Creya’s Imaginary Friend
Author:Gunjan Vyas,Madhu Kalyan
Art by: Dina Ahmed
“Ever since I was a kid I had an imaginary friend. His name was Aryan, and he was the only person I ever loved, needed, or cared about and even as I got older, he never went away.”
When I was four, my mother had died from cancer. I cried every night because she was everything to me – I loved her the most in the whole wide world.Days went by and I became lonelier still – my father was a busy man and none of the nannies he’d hired for me were half as good as my mother – she was the best. One day, I heard this voice in my head which wasn’t mine. At first I thought it was just my mind playing but then it started talking to me. Soon I was able to discern that it belonged to a child who wanted to play
“What’s your name?”
“Aryan and you are Creya.”
“Where are you? Why can’t I see you?”
“You might see me if you close your eyes.”
“No! I still can’t see you, Aryan. Why?”
“The time’s not right, maybe.”
“What do you mean?”
You’ll see me when the time’s right…
“I play hide and seek with Aryan,
but I never find him & he never finds me.
I talk & sing with him,
But he never dances with me,
I would show him to my friends,
Only if I had any,
No one seems to see him,
Other than me.
I’ve spent all my life with him,
and fought away my loneliness,
‘Cause when no one’s listening to me,
he listens to me speak.
He’s not just my imaginary friend.
He’s my everything…”
Soon, I started to make friends at school. I got more cheerful and the girls in my class started to like me. We played together and Aryan would whisper things to me that’d always make me win a game – we were an excellent team. Years went by and I kept getting happier despite the fact that my father wouldn’t stay with me much – he was too busy signing business deals and attending fancy parties. I cried sometimes – thinking how I was an orphan even with a father but Aryan would tell me how beautiful life really is. I’d see an orphan kid begging on street and Aryan would tell me to keep looking and know how lucky I really am to have a roof over my head and a friend to talk to anytime I wanted.
The night I turned fourteen, my father came back home drunk – so drunk he couldn’t even properly stand. I was in bed whispering to Aryan about some really stupid girls in my class when I heard the thrashing of objects from below. Usually, I would wake up every morning on my birthday to find lots of gifts stacked near the staircase and I assumed it was my dad getting exactly that done. I smiled and said, “You were right, Aryan. He’s not that bad…he’s got me so many gifts this year too!”
I started giggling when Aryan whispered back, “Yeah, I think he’s finally got that huge teddy you’ve been wanting since last year.”
Yes, I was fourteen and loved cute soft toys.
We continued to giggle and talk but got distracted when the thrashing got louder and more violent. I was getting more and more worried and asked Aryan what it could be. He didn’t reply so I got up and opened my door a little – big enough to peek through. I could hear my father’s voice which sounded – as I could describe at that moment – disturbing. He was yelling at the top of his voice words I couldn’t quite understand so I just stood there listening.
“I don’t like this, Aryan…”
“Go to bed, Creya.”
“But I’m worried an-”
“Go to bed, Creya. Now.”
At that moment I wanted to slap him hard and tell him to shut up but since I couldn’t see him only yelling ‘shut up’ had to suffice. I strode down the stairs to see what dad was up to and was shocked at what I saw.
He was dressed in a business suit as usual but his coat was off and his shirt was unbuttoned till the first half, sleeves were rolled up to the elbow, and his tie was loosened around the neck. He was breathing heavily and holding a big gift box in his hands. I went nearer and asked him what was happening in a meek voice. He gave me a stare so cold I froze on the spot.
“You’re such a burden, Creya. Why don’t you just die like your mother?”
The only thought that started to run through my mind at those words was ‘Is this man my father?’ because it didn’t seem so. This man seemed more like a cold hearted devil who didn’t care that I was his daughter(or even human for that matter) as he drew me closer and hurt me in ways I couldn’t believe he did.
There was nothing I could do as I pushed against his strong body to leave my small, weak one as he hit me with my own ‘gifts’. One after the other all those heavy boxes were thrown at me. Some of them had sharp edges and my skin bled from where it was hit by them.
It was all a blur – my mind and body, so used to all the luxuries and comforts I was provided, couldn’t react to what was happening.
I was punched, kicked and slapped. I was thrown across the floor and stripped. He broke his wine glass and was coming towards me with the sharp broken piece in hand when thankfully, Aryan’s voice shouted in my head before things could progress into what an experience that would have scarred me for life.
“Get up and fight back!”
His voice rang through my head, through my spirit. My body was aching, my mind was a mess but still his endless pleas finally urged me to get up. It was an effort – my legs hurt because of constant thrashing, my arms were blue and my hands were bleeding but I still managed to rise from the ground and did the first thing that came to my mind – run. I went straight for the door and ran for my life. Barefoot and broken, I didn’t stop even once as my feet took me away from the hell my father had created for my fourteenth birthday. There was no one around as I made my way through the empty street.
