Bookmark #443

Life starts unravelling long before we notice it. It is only when we sit down, years from when the first domino fell, the first cut in the tapestry, the first pull of the thread, the first push into a collision course that we see it. When we see it, though, we cannot do much about it but remark on it. That is all there is to it. That is all there is to do with the past. We can remember it, but life must be lived forward. There is barely any cause and effect to life. This intricate web of destiny, this winding maze, only tells us one thing: nothing causes anything, and most that happens, happens for so many reasons at the same time, you might say there is no reason at all. If there is, we cannot be the sole judges of any of it.

But there is one thing we can decide for ourselves: we can continue walking.

Life starts growing like a vine that does not need permission to climb up the pipes, fences, walls and lattices until you see nothing but green all over the house as if it was always there and a verdant paradise of plenty. The human ability to forget should not be underestimated! While sometimes, vines are let loose intentionally and given a hand, in most cases, nature finds a way. Abundance is the only language nature speaks if you allow it time. With time, my life has grown remarkably in ways I did not, could not have imagined when the unravelling first began. And since I started walking, quite like the vine, I have grown forward and forward only to arrive here with happiness in my heart and a sense of peace I cannot put into words.

As I make camp in this little clearing full of green, I realise I have walked incredibly far.

Bookmark #442

It’s late, but I can hear the clouds rumble. I will wake up to the rain tomorrow, I tell myself as I lay in bed. I will wake to a city muffled by nature, silenced by the Gods, softened by a million kisses from the sky, landing softly, each making its mark, not that we can see it. It is the collective effort we will all see—the result of a stupendously long affair going on for millennia. When the air about the Earth is too heavy, when the Earth is exhausted, the skies shower it with love in plenty. The love is what we know as rain. I think of all this, almost imagining these words written on the page before I sleep. I will wake up to the rain tomorrow. That is reason alone to wake up at all.

And in the morning, I wake up to find a torpor in the air, a sort of tranquil inactivity. It is raining. I go out to the balcony and look at the world. The hills are absent from the landscape. The honking is occasional, most of it muted, and there is nothing but the patter all about. I look at a brave bird still swinging about; the others probably found their way to their nests, or well, the exterior units of air conditioners, tiny holes in buildings and all corners they can fit into. No one finds their way back home if they’re out and about when the rain comes—a temporary respite is enough. I think of this as I watch the bird playing in the rain. I can sense it is playing because it is not flying to and from anywhere. It’s flying about here and there but with no intent to leave. At first, I think it is crazy, but then I realise we are one and the same.

Once it begins to pour, and if you’re still outside, your first bet is to run to shelter. Now, if you’re lucky, you find it, but if it continues pouring, and if you’re without shelter, what better answer is there than to get drenched? To give up and to give way to what happens to you? To not care about safety when it is pouring after all?

And what happens when you’re drenched enough, when there is no way out of the shower, when you find yourself stuck in the middle of it alone?

Like the bird, you begin dancing.

Bookmark #441

I have changed cities countless times now. I have rented places and uprooted my existence for a little over four. I have pushed doors and flung them open with a backpack and a few suitcases in my hand. Eventually, when my life got heavier with more things to carry and even more to remember, I hired the movers to help me out.

Slowly, I have watched empty rooms take shape and fill with little trinkets and things that make it all a home. I have learned where things were, where they were meant to be, and, more importantly, where they felt right. I have had places where books were on a desk, on a shelf, in a corner, or on the counter. I have slept more on couches and rugs than on beds, and I have spilt coffee on all three occasionally. I have spent drunken nights both in and out, dazed, confused and lost in a delirium I cannot make sense of clearly still. I have learned to do the dishes, cook the little I can cook, clean ardently and regularly, take care of myself when I’m sick, and discipline myself when needed. In many ways, I have done it all alone.

And this was my worst fear growing up—doing it all alone—and so I craved love, and I begged for it, and I wanted us to build a home of our own, and there you were, and there I was and yet, I seem to have missed it all.

There is so much to learn about life still, but I have learned most of how to build a life, build a home, and I have done it by myself, and I don’t see how that will change anymore. And sure, I will let you bring things to the table, but the table will already be there, and it will already be set. I’ll clean the house a certain way, and I’ll have my lists and my todos and places where things will already be kept.

