Angelfish

I cannot sleep, so I slide out of bed, and walk out the door. Out into a forest, pitch black. Everything is silent, no breeze, no rustling in the forest, no noises. You’d think all the animals had dropped dead. Maybe they have. I squint into the black, trying to catch a hint of movement. I listen for small sounds, the buzzing of an insect, or the unnatural late-night panicked chirping of some bird. Well, alright, it’s not that unnatural – I’ve lived near this forest all my life, and I know that the “birds go to sleep in their nests when its dark and start chirping in the morning” belief that most people seem to have is not true. Birds often break into a loud racket in the middle of the night. But it is always very shrill and panicked. Are they having nightmares? Collective nightmares? Or do they sense that something wicked this way comes? I’ll never know.

It’s crazy, walking out into a forest like this. In my part of the world, there are countless stories about beautiful young girls who go out in the night and fall prey to supernatural possession. It goes something like this: She went out into the dark, with her long perfumed hair open, trailing behind her. She stopped to rest beneath a tree.

Unwilling, unknowingly, she ended up seducing the djinn that lived in that tree. He possessed her, in love. He never let her be, never gave her a moment alone, and she, poor sick rose, caught in the corrosive embrace of the invisible worm, languished, until her parents decided that the only way to end this was to marry her off – that would cure everything.

On her wedding night, when her husband walked into the room, decorated with garlands of fresh roses, to consummate the marriage, the djinn revealed himself. The girl, who had hitherto been sitting demurely on the bed, her voluminous red wedding dress spread artfully about her, and her feet, decorated with henna, placed femininely close together, spoke in a man’s voice, a loud, unnatural, inhuman voice, threatening death to the groom if she was so much as touched.

I wish I knew how it ends, but I don’t. That’s where the stories usually stop, because the listeners are terrified. God, of all the things to be thinking of while walking through a forest at night! I have half a mind to turn back now, and the hair on my arms is rising. But I think I’m safe – for a number of reasons. Firstly, my hair is tied up, and covered. I am all covered up, from head to toe, because it’s freezing – all the trees are silvery, covered with a thin frost. Secondly, I am not particularly beautiful, at least not right now – I spent a lot of the early hours of tonight crying because I feel like I can’t understand a single damn thing, and my eyes are swollen and red. Lastly, I am not wearing perfume – I smell, very faintly, of oranges and cinnamon – I hope that doesn’t count as some sort of primitive beauty scent. Oh, and, I’m not stopping to rest anywhere, just moving, moving – even if it’s aimless and thoughtless, and sans direction, at least I am moving.

I don’t know what I’m doing here. I have no idea. I have no desire to stick to one coherent train of thought while narrating, or to develop just one story line. I don’t want to develop anything fully right now. I’m restless and distracted, I usually have zero ability to focus, and right now, it’s minus zero. Nobody knows how it comes and goes in my head, but I do, and I’m just going to let it come and go, as it pleases. Probably because I have no control over it. My mind does what it wants.

The trail through the forest is hard to follow, but not impossible. Is there a wolf behind a tree, waiting to gobble me up? Is there a house made of gingerbread somewhere around here?

I am young and naive, please, I beg only a place where I may spend the night, and be safe. You want to me sleep in this cauldron over your fireplace? Very well, I accept. No, I don’t know what I’m doing here, my parents brought me here, and disappeared. I don’t know, I don’t know. I just need some sleep. And a sip of water.

The trail is winding deeper and deeper into the forest. I don’t know what I’ll find. I wish something would break this silence. Buzzing, chirping, barking, howling, anything. But nothing does. Something is glimmering in the distance. I start running towards it. It’s a pond, with faint ripples of moonlight playing on its glassy surface.

I kneel down, at its edge, and try to look beneath the surface – the water is black, impenetrable. I dip my hand in, and it begins to prickle and burn, unpleasantly. There is something in this water that kills. It’s evil, it’s sin. I try to ignore it and probe deeper, with my fingers – the tips brush against something. Nearly falling into the water, I lean down further and further, until I can grasp it, and then I pull it out.

It’s an angelfish. A large, fleshy angelfish. Tender, limp, dead. I hold it in one hand, and with the other hand I stroke it gently. The fish isn’t scaly – it’s covered with something like velvet. Brilliant blue and green striped, wet velvet to the touch. I drop it back into the water, and somewhere on the outskirts of the forest, jackals begin to howl. I’m trapped in.

* [I do not own any of the pictures used in this post]

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According to plan vs. SURPRISE!!!

