I ache for solitude. A few minutes of uninterrupted silence. I want it so badly that I can taste it under the roof of my mouth. I can smell it in the air that I breathe out. And I want to make a dash for it. Kneel before its fountain, and tongue its sweet nectar; wincing as I feel it on my skin.
Because solitude is not a rash. I cannot scratch it, and make the itching go away. It travels through my small intestines. Finds a home wherever the human soul is supposed to be hiding. It is my ticketless passenger. By now, it has hitched a ride so frequently that I am not sure who is giving directions anymore.
And it is not a disease I carry around. It is a beautiful scar. A pivotal part of my psyche. A bar graph that precariously body-surfs on the totem pole of my actualized needs. It comes in different shapes and sizes.
Today, I saw a Black Kite skirting past the opaque moon against a teal-blue evening sky. It was a refreshing change of scenery. Considering I had been bed-ridden since February. About two weeks ago, my spinal chord was operated upon. The disc bulge in my lower vertebrae had become worse. There was a growing risk of suffering permanent nerve damage on my left leg.
So, I had decided to opt for surgery. Now, I have a giant scar to show for it. If things don’t go according to plan, I may have a T-Shirt idea. Buy one for yourself and get two for your friends. But, strictly no refunds. I have a mouth, below my nostrils, to feed.
During the Christmas weekend, while in Ponneri, I saw the flycatcher breakfasting on a large moth. It was a breathtaking sight. How beautifully its iridescent crest glistened. The whirling dervishes that were its milk-white tail-feathers. Unable to contain my emotions, I cried. Not in a way that makes passersby smile at how kind and wonderful this deranged blue planet can be. It was sort of awkward. Weird-sounding. There was definitely some reverse-blowdrying of the nose. I had been waiting for the moment since 2013, after all.
On January 2, though, bad news arrived. I was diagnosed with a disc prolapse in my lower back. And it had struck a nerve that is connected to my left leg. There isn’t a cure for the condition. However, with the right treatment, I may be able to return to my routines.
I think everyone is born a morning person. We just uneasily grow out of it. There is a certain fluidity to our productive capabilities that crumbles into uncomfortable silos as the day progresses. There is some charm to it too. Cities look cleaner. People smell nicer. More importantly, birds show up in the largest possible numbers.
The dawn has me awake and impassioned about the remaining hours. It doesn’t matter if the excitement wears off by the time dusk comes calling. A few hours of radiance is all it takes to build a powerful case study about the universe.
But we must choose to first start with how things aren’t all that bad.
When I was much younger I was bitter about the success stories that was I felt critical towards. Like most of us dealing with angst, I had a loose grasp on how the world should work. I sat on a high horse and complained about how Titanic was the crappiest movie ever. That bubblegum pop was a medical hazard to music lovers. The worst offenders, to me, were those similar to me, but who just had it much easier in life.
It never seemed to matter how ungrateful or undeserving they were.
Indian Gaurs, the largest bovine species in South East Asia, are magnificent creatures. They live like retired Mafia bosses in reserve forest areas in and around the hill stations. They coexist harmoniously with the locals in nearby areas. But conflicts do arise.
A year ago, while driving from Valparai to Thrissur (in the state Kerala), I saw an alpha male Indian Gaur trampling the crops at a tea plantation. At a distance, the caretaker and his son were assessing scare tactics to chase it away. After a short discussion, the kid armed himself with a log of wood and a large stone. He seemed to approach the Gaur with confidence yet caution.
He flayed his arms with panache, waving the stick like Gandolf in a street fight. The beast stopped grazing to look up for a few seconds. The kid inched closer, holding the stick higher in the air.