“Would you have known 3 months ago that we would be sitting here?” asked a friend in response to my claim of knowing everything about life and coming to a conclusion that it was not worth living.
I was speechless but they had a point! A very important one.
3 months ago
I had a Master. I was a follower. No one could get through to me other than him. I had to get his validation before I formed an opinion about anything. I had truly become a reflection of my Master. His opinions were my opinions, his resentment was my resentment, his discourse was my discourse, his objection was my objection, his opposition was my opposition, his love was my love, and his demons were my demons. I could see no other. I could feel no other. My master, though, had no idea that I was a disciple. He was oblivious to my reverence, to my worship, to my existence.
In his shade, I had created a comfort zone and from within that echo chamber, I believed that I was righteous, that I knew what I was doing and that I knew what life was all about. Oh! the pride.
As I was drawn deeper into my Master’s world, I lost my way. I willingly walked on the path, trusting that he would lead me out of it. But! He had no idea. In his own world, I lost him. I lost myself. I lost the path.
Perched in a dark alley, desperately trying to figure out a way, lamenting his loss, I somehow subconsciously started to unlearn.
3 months later
Last night I was out and about attending an artistic expression. As I was standing amidst a crowd of people, at an hour I normally am comfortably reading in my bed, it began to dawn upon me the changes that I have gone through. The people I have met. The boundaries that I have questioned. The barriers that I have broken.
I was going in and out of my mind trying to understand my environment. I was in deep contemplation as I met new people, as I conversed with people about things I would never talk about, as I walked around, as I understood the extent of isolation that I had subjected myself to, by worshiping one person and his discourse.
And I understood the depth of “3 months”. I understood that if someone had told me a couple of months ago that I would be in so and so place, doing such and such, I would laugh and with conviction say, “There is no way I can do that”. But, I was there.
Had someone told me 3 months ago that I would not be working in the same place I had been working in for 4 years, I would not have believed them. I would have asked for proof. But, here I am working in a very different environment, getting challenged every day, meeting with some wonderful people, adapting and evolving.
Had someone told me 3 months ago that I would challenge everything that my Master had taught me, I would laugh at them and say, “You really don’t know me, do you?” But, here I am unlearning and starting again.
Had someone told me 3 months ago that I would not be able to love my Master the way I had loved him, I would swear on anything and tell them, “If there is one reality which would never alter and would stand the test of time, it is my love for him”. But, here I was unable to feel the love that I had passionately held onto for the past 4 and half years.
Had someone told me 3 months ago that I would seriously start to give a thought to moving away from New Zealand, I would agree but in my head it would go something like, “I have been thinking but I know I cannot” But, here I am working on a plan to make that plunge.
Life is unpredictable. Life is about constructing beliefs and deconstructing them. I am glad to have met some amazing people in the last 3 months, who happened to be a part of my life earlier on, but unfortunately, I was way too busy in being a follower to have opened up to the possibilities.
I do not know what tomorrow holds or where I would be in the next 3 months but all I know is that I want to be present when it is happening. I want to be present 3 months later.
P.S. 3 months are not really 3 months. Master and disciple are loosely referring to the Sufi tradition of teacher and student.
It seemed like a festive season that was dressed in despair and gloominess. Our extended families were beaming with joy. People we had not seen in ages had come to bid us farewell. For me, I had chosen silence as a response to show my discontent with the unravelling of the unfortunate events. I was just caught up unprepared in the midst of a storm. I had no control over anything. I had no say in it. None of us had. A lightening quick flashback of the key events is all that my brain has retained of that horrible evening of 22nd September 2003.
22nd September 2003
My father arrived at home, a surprise “birthday” party was arranged to celebrate my sister’s graduation which concealed the hidden agenda of our departure from Pakistan, passports were handed to us which bore the NZ Residency stamp, hands went numb, eyes scanned the passport, again and again, trying for it to be a dream or joke perhaps – it was not, the cake was distributed, “congratulations” was the only word on everyone’s lips, dinner was served, the next few days were planned to the last minute and things changed forever.
25th September 2003 – Day
Disgusting food, hundreds of hugs, more last minute advises and the social obligations of entertaining visitors. Barely alive.