Sometimes, I make elaborate plans. And then, I obsess over them, work on them exclusively and tirelessly, dream about them endlessly. And then they never work out, and I’m heart-broken.

But sometimes, I make no plans, and expect nothing. And then, something amazing comes along, completely out of the blue, and I’m bowled over. Ecstatic, thrilled, overjoyed. It has got to be one of the most wonderful feelings ever.

* [I do not own any of the pictures used in this post]

A winter night

Sometimes, this strange thing happens to me. I reach such a pitch of detachment from myself and the surrounding world that this mental state of detachment starts to strain against the bounds of mere thought, and threatens to become something very physical. When it reaches such a pitch, sometimes it slows down and goes away, but sometimes, it keeps going, and that’s when another strange thing happens. That other strange thing is happening right now, on this winter night. I’m sitting on my bed in my room, everything is as normal as can be, it’s another night, like so many others, but my spirit feels odd; restless, curious, detached. And then, it happens – a part of me, a super-conscious part, breaks away, and floats up to hover above the room, and I float up there, watching myself below.

I’m sitting in my room, which is very small and cramped. Two beds; I’m sitting on one, and on the other one, my sister is snuggled in her blanket, fast asleep. Worn old bed coverings. I can see my three tiny overflowing bookshelves, standing silently in the corner, next to them a small desk that is never used for work, and then the wardrobe, its door slightly ajar. There is a window on the wall behind our beds, and the curtains over it are partially drawn.

It’s all dark, except for the dull glow from the laptop screen. If I close my eyes to make them adjust to the dark, and then open them again, I can see the way the paint is peeling off everything – lavender paint off the walls, and dirty, smudged white paint off the wardrobe. It’s freezing cold, and my breath comes out in smoky wreaths. I can’t light a fire right now, and even if I did, I feel it wouldn’t really help much – it is so cold! I’ve been writing a story, but right now it seems to be stuck, so I take my hands off the keyboard for a minute, and shove them into the quilt I’m huddled in, trying to warm them. I have this weird thing, my hands and my feet are always freezing cold – even if I’m wearing ten pairs of socks or gloves, they’ll still feel like ice. In winter, the only time when I feel comfortably warm from head to toe is when I wake up in the morning, after having spent the whole night in my quilt. Right now, I’m wearing two pairs of socks (one pair is peach-coloured, and the one I’m wearing over that is red), tights and then over them a pair of grey sweatpants, two t-shirts, a sweater over them, and a black hoodie over that. But it is so damn cold, I’m still freezing. But that’s just an observation – I’m not complaining, I love winters.

Since the quilt doesn’t seem to be helping, I take my hands out, and I rub them together, and breathe on them. I think of how much easier it would be if I was capable of working during the daytime; I could sit out on the balcony with all the plants I’ve planted in wooden boxes, and write in the weak winter sunlight. Then I could just sleep at night like everyone else, but then that’s another weird thing I have – I can’t write during the day, my mind just shuts down. But once it’s dark, and everything is quiet, and everyone’s gone to sleep – then, my mind goes into overdrive.

I hear this strange, steady repetitive noise, and it sounds like a dull sort of thump. I become unnaturally still for a while, wondering what it is, before I realize it’s just my sister, breathing in a funny way. This makes me want to laugh, but I don’t want to disturb the silence. It’s almost like a palpable presence right now, an entity in its own right. It has become a character in the scene.

I’m sitting here breathing on my hands, and the silence is so complete that I feel I can hear my own heart pounding. I have this thing with my heart, I don’t know if this happens with other people, or if it’s just a figment of my imagination and doesn’t really happen at all, but sometimes I experience this strange sensation, like I can feel my heart beating in a strange part of my body, where it doesn’t belong. The location will always be random – sometimes it’s in my palm, sometimes in the tip of a particular finger, sometimes in my jaw or cheek, sometimes I feel it in my stomach, sometimes in the soles of my feet, and once I laid down on my back and immediately started because I felt that everything was moving underneath me – it took me a while to realize that it was my heart, pounding inside my back. It had felt like an earthquake.

I put my hands on the keyboard again, determined to write something, anything that might break through the writer’s block. Sadly, I’m in no mood to concentrate tonight, and I have problems with attention and focusing even at the best of times. My mind has a mind of its own – it does what it wants, and it thinks what it wants. Sometimes I’m on board with it, and sometimes I’m dragged along for the ride like an unwilling participant.

