We hate you Ghosh!
It all started when one night, while attempting to finish her assignment on the impact of Marxism on Anglo-Indian literature, for Dr Sayyal Ghosh to tease out atleast 5 marks in the internal assessment for the academically dense paper on comparative literature, Rupesha slept off on her desk salivating all over the manuscript she had prepared after her four hour long struggle with all the collected essays about the subject and woke up to find herself thrown down by her swivel chair. She was in obvious panic and immense confusion as she looked over the study table, sitting up on her knees to see it was 4am in the morning and she had just 4 hours left to finish the essay, annotate it with all the citations, neatly print it and compile in a folder, and make it in time for the lecture as Dr Ghosh won’t let her in, if she is late by even a single minute. She felt overwhelmingly nauseous and the cold marble floor offered no warmth for her to take a moment to think anything over when she noticed a somewhat strange feeling around the wrists of her right hand. There was a sensation building up, a curious tickle as she held her right hand inspecting what it was.
In a stroke of paint-brushed motion, scars appeared on her wrist. First, there were a couple diagonal ones running from the edge of her right wrist nearing the thumb going downwards and then a straight latitudinal one cutting through the two diagonals. They looked fresh but healed, as they appeared painlessly over Rupesha’s wrist ; her heart beat so hard that it must have hurt her ribs and chest.
Rupesha gave a high pitch scream that would’ve woken up her roommate, but Shaily was not in the hostel room tonight. She had been staying at her aunt’s place, which is near the University for a week now and will probably come back once the finals are over. She feels she can get more work done under some adult supervision that her Aunt’s family provided. Rupesha, who at that instant became temporarily unaware of her roommate’s absence panicked even more and hurriedly got up to turn the room light on, maybe working under the presumption that it were some shadows which appeared over her wrists.
The scars appeared a dirty red, and were still there. Rupesha was aggressively sweating by now and felt claustrophobic in the hostel room with it’s twin beds, a study table on whose surface names of all the students who had occupied the new furnished rooms since two decades ago were scratched, posters of the new Doctor Who and the old James Bond veneering the crumbling plaster and books with papers, papers with books and other clutter with varied stationary. She felt dizzy in her head and rushed into the attached tiny bathroom. Without switching on the light she threw up on the bathroom floor and started crying, as the alarm started cranking up the whole atmospheric viscosity which made her immobile. She had set up the alarm to make sure she didn’t sleep off while working on the essay which she did, and now the realization that she can actually fail in her last semester at college made her go numb from head to toe.
“Breathe. Breathe. You need to submit that essay. You need those marks. There is no way around it.” Rupesha switched the bathroom light on to find her standing barefoot over her own vomit and she’d have writhed in agony all over the floor but then the vomit would be all over hair and she maybe wasn’t left with any time at all, even to wash her hair.
“Time! There is no time left! How could I let this happen again?! But this time, there are no extra-curricular credits to save me. I have to finish typing that essay.” A train of thought ferried Rupesha out of her vomit as she held out the bucket, half filled with water to wash her feet and the floor and in an almost manic impulse poured what was left of it, all over herself.
Now shivering with cold, and dripping wet with water, Rupesha got back into the room and after getting rid of her clothes, wiped her naked body with a lot of strength when she noticed the scars on her wrist again. The sight of those scars on her wrist strained her so much that she could feel her nerves running through her head into the back of her spine and that give such a sensation of confused discomfort that she wished for a void to open up and engulf her.
The time was 04:23AM now, and there were 78 pages of manuscript waiting to be typed up and then edited if she wanted to have a realistic chance at making through this semester.
She hurriedly pulled out a pair of trousers and a casual shirt, maybe if you dress up a meal ceremoniously the blandness of its taste doesn’t strike offensive, she wanted to look sincere while handing out her essay. Under a stern instruction of her logical mind, she told herself to forget about this sudden appearance of scars on her wrist as she stretched out the sleeves of her shirt to cover it up, even all the while as she sat in her hostel room and voraciously typed out the whole essay, from a manuscript which was now hard to decipher as the gel pen ink had spread around the wobbles due to the dripping saliva which Rupesha unleashed during her unconsciousness, onto the defenseless A-4 sheets of paper.
With 10 minutes left for the lecture to start, Rupesha skated past the central library and now realizing that she’d make it to the class well before time, she slowed down a bit to find her heart climbing up her throat. She pulled back the sleeves of her shirt and found the scars still there, and felt claustrophobic again while standing in an open street.
