Bookmark #946

At fifteen past eleven, I lay on this couch watching a rather heartwarming film, and the light from the TV continues to cast its ever-moving interplay of shadows all over the beige tiles. And it occurs to me all of a sudden in this moment of quiet respite that my exhaustion has had me frazzled, and it is not merely exhaustion from the days I have lived through these past few weeks but the exhaustion of being let down more often than not. Soft piano starts to play as the credits roll, and I get out of the couch and stare out at the tree from the kitchen window. The tree has been moving rabidly since the last two evenings, and each time I hear the rustling leaves or the whistling wind, a part of me hopes for rain. Perhaps this state of dejectedness is because of the weather, that the temperature has been stuck on the highest of highs like a broken thermometer. And to lose this thought, I stare at the tree for a bit more, and a gust blows about and waltzes inside, and I feel invigorated for a little bit.

The credits from the film continue to roll. I open the fridge door, the light from which spreads further, casting a larger shadow as if trying to compete with the light from the television in some sort of juvenile game between children. At least, that is what I think of suddenly as I take a bottle of cold water out and take a large sip. And then, I remember a memory from childhood of inane competitions between brothers, at first, and then, more come gushing in, between cousins, between friends at school, and suddenly, I cannot help but stand there smiling. And then, my mother’s voice echoes in my mind as she asks me to close the door to the fridge, and to refill the bottle before putting it back in. So much of this life is lived right because so much of it is continually informed by things I do not even remember. And I want to end this day on this note: that I have stood on the shoulders of others all my life.

I do the needful with the fridge and the bottle as I was taught, and then I turn the television off, glance at the apartment door to see if it is locked, and shut the bedroom door behind me, calling it a night.

Bookmark #945

Lately, I have shaken my head wildly trying to get rid of a thought I cannot shake, that the most ridiculous part about my life are these words I write, that the root of my cyclical dissatisfaction from life is simply that I am not valued for this: the writer I pretend to be.

If this were an ordinary life full of ambition, there would be endless contentment in it. But since this thorn in my side—that I need to write, that I have not written yet, or that nothing has come out of it—continues torturing me daily, something is always amiss.

I begin my days by wasting three hours staring at a blank page, or I harass myself for every second until I finish a piece. If it were an everyday life, and by that, all I mean is if I were like other people in that I did not have this obsession from an early age, I would be content knowing that I do good work all through the day, which I get paid and celebrated for. But for no reason other than a hodgepodge of nature and nurture, I have become convinced that the only kind of pursuit worth pursuing is artistic.

In fact, if you were to take my life at face value and if there was an inventory of what brings the most results—of any kind—my work would always trump my writing, which may be on the last or penultimate spot on the list.

And this is what the original problem, the biggest issue, is all about:

If I were to list all the things I am respected for in my life, these words would not make the cut, for no one reads them, and if someone reads them, they do it out of some personal allegiance to me, and even that fails eventually. Take my friends and family into account, who, for all their education and knowledge, fail to find time to read a piece which lasts a couple of minutes.

Even the momentary attention I get for sitting in a cafe and ordering a tea or coffee I can as quickly make at home for one-tenth of the cost, and even the cursory consideration I get for going to a bar and ordering absurd amounts of liquor is the result of the money I have earned, which is indirectly a result of the work I do.

“Oh, what do you write about?”
“Nothing that matters.”

I often have this exchange. Perhaps I ought to take my word for it.

Bookmark #944

The light from the sun outside reaches about the halfway mark of the hall, touching the rug barely and hesitantly. I lie on the couch and look at the brown parcel box, which I have not had time to cut the tape off of and open. It is morning, and to be fair, I have time right now, but things that are delayed for a bit often get delayed by and large. While waking up early did not do much for me, I still woke up with some restfulness within me, spending time in the joy of nothingness. This has given a soft pastel sort of hue to the entire day. It is the middle of April, and the city has boiled into a pot of hot chaos, but this moment is a respite from all that and more. My life, too, has had a surge of bedlam, so this little crumb of calm is a welcome change.

