I remember thinking from the time I was 12, that I would die by the time I turned 15. It wasn’t a notion. It was a conviction. I remember telling my grand aunt who I was extremely fond of about it one afternoon at her house in December, a few days before I was to turn 15. She laughed at me and said that the thought was utter nonsense. The problem was she wasn’t one of those jovial loud aunts. She was the somber, subtle, intense kind. So I never really believed her. I waited those last few days with gripping anticipation of my impending doom. On the day of my birthday, I got up expecting to die. The last night I had wept copiously visually simulating what my funeral would be like and worried sick how my mother and sister would take my death. How my friends would collect around my body and offer their last respects… But the day passed on uneventfully. I cut my cake and ate it too. At night I couldn’t sleep. Upset that I was still around. After that day I didn’t feel that certain about my transience anymore.
I did realize very early on that I was largely an unhappy child. Nothing kept me happy for long. Most times I simply belied my stubborn zodiac and exercised tact by pretending to be happy or pleased with a situation. Sometimes it worked, most times it didn’t. You will never find a childhood picture of me smiling or even showing the least interest in anything going on around me. It has always been a dichotomous existence. On one hand I truly believe that disgruntled people like me really shouldn’t have been born. That we should have left way for the happy babies, the happy people. And on the other hand, I see suicide as a palpable crime. As utter cowardice. So I’m constantly in an impasse. I’m constantly irked by my very existence and my not being able to do anything about it.
A few months back the question of my mortality presented itself again. I was traveling with my celebrity client. We were flying from Dehradun back to Delhi in a bomber jet. A Deccan VTR. The aircraft looked and felt extremely dodgy and we were its only occupants. As the engine whirred to life outside and I was just planning on starting to think about whether this would be my last journey, my client leaned into me and said “Are you scared of death?” Though I smiled and retorted with a firm ‘hell no’, he had got me thinking. Was that my whole predicament? My whole peeve with life? That I was ultimately so scared of death that I had dressed it up as morbid fascination instead? Had my sister been right all along? Had my poems that glorified death and pathos and loss all meant the same thing? Fear? I’m not too sure if I still know the answer to that question. It’s a conflicting thought. Whenever I attempt to answer it I sound like I have hair on my tongue. Unintelligible and silly.
Nowadays though, apart from the general sense of doom that I carry with me, my only thoughts on death are in my auto rides to the office and back. Instead of holding both railings and saying sri ram jayam in an 108 loop like any good Brahmin girl, I deal with the auto like a virtual video game screaming in my head ‘yeah right, kill me, motherfucker, lets die together’, ‘that’s it, crash into the divider and lets sever our necks together’.
It seems to be working like reverse psychology though because my subliminal incantations on the contrary sharpen the automans reflexes and I just keep having a series of near death experiences….minus the light at the end of the tunnel that is.