QB Short Stories

CUT

“Cut along the vein, not across. That way it will be quicker”. The words echoed in his head. He would hold the blade in his hand yet it would never touch his bare skin. “Cut along the vein, not across…” the words kept echoing in his head. His friend Ravi had spoken these words to him. After all, Ravi was the one who had to bear Sahil’s bouts of depression. Ravi had to handle it all, the suicidal tendencies and threats. Today was the day when Ravi could not take it anymore. After all, being a support system takes a toll on oneself at times. He had said these words to Sahil in frustration. “Why don’t you make a move to get out of this slump? Why do you sit there every evening staring out of the window with that wretched blade in your hand? What do you want? Attention? Why don’t you just get on with it? It’s been a year! Move on. We all face difficulties and make mistakes, we have to move on”, Ravi had yelled at him. Sahil just turned his face towards the window and stared outside. After all, what would Ravi understand? He hadn’t faced what he went through. The guilt had eaten his insides and spat them right back out. He was just a wrecked mass of flesh with no mind of his own now.

1 year ago

“Heyyy-eyy Ritaaaa, I’m hoo-ome. What’s fo-or di-di-nner?”, he called out in a drunken stupor. “It’s on the table. Help yourself”, Rita called out. She was sick of his behavior lately. He had started drinking heavily again. Every night he would come home in a tipsy state, yell out some obscenities and crash on the sofa. She had to talk to him about important things but never knew when to. They had been trying to have kids for quite a while now and nothing had been working. Recently she had gone to her doctor to get some tests done. The results had come in the mail this morning. She was yet to tell him. Sahil had always wanted kids for as long as she could remember. She didn’t know how he would take the news. Preoccupied with these thoughts, she went back to her work, ignoring Sahil’s slurring voice in the other room. Meanwhile, in the dining room, Sahil slumped down into one of the chairs and started eating clumsily, hiccupping every few minutes. After what seemed like fifteen minutes, Rita came to the table and sat down. “I need to talk to you”, she said. “Huh?”, mumbled Sahil, looking at her with bloodshot eyes. “I went to the doctor today. The tests came back. It’s me, not you. I won’t be able to have kids. The problem is my body. I am sorry Sahil…” “What are you saying woman? Heh heh, I thought you said no baby, what haha” Rita looked down at the ground. After a few seconds, she lifted her gaze and stared him directly in the eyes, “That’s what I said Sahil. I am sorry, I know it’s your dream to have kids, we-we can adopt, I research-” “SHUT UP!”, she was cut off. Crash! The cutlery was on the floor in pieces. “Adopt? I want my own kid you, bloody woman! Who do you think you are? Adopt my foot!” His hands were at her throat now. “You did this to me. I work every single day for our future and you cannot do one thing. What we had planned, our future, our family, our little kids, Sara and Nikhil, where is that Rita? Where? I don’t see it now!” He shook her hard and pushed her across the room. Shaking, on the floor she yelled out, “You’re a drunk Sahil!! Look at yourself! How can you even think about the future when your present is so fucked up? And did you ever think about my feelings? I am the one with the problem. Do you know what that makes me feel you, drunkard!?” “Don’t call me a drunk!!”  He picked up one of the kitchen knives and walked towards her. Holding it dangerously close to her neck, he whispered. “No baby, no more you”. The knife fell out of his hands with a clatter. “Think about that Rita”, he thundered and went off to the bedroom. Rita lay on the ground, surrounded by broken cutlery, spilled water, and the knife. No longer able to hold her sobs in, she started to weep.

