Author’s plea: This is incredibly lengthy and heavy but shan’t disappoint you. Please have patience.
She opened her eyes to a familiar feeling of boredom and then realized that he was staring at her. This made her feel confident once again. His eyes, meanwhile, met the alarm clock and he rose up from the bed to leave. He tucked his shirt in with obvious sense of reluctance.
Her gaze was fixed on him and she was smiling. The bed sheet slipped off her shoulder and she made no attempts to pull it over. She caught the twinkle in his eyes when it had slipped off. Moving briskly in her position and looking away from him she asked, “How good are you in your job, doc?”
He kept silent for about two minutes looking for a suitable way to answer and then smiled. He threw his folder beside her, not far from her knees, and said, “You should go through this.”
She pushed the folder aside without looking at it and instead turned towards him and looked directly in his eyes and parted her legs. “I fear there are skills that can’t be quantified in numbers and displayed in certificates.”
She was smiling with an exuberant display of confidence.
He chuckled at this and thought how silly he was. He winked at her and said, “I probably misunderstood you, ma’am!”
She smiled too but with an uneasiness and then she said, undercutting him, “I will sleep some more” and dived inside her bed sheet. He then came forward and held her fingers and ran his fingers on them and said, “I shall be looking forward to meeting you again in the evening.”
He got up to leave when she opened her eyes and put her palm on his heart. She said, “This is mine!” with a tortured smile.
Ishika had a very distinct style of asserting her position and possession. If she believed that something was hers, she lived up to that conviction and exercised absolute control over them as if they were meant to be hers.
On his way home, Aditya kept thinking about her.
The last words she had said echoed back to him. He reached home and got ready to leave for the hospital, all this while missing her.
Ishika was still in bed. She kept her eyes closed for five more minutes after Aditya had left and then got up in a hurry and went to the mirror. She thought she looked more beautiful than any other day. She walked across the room and reached for her gown and robed herself. She then went forward towards the window and looked down from the seventh floor. She climbed on her window and jumped off.
Aditya sat in his room checking his patients. For a minute or so between his patients, his thoughts travelled to Ishika. He thought of calling her or messaging her just to say that he was thinking of her, but dropped the idea as soon as it struck him every time. He was missing her more today.
He smiled at himself and loved the way he felt then. He could not resist any longer and dialed her but there was no answer.
Ishika had jumped off her window and landed safely on the platform that connected her balcony with her neighbor’s. She slowly put her steps forward till she reached its edge and picked the bundle of sheets lying there. She had thrown it out of her window last night out of that feeling of disgust which follows disappointment and disenchantment.
She was in shower when Aditya had called.
“Life had been such a waste”, she sighed. She was languishing in this small room disillusioned and dissatisfied. On her lap, sheets lay scattered.
A successful writer, Ishika, has tasted all the fame and popularity one could ever dream of and yet she felt something was missing. She was liked and loved and appreciated but not criticized and she missed exactly that. She was a writer by choice and by design. So, she could not complaint of not being able to pursue her heart. She was what she was meant to be and yet her act of existence seemed to her as only an act and nothing more.
The bundle of sheets was her much awaited work of fiction and its first chapter was a suicide note. It was written under a pre-designed schema- first to shock the audience to absorb them into the narrative and then open up her discourse that dived into the nuances of modern lifestyle. Like her other works, she knew this would work- critics were in awe with the profundity of her work and readers were enthralled by contemporaneity of her subjects.
She presently ran her fingers on the first page beside her and read it out to herself-
“I had thought so many things before I sat down to write but they seem to have disappeared now. However, the vision is not lost i.e. I want to die and the intensity to “live” this vision is very strong. The reasons people generally enumerate for taking away their life, I have none. But still if a logical reason is required then let’s say that I want to die not because life has left me no other option but because I have decided to die. It’s not an escape that I am looking for; it’s the desire to experience an alternative reality. I, therefore, willingly refuse to live…”
She could not bring herself to read anymore.
The piece was only half-true. This is not what she intended to write. The book opened in medias res with the incident of suicide which was the outcome of a long lost battle which succeeded the pain of loss of identity in the protagonist. It was to be followed by the sense of disbelief in him. This entire thing about tasting an alternative possibility was just an artificial way to embolden the character and reach a point of resolution. The discrepancy between what the protagonist thought he was and what people perceived him to be had to be the prime driving force behind the idea of suicide. To explicate the disjunction between “I think, therefore I am” and “to be is to be perceived” and the abysmal gap between the two ideas was her motive of writing the story. But, she was too scared to leave the story inconclusive and she did not want to present her protagonist as a vulnerable little creature who wants to take away his life on such a trivial issue, lest the readers discard her writing.
