Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for mature content.
Sumitha, are you dead? I have finally finished reading hamlet, It took me six months to incite the hamlet in me. I still can’t comprehend it completely, do I even understand him remotely? Do I have the objectivity to evaluate my interpretation of him or am I deluded by my vanity. Am I vain in saying that I can see my world through his eyes, even if I believe it to be true. Are all my truths contorted lies, have I spent all my life constrained in contortions. Is my hamlet the truth or is it a lie?
What is it like being dead? Are you still self-aware. Do memories transcend the barrier of silence. I feel that your absence from this realm is an indication of your presence beyond the realm of my comprehension, as physics teaches us, energy cannot be destroyed it merely changes its form. How do you identify yourself in the absence of your physical form, is it the memory, is it the contrast in consciousness, are the numerous indentations in the fabric of space and time indicative of your absence and evidence of your existence. Is life after death a play, in which you are the participant and the audience, you can see the play through the eyes of the protagonist, but you cannot alter the plot or change the dialogue, you cannot change the set or the order of events and experiences that the protagonist goes through. When alive, we have the luxury of directing the play and hence we can control the experiences we choose to have, but whose choice is it, is it the viewer who is asserting his ideas on the protagonist, or is the protagonist reacting to a situation on sheer instinct without consulting the viewer. Both the situations will create an irrefutable dissent. A dissent that will not only divide but eventually polarize the components of self. This self will then live in perpetual discord. After death, do you merge as a single being or are you still a collection of conflicting ideas striving for unification? Is life just a collection of perspectives from different points in time to gain a more absolute and unblemished impression of the soul, which is studied by our dead self’s to decipher the intention of our creation. Have you moved on to that plane, was I a unknown variable in the equation of your life which when numerated will give you the solution or was I the solution through which you were to numerate the unknown variable of your life.
Sumitha, I have receded to darkness. There is an unassuming comfort in its acceptance. I always thought of darkness as the absence of light, but now I realize it was the presence of fear. The fear of defeat, the fear of abandonment, the fear of being seen for who I was, the fear of being understood and resolved, the fear of normalcy, of mediocrity and the ultimate fear of understanding myself. When light would shine upon me I would hide in the darkest corner of myself, and hence would fool the spectator with all the superfluity of my attempted impression of myself. I wake up every morning to grey skies and acerbic wind and then I walk towards the sea. The Road seems despondent and yet everyday it safely leads me to my destination. I sit and watch the waves, toppling over each other, competing ferociously to reach the shore only to be stripped of their ardour. I urge them to stay, I urge them to stop their redundant and self-abasing actions, but they carry on like a delinquent and appall me. I am starting to derive invidious pleasure from their actions it is ironic how nature mocks humans. Ihavestopped using electricity. I write in the candle light, which provides me with just enough light to see and just enough darkness to forget. Sumitha, I can’t sleep anymore. I can hear your voice coming from the void of uncertainty, the words are muffled I can’t understand the conversation that you want to have with me but I can discern the song that you used to sing to me when I couldn’t sleep. Now That song makes me anxious and it doesn’t allow me to close my eyes and give in to your embrace, but please don’t stop singing. I hear the sound of waves leaving the shore, I can feel the waves kissing my feet and sliding the sand from underneath it. When I go out into the night I am greeted with deserted roads wreathed in artificial lights. I feel nauseous at the thought of walking into the light so I walk in the shadows where the despair of loneliness is not as debilitating.
Everyone on this beach is overwrought with despair. You can see a spectrum of mourners, some silently brood in their angst and some wail like wounded animals. I approached a man standing with a cylindrical plastic container full of sand and I asked him who have you lost? He said “my father, he killed himself about a year ago” I asked pointing at the plastic container, is that him? He said “I hope so” I asked him what did he mean, he handed me a piece of paper that read
Dear Son, I hope this note signifies my death. I have loved you with all my heart and you have always abided by my decisions, you have never questioned my actions nor have you judged them hence I ask you to regard me with the same indifference with which you have regarded me all my life. There was never any warmth between us. We lived together for almost 50 years and never did we share a word of kindness. I always knew that this was the result of your mother’s betrayal of me for which you hold me at fault, as why would a kind, affectionate and radiant woman waste her life with an apathetic man who is incapable of bestowing upon her the reverential love that she covets and deserves. I am a failure my son, I failed to sustain the affection of my wife and then I failed to obtain the affection of my only son. When you were on the brink of your manhood, I was petrified of you, I was petrified of the possibility of you asking me the question that tormented me everyday but you never asked me why did I rob you of your mother’s love? You never did imprecate me for being insufficient. If you would have said any of those things I would have crumpled to dust at that very moment but it was your silence that made my guilt unbearable. I was indifferent to your existence when you were a child in your mothers care and I was scared of you in your adulthood and hence despite all my failures as a husband and as a father my biggest regret that gnaws at me as I write these words is that I never hugged you, like a father should have hugged his son.
