When you said, “I can’t handle it anymore,” I realized that sorrow had penetrated your core and planted its talons there. It’s never good to hold so much sadness because it kills. What a burden God has placed on us! To strive for nothing; to fight only to lose in the end; to pray and never find communion.  

I wanted to hold you then; tell you, “We’ll get through this. Right now, things look tough, but we’ll persevere until we’re strong,” but I realized that there are moments when a cliched encouraging comment stills an addled mind, and times, when it’s better, to let the waters of silence gently wash away the grime of pain.  

I could see you breaking down; unable to get a grip, and I found myself helpless. Sometimes in life, there is only so much we can do. We dream of this and that, but one terrifying actuality stares us in the eye with an obsidian eye of its own. When grief harasses us like the pouring rain during the monsoon, all we can do is brave it futilely.  

Sorrow is a strongman who rules with cruelty and cockiness. He mocks us and confines us to our little tumbledown huts. He mutes our screams with a violent backhand. Then with bruised lips, we sputter, and he knocks us out with a skull-crushing blow.  

You sit today, watching television with a vague smile. I know that you’re lonely, and that despair has defeated you. I would love you, darling, but fate has broken me too. So here we are – two threadbare dusty carpets – lying on a floor of anguish. You keep your faith still. You say, “God will make a way,” but I wonder whether God even cares. There are times when I want to connect with him, but then are times when the suffering this path entails makes me doubt.  

So, the question today is who are we and how did we get here? Simple I know, but so very intricate. We’re vagabonds locked out of nirvana, roaming the lands of affliction. The trees here are without leaves or flowers, and the air is oppressive. Jagged-edged stones cut our feet and make us leave a trail of blood. We hear murmurs of reprobates, misfits, splintered stars, and broken halos. Their search in this wasteland is as harrowing as ours. It’s a place of nihilism. It’s a place of capricious seas and furtive glances. It’s a place that embodies the antithesis of beauty. It’s a place where the norm is madness. It’s a place that’s antipodal to transcendence. It’s a place where the residents are backward and lack panache. It’s a Tophet where feral instinct triumphs over reason.  

We find ourselves here because fate governs us with a punitive scepter.  The laws that govern nature are draconian, and there’s no escaping them. There’s also no escaping ourselves, and that adds to the dilemma. We’re born monsters, and life is a never-ending struggle to battle our appalling passions. They gnaw on our cores like hysterical lab rats gnawing on breadcrumbs. And like those mice, we’re also part of an experiment. A grander one that begins with water and ends in fire.  

I want to tell you that I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused you. I want us both to abandon everything and drift like motes scattered in the wind. I want us to be free. I want us to smile without a vein of sorrow poking out each time we do. I want us to love each other again.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Photo by Carson van Tol on Unsplash


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