What if I die right now? A holiday in the college, mourning for few days and the rituals for the next thirteen days. Is there anything more than that that I deserve? Mom would create one more stream of tears in the endless sequence of those in her pathetic life. Friends would set apart the bad points about me and praise me for the good ones for few days and eventually forget me. My prospective husband will sigh with relief that the incident did not occur after the marriage. That is what is taking place ever since the mankind has been aware of the coupling of the life with death. That is what happens after every other soul departs from this earth and that is what will now continue to happen. Nobody can grieve long for a deceased, especially so when the cause of the death is suicide.
It has not been long since I have been ruminating all these things that seem absurd by any usual standard. I can not recollect exactly since when I made the habit of including this dismal option in my prospective fate. But I have been literally obsessed with the idea ever since the question of my marriage has emerged. What shall I do with the married life when I am not able to manage my affairs when I am single?
I would rather prefer to get one of my hands amputated rather than having this obscure illness inside the head. At least the people would then see the handicap, sympathize and behave accordingly. Ever since I was diagnosed with the problem, this thought has come to my mind hundreds of times. What do I do with the illness that even the doctors are confused about? How do I cope with this throughout the life? Who would understand my compulsions in the new household that expects so much from me as a daughter-in-law? How do I explain them the illness that even the doctors have been unable to make us understand?
All this started when I was eighteen or so. Those were the most difficult times in our family. We had lost our father two or three years back. Perhaps I was the one to be most traumatized by the incident after my mother, sister was then just a child. Mom was unable to hide her sorrow with me as with everybody else. That multiplied my own grievance as I haplessly watched one disaster after other befall on Mom. I disliked the way she pretended that I had nothing worth worrying about. That was why I spied to all her mumbled prayers to the never-to-be-seen god after she thought I was asleep in the night.
Indeed she rarely communicated anything grave with anybody all those years. I wonder how she could communicate so much with the doctor last time I landed up in hospital for the second time within a week. "Why all this after me widow reared her all these years with so much care. What did I spare doing for these two girls?" I was sure the tears had trickled down few inches in her face before being soaked by the loop of her shawl and to my utter dislike, a professionally emotionless doctor must have been watching all this. I was then just regaining the consciousness and felt like getting up and asking Mom to just leave the hospital and the doctor for better. "After so many years of hard study investing so much, the children of others are faring so well……" She was mumbling as the doctor began examining the other patient, I guess, as she interrupted her story.
To my horror she spelt the most grave words finally and I was wrong in assuming the doctor had engaged himself with the other patient. "Who will marry her now………and it has already been so late." She had only interrupted to make sure I was similarly asleep, or say, unconscious, so that she could communicate the doctor the real issue of her concern so that he would take it seriously and treat accordingly. I felt like jumping off the bed and asking Mom to forgive me for whatever I had done to her. That would, however, only worsen the matters as she had at least assumed that she had done the best thing possible in my interest: pleading the doctor for best effort with the last trick available. Furthermore, I was still drowsy with the medicines that the doctor had prescribed in the previous visit. I simply kept sleeping in the same posture: for the better at the moment though I am not sure if it would prove so in the long run.
Those years of hardship taught all of us a lot of things. I think we, my sister more than myself, became adults prematurely as our childhood was snatched by the fate. We understood pretty well that it was simply not feasible for us to have the interests and hobbies like the other children in the neighborhood. Both of us developed seriousness unusual for the age. There was, however an important difference between us. Nisha developed a good habit of communicating her troubles with us. I developed the opposite habit: I thought many times before sharing anything with people, even to Mom.
The first episode of my illness occurred when I was preparing for the first paper in the first exams of the college. I had been absent-minded throughout the year and had lost the drive to study that I had during the school years. Still that was enough for passing the exams, I guess. A day before the exams began, I herd the terrible news: the piece of land on which our house stood was in somebody else's name who had migrated from the village long back. Now he was claiming that it had been because of an understanding between him and our grandfather that we were staying there and we could not do so permanently. He had now given a worse option: a hefty sum of money that he knew we could not afford.
A panic struck my mind. I threw the books away, caught the hairs and threw myself into bed. No structured thought was coming in my mind. Twice I almost locked the room planning to go back to home abandoning the exams. I flattered and went back to the room each time. I was suffocated by the feeling of being trapped in the room. I can barely explain how I spent the night. The following day, it was already seven when I got up with unusual heaviness in the head that soon developed into a severe headache. The hours gradually passed by. It was already ten o'clock and few of my friends came to my room on way to the college for exams that were due to start at eleven o'clock. I brusquely told them I would be late for few important chapters were still to be read.
The clock on the wall ticked like a time bomb as each minute passed. I was torn into two by the anxiety about the future of my family and myself. I mechanically changed the dress and headed to door when it was a quarter to eleven. Then I suddenly imagined myself staring at the ceilings in the exam hall unable to write anything, only to score a huge zero. That would be my first failure in any exam yet most traumatic. What should have I done then? I stepped back thoughtlessly and threw myself in the bed as the headache was worsening.
The worst had happened; still the worse was to follow. When my friends came back from the exam hall, they found me unconscious, lying in the bed. After failed attempts at reviving, they took me to a hospital where I was finally referred to a psychiatrist who revived me with the coercive tactics. Then onwards I have got innumerable episodes of the illness and visited the psychiatrist with little results. Over these years, whenever I have to face the challenging circumstances, I can not simply bear the pressure and regress to unconsciousness only to find that my confidence to face this world plummeting with each episode.
The news of my illness added insult to the injury of my mother. What could the poor barely literate woman do to the illness that a specialist clinician could not treat? Lately I have discovered why she is too eager to see myself married. Someone from the village has suggested that the illness is pretty common among the girls who can't get married timely. And obviously, getting them married is the most logical way to cure the illness. Mom has since scolded and appeased alike for so many times to get married though I was able to find one excuse after another. This time she brought our lost father in between in her desperate attempt to placate me. "Had your father been alive till now, you would have been happily married for years for now. His soul will never forgive me for spoiling your life like this ……." This was more than bearable for me and I just left the room abruptly. After few minutes, both of us were crying in the same room facing away from each other and not speaking a single word to each other.
After this episode I could not refuse the proposal that came from a reasonably good family and thus I wait for the day. It is not sure if the proposed marriage gets aborted in case the groom's side knows about my illness before that day. I have no plans for that turn of events though it will be my instincts that will then determine what is to follow. I can read the concern, anxiety and apprehension in my mother's eyes too and probably they are more than mines.