The status quo


Writing has become difficult of late. Almost as difficult as speaking.

Earlier, even though uttering words in front of people was a considerable challenge, writing used to come naturally. Now the words choke on themselves, regardless of the medium. So much that I fear that soon, my thoughts will follow suit.

This comes off as a weird notion. Funny, even. But if anyone has been me for the past 21 years, they’ll realize it’s a prudent fear. When the search for words becomes as desperate as one draw of breath when struggling underwater, when you find yourself unable to talk to the people just beside you for no reason at all(except for being unable to come up with a single word to say), when you start getting morbid and suffocating thoughts anytime you’re by yourself (which is most times), when you’d actually want to be around people you know you can trust but act like you don’t mind being alone, and then get worried of this entitlement dragging you away from those who could have eventually made it to your small circle, when every morning you wake up is a huge internal sigh, when you mull over every little thing endlessly, no wayward thought that can prance around your wretched brain seems far-fetched.

And then you begin to doubt everything about yourself, and about people around you. You think everything’s a raging sham; hypocritical even! All pretense and rues; like a big stage play being enacted for the sole reason that it’s always been this way, with you a slight anomaly, whose existence won’t register.

It is hard to look back and think of what brought this wave on — this inexplicable wave of self-doubt and listlessness, or is it called ennui? I hope not. It’s too sweet a word for such messed up meaning — or was that the point?

The Element Girl in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman was the latest character that stuck with me. All the masks, all the false faces, the crushing loneliness, the ugly appearance, the few contact-points that you expend judiciously, all of them struck home, and felt more real than actual people. And I understood her. I understood her story, but for this one question that still keeps bugging me: Did she regret her choice to die just before she was vaporized by Ra? Just like in her dream? I think she did. Will I have second thoughts? During those times when the happiest of my memories and the strongest of my dreams can’t brave the faintest of glimmer in my darkening reveries, I doubt I will.

But then I convince myself that it’s all in my head. And it works. Atleast until the next day.

A Little Day Out

Nariman Point, Mumbai

I looked at my watch for the umpteenth time. 10:50. I had to leave by 12:00. But the session seemed to be going on forever. So much for yoga day! Compulsory attendance is all but useless when half the people are dozing off when they’re supposed to feel all material weight and worries lifting away from their bodies. Or maybe sleep is another form of relaxation. Hard as it is to come by in a business school.

Still, I had something to look forward to: A meeting with an old friend. It had only been 2 weeks since I started college, but it felt like ages.

After the session(and the attendance sham) finally got done with, I packed my bag and left for our meeting point, sending a small heads up to her phone:

‘Getting on the metro. Be there in an hour.’

It’s disconcerting. We used to live together in the same room, not long ago, and now, had to travel an hour to just see each other.

I was the one to arrive first. A quick call later, I stationed myself in front of her arrival platform and started counting down the minutes, keeping time with the giant LED board screaming the details of the next train to arrive. As soon as the train came into view, my phone rang. I cut the call and started looking around. In the Mumbai train arrival rush, a call serves little purpose other than adding to the confusion. After a few minutes, I spotted her among the crowd of people gushing out of the train onto the platform. Inadvertently, the corners of my mouth stretched themselves to form a huge smile and my excitement gave itself away in impatient jumps and elaborate waves — at last, we get to meet.

 — — —

We didn’t talk about old memories or incidents. It hadn’t been that long for us. Instead we clicked new memories and joked about how our other friend will get jealous over them. We talked about things off the top of our heads. We argued over who would give up her precious mobile data to look up a good dine-in nearby. We walked around aimlessly in the drizzle, in a beautiful part of a wonderful city. We complained about getting half wet because the other person was too selfish while holding the umbrella, continuously switching hands to show the right way to accommodate two people under one umbrella. We found it needlessly funny when one of the umbrellas broke while being wrestled open in the sudden strong wind, taking time to understand the mechanics of umbrella opening everytime it started raining from then on. We were horribly tensed up when one of us forgot her cell phone in the cab, and then immensely relieved when the driver picked up one of our relentless calls and came back to return the phone to us, immediately breaking into praises and gratitude for the Mumbai cab drivers. And when it was too late to stay back, we started planning out the next time we would meet.

It was a good day. Nothing extraordinary, but still beautiful. Staying with strangers for the past few weeks and trying to find the right ones (which takes a lot of time for me) somehow made this special, made it feel like home. It was normal, effortless — the same as always. It was the difference between stepping around lightly looking for landmines and running straight ahead with your arms spread out; the difference between molding yourself into a crammed or foreign place and fitting into a predefined place, designed just for you, every nook and cranny formed with you in mind, with a click; the difference between being dumped into preconceived categories and being accepted.

And this difference in immeasurable. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what makes it so special.