It is April, and I think about writing, about art, about all things, and I wonder if I want to keep writing. And, of course, it is a beaten path. I have stopped writing before, and then, I found myself here again, and it has happened thrice and I know better than to cater to this thought. But I ought to paint more. I want to make more things. I want to do so much; I feel as paralysed by the possibility today as I had been about a decade ago. Everything can be learned if you spend enough time on it. It is time, then, and not talent or ability, that limits us. At least, this is how it is for me. I am much too confident in what I can do, which is, more or less, everything I can think of and, more importantly, make time for. And as for doing it well, which is what most people mean when they ask if you can do something, there are a few things I know of, and I reckon there would be a plethora more if I had the time for it.

And, of course, I want to work with wood and tools, tinkering in a quiet shed, making something that truly exists. After all, all I have ever wanted from my life is to have the time and space to build myself a chair.

Bookmark #943

I have not enjoyed writing lately, and it shows where it does, like the faux smile someone makes at a party they could not avoid. Perhaps to keep up appearances, under great obligation, or to be a civil person and nothing else. But then, even without words, the smile reveals everything. If not in the moment, then, I reckon in some sort of retrospective as people look at the pictures over coffee and an afternoon many days later. It has been like that, and I have been keeping up appearances in the most honest and the most necessary sense of it.

My distraction is immeasurable. I have been inundated by things to handle, big and small, and I believe it has impacted my health. Directly by inducing the exhaustion only known to those parched for peace and time, and indirectly by turning the few minutes I do have into moments I want to leave my head out of my body, and since this done literally would render me in a vegetative state, the next best thing is a glass of wine or the fifth order of whiskey at a bar without care about all else. They have collectively thrashed these words and their quality, and they have done this not in the way a hammer strikes a feeble wooden board but in how a tap which continues to drip on a piece of marble can prove lethal to it. And what has brought on all these things? Well, it has been a good cocktail—perfectly balanced. It has taken equal parts of myself and equal parts of life, and no, by no means is this a complaint. No, do not misunderstand me. Most, if not all, things are good, but we must work for all the good things, too, and it is the work, and not the general state of my life, that has exhausted me.

Sometimes, I sit and wonder if I could write someone a letter. When I say things, I find it is often jumbled up. It is difficult to talk to people, as I learned last night again, because they come with their caveats and puzzles. Then, I reckon I begin unpacking and solving them. A letter, however, would be ideal. I could bare my soul, and I could ensure all my thoughts followed each other, and I could take time. Yes, I could take time and craft a beautiful letter. I wish I could do that. But then, where would I find the time?

Bookmark #942

Most of what we do in life is either right or beautiful, provided, of course, that there is a sense of agency in a person. If that is missing, then most of what they do is irrelevant and should rarely become a cause of concern. But for those of us who have some agency, who believe in their hands and themselves, and who trust themselves to change course on their own, we have both the opportunity to decide correctly, to gather every bit of knowledge there is, to stand tall as a tree, our feet planted like roots, if we know ourselves to be right, and to stand there alone come snow or sun, and we have the opportunity to set everything ablaze including ourselves and become a spectacle for all to see.

But what most people fail to consider often is that a good measure of overlap, that most things that are right may be beautiful, too, and how could most things that appear beautiful be ever so wrong?

Most life is not spent on the extremes of it all but in the muddy waters as we wade against the dirt to reach the bank. Most life is spent in the sprawling middle, and most things we do are right and beautiful. I have good reason to believe in this, of course. I realised this early on that being right counted on most days and that the price of it was hefty and often absurdly large. I also realised early on that everything dubbed beautiful appeared just so, and we must go out of our way to experience life from the perspective of someone who died and came back to life so they look at a loaf of bread as if it were a pound of gold.

Every memory I remember fondly could be considered doctored, for it did not fully happen on its own, and all my waking life is spent looking for the opportunity to have a splendid day. Nothing less would do! And if I must push myself to the breaking point, shove myself into situations, and force myself to stay awake until my body gives up, so be it. It has been a life worth remembering so far, and it has been a never-ending effort.

To merely be a living person and to be alive are two different things, and only one of the two is right and beautiful.

And I am glad I have been able to see the difference, and I hope, with all my heart, you can, too.

