This is the emotional landscape of a 18 year and 11 month old Nisa, recorded in the form of ‘Island’ by Hyuk Oh. Play it in the background to get the edgy feeling I have 24/7. Or even better, confuse yourself by watching the music video. I am as creepy and neon-colored soul as the video depicts, imagining myself to be pixelated to oblivion, sometimes.

Guess who fucked up even more?

It’s funny how even a few months can shift your attitude, personality and mind. My vacation in Bangladesh had changed me — rather subtly — and sometimes it felt that I did not know myself at all. I had come to the land of monsoon rain and eternal heat waves in hopes for no less than a miracle to be bestowed upon my life. As admittedly embarrassing as it was, I knew that there were many things wrong with me, and many more things that needed to be hidden. I hoped and silently prayed that I could start a somewhat semi-new life in good spirits. I knew that praying does not (usually)work, but I still did. It kept me sane. Somewhat. Sometimes.

The start of this rather long stay in the tropical ancestral home of mine was full of ‘what if’ questions. What if I failed? What if something happened? What if I make the stupidest mistake of all times, fall in love? Everything was possible, and nothing was set in stone. I was nervous, stressed and very much agitated before my results came. I would dream of the new life I would have when I would start my university studies, all the new experiences, the good and bad, all during the godforsaken sweltering Bengali summer heat at night and a broken A/C desperately circulating stale air away from me. I would say that I am not afraid of what the future holds for me, I think that human beings are rather great at adapting to new circumstances, be it inside your head or out there in the physical world. What I dreaded the most was the loss of communication, losing those open hearts I had the chance to tell and express myself freely. It was the realization that there are many who can understand you, they might be the key to helping you — salvaging you from the hell hole you have yourself created — and yet they do not bother. And lets face it: I was not the most selfless person either, so I should’ve been less bothered by the fact. Then again, I might’ve been concerned about the lack of care towards me, because, after all, I was not a selfless but rather a selfish person. My head hurts by just thinking about it, but one thing is clear: people are assholes, and so are you. It’s only that you have to live with the asshole personality of yours, always reprimanding yourself, and thus have no energy to correct nor aid other asshole types around you. Or you are just too big of an asshole to not really care. Choose whatever you want.

Mutual understanding is something that I really try to strive for. I think it is necessary to be able to self-express thoughts, emotions, feeling freely and without prejudice. I’ve come to notice that many of the younger people (and older, actually the majority of human demographics) I know tend to favor rational thinking, disregarding the emotional side of the human nature as something small and trivial. I did agree with them for a long time and I did apply this doctrine religiously in my daily practice, as religiously as a monk would lead his last prayer, knowing that it will be his last chance to pray for salvation. What it all led to was a state of emptiness, a desolate landscape of self-misunderstanding and this small (I am only sugarcoating, for the sake of the reader’s comfort) rage inside me. My temper had always been short, my patience too thin, but I sometimes managed to rather sadly impress myself with the havoc I caused under the influence of anger. And when I then had calmed down, I would see and feel the repercussions of my anger and hurt for days and even months to come.

It was during the start of Ramadan, and this desperate thought of never getting myself up from my own destructive mind occupying me constantly, that I fully realized the extent of the damage I had caused to myself and to others. I had become selfish and had stopped caring for others, and that was what devalued my worth as a human being. The moment I stepped on to the Bengali soil I experienced this rather strange concept, of people taking care of me, of people genuinely showing interest, of showing emotions and sharing affection with me. It struck me that I had desensitized myself from affection and love, and that was what had made me turn into nothing emotionally.

As my stay elongated I started to see a change in myself; I had started to have irregular mood changes, feeling terrible even when I did not understand the source of the misery. I had lost once my complete control over my anger (and was terrified of myself for the next few days, it was terrible)in Bangladesh, and that made me worried. Everything really was a blur, everything was overwhelming: the people, the heat, the change, the care, the affection I got, the Ramadan.

Fast forward a few weeks after the Eid celebrations, I was constantly struggling with the worry inside me. The future was even bleaker than I had anticipated and it felt like a pulsating, radiating wave of pain was spreading throughout me; always starting from my heart, my pained heart sinking so violently inside my rib cage that I thought that my heart tendons would physically rip apart and I would die, and the numbness traveling all the way to my fingertips and feet. My eyes would sting with tears which would never fall, and it felt like my trachea was closing in, trying to squeeze the soul out of me, my hands shaking due to the pent-up anger and sadness. The numbness and the pain increased whenever I found myself to be unable to partake in tasks that my family expected me to do: smiling and eating bhat, going to Hifz classes, talking to my soon-to-be-married khalamoni. It felt like I was locked in a cage, out there on display for some research institute investigating the effects of self-disappointment on the tender brain and body of a teenager. And I really was locked in a cage, in a huge, humid and goddamn hot cage where the only thing you weren’t forced to share with others were your thoughts.

