Maitri for all
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Maitri for all

My mysterious friend — de!

It was in the year of 2016, I first got a glimpse of this strange creature. I know it exists. Surely it does. From time to time, I felt its presence. But I can’t figure out what it is. Does it have fur? Does it howl? Does is squeal? I don’t know. I have no clue. I often feel its footsteps around me. But when I try to look for it, its gone! Does it walk on four legs? Does it have paws? What does it eat? I have no clue. But it is there for sure.

I thought it lives down the lane or near some place X or Y. And that it was purely coincidental that I chanced upon it as I frequented those places. But no. It was right behind me and accompanied me to every place I visit. Familiarity didn’t breed contempt in this case. It indeed became my friend. Not that I had a choice. So yeah. De became an unavoidable friend!

Everyday as I strolled back home, I see my friend, De, come along. Then I entertain her for a while. I escort her to have dinner with me. She isn’t satisfied. And doesn’t want to go away. Jailed by my hospitable self, I let her stay. I remain awake whole night, or at-least till late. Hoping she will sleep or walk away. But she doesn’t. She stays right there. Then I go off to sleep. I don’t know when. And just as I doze off, my alarm rings.

I wake up. Another day is in-front of me. As the sun rays pierce through my window gaps, methinks it is going to be a happy day. I suddenly remember her. Yeah, the De. Is she there? Is she alive? Did she walk away? Did she fall asleep? I search for her here and there. But no trace to be found. I feel happy. I pat my shoulder and tell myself “you’ve been a wonderful host to a stranger”. Hesitation accompanies me. What if she hears me and wakes up? “Hell, no!” I tell myself. “Let me walk as quietly as a feather does, as it flies over the wind”. I brush and bathe. Then mechanically recite my prayers, quickly grab a bite and rush to my office. “It feels so good, it is going to be a productive day!” I tell myself, and then leave.

As I lock my door and step out, I hear a delicate cry “you think you can go ahead without me?” she says sotto voce. I am taken aback not by the sweetness of her voice, but by her chutzpah! She really thinks she is entitled to do this. There she is. The De. She follows me time and again. Like a shadow.

I should have picked this empirical cue and logically negate her existence. But logic was of a very little help when I can see her first hand. Right in front of my eyes. When I can hear her and feel her. I battled too much too get rid of her. I went through all racks of libraries — self help, spiritual, philosophical and so on. Met all sorts of people — shamans, healers, scientists and so on. The more I try to throw her away, the greater she clings back to me. She is too kind and cute. I don’t know if I am the cause of my own sadness or she is. She always wants to house me.

Too bad, she never reveals her identity. How can I describe about her to anyone I meet? “There is this thing” I tell them. “What thing?” they ask. I have no answer. “How does she look like?” “When does she visit?” A million other queries. All of these people are too kind towards me. They wanted to help me. But deep down there is this guilt. A deep guilt. It is as if every time I tried to answer a thing related to her, I feel I am removing a piece of cloth on her body, while she is stood in public. “Am I that barbaric to strip her naked in public?” I ask myself. “No” the answer comes. I tried to remain discreet about her, thereafter. A little later I realised that I do know her. Very well, in fact. She is like that deer which visits our house in the woods to grab an apple. She ramp-walks when I am not watching. But when I watch, she runs away and hides.

This went on and on. The irritation persisted. It turned into haunting and toxic emotions and so on. But I endured. With a hope that one day I will understand what has been happening. And what is she up to. Finally came that day, when I realised the depth of her kindness.

I could finally write about her, objectively. Not by dissecting her or examining her under a medical lens. But as it is. Understanding her purpose in my life. Here it goes:

I was fast asleep in a house surrounded by fire. Fire of false chatter. Prejudices. Fakeness. Jealousies. Envy. Gossip. Superficiality. Societal pressures and expectations. Memes. Mechanistic living. Pseudo-Capitalist post modern mindset. I was sound asleep. The fire is soon approaching my house. If I don’t wake up, it will be grilled alive to death. Intellectual and logical death. This fire has burned many and converted them into living breathing zombies.

There she comes. The De. She tried to wake me up. Multiple times. Using all gestures. All screams and noises. I didn’t — for a long time. But she didn’t give up on me. Her efforts came to fruition that one fine day. When I began to notice her. She was still in the darkness. But alas! I at-least noticed her. I slowly began to realise the fire around me. The deep unsettled mess that we are embedded in. And we are told that it is all fine. The panglossian illusion that we are progressing as a nation, as a human kind and so on. Yes we are. But only towards the fire that burns everything that is “human” in us.

De, came to help me out in this regard. On the contrary — may God forgive my stupidity — here I was trying to “wage” a battle against or even “conquer” her or “win” over her. Or even kill myself to get rid of her. I laugh at the profundity of my own stupidity. How dumb I was to wage a battle against the very fire brigade that came to rescue me? Quite dumb. De’s arrival made me question the most fundamental aspects of my personality. Her darkness which I tried to escape was my own darkness. I questioned the dualities, the societal norms, identity and everything else that I can think of. It is because she woke me up from a profound sleep of ignorance I could examine myself under this intensely reflective lens.

In each of our lives, if we are lucky enough, de will visit us. She is just a reminder — like the one on the car, that says fuel is going to be over— that says the current situation you are living in isn’t fine. That your beliefs aren’t well founded or you’re troubling your own self too much. She is just a noble indication, that made me who I am today, without which I wouldn’t have questioned by own existence and would have lived someone else’s life all my life. She is not our enemy. This we shouldn’t forget. She is not trying to steal our mental peace or take us away from our beloved. She is indeed doing the exact opposite. Trying to restore our mental peace. And our relationships with everyone. She is me. My own mind stepping out of my body and warning me about the mess I have kept it in. Not many are lucky to have this indicator working since they never examine their mind. This is different from being sad. Sadness goes away when we receive the thing we are craving for. She is the sacred seed of questioning that led Siddhartha to Gautama, Einstein to “THE EINSTEIN” and made Nietzsche contemplate about Übermensch.

I am blessed to have her in my life and I take pride to introduce my friend, de — the depression. Just as I am about to finish this piece, I see her right beside me, smiling and asking me yet again “you think you could go ahead without me?” “No, I think not” I tell her affirmatively. I wouldn’t have gone ahead without you, de.

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Reflections on universe, self and love.

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Shyam Wuppuluri FRSA

Independent researcher - Interdisciplinary approaches @ Foundations of science. Albert Einstein Fellow 2020. Member of Brazilian academy of philosophy.