When I meet you, if I meet you, I will already have a place of my own. I can’t wait for you to ask to change the curtains because grey is a bit dull or add more plants because nine is still not enough, but before all of that happens, before we spend afternoons baking and making a mess of the kitchen floor, or slow dancing in the bedroom with the lights out, I will hesitate because you see, love, I’ve spent so many years building homes by myself, I never quite learned to share the key.

Bookmark #440

How do I keep writing? How do I keep living? There may be a reason. I do not know which one since the reasons keep coming and going. No writer writes for one reason alone. He keeps writing until he can hang onto something else, and time passes. People live for different things in different years, too. No one lives for one reason. The reasons will continually change. It is the living that continues. It is the writing that goes on.

I have lived to wait for certain happiness and written to pass the time. When the wait was over, I got a desk and put it in the space created inadvertently in the corner of the room. I began writing. There was a semblance of happiness in all this, albeit not the one I had waited for. It seemed like the only good use for the corner of my heart. I have written every day since. Many live to forget and write to imagine things that never happened—as a proxy, overwriting what happened. They highlight the good, inflate it and make it larger; they forget to capture the elementary detail about the bad or omit it entirely.

Perhaps, the better questions are: why do you write now, at this moment, and why do you keep living? I believe it is a question I have asked myself one too many times recently. It is a question I have asked many others as well. Take the last evening: I sat sharing a stack of banana pancakes with a friend on a Monday evening, and with my mouth stuffed, I asked him, “Well, you know how it always is; what do I do now that I am happy?” He said nothing, but the answer was right there.

You live. You continue getting delectable pancakes with your friends, you look at the rain and wait for it ardently, and when it arrives, you scurry back into the house in an irony nature does not quite understand. You continue laughing and, if life demands, crying. There always has been so much more than our collective pursuit of individual happiness. You go through the motions, contribute to the world, and see what time has in store.

Sometimes, if you’re like me with a desk in the corner, you must sit down and write about everything. I write because I don’t know any other way to live; I live because what else is there to do anyway?

Bookmark #439

People are so concerned with how the world ends, what happens when it does, will an asteroid crash into the planet as it has before, will it be ice or will it be fire, or will it be something unprecedented, unimagined, unthought as if any of it will matter? The world will most likely not end in their time, so most of it is not their concern. And if it happens in their time, it will not matter, for no one will be left to remember it. The only concern anyone should have for the world is what they do when living in it. The world ending is far too great an ordeal for a singular member of one out of the millions of species on this planet. Our only concern should be: how do I live now that I am here?

Most people talk about the end of the world, not because of scientific curiosity or some saviour complex, those who have any or both of the two are already in the right places trying to predict and understand it all, but only because it is simply easier to think no one will remember them for no one will be left to remember them. By extension, the little they did do or, in most cases, the most they left undone with the time they had here will never be recalled, never be tallied, never be thought of and considered. It is easier to think an archive of your life will be wholly lost and entirely obliterated than to accept you will remain. You will remain in the memory of others, you will remain with all your flaws and some of your virtues, you will remain until everyone you ever knew, everyone they ever mentioned your existence to, and everyone who was affected by it was gone, and all that you touched, that touched something else, which did something else in return will be destroyed. You will remain forever—what a dreaded thought. It is much easier to tell each other the world is ending soon. It is the only way so many of us can manage some sleep at night.

Yet, the world is here, and tomorrow arrives before we open our eyes. What a splendid opportunity to do better. There is no other question greater than this: how do I be better while the world still spins?

Bookmark #438

Last evening, I sat on my chair, spinning in happiness, one thought circling in my head: I am happy, I am happy, I am happy. It has taken me a lot of time to get here. There was no reason for me to be as ecstatic. It was a normal day in a normal life, but I found myself exhilarated about this normalcy. I thought about walking in the city, of all the times I had walked in the streets of this town, and it gave me an inebriation I had not experienced in the strongest of booze I have had yet. Oh, to be drunk on happiness. There is no drink so potent, no drug as strong. Why was I happy? Maybe, it was the sudden realisation of my worth. And why did I know my worth? Because I knew the extent of the happiness I could feel.

