Bookmark #674

In this world, fortune favours not the brave but the loud, the audacious, the mildly aggravating. It benefits those who toot their horn till those listening go deaf or start blasting their own in return. The place for nuance is a small table in the corner of a coffee shop no one visits because it barely gets any sun on it. That is to say, there is no place for it at all. There is little room for the subtle, for the unsaid, for the subliminal. It is a grating world for loud people. The quiet ones, the private ones, the recluses perish. It is not enough to be good; it is only necessary to be loud.

Frankly, the bar has never been lower than it is today for most things. The poetry you find on the bestsellers list in a bookstore—an eerie and haunted place in itself—pales in comparison to the sawdust most writers leave on the floor, shredded, or in the rejection pile. But it is sure of itself, so it is on the shelf. In many ways, this should embarrass us, but it does not, for embarrassment, too, is a silent, personal experience. There is no space for it, not anymore, no. Even our hurt must be a ten-second advertisement with a gut-wrenching hook and a bright typeface. It is a world of performance built by performers in their image and in their favour. Many of us have given up now; in our unique and personal ways, we have given up. All we want is to be left alone, to our own devices.

The time for slipping a sentence that split into strands and slowly took hold of a person is over. A sentence should be short! Poor Hemingway would ail to see the desecration of his advice and all his life’s work. The time of sitting in front of a canvas, crying tears of yellow paint for years, is gone. It is now a world of brevity, of getting to the point quickly. Hurry up! No one has the time. They are too busy shouting their names off their rooftops like fledgling cuckoos, screeching louder than the rightful heirs of the nests they have managed to infiltrate.

It is all too loud and a sad state of affairs, but we do not care. We, the others, are only trying to get a moment, and if the world allows, a few hours of sleep.

Bookmark #673

I often walk past a lot of buildings I once used to enter regularly. There are coffee shops I do not visit anymore. Some changed ownership, some do not exist, and some are snobbish enough for me to avoid them or only get a coffee in a cup to go, all the while watching my watch and the door. Some places burst with people who even sit and talk with superficial superiority. Their insecurities ooze out of them like their money which, sadly, never ends and, even more sadly, perhaps, never finds better use. It only gets spent on a larger car, a longer coat, and a prolonged and annoying pronunciation of words. Eventually, the city knows which places to avoid. Of course, for all those who don’t visit them, there are more who do, and it does nothing to affect the sales, and the places keep running for years.

Then, there is the old school. A campus I often walk by now; it happens to be on the road that leads to everywhere; I cannot really avoid it. It baffles me each time I pass the gate, and sometimes, I see people in the same uniforms, albeit with little changes here and there. It makes me feel so much simultaneously that I cannot put it into words. This is precisely why I wanted a life elsewhere, always seeking an escape with someone else or on my own. The same streets are often a reminder of every step you took along the way. There are people I spent days with here who have left, long on their way to different places all over the world, and I have left, too, but then, this town brings me back to itself. Of course, I will not live my entire life here, but a good chunk of it has been lived already. I cannot change it. But that is not to say it has been terrible by any accord. It has been life—the good and the bad.

But it knocks me out every time I pass by an old place and notice it has changed. The posh, extravagant restaurant we always wanted to dine in is under renovation now. We could never visit it. The board above it has changed already. It was a Saturday, and I walked past it once again, like I have a thousand times before, and like I have walked past many of my dreams, knowing not every one of them comes true. But some do, yes, some do, so we keep dreaming.

Bookmark #672

Countless metaphors, innumerable ways to say things, but nothing rings louder than your father sharing something in plain words. The other day in the middle of a discussion, my father told me that we do not do things for ourselves but for what they may become in the future, whether we are here to see it or not. Despite the context—its differences—I have since applied it to what I do when I write, or at least, how I think of it. My words are not seeds; indeed, no child will sit in their shade, but they may be a crutch one day for someone struggling to walk among the living. Perhaps, my life from this point on, once this realisation sets in, will be a never-ending journey to be able to live with this reality. It may seem particularly odd to someone who has never looked at it this way, but all artists are selfish. To think you can say something about the world that has never been said before, to think you can splat some paint on a canvas, and call it a masterpiece, is selfish. It is conceited.

