Testing times

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston.

I just read that quote here and it resonated most vigorously with me because for more than nine months now I have been going through questions, questions and more ‘testy’ questions..and I still can’t seem to find the light at the end of this dark and dreary question tunnel..

The more troubling part is that I can’t find the thread that holds my whole life story together. Why is this annoying year even happening to me? Is this year going to end soon or is it going to run into another year, or more? It’s certainly not going to be like this forever, right? Right? RIGHT?! Oh hell, say something!

This year has had possibly the most number of nerve-wracking months in any year since 2010. The current year is like a minefield with an extensive variety of landmines. By ‘landmines’ I mean bad days; but not just your average bad day…a little worse than that…like, a bad day in a bad week of a bad month of a bad year. In my case of landmines, there’s at least one such day in a week waiting to explode in my face, tear me limb from limb, and send me into an emotional vortex, and finally plonk me into a teary grave. I sleep it off. And if the next morning I still feel like a train wreck then I write it off. I mean I LITERALLY WRITE-OFF the discomfort. (RELEASE: wRiting hElps Lighten thE loAd, wordS Escape.)

All the exploded landmines in the year so far have made me so sensitive from the inside that I keep my guard up constantly. So in this state of affairs it has naturally become unthinkable to think of anyone beyond myself and that has to be the sickest part. It feels like I don’t even know myself anymore. Had I always been this selfish? There is no way to retrace my path back to where I felt I was on the right track to being a better human being: I lost track of the path of my evolution. It’s all a mess. I’m probably what one calls a ‘spiritual goner’. And for a spiritual goner I have too many emotions, soft spots, and depression-triggers. The only good thing about this condition is that PMS pales in comparison to it.

This year is also marked with intermittent phases of depression like black-holes in the unbounded space of bad days. Depression is the only thing worse than the landmines. I can never pinpoint the entry points, nor map the escape routes out of these holes. I just keep dreading them. Only last week, on a dusky Saturday evening, when I had lain down on my bed to soak in my ocean of depressing thoughts I felt a common red ant crawling up my arm to bite me any second then. I instinctively crushed it with my thumb and a sharp pain of anguish and remorse shot through my entire body, top to toe, a million times more painful than what the poor ant would have caused me if at all it had bitten me. The horrible pangs of repentance, I can vividly recall even now. I retracted my thumb almost immediately but the damage had been done by then: the ant’s limbs were all twisted out of shape. It was the first time perhaps that I truly, with the full force of truth and wisdom, realized that an ant’s life or the life of any living creature was in no way inferior to mine.  This also made me realize that I wouldn’t have had this realization, this intense shock of repentance, had I not been soaking in depression. Depression ‘marinated’ me, and brought out the sensitive side of me to a great extent, like how chicken marinated in yogurt brings out its flavors…!!!! Oh the thought of killing, marinating, cooking and consuming a hale and hearty bird! Horrendous! That meant that I had lived through the major part of my life being remorselessly insensitive, growing harder and tougher and more self-obsessed with time, not to mention killing ants and hens left and right. The awareness that I had otherwise (that is, when I’m free of depression) become so self-obsessed added to the already cluttered baggage of emotions: guilt. Guilty of not sparing a thought to family, guilty of forgetting to wish best friend on her birthday, guilty of not staying in touch with many other special ones…the list is endless.

In the midst  of all this shit, the year also featured the re-emergence of a love affair which I had thought was dead and gone by the beginning of the year. I interpreted the re-emergence of ‘love’ as the return of the cool monsoon showers after a particularly torrid period of solitude and soul-searching. I thought that that ‘love’ might be the elusive light at the end of the tunnel. It was neither monsoon, nor light: it was a farce. The guy had inadequacy, insecurity, and insincerity written all over him but my love was as blind as true love. “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.”  The differences/alterations we found along the way, of religion, caste, creed etc. would not have altered this ‘love’ had it been love. I always knew he was a hypocrite and a snake but I also believed that no person was constant, which was why I gave him a second chance. Thus, I had it coming for me. And, before I could judge correctly and get my guard up, it exploded with the force of a truckload of landmines right in my unsuspecting heart. He ditched me all over again. The re-emergence resurrected all those fuzzy feelings, at times warm and at times hot, which gave it enough pressure to finally explode. After all, the whole re-emergence episode was a mega-landmine in the array of landmines, and the year continues to test me. And in the aftermath, today’s newspaper headlines indicatively and rather mockingly read, “Ebola’s re-emergence, a wake-up call”. If ‘Ebola’ stood for ‘ex-lover’, the ‘wake-up call’ in my case pertains to perhaps these questions: “Had I not learnt anything from the previous episode of rejection by the same fucking guy?”, “If and when Ebola (read: any ex-lover) strikes again, would we be able to deal with it better?” It’s high time I worked on the answers to these questions. In any case, I have always maintained and still do maintain this: It’s his loss. I love back, like always. ‘Redamancy‘ is a beautiful word.

