Creative Writing

Depart

Depth. That’s all he thought about nowadays. Depth always complicated things. Think of all the tragedies that could have been avoided by simplicity. Detail confuses, detail is misinterpreted and misinterpretations instigate. Communication is the Achilles heel of human civilisation just because we can’t keep it simple.

Abstract thoughts often caught him by surprise, despite the fact that they were his own. He just couldn’t stop his train of thought once it started. Yet he could not complain, as his mind’s pathways usually led him to novel and interesting places. He could sit and think for ages at a stretch, and this session was particularly interesting.

It started, as it usually does, with heartbreak. She left. There can never be any more to say about it, as all has been said before. He would like to think she was his past, but she was his present and quite possibly his future. The question has always been, is he Hers?

But thinking like that led him nowhere. What was more interesting to him at the moment, was his emotions. He had always felt them the same way, an entity travelling inside his torso. Joy would always shoot up from his navel right up to his chest. Sorrow would start at his heart, and slowly work its way down to his gut, meandering along and tracing a convoluted path. Anger would start in his chest and brood there: still, unmoving. Until suddenly it would turn into Rage and burst open.

Simple emotions were comfortable. They were easy to create a narrative around. If he was having a bad day, he could just construct the drama and fill the void in his heart with the heroic notion of being at odds with the whole world. If he was feeling happy, the world ceased to be real and transformed into his own kind of paradise. When he was angry, the people and systems around him suddenly seemed so stupid and arbitrary.

Alas, it had all changed after the Event. His emotions no longer had distinct identities or paths. Instead, the entities he had gotten used to seemed to exist simultaneously, making connections among themselves and forming an intricate web. It was impossible for him to define his emotional state at any point in time. It was a horrible feeling. Paradoxically, he had never felt lonelier than when his own emotions refused to show themselves to him.

Mess, everything was a mess. He had gone too deep.


He threw himself into work. He was quite good at it, he realised. “Your work ethics are amazing for someone your age!” people remarked. He didn’t seem to care. He worked because the alternative was too scary: if idle, he knew where his mind would wander. Nevertheless, he excelled in his studies and projects and anything for which anyone dared make him responsible. Slowly, though, a feeling of purposelessness crept into his psyche. He felt like he was working towards nothing at all; any field he picked up seemed inconsequential no matter how good the prospects or how great his aptitude.

So he searched. He searched for any meaning the world could possibly give him until he realised that a relationship would give him the satisfaction like no other. Hence he set out to court a girl he liked. He was quite good at this too, apparently. Approaching her with a low self-esteem but hiding it, one day he asked her about the possibility of exploring a romantic angle between them. To his complete and utter surprise, she said yes.

The intricate web collapsed. He now felt nothing.


It wasn’t that he didn’t like her. The problem was that she could never substitute Her. It ended soon and it ended quite nonchalantly. He decided that he was going to find meaning in his work: after all, that was truly lasting. His work and his reputation could not leave him even after he died.

But the first goal he had to work hard towards was letting go of Her, or perhaps the idea of Her. Which one it was that tortured him so, he could no longer know. And while he toiled away at his psyche, experimenting with different ways of controlling his thoughts, no matter what he tried, he fell prey to Ironic process theory: “whereby deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts make them more likely to surface.”


He didn’t realise. It had been months. He hadn’t not thought of her this long before. Perhaps he really was over Her. Perhaps his work was meaningful enough, or perhaps the synapses of Her memory had simply decayed. Whatever it was, he would take it. He now understood that Forgetting wasn’t a process he could put himself through, Forgetting was simply the passage of time. Happily Ever After was certainly quite far off, but Now was here, replacing the Past. Now possibilities loomed in the horizon.

Visage

Depression is like a sugarless black coffee. Bitter at first, it slowly reveals to you how rich, how intense, how savoury it can be. It’s really an acquired taste. Those of us who haven’t realised the beauty of it, gulp it down just to get through the day. They just can’t live without it. But isn’t it better to enjoy the bitterness? After all, if nothing lasts forever, would you not want something bitter to start your day so that the rest of it can be lively by comparison? Alas, humans are humans, and humans love their love. The release of certain chemicals that light up their brain in just the right way. Rarely do they realise what comes after a high is a pretty irritating low.

