“Why do I always hurt the people I love the most?” he had cried passionately after she stormed off. The compassionate stranger who had witnessed the scene playing out in the middle of the street had kindly tapped his shoulder and left.
“You make it impossible to love you, Neil”, Priya had thrown at him.
Even today, weeks after the incident he could recall the episode in Technicolor. Every word, every look exchanged was still fresh in his mind. Somehow, this parting had affected him more than anything he had felt before. He felt like he had lost a part of himself. Not because he had lost Priya, he was certain about that but because it had finally dawned on him that he destroyed whatever was good in his life. He was his own enemy!
Suddenly he had felt trapped in his own skin, he was certain there was more to him than this cruel bastard who butchered dreams. The next day he had stormed into his boss’ office, “Sir, I need a month off”, he had declared. Mr. Wania had been visibly shocked at this unusual behavior but something about the look in his eyes had warned him off and he had merely nodded, “Okay, you can do that. But, explain everything about the project you are working on to Rajesh, before you leave”.
A month, trekking the Himalayas was what he needed he had told himself. He needed this rigorous physical exertion to douse out this inner storm. He didn’t want to get swallowed into this chasm of self-doubt and misery.
Two weeks here had done nothing but raise more doubts and questions, he had discounted the importance of silence. Wasn’t this something he must have avoided at all costs?
Sitting on a precipice, he could feel the vast and elusive sea beckoning him. How could such beauty be so perilous? If he jumped into this rapidly flowing maelstrom, could he then be able to start afresh? A new life and a new him, was this the answer?
It wasn’t just his relationship with Priya that had been marred by him. His parents, who had died last year in a car wreck, had been troubled by the change in him. They had never mentioned it, but he knew how much he had hurt them with his indifference and elusiveness.
Why was he intent on destroying the things he cherished? In hindsight, he had annihilated all his relationships after losing his best friend; they had been together since they were five. He had seen him die, seen the life suck out of him, it had been the hardest part of his life. Getting used to his absence had been worse. He had frozen inside.
But hadn’t he done the same to his life? Yogi never had a choice but he did… or did he?
Was there really a destiny mapped out for him or did he have a say in that? They all had said when Yogi died; he was destined to go like this. So, did he also have no choice? Maybe his fate had decided that he would live alone and die alone…. Maybe all this was destiny. What were the odds of him fighting that?
But the major question was what was he really scared of? Death?
Did the end of existence and the nothingness scare him? But what if this life was the abyss and death the real thing? What if Yogi was happier than he had ever been here, surely, he couldn’t be certain. So why fear the unknown?
He was intimate with death, had seen it riding around many times. Wasn’t he still alive and kicking? Didn’t that mean something?
He did have a choice, a tiny voice in his head whispered. He had the choice to live; he had the choice to live his life any way he wanted to. Who was stopping him from forming loving and healthy relationships with people and most importantly with himself? When had he started dissociating from himself?
Armed with this knowledge, he could see where he had gone wrong in all his relationships in the past; he had tuned the world out expecting it to lash at him, harm him. But, hey, the whole wide world wasn’t out to get him, why couldn’t he see that? He realized the more people loved him the more he pushed them away. So this had been his self-defense mechanism, yes. But who was he defending and from what?
He was safe. He had always been safe.
This short story has been written for the Daily Post Challenge.
Photo- Cheri Lucas Rowlands