And during that time thoughts and dreams were what mattered me the most. I slept more than I ever had the upcoming weeks, mesmerized at the beautiful dreams, of beautiful hopes and thoughts, of the alternative universe which I only saw while asleep. But when I did open my eyes, the reality settling in, the inner voice waking up and repeating self-loathing topics over and over. The sinking feeling would settle again, and I would curl up into a semi-fetal position on my bed (too damn hot to move) and my arms over my eyes and biting my lips so hard so as to not cry. Yet I would be always a breath away from the Great Sob of Disappointment, and it took all of my energy to focus on something else, like how I wanted to avoid eating rice for the next month or so without seeming impolite or rude towards my relatives. Safe to say, it was not that efficient, and thus I had to run to a bathroom, open the shower and then start sobbing like my life depended on it. And it was embarrassing and a horrible experience. But I feel that it was necessary, for the sake of releasing those weird mental toxins inside my head.

I would repeatedly play the same song, over and over, over and over, and over again, marveling at the relevance of the lyrics and the mood of the song to my life. The song was about heartbreak, about a breakup, a raspy soothing voice over a loud and slow bass tempo, the slow strum of the cello accentuating the melancholy and the hurt. The song for some reason was always applicable to my many different life situations: it fit perfectly with what I was feeling after I finished my last exam, when I bid farewell to my friends, when I met my relatives, when strolling alone at night on the chad, this song got perfectly with everything. Even when I was happy, I would identify myself to be in the mood of Island by Oh Huyk, and later on had to conclude that my life was one big story of heartbreak and misery. Which I am sure it is not, but it felt just like that. Maybe it was the intense and dark tempo, the soft spoken background vocals or the post-choral tu-du-du vocals that made me feel at peace. I don’t know, but it seems that this obscure song, which even to me is not that phenomenal of an auditory piece, had lodged into my (dead) heart and I simply couldn’t find a replacement for it.

The last few days of my stay were scattered all over the place, those hectic days were full of (my) misery and (other people’s) happiness. Everybody around me was (using my favorite slang term) getting hitched, sailing to the beautiful port of marriage and eternal bliss (arguable, but to be fair, it felt like everybody was super lucky and by default I was not). It even hurt more, since on Eid day I had the pleasure of meeting not only a girl my age, but she also had a 6 month old baby. Now, my rational part of my brain was screaming that I should’ve been happy to be not subjected to pregnancy nor the traumatic event of getting married and getting pregnant in the span of two months, at a such a delicate and turbulent (all in my mind really, my life really is pretty uneventful, most of the time) time of my life. Yet, I could not help and I could not stand the girl, I could not look at the 6 month baby called Rihanna in the eye nor hold her in my lap, because I simply felt that I was being banned from such a privilege called marriage. I was jealous of this girl, the way she could hold her own child, the way the baby would cling to her, the way the baby would rely and try to look out for her mother. It’s ridiculous, I was (and frankly, I am still) as inexperienced as a refraining Muslim girl could be, yet here I was there and then, hoping to just snatch a man, marrying him and just getting a baby. The thought of just having a baby of my own, with half of my DNA in this little wonderful soul, growing and learning, me pouring all that love and care which I possessed into this tiny human, that was what I yearned at that time. And maybe I will do that, children just make my heart thaw from the permafrost I have subjected myself into, as they are nothing more than innocent and beautiful.

I realised during the last two days that I possessed the ability to care and love others, it just took a bit of effort. And the more effort you put in, the more you could get that back, if you find the right people. And what better people to love you than your own grandma, grandpa or your seventeen mamas or twenty one khalamonis? Who else would come up to you in their wedding, you sitting there gloomily eating chicken roast (weddings are tragic, but the food is not), placing a caring hand on to your forehead and cry at the sight of seeing you just being present at their wedding. Who else would go broke to treat you to some mudcake and bubble tea in a three-star hotel, while they just knew that their paycheck would come in a week and they might not afford to have something to eat for the night. That kind of love and care, that was heart warming, that kind of care made me guilty, but immensely grateful. That feeling of being appreciated, that was truly that made me cry, only this time tears of happiness. And it made me realize that yes, I was capable of that too, of selfless affection.