Is There Hope Even In Darkness (A Short Story)

She couldn't take it anymore. She decided that today was going to be the day. The bottle of milk in her hand was hot, the baby, finally asleep would soon be awake and hungry. She placed the bottle of milk on the messy table, (another reminder of how similar her life was) walked out the door and never looked back. It was a short walk and one she had often thought about. It was a hot day (another reminder of the hot milk and her peaceful baby). Should she go back? No. It would all be over soon. No one would care.
Mallika quickly finished the last of the vessels in her sink all while contemplating a relaxing afternoon ahead. The shrill screaming of her neighbours baby made her wince. So much for that nap, she thought. It would probably take another half an hour for that baby to stop yelling. The neighbours had recently moved in and although Mallika had made several attempts to get to know them and offer help, the couple seemed offhand(ish) and refused to share any details except their names. So Raj, Mallika's husband had finally told her to stop bothering their neighbours much to Mallika's irritation. Serves them right she thought as she picked up the book she'd been reading and lay in bed. The screams grew louder and her eyes grew heavy. She wasn't sure what exactly woke her but the screaming was louder and more desperate now. A quick glance at the clock, and she realised she'd been asleep for almost an hour. What could possible be wrong with that baby? What was the mother doing? She decided to take a peek and to her surprise found the door to her neighbours apartment slightly ajar. The yelling continued and Mallika, who was usually very particular about being intrusive suddenly felt alarmed and pushed the door open. The screams that were coming from the bedroom were now louder, more desperate and a quick survey of the hall indicated an eerie emptiness and a very obvious absence of its occupants. Mallika felt her steps quicken as she rushed to the bedroom, frightened and terribly uncomfortable as she saw her neighbours baby squirming, kicking and yelling with no sight of the mother or father around. She was sweating now, panicking as she picked up the baby and quickly checked the bathroom. No one there. She rushed back to the hall and into the kitchen. No one. She called out their names in despair but there was no response. The puja room, the other rooms, all yielded the same result: an unexplained absence of its owners. The baby was probably hungry and as she looked around she was relieved to see a bottle of milk on the cluttered dining table. She grabbed it and rushed out of the apartment thinking who she would call? what would she say? and then a more fearful thought: had she done the right thing? What if this was really nothing? Maybe Jisha had stepped out (then another thought: but why would she?) She half expected (actually hoped) that her neighbour would appear, grab the baby and yell at her for being so silly. The thoughts stopped as she found her cellphone and with trembling hands dialled her husbands number. "Raj" she almost screamed, "Something has happened, Jisha and Ajay, I, I caaa can't find Jisha and the baby has been screaming. It's been more than an hour now. I checked the house, umm there's no one. Raj, I don't know what to do. What should I do? What do we do?"
Jisha and Ajay were on cloud nine after the recent birth of their child. It was something they both wanted and were looking forward to. A few days into motherhood, Jisha found she would sometimes panic when they baby cried uncontrollably and she was extremely stressed with all the advice that came pouring in from friends and relatives who visited. She confided in Ajay and he assured her it was quite normal to be feeling overwhelmed, especially after all she'd been through. Jisha spoke to a friend who told her that it was probably a case of the "baby blues" and it would go away soon. So she pushed the negative thoughts away and decided to never think of them again. But things got worse, the night feeds left her exhausted, the friends and relatives who were quick to advise stayed far away and the arguments began. 
Raj, who has never heard his wife sound so frightened tried desperately to calm her as he heard a wailing baby in between his wife's heavy breathing and almost apparent sobs. "Mallika". He finally said. "Go to the building security. Ask him to call Ajay's number, I'm on my way home". Mallika, stuffed the phone in her pocket, as she struggled to hold the baby. She rushed to the elevator, punched the buttons so hard and waited as the elevator hummed its way to the ground floor.
Ajay could never understand what happened to his wife after their baby was born.Wasn't this supposed to be the happiest days of her life? Didn't she want this too? Why was she so emotional? A few days ago he came home to find the baby screaming and Jisha pacing the room helplessly. She collapsed into his arms sobbing saying she had no idea what had come over her. A decision was made and she was sent to live with her sister (as she had no parents). Jisha returned three months later and she looked so happy and relaxed. Ajay was pleased. There were no more helpless incidents and Jisha seemed like a new happy mother enjoying motherhood.
Saurabh, the security man at the " Elite Apartments" had his own worries. As he saw madam from 618 approaching with a crying baby he sighed in irritation and wondered what on earth she would request him to do today. Mallika approached Saurabh and almost yelled. "620, Ajay Sir ko jaldi bulao....jaldi". What was her problem, Saurabh wondered? He had seen madam from 620 leave the building quite a while back. He knew (from previous experience) never to question madam so he quickly pulled out the register of tenant details from the drawer and looked through the list of numbers. Something about her expression made him uneasy so he quickly dialled the number and waited for the call to be answered. "Eh! Hello Ji Sir, Mein...." and just like that madam snatched the phone from his hand and started yelling into it."Ajay!, Hello, this is your neighbour Mallika from 618. I'm calling because, your.....
A small corner of the next day's newspaper detailed Jisha's suicide. It didn't matter how and those who knew her were unable to comprehend how such a happy person could have masked such dark thoughts.
This story is a piece of fiction but Postpartum Depression is very REAL and something that many new moms are not comfortable talking about. No one wants to acknowledge it and sadly, support and awareness is low. I lost my friend to PPD! I hope we can raise an awareness and help those dealing with more than just the baby blues.