I don’t want to place what we’ve built in a shoebox: parading our affection with embellishments like picture perfect Facebook lounge bar shots, or relationship statuses with a hundred likes, giving us reinforcement. No, I’d rather keep our little home, nestled in a reverie that only we know about, where passion echoes, and subtle grazes actually mean something substantial, carrying a depth like lines of well written poetry personifying the muted moon, and its soft reflections on the gentle tide – the ebb and flow stitching the iamb, and steadily building up the pentameter. You and I both know that what matters more than blood poured on a page is the actual give and take off-screen, the real absorbing and reciprocating when you’re sitting across me, and your laughter and your delicate smile giving me inner opulence and helping us both compose this ethereal sonata, notation after notation, bar after bar, and its beauty breaks dawn, makes the songbirds chirp, coats the leaves with dew, and scents the faint drizzle with petrichor. And with each tug of spring, the colors of effervescence bathe us, with each glow of summer, the waves of ecstasy overwhelm us, with each crunch of autumn, august serenity envelops us, with each mist of winter, a solitude of togetherness, keeps us huddled, comforted by blankets, naked but warm, skin against skin. I don’t want to constrain us to just the seasons or color though, because a plethora of underlying semantic makes this thing we call love, and yet when stripped of its bark, it’s vulnerable and simple, and I guess that’s a paradox we’ll never understand, and so, we’ll just keep loving each other, stripping our essences to bare minimums and yet finding in each other maximums.
When you read this, I won’t know if you’ll be shocked or just subdued. I won’t know if you’ll think I took the coward’s way out or had the courage to do something most people only dream or talk about. Life is filled with tragic curves and barely guarded hairpin bends and there’s only so much I could climb. You’ll ask yourself if what I did was the most selfish act someone can commit or if I said what I needed to, did what I needed to, left behind both rapture and devastation and quit on my terms.
Each day felt like an inner concentration camp, gripping my soul and squeezing hard, crushing my will and slowly and steadily I became a slave to forces beyond my control. I tried explaining this to you and if one person got me, it will always be you. But words are both spoken and unspoken and the latter always resides even after you think you’ve purged it all out. I felt like I was being a burden, a curse and a shame; thriving on my self-pity like a leech on blood; growing fat, drinking the blood of sorrow, and by and by I needed freedom and though I smashed the trapdoor with my fists, clawed at it even; it refused to open, and day became night and night became day and I lost sense of purpose like a walking cadaver doing his duty.
But I kept at it, until fate wrung me dry of emotion, and apathy kills darling, but also gives a man courage. I didn’t want to fake love, to fake sorrow, to fake that you meant something long after my heart grew cold. I wanted you to mean something always because nobody else gave a damn, nobody else fucking cared. I’ll remember your passion, vulnerability, elegance and fierceness if there’s an afterlife where sorrow lies defeated and we drink from the waters of beauty and rest on the shores of inner quietude.
Now, I don’t expect you to understand. And even if you do, I don’t expect you to forgive me. I love you and though they’ll say, “He never meant it because love translates into action,” and they’re right, I just want you to move on, to exorcise yourself of me if necessary. If what I did is cruel, then use it against me, but let me go right there. If what I did is difficult, don’t try solving that puzzle. If what I did is spineless, then remember me for being yellow and nothing else. I wish I could explain more but I can’t. I write this with dry tears and a dead soul and if that sounds harsh, remember me for being evil and for not walking hand in hand with you, and breaking ‘forever and always,’ even though paradoxically you are forever and always.
There’s something about her writing that brings me back. It isn’t a Fitzgerladean crescendo, slowly building up in the tender night, tugging at your heartstrings eloquently and ethereally. No, it’s sprinkled with sawdust, and rusty nails, but once you dig deeper – at the risk of getting injured – you’ll find a hidden gem with so much depth and candor: multifaceted and transparent. But I’m sure a lot of people don’t dig enough, either from the fear of reciprocation, or because their superficiality and walking canes make them tragically stereotype themselves.
We’re quick to label writing as coarse, or cantankerous, when we have our own periods of vulgarity during the day, which the Sauvignon never solves. An artificial faux-elitist conservativeness is what I call it. An indelible keloid or a permanent tattoo both cut through skin, and just because the latter seems attractive, it doesn’t mean the former doesn’t bring with it the pain of experience.
