Monday, October 25, 2010

Another place, another plane, another time, another space

There are nine screws above me. Nine white dome-shaped heads pierced through the wings of the fan. Two hanging lights bracket this fan, and they all swing this way and that when a strong breeze rushes through. One glass shell contains tungsten, and the other is lit up by halogen. These are all stuck to a false white ceiling with tiny blotches, like dried rainwater in a school notebook. The fan’s tails are dusty and greasy, and someone would clean it if they noticed it the way I do. They would clean it if it bothered them the way it does me, because it feels like seeing through smudged spectacles. But for them to notice it would require them to look at the ceiling and nothing else. They would have to stare at it for thirty days and nights, the way I have, watching moths and their dramatic shadows flutter by and die, watching passing flies chase and flee, watching vampire insects float by malnourished and float away red and full and content. This is to go on for a week more, doctors say. Stay on your back. Don’t get up. And whatever you do, don’t die of boredom.

A slowdown is a heavy, heavy weight. It presses down hard, forcing you still. At first the body rebels, brimming with energies that need something, anything, to do. These turn to embers that die eventually. And then you lie there, waiting for something to happen. Until these thoughts die too. Then there is nothing. There is you, the fan, the stupid lights, a bunch of moths, flies in a hurry, and vampire mosquitoes. Like I said, nothing extraordinary.

But there’s something funny about all this. Night and day make no difference. You are neither active nor tired. There is nothing to be excited about. I stop reading the papers. For hours I lie here, staring straight ahead, listening to life go on outside. People are doing something. Insects and animals are doing something. It feels like holding life’s wrist and feeling its pulse. This always needed more than time. It needed me to clear the real estate in my head.

When a body goes on a general strike, it behaves like West Bengal. It begins on Monday and ends whenever. But there’s time to smell the flowers again, to dig into culture, to discover stories that slipped by. It is another place, another plane, another time, another space.

Next month I will have to come out and face the human race. They will stop by for a moment and perhaps see something faintly familiar when we meet. I will look at them and wonder about this. I might think about the house I’d like one day. The mountain home I see in daydreams sometimes. They might see this in my face, in my gait. But as I live among them once again, the slowdown will slowly end. The heaviness of that slowdown will be gone, replaced with something even heavier.

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