“Ms. Atthika, you can clear the seat for the next interviewee, thank you for your cooperation.” Seems, I’m not getting this one as well.
“Likewise, I look forward to your response” you aren’t calling me anyway so why the pretense? Corporate world is terrifying for sure.
With these thoughts, Atthika left the room closing the door behind her, walking down dark empty corridors have never been an easy task, but this building didn’t had only those creepy, dark, silent corridors but also pictures looking the portraits of satan himself on the walls, cherry on top, and of course the gods wouldn’t let her have a luck. Not only was she losing this job to another less skilled and qualified person but now she had to walk across corridors after corridors in this dark building, adding fear, terror and just triggering all insecurities she has tackled till date while growing up alongside the frustration, anger and disappointment she was already facing.
“Why do I hate the dark anyway? I never had any bad experience with it in any way”…… as far as she could remember at least. Her parents had a hard time honestly, she would randomly scream in the middle of the night awake or asleep didn’t matter, she wasn’t able to make her way for washroom alone at nights as well, even if all the lights were left on, on top of that she wetted her bed till the age of 12 or so she was told, turned out waking up to go to washroom wasn’t a good option as well, she wasn’t able to go because of unknown fear not to mention she would go multiple times in a night, one time she even counted and it turns out of be 13 times that particular night, it was embarrassing but her parents never said anything, going to the extent of taking turns staying up all night camping out in front of her door in case she needs to go.
All she had to do was tap her wooden bed twice, and one of them would be there, opening the door, escorting her from & to room. It surprises her till date how they never felt as if she was a lot or work or how she was troublesome, they never talked about this ever, behaving norma,l not even trying to question her.
Whatever was done for her was however in vain, she was never able to face darkness or embrace the light, somehow feeling always stuck in between both. “Light huh, it’s a foreign concept, metaphorically speaking, whenever I thought of stepping towards it, voices always stopped me ordering me to-“
“Stop! Open your eyes! Don’t daydream!”
” Yes, exactly like that hahaha, a little more yelling and it would be perfect”
“STOP DAYDREAMING, DAMN IT! GET OUT OF THE WAY!”
” BWAHAHA just like that, perfe- huh what”
Okay, so turning towards that voice wasn’t wise, it seems, since a ball came flying at her face, falling backward, her back crashed into the wall. Placing the ball in her hands she couldn’t help but contemplate ‘just how much worse can this day turn out?’
Sighing, She stood up with a ball in her hands, facing forward she saw a child literally trembling, face pale and eyes wide open. Watching that little boy Atthika couldn’t help, first looking at the ball in her hands then at the boy. ‘Why do I look like a villain here when this ball just slammed into my face. Both my face and back hurts like hell’.
A scream, that’s what pulled Atthika out of her thoughts. Not only that child but even adults were staring at her with wide eyes. ‘Why are they looking at me like that?’ Atthika thought while looking at her hands again. Just as she was thinking whether she should run out of the building or not a pair of feet came into her vision, looking up she found a receptionist with worried eyes extending a handkerchief towards her.
Atthika held it with a hesitant hand. “Why?” She asked the receptionist.
“You are bleeding, ma’am”
‘Huh? Am I?’ Atthika thought. Accepting that handkerchief.
“Should I call a taxi for you? To the hospital? The company would pay for it. That boy who threw the ball at you is our senior finance executive’s son. Do you want to have a talk with his father?” Receptionist said.
‘Talk with his father for what? A child shouldn’t be allowed to play in a place like this. What’s the point of scolding a child wanting to play when adults don’t bother to keep an eye on him. Throwing a child under the bus to save their asses, messed up people.’
“Ah no, it’s alright. Children are bound to be reckless, it’s adults’ job to watch over them. That boy only did what was appropriate for his age whereas the same couldn’t be said for everyone here.” Atthika responded.
Not wanting to stay in this messed up place, Atthika sped up, pressing that hankie to the back of her head, jogging straight toward her car. She really would need to visit a doctor though, the back of her head is bleeding and the world seems to be spinning. She sat in her car, closing her eyes, taking deep breaths to calm the throbbing in her head, just when she needed peace her phone rang.
Watching the name of who’s calling, Atthika attended the call, wanting to tell the person on the other end to leave her alone, she lost another interview, she was disappointed, angry and now injured with a bleeding head and throbbing pain.
“How was the interview?” came the blooming voice, sighing she replied “I was overqualified for that job still they declined” with venom in her voice. “It’s alright there are many other jobs, you are talented, it’s going to be alright”, ‘again, ‘this line’ , “when are you coming back home?” That person asked; “I’m not going back tonight, will stay at a hotel. Don’t wait for me and-” , “NO! Come back, I said it’s alright didn’t I?” , again came a voice from the other side of the phone.
“Of Course you’ll say that! It’s your fault that I’m 24 and still unemployed! I can neither study nor get a job just because you wanted to play a hero, it’s because of you that my life is ruined, all because of you!” She couldn’t keep her voice down or keep venom out of it.
