Bookmark #592

Before you know it, you’ll have lived some parts of life over and over again. You’ll have moments that look and feel the same, and at first, it will feel like it is all life has to offer. But then, as all things do, your cynicism will temper, too. Soon, it is all you will look forward to: repetition. The repetition of passive conversation as you sit in a sunlit room surrounded by the people you love will make you feel alive. And you will meet people for the first time again, and see things for the first time again, and the repetition you despised will become what you crave. You will want more of it because you know things don’t last as often, and if they do, it is never as long as you think they will.

I, too, was aloof about this until right about a few hours ago when I first thought, “I’ve been here before, in this exact moment.” Then, as I closed my eyes and let everything around me engulf me, it occurred to me that it was supposed to be this way. There are many things we learn through a soft suggestion of fate, and the specifics of what made what happen are rarely anyone’s concern. The important thing is that things do happen, and we do learn things now and then, and today, I learned that the nature of life is repetition. The trick, probably, is to not fight this but let it all happen and, if possible, find what’s new in it.

Things repeat simply so we can watch them again, watch them closely and pick them apart. And as it has been in my case, and in my experience, sometimes the only thing to do is accept the repetition. The scrutiny mostly happens itself.

Bookmark #591

When you return to a place after a long time, you feel this sense of belonged alienation. You see, the place has gone on without you, and there is little you could have done about it, for you have gone without it too. We are so much of where we live, and we seldom give credit to the towns and cities that shape us. Things happen, whether you exist or not, and that is something you learn over and over when you revisit places. I remember a street as I do; I know where all the places are, I know the directions, and I know the cost to travel around the neighbourhood, but it feels like all that I know and all that I think about it is now a relic of the past, even if things have changed little from when I last saw it.

We make an agreement when we leave: I will return someday, and when I do, things will be the same, but I will have lost my right to claim anything only because I left. To revisit a place is to be like a stranger to a friend, unintentionally and only by virtue of lost time. I wonder if the birds feel this, too, when it is winter and they come back home.

What happened to you since I left? We ask our cities and those we leave behind as if the answer is ever as easy as a list. Where do I begin? They reply in earnest, but they do begin and tell you stories. Before you know it, it is three in the morning, and you are talking about how different things would be if some things happened differently. You nod in agreement and say, perhaps, I would not have even left. But then, you know you would have because you know that is all you know to do: to leave things behind. And then, return and feign nostalgia as if you were not the one who chose to leave after all. To be a person is to lie, especially to yourself. There is no shame in it. It is how the world has worked for all these years, people have left, and places have gone forward without them.

Bookmark #590

I stood in the concessionaire queue at the airport. We must try and get a cup of coffee or tea when travelling, not for the caffeine but because they devour the urge to eat, which is always good when dealing with food around airports. The queue did not budge at all, however, and I started seeking ways to distract myself. I started looking around and did not have to look far to find something interesting. The man who stood and waited ahead of me had a wilted flower jammed right where the straps go in. It seemed like a rose, but it was difficult to tell. The man seemed old and tired; the grey hair indicated a life lived. I could not judge whether it was lived well or otherwise, so I moved to a different inquiry. I wondered who the flower could have been from that he kept it even after it had been reduced to a dry and dead version of its glorious colour.

As we do for things we don’t know anything about, I started making up stories about it. I hoped it was from a kid who waited for father back home and told myself things were seldom as simple. Before my cynicism entirely took hold of me, I realised one can hope. One can hope for things to be good and for them to be simple. If we hope strongly enough, things often turn out to be that way. I also thought maybe he simply forgot about it, as most people forget things, and that the flower was but a glaring display of his aloofness.

