I’ll be gone in the morning

He sits on the kitchen floor in the new apartment, holding a sharp knife. The refrigerator, sink, cabinets, and tube light indifferently look at him. They don’t care about what he’s about to do, but she does. She grabs the knife from his hands and backs away from his menacing stare.

“This needs to stop!” she says. “I can’t live like this anymore.”

He wants to tell her he doesn’t have the courage and that he’s a coward. He despises himself. Hates that life has come to this. But he looks at her with his stony, black eyes.

“Like you care if I’m dead or alive,” he says.

“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have stood by you all these years.”

“What difference has it made? Nothing is going to change, and you know it.”

“Things will change if you believe in a better life. Put your trust in the Lord.”

“There you go again. You and your Lord! The problem is God for you is like Santa Claus, someone who gifts you presents whenever you pray for them. But the Biblical God is very different. He hates us and seeks to destroy us. Doesn’t Romans tell you he’s at war with us?”

“Whoever he may be, he cares. That he’s kept you safe and alive all these years proves it.”

“If he cared, why did he make all my friends leave me? They hate me! They think I’m a medicated madman.”

“Nobody hates you. They would surprise you if you went out there and reconnected with them.”

“Reconnect? Ha! They’re all leading busy lives, boasting about their achievements on Facebook, and here I am, writing poetry on a blog. They don’t even believe in my writing. They think I’m wasting my time.”

“I believe in you.”

“Do you? Is that why you put me in an institution three years ago?”

“That was a mistake. Are you going to spend your life raking up the past?”

“You put me there because I had some misconceptions about God. If you thought about it, you’d realise that they weren’t very different from your notions of prayer warriors, earth-shattering faith, and hallelujahs and prattling on in tongues.”

“You don’t have to criticise my faith. You believe in whatever you want and let me believe in what I want.”

“You’re the one who put me in an asylum because of my beliefs. But let me tell you this: a fire-and-sulphur, wrath-bringing God, who elects people and reprobates the rest is the real God. Not the teddy bear Jesus you invite into your heart every week. Where in the Bible does it ask you to invite Jesus into your heart? And that passage you’re thinking of now is for a church, not a person. Why would the sovereign God knock on your door like a beggar, hoping you’d let him in?”

“Why are we getting into this? Did you take your medication?”

“Those pills make me lifeless. After taking them, I can’t feel joy or sadness. I become a zombie who does nothing except play video games. I can’t even read a book. Do you realise how pathetic that is? What’s the point of living if you’re going to be a bloated corpse?”

“But when you don’t take them, you become paranoid and suicidal. You imagine things and become terribly impulsive.”

“That’s not what’s bothering you. You just want me to take the medication, so you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night and find me with a kitchen knife. All you care about is yourself. Your peace and your well-being.”

“Why don’t you take two Valiums and sleep? We can see a different psychiatrist tomorrow.”

“And do what? Every shrink is a nut job. They yell at you, ask you to go for therapy, and prescribe drugs that cause rashes and hypersexuality. There isn’t good mental health care here. You know that.”

“Maybe you could exercise. Walk around the campus a little. Cycle or go swimming.”

“Don’t you realise that I’m wired this way? I find it difficult to wake up every morning, and you expect me to exercise? All your life, you’ve believed in a very toxic positivity. Think happy thoughts, and you’ll be happy. Give, and you’ll feel you’re contributing to society. I live on the edges of sanity where there’s no pink twilight or aubade. Just echoes of regrets.”

“I see you like this every day, and it breaks my heart. I’m not asking you to think happy thoughts. I’m asking you to try.”

“Give me that bloody knife! I’m sick of this! All you want me to do is get a job and support you. I can’t work from nine to five. How many fucking times do I have to tell you? Once I’m gone, you’ll realise what a terrible person you are!”

He darts forward and attempts to grab the knife, but she uses all her strength to fend him off. Finally, she walks backwards, and he kneels.

“I’m a fucking loser! I hate this! Someone has cursed me! Maybe God is punishing me for my father’s sins. Help me! Help me please!” he says.

“Why don’t you call Rahul in the morning? He’ll talk to you. Now try sleeping, please.”

“Rahul is a hypochondriac. He goes on and on about his health problems and doesn’t even allow me to get in a few sentences. Why are all your suggestions so bad?”

“I’m only trying to help. God! I hate seeing you like this.”

“What is it you want? I can never be normal. I’ve tried CBT, counselling, yoga, meditation, hypnosis and religion. What’s left? You’re never going to get your peace. All you ever do is fill me with guilt. You hate me, don’t you? Admit it, you hate me.”

“I don’t hate you. Please take two Valiums and sleep.”

“Where’s the strip?”

“It’s in the medicine box.”

He takes one Valium and punishes her by taking six more, and she runs and grabs the strip from his hand.

“Oh, God! What have you done?”

“You won’t have to worry about me anymore. I’ll be gone in the morning.”

“You won’t die so easily. You need to vomit. This will only cause more complications.”

Suddenly the will to survive possesses him, and though he chastises himself for it, fear grips him. He rushes to the toilet and induces vomiting.

“I’ll survive, right?” he asks her after retching.

“You will. But please don’t do something like that again.”

“Are you sure I’ll live? I’m sorry. Oh God, I’m sorry. The guilt is eating me up.”

“There’s no point in thinking about it now. Go to sleep. You should be fine. I’ll pray.”

“Please pray! I don’t want to die! I love you. I’m sorry.”

He kneels and touches her feet, but she backs away. He then cries and slaps the floor.

“Stop hurting yourself! You’ll be fine. Sleep,” she says.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m a miserable wretch. I’m a sick, evil man. Forgive me.”

He finally goes to the bedroom and lies down. Sleep isn’t forthcoming, but he closes his eyes and tries to fight the guilt. It’s like a thin, scrawny, one-armed man trying to arm wrestle a Herculean champion. Waves of regret inundate him, and even momentary respite seems far away.

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he whispers.

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