A tourist in your own despair.Lorrie Moore
A packet of filter coffee powder has been lying in the fridge for close to 5 years or so. At 3:39 in the afternoon, I boil some water, leave the hot water dripping over the powder and then forget about it completely. By the time I realise, it is 8 pm. It is too late to drink coffee. I put the decoction in the fridge. Maybe tomorrow, I think. The limited possibilities of tomorrow. Swap tea for coffee. Watch a different catastrophe unfold. Eat a fruit for a snack. The variances from the routine are too few right now. Everything else, just like the powdered coffee, has become one long episode of spring cleaning. Unknowingly, deliberately, old acquaintances such as this come out of the woodwork, perch on our living room sofas and ask us “what’s next?”
I only have answers to questions no one ever asks.
I tell someone the truth of my life. It comes out without warning. I don’t even know it is inside me, but it is. I say I feel lonely. I feel excluded from the world, from all the social groups I am a part of. The honesty startles me a little. It rains bucketfuls, and I wonder about horses galloping in the rain except I don’t. I haven’t had one original thought until this admission of truth. To be fair, I am yet to see anyone have an original thought, yet. We are all a regurgitated version of each others’ lives and minds. We are all pretty much the same, and yet. However, it feels okay to say it out loud, to say that I am lonely in a world full of people. No amount of day dreaming about galloping horses in the rain, ripened pomegranates, or discovering forgotten stationery can change that.
I have forgotten the music of words, the way they fall and make noise.
I make notes in my journal, a notebook I bought from one of the airports of the world. Right now, it is all an aberration. Some days, I think about the golden cheese wrapped in crimson wax being sold at Amsterdam airport. How I thought, I’ll get it the next time. There will be no next time. I eat a piece of cheese now and then, taking care not to cram it all in my mouth and sit on the sofa reading a novel about a nine year old girl saving the world. Nine year old girls are my heroes these days. They’re unafraid. They’re never lonely. Their best friends are a book, a broom stick, and a frying pan. I write their names down in my journal for the daughter I will never have. The pieces of cheese are moderated. Everything in my life is moderated these days. I don’t want much, but I do want. I can’t not want.
At the bottom of the cup lie the crumbs of our desires. Wipe it clean.
It is 4 pm and the sunlight falls askance on my window plants. I set too much store by the Jasmines but they do not disappoint. I wait each day to see one mint leaf grow, to see one flower bloom, to feel the soft touch of the baby coriander between my fingers. It slows down time and reduces the need for a God. The ubiquitous need for the missing God that everyone is fist thumping about. My childhood friend sends me a picture of the tomatoes growing in her balcony. They are full and ripe and have the green shoot like a crown on their head. A God emerges out of the green crown and becomes the mist of the afternoon. The world churns, dust rises, and the sky gathers haze to hide from the travesty we have become. The warm mist floats into the outside world and does not announce its arrival. That’s how I know that everyone yelling about God doesn’t know a ding dang thing about anything.
The afternoon sun also has answers. No one has ever asked it.
Before I place an order online, I check the weather app for shine and rain. I determine the kind of day a delivery boy will have to bring me something I need. I wonder what if a delivery boy likes the rain and I send him out in the sun. What then? My mother constantly asks me if a delivery has been made. She checks up on her relatives, her brother, her dead brother’s wife and kids, her old friends, and I am amazed by how many people live in my house. It’s a small space and everyone is in it. It is exhausting. I’m sharing my biscuits, my inheritance, my half a room that never once did stop to be mine. I have stopped questioning my place in the world, in my living room, in my mind. If time is a blur, aren’t we all, too?
Crowded, the bylanes of our lives in which we hang our clothes to dry.
I eat butter popcorn once in 5 months and I scare myself because of the fat I am consuming. I dream a lot. About things I never imagined like marrying a Parsi boy or some such thing that I cannot recall after I have woken up. I cut the insides of my cheek in my sleep. Something intense must have been happening. Like maybe, our lives were becoming a hot air balloon ride into heaven. The butter popcorn leaves no fat debris in my arteries and I live for ever without having to have my heart opened up by a knife. I’m a writer and that sort of thing should make me feel like I am alive. Not anymore. Do not romanticise your body. It is full of blood.
I forget my dreams. Maybe one day, I will forget this, too.
Superb writing as always. Amazing choice of words.
Thank you so much, Gaurav. So glad you like it. 🙃