The quiet night isn’t helping her at all. The winds aren’t tussling with the windows tonight. Syahi lies awake on her bed in an unlit room. She turns her head towards an alarm clock on the table to her left. It shows two-forty-seven, three hours and thirteen minutes left for it to go off. She turns her head back to the previous position, observing the slowly rotating blades of the fan. Her eyes look around the room and stumble upon a fly trapped in a spider’s web in the right corner of the ceiling and get fixated on its vigorous attempts to free itself.

The fly has its one wing free that still hasn’t come in contact with the sticky thread. It is incessantly fluttering its wing shaking the whole web making it vibrate. Syahi doesn’t realise the spider’s presence until it comes for its prey. It starts revolving around the fly, moving closer and farther entrapping it more with each revolution. The free wing is finally stuck in the spider silk. After nine circles the fly is completely covered in the silk web, appearing as a small cocoon. The spider twirls the fly to cake it with its web.

Syahi pushes her body away from the bed and picks up a broom from under it. She, then, pushes a chair near the corner below the spider web. She smashes the spider’s home and kills both of them in a single blow. The dead spider falls on the floor. She squishes it with her flip-flop and looks at the tiny cocoon still hung on the spider web. She clears the whole thing up and jumps on her bed. She looks at the clock again. It’s two-fifty-six.

She pushes her body up from the bed and stands still for a few seconds. She switches on the light, grabs the chair from the corner, drags it back to its position and sits on it. She opens the drawer, takes out an old hardbound brown notebook and turns almost three-quarters of the pages using the black pen that was hiding in between the pages. She drops the pen on a blank page, squishes her eyes and rubs them.

She holds the pen again and it starts running on the paper.

Why cant I believe Life is not beautiful? I know what wrong with me is but I should be greatful. Right? It is certenly not magical. Its a lie we all are made to believe. Maybe evrything and evryone is deceiving us. I believe Life is an adiction. Of the worst kind. Maybe depreshion-anxiety are the widrawl symtoms to who are trying to quit it. Not evryone succeeds but I can only try. Sometimes they give in to the cravings like I do with life and my drugs. I feel I need both. If I cant quit oxy, how do I even quit alcohol and MD, let alone life. Sometimes situations force the substance. They are eventualy puled back into this illusion. Once you get the symtoms, you start to see truth. Evryones afraid of quiting. I am too, not to lie. We are used to it. We dont accept we are adicted, like I do infront of others. We refuse but all are geting fooled and lied to. Deep down I truly feel their is something wrong with this life. Thats what happens when you dont know you are adicted. But I know. It needs a lot of strenth and corage to quit any adiction. I dont have that. Do I have that? I dont know. And this the worst adiction and that too of very very long duration, even in time of cosmos. I have failed every every time but dont want to anymore. The true problem with this adiction is once I quit I will never start again like with the same dreem again. Next time would be a difrent dreem with difrent rules, difrent world. I dont ever want to try it again. I would also want to pull out others but I dont want others to pull me out. Hipocrate much. I cant be in this constant state of widrawl. It is so exosting but even in this exostion cant sleep. This is the worst form of exostion where we cant sleep. Ill have to find a better way to quit. Losing myself in nothingness is all I wan…

Her fingers stop the pen and her eyes move to the clock. It’s three-thirteen. Syahi walks towards the pile of clothes near the empty laundry basket. She takes out a grey hooded sweatshirt from the heap and wears it, and without making any sound, she pulls down the lever, opens the room door, and moves out. As she reaches the main door of the house, she takes her torn faded turquoise shoes in her hand and starts moving the latch up and down and towards the right and up and down. Down and up and it is open. She pulls the less squeaky left side of the door and moves out of the house and closes the door.

Syahi sits outside the gate to wear her shoes. A brown-and-white street dog comes to her. She runs her fingers on the dog’s head, massaging it gently. The street is dimly lit by yellow-orange mercury lights with no trees on either side of the road and is densely packed with rows of houses. Some of the lights flicker sometimes and the light on the last lamp at the end of the road is not working. She starts walking towards the left and the dog follows her wagging its tail. She turns right from the lamp with no light.

She walks on the right side of the road. She takes every single turn that comes her way missing a few, lost in her thoughts. After some ten to twelve odd turns, she faces a junction. She stops there for a while and continues to walk straight. Another left turn and she recognises the street she has reached. The school she hasn’t been to for many years appears before her eyes. She looks through the school gate, which is locked now. She recalls how she went through this very gate for seven years never missing a single day. It appears smaller to her now. She stands there looking at the school building. She sees the assembly stage and ground across the hallway in the building through the channel gates.

