Saturday, April 23, 2005

At Night


That was the word that kept whispering itself to me, over and over, the whole of today.

Because no matter how much coffee you drink, however much you love or are loved, however much your word craft may bear you up on delicate spirals of well-spun thought... there remains the darkness that does not allow you to walk with yourself in peace at night, through dark corridors... even if it is to get a glass of water.

I think this doppleganger side of myself has been given bone and tissue and blood this year... I myself have become a shadow, subsisting on fears, and assumptions of what is right and wrong, pulling myself from day to day with the help of those little prayers we make privately to our souls which involves no god, no religion. Things like-

Not now, you son of a bitch. Dont let me fall now... just a bit more. They cant see me fall. Not like this. The bastards will not laugh- I wont let them.

But the double of yourself, your dopplegangger will not leave you alone. I have realized that the more you compromise, the more you decide to not fight, on the basis of fear- the stronger it gets.

This has been happening to me a lot. I can tell, because of many little things... I avoid crowds now, and addressing large groups. And I have started to hate walking alone in the dark, because there's this neverending fear of being followed by something sinister. The worst part is, its not the fear of being hurt or killed. Its the fear that this thing will never leave you.

At least this time, the darkness isnt violent. I need to tell you about the time my best friend and I were in the 9th grade, in school.

We never indulged in quaint activities like spirit calling and candle lighting and ouiji boards- things that all good little girls do on school excursions and at pyjama parties. Yet for about a year, seperately at night, we would both be subject to the same experience. We only realized that it was the same thing one afternoon in school when during a random conversation we suddenly started talking about nightmares. And we found out the same thing was happening to both of us.

We'd wake up in the middle of the night, but we couldnt move, couldnt speak and almost couldnt breathe. We'd break out in a cold sweat. We'd feel a huge weight on our chest, as if something or someone was sitting on top of us, and...aye. Paralysed. The more we fought it, the harder it would be to move. My friend did some research online and found that similar experiences were recorded as symptoms of panic attacks and anxiety disorders, in authentic medical journals.

But the fuck up was, that for both of us- the sensations ended only when we both began saying the prayers our parents had taught us. It came to a point that the moment I first felt that immense tingling weight I'd start mumbling the lord's prayer- My friend would recite verses from the guru granth sahib. Cold fear. Pitiless. We were held down by something we could not control, at least at that age. A few times, we'd even hear voices. I remember she and I being taunted about whether we thought we could get up..... it stopped over time. The one time it happened while I was in college, I fought back, and was able to get up on my own. Though that did not keep me from mumbling that same prayer afterwards. it did not stop the cold sweat either.

The power of faith against any form of darkness then, even if its as prosaic as an anxiety disorder? Im not sure. But I am aware of how terrible fear can be.

And its not just the type of fear that hollywood movie makers prey on in movies such as 'the fallen'. Its the fear of being ignored.

The fear of failure. The fear of being unloved, or deserted, or laughed at. This fear cripples us, hobbling our feet together, while it builds itself up into our shape, and walks behind us as our shadow, controlling our every move. We do not stride anymore, willing to shuffle painfully, avoiding the dark and solitude, which is when our fears the arms that wrap around us.

I felt that fear again today, as I have had potently for the past few months.It shadows my every thought, I can sense it through my peripheral vision. I took that fear with me today, along with my ipod, and went up to my water tank at 8:00pm.

I havent shown you my water tank, have I?

Well spaced out, my terrace rises surrounded by silent shorter houses and many trees, of the rain and palm variety. With Jeremy pounding in my ears, I walked straight up, turned left and walked down to the other side of my terrace, where the water tank is. There's a ladder that reaches up 15 feet to the top of the tank. A landing, then a 3 rung ladder to the absolute top of the tank. The highest part of my three-floored appartment block. High enough though, and in a residential part of the city, so all you can hear is the wind murmuring and grumbling and singing (depending on her mood and what she wants to tell you) around you and through you, with nothing but sky and clouds and moon around you. The city lights, and the train's groan fades off, and nothing remains. Theres a cement ridge all around the tank, and then a ledge 4 feet below the ridge on the side where theres nothing but air between you and the ground.

My tank is a very special for me. It is mine, even though I have neighbours. There are some people in my life who share this place with me and can see from there all that can be seen... like the enchanted castle, its only magic for some. I go up to my tank when there are things to think about- up there, me and that same friend of mine have shared thought and tears and laughter and ideas- another friend and I discussed nietzsche and why we had the right to be Supermen. Up there, alone, I have wept while bargaining with the Guy in the Sky for the life of a man who was battling cancer and losing, and whom I had never met, but who because of two people I love with all my soul, I can never forget.

[I still remember that night, btw. Clouds swirling in a sullen reddish purple around a hidden moon, while I jabbered prayers insults poetry and dreamy pleadings and offered promises to let the young man live. I remmeber the clouds clearing suddenly, leaving nothing but a sweetly virginal blue night, cool like silver on your forehead. The moon shone silent, bright. A sudden feeling of peace, and then sudden elation- was this a sign of a miracle, had I been heard? Did what I say, and what all the others who around the world were praying for this same man been taken into consideration? Had we saved him?

