The Secret Illusions

"Life's an illusion. You just have to figure out how to live it." Ruby doesn't remember anything about her mother's death except for her last words. Going through a faze of depression and secretly taking depression pills was not what she expected from life. The regular schedule of her life bored her and she had no choice but to accept the unfortunate fact about her life, when a new neighbor moves in. A neighbour, a new person, Divij to temporarily take Ruby away from her regular track of life. For the first time there was hope. But only one thing wandered in Ruby's mind : Can Divij be trusted or is he just another illusion? © 2015 Mercury Chap

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1. 1.

What do people think life is? Is it just me or does everybody think that it is just a load of crap which some dude, called god, took the credit of making? As a very tiny kid, I thought that my life would be better when I’d be ten but nothing happened. Then I thought my life would be better when I’d be fifteen, and guess what? I learned something: A wish never comes true, and hopes are always hopeless. Now I don’t think much about living a good, lovey-dovey life. It is just like it has to be. Living a life means spending half of your day at school, eating, sleeping, waking up and doing your homework and, again, eating and sleeping. This is a normal life which I still don’t have; the kind of life a lay-person has. I just sometimes want to elope with real-good person named life and never come back. But the truth is always bitter.

I am a not-so-normal 15 year old girl who lives with her dad and not-so-gay-but-gay 19 year old brother and some person dad married who calls herself my stepmother. My mother died a long time ago after which I had to visit an old-aged temporary therapist (because my dad insisted), who eventually became my permanent therapist (until she died), daily, because of depression. I secretly ate depression pills and it made me feel extremely good. It’s not like I’m addicted to drugs. I just take it as it is prescribed on the bottle. But still, my not-so-gay-but-gay brother, instead of stopping me, calls me a drug addict and blackmails me for not telling his gayness to dad. I always thought if that’s the life I had to be stuck with forever. My life is just like that of any other lonely geek girl who likes to do all the weird stuff ans so people try to avoid having social contact with. I’m all like the geek girl. Except I’m not geek. One day at school I was actually surprised when a girl came and talked to me, asked my name, and all, and of course, she was a new girl. I was still surprised because most of the people, even the new ones, don’t even bother to look at me. But my life still went on sitting like a lonely tree after she got to know what I did.

Suddenly, the pictures dwindle away from my eyes, replacing itself with the view of the closed room with several quotes hung on the turquoise wall, dragging me back to present.

“Ruby? Do you want to leave this question? It’s okay if you want to,” Ritvik, my therapist, said, breaking my thoughts.

Oh my god. How long have I been thinking?

I closed and opened my mouth not knowing what to say. “I-I’m sorry,” I stammered, “What was the question?”

“It wasn’t actually a question-”

“Spit it,” I said cutting him off, a bit rudely, I think. He stayed quite for a while, I mean who won’t be. His long face flushed red. With his long fingers, he calmly adjusted his specks and stammered, “No-nothing just… How-how’s everything; how’s life?”

Oh… that’s why I was thinking about it. I completely forgot. “Oh. It’s nice. I’m sorry if I responded really late. It’s just my train of thoughts keeps moving.”

“It’s alright. I’m happy you were taking your time to reply. You just took ten minutes less than before.”

I smiled, “Think before react thing right?”

“Yes,” he said approvingly as he shuffled through my file; a file about me. “Let’s not waste your time now. Let’s do a little talking- So, summer holidays are ending. What did you do this week?”

I thought for, maybe, another ten minutes because I didn’t want to tell about my visit to the medical store, again and then buying another bottle of depression pills because that’s the only thing I did this week including lying on the bed and watching the episodes of “Friends” on my laptop. God! I’m boring! “Nothing interesting”

“Watched “Friends” again?”

“Yeah” And the next hour went like this:

Ritvik: What are you doing when the school’s reopened?

Me: Nothing.

Ritvik: An advice, do something.

Me: I’m not going to listen to you. You are just like my adviser.

Ritvik: Advisers are meant to be the people you listen to. 

Me: I don’t like you.

Ritvik: Good for you because I know each and every thing about you. I think you learned a lesson: never tell anything to the people you don’t like.

