The cameras are blinding, the dazzling white flash hitting me right in the eye as the paparazzi keep clicking away. Each picture they take makes another dent in my once untouchable reputation. I wonder which newspaper will get which picture.
I remember the pure, unriddled euphoria and pride flowing alongside the red-blood cells and leukocytes in my blood; I still vividly recall every second when I had told my family that the part was mine. My mother’s crushing hugs as tears of joy traced a path down her cheek; my father’s disbelieving laughter as his eyes glowed with silent pride; my sister’s excited squealing as dreams of fame clutched her tight in its unrelenting arms; and lastly my brother’s soft smile as his irises held pride, yet something else swam among his caramel-coloured eyes. I know now what that look meant.
I recall lecturing a friend of mine, trying to inscribe forgotten morals once more in the depths of his cerebrum. I remember giving him such excellent therapy, helping him out till he returned to his old self. From depressed, desolate and pessimistic as hell, to cheerful, joyful and hopeful. His words would still haunt my nightmares, those heart-wrenching syllables had etched and scraped and forcefully made a permanent inscription on my reluctant and unwilling mind.
I let out something between a huff and a scoff with a hint of mockery hidden amongst the decibels straining my vocal cords. The irony ate me up from the inside out. The man who once lived on the assurance my words provided, was now bailing me out of jail, shielding me from further shame. When everybody turned their backs on me, he was there.
The ways of the world leave me dumbfounded, confused as heck. How can your one true passion succeed in leaving you in a mess with a hundred different things swirling around your head? How can the thing that you truly love leave you so tainted, that the crimson red liquid flowing through your veins becomes all the more darker as the seven deadly sins mix with your cells? Well, it seems as though I have fallen prey to the universe’s personal games, its demented and never-ending entertainment. This is a cycle, I suppose, where, after the celestial bodies grow tired of one plaything, they take their time to pick out another.
I have evidently given in to temptation. The drugs, alcohol and cigars the police have extracted from my home are clear proof of that. The mess in my entire house only adds to my point.
I wish I could get back those times when I only had to worry about my marks and how I would look to my peers. Was I cool? Was I boring?
I feel like after becoming so well-known, so respected, I had forgotten the art of simplicity. The exhilaration and glee that comes only when common, everyday feats leave us satisfied and content. After fame conquered me, I lost everything. I wish today that I never got the part. I wish that I never acquired all the wealth that I have, and each and every ounce of pride that drained out of my being the moment I fell hard from the pedestal I placed myself on. But then, I never would have met him. I wondered when that pedestal soared up and above the earth’s atmosphere, from where I would never be able to come down. Not unless I was hauled back down to the ground with great force.
With the thousand thoughts thundering and echoing in my head, I didn’t realise that we had reached the gates of his house. Not a sound was exchanged in the car.
We had nothing to say to each other. He helped me out of the car and into his house. He sat me down on the lavish sofa and left. A few minutes later, he returned with a glass of water. Handing me the glass, he slowly dipped into the seat opposite me. He looked deep into my eyes and said, “I won’t leave. Not now. Not ever. Even if the earth is disintegrating beneath our feet, I will stay right by you. You told me once that a mistake doesn’t define a person. No matter that the entire universe is making this foolish mistake; you’ve got me. We have each other, through all the highs and the lows. We don’t need anybody else.”
My breath caught in my throat, tears threatening to drench my cheeks. How is it that he understood me, even when my own blood misunderstood my actions? I smile at him, yet the smile is full of disbelief and hesitance.
Nevertheless, he’s right; in this world full of scandals and mysteries, haters and self- designated judges, we only need to have each other’s backs. We may not understand the workings of the world, but we don’t need that. We only need to understand each other in this land of lies.
Author: Saptaparna Chakraborty
Editor: Adwita Chaure