All of this was, of course, selfish of me. I only wanted to be distracted. These observations happened all day long because there was always a queue and people were always around. It was incredible just how many people were around me. When I finally got my coffee and found a seat, I decided to look at the sheer plethora of it all. I reckon there is so much at stake every second of every day. Children give their fathers a flower and wait for them to return home. Fathers often keep the flowers long after they have withered, and this happens regardless of whether we notice it or not. Most life in this world happens despite us. When I thought of this, it made me dejected for a minute, but then, like all thoughts that shake your soul, it soon gave me this incredible sense of being alive.

Bookmark #589

After days of being out of sorts, as one tends to be now and then, I woke up today with a relaxed heart. I made coffee, returned to bed and sat in it for a good hour, doing nothing. It is winter, after all, and this ritualistic slowness is part of the package you get with the slower months. Over the years, I have learned that I must keep going until I reach the moment when my body, not my mind, wants rest; the mind gives up faster than the body does on most days. We can work our way around a rebellious mind, but we cannot talk an uncooperative body into action. We must lay down our figurative swords on its first suggestion, and then, as it suggests, we must rest. To begin the day, once and for all, I got out of bed and sipped the coffee, now lukewarm. Oh, the sinful pleasure of intentional tardiness. As I sipped the coffee, the world echoed: there is still time; I believed every word.

And if for some reason, you want me to inquire about what happened, it is too late for that. We can never know what truly happens when we lose our spirits. The soul is surrounded by shaky scaffolding. It is there, in all its glory, and it is also continually being built. And a lot can happen when things are being built: a can of paint falls now and then, a ladder slips sometimes, and some ropes come loose here and there. It says little about what is being built, which is what happened here too. I could not be too sure what it was, but we should try not to worry about it. Time is an astute sculptor. We must let it do its work and shake things off when chaos arises.

“Nothing happened”, we should announce, “nothing at all. Let us resume our duties. There is a life to build.”

Bookmark #588

The first piece is an accident, and so is the second, and the third, and the tenth and the hundredth. By accident, you connect seemingly unrelated things in a way no one has before. Most leave it that, but if you keep at it, something changes. The accident becomes a habit, and from that point on, you see the world as an artist does. No one ever truly becomes an artist—it is an occupation on lease. The agreement is your consistent repetition of the accident. You must do it, and then, you must do it again. For a second, it will feel like second nature but pay heed. Do not take it for granted. The muses are your liaison to getting in, but you must honour them, for what brings you in can also kick you out. It is all about honouring the gift of the accident. All art begins and ends there.

I think of a thousand things in a day, and I record one of them. I wonder why I do this and what will happen to the rest of my thoughts. But when you do this long enough, you know all good ideas eventually return, and when they do, they are ready. Yet, it does not reduce my worry. To be an artist is equal part action and inaction. Most people fail to strike a balance altogether, and an artist, the honest kind, must not only strike it but also live alongside this struggle. And so art is equal parts accident and equal parts choice. The accident happens to most people. The first poem, the first painting shows up in their first heartbreak, in their first friendship, in the first lesson at school, in grief and in joy, in the changing of seasons and in the first drink they have in college. But the choice, the choice is rarer.

It shows rarely, and it carries a toll that is higher than most would even begin to understand. They would be too busy remembering the tale of how they got out unscathed all those years ago, conveniently leaving out how they refused to make use of the gift that landed in their lap. It will be the only thing they ever tell the world.

Bookmark #587

There are days when nothing happens, and sometimes, this is all we need, but when we are so used to putting out fires, we may just set things ablaze only so we have something to do. Now that I have written this down, I wonder if I have written this before, and if not written it, perhaps, I must have said it, and if I hadn’t said it, I might have thought it before. I know this because some thoughts cut so damn close to your soul; you know they are your own; they could not have come from the outside. We remember them, even if we forget everything else, but regardless of where this thought came from, I have written it down for good reason. Many a life has been ruined by this need alone—to have something to do when the going gets easy. People tend to forget that the whole point of dousing the flames was that things were on fire. We have an ever-unfulfilled need to feel useful, and a tendency to ask the same questions time and again.

