I saw her first: A short story

7 September 2023
Smitha Murthy Written by Smitha Murthy
Smitha Murthy

Smitha Murthy

Co-Founder and Editor @MyndStories Smitha Murthy has shaped...

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This short story is written as part of the MyndStories campaign for World Suicide Prevention Day 2023. This is a fictional story. Please note that this content may be distressing for some.

I saw her first. 

It was just like any other evening. The lad with the groundnuts. That old man with the guavas. Walkers moving busily. And that bridge. 

That bridge creaking, always creaking, from a hundred vehicles. 

I have been here a while.

I know this place. Intimately. It’s second skin, if I can say I have one now. I know where the bridge curves around the corner, where there’s a tile missing in the footbridge, and where the most delicious angles are. To sit. 

And to jump. 

That side? Over there? The one that faces the Prestige Towers? With the sun hitting you in the face in the evening? That’s the side I like. Here, you can look at life as it sets in your vision. Cast your legs over the railing. Here, you can see the lights twinkle, those artificial stars of life from Prestige Towers. And here, you can watch, from exactly 54 feet, the water below you. Green. Occasionally blue. 


And now I see her. 

From where I am, I need not guess her age. 16 years old. Wearing an old T-shirt that says “Dog Mom.” Levis jeans. Short hair. Dark glasses. She has chosen the right side. Leaning on the railing. 

I know it’s her. 

Who I have been waiting for all day.

I walk over and tap her on the shoulder. She startles. I peer into the dark glasses and see myself reflected. I see nothing. She, of course, sees me – Varsha. 21 years old. Shorter and spikier hair than hers. Who used to be always seen wearing shorts. And with a notebook. Because Varsha loved to write. That one canvas that her mind allowed her to be.

“Hey!” I smile. 

She ignores me and turns away. 

“Hey!” I repeat, unsure if my voice is audible. 


Ah, girl, I think. 

“Nice sunset, no?” I try again.
This time, she really looks at me. I see frustration. Panic. Rage. Resolution. I also see loneliness. 

“Can you go away?” she whispers.

I jump onto the railing.

“What are you doing!” she gasps.

“Just giving you a demo,” I smile.”That’s what you came here for, isn’t it? To jump? Let me show you how it’s done. It’s important that you get it right.”


I swing my legs lazily. 

She’s nervous. For me. For her. She looks around. But no one cares. They won’t. She sees me. Not them. 

“Can you please get back?” she pleads.

I put on that look that Varsha was famous for: a look of beguiling innocence. 

“Aren’t you joining me?”

She bites her lip. 

“Why?” I ask.

“What why?”

“Why are you doing  this?”

“Is there any reason?”


“I am tired,” she says. 

image of woman

“Not enough reason,” I quip. I inch further ahead. She closes her eyes.

“Stop. I am tired. I lost…I have lost hope.”

She stops. I wait. I know this is when they will not stop talking. She tears at her cuticles. I wince. She doesn’t notice.

“I am just a burden. To everyone. I flunked…and after everyone paid so much for that school. My parents are worried. Ajji is worried. And I can’t bear to have her worried, but they have spent so much. So much on me already. I will always be this: the only person in our family who will never pass. Who can’t seem to do anything right. I am never enough. And I feel like screaming and screaming, but no one can hear. Do you know how that feels?”

I nod. 

I know that very well. It’s why I am here, I want to tell her. 

“So, it’s easier to…” she gestures to the waters below. We both stare at the green, cast in the lurid light of the setting sun. 

“Come then,” I say, offering her my hand. 


“Climb over.” She looks at me and turns around. The same groundnut seller. The same old man. They aren’t interested. No one is. But I am. She is my redemption. 

She holds my hand but doesn’t climb over. 

“I did this,” I say. She doesn’t look at me, but her palm is moist. Life still clings to her skin. 

“I jumped off this bridge. I timed it perfectly, as I had timed everything else in my life. I did that for a relationship I thought I couldn’t live without. To punish myself.” She looks at me now, and I sense fear from her touch.

I smile as gently as I can. “Since then, I wait here. To remind those who come here that if they feel lost, there’s a map. To tell you that you aren’t alone.” I squeeze her hand. “Can you walk back?” I ask. “I will walk with you.”

I pause. “Until you are home.You aren’t alone.”

She nods. I don’t have to plead with her. I smile. 

I jump off the bridge. She doesn’t seem scared. Of me. It’s life that’s scary for her now, not this ghost of Varsha. But I am here. And will always be. 

This is my job. 

I smile as we walk away. One step at a time. Together. 

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