I groped around in the darkness and picked up my watch. It was 4 am. In another hour or so the sun would flood my room and force me to get up. My sleep never escaped light. My deepest slumber would crack open under the attack of cutting light shining through the gaps in the heavy curtains, I had draped my window panes with.
Fidgeting with my sheets and in false hopes of making a breakthrough to the end of the tunnel, I switched on the light and put on my glasses. Perhaps they would clear out the mist and help me think straight.
Life stagnates at odd intervals and at odd hours curdling time and coagulating the blood in your veins. The ground gels up, your feet sink in and drudgery saps away the little strength left in your muscles. And if that is not bad enough, your brain makes you see strange visions. It should be working towards getting you out of the mess, but instead it opts to conspire against your will and leads you to flashes of the times, you wished never existed. Ardently, it would capture the moments of the halted time and serve you with its fragments adding spice from some body else’s imagination to wake you up in blunt suffocation. Blunt because it is quite incapable of slitting your throat, it would just sit there like a heavy lump and refuse to go away.
It was the last week in the month of January, still cold enough to step out from the bed and stand in the balcony in the wee hours. Maybe I am not the only one awake at this hour, I thought to myself. Should I just go ahead, call up and clear out things. I played around with the idea, thinking of all possible responses that I could evoke. My phone seemed to glow in the dark.
Ten minutes passed. I faintly remember how at this time I would wake up to see her cuddled next to me. I would leave the door ajar and she would tip toe across the hall and snuggle up in my bed. It was a feeling beyond words and reason to decipher. I fiddled around with the sheets a little longer, toying with the wrinkles on the bed and let my thoughts wander. My half-open eyes saw through the walls of my room to the gardens across the road flying over fences, crisscrossing several landmarks and found me seated in the restaurant that we last met in.
“So, now what,” I really wanted to know. I had been through this a hundred times earlier, the circle never ceased to exist. Every three days the feeling returned with a different pretext with a new script and with the same old result. How still the bridge managed to hold on and stitch things together is still a mystery to me. Perhaps it was just a lack of other available and viable options. It had been the same story with others too, life never gave up and so didn’t I.
It was almost three years ago, or maybe it was four, I don’t remember exactly, it does not matter anyways, three or four it seems like a lifetime now. Plodding had devoured the best part of me. It was over 6 months now that I had penned down a single thought. I would beam with ideas, potent with intellections that I could salt with little harmless fibs and transform them into great yarns and would flush them down the drain of my donkeywork.
Somewhere inside I could feel myself hollowing out, a vacuum being created, unlike the large spaces and pastures that I let my thoughts graze upon, it seemed as if leftovers are being emptied out to the street dogs from a huge dish that was left untouched during a great meal. I swaggered about without an audience dreaming of things to say on a call, I never intended to make.
“One large Cappuccino without cream and an espresso with a dash of milk” “No, nothing to eat” I had heard the phrase too often to ever pay it a heed. It rang, loud and clear, in my head this time though. Should I just grab my organic structure and haul myself to the kitchen and get myself a cup of coffee and maybe ho-hum what ever is left of the night to some repeated telecast of a mundane TV show. I didn’t know. But Coffee did brew reminiscence of some fine time gone by, sadly not long ago.
I set myself to another debate this time. Should I have been more watchful this time around? I was not new to things going wrong and back stabbing. In fact I could safely acclaim that I was not the smartest of persons when it came to relying people on their words. I am, I admit, pretty naïve on certain issues where it involves dealing with emotions. I reckon I trust people a little too easily. But then how was I to know, what went on, in her mind.
“Mind, you only have 15% of it yourself, much less to get your motor functions in place, you better not exhaust it trying to figure out what is best for me” the echo never stopped.
5:00 a.m., just another thirty odd minutes to pass by and I can go for a jog. Well, I could leave now too, only that I was unsure of all the street dogs that were pledged upon to chase me. I had never been fond of dogs, cats or any other form of life that could be domesticated. I always had strange fancies and took to other creature of a less vocal nature, be it lizards, pythons or mere ladybugs. Maybe I should have settled in for a less verbose kind for my other relationships as well.
I decided to switch over to another blog in my mind. I was beginning to lose arguments with myself. Having worked on web pages and web sites and graphics and images of varied nature and subjects the whole day, at my work place, often I would close my eyes to screen flashes of my work place and different computer screens at the end of the day. I felt terribly irritated at all such times, this time though I would have gladly settled in for the same. My thoughts defeated me again. The switch seemed hard to come by.
No matter how hard I tried to put away and stack her thoughts they would chase me around the room, springing from every nook and corner and dancing on every bit of furniture that I had, they would hunt me down to the farthest end of the planet and embroil me back on the same course.
I could not escape it. My head felt heavy, I had to get up now. I shifted, grunted, grumbled and finally amassed enough pieces to put me in a sitting posture. I fumbled for my slippers with my bare feet on the cold floor and managed to push my feet into some form, much as if stashing crumpled papers in the bin. Another resolve, grit tested and I got up. The Sun was whining its way into the world to announce another day of slavery, another load to be carried.
I carried on in a daze till the time I could feel the heat of the cup against my lips and almost burnt my tongue on it. I stood at my balcony with the sun shading the night sky first a tinge of violet, then with varied hues of orange and reds. A Nescafe moment indeed.
From my balcony I could see the world collecting itself into shape, visible pieces of life forms strolling on the roads, milkmen hurrying on the bicycles, those better off on their burly motorcycles laden with metal containers on each side, evading the odd cow, footing now and then to maintain balance. The road screeched in disjunctive halts of the few cars that had drivers in them, still rubbing their eyes. Far ahead I watched a rag picker, out early looking for scrapes on the sidewalk. I kept looking till the time he threw the gunny bag he carried on the road and for no reason broke into, what looked like a war dance from the height that I stood on. Perhaps he had hit upon a treasure himself. ‘The early bird catches the worm’, I didn’t know if he was the bird or some worm who had hit upon a bird himself.
