It took me a while to get to the stage, find the CD player and run the CD. Meanwhile, my act grabbed attention of some of the people around. They kept asking what I was doing. I was too overwhelmed to say anything adding to the fact that I was as clueless as they were.
All the chit chats stopped as Bishwas’s recorded voice greeted us. “Good evening, my guests! First of all, let’s applaud the one who found this recording.”
There was a brief period of silence. “Did you clap?” The voice continued. “I hope you did. If you didn’t, my request has been pointless. You should’ve clapped. You don’t know how fortunate you are to hear my voice. Had nobody cares to look at that target board, you would have left, angry and confused. You’d never have known why you’re here. The time I spent in recording would have been pointless. So, please appreciate the person who made this interaction possible. Let’s give a big round of applause.”
A few people applauded, maybe because they thought they should follow the voice. Most of us were still confused.
“Thank you,” Bishwas’s voice said. “Now, it’s time to let you know why you’re here. You are here to bid me farewell from this world. Yes, you heard that right. A proverb says: “Even if your birth was ordinary, make your death extraordinary.” Extraordinary death! That’s what I am trying to accomplish.
“I’m so sorry for what I am making you witness this evening. I always remained mysterious. Never told everything about my life and feelings. And then I brought you here and literally kept you in dark. Please forgive me.
“I lived a meaningless life, trying to keep everyone happy. But no one ever was. I worked hard in school all through my childhood to keep my parents happy. But they wanted more. I worked harder, just to see them smile. But they didn’t ever truly smile. Their smiles were fake. An act so that I would make more effort in order to kill my childhood.
“I made some friends during my Plus Two days. They celebrated my successes and moaned my failures, without anything else in return. They also introduced me to the entertaining side of life: drinks, smoke, night clubs and dohoris. I met my first love in one of these settings.”
I took a glance at the lady in red dress, paying attention to the words coming from the record. “She was beautiful. I met her a few weeks ago. She has become more beautiful. Her melodies have helped me fill the emptiness my heart suffers from. She kept me happy. Her presence was a blessing. I wanted to be with her forever but it was not to be. My parents once again came on the way of my happiness.
“”We won’t let you marry her,” they said. “She sings at a restaurant at night. Her character is questionable. Besides, she belongs to a lower caste. She can’t be our daughter-in-law.”
“Only I know how hard I tried to convince them. I begged, I cried but their heart did not melt. They threatened to stop paying for my studies. I had a dream to study medicine. Without their financial support, I would not be able to pursue my goal. To keep them happy and to keep my dreams alive, I decided to sacrifice my happiness. I acted like an ass in front of the girl I loved the most and pushed her away from my life.
“I have lived in regret ever since. I could not be with the girl I loved, I could not pursue my dreams and never did my parents become happy. After I failed two rounds of entrance exams, I joined a college. There I made a few friends. One of them thought I was perfect, that I could never make mistakes. I have made mistakes, my friend. I’m so sorry to let you down.”
The Lady looked at me and raised her eyebrows, as if saying, “What did I say?”
It hurt. More than Bishwas’s words. I almost teared up.
Bishwas’s voice was still echoing in the warehouse, “I went up the Himalayas when everything became too much for me to bear. I pulled off all the money from my bank accounts, crushed my phone and SIM and went off radar. I heard of a monastery beyond the Himalayas. I finally found peace.
“But the Lama kept saying that I had not found peace. He said that without facing everyone who suffered because of me, I could not find true peace. Even Buddha had to face his family after returning to Kapilvastu. Although I am nowhere close to Buddha, the Lama advised me to talk to everyone whom I had caused pain.
“I came home and apologized. They said they would not forgive me because of the pain I had given them. If my parents are not forgiving me, I thought, nobody would. What’s the point in living if your parents do not love you, are never happy no matter you do? What’s the point in loving someone, only to remain at a distance from her? What’s the point in getting appreciation from the world when you don’t have a family to celebrate your success?”
Feeling uncomfortable, I looked around. A woman fell on the floor. Some people, including the lady in the red dress went to help her. Others started looking worried. The recording continued, “I’m leaving you all, forever. I’m tired of leaving this pointless life. At exactly eight o’clock today, I will take a leap from the cliff behind this warehouse…”
I looked at my watch. It read 7:58. I ran towards the exit, Bishwas’s voice trailing behind me.
“… There is no point in blaming others for my decisions. Baba, Aama, I’m so sorry I turned you into villains. But I had to say everything so that nobody in the future suffers the way I did …”
The exit door was too far. Can I still save him?
“… My love, I have been terrible. I deserve your hate but please try to forgive me. …”
I barged out into the open and ran towards the cliff.
“… My friends, I’m sorry. I’m leaving you again.”
I went behind the warehouse and looked towards the cliff.
I saw the silhouette of a man above the cliff. How lean he had become! Bishwas was ready to jump. I called him out but he did not listen. I sprinted to reach him. He stretched his arms. “Bishwas,” I screamed at the top of my voice. He looked towards me, shook his head and jumped.
I stood still, shocked and confused. I could not save him. If only had I found that CD earlier! I went closer to the cliff. “No, no, no. I should have saved him but could not save him,” I said to myself.
I returned to the warehouse. What I saw baffled me. Little children were running here and there and dancing to the tunes played by a DJ. Jokes, cackles and laughter filled atmosphere. In contrast, those who had heard the recording were mourning, scolding the children and getting out of the warehouse.
The lady in the red dress came towards me. Behind her was the woman who had collapsed earlier, supported by her husband and a handsome gentleman. We both asked each other the same question, “What happened?”
After some awkwardness, the lady answered, “At exactly eight o’clock, these children and caterers rushed in from another chamber. That was where the feast was. A DJ removed the CD while it was still playing and started playing party songs.”
She gestured towards the woman and her husband. “Bishwas’s Baba and Aama have had hard time. They just won’t believe Bishwas killed himself. You saw what happened, didn’t you.”
“Yeah, he jumped down the cliff.”
Her feet staggered. Bishwas’s parents gasped.
“But he did not die,” I added.
“What?” They all said at the same time.
“Yeah, he dived into the lake and swam to the shore. He changed into a monk’s robe and then looked at me. I could not see him clearly but he must have smiled. Others may say he died but he did not. He is an excellent diver and swimmer. How can he die?”
“But he said he was leaving the world forever,” Bishwas’s mother said.
“Yes, he left us and entered into the world of monkhood. Just like the Buddha. He can now go closer to the truth. Besides, what’s the point in grieving about the man who has finally found peace?”