They called me a freak, a madman, an insipid David Bowie imitator, a theatrical showman of melancholia wailing, ‘Cry! Cry! Cry!’ And it tainted the very breath of life in me for years with the ash of rejection. I spent years in that debris-strewn, segregated section of this cruise ship we call society – which is heading straight to an iceberg anyway – third wheeling with Ostracism and Loneliness. I clutched my wounds and cried, ‘Mercy!’ I would go to the ship’s deck now and then – after I’d healed – where people took selfies in their Titanic poses and I’d meet callous indifference or a stare emanating from spikes masquerading as pupils. I wanted in. I wanted that ‘something substantial’ that they had, only to realize that they had nothing but a simulacrum of truth, a frivolous façade like bad graffiti on a wall painted with gaudy shades so that it looks good from a distance. Then I crept back to my room with dog-eared books and shattered bottles of alcohol, the liquor flowing everywhere, embodying the stench of futile attempts to escape addiction, which was both nauseating and strangely welcoming. ‘End this!’ I’d cry without tears. Apathy spitting black phlegm on an already darkened heart. Grunge playing. The Drop D tuning and brooding vocals haunting me but giving me a feeling that there were other rooms like the one I was in. Rooms with messy bedspreads, stinking of sweat and the semen of yesterday’s flings. Rooms with tobacco on dirty, cluttered desks with Radiohead CDs, and chargers and laptops riddled with porn. Rooms with half-smoked cigarettes in makeshift ashtrays; cigarettes I’d pick up and smoke again because I didn’t have it in me to fight against the grain and walk up to the cigarette vendor for third class misfits. I watched the first class socially aristocratic listening to ‘Indie Rock’ because it was fashionable and jogging with aesthetically pleasing figures and great hairstyles. I watched the second class socially stable trying hard to rise above their station and join the elite. Riddled with doubt and sick of banality I puked and puked in my room, only adding to the grime and the filth and the odor. I listened for whispers of hope, but they weren’t forthcoming and seemed lost in esoteric circles that talked of new moons and gnosis. I ached for songs of joy but heard a metallic ringing like a newly diagnosed Schizophrenic patient does: an iambic drill, a soft grind followed by a loud thud. Ten excruciating syllables. Finally, nihilistic, and quite frankly absurd, I accepted my eccentricities and my idiosyncrasies. I embraced the room and sought enlightenment right there. Now, I gave up on love, life, and even breath but never gave up on myself. And that’s the path taken that still hacks its way towards the horizon.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)