A short story by Nitesh Mishra
It was as hot as I’d ever remembered. Just blistering. Only peace came from a stiff, brisk breeze. Leaves mingled with trash as they blew through the passages and side streets. I’d just stopped at the office when the news reached me. On my way to the stairs that led to my cabin, I bought a cup of coffee and used the seven flights of stairs that led to client management floor. I passed a gentle smile to anyone I met in-between my journey to my cabin of solitude. So often people believe that a laugh means happiness. A smile is my only lie.
I brought my cup of coffee to my lips, and I drank it like it was whiskey, a sip and then a long one. I walked over to the window and reflected on my dull surroundings. My reflection in mirror looked cross and my emotions raw. The person who stared back at me, the one I always saw was the person whose existence I’ve always denied. Strangely I felt like the world around me had moved on and I was nothing more than a relic, an antique, out of its time. We all get one chance to do the right thing, and no matter what we make us believe there is always just one way.
I just couldn’t help but remember the storm that destroyed everything I knew. I hate getting flashbacks from things I do not want to remember.
Do you believe in second love? Doesn’t our heart deserves a chance at redemption? There are hundred shattered pieces of me, hundred identities in hundred broken pieces of the mirror. Which one do you want to know?
I was sixteen then, I’m twenty-eight now. We all have that basic human instincts, fear, doubting ourselves, it’s our inner struggle to fight and overcome those basic flaws and be the person we want to be, we choose to be. I struggled for months, it felt more but in the chronological sense it was months. Sneha. She wasn’t like anything I had expected.
Don’t blame me later saying I didn’t warn you. This one is a depressing story.
“I’ll break your heart,” few simple words that left Sneha’s lips, changing my world with them.
“Maybe I will break yours,” A pathetic attempt by a destroyed ego trying to soothe itself. When it comes down to it, the choice is between satisfying your ego and preserving a shred of dignity, isn’t it?
She waited, for what, I’m not sure.
“You won’t, I do not have one,” and just like that, she won.
Generally people just lose their hearts in love, but I lost my entire identity in love. You don’t die from a broken heart. You only wish you did. It wasn’t as if anyone got physically hurt but in the end it didn’t matter.
We all hope that the person standing in front of us can read our thoughts, that they can understand everything, every word we want to say without us even saying it. We hope so because we all afraid to admit to our flaws, we all are scared that the raw truth of our identity will push them away. That’s how I felt, not when Sneha made my words insignificant, but when Rohan, Sneha’s brother, my only friend of ten years felt disgusted by me.
People who hide their emotions are the ones who feel them the strongest. There was so much I wanted to say back then. How we have no control over our heart’s desire? How we do not chose who we love? But I didn’t. I’m stoic. It didn’t meant I feel none of it. Maybe I felt disgusted with myself too.
One mans’ vices end up being another’s’ obsession. My vice, falling in love with my friends sister, a friend I called my brother, ended up fueling Rohan’s hate. Disgust with my vice ended up becoming his obsession.
They say I live in a constant state of delusion, and they aren’t entirely wrong at that, I remember before I came to the park as I strolled through a swamp, my shoes all dirty from the mud. All around was nothing but murky waters and treacherous smell of weed decaying in stagnant water and all I could think of was death, decaying death of trees, shrubs, even insects in that marsh. It’s strange when you have a chain of thoughts on your head, you can almost relate everything to that.
“Hey mister, are you alright? You know it’s the last stop.”
The kid’s voice broke me out of my silent war. The bus screeched and halted, abruptly coming to a stop. I jumped, my hands trembling, veins in my head throbbing as if somehow was continuously pounding a hammer on my head. How we end up believing that we will only find ourselves through others.
The mosque’s speaker started reciting the late evening prayer in the distance. I screamed, I shouted, for the first time in my life, I wanted to cry. I threw my bag on the ground and burst into tears. After a while, my eyes and lungs simply gave up and like a pathetic mess, I felt on the ground, soaking my clothes in dirt.
I have been lost in my life more times than I can count and this wasn’t where I wanted to be.
I called Rohan in the evening. When this story ends, when all the worse has happened, there is one thing still left. Hope. Even though I’m the man I do not want to be, I hoped. I hoped he’ll pick up the call, I hoped that in this hour of great trouble we’ll forget our differences. I had hoped for the rain to wash the worst of me, to fill the pain of a broken heart.
“Wrong number,” said a familiar voice. Surprise only comes when perceptions are wrong.
There are things you do in life you’ll never forget no matter how long you live. Sneha is dead but I guess, Rohan will never forget the emotional whirlwind I had no way to control. Is life really that beautiful, does all the stories end with a beautiful happy ending? If that is so then no one die on their death bed with regrets, right? But I’m pretty sure, almost everyone feels, correction, everyone feels regrets. The entire human life and it ends for no reason and what are we left with?