Morning shower used to be fun. Research says that lonely people spend longer hours in warm showers. Now my only sliver of solace and warmth is disrupted by calls from the cab-drivers. They assign a different cab-driver every day and every driver is a new nightmare. Despite satellites tracking and streaming my precise location right into his goddamn phone, the driver inevitably prefers to call me up and – against a backdrop of dire honking – I must explain in excruciating detail the herculean journey he must undertake to reach me at Number 12, 17th Main.
The commute is too long for the distance but too short for me to listen to music. I don’t like music because music is a lie. When you don a headphone, you’re immersing yourself in a lie but when you must immerse yourself in a lie, it’s a shame when you can’t immerse yourself long enough.
Every day is like every other day except when it’s bad – every bad day is awful in its own novel ways. I’d imagined I’d become less angst-ridden by now, but I can attest to having seen more awful days than ever, lately.
Your manager telling you that he has an opportunity for you to learn is a dark, dark premonition. Especially if your manager is anything like mine, all too earnest to vicariously take risks through his minions. As much as I understood the repercussions of taking the risk, I was tickled by the slightest, but the most unsettling of voices. The voice of hope. A quixotic, fantastical, dreamy, naïve, stupid hope that maybe, just maybe, the risk is worth taking.
Despite being grounded in reality, I’m no superhuman to not fall victim to occasional infections of false hopes, of ungrounded brittle courage, of a certain haughty waywardness towards the ugly unrelenting reason. I thought she was into me. I believed she was into me. When we ate ice-cream together on that summer evening, I thought she was into me. I translated her every word, every action, every move to imply her intense, unwavering interest in me that she had to obviously keep disguised in the form of a casual companionship. Periods of delusion are usually followed by long solitary hours when you watch the world around you as if it were a painting you’d lost interest in – despite all its birds, grand sunsets and beautiful people.
I said yes to the risky assignment. When you plunge into danger, it pays well perhaps, to continue to believe that you can do it. Reason is smothered out of view. Risk begets greater risks. Your lies beget greater lies. When your lies amass a critical volume, they implode with a little ‘puff’ and your reason rushes in to fill you up with hard hurtful facts.
It dawned on me one day, out of nowhere, when the lie of our possible relationship, of possible love, of possible attraction; of other numerous possibilities imploded noiselessly within me. I missed a step and kneeled down to tie my shoelaces, to gather my disintegrating self, to look at her walking away into a world that was but a painting with its beautiful people and dramatic skies.
False hopes lurk around waiting to resurrect at the slightest of opportunity. When she tells you, it’s good to see you after a long time, your heart leaps. You’re tethered to the reality but you wonder and almost immediately believe that it’s not worth knowing what’s true if you can forget it for a while. You levitate, slowly at first, but soon enough, you’re afloat and adrift into the dark unfathomable space in her eyes. She’s not a person. She’s a spring of possibilities. A new dimension. A reality waiting to happen, if only you’d the courage to suspend reason. You do.
I asked her out. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I just did. I wasn’t awkward about it, not when I did it. I was plain, in fact, sombre even, as if I were unpeeling my sadness and laying it bare before her. She said yes. Perhaps, she too had chosen to take a risk and with it fill a hole in her heart with lies she’d later regret.
I was wrong about that. She’d said yes to the wood-fried thin-crust double-cheese pizzas. Or maybe a sense of the state of things had exerted its influence as we took the escalator to the open terrace restaurant. Sometimes, my thoughts transmute to questions about the possible duration of our mutual delusion about being in love together. How long must that have been? A minute?
She’s married now and I’m often startled by how irrelevant her marriage is to everything. I presume she’s unhappy because it’s an undisputed fact that most people are unhappy in their marriages. In fact, her marriage has rendered me guilt-free in my dreamy escapades involving the two of us starring in bizarre hypothetical narratives.
My phone rings again and I’m disrupted, yet again, from a possibility of soothing peace and warmth in my morning shower. My voice grows hoarse as I explain my address and as I sit down beside the driver, I feel the accumulation of years in my body. She’s in the rear seat and she quips, for reasons I shall seek for days to come, that she is, yet again, ‘happy to see me after days’. I have been sick and I shall be sick again.