“Name?” asked the bearded middle-aged white man behind the counter. I eyed his bulging belly, the buttons were so tight, I was surprised they didn’t pop open. “Ananya,” I responded. “Ana-what?” “Uh-nun-yah-,” I said, now slower, more robotic. His eyes skimmed through the list of names on the yellow paper before him, his pen tapping at what was probably my name, “Ah-nanny-yeah Triv-ve” he struggled. “Trivedi,” I gave in, “Ananya Trivedi, that’s me.” He shot me a look that was a mix between dire annoyance and utter disgust. I smiled at him. He got off his chair, turned his back at me and rummaged the large box for my parcel. I watched how his body worked, the formation of a tiny sweat patch between his lower back and his butt. The crease on his trousers. His mismatched socks. “Ah-nanny-yeah, Ah-nanny-yeah,” he said rhythmically, “AHA!” he blurted out at his eureka moment of finding my parcel. “Pretty heavy, Ah-nanny-yeah,” he said, sluggishly bringing the parcel to me. “Sign here, please.” “Thanks, sir,” I said.
I stuffed the parcel in my rucksack, the big-bulgy-belly man was right. It was heavy. It’s gonna get the job done, at least. I stopped at a coffee shop almost adjacent to the postal office, half struggling to get my phone out my back pocket, half struggling with the weight of my bag. “I’m at the airport, I will see you on Monday, be good, I love you.” It was a text from my husband, “be good? safe flight, love you too!” I wrote back.
The uber ride home was swift. I threw my bag on the floor and made my way to the kitchen and fixed myself a cup of tea, rummaging the drawers for the bag of weed my husband had bought two days ago. I never knew how I wanted to do it, all I knew is I wanted to be high when I did it. I somehow felt like it would numb the pain, make the process easier.
I switched on the T.V. to watch Friends reruns, placed my cup of tea on the side table and began rolling a joint. My husband was so much better at rolling than I was, he had tried to teach me his technique but I never learned. My husband was the love and light of my life. He was everything I wanted and so much more. He was always so kind to me, knew the right things to say. He loved me so much. And I loved him back. I did, but I had to go. I started smoking as I thought of my family – settled between Mumbai, London and Johannesburg. My mother had the world’s best smile. And my father was a man of few words, “beta, don’t forget where you’ve come from,” he would always tell me. I thought about my wedding day, Din Shagna Da replayed in my head, and before I knew it I had started to cry and I was done smoking.
I had to go, it was the only way out of the mess.
I picked up my bag from the floor and went into my bedroom. I hit play on my husband’s iPod and ‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’ started to fill the room’s silence. My husband loved that song. He would play it over and over again when he was happy. I opened my bag and pulled out the parcel. I laid it on my bed and fumbled with the packaging until I decided to go get scissors. Now high, and still crying I opened the package, and there it was – safely protected in bubble wrap. I peeled off bubble wrap and held it in my hands. The gun felt cold and heavy, but not deadly. ‘Tedhe-medhe raaste hain jaadui imaaratein hain main bhi hoon tu bhi hai yahaan’ the song went on in the background. It was my husband’s favourite line. “It’s you and me, through thick and thin,” he had told me one night.
I placed the gun in my mouth and shut my eyes. The tears mixed with the high brought back a memory from my childhood. Every Sunday, my parents would take me and my siblings to the arcade across from where my mother worked, and I would sit on a tiny red bus that would move back and forth with a song playing in the background. “Beta, smile,” my father would say as he snapped pictures of me in the bus. The flash from my father’s camera would hurt my eyes so I would shut them tight and focus on the song and the bus. And just like that, everything else would phase out. Just me, the song and the bus remained. And I was happy. I was disappearing. Happily disappearing. Disappearing happily.