GAYATHRI B LAL
Staring at the ceiling at 4 am in the morning without knowing why on earth he is awake, his mind is flooded with thoughts that are unfiltered and unwarranted, but still, every color seems dim, lights feeble, atmosphere suffocating, limbs immobile and night lonely. Getting up is like a daunting task and picking up the phone, an utmost painful procedure. The unwanted flow of thoughts takes up every ounce of energy that the body possesses. A voice is calling him in his mind, he knows who it is, but he can not make himself respond. What to do to make himself feel something, anything at all? Everything is meaningless and takes too much effort. The clock keeps on ticking like it has somewhere important to go. But what about him? where to go? what to do? whom to talk to?. The path forward is so thickly fogged that any hope to ever reach a destination seems impossible.
Desperate to make himself feel something, his nails start clawing on his arms. Surprisingly, he does feel pain. Self-harm had never been in his interest, but now when pain is the only thing capable of stopping the numb feeling that keeps him awake, he is all for some dose of masochism. But the over-consuming thoughts of his are greedy: they always want more. Just for a moment, he hesitates, “ is this crossing some invisible boundaries that I have with my body?”. It is like his body is being controlled by some alien. He sees his own arm lifting to pick up the scissors lying idly on the side table. Even though his room is in absolute silence except for the swooshing of the fan and the persistent ticking of the clock, his mind seems to be screaming in ecstasy as if eager to feel more and more. He knows this should not be happening, but that thought is being overshadowed by the multitudes of other ruminations.
It is like a burst of water from the dam when opened. The feeling that rushes into his existence when the blood is gushing out of the cut, makes him feel more alive than he had felt in a long while. Now that he realizes this is gonna be the crux of his survival, he intends to keep on-going. A rustling heard outside his door forces him to tumble back into reality. His maid must be here; this piece of information gets him into action. Though unwillingly, he still had to go about his day. Taking a bath makes no difference to his all-pervading tiredness. Nowadays, his round the clock companions are fatigue, insomnia, and all-consuming thoughts. Sleep evades him like his mind and body evade feelings. It is like looking at the world from behind a veil; seeing, but never a part of it. But the sad part is that no one notices. Everyone sees him be the same reserved and silent guy, who would utter a few words every now and then. The monumental shift in his world seems to be insignificant to them.
Thinking back, he hadn’t been a walking corpse before. But this had been piling up for a while. Life has always been hard on him, not on financial or physical terms that are visible. His mental health had been attacked and survived innumerable times, but now it has had its final straw. Childhood and adolescence are supposed to be the best times of life everyone is forced to live. While this statement might ring true for many, he feels skeptical about the whole thing. “Best times!” he murmurs in haughty derision. If being bullied by his fellow students for his dark skin and fat body, being a victim to teachers’ ridicule due to his inability to perform well academically, being a source of his parents’ constant disappointments and being a joke for the neighbors’ and relatives’ because of his failures, are supposed to be a part of his best times, then he shudders to imagine what the worst times might hold for him.
Going to work seems like a chore. The word ‘work’ reminds him of the 9 to 5 job that holds no passion for him, the work desk that he absolutely loathes, the silence that completely engulfs him with its deadly claws, and the ferocious competitiveness that he definitely does not want to be a part of. Why he does what he does? Simple answer - expectations. Complicated answer - overbearing expectations that are followed by crushing disappointments if not met with. He has heard many people on talk shows going on about tackling the pressures set up by society and concluding with the fact that it does not matter. But in his case, it is his so-called successful parents, specifically, his mother who never bothered to curb her anxiety issues and kept on dumping her bleeding panic and anxiety on him, who are the murderers of his self-confidence and passion. They never even bothered about what he wanted, they always gave him what they thought he needed. He knows he should not take it to heart and it will always be like that with them, but still every time it hurts deeply.
If his own blood could not waste time on knowing him, should he even be worried about what other people say? The truth is that whatever he does, he will be mocked and poked. “Then why bother?” he asks himself this question every once in a while, but comes up empty. He always crave validation and acceptance but comes face to face with rejection and loneliness. Now, he does not even know why he is putting up the effort to move forward. Nothing seems worthwhile anymore. The pressure to get a job by 23 made him stuck up behind a lifeless desk; now that he has survived up to 27, they need him married. This is a never-ending vicious cycle. It will keep on sucking him in as long as he lives. He is not strong enough to fight against it, he is weak-willed enough to comply rather than complain. But even that seems to take a lot of energy which he does not seem to possess anymore.
He gives a parting glance at his living room before exiting and locking up the house. He steps out still wondering whether he could take this one day at a time. He reaches the highway longing for the rush that he had in the early morning because he can not handle the numbness anymore. All of a sudden, panic seizes him; anxiety rushes to him in waves and leaves him wrenched in a feeling of deep sorrow. He seems to be choking with the world revolving around himself. The feeling of impending doom is taking up every inch of his mind and he realizes that it needs to stop right now. He peers around in spite of the haze that surrounds his mind and sees a tipper truck coming his way. A solution to end it all lights up his mind.