Blues and Petals

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“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I know the day is perfect the moment I open my eyes and see a crow at my window, with a brilliant blue sky beckoning to me. The day is perfect because I sense the pall of blue hanging over the world.

Life wouldn’t be perfect if it was all giggles and presents.

As I hear the cuckoo bird chime 8’O clock, I head out for school. It’s a short journey but I look forward to seeing how my world changed overnight. I remember the day I spoke to a stranger I’d see everyday on my way home from school, and learning I’d been living, shamelessly unaware of how he was our neighbour. He died the next day, no one quite knows how.

Since then, I see how enormously huge every second is, they whizz past so quickly but they remain engraved in the past.

I don’t see anything new although the store at the corner of the street hasn’t opened for the day yet. The stray I named Leah, is up and running, buses are right on schedule and I see our regular church-going neighbours, home from church and prepping for the day.

It’s lovely to see how life goes on on a path of its own, something we call routine in our little spheres.

With a pang of anxiety, I realise today’s the deadline for our group project and day we’re having a Calculus test. I’ve paved the way for the first few blues for today – how perfect indeed! I make hasty plans for a revision and estimate how many minutes I’ll get, to complete the project before the deadline.

I’m prepping for a war with time, yet again.

Same old, same old.

I feel like school came with a mental package I didn’t sign up for. I can’t remember the last time I spoke to someone and felt good about it and not awkward.

Life was a lot easier in middle school – everyone laughed in my face. Now they do it behind my back.

Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.
― Clive Barker, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War

The road home is contoured with leaves and petals, indications of a strong wind having passed through earlier. The very sight of the petal brimmed road, sets my heart at ease and reminds me of how gorgeous life is, when I look at it through the lens of a petty human.

Each petal and leaf are crafted to perfection, each curve and crevice complementing the other.

Pappa says we have angels in heaven, who are tasked with moulding each petal and grain of sand to the extent that perfection is redefined every moment.

I see the shadows falling on all the right places, creating a flawless sight sculpted to the highest pinnacle of beauty – an artist’s dream.

A perfectly happy life is a myth but I realise that being content with what we have, finding joy in the littlest of things, is undoubtedly the next best thing.

Besides I have a variety of lenses through which to view the world. That of a student, a daughter, sister and the more widely used ones of an overthinker and wanderer; all adorn my arsenal of lenses and I know at least one of them will show me what the other missed.

To be content with little is difficult; to be content with much, impossible.
― Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Aphorisms

I know everything will be fine as my dog welcomes me home, wagging his too-short tail to the best of his ability. The rest of the day proceeds as it always does.

I answer the quotidian questions of ‘How was school?’, do my homework and fall asleep while drawing or writing.

Now all I have to do is patiently wait till the sun decides to come by again.

The ninety and nine are with dreams, content, but the hope of the world made new, is the hundredth man who is grimly bent on making those dreams come true.
― Edgar Allan Poe

Thoughtfully yours,
D

*Willy is my five year old pet dog. He’s a pug (hence the short tail remark) and my best friend too!

I tried to draw him but as you can see it did not turn out well. Click here to read his answers to a cat’s questions!

The Cassette Store

I was born into this strange period that served as a transition bridge from what was new to what would be new. I grew up watching recorded movies and listening to songs on cassette tapes, something that my parents had a proclivity for collecting – and today, my life is all but dependent on screens with an almost instant access to all the information I could need.

March 4, 1995.  Friendship is special.

Greg was having a terrible day, in which everything was going wrong. His friends rudely woke him up in the middle of the night; he went into a rage in front of his friends and ran outside.  Read part 1 here.


