on his face. Unity was gone. Splash. Unity was gone. Splash. Unity…that sweet little thing. Oh, how brilliantly his eyes used to sparkle, even his bark was nothing short of musical.

To be continued

Unity’s Bucket (Short story)

Part-2

“Run along now, go away!” he said again, brows arched and panting, “And tell Mr. Senapati that Shyamal Gogoi will give him a piece of mind regarding his wicked dog.”

The Corgi stood still, finally deciding to spare his victim some mercy. His head slightly to the left, he stood listening like a child paying attention to his teacher trying to get him to learn the seven times multiplication table for the hundredth time. Shyamal turned to walk to his home down the street for an early dinner. He had skipped lunch.

Skipping meals had become a habit for years now, and munching on biscuits to make his stomach tarry just a little until he reached home to a large thali heaped full of rice and curry and whatever delicacies were on Bina, his wife’s menu that day — had become a habit with it.

He let out a sigh, and immediately his face lost its hard look. At least he had his wife waiting for him at home. Poor Mr. Senapati, thought Shyamal, sighing at the broken street in front of him – the poor man had nobody to call family other than his dog. He tugged at his blue cotton pyjamas to avoid them getting soiled from the flooded blisters on the road and took a moment to feel bad for shouting at the dog.

But then, that dog was a petty thief for heaven’s sake.

Yes, he said aloud, as if to convince himself — thief dog. Wicked dog. But a conveniently adorable dog—because nobody in his right mind would ever assume that such an appealing creature could have such nasty habits. Shyamal shook his head. That devil of a dog had almost bitten his fingers off the other day while trying to grab a packet of biscuits with those miniscule daggers of its pointy mouth.

They never realise when they get too excited. Silly thing. It would have to be treated for kleptomania if it were a human child, thought Shyamal, what trouble the poor man would have had to go through then!

A reckless dog is none the less problematic than a reckless offspring.

This was his last thought regarding the dog named Unity that evening. He was too overwhelmed to form coherent opinions about how much he adored that little thief after all — when later that night he realised that the evening of March 16 would be the last he would ever see of the dog, or get to scold it for that matter.

The following day, the local newspaper would feature a little creature devoid of life, lying in a pool of its own blood and tissues — and go on to validate how reckless driving is hazardous to animals and people alike. It will also feature stats to illustrate the number of animals that lost their lives to the same that month. Unity would be lost among dozens of other dogs, cows, goats and straying deer. All left without a soul to mourn for them.

But Unity would be remembered.

To be continued

Unity’s Bucket (Short Story)

DISCLAIMER: The events, characters and firms depicted here are a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead is purely coincidental.

Also, this story is not perfect by any stretch. Apologies before you start.

Part-1

Something terrible happened on the balmy evening of March 16. About an hour before the incident, Shyamal Gogoi, the owner of Ekta Stores, chided an incorrigible thief for snatching a packet of half-eaten Parle-G biscuits from his hands. The beady-eyed thief wagged his tail with satisfied ease, having achieved his day’s quota of successfully sending grey-haired, pudgy Mr. Gogoi’s sanity down the gutter yet again. And hopefully getting some delicious biscuits out of it.

“You greedy creature! I gave you your biscuits earlier, didn’t I? And yet you have your eyes on my packet every single time! Shoo, go away! Go, I say! Shoo, dog, Shoo!” a very exasperated Mr. Gogoi said, with one hand holding his precious packet of biscuits high up in the air to stop the jumping canine from making a go for it while the other hand frantically trying to keep him still. It was like trying to tame a furry ball smeared with Flubber.

To be continued

Photo by Annie Spratt from Unsplash