These people arrived at our house early in the morning and failed to leave until late. I silently pleaded, “Please God, make them leave early today, I have to mourn. We all have to”.
25th September 2003 – Night
The night was different. Everyone had gone home. All the lights in the house were out. I used this opportunity to start sketching a mental picture of everything that had been home for the past years. I would need it again.
Buzzing fridge, patchwork quilts, sleeping on the floor, closed door of the bathroom, washing machine in one corner, plants in the balcony, my wooden locker, suitcases, bags, a pencil and a slipper under the desk, the markings on the cupboard, the chipped door and that little cockroach making its way to somewhere. That cockroach too was home.
This room was where we had been a family. Sleeping together, fighting with each other, dreaming about things and living. It will be no more.
Not a word was being said. There were no consolations. We were flying in less than 16 hours.
I looked at my mother. Her chin was resting on her hand. I wanted to get up and hug her; I wanted to cry with her. I wanted her to tell me that this was a dream and that I was not going anywhere. But I was unable to move. The pain in my heart weighed me down or perhaps I was too weak to accept that I would be leaving her. Tick-tock, tick-tock – that ugly sound. Time was the enemy.
I was trying too hard to not break down. To not look at my mother. To not look at anyone. I was trying to be brave.
My strength failed, my courage dissipates and I crawled to her. I reached her; I blindly hugged her and started to weep. I cried for the time we had spent together, I cried for our helplessness, I cried for that night.
Taking my lead, all my siblings came closer and we hugged each other and we cried. We silently mourned through the night. Our family was breaking apart. Our hearts were so heavy, we were in excruciating pain. I silently hoped for a miracle.
Every part of my body down to my cells were trying to resist the idea of leaving Mama behind, but I believed my father’s decision of a “brighter future” for us had more authority to it compared to all our desires combined. I think that if wishes had any power, my wish would have torn the fabric of the sky. Nothing happened.
Last hope. God.
I prayed to God:
“Now would be a good time to relieve me of this life”
25th January 2017
That night, I was stabbed in the heart several times, and then if that was not enough, stabbed some more until that knife or whatever it was, broke. I had to deal with all of it. You know, fixing it and stuff!
But, why had I been thinking about something that had happened a long time ago? Some wounds never heal and they come back to life as soon as something similar happens.
When I looked at the sky tonight, I thought: Now would be a good time to relieve me of this life. I knew I had said this before.
This separation and breaking the family had left a permanent mark on my life. The way I seek family in strangers, the way I seek familiarity in things, the way I seek for a home in every place, the way I find myself attached to objects.
I am getting separated from the one thing that had provided me meaning for the last so many years and of course! The pain of separation is killing me. Why wouldn’t it?
All those bottled up emotions of years have resurfaced and I am just an absolute mess. Why wouldn’t I be?
And, they tell me, it is good for you. If it was good, why do I not feel it?
Yes, I will connect these dots in the future while looking back in the past but leaving my family that day still does not make any sense and it still does not connect and I still carry that burden. How will this? One may say, I will figure out a way. Haven’t I always?
Writing is my only comfort right now.
The words spread out, desperately trying to make sense.
Trying to write about the heart that is left lying on the corner of the street
Turning blue and black
It is dirty too
Why wouldn’t it be? It has been left lying on the corner of the street
It was cuddled
Cuddled before being left on the corner of the street
It was too much of a burden to carry it around
So, she let go of her burden and left it lying on the corner of the street
The heart that hurts should stay away from her
Away just like it is now – lying on the corner of the street
She does not care about it anymore
She does not care about the heart that is lying on the corner of the street
She looks at it and walks away
Walks away from the heart that is lying on the corner of the street
“Watch the sunrise” has been on my to-do-before-I-die list for a very long time. My excuse was that life was happening. And of course, it was, but still, it was not good enough to not witness one of the absolutely majestic displays of nature.
I had recently gained some confidence in my adventurous explorations and in that spirit I thought it was about time. So, a friend and I decided on the date and a good location and the plan concretised – finally!
As I hit the bed last night, I felt the same excitement that I had felt as a child waiting for the next morning for the family trip to the beach. I somehow managed to sleep through the night while the butterflies performed their antics in the background and eventually woke up at 4 am. I quickly went out to check the weather and Oh no!! It was cloudy. With a heavy heart, I sent a message to my friend saying that we might have to postpone since it is not clear for watching the sunrise
He responded by saying that cloudy sunrise is also beautiful and that we should still do it. Best decision ever!
