Androids and Electric Sleep (Part 2)

This is a picture of man looking at destroyed houses in resignation. It embodies fatalism.

I’m the Knight of Infinite Resignation or the Kierkegaardian fatalist. I sit in this café where the androids gather. They’re scheming, plotting, drawing and smoking. I feel lost too, but I’m no android. I don’t bleed blue, and I’m not a mass of wires. I’m more than that or at least try convincing myself that I am. MGMT plays in the background, and this whole place has this psychedelic ambiance, but I’m not on drugs. I don’t do drugs. That’ll make me a misfit or a layabout, but I often wonder if I should. I often wonder if I should get a surgery done. I wonder if I should replace my arteries and veins with circuits and smoke a blunt with those pretty misfits in the corner. Who am I? I think I’m a man baptized in a dark pool of nihilism and guilt by acolytes wearing tan-colored robes symbolizing the earthiness of it all. And when I say earthiness, I don’t mean the rich soil or the petrichor. I mean rough, dirty earth that gets embedded in your fingernails. Oh, how I envy Abraham! He’s taking the bus right now with Isaac in tow. He’s going to the mountain to sacrifice the boy to Jehovah. But isn’t God dead? I’m sure Abraham doesn’t mean to make a sacrifice literally. I think it’s a figurative one where he’ll teach the boy about the ill effects of the electronic cigarettes he smokes and the video games he plays. I mean, that kid is nineteen and Ishmael is married and well settled even though Abraham disowned him. This boy though is so caught up in virtual reality headsets and apparently has 3D dreams. Television apparently made us dream in color, and here we have Isaac – the first post-millennial killed off by reckless spending and banal consumerism, the first post-millennial not needing hallucinogens to know what an acid trip feels like. At least the Hippies listened to great music while they gave themselves over to Woodstock. He definitely needs the mountains. He apparently asked Abraham what a sacrifice is. The gall of the boy! I hope he suffers when Abraham imposes Luddite Puritanism on him, and he cries and shrieks in horror until a ram appears, and he tastes something richer than Snapchat. But, hell, I’m a fatalist, and I don’t believe that Abraham will succeed. I think he’ll become an apostate too and start punching tweets on his outdated phone before he’s disgruntled and runs to the Apple Store and picks up the latest iPhone. And then Isaac will demand one too. I’d like to see how all this plays out when Abraham returns smoking an e-cigarette himself. But even that cheap thrill is so ephemeral. Everything is so transient. I might as well get high. I think I’m going to join the misfits but what good will that do? I’ll read this book, and then I really don’t know what to do.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Everybody seems so far away

I’m listening to Look on Down from the Bridge by Mazzy Star and there’s something about the concept of finding freedom by abandoning everything I’ve known that appeals to me. I’m sick of it all honestly. The women and the sex. The cigarettes and the booze. And this isn’t some ephemeral anguish of the soul like heartbreak or failure. No, this is a deeper cry that resounds through my very core beating any millennial petulance. When I was younger, I dreamt and dreamt of things I thought will materialize, coalesce and take shape, carrying me to objects of affection and wreaths of adoration. Now, I’m older, writing bawdy, perverted, shitty poetry on Google Hangouts to people who get me (or don’t) but the truth is I’m in this ramshackle bar of my depravity. The puke of consciousness staining everything, and in this nasty Tophet I’m shaking the bartender by the collar. “Give me something stronger! Or break this fucking place down!” I scream, but he’s mute and does nothing. The only light I know seeps in through the gaps in the roof boards. The frosted window looks like an ugly splotch of curd. I need an escape. I fall to my knees and look down because I’ve stopped praying or can’t remember how to. The wooden flooring with its nails sticking out and splinters screams back at me. “You’re a failure!” It shrieks, and I want to take one of those nails and gouge my eyes out, or just collapse and let the splinters split flesh and embed themselves in me. I get up and stumble in a hazy state to the bathroom and look in the cracked mirror. I have nicotine stained lips and eyes with natural mascara. I don’t know when I last slept. And when I try, I’m always in this state between sleep and wakefulness. A horrifying purgatory between the Abraham’s Bosom of deep sleep and the hell of nightmares. I try lucid dreaming and succeed for a while, and I guess they’ll eventually find me like this, obscure and lost to oblivion, lost between dreams and actuality with spittle running down my mouth.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

For whatever it’s worth

This is a picture of raindrops coating a window. It depicts sorrow and struggle which are central themes in my poem.