But how can I not walk down a street and come back to write about it? This life, the world, even if I was not a part of it, would be worth talking about every second. I do not know much about true love that one writes ballads about. Still, if it was any comparison, the streets, the sizzling, greasy food being cooked in pocket-like stores, the people rushing and sometimes, colliding with one another, the children sprinting across to run an errand, the faces of joy, pain, and worry, the friends walking together, the lovers laughing along, the occasional miscreant, the rare good samaritan who stops to help someone with their bags, all of them make my world go around.

It is a privilege to have the patience to notice all of what we call life. I write about it not because I know how to live it better. I err over and over; I trip more than one might imagine. I write about it all as a reminder. For whom and for what? Well, time will have enough to say about it, and I may not be here when the moment comes. My only concern is to ensure I look around with my eyes wide open and that I have something to say. The ripples of a life lived well travel much farther than those who live it.

Bookmark #671

Woke up early this February morning with a voracious craving for nostalgia, of wanting to live some things once more, even if I know how they will end. One day, a long time ago, I had a simple, childish epiphany. I realised that nothing else mattered in the face of the little time we had for things, especially with others. Ah, I miswrote. Perhaps, a correction is in order—it was childlike, not childish. My only mistake with it, if there was any to take account of, was to think others, too, had this realisation. But it is rare, almost impossible, for people to realise things together, and surely, not in the same way. Eventually, I learned to live with this failure of judgement, and for all the trouble it has caused, it has been a valiant attempt to stay kind, and remain patient, even when no one around me, no one I meet, seems to have realised this still. I was right, of course, for the moments I held tightly were fleeting, and now, the only thing to do is to sit and remember them. In the end, this knowledge carries little weight: that I was right, that I am right, and that not a single part of it has changed.

But I can remember, and so I will, and when these days pass, them, too, I will remember. I will remind those I still share time with of how things were if they forget. Begrudgingly, I will do it, but I promise I will remain calm, and I will not lose the last smidge of my patience. I will wait, like someone waits on the other end of the shore or across the river, waiting for the others to cross. But some rapids, we must cross ourselves. So, I will pace about the bank and continue waiting, and if others don’t make it across to this understanding? Well, then, I will be the one to carry the memory they were unable to hold. To all those who worry about trivial matters to lose out on the moment at hand, I vow to remember all of it, to remember them. Perhaps, with a soft anger in my heart as I wake up with the first light and take a minute to get out of bed—the weight of everything that has happened holding me down like an anchor. A capsized boat, after all, is waiting, too, and it, too, remembers.

Bookmark #670

Maybe these words are pedestrian. Maybe anyone can write better or more profoundly, and perhaps, I am wasting my time. But even if all that was true, what else would I do with the time? Eventually, we must all do something. Writing these words and trying to earn a living so I can continue doing so takes most of my time and days. It blows my mind when someone I meet tells me novel, more irritating ways of saving more time. What do you do with all the time you save? I often ask them, and more often than not, it is the first time they come face-to-face with this question.

Humanity has spent centuries trying to save time, but we are busier than ever. Even if you meet someone who successfully saves enough of it, they rarely have anything to show for all the hours they saved. It almost makes me think that we are not meant to save it, only find the things we would happily spend our hours doing, and if happiness is too lofty an intention, then necessity.

The world works with some rules, such as earning a living, as ludicrous as that phrase sounds. A cat does not have to worry about it, but we must, so we use the time for that. A cat takes a nap on the curb because it has no bills to pay. I have little to say about why we do, and neither do I feel it is my place to say any of it, but now that we have the bills to pay and the life to live, we must. The circumstances we fall in are rarely in our control, but we can do our best. That is how I live, so I don’t want to save seconds. I believe I want to spend every waking hour doing things, not for a goal but because of a simple question: if not this, then what?

It is funny that all the people who tell me their tricks for saving time rarely have enough of it to take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, watch a film, or even sit quietly. It is almost as if they are their own enemies. I do not share this ambition, and I seem to have an awful lot of time on my hands. Frankly, too much of it since they keep asking me: how do you get the time to write every day? And I tell them: I don’t know.

If anything, I have always found a day to be incredibly long. I keep trying to fill it with tasks, but some of it is always left to spare.