The silence of the winter night splinters abruptly into a million pieces. All around me rises a cacophony of howling – the most eerie, lonely, and alien sound I’ve ever heard. I live near a huge forest, and at night, the jackals that live in the heart of the woods start prowling around the edges, and frequently they break suddenly into their strange, supernatural chorus, but I’ve never gotten used to it – it unnerves me everytime.

I sit still and listen to them howling. It starts off as the howl of a lone animal, then the choir, as it were, gathers strength, and reaches a jarring pitch, before subsiding. I wait for it to end, and once it does, I set the laptop aside, and swing my legs out of bed. God, the cold. It penetrates every single particle I’m made of, an enemy of warmth and comfort. I enjoy it, the sensation. It is a sensation different from all other sensations, and deserves to be appreciated in its own right.

I stand up and walk towards the window. I part the curtains cautiously, feeling slightly afraid, and wipe away some of the mist on the window.The air outside is smoky, foggy. I can’t see any jackals. I breathe a sigh of relief. I’ve never seen them, and I don’t want to. I don’t know why I don’t want to. Maybe because if I see them, they’ll become real, confirmed. I don’t want that. The forest is dark, with the bare, leafless tress silhouetted against the winter sky, cloudy with a tinge of red to it. Is there a storm coming on? Maybe. I love red stormy skies, they feel like a massive expression of my inner self, on a large scale, the largest there can be, the sky itself! And when the sky gets that deep red look, like it’s about to burst, and the trees begin to whirl about in horror, thrashing themselves about, I feel like I am in it all, and it is all in me. That I am it. I want a good thunderstorm. But this sky doesn’t look red enough. Pity.

As I watch all this, so immersed in it all, I become abruptly conscious of my detached self again. Far-removed from the scene, watching it as a bystander, and participating in it at the same time, I suddenly feel a great love of life. Yes, sometimes I get low, sometimes I get down. Life is not perfect. Sometimes, I think of killing myself, but those things pass. The love for life never passes, and everytime it surges forth in greater exuberance than ever before. Great, extraordinary things are not needed to spark it, to inspire it. Regular, ordinary, random, things will do, things I’d never suspect would create such an effect. For example, there’s nothing special about tonight. But it makes me so happy when I look at this winter night, this particular, lovely winter night, and myself as a character in it. I love my life, my story, my unique position, my unique self, the special particular place in time and space that I occupy. The family, society, culture, country, era into which I’ve been born, it all defines me, all of it shapes my Life, and it just seems so amazing to me. There is something so perfect about it, about it all. About the good things, and even about the bad things. It is perfect in its imperfections, in its ups and down, in its regularities and its extraordinary moments – in it’s entirety. I try to think over each and every feature of it, identify each distinctive characteristic, and then look at it as a whole. It’s A Life. It’s my Life, and I love it because it is mine, and there is no other Life quite like it.

I will perhaps stay at the window for some time. Then I’ll probably walk back to the bed, slip under the covers, and attempt to write. But my mind will be shooting off on crazy tangents, and I’ll just give tonight up as a bad job. I’ll put my laptop away, and I’ll hoist my quilt up over my head, and curl up under it. I’ll try to start up one of the many ready-made daydreams and fantasies I have, but then I’ll lose consciousness, and drift off into sleep.

I take one last moment to look at myself from a detached perspective, to look at where and who I am, before I dive back into my Self, to resume the Life that is mine.

* [I do not own any of the pictures used in this post]

I like to party (sometimes)

Which is weird, because I’ve got the whole “I hate social interaction” thing. But you know, I love people. I love listening to them talk, and I love observing them. And sometimes, when I’m in the mood for it, I like to party – that’s when all the regular rules go out the window, down the drain, and there’s no line dividing acceptable from unacceptable, normal from abnormal, and sane from insane.

I don’t like small, intimate affairs though. Everyone is in each other’s faces, falling all over each other, stepping on each other’s toes (figuratively, and sometimes literally). I prefer huge parties. I love the thrill of stepping into a mad, mad place, the crazy kaleidoscopic lights, the deafening roar of bacchic noise, the excitement of getting lost in a crowd, the enthralled and ecstatic people around me, whirling wildly and endlessly, the deep steady beat which begins to feel like it’s pounding away inside my own heart, the music in my ears and my eyes and my brain, and the way the scene, as the night progresses, morphs into something surreal, phantasmagoric.

