‘Failure’ was my ‘F’ word, I had no use of it. May be the deficiency of failure in my life rendered me too susceptible to it. So, when it actually hit me, I couldn’t process it. My world came crumbling down on failing the medical entrance exam. I had studied so hard; maybe I shouldn’t have wasted time watching the Indo-Pak match the other day. This was the only dream I had nurtured throughout my life, the only expectation my father had placed on me. I feared facing him. I was ashamed of myself.
In a disillusioned mind, I finally decided on the extreme. I emptied the rodent poison in a glass of water and swilled it down my throat, hoping it would work immediately so I could be gone before dad or mom returned home with the knowledge of my failure. After a few minutes my intestine twirled and I fell flat on my face, the drawing room around me turned blurry for a while and was clear again. My eyes settled on the wall in front, adorned with my childhood pictures, our Ooty trip, my fifteenth birthday party, dad and mom’s anniversary, the fond memories rushed into my mind, all ecstatic. I thought of mom, the Kheer she prepares on my birthday, no one makes it like her, she wouldn’t be making it anymore. Granny’s wrinkled face surfaced my thoughts too, I wondered how agonized will she be on learning of her grandson’s death. I recalled her heartrending cries at the demise of Rajni Masi’s husband. It was excruciating for the old woman to witness her daughter’s widowhood. And then I pondered if dad would cry, or would he be mad that I couldn’t make the cut. The people I had in my life, good, not-so-good, assholes, everyone crossed my mind one after the other. My first girlfriend, my first break up, even the auntiji next door who keeps peeping through the window all day, heaven knows what fuel for gossip she expects to find in this house.
My stomach twirled again, my throat turned dry, I chocked, and all of a sudden, vomited out. I couldn’t breathe anymore, I understood, I was dying; and right at that very moment I came to realize, I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live, I was just 19, and I have had a blissful life. I wanted to experience more of this wonderful life endowed upon me. I had never felt so desperately about anything, the way I felt about life that day. How I wished to live a few more decades, perhaps 5 more decades, wholeheartedly. I could take the exam next year again. But having relinquished those prospects, I laid deadlocked on the carpet, succumbing into the dreadful claws of death, allowing it to take over.
Mindful of the sincere life I had lived, I opened my eyes in the hope of finding myself in heaven. “Is this heaven?” assuming she was an angel, I asked the beautiful girl in a whisper. My throat was still hurting.
“No, this is hospital.” the nurse replied.
“You expect to be in heaven after committing such a heinous act?” that was dad’s voice. “Be thankful to Neerja Aunty who peeped in and found you sprawled on the carpet with foam running out of your mouth. And you always despised her.”
Mom was sitting right there, I couldn’t sum up enough guts to look into her eyes, but I could tell she had cried an ocean already. The room was saturated with the stench of Dettol, surprisingly I found it pleasant. Sun was shining a little too bright outside, it empowered me see everything in a new light. There is no glory in seeking refuge in cowardice. Life had treated me generously for 19 long years, yet, the only time it teased me with a curve ball, I denied playing it. I turned my back on life when it expected me to put up my best fight and stick to it. Nevertheless, life was kinder, it offered me another chance. I was determined to make the best of the opportunity afforded to me, I still am. But if dad would have cried on my death was a question that kept lingering in my mind for years. Today, as the father of a 15 year old, I have my answer.
(This confession was made to Avantika Debnath. You may share your story by sending a message here.)