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 develop a gag reflex for certain things I am passionate about. Whether a new style of writing I want to try out, the type of people I socialize with or the kind of music I listen to. After shifting the paradigm, I just throw my hands in the air and walk away. A simple explanation is that I am easily distracted. I may be suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder. Another may be that “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member”.
It doesn’t really matter why. Popeye taught me that a long time ago.
Somehow, my love for birds survived the onslaught. Four years later, I am as lovestruck. Every time I see a bird of prey – my heart doesn’t just skip a beat, it leapfrogs over a bunch of them stacked on top of each other. Like the flap of some Malabar Trogon’s wing – it takes to the sky.
I know that you aren’t sure why you feel depressed. You try and hide it because you can’t find its source. You fear judgment from others. The ones you know and those you cherish. They won’t understand what you are going through because you don’t either.
So you avoid thinking about it, but it doesn’t go away. Whenever it comes, you feel sick in your stomach. Your press your fingers against both sides of your scalp to assuage the dull quaking in-between. But there is no escape. No crack in the wall through which you can squeeze yourself out.
No hole in the ground you can fall through and disappear for a while.
Most nights I find myself in a staring contest with the ceiling fan. I try and count every circular motion. My eyes can never keep up. I can remember each and every time how it feels to fail at this. I am always sure I have lost count before.
The hours tick by, they roll over like tumbling dice. The television watches me fall asleep. The bathroom door is ajar; the lights – switched on. I hear a muffled sound, and I look around, in vain, for the source – like a confused mongrel. Right then, a well-dressed man screams on television, asking me to please drink Pepsi and be happy like I am supposed to.
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.