At The Final Doorstep 

You swore to never forgive her, but that was when you thought you had years’ worth of rage left in you.

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

TW: Suicidal ideation, suicide

You stand in front of the gates of the house you swore never to return to. Inside, your mother resides, probably reading her cookery books or venting into the phone to her sister. You stand there, frozen, more afraid of your mother behind the closed door than Death herself. 

It is almost dinner time, and you think of the last time you sat at the same table as your mother. It was the night you left this house for good, many moons ago. You had the biryani she made for your birthday and she made you pray to Gods you didn’t believe in. Then, as the conversations began, her words stung you with abandoned expectations. You had a bad day, so you decided not to sit in silence and listen. You retorted and she retorted, and within five minutes, both of you were begging to die. 

You swore to never forgive her, but that was when you thought you had years’ worth of rage left in you. Now, you only want to see her and tell her that you never really stopped loving her. You want to sit at the table, have her hand hold your cheeks and tell you that she didn’t stop loving you either. It seems a distant dream still, as you stare at the door, hesitating to knock. 

She once told you how when you were a kid, you would draw on her favourite wallpaper. She hated it. She bought you a sketch book so you would stop destroying her wallpaper. Yet, you would prefer to trace the patterns of her wallpaper with your pencil and make crescent moons in the spaces between them. She thought you did it because you hated anything she liked. 

When you told her that you were not a girl, nor a boy, she didn’t speak to you for two months. Then, when she finally did, she pretended it wasn’t true. When you left her and this house, she didn’t try to stop you. There would be phone calls between you and your father once every few months, you would ask him if your mother wanted to speak to you and he would ask you if you were coming back, and both of your answers would be no. You did wish to go back; only to a home that had a place for you.

You knock on the door and there’s a sound of footsteps tapping on the other side. Your father calls out saying that it’s you, his voice resonating a sorrow you can never understand. Your mother’s voice responds, “Ask her to leave.” There is no sorrow in that voice, only the same rage that mirrors yours. 

You hear a faint whisper of a sorry on the other side and your father refuses to open the door for you. You stand there, not knowing if you should fight or stand defeated. You don’t want to argue with your mother on your last day, you have defied her enough. So, you walk back and strangely, no tears come out. 

You sit outside a shop and light your final cigarette. It’s night now and there isn’t much time left, neither is there much left to do. You watch the light inside your mother’s house flicker from a distance, then it switches off. You hope they get a goodnight’s sleep; you hope the news of your death doesn’t pain them as much as your life did. You ask the shopkeeper for a paper and a pen, and you slouch down to write a final note to them. 

“Dear amma and appa,

I wished to come back. But I had to go into the world and live, I couldn’t stay here and curse the three of us for things none of us were to blame. I couldn’t stay and be the sadness in your eyes. I had to go into the world and find out what I could be. 

Amma, I do not ask for your forgiveness or acceptance but I want you to know that I’ve found them within myself. I only long for your love and a place at your dinner table. I only drew on your wallpapers because I wanted to leave a mark of my own, entangled with yours. But now, I have come to accept the inevitability of us not understanding each other. 

As I stand at your doorstep, unwelcomed, I finally feel no anger. I wish you could see me like this, a person capable of love. Despite everything, I have loved you through it all.”

You sign off as Chand. You fold the paper and keep it under a rock at the gate. You are still afraid; somewhere in your heart, you wish they never see it. 

When you decide to walk back, you have no destination in mind. You keep walking into the belly of the city that raised you. You don’t avoid the shadows anymore, the dark corners have multiplied and the shapeless figures in the shadows prowl around, watching you, waiting for the final kill. 

You reach the low walls of the ridge and you decide to climb inside. The dry trees and fallen leaves slowly absorb you into the thicket. A hum fills the air and pulls you towards it, but you realise that it doesn’t unsettle you. 

You find yourself at the edge of a pond, the moonlight reflects on the still water and you almost think it’s a mirror. A leaf falls on it occasionally and it creates a gentle ripple that reaches your foot and washes over your shoes. It’s so serene that you allow yourself to forget that these are your final moments. You have no questions left in you and no declarations to give. You look across the pond at the hood of a tree and you see Death. She is not menacing this time; she hums and calls out to you. She holds out her clawed hands and you hold out yours—the scar shines brightly and you somehow know what to do.

You walk into the pond and the water engulfs you. You feel light but your weight pulls you down. You don’t struggle, you don’t scream for help, it all strangely feels like going to sleep. The water fills your lungs and from under the surface, you see the moon dance. There are no hopes or dreams left, there is no joy, there is no sadness. You let your breath escape you and never return.

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Athira (she/they) is a writer, editor and photographer based in Delhi. Their work is a form of storytelling, exploring themes of queerness, dilemmas of the current human condition, and the force of transformation.
Athira Raj

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