Nights and mornings, all feel the same. I can’t tell one from the other. And yet, when I look at the walls around me, everything’s changed. When and how, is what I’m left with. Feels like an age has passed in the blink of an eye. Some I wish to see, are far far away. I don’t know when I’ll see them again. It’s scary the way world around is spinning out of control. And the ticking of the clock between midnight and dawn, only reminds me if I’ve wasted precious time. The longing to start all over again, is profound now than ever!

I can’t write anymore. Not the way I’d like to, or usually love to. Picking up the pen feels a task. So I put it down, each time. It always begins with a thought. A random muse that’s born somewhere in the subconscious, in the middle of lathering up my skin or sipping down water. I start chasing it. I rush in vain. Because even before I can spot what it is, it’s vanished out of sight. I search for it in the depths of my heart, hoping it is lurking somewhere. But soon I realise, I’ve lost it. And I’m crushed.

The other day, I was reading something. It felt like I’ve read it before. In some other place, in some other time. But in my heart, I know I haven’t. Then why does it feel so familiar? This is happening increasingly. It is annoying. Because I’m starting to feel I am losing grip over stuff. Mom doesn’t agree. She feels, I’m chasing things that don’t belong to me. I fail to see the connection. I don’t ask her for an explanation.

Ninety days of lockdown. These ninety days, I’ve been more close to the world than ever. These ninety days, I’ve known my world better than ever. These ninety days, I’ve fought to breathe, to live, more than ever. I’ve struggled to keep insanity at bay. Everything I’ve ever feared, have been pounding on my door. I secure it but I wonder what if they break through. And I cry. These ninety days have tested my patience and I pull myself together a bit each day. It isn’t easy when you’re left alone within the grasp of regrets. No, it isn’t. They get the better of you, a pinch at a time. Soon, it’s only grief all around, inside is a bottomless pit.

The heart’s restless. But I’ve survived what some failed at. I have been very close to losing it all. More often than ever now, inside feels like a place I’ve never been to. It feels so foreign that I wonder if it is the same heart that’s been with me these last three decades. After everything it’s been through, I expect it to have learnt its lessons. But it won’t. It surprises me every moment. I’m tired of asking it to stop. I’m tired of being tired. It’s still the kid who scampers at even so much as the mention of the word ‘stay’.

Thoughts are silent companions. Nervous, excited, melancholic, frolic, scattered, scared. Sometimes, one at a time, sometimes, all at once. They never leave me. For once, I want to feel what’d be like without them trailing me. Like a million little birds hovering overhead, whispering in my ears, of times, off and on, of times, come and gone. Some peace is all I ask. I write down on a piece of paper and shove it in their face –

“Don’t paint me the would-bes. Don’t talk of the may-bes. I know it’s a ruined affair. I know there’s nothing there.”

~~~~~

Asha Seth