It wasn’t often that I sat down to write a letter to a dead person in the middle of the night. But here I was. Tired, groggy, and let’s face it, desperate.
“Dear Sister,” I scribbled. It sounded too formal but I continued on anyway. “How’ve you been? It’s been a while that I heard from you. But I’m sure you’re doing great. You always are. As for me, I’m a pathetic mess of a person, if you could call me that. Actually, I need some help. I was wondering if you could tell me the correct way to kill myself? I thought of sleeping pills, but then that seemed to be too easy, and I also read online that it has a very high chance of not working, and I’d rather die (literally) than see my parents’ heartbroken faces over my mangled body. So tell me, how did you do it?”
The next day I returned home from school only to see a tear soaked mother with a piece of paper clenched tightly in her fist. My letter! Shit, shit, shit, shit. This was a nightmare. She wasn’t supposed to see it. She was miserable enough already, with one daughter killing herself, she didn’t need another one too.
“Oh mom,” I rushed to her side, “I didn’t mean it. I really didn’t.” Well, maybe I did, a little bit, but come on, I wouldn’t REALLY kill myself, would I? I wouldn’t do that to my parents.
“I’m sorry,” my mother said in between sobs, “I don’t know where I went wrong.”
“Oh no, no,” I cradled her head in my chest, “None of this is your fault.” It was mine and I felt guilt and shame flow thickly inside my body. Why did I have to do it? Idiot.
Long story short, after a couple of arguments and a lot more tears, I had no choice but to listen to her. I was going to go to a counsellor.
Counselling was not bad actually. I sometimes even liked it. It was like having a best friend who preferred not to talk a lot, only listen. Within a span of few weeks, I had told him my likes, dislikes, hobbies, dreams and all sorts of crap. I was still convinced that I didn’t NEED a counsellor but I liked having a person to talk to, so I never complained.
It was around the second week that he asking probing questions. “So your sister… were you close?”
“Very,” I replied curtly.
“What was she like?”
I looked up at him and answered wistfully, “Well, she was perfect. She could do no wrong. She was everything I wanted to be….”
“If she was so perfect, why do you think she wanted to kill herself?”
“Sometimes people don’t WANT to kill themselves,” I spat angrily. “They are compelled to. No one wakes up and says, ‘Oh today is a nice day. I think I’m going to kill myself.’”
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
He kept quiet for some time. I almost felt sorry for my outburst too.
“What did she look like?” he asked again, softly, as if trying not to scare me.
“Well, she…” I stopped. Why couldn’t I remember what she looked like? It was all hazy suddenly, like trying to see without glasses.
“Wait, there ought to be pictures of her in our family album,” I said and with my heart thumping fast, went out to get some family pictures in the living room. How could I forget what my own sister looked like?
Once I found the albums, I sat down on the floor and he sat down beside me. It had been ages since these were used, dust had collected on its edges.
I flipped the album open. There was a picture of me on my third birthday, blowing out candles with my family around me, there was another one with me carrying a tiny school bag for my first day of school, and one of me riding a bicycle. I flipped through it feverishly. Where were her pictures?
Panicked, I looked up at him, “It’s in here. It has to be.”
“No,” he said softly, “It’s not.
“Your sister doesn’t exist. She never has.”