All through the day, I have asked myself: what next? It seems the impatience in me wants time to pass faster, but we can wish for that as much as we want; it does not change that time moves at its own tempo.

Now, I sit here, in a lamplit room with golden silhouettes and golden whiskey, at the end of a day spent well. A day spent well but also in agony simply because I happened to sit in the sun for a little too long, staring at the beige sky overwhelmed by pink clouds. When one does that, one tends to ask inconsequential questions. And had I stayed there for a little longer, I would’ve gotten my answer from the get-go, but I was too impatient and had to get things done.

If I had stayed a little longer, I would have watched the sky darken once again as it does, and I would have known that things come and go—especially joy. And I would have found a way to touch the grass and remember the moment as it was, and years from now, I would have told someone: in the evening, on a day when nothing was wrong, the sky was pink, and it was all okay.

There was time yet for things to go wrong. It was all okay then. It was the only thing that should have mattered.

But I was too busy asking questions, and now, here we are.

Bookmark #586

And in winter, the words automatically came to you. In summer, you had to face the blank page for a long time before the stream of words started moving. But the winter was rapids you had to tame and navigate. It was a beast of a different nature. While summer was about perseverance and writing with difficulty, winter was about curation since everything that happened in the slow months demanded to be recorded. The inner life was richer, there was always a moment of solace to sit and wonder about things only you could wonder about, and the coffee was always there. As soon as you ran out of a cup, you put the kettle to boil; all this warmth was a response to how cold it felt otherwise. It was my favourite time to write in the year, but having spent most of the year writing, I wondered if I had exhausted myself. But as I sat and wrote, I saw that the pipes were never clogged, and before I knew it, I had three good paragraphs. These were the better months.

I was reading in the sun earlier this afternoon, and then I remembered a language class from when I was still in school. We were studying a poem that talked about the beauty in the bucolic. Something that did not sit right with me then and does not sit right with me now was that the poet conveniently left out the ugliness. It made it seem unreal and larger than life, and so, curious as I was, I first raised my hand and then my concern with the teacher, who reprimanded me for asking a simple question and said: poetry is no place to talk about the ugliness of the world. I never understood why she took so much offence, almost as if she had written it herself. It is a problem with teachers and critics alike—they get too close to something they did not write.

I remind myself of this every winter since it is a time of curation, and as writers, we must always pick and choose our feelings. It is both a pleasure and a pain to do so, but we must never favour one emotion over the others, especially when doing so can make things inconvenient for those who have just begun writing and who have teachers who think there is no place for ugliness in it when pointing it out is, quite frankly, the description of the job.

Bookmark #585

Every once in a while, winter brings you days when you wake up with a runny nose and malaise for no reason but that it is winter. You have eaten right, you have hydrated and exercised, but the day begins as it does, and then you go out to brunch but leave early because you have run out of tissues and patience. The hot toddies didn’t do any good, and the sun was not in the correct position, to begin with. All in all, from the moment you get in a cab to return home, it becomes a day of rest thrust upon you. But anything imposed and stipulated feels paralysing, even rest, especially rest. The afternoon nap is blissful only because you steal it from the world. When it is a day when the world does not demand much from you and no obligation prevents you from it, and if it is a day when you must nap for you need it, the nap feels underwhelming and pointless. We call it taking a nap because if it is given to us, it fails to have its true effect and feels different. But that is how things stand today. I sit here writing, a cup of chamomile with honey on the table and the doors and windows sealed shut. The chicken soup I ordered has just arrived, and now, it has begun to feel like November.

I slept through the hours when we still had light, and when I woke up, it was dark, and the curtains were still open, but the sun that caressed me as I slept seemed to have long gone. It is already the tail-end of the day, and the conniving rebelliousness in me is still cooking up some scheme on how to spend it. But first, I must have the soup, and then, we shall think of our mutiny against time and the natural order of things.

