What I want to say before I fade - Season 4 1st Runners Up

-Maahi Sonpatki

There is a person living in the notebook. An elusive creature, with snowy hair and glassy eyes. If you
stare at her long enough, she shall say this-

My skin is growing transparent.

Your brows will furrow in confusion and concern. ‘Are you alive?’


If you decide to stick around and not be overwhelmed with the lunacy of talking to a notebook, she
shall stay too. Her skin will be less watery and her eyes more opaque. She shall sit cross-legged which to you will be midair. She will then patiently explain that where she lives, a floor of flimsy paper is as concrete as it gets.

‘How does it feel, living where you live?’ You ask.

The first few days, the white hurt my eyes. The paper crinkled under my toes every time I walked. It
drove me insane.

‘What did you do?’

She shrugs.

Got used to it. I started to think of it as snow. I imagined small peals tearing out and falling. It helped.
Is it like snow?’

I wouldn’t know. I never saw snow. But I always wanted to.

You talk with her more, in intervals. Your conversations are broken and random, her voice is
detached and airy. It is a good combination. You ask her childish, scattered questions-

‘What is your favourite colour?’

Her responses are peculiar.

I’ve forgotten the names. But I guess it would be the colour of summer grass doused in spring rain.

‘There is no such grass like that.’

Where I used to be, that is the only type of grass that existed.

‘But you live in paper.’

Not in the beginning.

There are nights when you open the notebook and it seems like the words are rivers flowing out of
your mouth and the moments are so lucid that you can’t remember much of them when they pass.
After a number of nights like those she tells you this-

I knew a girl once.

‘What sort of girl.’

I’m not sure. She was the only girl I knew. But she was there when I was born.

She tells you about the first seconds of consciousness, on paper, in a page, watching herself
materialize. She was born on summer grass doused in spring rain with still limbs that kicked no
womb. That is when she first met Girl, a round, brown face with curtains of dark air hanging over her.

‘So, you don’t have a mother?’

No, but I’m not sure I want one. Girl hated hers.

‘What a strange girl.’

I guess you could call her the leaving sort.

Girl’s dreams would consist of tall women with swan necks and cooling touches.

I have never seen their faces, she tells me, only their backs, leading her away.

Where to?’

To a place where she would dress in white fur coats with flowy dresses underneath.

She told you this?’

She told me everything.

She tells you about how she would see the places where Girl wanted to be. That villa, with that
polished Maplewood floor. The one with large windows lining the walls. How Girl would lay on the
smooth leather of the sofa. Limbs poised elegantly in the air, like that of a dying bird. A model out of
a French renaissance painting.

The picturesque, she tells you, Girl would have bled for it.

At the grocery store, looking for frozen peas, you think about Girl. Is she still the leaving sort, or the
sort that now stays in a place they do not want to leave?

Sometimes, she talks like you aren’t there. Like she was undoing a knot in her throat.

It all started to break. Bit by bit, until the vacancies were large and gaping. The cream walls of the
villa started to flake. The floor to give way. There were nights when she would cut herself open. Her
bed was her grave. I saw the sort she really was, the kind that are stuck in their heads. I started

‘What did it feel like?’

Like a mother shredding the existence of her child. The child abandons childhood, I returned to paper.

‘So you do belong to paper.’

No, I belong to ink.

‘Where is Girl now?’

Sometimes, when I focus hard enough, I see her in an apartment that is falling apart. She is cutting
herself open, dreaming.

You don’t speak to her for some time after that. You are thinking about the first thing she said to you
– My skin is growing transparent.

The next time you open the notebook, she is gone.

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