But I go back to her, and I like the diamond in the rough – if you’ll permit me to use a cliché – or the esoteric sound like Miles Davis’ Paraphernalia submerged beneath layers of Grindcore. I find Meshuggah bringing individual units together to form a polyrhythmic machine, before finding another swirl of life in Chet Baker and Paul Desmond playing a standard like Autumn leaves when I read her: The latter’s unique alto tone evoking more than feelings; almost literally placing me in another space and time.
There’s so much beauty in unique art, but it lies in perception, and never in battles for superiority, or petty feud – counter feud poetry. We’re just individuals, and from a bird’s eye view, we’re one with the earth we walk on, shaped and molded by it, and what we create should facilitate growth, and nurture a collective artistic consciousness. Irrespective of the approach: confessional, descriptive, satirical, or a separation between the writer and his work, or pure stream of thought, this journey is beautiful.
I like Aurelius. I like his notion of withdrawing into yourself irrespective of the space and time you’re in, his idea of mortality and fatalism, and a few of his thoughts when it comes to controlling impulse with reason.
I love his philosophy of the present, and never adding more to an unfortunate circumstance. But I disagree with his concept of this being the best of all possible worlds, or the Whole, or the absolute Reason. This world we live in, is often more absurd than fiction, and it doesn’t take rocket science to figure that out. Things go unexplained and you’re never going to find answers or that quaint room with its beautiful symmetry and archaic charm.
No, you’ll often find yourself in a space that’s disjointed and fractured from your convictions: a room with yellow wallpaper, and yes, please catch the allusion, or a frightening, unnerving blurred mass enveloping you with zombies and tricksters breaking free, threatening to bite through flesh, and chew on your bones. And this isn’t paranoia. Just one panoramic glance with keen insight and you’ll see it: the horror, the miasma of living decay that’s abominable choking you, making you want to retch.
And I also dislike his insistence on man being social. Being social comes with both its flaws and its breakthroughs. Sure, it’s good to meet people, but finding yourself in a clique that stereotypes, or a group that hates with an unwarranted agenda makes void the entire notion of socializing being something always productive. He says it’s terrible to fracture yourself from society, but you find artists who’re are complete misfits or loners, giving you masterpieces. I think this is related to his notion of the divinity of man, or looking within to find the light. Now, I always interpret the latter in a very general way, and never make mystical or spiritual connections to it. You must look within to change, but that’s pretty much it.
I don’t believe in human divinity because when I see the world, I see a swirling mass of darkened grey. I use this color because humanity is prone to wickedness although it’s capable of good. The notion of humanity’s inherent nature is a subject that’s hotly debated ever since the first man and woman came into existence. Some say Adam’s fall led to a shift in balance and total depravity; others say we’ve not connected with our innate goodness, but I think both views fail.
We’re not totally depraved, and we have the freedom to choose, but we’re not innately good either. Just one glance at the holocaust tells you enough of the anti-divinity that’s present in man, unless you say that divinity itself is evil. I think man has no divinity, but I agree with Aurelius on the concept of a soul. But his overemphasis on morality puts me off. It’s preachy and becomes self-righteous. But then again he’s addressing himself. Also, is it humanly possible to exist with absolute mastery over impulse and emotion? Still, all said and done, concepts like embracing death without fear, knowing that you’ll be forgotten one day, and that it’s pointless weeping for the dead since they aren’t coming back makes sense.
But the idea of us being recycled by the universe, and just being reduced to mere atoms is only partially true, in my opinion. Sure we’ll all die and go back to dust or ashes, but that’s only the body. I believe that the soul lives on, not one with the Whole, but in another dimension. You can call it heaven, hell or purgatory, but the soul is immortal, but definitely not divine. But I’ll contradict myself here and say that it’s possible that complete soul-annihilation takes place. Hell, I’m open to change.
Back then, I endured every insult you flung at me like poisonous darts and let myself be humiliated.
I spent years wallowing in self-pity because of your mockery and wanted your life to break into pieces like a flimsy porcelain plate hurled to the floor. I wanted revenge. I wanted you to feel pain – raw, real, debilitating, destructive pain.
But then I realized that revenge gets one nowhere and is not mine to take. I learned from my mistakes and triumphed over the bitterness that scalded my heart like hot water searing flesh. My rage became quiet sorrow. My self-pity became apathy, and my hate became love.