I wake up to the sound of Fajr azan (The call for prayer) and in extreme confusion get to the balcony. Azan and New Zealand, it just does not make any sense.
The sky is darker than usual.
Before I could establish anything further about my surroundings, I hear a loud, high-pitched siren indicating that something is wrong. In a few seconds, the city has transformed from peaceful to chaotic. There are people on the road, running around and shouting about something which is barely audible. Cars screeching and honking.
Then, I see my sisters in a car, panicked and asking me to get out and go with them because of the“tsunami”.
Fear gets hold of me but I decide to stay.
I tell them to run away fast and turn around to face the side of the balcony which oversees the ocean. The ground starts to shake. Before the building could collapse, a large wave covers the entire black sky and with speed moves towards the city.
I know that I am dying and without a second thought I take Shahada:
There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God
The wave engulfs me.
I eventually wake up on a patch of green grass. I am alive. Upon exploration, I find out that I am on an island which has the tallest trees with the largest and strangest red fruits that I have ever seen in my life. There is just water around me and nothing else. I am on an island alone.
Some dreams are so profound, soul-shaking and laced with layers of meaning that you wake up trembling and can recall each and every part of it as you rewind and replay it in your mind. This has been the fourth dream in my entire life that had the same effect.
I have a lot of questions. I am not sure why I took the Shahada as I am an atheist. I am not sure why I did not run away when I had the chance. I am not sure what that island represented. I am not sure if dreams are really a manifestation of the desires of our subconscious mind.
I shared my dream with my mother and she told me that she has been noticing that I had walked away from the path that was my calling. She told me that I should think about getting back to it.
I am perhaps trying to find meaning in things which do not carry any meaning, but, after all, I am a human. And that is what we do.
I had a big problem. I was becoming my own enemy. I was coming in my own way. I was auto-destructive. I tried to outsmart myself by thinking that I was in solitude but I was killing myself with the self-imposed exile. I was lonely. Lonely as fuck. I was trapped in my house and in my circularly negative thoughts. I had read about solitude and I was not even 1% close to solituding.
I thought I should go to Pakistan. Change of environment and all that. The crazy ticket prices reminded me that I can only afford a bus ride to the airport and the passport’s less than 4 months expiry date added the icing on the cake of my shattered attempt to find peace.
I was bordering on mania to get out of my life. So, my last resort was to do something right here in New Zealand. So, I booked a lodge for 3 days. This lodge had been on my saved list for more than 2 years but I could never convince anyone to “take” me there. I don’t drive.
Gandalf: I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.
Bilbo: I should think so—in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them …
Gandalf: You’ll have a tale or two to tell when you come back
Bilbo: You can promise that I’ll come back?”
Gandalf: No. And if you do, you will not be the same
I am Gandalf and Bilbo here. Alter-egos or whatever you call them. Eventually, Gandalf was victorious and Bilbo Baggins was ready to leave the house. I stepped out of my comfort zone, my character and by the end of it I had stepped out of a lot of things.
The first challenge was to find my way there. I googled Auckland to Coromandel and I was second-time lucky to find a seat on the bus (first-time to book the lodge near Christmas period).
I bussed for 4 hours and then I had the option to take a cab or hitchhike. Well, these sorts of binary choices kept on presenting themselves throughout and I always opted in for the one that my mind was resisting.
Hitchhiking it was.
The third car stopped. With a beating heart, I told him where I wanted to go and if he was going that way. He was more than happy for me to tag along. I kept on looking at his dashboard and wondered whether that was where the gun was stored. He sensed my first-time-doing-this-aura and asked if I was Okay. I came clean and told him that it was the first time and I was thinking whether he would kill me or something. We both had a good laugh and the ice broke. He loved Albert Camus too and the rest of the 40 minutes drive became an information session about Coromandel and all the places I could see the next time I visit.
At the end of my journey, as a token of gratitude, I gave him a bottle of ittar (he loved my smell) and a tiny amount of cash. We wished each other good luck and I was standing at the doorstep of my destination.