Bookmark #669

They say eyewitness testimonies are unreliable, and it is true. Each time I try and recall summer from years ago, it always seems yellower than the last, warmer and, in a way, more elusive, and every time I remember heartache, it, too, feels exaggerated. As I sat by myself on a typical Saturday at the cafe, I deliberated replacing my usual americano with a cappuccino. Then, I remembered how I was getting drunk in bars just a few years ago, being open to picking fights with famous artists, and I laughed. I remember never being able to keep my mouth shut. Now, I refrain from even talking about what is on my mind. All my bravado and wit are now reserved for a few puns when talking to friends or family. Looking back, it all feels so larger than life. Perhaps, when I was in those adrenaline-fuelled evenings, they were not as glorious, but that is how memory works, and we will never know.

I eventually could not resist routine completely: I chose an americano, and if we’re being honest, I chose two. Still, I went for pancakes today instead of my usual full English breakfast. We should, whenever the occasion presents itself, deliberate and consider change for the sake of it. The world is generally mundane, and everyone adventuring out in the woods eventually needs to come back to town for a supply run or go to the bank or the nearest ATM. Ultimately, everyone returns to the humdrum of society, even if for a minute or two. No matter how much you resist, something will bring you back to the usual, and so, I do not resist the call; my strategy is to trick it.

I trick it by making changes here and there—minutiae. Sometimes, I find a new favourite; often, my preferences are bolstered. But we must keep changing things here and there if they can be changed. When something works, such as my habit of walking about on a Saturday afternoon, looking up and taking pictures of trees, we must preserve it. It is all an experiment in the end. I have been so many people before, and all of them seem enticing in how I remember them. Today, however, I can only be who I am at this very moment.

This banality will feel larger than life when I look back at it eventually, too.

Bookmark #668

Last night, with all intentions of finishing my writing, I decided to lie down with my eyes closed for about five minutes. I made sure I would get up and out of bed, so I did not change my clothes, I did not do the dishes, and I left all the curtains open. When I woke up, it was the first light of the day that hit me through the open curtains first, and then, it occurred to me my nap had lasted the entire night. I had not realised what had happened until I noticed the clothes I was wearing, and then, I remembered the dishes. While there was frustration, I quickly realised what had happened was already over. I could not let it plague the day ahead, so I began it earnestly.

I come from a fastidious and punctual home, so parts of it are ingrained within my very being. We must be toe-to-toe with time in all our endeavours. But a punctual home is often an impatient home, too, in some ways more than others, and so, I thought of patience, of waiting and resting. I thought of what I will do differently. In the early hour that began the day in reverse, with me dressed up, with the dishes all piled up, and with the curtains wide open, I had little else to do than sit and make a cup of coffee, but mostly, just sit. And so, I sat, and while I do give myself the due rest I deserve even without a night of sleeping in denim jeans, it was more important to do it today. The body can be moved further than we think, but we must pay heed when the mind decides to lay itself down. When the mind says, I cannot go any longer without taking a minute or two, all punctuality and, indeed, all urgency must go out the window.

It is a realisation that has not come easily; frankly, I have lost much to gain this understanding. There are parts of me now that do not fit well with what I was taught growing up, regardless of the intentions of the lessons in question. But that does not mean I cannot keep both parts to myself. In the end, life is but a balancing act. Where we come from and where we go are part of the same story, after all, and all threads must connect in the end. At least, that is how it is for good stories. I do not know which one my life will turn out to be. Not yet.

Bookmark #667

Winter is over already, and I did not realise it until the evening today when before going out, I picked my scarf up and as I wound it around my neck while exiting the apartment, I felt this complete lack of necessity for it, and it was then that I really looked at the calendar with my eyes wide open. It occurred to me it was February already. The blame is only partly mine to share—when things do not change much, and when you cannot tell your days apart, things tend to get muddled and confusing. The sky has not changed for days. As much as I want it to, no forecasts suggest rain. It will be the same life, filled with similar days, peppered with the occasional change for some time until spring arrives.