I realized that you would sooner or later fall into a pit and I didn’t need to wish for it. And I was right. You built those sand castles and dreamt that they’d last because you ‘believed’ that you’d used onyx and graphite when you’d constructed them. But look at them now – rubble and debris intermixed with the piss of the very people you thought admired you. They couldn’t withstand the first sweep of the waves.
You thought you were a Daenerys Targaryenesque ‘Mother of dragons,’ who’d crush her enemies in one swoop and rule on ‘The Iron Throne,’ but look at you now – the commoner’s laughing-stock, raging and ranting at the air.
You made a ‘list’ of the men you ‘believed’ you’d date – regardless of if they felt the same way about you or not – and said, “You were never on it,” when I politely asked you out, even though you were crazy about me in college. You said it out of pure maliciousness and a want to wound, but look at you now, unable to keep a marriage and trying to win everybody over with lies about your husband.
I guess you realize now that it’s painful to have a heap of garbage thrown at you. And I sincerely hope you’ve snapped out of a dream where nymphs, fairies, and elves adore and crown you. I sincerely hope that you’ve realized that we’re all placed here to suffer and to endure because enduring pain and torment produces the fruit of perseverance which is so missing in the millennial.
I wish you well and hope you transform into someone beautiful because I know that every person can be beautiful. They only need the courage to face their vices. Redemption lies waiting beyond sorrow’s turbulent sea, but you’ll need to row as hard as you can, enduring the harsh rain and the ugliness to find the promised land.
You’re now in a blurry place where naiveté meets realism. Cross over to the real side and realize that even though there’s nothing much to start with, there’s still something more than a cup full of maladaptive dreaming.
I know looking into your heart is like looking into a kaleidoscope, or maybe that metaphor’s a little showy, but I’m running with it for now. So, I look and find all these abstract patterns – bright and colorful, each representing a lover or a fling, and at the periphery, I find those one-night stands or slipshod ten-day sex without mental stimulation romances, but then I progress and find these blue patterns of a year or two-year old romances with ideas of a person or who you wanted them to become, and I guess that’s why they’re dreamy and resemble a hazy sky with abstract clouds, but then I’d like to find myself at the red core, which isn’t as vague as everything else, but not absolutely clear either, because darling, you and I know, that no relationship’s perfect.
Sure, I could bring you flowers this morning, and make you bacon and black coffee in that big glass, without sugar, just the way you like it, and then press you against the wall, while the hair you just did, cascades, and I know you like that – a morning taste of what’s coming, and then in the evening we could do the clichéd walk in the park, or a movie together, or laser tag.
And then, once we’re home, I could slowly unhook your bra (you know I’m good at that!) and then you could pull my shirt off, look at my scar, which you love for some strange reason, even though it’s this nasty keloid that looks like they sawed my stomach into two, and stitched it together, which they did, when I think about it.
And then I could kiss you on the neck and slowly, steadily and stealthily climb down, inch by inch, while you arch your back, and sigh, and before we know it, we’d be reaching for something so very electrifying; galvanizing each other with stimulation that isn’t purely physical, but emotional, psychological and surreal, and then exhilarating and relaxing, teasing and tantalizing in a way that’s not overtly flirty, but ‘mystical,’ if you like the term, and then, we’d find the warmth of two hearts beating as one, and each kiss that embodies a crazy, deep, insane rich feeling: the same red at the core of the kaleidoscope.
But that’s today, and tomorrow we might feel like doing nothing except slightly kissing, with the same emotion, but then the day after, something trivial might spoil things for a few hours, and hence, even at the core, what we have is never perfect.
We’ll always fall short of perfection, and then embrace the beauty of a perfect, almost-perfect togetherness, and I guess it’s just this thing we call love.
When I learned that she was going to breathe her last soon, that the disease was already in its fourth stage, I boxed the wall until my fingers bled, and then looked up. ‘Are you there? Do you even care?’ I asked the sovereign. Was this karma because I played God when I created characters and destroyed them using my artistry? Or was this judgement for each sin, consciously or subconsciously committed? I was left with these questions asphyxiating me, and the never knowing, making me smoke, giving me stained cotton lungs.
I smashed mirrors, the shards piercing through skin and bone while crimson soldiers of anarchy made their way to my wrist, staining the battlefield of my skin with their nefariousness. ‘Why are you silent?’ I asked him who predetermines. ‘Why do you turn your face away?’ I screamed with indignation.
