A Beautiful Wallflower, by Anahita Pathak

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This article has been submitted by Anahita Pathak for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.

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The tiny white tablets made a soft clicking sound inside the bottle as she twirled it around slowly in her palm. Click-clack click-clack click-clack. They seemed like old friends chattering to her. Strange that she should be thinking of them as friends when minutes later, they were to infiltrate her body, paralyze her vitals, make her heart stop beating. Then again, this pain was but necessary. This pain would put an end to the excruciating experience that life was, that life had become, for her.

She wondered what her friends would say if they were to know of what she had decided to do. Some of them would surely think that she was joking. She and something this drastic? Never. Some would be disapproving – say that she was a coward, an escapist.

Friends.

She wondered if she really ever had any. As far as she knew friends did not stab you in the back. Friends did not sit around judging you. Friends stuck by you no matter what. Friends simply did not look the other way while you slowly crumbled away. 

Thoughts of school then drifted into her mind. Ah. School, a whole other chapter of her life. She was a dull student. No talent as such to boast of. A wallflower on her best days. She tried. God, she tried. But nothing seemed to work. She had no present, no future. She remembered her teacher asking her once, “Can’t you do anything right, even by mistake?” Inwardly she screamed, “NO. NO, I CAN’T. I CAN’T DO ANYHTING RIGHT.” But outwardly she impassively stared at the red marks decorating every inch of her notebook. Nobody noticed the tiny pools forming under her eyelids, blurring her vision. But then again, nobody ever did notice anything about her.

She thought about her parents. She always sensed that her father wanted a child who was brilliant, like he was. Someone who could make him happy and proud. Oh, so happy and proud. But instead, he was saddled with her. His less than average daughter. Average. Forgettable. The knowledge of her being ordinary was a constant ache to her soul. Something she couldn’t seem to do anything about. Something that she was cursed to live with, every minute of every day of her inconsequential life. Her mother wanted her to excel in everything, like any normal parent would. But when she couldn’t dance, sing, draw, paint, memorize, skate, play the violin or swim like a pro, her mother – instead of seeing that it was more than what she could handle – pushed her harder, thinking that with enough of it, her daughter would finally shine through.

Maybe she pushed her a little too far.

As the cold breeze blew in through the open window, she felt it trace the two trains of tears that had made their way down her cheeks. She noted with disinterested surprise that she was crying. After a really long time too. She didn’t cry much. But what was she crying for? She didn’t feel as though she was leaving anything behind. Sure, her parents would probably be sad for a while. But in the long run, they would be better off without her constantly disappointing them.

But something tugged at her heart. The memory of that one person who made her life remotely tolerable. The person for whom she has put this off for so long. Her baby sister, Niana. 

Niana was her anchor to the world. Her sole purpose of living. Niana’s cherubic smile, her twinkling eyes so full of hope, untainted by the grime of the world. When Niana walked in, everything seemed to light up with positivity. 

Yes, she would miss Niana. Miss watching her grow up. Miss being there for her first day of high school. Miss seeing her become the beautiful lady that she knew Niana was going to be. The tears came down faster now. With more urgency. It was time.

She sighed and looked out the window. It was a moonlit night, but the moon hid behind the clouds, as though not wanting to witness this sacrilege against nature’s laws. She unscrewed the bottle and emptied its contents onto her palm. She popped them into her mouth and swallowed. She choked a little, but they went down fairly easily.

For a while, nothing.

Then she felt a heavy weight settling on her, blotting out her senses. The last thing she remembered feeling was…a twinge of regret. She hadn’t even said one final goodbye to her darling Niana.

But soon there was oblivion. Blissful oblivion.

 

***

“Oh god, will she be alright?”… her mother… bright lights… lots of movement all around… hysterical sobbing… what? No. No. Niana… sweetheart, don’t cry… she willed her arms to move, to hold her Niana tight… but…

Silence. Stillness. Peace. Was this it? Was she dead? She did not know… she faded out.

Soft sounds. Like a million butterflies flapping their wings. A slow hum. Like a song. She faded out.

 

***

She opens her eyes. Bright light. Too bright. She squints and tries to sit up. “Easy now. You’ve had a tough couple of days,” a kind looking man tells her. In utter confusion, she looks around, wildly wondering if this man was God.

“You’re in a hospital. And your family would be happy to know that you have finally come around. Especially that little girl, she hasn’t eaten for days. Wait a moment, I’ll go get them” 

The man went out and a minute later Niana dashed into the room, hugging her so tight, as though she was clinging on to dear life. Her mother, tears rolling down her face, came and hugged her too. Her father looking gaunt and haunted yet so relieved came and joined the embrace. 

There were no words exchanged. There was no need to. The love that she felt at that moment could not be expressed in any other way but through this silent embrace. She felt…cherished.

And this was reason enough to live for.

 

***

 

“See! See! Pretty bubbles!” Niana playfully chattered as she ran around the garden blowing soap bubbles.

As they watched the little girl prancing about in the afternoon’s soft glow, her mother braided her long, dark brown hair. She smiled. Her father had gone to work and on his way back he would be picking up the cake. It would be a beautiful black forest one, with “Happy 19th, Sweetheart! We love you!” written on it with white icing.

It had been nearly eight months since that fateful night when she had decided to end her life. Today, as she sat in the warm glow of the sun surrounded by people who loved her so much, she wondered how foolish, how selfish she had been. She had wanted perfection in her life. She had just failed to see that life wasn’t meant to be perfect. She just had to learn to see the beauty in its imperfections. 

Joy is all around, just waiting to envelope us in its embrace… if only we would let it.

 

***

Anahita Pathak is a law school aspirant (amongst many other things) from Guwahati. The eighteen-year-old describes herself as an odd kid with an old soul; one whose brain appears to have a wiring problem. Although the essential substance is alright, she claims, packaging problems exist. Writing is her passion, and reading, her religion. 

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