How not to, humour, Narratives, philosophy

How to open the door the correct way

I am sitting on the pot, locked inside my bathroom clutching an unusual realization with me, “I am going to die today.” I am aware that it’s a bit uncommon thought considering the location. After all, relief is what they call is a bathroom’s real forte. But I am far, far, far away from that emotion. I am drenched in anxiety. I am assailed by the kind of panic that surpasses my worst panic attack by hundred folds. I am going to die today. Right here. For a twenty-two year old young woman like me, who has been blessed with good health, this scenario doesn’t make sense. But how is it that I am dangling just a few inches away from jumping off the cliff into my after-life forever? It’s such a weird spot to have death embrace you but it’s too late and it seems that there is indeed nothing I can do to change it. Death is near; a potential groom – a mere mutter of “I do” away. I can already hear his steps approaching. Thump. Thump. Thump. My heart is in my throat. I am breathing at a frequency which even the latest computer processors can’t match. As a desperate attempt to distract myself, my brain performs an old trick – it throws me into a day-dream. It could be called a good move had it actually been a day dream. Even in the crucial times like this, my brain can’t let go of his sick sense of humor. He throws me into the dream that does the opposite of what it was supposed to do – It intensifies my panic. Can you believe that guy? In my head, as I time travel two to three days in the future, I can see my mother returning home to find our house in a perfectly normal condition. Perfectly normal condition except for the terrible stench. “Where is it coming from?” She wonders. She enters my room. The smell intensifies. Maybe a rat died in the bathroom. She tries to open the bathroom’s door. But it doesn’t budge. It’s locked! Now, she begins to grow anxious. Something is wrong. This stench is too strong to belong to a dead rat. Or the rat is too smart to lock the door. She tries to break open the door but it’s too heavy. She can’t do it. Her brain has already started formulating alternative plans. She rushes downstairs to the fifth floor immediately where she remembers she may be able to find a carpenter. The moment she enters the apartment, carpenter stops his work and stares at the woman’s grim face sprinkled with sweat. Something’s really wrong, his intuitions tell him. Slowly and calmly he asks, “Kya hua Madam?”
“Darwaza todna hai.”

The carpenter doesn’t ask any further questions. He abandons his work, accompanies her upstairs, to my home, to my room and ultimately to the bathroom door. The wretched bathroom door. It doesn’t take the carpenter long to break the lock. He takes a moment before opening the door. From the smell he can guess what he is about to see is going to haunt him for a long time. He slightly pushes the door and it swings open slowly, as if gracefully preparing them for a horrific sight. The woman behind him has already fallen to the floor, unconscious.

I never thought that the first one to see my dead body would be the person whom I had never met in my lifetime. I kind of always fantasied that my death would be glorious one. Glorious not in the sense that I hope to die at a war. By glorious I meant I die in the arms of a loved one. I die with smile and contentment. But this death is the exact opposite. I have never felt loneliness the way I feel right now. I never thought I would die in a freaking toilet! I never thought I would die grieving over my youth and all the dreams that I had once hoped to realize. I had always hoped that I would die with all my dreams already turned into reality. How cruel fate can be!

I had been so engrossed in my day-dream or rather nightmare that I had completely grown oblivious of the banging and voice coming from the other side of the door.

“Are you there? Answer us!”
“Yes, I am here. I am here.”

My friend had been standing outside the bathroom for a long time. I had been standing inside the bathroom for a long time. All I originally wanted to do here was to pee in peace. Since I had guests with me – my friends, I had taken extra precaution of locking the door behind in order to avoid any potentially awkward situations. We weren’t after all in a usual state of mind. Well, congratulations, there will be no awkward situations. They can’t get in even if they tried their best.
When I had been asked to pull the latch even harder after my multiple futile attempts to open the door, I had mustered all my strength and broken it instead. The broken piece is still lying on the floor. And yes, that’s why I am going to die here today. “You can do this,” my friend says again. “Wash your face. Breath. Breathe, okay? You will figure out a way.”
Figure out a way? Yeah. Right. I wash my face anyway. I am never getting out of here. Could be that my friends, on the other side (on the other side of freedom!) figure out a way to open the door. But it will be too late by then. I pick up the piece, to acknowledge how a tiny thing is going to result in my death and then suddenly I am greeted by a tiny ray of hope! I discover that there are threads in the end. Threads mean that the piece is not broken but just detached! Brimming with joy, I insert the piece in the gaping hole of the latch that had been terrorizing me until now and rotate it in. It’s moving in! Maybe I won’t die after all. Boy, I had been so stupid! Filled with hope, I try to open the door again.

It doesn’t budge.