I loved her. She was the only one who never judged me despite my idiosyncrasies and cantankerous temperament. She loved me selflessly and maybe the fact that I’d never reciprocated fully, birthed guilt, which birthed anger, and with a frustrated and devastated core, I took my rage out on him who’s supposedly omnipotent.
I spent days, negatively praying, and by that, I mean cursing him. So even though I believed, I succumbed to a spiritual nihilism and felt like I was carrying each cross of each broken person in this fractured world. Who are we, but dying candles braving the squalid winds of providence? And couldn’t all this be different? A world without the fall, without suffering, without Adam’s apple, and the serpent’s deception?
Watching her regress from a healthy, functional woman to a mass of tubes and bones impaled my faith with a spear of nihilism. ‘God is dead,’ I finally proclaimed, because I couldn’t handle watching the only person who meant something to me needing morphine to numb the pain, feeding off poisonous chemicals that kill more than save, smelling like a gangrenous mass of cells, and I drank, drank, and drank some more. I couldn’t visit her, because I didn’t want to see her intoxicated, but not being there made me drink more, and I wished for a way out.
And then something within, reminded me of my egocentricity, and rebuked me for playing the theatrical, ‘I, me and myself,’ card. She needed me, even if her essence was leaving her, and my pain was nothing compared to what she was going through. I learned at that moment what selflessness and humility meant. It meant giving and not self-indulgence, though the stones of tribulation strike you hard, and leave you bleeding.
But a part of me loved wallowing in my misery and did its best to enclose myself in a hazy room where my eyes burned, and the walls slowly closed on me. A part of me said, ‘You’ve got nothing left, so, why bother?’ And voices echoed, formed battle positions in my mind, and fought furiously while I looked at the liquor, and thought, ‘One more swig. That’s all, and I’ll be numb.’
But I lifted the bottle and smashed it against the wall. And threw on thrift shop clothes and ran to the hospital. I ran six miles. And sweating, I asked the nurse for an appointment, but was denied since visiting hours were over. ‘I need to see her. I’ve been here so many times before. Just for a few minutes. I love her,’ I said or partly screamed. But I was asked to come back the next day,
And so, I went home, and looked at the rum staining my floor, and a part of me said, ‘You fool! You wasted it,’ but another softly said, ‘Visit her tomorrow.’ And though I was an impulsive, reckless rebel, I listened to my inner voice this one time and spent the night fighting the urge to drink.
The next morning, feeling a conglomeration of love, withdrawal, hate and bitterness, I walked to the hospital again. And then I saw her, looking with tears in her years, wondering why I hadn’t visited. I fell to my knees and said, ‘I’m sorry. I love you,’ and she smiled through the pain. I visited her everyday though I knew she wouldn’t make it. I fought the withdrawal, though each iota of the flesh screamed. And finally, I stood in the back, when a family who’d abandoned her visited her, after she had deteriorated badly.
They transferred her to the ICU and one by one, people visited, perhaps trying to make closure, or to pretend that they cared. I was the second last. And there lay the woman who’d given me so much, and showed so much strength, now feeble and unconsciousness. ‘He gives and takes away,’ a part of me said, while another yelled, ‘Why?’
I stuttered when I gave my eulogy, but didn’t shed tears while people cried loudly; people who didn’t even bother to call her for years. Maybe they thought me cold, but I didn’t see a single one of them when I visited the cemetery the next day, and clutched the tombstone and engraved my own epitaph with my tears, literally screaming and howling, while the wind blew away withered leaves, and the sunset bathed me in the twilight.
Looking back, I found redemption from my demons because of her unconditional love, but I had to lose the most precious, beautiful person in my life to trudge forward. And that’s life: We live though we’re broken. We die though we’re happy, and through it all, despite the horrors and pain, some inner clock ticks, saying, ‘The only way out is through.’
Inspired by the quote, ‘The only way out is through’ by Robert Frost.
Yes, I found the small potent potion
of youth, hidden in a cave named,
‘Transcendence,’ and drank it in one
gulp, oh now, don’t complain, I hunted
for it, and did the hard labor, and so it was all
mine, all mine, I tell you! And it was just a
little green elixir, and so, why share?
