This was originally written for a short story writing contest. It failed to get any awards but I am confident that with minor tweaks, it can be successful next time. Since I intend to use the same story (with tweaks) in the same contest next time, I'd appreciate if readers only keep this story to yourselves. This means that you may read, copy or transfer the copied story anywhere you like, but you may not publish this story anywhere else. If I hear this story published anywhere else, I'll be pissed. If I hear this story published anywhere without my name mentioned, I'll go ballistic on you, literally.
I knew her back when we were in college. I took notice of her in Islamic Studies class when she adamantly refused to wear a tudung. It created a bit of commotion at first because she said that she never believed in the religion and that she was only in this class because she was a Muslim by birth. An understandable fact since to be a Muslim in Malaysia, you only need to be born into a Muslim family. Muslim in Malaysia was defined as people whose identity cards state Islam as their religions, even when they hadn't practiced the religion for their entire life.
To think that such frank words were spoken by someone who looked as sweet and adorable as her, it just puts into perspective some things that never crossed my mind before.
That was the first time that I took notice of her, and admired her courage to stand up for what I saw as an injustice. The lecturer eventually gave up and left her alone, though throughout the semester, I could catch some snide remarks that were obviously aimed at her. I might've been the only one who detected it though, because if the others did, they didn't show it.
How sad was it? To be forced to be the person you're not. To be part of a religion of which you do not believe in? To be labelled a murtad when she was never given the opportunity to choose, when she never had any faith in the religion in the first place?
I spoke to her after that first class and we became best friends almost instantly. I told her how I love the fact that she stood up for what she believed in or in this case, not believed in. She told me how much she loved my outfit. For some reason, hearing that from her made me feel good.
She told me once during dinner that based on the constitution, she could theoretically un-Muslim herself. The only problem was, if she did that, she would not be Malay either since the definition for Malay included being a Muslim.
I asked her then, "IF you're not Malay, then what are you?"
"Exactly, if I un-Muslimed myself, it would also mean that I un-Malayed myself," she replied as she took her drinks.
"Then you would have two empty spots in your Identity Card."
"I know, if I don't consider it pathetic, I probably would've been rolling on the floor laughing out loud. I mean, I can't declare myself as Chinese, since I'm not sure if my family descended from the Chinese. Same problem with declaring myself as an Indian. It's not like anyone in my family ever made a research on which race we descended from."
She grinned, then continued, "Maybe I'll write myself up as French or Russian. Too bad I can't speak either language."
"Why not declare yourself as a Jakun or Penan?" I joked.
She replied by catapulting her coleslaw with her spoon, which fell right on top of my rice. That day I found out that rice and coleslaw really shouldn't mix.
That wasn't the only time we made fun of the follies of the system. There was once when we made fun of the authorities for giving tickets to people who parked at the correct places without paying but letting traffic offenders who openly defy traffic laws free reign.
I guessed in a way, we're sort of like anarchists, or separatists. Or was there a better term for it?
I'm ashamed to say that I was the direct opposite of Lydia when it comes to life and death. Where she celebrates life, I celebrate death. Where she always favoured life, I constantly sought death. I never did find out why I was like this, to see life as cheap and unworthy of treading on. To constantly seek my own end, repeatedly and without remorse. Maybe I'm just weird, maybe I'm one of those not suitable for a life in the fast lane.
Regardless, it didn't change the fact that I attempted suicide many times. Often, for some very simple reasons, such as failing an exam, running on debts, dumped by my boyfriend and even having a B- in one of my subjects. I've tried many methods of suicide, but unfortunately, either it didn't work, or I was too chicken to do it.
I've learnt from experience that a simple intention for suicide is not enough to end your life. You need to be in extreme pain and despair for it to work. Whoever said that committing suicide is a coward's way of running from reality must've been idiots. Have they themselves tried committing suicide? Did they have any idea how much courage you need to take that final step towards oblivion? Or how hard it was to move your fingers closer to the wrist and how hard it was to actually run the razor across your veins? Did they have any idea how painful and torturous it was when you're hanging by your neck? Have they ever thought how scared one felt before the knife stabbed into one's heart?
No, they didn't. They never knew how scary it was. How only those who had nothing more to lose were able to succeed. The only thing they knew about was how 'cowardly' such an act was and how ashamed and sad their families would've felt. How could they preach about feelings and families when it wasn't the families who would be taking that final step? Maybe someone should hold the person who dared to preach such things to the edge of a skyscraper's roof and let them feel the fear jumpers felt before they took the final leap. That should teach them not to preach about things they did not know anything about.
I was, for lack of better terms, one of these 'suiciders'. I attempted it many times, all failed. I attempted hanging myself, but I merely hung there for what must've been hours before my housemate found me and pulled me down. It was selfish, I know, and I gained nothing from it other than a lot of scolding and a very sore neck. Then there was the time when I attempted suicide by panadol overdose, didn't work either. Someone obviously had been exaggerating about the dangers of panadol overdose, because I felt nothing apart from an overwhelming desire to do nothing.
Finally, there was the jumping. It was the day after I got dumped by my boyfriend. I thought at that time that I was seriously and totally in love with him. I begged for him to take me back, even to the point of humilliating myself. Yet he only looked at me in contempt and said that it was over. That I was only the flavour of the month. I was crushed.
As I walked back to my dorm after lunch the next day, I looked up and wondered what it would feel like to be a bird. To fly freely and without burden. I must've blanked out at that time because the next thing I knew, I was on the rooftop, looking at the scenery around me from the highest point for miles around.
I thought, maybe this time I would succeed, maybe I would be able to kill this pain in my chest. Maybe I could stop being such a pain in the backside for my parents. As I was having these thoughts, I was steadily walking towards the edge of the rooftop, the final inch towards oblivion. But I couldn't. I couldn't move my legs. I couldn't take that final step that would set me free.
I closed my eyes and waited for strong winds to do what I could not. To help me plunge towards my end. It never came, those strong winds that I asked for. It never came.
Then I heard a commotion behind me. I opened my eyes and turned around, prepared to say the magic words "Don't come closer!"
When I saw who it was, I turned back around and looked out towards the open scenery. I was waiting for the words that people normally said to jumpers to prevent them from doing what they intended to do. Then I smelled something that simply didn't fit the situation nor the scenery.
I turned around, "What the heck are you doing eating KFC up here? Do you have any idea what I was about to do?"
With a mouthful of chicken, she said, "Mmf, you were about to do something? I thought you're only admiring the view."
Swallowing the piece of chicken in her mouth, she continued, "Nice spot though. I must admit, eating lunch in the open feels much better. I've never had an open air lunch before."
Then she continued chewing her drumstick.
"By the way, that spot is kinda dangerous. A strong urban draft could tilt your over," she said as she grabbed her soft drinks.
I was asking myself if she was being stupid. The point of standing here WAS so that the urban draft winds could tilt me over.
"How did you find me?"
She looked up as I walked closer to her, "I was just returning from KFC when I met some of the girls who lived on the 16th floor. They said they saw you entering the door going up the roof. So I thought, maybe you need some cheering up after what happened yesterday, you know."
I simply couldn't believe it. Was that the only reason? Was she pretending or was she really naive? People don't normally eat fried chicken while watching a potential jumper.
"Did you know that I was attempting suicide?" I asked her directly.
She looked up again, by this time I was close enough for her to leap and grab, but what she said afterward was so unexpected that I had to laugh, "Oh, I didn't know that. If I knew about your suicide thingy, I would've offered you the cheesy wedges as your final meal. I know how much you love cheesy wedges. Sorry."
.... There is more of this story ...