A Week Wasn'T
By Anwesh Ghosh
Anuj was a psychology student at a prestigious university. He had always been interested in the human mind and behaviour, and he felt like he had found his calling when he started studying psychology. He loved the campus and the intellectual environment that surrounded him. However, there was one thing that was missing from his life – love.
A few weeks had passed and Anuj was still unable to make friends. “Are all the students of this campus weird, or is it just me?” he thought to himself seeing everyone around either sitting or studying alone. “Maybe it’s the stringent policies of the university or maybe it’s the pressure of studies, who knows?” Anuj shrugged off his thoughts as irrelevant.
One day, while walking around campus, Anuj saw a girl sitting alone on a bench. She was beautiful, her dark brown eyes glittering, her sharp small nose had a nose-pin that made her look even more traditional. She was wearing a white Kurti and a blue jeans and had a smile that seemed to light up any room. He approached her saying, “Hi! I’m Anuj” and sat beside her. She was hesitant at first but then she looked at him and introduced herself. Her name was Suchismita. She looked sad and Anuj noticed the same but didn’t think much about it as he was still bewildered by her beauty.
Slowly but steadily, they started talking and Anuj found out that she was a History student. As their conversation progressed, they both found out that they had a lot in common and seemed to hit it off right away. Their psyche, their personality, their taste in food, art and music, their opinion about people and society, everything matched. They kept on chatting and both forgot about their classes and eventually missed them. In the evening, when the sun was just setting and the natural light was yet to fade away completely, Suchismita said that she’d have to head home and that she couldn’t be late. Anuj agreed and went back to his dorm room. But before they bid goodbye, Anuj asked for her phone number to which she replied, “I don’t use phones,” and abruptly went away. Anuj although was surprised but he didn’t think much about it and chose to remain ignorant.
Over a span of the following whole week, Anuj and Suchismita started spending more and more time together. They chose to skip classes and go on walks outside the campus, around a nearby lake. They would even have lunch together at the lake. The lake was indeed a very silent and peaceful place to spend time and that lake seemed to be Suchismita’s favourite place too as she’d always want to go there. Anuj felt like he had finally found someone who understood him and shared his interests.
As they got to know each other better, Anuj started to realize that he had developed feelings for Suchismita, but one thing struck him the most. Every time he asked her about her family, she either ignored his question or changed the topic altogether. Anuj ignored the red flag once again thinking that maybe being the introvert person she was, she just didn’t want to talk about families so soon. Afterall, it had not even been a whole week that they met each other. On the other hand, his feelings, he knew were only getting deeper and deeper with each passing moment as he found himself gazing blankly at her eyes, at her lips or at her cheeks. Anuj didn't know if she felt the same way, but he couldn't help the way he felt and decided to take a chance and ask her out on a date.
Suchismita said “Aren’t we already dating?” Anuj was surprised at her reply and his joy seemed to know no bounds but he controlled his emotional outburst of happiness and said in a calm collected manner, “Oh! Of course, we are. But I was thinking of going out for a movie and then dinner maybe!” Hearing this, Suchismita seemed a little tensed and replied, “I don’t think dating should involve movies and expensive dinner and other materialistic objects. To me this is dating. You and I, at this lakeside, enjoying each other’s company. This is enough to fall in love.” Anuj was again surprised. ‘How can a girl be so smart and beautiful and humble, all at the same time?’ he thought to himself. Anuj understood that this lady is all about company and staying and spending time together and what better way to do that than this lakeside where they went every day. Maybe that’s why she liked going there with him. They kept on talking for hours, and Anuj felt like he was on cloud nine. He had never felt this way before, and he knew that he had fallen in love with Suchismita.
However, that day unlike other days, Suchismita didn’t ask to leave for home even in the evening. Maybe she was also feeling something special but as the night wore on, Suchismita started acting strange. She would look over her shoulder as if someone was watching her, and she seemed to be lost in thought. Anuj asked her if everything was okay, but she brushed it off and said that she was just tired.
The next day, Anuj tried to talk to Suchismita about what had happened the night before, but she seemed distant and aloof. He couldn't understand what had changed between them, and he was heartbroken.
It was only the seventh day of Anuj meeting Suchismita; while he was walking alone outside the campus, desperately missing her, craving her presence, he decided to visit the Lake, their usual place to hang out. Upon reaching there, he saw her sitting on a bench by the lake. He ran up to her, hoping that they could work things out. But as he approached her, he noticed that there was something different about her. She looked pale and ghastly, and her eyes seemed to stare straight through him.