I’m just living my life reading books, with angst
killing off whatever remains of my will,
disorienting an already hazy mind: a despairing ugly
nebula. I look everywhere, and I see hate,
and then look within and see nothing different,
and I can’t help but ask why I soldier on when
I’m a waste of space, a postgraduate dropout,
third wheeling with apathy and darkness,
sitting in an empty, forsaken theater
of black chimera,
a bipolar, fucked up, shell of a man,
a chain smoker
with bluing lips and a tongue with nicotine
patches like a carpet with grotesque stains;
mooching off my parents, sending
Facebook friend requests to a hundred
people and ending up with
a dozen who don’t care
plastered on the damn wall, unable to live
with a past of intense trial, tribulation, and
trepidation—
nights spent roaming the streets
in ‘penance’, enduring the downpour, stepping on
thorns, and trying to gouge my eyes out.
They think I’m a lunatic, and
they’re right, but I can’t shake off my neurosis
or psychosis, or my panoramic delusions, so
far-reaching that I need prescription to
survive, to get up and start a day, let alone
live, and I’m often catatonic,
and so, yes, in that sense, “Dieu est mort,”
because it’s pointless when you’re hung,
drawn and quartered, outside the gates of
sanity, while a choir
of angry demons watch, waiting to devour you
each time you go near
faith, and so, I can’t give anyone anything except these
lines, and though no one listens, or hears my
cry, they’re here, etched, so that one day when
I’m gone someone will them read for whatever it’s worth.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

On writing

This is a picture of glowing embers. To me, it represents perseverance which is a prominent theme in my post.

He’s like a hawk, waiting for me to impulsively write a bad blog post, or a trite love poem, lacking depth. And the moment I do, he’ll come swooping down with those fierce talons and say, “Well done! This is one of your best posts!” while he chuckles behind my back. He doesn’t realize that I see through all his deceptive schemes, and that I have no time for games.

There was a time when my writing was obscure and shaded what I really wanted to convey like the smog hides the locomotive. There was a time when I imitated the poets I admired, and my uttering probably made them writhe in their graves. There was a time when I forced writing out like a bulimic induces vomiting. I did it because I walked on some dreamy shore then, basking in the sunrise as waves of romanticism washed my feet. But I’m both my biggest admirer and biggest critic. And so, I deleted my work myriad times, and came back after having suffered and having gained more experience. And experience produces perspective that replaces a bird’s-eye-view of reality with unique vantage points that reflect a writer’s idiosyncrasies, pain and love. It helps a writer imbue his work with a wealth of emotion that was previously missing. It helps a writer express his deepest longings and his wildest angst.

Some call me a ‘misfit,’ but if I didn’t walk lonely, weather-worn streets, I’d never know a harrowing reality where the church-bells don’t chime, and the hearse is the only vehicle seen. Others call me a ‘madman,’ but without madness, I’d never understand the minds of those who conform, and those other hypocrites who pretend to. Madness helps me understand the terrifying false light that illuminates so many paths; eventually leading people to a pit with worms and snakes. Madness helps me see through facades of optimism with their garish colors and helps me understand just how petty we all are. It helps me strive to be more honest.

At least I’m open about my faults and misgivings. I am often proud and malicious, and I elevate my grief and self-loathing to astronomical proportions by doing foolish things. But all said and done, I’m not some 45-year-old, married, cyber-stalking chickenshit posting under a false name and trying to seduce women half his age with stories about dead lovers. An initiator of online feuds who uses self-pity and an imagined penis size to try and start relationships with people he’s never met, before blackmailing them when they reject him. Have some self-respect!

