Despair. Fear. Dread. I have seen them all. I have been destined to see and feel the utter hopelessness of souls – the kind that grips you when you are living on leased time. You still wake up every morning, alive and well. But the mornings are different. It is like, deep in your subconscious, you know your perception- and your action on it, is inconsequential to the Universe’s plans; for, your fate is sealed. You know the clock is ticking; and ticking fast. Like grains of sand held tight in hand, time is slipping away, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Wondering who I am? Let me clear the confusion. I am a room, like many, but unlike any. A room which has been turned in to a symbol of terror, hopelessness and doom. I am the room in which convicts sentenced to death are sent for waiting; till their time comes; or more precisely till their time runs out. Not really something to be proud of, is it? I have a fancy name too – The room of doom. Must admit, there’s a ring to it. But I loathe it. No one likes to be a symbol of hopelessness – that’s terrible. Hope is the one thing that keeps the flame of life burning. To deprive that very axial force would be the most remorseless thing to do. It is painful to know that my gates open only to enclose, or to free – forever. But I had no choice, being destined to be moulded and used the way you – the humans want. Who is there to hear our woes?
My memory fails me when I think of my first companion. Must have been centuries back – I have lost all sense of time. The only thing I ever see is the fragile ending of flickering souls whom I give company. It is mind-numbing to feel the despair in the hearts of those whose days are numbered. One thing remained common though – the fragility of the mind. There is a thin barrier between sanity and insanity. I have seen many who have crossed that line. Some tried to feign it, hoping to get away with it. I have seen people become wild with rage – but to no avail.
My latest companion however, is an enigma. His demeanour perplexes me. He is unusually calm and composed. Though I have seen similar nonchalance before, none of them had held their nerves on their final night. This man – he looks rugged and disciplined, always keeping his things tidy and in order. His poker face has led me to believe that he has accepted his fate; that somehow, he feels justice has prevailed; he seems to have accepted the responsibility of his own destiny. I have seen people carry all sort of things with them when they come; religious books, personal belongings, what not. This man had nothing of that sort, save for an old tattered postcard, and a small object, shaped like a small disc, flattened at the sides. I have watched with fascination, as he used that blunt object to carve something on one of my walls. I never felt bad about him disfiguring me; I had been through much worse things before.
Everyday, I see him crossing off a series of lines he had painstakingly carved on his first day. That day, I had thought it was just some routine to help him kill time. But then, as days faded away, I realized it was a crude calendar he had built up – to countdown his remaining days himself. I admired that resolve – that iron heart which somehow did not give away to the torrent of emotions – or, was he devoid of any? I wouldn’t possibly know. I haven’t heard him utter a single word. A slight flickering of emotion in him, if I have seen any, was when he looked longingly at that postcard.
Another morning. The last line had been crossed; he was taken away at dawn. He had left behind half his possession – the flattened disc – a challenge coin with partially worn off insignia – a token for my next companion.
[Image courtesy: Original image of the room courtesy of Kevin Connors.]
Update: This article has been featured in the Write Tribe Anthology Book 1. Check it out here.