Limbo: A Story of Yesterday, Today and Everyday

How I stopped holding my breath for life to happen and kicked monotony out of my life.

Very recently, I ran into an old friend of mine from middle school. He’s doing great in his life — got into a great college, wrote some fairly insightful research papers and got placed in a company that pretty much guarantees him a financially secure future. In a country like India, coming from a middle-income urban family, that is all that we ever hope to achieve. If you are not a prodigy and you try to look any further than that, you get smacked on the head with your own pair of high-powered binoculars. Or even worse, you’re sent back to the end of the queue.

So, me and my friend, we get talking about this new paper he’s going to be presenting at some international conference or other when he goes about asking me what’s up with my life.

It’s easy to manipulate the course of a discussion. It’s something I’ve learnt from my painful experiences in high school. There is a simple operating principle: distraction. Just steer the conversation towards something that’s more important to the person you’re talking to and Voila! You’re back in charted territory. It works better with people having bigger egos. Just get them talking about themselves and you’re safe.

Until they realize they’ve gone off track, and it comes back to bite you in the ass.

My friend is not an egotistical jerk like most other people I seem to run across in my life. So the process of distraction fell apart owing to my own lack of confidence about carrying it out to its conclusion.

“So what’s up with your life, man? What’re you up to these days?”

I look around in my brain for about a minute, and come up empty.

Well, that’s exactly what’s up in my life.

This friend of mine is, in my opinion, the most successful person of my age I know. His is not an imposing figure. But I was thoroughly intimidated.

At this point, you have three choices:

1. Panic and lie through your teeth.

2. Make a summary of all your insignificant achievements, if any, and make a sorry spectacle of yourself.

3. Fess up to your crimes against self.

I pride myself on doing things differently. Put my own spin on things. Churn out an out-of-the-box theory. So I helped myself to a fourth option.

4. Start with the first choice, make an inconspicuous transition into the second choice, get disgusted with your choices, and then go for the third choice.

It was, to say the least, a disaster.

What hurts the most is not the fact that you made a sorrier spectacle of yourself than you’d thought possible, but the pity emanating from a friend who suddenly looks at you like you’re some kind of freak. I was suddenly very frightened. It took me back some time.

I have never managed to break out of the school locker room I was shut inside.
And if I ever make it out, it’s all gonna be empty.

At this point, I cannot help but let out a heavy, shuddery sigh.

Currently, my life is at a point where you can’t move forward or backward. To put it succinctly, I am awaiting results. Not the school or college exam ones. I mean those which can potentially change the course of your life. It’s one of those things for which you say, “My whole life has been building up to this moment.” And until I have those results in my hands, I literally can’t move on with my life.

So these days I spend my time moping around, sitting on my bed with my laptop, waiting for my favorite YouTuber to upload his newest H1Z1 Battle Royale multiplayer gameplay video. But hey! I’m still enjoying myself. Of course, I’m delusional.

I have a trivia-based memory. I remember things as words, phrases, facts and figures, which is helpful when you have an exam the next day, but otherwise gives you an aura of a first-order nerd. So the first thing that came to mind while reflecting upon my current situation was the word ‘limbo’.

So basically, my life’s in limbo. That is, quite possibly, the best attempt at nutshelling you’ll ever come across.

The moment when you Google ‘nutshelling’ and realise there are research papers on the topic.

It’s just that I find myself sitting at the same place on my bed with my computer and my books, the latter mostly being ignored in favor of the former. I push people away. I tell the sweetest mum of all time, my mum, to shut up when she’s barely even spoken to me. When I’m not attending college, I hold myself captive in my room. I make a promise to myself to go study, and end up running ‘round in my apartment like a headless chicken. And, then, here I am, defending myself for no apparent reason. (I know you won’t judge me. We’re not related.)

And again, today, I found myself at the exact same position on my bed with my laptop and my books. It’s extremely disconcerting and, to some extent, unnerving.

You’ll find that the thing with the bed and the laptop is a recurring theme in this composition. I apologize if it makes the passage sound bland and prosaic. But it’s important with respect to this tale. You see, the place where I sit on the bed with my laptop is from where I see the world when I have a free schedule. It’s my observation deck. It’s my window into the world around me, which is ironic, considering that more often than not, the windows in my room are shut tight. And it’s the only place in the world where I actually feel safe and comfortable, and quite frankly, completely invincible. So when I started feeling like this corner of my bed was somehow holding me back, I had to do something about it.

So I got up, opened my cupboard and dug out a knitting needle and a pair of craft scissors from my mum’s wool knitting kit. Then I looked around and found a wall calendar of 2015 and some craft adhesive in a drawer. I cut the calendar paper into inch-wide strips, then cut each of them again across a diagonal. Then I wound each of them around the knitting needle with some adhesive, and when the adhesive dried, I ended up with lots of ornamental beads. (What? Everyone has a feminine side!) I found some embroidery thread in my old school stationery kit (Don’t ask why.), slid the beads through a sizeable length of it, and tied it around to make a simple but great looking necklace for my mum. I felt the happiest I’d been in ages.

It’s up to us to make our lives drab or colorful. It doesn’t matter if you have an internal locus of control or an external one. You have to get up and work. It may be something greatly convoluted, or maybe something as simple as making a calendar paper bead necklace. It helps to know that you’re not wasting your time. It makes a whole lot of difference to know that you’re doing something about the monotony engulfing your life. Inactivity, in my opinion (humble and otherwise), is the biggest enemy of mankind. We’ve all been taught what’s good and what’s bad. We just need to work for it. The simple things are the most helpful because they are lucrative as a temporary relief from inactivity. Once you proceed to the simple things, it becomes easier to take on the bigger challenges.

Most people who are going to be reading this are definitely more experienced than I am. They don’t need the preaching. Hell, I’m in my final year of engineering and I still have no idea about what to do with my life. But it’s something I’ve learnt from my… inexperience, if you will. I am going through one of the most testing times of my life. And what I’ve learnt today has helped me get through one day of it. Maybe it’ll get me through another. I have no way of knowing. But I’m writing about this in the hope that it helps people who have a similar predicament and have to drag themselves through every day. Trust me, it’s certainly better than eating and sleeping and playing Cards Against Humanity online all day long.

Originally published at (WACKlogic) on April 8, 2016.