Bookmark #941

Sat to write this morning—or well, afternoon—and could not find the right words—or well, any—and it occurred to me that I ought to write from different places, that sometimes we must induce a slight change, and if an entirely new setting is not possible, then, a familiar cafe at a time you never visit it shall do, and if even that seems outlandish, then we must sit somewhere else in the same room, but I tried the latter and got nothing out of it, only sentences that went nowhere, and all that inevitably led me to the overcrowded cafe I currently sit in—it is Sunday after all; what can you expect?


Finally, I have a table to sit on, which I currently share with two guys who seem to have much to discuss. Enough to let a sole fly manoeuvre around the accidentally aesthetic arrangement of a brownie and cups of coffee they seem to have left unattended.


Sometimes, not as often as I should, I talk to people about how you can feel a sort of soft and perpetual loneliness in life simply because of who you are and what life made you and that the combination of two often can create a living contradiction, and then, they begin to state the obvious and then, nothing goes anywhere. But then, I find myself in a cafe with fifty people and the staff I see at least thrice a week. The golden evening sun stands near the door like an attentive, diligent doorman. All of it makes this seem like something you would want to belong to, and for a little bit, for a tiny sliver of a second, I do not feel as lonely. In this and only this, I stop feeling that thorn in my chest. I do not know any of these people, and that is why I belong because for all these words I waste, maybe I do not know myself.

I feel most myself when I am just one of many, when I am nameless and goalless, and when all my identity can be reduced to a prop in a picture. It is the only belonging I know; besides that, all of my life is a consistent and frivolous struggle to be a person. And now, I have learned the oldest lesson: that in all the fretting over what to bring with us and what to leave behind into a new life, we forget the glaring detail that we will carry ourselves with us.

Bookmark #940

I lay in bed after waking up and played some soft rock to accompany me in the silence of the Saturday morning. I lay there and did not think of much. I closed my eyes and let the music fill every empty space, every bubble of air in my mind, and before I knew it, I was fully there. No bother on my mind, nothing to block out the sweetness of life, and so there I was, lying as the beige curtain filtered and coloured the light into the room and onto the bed. And then, as the phone rang, I got out of bed and answered the call, and it was someone who needed some help, and I told them that I had just woken up and needed some time to become myself. And it was then that I realised that it never stops. Nothing ever stops. The asking, the taking, the living, none of it ever stops, and those in the older days were blessed that the letters took time to reach them, that the telegrams were slow and expensive and that pagers had a limited range. Nothing ever stops. Everyone is always here as long as you are awake and alive, decent enough to not turn a blind eye to the world, and competent enough to keep it all afloat.

And it is the last part that bothers me as I stare at the tree buzzing with flowers and bees outside the window while waiting for the coffee to brew before I can plunge the French press down. That last part is all it is about. I often wish I was not as competent. I am not the smartest man I know by any means, but I know I am not as dense either. But often, I wish I did not have the sense to live correctly, that I was a slob, and that others would pick up my slack as I waltz through my days. Sure, there are people like that; the helpers need someone to help, after all. Often, I wake up and wish I was among the perpetually tardy, the blockheaded, the wishy-washy, and if not forever, maybe for a year. But I will always find ways to help myself before someone can lend a hand, and I will always watch myself, and I will always be my mean critic, and it will all be like this always, and nothing will ever stop as it never has, and every single thing will be in the right place, and I will have kept it there. And I will stand and wonder if capability is a burden, too.

Bookmark #939

While many pressing problems have paralysed me, it is love that is on my mind. And it is on my mind in the way a look from a stranger is on your mind where you cannot help but wonder if you left a story stranded on the pavement by not smiling in return. And now, I am compelled to bring a glass of wine and this modern-day typewriter in the bedroom and talk about how I love. And how I love is at odds with the rules of the world I live in, and it has caused me great heartache—not fracture but myalgia. The heart is but a muscle after all—or at least, full of it—and the hurt has been how a muscle pulses with pain as you sit with your gaze fixed on the plain-white ceiling, waiting for sleep to smother you. But hurt aside, I love immediately, quickly, and with naivete, and I can spin some sprawling story about it, but it will be a lie. And so, in all that I have thought about, I have realised that I cannot help but love how I love, and I cannot help myself, and I cannot stop this perpetual pulse of puncturing pain.

