by Renu Thapa
“It’s almost 9, Kai. Let’s go!”
My Kai is a very strong child. No, I am not saying that just because she is my only daughter but because my Kai is very strong. For a 5-year-old kid, my Kai is mature. I thought growing without a mother would be hard for her but Kai is doing just fine. She got her chubby cheeks from her mother and her curls from me.
I first met Kai’s mother back in our hometown. She was so smart and beautiful even when she was a kid. I used to work at her father’s fields and she always used to come there with her father. Her father was the lord of the village and everyone used to respect him. I never dreamt about anything more than just being a good servant for him but it was Kai’s mother who taught me to dream.
“Hold my finger. Let’s go!”
Kai holds my forefinger with her tiny hand and likes to walk slowly. We don’t have the luxury to board a metro and she understands that. She is just so smart. Her school is just 5 blocks away and I always drop her off at school. Her teacher praises her a lot, understandably so since my Kai is just perfect. I know every parent praises their children but I am sure you will be amazed if you meet her ever.
I dropped her off today like usual. Kai loves to play with me. She usually hides behind the bushes and waits exactly for 2-3 minutes then looks back to see me. I always turn around and wait for her to come out but today I hid behind one of the bushes as well. After a minute or so, Kai came out and started looking for me.
Kai had small crystal-like teardrops around her eyes and when she saw me, she started bawling.
“Papa is here, Kai. I am watching you, go and study. I’ll wait right here”
“Promise?”, she raised her pinky finger.
Now, I never really believed in pinky swears and promises, since it is just too complicated. I don’t know if promises are made to be broken or are too fancy to be taken seriously. My parents had promised me a lot of things, my friends, my wife as well but they never kept their promises. I didn’t want to promise something that I could not keep, so I twisted her tiny nose and kissed her forehead. It is easy to distract a kid, right?
Kai went inside and the school bell rang.
“Hello! Excuse me, Can you please tell me what time it is, Sir?” I asked a pedestrian who was waiting for the yellow light to turn green.
Shit! I am late again! They will throw me out if I don’t make it in time today!
“Thank you, sir.”
On my way today, I had to meet Choi too. Choi is a friend and she has always been helpful from the start. Choi, Kai’s mother, and I used to stay together and then I married Kai’s mother. Anyway, Choi is now a professor and lives in one of the posh areas of Konoha. As discussed, I was waiting for her outside the sushi place.
“Long time, Keshi!”
“Choi! How are you?”
“I am good, how are you? How is work?”
“I am late today as usual. I had asked Kai to get up early but it’s 10 now and I am sure my boss will kick me out today.”
“What job isn’t hard nowadays, isn’t that right? Anyway, Keshi, are you writing your journals daily?”
“Yes, I am. Wait! Did you call me here just to ask that?”
“I wanted to see you too, Keshi. I am happy that you are doing better than before.”
“You always waste my time, you know. So what you are a professor, I dig mines too. That is even more important than other boring corporate jobs.”
Choi and I shared some laughs and I gave her the old journal that I had managed to write. Choi was the first person who used to like my writings and she has also promised to publish my works, so I always share my journal entries with her. I was already running late so I had to run. I ran as fast as I could. When I finally reached the mine I couldn’t breathe at all. My throat was dry and my heart was ready to burst out.
After lying on the floor for a minute I regained my senses and went inside the door.
No one responded.
“They all went inside the cave, turns out there is a new finding.” One of the gatekeepers spoke.
“Really? Hey! Is the boss angry with me?”
“I don’t think so, he didn’t have the time to think about you. He went inside with others, you should go too.”
I quickly changed into my work fit and put on the torch headband, grabbed my tools, and jumped into the mine. I kept digging and digging.
“Hello, Boss?” I shouted.
No one responded and my voice started echoing.
After an hour I was covered with my sweat but there was no sign of my boss and friends. I had to crawl more to reach near them.
I had multiple thoughts going inside my head but I could not stop thinking about Kai on the side.
Kai must be feeling alone at school. Should I go back and pick her up? No! Boss will get angry and throw me out and my friends need me here. What if we find something great, I’ll get rich then Kai and I will not have to live the same way anymore.
My vision was slowly blurring and I was having a hard time breathing.
Kai! I hushed with the last breath and fell there.
My torch headband was still glowing and I was just lying there inside a small cave.
“Keshi! Wake up!”
I was inside a room with those same annoying machines all around.
I opened my eyes and saw Choi in front of me. She was standing there with three men around her. They all had blue similar cards on their coats.
I tried to move my body but I was tied to the bed.
“What is the meaning of this, Choi? Where is Kai?”
Choi asked the three men to leave us alone and then she held my hand.
“Keshi! I am so sorry. I know it is painful but it is painful for me to see you like this as well, trust me.”
“If it is painful for you, then throw this damn machine away from me. Untie me, I hate it!”
“Let me go!” I cried, shouted with all the strength that I had inside me.
“Keshi! I found your journal, I saw what you had written.”
Choi said that and went outside the room, crying. I did not know why she was acting like that. What did I do to her to make her so sad?
A team of doctors soon entered the room and one of them lit a torch to examine my eye.
“Doctor, where is Kai? Did she come back and my boss and friends? Did they find the treasure they were after?”
“Mr. Keshi! I am saying this for the last time. You have already made things hard for your wife. There is no Kai, no boss, no friends. You have not left this hospital for the last 5 years. Get back to your senses, sir.”
“What rubbish? I was just there near my workplace digging the new mine site.”
As I was speaking, Doctor injected a syringe into my left arm and my tongue started rolling.
Konoha Mental Hospital
Patient name: Keshi
- The patient hallucinates and reacts accordingly. Feels suffocated and starts crying anytime, anywhere.
- The patient mistook his wife to be an imaginary friend of his real wife, Choi.
- The patient has been hallucinating for the last five years.
- A case of shock was reported after his wife had a miscarriage five years ago.
Doctor: Chin Suk
About the Author:
Renu Thapa has a major in English from the University of Delhi. Originally from Nepal and she has been writing short stories for a while now.