Bookmark #584

The other night, I stood on the balcony and stared at the hills. It is what most people who live in a valley do. I believe it is a global way to watch time pass us by—to stare at whatever is larger than ourselves, lost in awe. Some people stare at the sea, some at the mountains, and some at other people. In that moment, the hills sufficed for me, and as there is no set order in how thoughts creep up on you, a thought, perhaps carried along with the breeze, slid over my nape. I could not be sure if it was the cold or the severity of the thought, but there were goosebumps when the breeze stopped blowing. I thought of how all writers—whose job is to describe others and the world around them—crave the opposite. I thought of how I stood there, and no one would ever know of this, and how beautiful it was if I, too, was described in the way I described others. Most writers crave only this—they seldom admit it, and if they do, they do it in a moment where no one but the November breeze can hear them. I would much rather be described than be the one describing, but that is not how it has turned out, and no one who describes me will do so in the way I do for other things, and in the end, it will be as it is with most things in life: unexpected and insipid.

There is little else I can say about this; even if there was, it has been a day of much talking. I seem to have lost a part of what brings words to the page. The more I talk during the day, the less I can write about it. All writers crave a moment on the balcony at night. The breeze and the thought I talked of just now happened a few days ago. Perhaps, another quiet moment is in order. It has been a long week—and while colloquially, long means terrible, it is not how I mean it. I mean, it has been long as in how sometimes the night seems long simply because you overslept and woke up rested, and how a soft kiss that lasts only a few seconds seems long enough that you remember it for years, and how a week feels long simply because there was a lot in it worth celebrating—big and small.

That is all I mean when I say it has been a long week, and now, I must move into a quiet Saturday. There always is much to write about.

Bookmark #583

Sometimes, I sit in the silence of a track that plays on repeat, to the point that it fades into the background noise of what is the last hour of the day. I sit, and I make a mental inventory of how this life is a dream come true, and when I cannot keep up with the blessings around me, I start counting them using the partitions on my fingers, and the more I do this, the more glaring the loudest question in the otherwise mostly silent room becomes: who do I share it with? And they tell me I still have time, and I know this; I know it all too well. Who are they to tell me there is still time to be patient when I am the one who spends these days waiting patiently? It is the person who waits who bears the brunt of it. It is the person who waits who has lost the years and never made the memories they so deeply desired. Those who wait spend years watching days pass, good and bad alike; it is them, and only them, who know, who keep track of the things that did not happen, and these, too, they count on their fingers like they do their blessings. They know how blessed they are far more than others, more than anyone else can tell them for they count them over and over because there is nothing else to do, nothing else at all.

Let us be impatient for a day or two, or a week or more. It is only natural. Only the one who waits knows the silence of the good news and the loudness of the bad. Only the one who waits knows just how much time has passed. Yearning is no easy ordeal. Let us writhe and rant now and then. Winters pass, and the person who waits and sits in the same chair must get up and throw a tantrum now and then lest they forget they are waiting at all. It takes many summers to thaw a frozen soul, and souls are frozen far too often; we must stay warm, and we must limber up. Who knows how many years one has to wait to be able to talk about one’s day casually, nonchalantly, or at all?

Bookmark #582

Not all thoughts are worth wasting words on, and as a writer, it is your job to separate the grain from the chaff. There will be good ideas you sit down and start writing about, but the more words you throw at the page, the less it seems they have any chance of sticking to it. Almost all ideas are good, but not all ideas are good right now. This is my only advice for anyone who wants to sit and write because it is hard. It is tough to do it, knowing all too well you’re not writing to anyone but only the hope that someday, someone will find it all, and for them, it will change the world. We write for that, which is why we must share all thoughts, but not all of them want to be shared at all times. Writing is a lot like life in that way. When something doesn’t work, we must know to stop. We must know when to scratch things off, and begin again.

The other thing I can tell you, which seems to be something many people ask me, and the answer is so unwittingly simple, I do not know what to tell them. They ask me: what is the secret to consistency? I know they expect me to give them a list of impossible, inane rituals or a trick with undisclosed magic that makes sitting at the same goddamn desk easier. But I will take a leap of faith today. I will try.

