Theme : Psychological story.
Psychological stories deal with some disturbed aspect of the human mind, whether insanity or an altered perception of reality or simply some inner struggle with an element of control over the human mind. The aim of this story is to take readers inside the mind of the protagonist and have them wonder what happens next.
Because, my name is Gauri.
I’m going to die. I know it. I just know it. I mean, I know that everyone dies, eventually, but this is different. Because, I am going to die soon.
I shouldn’t even be alive, in the first place. I should have died ages ago. Its sheer luck or I should call it my rotten luck, that I’m still around.
‘Manu…’ Didi calls out to me from the living room. Didi, my sis, caretaker, mentor…whatever.
I’ve no idea why Didi is so kind to me. I have never been the sort of sister that one could love. But Didi feels a sense of duty or maybe guilt towards me, because she knows I’m going to die soon.
‘Manu,’ she calls me again. The door swings open and her head peeks in.
‘Get up, lazy bones,’ her voice is strained with the forced gaiety she tries to infuse in it. ‘It’s time to rise and shine...’
Her head disappears. I smile. My name isn’t really Manu. It’s actually Gauri.
I stare at the ceiling. So, one more day of life. This so-called gift called life. Life in a wheelchair. Ha, the very irony of it!
My gaze shifts to the dots on the wall opposite to me. They mock me like they always do. They aren’t juts dots, they are part of the face. The crooked eyes, broad nose and big mouth of the face formed on the wall two years ago when the rains lashed the city.
The face was wet at first for a few days. Then Didi got the leakage in the wall repaired, but the features remained, dry and clearer than before. They had to remain. My mornings never begin without me viewing the face. Each morning, I watch it taunt me with ‘One more day, just one more day…’
I know you think I’m not normal. That psycho psychiatrist had fancy names for what he calls my ‘condition’: Paranoia, resultant of acute depression. Haha! Paranoid and me?
What people fail to realize is that it takes a hell lot of courage to accept the truth for what it is, especially when it stares at you in your face. Accepting your imminent death is not paranoia.
There have been too many signs. They all begin at the root of my name. Yes, my name. What’s in a name?
Gauri. A beautiful name. A terrifying name. The name of a goddess who symbolizes both kindness and terror. Good and evil…
For me, my name signifies only one thing:Death.
Each time I remember my name, I see the myriad faces of death dancing in vibrant colors of the rainbow, in front of me. They turn from blue to red to pink to yellow and finally black. As black as death.
Because for me, the name stemmed from death, you see. I was born merely a few hours after my grandmother breathed her last one winter night, succumbing to the pneumonia that had ravaged her system for a week. Mom promptly decided to name me after her beloved mom, Gauramma.
In fact, my aunts never tire of telling everyone who listens, how my mom’s grief at losing her mother was so great, that it almost induced the miscarriage of her seven-month old fetus. That underdeveloped fetus was then delivered at the hospital and preserved in an incubator for a week, before the doctors at the Government facility deemed it necessary for mom to make room for the new patients. I should have died then, but it was my first escape.
Just so you know how I have arrived at the theory of my escapades, let me tell you that I know the exact count of the number of Gauris that have died in just the past two years.
Didi thinks I only play those silly kiddish games like solitaire on her Samsung tablet. Or listen to the boring instrumental music that she loaded on it for me to ‘soothe’ my mind. The crazy psychiatrist told her it would keep my mind away from undesirable influences.
Little do they know that I’m a pro at playing with keywords on search engines…Why, I even managed to weasel out the wifi password from the old fool next door. The look of hopeless pity she gives Didi and me every time she visits us puts me on the edge, but I’m civil and well behaved with her because she is my only source of gossip updates around the area.
My meticulous Google research concluded that there have been exactly 9 Gauris who have died in India alone, of various causes in just the past 24 months. I know that their last names and spellings may have varied, but mom should have known better than naming me after her departed mother. Is that called a co-incidence? Only a moron would believe it to be so.
My parents should have changed my name the day I contacted pneumonia, when I was 8. That was in winter too, just like it happened with my grandmom. But they never realized the connection, because I was cured by some twisted miracle doctor. Mom didn’t see anything wrong that my dad passed away soon after that.
The next time I begged mom to let me change my name was when I turned 10. My classmate Gouri (spelt with an ‘o’, not an ‘a’), died of a head injury when she fell off the 8-feet, metal trapezium-shaped structure at the Government park.