The next day Sahil awoke with a migraine. “Rita-Rita? Where are you? Can you get me a crocin? Ah, my head hurts”. He did not remember last night properly. He did not recall how he had acted. All he thought was that they had a fight. “Rita? Where are you?” He called out. Grunting, he got off his bed slowly, waiting for a minute to let the head rush the pass. Walking slowly to the kitchen, he opened the medicine drawer and took out a pill and swallowed it with one gulp of water. Rubbing his eyes, he looked around and couldn’t see Rita anywhere. Slightly worried, he checked all the rooms one by one. When he finally reached the dining room, he found a note on the big vegetable knife, “No baby, no me right?” He couldn’t understand it. Was this some joke she was trying to test? Well, he didn’t get it. “Bad joke”, he mumbled. Trudging towards the hallway, he went and collapsed on the big sofa in the TV room and dozed off for a few more hours. Waking up again, he still couldn’t see Rita anywhere. Bits of last night were coming to him in flashes. He remembered them talking about babies, and not having them. It was after an hour of thinking that he had been able to piece everything together. He had been drinking heavily the night before with some of his colleagues. The ride back home, the fight, the knife, it all came back to him. What had he done? What had he done in his drunken state that had led to such a big mistake? Trring! Trrring! his phone rang. Picking it up, he answered hoarsely, “H-hello?” “Buddy!! Want to go to café 101 tonight? Heard they have better booze than any other bar! You up?”, came his friend’s voice. Sahil’s voice quivered, he couldn’t speak. He just flung the phone away. He still couldn’t grasp the situation. It had just been one mistake or had he been like this for the past few months? He started to recall everything he could. Last month he had noticed how she was tense about having kids. The month before that she had gone to the doctor two times but he hadn’t bothered asking what it was about, assuming it was woman stuff. Last week itself she had put up some information on the fridge but he hadn’t bothered to read it. Getting up hastily he ran to the fridge and saw the chart. Ovulation chart, the days she would be ovulating. She had tried all she could, and what had he done? Gone drinking with his buddies every night. When did he become like this? It was ever since he started his new job. New colleagues and the boss, they had changed him completely. He wasn’t like this. For the past year, he had been behaving badly with everyone and not realizing it. Downing bottles of liquor had become a habit and he hadn’t noticed how it was taking a toll on his marriage. It was a shock to him. He must have crossed all limits to have her leave. Why hadn’t she said anything before he wondered? But that thought was cut off with other flashes “We need to talk Sahil, ..” “ I have to tell you something love,” “Please listen, can we talk?”  And every time he had responded with a “Not now Rita, I have to go out” or an “Oh please Rita don’t nag me”. He had ruined it. He had ruined everything. The weight of his actions fell upon him like a huge boulder. Holding his head in his hands he began to sob.

Present day

Staring out of the window, he recalled the day when he came to Ravi’s house. He had contacted Rita in every way possible but she had been firm. She did not want to see him and had filed for divorce. He had begged, pleaded but she was like a stone statue, unwavering in her demands. It took him days to come to terms with the situation. He had been living with his friend Ravi ever since the divorce was finalized. Quitting his job, he had tried to drink his way out of the pain, but it only made it worse. He would wake up in the middle of the night sobbing hysterically while Ravi tried to soothe him. He couldn’t believe that he had ruined his life. Eventually, he stopped drinking and became very quiet, and aloof. He would sit by the window in his room and stare out blankly at the city. He would watch the beggars playing on the roads, the autowallahs taking a nap under the big peepal tree. He would then stare at the sky for hours thinking about Rita. He would often hold a blade in his hand, ready to end his pain, but would never get around to actually using it. Sometimes he felt he deserved this pain. He caused the problem, he needed to be punished. The blade would just dangle in his fingers until Ravi would pry it out and put him to bed.

Today was May 12th, it was their anniversary. Was. He had forgotten last year as he had been out with friends drinking. She had been angry and he had apologized, not bothering to go the extra mile to make her feel better. The pain was exorbitant today. He awoke with tears on his cheeks. Ravi had just yelled at him and stormed off to work. What did he know? He sat near his window yet again. This time, for the first time on the usually empty street, he saw a young couple walking down the street. A lump formed in his throat, his eyes moistened. “Rita”, he whispered. Getting up slowly, he went to his drawer and took out a small piece of paper and a pen. Carefully, he wrote, “Thanks for the tip Ravi”.

The blade finally met his skin. He cut along the vein.

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