Yes, when spring arrives, the city will birth anew. The flowers will bloom in unison any minute now, and there will be colour. No need to check your calendar when March marches on, for the world tells you about itself eagerly. In life, you need something to look forward to. I have noticed that some of us, some like me, who are happy with inconsequential events such as the changing of seasons, or the familiar face of a friend, only look forward to them, the tiny bits which continually tell you the days are still rolling, that time is still passing you by. Others often make drastic decisions, such as moving to a new city or getting married to strangers, if things become monotonous.

For me, the next month is enough to imagine, and I cannot wait to look around like a silly child and talk about the yellow showers of amaltas trees or the patches of daisies flowering about here and there all day long. I can already see it—the whole gamut of colour the world offers.

With spring comes a different comfort, which is the opposite of what we get in winter. In winter, the comfort says: sit inside and stay warm, for the world tends to get cold sometimes. But spring tells us: come out, come out and play. You belong; you belong amidst all this colour. Yes, you are needed; you, too, fill a space when you glow brightly. A part of the picture remains bland until you stand in it.

Bookmark #666

In the cab earlier this evening, I almost dozed off. A few seconds went by, and before I fully went under, I looked at the city outside the glass window with my eyes wide open. Frantically, I pinched my wrist. None of it had been a dream. It was all real; I was still living this life. But then, I thought, why does it feel precisely like that—a dream? Why does my sleep sit an inch away from me? Why do I dream of the same day over and over again, as if I was getting a chance to do things again? I fear one day I will pinch myself, and it won’t hurt, that I will not be able to tell one from the other, that this world and this life will begin and end in me, and I will be alive continually, never stopping to get a rest. As soon as I hit the bed, I will wake up again, and not having a way to tell any of it apart, I will continue to live my best, for that is what I was taught to do from the beginning.

It may be curious to some, but it is exhausting in practice—to dream of your days, only with little variations, soft ripples of life: people who should not be there, buildings that should be long gone, coffee shops that never existed. All of it so odd but simultaneously so familiar, as if I had lived there forever, and I have, for when I dream, and if I find myself on a street I have walked before, I immediately recognise it. It seems like a trick of the light, like a kaleidoscope. There is so much I experience over and over again, so many people I say goodbye to. Then they show up again, sit with me, and talk to me. When I wake up, I feel betrayed. It is impossible to explain it to someone who has not had the joy and the loss of dreaming about a life that does not exist. When you are dreaming, and something happens that you know has no possibility of happening, that the people should not be there, that those tasks are already done, that the apartment is already cleaned, you do not know what to make of it, and so you give in and live again.

Often, I wake up exhausted from having lived already, but sometimes, I am unsure. I wake up in a cab and cannot tell things apart for a second. It fills me with awe and dread alike. Then, I continue living—as one must.

Bookmark #665

I remember there were days when things were all bitter and aggravating, and a lot of it is still that way, but then, there is a feeling I cannot resist. It starts like a spark from some corner of my mind, and then, like fire, the joy takes over. For all that the world serves at me from across the table, no matter how fast, I shall return with the best of my ability, like in a casual game of table tennis with a friend. And if it is a curveball? Then, I shall hit it with the clumsiness only known to a child, and then, I shall laugh about it. I live this way, not because of weakness or inability to make my way through this world we live in. It is how I choose to play it, to play my days this way. In the end, we will want more time. This is a given. I try to make sure I have more to look back on, to remember because for all our wishes for more time, even if it is a second, we don’t really get any. Ultimately, we live and die with the days we have spent the way we have spent them.

My hand will always extend to someone else, and I will always pull all I can towards me and into my life. I have more than my share of reasons to reject this world, like many, like every one of us, but I have many more to love the messiness of it all; even if I didn’t, even if there was one, I would sway that way. It is often not those of us who have it easy who look at it all and are glad to be part of it, albeit inconsequential. Some of us are so privy to the potential of our hatred that we have no other alternative but to resist it.

I do not love this world fully, which is why I must deliberately try to do so, and sometimes, I am so angry, I have no choice but to be kind. But in the end, it is always a choice of how to spend our time here. That is all we have anyway: time. No religion can unite us with any promise of heaven or the scare of hell; no riches or wisdom defines us. Our common denominator is the eventual craving of having spent more of our days looking at the sun when we had the chance. It is a good thing then that it will come out again tomorrow and then again. Over and over, day after day, it will try to make us look. All we have to do is just that: choose to look.