I had a terrible day today.  Well, technically the terrible day was yesterday now, since it was after midnight, but to me it does not feel like the next day until I wake up.  Everything went wrong today. I did not understand  something from the math homework that was due today. The book I needed at the library for my paper was checked out.  Mom sent me on an errand to go shopping for a present for someone back home, and I could not find what she needed. And then, to make things worse, my friends were sitting outside my room at 1:00 in the morning talking loudly, and they woke me up.  I lost it at that point. I threw a tantrum and ran outside after throwing a cardboard box that almost hit Sarah. And now I felt terrible that I lost control in front of my friends.

I had been sitting outside in my car for about fifteen minutes.  I started walking back to the building, ashamed, holding my head low.  I was tired. I needed to try to go back to sleep. I would apologize to everyone in the morning.  I knew that someone would tell me that what I did was wrong, even though I knew that already. But I deserved to be scolded and shamed after the way I had been behaving.

I slid my ID card and opened the door to the lobby, and I stepped inside, quietly and slowly walking straight ahead toward the stairs.  But I did not make it to the stairs.

“He’s back!” Sarah said in a loud whisper, jumping up and giving me a hug.

“Greg! Are you okay?” Krista asked.  I nodded, slightly confused.

“Thank you, Jesus, for bringing Greg back safely,” Pete said, as Sarah and Krista sat on the floor and gestured for me to sit next to them.

“Yes, Jesus,” Krista added, placing her hand on my back.  “Please give Greg a sense of peace, and calm whatever is on his mind right now.  Take away his burdens, and clear his mind so he can hear from you.”

At this point, my brain finally started to process what was happening to me; maybe this was the clear mind that Krista had prayed for.  I was still in the lobby; I had not made it to my room yet. The six people who had seen my tantrum were all here. Pete, Caroline, and Charlie were on the couch; Sarah, Krista, and Taylor were on the floor with me.  They did not seem to be upset at all. They were praying for me. I wondered if they had been praying for me since they saw me run away, over fifteen minutes ago.

“God,” Taylor said, “I pray that you will send your Holy Spirit upon Greg, that he might know your love for him.”

“And I thank you for bringing us all here to Jeromeville, where we can get to know each other and be part of each other’s lives,” Sarah added.  “I thank you for Greg, and all the unique gifts you have given him. And I pray that he will know that he is loved.”

“Praise the Lord,” Pete said.  The others nodded and murmured in agreement.

“I’m glad you’re back,” Sarah said as she put her hand on me and rubbed my back.

“Thank you,” I said between sobs; I had started crying a minute or so earlier.  “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I lost control. And I didn’t mean to throw the box at you.  I wasn’t aiming for you.”

“It’s all right.  I know you didn’t.  We all have bad days.”

I closed my eyes.  I still did not want to face these people after the way I had lost control in front of them.  Now they will think for the rest of the year that I am some kind of crazy person.

Pete began to pray again after about thirty seconds.  “Father, God, whatever is on Greg’s mind right now, I pray that you will bring peace about it.  I pray that you will comfort him and calm his fears.”

“Yes, Father,” Caroline added.  “Bring peace in the storm.”

“And I pray that he will never forget that he is loved,” Sarah said, her hand still on my back.  The others replied “Yes,” and “Amen,” and things like that.

“I can’t do this,” I said.  “I want to give up. I shouldn’t be here.  I should be locked up somewhere, where I won’t hurt anyone when I get like this.  I’m sorry. You guys don’t have to stay up for me. You can go to bed.”

“No!” Krista said.  “We’re your friends.  We’re here by your side no matter what.”

“Yes, Greg,” Taylor added.  “We’re here for you. And we should apologize for waking you up too.  That wasn’t nice of us.”

“Yeah,” Charlie said.  “I’m sorry.” The others all voiced their agreement.

“Don’t give up,” Sarah said, embracing me from the side from where we were sitting.  “Jesus, I pray that you will show yourself to Greg, and give him hope, and strength to keep running the race.  Take away these bad thoughts from his mind, the thoughts of giving up and not belonging here. Those thoughts come from the pit of hell, and I pray that you will bind Satan and stop letting him get inside Greg’s head.”  The others again replied with a chorus of “Yes”es and “Amen”s as she let go of me.