Hanging up, Atthika started her car, going to the hotel where she normally stays when she wants to calm herself, she knew her fathers are not at fault but she needs someone whom she can blame or she’ll fall apart. She can’t remember memories of her past, when she was 12 she fell down from the second floor, head first, causing amnesia, however the rest of the memories aren’t any better, she could never have a peaceful day in school, her fathers, yes fathers.
They are gay and married, when both of them were in 20s, they fought a case against a famous politician, apparently that politician was abusing his family, the wife was literally bought illegally from an auction house, assaulted which led to the birth of a child, that child was abused severely, even assaulted at the tender age of 6. That child was studying in a school where both her parents were teaching at that time, they came to know about it and fought toe to toe with that politician to get that child out of that hell hole. And they won, which caused them not only their jobs but limbs as well, they were attacked and beaten, one of them lost their right arm while other lost fingers of both feet. This caused such an uproar in the nation that both of them ended up famous, their names ever so unique didn’t help – Aarthik Chandra Subramanyam and Atthik Ramakrishna Naman – now whenever an HR see those names in her CV, she has to suffer because of their prejudices against gay people, even in school she was bullied after students saw her parents at PTA meetings causing her to drop out and getting home schooled.
A law allowing people of the same sex was passed years ago, the community was happy maybe but when she was 18 a huge riot and strike occurred, people who were against the law caused such havoc thy government changed law, but her parents married already, now in every form she has to write both their names.
She was again pulled out of her daydreaming because of a horn. Blaming her life she forgot she was driving causing her to crash straight into that truck.
‘No, no, no, no. It’s the darkness again, I don’t want to stay in the dark. I need to apologize to my father too for speaking rudely, telling how much I loved them. I’m grateful they adopted an abandoned orphan child like me, no I want to go back to them. I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared, I’m scared, scared, scared, scared, scared, scared, scare- huh but why do I feel familiar?Why is this empty space, devoid of any emotion so familiar?.’
‘What was that, what am I forgetting, what was that? Just what was it- Ahh, that’s right it’s because I was born in this darkness wasn’t I? I can never grasp light because I only brought darkness wherever I went, like a curse.’
“You were, are and will always remain a curse Nitra”, ‘was it?’
Sirens of police cars and vehicles singing together, the medics ran with all their might, to save the life of the girl still fighting for her life, to live, to come back, to tell her parents she loves them, to apologize, to embrace the light.
Unconsciously, Nitra went deep inside her memories, reminiscing them, remembering the forgotten ones.
She was only 5 when she understood that she’s a deed of darkness, she was only 6 when the first time she was slapped and got things thrown at her, she was just about to become 7 when her life changed.
As a child she was supposed to envy those whose parents were loving when they dropped their children for school. But she did, she couldn’t, that’s because she knew, knew that she was a seed of darkness. Nitra’s mother never wanted her, why would a woman want a child when she was forced, forced to be there, forced to be a mother, forced to take care of her, and her mother made sure Nitra knew this, continuously like a prayer, every morning her mother would tell her how she’s a seed of evil, how she’s evil, how her father forced her mother to give birth to her. This didn’t mean he loved Nitra though, he wanted a boy, a man, who would be an asset to him but he got a daughter, he didn’t care about her but kept her alive, so that she could be used to form connections with marriage.
This was Nitra’s life and she accepted this, she didn’t question whenever she was beaten, she never talked back when she was accused of being disobedient, she never asked for food even if they starved her for 3 days straight, making sure everything was just like her mother wanted, in a hope she could provide her mother even with a moment of peace.
This however changed one day, when one of her classmates spilled juice on her, the homeroom teacher asked her to go to the nurse’s office and get a change of clothes. Nitra went to the nurse ‘s office to find her missing. It was a good day it seems. She simply grabbed a change of clothes and stripped and hissed as her wounds came in contact with the cold air. In the morning, she spilled her soup on the bedsheets which raged her mother and scars of belt on her body. She couldn’t have let the nurse see her body, her mother had told her repeatedly to never let someone lay their eyes on her wounds.
Just as she was pulling her shirt on, the door slammed open. “Ma’am, this child is burning up and vomiting blood, we need an ambulance,” the man said. She had never seen him before and was startled by the loud noise. Realization hit her when she watched his eyes going wide every second he was staring at her, quickly she pulled her shirt and put it on, just as she was done the nurse came. Watching both adults immersed in talking, Nitra hurriedly but quietly exit that room and ran away from there, praying that man didn’t see anything or forgets about it.
It wasn’t the case obviously since the very next all girls were sent to nurse office for a physical examination without any prior notice, they were asked to take their shirts off, and she was caught.
After that everything was blur, all the screaming, pointing fingers, threats, swearing everything went by in a flash and then she was asked “who gave you these wounds” and she stayed silent, staring at the police officers, principal, that teacher who saw her and her supposed father whom she had never seen before. That night her father took her home in his car and blindfolded her, all she could see was the darkness, darkness she was born in, darkness she was supposed to stay in for eternity, darkness which she accepted, she couldn’t figure out whether it was belt or a wimp but that hurted nonetheless, however she tried to not make a sound, so that it wouldn’t reach her mother, so that her mother would be in peace, and failed miserably.