I’m an OK dancer, and I don’t drink or smoke up because I’m very anal about being completely in control of myself physically (I realize I sound like a prude – please don’t mistake me for one), but none of those activities are exclusively what I go to parties for anyway. I like huge parties because there’s more opportunity for people watching; no one’s bothered if you’re looking at them, and people really let go in that sort of environment, they tap into strange, suppressed aspects of themselves. Some of the expressions on faces, the behavior, and the incidents I’ve seen are truly mystifying, they make me question what human beings are, in essence, and what they’re made of. They make me think.

I also love huge parties because there are more people there, and thus more chances for random, memorable encounters with strangers. I adore strangers. I’m not keen on being too close to anyone, or getting to know any particular individual too well. For this reason, I often feel very uncomfortable and suffocated around the people I know. I relish an exchange of smiles with someone I don’t know, I love having brief conversations or sharing laughs with people I’ve never seen before, I enjoy meaningful eye contact with a stranger. There is something positively intoxicating and wonderful and poignant about the feeling that we connected very deeply, even if it was for just a tiny moment, but we’re never going to see each other again, or even get to know each other better. Yes, I’m fanciful to an extreme.

Lastly, I enjoy huge parties because I like trying to somehow stay connected to reality in an environment which is spiraling wildly out of control – like clinging to something flimsy and frail during a tornado. I’m not a big fan of reality, and I’m always running away from it, so it’s fun to be in a place where there is no sense of reality or time, and then to reverse my actions, and do what I don’t like and don’t want to do, i.e. struggle to keep myself anchored to what’s real, while everything around me begins to spin, faster and faster. Then, to gradually let go, and become one with the madness. And I can fit in at large parties better than I can ever fit in otherwise.

A massive party is like an alternate universe – it’s a great world for escapists, for hedonists, for misfits, for the jaded. When the chips are down, sometimes I want to scream and throw stuff or go to sleep in a dark place forever, but sometimes … I just want to party.

* [I do not own any of the pictures used in this post]

Poor Little Girl

Poor little girl

did everything wrong

Laughed

when she should have cried

Told the truth

when she ought to have lied

Lived

when she was supposed to have died

 ————————————————————————————————

* I wrote this tiny poem a really long time ago, and saved it on my phone. Yesterday, during an hour-long wait for my class, I came across it again, and in a fit of boredom, I started scribbling around on Microsoft Paint, making silly illustrations to go with it. I realize that categorizing it as “art” is a stretch, but I thought I’d post it anyway :p

Conversations With God

I feel like I ought to say something trite by way of an introduction, like how God, in “today’s age” is considered redundant, or “uncool”, and then offer reasons why I still believe in Him, but to be honest I can’t be bothered. I’m not one of those people who shove their beliefs down other people’s throats, or judge or shun people who hold different opinions, but just so you know, I believe in God, and that’s that. There’s your introduction.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not very talkative, or socially adept. However, I talk to God a lot, sometimes even unconsciously, and often I suddenly realize I’m saying stuff to Him inside my head. It’s a funny thing, throughout all the bad times I’ve had (admittedly, I have no right to sound all sage-like, I’ve only been alive for a little more than two decades, but I’ve been having the bouts of depression since I was thirteen, and furthermore I firmly believe that age is not a determinant of experience or worldliness), I’ve never lost my faith in God, and by faith here, I mean the belief that He exists and Is There.

During my teens, I had a really turbulent relationship with God, because I had a really sick, warped sort of conception of Him. I felt like He was against me, and hated me, and it made me feel absolutely insane, bitter, reckless, defiant, hopeless, ravenous, angry, and destructive, because I felt like there was nothing I could do to make Him like me. I felt like good people were a select few whom God loved, and I could never belong to that group. I’d end up thinking awful blasphemous things about Him, almost unwillingly, and then feel angry about how that would just make Him hate me more. Whenever something bad happened to me, I’d get mad about how He was taking revenge on me and mocking me, and was He happy now? Etc, etc, that sort of mad stuff. Back then, my conversations with Him were awful, sometimes I would rage and scream, sometimes I’d be half-choking on my own misery and mumbling incoherent, resentful, anguished rubbish.

Around when I turned nineteen, I started to calm down a bit and become less frenzied and furious, and my mind started to clear up a bit. Then, I gradually (very, very gradually, and painfully) came to understand that God was not at all how I’d imagined Him to be. Slowly, I came to the realization that He was actually my Friend, I saw how He’d helped me so many times, looked out for me, saved me from all the things people could have done to me, and worse, all the awful things I could have done to myself. I realized, moreover, that “good people” were not just a select few, they were everywhere, and were varied, with shades of black and white, not saints. It was a time of epiphanies, and revelations; the Dove began “brooding on the vast abyss, and mad’st it pregnant”.

