Imaginary Friends

By , New Delhi, India
I hear things. I see people. I too, believe in the supernatural. And no, the thought creeping into your minds right now is not true. No, I’m not mad.

Sometimes, I think that the world doesn’t understand me. I try talking to people but its as if they are shunting their minds, hoarding up their already narrow minds, squeezing their eyes shut from the truth dancing naked in front of their eyes, trying to run as far away from reality, as possible.
It is as if they can’t see me.
They can’t see that behind my kohl laden eyes and the scowl that I usually adorn to school as my best outfit, there are actual tears brimming in the hollow wake of my equally empty eyes, trying to defy the world, trying to put on a tough exterior, trying to fight…
Empty of any emotion… impervious of any thought… devoid of any love… not taken care of… washed only by the saline tears of misery that they are so used to now…

Truth is bitter. That it another truth.

I have no friends in school. They don’t like me, those people back there. They think that I’m weird because I like the color ‘black’. They think that I’m always wasted because my clothes often reek of stale food and beer. They avoid me because they think that I’ve suicidal tendencies. They think that I’m mad.
But I don’t care.
I have friends back in my home. There they are, always with me, in my room. I see them all the time. It’s a whole bunch of them. They don’t judge me on the basis of my clothes, my likes or my dislikes, my scarred arms or my disheveled hair. They don’t hurl abuses at me every now and then. Neither do they whisper in each other’s ears when I pass by.

They love me for what I am. They do.
All the other mean kids of my school think that I’m a psychopath, a deluded moron for somehow, word has spread that I often talk to myself, shut up in my bedroom. They think that all those times that I’ve cut my own skin open, all this time I’ve watched the liquid burning like fire in my veins, flowing in tiny rivers onto the threadbare carpet of my bedroom, I’ve been trying to kill myself. They think that my friends back home are imaginary.
Right.
They think that one day, an ambulance is going to come by and stop at our gate to dump me somewhere in the mental hospital where I belong.
And then they laugh.
But my friends back home console me and tell me that every thing will be alright. That those kids are just jealous… god will punish them…
They know that even though I look tough on the exterior, deep inside, I’m not that bad.
They know that the truth behind my shallow eyes, my pale skin, my skinny exterior, my outrageous attire, is a gruel led, torment-some, and an extremely hurtful past. They know that I don’t do drugs and neither do I drink.
They know that my clothes smell of beer because every single day in the past sixteen years, my dad has come home drunk late into the night, slurring his barely spoken words, swaying from side to side, collapsing on the bed, caught unawares of the havoc he had wrecked in my life.
He loves me, don’t get me wrong. I’m pretty sure he does.
He just has a different way of showing it. He doesn’t usually get me clothes from the mall, or maybe even pat my back for a well earned A in the Algebra quiz.
Ha! Pat? I don’t think he even knows what grade I’m in.
But Emelline, a friend of mine who lives in my cupboard, thinks that that happens because my dad wants me to be self reliant. I believe that’s the truth. Em is, after all, my best friend.

It rained yesterday. It rained like never before. I could practically see the tiny droplets of water, jumping hither and tether, dropping maliciously on top of a blade of the green grass, making it vibrate a little in reaction. The drop lingered for a minute or two and then simpered off to cling on to the top of yet another blade of grass. The place where the hearth was uneven, a couple of moony potholes were visible with water filling up to their brims, glittering in the night like silver. I just sat there by my window, watching the rain fall from the night sky onto the neatly done garden patch of our neighborhood.

Dad didn’t come home last night. Truth be told, I was almost happy that he didn’t. For once, I didn’t cry myself to sleep, whimpering and crouching low onto the ground in the farthest corner of my room. Last night, a new, strange kind of a feeling over took me.
I knew what it was like to be set free.

I stepped out into the dark night. I closed my eyes and let the drops of water seep into my t-shirt and jeans. I looked up at the sky and let the water wipe my face clean, let it purify my soul from within. Cold water trickled down my face and into my shirt. My hair was all wet, my clothes drenched. My breath ragged, shallow and puffed, my lungs were filled with water but overall, I felt calm. I felt relieved. I felt happy. My brain started racing at the speed of light.
I knew that I could no longer hide from my own self.
I knew that I was slipping down into a massive blackhole that had started to extract all the happiness that I’d ever had in my life.
I knew that somewhere, things weren’t so bad after all. Maybe I could convince my dad… concentrate harder on my studies… get into a good college.
Maybe I could be normal too.
Maybe I could have friends too.
Friends who didn’t live in my bedroom cupboard or beneath the loose floorboard under my bed. Friends who didn’t materialize out of nowhere and offer me their silent murmurs of condolences.
But friends who would always be with me, no matter what. Friends who would guide me right.
Friends that I could talk to without risking schizophrenia.
Friends who were real.
I still see my imaginary friends at times. I often jump up in fright whenever Emmeline pops out of the bedroom closet.
But the truth is, she doesn’t linger for long. She often smiles one of her reassuring smiles at me and then vanishes.
I think I finally know what it means to be happy even if finding happiness in life is one of the toughest jobs for some of us out there.
I don’t that my story has any particular ending. I don’t think if some of the people out there would find it appropriate.
But I still see people. And yes, I still hear voices. But this time, I can firmly add that I have learned to listen to my conscience talking. I’ve learned to make my mind race, reach conclusions and not to dwell on the past.
And just so you know, I’m NOT mad.





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Aderes18 said...
Jun. 20, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Do you mind reading my new poem, Ode to EL classico? 

Thanks! 

 
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