Me: I tell you because you provoke me to.

This went on and the “little talk” became an argument in which I spoke the most because of client- speaking-more-than-therapist theory. Of course it was a one-sided argument as he has attained the quality of being patient like all therapists do. I don’t know the problem with me; I always end up arguing with anyone, and now, for god’s sake, my therapist. I think there’s a problem with him too. He’s too young to be a therapist. He’s just 23. 23 in boy years is like 17 in girl years which is not a mature stage.

  

I went to a bookstore to buy a book which Ritvik had recommended to make me do something “constructive”. The book was “How To Succeed” and he told me, “I’m not recommending the book for you to actually be successful, because that’s bullshit. Many people read the book and I don’t think they are successful. Read it just to occupy your time. You need to do something at the last weekend of your holidays.” The moment he paused to take a breath and before he could add anything more to the lecture, I rushed to the bookstore.

There I was searching for a book named “How to succeed”.  I searched a lot and I found it and, also, I learned something: there’s not only one book with the title “How To Succeed”. There are hundreds of book called “How To Succeed”. I recalled whatever Ritvik told me. He didn’t tell me the author’s name. What a person.

I called him (actually I called the reception because I don’t seem to have his number). A woman picked up, “Hullo?”

“Um, hey, may I talk to Mr…,” I froze. Dammit! I don’t remember his last name. What an idiot I am. “May I talk to Ritvik?”

“Um, yes hold on a second, please.” She got cut and he picked up the phone, “Hello?”

“Ritvik, which author were you referring to?”

“Yes, it was… hold on a second,” he keeps down the phone and I heard him open the door and closing it. And after some time I again hear the same sound with his footsteps closing in. “You shouldn’t have gone before I finished my sentence. The name is Riley Adrian.”

“Thanks”

“You’re welcome. Bye."

I looked up at the little bookshelf stuffed with heavy population of “How To Succeed” books. It was so harshly stuffed that I felt it would fall on me the moment I pull a book and I would be buried alive under it and die from lack of oxygen. It was a suicide mission. I decided on not taking out any book and going back home like I always do.

On the way back home, I crossed many difficulties: people. Everyone, living near my house, who saw me every day, awkwardly walked by me with their heads down to avoid having eye contact with me. I don’t actually care about those people. I am happy that I don’t have to say hello to every person I see and then start a conversation with one of them in the middle of the road.

I stopped by the medical store and bought another orange-tinted bottle of the depression drug. The store employee, every time I visit this store, gives me weird stares. As if I am not a person. His long moustache makes me want to rip it the moment he gives me the look. “150” he says in his pirate voice. I am hundred-percent sure that he could be a pirate or could be in relation to a pirate. But the best thing about him is that he forgets to ask for medicine’s subscription or he just doesn’t care about people overdosing.

I walked away continuing my journey back home on the empty road. This reminded me of the song “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day. I mumbled it on the way so as to forget the fact that there is a boiling sun above my head which soaked my shirt completely in sweat.

 

The moment I reached home, I went straight to the wash room, ignoring whatever quintessential crap Priya, my step-mom, was talking about, and looked myself in the mirror. My curly little strands of hair danced over my head and looked as if black sunrays were irradiating out of my head. I tilted my head left and right continuously and then it looked like it was a black half-sun-flower with a face.  My hair is terrible. Little curly, little wavy: bad combination.

The whole day, I sat with Priya watching daily soaps. I had nothing to do so I watch the crap or else in my wildest imagination I would never even think of doing something like that. It’s not that I hate watching those; actually I watch it so that I could make fun of it. I do not like to watch soaps because of the reason that whenever I watch it, I watch it with Priya and she is so annoying when she watches it. She likes to cuddle in the sofa beside me and holds my arm whenever there is an emotional scene going on. Most of the time she doesn’t even watch it because she is too busy checking out the sofas and the curtains in the background and keeps saying, “How much would that curtain cost? 550? Or maybe a little less than 300 in Sarojini Market.” or “I wonder which cream she uses which makes her look so fair. Why can’t I be that fair?”

