Self Preservation

The day could only be summed up in two words: Fucked up!

As I stormed out of the office, swiftly evacuating the premises like an emergency fire drill I turned to look at my watch.

1 AM. Fuck!

This was the fourth day in a row. But that did not mean much, cause today was the day which stood in isolation. It did not require the past to change or affect its intensity.

Unconsciously I placed cigarette on my lips the moment i stepped out of the courtyard. I lit it in a peculiar fashion trying to look like a badass while at it. As if I was part of some black and white high contrast noir flick being filmed.

A burnt plastic smell came out. I lit the wrong end of the cigarette.

“FUCK!!” I threw it on the ground and stomped it out of existence. Nothing was right today. The day started that way and was consistent in being disappointing throughout.

Still in residual fury I lit another cigarette, paying more attention this time. I took two long drags that hit my lungs like a brick. I felt tiny pinpricks inside my chest as I exhaled.

‘Maybe it is cancer?’

‘Won’t that be a decent way to go.’ Smiling as the thought played around in my head. The smile of comfort knowing that death is a possible option if all fails.

I walked to my car still wrapped in thought. Walking like a zombie with preprogrammed actions. Close the door. Put on seat-belts. Check the handbrake and the gear. Start the car. Start the AC.

Clockwork.

Two minutes later I realised I was already on the road driving without my knowledge. “Your consciousness is now online” would be a notification if my head worked like a cellphone.

As I kept driving an onslaught of thoughts flooded my head. Of everything negative. Of everything bad that could happen. A flash flood consumed my head.

My parents dying. My friends hoping I’d just leave. The girl I love with some one else. My worthlessness. My lack of direction. My inability to express my true self. My head being split open by a street thug. Getting pinned down by unknown hands while being sodomised. Hitting my boss with a cricket bat across his face.

MAKE IT STOP!!

My hands were glued to the steering wheel shaking violently. My vision was getting fuzzy. Like a surge of emotions so heavy my brain was making every effort to pump blood into it to flush the feelings out. I started counting. Real slow. An exercise I had not done in 8 years. Each number escaped my teeth with a vicious snarl. As if being electrocuted I felt a stiffness. I was taut. A few minutes later the storm had passed. Followed by an eerie silence. The tinnitus after the explosion. Where only my vision seemed to be functional…everything else was a steely hum.

There was another imminent upsurge on its way. My head was prepping itself to get hit. Mentally clutching on to stable thoughts. Scrambling for happy memories. I was driving at 90. The empty roads let me. My hands were on autopilot. My foot shifting its weight on the pedal. My brain somewhere else. I could feel my conscious and subconscious splitting clean. My car was momentarily airborne. For a split second I was floating. I hit a bump. I hit 100.

The flyover was endless. Time was slowing down. 105. The thoughts were way faster than the surroundings blurring past me. I felt my heart beat go way beyond its limit. It was cracking my ribs open. 110. My right hand twitched. And in that moment I pictured myself riding off the flyover…airborne for a lot longer and crashing my self several stories below. Wouldn’t that be lovely? Wouldn’t that be poetic?

My car was straining past 115. The engine wanted to give up. My right hand twitched and for a split second took a slight left as if attempting to go off the rails. But my left hand froze and took control. I split into various pieces. I felt what happened. That feeling.

Self preservation.

It was a primordial impulse more than a calculated decision. I had to sustain myself. In the face of wanting to be one with oblivion, I chose to move forward.

I slowed down as I descended the flyover. I banked the car on the left and stopped on the edge of the road.

I got out of the car and stood looking at the road. It was 2 AM and the road was empty. And that was a tough thing to witness on a highway in Bombay. Almost an impossible feat. It was calm. It helped me calm.

The moment was broken by two speeding trucks. But the 2AM air had a slight invigorating chill. I was feeling too many things. I was feeling everything.

‘Total paranoia is just total awareness.’

I sighed.

‘Self preservation!’ I thought. What a funny answer to the question ‘How did you survive?’.

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