I went to the small park where I sometimes used to go when I needed fresh air and sat on the swing. Tears kept flowing but my pain was not eased. I couldn’t believe what just took place in the place I called home – maybe I wasn’t close to dad and maybe he didn’t love me after all but this was just beyond all limits.
“Why did this happen to me, Aryan?” I asked in a low voice but Aryan didn’t answer.
He still didn’t answer. Was he even listening?
I started to sob loudly at this – now I was completely alone. My father had tried to kill me and my only friend wouldn’t listen to me.
I asked myself over and over as the cold wind blew against my disheveled hair.
“Aryan! Please talk to me!”
The wind dried the tears as they flowed down my face but new ones would quickly wet my skin again. The world had ended for me then – I felt as dark on the inside as the night itself.
I couldn’t take it anymore – the silence, the apathy, the pain so I screamed.
“ARYAN! DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT ME ANYMORE?”
This time he replied. His reply brought new tears to my eyes but they felt totally different from the ones I was shedding before – these were the tears of longing and sadness combined with happiness of not being alone. His words echoed again and again and I felt my heart beat insanely fast against my chest.
“I don’t want to say anything, Creya. I just want to break down these walls around me and come out and wipe away your tears. I can’t see you cry like this. I don’t want to see you so hurt and broken. But I can’t do anything from here…”
“I have so many things to tell you, my imaginary friend
You know, I’ve been alone
I don’t know how long
I’ve been thinking about doing some absurd things
That I never thought before
I was so happy, but it was a very long time ago…
I don’t remember how is to feel like that anymore
Love is so far away from me now
I guess, sometimes, I wasn’t born to receive it
My life is so uncertain…
Everybody knows what they’re going to do
in the next five years
I don’t know I’m going to do the next day…
Sometimes I wish to close my eyes
and make the whole world disappear
And just exist me and you
My imaginary friend…”
“I’m not crying Aryan now…You just wiped all my tears away.”
The next morning I returned home. I went straight to my room and locked myself. The whole day was spent in packing my things because I couldn’t live in this hell anymore – a place where I wasn’t wanted wasn’t a place I wanted to be in.
I left without a word to anyone. I had heard my father’s voice from his room once that day as he shouted at the servants asking about my whereabouts. Silly man, if only he had tried to look for me in the morning.
I took the bus to Shimla spending all my pocket money – the birthplace of my mother and the place where nani lived.
I hadn’t seen nani(grandma) again after mom had died but from what I could remember, she loved us a lot and had wanted to see me but dad didn’t let us meet.
Now that I was no longer wanted in the place that was supposed to be my home, I went to a place where I knew I belonged.
On reaching Shimla, finding my nani’s house was a piece of cake. Being the small town it was, nani’s kothi was not unknown to the locals and I was soon in front of her front door.
I felt so nervous and even guilty for not trying to meet her in all these years but once the door opened I was overwhelmed with emotion when she recognized me. Eight years, eight months had passed but she hadn’t changed a bit – she was still the same old nani that used to play with my five year old self.
She hugged me tightly and I sobbed in her arms – crying out all the hurt that was bottled inside of me. All the while, I could feel Aryan smiling.
Years passed by in Shimla and I found myself happier than before – I made new friends, my new family loved me and my nani compensated for all the affection I had lost in the past nine years with so much care that it sometimes made me cry.
Everything had changed now – no big empty, lifeless house, no apathetic relatives, no servants, no surplus toys and money and it seemed that my father hadn’t tried much to look for me. I think a part of the reason was that I hadn’t complained against him to the police.
My life was absolutely new and fresh to me but one thing had remained constant even after these drastic changes – Aryan. He never left me through all this and as I grew older, I found myself falling in love with him. From our endless talks at night to our mid-day chattering – Aryan was my big secret and my best friend.
So many times I had wished he came out of the secret dimension he resided in and show me his face – I wanted to see the face which was attached to that beautiful voice which had given me love, hope and aspirations.
The night I turned 20, he visited me in my dream and I finally saw his face which was beautiful. He was beautiful.
I ran into his arms, crying tears of joy. He whispered loving and caring words to me quietly as I cried into his chest. His suit didn’t seem to get wet, but I knew her face was soaked with tears still.
My wish was finally granted and I couldn’t believe it.
“You really are Aryan.”
“Who else could I be?”
“I can’t believe I’m finally seeing you.”
“Believe it now… we’ve finally met.”
“I want you to come with me, and stay with me forever. Not as a secret but the person you deserve to be. Please Aryan, can’t you come out now?”
“Happy birthday, Creya.”
He smiled and a bright light was all around us and then….I woke up. It was still dark and I despaired thinking it was just a dream. I turned to my side to try to fall asleep again and gasped when I saw Aryan lying right next to me!
I sat up surprised and hugged him tightly…he’d come to me. Finally!
“I love you,” I murmured and kissed him deeply.
“I love you too,” he replied and deepened the kiss.
That night, we became two bodies and one soul.