I thought of time, how fast it has passed and how slow the weeks have felt still. I thought of this contradiction and how everyone before me has experienced it. Perhaps, time did flow only towards the future and only forward. Maybe, that much was true, but it did not flow constantly. Some moments slowed it, and others rushed it. And these moments were different for all people. Our clocks and calendars were but a soft proxy for the lived experience of time. I thought of how each day feels like a year in itself now. No, not because of some impossibility or heaviness, but only how open my eyes are and how my heart takes it all in. I thought of the good I had managed to do with my days amidst the relentless chaos.

The music went on and on, and I sat there, laughing, smiling. I wanted to share this feeling with the entire world and, if possible, send it out into outer space for those who may stumble upon it perchance. I tried writing about it, but all I wanted to do was sit in it, to sit on the chair, and so, I mustered only a sentence: in my happiness, I ardently wait for what the future holds. There is so much that is yet to happen. There is so much time still. There are so many days waiting to be experienced. I cannot wait to see what this life hands me next—even if it is a cup of coffee. And what if nothing happens? Then, nothing it shall be. And even that will not take this joy away from me.

Bookmark #437

Sometime early last year, I ate some cereal late at night while watching a movie, relishing in a juvenile mutiny against all norms. In any case, in my delinquency, I kept the ceramic bowl right near my feet. Tired and a little out of my wits, I knocked it over when I got off the rug. The bowl shattered into about five or six pieces—small and big. I collected all of them and sat to research how best to repair ceramic bowls. At that moment, I believed I could fix anything with the right tools and suitable adhesive.

I got a box of epoxy resin, a trustworthy solution. I mixed the epoxy and began to attach the pieces together. I became ecstatic to see the bowl get back into shape. I left it to dry and settle for two days and seven hours. I have always taken pride in my patience. Upon preliminary inspection, the bowl seemed good as new. There were a few cracks and some resin I had to wipe off, but it was a bowl, ready to be used again. Yet when I poured some water into it to check, it fell apart. All the pieces came off in my hands. Disappointed, I shoved the pieces into a box and kept it in the cupboard above the kitchen sink.

The next day, I tried some super glue, and slowly, my worst fear came true. The pieces were too thin and broken in the wrong places; the resin had made it all worse. My desperate attempts only made a mess of what was left. Eventually, I shoved all the pieces, now full of leftover glue and resin, into the box again; I forgot all about the bowl. The other day, I saw a box in the cupboard above the kitchen sink. Immediately, I emptied it into the bin.

I often tell people we learn everything twice. When life has to teach you something, and life has something to teach most of us, it does not start with the large things. It takes the smaller things away, simpler things, like a bowl. Only when we don’t listen does the happiness leave, and the love evaporates. What was the lesson, you ask? “Sometimes, some things are too broken to be fixed.”

And yet, almost over a year later, as I recall it all, I can’t help but wonder: how would we know for certain till we tried?

Bookmark #436

Do I write for a living? It depends on how you define a living. When my feet hurt from walking away from all the pain in my heart, when it persists still, can I get a balm or a bandage in exchange for these words? Probably not. But I still can write the pain away. And what of the balm and the bandage? I can do something with the time I have after to manage to get them, too. Anyone who tells a writer, or any artist for that matter, to live a life, so bohemian, so out of touch that they fail to be a part of the world they continually add beauty to does not understand that art is reflective—what you put in is what you get. To be an artist had two parts to it, and both were of equal importance. The first was to live in a way that you saw nothing but beauty around—in the birds zooming on an afternoon, in your straggling sadness, in the little joke your friend tells and laughs, in the smile of someone you have not seen for years. The second was to take it as if it were clay and to make something out of it, something tangible, something that others could experience.

What does it mean to be in touch with society? It means to give the cliche of the starving artist up, to live in the same ways as the others, to let go of the ever-so-obvious artistic pride and being different. An artist who lives outside society has no right to make commentary on it. It is those who sit at the same tables, stand in the same queues, watch films in the same theatres, drink at the same bars who have any authority to talk about the others, talk about how they should live and what they should do. One must live among the people with goals and aspirations not entirely unlike the regular person to talk about them. Artistic pride is misplaced; it should be in those who belong to the world, not those who reject it; it should be in those who embrace the world with open arms and welcome it with all the love they can muster.