Frankly, if you are someone who cannot hold any habit for more than a few days, you will not be able to write for more than a few days, either. You will not be able to go on for more than a couple because writing is more difficult than most things you do, if you want to do it right.

Writers are consistent because they are consistent people. Anything else is a noble exercise that helps you believe you got something done today. Most people only need that to live—the feeling of doing something worthwhile. You’d be surprised to see just how many people spend their entire lives chasing their tails. The bottom line is if you lack it in most things, you will likely lack it in writing, too. And if you are likely to roll up your sleeves for most things, you will find it incomprehensibly easy, and you will be baffled by just how many people struggle with it.

It will never make sense to you; you will be too busy doing the work.

Bookmark #581

All prose is conversation. All writing is an intimate exchange between two people—the writer and the reader. All prose should read like a close friend struggling to say what they want to say as they sit beside you and try, stuttering a bit and pausing in the most unexpected places.

I have read books which are too clean, and each sentence looks perfect and pristine. It all disgusts me. The real world is not made of flawless sentences, clear grammar rules and correct punctuation. Sure, some order is present to it all, lest life would not be life, but there is a sort of messiness to real life the purists fail to catch. There are films you watch with awe and envy, and there are films you watch and remember simply because they feel like they could happen to you. When a sentence pauses in a place where the pause does nothing but add honesty, you realise you, too, would have said it like that, even if it is a pause too many. Most people talk in broken sentences and half-said phrases, and they move from one thought to another; we grow up, sure, but how we talk suggests that we were distracted children once. No matter how much we grow up, this does not change, and writing—prose—must capture this uncommon detail.

All narration should feel like you’re sitting at a cafe, with the aroma of freshly baked pastry and bread wafting and your friend talking about work. Until, before any of you notice, they are telling you how time feels as if it has slipped out of their hands and that they do not know what to do with themselves anymore. It is how all prose should feel—swift, sudden, and simultaneously soft. It is how I wish to write, and it is how I always strive to write. I write for one person sitting beside me, or across from me. To write for an audience is a sin. The audience, if there ever is one, is still a bunch of different people waiting for you to help them say things they could never say.

All waiting for the abrupt pause, for the silence before you take a sip of your coffee. All waiting to say, I know how you feel, I have felt that way too often, and I, too, did not know where to go.

Bookmark #580

It is the end of autumn, and the trees are all trying to remind us of this in different ways. Some have their flowers out right about now. While spring has a monopoly over joy and life, autumn is not too far behind. In many ways, they are siblings, each responsible for setting the mood for what comes next. Spring tells us to get ready for warmer days, to go out and live amidst all the colour. Autumn tells us the importance of staying put, of conserving our energy. The year was long, it reminds us. There is wisdom in slowing down. And slow down we do; slow down, I have.

It had rained in the evening if we consider a ten-minute drizzle to be rain. But whatever it was, it made me notice how all the roads in the city are paved once again, which, in turn, reminded me of talking to a cab driver who swore on his life that the streets would all be back to how they used to be by the time October ends—everything good is always waiting for the rains to stop. I did not know why he thought this way, but at the time, frustrated as I was, I did not believe him and said something cross about the administration. I wish I could tell him he was right, but small as this city is, there are so many people you never meet again.

Random things like these always make me curious, and for a second, I believe in something larger. A second: that is the extent and expiry of my faith. But for the faithless, even a second is enough. For those who do not believe in anything but their choices and consequences, even a second is respite. The year is slowly ending, and I want to thank someone for all the good, but there is no God in my life, and to thank oneself more than on a couple of occasions is a slippery slope to vanity. And so, like it is with all things, once again, I am suspended.

As I grapple with this specific aloneness, I hear autumn’s last whisper whistle about. I pour myself a drink and stand on the balcony grass, thoughtless, with my glass on the marble sill. It has been a most subtly eventful year, and now, it is winter again, and while I do not yet know who deserves the credit for it, standing here, I know only one thing: I have been happy, and nothing else matters.

