“You killed me!”
It was always the same. Her tired croaky voice as she was lying on the hospital bed, barely alive. But the words she spoke always hit him. And it hit him exactly where it hurt. And it kept hurting. No matter what he did. The darkness which was around her left her and followed him.
He was trembling because of the darkness had now surrounded him. The darkness which screamed her words at him. The rigid impenetrable darkness. And this darkness was not the normal darkness. It was menacing. He knew that the darkness had stored every single nightmare he had ever had in his life and was just waiting for the right time to unleash it on him.
He did the only thing he could do. He ran. And he was running without any particular aim or direction, letting himself be guided completely by his blind panic. That dark panic, which did not allow him to think. That merciless old enemy – fear, which he had thought he had controlled. As he ran mumbling, trying to outrun the darkness he realized that he had been a fool. He thought fear could be controlled. But that was foolish. Fear could never be controlled. It could never went away. It just waited patiently. Waited for the person to fall, waited for them to fail and when they did, fear raised its ugly head and destroyed everything….everything good which came in its path.
The darkness was almost on to him as he was struggling to breathe.
“No!” He whimpered as he saw that he was surrounded. “I didn’t do….”
Much to his horror, he could not talk. He could not move. He could not do anything. Other than wait for the darkness to take its prey.
And he could not stand as he collapsed heavily. And that was when the darkness hit him.
Karan screamed as he was still gasping for breath barely able to make sense of anything as he was sure that the darkness had engulfed him.
“Karan! Sh! It was a dream!”
That was probably the sweetest voice he had ever heard in his life. Revathi was beside him and holding him. Instead of pushing him away like the cursed man that he was, she was near him. She was near him and holding him. Her firm hands holding his trembling hands and she did not think he was disgusting. He did not think that he was a loathed creature.
But then she did not know. She did not know what he had done. If she knew, Karan was sure that she would not be so kind to him.
It took some solid five minutes for his gasping to reduce to a normal breathing pattern and still his hands had not stopped trembling.
And in all that time, she said nothing. She caught his hands but she said nothing as he was afraid to meet her eyes as he was struggling not to break down.
Stop this and keep your mouth shut, Karan! She does not need to know. His mind screamed at him. Because you are nothing other than a murderer. A cold blooded killer.
“Do you want to talk about it, Karan?” Her voice was always gentle. Calm. She did not push him, but then she was no pushover either. She knew that he was battling demons of his own, but she did not shy away from him.
Karan was silent studying the bed sheet as the cool air from the window assaulted him. No! He was going to keep silent. His torture was something that only he could face…
Revathi looked at him and seemed to realize that he was going to go back to his silence and said nothing and she slowly got up. But her movement signified so many things. She had trusted him. And in return all she asked was a chance to share his pain…
Karan suddenly caught her hands tightly.
“I killed my mother!” Karan said hurriedly before he lost the will to talk. Revathi deserved to know. If not for anything else, at least for everything that he had put her through.
There was a silence and Karan waited for her to look at him with a disgusted face. The look that he always felt people should give him….but no one did, because no one knew. No one, except him and now Revathi.
“What happened?” Revathi asked and she sounded confused. “You told me that you lost your mother at the age of ten! I do not understand….” She started.
Karan let her hands go, but she held it firm and her eyes did not waver. He saw nothing judgmental in those eyes and it looked like she genuinely wanted to know.
“My mother was suffering from cancer for more than a year!” Karan said letting a shuddering breath. He could still remember his mother’s lean, emancipated body and it did nothing other than terrify him. His mother had been so healthy. But all the remained of her was bones and rags. His mother was dying painfully and the disease was eating her. She could not fight back. She could do nothing other than endure.
“For over a year, my mom could do nothing!” Karan said and he did not even know that there were tears in his eyes. He still remembered how before all this, his mother used to take him out everywhere. She loved him so much and she laughed so much. Her tinkling laughter was the most beautiful thing he had heard.
And it all changed in a day. Cancer, the report said.
A lady who was up before him and finished all her chores even before he was awake, could not wake up from her bed. She could do nothing other than try to get up and painfully slump back on the bed. And the ten year old Karan knew that his mother was in pain, Unbearable amount of pain, but she still said nothing.
“A year of suffering later, my mother was put on the ventilator because of the congestion in her chest,” Karan said closing his eyes, swallowing painfully as the air in his chest felt thick.
Hell, he could not breathe. He remembered how his mother was struggling to draw a breath and every breath was an agony and realized that this was how she must have felt. Every single time....
“Her eyes were pleading with me, Revathi!” Karan said in a gasping breath. “My mom knew she could not live life the way it was meant to be lived. She could not talk. She could do nothing and her eyes were pleading with me to shut down the breathing apparatus!” Karan’s heart was beating so hard that Karan could hear absolutely nothing other than his heart beat - the loud heart beat which seemed like a death knell....
Karan clutched Revathi’s hands so tightly that both their hands trembled as he continued.
“And I shut down the ventilator! I thought I was helping her!” The words were torn from Karan's mouth as he looked horrified with himself.
And Karan just could not talk anymore, and he hugged Revathi tightly as he was trembling badly. He knew that Revathi was going to leave him and go away. He knew that she was going to hate him. Probably she could even go to the cops. But right now he needed some human contact. Anything. Anything just to help him breathe normally. And after that he felt he could be ready. He had to be. He had after all killed someone. Not just someone. He had killed someone who loved him more than anyone else in the whole world.
Karan had no idea how long he remained in Revathi’s embrace and strangely she said nothing.
Slowly like a man in ague he pushed himself back and studied her face. Waiting to see that expression on her face. One he prayed he never saw.
But Karan was confused. Because he saw nothing in Revathi's face. Nothing at all.
“Why do you think what you did was wrong, Karan?” Her voice was gentle. As always. There was no hatred in her face. Karan realized that she did not understand the horror of what he had done and Karan was left wondering why such a smart woman did not understand something so simple. It was so clear.....
And her words kept resonating in his mind.
Karan blinked as he saw Revathi and saw a small tear in her eye. A beautiful single tear.
“You did not put an end to a life that day, Karan!” She said gently making no effort to stop her tears. “You put an end to pain!”