Prologue

Picture Source: David, Pinterest


Nayeem Ehtesham


Content Warning/Trigger Warning: Suicide

 

It’s ten minutes to midnight. Ten minutes since I’ve cut my wrist. I’m sitting on the floor of my family’s shared bathroom, my back leaning against the wall, surrounded by a pool of thick blood. I have trained my mind to stay distracted, an essential part of the preparation, and the plan is to be as far away as possible. But you should see the bathroom tile, slowly painting itself red, and I’m thinking—the movies never get the viscosity right.

The problem is, and it’s a big problem, that I don’t know how long this usually takes. There have to be at least a hundred university professors on the internet who could have answered my macabre questions.

“Dr Peterson, how long will it take for the soul to leave the body after I make the cut?”

“Well son, that depends on how fat your soul is. Is it in good shape? That will make things easier. Or is it too fat? In that case, it might take a while.”

It’s been twenty minutes since I’ve entered the bathroom; the first ten I’ve wasted on gathering the courage and the last ten dreading that someone would knock on the door. Fuck you, fat soul!

By the way, why do all unsuccessful suicide attempters become successful in life? The whole self-help book and TED Talk industry seem to be in their control. And they all have the same story—I tried to kill myself once, I was stupid. But now I’m wiser, and I have diabetes. 

Whenever our math teacher started filling the whiteboard with numbers, making no attempts to hide how much he hated what he did for a living, my mind wandered off to a mother talking her kid into jumping off a rooftop, and flash forward forty-five years, the kid died again with one good leg, a wheelchair, and a Booker prize.

You’re thinking I’m callous. But I’ve done my homework. As for the manner of death, I didn’t want to hang myself because it’s too theatrical. I’ve considered poison, but Olenna Tyrell ruined poison when she gave it to Joffrey, so even though poison would have been easy, I deserve a better denouement than that blonde abomination.

It was down to jumping off a building or cutting my wrist. Again, jumping is theatrical and does not provide much guarantee of success. If the building isn’t high enough, which is every building in my lower-middle-class neighbourhood, I might have ended up pursuing a career as a disabled motivational writer. The safest building in my area, as is often the case in any neighbourhood, is the twenty-story DGFI headquarters, but someone would’ve shot me with an AK47 before I’d gotten anywhere near that building.

I’m starting to feel a little disoriented. Afterlife, ladies and gentlemen!

Where was I? Okay, I went to a local stationery shop and bought a box cutter. It’s cheap, efficient, and quiet. The kind owner pushed the sharp object towards me, I took it, returned a kinder smile, and walked out of the shop a dead man. I hid the box cutter under my pillow, waiting for the right time, and tried to reason with myself. Which one should I cut? Left, or right?

Only I didn’t know that I’d still be alive twelve minutes after the cut. This waiting has been the hardest thing so far. There is an unspoken optimism that runs in my family, based on the firm belief that the future is a wonderful place, it has to be, and that everything will be fine when we get there. This future has killed more people in my family than depression ever did. So yes, I hate waiting, even if it’s for my death fifteen minutes into the future.

So, stay with me a little longer. I’m almost there.

I am a writer. I like to think that I am, although my writing career so far features helping friends write their Facebook posts and emails when they want to look cool or serious, and proofreading terribly written love letters, offering a few humble suggestions of my own which are always appreciated by their lovers, so I was told.

Every day, I opened my diary and wrote stories, stories which I had stolen from my life. Each morning, I stood in front of the mirror in this very bathroom, breathed in the familiar smell of the same brand of toothpaste we bought for years, and watched myself slowly turn into my father. A life of doing mundane office work, sweating in public transport, taking kids to school started flirting with my patience.

I’m good at nothing. But I can articulate. And what a pain in the ass it has turned out to be. I envy those stupid kids at the university, who wanted nothing but to have a good time, a good grade, and a good job. Stupidity and narrowness of the mind is a lifesaver.

And I envy my father, who wore the same clothes for years and looked happy. He was happy for no reason other than to hide himself from the truth, that he isn’t where he wanted to be, and if denial lets you stay alive for one more day, then why not? I didn’t want to be like my father. That’s the way to live.

I can no longer keep my head straight, which has tilted left and dropped on my shoulder. I can’t feel my tongue. Is it out? I’m no DiCaprio, but I don’t want my death scene to look like something from a Turkish horror movie either. What if they make a movie about me? I should’ve left a note. There’s no story here. I slipped and cut my wrist and thus I died. Please go.

There’s another problem. My parents will have to break the door and discover my dead body. The thought of it makes me want to cut my other wrist as well. I can picture my mother screaming on top of her lungs before collapsing on the floor, my father slipping on my blood while trying to check if I’m okay. They try to call the hospital and realise they don’t have any doctor’s number. We never had to call a doctor. I look at my injured hand and contemplate the situation, the selfishness of it infuriates me. Leave me alone, Ma. It’s not very family-friendly here.

I’ve read that your whole life flashes in front of you in the moments before you die. Free tip—don’t believe anything those best-selling motivational writers with psychiatrist girlfriends say about death.

I see a sunny day, I remember my father running towards me as I lay there on the street, having just crashed my bicycle into a tree, an accident that gave me the scar on my left eyebrow, and my parents something to write in the “identification mark” section on my school ID card.

I see my mother’s face when she heard I’d become third in my class, my only academic achievement, and I remember the smell of the chicken curry she cooked that day, my numb tongue fighting to remember its taste. Do they serve chicken in hell? I know it’s wishful thinking. I’m probably looking at an eternity of sharing a room with Justin Bieber by the lake of fire.

Speaking of hell, when all the murderers, rapists, and football players will ask me what I did to deserve their company, what am I going to say? Suicide? What if they bully and abuse me?

I see my father helping me get up with my bicycle, his hair waved in harmony with the breeze. Handsome. What a handsome man he was! He puts a hand on my bleeding eyebrow. “It’s okay, son. Everything’s going to be fine. It’s just a small cut.”

Why have I never shown him my stories?

All my stories are draining out of my body in red colour, waiting to be washed down the drain sometime tomorrow after all of this is over. I see my father lifting my seven-year-old body from the ground and carrying me home. Did we reach home? What does home look like? I want to remember more, and I feel angry that I can’t. I just hope they don’t find my stories and publish them, and market me as the writer who joined the exclusive league of writers who rose to fame and heaven at the same time.

Pain is a privilege, son. He who has no pain has no story either. Happiness turns people into morons,” he didn’t say that to me, did he? I’m losing my mind. He presses his hand tighter on my eyebrow, but the bleeding doesn’t stop, “And that’s no way to live.”

I hear something. Is someone banging on the door? Or is it the sound of my eardrums imploding? I’m too weak to move a muscle, let alone turn my head towards the door.

Break the door, Baba. Kick harder. I think I want to become a motivational writer.

 


Nayeem Ehtesham loves to read and believes his degree in computer science has helped him write funny stories using his computer.

 

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