I write this as I sit on my bathroom floor. The rest of my house is so fucking noisy and lifeless that no one has noticed that I have been here for an hour, silent as dead. My body shivers under the running cold water, and I stand up to turn off the shower since no one really cares if I am showering or not. Usually, in a house as small as mine, the absence of a newborn baby should make more room, but today it is filled with chaos and my absence only makes it better.
Let me describe this personal hell that I’m talking about. A big family of a man, his two wives, and seven children. The man is slapping the mother of his first four children because she refuses to stay married to a man with two wives. The children of these parents are mere spectators of the incident except that the fourth child—a thin seventeen-year-old boy sits naked on the small bathroom floor scribbling words in a small notebook. My first tip to you is, never get adopted in a poor family, you’ll receive nothing but dark glances mocks from siblings, and intended ignorance from your adopted parents. Basically, all these people fighting outside are nobody to me. I belong to the large pile of dirt below the bridge, from where they picked me.
Let me make it clear, they aren’t merciful souls who pick up abandoned children, they are greedy hyenas who received a hundred grand for adopting me. Also, I give them my monthly wages after toiling in the liquor factory. But why am I telling all this to you? Maybe I just need a listener.
So I was abandoned on the day I was born, and my adopted family never leaves an opportunity of reminding me that. One such day I returned to the slum all tired from my factory work and my adopted mother said, “I don’t know why I picked you up from that dirt! For those hundred thousand rupees, we have to pay for your food and living.”
Yes, my adopted mother said that to me. Also a heads-up I have never addressed them as my parents.
So after she admitted her dislike for me I walked to the lake in our neighborhood. It smelled like human feces, well it actually smelled of human feces. I sat there, glancing at the sky as tears welled in my eyes. The sky is the only friend I have, it is there for me wherever I am, always. So I just look up and talk to it about everything. And this day I was seriously angry.
“Can you see me? You’re so far up there that sometimes I feel alone. I try not to cry but it hurts. Why didn’t I die in that dirt the other day? Why do I survive through all this misery? Everyone hates me, they say I’m just a curse to their house, I shouldn’t have lived, but I am living. Why?”
“Because you want to live.” A voice came from behind the pile of broken furniture. It was the girl from the factory. We hadn’t spoken before. In fact, I had never seen her talk before, so I had assumed that she couldn’t speak. Her voice was beautiful, and no matter how sad I was, I was smiling. I looked away from her when she came and sat beside me. As I wiped my tears, I could feel her oceanic eyes on my back. Among all the people that I have seen in my life, only she had blue eyes.
“What is your name?” I asked her.
She didn’t respond. I’m sure she is making stuff up in her head.
“I am the famous Byomkesh Bakshi and I am looking for Teja.” She smirked. I got the idea. We were supposed to say lies. No word of truth should escape our mouths. We promised that to each other, wordlessly.
“I am Teja. But you cannot take me, because hundreds of my men are hiding around here. One step and you’ll be gone.”
She giggled at that and continued, “We don’t need to harm each other, Teja. What are you doing in this big City of Illusions?”
“I am here to kill the owner of the liquor factory,” I say. I wish that were true.
“Why are you doing that?”
“I’m not telling that to you, Bakshi.”
And like that we lied to each other for an hour and she left me smiling and light as a feather. I waited there, I don’t know for what, but I just did. Since that day, I find myself by the lake every day, watching the path she walked by. Looking at it with hope. With desperation. I guess what she said was true. I live because I want to. And I want to live, because of desperation. And as I finish writing on this almost damp notebook of mine, my adopted family tries to drag me back to reality. To my real life.