One last puff. One last indulgence, I thought. The lies I told myself to comfort that inner voice. The truth was distorted to serenade my conscience to sleep each night. How do you suppress your inner voice, I asked him. His silence in that moment spoke volumes. He finally said, “I don't. I take my evil side to bed with me. It is warm with him by my side actually. Plus, I have always been miserable at consoling myself. Some women have managed to help me forget my sins temporarily. But never really forever.”
“So, at all times you are conscious of every single mistake you made?,” I asked innocently as I blew smoke out of my mouth. His reply was a cold and unnerving nod. “Wow,” I managed. “That is just insane,” I said boldly. “Bollocks,” he said. “It is a way to deal with the situation, just like your lies. I don't think there is a right or a wrong. Just a defence mechanism to survive,” he said. “You lie and hence confronting the situation or the people involved in it becomes difficult,” he added like rubbing salt on my wound.
“But come on, D. I am still living life as well as you,” I say adamantly. “Really?,” he muttered. “Never mind, K. I can't convert you. You can't change me. Let's leave it at that shall we?,” he said in a finishing tone. I heaved a sigh, not so much of relief as denial.
“It is just denial. Denial. I can't force myself to witness, live and endure the consequences of my mistakes, of everyone else's mistakes at every moment,” I gave in and said. All I heard as a response was a loud and calculating laugh from the pits of his soul. “Next subject shall we K,” he smirked. I coughed on my cigarette as I proceeded to ask, “Do you remember the day we spoke first?” “It was a dark day for you. I remember watching you sit in the garden and weep. I approached you cause I felt you were brave. It is bold to cry in public. Not too many people believe that,” he added.
“What brave? I couldn't help myself. I felt weak and naked but I had no control over my tears or my emotions. So, I just let myself unravel,” I said. I watched him smile, his happiness never really reached his eyes. His eyes always had that blank expression. Or a stare which was condescending and judgemental.
Usually, he sat in my room's loft. It was spacious and he claimed it gave him leverage over me. Always dressed in black, he sneered at company and liked to be alone.
“Every once in a while, I weep,” I managed, “Without reason. Ever since I started living away from home it just became easier to engage in the self-destructive routine. I do not remember how it began. But each time, I never tell anyone. It is my dirty secret. Somehow I always looked upon crying as something a weak person would do. It took, sorry takes, a lot for me to remind myself that crying is not a sign of weakness.”
He laughed, again. “I am tired of this infuriating laugh of yours. Respond, reflect. Say something D,” I said staring at the loft. But he wouldn't make eye contact. He pulled this tantrum every time he was ticked off by my "unnecessary" anger, as he fondly referred to it. “Fine. I will just get back to reading. You are free to leave,” I mutter. As I pick up my book and flip back to where I had left it, I could hear his breathing get heavier. He sulked a while longer before I heard that familiar sound. He was gone.
Rohan walked in just then, “I heard voices. Who were you talking to, Karthik?” “Just me, myself and I, here. Maybe you heard a noise from outside,” I responded calmly. “Freaky! I was positive I heard a grim voice coming from this room. And it sounded nothing like you,” Rohan muttered taken aback by my nonchalant attitude. “Must have been the devil teasing you inside your head,” I said and laughed loudly. Rohan didn't understand and probably would never get that joke.