By Jumana Shahid, 11A
In the wake of the tragic suicide of one of our townsfolk, we recovered a letter from the victim. Her last words are as follows:
Children’s laughter was a common sound that echoed throughout the streets. At one point of my life, I thought that it such a pleasant sound to hear; I likened it to the sound of wedding bells.
Years had passed since I first moved here, since that thought first came to me. But, as the years passed by and made my body brittle, the thought morphed into something darker.
It didn’t start instantly—but, like, happiness, it slowly sneaked in, never noticed until it was too late. That feeling of joy grew bitter over time. What used to bring a smile to my face started bringing frowns and tears instead. The very thing that gave me hope—the very thing I wanted the most but never had—was what was slowly killing me inside. I moved here with my husband, as newly-weds, ready to take on the world together. How wrong I was!
I didn’t notice it at first… but I snapped out of my trance, facing the harsh reality of my life. I could not continue to delude myself to how my husband—who had professed his love to me with such sincerity before—changed. I had been blind, and only now was I seeing the real him.
While I waited in the cold house and kept dinner warm for us, he would return late, smelling of alcohol and various perfumes. While I stayed alone, he sought out other company. While I turned away men offering friendship and help, he left me behind, without a care, to his nightly rendezvouses.
Patient though I was, even I could not keep all my feelings bottled up. But showing my dissatisfaction proved to be a horrible mistake. He lost his temper.
He began with a cold calmness, dismissing my very existence, reducing me—his wife!—to a slave. Then the words grew louder, clearer, the wounds digging deeper. And it escalated to physical violence, leaving my body scarred and bruised.
More than once, I had thought of running away, but I never acted upon it. I foolishly believed this was just a phase. That he would return to being the man I fell in love with. I waited, and waited, and waited—in vain. And I realised I had to do it. I just couldn’t deal with it any more.
At long last, I ran away.
For a whole month I was happy, living without my husband. I made friends. I had an existence separate from his. Yet, all the while, I harboured fear that he would come after me. I hoped that he wouldn’t, but the fear remained. I knew, in my heart-of-hearts, that he was too stubborn to lose something he considered to be his possession.
The day it happened was terrifying. I was drifting off to the sound of pattering rain drops on the roof, lulled to the point of dreaming. Just as sleep descended, I was jerked awake by the sound of the wind, and the smashing of wood as someone ripped the door off its hinges.
What happened next is not something I can bear to recall. Suffice it to say that, by the end of it, I gave up completely… I gave up on him, I gave up on the love we once had, and most of all, I gave up on myself. On life itself.
So I end this letter, with this: all I ever wanted was a happy life as a writer and a mother, faithful to my husband, our child kind and healthy. As it turned out, my existence was a far cry from this dream of mine.
And yet, though I suffered cruelly, I hope someone finds this letter. The picture attached with this letter is—was?—my Love. Please find him, and help him. Help him become a better man.
Goodbye, and thank you, stranger.