I work in a Suicide helpline call centre. Every day I receive number of calls from people who wants to end their life. Sometimes their reasons might sound silly when they are spelled out loud. And usually they get remarks saying there are people who doesn’t have any food to eat or a shelter to live, etcetera. But people who have everything can sometimes feel the numbness for happiness. And in many situations, they just need to be heard to overcome their sadness.
When you call the helpline, you can ask to speak to the same person as before or you can talk to a new person and your entire details can be anonymous. One day I received a call from a guy who introduced himself as Karthik. When I received the call, I asked him is there anything that he wants to speak about. Karthik said,” Can I stay in the call with you for 5 minutes?” and I said yes. He didn’t speak anything and after 5-7 minutes he said thank you and hanged up the call. The next day I received a message from my colleague that a previous caller has requested to talk to me. After finishing my existing call, I called back and was quite surprised to learn it was Karthik, He asked me the same thing if he I can stay in the call for 5 minutes. This happened for a week and Karthik never uttered a word other than asking for 5 minutes and thanking me for that.
After a week, I tried to start a conversation with him. “Karthik, is there anything I can help you with”. He said,” you are already helping me”. Me:” What do you do in these 5 minutes?” Him: “I just listen to the noises behind you”. Me:” Why Karthik?”. Him:” When I reach home after my busy day, I can’t cope up with the silence around me. I feel like this silence would kill me”. Me:” But why 5 minutes?” Him:” Because those are the minutes, I wait for my wife to greet me when I reach home” Me:” So, is she away now?” Him:” No, she is dead. Its been 6 months but I still wait for her to come out and greet me when I reach home. When I realise that its not happening, the silence in the house provoke me to state the reason why I am breathing”.
These calls went by for months and during these conversations I learnt so much about Karthik. Karthik and Manvi got married after dating for 10 years. They were high school sweethearts and everything with their life was so perfect until they learnt the news that Manvi can’t get pregnant. Karthik suggested adoption but Manvi couldn’t take the news well. Eventually she committed suicide from depression. During my job I was taught not to get emotionally attached with the callers as that’s not good for our mental health. But Karthik was different. I took his details from the system and found him on FB. I sent him a message and that turned out into texts and calls. Karthik was exactly the same when we met as his first call. But I guess I changed.
I never saw him smile or order his food. He doesn’t shave often or get haircut. He just breath as if he doesn’t have an option. While we meet, he just answers the questions I ask him and he never try to know me or ask me anything. I usually visit him at his place often as its near my home. I pick up dinner after work and we sometimes share the food at his place and he drops me off at my home. He never tried to push me away but he never encouraged our friendship too. After 6 months, I now talk to Karthik with no filters but Karthik has still been the same. During this time, we went trekking almost every weekend and had dinner together for 3-4 times a week. And during this time, I fell for Karthik really hard and my only wish now is for him to look at me once with a smile and call out my name.
That weekend, while we are walking down the street from his place to mine, I took his hands into mine and asked him to marry me and that I would wait for his love till he is ready. As I expected, Karthik wasn’t surprised or anything. His eyes were emotionless as glass, he just took his hands from mine and started walking away.
2 years passed. I am still waiting for Karthik to smile. He never acknowledged my feelings for him and it has been like that conversation has never happened between us. But I am still satisfied with what I have. I just want Karthik besides me. At least I could see a hint of smile on his face and a bit of light in his eyes these days.
That evening I texted Karthik that I would be at his place while I was on the way to pick up our dinner. As I was looking into my phone, I didn’t see the car coming in wrong way and met with an accident. I was taken to hospital and luckily nothing major has happened. Hospital has contacted Karthik as he was my last caller on the phone.
Karthik was in the hospital by the time I was allocated a room. That’s when I saw Karthik and realised that I am seeing something in his eyes that I have never seen before. He is crying and he hugged me so tight saying “Kriti, what would I do if I lose you too”. That’s when I realised that sometimes tears can be more powerful than a smile. Now I believe I got an answer for a question I asked him 2 years ago that he is mine..
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