Room 101 – EP

So, I left the city with its industrial roar like the low growl of a mythical beast, straight out of a fantasy novel, and moved to the mountains for the raw, crisp and cool breeze and petrichor and starlight sky, not obscured by smog like a faint red haze, picked from the pages of Revelation and Jehovah’s wrath.

But my idealism soon crashed like a car careening into a bus, and I’m desperately salvaging the remnants of a dream. I believed solitude would soften me, and the sight of the fresh green would strengthen me, but I find withdrawal asphyxiating like too much hookah pulled from a pipe, leaving the lungs singeing. There’s an acute, harrowing distress present even here, while I smoke my cigarettes and look yonder at the small illuminated cross, and the little luminescence of the small town in the distance looking like Christmas lights on a felled tree, chopped to bits.

And staying in my room isn’t very different from isolating myself from the indifferent city with its women who come and go talking of Michelangelo, and the same dull taking of toast and tea that I so thoroughly despise. I happen to like coffee, thank you! So, thoroughly dejected I’m listening to Paul Desmond on repeat wondering if there’s more than the buffet this hotel serves, more than climbs that feel like acid eating away at my lungs from the inside out, more than bloodshot eyes obscured by my photochromatic glasses like a pus-stained bandage covering a rough wound.

Even reading feels like hacking through some brutally dense forest; the words producing severe stress and migraines, and sentences crawling into my mind like worms because I nudge them in. So, I’m writing today and possibly tomorrow, until I’ve got a hold on the melancholia that trails me everywhere like a shadow, and rip it apart, exposing its entrails and hang it like butcher’s meat on a wall of things I’ve conquered.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

I need a glimpse of Glory

I hate writing. It makes me miserable, but I keep at it because I’ve made it my idol. I’ve replaced God with art, and worship at an altar of futility. I’m a hypocrite, a liar, a sinner and a vainglorious worm like William Cowper puts it. I write blasphemous things, proclaim that God is dead though I know he’s very much alive, I use language and imagery that goes against my conscience, and I do it for validation, the likes and the comments.

Self-pity courses through my veins and what is it but bruised pride? Me feeling sorry for myself because I don’t get what I want. I am a narcissist, but then again, who isn’t? You have the arrogant, sitting-on-a-pedestal, feelingless narcissist and the low-self-esteem fueled one, and then you have those in the middle with moderate self-esteem, but selfish to the core, and I guess I fit into that last bracket.

Humanity is totally depraved. There isn’t a single soul who’s good at heart. We may not be out there murdering people, but we’re as murderous as that death-row inmate inside. We fail to see this though because our self-righteous hearts deceive us into thinking we’re sweet and innocent.

I hate when I lash out at people using writing, but I do it anyway. I hate when I check, check and check some more if someone has liked or commented on my posts, but I do it anyway. I hate when my writing and comments are filled with lies, but I do it anyway. I hate being miserable but I do the very things that cause me the deepest misery. The truth is that I’m not addicted to the things of the world as much as I’m addicted to myself. Sin is eating me alive, and there isn’t anything I can do about it, except wait for a miracle of grace.

But will God redeem me? Me, the chief of sinners who has lost all direction. Will he abandon the 99 to find this black sheep? Will he restore me, and thaw this hard heart? Or is darkness my only friend?

I remember when I once walked with God, and he loved me and me, him. I remember having faith and knowing in my heart that Christ lived the life I never did and died in my place. I remember tears of repentance not for the things I’d done, but the man I was. I remember a picture of glory in my mind’s eye and chasing after that infinitely precious glory with my heart and mind. I remember how God found me and delighted in making me his own, despite who I was.

But here I am today, unsure of my election or worse yet, knowing I’m this reprobate heading straight to eternal perdition, and not being able to do anything about it.