Well, I thought that way, years ago,
and for a while it soothed, relieved,
took away stress and grief, and I grew a
beard for a year, and then a Mohawk
the next, and the women drifted in and
out like thoughts in the consciousness,
alluring, attractive, brilliant, bright,
because I journeyed from land
to land, savoring the Boza of Turkey,
the Butter Chicken Masala of India,
and hell, even the Balut of Philippines
which only takes a little getting used
to just like Kopi Luwak,
I went skydiving, swam the
Pacific, attended fashionable parties
on Yachts, and slowly and delicately
feasted on molecular gastronomy
served in three Michelin Star restaurants,
I worked every job from sales clerk
to CEO for the hell of experience,
and boy, those were the days! But soon
television became virtual reality and then
holographic virtual reality and finally
modulated telepathy, signals given from
movie post-brains sitting in post-Hollywood,
and post-minds taking whatever they want to
with the option of cutting and editing
bits, and changing the soundtrack with a flick
of the post-consciousness,
using another signal from
the post-Music Industry, and all this
was too much for me, because the potion
only gave me youth and not evolution,
and so, they threatened me, labeling me
an oddity, and since they couldn’t kill me,
they exiled me to another cave called,
‘Depravity,’ the very word an anathema
to the post-human, and they gave me
my old gadgets which they’d reconstructed
using post-science, way too complicated and
intricate for me to comprehend, and they
called it ‘mercy’, even though they hate the
spoken word and language now rests in
a collective super-consciousness, and so I type,
hoping somebody will hear me, but
nobody does, and I guess I’ll just keep typing
and typing with existential questions
haunting me, and the angst of my mistakes
clawing at my heart, tearing it uncannily,
and I know now that the word ‘youth’ doesn’t
just mean young, but also connotes
a forever quarter-life crisis,
a forever pain of existing, outside time,
figuratively and literally! And a forever
madness of the millennial even though
three thousand years have passed,
and the Gregorian calendar is now as
redundant as me!
Find me outside the temple gates on littered streets
Where beggars roam and hawkers sell their rancid meats
Where lepers and malingerers don’t have a chance
At ever swaying to the beat of triumph’s dance
Where you’ll find rickety old huts with threadbare sheets
Here succubi know men and the unclean beast eats
Here rustic thrones lie mangled with disfigured seats
Here beauty lies defeated by affliction’s lance
Outside the temple gates on littered streets
The vendor in his broken lodge sells hardened sweets
The dullard brags about unreasonable feats
The crone does everything expected to enhance
Distress and pain. Yes, you’ll find me in this expanse
Ensconced in halls of grief where the elite excrete
Outside the temple gates on littered streets
I’m a broken man who leads a very lonely life. I don’t have any friends or ‘treasured acquaintances’ as Sheldon Cooper puts it. I’m highly introverted and gravely misunderstood. I have made my share of mistakes, and they haunt me like the spirits that made Legion break his chains and torture himself.
I’ve lost my sense of duty, and I’m as irresponsible as they come. Hours pass with me smoking cigarette after cigarette and listening to the same song on repeat. And when I’m feeling a little determined, I try losing myself to a book. But there are days when I can’t read, let alone write. I feel numb then and try to stimulate my mind with a lot of caffeine; hoping some feral burst of inspiration will strike me, but it rarely works. And I’m left like a defeated prisoner, bound up and tossed in a cage; looking down at the grime and piss.
Once, I was idealistic and believed that I’d hold the stars in my hand like the Son of man. But fate dealt with me harshly and made me realize that I’m dust and ashes, and nothing more. He cruelly stomped on my feet as I chased the will-o’-the-wisp, taking from me the people and dreams I held close to my heart. He made me live out a reality that I once mocked – nurses in pristine white gowns injecting me with tranquilizers, doctors plotting to throw me in a halfway home and over-medicating me like I was a lab rat, and even my parents looking away with contempt.
Then, I looked for solace in religion. I went through mad spiritual phases in my life where I thought serving God is the only purpose in life. But religion only accentuated my grief. I found more terror in faith than love. I had horrific visions which led to more white-gowned nurses and doctors.
Finally, I accepted my circumstances and walked away from wanting validation from people, and no wrath from God. I can’t say that I’ve gained closure, and I doubt I ever will, but for whatever it’s worth I’ve decided to exist as long as there is breath in me; not caring if I’ll fade like discarded Polaroid over time or if I’ll find myself framed on someone’s mantelshelf.