That’s when I knew that my fate was sealed too. I even tried to prove to mom that I would meet with a similar end. But then, even after I climbed the same trapezium and threw myself headfirst off its topmost hinges, all I got were a few bruises. But then, instead of me, it was mom who succumbed to a freak accident a few months after that.
I knew then, that fate was determined to torture me a lot more before letting me get my blessed escape.
‘Gauri, get up! Er...Manasa, Manu…’ Didi bursts into the room, anger seething in her voice. See, even she knows the truth though she pretends otherwise.
The face on the wall makes ugly expressions at her. Why does she bug me so much? After all, all I do in bed is ponder the truth about myself. I have done this all night for the past couple of years.
Didi grabs my arms and yanks me up. She is rather strong for her age. At 32, she is almost 12 years older than I am, but she lifts my body as if it weighs nothing.
‘Have you been dreaming those awful dreams again?’ she asks, watching my face closely.
‘No,’ I reply.
I want to tell her that they aren’t dreams. Dreams are different. These are my thoughts, my convictions, my realities, my truths. One cannot escape one’s own truths and realities…but Didi prefers to believe that mental psychiatrist, than her own sister.
Didi shifts my frail form into the wheelchair. I try to look into her eyes, she avoids meeting mine. We’ve been through this scores of times before. I’ve tried to tell her many times that the very reason she is stuck in a life of being my nurse since my parents’ death, is because of my conviction.
Like I mentioned before, I should have died long ago. That accident had happened to ensure my death. Again, some twisted irony made me survive.
I watched Maddy, my pet Pomeranian, get crushed under the wheels of a tow truck that afternoon, a year and a half ago. I’d taken him for a walk on the highway and the huge vehicle had suddenly veered out of control towards us. I waited for my head to get under its wheels too, in that split second. But then, the tyre stopped exactly 13 inches away from my eager face. I still don’t know how it managed to mash my legs to pulp though…
Didi did relent under the pressure of doing her best for me and changed my name to Manasa after that. But it was too late by then. I knew that Gauri would accompany me to my grave.
I begin to notice that Didi has been talking to me. Of course, I barely listen to her words these days.
‘Be positive, think good thoughts, it is all your imagination...’ she drones on, as she moves around my room, making my bed and putting away my clothes.
Positive imagination? That is such an oxymoron, given my current situation.
And then, I hear it, blasting out of the TV in the living room. My head shoots up when the name…my name, is uttered by the newsreader. My wheelchair is facing the door, I see the TV screen clearly. A woman is sprawled across the ground, crimson stains on her clothes.
‘…the noted journalist, Gauri Lankesh was shot dead at around 8 PM last evening…’ screams the news anchor. Didi has heard it too. She stands still, intently watching my face in utter shock. She seems powerless to do anything else but stare at my glazed eyes and fast breathing.
I watch the footage of the gruesome murder on TV intently. I see myself very clearly on the ground, in that navy blue and red churidar, blood stains adorning my abdomen. And wonder of wonders, Gauri Lankesh has short cropped hair too, just like I do! If that isn’t a bolt of reality pointing to the future, what is?
It seems as if the Gods finally got tired of the guessing game and decided to give me a memorandum for my death. I am going to get shot in the back and chest. It is so exhilarating to know how my end is to occur.
My laugh begins to reverberate across the room. My eyes are fixated on the body of the woman whom I didn’t know, whose existence I hadn’t even been aware of, until now.
I cannot stop laughing now. It has been a while since I laughed this way. People have always shied away from me when I did. I have heard fancy terms for my laughter too….words like ‘hysterical’ and ‘maniacal’ have been used to describe my mirth.
Didi jerks out of her reverie and dashes to the living room to switch off the offending TV. But the sign has already been delivered.
I continue to howl in joy, my head shaking from side to side. My palms thump gleefully on the armrests of my wheelchair.
I hear Didi’s voice in the kitchen. Snippets of her conversation reach my ears as I inch my wheelchair forward, to switch the TV back on.
‘Yes, doctor…she saw the news on TV before I could switch it off…please…appointment before 6 PM, please try doctor…’
Didi finally bursts into tears as my delightful shrieks are drowned out by the frenzy of reporters on News 9 channel, churning out all the gory details of the death of yet another Gauri.