I took a few more deep breaths, as the others sat in silence with me.

“You gonna be okay?” Taylor asked eventually.

“I think so.  But I should probably go back to bed.  We all should.”

“Seriously, though, we’re here for you,” Sarah said.  “If you ever need to talk about things, just come find any one of us.”

“Thank you,” I replied.  “Thank you so much.”

I woke up around seven-thirty, still a little tired since I had not slept until almost two.  It was a Saturday morning, so I did not have a class to get to. After lying around in bed and reading for a while, I bundled up in a sweatshirt and got on my bike.  It was early enough in the day to still be sweatshirt weather, although it was sunny, and being that this was the week of Fake Spring, it looked like it would get warmer in the afternoon.  I rode out to the Lodge in the Arboretum and took the trail on the south bank all the way west to the end of the creek, which was really a very long lake in the dry creek bed running through the Arboretum. I followed the trail around the end of the creek onto the north bank, past the oak grove.  I followed that trail east as far as I could, along the same route where I had taken my parents when they had visited a couple weeks earlier. I rode through the redbud grove, past the large succulents, past the live oak with the Native American meditation garden next to it, past the water tower and the law school and the administration building, and to the spot where the creek bed widens into Spooner Lake.  I continued past the drama and music buildings through a grove of redwoods, crossing under the Old Jeromeville Road bridge. (I had heard that locals used to shorten the name of this road to “OJ Road,” but this name was falling out of favor now because it made people think of O.J. Simpson, the retired football player and actor who was currently on trial for murdering his ex-wife.)

East of Old Jeromeville Road, the landscaping in the Arboretum became much more sparse.  The waterway looked more like a ditch with large patches of algae, and a paved trail immediately adjacent on each side.  The ditch ended in a wider spot that resembled a cul-de-sac. (The word “cul-de-sac” literally means “bag’s ass” in French;I always thought that was funny.)  I turned around, headed back west, and took a side path leading back to ground level. This path turned to the north, to the intersection of First and B Streets in downtown Jeromeville.  The streets downtown made a grid, with number and letter street names; the buildings were mostly old houses from the early twentieth century, mixed with a few newer structures. Some of these old houses had been converted into offices and restaurants.

I headed north on B Street, past the two block long Central Park, much smaller than the similarly-named park in New York.  I continued north to 15th Street, and then turned west past Jeromeville High School, through a neighborhood that looked newer, probably from the middle of the twentieth century.  I turned south on Andrews Road, crossing back on to campus, and at Thong Bikini Hill, which was closed for the season, I turned left on Davis Drive. I turned right toward the dairy and the South Residential Area, and I went back to my room and showered.

I saw Danielle in the hallway later that day.  “Hey, Greg? Are you okay?” she asked me. “Caroline told me about what happened last night.”

I looked down at my feet, avoiding eye contact.  “I’m okay,” I said. “I was just having a bad day for a lot of reasons.  And I kind of blew up when I was trying to sleep and they woke me up.”

“She said everyone was really worried about you.”

“I know.  And I feel bad.  They didn’t need to worry about me just because I was acting childish.  I don’t want to be a burden on everyone else.”

“Don’t say that.  We do worry about you.  You’re our friend.”

I made eye contact with her again and saw a look of sincerity.  “Thanks. I appreciate it.”

I had no plans for the rest of that day.  I found Sarah, Krista, Pete, and Taylor at the dining hall with open seats next to them, so I sat down.

“How’s your day going?” Taylor asked me.

“Better,” I said.  “I rode my bike and did some homework, and that’s about it.”

“Where’d you go?” Krista asked.

“The entire length of the arboretum, then up B Street to where it ends by the high school, then 15th Street back to Andrews.”

“How long of a ride was that?”

“Not that long.  Took about half an hour.”

“That’s a pretty good ride,” Pete said.