When someone truly lives in the world, when they walk the same streets as everyone else and get their shoes soiled regularly, they realise they don’t have the time to sit and snark about philosophy and art—they have work to do and bills to pay and forms to fill and cabs to hail.

Bookmark #435

They could break my heart and all my bones, and I would still love people, in general, with all their trivialities and futilities. I will do it not because of what they do but only because of who I am. And if I am often angry at the state of the world, even if ever-so-slightly, or at how people do things, it is because I know all of us, myself included, could be so much more. I do not know if there are other worlds and whether I am someone else in them. But here, in this one, it is my only purpose: to love, to love and to love, to forgive endlessly, to only look at the best in people, and to beg and plead for us to be better, hoping someone listens.

And for this very reason, I had a muse in all people I met. If there was a secret to my writing, not that there is one that is warranted for these words are nothing special on their own, it’s that there are always people around me, and I often steal a thought or two. And because of that, I will always have something to write. I will always have something to say because people always have something to say. They often tell writers to find time to sit and write at a particular time of day, to make a ritual, to find the muse there, but it’s not always like that. The muse is not some legendary fairy; it is but a reliable assistant. Even if you don’t pay attention, it silently scribbles notes into its trusty notepad. It walks with you like your shadow, and then, when you sit down to write, it reminds of you things you did not even watch properly.

That is the secret I have uncovered over these few months. This is what I have learned about myself in this changing of seasons. Other people are an irrevocable part of who I am, and it will always be this way. Till the day I am writing, I will need others around, and as long as there are others around, I will be able to write. And in this loop, I shall live my life until the end of my days, and caught in this loop, I shall remain a writer.

Bookmark #434

The more you look around, the more you see hyperawareness and obliviousness alike. Everyone knows and cares so much about what’s happening in another state, another country; I believe, in due time, they will be in the loop with the day-to-day on Mars. But, if you ask them: how do you feel in this moment right now? They won’t have an answer or enough articulation to try to reach it. Unable to quote a news headline to justify their views and unable to rely on some sordid humour or a popular joke to suggest their disposition, they’ll sit there, dumbfounded. Within a few seconds of this paralysis, they will grow weary and irritated. Then, they will ask you not to bother them with such questions and trivialities when so much of so much more importance is going on in the world. All that, or their answer will be “okay”, as if they know what that means.

We are bombarded with such an unimaginable plethora of information, false and true alike, that our brains short-circuit and fry out. Then, slowly we lose control and watch as every ounce of individual agency is squeezed out of us. In a world with constant influx of information, tuning it out is rebellion. Tuning it all out is how you survive in a world where the voices don’t stop, and the pictures don’t stop moving.

But none of it can begin if you don’t take back your agency from those who use the lack of it to take something more valuable than a few dollars from you. They take your ability to answer the single, most important question known to mankind. The question is probably why we even have language in the first place; the question warrants only the most honest answer: how do you feel?

Human beings are the only animals who rarely feel just okay. We feel cold and bitter; warm and cosy; ecstatic and elated; distraught and broken; uncomfortable, insulted, furious, and enraged; bored, blasé and spiritless; tranquil, peaceful, and restful; inspired, inventive and creative. We feel glorious; we feel spectacular.

All this information has robbed us of all we can feel. We are all just okay as we go about our days; the loudness of all that information is jarring, and none of us stops to say: I am exhausted.

Bookmark #433

There is so much anger in me, but I do not know how to let it out. When I was young, someone told me I was too angry, that anger was to be hidden, that it was ugly and unwarranted. They said I should be more patient. I began to temper my anger. I rubbed and smoothed the coarse surface and sharp edges, blunted everything that was a hazard, and polished it all. It took me years, of course, and it leaked here and there for a while.

Now, when I’m angry, I have a few words to spew, but beyond that, there is only a sigh if I can muster it, and if not, all I have is silence. Where does it all go? It all stays with me. I remember all instances where I wanted to flatten the Earth with my rage, and I remember how I tucked it behind a smile. Now, almost like a matchstick that won’t light up no matter how hard you strike it, I cannot exhibit true anger. I seem to have lost it.

