My former boss


Every so often, I flirt with suicide. The first time it happened was in the middle of summer … I was doing a summer internship in a publishing company. At the time, my boss (who was also my mentor) was a gentle and kind man who gave a damn about the next generation. Rare. Sometimes I wondered if he had an ulterior motive, although the more I got to know him, the less it seemed to be so. I was 20 at the time and I guess I always looked miserable. Rays of negativity would radiantly shine through my eyes whenever I’d encounter people. I guess my boss was the first to smell that something was off. That chirpy, vibrant person who he interviewed died and transformed into a slow, bored and uninterested girl.

A few weeks went by, and I still looked very miserable. Everything I loved fell into a boring, dull and repetitive routine. I forced myself to do everything – to get out of bed in the morning, choose what to wear, brush my teeth, shower, eat, leave… I even forced myself to go to coffee with my friends. I lost track of the rhythm that was once so easy to follow and dance to in the day. I used to devour novels in days but nowadays, everything is such a struggle. Getting through a few lines is difficult. Even the simple things like eating and sleeping are hard to do. I walk about on the face of the earth continually looking downwards… sometimes I think and fantasize about ending it all. Every single time I am several stories off the ground; I’d look down and think – if I wanted to… I could just jump.

My former boss approached me privately one afternoon, asking me if everything was alright. I don’t really know why, but I broke down and started crying… I suppose in a movie, this would be a scene with tacky but sad music – That poignant scene where she’d cry and he’d gently wipe the tears from her face … and then they’d embrace and they’d make love.

It didn’t happen that way… then again I guess it was because I was 20 and he was fifty-something. I cried.  Thankfully it wasn’t public, but why I did it still perplexes me to this day. He looked at me and handed me a tissue conveniently located inside the breast pocket of his corporate jacket. He asked me if I wanted to talk about it. I wiped the tears from eyes as quickly as I could. I tried to contain myself, but I started to sob again. Snot, tears and more tears started to drip across my face. I looked at him, and said “I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m just tired and sad all the time. I landed this internship, I got the job and I’m so GOD DAMN MISERABLE!”

I regret saying that till this day… his reply were a few cold and emotionless words stringed together:

“If you don’t like it here, get out. There are other more talented people who want to be here. Don’t be ungrateful for what you have. I worked damn hard to get a position in a publishing company during my undergraduate years. You just got handed one and you act like somebody just died.”

That night, I just had it. The misery inside of me was brewing… and I wrote a note, apologising to several people for my intentional death. I addressed a section of the note to him. I told him that I hoped that he was happy… I hoped that he found a new intern, because obviously I wasn’t grateful enough to learn under his mentorship.

I rummaged through draws, finding as much over the counter medicine I could find, as many unused prescription medications that was in the apartment I lived in. I lived on my own, and I had the luxury of planning a suicide without anybody walking in to catch me or disturb me in my plans. The thing was, being 20 and all; I never had to see a specialist. I didn’t take prescription medication every day. I hardly ever saw a doctor. I swallowed as much as I could that night – Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, booze … and all it did was make me feel sick and puke.

I went to work the following day. I my face was emblazoned with tiredness. My skin was a sickly pale colour. I tried to hide it with makeup but it was useless, I just looked like a sick person with makeup on. He greeted me in the morning. I had his coffee, just as he had always wanted it – a flat white with no sugar. I placed it in his hand. Our eyes locked, awkwardly, I don’t know what he saw in my eyes, but he inhaled as though he was ready to speak. I was ready to hear his words stab me. Funnily enough, it didn’t happen… he just walked away.


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