When your friend turns immortal

Though I called Ashwa a friend, I had never seen his face, never needed to. We had met at Bedardi Bar and usually hung out on slow nights, drinking in silence. Our relationship had always been more about silence than conversation.

‘You know how precious death is?’

He asked, looking at the gyrating crowd around us. ‘It’s a nectar, a blessing, to die. To give up life, its memories, the baggage. To start afresh. You wouldn’t understand, Anantya. You with your moment’s breath, so full of life, wouldn’t understand. Death begets life. The fear of death clutches at your heart’ – he made a claw of his hand – ‘so that blood flows faster, pumping through your veins, making you run, feel the wind in your hair … without it, there’s nothing, nothing. There’s nothing but a long, long lonely stretch of road. There’s nothing but emptiness—’

The kravyad couple above us screeched, burst uncontrollable fireballs at each other.

‘Dude, don’t talk in freakish metaphors,’ I answered.

‘What the hell happened to Guru B? How did you know—’

Ssss. Maaki had picked up a fire extinguisher and sprayed the kravyads.

‘It doesn’t matter!’ said Ashwa, lifting his head to glare at me. ‘We should all go! Die!’

‘Who?’ I asked.

‘All of us. All. Our souls they’re so threadbare, so torn, so tired. How can freedom from life be wrong for us? I don’t want to wait anymore for death to choose me. is my dharma, what’s my duty? Can I never choose right? How can something that feels so right, so natural, so much like breathing again, like freedom, cause this pain?’

He clutched my arm.

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