Quiet Nights of the Quiet Stars

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

 For the first time in months, I'm coming to terms with a lot of what has already engulfed me and for what lies ahead—there's clarity in personal relationships, in knowing that one has to move on from the loss, in the complete inability to cry again (writing doesn't help, hence the exodus last few weeks) and then in coming to terms with what the immediate and long-term future is going to look like. 

I'm taken back to being 17 and spending time at home with mom, watching films and studying, almost as if those two things will determine my future. It's funny, only cause over a decade later, I'm still there. 

A friend confided bits about her personal relationship a few months ago. She explained something about growth and problems afflicting our partners and how she found herself to be in the same still water with him, where he was years ago when she first met him. It reminded me of me, a personal attack without her intending for it to be. 

My last conversation at home with my grandfather happened while he was on his bed, sitting with his back towards me, struggling to breathe. With much difficulty, he asked me what was I up to with my life. 

Among other things, I had found that question odd because he lived in the same house and it's not as if either of us had ventured out for months to have that doubt about the other person's day job. He knew exactly how disturbed I had been regarding the lack of work and employability overall and all this while, he had been persuading me to give another chance to academia. He was convinced I could crack the civil services and since I had made my intentions crystal clear on that (lack of interest and confidence in myself to do anything successfully and see the fruition till the end; he did not buy that), he had stopped badgering me about my life, really. I found myself showing my face less frequently in comparison to the other times because of how ashamed I was of my circumstances. It's a guilt I live with, and despite no control over my circumstances, I blame myself for each of my failures every night, until I cry myself to sleep. This has been my routine for over a year. 

I digress (a trouble I've been frequently writing about), but that night, just before going to the hospital, with his back towards me, he had asked, what was I up to with my life? 

In a motion of complete defense, I answered vaguely about trying to find work and working from home. He was just as unconvinced with my response as I was in concocting it, an ability he has passed on to me to gauge the effectiveness of another person's lie without calling them out.

"How far are you with the PhD?"

"It will take some time, 2-3 years I get started now with writing."

"You should complete it."

"I intend to. Definitely in the coming year."

I had lied with complete conviction; for one I was concerned about his health and not wanting to start with anything while he was in pain and in the hospital and for the second, I was convinced he's delirious. 

I reflect back on that moment a lot, especially now that I find myself with all the time in the world and fewer deadlines. We exchanged perhaps 3-4 sentences after that, of his distrust with the hospital and the rest was me trying to convince him to go. 

He came back home, 12 days later. Wrapped in a white sheet, looking every bit peacefully asleep. Ashen white skin, as though he'd really struggled during the last few days to keep it together. In my dreams the last fortnight, he looked like his healthy self, pink and healthy. Not happy, but definitely healthier. Each time that's happened, I found myself waking up and sobbing, and not knowing what to do after. 

Going to sleep and waking up have been the hardest times of the day. They remind me of how utterly alone we are; we have no control over dreams and people we meet and our responses too. Maybe, death and the afterlife are even worse. Maybe, being alive is a blessing and we can control our responses and people we meet and see and choose to love. 

Six months preceding his death, he would tell us all how he'd fetch his death certificate during the subsequent trip, one he kept stalling until he couldn't anymore. 

We'd point to the inadequacy in his argument, "If you do indeed die, how do you intend on picking your own death certificate?"

He would make a face and somehow the conversation would move in circles.

A month after his demise when I went to pick up his death certificate, it reminded of me how somehow his premonition had been true. He gave me the identity I have, the name I carry and I am known by. He lives on in me, with my self and it was him who went to the hospital to pick up the paper that announced his lack of enthusiasm for life. 

I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up, the way I would before I had been afflicted by severe trauma and grief. I am sick of being tired and angry and sad and utterly hopeless. 

All I want is to be loved and only by those I love back. Nobody else will do. 

I just want to be able to sleep without overthinking shit and hating myself more than anyone else in the world is capable of doing. 

We restart the PhD seminar tomorrow, and for the first time in months, I'm actually looking forward to returning to something, anything. I have a feeling it's to make up for something I told a dying man at the cost of my sanity and for the sake of comforting. I will probably hate myself in the seminar some more but I suppose not as much as I would if I don't actually see this till the end of it. 

I miss him so much and I wish I could just hold his hand and tell him that. 

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