“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”
The other day, I walked the sunset shores, Thinking of orange and red, Of water and ripples, Of the seemingly random things that ail me.
You know why I talk to you? Because you listen, Even when you don’t have to. You listen to my words, my love, and my tears, You listen to my broken pieces, my shaking muses, and my fears, You listen to the wild lies I say, and the truths I don’t, You listen to the slow, scratching pain I put forth, and the words I won’t.
The worlds I hide within me, Are the worlds I tremble against. These worlds, these illusions, Pulse incessantly within my head. Sorry, I can’t contain them anymore.
Someone needs to know, And someone can’t know, Of the effort it takes, Of the mind-shattering aches, Of the numbing cold, Of the tales untold, Of the recovery I promised myself, Of the feelings I rallied against, Of the temptations I gave in to, Of the things I can’t bear to do, Of the paths I’m afraid to lose, Of getting my heart in a noose, Of the blood flowing through my veins, Of the things mumbled amidst euphoric rains.
Listen carefully. Now that I’ve told you this, Now that I’ve let it go, Now that you can probably see, Now that you possess a little piece of me, Please keep it to yourself, Because, Someone needed to know, But someone can’t know.
Whenever I am cold, I drown myself in steaming water. It’s been a year, and the water has smoked every single day. I slowly realized the cold had settled deep inside, in a crevice, spewing numbing chills. I get myself out of bed every day. Somehow. I finish my daily ritual and return home from work, walking.
The streets are empty today. Sodium vapour lamps throw scattered yellow light at intervals. I stand under one of those lights. A major portion of the lamp has been covered by a beehive. I can see the bees buzzing about, toiling endlessly for their queen, a veil of purpose pulled over their eyes.
I am living my life in silhouettes, fading and emerging in these hissing yellow streetlights. A solitary draft stings my cheeks and arms, beckoning my cold insides. It is peaceful, or so it seems.
I reach home. Turning the key in the lock, I feel a sense of apprehension. Of what lies behind the doors. I enter.
A year ago, it was different. I used to live alone. I still do. But it was different.
A shimmering, dark blanket creeps itself slowly around my shoulder. Really slowly, tenderly. I don’t even feel it holding my throat in an innocuous grasp. I can breathe, for sure. But I can feel it, I can feel the pores of my body filling with sparkling, blue ice.
I lie down on the carpet, wrapping it around myself. That was my futile effort to ward off the specter sucking my body lifeless. A few hours later, the blanket is gone, but the room is still heavy, waiting to pounce upon me. I can hear crickets now, their harmonious chatter giving me something to hold on to.
The heart is weak. It loves clinging to things, materialistic expressions, even when they are nothing but illusions of nature.
“It gets better.”
“Lighter days are ahead.”
“Don’t lose hope. Hang in there.”
Let me tell you, it doesn’t get better. And even if it does, it’s temporary.
Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope is an intensely fragile thing. Hope is utterly faithless.
An abyss you ought not look into. Because if you do, it might not turn out to be a ray of sunshine but an endless tunnel. A darkness so black that there is no turning back.
What has to go wrong will go wrong. One has no choice but to accept it. That way, the delusion of hope burns out its own existence.
I gather my freezing knots into my body and turn on the light. It makes no difference to me anymore.
I am not a slave to hope.
I am a slave of my own being, lost forever in memories and pages.
Today, I decided to turn Nothing into words. It seems hard. Until it is not. My mind tells me things, things I dare not tell anyone, not a single soul. I would not tell you now. Maybe I already have.
It has been a long day, as most of them are. Walking back from the cafeteria is a futile exercise. I fly. It’s not fantasy, my dear reader, I walk. I find myself alone, and I feel good. Abysmally good. Sickeningly good.
I can hear things, things you can’t hear. No, not the birds, not the simmering sky, not the steaming coffee. I hear voices, inside my head, outside my head. Calm voices, spiralling round and round, slowly encircling me, and just like that, I am not alone anymore. I still feel alone, though, like a sunken ship in salty waters.
On occasions, these voices just listen to me, without a crackle. Sometimes, I can tell them to go away. And, yes, they listen to me. At other times, I can’t.
My head is buzzing with a hundred different things, sparking, firing, ricocheting, shooting. STOP. A rainbow of sensations. And my hands tremble as I tell you this. You’ll understand, won’t you? I hope so. And even if you don’t, I have the voices inside my head. Please make them go away. No, don’t. They have promised me their presence. Let them stay.
I meet people, one sleazy joke after another, one shy smile, one stolen glance, one avoided face, no, two, three, four. I evade them all. Sometimes, I wish I was invisible, then realise I already am.
A piece of paper. Scribbled. Flowing away in the wind. Leaves in a vortex, rustling. I grab it.
