Went to bed last night with the realisation that all the world’s a sham, except maybe the art of bread-making. Supplying fresh wholesome handmade loaves to the local community, donating what’s left at the end of the day to charity. Betty’s Bakery. No! That means brand logo, catchphrase, and marketing—I’ve already joined the ranks of those from whom I wish to escape (a calculator sounds in the distance, an interior designer is hired). What then? Ought I arm myself, self-consciously and pretentiously, with a copy of Walden and off to the woods, a retreat from modernity and its attendant excesses? In the company of humans their expectations and norms I live a life of anxiety, said anxiety owing to the way my brain is wired which, in turn, owes to the life I have lived with the temperament I was born with. In the company of nature and wildlife the expectation is to survive, but not so long ago just last year I think I had to look up the definition of fortitude. The definition, once read, made me laugh at myself for not knowing what it was. I’m good at that. But self-deprecation won’t do when faced with a bear, a deadly bite, the ensuing infection, and, worse than pus, the silent panic through it all. Better people and walls, calculators and clocks, after all.
Every year, on the 31st of December, the old year and the new are separated by a flimsy second at 23:59:59. For me, not for as long as I remember but as the years piled on and forced me into the 25th anniversary of my existence with an unrelenting hand, that second is the loneliest, saddest, most hateful out of all the 31,536,000 seconds there are in a year. Continue reading
‘Sorry,’ I said to the cashier at the art store because I took too long to grab my bags, of which I was carrying four. And I was sorry. ‘Sorry,’ I said again on my way out, because the shop was crowded with shelves and people and I was carrying one too many bags. I did not bump into anyone or knock anything off but still I was sorry for the time and space I took when exiting. And I was sorry many times before then because the aisles were narrow and I had to get through or somebody else had to get through, either way I was sorry I troubled the other shoppers. I went to a thrift shop next and I was sorry there too, sorry for the fact that the shirt I tried on did not suit me, sorry that I did not make a purchase and they have to put it back. ‘Sorry, that’s okay, thank you so much,’ I managed, this time at the music store, because the clerk could not locate the vinyl I wanted. I was sorry that he tried for me and wasted his time when he could be doing something else. Then I was sorry I was sorry because I had started to feel real bad for myself, because the only reason I kept apologising was this—this idea that I was unworthy of their services, someone who did not deserve their products or anything for that matter. And Uber—the convenience of it all and the patience of that particular driver—had me sorry too, four times if I remember it correctly: twice for having too many bags and twice more for being confused as to where he was parked; and he did not know this but I was sorry for seating at the back too, I would have ridden shot gun had I fewer bags to carry but he probably thought I was protecting myself from him. I was sorriest when I got home and looked at all that I had bought because I thought I did not deserve them. But later that night when I was well-rested and the boulder of existence lifted from my chest new copies of Hemingway, Pushkin and Yeats were read and felt and understood and I was not sorry anymore, I was soaring.
Dear 15-year-old me,
I know all you can think about right now is the major science project that’s due soon. You’ve always been an exceptional student—every report card confirms your status as a ‘high achiever’ of scores, firsts, and awards—and you intend to keep things that way. Maintaining a perfect academic record means everything to you, and it doesn’t help that you’re every teacher’s pet. Later, you’ll realise that every mark and praise you worked long and hard to receive was a means to fill the gaping hole where a secure sense of self-worth should be, and isn’t Continue reading
Sitting at the corner of my mind is a sprawling metropolis of abandoned ideas and incomplete drafts, all of them feverishly conceived. Some are penned in haste and barely legible, others the result of fingers tap dancing on screen. Continue reading