Today, I’m far from a perfect writer, and I’m not a perfect person, but I try and try some more, and I don’t give up. Call me a tragic optimist, or a foolish idealist but if I didn’t try, my life would be deprived of even ephemeral meaning.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Living and dying for you

You should know by now that I love you, even though I hardly say it. You should know by now that I’ll live and die for you, though my tears are dry. If only trial and circumstance didn’t make me hard, if only a cesspool of madness which fate baptized me in didn’t make me unpredictable, if only a vortex of apparitions didn’t carry me away and set me on a shore of agony, darkening each particle of my existence, making me unable to distinguish between reality and chimera, light and darkness, paranoia and angelic hope, I’d give you so much more, and love you with an intensity unparalleled. We’ve woven this story of togetherness and despite each inner window shutting, slowly barring my light, we’re clinging to each other: body to body, mind to mind, soul to soul. But if I’m gone tomorrow: a train wreck of a man with an arthritic mind, unable to grasp the simplest picture of you, I want you to move on. Life gives us hope, despair, recollections to cherish, and echoes of now to clasp and cling to with all passion and ardor, and in this moment, I’m crazy about you.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Gomorrah

This is a picture of a cracked pavement. To me it represents the road sufferers from mental illness are forced to walk on. It's tough and excruciating.

My mind is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, riddled with disproportionate, cracked pavement ideas, and a consciousness like a filthy graveyard or derelict buildings, burning and crumbling. There are no verdant valleys here. I’m plagued by trauma and guilt, and crude madness blaming me severely for pathos that isn’t always my own. I hear echoes of lines straight from The Fall by Camus telling me that I’m responsible for all the misery I’ve seen, caused or endured; asking me to confront my duplicity. I only see my reflection in concave or convex mirrors giving me an out of shape picture when I look within. But through it all, you hold me, and our insatiable passion for each other isn’t always delicate with a childlike charm. We often go through the throes of lovemaking – the pleasure and the pain – even when we’re not entwined, becoming one. It’s difficult to distinguish love. It isn’t just feeling, though without it, it’s just cold false zeal. Perhaps, love is feeling backed by severe effort: a struggle to find in each other what’s unsayable, irresistible and luminous. A fight despite sweat and blood, and angst and grief. Whatever it is, it creates a balance, helping us move forward through November’s twilight. And perhaps one day Gomorrah will lie, reduced to ashes, but I’m more thankful that I’m in love with you.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

For RDP Monday

A portrait

This is a portrait of a man in black and white. I've used it to depict tortured personality that yearns for freedom.

Well, I’ve known him from school and I’ll admit that he was natural. He did win a writing competition besting me with the sharpest prose. But later, he quit writing altogether and took to another field that never suited him. A field filled with authoritarian therapists and pseudo-scientists trying to decipher maladjusted minds with cryptic jargon, and abstract sentences: Wrestling with creativity and trying to stuff it into a box, before crumpling it and tossing it into a wastebasket of indifference. I guess that got to him, because he couldn’t fit into one particular genre of ‘thought’ and he eventually quit, picked up a pen and started writing again. But doggerels of years, forced him to re-learn all that he’d forgotten, and I guess in that sense he taught himself how to write. The irony was that he did this while he sat in the patient’s chair, listening to those very therapists prescribing him with machine gun doses of antidepressants, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. He initially speckled his poetry with the softest tears of naïvety, but I’ve learned now that he is his biggest critic, his biggest judge and that might be both an axe and a box of treasures. He eliminated his writings once he got popular, tried getting off the medication, and tried religion, but a certain doctrine from Geneva haunted more than it ever saved. And then began a period in his life which no hermeneutic will ever explain. The last we met, I was balding, struggling with similar side-effects (albeit to a lesser degree) and I tried setting him up with a girl who was seven years older. He said, “I’ll think about it,” and that right there is the problem. He did date her eventually, but he probably thought twice before making love to her, and wondered if passion will lead to something that lasts or if it will fizzle out. And so, he gave up on her, and thought about everything, except when he wrote, because then something strikes like lightning, and it just spills on a page – verbal vomit that strangely has structure, but I guess it’s better if he thinks and pours out syllables on a page, stringing together alliteration, drawing from every other eclectic source, and the suicidal aspects of his own life, because when he ghosts away, that’s when he suffers the most. I mean that’s when he gives into utter madness. He once walked on the street at two in the night, tried gouging out his eyes, stepped on thorns, and came back home completely befuddled and disoriented. He thought it was penance. Fortunately, some slight wand of fate always prevents him from going the distance. And then he’s back to writing, stitching together pieces, and it seems like each time he disappears and comes back, he gets better at what he does. I always thought sorrow is the muse that makes a few, but I guess I’m wrong; it’s inner torture. And from what I’ve read, I thought his writing parallels Perrin Aybara’s life: very moralistic and willing to go the distance for art, but it doesn’t. It’s definitely not Matrim Cauthon because you won’t find him frequenting bars and writing bard poetry, even though he says that’s his favorite character from the series. No it’s Rand, starting naïve, and then judging himself and letting his anger flare though each line, before finally struggling to break free, and then walking into a new age. But then that’s a series. I think by now everybody knows that art and life are not completely connected. Anyhow, he’s back on his medication, and writing to survive, and I read from a distant land with a wife that I often hate, and a son that I love, and I’m glad as long as he thinks and reads and thinks, and then writes, because if he vanishes, I’ll have to call immediately and find out that he’s done something terrible to himself again, and I don’t want that.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Nec Dextrorsum Nec Sinistrorsum