In the business of writing she felt lost. In weaving new tales of imagination she had lost touch with reality so much that her own life seemed a highly animated saga suitable for a fiction but not meant to be lived. She was scared of being identified as herself in her fictions. She wished her readers never be able to find the author’s voice. She equally lied to her characters and readers, and did not let them know her intentions.
At this point the door-bell rang-she welcomed Aditya- got up to get ready- went out- met friends- drank and ate- laughed and sighed- returned home tired- slept.
“Come, let’s sit and talk,” it said.
“Can we do that later please?” she replied.
It then lifted her and threw her out of the window.
She woke up flabbergasted and obviously in panic. Unable to comprehend for a fraction of second she then realized that it was a nightmare.
She fell back on the bed watching the ceiling. Aditya tossed now in her bed beside her and she turned to look at him. Here was a man comfortable and at peace with himself, probably even happy with his life. He slept clutching one of her books in his hand and this made her smirk a little. She knew he carried the book just for the sake of it. He had promised to read it but she knew he would never do that.
Forgetting the night-mare, her thoughts turned towards Aditya. She could not decipher his expressions, his reactions, his moods; she did not know him quite well, she thought. He was open but not exposed.
This precisely made him an individual and not a character type. A man who was at war with himself the way she was. He was continuously fighting dilemma, disowning doubts and resolving contradictions but was subtle and calm on the face. He was a free man, a successful one and yet exercised such control over his conduct that made her uncomfortable and probably jealous too.
She moved away from him but continued to stare at him perplexed. She was filled with a violent rage and an immediate urge to kick him out of her bed or probably even throw him out of the window because the sense of contrast made her miserable.
She closed her eyes and then to pacify herself she pulled his sheet as recompense, thus covering herself and laying him bare.
Aditya woke up feeling cold and disturbed but gave out a warm smile on seeing her staring at him. He demanded to share the cover and go back to sleep. He thought of pulling her towards him but the strange look on her face reminded her of her usual statement- “I am difficult to handle. I may demand more love, more passionate love and much more.” He smirked at the thought and moved closer to her. He nuzzled up against her and said, “You need to throw yourself and let yourself fall freely to be loved.” To this she protested and blurted, “I am free and I am loved, why I should fall.”
“You are not listening miss if you are talking all the time and you are not sleeping if you are dreaming all the time,” he quipped.
“I can’t sleep Aditya,” she broke out.
He smiled for a moment and then half amused half serious he said, “You should read your own books in bed, they work as anesthetics.”
The last statement shook her from her slumber.
“You look scary that way, girl.” The last statement did not sink in well with the girl.
“Okay, tell me why you want me here with you?” he asked. He had probably smelled the tension on his beloved’s face.
“That’s because I like to sleep beside you. I feel secure.” She replied faithfully.
“But why are you insecure when you know you are free and you are loved?”
“That’s because I feel alone.”
“But, you always wanted to be different and distanced. Didn’t you?”
“Yes, but I feel aloof now and vulnerable.”
“That’s precisely because you survive like a parasite baby. You feed on other’s praise…their opinion about you. That’s your bread and butter. You need others to assert your identity. You are all over the place and so you are scattered and therefore vulnerable. And aloof… no, you are not.
You are connected with everyone except yourself. ”
“Don’t talk to me like that…like a prophet, a seer…what do you call that…a super-human being who can look through…you torment me,” she loathed him for his superiority of understanding and the way he was able to detach and behold her condition.
And she realized that this wasn’t the case. It wasn’t him but herself.
Aditya spoke again, “You are a lady of contradictions and not resolutions. Why are your books then pretending to present an artificial sense of closure through reconciliation and resolution?”
“That’s because I am…” and she faltered but soon gathered herself again and said boldly, ‘I’m a Phoenix. I am going to hope that things will be as good as they are in my books. I rise from the ashes of my contradictions.”
Ishika was as surprised to listen to her bold defense as Aditya was at the moment. They kept staring at each other. Ishika felt good and confident again. Aditya smiled and finally nodded a little and then moved forward to say, “You give me hopes, my girl, but those hopes are a myth.”
“Yes they are. But they work like anesthetics, my boy, that make you sleep well and forget about all tensions, all contradictions,” Ishika could see things clearly again.
She covered Aditya with the sheet that she had pulled previously and lied with him. Aditya held her and whispered, “You’re inevitable!”