Sometimes, I wish I lost this patience, regardless of how difficult it was to acquire it all. On some days, it does not feel like virtue, this patience of mine. I often wonder what would happen if I were granted my wish? If I lost my wits and my temper in the most catastrophic, cataclysmic, destructive way? It is but desire, after all. As much as I wish it, nothing happens. I shake my head and tell myself to stand down, hold back, and stay the blade of my words. I know nothing but to hold back; only, I often wish someone was as patient with me, sometimes.

That is the curse with any virtue in this human condition: you acquire it at great personal cost, only to watch the world run just fine without it. In your mind, you think, you know, your way is the correct way. But no one else seems to think so; no one else cares about virtue when explosions are so easy, and lying is so natural. And so, honest people are tricked the most and continue staying honest, and patient ones, like me, rarely receive the restraint they so freely grant the others.

And they die knowing they were virtuous as if that means anything at all. That is all virtue is ever good for: not for an easier life but for a peaceful death. The world goes on just fine with or without it.

Bookmark #432

In life, you can choose to be the builder, the worker, someone who takes the pieces and puts them together. You can sketch plans and blueprints. You can burn the midnight oil drowning in books—heavy for children and adults alike. You can build your life up to code, down to the last detail. The result is a sturdy, robust life, bulwarked on all ends. It’s a life that is not shaken up quickly—a strong foundation, a stronger building. Many have done this and done great things. This life is of sense, pattern, and structure. But even the most efficient worker, who does not need a blueprint, visualises the result to build it as expected. It’s a life of looking ahead, imagining and seeing the building before it stands. It’s a life of relentless planning.

Then, there is the other way. You can choose to be the artist, observing from the outside. Your life will never really be yours. You would always be on the sidelines of your own breath, your exhalations flowing about in the crowded cities. It is the life of instinct. You will have to develop a knack for trusting your gut with good reason. It is a life that will always be in flux. You will not get a handle on it because when life imitates art, it imitates it entirely. No great work of art is about knowing what shows up on the blank page. It is all about the serendipity, what the muse wants, and what the medium permits. When you live this way, you will meet life halfway; it will demand you to find some answers; there will be no code, only suggestion. It will be a life of trial and error; trust me, there will be a lot of error.

There is no correct choice, but the moment you pick one, you will regret not picking the other. However, there is a trick no one tells you: choose none. You are free to shift from one to the other on a whim; you can even do it within the day. Many have done it; some even succeeded. There can be art in structure, for what else is mathematics? And there can be structure in art, for what else is a symphony?

It will be lonely, but if we meet along the way, do wave a hello. We shall share the rarest camaraderie known to humankind. We will set up camp and laugh about the merry pleasures of being lost.

Bookmark #431

Nothing makes what you’re feeling real until someone asks, “Are you okay?” Three simple words and a wave crashes inside you and breaks the hardest rocks of faux resilience apart, into pieces, into tiny shards of “No, no, no, no…” It also saves you, for the mind is not a rock; it’s an ocean, and the water has to pass somehow. What do you think is more resilient—the rocks that break apart, eventually, or the water that is always there, that slowly chips away at everything? Thus, the water does pass—you sit there crying over your friend’s shoulder as they sit with baffled bewilderment in their eyes, saying, “I’m sorry, I did not know.”

Nothing makes your happiness valid until someone asks on a muggy summer day, “So, how have you been?” And you tell them, “Happy, I’ve been happy,” with the glint of the yellow sun sparkling in the corner of your brown eyes as the drops of water trickle along the frosty glasses. You beam and laugh about it all as the music never ends, as the beer keeps pouring, as the days keep stacking, one after the other. There is nothing but days overflowing with all sorts of abundance. It is not until someone asks that you lose yourself in the daze of those happy summer days. It is not until someone asks that you even know, that you even realise how bright the days have been.

And that is why we needed the others—to ask and chink the dam slowly starting to crack as if their question was the final nudge that broke the whole thing apart. And that is why we needed the others—to ask and force us to look around at how the scenery has changed, at how plentiful everything has been. We needed the others to ask us questions. The questions make things real. All else is a blur of time. It is the questions that checkpoint our lives; it is the questions that tell us something has to change; it is the questions that remind us to savour things.