I had to walk 40 minutes to get to the lodge and this is where I landed about 5 hours away from home.
The left one was where I was going to be stationed for the next 3 days. Both the lodges had 6 & 8 bunk-beds. I was third-time lucky there were no bookings in both the lodges for the entirety of my stay.
I chose the top bunk and started to unpack. Unpacking was hilarious. I had 3 potatoes, 2 onions, vegetable patties, skewers, a bedsheet but no blanket, a water bottle, 2 days worth of clothes, 3 books, laptop, chargers, pens, paper, earplugs, nose-plug, swimming goggles, toothpaste and a toothbrush.
I was going to soon find out how underprepared I was.
Day One – Curious exploration
I was ecstatic and I wanted to be everywhere and do everything. I was a like a little girl who had just been told that she could be anything she wishes to be.
I went through the lodge and familiarised.
The first thing I had noticed as soon as I reached the spot was the swing. So, after settling in I went for a swing. It became a regular activity. Just sitting and swinging.
Now, my mind was busy scheduling what I was going to do next etc. I had to consciously tell it to just shut up and relax because there will not be a schedule.
What should one do when there is no schedule? I wanted the waterfall. Yes! I wanted a swim.
I changed my jandals into the 3 years holed running shoes which had never seen such a rough terrain before and carried my phone, water bottle, swimming gear and went to check the “Misty falls” out.
I do not know how to read the maps so I did not bother taking it with me.
As I entered the woods, I was welcomed by the smell of the fresh earth, the sound of the running stream indicating that there is a waterfall at the end of it and the chirping of birds.
The tiredness from the journey had dissipated and I was completely occupied by what my surroundings had to offer.
My walk was becoming extremely arduous. I fell down a million times and realised how inexperienced I was.
The landslides had destroyed most of the path so there were a lot of places where I had to decide whether I should go further or return. I kept on moving, going uphill. Clearly, if I had any sense that waterfalls are on the ground rather than on the top, I would have stopped. But, I was an amateur explorer with nothing but pure determination packed with the water bottle.
The path became dangerously steep but not even once the thought that “how the hell would I get down” crossed my mind. It became narrower and narrower and I had to leave my stuff at one point as I was losing balance with the weight.
I was able to see a mountain at a distance, I was opposite to it. Then came the realisation that I had lost my way and I am on top of a mountain. It was not dense anymore, I was out in the open.
Unfortunately, the realisation had disturbed something inside, I was much more cautious and in that awareness, I slipped and got stuck on one of the branches that was protruding from the side of the mountain. The fear settled in. If the branch broke I would not be able to stop myself and would go down at a faster rate than I ever could have imagined. No one knew where I was, no one would come looking for me until the 3 days had passed. I had no water, no food and I was sort of completely fucked.
The fear gave way to amusement. I was so amused by the situation that I grinned from ear to ear. I remembered how hell-bent I was on meeting death and now that I was sort of in a sticky situation I wanted to live. I had to figure a way out.
I started to slowly move backwards on the branch. The branch bobbed up and down with my movements. I eventually got close to the side and started to dig some mud out of the side and clutched the freshly dug tiny holes. I had to turn now. I was doing all this very quickly and in haste one makes mistakes, so I decided to calm the fuck down. I managed to turn around on the branch and was facing the path now. I pushed and somehow got myself back on the path. My heart rate according to my fitness watch indicated 187 beats/mins. I sat there with my legs dangling until my heart went from my throat back to its original place.
I learnt the importance of my own life regardless of the regular reminders of the absurdity of the world and people around me.
The path down was crossed at a tortoise’s speed. 4 hours later I had reached back. On my way back home I had asked the owner about the range-top and she advised that it is out of bound and dangerous. I told her how easy it is to get lost and reach up there and she assured me that she will get someone to look into it.
When I left the lodge, I saw this book but did not realise the importance of it until I got stuck up there. Knowing my forgetful self though, I just wrote once out of the 5 trips that I undertook. I never learn.
I desperately wanted the waterfall. I decided to check the pothole waterfall which was estimated to be 30 minutes away from the lodge. I washed my bruises, had a cup of coffee and started on the second trip.
I decided to stay away from the tracks and walk on the rocks instead. My logic was that it would definitely keep me near the water and I would eventually reach the source. I was right.
