All In Deep Sleep – A beautiful short story on love and sadness by Denis Rohit Soreng.
By Denis Rohit Soreng
She could clearly see him… the same dark handsome looks with an equally disarming smile… so deceptive she thought. With him was her baby. Anu, she used to call him lovingly. They were walking towards her… but suddenly they vanished into a cloud of white mist that appeared from nowhere and seemed to lift them off their feet.
It was taking them far far away from her… She screamed as she woke up. A sudden piercing pain ran through her whole body as she gasped for breath. She fell back upon her pillow.
Beads of sweat trickled from her forehead. She wiped it dry with a dirty piece of cloth. Her distant eyes shifted from the old dusty fan on the ceiling to an equally dusty photo-frame.
It showed two smiling faces peering at the camera lens. Below the photograph was printed in black ink — “A Happy Family is an Earlier Heaven”. She let out a heavy sigh that seemed to have risen from the very depths of her heart.
The room was dark except for a thin streak of sunlight that filtered through a narrow crack in the window and fell on a fish tank standing beside her bed. The water inside was very dirty. It hadn’t been changed for months. Out of the three Goldfish inside two had already died and the third was struggling to see the light of another day.
She liked the darkness of the surroundings because it always seemed to be in complete harmony with her inner being. Today, strangely, she felt an urge to feel the warmth of the sunlight and the caress of the evening breeze.
Slowly she got up from her bed. Her effort was accompanied by the sound of the bed-springs which seemed more like a twenty six gun salute. She hobbled towards the nearest window and threw it open. The bright sunlight dazzled her eyes. Blinded momentarily she quickly backed off into the safer confines of her dark room.
Her throat was completely parched. “I need a drink… God, I feel like a cactus in a desert”. She moved towards her smelly kitchen and poured herself a glass of water. She cut herself a slice of bread which was evidently stale and looked suspiciously grey.
As she picked up her glass and was moving towards her bedroom she saw a crow enter the room though the open window and perch upon an old dashpot. She threw down the remaining crumbs of bread before the crow which it gobbled up very happily. Then it spread its wings and flew away… far into the evening sky.
There were many crows in the locality. The neighborhood had not been particularly well taken care of by the local municipality. Over the years she had developed a deep liking towards the crows. They always seemed to be so contented in their own self, totally unconcerned about being abhorred or hated by others. Just like herself…
Her neighbors were so afraid of her that they even refused to see her. She was unable to leave her confinement having been condemned for life. Her daily supplies were provided by some local charitable institution. “God bless their soul”.
She slowly eased herself into an old rocking chair. She winced as a fresh bout of pain streaked through her body. She looked at her arms that still showed the marks of the twelve stitches she had to take.
During one of Vishal’s violent outbursts he had hit her so hard on the face that she had gone hurtling towards a window. Not only did the glass pane break but it pierced her silken skin. Even though the pain had ceased after a few days but there were some scars deep within her that had persisted till this day.
She knew that the end was near… the doctor had said so too.
As she settled back her mind rushed two years back when her life in her own words was “paradise”. They had had a love marriage. In the first one year itself Vishal was the most wonderful, caring husband that she could have imagined. But time is so fickle. They had their only son shortly after. Anashuman, they named him. It was that one week after his birth that her Garden of Eden was destroyed for ever.
She had developed some complications due to excessive loss of blood and had to be admitted into the hospital again. She wasn’t to know that she would be carrying those deadly HIV viruses once she was discharged from hospital. Their marriage had ended the day Vishal received the hospital’s medical report. They used to have long fights, often violent, until Vishal took pity on her and walked out of her life taking Anu along with him. She was just twenty four years old then.
It was nearly one year since she had last seen either of them. She wanted to see Anu badly… she really missed him… “God! Why did you do this to me? Why? Damn you… Damn!!
Her heart began to wake as her thoughts revolved around Anu. Tears began to roll down her gaunt cheeks….the same tears that had taken months to stop… stifled by those long ,lonely ,miserable ,contemplative hours that she had spent in her dark ,dingy room. “Stop it you bitch… stop thinking about it!”
She did not know when she lost consciousness but when she awoke she the room was spinning before her eyes. She was aware of a sudden coldness in the room… a bitter chill she had never felt before. She shivered uncontrollably. Her eyes began to grow misty and dim.She was aware of a white cloud like mist slowly covering the room like a shroud. She couldn’t see anything… the fish! She just seemed to be lightly floating in the clouds.
Suddenly she was aware of two figures coming towards her through the whiteness of the clouds. One man and a small child. “Yes it must be them… it had to be them”. At last they had come back for her. Her lost family had returned…” Her eyes began to feel heavy and began to close. She could see nothing, it was just darkness all around.
There were two sergeants surrounding her body as it lay collapsed on the old rocking chair. Both of them had handkerchiefs pressed to their nose. The stench in the room was overpowering.
“When do you think she died?”
“The doctor says she died on Christmas day exactly a week ago.”
“Bad death, eh… Too bad none of her relatives were here.”
“Well you know what, her son and husband too died the same day. Terrible car accident on 5th Avenue.”
“That’s pretty close from here.”
“Yeah! I guess they were coming to meet her.”
This musing was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2002).
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