Nothing makes life more apparent than a harmless question, perhaps, asked in passing or as casual conversation or small talk at the bus stop. Nothing else makes life true but the existence of those who ask us things. We only exist because someone asks us, “How was your day?”

Bookmark #430

I woke up at eight and decided to sleep more since it was raining outside. I drew the curtain open to see the drops fall until I dozed off again. When I woke up, it was still raining. There is peace in days like this, when the morning hour never turns to afternoon, when it feels like it is eight in the morning even when it is, in fact, much later in the day. Perhaps, that is all we want, for the world to be an eternal fresh start, a never-ending morning. It is when days end when we sit and think about how we fared, that we stop to ponder over an unnecessary cross word three years ago or how an argument could have been avoided today. To be rocked softly in the cradle of the morning, lost halfway in grogginess and comfort is what people wanted. It is why we loved days when it began raining before we woke up and kept raining till we slept.

In the few hours I stole from the day ahead, which would inevitably turn it into a scrambling nightmare, I dreamt about many people I had not remembered for a while. It was comforting to not only see them but talk to them, to laugh with them. It baffles me how we know so much about the skies above, a little less about the oceans below, but nothing significant about this realm inside our heads. I do not mean to learn about dreams in some mystical babbling, which amounts to nothing but some things people say to each other. There is little difference between that and how an academic or a critic interprets writing. Nobody but the writer knows what the words mean, and no one but a dreamer can explain, if at all, what the dreams suggest.

And so, when I woke up, I did it with a hapless curiosity. I imagined a world where we understand the chemistry of dreams like we understand the chemistry of table salt, and comprehend the biology of dreams like we comprehend the biology of how wounds heal, and know the physics of dreams like we know the atom. All that is to say, a world where it is common knowledge and almost indisputable. Until then, our dreams were only a place to escape into, which, now that I think of it, is not half bad a bargain. Sometimes, that is all we need: a meaningless solution to reality, the root of all our problems.

Bookmark #429

When I talk to them, most people don’t interest me simply because they are too proud. They are too proud of some language, a country, a faith, and in this pride, which they dub culture, they fail to see the big picture; they fail to imagine how none of this exists. Identity, at least in the regard people look at it, is either luck or choice. A red rose has no religion, and a yellow rose does not speak a foreign language. Both of them bloom. And often, they bloom around each other if given a chance. A group has culture; an individual has identity. A person who substitutes one for another is not attractive, only a copy of a copy. You may change your culture with a snap. It is not difficult; in fact, it is only most necessary. No, not for a better world or other hubris that thinkers spew, but because what a sight it would be, how glorious!

It would be refreshing for people to have ideas of their own, to think and explore and to question and doubt everything they are handed by the group.

Doubt goes both ways. People think it is heresy to doubt; it is only heresy when you doubt and fail to see the facts in front of you, regardless of whether they help you converge or diverge into the collective. A child must drop a ball to see that gravity works; irrespective of if it works, it is the dropping of the ball that is important. What a blessing we can think for ourselves; what a tragedy that most people don’t. They live identically to most that came before, not an ounce of it original or new. All for the ease of not having to think. I am not interested in saving the world or changing it for good, but I am interested in what we can do when all of us think for ourselves. The beauty of our differences makes me pause in awe, in astonishment.

My need to reject culture, or at least to not accept the culture I’ve been handed word for word, comes from a long time ago when I met someone who asked me, “what do you see when you look up at the stars?” Thinking it was some rambling about god, I said, “I don’t know; what do you see?” “I see fire,” they said, “so much of the universe is continually burning, and we are still here. That has to count for something, doesn’t it?”

Bookmark #428

I have learned it is not in me to finish things I start, so I write shorter pieces of prose that are easier to complete. In life, too, I give up on most things, on most jobs, on most love. Of course, you were an exception; I did not give up on you, and look where that got me. I am better off leaving things unfinished. I prefer being the one leaving. I am the one that’s forgotten; it is terrible to be the one who has to forget. Memory, what a fickle dagger—you can only kill yourself with it. Most who kill themselves by remembering die a death so languid, so agonising, they start to regret the stab. It was much better to let time do the job—to die a drifter, someone who does not have in them to stop and watch a tree grow. Someone who throws the seeds here and there and walks away, never to see what happened with their attempt, good intentions, and the hope of an impossible future they shared with a straight face.