Hypothetically, if a man was to live his whole life in depression, his life a series of mundane activities and boring tasks; imagine the rush he would get when he dies. Our bodies make us feel very loved in those last few seconds. The release of hormones has no bound and in desperation, your body will give out in an exasperated final breath. At that moment, that man will feel more satisfied, more serene than he ever did in his life. And thus, he would die happy. Wouldn’t it be beautiful?

Do you know that brain activity in humans goes down in the event of a tragic (to them, at least) event? Perhaps it’s a childish defence mechanism that rotates around denial. Can’t hurt if you don’t think about it. Can’t think about it if you don’t… think.

Bruce often came to these conclusions. He considered himself a Thinker, or perhaps, more importantly, other people did. They would call it an ‘interest’. Bruce was never convinced of their existence. We are all animals who accidentally achieved sentience in the effort to simply survive, dreaming up rules and ideas to justify their existence which in itself is completely pointless, and hence depressing.

He wondered why people are so scared of depression. It seems a better path to him than to pretend to have interests, to have hobbies. Is it not better to stop activity rather than to do something that could possibly reflect your inner animal and disrupt others’ lives? The only way for more than 7 billion of us to live together on this planet is to not get in each others’ way.

Bruce had diagnosed himself with depression on the day of his first heartbreak. His endeavour to approach another human being with all he had to give was not well received. Ah, the unfortunate end of a childhood. It does not bode well to give our children such amazing childhoods only to push them into the world, towards the realisation that there is no option but fend for themselves. Ever since that fateful day, he had been enjoying his own unique blend of this rich coffee, exploring every inch of its taste, careful not to finish it too fast.

He had always faced a problem, though. People see depression as an illness. And when you’re ill, you’re not supposed to infect other people. So you contain the pathogen. Here, the mere knowledge of the existence can drive people to infect themselves. So you must hide your depression. You put on a mask, you smile, you go to school, you go to work. You pretend to pretend to have interests and hobbies. You show vulnerability to others, create trust, build relationships. You laugh at their stupid jokes, you soothe their stupid egos.

It’s a lot of work, though. Which is why lazy people are the most hardworking of all. We have layers of behaviour to present to the outside world and we maintain all that while carrying out everything expected of us.

Hence Bruce got up to go to college. He had just gotten his license. He was very keen to learn, and he was pretty good at it. As he got ready for another average day at another average college, he recounted the words practically every guiding figure had said to him. “You have potential, Bruce, but you never work for anything. Why do you never work hard?” Seldom do they realise existence in itself is hard-work for some of us. He envies the previous generation, the ones who were brought up with bruised hands and aching cheeks, the ones who were made to taste bitterness so intense they could not help but feel lucky to experience this shit we call life.

He got into his car, checked the fuel tank and said, “Not today.” to himself. Just as he had been for 41 days. He put on his mask and drove to class.

The day at college went by as a blur, nothing really peeking his interest. He wished to be back in his room, enjoying another cup of coffee.

That night as he tried to complete another mundane assignment that did nothing but use what was already known. Just another instance of repetition to emphasise importance and need for mastery. He had never been good at doing what he was told. He found it aggravatingly boring and threw the paper in the dustbin. He wasn’t going to need it anyway.

The next morning he got up late, barely bothering with the time. He put on his mask and prepared for the day. He did not utter a word in the car and when his friend called in a panic as the class started, he cut the call. He reached class midway and barely bothered with the formalities. Average day, average work. When people asked him how he felt, his rehearsed reply was, “I’m great! Happy, satisfied.” And why wouldn’t he be? He had friends, he had a significant other who loved him, he had a post that granted him authority in a field of his interest. He had no reason to be unhappy. Therefore, he couldn’t be. That was what he had to present.

