Strength in the nonchalant now

As I return home, from the library, the aura of knowledge replaced by the scent of nothingness, enveloping, engulfing and emancipating me from the unnecessary, unwarranted sorrow we fashion our lips to taste, I see a group of hooligans trying to hurt a man; maybe they want to scare him and instill in him a sense of, “Push us, and we’ll destroy you,” or perhaps his fate’s already sealed, and I wonder, ponder about the man’s anguish as they approach. He’s smoking a cigarette and smiling, but his hands shake. Does he think his feigned arrogance will save him from blows and kicks? Will his fear turn into a desperate need for mercy? I know he’ll do his best to endure, and then when it’s over, exclaim, “This too has passed!” Some of you might ask, “Why didn’t you do something?” Well, this happens regularly, and I’ve seen men shutting down coffee shops with vengeance as the police looked on. And one man cannot fight a system of depravity, corruption and injustice. But maybe I over imagined the scenario. I think they’ll leave him alone after a few slaps, unless he’s foolish enough to goad them. And that’s where freedom from neurosis, paranoia and delusion lies. All you need to do is predict. If a+b=c, and a is your irritability at a vicious circumstance biting you like a rabid dog, and b is the cause of the circumstance, then you adding both will only cause needless strife or c. And so, you change the equation completely: Sublimate your anger, avoid the root of the circumstance, find another cause, or something else to uphold, and soon you’ll also exclaim, “This too has passed!” And that’s life, and if you want to use a psychological term for it, go ahead. I walk on, and see the football field where I played when I was 22. Nobody plays there anymore, and I wonder why. A part of me just wants to wander into it, but nostalgia has no use, just like make-believe tomorrows or an imagined eternity. The only reality is that you’re an inconspicuous individual touching now, and you’re handed the arsenal of today, to destroy or create. I’ll admit there was a point when in anger, I destroyed, using art that’s only meant to create, but liberated from the chaos of yesterday, by the lucidity of the senselessness of anger, I burned and deleted artistic vengeance, and found hope. And it isn’t God, or a person, or beauty that pushes me forward. No, it’s just the now and the time I have. I walk on and nearing my apartment, I see a house in strife: Husband and wife, fighting, both playing the blame game, and I wish they would realize that life isn’t worth petty squabbles and arguments. It just is. And when you’re cornered, ask yourself, “What’s the worst a foe can do?” And sure, they can push you, break you, crush you, but once you know what triggers you or them, and walk away, they’ll hallucinate while you sleep soundly. And your will is yours, never subject to bondage, unless you let it, and once you reach that stage, you’ll welcome Death himself and dine with him, and kneel while he wields his sickle. I finally reach home, smoke a cigarette, pen down something, and sleep.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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