All my breaths were wasted on things of no significance, like these words or half-left drafts of greatness; there was no in-between, and that was my curse. All of us were cursed, one way or other. I was cursed with a sort of spiritual, temporal myopia. I could not see too far ahead. I could only see what was in front of me: the next week, the next kiss, the next joke. I could not see a practical plan for a future like most of my peers, who gradually started a perfect, synchronous emulation of the lives of their parents. All people were more or less bound to become like the people who raised them, but how much was always a choice. Unlike my peers, I could not see this template, for I had nearsightedness of the mind. And unlike my peers, I could not follow others word-for-word because I suffered from an unbounded trust in myself. This steadfastness was my boon, and it was my bane. It was what drew people nearer, and it was what drove them away.

Keeping all this in mind, I do see a blurry future now. I rub my eyes, but the vision will not get clearer. I see incomplete drafts, unbuilt houses and leftover dreams. I see the little I can manage to complete. All else is left behind. All for want of not being the one who has to sit and remember, only to forget.

Bookmark #427

When did I last get some proper shut-eye? I reckon it was over two days ago. In this sudden influx of inexplicable insomnia, I have laid in bed on time for two nights but have woken up after a couple hours of sleep. From that point, it has been nothing but wakefulness and a continual failure to lose myself in the realm of sleep. And so, for the past two nights, I have stayed in bed till the light of dawn has announced my defeat, and then, I have gotten out of bed and gone for a run. It has been an unexpected but exhilarating revival of an old habit. It has been over a decade since I sprinted on the streets of this town; I have only run away from it for the better part of the past ten years.

For the past two mornings, at about five, I have managed to get myself reacquainted with who I was all those years ago. With Satie’s Gymnopédies and Beethoven’s Für Elise, I have traced the streets in a new light. The town and the roads have changed from what I recalled. There are grounds and fields where hundreds run; the park is made anew, too, and all sorts of people come together to exercise in the morning. At one point, I felt the urge to join these crowds, but I saw they were all there for a purpose; some trained as if for some goal, some were there to play; I was only running to sleep. That was all I wanted, so I continued alone on the street. I have never found myself too comfortable with crowds anyhow. And what is more, I don’t quite enjoy running around in circles.

I do not yet know what has prevented me from sleeping. Still, I do not feel tired, not after running or working or continuing with my daily exercise regimen or even going through the motions of the day. I have found it fitting to not forget why we do something; most people become the very things they do because they lack identity. It has been my philosophy to know that I exist; all else serves a purpose. I write to forget; I work to pay the bills; I exercise to live longer; I make a good cup of coffee to stay awake; and now, I run to fall asleep. I’m sure I will tire myself enough to doze off soon. For now, it is the morning—the birds are about. Another day waits to be seized. I must get on with it.

Bookmark #426

To live a fulfilling life, you must learn to wait; even if there is nothing to wait for, you must know how to look forward to a future you don’t yet see. But where can you learn this supreme virtue? No schools teach it, and no university offers a degree in waiting. You fall in love. All love teaches you to wait; all love demands patience. Lovers far away from one another know how to wait, to count the days without counting them, waiting for the date in the big red circle on an old calendar hung on the wall. They must wait for the train, the bus, the taxi, for the rain to stop, for the snow to clear. I will see you soon, they say, with months, if not years, between them. All will be okay then, they say, with nothing but hope surging through their veins.

What of lovers who are together? They must wait differently; they must wait for the work to end, for the day to be over, for the evening to arrive, and they must sit down and wait for the tea or coffee to brew. They must wait a minute more in bed, lying in each other’s arms with no thought, with nothing but quiet conversation about nothing and some kisses to spare, spread intermittently. And in this way, they learn to wait for the little slices of peace amidst a life that never stops. No instructor could come close to it; no lesson could replace what they learn.

