Visage

After my last post, I realized I have not utilized Medium as a platform to display my amateur work so I am posting my favorite short story here. It begins from the next line.

Image taken from Google Images. No copyright infringement intended.

Depression is like a sugarless black coffee. Bitter at first, it slowly reveals to you how rich, how intense, how savory it can be. It’s really an acquired taste. Those of us who haven’t realised the beauty of it, gulp it down just to get through the day. They just can’t live without it. But isn’t it better to enjoy the bitterness? After all, if nothing lasts forever, would you not want something bitter to start your day so that the rest of it can be lively by comparison? Alas, humans are humans, and humans love their love. The release of certain chemicals that light up their brain in *just* the right way. Rarely do they realise what comes after a high is a pretty irritating low.

Hypothetically, if a man was to live his whole life in depression, his life a series of mundane activities and boring tasks; imagine the rush he would get when he dies. Our bodies make us feel very loved in those last few seconds. Release of hormones has no bound and in desperation your body will give out in exasperated final breath. In that moment, that man will feel more satisfied, more serene than he ever did in his life. And thus, he would die happy. Wouldn’t it be beautiful?

Do you know that brain activity in humans goes down in the event of a tragic (to them, at least) event? Perhaps it’s a childish defence mechanism that rotates around denial. Can’t hurt if you don’t think about it. Can’t think about it if you don’t… think.

Bruce often came to these conclusions. He considered himself a Thinker, or perhaps more importantly other people did. They would call it an ‘interest’. Bruce was never convinced of their existence. We are all animals who accidentally achieved sentience in the effort to simply survive, dreaming up rules and ideas to justify their existence which in itself is completely pointless, and hence depressing.

He wondered why people are so scared of depression. It seems a better path to him than to pretend to have interests, to have hobbies. Is it not better to stop activity rather than to do something that could possibly reflect your inner animal and disrupt others’ lives? The only way for more than 7 billion of us to live together on this planet is to not get in each others’ way.

Bruce had diagnosed himself with depression on the day of his first heartbreak. His endeavour to approach another human being with all he had to give was not well received. Ah, the unfortunate end of a childhood. It does not bode well to give our children such amazing childhoods only to push them into the world, towards the realisation that there is no option but fend for themselves. Ever since that fateful day, he had been enjoying his own unique blend of this rich coffee, exploring every inch of its taste, careful not to finish it too fast.

He had always faced a problem, though. People see depression as an illness. And when you’re ill, you’re not supposed to infect other people. So you contain the pathogen. Here, the mere knowledge of the existence can drive people to infect themselves. So you must hide your depression. You put on a mask, you smile, you go to school, you go to work. You pretend to pretend to have interests and hobbies. You show vulnerability to others, create trust, build relationships. You laugh at their stupid jokes, you soothe their stupid egos.

It’s a lot of work, though. Which is why lazy people are the most hardworking of all. We have layers of behaviour to present to the outside world and we maintain all that while carrying out everything expected of us.

Hence Bruce got up to go to college. He had just gotten his license. He was very keen to learn, and he was pretty good at it. As he got ready for another average day at another average college, he recounted the words practically every guiding figure had said to him. “You have potential, Bruce, but you never work for anything. Why do you never work hard?” Seldom do they realise existence in itself is hard-work for some of us. He envies the previous generation, the ones who were brought up with bruised hands and aching cheeks, the ones who were mad to taste bitterness so intense they could not help but feel lucky to experience this shit we call life.

He got into his car, checked the fuel tank and said, “Not today.” to himself. Just as he had been for 41 days. He put on his mask and drove to class.

The day at college went by as a blur, nothing really peeking his interest. He wished to be back in his room, enjoying another cup of coffee.

That night as he tried to complete another mundane assignment that did nothing but use what was already known. Just another instance of repetition to emphasise importance and need for mastery. He had never been good at doing what he was told. He found it aggravatingly boring and threw the paper in the dustbin. He wasn’t going to need it anyway.

The next morning he got up late, barely bothering with the time. He put on his mask and prepared for the day. He did not utter a word in the car and when his friend called in panic as the class started, he cut the call. He reached class midway and barely bothered with the formalities. Average day, average work. When people asked him how he felt, his rehearsed reply was, “I’m great! Happy, satisfied.” And why wouldn’t he be? He had friends, he had a significant other who loved him, he had a post that granted him authority in a field of his interest. He had no reason to be unhappy. Therefore, he couldn’t be. That was what he had to present.

On his way back, he felt bored. Very, very bored. He had not felt this impatient in his life, as far as he could remember. That’s when he knew. He said to himself, “Today”. As he was driving back to his room, he took the longer route crossing the railway line. He could hear the train incoming. He drove as fast as he could, and skidded to a halt near the line. And as the car came to a stop almost exactly perpendicular to the track he got out and flung his arms open. He took the last sip of his rich coffee, and it hit him. But he felt… nothing.

That was truly depressing.

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