I’m in the mountains where the air is cold and crisp, and the fog enshrouds this little town like an enigmatic esoteric doctrine obscures a portion of scripture. The tea plantations look like layers of a green pyramidal cake; rich in taste and a delight to the senses. I amble down hairpin bends and breathe for a change, and I’m mystified by the power of nature. It has this innate ability to calm and refresh me. I’m no longer surrounded by brutal machinery and vapid super malls. I have no need for cheap wine and even that insatiable urge to write something that reeks of self-loathing is gone. Smoking is no longer something that temporarily releases me from angst but is a pleasure I savor while I fix my gaze on the blue peaks that encircle me like fortress walls. I say fortress but I’m not trapped here. It’s a far cry from some devilish force holding me against my will in a sequestered apartment complex where rage erupts from some wound within causing a catastrophic explosion that leads to an implosion of reason and perception and an animalistic lust to wreak havoc taking over. Here, freedom beckons with the scent of the Eucalyptus; vivacity beckons with the chirp of the animated sparrows; serenity beckons with the aura that surrounds each blade of grass – engulfing me and lifting spells of depression. I like this cottage I’m living in. It’s quaint and archaic and my internet’s limited; the door is made of teak and doesn’t open easily, but I’m not complaining. The more I look at creation in the eye, the more I want to leave the neon-hued city behind. I’ve never been one for boisterous laughter and parties and making an utter fool out of myself. Sure, I’ve lived that life but each day felt like giving a piece of me away. But here, in this place, I’m taking those pieces back from the earth, the petrichor, the breeze and the mist. There’s something within every person that no amount of materialism will suppress – deep despair that’s rooted in a need for a higher, more transcendental connection. No amount of wine or people or cigarettes or even art takes that away. Most people don’t project this despair and try their best to prevent other people from getting a glimpse of their inner self with their ostentatious Facebook feeds and Instagram pictures. The few who do are sadly shunned by a society that stereotypes. Then there are a popular few who know how to create drama out of it and thrive on the attention that they get on social media. These cunning few suddenly write about their ‘problems’ and then move back to the mainstream pretentious nonsense. They know how to manipulate the sheep on social media with their sorrowed narcissism. But this post isn’t about them. It’s about confronting the despair within. It’s that very despair that leads to addiction, to hate, to rage and to a crippled existence. We often forget that things fade away and people can never be our everything because we’re all finite with limited minds and limited lifespans and limited abilities that wither slowly and just like books collect dust, we deteriorate with age or illness. So, there isn’t any point in finding solace in what’s innately fractured; broken both existentially and eventually literally. So, ultimately it comes down to finding an infinite God. But what happens when God is silent? There has to be something more than banal materialism or reckless hedonism. I think that’s where the beauty of solitude comes in. I feel lonely in the city, but alone and at peace with myself in the mountains. The city I live in is a harsh reminder of the things I don’t have. Having said that, there’s also a constant discomfort that nags. It tears my contentment asunder and I’m always looking for answers using technology when technology is the very thing that’s killing me. Now, I’m not saying technology is bad, but I do have a little Luddite in me who screams when there’s too much of it, which is why I race to the hills when I get a chance. Where will I finally end up? I don’t know. I have an idyllic dream of settling down in the hills and taking long walks and perhaps teaching; shunning my old life and avoiding self-loathing and angst, and mooching off them to write; basically killing the narcissist in me using nature. But life with all its practicalities and pragmatism always stands in the way like a huge unclimbable gate with spikes on top. But I’m feeling vaguely optimistic today and hence these lines.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)