It is not in me to be subtle. If I love you, I trust you immediately like a child. For the better part of the last decade, I have learned that this is the wrong way, and when I say wrong, I simply mean that it is not the most accepted way, and often, it makes all the difference. It is not in me to think about the consequences. All I can see is a breakfast of brightness or a brunch brimming with booze, or perhaps, evenings filled with the sweet and soft comfort of nothingness. That is all I can think of when I look at the next person—of which there have been enough and many—and I throw my heart like a dart on the wall. It sticks if it does, or it falls off most disappointingly. That is how I love. I hand over the keys to my life, then leave the door open and suggest they were unnecessary.

I will hand you my heart. And I will watch as you forget it at a cafe we may never visit together again. I will watch you break a piece, keep it to yourself, and I will say nothing. And I have so much of it. I have so much love to give. I do not know how to love like the world does.

And if I love you, you will know, and years will pass, and I will remember you fondly still.

I do not know how to forget.

Bookmark #938

It is still the morning despite my having spent over two hours sitting and staring at this screen. I wonder why this is the case and what has sapped all the energy out of me, but then, I remember it is perhaps because I did not sleep too well last night. And why was it? Why it always is. I had another absurd dream about the same day I was to wake up to, and it disturbs me that I often have to live life twice in this uniquely odd way. And if I tell someone about it, I get looks of disbelief and, sometimes, contempt. But what would I gain from lying about it? I had six things to do today and chores in between, and I had done the six to the best of my ability, conversations with people were as lucid as can be, and then I woke up, and I realised, once again, for the millionth time, that it was a dream, and that it was but a rehearsal for what I was about to do. This ailment—for the lack of a better word—has been the greatest cause of all my agony, and if I seem worried, it is because I am unable to separate what is a dream and what is not sometimes. And sometimes, you want to live through your days only once. And, of course, I am not one to believe in the hullabaloo of mysticism. It is simply that my mind is not at rest, and it never has been, barring a few months a couple of years ago. It was the first and, perhaps, the last time I learned how it is for other people.

Oh, well, nothing a little bit of coffee cannot solve. That I keep an upbeat demeanour, that I am jocular and I talk fast and ask people to get out of the house, that I am a person in the strongest sense of the word as soon as I shut the door behind me and go outside is my greatest favour to the world. I have every reason I need to be miserable, I have every reason to be furious, and then some. Exhaustion is all I have known, and no amount of sleep, if you were to take me at my word, and I suggest you should, helps. Seventeen minutes to a meeting, so I must stop here and call this a piece. There, I have written. I have done it again.

Bookmark #937

All things happen when they happen, and deadlines are for fools. If you have worked in a job, regardless of what you did there, whether you were a pencil pusher or someone who made actual effort during the day, you would know it. I believe there are idiots, and there are people who get things done, and those who get things done know that anxiety over all that remains undone is wasteful. On some days, you do more, and on some days, you do less, and all of it adds up in the end. I have been smothered by my mind for the past few weeks, and I have not done as much as I would have liked to, and I have noticed this in myself, in how I have reacted to things, and in the hours wasted on this couch, lying and thinking about nothing but everything that has happened to me in this life. This, I reckon, is also work. We are the longest projects we ever partake in, and the work never ends. There is always something to fix, and something to take care of, and formalities here and there, and papers to sign now and then, and often, we require a break from this onerous job of being a person.

Note that I intentionally left the slackers out of the discussion to make this appear like a dichotomy. But of course, indeed, there are not just idiots and those who get things done; there are always slackers. And if you know them, then you also know that it does not matter what you do; they will always feign malicious incompetence, raise their hands, and leave the room before you can address their lack of valuable output. And no amount of complaining or rage or flailing to upper management brings about any change whatsoever. And in this grand project of ourselves, this is more true than anything else. And the best thing anyone can ever do is keep their head down and do what needs to be done. I have gotten this far by doing just that: my due diligence. And I have met all sorts of people, and it has not made a sliver of difference. Life has gotten on as it would have, and I have continued working.