Bookmark #664

For all the different ways we perceive life, and for all the different ideas we have about it, two things stand in common, that life rewards you for learning to live with it, and that learning to live with things is the hardest thing every single person must learn, eventually. You could look someone straight in the eyes and miss all the things that are on their mind. It is incredible how much people can hide in their tiny little heads, and it is shocking how much the eyes can lie. No one knows what’s under the surface until the veil is lifted. It is seldom lifted, and for all their reputation, given enough time, the eyes become adept at lying.

My life outside the door to this apartment and the one inside may be two parts of the same coin, but it is rigged, and it only lands one way. There are parts of myself that never leave this desk, and there are parts of myself that are not allowed inside, sit by the door like shoes too dirty or wet to bring inside, and the proverbial mud slathered all over. In the end, I am like most people: my life and what goes in my mind are shared in pieces, where some pieces are shared more than others. The other day, I noticed that I had been using the same mug for days, even when I washed it when doing the dishes. I realised it was because I kept it ahead of the others whenever I put it back on the rack. That is how we share our lives, too, if you ask me. There are things that are always on the surface, and they are shared with others in a sort of reflex, and the others, the parts kept inside rot like clothes kept too long in drawers, waiting to see the sun, only to end up in the bin one day.

From the little I have learned about living, I have learned we are all liars in one way or the other. Some lie blatantly; perhaps, they are better than those like me, who prefer to never lie but habitually withhold. To lie by omission is the worst lie after all—you rob someone of the opportunity to want to seek the truth.

Bookmark #663

There are recurring ideas in these words—reflections of reflections. It often makes me wonder whether I can get by writing about the same things one after the other or if I should branch out, as they call it. Then, just then, I find myself in a cafe, waiting for my friend, and I look around at all the tables—empty and occupied alike—and it occurs to me that to notice something in a thousand ways has the same merit as seeking a thousand things. Perhaps, this is an attempt to console myself, but if you were there in the morning, sitting and sipping coffee, watching, you would know how long a moment can feel if you’re looking at the right things. The servers rushed about, filling orders on a bustling Sunday landscape filled with people walking in and out, ordering their coffees, teas and juices, and talking. There was so much to look at! Couples, families, people sitting by themselves, the pancakes and their sugary aroma wafting about, and the sun—oh, it was wonderfully brazen, bright through the window without holding back any of itself. It was a warm start to a simple day. It may be hyperbole, but if that second lasted a lifetime, I would have sat there, waiting.

My obsession with the mundane makes me curious, not because I cannot write about other things—politics and the world—but because I find it vulgar to talk from citadels towering over the very world I talk about. To talk about the world, in all honesty you can bestow to the act, is to walk through it, to live in it. Then, if you notice a pebble, so be it. You must talk about it until you get it right. Perhaps, I could do it like the others: sit and talk in straight sentences that feed you my ideas, my thoughts word-for-word. Maybe, I can stop these run-on sentences, with commas peppered all over them, as a semicolon finds its way in, too, and perhaps, I can stop using these perhapses and maybes and tell you of things as they are, directly and without any nuance. I could do that, and I could do that in fewer sentences than what I wring out of myself, and it would make it all better and much, much easier for you and for me.

But then, in one sentence, I could also ask: where is the magic in that?

Bookmark #662

What do I do with this patience and love? My hands are tired of waiting, so I cannot do much but write. I sit here, at forty-seven minutes past midnight, and begin typing this sentence as the glass of wine quivers and clinks softly in the silent apartment. Some jazz has been playing for so long it has almost faded in the background like a neighbour who never learns to keep quiet, despite your knocking on their door at the oddest of hours and politely asking them to keep it down. Eventually, the mind adapts. It is a powerful thing—this mind—but also debilitating.

My mind has gotten used to this silence: of braving it by myself, of little things in a day I tell no one about, of walks with nobody, and of cups of coffee that I cannot remember. Memory requires retelling. Some things are so insignificant you dare not mention them to friends and family lest they give you a glance of disapproval. But my life is chock full of the ordinary, and I have begun to forget most of it!