I don't know if it’s her problem or her deep obsession with my skin which she keeps rubbing. “Why is your skin so soft?” she said. “What do you use?” She keeps on tugging my arm like it’s a freaking soft toy. I also give her I-don’t-like-what-you-do signs but she doesn’t even get an idea. I don’t know how to get things inside that stupid little fake-red head of hers. I know she is sweet and she does everything to work it out between us but she is extremely annoying. She sometimes calls me “Ruby Baby”. I mean BABY? Do I look like a freaking BABY? Are BABIES these types of giant creatures who walk and talk and use inappropriate words? The reason I hate being called a BABY is because 1. I hate BABIES. 2. I am not a freaking BABY. 3. The word is too cheesy. 4. BABIES are really demanding and cry every time they need something done like “oh I pooped my pants. Let’s cry and make someone clean it.” And 5. (I.e. point no. 1.) I FREAKING HATE BABIES. So I somehow managed to watch the shows whole afternoon back-to-back without shouting at Priya.

 

At dinner, Dad was talking to Priya about his day at work where he had to shout at some guy who broke down and cried like for two hours or something. My dad being an Army officer makes him a little loud when he talks. You wouldn’t even want to imagine how he would sound if he was screaming at you.

“I don’t know what happened to these young officers nowadays. They could not even stand someone shouting at them,” he said looking at me and then goes on about his childhood when he always ended up getting shouted at by people and he never cried.

I didn’t listen to his story because he’s always telling that story. I just thought where my brother was. He was not at home or else he would have been watching the annoyingly emotional soaps with us. Was I the only one who was aware of his absence or was dad ignoring that his 20 year old son is not at home at dinner time because he is a boy?  I just feel that dad is too protective when it comes to me. He won’t let me stay out after 9 pm when on the other hand my brother stays out till it is like 11 because of too-much-crimes-and-I-only-got-one-daughter-so-take-precautions theory. Why can’t it be too-much-crimes-and-I-only-got-one-gay-son-so-take-precautions theory? Oh yeah, that’s because he doesn’t know that Rishi is gay. I don’t know why he doesn’t think I am not strong enough to roam around the cantonment area. I mean it is safe enough that I see little children roam around like they own the whole city.

Priya bursts out into laughter as dad might have cracked a joke. “That’s hilarious, right?” Priya said, nudging my arm.

I looked over at dad and he just smiled. I just reply “Right” unknowingly and dad’s eyes become a little sad even though he was smiling.

 Soon the table went silent making the atmosphere full of sheer awkwardness. I finished my food and no longer had capacity to eat anything more. I sat there and turned my head to look outside the wooden steel-netted-door. It was a full-moon night and I wondered what my dear brother Rishi was be doing. Maybe he was with his secret boyfriend who he hadn't told me about because he’s too shy to or he may have been with his secret girlfriend and hiding it because he might not want me to know that he’s not gay. Okay, that’s crazy. God, I sound like one of those extremely lame and emotional soap characters who are always doubtful about pretty much everything.    

“So, Ruby, how was the counselling today?” dad asked, stuffing his mouth with the instant noodles my step mom made because she “didn’t have time”, again.

“I’m afraid I won’t talk about it.” I replied.

“Is it not good?” He puts his fork on his plate and rests his elbows on the table, joining his hands under the chin, while his worried eyes concentrated on me.  “If there’s any problem, we could take you to another counsellor.”`

I shook my head promptly and waited until I gulped down the food. Till then, I only thought about the word we he said.  “No, I meant I can’t tell about it. We are not actually supposed to talk about it. It’s kind of private.”

“Baby, he only asked how it was,” red-head cuts in, smiling with her extreme evilness.

“Who are you to tell me what my father’s trying to say? I know him more than you, orangutan. And I’m not your baby, so keep your stupid nicknames to yourself,” I say in my world of imagination. I wish I could’ve said that in real but the imaginative me doesn’t live with the rule her counsellor told her: think before react. She would've been the first adult I screamed at with profane words but she is a lucky woman: my imagination-me doesn't use profane words.

“It was okay,” I actually say infuriated by her irritatingly calm voice. 

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