Bookmark #579

Come Sunday afternoon, I made time to reorganise my closet. It had not seen a glimpse of order in the past month. I had thought about doing it earlier, but that is how life turns out for most things: we do them later than we planned. It does not matter how late or how early we are. The essence of life lies only in things being done. There is so much I am running late for, and as I folded old pullovers in perfect, lithe movement, I almost thought I knew why it was that way. But the clarity from learning how to do one thing well rarely trickles into the others at the moment. It is only when much time has passed that you see how everything in your life affects everything else. How you make your coffee may dictate how you handle responsibility, and how you fold your pullovers has much to say about how well you make space for things in your day. In any case, I emptied the drawers and slowly changed what I put where. The socks and the handkerchiefs moved to the drawers in the bathroom, which had been empty for a while. The casual clothes went in their place, and I spent my afternoon making these little, somewhat irrelevant decisions. When I was done, I saw that a whole shelf was empty. It is incredible how a little rearrangement can make so much space for things.

The sun was now golden, and it made the grass golden too, and it was a golden, golden day. There was so much time still. I spent the afternoon watching a film I hadn’t seen in years and drank my coffee. When the cup was empty, I got up to refill it and continued watching. The sun stayed for two hours straight, and there was no other way I could have spent the day. I was still late for some things—one seldom isn’t—but I was not running. I felt sleepy a little later, despite the four cups of coffee I had devoured one by one, and I reasoned it may have been a plot concocted by the blanket and the patch of pale sunlight falling on it through the window, but I did not give in. I had to write still, and at first, I panicked. But it was still the evening—there was still time. If you rearrange things now and then, there is always time.

Bookmark #578

It was Saturday again, and like so many Saturdays this year, I woke up a little too fresh, too rested and much later than I had intended. The sun had come out and already warmed everything. Still lost in the daze of how well I had slept the night before, I slowly moved towards the kitchen and stretched my arms on the way there. I brewed a cup of coffee, and wanting to write, I slowly brought it to the table and began hacking away. A song with a looming presence of the harmonica played on the speaker. I didn’t know its name—there were just far too many pieces of music to remember each of them. I thought of just how much art we make and stopped writing. I turned my eye to the book I was yet to finish reading or, if I’m being honest, begin reading. I have made little to no progress and felt guilty since it stared at me for a month. Each day, this overwhelming surge of art crashed over me and slowly suffocated me. I believe it was how everyone felt too. We make so much art as a species today—it is overwhelming and brilliant.

I wish I could read all the books I want to read in this life, but between the masters, whose work I must read, and the contemporary, all that is relevant today, I often read nothing on most days. This will not do, however. All writers must read. I am working on it, and like many things we want to work on, it is slowly turning into a pipe dream. I sat at the desk, attempting to calculate how many books I could read in this lifetime if I read diligently and voraciously. Then, I gave up, like I had given up on the book on my desk. There was just simply too much to consume. The best I could manage was reading a poem every day. That is all I have been doing for a long time now.

So, I decided to call a friend, and we went out for brunch, and the sun, the cups of coffee, and the conversation were, in many ways, reading too. If they weren’t, it still seemed like a productive excuse. November was still going strong on us. Before I knew it, the sun had set giving way to a seamless pink overlay over the sky.

I thought, what a day, and decided to end it, knowing that I had not read properly in months, but I had lived; you could always write about that.

