There is a satisfaction of being inadequate, to relish in its singularity, to carry it proudly like a war wound or a tattoo. At 26 my mind is as contrary, tortuous and unbearable as it had always been. It’s a festering wound, a demented bird, a debilitating illness, not confined to a single space in my head, but roaming over my body like a rabid animal. It induces nausea, quite chuckles, an eerie passivity, excruciating levels of orderliness, a frightening sanity. I look at people and notice their veins, the biscuit crumbs on their chins, the stressing of the‘t’s, their voices turning into long, rusty iron chains rattling against an abstract train track. I listen to the holes, little crevices in their narrations, a tiny space between a verb and a proper noun and hide there. Each such chinks are like hidden quarries, bowl shaped grey caverns to disappear into, a suspended animation. What normally might result in a frenzied outbreak seem to have the opposite effect on me – a bizarre meticulousness. I plan the week’s menu every Saturday evening, even analysing the daily nutrition requirements, the six slices of tomatoes for lunch, the glass of soaked fenugreek after dinner, I have boxes labelled for keys, small change, bills, sticky notes detailing everything on the cupboard.
I have taught myself the art of being vapid, it’s easy- I maintain a vague, friendliness with the people around, memorizing and practicing heaps and leaps of light, asinine, feminine conversation, giggle over some cruel gossip, express the necessary ejaculations over their prejudiced, ignorant opinions as if they were the most insightful things I’ve ever heard, coo and gasp over the photos and (agonizingly lengthy) videos of their leaky-nosed, sticky brats and practice to perfection that horrible tinkling laugh which people find so charming in a woman. To my own amazement, I found that I have even started humming a saccharine little melody while folding clothes. Oh the effort it takes to preserve an insipid, grinning, mildly inquiring, slightly idiotic face! I long to blend into the wall behind, or disappear, have the courage to give them all painful wedgies and run away to the Himalayas. I don’t think this is a recent occurrence; it was there in me since I could remember except during those moments when my mind was numbed by the temporary joys of ice creams, trains, religion, Pink Floyd, woollen jackets and other trifle.
When I was 11 I read Saki’s The Mappined Life and suddenly that dormant switch of realisation blinked on – yes, this is as good as it gets, period. The morose works of Samuel Beckett, Kafka and Camus I conscientiously read to prove some unremarkable point merely reinforced what I knew already. Being someone who is easily amused helps to an extent; behind this elaborate act I put on I observe, manipulate and laugh at them and their seriousness. Yet, I never seem to get rid of that brutal cynic within me.
I don’t understand those annoyingly cheerful people saying ‘wake up, live!’ when life in itself is an oxymoron. The outside of my body is alien to me; I puzzle over the transience of my nails, the swelling mosquito bites and the sudden bruise on my knee. It’s so easy for something to suddenly break, tear, bleed, sugar levels to go down, pressure to shoot up, and heart to stop beating. I long to give up all that I am holding on to and place myself in the hands of a bunch of brainless, authoritative, capable people. A ‘home’ as they call it nowadays seems to be an interesting option. I have long ago given up on death, despite the alluring call of the blade, the smiling insect-like being beckoning me from the edge of tall buildings, the come-hither eyes looking at me from vast water bodies, my terror of disturbing the natural tranquillity of my body with its bad teeth, brittle nails and terrible digestive organs is painful.
Being institutionalised doesn’t seem such a bad idea, better than pretending that everything is normal, eating little of this and that, carrying on mindless conversations, arranging things, tittering pleasantly, when deep inside I am barking mad. I would have a very simple set of priorities, one single role to play, being mad. I could sit inside a white-walled room, fascinate over the pills prescribed for me, figure out how the food given to be was created, ingredient by ingredient, remain silent for infinite stretches of time, keep a book full of dried flowers and laugh that remarkable laugh which I have that people find rather unnerving. I would cackle without a break, feeling my voice hitting the wall and bouncing away. Right now, the ideal thing to do is numb my mind. Give it anaesthesia, suffocate it with chloroform, fit a clockwork it its place, practice the smile, the nods, the cheap conversations, cooking tips, some local gossip, mindless bits of news, who killed who, who married who, skin problems, weight issues, balancing femininity, classiness, brainlessness, banality while inside me that scream grows louder and louder.
Everyone starts off expecting great things out of life, great careers, great loves, brilliant homes, delightful people to hang out, loads of money, but eventually one is extremely grateful if she can have a little corner to sleep at a reasonable rent (need not be a room, one cannot have the luxury of such expectations, a corner will do, a rug, a sheet, pillow optional), a few ephemeral belongings to adhere to the society’s idea of decency, some money to survive and some kind of distraction that would keep one away from suicide. Everything else, even love, even dreams are inconsequential and optional.