when I finished reading the note and looked at him with tears in my eyes he said “a week before he killed himself he insisted that we go to the beach, we came here and sat beside each other, a few moments passed in silence and then he laid himself down on the sand and said “son are you happy?” I was shocked at his question as we had never indulged in intimate conversation and I said nothing, because I didn’t know what to say, words would have been insufficient to describe the tempest of emotions that overpowered me and stifled the words before they could have been uttered. Silence is generally perceived as a sign of apathy or docility but in our case it was a malignant presence that possessed us and then decimated us. Since then I come here every-day to look for the grains of sand that embraced my father’s vulnerable self, so that I can hug him, like a son should have hugged his father.
We sat down next to each other and he asked me “who have you lost?” and I said, I haven’t lost her, I just can’t find her. I can hear her voice in the dark but I think that’s just my mind playing tricks on me. He said “if you can hear her there’s still a chance, you haven’t lost her” then he asked “why do you come here everyday?” and then I told him the story that I never told you but you always knew didn’t you?
I lived with my mother and our dog on the footpath outside churchgate station, our dog “sheera” remained chained to the wall during the day while my mother cooked and I begged, never loosing sight of my mother. When it rained we moved on the steps of the exit of the station with our food and clothes. Every-day at sunset my mother took a bath in the stations toilet, she dressed in her nicest blue sari then she unchained sheera and chained me to the wall me before going off to work. She chained me to ensure that I was not abducted and she unchained sheera so that no one dared to touch me or even hurl abuses at me. She returned at sunrise but Every-night I was terrified, not of the silence nor of the strangers but of the possibility of being left chained for the rest of my life in case my mother never returned. My fears did come true and one day my mother left me never to return.
I was chained to the wall for two days, when a man came with a key and opened the chain saying to me that my mother was waiting for me on the beach and that he was there to take me to my mother. Sheera started growling at the man, but I calmed sheera down, I chained him to the wall and handed the key back to the man, I didn’t want sheera to follow me because I wanted to prove to him that my mother loved me more than him as she had sent for me and not him. I went with him to the beach where first he fed me and then he took me to his house promising me that my mother was there. Once we reached his house he undressed me and asked me to take a bath as I was covered in filth, when I came out of the bathroom I came across a man who was giving money to the man who had brought me there. I found out that it wasn’t the house of the man who had brought me here and that my mother was dead, she was killed by the man who had brought me here.
I felt weightless, like my limbs were snatched away from me, my head buzzed as if it was housed by a thousand bees, but the weightlessness was soon dissipated as I felt a hand on my head, the hand drew me near to a thing I had never seen in my life, it was long and it appeared hard, the hand forced me to swallow it. Its taste was disgusting and I immediately became nauseous, I tried to spit it out but the hand wouldn’t let me, I bit it as it slowly became wet and the hand violently pushed me away, I fell on the floor and felt all my food rise up to my mouth, when two legs were placed on either side of me and the thing that I had been forced to swallow spit white fluid on my face as I vomited all my food. This was the first of many rapes that I had to endure.
I worked on this beach till I was thirteen, I wanted to leave, I felt disgusted with myself, but I had nowhere to go. Then one day a middle aged lady came to me and asked me how much would I charge for 2 hours, this was my cue to call radhe my handler, the man who had forced me into this life. Radhe asked the lady, what was she planning to do with me, she said that she liked little girls and wanted to play with me. She paid radhe 2000 rupees, radhe told her to drop me off to the nariman point bus stop after she was done and that he would pick me up from there. I was surprised but relieved, I thought at least I wouldn’t have to use the entire bottle of Listerine to get the taste of cum out of my mouth. This woman was sumitha, she took me to her car and said that she had seen me working on this beach and that she was taking me to the police. She said that they would catch Radhe and that I would be free. I begged her not to do this as I had nowhere to go she reassured me and said that I could live with her. She legally adopted me.