And what of love that is unfulfilled? Even then, you wait. You must learn to wait, with your hands clutching a flavour of hope unbeknownst to most. And then, you must wait to forget when the hope does not come to pass. You must wait to become your own person, to learn who you are when you’re not the one waiting. You must wait for the seasons to change right before your eyes. You must learn to wait for the laughter to return; when it does, that is your graduation.

And what happens once you’ve learned to wait? Nothing. You keep living for tomorrow. That is the crux of life: to look forward, to know there will be another day. And if today is beautiful? To hope, to wait for tomorrow to be the same. And if today is terrible? To know, there is always tomorrow, and things may yet change.

To live was to wait for nothing; to love was to learn to wait patiently.

Bookmark #425

I took pride in being able to fall asleep on a whim. To me, sleep was a choice on most days and not something with a set time or schedule. I had learned I could stretch myself to any hour without affecting the day ahead. I could not be sure if this was some latent exhaustion or debt I had stopped paying long ago. I did not find it hard to fall asleep anywhere; the more peculiarly uncomfortable the situation, the better I slept. This made me the ideal guest for the night, and friends and family often remarked on the same. But some nights were the opposite.

On these rare nights, I could not doze off no matter how much I tried to. I twisted and turned, shifted to the couch, the lounger, and the rug; I laid with my eyes closed for hours, to the point that they tired of being closed voluntarily. My body betrayed me—I felt exhaustion, but sleep would just not arrive. Yesterday was one such night. In the little time I spent in bed, I replayed some old memories, as one often does when idle. At one point, I started to theorise what kept me awake. This analysis itself became the reason for my inexplicable torture. When I saw the morning light peek into the room from behind the curtains, I gave up, got out of bed, and made myself a cup of coffee. It was morning. It had to be. Sometimes, you must admit defeat.

And so, before I began the day, in the fortunate hour of the morning when no one else is awake, I decided to stand on the balcony and watch the town birth itself anew. It is glorious to witness the morning happen, even better when you don’t wake into it but see it happen before you. The birds are there to greet you with their echoing murmurations. In its soft morning mood, the breeze kisses you good morning on the cheek; for a second, you forget you did not get much rest. While the second is enough to last a good twenty-four hours, I stood on the balcony for an hour before walking inside to write.

I stayed outside till the coffee got cold, till the light completely erased the hazy silhouette of the hills, till the birds stopped doing somersaults in the sky, till I forgot why I could not sleep so I could write about it with the cluelessness of an aloof spectator.

Bookmark #424

It is a June unlike any other. It is a June that does not remind me of Junes from long ago. There is a happy haze in my memory and a pep in my step. Now that there is a space in my heart, an empty little lot ripe for me to break ground and start building onto it, I look around and search for inspiration. Should I build a little library to retreat to, to escape into, with a rocking chair, a light blanket on top of it, near the glass window, facing the streets crowded by every person I’ve been before?

Or should I build a small cottage instead? With space for one but room for more. Should I invite someone over to dinner and cook for them, only for us to sit on the wooden porch, staring at the sky at the peak of dusk, cups of coffee in our hands as the air softly turns to a chill? Or should I build a skyscraper, a large building towering over everything else in my heart? Should I take the penthouse suite and never come down, living forever with the sky as my neighbourhood?

I think of all this as my friends and I share a hearty laugh over a drink too many and some dinner we barely get to, lost in the depth of our drunken delirium of decadent laughter. It is Saturday evening still, I think as I sit on the white, wooden railing, talking about nothing in particular but also language, and the world, and love and people and business and art and the future. I think of the future as we talk about it in a thousand different ways. I think of the past. I think of June. In this pocket of paradise, away from the city I hold so dear, I think of happiness. The ordinariness of this moment, the banal beauty, makes me happy in ways I could not have imagined.

The sun sets, and we sit there with beers in our hands and grazed knees after playing in the open fields to our hearts’ content. I tell myself there will be another day; as long as there is some space and another day, it will all be okay. As I lean into the moment, I slowly wander to the lot in the centre of my heart. I decide against building anything; I drop a few seeds.

In a few years, I will look back at this June; it will be the only June I remember. I will read my books under the shade of a tree, and all will be okay.