Homecoming7 mins 401 7 mins 401
Pratistha felt dizzy as she looked down, a comparatively narrow road with not much traffic along it. Twelve stories down the building lay the road, almost inviting. She had sneaked into this office building and managed to make it to the terrace unspotted. It was the easiest means for her to put an end to her twenty-one-year-old meaningless existence, called life.
She tiptoed to the edge of the terrace, no parapet wall or banister to stop her. She looked down vertically and in an instant stepped back. A simple jump and all her problems would be solved in the nick of time. The first three or probably five seconds she would fly like a bird, a light sparrow gliding down the air into a nosedive.
She had always wanted to fly. She would even imagine herself flying like a bird through the cool air of a valley and would even feel the air against her cheeks. Even sliding down long slides into pools of water, at entertainment parks, would amuse her like a child. But, then she closed her eyes and sobbed- she had always wanted to be a pilot.
She stopped sobbing and took a long breath to gather herself. She must do it in the best interest of all relating to her meaningless life. She had prepared her mind for months for this moment, now she didn't want to be weak and betrayed by her mind. Pratistha dragged her feet and advanced to the edge of the terrace. She raised her light hands and placed them on the sides of her head and positioned herself as a diver, poised.
"Uh huh! That's not the way!" Pratistha got a start and looked back in panic.
"If you really want to finish it off, in a dignified way, say with a guaranteed result, that's not the way." The voice spoke again.
Now Pratistha turned back and looked towards the source of the distracting words. A man with grey hair and a childlike face stood there in a golden suit and beamed at Pratistha, almost teasing her.
"You know, that way you would look like a murder- thrown off the terrace. Moreover, I am a little worried about your eyes, your angelic eyes. You love them, don't you? Now, that way you would be lying with your angelic eyes wide open and horrified and full of pain. That's no justice to your much loved eyes. Also……."
Pratistha found it strange. How did the man know about her eyes? It was not even possible for him to observe her eyes from the place he was presently standing. Yes she loved her eyes. Her friends had always called her an angel chiefly for her angelic eyes. She too loved them. She would often look in them on the mirror and talk to them. They seemed to have a solution for every problem of hers. They said her eyes were just like her mother's. Even until a few years ago her father would often hold her face in his large hands and gaze in her eyes. She knew he was searching for her mother. Pratistha would often look into them and they would coax and cajole herself like her mother. But, this time she had the desperation to ignore her eyes. In fact she had not looked in them for days- she didn't want to be weak. For the first time in her life she had defied her mother.
"Ahem!" The man cleared his throat. Pratistha woke up to her present.
"Moreover" The man continued. "If you jump like that you are going to land on your legs and I don't have any reason to believe that they will be able to survive the impact of the fall. They are going to crumble and give way to your body making you look like a heap of flesh with your legs jerked into your beautiful body. You are going to look a lot shorter. And that's not all. You are not going to die for sure. You know medical treatments today! They don't even let a man die peacefully. And they are going to drag you to the court even before you can stand on your own legs. Of course, you are not going to stand on your own legs in your life again, let alone walking. You are certainly going to miss your favourite jeans, kurtas and shoes, mainly the ones with zari on them.
Yes, you are not going to make it to an unknown temple premises on the bank of an unknown stream with Neha or Dikshya or Ayush, bunking college, but who cares! Once you jump the way I suggest, you are above all this petty earthly pleasures! Also, why should one care for the ones who surround one's life? Nonsense! A middleclass emotion, I must say.
Pratistha didn't know what to do. She looked at the man blank, as if in search of some reaction. At present her beautiful eyes had a dull sheen in them. As if they belonged to a dead fish.
"Jump facedown and have a guaranteed result." The man continued after a pause. "Yes, I know that way you are going to land on your face and have your eyes smashed first but who cares? Once you are gone what care do you have for your eyes? Yes, your father will have a tough time identifying your body at the police morgue. He will certainly try to hold your face in his large hands and look in your eyes but, your friends will be a bit too scared to look at your mangled face, but who cares? You will have gone beyond all this by then!
And your father? That bloody old man will certainly find a way with his meaningless life. Who cares? You have every right to think of your life, umm… I mean death."
This was a bit too much for Pratistha. She looked at the man and almost charged him with her eyes. She, now, hated him more that she hated herself.
He was still smiling. Pratistha snapped at him, "What is it to you?" "Just let me die."Pratistha almost begged of him and broke into a harrowing sob.
"Uh huh! I can't let you fail. You see I have named this building 'Success Tower'. It took me my entire life to build it. "I can't let you fail at 'Success Tower'. Won't it be ironical? Let me help you."
The man in golden suit started to approach Pratistha with his hands stretched forward, a saintly smile on his face, like a father inviting his darling daughter having come home at the end of the day's work.
"Who are you? Why don't you leave me alone?"
"Who I am is not important. It is more important for you to know that I can help you escape this mess, that you call life." The man chuckled like a child.
"If you really did you would leave me alone. Please help me and just leave me to my fate. You don't know what plight I'm in." Pratistha implored.
"I'm trying to help you, child. You are the one who has so far refused it! And for that 'plight' part, it's my common sense that tells me your plight. Seemingly educated, you don't even know how to kill yourself gracefully. The man laughed contemptuously. Now, let's get to business. I have many more to help."
The man kept advancing. He was almost gliding now. As if he had wheels under his feet. The setting sun which was just behind his head created a halo. Pratistha now was scared to death! She looked at the door from the corner of her eye while busying the man with her another eye. The man kept talking. His smile had already changed into a soft, teasing laughter now. Pratistha dashed for the door, her eyes blinded with tears and heart filled with the bitter feelings of failure.
She ran down the stairs like a woman possessed, like a mother hurrying to collect her child from school. The laughter of the man echoed in the building loudly. She could feel the contempt of the man pursuing her. She ran even faster for her life. She opened the heavy glass door and ran into the main road teeming with life.
Daddy must be home by now.
She longed to rest her head on the broad chest of her father and cry.