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A Desolate Soul

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

It is often claimed that life is tough and no matter how hard things get, we should keep fighting. Individuals are expected to fight no matter the situation. Neither the factors that support a person to fight nor the reasons for an individual to not fight aren’t discussed. A couple of winners are cited while thousands of failures are forgotten.

“A Desolate Soul” by Nikhila Kotni is one such forgotten story of a fragile soul who couldn’t live with her circumstances. Filled with sorrow, the story shows how the members we look up to mean so much when facing life turning situations and how life seems meaningless when we lack the strength and are abused by the very people we look up to.



This contribution is edited by Sreekar Ayyagari & illustrated by Nikhila Kotni.



This short story is available in paperback & ebook.

Trigger Warning: Suicide

Naina stood at the edge of the water tank and closed her eyes. Her thoughts took her back in time to when she was in school. In an old house, her aunt and cousin held young Naina before she was about to run away, not wanting to listen to them. As she looked at them with her eyes wide open, her eldest cousin said, “Your parents will always keep fighting because of your Zodiac sign! They are most unfortunate to have you.” Gawking at her, Naina’s aunt said in a sad voice, “My sister never had a peaceful life. Her husband made it even more complicated but this kid just made it worse. Look at her…” Turning towards Naina, she cursed, “She is like a dirtbag breathing life. Even her fate is ugly.” They stared at her as Naina’s cousin suggested, “Let’s admit her in the boarding school that I’m working in mama. I will keep an eye on her and she can stay away from my uncle and aunt and that will offer them the little peace they are hoping for.” The mother looked at her daughter for a moment and nodded in agreement. There was silence and darkness for a moment until another memory popped up. Young Naina stood in a corridor, while a thin short woman stood beside her. Naina stared at her parents while they left the boarding school and the women beside Naina took her inside. The next memory started with a phone ring and young Naina ran towards the corridor hopefully. The attendee picked up the phone to say, “Hey Naina!” Feeling delighted that she finally got a phone call from her parents after many months, Naina rushed to the phone with a beaming smile before the attendee said, “Can you call Archana? Tell her parents had called.”

Walking away with a dim face, Naina called Archana. For days, the phone rang multiple times and every single time Naina ran towards the phone filled with hope to talk to her parents. But she never received a call. Adding to that, every weekend, Naina felt extremely disappointed when she saw other kids having a great time with their parents who visited once a week. The next memory was about Naina’s birthday. The day when her parents finally arrived. Until then the only family member Naina ever saw was her cousin. Whenever she saw her, she gave a nervous smile and tried her best to avoid her. On her birthday Naina wore a beautiful pink frock her parents got her and they celebrated her birthday at the school canteen. Naina looked at her parents standing on her either side as she cut the cake. She glowed with a beaming smile on her face feeling loved for once. After the birthday party, Naina and her mother sat on the lawn as her father spoke to the teachers. Staring at the sunset, her mother said, “Your father has not fought with me in the last three months even once. He was calm and caring. We are finally happy together…” Listening to her mother spitting out cruel words without any self-reflection, young Naina closed her eyes.


Opening her eyes, Naina saw the dark blue sky and a blurry full moon covered partially by clouds. She looked at it for a moment and took a deep breath. Turning around, she realised she was standing on the four-story building. A thought passed her mind as to what would happen if she would just fly for a while in her last few moments.

But the destination of the flight terrified her. Even she acknowledged, “That would be messy!”

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