Bookmark #936

In the morning, I woke up and realised I had wasted a few hours, and waste is perhaps the wrong word. Stolen seems to be a more appropriate way to describe the additional hours of sleep cut abruptly due to a dream. So, I ultimately got nothing out of my crime against the world, and when I woke up, I was tired already and wanted to try again. But there were no mulligans in store today, so I began the day and had a few meetings with people living in cities I have never heard the names of, and this guy told me about how he caught the last bit of snow before it all melted off in spring, and I tried to revel in that second-hand joy—selfishly, of course—and I could not, and so, I spent the day staring at the dark brown, inching towards slaty, coffee in the beige cup one after the other until I got all exhausted and then, I watched reruns of a show I have watched a thousand times before, and if the hyperbole is a bit too generous, then I am sure a “couple of times” is a good measure.

In the evening, I walked to the nearby cafe and on my way there, I noticed that the trees were still blossoming, that the streets were filled with flowers and petals, and that there were heaps of it at equal intervals, which made me think about how the invisible workers are always making sure our lives go smoothly. And then, I began to think about how I have always played life by the ear and had no plan, that now, perhaps, I am getting tired of it all. I craved a plan, some grand answer for a little bit before my atheism knocked the wind out of me and reminded me that the safest hands were still my own. But I did think about how the hundreds of people I have met so far who have adamantly defended their lack of agency in life have fared. I wondered if they, too, have faced the hours of unforgiving silence for every little bit of music celebrated.

When I reached the cafe, I read for exactly thirty minutes, and out of habit, I checked how much money I had made by now. The number had grown, and I thought it was a good thing for a moment. Then, I realised I was sitting there alone, so to avoid feeling hollow, I stared out at the street right ahead of me through the glass wall of the cafe.

Bookmark #935

It seems amidst all the eventfulness and the general variety of life, I have forgotten to humour the perpetual speck of sadness in my heart. I have covered it with humour instead, like mud onto some sketchy hole in the ground. Now, I realise that it has been months since I had a conversation with myself, so I sat myself down and talked tonight. It is, of course, not the first time this has happened, but there was a difference today. It being that I could assign a word to it: rationality. All the sadness within me comes from rationality—at one point, the blatant absence of it, and now an overbearing presence, perhaps, as a lesson learned as a consequence of the former. And once this conversation was over, I figured a glass of wine would not hurt to help lighten the mood, unclench the shoulders a little and wind down. And then, I thought to write a little, but then, there was nothing to say, having said everything I wanted to say before I sat to write. So, I went to read some old, unpublished drafts, left in the middle as if I died while typing, got bored out of my mind, or realised there was nothing to say except a sentence or two. Not all thoughts are worthy of a passage. Not all things are worthy of completion. That was about an hour ago, and now, here we are, and I still have no words to spill.

All I know is that we must consider the entirety of ourselves. Between all the ill-timed jokes and roundabout rationalisation, the reassurance of fastidious compartmentalisation so I get things done, and the obsession with keeping everything as it is and in its rightful place, I have neglected a part of myself that defines me as much, if not more than anything else. It is not lost on me how I have repeatedly broken my heart in favour of doing the right thing, of doing the rational thing. And today is perhaps just that: a day to take stock of cause and effect. But effects can also become causes in themselves. For someone who flouted rationality like the rebel on the tower tearing a flag down in the middle of a revolution, I did not imagine I would turn out like this—not that there are right or wrong ways to be. We are who we are, and then, we are what life makes us.

Bookmark #934

Most contemporary writing is about driving a point home as perversely and blandly as possible, and most people who now call themselves writers are mere journalists or essayists. I stand corrected; both are respected professions when done right, and I shall not insult them with this association. Most of them are peddlers who hawk snake oil and half-baked insights with reused sentences and phrases. For me, the greatest pain is when I reach a place where I am supposed to tell others who I am, and writing comes up. And then, they tell me they write too and look at me with the wide eyes of a child waiting to show their painting to an adult. Then, like the aggravating aunt who chimes in only to brag, they tell me anyway: I write about business. Or if it is not business, it is some other made-up plague like self-improvement.

Then, the already trudging conversation trudges further, and to humour them while scouring frantically for a window to jump out of, I ask them what they read, and then they mention books from the aisle I would not even gloss over. The endless drivel, a picture of the author plastered on the cover, and a bold typeface suggesting the answer is within the pages. The answer to what? God knows.

