The biting cold of December meant that most people were indoors, safely tucked in their blankets. The church clock chimed somewhere in the distance. It was 11 pm and Rita was heading towards nowhere. She trudged along the street, her head buzzing with a crowd of thoughts.
It had been an eventful day. She had left her home in the early hours of the evening in order to meet Stephen. She was brimming with happy thoughts as she pushed open the door of Barista Coffee House. There he was, fidgeting with his cell phone. How she loved that boyish smile with which he greeted her. But she wasn’t prepared for the words which followed the smile.
“Hi Rita. There is a good news. I got engaged to Sheetal. We are tying the knot on Valentine’s Day.” The words had pierced her heart like a warm knife.
“Oh, Congrats,” she heard herself saying. Her mind had gone completely blank.
Tears flowed down her cheeks into the dusty pavement as she trudged along in the dark. A cat crossed her path. She barely paid notice. Her mind was racing, rewinding the events of the evening.
“Aren’t you happy to hear this, Rita,” Stephen had asked.
“Yes, I am,” she whispered. ‘NO, I AM NOT,” she screamed in her mind. “I thought, me and you….” She broke off.
“Look,” Stephen said taking out a small purple box. “Here is the ring that I have bought for her. It’s good na.”
Rita cast a hungry eye on the ring and nodded. She tried to put up a smile though deep inside her heart was burning. ‘I love you,’ she thought and closed her eyes.
She opened her eyes and found herself standing on the edge of the bridge. She looked around in the dark. There was no one in sight. Tears were streaming down fast from her moist eyes. She threw a glance below the bridge. Water was swirling below, apparently celebrating its moment of high tide. ‘One leap and it would be all over,’ she thought.
She looked up towards the heaven. There was a dense cloud cover which had obliterated the stars. Her cell phone buzzed. It was a call from her mom. She must be worried. Rita didn’t pick up the phone. ‘Mom, I am going,’ she spoke to the air and flung her cell across the bridge. It fell with a splash and was devoured by the hungry tide.
She inched closer towards the edge of the bridge, took tentative steps and climbed the iron railing and took a deep breath. She was about to jump when a voice from behind startled her.
“Don’t…Don’t do that,” cried a voice. Rita climbed down the railing and looked behind. There was no one. She whirled around and checked sideways. The entire bridge was deserted. “Don’t jump,” the voice came again. “Trust me. It’s easy to die but hard to live thereafter,” the voice rang.
“Who are you,” Rita mustered courage and spoke to the air.
“I am the undead,” the voice answered back. “This is the same bridge from where I had jumped 5 years ago. Now, I am neither alive nor dead. Those who commit suicide become the undead. I have neither form nor body. The gates of heaven are closed for me. I committed a sin by committing suicide. I don’t belong to the living world but nor do I belong to the dead. I am undead.”
“People who commit suicide, do they become undead,” Rita asked, tears still streaming down her face.
“Yes. They become undead. I committed suicide. I died before my time was up. Now, I am a lone spirit wandering aimlessly. Believe me, I am not happy. Now I realize that I shouldn’t have committed suicide. Go home, Rita.”
“But I don’t want to live,” Rita sobbed. “I love Stephen. But he is marrying someone else. I can’t live without him,” she sobbed harder.
“Believe me Rita,” said the voice. “Death is easy and instantaneous. You won’t even feel the pain. But what comes next is the difficult part. I am in misery. I do not want you to share my fate. We are all in misery.” And as she spoke, the air became filled with several voices, “We are the undead. We are the undead. We want liberty.” And then the air was filled with sound of several people crying. It was apparent that they were in great anguish. And then suddenly, the crying stopped. All the voices ceased and it became completely still.
Rita looked up. The clouds had drifted. The stars beamed at her. She wiped her tears with her hand and walked towards her home.