It has been a year living a life reminiscent of a blur, in the midst of which I became your curse. But today, I think I’ve finally become a man. And like every other person who has seen a situation drastically worsen, I remember just how it all began. You were there with me that day, holding my hand.
You slowly patted my head, I just stared at that ceiling on the hospital bed. I was trying to grasp what the doctor just said about my scans. Warm papers in my grasp; damp with cold drops of sweat, and a barrage of tear drops that made it wet. I stared at the paper with infuriating rage, even though I couldn’t understand a word that was written on the page, it was as bad as it could get. I kept losing breath after breath because I sensed one part fear, and three parts death.
But I also remember, the smell of freshly printed paper on my fingers; amazing how the trail of a vaguely familiar memory lingers even when you’re standing on the doorsteps of hell. My fate rung the bell; the doors swung open, and I fell. That smell though, stayed with me till the very end. After the cancer, this feeling of writing on paper has been my only friend.
Dad I’ve spent one part of life being cut open with a surgeon’s knife, wishing desperately for reasons to stay alive. I’ve spent the other part consigned to a goddamned bed, watching pure, white, flawless sheets turn into red, right in front of my eyes. And you know what kept me going those nights?
That even as I lay bruised, battered, scattered, shattered, tattered, which a lifetime ago would have mattered; I survived on hope. Of the 10,000 minutes I spent in a week, nursing scars which ran so deep, stewing, rotting with drugs that made me look like some metaphysical freak; I got 30 minutes with you, where we could just sit down and speak.
It was all I looked forward to. It was all I looked back upon.
I took that every day for seven months straight I believe, till I was offered faith of some reprieve. For once, the scan could find and reflect the exact state of my mind; blank, blind yet somehow alive. And just when I thought I’d die alone, they said you could come and take me home. I wish I could tell you how that was the best day of my life.
For the first time in a year, my torn red shirt reminded me of things other than tears, and blood; it reminded me of memories which had started to flood the insides of my head. I held your hand tight, suddenly everything seemed so right and chaste, the hell hole of yesterday a thing of the past. We walked, hand in hand in half an embrace, taking a long, winding road which my memory couldn’t place. “How is Atheda?” I asked you, smiling wide. “She’s waiting for you” you replied, as we took the road into the unknown.
Then we arrived, and I stopped in my tracks. My relief faded into a feeling of utter disbelief, as you mouthed the word “Relax.”
“Where’s our house?” I stared at you like a livid child. “This one has more fresh air” you smiled. How could you even smile?
It was like my misfortunes were viral; and with my life’s never-ending downward spiral I had dragged you with me. The house in front of my eyes was broken, a silence synonymous with horrors unspoken made it difficult to breathe. One half of the house was mercilessly chiseled, and the wind howled and whistled, taunting it if it could endure any longer. I couldn’t live here. I couldn’t live where I had escaped from.
I lumbered quiet and slow, towards the front door. I couldn’t hear the strangely comforting childish squeals I’d heard a year before.
I wanted Atheda, I needed Atheda. I needed to hold my little sister and tell her how much I missed her till my heart was sore. This pain, no more.
I kept on walking, climbing each stair, each step echoing the bare, stripped, emptiness there. It was like every step took me one inch closer to despair. Suddenly, the door on my left opened with a creak, I heard a faint, choked whisper speak like it was a sin to raise your voice above the decibels of the fragile and weak.
Her face had sunk to the depths of depression; I could see every single impression etched deeply into what was once pure, unblemished beauty. Her expressions felt like the innocence inside her had lost its way, her lips parted slightly but she had nothing to say and I understood. I just hugged her and we both started crying, every sob felt like my insides were dying. Where had we come? What had we become?
I wiped the tears from her face and it broke my heart. Watching her mumble through hysterical sobs ripped the very existence of my soul apart. If this was our new beginning, nowhere was I supposed to start?
I could feel the bug bites on the realms of Atheda’s flawless skin. There was no bed on her floor, just broken wooden beams lay where it had once been. A mattress on the cold, hard floor; no less, no more. “Do you like it?” she asked with a hopeful grin.
No Dad, I didn’t like it one bit. But I couldn’t say that to her because the reason for it, was yours truly, this little shit. Every single day in that house I waited, I saw everything you had to give away and slowly I suffocated. I wanted to get out of my hell for so long, I guess I did, and slipped back to where I truly belong. This hell is different, I appreciate it. But Dad, this hell is the one I created.
And you know, there is no difference between the two Dad. Of the 10,000 minutes a week I’ve had now, I still sit here bruised, battered, broken and sad. I discovered the cancer bills you stashed away in your writing pad, just knowing how much you spent on me makes me mad and it makes me want to run away because I do not understand just why you’d ever want me back.
You’ve sold the car, our house and everything in it for good. I would have lived with that, but not the fact that I’ve traded my health for my sister’s childhood. I am better, but WE are worse. I think it’s better for everyone if I just end this curse.
As I write this to you, I know the gravity of what I am about to burn. But it will be nothing compared to how I’d feel if the cancer returns, so please understand. I need you to do this one last favour for me.
I end my letter here, lest I succumb to nerves. Please give yourself and Atheda the life you truly deserve.
I love you, and thank you for everything you’ve given me Dad. I hope you remember this as the day I truly became a man.
Your son, your man.