This is an image of a train approaching; making its way through the mist. I've chosen it because it represents the brevity of all things, and the struggle that is life to me.

“This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

― T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men

I pass a graveyard on my way to work each morning,
a desolate place filled with scraps of putrid litter,
devoid of any being but a mangy mongrel
with chipped-off statued cherubs and unclean engravings.
The place is an anathema, infected with jinn,
a place where bones still rattle in decaying coffins.
I think of souls that never leave to paradise; damned
to haunt and own us; souls forever wandering; lost
with no respite each time I see the place, but then a
dissimilar thought takes control and I think – looking
at starless skies – if we indeed have souls or if it’s fable
concocted by robed priests to keep the masses senseless,
I wonder if the past and future have no meaning,
if an opaque void circumscribes existence, birth, death,
if only brevity is the hand we fiercely claw at,
if time meets no continuance, and even the present
is just a ball suspended in vitality that
fades, lessens till millennia and cycles are lost
forever, and all you and I have known disperses,
and worlds end with soft whimpers and never thunderous bangs.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)


You see the gold flake leaves and Auburn blankets,
the cherry cream bloom covers trees like jackets,
the sunlight glinting through the glade like rosy
prophetic oracle: exquisite, cozy,
but Autumn is corrupt, a reject’s Prozac,
commotion simulating tranquil soundtrack,
don’t you see all things are abortive dry rot?
The very color of a dying man shot,
the picture-perfect social vodka glass smile,
that transient jubilation that lasts a while.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Tossed in the void

There’s a void within me, slowly expanding, engulfing and eating me, bit by bit until I’m a cadaver, a hollow man, devoid of emotion, catatonic, a doggerel scribbled in the void — meaningless, useless, purposeless.

I’ve ambled along potholed roads with a ditch on either side, passed the ramshackle huts in India where the poor shit in the open, I’ve smoked the cheapest cigarettes with no filter and gazed at this crude, godforsaken land, asking the gods for a revolution, a pacifistic one of change and beauty, but then a stone fist smashed my nose in, rebuking me for my idealism.

I’ve sought a mystical union with the Lord, and for a while, I knew love and peace, but my Quixotism deconstructed me again. Perhaps I should have bowed at the Gibranian altar of swords and crucifixes and love laying you bare, stripping you and chastising you that you may know her and yourself and not the Corinthian one of blinding white light.

I’ve sought women, and embodying A.D.I.D.A.S (the Korn song, not the shoe) gave me epicurean pleasure. The hedonistic thrill of smoking pot with her and then unhooking her bra before placing breathy kisses down her neck and spine and then undoing her jeans and pulling them off. I was my god in those actualities with girlfriends or fantasies with women who caught my attention. I still hook up with someone from my past from time to time, but something’s missing. Maybe it’s a higher, superlunary greedy orgasm that I seek, and hell, I verge on blasphemy when I speak about seraph and seed, but the self-loathing brews within and I need a release. The pot feels shitty too.

I’ve sought mindfulness, and the four noble truths and the eightfold path but it’s too dogmatic and legalistic, just like every religion (even those that don’t claim to be) is. Not thinking and breathing I cannot do when seven streams of thought juxtapose, creating something like avant-garde jazz in my addled mind. I crave a minimalistic gentle uni-directional blue stream, but I get river rapids and steep waterfalls and floods of thought branching into every area of my consciousness and its antipodes. I’m drowning, the waters bursting my psychic lungs and there is no Dolphin coming to my rescue or seamen pulling me on deck.

I’ve sought the authoritarian and the existential psychiatrists. The former, yelling at me for being a 30-year-old Caulfield, urging me to come out of unemployment and ‘snap’ out of depression and find the conformists’ path of a ‘steady job’, a ‘steady income’, a steady fucking wife’, and ‘steady fucking kids’. The latter, wrestling with my deep-seated hurt like a patient in the ICU wrestling with death, trying to ‘purge’ my demons before prescribing a blue, white and red pill.

So, here I am in the throes of my dying youth, hoping, just hoping that it will never come to justifying a sacrificed passion like art for the sake of a castrated life.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

Originally published in The Creative Cafe 

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. 


Ultimately all those questions we ask ourselves,
we can simplify, reduce to two: Who am I?
What is my purpose? And perhaps it was
soul-digging with an introspective shovel,
or maybe it was revelations like migraines,
an ache generated by seeing too much
and sleeping too little, or perchance it
was the process of discovering myself
through the lines I’ve written, but I’ve
realized that the answers are simple,
I’m just an i, never capitalized, never
more than my dreams or less than my
hypocrisy, and i don’t have a purpose,
because there is no destination in sight,
but savoring the good and bad is
overrated too, it’s like biting into an
orange without peeling off its skin,
or letting the switchblades of toxic
weather cut you, before lifting your arms,
standing at the edge of a cliff and letting
the breeze cool you off, and that’s just
something figurative, something a
movie implies that people take
a little too seriously, and so, some curious
might ask me a third question: What do I do?
Well, i don’t go hunting for hieroglyphs,
and then find traces of my ancestors
in me, they’re dead, and neither do i
quickly use a way to preserve my loved ones,
if there is one tomorrow, because they
aren’t going to wake up in a utopian
ideal where humanity has transcended
thought and form, no, it’ll be a post-apocalyptic
world where humanity has descended
worse than the Fallout series can ever convey,
but i don’t sit in a yogic pose for hours on
end either, meditating on a loss of direction,
no, i walk forward with no course,
and get to a place that has no meaning,
and i keep rules that make no sense,
and find emancipation through art
more than reason, though both are overrated,
overdone, overused, and these are the
contradictions that create freedom,
which is really only a concept, but i’ll
buy it anyway, because of a need to survive,
never in an extreme sense: despondency,
or loneliness taking over, because i’m past
that now, but in a minimal sense, surviving
denoting live, and if this went over your head,
it’s okay, i don’t understand!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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