07 February, 2010
Ward no.7 in the second floor of Swamy Hospital was the quietest that day. The rain gushing over window frames, with a force that the glasses would break, was nothing compared to the volcanoes that were erupting in the hearts of all those sitting in the room. Tilottama was sobbing continuously, taking breaks only to breathe in from the restless crying, and wiping her nose with the ends of her sari. Ashwath leaned on the bedstead and watched his daughter's face, never batting an eye. She was sleeping on the hospital bed, ward no.7.
Prithiv walked inside and caught the tiniest attention he could, by placing the water bottle on the table. He looked at his sister and stifled a sob. He looked at her eyes, shut tight as though they would never open. He looked at Ashwath with contempt and stormed out of the room. He stretched his hands to either side and pushed them onto the wall. He looked into randomness and his sister's closed eyes appeared in his mind's eye, from just the day before.
06 February 2010
Prithiv looked at those closed eyes, and reckoned that they had been dreaming. He walked up to the bed and pulled a streak of her hair and neatly tried to stow the ends. Into her nose. Krithika woke up with a jerk and sat upright. Before she could react, Prithiv giggled and ran away from there. She rubbed her eyes and got down. She did not go to the kitchen to get hold of Prithiv, like she does everyday. After her morning bath, she dressed up, took her bag, and soberly left without speaking to anyone at home. This did not seem strange to anybody, because she had fought with Ashwath last week, and the house had been as quiet since.
Krithika went to office and sat in her seat. Though there was a monitor on the desk, it was shorter than the pile of files resting aside. She drank water from a bottle that had been standing still since the night before. The water tasted pungent. She got off the chair and walked out into the balcony. She took a right and climbed through the narrow staircase that opened into another tiny balcony that was just 4 sq.ft. As she entered the room on the left, she saw the black screen still. Krithika dipped her hand in the bucket resting beside the screen, and stroked her face. The white paint slowly ran on her skin, from her forehead, on to the nose, and gradually onto her chin. She wiped the whole face with her hand, spreading the paint evenly over her face. Once done, Krithika stood in front of the black screen, with her right foot forward, turned slightly towards her right and craned her neck up into the sky, at an inclination of vaguely 50 degrees.
“What have I done to suffer this wrath, O dear! Explain why I deserve this.” Krithika turned swiftly in the opposite direction, facing left now, and smiled into a blank space.
“You have done nothing darling. And that, is why we are parting ways today. I wish it stayed too, but it will not, as there are things I have to go in search of. I need to leave.”
She turned back to her right and knelt down, trying to hold an intuitive palm and pleaded with her eyebrows frowned, "I knew there would be pain, I knew there would be an end. But only, dear angel, only have I never foreseen it. Let me come with you, to wherever you-", she paused and looked away, step after step, as she imagined the other character fading away into dark, even as she spoke.
Her monologue ended and she stood up, flicked off the dust on her pant by tapping on her knees, wiped the paint off her face with a wet tissue and walked out of the room, back downstairs.
That evening in the theater, a house-full crowd stood up and clapped as Krithika ended. She held hands along with six other members of the crew and bowed down to the crowd. They lifted a trophy, and she carried a certificate home.
At home, she brought up the same thing that she had been asking for the past few days, again.
"Pa, Please. I will resign and go with my troop. It is important that I do it now, or I can’t join them again later. I need to travel to Mysore now. This opportunity is something I cannot reject. It will give me a chance to plant myself in the field I love. Theatre is-"
"That is why! Exactly why, I say NO, Krithika!" Ashwath retorted. "You will not go there. You will not do theatre. You will not say a word against what I say, and you will not resign!" he tapped his index finger hard on the dining table and stood up, almost pushing his chair on to the ground.
Krithika sat there and tried swallowing the morsel of food that was stuck in her throat, as tears trickled down. Tilottama and Prithiv finished their dinner quietly. Tilottama hoped it would not be the same the day after, because everyone would get into Krithika's birthday mood. After all, who wouldn't act normal on their birthday, even if there are a million things killing them from inside? That would lighten the whole mood of home, she had thought.
