As I stepped into the elevator, nostalgia hit me with a jolt. It was only yesterday, we had laughed here, tickled each other and made nasty jokes. Tears were wiped and happiness had grabbed the air around. This apartment was more like a home to me. The elevator, in its mechanised voice, chimed the second floor and the door split into two and glided away into oblivion.
My legs trembled as I stepped into the granite-floored hallway. It was streaming with people, a few surprised, a few shaken up and a few more dressed as officials from the police department and few people clad in whites. This place looked nothing like the last memory I had of it.
The last night was peaceful as I helped him draw to open the curtains and call his mom. Arnav, Amol and I were close friends from a long long time. Vamshi was the new one to the group.
“Rana, see what has happened to Amol, Yuni jeo naa, Shundar Chhele” Amol’s mother out in pain , it galloped her with all its might.
Amol was basically from Bengal and had settled down in New Delhi. Arnav was the son of the chai chacha down the road and I was the only son of my deceased parents. I now lived with my grandparents but most of my growing years were spent in Amol’s house. Palok aunty was more like a mother to me. As she cried her lungs out, I could no longer contain the devastating emotions erupting inside of me.
Amol had drunk into the void last night as he could no longer find himself a job and was ditched by the girl he dated for four years. He had leaned on me and whispered Marana, death into my ears. As Arnav, Vamshi and I carried him to the small flat, Amol had laughed and sung over his failures, we laughed with him, consoled him and counselled him. It was only a few hours ago. When my friend Amol was healthy and alive.
I dragged my feet, elbowing the curious crowd that had hived in front of the door. I spaced myself between them, crossed the no-entry sign and plunged into his tiny room.
Guards shackled me in their strong arms and held me on the ground as I fought with all my might. With all the struggles I barely took a peek into his room. It was spewed with red blood all throughout the walls. He had slashed his neck, the gloated neck was a grotesque sight. He had a beautiful dimple that was now hovered by flies, his body was mutilating!
I could no longer see his plight. What was life for? To ruin it like this. Amol had no father, his mother loved him more than her life. But what worth has he given her?
” Rana, get up!” Vamshi helped me
“Look at him man, we were here last night, he was singing! He was dancing, I removed his shoes and put him to bed. That bastard left me!” I cried into Vamshi’s arms. Without my knowledge, my legs weakened and I sunk into the ground. He probably cried too but my senses went numb.
I looked at Palok aunty who was now surrounded by their relatives and consoling her, having lost her only son, she sobbed uncontrollably.
“Oh,,,Shit! What have you done Amol” Arnav came running and comforted aunty.
” How can he do this to us? So what, he didn’t have a job. Am I not like a brother to him. Wouldn’t I support him? So what if garga left him, Am I not there to find him a better girl!! ”
I cried and cried some more. he was always there for me when I needed him. The times of the ice-cream truck where we had robbed twelve icecreams and shared it with our community friends.
Had he forgotten the laughs we shared when all four of us had flunked the exams.
Had he forgotten the midnight times when we had long discussions about life?
Had he forgotten how worthy he was to bring the smiles on our faces when we were at our worst?
How did he forget that we shared the same uniforms, how did forget that we bullied the class topper into completing our assignments. How did forget that he is the apple of Ma’s eyes? That bastard left me with nothing but guilt.
The guilt of not staying with him all night.
Everything would have been fine if a call hadn’t come in the middle of the night. A good news of his far cousin delivering the baby had made Palok aunty leave her son to sleep his mornings.
Vamshi and Arnav accompanied her to the next city. I had stayed back to put him to sleep!
I should have stayed back!
Instead, I returned to my place to have a relaxing sleep.
“My fault, It’s all my fault” I screamed my lungs out. I had never ever cried and this bastard had challenged me that he would make me cry!
I didn’t know he was serious about it. I never knew it would turn true so quickly.
After the decease of Amol. Things never turned normal. Palok aunty too passed away after a year unable to accept her son’s death. Arnav is in London. Vamshi is into law and moved to Bangalore. I sit in the same old apartment where his body lay. The ordeal stays back!
I am a freelance counsellor now, counselling young people out of the trauma. They need to live. Live to realize that they matter to so many people around them. Their life is precious.
They need to see life in death’s eye and realize that everything is perishable and let everything go!