Calvinism is one hundred percent right, and there’s so such thing as free-will. Having said that God works in mysterious ways and maybe one day I’ll know why he took away all the affection I had for him. Yes, I mean affection; overwhelming emotion for Christ which includes love, joy, peace, Godly grief, and even righteous hate. Without that, you’re a cold Christian or perhaps not one at all. I’ll end by saying, ‘Man, I need a glimpse of the glory of Christ again!’ Because despite how hard I try to do the right things, I’ll either only fail or pretend to be virtuous when I’m so full of vice.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Journal Entry: On Meaning

Some people say, ‘You can be your absolute grounding,’ but I disagree. We’re finite, flawed and there’s nothing absolute about us. Sure, we may not all be heinous. You’ll find both the good and the bad in this fractured world but anchoring yourself in yourself seems ludicrous. So, what then? God? The Universe? The Universe is only expanding, and yeah, I get it, that’s a trite, crude argument, but I want to use my idiosyncratic sense of humor now and then because this is one of my pop-existential rants that everybody should disagree with! Yeah, I know you mean the metaphysical universe where the replicas of things found here are perfections, or perhaps one where we’re all connected by some synergy and collective consciousnesses, and we all have myriad selves and stuff, but unless you’re going with the former definition of an absolute metaphysical universe, then, there’s still no grounding, because things like synergy and collective consciousnesses are abstractions or hell, even obscurantisms. Let the psychologists debate that and Oedipal or Electra complexes. I’m more interested in meaning. Everybody needs meaning. Some of us don’t give the term much thought, and just drift or go with the flow, and I understand the need to not want some AK-wielding term like meaning confronting you. It’s both a thinker’s paradise, his purgatory or her redemption. Meaning. But to find meaning you need grounding in something, and it must be something more substantial than obscurantisms or a finite, flawed self or a fractured multitude of selves. So, I’m not engaging in diatribes against philosophies or theologies promising us meaning. I’m down with severe bronchitis and asthma, and my mom’s not well too. Yeah, I always write journal entries when I’m either emotionally or physically ill. So here are four songs. I’m writing a short passage underneath each. I’ll leave you to configure the meaning and purpose and responsibility and epiphany bit.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Everybody talking to their pockets
Everybody wants a box of chocolates
And a long stem rose
Everybody knows

Must I say anything more?

Now, I know what the song is about. But there’s so much more going on here. Just listen.

I got a million excuses, as to why you died.
And other people got their own reasons for homicide.
Who’s to say it would’ve worked and who’s to say it wouldn’t have
I was young and struggling, but old enough to be a dad.
The fear of being my father has never disappeared,
I ponder it frequently while I’m sippin’ on my beer.
My vision of a family was artificial and fake
So when it came time to create, I made a mistake.

Here are a few lines that got me thinking

Now Switchfoot is known for their optimistic and yet realistic rock. And this song hits hard.

Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes,
This is your life

And today is all you’ve got now
And today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes.

Raw expression telling you like it is.

This is a modern take on the classic Fanny Crosby Hymn. I listen to it sometimes when I’m just empty inside. 

Journal Entry: Incapacitated but finding contentment

So, two days ago I had an altercation with an auto driver and things got really ugly. He asked for fifteen rupees extra when I just needed to travel a very short distance. He then did some loose talking and I lost my temper and asked him to shut up before things escalated and I choked him twice. Auto drivers aren’t people you mess with here. Soon he called for help and two people intervened. One looked like a goon. They asked me to pay him and get lost. I did that but then I overheard the driver saying he’d have taken me to his locality and broken my leg. I went home paranoid and I guess that’s when I truly reflected. I wondered if anger is ever worth it and realized it isn’t. I spoke to my mother and she said, ‘You spend thousands sometimes going to a fancy restaurant and here’s a poor man struggling to get by, asking you to give him an extra fifteen bucks. You should have given him the amount.’ I realized then that she was right. Anyhow call it Karma or call it God’s chastisement, the moment I got down from the auto I tripped, and my leg started hurting. I ignored the pain for two days before going to the doctor today. He said I pulled my ligament and luckily didn’t tear it and my plan to go to the mountains next week ended up being shattered. Now, I had a football injury when I was 22 in the same area and tore my ligament and fractured my bones then. Luckily this isn’t so severe, but it still leaves me incapacitated and in a cast for at least ten days. I learned a tough lesson today and I guess I need to just endure the consequences. Rage only destroys you and wrecks others. There isn’t any point to it. It’s better being depressed or sorrowed than vengeful. Trust me. Now, I have my issues but plan to work on them using Mindfulness and the power of inner silence that Thich Nhat Hanh brilliantly explains in his aptly titled book, Silence. He talks about how we often sow the seeds of bitterness, anger, and rage and then they erupt in our consciousness and force us to act foolishly. He talks about not thinking and just breathing and though I’m new to Buddhist philosophy, I’ve found it very helpful to just get rid of the nonstop mind chatter by simply breathing and by letting silence envelope my core. There’s beauty in just being more than constantly trying to become. I’m thankful today despite my injury. It gives me more time to write, to spend time with the family and to listen to good music. It gives me more time to work on my conscious breathing and more time to just be here, and there for the people who love me. So, I’ll be posting more on this platform for a while, while I read your beautiful blogs. Mindfulness has also helped me just ignore negativity and write for both my sole pleasure and for the pleasure of readers who’re supportive and read my work. It even inspired me to write a Petrarchan sonnet which is my next post. And all this in just two days! Until next time.