The recipe to a decent life is simple, and the search for meaning ends with a cup of coffee, and then, you begin again the next day.

This hand-holding is the problem. Most people—and I do not intend to gloss over the issues of the truly ailing—do not need as much help as they believe they do. People who need help need help, but on most days, most well-adjusted people, and by well-adjusted, I mean those capable of picking terrible books from concessionaire bookstands, do not need another trick. They merely need to read more poetry. They only need to walk a little. But, well, we cannot do much about this; the ship has sailed.

Now, I must bear the brunt of it while I meet another published author at a cafe who shall tell me about the secret to it all. Yet, with all his arcane knowledge, we shall both sit a table apart in the same cafe. Only, I will be unbothered, maybe read a proper book, and he will fidget and sell every bit of himself the first chance he gets.

Bookmark #933

I learned it early, and perhaps I did not have to go out of my way to earn obscene amounts of wealth to learn it, that the greatest thing we will ever do is sit with a few people we adore or tolerate and break bread together as we talk about all things under a moon that shines brightly enough for several people to get out of their seats and take a picture. And that the most glaring mistake anyone can make, regardless of where or when it happens, is to refuse a cry for help. I know that when the latter haunts you on days you cannot do much but the dishes, it is the former and the never-ending montage of warmth that lifts you out of the fixed gaze at nothing in particular as the laminar flow of water runs over your fingers, foaming about the dish soap as you worry about things you could have done differently, and filling the sink in tandem with the despair filling in your heart.

I learned it early, and perhaps I did not need to regret every single choice I have ever made in my life to learn it, that sometimes the poorest thing you can do is to have money, that time is true wealth, and that I would always live and want a life where I have the comfort of wasting an hour, and if I cannot, if I simply cannot do it, then I will change my life till I can. To be able to waste time on our own terms is the true essence of life, and when I say waste, all I mean is to not use it as directed. To sit and write a few words, as I have done for years now, is a terrible waste of time, but it may also be the most glorious thing I do each day, and to sit, sip coffee and watch the sun is probably foolish and it is also wonderful and worth experiencing each time you get a chance to do it. And, of course, I could list all of these, the many ways to waste an hour in some sort of compendium, but I trust you to know them already. Most people, in my experience, are great at finding intriguing use of their time, especially when it comes to delinquency.

I learned it early, and perhaps I did it quicker than most, that most life is easy pickings, and most happiness is the low-hanging fruit, and if I were to be brief: On most days, happiness is a bench on the sidewalk.

Bookmark #932

I sit here like a prop in the passing afternoon scene, with the light shifting ever-so-softly every few minutes. The third cup of coffee sits on the corkwood coaster on the table; a few cold, leftover sips remain in it, probably waiting for the inevitable fate of being spilt into the sink. Time has passed today and I have watched it. It is all I have to show for the day so far, and no, I do not mean to sound even an ounce of guilt. I am proud of this day, how late it began, and how slow it is going. This languid energy, or lack of it to be literal, this lethargic torpor is what I have missed for over a month now. I have missed it without realising it like you miss the soft caress of a hand on your cheek or through your hair. You do not miss it outright, and you do not spend every waking minute thinking about it. But regardless of when that happens, irrespective of when you feel it again, you know it is what was missing for all the days prior.

And in this empty, vacuous moment, I have no thoughts, too. I have nothing to say and, surely, nothing to write about. Frankly, this is all I needed from a day like this: not to have anything on my mind, to watch my thoughts move to and fro like curtains bobbing softly, sweeping the little corner where they meet the wall, and going back again. This is how every thought has felt for the past hour or so, perhaps longer, and they have gone and come back, and I have done nothing. It is the perfect setup for a splendid evening.

And what will I do tonight? I do not know yet. Perhaps, go for a walk and read a little at a cafe. I might go out and play some games with strangers if I feel up to it and have absorbed enough warmth to waste some away. Maybe cook a hearty meal and save some for tomorrow. But all that is in a little bit. I must let a couple of hours pass until then. And then, when I am ready, perhaps, when the light slowly moves further down to skip this window. Then, I shall get out of this state of temporary permanence and become a person again. Until then, I am as much a part of this still life as the television remote on the table, as the clothes hung behind the door, as the potted plants on the refrigerator.