After about 45 minutes of further falling down and more bruises, I reached. Worth everything.
It was written in the book that it was one person deep. I got in the water. Refreshing. I got closer to where the water was falling down and had to use my swimming-pool-swimming-skills to stay above the water.
They forgot to write that the person was supposed to be 6 feet tall and not a hobbit-sized individual such as myself.
I swam here and there and saw tiny black fishes and I swear I wanted to eat them right there and right then. I must have been really hungry.
My hunger got the better of me and I came out promising that I would return. I returned 3 times, beating my own time every time. My last known record was 23 minutes.
I got back, had a shower and then another idea got hold of me. I am going to cut my own wood and cook on that fire. Sounds easy. How hard can cutting wood would be?
So, I picked up the axe and started to “chop” the wood. Not so easy. After about 10000 blows I managed to cut one piece into two. I went crazy with the axe. I let out all the anger that had been residing in me for such a long time. I let it all out.
Then, anger out of the way, I started to be more tactful. Less force, more precision.
It took me another 30 minutes to light the fire. I used up a blank book to start the fire.
I was so proud of myself.
I put a potato in the skewer and started to “prepare” food. The fire got out before my food was ready. I will have to use the knife to chop the potato up. Only the knife, I promised. I needed more wood. I went for another hour or so.
It was dark by the time, I got to light another fire. I also used a plate and an onion as well.
The food was heaven. I never knew that I could eat without salt or any other spices or that such basic food had the power to feel like a cuisine.
Once the hunger was taken care of, I sat there feeding the fire. I had spent most of the evenings on all three days just staring at the fire.
Oh my God!
These were the first words that were conceived in my mind and were the first words that were materialised in the form of sound when I looked up at the sky.
A jet black blanket covered the entire space above wherever the eyes could reach and against that background were these innumerable, tiny, silver stars.
A diamond-studded sky.
I could swear that I had not seen anything so grand, so magnificent, so crafty, so beautiful in my entire existence.
Before I could get a hold of myself, tears had already found a way out. These were not the tears of sadness, or of sorrow, or of suffering, they were born out of the realisation that I existed and that I was a part of this.
My heart was filled with calmness and peace. The kind of peace that does not come out of its own accord, the kind of peace I had been searching for in such a long time.
I sat there marvelling at the sky. Time became irrelevant. My past had merged into my present and my future became devoid of any fear.
And I just sat there so complete and yet so emptied of my own existence.
I was in the moment.
And the longer I sat, the longer I could trace the sky move. A shooting star, the repositioning of the stars, some brighter than the others, some more twinkly than the others, some were aligned in unison, some were further apart. They were oblivious of my existence but I was conscious of theirs. We were so far apart in time and space.
I got my phone and tried to take a picture but unfortunately, my phone was not able to capture what my heart and mind had. I let it be!
I sat there until the fire engulfed all the wood and extinguished to ashes. Complete darkness. I had experienced all that I could ever ask for.
I retired to my bunk exhausted and calm.
A big spider was right above the bunk but I switched off the lights and slept. I remembered and smiled to myself that I was a person who would flinch and jump to 2 metres if an insect showed itself in a picture and here I was knowing that a spider hung itself right above where I was and I did not care at all.
The amount of strange insects that I came across and had to brush off my clothes on this trip had taken the fear of insects completely out of me.
By 1 am, I woke up because of the chilling cold. I had not brought a blanket and was bearing the brunt of it.
I am glad that I packed alcohol. I prepared two shots and waited for it to take its effect. And, what a blissful sleep!
Day 2 – A step-up from being the amateur explorer
I woke up at 5 am. Prepared a coffee and went to sit outside. I had been mesmerised by the time I had set foot into that place. Not even a single leaf was out of its place, not even a single feeling was out of its place. Everything was in harmony and unison.
I listened to myself without the distractions of any technology or people. I was finally achieving solitude.
I could see my flaws and failures, they did not hurt, I could see my success and strengths, they did not inflate me. I was complete with the flaws and the strengths. One without the other was meaningless. Had I not been so flawed, I would not have found my strength to be of any value. Had I not failed, I would not have enjoyed the success. Had I not been selfish, I would not have realised the importance of selflessness. Had I not given up myself, I would not have found myself.