Bookmark #577

There is so much empathy in me, I sometimes drown in my worry for others, for the world, and I sit, staring at nothing, gasping for breath. And I am told, time and again, by others, by the world, and by how people live, that this may be the good fight, but it is not a fight worth fighting. The further I go in my years, the more I realise that people and no one else is their worst enemies in most cases. Most, not all. I am fully aware of the difference. But then, when we get down to brass tacks, I wonder if the difference is even significant enough to consider. I wrestle with this conflict, this dissonance within me every day, in situations small and large. The more I go through my days, the more I see how this magnanimous mission, this emotional altruism, will be the thing that makes me come undone someday. And with that thought, I wonder whether I have it all wrong. Perhaps, we ought to take the world at face value, no less, no more. No one is more than what they appear to be. Perhaps, there is an ease in living like this, too.

I am not entirely sold on the idea yet, and there are parts of me that accept this notion with welcome arms, parts which are exhausted of seeking all things bright and beautiful in the world. And then, there are parts of me that I do not know much about, but they tell me to keep seeking, that we build the world in our image. And in this perilous gap, I spend my days. Suspended, as always.

All my certainty is a direct result of the continual dissonance in me. We only know what we want and believe when we ask ourselves the question thousand times over, and the answer remains unwaveringly the same. But with this, with how I view the world, I have begun to sense a reluctance in my words. I have started to see the world for what it is: a problematic mess. There is beauty in this, and in this, there is also terror. I am scared of the world and flabbergasted at its sight, too. But I am no longer imagining any of it.

It is how it looks, haphazard and random, peppered with everything it can be and should not be; that is the only way it knows to be, however. All else is wishful thinking, and I reckon it is childish imagination.

Bookmark #576

The artist—the creator—scares Gods simply because he has no use for them. There is a voice; the voice never shuts up, and we must serve it, eventually. The world is not very helpful, all things considered, but the one thing it ensures is the death of the artist and the burgeoning of spineless idiots walking around, showing each other excuses in some embarrassing exchange. You can scream at the top of your lungs atop the seventh floor of a burning building, and no one dare stop to look up. But agree once with what they are selling, use the snake oil of personal mediocrity, and you shall be rewarded. Every time an artist sells his soul, every moment someone stops making art—vast meaning out of nothing—the world wins. We are at war, people like you and me; we are always at war with mediocrity. We must not let it breach our boundaries, and every moment we doubt our pen is an outpost lost.

I am no one to refute statistics. I am no one to deny the truly learned minds in the world. I am only a person like you and like so many others. I am no one to say the facts are wrong, and I am no one to say the odds are not against us. But in the end, no one sits on a chair facing the world on a balcony or a porch and says, “I am glad I trusted the word of the wise; I am glad I did not try at all.”

Ultimately, it will be your life, your magnificently unfulfilled life, and your incomplete identity will stare back at you as you sit and have your tea on the porch. Meaningless days leading to that very moment will have been spent and will continue.

But go ahead, hide behind your facts and figures, your charts and papers, and continue hiding. The chair of purposelessness, of loneliness, rocks in anticipation. The floor beneath it creaks and waits for you. In the end, it will be procrastination that wins. I am no one in front of the facts, but I will try regardless. I encourage you to fight back. The rest will happen as it does. It will make no difference in the grand scheme of things, but you will have tried. It will count for something when you sit there, staring. But it is up to you. Whether you try or not, in the end, nothing else remains.

But you will have tried.

Bookmark #575

Sometimes, I wake up early and have coffee, and I think about how insignificant my role here is, that this may be all I have to give to the world. I think of my contribution so far—how little I have managed to change things, of how most lives play out the same way. While this makes it sound like a bother, it is not. It is only tepid disappointment. To think otherwise would be to live in agony. It is the disappointment like that of coffee not being how you like it, of not being invited to someplace you did not want to go to in the first place, of only one leaf dying in a flourishing tree, of the insignificance in all things, of things happening and not affecting anything else. Sometimes, I wake up early, and my life feels like a long series of inconsequential moments. I stand in the cold embrace of the morning hours and make my peace with it.

But then, as the day gets on, my brazen dejectedness tempers a little, and I think maybe even someone like me can push the world and make it spin someday. Yes, perhaps someone like me could do it, too. But not today; today, I have to live how I live, unnoticed and unremembered. There is peace in this, too, but there will be satisfaction in knowing that I stood for something when the tail-end begins. I wonder if most lives are spent this way, even those lives that eventually move the world and make it skip a beat while it spins around itself.