On his way back, he felt bored. Very, very bored. He had not felt this impatient in his life, as far as he could remember. That’s when he knew. He said to himself, “Today”. As he was driving back to his room, he took the longer route crossing the railway line. He could hear the train incoming. He drove as fast as he could and skidded to a halt near the line. And as the car came to a stop almost exactly perpendicular to the track he got out and flung his arms open. He took the last sip of his rich coffee, and it hit him. But he felt… nothing.

That was truly depressing.

Believe

Why did people believe? Sam was utterly stupefied. He required an explanation. An explanation as to why people dedicated time, money, and faith to a ‘deity’ who hadn’t shown a hint of compassion for the poor and the troubled. Who hadn’t helped them on rainy days, hadn’t lent them a hand when they needed it most, or ever. Whose existence was merely hypothetical, His power, therefore, purely circumstantial. And why was it always a He? Was our society really so misogynistic that they assigned the male gender to the single most powerful being in…

Where did He reside? Was He a being, even?

These were the things Sam worried himself over as he walked home from ball-practice. He was 12 years old. Tall for his age, with-no, he would not think about these things. His physical appearance, his daily activities and troubles, seem inconsequential. They have been seeming, more and more so recently. What he, in front of Him? So many questions. One of those kept nudging his mind. Why did people believe?

He wondered if He cared. If He looked over us, as had been preached to him time and again. He would protect us. Unless, of course, you didn’t believe. Then He would destroy. The only conclusion he could draw from this was that He was hypocritical, along with his followers. How could they consider him pristine, pure and justified, if they only did so out of fear? Maybe they forgot. They forgot all the times that parents, peers and preachers told them to pray. Pray, if you want to succeed in your task. Pray, if you want to get something you want. Pray, or perish.

But so many don’t forget. Information is the single greatest commodity in the world. It’s not surprising, then, that it had been forged and twisted and sold. Information had been altered, history had been altered. The Truth had been altered.

Sam was beginning to lose grasp of his own thought process. It was almost as if his thoughts had come from somewhere else, subtly settling themselves in his consciousness. But we know. We know what we think. We know which thought is alien. But He didn’t want to let go. He wanted to hold on to those thoughts, he wanted to cherish them. Much like a new book, a new thought was attractive. A new thought promised potential for unexplored ideas. But much like a new book, a new thought looked better from afar. We don’t really want to read a book which looks good. We would just ruin it. He would just ruin it…

Thud. He hadn’t seen him coming.

Seeing his belongings scattered everywhere, the middle-aged man scrambled to pick them up. He looked up at Sam with distaste. Yet he was not angry, no. He was not furious like one would be to a child. He looked ambivalent. He looked like he didn’t know what to feel. That’s when Sam realised he didn’t even register what he had been picking up. He didn’t register the fact that he was picking something up. He forced himself out of his thoughts, back into the real world. But the man had left. Gathered his things and went on with his life.

He was helping the man pick up his belongings. His belongings…

He slipped back. He thought. He wanted to believe. He did. He wouldn’t admit to anyone, but the prospect of believing everything is going to be okay would be tantalising to anyone. Was that why people believed? But that was stupid. That wasn’t faith, that was simply wishful thinking. He thought back to the man he bumped into. He was wearing a three-piece suit with a red tie. Very common among the people who worked at his father’s firm. What did his father do, exactly? He had never got a straight answer.

Inconsequential. Everything was inconsequential. How did it matter? How did we matter? How did He Matter?

He wondered why people found it so hard to view others as equal. He had never had a problem with it. He had learned not to judge people based on their appearance, quirks or first impressions. Everyone else was equal. Everyone was the same. But he was not alone. Others, they had to explain structure, creation. So if no human was unequal, there must be something greater than human. Something supernatural.

But he was alone in this: he did not believe.

Everyone around him believed. Everyone.

Then it hit him. The only logical explanation to all this. The only way the world makes sense. The only way everything about him and his life is explained. He was He. He was God.

Satisfied, He walked home singing to himself. It was odd, the song. He recognised it as a verse from a prayer. How quaint. He had always loved irony.