“We were just talking about going downstairs to play pool when we’re done eating,” Taylor said.  “Want to come with us?”

“Sure,” I said.

A while later, we all went to the South Area recreation room, downstairs from the dining hall.  We were allowed to take a soft-serve ice cream cone from the machine outside of the dining hall with us, and I had one now, as did Sarah.  We walked into the mail room, and Taylor and I walked to the Help Window where we could check out pool balls and cues. Megan, the RA from Building K with the fading green hair, was on duty.

“Hey, Greg,” she said.  “How are you?”

“Doing better than yesterday.”  I handed her my ID card in exchange for the pool equipment; I would get it back when I returned the balls and cues.

“Did you figure out that math problem?”

“No.  And that’s okay.”

“Now you’re sounding like a true college student!” she said.  Taylor laughed, and I chuckled.

“Do you know Taylor?” I asked.  “He’s in my building.”

“Hi, Taylor.  I’m Megan, from Building K.”

“Hey, Megan.”  Taylor shook Megan’s hand.

“Have fun!” Megan told us as she gave us the pool equipment.

“I will!  Thanks!”

When we were back in the room with the pool table, Taylor asked, “How do you know her?  Is she in your math class?”

“No,” I explained.  “I just know her from seeing her around.  And there was this problem I couldn’t figure out, so I asked everyone I knew who had taken 21C before.  She’s a chemical engineer, so she would have taken it last year.”

We took turns playing, with Pete and Krista first, which gave me and Sarah time to finish our ice cream cones.  I played against Taylor next. I came close to winning, but I still had one colored ball on the table when Taylor sank his last striped ball and the 8 ball.  We continued taking turns, two of us playing and the other three watching and just talking. We spent over an hour there, and then walked back in the dark to Building C.  We sat in the common room for another hour, just talking.

“What’s everyone doing tomorrow?” Krista asked at one point.  “This is the week you’re going to start doing worship for college group, right, Pete?”

“Yeah,” Pete said.  “I think I’m ready.”

I had not heard this term “doing worship” used in this sense.  “What’s this?” I asked.

“The college group and Sunday school class at our church, Jeromeville Covenant,” Pete explained.  “I’m going to play guitar tomorrow for the class, when we do worship music.”

“Oh, nice!”

“Are you still going to church at that Catholic Newman place?” Krista asked.  “And Danielle goes there too, right?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“How do you like it?”

“It’s good.  It’s not all old people like the church I grew up in.”  The others laughed.

“That’s good,” Taylor said.  “So you have friends there.”

“Yeah.”

The conversation reached a lull, and everyone just kind of looked around.  Sarah was smiling. “Friendship is special,” she said. “Tonight was fun.”

“Yeah, it was,” Krista concurred.

“Thanks again for inviting me along,” I said.

“Any time, Greg,” Sarah said.  “You’re always welcome to hang out with us.”

“Yeah,” Taylor added.  “And we’re here for you if you ever need to talk.”

“Thanks,” I said.  “I really mean it.”

We went back to our rooms shortly after this.  I lay on my bed reading. Currently I was reading the book Forrest Gump, by Winston Groom.  The book, written about a decade earlier, was relatively obscure until last year, when it was adapted into a movie starring Tom Hanks.  The movie went on to win numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. I had seen the movie once, back home with Catherine about a month before I left for Jeromeville.  I really liked the movie, and I thought it would be fun to read the book that it was based on.

As is often the case with books made into movies, the movie was significantly different from the book.  Many of the details of the story were completely rewritten for the movie, but the basic premise remained.  Forrest was a man with low intelligence who tells the story of his childhood in the 1950s and his young adulthood in the era of civil rights and the Vietnam War.  Forrest’s naive perspective on the world gives a unique perspective on historical events unclouded by many of society’s biases.

