Have you ever felt like there is this weight… you don’t really know what it is and where it came from, but it’s there… always there… breathing down your neck like a ghost, every time you try to get up from a half-awake sleep that continuously eludes you for long spans of time in the night. You twist and you turn, you look at the ceiling and then, the side of a Pink Floyd poster on your right and then, the edge of the wall on the other side. There is a web of spiders on this side, slowly becoming bigger and bigger in all its Kafkasque glory as you watch it with your eyes half-closed waiting for that elusive sleep fairy which seemingly has turned more and more grotesque as she eludes you, just as she did. You turn again, this time towards the ceiling. Will it fall down right where you are and mark the end of it? Your obituary would say, “Died in a freak accident!” Never even once imagining that you wanted it, you had been waiting for it to happen and when it did, it all made sense. Every single part of it.
It made sense because of the end. The end certainly is all that remains, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter that you spent hours thinking about what you would write to her in 160 characters the next day in the morning to be the first thing she reads when she wakes up. It doesn’t matter that you think of new ways of staying in touch with her every single moment of every single day. It doesn’t matter that you spin stories and come up with a new one every single time when you want to write an email to her, just to ensure that she won’t get bored with the next email you send her. It doesn’t matter that you listen to her whining for hours about the job she hates, just because she needs it to stay sane. At the end of the day, she found someone else and that’s the end of it all. There is nothing more to it! If you are still wondering about what it really was that you shared with her, rest assured, there is no answer to that question. There simply isn’t. This is not a mathematical equation that always has a fucking solution.
Lying there on the bed, 4:00 AM in the morning, wondering whether the ceiling would fall on me, I tried to second-guess my obituary. Would I even have one? Facebook should add a feature for dead members. Personalized obituaries, more along the lines of Orkut’s testimonials… people would probably write something decent about you that they never said out loud, after you die. People are strange that way. All your life with years of knowing each other, they would never offer an inkling of appreciation and validation, but when you die, you’re a superstar for a day. It’s like Video killed the Radio Star by The Buggles. You remember shit when it’s pointless to remember it. As I lay there, waiting for hypothetical death that the ceiling will bring as it falls on me, I wondered what I would write about this guy, if I ever knew him.
“He was a quirky bastard who could never commit to a single place to live in. I wonder sometimes how he figured out one person to commit to. It’s no surprise that he found one who had no interest in him. It’s the epitome of commitment phobia, if I may be allowed to say so. Now that I come to think of it, I should start by saying that he was what we all proverbially know as a nice guy. Always diplomatic, ahead of the game when it came to understanding what would someone like to hear in any situation. I remember in one conversation on a heated debate on feminism, he rolled out his trump card of evasion by simply saying, ‘I am only 22 years old.’ But, at the same time, he had this insane obsession with honesty, which kind of fucks you up when you wish to be diplomatic at the same time. Long silences ensued as he tried to struggle with the difference between an honest answer and the diplomatically correct one. More often than not, especially in relationships, honesty prevailed and he got fucked in every possible way.
He was born as the third child of a marriage that seemed to be hinged on the children that it produced. It’s a pressure that only a few people understand. It’s very different from being from a broken family. You can shift the blame, play around with it, and blame your parents for being nonchalant. He was continuously aware of the guilt that he felt as he saw relationships crumbling around him. He once asked me if it was better to be from a broken home. I don’t think I have an answer to that question, but from what I know, I think he turned out to be extremely conscious of what others thought of him. In every attempt to bridge a gap between his parents, his silence between honesty and diplomacy left many questions unanswered. More often than not, his laugh – louder than any other person I know – always left an uncanny feeling of a deep sadness, hidden somewhere in the midst of the cacophony of everydayness of his life.
He was a good friend, maybe even a great friend. I don’t know. He had this tendency of leaving friends just as he left places. Now that I come to think of it, he didn’t really leave them, he just didn’t stay in touch. For most parts, I don’t know why. Sometimes there were definitely reasons, sometimes there was just distance. In between the two, I find it hard to place how he really felt about his friends. But, whenever he was around, he showed in all of his behaviour a deep sense of reverence for most of us. Maybe he knew us more than we did ourselves. Maybe he didn’t know us at all. All I can say with certainty is that he always seemed to know his place in any group. He would always find a role, it didn’t matter whether he liked it or not, he just wanted to be relevant. He shared our obsessions, participated in them. I always wondered if he really had any kind of identity himself. In between everything that he did, maybe he formed one by the end of it all, but again, I wouldn’t know, because he was never really there after he left.
I think for most parts he was an expert at mimicking. He could be anyone’s shadow, which makes you instantly like him, but at the same time, you could never really trust him. Though, usually his honesty helped in many situations, but you don’t really like that honesty. It’s like someone showing a mirror to the worst parts of you that you’re acutely aware of but don’t really want to discuss. But, I must add that he sometimes made the kind of achievements that you could happily be proud of. He struggled with money most of his life, he struggled with identity most of his life; I think the two of them are inadvertently connected. If he had simply chosen a place and a profession, he would probably have never faced most problems that he did face in his life. But would he be happy? Was he ever happy?
I remember him telling me on his birthday that:
Happiness is relatively centred on the uneasiness that we experience with the world around us. We are miserable in our small little worlds and that’s what makes us freaking good at what we do. I just know that this uneasiness will never fade and hence, we will always keep growing and experimenting… doing new things just to feel a little bit more at ease. After a certain point of time, we will get tired and stop… hopefully it would be just before we die. But till the time that happens, a birthday is the occasion when we celebrate this uneasiness that resides within us. This damned misery that always makes us realize that we could have been so much more than what we are.
I asked him what this – ‘so much more’ – is and he had no answer. I had no answer. It was that deafening silence again – frustrating, baffling, depressing, inhibited silence.
It’s no surprise that he died in all the glory of his loneliness. He was anyway destined to it with his silence. But, I hope that God or whoever it is that we meet at the end of the day, would be kind enough to accept his quirks and give him the validation that he always chased, for all of his miserable life.”
The ceiling didn’t fall last night. Though, I did wait for what seemed to be a really long time and now I have this weight breathing down my neck again. I wake up with it and sleep with it. I have tried denying it; I have tried being angry with it; I have bargained for some time when I can get rid of this intense feeling of being irrelevant; I have been depressed for so long that I don’t even remember a time when I wasn’t. But, today… as I woke up, I smiled for the first time in a very long time, accepting that it’s pretty much okay to be irrelevant. Maybe that’s what my life is all about anyway.