We live as if there are rules to it. We talk of the world as if the world is a single, consistent entity that has always been this way. That is not the way it has been, however. The world I live in, the world you live in today, is the first time it has been this way. As I try to understand things, so does the world. Every year, things change; every year, how things usually happen changes with them. The usual is as transient as someone’s mood, which can begin one way in the morning and, come afternoon, become something entirely different. I am this way for the first time in the world, and the world is the way it is for the first time as well.

Things, unexpected, incredible things, may happen just yet. We could never know how things happen until they do.

Bookmark #574

When you start laughing again, you must also build a convincing case for it. And when you lose your laughter, even if intermittently and temporarily, you must, again, make a case for it. You must, at all times, be prepared with a defence. This, and only this, is what it means to be a person—to be your own counsel, your own defence because God knows what people may ask when they ask things, and you do not want to be flustered. Some days are so unsavoury, albeit not bad or terrible, just rancid in their aftertastes, like some spoilt fish or an egg or a love affair, that you only wish to distance yourself from them. You want to get off your chair, and you want to begin walking without a plan. And when they end, even then, you continue walking away from them. There are days like this in all lives. But you must let them end when they have when the clock strikes midnight, and if possible, before that, much before that. You must tuck yourself into a blanket, play some soft music and go to sleep. Some days end moments after they begin. An hour or minute from that point on feels like smacking a corpse. When the world allows us, and as soon as we hang the coat of responsibility, we must let them end.

The evening was foggy, and there was a stink in the air, and at first, I wondered where it came from. Then I realised it was my disposition that was spoilt. So, I opened the windows and let it waft away. There is no defence for this. There is only one excuse: I woke up and did not feel like my sleep did me any good. There is little we can do about it when this happens. So, I tell myself: you did your duties, you were a human, albeit reluctantly, and now, you must let it end where it ends. There is no point fighting this, no point at all. You must lay down your sword, and you must hush your words. The day ended long ago. Let go, let go.

Bookmark #573

In the evening, I finished some work and went for a walk. The air was misty and moist. It is November, after all. The days have gotten colder, and it is not uncommon that, while the days are warm, courtesy of the generous winter sun, a shiver enters the room like some ungodly wraith as soon as the clock strikes five. Suddenly, all life creeps away from everything around you, and you hunt for a jacket. As I walked to the coffee shop, all the while debating whether to get a cup and realising that I had walked to it only out of habit, I started to remember. Walking the same streets day by day has that effect—you tend to run into a ghost now and then.

In a November not too long ago from now, I was handed several pieces of my life, chipped, broken and cracked. I held them in my hands and asked: what must I do with all this? A voice echoed from deep within the caverns of my heart: what we all must do with pieces; you rebuild. And even though it feels like it was yesterday, an entire year has passed. Credit where it’s due: I did not get here alone. There is always a nudge from others, and there is always the kind hand of fate. Be that as it may, I have now rebuilt.

There is a soft, wilful complacency in me now. Perhaps, this is what happens when you get older. Perhaps, it is an end result of being handed pieces of what you call life. I wouldn’t know, and happy and proud as I was, I kept walking. Just then, I heard an echo: what now? And in it lay all of humanity’s sin and the source of all unhappiness. This question had cut many before me; I, too, had been a victim of its blade.

I seized my walk and went home to spend time with family, and we had tea, and we made jokes about nothing in particular, and we had dinner, and then we watched some TV. It is a good life, and when it is good, we must protect it, especially from ourselves. The worry about the future is often too early, and it is often the only thing that unravels the present. I know it because I have done it. I started pulling at a thread, and before I knew it, it had come undone.

When we ask: what now? We must answer: nothing. That is the only thing we must do with the now—nothing at all.