My room is a mess. The mess used to feel like home earlier. Now everything feels a little alien, like I’ve taken over someone else’s body, someone else’s chaos. This is not my mess. I want someone else to claim it. Every morning I empty the pile on my chair on to my bed. Every night I put it back, but I add a bit more to it. A little bit more, just enough that it doesn’t spill over. When you forget something, you have to retrace your steps in an attempt to remember it. Even the most inconsequential things can jog your memory. Like the sock dangling over the full-length mirror, or the empty coffee cup that’s left dried stains on the desk. I’m in a loop, revisiting my life in an attempt to fill in the blanks. None of this is real. I have already lived, and now I’m just waiting, waiting for the end of the circle, the beginning.
It’s a long, lonely afternoon. The sun beats down with all its might and the people wither and wilt. I manage to fold my legs in the swiveling office chair and stare at the heads bent over their laptops.
This is not where I belong.
I begin at the no. It’s a nice, round ‘o’ sound that carries into the silence. I begin here, not at nothing, but at something less than nothing.
Each no I utter shoves me deeper into a stone cold pit. It’s not bad, I quite like it down here. But then those voices begin shouting my name. Then come the search parties, stumbling with flashlights through the dark undergrowth. Worried, concerned voices, searching for me in the wrong places. I remain silent. I let them yell and they get louder each night. The voices, they comfort me. I want to be sought, yet I want to remain lost to the world.
I am lost, even now, to the world that represses, the world that sits in judgment and the world that drowns out perfect harmonies.
And so I run. Wind-whipped hair and a gasp of air, hear the beat, feel the heat, run fast, lose the past, hit the wall, break the fall, take a plunge, fill your lungs, forget what you know and just let go.
I no longer recognize the person in my own photos. Am I to believe that a certain assortment of pixels on a screen is an exhibit of my face? I can’t spot the blackened lips, freckled nose and the derisive contempt in the left eye – are you sure that’s me? No, stop pointing a camera in my face, I can’t trust those things any more. Or mirrors, for that matter.
Describe me, will you? I want to know how I reflect in your mind’s eye. Am I only partially visible in your spectrum of light? Do you notice if I turn slightly blue, like a gloomy afternoon in the middle of winter? Do you see me dissolve into a conversation and disappear from within the crowd? Do I turn red when you make me blush? Do you ever open your eyes while kissing me and get the feeling that I’m not there? Are my tears transparent? Am I laughing when the corners of my lips turn up and my eyes wrinkle in mirth?
Dilate your pupils and look at me. Look, and then tell me something that is not merely a reflection on the wall or a puckered face on a screen.
Here’s the funny thing about rants. No one wants to hear them, much less read them on blogs. Rants rarely make sense. They exist purely for our own satisfaction. We rant because we would much rather direct our wrath and scorn at some poor unsuspecting bloke than the ones who caused it. The good thing is, the title of this post makes it clear that this is a rant, so feel free to ignore it. I won’t be mad, I promise.
I have a dash in my bank balance, followed by a three-digit number. That dash represents negative balance. I’ll do the drum roll myself, thanks. The last three months of unemployment have thickened my skin, shriveled my balls (figuratively speaking) and sharpened my pride. But I’m not running for the hills, not yet.
I wrote a short fiction piece and sent it to a few magazines for publication. I am looking forward to being rejected, not because I am a pessimist, but because I know it is not great writing, and I know I can do better.
There are days when self-doubt creeps in and I forget what I am doing this for, I wonder if there is even a purpose. I am tempted to succumb and take up a measly job doing something I hate just so I can enjoy a fat pay check that allows me to eat fancy food, drink alcohol every weekend and travel as an excuse to find myself. However, on most days, this experience exhilarates me because every moment has only made me stronger. I thought I had wasted the whole year sinking into some private hellhole of depression, but I have learnt to love fierce and dream bigger.
The point of this particular rant, ladies and gentleman, is this – I don’t think I’ve hit rock bottom yet. I am not done sinking, but I think I’ll survive. And here’s a comforting thought to leave you with – after rock bottom, the only way out is up.
It was the fall of 2016. While the temperatures in the Valley were moderate, after sundown, the wind picked up and howled through the trees, making them shiver and shed their autumn foliage. We were bundled up in our winter jackets and scarves, and in search of whiskey to burn our throats and warm our innards. Up in the Himalayan mountains, it is a question of survival; it doesn’t really matter whether you ordinarily drink or not.
It had been a rough hike; with the sun beating down on our backs and sweat soaking through the layers, it was hot enough to experience a stroke. We occasionally sat and cooled off, but this part of the Valley had scant greenery, and sometimes there was not a single tree for miles. We were walking through a landscape of endless mountain ranges of brown and grey, a deserted trail beside a frothing white river and a clear, blue sky; despite the hard terrain, it was achingly, breathtakingly beautiful.
The population of the entire Valley was in four digit numbers, and the locals played host to weary travelers with undisguised delight. Food, water and shelter – your basic needs got taken care of with hardly a dent in your pocket, and beyond that, there was not much you needed, for travelers in the Valley never care for luxuries, rather, they are on the run from it.
After the day’s hike, we had chosen a small hostel on the outskirts of the village; it was cheap, promised decent food and had 5 rooms for rent. We were a strange group – me and my boyfriend, a girl with glasses who wrote poems and skipped stones, two musician guys from Mumbai who had been roaming these parts of the mountain for more than a month now, an American super-athlete couple and a young German girl and her Indian boyfriend who had been volunteering for the past year at a blind kids’ school in rural India. Incidentally, it so happened that that night would be the last time all of us met together in the same place, for the next day, we would all be going different ways.
Our search for a warm beverage proved more than fruitful, for the two Mumbaites not only had a bottle of scotch saved for some such occasion, but also produced some good quality hash, a souvenir of their travels. And so that night, a group of strangers gathered in one of the rooms, lit some candles, poured themselves some scotch, lit a joint, and sat in a circle to swap stories.