The Fifth Horseman

Why me?

‘I remember standing there, watching her just 2 feet away. I tried talking but i was afraid. The lump in my throat grew each time I tried to say something. In my mind I was screaming for her to move back. I wanted to remind her that we were friends, that tomorrow it will all seem like a distant memory, but frankly i was not even sure if she heard me.

We all go through the motions, that’s just what this internship is like. We learn by getting our assess handed to us and we pat ourselves on the back each time we do something right, because by God it would go against the natural order of things to just get a compliment every now and then. She wasn’t so lucky though. She could only see the world from a defected lens. In truth, it wasn’t always like that. She was vibrant, opinionated, and smart. Everybody knew that, and maybe that worked more to her disadvantage. She upstaged everyone, in rounds, in the weekly “Teaching” sessions, in the OR and even when we all just used to go out and hang. She would complain the least, and always find the glass half full. Maybe she was just waiting to crack. It took a while for them to break her but they did eventually. We started noticing her avoiding dinners, giving some bullshit excuse about dieting. She was always concerned about her weight. She looked good by the way but for some reason she was always obsessed about calories and diet. She used to hit the gym, run in marathons, and even joined some weird cross-fit cult. But all that declined slow and insidiously and just like everyone else the job was getting to her, eating up her personality, her time and eventually she too turned into a walking zombie. Enough time had past and one by one piled on the reasons to not meet up or see each other. Things just got busy and our priorities consolidated. We still had our WhatsApp, Snapchat, IG, Facebook and whatnot but then daily messages became weekly, then biweekly and soon enough we just used it to share viral stuff. Just two days before I noticed her social media got a little quite. We all knew she wasn’t really having a good time in Surgery, and there were rumors that she was considering quitting from the job altogether. That should have been it; the moment of intervention but nothing happened. We should have been there just as we were for Ram. But we kept calling it off.

‘We should have dinner again, and watch another dumb movie,’ we ended almost every conversation the same way over the last couple of months.

Were there signs? I can’t really say. Because I was never there to notice them. Was she depressed? The DSM says you gotta have pervasive sadness for 2 weeks or more. ‘Pervasive’ being the key word. But she is always smiling. How would we know then?

Was she stressed out? Any quirks? Addictions? Vices? OCD behavior? Nothing! Just that ‘weight’ thing that’s been there from God knows when.

And the countless times I would ruminate and ask myself over and over again, Why? Why? Why was she was on that ledge, smiling at me. She texted me earlier, just me. I think it’s obviously because she wanted me to be there, but not to stop her, not to convince to be rational but to just…witness it. I guess she figured I wouldn’t have done anything,’

‘And why would you think that?’ asked Dr Satya clearing his throat after a long silence. I almost forgot he was in the room.

Maybe she thought I would agree with her. That life isn’t all that important. We see new babies being born and people dying everyday. Maybe it’s the desensitization, and maybe she wanted to know if it something still felt real.

‘Wow, you’re beginning to sound like me,’ he smiled to lighten the mood. ‘Cynicism is something you tend to develop in this carrier even if you never thought it was in your nature to begin with. Do you feel that way? Like death has become nothing?’

‘It’s always been nothing, I mean the world was once war-torn, and people in Palestine and Syria still see it everyday. So, I don’t know, maybe that’s why she chose me, either that or…’

‘Or?’ Dr Satya interrupted when I started to swell in my throat. I was on the verge of tears, and he slightly nudged a box of tissues just to hint at me that it was there without seeming too pacifying.

‘Or that she thought I was a coward,’ I allowed the waterworks to flow, and flow they did, like an patched leak in a water damn just burst open.

‘I’m such a horrible person aren’t I? I mean she is dead and all I can think is how she thought of me; a coward,’

‘That’s not how I see it,’ Dr Satya handed a few tissues over, ‘she was going to do it regardless, but she needed a friend, someone to support her on her final day. You said she was always confident, opinionated, and strong willed. So there was no changing her mind and she wouldn’t want someone who would desperately try at that. She needed a person that wouldn’t waste her time but rather understand her why she did what she did. Her suicide was her decision after all wasn’t it?’

I wiped away my tears, but my eyes were balling endlessly. I knew Dr Satya was trying but I was not ready for the silver lining, not just yet. I was angry, upset, in denial, and all the damn stages at the same time.

‘I’m not so sure about that,’ I paused to study his reaction.

Dr Satya nodded. ‘You’re safe here Daniel, just know that.’

I’m sure he meant well, but I wasn’t too sure if he was right. Was I really safe here? I noticed rattling from the door ahead, the one that lead to another room. Exactly how many people were there? Dr Satya caught my line of sight being away from him and soon turned around himself. ‘Yes, there is a group there waiting, but only for a statement,’ he confessed, ‘I ensure you that whatever we discuss here will be kept private, and if I feel it needs to be out in the open I would advice you to do it yourself.’

I stared long and hard at the Doctor’s expression. I wanted to trust this man so badly but I couldn’t. I couldn’t betray her memory. No! Not like this.

‘I don’t know, maybe I was just confused,’

‘You don’t have any reason to hide something Daniel, whatever it is I promise you discretion,’

‘Please tell them that it was not an accident,’

‘We don’t have much else to go with here, unless you can help us’

I sat quietly for a moment, and Dr Satya knew he wasn’t getting anything out of me today. He got up and left into the next room without dismissing me though. I sat there for quite a bit, alone, I wasn’t just going to up and leave disrespectfully, but the longer I waited the more it bothered me. What was going on behind that door? The noises got louder, muffled and incoherent and it was all in my head, I knew that.

I couldn’t contain myself any longer. I barged open the door only to find so many important personnel seated together like it was the council of Elders. They looked at me in shock.

‘Please Daniel, give me a few minutes and I’ll join you,’ Dr Satya got up from his chair. I stared hard into all their faces and particularly one Dr Jamal who stared back at me, defensively, as if he knew I was looking at him with disdain. ‘What?’ he barked. This man was a conceited prick, and that was public knowledge but he thought the worse of house officers or at least that’s how he projected himself. But today I knew something that he didn’t, or maybe he did.

‘It was not an accident, it was a suicide, and it was because of…’ I hesitated.

Dr Siti scanned through all the faces in the room and was starting to build her suspicions. Her intuition served her well. ‘Does Mr Jamal know something we don’t? She joked. It gained a laugh or two. Mr Jamal however wasn’t all that amused. ‘If you’re making accusations boy, make sure you can defend them,’ he said with an intimidating voice.

‘Nothing,’ I retracted. ‘Please Daniel, get back in there. Listen to me will you,’ insisted Dr Satya. I pulled back and turned away realizing that I had just drawn attention to myself and that all eyes were now on me especially two that belonged to a very agitated man.

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