My phone rang. One of those two beloved people called in tears to tell me he had died. Maybe it was the miracle, to have had that tremendous pain he was fighting taken away. But I will not forget that night. Or the way we held each others faith broken, over continents and phonelines and timelines, holding each other through the tears]

Up there on my terrace, there has been much sorrow. Much thought. And some gladness that is like a sunrise in my mind each time I think about it- a group of us singing sukiyaki up there, even managing to drag up a guitar. And aye... the most precious- the warm hands that hold away the cold beauty of moonlight gently from my face, and my hands. The eyes of this wonderful man which tell me better than any song or poem about how much I am cherished. The feel of his comforting, flat-soled size 11 and a halfs against my feet. His laughter, his voice, his touch- which is the only time that that cynical shadow of mine retreats to wait in places less sacred than my water tank is at that moment.

I went up to my tank today, to consider the road which must be taken. I always wanted the one less travelled by, but Im less sure nowadays whether that is best thing to do. After all... I just want to be a little happy. I dont always want to do the thing thats never been done before, the thing that's larger than life. Carpe diem maybe, and also yes- to strive, to seek and not to yield... but sometimes all that seizing and struggling just gets tired.

Crawling screamed soothingly in my brain, the version with strings in it. I found myself standing, drenched in white moonlight, just in front of the ridge below which was the ledge below which was nothing.

I am not afraid of heights. But I aint no roller coaster freak either. I have stood on that ridge though, but always when there was still daylight. Tonight.....

The fear stood there, palpable. I could smell its breathing. Suddenly, I HAD to stand on that ridge. Immediately, I felt my body and mind react- my palms turned ice cold, and wet. My legs began to shiver, and my gut clenched into a tight ball pushed against my spine as fear dragged itself up my throat and tried to shriek for help. Fear.

You will fall tonight, if you try standing there. I heard that sentence clearly, and waht was worse- I heard me say it to myself. You dont have what it takes to stand there, dont try.... you've been shaky all day. Sudden need to sit down. Heart pounding. fear running icy fingers through the hair at the back of my head.

Maybe I should've sat down. The inner voice, my gut was speaking... or was it? Suddenly, everything came together- all the times in college Ive been afraid of saying something because of its repercussions, all the times Ive held myself back because I had to fit into this system, all the times I had compromised for some fucking greater good..... all the times I had run away from people and perceptions I did not want to face... all those times I let soul-midgets have their way because I thought I had to show the stiff upper lip, and becasue gentlemen will walk but never run..... all those times I had taken for granted or ignored completely.... No word power, no achievements, no people, nothing.

'Put one foot on the ridge. Crumpled inside, fought the internal screaming plea to for god's sake sit down... stood with both feet on that ridge.

It was scariest looking up, so I squinted straight ahead, trying to get my breathing right.

I come in peace.... I come in peace.. with nothing. Here is no time for ending or anything colourful. Just .. I want to stand. Help me stand.

My palms are still ice cold, feet trembling a little less though. I could look up a little, and around- Sudden, one of those powerful flows of wind that happens on my tank. T shirt and shorts flaring out in the wind, arms slowly stretching out.

Flight is a funny thing, friend. There are things your doppleganger cannot do- like rejoice in the idea of free fall with the kind of grace only eagles know...

I took back a part of myself tonight. The fear stil is, but I refuse to shuffle anymore.

Tonight's a good night, for cold beer and flight. Death to all those who cannot be bigger than what their body gives them credit for... great song by john mayer, that one.

To all who dare to be candles in the night where no sun comes- cheers.


Gul said...

:') daw... let those memories be priya. put them somewhere far away from your thoughts, n make more space for things like the feel of the 11 n 1/2 sized soles around ur feet. there will be a time when u dont need to struggle anymore, and yeilding will be the best option. for u i'd say, yeilding would almost be like the road never taken before too. go with the option that u know will bring u peace. u have a right to be happy and to live your life just the way u want to.

AmAn SuRi said...

hey priya, this is aman, if u know by now who i'am then good or leave it. Read this blog i usually dont read many but i was asked to read this one for once, and i found it 'touchy' if that word suits here. but i didn't understand one thing, from wat i knew u had ur special friend for a long time and ur friendship knows no boundaries, then how can u ppl ever have felt UNLOVED, DESERTED and stuff.... i never had very close friends before but i think that even if u got that one special friend or someone who LOVES u like they do..... u should not even know the meaning of fear. too long a comment sorry, bad habit.

AmAn SuRi said...

sorry for bugging u again now, but i think i didn;t write too much after all lol! ;), would just say that u are deeply loved by some, which is a power u possess. would like to meet u someday :), this blog was very informative by the way ;)

The Wizard of Odd said...

*smiles softly*

first up- gullie? You have found a treasure.. and a treasure has found you! Both of you better buckle on your cutlasses, tie on them bandanas, teach a polly to swear in punju and go find an island with plenty of cocoa trees and those trees with red flowers...

second of all : D true what you said, aman. What I have IS a gift, this love of those precious few like gul, and like my size 11 and a half man :)

Just that sometimes, even that doesn't help.. comes and goes, these feelings. Touchy shyte, basically :-p It doesnt last tho... how can it, when I have you too posting like this on my page? :)

Thanks for dropping by, dude. Keep doing so. I promise fun ..erm..economically worded posts too!


PS: See, everyone posts long comments :D

A Hairy Snail said...


The Wizard of Odd said...


*stuffs a certain high priest and character belonging to Coelho's mouth with a huge-assed choco-chip cookie*

erm... love? That was the emotion, up there, at that time. Not a constant. At all. Sun rose and such.



*sniffs, wondering woefully at the depletion in cookie numbers*