Bookmark #931

When I woke up this morning, I lay in bed and thought about the beginning of my day, about how it will go and how it will end, but most importantly, how it will begin. Before we get out of bed, it is all but potential. Anything can happen. I once heard about a friend of a friend of a friend who broke an ankle by simply getting out of bed too fast. The person telling me the story told me they had always been impatient. And that makes me think of what I always think of: that how you do one thing is how you do everything.

It took me two days to set this apartment up, and it took me another two to make it feel like a home. By day six, I had no alien feeling for the space I currently sit and write these words from. That was almost two months ago. This is how it has been for my waking years, and what I mean by that is the years I grabbed the reins of my life. If these words are any proof, I know myself too well, and I know that my demand for order, for consistency, for certainty from myself and the world is to hide the disarray inside my heart, to cover the ever-spreading impatience, to control the chaos and, if possible, to never let it run amok. That is what I know, and that everything is always in the right place in my apartment is but a declaration of this engineering, of this painstaking process of ensuring I do not step over the line again, not in error, and surely, not by choice. All my lists point to the same thing. All my calendars make the same confessions. It is silly that even when I write a draft, it fits precisely within a bound of characters, and if a word, even if it fits just too well, even if it is the right word, if there ever was such a thing, pushes beyond this invisible, arbitrary limit, I change it to a somewhat ambiguous one. I have done this for over nine hundred pieces, and I believe, I will do it continually still.

And then, when I got out of bed, I did it softly and with a realisation I have had before, and I have had often: that it is a fact that the brass tacks of life are so brilliantly simple, and it is not them but the reconciliation of this fact, or lack thereof, that makes it all so muddy and complicated.

Bookmark #930

I often read old letters from people celebrated through history or otherwise, and the only thing on my mind is how imperative it was for them to say what they wanted to say with the best of words and the most surreal, most unexpected sentences. Merely telling someone something was not the purpose of such letters; it was about telling it well, with a sort of personal panache, a flair to the sentences that only they could write, and it makes me wish for people who would be so careful as to write a well-thought-out sentence, and of course, this wish will never be granted. We must be the victims of our time, and we must live with how things are, and if they are too unfavourable to us, we ought to try and change them, but then, the change must make sense. The incentive to write a letter has but been lost to time, and now, all we have is an archaic archive of arduously written analogies about the most mundane things in the world. We have curtailed sentences and messages that deliver instantly. Since it is a world of information, it is no longer a world of artists but one of businesspeople and journalists who want to be incisive, want to be quick, and who, I do not know why, cannot stop for a second to read a sentence unless it pushes a bottom line.

They say language evolves with usage, but perhaps “evolve” is a word too generous, too forgiving. Language changes with usage. Whether we could call it evolution is a different debate altogether. One that I do not intend on having with another person living in my time, for if they understood my loyalties, there would be no debate, and if there is one in the first place, I must confess that, unlike others, and there sure are many of them, I do not enjoy banging my head on a wall. Perhaps, wit is a flavour of society that is impossible to recover. We have lost it in lieu of speed, whatever good that has brought us. And, of course, excuse my ignorant remark; it has brought a lot of good, and I know it all, and it is but the most wonderful thing that the world is so deeply, so impossibly connected and entangled, and yet, there are still no letters, and that is how it is. We can go forward but still miss what we left behind.

Bookmark #929

While being a person, being a friend to someone, being a cog in the grand machine of nothing in particular, I remembered today that an apartment sits perfectly set up in another city, that a life sits gathering dust. I thought of this like how you often think of a long lost memory on a bus ride or as a plane begins to take off, and what I mean with this is how the reminiscing only happens because between all the movement, you have nothing to do, and I think this has been a day like that, where I was moving continually, but I was disengaged like a disinterested student in a class he could not wait to get out of. All I wanted throughout today was to wrap it all and write. The rest of the day felt like a prelude as if it were setting some great last riff up in an album full of songs you wade through until you get to that one song.