The day crawled past slowly, as Rupesha languidly napped through maybe a whole lecture, the professor choosing not to bother waking any student up. He had one more semester to teach in the university before he can apply for a permanent tenure. He really didn’t care much for hung-over undergraduates sleeping through his lecture presentation on ‘Children Literature’, a paper he disliked since his own student days but no one considered much of what an ad-hoc teacher likes or not.
It was only when Rupesha returned back to her room, that she got reminded of the mysterious scars, which were still marred over her right wrist. She thought of calling her mother, but they weren’t on talking terms because of the heated argument they had all summer over Rupesha’s decision to not prepare for the MBA entrance exams and the very thought of her breaking the ice first made her cringe. So, that option was out of question. Neither can she call Shaily, the reason she is staying at her aunt’s was probably because of Rupesha constantly bothering her.
Sitting over a heap of unwashed clothes, the dark and damp texture of her surroundings gave way to a kind of disquiet, which precedes insanity. Rupesha knew a lot of people, but at that moment, she couldn’t think of a single person with whom she could talk about these strange scars that appeared overnight. Would they consider it to be true? Wouldn’t they suspect them to be something she did to herself? Everything around her categorically gave sufficient circumstantial evidence, for her to be the culprit and victim. She began to think if she really did do it to herself and whether if what she retained of the episode in her memory was just some hallucination while the actual act was repressed by her sub-conscious. She certainly remembered being worked up about the essay. A sense of comfort prevailed through this created sequencing of thought; she decided it must be true as nothing else can possibly explain the mysterious appearance of these scars.
And just as she was about to get on her feet while still looking at her scars, which she admitted now to actually be hers-a shape started forming over her wrist. A smooth sketch of a black ball pen marked her scarred wrist with a heart shaped tattoo. Rupesha gasped and impulsively rubbed her thumb over it and smudged if off her wrist.
But, in complete obstinacy something else started shaping up again-this time a cloud raining over a flower, and not just that, the flower had a smiling face with which it gazed over directly at Rupesha.
Rupesha, in an instant rubbed it all off again and now felt convinced she wasn’t depressed but might be hallucinating.
“STOP ERASING THEM!!”
The words shouted over her wrists and this time Rupesha held back. She wasn’t trying to make sense of the situation anymore. Keeping her wrist still in full sight and her hand away from her, she reached for a pen from her table and found one buried between newspapers, magazines, books and A4 sheets of paper. She still had to put everything in order to be able to start studying for the finals.
But none of that mattered right now. She took the pen and wrote under the instructions, which had appeared on her wrists- “Don’t write over my wrist.”
And then, still unaware of the fact that now it was completely dark; she held out her hand towards the table lamp and sat down on her bed. The anxiousness while awaiting a reply from her wrist, or maybe someone else’s wrist, pre-occupied her so much that she didn’t consider the incongruous nature of this correspondence.
“But it’s mine too!” The words appeared over her wrist and the earlier impressions rubbed off. Rupesha noticed how delicately impressive the handwriting was, it seemed like a calligraphic text which is often used to write the name of old hardback cover of old books in her college library. There was so much order and neatness in the handwriting that it made Rupesha feel conscious of how everything was scattered all around her. It had been this way since Shaily had left, to stay with her aunt. ‘Oh! To hell with Shaily, I was the only friend she had when we joined college and now she wouldn’t even talk to me, and how she keeps pretending she is busy all the time. Who made her authority over, what comprises poetry and what doesn’t, if I coul-“ The mental monologue was distracted by something which seemed to appear, as the earlier texts rubbed off.
“I hate Ghosh sir and I hate Math!!”
Sitting over a heap of unwashed clothes, the dim lighted and cool texture of her surroundings made her feel cozy as she felt in company of a friend after a long time. A ripple of warmth travelled all through her body and she grinned loudly as she wrote- “Oh! I hate Ghosh too.”
Since that day, I always saw Rupesha in full sleeve shirts for whatever remaining days of college that were left. I would notice her sitting alone in lawns near our college cafeteria, smiling to herself, scribbling something over her wrist. We took 4 classes together, in a span of three years in college but I can’t say if I really knew her that well. Infact, I don’t think I ever talked to her, though I’d always notice her. I wish I’d have talked to her; maybe we’d be friends. Anyway, I don’t really know what became of her. We never met again after the finals.
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