She’s dying anyway…
What harm would it do to tell her? Just this once, she’s not staying for long, few weeks and everything will be buried with her under wet soil: the pain, the shame, the guilt and the madness.
I never shared my feelings with anyone. Every time I tried words won’t escape my mouth. I kept everything in a deep well I dug years ago somewhere inside. A bottomless well that got deeper and deeper over the years. I thought I was thus sparing my dignity, among other things. Little did I know I had built a steel shell around myself, not until it was too late.
Ironically, it wasn’t until one sad afternoon that I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“She’s got rotten lungs”, that was all my Mother needed to say for me to know that my cousin was dying.
At first, the shock was enormous, but then I started to see a thin silver lining.
“She’s dying… let her take your burden to the grave.”
I knew I should be ashamed of myself to think like that, but I was desperate, and shame was the least of my worries. I started rationalizing, encouraging myself to go ahead and get over with it… what’s better than sharing your deeply held secrets with a dying person?
That night I couldn’t sleep; my blood was boiling with anticipation. Tomorrow I’ll be free. Free at last.
The next day I made sure to go to the hospital at a time when there would be no visitors, just her and me. I entered the room wearing a shy smile, I knew she had such a good faith in me that she would believe I was faking the smile as not to cry upon seeing her in that condition. She would never knew I was trying to hide my shame behind that sheepish grin…
I asked her how she was, and she went on and on about how good she’s feeling and how she’s feeling at peace with whatever fate awaited her. Meanwhile, I was thinking how to start telling her what I came for. But I didn’t need to think hard, because she did it for me.
“Seems like you want to say something” she said suddenly, interrupting herself as she noticed that my mind was somewhere else.
“Well… I don’t think it’s a good timing” I stammered, knowing it was the perfect time, at least for me.
“Oh, for God’s sake!” she moaned with a battered breath. “It’s not like we have much time left!”
“Well… you asked for it” I said half jokingly.
She shifted in her bed, inspecting me with eager eyes; as she has never seen me in such a confessional position. I fidgeted in my seat, avoiding locking eyes with her.
“You know how I always said I had no secrets like other girls” I kicked it off. “Well, not exactly”
She smiled knowingly and nodded for me to continue.
“You know I always preferred to keep it to myself, but now I feel that I can’t bear it anymore. It’s eating away at me” I paused, looking timidly at her. “Promise me you won’t think ill of me or judge me for anything I say”
“I promise”. She said without so much as a blink.
“Well…”, I hesitated a moment. “This might look silly I know, but I’m in love”
“That’s good for a start!” she said with a curt nod.
“Well, that’s not all”, I started speaking rapidly as if not to hear what I was saying. “I was in love with my best friend’s fiancé. I was in love with him before I knew they were in a relationship. I never had the guts to tell her, I just choked it up, and it killed me. I listened to her when she talked about him. I gave her advice and helped them to make up whenever they had a fight. I even picked his gifts with her. It was eating me alive, and nobody knew”
Her eyes softened with sincere empathy. “Then, what happened then?”
“As I expected, they broke up. I must be ashamed to admit that a part of me was happy. No! Not only a part of me, I was happy. Actually, it was the happiest day in my life. I acted sorry while I was consoling her, but inside, I felt like dancing with joy. The worst of all is that I didn’t feel guilty, not at all. I knew they were so different, a total mismatch. I knew it, but I went so far as to think that he had something for me. How stupid! You know sometimes you want something badly that you think you feel it. Desire mistaken for hunch. How pathetic!”
She smiled and waited for me to continue. I looked at her through the corner of my eye, and then blurted: “I never told you my bus driver tried to rape me when I was sixteen”
She stared in silent awe.
“Well, I don’t like to remember the details; it took me a good deal of time trying to get over it. Thank God I remembered my mother’s advice. Go for the eyes. Fortunately, I had my nails done that day, I almost took his eyeballs out” I grinned uneasily, and she giggled along, trying to soothe me into going on. “Worse yet is that he still drove me to and from school for the rest of the year”. I said coarsely.
There was a long moment of silence.
I readjusted myself on the cushioned chair. “I… I killed our neighbour’s son”
Her eyes widened as she glared with shock, trying to mutter something but never finding the words.
“He was 2 or 3 years old, and he…” I paused, fighting back the tears that started to stream down my face. “He was trying to get a cherry from the fruit bowl, so I helped him to some. It didn’t occur to me that he’d swallow the seed… it was too big for him. I didn’t know what to do, I ran for help, but it was too late.”
She buried her face between her hands. And before she could ask any questions, I answered her unspoken question. “Nobody knew I gave him the cherry.” I gasped, looked her in the eye and cried out, “I didn’t mean to do it!”
A heavy silence prevailed for a few minutes, then without uttering a single word, I stormed out of the room. That was the last time I saw her.
For several days before she died, she had tried to call me and leave me messages that I would not care to check. Whenever my mom asked me why I didn’t visit her, I said I couldn’t bear to see her in that situation. After the funeral, I ran home as fast as I could, stormed into my room, buried my face in the pillow and wept for hours.
Several days after that, I hesitantly picked up my phone, and with a trembling hand, I opened my messages, not knowing why I was doing it then. Maybe she wanted to tell me something. I hesitated for a moment. Finally, I opened the messages, one after another, all of them were brief, and said the same thing:
“I was raped too. You never told me attacking the rapist’s eyes would save me”