Perfect! The carpenter has called my neighbors. My mother is conscious and furious. Furious. Not sad. Not weeping. Not wailing. FURIOUS. Because that’s how her daughter died? In a bathroom? From a drug overdose? And which drug? Cannabis? Seriously? No, that’s not my daughter. This is not her. I don’t know who this girl is. Take her body away. Take her to a morgue. Dump it. Do whatever. This is not my daughter—

“There?”

That’s my friend again.

“Yes I am here. Not dead. Not yet…”
“Breath, okay? Try to open the door again.”

I take a few deep breaths. I approach this monstrous door, devoid of hope for any success. A funny thought strikes me then. What if you pull the latch on the opposite side?
The opposite side? But that’s the wrong side!
I would lock myself further into this hell! Crazy or what?
But what’s the harm in trying? So, I try anyway.

The lock slides with an unbelievable smoothness. The door is open.

THE. DOOR. IS. OPEN.

I was pushing the latch in the wrong direction this whole time.
I am overwhelmed by relief and happiness and suddenly a deeply profound thought dawns upon me – Maybe that’s how it works with life. We are trying to push the doors open so hard but nothing works even then. Maybe we need to sit back and breathe. And the solution, an incredibly​ simple and obvious solution, will appear out of nowhere. Push the lock in the other direction. It’s that simple.
Door swings open.
Life swings open.
I am laughing. All my tears that contained panic a while ago contain nothing but joy. My friend, my beloved friend throws an incredibly annoyed look at me. I apologize to her. I need to. I must. I ruined her beautiful date with Mary after all. But did you notice how simple it is? Push the latch on the opposite direction and that’s how you open the door the correct way.

***

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Narratives

The door, among other things

If I were to listen to my witless alter ego residing inside my head, you would find me standing with my ears pressed against this door just as they once had been pressed against your chest listening to your beating heart. I admit there are no octaves in the heartbeats but I had discovered a song anyway. I have long gone forgotten the lyrics. I can’t recall its music composition either. But somehow, I still remember how symphonic it sounded. What weird criterion does the mind follow to retain memories? Anyway, that symphony is nothing but an autistic part of the past now but still I am listening to it standing here – sans words, sans notes. Why should I be thinking about those moments? Why should I even be speculating about eavesdropping through this door? There is nothing good I can hope to hear. You don’t live beyond this wooden thing. And this wooden thing has no possibility of being swung open—paving way for our chance encounter. Yet that doesn’t stop me from enjoying this cold wind beautifully complementing the hot day it has been. I, leaning on the wall with some meaningless thoughts concerning you and a non-existent tattoo on my wrist and imaginary flickering light on the ceiling along with a fictitious cigarette between my fingers that I am shamelessly flicking onto to the stairs. Not that I enjoy smoking. Not that I smoke. Not that I have any intention of getting a tattoo. Not that I desire to listen to your voice. Not that I anticipate your unnecessary presence either. And yet, here I am, staring at this cheap wood polish, the old fashioned door lock and resisting my temptation to ring the doorbell. You won’t open the door anyway. Oh no, you would actually, had you been there. And what kind of encounter would that have been other than an awkward exchange of brief salutations? After all, it’s not easy to put a comprehensible vocality to all of my thoughts that have revolved around you. But there’s a reason for this incompetency of mine – In my imagination, you are perfect! Of course, I am aware that the reality is different and it has all its right to be so. However, don’t I have the liberty to enjoy fiction too? It may be factually incorrect. It may be too dreamy. It may be an absolute wastage of time. But why should I refrain myself from this easy source of amusement? For despite my repeated denials, I do secretly admit that it’s a pleasure to think about you, to think about different versions of you which are not actually yours but MY projections of your heavily edited photographs. It’s entertaining creating numerous scenes of a forgettable play where we both can be the protagonists. The play that has perfect set of dialogues. Whenever we perform it in my head, it’s always a standing ovation. House-full auditorium. Critical acclaim. On stage, you are spot on! On stage, you are amazing! Just look at you saying each and every word with such spontaneity and accuracy! In reality, however, these are just some banal sets of conversations penned down by me in the air. Unfortunately, our literacy is just limited to pens and papers. How can one understand the stories flung open in the air? How does one read the unwritten? How does one hear the unsaid? Your incapability makes sense. My unreal expectation doesn’t. You are not the character of my story. You aren’t really the actor of my play. You are just a bad casting, you are just a misunderstood being. But then again, it’s a pleasure standing here. The fact that you won’t come out that door is a relief and your absence is ironically beautiful. And though you might find me shuffling through your memories and contemplating about various possibilities that could have occurred on the other side of this door, paradoxically this very act bars me from entering the past again, from crossing the line, from eventually being an unwanted guest, from taking the misleading detour on the way to my home and from forgetting that our broken connection is beyond repair. This door is not a reminder of you. This door is not a reminder of any closeness. This door is a reminder of the closure. Our closure.

***