She starts walking again at a faster pace not stopping till she reaches the highway at the end of the road. It appears to be less dark. She turns left and continues to walk across the closed shops and showrooms on either side of the road.

She keeps on marching ahead, lost in her thoughts, with her hands in the pouch of her hoodie, without paying any attention to where she places her next step. She doesn’t even notice the truck that passed her and continues to walk ahead. The hush street sings with irregular whirs of rapidly rotating wheels on the road. She walks over the people sleeping on the road. After stepping on three blankets, she becomes aware of her surroundings just before she is about to step on a woman’s hand. She turns around and discovers that she has crossed over more than tens of sleeping human beings. She, then, steps off the footpath and sits there for a while. She looks at the still bodies and wonders how she slept like this with all those vehicles and demons, racing and roaming near her. Now, even the slightest of sound wakes her up.

An old lady wakes up and stares at her. Her weary yellow eyes make Syahi restless. She ignores her wrinkled face, turning her head away, and continues to listen to the music of the empty road. “I’ve seen you before”, the footpath woman says. “You need food?” Syahi gets up with a jerk, rushes away from the footpath, and walks into a dark gully skipping a family of potholes.

Empty plots and abandoned houses have replaced the continuous concrete and glass structures. The road has turned into pavement. She walks along with the vestige and reaches the train tracks.

She starts walking on the left side of the tracks, counting her steps tottering and trembling. The track vibrates after she reaches 129 and she gets off the tracks. She walks backwards, away from the tracks, trips and falls on her back. She stays on the ground and waits for the train. She can now hear the giant metal centipede coming towards her. The train is almost here.

It is a carriage train without any passengers. It is transporting water to some city or village ahead. To the places where there is a shortage of water, these trains carry thousands of gallons of water to the town and villages. Syahi learnt about these kinds of trains when she peeked into a classroom when she trespassed into the school. She was caught that day and was later granted admission there without any fees. No one in the school ever found out, or she believed they never did, she wonders while waiting for the train. She remembers how she stole money from teachers and other students to give to her uncle. The day her uncle found where she gets money from and about her not working. Her books being ripped and burnt. The fight, the beating, and the abuse. Being thrown into prostitution. It was eleven years ago.

As the train approaches Syahi, she starts screaming her lungs out. The images of her mother’s dead body, the ambulance with registration number DE41-HI-5203 appear before eyes. Her shrieks are absorbed by the rumbling of the train. A man hitting Mansoor, her and Mansoor hiding in a train, Jeeva and Mansoor twelve-year-old faces flash before her eyes. Her body leans forward, her eyes closed, and hands clenched. Her screams get louder and louder till her throat chokes out of dryness and the sound stops coming out of her mouth. The prison walls, the torture, the murder. As the train passes, she starts again with more energy. She falls down and stops. Her and Mansoor sleeping on a couch, Jeeva’s village tree, the mango kulfi, the hundred-rupee note. She lies on the ground looking at the rotating steel wheels moving forward, sobbing and gasping. She hears ice-cream bells’ ringing instead of the leaving train.

Syahi lies there for a few minutes looking at the stars through the fading clouds, unable to find the Moon. The freezing zephyr kisses her cheeks and ice-cold soil dances in her fingers. She turns and pushes the ground and sits there. The hazy sky and wintry air are now whispering in her ears.

The sound of approaching footsteps make Syahi alert. She stands up and sprints towards her left where she can see an abandoned shack and hides behind its periphery. Her heart starts beating faster. She takes a deep breath while still hearing the pitter-patter until it suddenly stops. She leans outward to identify the being and finds a cat wandering in the night.

Her silly actions make her smile. She moves towards the cat, “Hey kitty, has anyone lost you?” The grey cat runs away as it sees Syahi coming to her.

Syahi sees the moon and realises that she is late and bolts in the direction where she came from, crossing the still asleep people on the highway and the school. She hopes that the alarm doesn’t wake anyone up. She thinks of all the chores she has to do before anyone wakes up – clean the entire house, do the preparations for food. The kids don’t like food made by anyone else other than her. She increases her pace.

The dog was still waiting for her and follows her until she reaches the building. She quietly removes her shoes, opens the gate, takes shoes in her hand, crawls inside minding her every step, closes and locks the door again.

She gets inside her room and looks for the alarm clock. It’s five-fifty-seven. She sighs in relief and drops her body on the bed, waiting for the alarm to go off.

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