“Loops, circles, and infinity”, it says.
Loops. Circles. Infinity.
Numbers. Letters. Words.
I know you don’t want to read this, and, frankly, I never wrote this for you. I wrote this for me. And my voices. They told me to. Yes, I must do things they tell me to.
I walk in silence. Complete and utter on the outside. Void.
Inside, not so much.
I reach the lake. It’s dark. I can’t see anything, no lights, nothing. I can just hear the lapping water, gentle, harmonic. And for a second, the voices go away, and I cannot take it. Bring them back, please. They are here. It’s me and my voices, isn’t that beautiful?
My head feels like a grey stone. It is aching. It’s not the voices. It’s the incessant ballistics. One arrow after another, through the soft tissue of my brain, scathing, scarring. My muscles are twitching. I am writing on air. I will keep writing until it is time to burn out, flesh and bone and ash.
Lights. Colours. Green.
Paper. Me. Them. Us. You.
Thank you, reader. You have truly helped me. I can hear your voice. Inside my head.
This is not a story. Not a happy one, not a sad one. Just words, inconsequential.
A fragile day. Drop by drop, melting into an expanse of nothingness. I cannot move, not today, not yesterday, not tomorrow. I have tried, straining every muscle, to the point of agony, but I can’t. I am stuck.
The window is open today. It is a graceful piece of woodwork, rough at the edges, reminding of the survived winters. I live, if that is what you can call my existence, in one of those ornate, vintage homes that have adorned many a tale. It is now ensconced in the lap of snowy mountains and fir trees.
I don’t really want to say this, but I might just burst open if I don’t. I don’t know how this reached you, and I never will. I am trapped inside my own useless body, cold and warm.
A chilly wind swirls around the room. I can see it, filling the crevices with an icy blue, gliding tenderly on my pale skin. From the way I rest, I can feel a solitary bird crooning a cracked verse. The song mingles with the breeze, creating music out of thin air.
I go back in time, to the days when running around these valleys was everything I ever wanted. The misty cliffs and frosty trees beckoned with their rustle. Small shops and cafés dotted the entire town, waiting for ignorant tourists to serve their hilly specialties to. The sun would beam amidst the cold, and iridescent crystals of dust would float lazily, and you could breathe in the slow, musty warmth.
And people, yes, the people. You met someone new almost every day. They would be awed by your home, your town. And inside, I would be proud, really proud. That was a long time ago, long before my body gave up on me. I know nothing of the outside world except the four feet of a window now.
It’s my birthday today. They have stopped celebrating it now. They know there’s no hope. I know there’s no hope. I wish there’s a place beyond where life isn’t so unfair. I am tired of waiting, of making them wait. I am just a hollow shell, neurons firing inside, to no end, no purpose.
I happen to have a grandchild. He whispers a wish every year, though he has no way of knowing I can hear him. I have never felt his tender face in my hands, never ran it through his beautiful curls. Do you know what’s worse than not seeing your lineage at all? Gazing at your blood every single day and realizing you could have played a part, a part which he will forever be deprived of now.
“Happy Birthday, Grandma”, he mumbles in a hushed tone.
I can feel the turmoil inside my head, and the tears outside, but it is so common now that it fails to be acknowledged as a distinct emotion. He then circles slowly around the bed, as if gaping at a lost artifact, ignoring the salt altogether.
“Dear, where are you?” His mother. My daughter-in-law.
“I have told you a hundred times not to disturb her. Now, get back here!”
Bye. Away from the vegetable. Bye.
Living in the hills, I always enjoyed my solitude. But loneliness and solitude are two different things. Loneliness hurts, it sticks like indelible ink. You feel an empty space previously filled by your fantasies and dreams. It doesn’t matter if the entire world reaches out to you, that dark niche repels them, stubborn in its essence.
I overhear the argument today. It is usually muffled for my benefit. Today, all control is lost. It’s about me, as most of them are. But today is different. It has the tone of finality, of an explosion. My blood is running cold in my veins, although the numbness is nothing new.
Night. 3 am.
The stars float in the sky, pointed strokes of white on a dark canvas. The wind howls its own rueful tune. It’s the perfect night, serene and occasional.
My little grandchild tiptoes into the room. His eyes are swollen with sadness and tears. I can smell the ache wafting through the room.
“Grandma, please, sorry…” he stammers. It takes him visible effort to walk. It was more of a mixture of hesitation, fear, and regret. “They can’t do this. They will break if they haven’t already. Sorry for today, Grandma. I can’t see any more suffering, not theirs, not yours.”
And gently is the deed done.
I talk of this from my wooden box. I am happy now. I hope they are, too.