I felt a bit like Forrest at times.  I often did not understand the world around me.  I often missed a lot of subtext and unspoken communication behind various situations.  And sometimes the way that I viewed certain situations showed a lack of understanding of the cultural background of such situations.  In the movie, there is a scene where Forrest is the only white man in a lively African-American gospel choir, and Forrest’s first person perspective never mentions any of the social implications of this.  He just does his thing, going to church, praising the same God he grew up with, and spending time with the family of his deceased African-American friend.

I wondered if I would stick out like that if I ever went to Jeromeville Covenant Church or Jeromeville Christian Fellowship with my friends.  I still wondered if these were the kinds of Christians who got up and danced, or clapped to music, or spoke in tongues, or weird stuff like that.  But even if I did stand out, if I was a little different, after tonight I knew one thing: my friends’ love for God and for others was real, and they would accept me unconditionally into their lives, no matter what.  No one had ever gathered in a group to pray for me like that, not even my Catholic friends at the Newman Center (although, to be fair, they never saw me that angry).  If Taylor and Pete and Sarah and Krista and Caroline and Charlie were still standing by me after what they saw last night, and if treating me like this was part of what being a Christian meant to them, I knew that we would stand by each other for the rest of our lives.  That kind of love lasts through hard times, through bad decisions, through life handing out the proverbial lemons, and even through not understanding Lagrange multipliers.   This tiny bedroom in which I was reading right now was not exactly luxurious, but for now, at least, Building C was home.


This story was inspired by something that actually happened to me, and Jeromeville Christian Fellowship is based on an actual group that I did get involved with later in my university years.  A few years ago, I was invited to speak at that group’s Alumni Night, and I told that year’s group of students about this night, which was the first step in a long faith journey.  I used that story to encourage them to reach out to the people around them, especially those who are struggling or those who do not fit in.  The world is so full of outcasts, loners, people who are a little different, and so many of them just need to know that they are loved and cared for.  Reaching out to the outcasts, as my friends did to me that night, saves lives, both in the sense of Christian salvation, and in the sense of turning someone’s life away from a path of self-destruction.

March 3, 1995. Throwing the box.

Hello!  My name is Greg Dennison, and I write the blog Don’t Let The Days Go By.  It is an episodic continuing story set in the 1990s in the western United States, about a university student (also named Greg) making his way in life.  This episode takes place in the middle of freshman year, when Greg had a terrible day that led to an important lesson.


As a child, I read a book called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  In the book, everything goes wrong for Alexander, from the moment he wakes up until he goes to bed.  Some of the bad things involve his older brothers or kids at school, and some of them are just freak accidents.  Alexander repeatedly makes comments about wanting to run away to Australia, to leave his bad day behind.

I felt like Alexander today.

I had to turn in a math assignment incomplete. The problem in the textbook used something called Lagrange multipliers to find the dimensions of a can that has minimum surface area for a certain volume.  I knew how to do this a different way, but I just could not figure out one problem from the homework.  It was possibly the first time in my life that I did not understand something from math class. I emailed my instructor and everyone I knew who had taken the class before. So far, my friend Pete, who was a quarter ahead of me in math, told me that he never understood Lagrange multipliers either, and Gurpreet, the RA on my floor, said that his instructor skipped that lesson.

After math class, I went to the library to work on a paper for another class.  A couple years before I started, the UJ library stopped using a physical card catalog and switched to an electronic system. I remember feeling frustrated last quarter, trying to figure out how that worked, but I had figured it out by now. I wrote down the locations of a few books that would be helpful.  Two of these books were checked out, not due back until after my paper was due, and the others had little useful information.

I was having a bad day.

When I got to the dining hall at lunch time, I saw Megan, a resident advisor in a different dorm, sitting with a few other girls, probably some of her residents.  “Hey, Greg,” she said.  “Come sit with us.” She gave me a friendly smile, which I tried my best to return.  Early this quarter, Megan had cut her hair short and dyed it green; I personally liked it before better, but I did not say so out loud.  Her natural color, on the darker side of blonde, was growing back at the roots, and there was something strangely familiar yet out of place about that combination of hair color.

