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His body lay between the sheets, cold and lifeless. His eyes were closed, and his face, for the first time in years, looked relaxed.
He could have been asleep, really. And I would’ve believed that he would wake up, and smile my favourite smile at me, and I would harshly ignore him. I would’ve believed it, if not for the blood on his cheek. And his hands. And his body.
Really, though, who was I fooling?
Here lay the innocent prey-the victim of those merciless predators, roaming in the search of desolate souls like him. Suicide would not be the correct term to describe the cause of his death. Murder would be more appropriate.
He had been killed. Killed by the ruthless pressure of blending in. Of being wanted and respected. And I was involved.
‘Why am I so black?’ he would ask me, resting his hand beside mine, and someone would have to be blind to not to see the contrast. Yet, I pretended to look annoyed, but deep down, where it mattered, my heart ached for him. I longed to hold his hands, to tell him he wasn’t black; that by being black, he hadn’t committed a felony. But I didn’t. What stopped me?
I couldn’t tell.
I really wish I could tell him everything that I’d wanted to. But what use would it be now, when his ears had gone deaf, and his mind, blank? And somehow, you get tired of hearing the same thing from your bestie. It doesn’t have that much effect.
I learnt that the hard way.
‘Nobody loves me’ he used to tell me and I would just stare back at him, into his melting brown eyes. They were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen, and I wanted to tell him that. Now they were closed, and I would never see them again.
That brought a sob, and I choked it back forcefully. I wouldn’t cry today, no, not today. He wouldn’t have liked it. He loved to see people happy, himself excluded. He had always been there to give me his easy going smile, whenever I’d needed it. Now he needed a smile, and I couldn’t refuse.
His face always had a smile, no matter what. But I knew better. He smiled because he needed one in return. But nobody was there to give it to him. Not even me. I was too immersed in my problems to step in his shoes. Now I wish I had just once, smiled at him-not a wide grin, just a small smile. But no, I didn’t. What had stopped me?
I couldn’t tell.
I wonder how he had lived, watching pieces of himself break away, day by day. How could he live, when he knew that there was nothing to live for? His mother criticized him, his father wouldn’t talk to him, his friends ignored him. Hell, he was just a kid! And I told him so, one day, when we had been sitting together.
He grinned his silly smile at me. ‘I can live through every day, because I know, that every other morning, you, will be waiting for me.’ He had told me. Now I felt an unexpected bubble of anger. Well, I was waiting for him. Where was he now? Why wouldn’t he come back? I wanted an answer, and I knew I wasn’t going to get one.
Because this boy, who loved me so stupidly, wasn’t ever going to tell me. His suffering, his problems had died with him, and there was nothing I could do about it.
After all, I was the one who had killed him. His sole murderer.
I fell to my knees, and this time, I didn’t bother to wipe away my tears. I wasn’t crying because of fear of death, or fear of guilt. I was crying for him. These were his tears, flowing through my eyes. And as the tears flowed, I felt a sense of relief. Now, he knew, I thought, how much people loved him.
I was crying, because I loved him, and was too inconsiderate to tell him.