I thought that my learnings were futile, but, I was mistaken, they were just masked by the wear and tear and hustle and bustle of daily life. I was still in command of what I had learnt from books and from experiences. I was much more aware. Much more conscious. I was not ignorant. I realised that I did not have to unlearn to learn and that I could just build up from where I had left. I had a purpose in life. Much larger than myself.
I started my day with the decision to the Umangawha falls. It was mentioned that the tracks were destroyed and the way to get there was mostly through water which could get deep.
I had to experience this.
I left with only my swimming gear this time.
I had not even the slightest idea that this was going to be much harder than getting stuck on top of a mountain.
It started off pretty smooth. About 10 minutes in, there was no other way than getting in the water. I was waist deep in the water and I could see the bottom. All good! Slowly the pressure of the water picked up and before I realised I was neck deep in.
I could no longer feel the ground and panicked. As the water started to enter my stomach, I started to throw my legs here and there, I could feel nothing but pain. The last thing that crossed my mind was that I do not know how to swim.
I very well knew how to swim but it was not a conscious decision that I could invoke on my part. My instincts, beyond my understanding, came into play and in less than a minute or so my head was out of the water. I still cannot comprehend what and how this happened. I found a rock and just clung to it for a little while longer than required. I was pretty shaken up.
I was very careful from there onwards. It was all worth it when I set my eyes on the biggest waterfall. Everything that was happening there had the power to amaze me.
I stayed a safe distance away and dared not go any closer because I had no knowledge of its depth.
On my way back, I slipped again at the exact same spot and almost drowned the second time. A full loop. There were two stitches on my leg and by the time I got out of there, I could not find the black thread, just a tiny open wound. I said I was underprepared, I had no medical kit as well. It was not bleeding heavily, I tied up my shirt on the wound and started back.
I also felt slimy stuff wriggle against my legs and I was 100% sure that these were snakes. I found out later that those could have possibly been eels.
By the end of this, I stopped fearing water and anything that was under water.
I returned and went back to the pothole waterfall. The second time, I was much more confident in my navigation but I did not swim. I just listened to the waterfall.
I wished a very happy birthday to Rumi and thought about the learnings that I had received from him and how I had abandoned him. I was just angry and not thinking straight. I made peace with him and felt his presence around me. I sat there much longer than anticipated breathing in and breathing out. I was meditating, I believe.
Evening fell and I became hungry. One meal a day was not helping but I was so full of energy.
I chopped more wood, I prepared potatoes and onions and vegetable patties and I watched the burning fire and the sky. I could pick up the stars from where I had left off yesterday.
Two shots of alcohol and I was warm and slept peacefully.
Day 3 – Writing and soul-searching
I woke up early and I decided to write what I had been putting off for such a long time. I wrote most of the day. I bathed in the sunlight. I walked short walks.
I went to the pothole waterfall again to say my goodbyes.
I discovered these rodent traps which were to protect the baby Kiwis.
I had learnt so much about myself in the last three days. I let go of so many fears, I pushed my boundaries, I transformed my loneliness into solitude, most of all I was able to do it all by myself.
When people told me about their experiences with water and camping and nature, I did not know the power that nature held until I experienced it myself.
To be able to retreat into myself I had to know what retreating into nature meant.
I know that I was extremely privileged to have been able to experience all this. Not everyone has the opportunity to “get away” from life. I am grateful for it.
I was ready to come back to the city and to my life. I was going to come back in three months, I made a promise to myself.
The next day
The muscle pain and the bruises killed me. I was hardly able to lift a finger. I had to rest. As the fatigue passed, I got up to test what I had learnt and I am glad that I was able to create 3 important changes. I guess those reflections are a post for another day. This already has become dangerously very long.
I am sure one would say, “You reap what you sow”. What I do today will be my life tomorrow. But, isn’t that just part of the equation though and perhaps a gross oversimplification. There is much more to it. It will be propelled by the conscious and the subconscious choices that I make, the accidents that will happen on the way, the decisions that I will be forced to take when painted in the corner, the past experiences, the state of mind, the values imposed, the people in my life, and much more.
