It was dark.
A 19 year old boy was dashing up the stairs. He knew he had 11 more floors to cover before he reached the top. Each floor had exactly 21 steps. He did quick math. It meant 231 steps which would roughly take him 3 minutes. He was slowing down, but he pushed harder to maintain his speed. He did not want to want to use the lift. As he swept past the 5th floor, he felt a sharp pull in his left hamstring. It had been long since he ran so fast. He fought the pain as he sprinted through the corridors. He was filled with so much anger and frustration that there was no more scope to feel the pain. He knew that this pain was just temporary. It would all end at the end of this journey. And he wanted it to end as soon as possible.
4 minutes later, he pushed open the old door. It seemed that no one had been here in quite some time. He stood there motionless, his hands on his knees, gasping for breath, staring at infinity. He started walking through the patio, still looking at beyond. He was on the terrace of a well-known public school of Bernalia. It was dusty and messed up. Nobody came up here often enough to keep the place clean. It was more of a storage area. He looked at his clothes. He was wearing a white shirt, smothered with dust and sweat and navy blue pants. His tie was loosely hanging around his neck and his collar button was missing.
Overflowing with agony and despair, he walked towards the edge of the patio. Images began to flash in front of his eyes. A couple was having a heated argument, a young boy clutching his score card and sobbing profusely, a young girl threw a stem of rose and stepped over it as she walked away. He could almost hear her footsteps fading away, synchronizing with his heartbeat which was growing louder.
‘This is it’ he thought, ‘the moment where it all ends.’
He had always imagined himself dying a very old man surrounded by the people he loved the most. But this was nowhere close to that. This was the path cowards chose, he was well aware of the fact, yet he saw no other alternative. He stopped just a few inches from the edge. For a moment he considered going back. He closed his eyes and the same visuals began streaming in front of his eyes. He knew that it wasn’t bearable for him anymore.
Now his toes were off the edge like a cantilever. His mind went into panic mode, desperately searching for reasons to carry on, reasons to withdraw, but he found none. He looked up and said “I am, sorry. I did all that I could.”
At this very instant, he felt a light gush of wind in his face. A shadow appeared from behind the door. The shadow said in a startled voice “Wait.”
The young boy almost lost his balance while turning around, but miraculously found his both feet on solid ground. He moved a couple of steps away from the edge and scanned the shadow head to toe. He looked at a very old man. He had a tall frame, long white hair, untrimmed white beard, long brown robe which was wrapped around his height and old pair of brown slippers. He was probably an old employee of the school. His face was unusually calm, given the situation. His look of his eyes brought placidity in the boy’s agony and distress.
“Who are you?” the young boy asked in a shaky voice.
“Is that relevant?” the old man replied. Then he continued “I am Gesu. But the question is what are you doing?”
“What do you think?” he snapped back.
“I think you’re making a big mistake.”
“Nobody really cares. Please leave me alone.”
“I’ll do exactly that. But before that, I’d like you to hear me out” Gesu requested.
“Ok, but only if you promise to leave me alone and don’t you try to come near me. I’ll jump” the young boy threatened.
Gesu nodded with a smile and started to talk “I know this feeling very well. It’s funny how these thoughts were incepted into your head. The first time you considered it, you felt unsure, indecisive and hesitant. Then as the idea grows, it starts to feel scary. However strange, dark or mysterious it may sound, the idea ultimately takes over you.”
The young boy was initially not interested, but now he was relating to Gesu’s words.
“The idea of death would seed itself after a horrible tragedy in your life and gradually it becomes the solution to all the little things that makes your life unbearable. Whenever you face a problem, you’ll find solace in the thought of ending it all, once and for all,” the old man continued, “unbearable”, he pressed on the word and continued, “but is it really unbearable?”
There was a long silence and Gesu stared into the young boy’s eyes for a while and then continued “You must be thinking that ‘my parents don’t get along, my grades are plunging, a girl does not reciprocate to my feelings. Maybe I’ll kill myself and put an end to it.’ Put an end to what my son. Your parents would still fight as much. You’d just give them another reason. Frankly speaking, the girl in question doesn’t care if you’re dead or alive. Well, actually you’ll not have to deal with your grades anymore. But is it really worth? Putting an end to your life so that you don’t have to face your score card? You’re joking with me, right? Or yourself?”
Gesu stepped back and said “I’m now gonna leave you with your thoughts.” He pointed downwards and said sarcastically “You stand at the cross-roads. You can either take this path of glory or stand strong on your ground and fight. Learn from these experiences, don’t make the mistakes that your parents made, spend a little more time with your books and watch your grades take-off. And as far as the girl is concerned,” Gesu paused for a second, then winked and continued, “live your life to the fullest and along the way, you’ll meet a dame who’ll value you, respect you and love you more than anyone in the world.”
Gesu turned to walk back into the darkness from where he had emerged. He stopped at the door; turned back for one last time and said “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” And walked away.
The young boy stared in amazement. He closed his eyes, as if realizing the mistake that he was just about to make. He walked away from the edge and then like the bolt from the sky, it hit him, ‘how did Gesu know about my parents, my score card and Adriana?’ For full 10 seconds, he stood there motionless, like a rock. Then with all his might, he sprinted towards the door which was still ajar. He went inside, looked around and called out “Gesu”, and then with a little hesitation, he followed it with “senor.”
There was no reply. He strained hard to hear footsteps, but all he could hear was the faint humming of the generators on the ground floor. He went back to the patio. His mind was running fast, in all directions, searching for an explanation of what had just happened with him.
‘Was it a dream? Was he spying on me? Was he following me?’ his mind looked for all sorts of logical explanations, but he knew, none of them was fitting and nothing was making sense.
He closed his eyes and recalled the words ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.’
And there was light.
The name of this young boy was Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso, also known as Pablo Picasso.
He was a Spanish painter,sculptor, ceramicist and stage designer.
25 Oct 1881 – 8 April 1973
Note: This is a work of pure fiction, any resemblance with anybody, living or dead is purely coincidental.