TW: suicide and self-harm
Friday, May 2.
Do you ever hear the clock ticking? Like ticking because you are intentionally paying attention to the sound. Not the kind of ticking that gets registered in your subconscious and gets lost within a myriad of other thoughts and impressions. But the kind of ticking that forces upon your conscious mind the fact that time is moving painfully slowly and there is nothing you can do about it.
Now at that point, all you really desire is a special ability to fast-forward everything a few hours or even minutes. Or all you really desire is to have the clock stop its ticking. Whether time would stand still or not is not really your business. You wish that you had never paid attention to the ticking in the first place, and maybe you may never have felt time moving so slowly. But it is too late, the unceasing ticking is beginning to drive you crazy and when you look at the clock, you begin feeling light-headed. You might even fall if you stare too closely. I used to feel that way quite a lot when I was a child. The movement of the second hand on the wall clock fascinated and terrified me at the same time. In the still silence, it was so loud that it drowned all my thoughts, and the time between one second and the next was pure agony.
That was how I felt today while sitting among the little children, marking their exercise. The journey after lunch till the close of the school day was at least six hours. But in actual fact, it was only three. As I sat watching the kids chant songs in their loud uniform manner, I began to hear the ticking. The ticking I had never paid attention to for about ten years. It was loud, clear and strong and came with a message, “I never left.” I looked up and searched the walls as if I had just walked into a room I had never seen before. I was looking for the wall clock that had revisited my past and brought back the haunting tune of a clock’s ticking. There was no clock on the wall, not even in the nearby classrooms, yet there I was, beginning to break apart because I could hear it so clearly. It rang too clearly to not be real. Second after painful second, I sat and counted, waiting for when the bell would be tolled to signify the close of day.
That rusty clang from the large bell, rung expertly by the bell-boy, did not come until many hours later. Four loud clangs, punctuated with a two-second pause, and the hoarse voice of a teenage boy suffering from delayed puberty reverberated through the walls of the school block. The cacophony of students shouting in joy, teachers shouting even louder to bring some silence, metal chairs screeching, and the banging of doors as the children ran for their much-awaited freedom; the cacophony brought me relief and dread. It was a harbinger of what was to come. Just like Jesus’s arrest. He knew what followed. I knew what followed. The day was done, and it was just a matter of minutes, perhaps an hour or two before everything else was over. I stared at my left wrist throughout the bus ride to the suburbs. They said you wouldn’t die if someone found you in time. I was going to make sure no one found me.
I took the scenic route home. And by scenic, I mean the longer dusty path with a few more trees and a field where little boys in the neighbourhood came to play football. Sometimes they would get an actual football to play with and other times they would make balls out of anything they could find: papers, cardboard, rubber bags, sometimes a plastic bottle would do. Anything that they could kick around. Today, they had an actual ball, and the glee on their little faces could have made a barren woman curse her fate. I decided to stop and watch, and as I watched, I could see my little self among them, chasing the ball in delight without a care in the world. That was many years ago on that same field. The losses and disappointments had not begun yet. On many days like this, I would play to my heart’s content. Either that or till I saw the skies darkening. And I always received a beating for staying out too late when I returned home, but I didn’t care. I smiled, snapping out of my reverie, and walked on. I could see the house in view. Just a few more minutes to go.
The first thing I did when I entered was to lock the door and bolt it. I shut all the windows and drew the curtains together. I had to go over the note. It was in a little drawer along with the knife. I carefully picked the note and unfolded it. I had wanted to make it really long and explain why I had to die. Apologize for being a burden for so many years and pray for them. I decided against it this morning and wrote only a few lines.
They say suicide is a coward’s way out.
I have never been a coward and you know it.
It was all I really wanted to prove. That I was not a coward for choosing this way. I would have still died anyway, but only after so much money had been spent trying to save my life. This had to be the best way out. I carried it gently and placed it on the little table beside the bed, where the lab tests and the doctor’s report lay. I sat on the bed in silence. I thought I would be crying by then, but I was totally calm. Was that right? I had to get to it. I did not have much time. My sister, Sefakor, would close from work soon. I would be gone by then.
I had been sharpening the knife for a while now. I wanted it to be razor-sharp. I figured that would help. I wish I knew the best way to go about it, but no one tells you how to kill yourself. I drew out the knife and stared hard at it. The tears still did not come. I took the heavy blanket from under the table and spread it on the floor. I didn’t want to leave a mess. I sat on the blanket and drew a deep breath.
I drew the knife close to my right wrist and closed my eyes. And just as I was gathering courage to slash my wrist, I heard the unmistakable ticking sound. Clear and loud. It had come to count my last few seconds. I could feel it in my ears. It almost drove me mad, and I almost dropped the knife. Nothing was going to stop me. Screwing my eyes shut, I tightened my grip on the knife and gave it my all. The last thing I saw was sputtering blood.
Thursday, May 29.
I have been locked up in my room for the past few days. Sefakor got so worried. Now she won’t let me out of the house. She told me I was not a coward, but it is only cowards who run away from life. On that hospital bed, I looked at my left wrist and realized that my plan had failed. I would become a statistic for their wrist-slashing research and, above all the loud beeping and whirring of machines, I could hear the ticking. Now I have to bear the burden of living till I die again.