Anuj was frightened, but he couldn't turn away. He approached her cautiously and asked her what was wrong. Suchismita didn't answer, but instead stood up and started walking towards the lake. Anuj followed her, hoping to get some answers when he realised that she had almost reached the edge and would fall off into the lake any moment. But before he could react, Suchismita turned towards him and started leaning backwards as if she wanted to fall into the waters. Anuj rant to her but was too late. He leaned into the lake but saw nothing. No one was drowning, no one, not even a single soul was there inside the lake. No ripples appeared in the water as if nothing happened. It felt like Anuj was either dreaming or hallucinating. He was confused and scared, not understanding what was happening. He ran back to his dorm room, trying to make sense of what had just happened. He didn’t have anyone to go to, to ask for advice, to share his experiences and thoughts.
He spent the next few days trying to figure out what was going on. He spent hours at the lake, on the bench he first met Suchismita, walking around the campus. Neither did he see her nor did he understand what was going on with him, what he had experienced. He then decided to do some research. He tried all social networking platforms but that yielded no result. Finally, he learned some hacks and started digging deep into the University database and upon doing so he excavated facts that shocked him to his core as chills ran down his spine. He discovered a few scanned newspaper articles, one of which had the headlines that read, “DEATH ON CAMPUS: NEWLY OPENED UNIVERSITY WITNESSES UNNATURAL DEATH OF A STUDENT.” Upon completely reading the articles about the University, Anuj was spellbound, unable to feel his nerves, unable to move.
Long ago, during the 70’s when the University had just been established, a student named Suchismita had committed suicide jumping into the lake just outside the campus, the lake where Anuj and Suchismita hung out. As far known, the reason for her suicide was the news of her beloved Anshuman’s death due to cancer. Anuj was shocked, saddened and above all he was scared by what he read, but he couldn't help but wonder if the girl he had fallen in love with, was actually a ghost or a spirit of some sort. Even if it was, why would it spend so much time with him? What were her intentions? What did she want? All questions remained unanswered as Anuj laid back on his chair staring blankly at his laptop.
The next day, Anuj went back to the lake where he had last seen Suchismita, hoping to find some answers. As he stood there, he heard a voice whispering in his ear, "I'm sorry, Anuj. I had to leave. I can't stay here anymore."
It was Suchismita's voice, and it was coming from behind him. He turned around, but there was no one there. He knew then that the girl he had fallen in love with was not really Suchismita, but the ghost of the girl who had committed suicide.
Anuj was heartbroken at the realisation that he had to let go of the ghost and move on with his life. But how could he move on without closure? He asked, almost screamed to the wind, “Who are you? Why did you come into my life? What do you want from me?”
A voice in the wind replied, “You know who I am. I am a part of your soul,” the voice continued, “You are special, Anuj and I want you to be happy.”
“How can I be happy, knowing that you don’t exist? I love you, Suchi. I love you,” Anuj’s voice broke, his lips trembled and a drop of tear rolled down his cheek.
Silence prevailed for a few moments as wind rustled. “For so many years, I have been longing to meet my love for one last time…” Suchismita’s voice came from behind Anuj as he turned around, teary eyed and saw her standing a few feet afar. She continued “…But he never seemed to appear and no one else could see me until you. You were the only one who could see me and approached to speak with me and that instant I knew that I have found my long-lost love. You are my Anshu. I was both happy and sad to see you for the first time as I knew I could not be with you. Before my death, you left the world, you left me first but this time around I knew that I’d have to leave, very soon. Thank you for helping me find peace at last. I love you too Anshu.” And once again Suchismita started to fade away but Anuj did not want that to happen again. He was not ready to let her go. He ran towards her, this time at a faster pace and just as he was about to grab her arm, he tripped on a stone and fell down facing the ground. His nose started bleeding; he had a bruise on his forehead but he felt no pain as the thought of losing his love overcame all his other senses. He looked up but she was gone. He stood up and frantically searched the area but to no ends. He screamed at the top of his voice, “Suchismitaaaaaaaaaaaa… Suchiiiiiiii…” No one replied. The wind had gone silent too. He had no option other than to admit that Suchismita is gone once and for all.
He went back to his dorm room thinking about all that had happened to him, over the past week. “Is this real? Is it a dream? Am I hallucinating? Am I even alive? What is happening?” Millions of such existential questions surrounded his mind. He wanted to ask around about Suchismita but he knew if he did, then he’d have to face other questions too, questions he might not be prepared to answer or even if he did, no one would believe him. No sane person should believe him, he knew. Anuj decided to honour the memory of the girl who had died, by continuing his studies in psychology with a hope to unravel the mysteries of mind, grief, PTSD, hallucinations, perceptions of reality, etc.
As time passed, Anuj became a renowned therapist, helping people all over the world deal with mental health issues. He never forgot Suchismita and the impact that she had on his life. He knew that he would always carry a part of her with him and that she would always be with him in some way.
In the end, Anuj realized that sometimes the people we fall in love with, are not what we think they are, but that doesn't mean that their impact on our lives is any less significant. The lessons we learn from these experiences can shape us into better people, and the memories we hold on to can give us comfort and strength in times of need.
By Anwesh Ghosh