This is an image of a rock concert. I've used it to depict a shallow, materialistic, bourgeois lifestyle that heralds all the wrong principles.

Well, it’s probably that time of the year again – The Old Cottonians’ Ball where people brag about ‘cherished lifelong friendships,’ while whistling drunkenly to the old anthem we sang in school under the spiteful Sun. You’ll find every ‘somebody’ bragging about his job in Michigan or was it Thailand? You’ll find the same old cliques and clichés, the same old petty bullying and the same old lack of maturity. Yes, you’ll find people wearing designer suits, but a miasma of malodorous, pernicious malice rises from them. You’ll find the same old gossiping like old hags gathered around a Thanksgiving table, the same old boisterous boasting about some trite materialistic gain or a pretty new girlfriend or wife.

I stopped getting invitations for these events a while ago because they consider me an underachieving, under par pariah. A thirty-something unwashed, cocaine snorting fool. But I’d rather be a knowledgeable ‘fool’ than an ignorant overachiever. I’d rather lie in the lowest deck of Society’s cruise ship wearing the rags of ostracism and mental illness because being there – in that puke-ridden dark place – brings a depth to character that no amount of ostentatious picture clicking can provide. People on the upper deck reek of superficiality and artificiality while they sip their expensive scotch. Imagine getting degrees in engineering from prestigious schools abroad and still cloaking yourself with a benighted arrogance only because you’ve never known suffering. There’s something so obnoxious and suffocating about such a man. His achievements and his planes and his cars make him, and that’s the only standard he uses to existentially rate himself. You drive a Rolls Royce, but your emotionally stunted, avaricious psychical age is repugnant, my friend. And the woman who ‘falls for you’ has you trapped in the perfect wealth is directionally proportional to good sex façade of a relationship.

“Oh, Nitin used to cry in school! What a sissy!” You bark when your girlfriend tells you I’m cute, and that’s as deep as you can get. You aren’t even aware of your insecurities, and so, I’ve realized it’s pointless hating you. It’s better to pity you or even mourn for you in sackcloth and ashes and pray for your dear soul to reveal itself to you. “Oh, Nitin Lalit is a loser. He fell into drugs and alcoholism. His grades fell, and he’s jobless and worthless now,” says the schoolmate, while he’s smoking marijuana and drinking whiskey. And that’s as deep as he gets. His hypocrisy blinds him, or perhaps he justifies it by saying, “I’ve achieved this! He hasn’t! That’s the difference!” Oh, you pustule of a man. Are you going to be buried in the fancy car you bought for yourself? Quick to judge, but quicker to resort to the most peevish, childish defence mechanisms when judged.

Well, there you go. It’s that time of the year when I read Thomas Ligotti and Fitzgerald and herald pessimism, while you flaunt your repulsive, stigma-filled, classist, pseudo-elitist, hierarchical, ‘saccharine’ optimism that runs on the list of things you’ve done, singing, “On! straight on! On, Cottonians on!”

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Glorious Violence

This is an image of a twig of cherry blossoms silhouetted against a black background. The contrast represents mental illness (especially Bipolar Disorder) which is what my post symbolically speaks about.