Now, it is one in the night, and I am finishing this piece in the dim, ochre glow of the lamp that has a million colours to show but which, out of habit and out of routine, is stuck on this soft, warm one. As I write this piece, the somewhat heavy duvet pressing my already tired feet down, and as I try to look at myself at this moment like you often do when you try to capture the whole scene so you can remember it later, I begin thinking about how I never imagined a moment like this: glasses on my face, not many but a countable number of greys on the sides of my head still, and a life where everything has begun to fall into place. It is not lost on me how sinuous the path has been.

To be happy in the moment brings about a different silhouette in a person. It is always easiest to spot this person amidst a crowd. The other day, I sat in a cafe and read for an hour, and then, when I got up to leave, it occurred to me I had been swaying to the music playing there as I read. Now, this is a normal thing to do, I am sure. It is, however, important to me because when I was nineteen, I saw a person doing this in a cafe I was trying to write in, and I remember feeling a wave of innocent envy tower me.

“I wish I could be like that free someday,” I remember thinking then.

The other day, it occurred to me that I am.

Bookmark #928

For the past three hours, I have been trying to put down my thoughts on you, or at least, my thoughts on how all my thoughts have been about you for the past few days, especially today, and that it did not begin when I woke up. You were on my mind before I slept, which was awfully late because I was smitten thinking about every detail of every minute you were in front of me in the evening, and the ifs and elses of what may or what could happen, and like how important things often carry forward from nights into mornings, when I reached the kitchen counter to make my regular cup of coffee, the room seemed different, and the air seemed different, and the sun seemed different, and I realised then that it was because you had been there, and that we had laughed there, and that we had kissed there, and since then, you have been on my mind, and through the day—which passed slowly, like how the fragrance of freshly made pancakes sways slowly and stays behind—you were there too, and now that it is over, you are here still. Everything I have thought of today has been touched by the thought of you. And this makes me dizzy and confused in a way I have not felt since I was a boy listening to a love song he barely understood and who has, in hindsight, come to know a thing or two about love himself, but mostly, it makes me ecstatic and impatiently hopeful for what the future holds. It makes my heart float like nothing was holding it down. All my troubles from a few days before seem impossibly small, like some detail you forget to mention to a friend and realise this while you do it but leave it out because it would not change the story.

For hours, I have been bargaining with my mind to cooperate, to let me put a few words down and call it a day, but my mind has a mind of its own today, and there is nothing I can do to coerce it. I realised this, so I did what anyone could do in my situation: I gave it free rein, and I let it think about you. And there it went, writing about you, and there it goes, writing still, and if I do not stop it now, it will go on and on.

And now that I think of it, it does not seem like such a bad thing. I could do it my entire life and not tire of it.

Bookmark #927

What do I want in this life? If I discount the apartment I cannot buy right now, and if I set aside my never-ending wish for a quiet Sunday morning with someone I love, and if I slide my literary dreams under the carpet and never mention them again, and if I chuck the stray ideas for projects I will never have time to work on into neatly labelled organisers, and if I throw the impossible paths I can no longer take in this life along with the trash when I take it out, not much.

To clarify what I mean by this is that no amount of change, unless it induces emotional whiplash in me, can change my life, that no amount of money, unless a significant sum dropped on me tomorrow, can help me, that no amount of quiet personal comfort can replace a reassuringly restful Sunday, that for all my prolificity, writing is an egoistic undertaking and all literary success boils down to how well you affected the times or the people, that all the things I truly want to work on will continually be towered by the pressing concerns of the eight-hour workday, and that time has marched on and has wound many paths like you would fold a carpet after some event, that the potentials now lie rolled up and gather dust.

And this is what I mean when I tell people I do not want much in life. But then, hell-bent as they are on their lack of understanding, they begin to force the list I have effortlessly shared above with loaded, leading questions. It is offending, and I often leave those conversations with a sour taste. I have thought about this to reach the circular logic of never worrying about the grand path of my life and have slowly built the muscle to think only about the next few weeks or months. And all this effort gets ignored by those who have barely thought about it at all, who want things simply because others want them, who never stop to think what dreams demand, and who fail to see that patience comes with practice, who would not know their dreams if they stood right in front of them.

So, when they talk about dreams I wax poetic and make a smug speech before leaving. Because I have been waiting and working, waiting and working, waiting and working since long before they even began.