After a year of therapy and homeschooling I was admitted into a school where I discovered the wonder of novels. For the first time in my life I was thinking in the words I had learned from books, I felt cultured and respected. I started thinking about my words, my thoughts became clearer and relevant not only to my existence but also to the world in which I existed. I came across emotions that I had never experienced and I became eloquent in the expression of those emotions. I could create a world with my words, where I could lose myself for days, I started writing poetry, painful and tragic, filled with horrors of sex and violence. I learned the implications of my words when people started judging me on the basis of my poems, it is rightly said that an author creates in his own image and I realized that I still identified myself as a prostitute though not openly but internally, to me I still was a woman who sold her body, a woman unworthy of what she had. I stopped writing, afraid that my friends would discover my past then eventually I stopped talking to them, the only person I talked to was sumitha. I never told her the details of my past and she never asked. She loved me for who I was. I started having nightmares about the rapes and I couldn’t sleep, sumitha would sit by me and sing me my favourite song. When I started college sumitha had to go to the U.S for 4 years. I was paralyzed with the same fear, what if she never comes back. She assured me that she will be back as soon as her work allows her, she said come what may she loved me more than anything and that would never change. In college I felt alone and alienated, I didn’t talk to anyone and no one talked to me. Sumitha would call me on alternate days, but I didn’t want to disappoint her anymore with my defeatist attitude so I never told her the truth about my condition.
I started cutting myself, first on my inner thighs so that no one would know that I was self-harming, but eventually I grew indifferent to everyone and started cutting my wrist, every-day I would cut a little deeper, every-day I looked forward to cutting my wrist, you know what happens when you cut, the skin slowly falls away and a ravine is formed in which the blood gushes. One day I made a cut that was too deep and I was startled at the amount of blood I fainted and when I woke up the blood was gone, since then I can’t find sumitha.
Sumitha, I don’t want to be like the sand collector. I don’t want to seethe in my guilt till eternity. I don’t want to dissipate into the darkness of my own creation. I want to exhume and accept my past because without it I am incomplete, I am an apparition roaming the streets of mortals hoping to feel the delicacies of nature against my skin when I lack a corporeal form. I don’t want to hide behind the veil of despair, I don’t want to be the victim anymore. I want to be lucid in my thoughts and actions, lucid enough to value the cost of my existence. Sumitha, please come back I want a fresh start.
Sumitha, every-day I lose a limb only to regain it later, I can’t seem to find my physical self anymore. I am scattered in the deafening silence, I can’t find my voice, every-day I try to congeal myself into a definitive form. The only thing I still posses is my left hand with which I write to you. The rest of me is lost or perhaps misplaced. I can’t hear your voice anymore, I don’t know what to think of it, maybe I have lost you forever, or maybe the part of me that was receptive to your voice has been overpowered by my disjointed state. This may be my last note to you, I can’t find words to express my gratitude towards you, you gave me a new life. You made me aware of myself, of my thoughts, of the beauty of cognition but sadly I used this knowledge to seethe in my past eventually to implode. I can’t repay you in anyway, I realize that your contentment lied in my happiness but I denied you of that. In your case I am not the victim but the perpetrator and by disintegrating into nothingness I deny you of your right to retribution. Forgive me sumitha if you can, I loved you more than I love myself.
I woke up in a hospital, sumitha was sitting on a chair holding my left hand, she had aged beyond her years. She gave a cry of joy as she saw me looking at her with bewildered eyes. I said, how are you here I have trying to reach out to you, I have been writing to you, did you receive my notes, is that how you came here, and why am I in a hospital. At this point sumitha pointed at my right wrist which was bandaged and numb. I said, but the cut wasn’t that deep and the blood disappeared. She said in her quivering voice “you have been unconscious for 6 days, why did you do it prachi, why!!!!!!, I though I had lost you forever, please oh please don’t ever do this again” she dropped herself onto the floor and started crying. At this point I welled up and moved my head to the right to keep the tears from running down my face. I saw a face that I recognized it was the sand collector, he laid on the bed next to me unconscious, an old man was sitting at his bedside looking at sumitha, with tears in his eyes. He moved his gaze to me, our eyes met and he smiled gently.