I can probably predict the self in relation to the society, based on my relationships and the goals that I have set for myself, but my deliberation is for the self in relation to myself which is far away in time that would one day turn back and look at her life reel in front of her eyes. What would that self be like? How would that self feel? What would that self know?
Would that self still be thirsty for knowledge? Would that self still be seeking for answers? Would that self still be able to love as fervorously? Would that self have a lot of regrets? Would that self be content with the way she had lived her life? Would that self welcome death or pull the blanket over her eyes in fear?
Grappling with the effects of such questions, I have been feeling the need to talk to people who are not like me at all. The people who do not think along the same lines, the people who would answer that I should focus on the “right now”. So mellifluous would those words be. But, not powerful enough to make me believe it. What must I do then?
Perhaps, I should just linger a little bit longer in these thoughts and then focus them out of perspective. Perhaps, I should observe, listen, learn and feel more to be able to have a philosophically enriched future that I talk about. Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.
In my heart of hearts, I know that there is no way of knowing what that self would be like because experience from yesteryear tells me that I am constantly evolving and learning. I do not love the things I had once loved, I love the things that I hated once and I am more aware of myself than ever before.
I believe then that I have not been after an answer at all. I have been more interested in the feel of such a question because it fills my mind up with unlimited possibilities. It tickles my brain and excites me. It invokes a longing from my future self to the self who is existing and feeling right now. It is my present self reminiscing over those past years that hold so much and yet those experiences are inaccessible. It is my present self secretly romanticizing the past and the future.
I am broken. I am lost. I am trying to keep myself together. I am trying to hang on for just a little bit longer. I am trying to be a responsible person. I am trying to keep myself busy. I am trying to perform at work. I am trying to keep up with the demands of my studies. I am trying to come to terms with the shattering of my beliefs. I am trying to pick up the pieces of a broken friendship. I am trying to figure out a way to see the good in the world. I am trying my best to keep sane and alive. I am trying to find the courage to get through another night.
But, all I want to do is stop with the “trying”.
I want to quit my job. I want to suspend myself from the University. I want to leave my house. I want to give up on everything. I want to stop pulling up that brave face. I want to give up on all responsibilities.
And, once I have done all that, then I want to lie on the bed for a month or however long it takes, without answering to anyone, without looking forward to anything, gaining my strength back and then fight again for the next decade.
I don’t need a holiday.
I need shutting down.
I am living a double life. I am forced to be a functioning part of this society. I wake up and check-in and when I close the door behind me at night, then I stop being a part of this society.
Then, I change. I become the person who is extremely tired. I become the person who is dejected. I become the person who just wants to shut the fuck down. I become the person who does not give a fuck about what her research is about. I become hopeless. I become a living-dead. I cry and I also laugh at the absurdity of the masks that I wear every day. I cry until I forget what I was crying about. I sometimes also talk to myself. My inner voice which tells me to not end up dead sometimes also tells me that I must go ahead with it. The voices are loud but they belong to me.
I meet people, I engage but deep down, I have nothing. I feel nothing. I am there for the sake of being there. I want to stop with this pretence. I want to stare blankly at people and tell them I do not know what the fuck is going on around me. I am not the whole self you see. I am in a million pieces right now.
I write suicide notes, it helps. When I wake up in the morning, I read them. Sometimes, they are full of anger. Sometimes, they are indifferent. Sometimes, they are accusatory. Sometimes, they point at my own failures. Sometimes, they are philosophical. Sometimes, they are deliberately short. I see them as a testimony of getting through another night. And so on and so forth.
I am going to end this post abruptly and I am not going to edit it as well. This is raw stuff and I do not care whether I make sense because my life does not make any sense. And, I am also not going to accompany this post with any pictures because that is a lot of work and needs a lot of attention and focus and I do not pay attention or focus after I shut the door behind me.
P.S. I see this piece of writing as art (yes! I am fucking delusional too) and not a cry for help. I see this as the workings of a suicidal mind – and just that!
There is so much I want to say but no words form – I am speechless.
Loneliness is replaced by solitude. Finally. Sometimes no hope is a much better end than the illusion of company.
You have started to live in a vacuum. It is neither good nor bad – it just is.
You are so used to having conversations with yourself, exploring your mind that there is no appeal for outsiders.
