He spends most of his time within the confines of his dusty room; walking to the balcony now and then for a smoke. If you were to talk to him, you’d think that he’s another impressionable, naive man building castles in Spain. But peer deeper into those brown eyes, and you’ll know a deeper shade of August because he’s a man who’s wrestled with fate and come out dog-tired and demoralized; he’s a man who isn’t supposed to be on the run down, muddy, potholed path he’s on; he’s a man driven by impulses, but reined in by a simulacrum of faith. Rumi said, “When I am silent, I have hidden thunder inside,” and perhaps that quote explains him best.
How else would you describe a man with a cornucopia of emotion coursing through his blood? How else would you characterize a man with murmurs of destruction or self-loathing in his mind that paralyze him during the day, and manifest as gory dreams when he tries to sleep? How else would you portray a man who’s seen both heaven and hell, and finds himself pulled to the light by aubades of glory while leeches of terror suck the life out of him?
The world is a million things to some people, but a few only see slummy neighborhoods riddled with brothels and insalubrious motels. He wants to breathe, but the dust in his room suffocates him. He once knew wisdom and desires her, but all he sees now are tattered parkas on the snow. The crimson sun doesn’t alleviate his depression and night is when wolves gather and mongrels rage. “To live without hope is to cease to live,” said a Russian writer who wrote about redemption in a Gulag, and maybe he’s in that very prison now, but he looks outside, and there is no Sonya.
But is hope that elusive? Can faith forsook be regained? Does love watch in silence until the time is right and then swoop down and carry off the loner who gave up on her to peaceful pastures? In this world where one has to ‘keep up with the Joneses or the Kardashians or the Dobriks;’ where everybody’s opinion ‘has to matter,’ where ‘critics’ challenge the very concepts of normality and toss each other in a postmodern prison cell, where beasts sit on thrones and send sheep to the slaughterhouse, where an Orwellian nightmare isn’t a distant chimaera anymore, does an edgy loner holding a doomsday clock with a voice of despair, find vindication?
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2020)