“I got your email about Lagrange multipliers,” Megan said after I sat down.  “I don’t think we learned that. I still have my Math 21 book, and none of that section looked familiar.”

“A guy in my building said the same thing.  He took 21C last quarter, and he didn’t remember it either.”

“Yeah.  But it was on your homework?”

“I don’t understand why it would be on my homework if no one learns it.”

“Me either.  Sorry I can’t help,” Megan said.  “How’s your day going other than that?”

“Honestly, it’s been a frustrating morning,” I explained.  While I was telling her about not finding the library book, I made a connection in my mind that caused me to have to put a lot of effort into holding back a giggle.  I was smart enough not to say out loud what I had realized.

Megan’s hair, with the fading green and the roots growing back, looked like lawn that needed watering.

“I’m sorry you’re having a rough day,” Megan said.  “But it’s Friday!  Are you doing anything this weekend?”

“I’m not sure,” I said.  “Working on that paper, if I can find any sources that aren’t already checked out.”

“Just relax and take it easy.  Or do something fun with your friends.”

“We’ll see.  I don’t know who’ll be around.”  Besides, I thought to myself, I don’t really know how to make plans with friends.

“We’re going to head back to the building now,” Megan said when I was about halfway done with lunch.  “I hope your day gets better, Greg.”

“Thanks,” I replied.  “Have a good weekend.”

“You too!”

A few minutes later, as I was climbing downstairs out of the dining hall, I saw Andrea from my math class with a well-dressed guy in a sweater.  “Hey,” she said, seeing me.

“That problem on the homework with the Lagrange multipliers,” I said.  “Did you get that? Because I didn’t.”

“I had no idea what was going on with that problem,” she said.  “I don’t think she ever went over that in class.”

“I know.  I’m confused too.”

“Greg?  Have you met my boyfriend, Jay?”

“Hi,” I said, hoping my disappointment would not show.  “I’m Greg.”

“Nice to meet you,” Jay said, shaking my hand.

“Have a great weekend!” Andrea said.

“Thanks.  You too.”

I walked back to my room and lay down on the bed, face down with my head in the pillow.  The cute girl from math class has a boyfriend. And the cute older girl could not help with Lagrange multipliers.  So much for the day starting to turn around.

I got off my bed after about fifteen minutes and checked my email.  The dialup modem clicked and whirred, and a notification appeared that I had one message,  It was from Mary Heinrich, the president of the Math Club.


From: meheinrich@jeromeville.edu

To: gjdennison@jeromeville.edu

Date: Fri, 03 Mar 1995 12:44 -0800

Subject: Re: Lagrange multipliers

Hi Greg!  I’m pretty sure my professor skipped that section… sorry I can’t be more helpful!  Hopefully I’ll see you at the Math Club meeting next week.

-Mary


So there it was.  No one could help me with Lagrange multipliers.  The instructor had not replied yet, and her office hours were at the same time as one of my other classes.

Maybe my day would get better if I did something else.  I got in the car and headed east toward Capital City.  Mom had given me an errand last night when we were on the phone.  My brother played on a youth basketball team, and the parents wanted to get a present for the coach.  The coach’s favorite player was Mitch Richmond, who played for Capital City, which had just changed its logo this season.  The parents wanted to get the coach a Mitch Richmond jersey in the new design.  Mom said that I could buy the jersey, since I live near Capital City; I could bring it home during spring break and she would pay me back.  I was a little irritated at Mom volunteering me to do something, but at least I got to explore somewhere new.

I crossed the river into Capital City and continued to the mall, about twenty miles from Jeromeville. This mall was huge compared to the one where I grew up.  I walked up and down the entire length of the mall, just to browse and people-watch, or in my case, cute-girl-watch.  I stopped at a music store and bought R.E.M.’s Monster and Soundgarden’s Superunknown.  There were a few other CDs I wanted to buy, but I did not feel right spending all that money.