After dinner, and helping Tilottama with her kitchen errands, Krithika went back to bed. But, she did not know what to do. At least on the past few nights, she had been contemplating about how to talk to Ashwath; how happily she would react if he said yes, or how she would explain if there was a 'No'. She imagined how she would fight and cry and argue, and finally call her crew and ask them to book a ticket for her too. May be, she thought of something that could never happen. But today, she knew nothing she could do. When she felt there was nothing but void, she went to her cupboard and knelt on the floor. She took the box of paint that had been sitting untouched for almost seven months, and went to her bed. She smelt it for a weeny moment and gulped it quickly. She frowned and felt like drinking water but refrained, as she was well aware that would dilute the paint. And her will. To end her life.
07 February 2010
Doctor Swaminathan came for the fourth time that day, and looked at Prithiv standing outside the room. He tapped him on the shoulder and took him inside. Tilottama and Ashwath sprang up and rushed to the bed, joining Swamy and Prithiv. Swamy asked them the same question he had been asking, every time he visited the room.
"Ashwath, I understand this is serious. But, you know me. It doesn't hurt if you tell me what the struggle is all about. It will only help me in treating her better."
Ashwath lifted his head and felt Tilottama and Prithiv staring at him. He sat back in the chair and exhaled.
"Swamy, you know about it. We have been arguing about her career, for almost six years now. She wants to do theatre. I never approved of it, but she has been doing it anyway. The last time we talked about it, she wanted to quit her job and get into theatre, full time. We had a brawl and I told her that she was no good at it, that she was doing it because she thinks it is her passion. But she argued over it and said she would do it anyway. It was almost a week since we conversed properly. I reckoned it would all be normal by today, as we could celebrate her birthday and forget about it. But last night when she brought that topic up, I lost my temper. So, I stormed out in the middle of my dinner. Today morning, she wouldn't wake up, and here we are..".
Swamy was about to say something, when Tilottama interrupted.
"She completed her dinner as usual. She came into the kitchen to help me, like every other day. She helped me clean the kitchen and settled the dining table. Prithiv had gone back to his room by then, so she locked the door and checked all the lights and fans. She reminded me that we replace the empty shampoo bottle in the bathroom. It all seemed quite normal."
"But it isn't, is it?" Prithiv took over.
"Just imagine this whole thing that she had done last night, with the modest thought of what was running in her mind all that while. Now, imagine how she was helping in the kitchen and talking so normally, with a million things running on her mind. How did you even expect that today would be normal? The speck of white paint around the end of her mouth is not normal. Krithika lying still on the bed after 7 A.M on her birthday is not normal. Nothing can that soberly go back to normal! " he almost shrieked.
Swamy patted Prithiv on the shoulder and told him to sit. He looked at Ashwath and said, "Ashwath, I know this is not the right time to tell you, but it is my duty to. Krithika is in coma, and I cannot comment more now. I hope you stand strong. But I will tell you one thing. You have the right to tell what you like or do not. But you never have the right to judge what she is capable of and what she is not. If she can think that drinking a whole can of paint is better than living a life she doesn't want to, she can think of things you might not even imagine. Think about it. I will come back later. I will send a nurse to accompany you."
Tilottama and Prithiv walked towards the bed and stood there, looking at Krithika. Ashwath looked into emptiness, and closed his eyes. He thought of the day, an year before.
07 February 2009
"Happy Birthday to you!", Prithiv shouted as Krithika came out of the bedroom, rubbing her eyes.
"Prithiv, don't shout like that. Go drink your milk", Ashwath said, looking up from the news paper. "Happy Birthday Krithika", he smiled.
"Thank you Pa!", she smiled back.
"Happy birthday Krithika!", Tilottama arrived from the kitchen with a cup of coffee.
"Thanks Amma!", Krithika grinned and went into the bathroom.
That night, after they had their dinner at a restaurant and everybody came back tired, Ashwath peeped into Krithika's room. Krithika had a thin layer of paint on her face, and was practicing her part for the next day. It was the part she was well known for, and it was her favorite play. He had seen her play it at least a dozen times.
"I knew there would be pain, I knew there would be an end. But only, dear angel, only have I never foreseen it. Let me come with you, to wherever you-". The door creaked and Krithika ran into the bathroom to clean her face.
Ashwath knew his daughter was good, but he thought she wasn't good enough. So he never cared. Or may be he cared, but never cared enough.
07 February 2010
Ashwath opened his eyes, looked at Krithika and thought,
"I knew there would be pain, I knew there would be an end. But only, dear angel, only have I never foreseen it.", dipping his hand in the white paint tin that was by the wall.
These lines always ended in soliloquy.