The Insolvent Escape
Contemplating the plot was one thing, executing it, another. You couldn’t see my scars because they had already marred and disfigured my conscience. I was defective, the world could attest to that. But, I was once whole, like a complete wardrobe, complete set of China, a complete musician, consummate happiness, perfect and complete in every respect. I was also young and full of hope then, a hope that I couldn’t revive anymore. I intended to take on this task of escaping with some possibility of fulfillment and yet the sinister voices inside me tore my flesh mocking my mere existence. I stopped, stopped to think, something I rarely did nowadays because thinking meant recalling knowledge from memory, remembering that I was once loved. I could think myself to a state of panic at this rate, so I stopped again, this time stopped thinking. Man is the only creature that thinks. Man is the only creature that suffers from the pain that he himself creates, that raw natural unprocessed condition with a naked ambition so brutally unfair that it inflames and exposes his soul. I felt like a wretched prisoner in that hospital, huddled in a stinking cage. Small voice of conscience and an even smaller voice of my experience with suffering, led me to trust that this would be a failed and perhaps fatal attempt at escaping from my current state of misery. And, just like that, a quote from one my favorite books resurrected:
“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realised, somehow, through the screaming of my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them.” — Shantaram
I don’t know what frightened me more, the power I had over my thoughts or the helplessness I felt because of it. Feeling free in the midst of the restraints seemed almost unreal. I had never been the type to compete to live. Death was almost an acceptable and a natural progression in my mind. Wasn’t in my nature to want to struggle for that last breath of fresh air or see the last sunrise. I sound glum, as if my state of mind was jumbled and confused. But I wasn’t any such thing. On the contrary, I had an inflated sense of pride and could psychoanalyze even intelligence officers. But, a part of me had died, died in that search for my soul.
I had unintentionally left my past attempting to move ahead and build a new life, like a raw recruit with a new kind of fashion. It was a time of unexampled prosperity. I was planning on meeting new people, making new friends whom I intended to hold with high regard and trust. However, I had trouble remembering the names of all my acquaintances and hence finding new allies in my fight was posing to be a challenge. I felt a small sad feeling and couldn’t shake it off. I wanted it to roll off me, leave me alone, depart politely, but it disliked long farewells.
So, I decided to be a solitary traveler, lone skier on the mountain, alone with my thoughts. But this escape could perhaps have been my solitary instance of bravery or turned out to be a ridiculous dopey behavior, either way I had embarked on this journey and was determined on completing it. I had an arrhythmic heartbeat, fighting against every ounce of sense that I had left in me. It was dark and I had to depend on my sense of smell and touch to go about the hallway.
I felt something brush against my arm. It was my roommate. I could feel her flesh crawl, a slow creeping mode of locomotion. I saw the butterfly tattoo on her wrist. But she always pulled her sleeve over it. I thought to myself, “Why get a tattoo you need to hide?”
Before we could exchange words of any significance, our favorably disposed next door neighbor came smiling towards us and his potential suspicions destroyed our potential escape.
Maybe that was a sign, sign that we should pull through for our own sanity, a word that had lost meaning in that distressing dark corner of the city. It was as if I felt I was deserving of this severe rebuke and censure siding with woeful treatment of the accused. Accused of what, though? I hadn’t cried, not once. And my roommate felt secluded. Crying for two, was lonely, after all.
Our room was unfrequented by others. We spent our lonesome hours either reading or watching insignificant episodes of criminal television. We comforted ourselves with memories, either few and far in between well-chosen moments in our past or the new memories we dreamed of hoping for a felicitous outcome to this non existent existence of ours. With that, we took our first steps towards our month long stay at the ward counting each day as if it were our last, with a feeble dream of a house that began with three maple trees and the aspirations of a semester that began with a convocation ceremony. We invested in life from that point forward, of its chemical and physical processes, of its animation and energy.