The Politics of Loneliness

“Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?”
— TS Eliot, The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock

Crawling through the year end with shameful hangovers, men and women often find themselves leaning out of their windows, searching for the lost; much like the romantic immortals of Eliot’s poem. Snuggling inside the warm blanket of memories, it is this time of the year when the sense of loneliness seeps inside the veins in the most definite way. The sense of all things gone in the year that is to bid adieu, and all the years that have vanished in the past.

If we negate the idea of time, years do not mean anything. But we have simplified and dramatized our existence with the drab of time; ticking clocks and turning pages of calendars chasing us and ageing us. And yet, we are happy with each year end, we are drunk, and intoxicated in love, with hopes for our well-being and that of our dear ones. But, somewhere the drab of time reminds us of the loneliness that is inherent in humans, and before we know it, we sit on January 1, leaning over our windows and watching the birds take flight in a brand new sky. Did we click enough pictures of places and faces the last year, did we kiss the cheeks of our loved ones enough; in the 25 years that have passed me by, how much have I retained in my memory? Then the music in the radio, Auld Lang Syne, and in comes the politics of loneliness, breaking the emotional man.

In a quintessential scenario of a well decorated porch on New Year’s Eve, it is this inherent loneliness that refuses to leave. The stigma of an awful memory, or the joy of a happy one, they all play in a recurring form, while we stand batting eyelids, forced to feel lost in individual thoughts in the heart of a reveling crowd. The fate of man standing amidst the bright lit rooms and spaces is much like that of Sisyphus, the tragic hero. To have to carry on to another year, making a new set of memory, and standing lost yet again in another New Year’s Eve, may be in another place, in just 365 days. A whole year, it is just 365 days long. To have to go back down and climb up the hill just so we can stand back there in 365 days. Perishable ideas, lost faith, forgotten faces, lonely bus rides, fear, disgust, love, laughter, sorrow, journeys, kindness, all of these happen all over again, only to be disposed at the year end, to be packed and stored. It is a painstaking thought, to sit on the 356th day and search for a new way to start life.

It is essential to discern that humans at their core are beings of sorrow, happiness is momentary, and we are always in the search for something to make us happy. Take that away from a man, and he is most definitely a sad being, bored and rusted. This is why there is an intricate delicacy in the thought of a memory, a happy memory, the smile of someone, the sign off in the letter of a long gone grandfather, the walks on a spring evening with someone close, and to have to reinstate that every year, to know that by the end of a certain time, “this will end”, is torture. So why the New Year’s Eve extravaganza? Why the clarinets and trumpets? Why the holding hands and dancing? It is once again to overcome the fear of a loss, the loss of an entire year that is gone forever. It is to overcome the sorrow of memories, the tragedy of lost faces; it is to overcome the death of days. But when you stand listening to the clamorous melody in a place surrounded by known faces, and children running amok in party hats, you will remember in your most nostalgic moment ever, you will remember it all, and you will be lonely. You will know, that the “forlorn rags of getting old” is true, as your eyesight will get weaker, and your teeth with get closer to decaying, your favourite shirt will perish beyond recognition, and everything will play politics to keep you lonesome.

Dear reader, take time to repeat these words and understand the depth of it inside your churning heart, “2014 is over, never to come back.” So this December 31, find your window, and lean out to look back.


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