Inner Voice

The thing you drink like you breathe.

The thing that is called life.

The thing that is pulling you down in its depths now, the thing that is forcing your breathing ceased, the thing that is filling your mouth, nose and mind. Water has no colour. But it looks blue. Startlingly similar to the colour of that scarf Granny promised to give you.

Why is water filling your mind? What help will it do? You know there is no chance to escape. You don’t know swimming. Why are you still struggling to live?

Better, let your mind be filled with something more real. Last memories of life help you die easily. They deprive it of pain.

You were crying this morning. Rajesh had beaten you black and blue. He is a bad twin to have. Granny was knitting that lovely scarf when she saw you.

“What happened, Ria?”

Granny doesn’t like you. She’d have preferred a boy coming out of Ma after Rajesh. She forgets you on your birthday. But not Rajesh.

You were surprised.

“If you stop crying now, I will give you this scarf. Promise.” She displayed it to you. It was so beautiful! Even more beautiful than water around you now.

You will not give him his gift, you decided. And you decided well.

Rajesh got up to beat you when he heard that, but Ma pulled him back.

Ma loves you. You love her more. But she will be disappointed when she hears you are dead.

Granny promised to give you that scarf. But she gave it to Rajesh when you were not looking. In her room. She blessed him.

You felt like screaming the house down. Granny always favours Rajesh. Everyone but Ma favours Rajesh.

You ran away from the house. Ma called after you. Had she been crying? Why can’t you remember? You went to your favourite place. The pretty pond near your house.

What did you think? Did you only want to see if water’s touch was softer than the scarf? If being inside the pond was as warm as draping the scarf around you?

Was your falling into this pool an accident?

Whatever you did, you did good.  If you  survive, you can lie that it was an accident.

But survive? You are drowning. Dying. You’ve had a lame life. Poor Rajesh. Now he will have no one to bully. What was the gift that you bought for him yesterday? Oh, yes. A book about mermaids. Rajesh hates fairytales.

Are there any mermaids living here? I wonder. You wonder. You and I are the same person. It hardly matters if I say you or me. What do you think?

I think there maybe some. Maybe you and I will not die now. We could live-

A mermaid could come and save you. She could cry for you. Her tears could turn the pond into the sea. Maybe I could name this mermaid after Ma. Only she can cry so much for you.

Hey, did you see? Wasn’t that my dream mermaid?

It is her hand. Her hand? She has come?! How unbelievable! Will she pull you out of this water? Don’t you dare jump in again!

Something is silver. Water isn’t silver.

Do they exist? Or is that Rajesh’s hand? Isn’t that his kartal, shining silver?

Mermaids.

They don’t exist.

-Sreeja Mitra

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