Nothing Abides

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

It's nearly twenty minutes past 4 in the morning and I'm sitting on my bed, aimlessly. You could say I'm trying to decipher the condition I have- is it resultant out of sheer indulgence? Does insomnia affect ADD in any manner? Perhaps. I won't know. However, what I do know is that I'm at the cusp of the last hour of bedtime for at least half the members of my family, I share my house with. Indulgence, in the form of stationery and books I purchased today, from the Book Fair. It remains my ever so favourite bi-annual activity that has in some way become a ritualistic affair for me. While I grew up in a house of almost-agnostics, by the time I hit my teens, I was sure as death that we as a collective unit were not going to have any fond memories of religious events in a traditional manner. Most of our North Indian counterparts do. At the risk of making everyone appear around me exotic, I will refrain from talking further about my family traditions. While it may seem to a few that I'm complaining, I am really not. I'm at awe of them having brought us (my sister and I) up, devoid of any solid semblance of religious affinity, barring a minor event or two every year. Most of our festivals/religious events are marked by us having in the consumption of at least two kinds of meat, cooked two ways and the leftovers happily relished by us the day after.

While I sit stone cold in wonderment, I find that I have trouble connecting with people I left behind in years. I don't remember the conversations, the reasons or the idiosyncracies of all that happened, which lead me to be who I am, as of this moment. Sure, I remember phases of being- the phase of being read fairytales to, the part where I started hoarding newspapers after my work started getting published (aged 11-12), I also remember using a certain pen and failing Math exam, while acing the Social Studies final with the same. It's uncanny how my memories are filtered and stored vis a vis objects and material belongings, as opposed to being marked with human contact or associations forged with people over the years.

Naturally, I find myself lost in the chain of thoughts. The kind that can make me re-live a decade in a 01:43 minutes, via a nine-year-old video on YouTube. Speaking of YouTube, I had an interesting run-in with my advisor where she tried to plant the uniqueness of the moment where streamable video players online were launched and I, stoically stood upon the grounds that the moment was 'not a big deal' in recalling the change that brought a massive smartphone slash mobile device boom and consequently, all the content that made Web 2.0 what it is today.

I digress, but there's nothing that can stop my chain of thoughts from meandering towards the people who've taken away these pieces of me. I give away, far too much and far too easily to those I meet and have respect for. It's only this evening I realised that the person within is bankrupt when it comes to tangible associations. I have with me pieces that I left behind, which play in my head like vines- each time I go back and access those moments/points in time.

I find myself grinning ear to ear, having just been dropped on the corner of the road at the Nehru Place flyover, on the Outer Ring Road, hitting Kailash Colony on the right and Kalkaji to the left. I see myself etched in time at Curzon Road subway. And again, I see that piece, only having grown in size with more associations, standing under the same covered portion of the staircase. I find myself refusing to let go of the hardware- the physical assemblage of the old, tattered Acer. It has videos and music which has now been taken off the face of the Earth. I'm certain that the various formats of my preserved memories are in, are functional as of today. I can't guarantee if I have to discard this technotactile memory in time to come. I see myself in old links, blog posts written years ago with more soul than an aesthetician seeks out of Rumi's poetry. I find several broken pieces of the individual in my bass' hardbody case, that I'm too afraid to open (dead mice foetus is a real problem). I see carefully labelled and calculated portions of what I used to be, dismantled and left in solitude in my iTunes Library, which hasn't been updated in over a year. You could say, I'm replacing that with the current YouTube search history but it's only to cover the gaps in memory. You conveniently replace and fill the void with whatever is 'easy' and 'cheap'. That, which doesn't kill you when it decides to leave.

You know the exit pattern, the road down 404. One fine morning you wake up, not feeling the compulsive urge to go back and listen to Kind of Blue on repeat until the problems solved themselves. Leaving your mixed tapes and a part of your soul in them, you bury them deep in some corner of your house, where you can't remember and consequently think about how they happened to be. If those CDs happen to be your proof of engagement with someone, be assured, you disposed them off to a far away land. For you, there's nothing in that part of your memory. It's a blank re-writable space and you've just formatted it fresh to be consumed by something insignificant. Try finding new friends. It isn't difficult to recreate topics to fuss over and places to eat at, with people who have little to nothing to do with who you were, when you were 18. They will never know your obsession with certain spots in Delhi, with pubs that hosted those killer gigs and the men who made those gigs killer. The new life you recreate won't require you to be the person you were. Being thoroughly beaten up is encouraged, even. These people surrounding your new life won't know your dedication and commitment towards art, that you pursued before you met them. Either way, they ought not to know. What is the point of bringing two lives together? Continue to live while being a different person. Carefully avoid all the landfills which are covered with ghosts of people who've left in the past, are leaving in the present.

Dig deeper, and you will find yourself buried somewhere along with them. You are there, and not there. You're there as someone you were in time. That person no longer exists in the time and space today but the person that you are today, will not remain either. "We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.", you will smile and recall this. As you will simultaneously recall, you'd go back and study Greek Philosophy in a heartbeat. Something that your new participants, locations, bodily temptations and tattered pieces of soul doesn't know about you. Only you, the unhindered you can feel the pain- of being divided over who you were and who you choose to be.

I don't know if Heraclitus went through this condition of being caught over by his old self. "Everything changes and nothing remains still ... and ... you cannot step twice into the same river twice" but what if you're the river? Do you have the authority to grant liberty for others to step twice or do you gently recede with the Summer, into a dry spot each year? Only time can tell, whether it abides or not. 

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