-Nitin

Journal Entry: A fresh start

I planned on taking a long break from writing, but I’ve decided to post sporadically. I will be gone for long or short periods now and then, but I plan on writing when things get too difficult for me to handle. This might be the darkest period of my life because I find myself losing my struggle with Bipolar Disorder and OCD with psychosis. I’m also struggling financially and got cheated out of a lot of money by a company with whom I teamed up to start a project. So first, I’d like to end wars on WordPress. This platform is a creative one that should help nurture artists and help them grow. This isn’t a platform to hold grudges, write explosive rants and hate on people (all of which I’m guilty of too.) Having said that, I’ve been hurt too, and my words reflected my anger. But in darkness there is light. There must be or else we’ll forever find ourselves groping through dim corridors looking for a switch without our glasses on. And I’d like to believe that there’s much more to life than that. During trying times, you find out who your real friends are. The people who’ll stand by you despite your eccentricities and idiosyncrasies. So, I want to start by thanking my dear mother for standing by me through it all. You’ve shown me unconditional love that I didn’t think was humanly possible. You’ve shown me that there’s another kinder, more beautiful side to humanity. I’m sorry I’ve hurt you, Mom. I’ve said and done things I should never have. And I know you’ll read this because you read my work without ever judging me and see the beauty even when I lash out. My goal in life is to make you proud by becoming a better person, by fighting my addictions and my demons and by not being so quarrelsome, rage-filled and judgmental. If I can’t become a better person for me, I want to become a better person for you. Next, I’d like to thank Emily and Tara. Emily will continue posting here during my absences and she inspires me because she’s hardworking, honest, gives her all when she commits to a friendship and isn’t afraid to speak the truth. I love straightforward people and I admire that in her. Tara knows a bit of what I go through and is my twin (This is an inside Literati Mafia joke!) She’s always supportive and her raw portrayals of inner angst when she writes, and her strength to endure things that’ll easily shatter me gives me grit. Next, I’d like to thank everyone else on the Mafia with whom I’ve interacted regularly. They’re people from different parts of the world and have different perspectives to offer. They’re also extremely strong. Now, I’m still getting to know a few of you better, but know that you’re respected and appreciated. Finally, I want to thank Whispers of the Universe. Now you don’t know him, and he likes his anonymity, but man, he’s as strong as they come. He’s made of steel and he’s helped me in more ways than he realizes. I’ll be posting a few Journal Entries like this and yes, a few poems. And for everyone who encouraged me to find peace by commenting on Emily’s entry and for the people who asked me to stay strong and ignore negativity, I can’t thank you enough. Emily passed on your beautiful messages and I’ll read them now myself. Thank you. It’s beautiful that people want to hear what little I have to offer and it’s humbling.

-Nitin

Journal entry 3: The final stance

If my words have provoked you, or hurt you, both in a direct or indirect way, then I take absolute responsibility for the sorrow I’ve caused. I will not play the blame game, and say that it was my neurosis or psychosis that made me do something wrong. I let those off-tune pipers who seek my dissonance to play their song, without making an effort to not listen to them. I let delusional fury seethe and scald my inner being without even attempting to baptize myself in light. But please know that I stopped judging people sometime ago, and even when they unnerve me, I make sure I sublimate or make amends. I no longer let the hammer thud, and a voice echo, saying, “He or she’s guilty!” No, I seek to understand and learn from both my mistakes, and the wisdom and ugliness of others. Now, I respect humanity, but I cannot love everyone, which is why, I cut ties with people who’re bound to cause friction; never going near them, because my fractured bones heal, and I don’t intend to splinter them again; others I keep a healthy distance from, because I can’t let each idea soak into my head and give my darkness something to gnaw on. And still others, I offer a hand of friendship, and warmth, and if it’s taken I’m grateful, and if not, I understand and move on. And finally for a handful, I let love overwhelm and overpower me, and echo that affection and action, because they did/do the same for me through it all. And these are my apologies and my self, stripped off its skin. This is my core and my final stance. I decided and acted upon this a while ago, avoiding declaration, because things felt and done hold the beauty of a precious stone, glinting in the cadence of the milky moonlight, while things said often only hold a false aura that seems like valor or discretion. But having acted, I guess, I can tell you, now that the deeds slowly fall into place that here I stand.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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Journal Entry: 2