I find it kind of interesting how, however I may have felt about Him, whatever I may have been going through, I have always believed in His existence, and have always been talking to Him. I don’t mean that it’s some amazing feat on my part, or even anything extraordinary; I just mean it as an observation. He’s the only constant thing in my life, He’s been there with me as friends have come and gone, through good times and bad times, and now it seems crazy to have thought the way I used to think. Gradually, I have come to love Him. He’s the only real friend I have, and the only one I can truly count on. I’m not a strictly religious person, nor do I observe too many rituals. I just believe in God, and I’m always, always talking to Him.

These days, I’m lost again. These days, when I talk to Him, I tell him about how I can’t find a path, about how the things I was working for are going nowhere, how things I was hoping for are coming to their ends. I tell Him about how it makes me feel, about how after all this time I have lost the ability to be bitter or sad about this, about how all I can muster is maybe a few tears, and a few days spent on resentment and grief (which sounds like a lot, but believe me, it’s an improvement on duration over the bouts I used to have). I tell Him about how I feel when I see all these things drawing to their ends, I feel like a silent observer, nothing more, nothing less; feeling-less. I just watch it happen, like someone watching a landslide, or a collapsing building – I can’t do anything about it, though I’ve tried.

I talk to Him about how depression and the lows of life are such a funny thing; about how I try to extract something good, a lesson on life or something, from the bad times. I talk to Him about how being through times like these makes you a little strange, it’s like every time you fall, something in you hardens. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I don’t know, it’s like you gradually become more and more capable of dealing with bad times, you learn to take them in your stride, handle them better. Sometimes that seems like a good thing, like you’re getting stronger. And sometimes it feels like a bad thing, like you’re growing numb and losing all feeling, becoming hardened.

I tell Him about how I need His kindness and mercy – human beings have none, and I don’t expect it from them, but it is His mercy that I do hope for, and count on. I tell Him about how weird it is that people will stay with you as long as you’re fun to be with, but the moment you start failing in life, or fall on bad times, when you’re a nobody who isn’t up to anything, who doesn’t know anyone in the “IT” crowd (which changes practically every frikkin day, how can one possibly keep up, or even bother, for that matter), who doesn’t feel up to showing anyone a wild time at the moment, who hasn’t got a job, they’ll leave you. About how your own family will turn on you because you’re of no worth in their eyes when you’re not doing stuff, no matter how hard you’re trying to make something of your life; about how ironic it is that they’ll nag you about how sad and disappointed you’ve made them, but no one will consider your sadness, or your frustration with and disappointment in yourself.

I also tell Him about my self-doubts, about how all these people make me feel worthless even though I know, in some corner of my mind, that I’m not. About how I feel powerless, like a pair of hands with a matchbox filled with stale matches; I take a match out, I strike it, it doesn’t burn, I throw it away – take another one out, strike, doesn’t burn, throw it away – another, strike, nothing, throw away. Nothing burns, nothing works. I tell Him how awful I feel about how everyone I know seems to have moved on, got jobs, met new people, and I’m still standing where I was standing last year. I tell Him about how the inertia is driving me mad, and how I keep trying to move on, but nothing is working out for me at the moment; about how it feels like death, to be so static, in one place for so long. I ask Him for direction, I ask Him for a lucky break. I remind myself about how years ago, something inevitable was about to happen, and I could see it coming, but there was nothing I could do to stop it, and I begged Him to help me because I thought it would be dreadful, but it happened anyway, and it actually turned out to be good for me. So maybe it’ll be a while before I can figure things out this time too.

I have this vague feeling that (though this is an abrupt sort of end), I ought to conclude all this very properly, but I can’t be bothered. It’s a lot like one of my conversations with God; a sort of half-hearted attempt at an introduction before I give it up (because He knows the background already), and no real end.

*I just read over the post, and am a little appalled. I’m usually a stickler for organization and consistency while writing, and this seems all over the place to me, with crazy digressions, lazy sentences, and excessive repetition. I had the urge to streamline and structure this, but I’m not doing that with any of the posts on this blog, so I’m leaving this one in its natural state too. Sooo, yes, it’s meant to be this way.

** Also, I sometimes digress in order to justify myself. It’s not really because of any particular need to defend myself, but just to clarify my position and ideas. I write a lot of debates, so I have a habit of trying to make arguments and ideas tight so they can’t be attacked; when writing lazily without stopping, in a relaxed state, as I have done above, this habit results in a lot of digressions, of which this very paragraph is a fine example.

* [I do not own any of the pictures used in this post]