I do not overestimate my intelligence, but I know I am still a somewhat smart man, so lying to myself is rarely easy. When I look at this love I have within me, all this stray emotion, I do not know what to do with it now. When you have guests over, you often overestimate the amount of food, so there is always something left. And what if the guests fail to arrive? What do you do with the excess? On the question of love, my situation is the same. It is a good life. There is so much to share, so much to do with someone else, like an itinerary for a trip you could never make that lives in a torn notebook or, often, as regret. That is how things have begun to feel, and there is little I can do or say about it that would change things as they stand.

For all my fortune, I have not had much luck in matters of love, and all of it remains on the table in some coffee shop, like a deal gone wrong where I talked too much or not enough, where I did not know what to say at the right moment or manner. So much love has gone to waste, like a gift you could never give to someone. It remains in a cardboard box deep in the attic of my heart, taped carefully.

You cannot read the label under all that dust.

Bookmark #661

I open the kitchen cabinet and take a wine glass out of it as I begin the end of this day. Then, I walk to the fridge and take the bottle of wine out of it. The label has a purple blot—perhaps a stray drop from the last time. Then, I pour the wine and begin walking to the fridge again, stopping in my tracks, I take the bottle and the glass, both, to the desk. There could always be the need for another glass of cabernet. We should not underestimate a moment where it all begins to end—a day, an affair, a career, a life. There could always be the need for another glass.

And like that, there must also be a need for change in life—no matter how good it seems. No matter our blessings, the human soul needs things to shake a little lest our survival instinct kicks in and the world transforms into a nightmare. There are many words for it—sabbatical, vacation, recess, holiday—but it is all just for survival. We live in boxes and stare at boxes; the world often calls us back, saying: have you looked around lately?

To live with content eventually becomes suffocating, too. The dreariness of repetition eats you alive. The banal may be something I advocate for, but even the best lawyers often represent the worst clients, and I am not a lawyer. I am just a man who tries to make sense of things, and when I cannot make much sense of it all, I drink—whether it is coffee or booze depends solely on what I am trying to make sense of. Today, I am trying to make sense of contentment. Now that I am happy, I am waiting for the shoe to drop. Something has to go wrong right about now. The only thing to be concerned with is what, and it is a fear most think about but seldom talk about.

A good life has its fears. To have what you want, even momentarily, does not make life devoid of trouble. I’d argue that, in some way, a troubled life is easier: you know what ails you. A content life, on the other hand, keeps you guessing. A part of me is perpetually scared.

How funny is it? We make fences around our homes and lives, hoping to keep it all safe, but then, we check the fences over and over again for marks and breaches, all the while worried: what if something got through the gaps?

Bookmark #660

I end this rather long day by brewing a cup of chamomile. I always make it the same way—the same brand’s bags, the same amount of water, and the same duration to let it brew. And this is extended in kind to most of my days. If a friend asks me how my days have been lately, I do not have a proper answer. I find myself stupefied in my repetition and banality. How have my days been? Well, exactly like they had been for a while now. In many ways, it is what paradise seems like.

Still, even Eden, with all its perfection, was not enough for us—ideal days are far from that. Now, I have begun feeling the urge to escape, at least temporarily. The only thing I know better than anything else is myself. I know that it has been a while since I set up camp on the loamy soil of calmer days, and now, since it has been long enough, my mind has begun to feel trapped again. My life is a continuous making and breaking of patterns. It is not in perfect discipline nor the lack of a routine that I thrive—I bloom in the in-between.

Earlier this evening, as I walked through the city and crossed the road, a little girl sitting in the backseat of a giant car waved to me, and I waved back. Almost immediately, as I passed and reached the sidewalk, I realised that this was my first interaction with a stranger in weeks. I feared it had been close to a month since I met someone new. It made me wince at the limitation of experience that has begun to set in like mould on an old wooden chair out on the patio of some farmhouse no one visits anymore. I believe I must get a change of scenery soon.

There is something about looking at the sea that you cannot get in a city fenced by hills and mountains. Mountains, especially when they surround you, are like walls. It often starts to feel like they are closing in like it has now for me. When you look at the sea, all you see is infinity; you see so much that is possible, all you cannot see beyond an unreachable horizon. Now, I cannot help but imagine a radiant, hot pink sun over calm, almost still water, the bright orange sky and no shore in sight, and the quiet hour as you take it all in, and hope—the hope that something remains to be seen.