The year so far with all its helter skelter rush through the minefield was not without its aleatory moments of happy clarity. For instance, right now I clearly think that when all of this passes, whenever that may be, I shall be glad I had one day taken the time out to write this post. I longed to write this one for over two weeks now but could not as last Sunday I had a major ‘test’ (which was a mini-minefield in itself), which surely added a lot of heat to these testing times, and it took me till today to reorient myself to the normal pace of things. So relieved the test is done, so glad the post is written and so ready to sleep today’s landmine damage off!

Micchami Dukkadam

Khamemi Savve Jiva
Savve Jiva Khamantu me
Mitti me Savva Bhooesu
Veram Majjham Na Kenvi
Michchhami Dukkadam

The above literally translates to:

I forgive all living beings.
May all souls forgive me,
I am on friendly terms with all,
I have no animosity toward any soul.
May all my faults be dissolved.

                              Thanks to my brush with a particularly specious variety of Jainism which came in the form of a particularly specious boyfriend in an equally specious relationship which ends just about now in my head. R.I.P, Love Affair. It was as a ramification of this acquaintance that I had started to take more than a casual interest in ‘true’ Jain philosophy. To hell with the specious variety that most of the Jains of the day, like this aforementioned ex, have tailored out of real Jainism to suit their non-spiritual needs and ultra-violent desires.
Anyway, today happens to be Jain Samvatsari celebrated as Kshamavani or Forgiveness Day. Like all religious doctrines formulated by thinkers and philosophers such as Buddha, Mahavira, Bodhisattvas, Tirthankara, Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Forgiveness Day was quite obviously devised and put in place to drive home the psychological concept and virtue of forgiveness; in other words, it was cleverly brought into common conscience to give the common people a taste, on one day of the year, of the benefits of the state of mind of a forgiver. Kinda like a primer. And by driving home this concept, the thought leaders envisaged that subsequent generations of followers would make every day of the year a Forgiveness Day, that they’d absorb the virtue into their spiritual beings (as it fits perfectly with the overall Jain ideology) and that the need for a particular day (of the  year) set apart as Forgiveness Day would fall off eventually like dead skin off a healed wound.
But, as mortifying as it must be for all the dead saints, their subsequent followers (like my specious ex-boyfriend) have perverted the idea of Kshamavani in more than one way in the name of religion. For instance, I can think of two ways off-the-cuff, coming directly from ‘up-close and personal experience’. One of the ways: a specious, deviant Jain would not think it fit to forgive someone or some creature on an ordinary day of the year as he thinks he ought to forgive, if at all, only on Kshamavani! Another of the ways: a specious, perverted Jain would interpret the purpose of Kshamavani as a foolproof license to hurt and torture every living creature all round the year in the expectation of washing all the guilt away on Kshamavani!
What I am trying to say is that I am dismayed at how this perverted set of Jains has totally killed not only Kshamavani but also every single virtuous tenet of Jainism, be it truth or non-violence; my sentiment is succinctly put by Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
On this day, as henceforth on all other days of the year, I, in the spirit of true humanity, forgive all and seek their forgiveness. Also, I forgive me for cracking under pressure, for having insecurities about my precious identity ever (which has to stop), for giving untrustworthy assholes the benefit of the doubt every single time (which I won’t stop anyway because everyone deserves yet another chance to prove their sincerity and I haven’t yet learnt/identified the limit where one ought to stop giving chances when pleaded with for that ‘one last chance’!). I also forgive, with no reluctance, my specious, insincere, untrustworthy, spineless, unscrupulous, double-dealing ex-boyfriend for every last bit of pain that I took upon myself.

Micchami Dukkadam

The Aid of Cunning

Cunning, Cunning,
they need thy aid
who tread the earth
in human frames
from one ordinary sunrise
till one ordinary sunset,
a fleeting moment –
the breadth of a lifetime.
Thy helping hand
to smile, to please,
and sometimes
to shed a tear;
to love and be loved,
to be unmoved, unhurt,
to be indifferent;
to not be different,
to be like and be liked;
to hide and seek,
as well as to be
at two places at once;
to be the same child
to one’s parents;
to be the same parent
to one’s child;
to be in a family,
to be a friendly neighbor,
to go to work daily and
to change into a thousand
versions of oneself;
to write
but not give oneself away,
also, to write
to give oneself away;
to not be touched
by Art;
to not believe in another;
to not always be right,
to be a great hypocrite;
to live and let die,
that is, to survive;
finally,
to do the things
one does
to prepare for the end.