The Japanese Cherry stands in front of me, shivering and trembling. She shies away from the breeze, and her Cherry Blossoms look like cotton balls soaked in blood. It’s noon, and I hear the crickets. They sound like a man with a slit throat gurgling. The sky is a pale beige, and red birds fly across it reminding me of slashes on a depressed man’s wrist. The sun is dying as the black serpentine tendrils of the night slowly choke him. My eyes are bloodshot with little crimson rivulets running across them, making their way to the dark brown iris, the color of putrefying flesh. I’m unwashed and unclean with a matted beard that looks like a burnt rope. It looks like the remains of a once healthy cord you’ll find underneath the stake after the witch dies – shrieking and screaming; howling and wailing.

A choir of angels dressed in pristine gowns plays its harps and flutes behind me. A chorus soars, and an ethereal melody inundates the place with sweet sopranos, smooth altos, and rich baritones. Fireflies drift into my space, and at that moment I’m whisked away by something inexplicable; something beyond reasoning, and it teleports my senses to a haven outside time and space. The realm between this world and the next splits and showers of mercy fall like gentle rain, caressing my every bruise; healing each scar I’ve gathered over years of fate kicking me in the ribs.

But the feeling quickly evaporates, and I find myself held upside down – fastened by chains to a sturdy branch of the Japanese Cherry – by the same demons, the same imposters, the same charlatans and I feel the blood rushing to my head as quickly as pus leaks out of a broken abscess. The old enemies then place a saw between my legs and slowly cut through ballsack and midsection, and my screams are like soothing lullabies to them, making them nod their heads and cut right through. At that moment I’m the archetypal Kierkegaardian poet. The one who suffers for the pleasure of others.

And then I hear a sweet call from the abyss. A soft minimalistic piece rivaling Richter’s ‘She Remembers.’ A glorious, delicate song. I’m overwhelmed with emotion and forget the torment. The song reminds me of dewy grass and sun-kissed slopes. It reminds me of the cool mountain mist obscuring the ugliness around me like a scabbard conceals its sword. It reminds me of petrichor and its invigorating taste. And my eyes close as the music breathes life into me; stitching my wounds. I look at myself, and I’m in a valley of dry bones, a cadaver myself, but tendons and flesh envelop me, and I’m soon alive and marching to the promised land.

The Japanese Cherry stands withered, and the azure sky symbolizes more things than words can depict. Am I free? Will the old demons never haunt this house again? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but by and by, I’ll win.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Coming home to you

This is a picture of the sea during sunset. It's a picture that evokes sadness, grief and loneliness which are themes I've explored in my poem.

I remember you composing
music to the poems I wrote,
infusing them with more
emotion and turning red droplets
to crimson stains of expression,
you sat blissfully tranquil
and while you drifted with time,
your hands gracefully sliding
across the piano, each quaver,
crotchet and minim merging
with my iambs, anapaests and
trochees, I forgot to remember
the burn of the bruises and scars
our knuckles and wrists bore,
because beauty and love triumphs
and creates a twilight far superior
to the pastel skies we retreated
into when the hands of our disturbed
fathers clawed deep, stole our
hearts, and planted seeds of
abominations in the soil of our souls,
watered each day by the tears
of an unforgettable, unfathomable,
undying trauma.

And how we wait
for the ax of unadulterated affection
to slice the harrowing, horrifying
fruitless tree with stark limbs,
and thorns instead of leaves still
growing within, but
I guess even that wasn’t enough. I
watched those very hands that played
grow stiff and the face that absorbed
itself in our art grow catatonic.
I watched as you lost even the crayon
world of yesterday and only saw
terror, uttering meaningless
neologisms now and then – a
clink and a clang, and finally
watched as you they took you
to a pristine, drug den where
they false promised you’d get better,
and though I visited, playing
your music and reading new poems,
hoping innocently that you’d give
them a score, they told me
a month ago that they found you
in a way that killed off all my hope,
and I didn’t attend your funeral,
because I knew that some
other pianist was going to play
your compositions.

I heard she
gave it ‘justice’ and that your mother
hates me now, and as
I walked to the beach
this evening, I crushed all the poems
I wrote you, left them on the sand,
jumped in and let
the waves crash against me
while I screamed, trying my best
to forget to remember us, and
get a hold of a life so fundamentally
decomposed.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)