Loneliness is like a mango hair stuck between your molars that won’t come off. Even if you manage to show it to someone curious, it’s impossible to share the irritation and misery that comes along with it.
1,612. The number of people you are ‘connected’ with on Facebook. You don’t recognise half of them. 50% of the other half are people who hovered around your life – classmates, colleagues, acquaintances – all people with whom you can’t share anything more than the factual events of your life. Among the other half are people you have parted ways with. There are friends but now live several time zones away. What you had is slowly fading. Setting up a video chat can take weeks.
There are relatives who want you to share your life details so that they don’t run out of fodder for gossip, ‘Have you heard, he has gawyn mental? He must be on drugs!’ Then there is your family. Some 20 years of intimacy yet the only agency you have is to nod your head. Yes, father, Yes, mother. Your wishes will be fulfilled.
Finally, there are two friends on the list. Living in the same city. With whom you have shared joints, laughter and secrets. They love you.
But what happens if they also find out that you are fake?
Anxiety is the realisation experienced by a con artist, one whose scam is slowly unravelling around him. The facade, the great lie that is your life, has been uncovered.
It is the fear of being punished for not doing your homework. So you start to hide the way you hid in the back benches at school. Only this time there is no teacher saying “Gotcha!”
“Why did you quit your job? Why are not getting your masters? Why are you waking up late?” Your family berates you every morning. It usually lasts a few minutes, like a song. The crescendo comes with the compulsory comparison to your smart sibling or successful cousin.
You tried once. You tried telling them. Long, long ago. That during an exam, something happened that you later learned to identify as panic attacks. That sudden emptiness, the wobbling of your heart that would confuse an ECG machine. The sweat, the nerves and your father telling you, “Winners don’t make excuses.”
‘At least they will realise it after you are dead’, you console yourself. The ‘they’ being your friends, your parents, your teachers, your bullies, they will all cry for their loss. You felt sad for them. Sadly, it won’t be like that. Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa reminds you,
“Other people’s grief? You’re worried
About them crying over you?
Don’t worry: they won’t cry for long…
The impulse to live gradually stanches tears”
You’ve stepped into loose soil and have fallen into a pit. Like the kid who falls and becomes the headline for a week. When you finally cry for help, he comes running to you. He is right there, telling you it’s okay. But why does he seem so far away? When your mind is at the bottom of the pit, you are alone. Your friend’s voice is like the last stretch of an echo-o-oh!
Your parents do love you and want you to become a happy, successful person. But…
There are days of numbness and stiffness, and there are days of sunshine. There is no science or mechanics to figure out when the sadness will override your energy. To do. To live. So you read or write or go through the long list of to-do things for work.
You laugh, you radiate with energy, you complete your work. You go out. You meet people. Friends and strangers. Unhinged, you share your career aspirations and proudly tell them how far you’ve come on your personal journey. If they appear friendly and a little less intimidating, then maybe you’ll tell them about how you want to make it work with this one girl, who lives in the kingdom far, far away. You acknowledge your own happiness.
“The pity is that as soon as you notice you’re happy, you no longer are,” another lonely friend had shared with you once. “After a while, you forget it’s summer. You don’t remember what the morning is.” The heavy curtains remain drawn again. The slanting light of the morning sun does not enter your room. You barricade yourself in your room, wondering along with Emily Dickinson,
“Will there really be a ‘Morning’?
Is there such a thing as “Day”?
Could I see it from the mountains
If I were as tall as they?”
Sandesh Ghimire lives in Kathmandu, Nepal. He tweets @nepalichimney.
Featured Image credit: Rhendi Rukmana/Unsplash