The clock did not stop all the while and before I threw it another glance, I knew, I had got myself a very good excuse for not sporting my running shoes today too. Getting late again, newspaper already on the door step, to fix up my lunch, iron that shirt, get the geyser running….the list continued to breathe.
I normally had my lunch in the office not because I relished the idea of team building and knowing colleagues over the lunch table but because I failed to read some fine print in my appointment letter that said something about my paying a thousand bucks a month for a mandatory lunch in the office. No wonder, I was surprised at the package that was being offered when I changed my last job, they had these clauses where ever they could push in. Not that the food entirely was not worth shoving down your food pipe, the fact that it was packaged in such a deceitful official clause made it hard to swallow. I would have preferred having the humble contents of my lunch box in the corner of my cubicle with my head bent over the tiffin, sniffing and gobbling it at the same time and with the satisfaction in heart that I was not the victim of the system.
I did not think I was the greatest cook on the face of the Earth, but I liked what ever I could manage. Sometimes I won a fleeting compliment on the food that I could fix. It did give me an edge over others around who could not.
It was again something that I could boast over with her. Her culinary skills were comparable to that of an infantry who had lost its way in the deepest jungles of the Amazon and who happily tucked away anything that could move without biting them. The only thing she could manage was butter on bread subject to the condition that somebody else pre-heats the butter and that she is not asked to show fire or heat in any form to the cold bread. It inflated my male ego manifold when she had acknowledged that I was an ace up on her on this front. However the way this confession was put across each time left me abased. “Yup, agreed that I can not cook, so you can do that and I can sit and eat” Well, she made me eat out of her hands on these occasions, firing up the wrong passions at the wrong time.
In sheer indignation I resigned the idea of cooking. No matter how much I put a check on my thoughts she would pop up in one form or the other. The suffocation returned, and so did the lump. I guess I was in a no win situation after all.
I was not sure if I cared more than she did. The whole relationship was in such a mess that it seemed not more than a carelessly planned arrangement. I was the one, who was getting on her nerves, denying her of her ‘personal space,’ getting insensitive to her needs and being forever after her life if she turned up late from the office. I did not know how to react to the stories she so fondly nurtured, in her vain attempts to make me jealous, ‘testing how much I cared’ as she put it. It was not long before the much deflected words headed straight towards me and I was caught napping.
One fine evening, the contrived decision, instead of being mutually arrived at was announced to me. Like always words failed me and I kept shifting my vision between the floor and the ceiling, dumbfounded. Several missed calls later, I was still unsure of what happened. I shall never get to know if things were so well concealed from me with a deliberate intention or I just overlooked something very obvious.
My thoughts froze with time. Sense evaded me altogether and I was sleepwalking through the days again. Hustling and shuffling between the shambles of office and wrecks of my personal life, I stretched my weeks to seven straight days, detouring weekends altogether.
Life did not change ever since. I still wake up mid way in the night, battling between my dreams; I do not like calling them nightmares; these are dreams that have life in them for they persist long after I leave my bed and arrive much before I hit it. These are the visions containing people who I have known, sometimes by names, at other times just by their forms.
At times I do wish that there was a rewind button for the life too, where one could actually travel back in time and set things right. I don’t know if I would want to make the same mistakes over and over again, at that point of time, it seemed the right way to go about it. There are no regrets or as such major histories to be rewritten trivial things maybe, a word here, another there.
But then let us just accept the fact that life does not necessarily give you second chances. Either you make one for yourself and play the biggest gamble of a lifetime or you just put your heels up and submit yourself to the current, flowing with it. Life I guess, just goes on till the time you finally decide that you want more of it. It would ditch you just when you start wanting it. Till then it is a race, where somehow everybody is running alone.
7:00 a.m. Time to hit the shower. The clock announced it with its nascent beeps. In forty minutes from now, the cabby from the office would ring my door bell. He would expect a well dressed executive, carrying his office bag, ready to leave home to a work place he would ‘make himself productive with his high levels of motivation, inspiring others and the customers with a consistent performance in the estimated time-every time.’ Perhaps he would be carrying his load too but because he would know that the office executive would be expecting a driver ‘active, alert and dutiful’ to the core, he would come prepared with his mask too.
And so off I dash the cup into the kitchen sink and rush to my wardrobe to pick out the best possible mask that I can use to lead the double life. The mask must be opaque enough so as not to give my head away, not to mention the ‘thoughts’ that are captivated within. After all it is the ‘innovation and creativity’ oozing out of this head that keeps my stomach full.
I mix the tap water of my thoughts with the trickle running in, from the geyser of the responsibilities to look forward to for the day. I don’t know if the experience shall leave me cleaner or not, it shall definitely leave me fresher for a while. The phoenix of my thoughts rises from the ashes and dust of my memories a zillion times a day and I believe, so shall it continue till I breathe my last, till I beat my last.
I know it is a renounced conclusion, a dry ending to the entire episode. Probably you as a reader would have wanted to see some color, some sort of action, more characters added and some climax to the whole episode. But then as I read somewhere, there is no background music in real life. I guess, there aren’t any speedy climaxes too. The real life is much subtle, much calmer than this early morning head scratching.
Perhaps another reason for the suspended tale is that life as such has not stopped and hence the story about life can not possibly stop. It shall resume itself from another page, another stanza holding a thread to some other point. Maybe some day…