Some people go through miserable circumstances in their lives, and if that hurt stems from childhood abuse or severe bullying, or some other terrible circumstances that make a person lose their innocence, then all that suppressed self-blaming erupts later in life, and results in the person either becoming dysfunctional, apathetic or predatory. Now the first two are far better than the third. Being dysfunctional or apathetic always is not healthy, but at least such people long for solitude, and if they’re gifted with abilities like writing, they just write out their emotion or lack of it, and slowly fix themselves with the help of medication and therapy. I’m Bipolar, and yes I’m dysfunctional. And I often feel nothing, but I write, and I’ve realized that it really helps. Yes I’m a nihilist. There was no Abrahamic Savior who intervened personally when I grew up, and even later when I was drawn to religion, it only caused terrible episodes of psychosis. I keep sane by writing about so many things. And yes, the medication also helps. So if you’re depressed, or have terrible mood swings, please seek professional help. I’ve tried to manage without medication, but I’ve often found myself quickly breaking down. These days I avoid any trigger, regardless of whether it’s online or in life. And I’m finally on a good combination, which keeps me going. So, don’t just think poetry or somebody else is going to fix you. No, you need professional help. And if it calls for medication, please take it properly, without skipping doses, or worrying about side effects. You can always consult a psychiatrist and change the combination. And if you feel like a relationship or friendship, or anything else is getting in the way of your mental health, break it off quickly. Yes, things often get ugly, but the key is to avoid triggers or provoke the other party. And if they provoke you, avoid them. It isn’t that hard to put people out of your mind. It takes time, but you can do it. For a short time hate ruled me, and I lashed out online, but then I realized that it isn’t worth it. It’s petty really. Now coming to the third set of people, well, they’re dangerous. These are people who want others to suffer, and they also need to seek help. They often take a sadistic delight in watching others in misery, and it isn’t hate that governs them, it’s the only thing that gives them momentary pleasure or catharsis. And no they aren’t always the clichéd hitchhikers; sometimes they’re male or female Bateman’s (virtual or real or both). Well, yeah, they can really get on a person’s nerves, because some righteous anger burns through most of us. But I’ve realized that instead of hating them, the best way is to ignore them, and not give them satisfaction. Now if there is a physical threat, then you’ll need to protect yourself by informing the authorities or using self-defense if it comes down to that. But if it’s a cyber thing, and you’re writing, and they seek you out, don’t confront them. It’s hard not to, but it’s not worth it. And the best way is to separate the art from the writer. Write sorrowed posts when you’re happy, so your replies won’t be depressing, thereby depriving them of satisfaction if they comment. Write horrific ones when you’re nonchalant, and people will think it’s directed at someone, but you’re really not doing that. The greater the distance between the person and his art, while maintaining the ability to convey emotion, the greater the artist. It has taken me five years of progressing from obscure verse, to imitation, to finding my voice, to confessionals, to parallelism to finally reaching this stage, and I still have lots to learn. And man, have I fallen short so many times, because of religious struggle, and other trying circumstances, and BPAD and OCD. But I can finally say that I love writing, and I’m comfortable here and now, and that’s all that matters really. The past is dead, and the future may not be mine, but I have today, and even if I’m a nihilist, and there is absolutely no meaning at all in life, and we’re all hypocrites and responsible for everything calamitous, and should become judge-penitents like Jean-Baptiste Clemence after much introspection and realization, and whoring ourselves (I don’t really believe that. I’ll come to that later!) I’m thankful for this huge kaleidoscope of so many experiences that I just call life.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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