Did you take your pills today?’ She asks me, just like everyday. She knows the truth; she just wanted to see if I would lie to her, which I never do.
‘No,’ I tell her honestly. Just like everyday.
I love her, and call it a blessing, or my privilege, but she loves me back; more than I love myself. She cares for me, and gets worried when I don’t take my pills. I thought she’d stop caring eventually since I always skip my afternoon pills.
‘I don’t need pills to cure my headache,’ I say. ‘I have you.’
‘Am I also the reason you have headaches everyday?’ She asks, half-amused, half-annoyed.
‘No. You’re the reason I can forget about it everyday for no matter how less amount of time,’ I tell her. ‘The headache’s gone the minute I see you. Maybe it’s more like it doesn’t have the strength to bother me when you’re around.’ She smiles.
‘Why are you so adorable?! You know exactly what to say even when you’re sick!’
‘More like you were made because nobody else is impressed by me. Enough about the headache, can we please go outside? I’m tired of sitting in a room all day.’
We decide to go for an evening walk. Thankfully, I live in a part of the city which offers some peace in this concrete jungle. There are no tall buildings around, only small houses and bungalows so the streets are not filled with the noises of people. My house is well away from the main road, so there’s not much honking of the horns of cars and bikes and less air pollution. There are also a lot of tall trees around, so the people here don’t have to deal with the dazzling sun in the afternoon and are enchanted by the mellifluous tones of birds chirping at evenings, just like this one.
We walk on the street for quite some time. I make some lame jokes; she rolls her eyes at me, and then giggles anyway. She tells me how I haven’t been eating enough lately and that she knows it because she doesn’t need to see me to know what I’m doing all the time and so on, but I just look at her all the time. I look at the way she’s let her hair fall over her shoulders today, the way her dimples appear when she smiles, the way she cutely shrugs every once in a while. I am a fan of her personality, her confidence, her compassion. She’s the only one besides my parents and Sarthak, my best friend, who loves me when the rest of the world shoots weird and pitiful glances at me.
We find a bench in a nearby park after walking, watching small children go up and down the seesaw, enjoy the swings, or just hop and skip around the park. Some kids are playing on the slide at the corner of the park, sliding any how but normally. We watch a mother rush towards her child who slides but stops midway and decides to jump off the slide from there. The slide isn’t very tall so it’s not much of a challenge for the kid, but he feels proud when he lands on both feet, smiling even though his mother’s giving him an angry stare. I find it cute and funny; she’s just staring blankly at nothing. It’s pleasant overall.
Spoke too soon, though. She has a serious look on her face and I have a feeling something’s wrong.
‘What’s up?’ I ask her. She hesitates for a moment, and then holds my hand.
‘I don’t think we should be with each other anymore,’ she says.
I’m blank. I say nothing for a minute; there’s a lot going through my mind. I don’t know if I’m supposed to be angry or surprised or sad. For a minute, I try to look past the words, scanning her expression and body language to figure out whether she’s joking. She’s stiff the entire time. No movement at all. She’s waiting for me to respond.
‘Why?’ I ask weakly. That’s all I manage to say.
‘Because I don’t want you to lose yourself! You left your parents and your home when YOU needed them the most. You neglect their advice, Sarthak’s advice and now that you only have the pills to help you, you’re skipping them! The worst part is you skip your pills because of ME. You think I’m someone whose presence in your life will magically heal you without any treatment but I’m not.’
‘But I’m okay!’ I reply. ‘I don’t need the stupid pills. I’m fine, see? I’m here with you now. Would we be able to see each other if I choose the treatment over you? No, and I can’t afford lose you. I love you.’
‘I know! And I love you, too. I know you don’t want to lose me, but at the cost of your own self? I can’t let that happen. I know it’ll be hard for you, but you have to try. That won’t happen until we’re together,’ she says. I sigh.
‘So,’ I say. ‘I guess it’s goodbye, then.’
‘I guess.’ She lets go of my hand.
‘What happens when I get better?’ I ask her. ‘What am I supposed to do after that?’
‘Move on,’ is her answer.
So this is what a breakup feels like: nothing. Just emptiness. No emotions, or perhaps too many to be able to handle.
I stay seated on the bench for a long time after she’s gone, thinking about her, thinking about my parents, thinking about everything. She’s right. I can’t lose myself. I have to look after my parents once I’m okay. I have to be a good friend to Sarthak. I have to be myself.
I call Sarthak once I’m back home.
‘Hello?’ I hear his voice.
‘Sarthak? She left me, bro. She broke up with me,’ I tell him.
He says nothing for a moment.
‘I’m sorry, man. That’s very sad.’
‘Oh, I think I had it coming,’ I tell him.
‘So, you mean you’re ready to get the treatment? Is that what you’re saying?’
‘Actually, I was thinking maybe I don’t need the treatment at all, now that she gone.’
‘That’s not how it works!’ He shouted. ‘All these days, it was her. Tomorrow you’ll see someone else, another girl or maybe a boy who’ll become your best friend, your worst enemy, or just a stranger you see walking on the road everyday. You’d be confused about who’s real and who’s not. Sometime later, you’ll begin to doubt whether even you’re real. You’ll be out of your mind, someplace from where we won’t be able to bring you back. Believe me. I’ve come across many people like this who were too lost and I couldn’t treat them.’
‘What if I’m too lost, too? What if I’m incurable like them?’ I ask him.
‘That’s my whole point, you pessimistic bastard!’ He exclaimed. ‘You’re not. You’re curable, bro, and you have me as your psychiatrist. You know I can’t afford to screw your case; your parents would kill me!’ That did make us chuckle.
‘So,’ he began again, ‘think for someti–’
‘Let’s do this.’ I interrupted. ‘I’m ready.’
‘I do think I have to go home to my parents, though.’
‘Yeah. When are you gonna do that?’
‘Me? No! Are you crazy? I can’t drive, I’m sick!’
‘Okay, I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning, you lazy prick.’
‘Great! I’ll have to tell my parents now. Hanging up.’
‘Pack your things. Tomorrow at 10. See ya,’ he added before I hung up.
There are some great things people have done for love. Some died, some killed, and some did something seemingly impossible. Me? I’m going to a doctor’s clinic. So badass. I won’t forget her, though. How can I? I love her. I love the idea of her. She’s a part of me. Forever.
‘Happy?’ I say. ‘Don’t leave me now.’
Someone hugs me from behind.
‘Would I ever?’ She asks me.
I don’t think I need to answer that.