Bookmark #659

There have been no good films in the theatre lately, and so I have not had the chance or the inclination to get tickets. When it comes to films, I am incredibly picky as to what earns that word, and I am ludicrously liberal at allowing all of them a chance. When you think of it, this is how I am with people, too. To give a chance to everyone and everything is where my life blooms, and it is also where all growth stops. To give the world a chance, to be open and willing, to do it continually—what a mutinous idea in a world where we must draw lines repeatedly around every part of our lives. As it happens for most things, the instructions for a specific few are now being followed by everyone. The world is now demarcated by eggshells, borders of preferences turned into rules plague each person. We live in rancid prisons, and we call it happiness. We must never peek outside our make-believe constructs—why someone may believe or think something else! However, all the stench outside the walls of our own making does not come from the world. It stinks only because we refuse to leave our little bubbles of convenience. The world has always had differences—what it did not have until now was a blatant disregard for differences, even the smallest, the most minute ones. It is a rebellious, almost radical idea to suggest the possibility of people not living and thinking alike.

I reckon the world has been united but in all the wrong ways. We are one how a pack of wolves is one: they do not allow anyone else to walk along, and trying only gets the unsuspected ripped to shreds. Perhaps, it is a matter of convenience, too, since finding those who think alike has never been easier, and if we can talk to anyone in the world, why must we speak to those around us? And there lies the question, the answer, and a convincing argument for both sides.

I did not want to think about any of this if I’m being honest. It would have saved me all the trouble if a good film had been playing in the theatres.

Perhaps, there still is; I just need to keep an open mind.

Bookmark #658

A while back, someone asked me if I realised how these words are a de facto archive for all who are related to me, now and forever, in whatever way, in whatever year. They asked me if it had crossed my mind. And I told them like I have to countless people before—where countless is hyperbole replacing my laziness to keep a count—that it is the only thought on my mind for most of these crumbs of my days devoured completely. People are bound to leave something behind—I just happen to have a unique say in the matter of “what”, and even then, there is little uniqueness in this activity.

So many leave journals behind, some get bound into a book, and a few are read by enough people for anyone to remember anything. For all the great souls to have lived, thousands have died nameless, remembered only by those they left behind, if they bothered to reminisce. Besides that, all of this is futile. So, without wasting many words when people ask me this, I tell them: yes, it is a thought that is always on my mind, and it is unnecessary. I could live my days perfectly, with the same zeal and the same conversations, even if I did not write these words. It is a habit, a choice, and from the little I know about choices: no one but the person making them carries any justification for them. The rest of us are almost always left in wonder and awe, asking: why? And from what I know about conversation, no one ever truly answers the questions people have for them.

When I ask anyone why they made a certain decision at some point in their life, they often jump into pleading not guilty for a crime I did not insinuate or even suggest. They begin to relay a defence for no accusation, no question. And then, they start justifying it. It always makes me curious. Then, I look at them with shock, hidden by the facade and smile of my faux understanding, all the while thinking: who are you trying to convince if not yourself? Then, someone asks me the same question about these words, and it occurs to me that a writer can only comment on the world because they live in it—complete with all the idiosyncrasies and oddities that plague those they comment on. We rally to convince ourselves through others.

Bookmark #657

As far as the clock is considered, it is closer to the evening than the afternoon, but looking outside, this cloudy steel blue, almost metallic, chrome-like sky tells me it’s still morning. The clouds give both highlights and shadows, it is a beautiful sight, and it does not seem like the day will descend into darkness soon. If every clock in the world was suddenly out of the picture, and if we went by what we saw, I would be convinced it was still early in the day, that the sun had just come out, if at all. This is what a couple of days of rain does to things. Its purpose is to slow things down, to help us eliminate the construct of time. On a rainy day, delays are okay. When someone enters a room drenched, drops trickling off every corner of their being, you can only offer a towel and ask, “Are you okay?” That is all you must do. If you’re on the receiving end, well, rest assured. The weather has your back.

