“There is a deeper,
Darker side of me that no one knows
And no one shall ever know.
It will perish with me…”

– Pokie, age 6, 1999

The knife looked so good – so strong, so brilliant in its glitter. He held it in his hands and turned it around, savoring its every curve, its every niche, and its every edge with a gleam in his eye. He licked his dry lips. Locked in his room, he could still hear the screams and shouts of pain, anger and agony from his parents’ room. He felt a knot tighten in his chest – tears forced through his closed eyes. He clutched the knife tightly and held it close against his heart. Why? he asked. Why me? Why now? But the knife – Oh, it looked so good. He smiled through his mental pain, through his agony. As the voices grew louder and louder in the other room, he knew that any moment now his father would burst through his room and repeat what he’d done to his mother. He would start with the belt whipping followed by some slapping around and finally…and finally…it…it was…it was too painful and too disgusting to think about. He cried softly, afraid to make a noise lest his father heard him. “Don’t hurt her,” he whispered through his tears. “I’m sorry, mama. But I can’t protect you. I can’t protect you…I can’t…I can’t…” He rocked back and forth, crying, hugging the knife dearly, and crouching in the corner of his dark room. Pokie was six years old when he cut his own wrists.

“There is a deeper, darker side of me that no one knows. It will perish with me,” said Pokie lying on the white sheets in the white hospital. It was white all around. His mother was sitting beside the bed, in her chair, sobbing quietly. Her tear-streaked face did not hide the red scars of that night. Her right eye was swollen and was turning black. She was bleeding through the ears, but did not complain. She looked down at the tiny, frail figure on the bed.

“Oh Pokie,” she whispered. “Why did you do it, honey?”

Pokie could not hear her. He was on a life support system, battling for his life. The doctor who had looked in hadn’t shown hope in survival. “A great loss of blood,” he had said. “And his blood group’s not too common. It may take a while to acquire it. I’m sorry.” She had cried that she was his mother and he could have every drop her blood if he wanted to. But the doctor had calmly refused saying that there was a mismatch. Please, she had cried. I am his mother! We have the same blood. Not quite, said the doctor.

Now, as she sat and cried, she heard the first rambling words of her six-year-old son, and was immediately out of the chair and by his side, leaning in through the plastic hood of the life support and egging him to speak.

Pokie was six years old when the power failed in the hospital and the life support, which did not have a battery back up, failed with it. Pokie was six years old when he died. He wasn’t the only one. His mother picked up hypodermic syringe lying on the table, filled it with air and thrust it into her veins. Pokie was exactly six years old. It was his birthday.

“Pokie” was one of my earliest short stories, which has just been accepted into the New York Times’ creative young authors’ section. Passing the final reviews, it would be published in the online edition of NYT. ~ Yay ~ 😀

Published by Nikhil

Nikhil Kumar lives in Bangalore with his wife and their stuffed dog. They are both advertising professionals and lead very exciting lives on the streets, dodging traffic. Their fridge is filled with cans of Diet Coke and their water heater doesn't work. He doesn't smoke (up) anymore.

35 thoughts on “Pokie

  1. What are you trying to do!!!! You almost made me cry. 🙂 Its a beautiful story. And Congrats for the NYT thing. Its a big achievement.

  2. @Amit
    Thanks man… Yeah i was pretty depressed when I churned out this story… 🙂

  3. Oh man, I’m crying… this is so painful and so beautifully crafted.. has off to u… congrats on making it to the shortlist… hope u win it 🙂

  4. Amazing! And wonderful news. The NYT is big! You are an author.

    What an imagination you have, and quite an ability for narrative drama. This story really pulled at my heartstrings. Poor Pokie. Poor Mama. So sad. And this stuff happens. You have a huge heart.

  5. A sad yet touching story. Stuffs like this happen in the real world, just unseen, unheard. Si, even a 6-years old could think of the realities of Life. And there’s no human love that could surpass that of a mother. It’s creatively written.

    Congratulations on making it to the NY Times. 🙂

  6. Sniff Sniff… 🙂
    Good job, niks… remember me? jennie… from NY…. good blog man… we’re all missing u here in the univ…

  7. Ohh man, are you mad. How can you write so sad things? My heart can’t stop throbbing.
    Next time you think of writing, remember me and write something to cheer me up.
    No Cheers this time. I am on edges of tears.

  8. @bourne
    Thanks a lot… Do u blog?

    Thanks a ton! 😀
    I’m quite exited too!

    Thank you so much for your words… they mean a lot to me… 🙂

    thanks a ton… and yeah, such things happen and they go unnoticed… its quite sad… wish there were some way of stopping them…

    I miss u guys tooooooooo 🙂

    I apologize if this story unsettled you… I was so exited that i didnt think of how sad it really is… thanks for dropping by… please visit again, i assure u it’ll be more cheerful topics 🙂

  9. WOW! Amazing, I barely breathed reading it, it was terrifying, disturbing, but very well done. And huge congrats on the NYT, what an honour that is. 🙂

  10. @johemmant
    thanks so much… I’m so exited… and I’m glad you liked it… 🙂

    hahaha… your “uterus” skipped a beat?? That’s a new one! Thanks for dropping by! 🙂
    Do you blog?

  11. what the hell are u doing anyway? workin’ somewhere? or as usual, wasting time and money and effort…? 😉

  12. No, I dont. I used to, stopped after my blog was subjected to the act of copying catting by some bugger. But,anyway, kuddos for the article. The expression, ” uterus skipping a beat”, was something I really felt while I read the story,hence I thought I’d rather be honest! 😀

  13. @jennie
    Working now… into public relations… 🙂

    someone copied your blog?? damn! i hate such people… why don’t you get a creative commons license for your blog?

  14. Even I totally despise such people. Will start re blogging , definitely with a creative commons license right from the moment of initialization.

  15. @fruity
    thanks! 🙂
    And i’m sorry if this post hurt your feelings… As I said Suda above, i’ll try to keep my posts more cheerful… 🙂

  16. @ Yaake- No sorries. You just pour out whatever you feel like. its an art if you can make a strange person cry who is sitting seas across!
    fruiy 😉

  17. hiii !!! read dis one just now.. its awesome.. !!!!
    congrats on makin it to the NYT column ..
    and also fr gettin nominated.. twice !! 😉
    it rox.. totally !!!

  18. An heart-wrenching story…. You made me cry Nikhil…. For all the times when I had tears laughing till my stomach ached. I cried once…

    Wonderful story….
    And congrats buddy!!!

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