Listen to my lullaby, Far away into the night, Floating in the sweet chill, Caught by the frost of time. Wandering its way through dark lanes, Turning souls in its wake, A gypsy of ink and blood, Burning with a marvelous ache.
It spills and rushes Into crevices and craters Filling smoky bubbles with vicious ink, Pulsating auburn at the brink, Diffusing lazily into the air A whiff of my pain, Searching the skies, For a parched, thirsty rain.
I wrote this for you, For loved memories and sour lies, For lost times and heavy sighs, I wrote this for me, For sliced veins and edged feet, For lonely times and melting heat.
This sparkling pool of salty tears, Turns into strings and words, Madness the key to this closed door, Behind which lies the store, Of purple scars and blue bruises, Picked deep by scalding knives, Torn apart by sharp tongues, Made Of a withered lullaby.
I feel weak today. Strangled. The other days pass; this one is stuck, like a rotting corpse under a bombed shack.
I have thought about it, a lot. That is all I seem to be doing nowadays. It feels like I have been pulled into a time warp. No sense of passage, no sense of space. I must have been staring at this wall for three, four hours maybe now, and it has changed, growing on me, around the edges of my blurry vision. It shall consume me.
This wall is a strange thing, almost like a person, pale and flaking, scars of lost souls etched onto its wrinkled face. I wish I could splash my tumult on this withered being, scratching away at it till my skin gave away and my fingers bled crimson, feeding on its cries, cleansing myself. I really wish I could.
But I have no stories to tell. Not out loud, at least. It is all in my head, churning and turning, a shifting mass of grey, a tangled mess I made for myself. Contrary to what anyone might say, this is comforting, this sense of finality. It is a warm haven in the constant noise of expectations and dreams.
At this moment, I am not weighed down by anything, no burdens, nothing to fulfill except that one pure goal. It is calm, but it hurts. The kind of pain that cannot be cured by makeshift remedies and solemn promises.
If only I could tell someone. If only I could unravel my mind and pour forth into another being, willing to soak all the darkness in, pulling the curtains away if there is any light left in this unforgiving world. I could have saved myself, perhaps.
What has talking ever done except add a few more inconsequential syllables to latent conversations, feeding fake fires of concern? Everyone has their time and everyone has to deal with it.
I can’t, not anymore.
I am tired.
Tired of putting up that façade every time I walk out.
Tired of laughing as if the sunshine graced me.
Tired of getting out of bed every single day.
Tired of pretending.
I am tired.
I wonder, would the world be a simpler place if we had no desires?
But what a world would that be, then.
Worth living? Probably not.
Is it worth living right now, though?
I know my answer.
I hope this settles the dust.
I hope my mess becomes one with this dust.
(I do not mean to advocate or glorify suicide or self-harm through this piece, in any manner. If you feel sad or isolated, reach out to someone you trust, someone you can talk to. There are online forums which maintain anonymity too.
It is blue here, deep, edging on black. I look at my hands, thin and wrinkled, shaking. The water trickles slowly through the tap, forming ripples in the stagnant water. The sound haunts me. Drop after drop, banging like drums in my head, refusing to stop no matter what. Drenched in the cold, I sit and stare.
I can hear the hiss of the cameras flashing outside, the self-appointed judges of moral code crying out red chants of blasphemy. I walk out of the bathroom. The curtains have been closed, leaving the room sprinkled with the vestiges of a soft sun. I peep through the broken glass. Chaos guides this crowd, who claim to be united, but would be at each other’s throats as soon as a little thorn threatens their inflated egos.
A stone crashes into the house, shattering the glass into tiny edged crystals. Third one today. I had always thought that the glass was strong. I now realize good times are not the perfect judges of adversity. I walk back and slump down on the sofa. It is strange how people can twist the truth to mould and soothe their own trivial realities, how seamlessly their minds can wrap around their mistakes, transforming it into a self-glorifying truth.
My eyes catch sight of a photograph, old and ruffled in the frame, a frozen tear of time. I pull it out. It is fragile, torn at the edges, and it smells of memories. Lost, faded memories. A boy looks happy, all smiles and joy, ignorant of the vicious whirlpools life is going to plunge him into.
They say life is but a journey, and every sunrise is preceded by a dreary night. But what if it’s not a day, but a season, a cold, grey winter? Reckless, unending. The leaves fall and the spring doesn’t greet. Isn’t that a fair possibility? The edges are not smooth and rounded. They are sharp, jagged, waiting for someone to falter and bleed. I have been cut, deep and purple, and I do not want to wait for the light.
I walk towards the terrace. The sky is slightly clouded. I walk over to the ledge and prop myself on the thin, rough surface. I stumble, balance again. A cool breeze strokes my face. I feel myself giving away.