Short-listed Entry: Fiction Category

By: Srikanth Tirupattur Ramamurthy

His mind was black and cold, for he had lost everything and felt utterly numb. There was nothing he could say or do, he had lost all that mattered, it was gone. Just like that, like some sort of cruel prank that fate played on him.

His home was full of things his wife used to own. Her jewelry, her perfume, the 1948 Bordeaux that she had got from their trip to France, the bags of scented materials, the mural of an unmarked grave, her mind numbing scent, but her soul had gone. The sweat on her forehead was still fresh, even though, strangely, she was cold to touch. She was still smiling, but all he could think while touching her was how empty it felt. How hollow and fucking empty it felt. He then touched her stomach, which held the child he so loved. He often thought how strange it was to be so in love with someone whom he hadn’t even met or seen. Such was the strength, he assumed, of love. Some people are meant to be loved, and some aren’t, but now his wife had die. She had ceased to exist and so did his beloved child. Did that mean that he didn’t love them anymore? Was it possible to love someone or something that didn’t exist? No sooner did that thought enter his mind, than he crumbled under it. He felt sickened of the whole world except the two people he so loved and himself, but now he felt sickened of himself too.

There were no feelings like the ones he felt at that very moment. It was dry as a funeral drum and yet,  violent as a tempest. He tried to cry, but just couldn’t. He tried to stand up and pour himself a drink, but he just didn’t feel like it. This was the most withdrawn he had ever been, simply because the only people whom he loved and cherished had suddenly ceased to exist and he couldn’t take the shock of it. He couldn’t hold a thought in his mind, and at the same time couldn’t stop the tempest of chaos either. All he wanted to do was lie there, and hope that it wasn’t all lost, but he knew in his heart that it was gone, dead, and that his world was empty now.

They had gone, disappeared, left him for dead in this apocryphal hell, but wait, maybe he could meet them once again, maybe he can hug his wife, kiss her and smell her hair, maybe he can see his daughter being born, maybe he can hold her in her arms while she squeezes his finger with her soft angelic hands, maybe, just maybe, he can feel love again.

This sparked hope in him, maybe there was an afterlife, maybe there was meaning to life, and maybe there was a God after all. Its strange that in his weakest moment, he was somehow spiritually stronger than he ever was. He suddenly got up from the sofa. His mind was dead silent and black. His heart pumped all the blood he bloody well wanted. He went to the kitchen and almost instinctively reached for the knife in the drawer, not even noticing the mural that his wife thought to be so surreal. He looked at his wife and baby, smiled, and stabbed himself in the heart, and that was it. It was over.

Now he could finally see his wife and see his daughter bloom in the afterlife. He waited with a beaming smile on his face, but there was nothing. There was just blackness and deafening silence. He tried to look around, but couldn’t. He tried to talk, but couldn’t. He couldn’t even cry at the decision he had

taken. He could feel, but somehow, there was nothing around him, there was no HIM. All doubts he had about the existence or non-existence of a loving God and an afterlife now disappeared, for there was no doubt – there is no God. There is nothing beyond this sad pathetic life and there is nothing for us in this desperate and lonely life either, because nothing is yours, because once you take your last breath, its all gone. Everything. Including yourself, but the plethora of feelings he felt in those few minutes was worth a lifetime. The love he felt for his wife and daughter was worth any price that can ever be named. These few minutes when he thought he was going to see his family again were worth EVERYTHING to him and he sighed and smiled at his situation and how futile and helpless his life was.


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