On this languid day, this comfortingly listless hour, I make another cup of coffee and walk about the apartment. It is a moment of thought, but most moments are made better with a bit of perspective. If only most of us know this before we let them—and our words—slip. I often wonder what other people think on a day like this or throughout their lives. Even if they told me, it would not be enough. A description is a washed-out version of a vivid picture. Even if your vocabulary is overflowing, you cannot convey the image formed in your mind.

Do other people also have a reel playing in the background like a never-ending film, like the television in a noisy home? Does it stop abruptly in irrelevant places? It is a pointless inquiry. Even if someone said yes, I could not believe them.

The sun has started to peek a little—the grass has turned from green to a sort of chartreuse. But it is too late today—a formal appearance, like a friend drops at a party for fifteen minutes, not because they wanted to be there, but out of duty, out of time spent together earlier. Then, they look outside the window and say, “It seems it is going to rain; I should get going,” and no one protests their leaving. It is reasonable—after all, we do not want anyone to get drenched.

Bookmark #656

I wait for the espresso to kick in, sitting in the cab, driving through this town, an early morning tableau that feels alien enough to give it all a second look but familiar enough to know where I’m going. It does not matter which city I’m staying in—to look at another neighbourhood in the morning hour never fails to knock the wind out of me. I do not walk these streets as often as others, yet I can sense they look different than they usually do in the pale morning light. The morning does not get washed over a city, and the slowness of life beginning to spring back into its zeal and motion is something to watch. This, I recommend as a remedy to most troubles. Watch the morning. Things soon fall into place.

Then, the ride on the morning taxi soon turns into a breakfast, a walk, and a conversation about how things only get better for the world as time moves on. The unparalleled tenacity in humanity today amazes me, and I often get carried away if I begin talking about it. We do not have to look too hard to see that we live with magic around us or closer to us than a stone’s throw. Life is effortless in this time and age, in more ways than we keep a tally of, but humanity’s song has always been that life is hard, and so, we shall consider it so, but it is also better in many ways, more than we can name, more than we realise. I look at the world and carry nothing but respect for it.

In the end, I hope through this day, and many like this one, I have made some impact, that I caused time to ripple over itself, no matter how soft, how undetected it went on its way. In my understated life, perhaps, I, too, have been useful? Perhaps. We can only hope. What our life turns out to be, we cannot say, but we must try to make it count for something. I look at the world, and beyond the thin covers of civilisation’s pretence, underneath religions and borders and other fictitious creations of people who did not have anything better to do, I see people working hard for reasons known and unknown. I count myself in this tribe. I bow down to all those who came before. I hope I can pay it forward in my own way. The rest will go as it goes, as it has in the books of history.

Bookmark #655

There are things you cannot learn until they happen to you. I do not mean some moral learning or some wisdom that life sprinkles on you. A few years ago, a cat stumbled into our home, making its presence known for at least the six months that followed. During that time, I learned a lot about cats. I learned that the running gag with a ball of wool and cats is true—something I had always had my doubts about. I learned more, of course, but I have made my point.

Once we make our point, we should stop talking about it. A good example is often sufficient. Anything added beyond that point is more about the speaker than the topic. The cat eventually left, as they often do, but I have its pictures, and I often think about it if I see one of them. I miss many things when I look at pictures, but the person I regularly miss is myself. And no, it is not that I have any reservations about who I am today. I am, in many ways, precisely who I thought I would become by this point, and in many other ways, it has been a pleasant surprise to make my own acquaintance. But even when things are good, you tend to miss what once was.

The other day, as I was getting ready, I looked at my face in the mirror and noticed that the greys on the side of my head had become more than I could feasibly count in a glance. It made me feel many things—in some ways, it was also a good reminder of how fast time passes. I look in the mirror and still remember every person I have been. I do not know where to draw the line. It has been a spanning narrative in my mind. Perhaps, some sort of inventory is in order. That is if I ever find the time for it. The more time passes, the shorter a day begins to feel. There are things on my to-do list I have put off for more hours than it would have taken me to do them.

Life tends to force our curiosity out of us with this talk of time. We must resist as much as we possibly can. But it is a worthy opponent. Take my morning that day, for example. When I looked at my reflection in the daze of sleep, I was still the curious child who cast his suspicions on a cartoon playing on the TV. Until I saw the burgeoning greys and remembered the cat, bested again by “knowing”.