top of page

The Failure

 TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, blood, and gore. It is a purely fictional work written in first person and not based on any true events. (And yes, I'm completely mentally stable—thanks for asking!)

Every five minutes, someone rolls back the slot in the door and shines a torch into the room. I glare into its brightness trying to pretend that I want to be left alone, but actually loving the attention. I try to scream at him, but the fire ravaging my throat reminds me that I can no longer speak. I want to tell him that he doesn’t have to. Tears of self-pity well up in my eyes and then the dark envelops me in her bosom as I sob. Black straps press against my chest pinning me to the bed. The green pillow is sterilised and contains none of the familiar smells that help me sleep. I long to pull out that little black plug that keeps me fastened to this little blue earth, but I can’t find my hands or my legs.

Who wants to be alive? Clumsy and insignificant, I never amounted to anything much though I wanted to be popular. I wanted to earn admiration and respect, I was laughed at instead. An incurable romantic, I wanted to feel that there was someone who cared for me, who would stand by me. I didn’t have a single close friend. I could tag along with people I liked, but I never mattered to anyone. When I joined a profession after college, my hard work was as good as nought. My incompetence spoke for me more than my effort. I dreamt of a passing over. I thought of throwing myself from the terrace of my apartment, head first, so that I would crash against the hard rocks. Maybe, I thought that in that twisted reality, I would be the centre of attention for the last few seconds of my life. The centre of attention at last... I thought of drinking kerosene or prussic acid or swallowing a large package of sleeping pills. But I subconsciously knew I would never do it. I was too much of a coward.

A Saturday in grade 12 showed me how to survive. I sat on the toilet seat, hoping someone would shout out for me and save me from myself. I pressed the knife against my wrist. I pressed harder and removed the knife whipping it across the thick flesh. I felt a sense of power as a thin line of blood stretched across my arm. With savage pleasure, I pulled at the flaccid flesh, dark red blood pouring down my fingers, intoxicated by my own power, as my legs quivered convulsively. My life was in my control. Finally.

I decided I was an island. I was not made to have friends or be a part of a laughing group. I would always be alone, I was not accountable to anyone. I threw myself into my work and found pleasure in it. I ignored hellos and good mornings, smiles from people I met, or polite nothings. My work was my life. I was never satisfied. I could never feel I was doing anything significant. Was my work of any use to anyone? I didn’t look capable of the little I managed, anyway, the credit was always due to someone else. I was just the lackey who made all the mistakes.

I had to work. If I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be able to escape from myself. Whenever my work finished each week, I remembered myself. I remembered my slouch and my hesitant speech. I remembered all the times I had tried to show people how much I cared for them but only succeeded in driving them away. I would lie down. Stomach to earth, I'd crash hoping tomorrow would never come.

I wanted out and I suddenly realised that I could. I had the guts to kill myself. I would do it as painlessly as possible, I would cease to exist one night. I returned to the toilet in the basement on another Saturday night, a decade later. My legs trembled as I swallowed the blue-and-white pills one after the other. I took at least a dozen of them and wobbled to bed. As I pushed myself through the thick sheets, I remember hoping that someone would pull my shoulders frantically, calling out my name, begging me to wake. I would like to live then.


When I first found myself in the severe white room, I thought I was dead. My head throbbed as an angry red pain flashed over my eyes. My throat burnt and I felt like pulling at the yellow-white strings of flesh running along it. Suddenly, I noticed the thin pipes and valves running along my wrist and my legs and I realised I had failed again. I tried to scream at the doctors and the nurses, why can’t you let me go, it’s my life, I have the right to finish my life the way I want to.

I have lain countless hours, trying to spot black dots in the heavy whiteness of the room. I have tried to ignore the soft hands of the nurses pushing and prodding my body as they coax its quivering flesh into peace. And I have hoped that death will come as elusively and finally as sleep. And at the same time, I have hoped that a tearful voice will beg me to get well again so that I have an excuse to live.

The door opens. She stares at me, her face filled with tearful love. With a deep breath, she gives me one last look and then controlling her trembling lips, she nods firmly to the nurse. I try to scream as the cruel strong hands move towards the plug, but nothing comes from my mouth. I want to live, I want to cry, I have so much left to do...


bottom of page