Some men threw her in the dark room, her mother and she used, and there she was asked a question, only question’s answer she had. “Why didn’t you tell them it me who gave you those wounds?” Her mother asked, Nitra’s eyes lit up, her mother had never talked like this with her, never asked a question, so she answered enthusiastically “because you asked me to always follow what you say!”
Yes that’s what she was always told, always following her mother, this feeble child unknowingly threw away the only chance of getting out of this hellhole she’ll ever get.
“You were, are and will always remain a curse Nitra, born & raised in darkness” her mother said and went to sleep. That day Nitra went to sleep smiling, her mother didn’t lashed out at her, she didn’t used the usual tone as well and even tended to her wounds before going to sleep.
Next day, Nitra didn’t go to her school or next day or day after that, just like that over a month passed, one day her mother asked her to go with her for a walk, firstly her mother got into the lake near their home, asking Nitra to join. Just as Nitra caught up with her mother, her mother started walking further from the shore so Nitra followed her, until she couldn’t, suddenly ground beneath her feets vanished and Nitra saw darkness again, going down and down in the lake while her mother watched her with no emotionless eyes, just as Nitra was about to get lost in that darkness forever her mother pulled her up, screaming, asking someone to help them.
People came running with all the screaming, just as they came into that lake her mother hugged her with all her strength, before Nitra could even understand what was happening, she was pushed towards the people who were coming. She was surrounded by people, they all were asking something but Nitra couldn’t understand what, she wasn’t paying them any attention, her eyes were only on her mother who smiled at Nitra for the first time before showing her back to Nitra and disappearing into the blue water.
And that’s how her life changed, due to all the screaming, even locals came and saw what happened, which resulted in a call to the police, police came and took her under their custody. While they checked her room, a letter and many papers were founded, hidden deep inside the closet. A letter which consisted of her mother’s story, with all the names and each and every details, even admitting how Nitra was beaten by her mother. Those papers served as evidence to the evil deeds to Nitra’s father. But they weren’t the only evidence, those teachers who were worried about her digged into her father’s deeds and accumulated as much evidences as they could before they were eventually told about what’s going to by the officers when they all came to submit evidence.
Trials were run, people coming to her asking questions and trying to dig further, but she never uttered a word not until that very male teacher came to her and hugged her, comforting her, consoling her. That teacher and his lover, another teacher of her school, fought till they got her custody from her father’s relatives. It wasn’t in public but privately done to protect her identity but just like everything else her existence was leaked, everyone knew her name.
After winning trial both teachers of her’s left their jobs, changed her name from Nitra to Atthika legally and took her to a far countryside where she could live normally.
Even after that Atthika still had several cases where she was spooked they would beat her. If she opened her mouth without authorization, sitting at the dining table with them, and indeed kept fumbling with her plate of food even though they told her they wanted her to eat. This behaviour of her’s made them realise their mistake so they came back to city and took her for therapy. She was recovering slowly but surely.
One day Atthika woke up in the middle of night due to the pain, she stood up and went to the washroom only to find her lower covered in blood, she was shaken and went back to her room switching up lights only to find her blanket was also covered in blood. Scarred she tried to wash the blanket just like how she has watched her now parents do the laundry, but she obviously didn’t knew how to operate a washing machine, eventually the machine broke with a horrible loud noise that alerted the adults, as they came they found their daughter on her knees with her forehead touching the ground, crying and apologizing. They both cried that day, hugging her and comforting her with sweet nothings.
Just like that years passed by, Atthika was recovering but then she ended up slipping from their apartment which was on the second floor. Both parents were actually happy that now she would never have to remember the shadows of her past. Now after a decade she remembered all of this.
“I want to go back” , Atthika said standing in the darkness, she could feel the darkness becoming more and more prominent.
“I WANT TO GO BACK” she yelled. “I want to hug my saviors, i can’t leave them behind, i don’t wanna die, please god if you actually are there help me just this one time please, send me back. I want to go back to them” she begs on ger knees, crying, helplessly.
“You should” came a voice and the darkness disappeared, now she was on her knees at top of a lake. Following where that voice came from, because she could never forget that voice, atleast not now, she was back before a house, not any house but her house where the darkness consumed her.
“You should go back.” again came that voice, the voice of her dead mother. “How can I go back?” Atthika asks, not ‘why are you here’ not ‘why now’.
“Follow your heart” and she did, she ran, ran inside that home, ran right where the darkness was most prominent and that’s where she saw it, saw the light, saw her parents, so she dived right into it while words came from behind her.
“Embrace the light” Atthika said, opening her eyes, watching the dull room of hospital, readjusting her eyes she saw both her parents, asleep by her side. She did it, she embraced it, she faced it, she came back, came back to the people who loved her more than her own self.
She went back to her home after embracing the light.