Friday, May 11, 2012

The Mad Woman's Stew

Dying is an art. 
Like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.
I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I have a call.

I live in a morbid fear of death. Not mine; when it comes to self, I've always believed death is liberating; "Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one's head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday and no to-morrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace." However, being a true hypocrite, I am afraid of death when it concerns people I love.

J. M. Barrie had said, "Young boys should never be sent to bed. They wake up a day older." And I believe that parents and grandparents should never grow old. The true tragedy of life is not lost love or unfulfilled dreams, but senescence. People grow old, people die, and there cannot be anything crueler than this basic truth. The string of hopelessness and failure they leave behind seep into the lives of people they love. The empty seat at the dinner table not unoccupied a few days ago, is a morbid reminder of how one day a person just ceased to exist; one day a person woke up and found himself transformed into a giant insect; or woke up, left the body behind, and transpired into thin air. When I'd first read Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, I'd wept like a baby. Like a morbid person, I'd learned the lines,
"For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
No children run to lisp their sire's return,
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share."
and I'd recite them to myself and shed copious tears. Yet, till then I'd never experienced death from close quarters. But of course, like one of Buddha's fables, there is no escaping. As I grew older and learnt about heartbreak, I also learnt about the vulnerability of the people I love. Since then every day has been a struggle. The realisation that the grandparent with whom you've spent every single day of your mundane life, would one day feel pain, hard physical agony, would cease to exist, gnaws at your mind. In a moment of introspection you realise that you'd probably never spend so many years of your life with another living soul as you had with him/her, and that person was decaying even as you practiced your artificial laugh with your artificial friends.You realise that the parents who have been your only support system will one day degenerate. After that, you will not have anyone in the world who'd selflessly think about your welfare. Being an orphan is a state of mind, a realisation that grows with years, from a feeling of extreme desolation. Because, frankly, there is nothing called love. There is ownership, and there are the innumerable demands that this ownership entails. It teaches you to be dependent on other people, on emotions, on the belief that you need another soul to cling your useless life to. It makes you act according to its expectations; to mourn; to pick up the pieces again; and to go on with life as if nothing happened, as if there was an emptiness which has been cross-stitched. And this is what disturbs me.

I hate death, I hate blood, and I hate pain, because these make me realise how vulnerable I am; how dependent I am upon these very few people of the ueberfuhlte, heartless world; how I have to, must react to these emotions; how I must let my selfish, voluntarily-elected-useless-everyday life be affected by them. Literature is useless. It gives you an impossible picture of a world that doesn't exist, that never can. I read literature because I cannot spend my days lying flat on the bed, staring at the wall above me. After sometime I will have learnt the exact shapes of the crevices. I read literature just to kill time, to let a tiny part of me be fooled by the grandeur of its false promise.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my eyes and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, and kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

1 comment:

  1. Firstly , thankfully I was reading something else too while reading this post, so was distracted enough, else I surely would have cried. this is so beautifully written. It is just how I have felt and continue to feel. At times I feel that these 8 hours that I spend sleeping in a separate room, the half an hour every day that I devote to watching television sitting in my room are precious minutes that I am spending away from my parents, who might not be here some day. I am THAT melodramatic. And on a lighter note- I scribbled something in my diary yesterday about lying on my back and watching the cracks in the ceiling, the peeling wall paint the ending felt a little uncanny. And finally- love. :)