You know the truth about life and you cannot tell anyone. It is too sacred, too contradictory for most to accept. All these years, you kept searching and searching to no avail. Then you stopped, and there it was buried deep within you, shrivelling from the cold of this world. The world that refuses to accept it with all the distractions of their minds.
Your heart knows no love and yet you keep on living.
Is it a curse or a blessing?
You will bear it for the rest of your life and never once know who you really are.
Is this what happens when you are quiet for too long about the things that chipped away at you? Chiselled away your core until you hit silence. Silence so deafening that it spoke volumes.
You don’t tell others; you don’t write about it. You only think about it. Keep thinking until it numbs you. Your mind freezes and you stare into empty space.
“And how are you?”
“I am great, a little bored but that’s life”
“Haha, boring, huh?”
It is just you and the truth. Facing each other like long lost lovers. You hate it yet sooner than later you embrace it. You cannot escape it. It has seen you. You have seen it. This is it. It envelopes you and you shiver with the cold it brings. You do not resist it. You try to shy away from the truth like a newlywed bride. How can you?
It fills all of you until you cry out in agony for it to stop. Now you know what you are. You know what this life is. You know your agony is justified but crying won’t help. It never helps.
“Do you love your close friend?”
“No, no I don’t”
“Because I love my friends and I would do anything for them”
You stop as soon as you start. Crying never helps.
Now you just have to wait. Wait and watch. Let it take over your life. Let the vacuum surround you. You seal your words forever. No one would understand anyway. You have no one but the truth. Because of the truth.
“You don’t think people need other people?”
“Yes, I do. Just not for me, I suppose. Not now. Before, yes”
You have memories left. The truth cannot take that away. You have a mind that can conjure up any reality when you need it the most. So you smile. And then you sigh. You curl up and dig deeper into your mind. You try to open up something bigger than the truth. You know you cannot bury it again but you let it shrivel with cold as you shower warmth of your memories over it. So you can live. So it can let you live. So you can bear it. So you can forget it. So you can forgive it.
“I am intrigued, very fascinating”
You smile. You remember something. You are happy for the time being. Tomorrow is another day. It is merciful.
I like to time travel whenever I doubt my existence. Whenever I want to see myself as a whole again, to feel enriched by what I had seen, felt, heard and gone through. Last night, I found myself time-travelling again, going through my memory box, memory folder, memory albums, memory books, just a lot of memories from times long gone.
Like an artist,
I held this and that,
One by one,
Sometimes eyes closed,
Attempting to recreate the past,
Smile on the lips
Bittersweet pain in the heart
There were several goodbye letters which burdened my heart with sadness but there was one letter. One letter that grabbed my attention and had me linger for just a little bit longer. A happy one. A one full of love.
What do you want from Mauritius? My friend asked me.
A love letter
A love letter?
Yes, written on a piece of paper by a stranger.
No questions were asked.
And, I forgot about my strange wish.
My dear friend returned from her trip and we arranged a time to meet. She bought a beautifully painted dodo with our names written on the back. And, she went back into her bag and got something else out for me.
“Here, you go!” She handed me this carefully folded letter
“You actually got me this?” It was hard for me to contain my excitement.
I am a hopeless romantic.
Near a large body of water, my eyes always search for that bottle with a message from far far away written by an equal, equal in feeling the feelings of love.
I believe in a very different form of love. A love that is beyond self, beyond boundaries, a love that has no endings, a love that is unrequited, passionate, consuming, dangerous and incomprehensible. For that reason, Rumi and Tabriz, Layla and Majnu, Heer and Ranjha, Mirza and Sahiba, Othello and Desdemona, Romeo and Juliet – these tragic yet powerful love stories resonate with me much more than any that reach union in the end.
This particular love letter had me going about my beliefs in love but it also had me thinking about the kind of friendship that I had with this special friend who fulfilled my strange desire of reading my very own love letter.
I realised that she never questions my eccentric personality, never judges me and is always there.
One very important dialogue between Sam and Frodo came to my mind.
“Come, Mr Frodo!’ he cried.
‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
Of course! I was not carrying any ring of power but my brain was still drawing parallels, “I can’t write one for you, but I will get you one!” 😀
I am lucky to have her in my life and this love letter is a testimony of the bond of friendship that we share.