Upstairs, I found a sports merchandise shop.  I looked through the basketball jerseys and found many of the best players of the day: Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Charles Barkley.  But no Mitch Richmond. That made no sense.  In the ten years that Capital City had had professional basketball, Mitch Richmond was the best player who had ever played here.  What kind of store carries no merchandise of an All-Star player from the local team?

“Looking for something?” a store employee asked.

“Yeah,” I said.  “A Mitch Richmond jersey.”

“Hmm,” the guy said, with a look on his face that suggested he knew little about basketball.  “Let me try to find one for you.”  I did not follow basketball closely in 1995; basketball was Mark’s thing.  Baseball was still on strike, and hockey was not big here in the Valley, so football was the only sport I followed closely. But I knew enough about basketball to know Mitch Richmond.

The employee came back after a few minutes.  “Yeah, we don’t have that.”

“We’re in Capital City! This store doesn’t make sense!  It’s like a store in Chicago that doesn’t sell Michael Jordan jerseys!”  I turned my back and left the store in a huff.

At the other end of the mall was another store that sold sports merchandise.  I had the opposite problem here: numerous Mitch Richmond jerseys in different sizes and styles.  I did not know what Mark’s coach would want, or what size he wore.

“May I help you?” the guy behind the cash register said.

“I don’t know,” I said angrily.  “I was sent here to buy a Mitch Richmond jersey for someone I don’t know, and I’m not sure what he wants or what size he wears.”

“You kind of need to know the size for that one, don’t you.  Can you find out?”

“I’ll be back,” I said, again storming out of the store.  I hated this. I did not need to be sent on this errand in the first place.  I was in way over my head, and I was not even going to get anything out of it.  I got the two CDs, but I could have gotten those at Tower Records without leaving Jeromeville.

I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I think I’ll move to Australia.

I could ask Caroline for some pointers, since she was from Australia.

Instead of going to Australia, I went to a pay phone.  My parents had something called a calling card, where they could make a call from any phone in the country and have it billed directly to them.  They told me the PIN number, so I could call them from anywhere and they would pay for it.

“Hello?” Mom said, answering on the second ring.

“Why did you send me on this stupid errand?” I shouted, starting to cry.

“Whoa.  Where are you?”

“I’m at Capital East Mall, in Capital City.  I came here to look for a Mitch Richmond jersey, like you asked me to.  I don’t know what size he wears, or what design or color he wants.”

“Don’t worry about it!  If you don’t want to get it, I’m sure we can order one.”

“I’m all the way here.  I don’t want to leave empty handed.”

“Get any of the designs.  I’m sure he’ll like it. And he wears extra large.”

“But I don’t want to get him something he doesn’t like.”

“I’m sure it’ll be okay.  And it’s a gift. He’ll appreciate the gift.”

“Maybe.  I’ll go back to the store and see.”

“You do that.  It’s okay. How was school today?”

“I’ll call you over the weekend from home, so it’ll be cheaper.  I don’t want to have a personal conversation out in public.”

“Good idea,” Mom said.  “Are you going to be all right?”

“I think so.”

“I’ll talk to you this weekend, then.”

“Okay.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

I hung up the phone and sat on a bench, trying to hide the fact that I had been crying.  Eventually I went back to the last store and got the jersey, the black one in extra large.  Mom said get anything, so it was not my fault if the coach disapproved.

The rest of the night was boring.  I sat alone at dinner.  I listened to my new CDs.  R.E.M. seemed to be going in a different direction from what their last two albums sounded like, but I liked it, and the Soundgarden album sounded darker as a whole than the two songs I knew.  I read for a while and went to bed a little before midnight, falling asleep quickly.

I woke up with a start, hearing voices and laughter coming from the hallway. The clock said 1:21 AM.  Whoever was talking was doing so after hours, breaking the rules, and I was furious because they woke me up.  Could this day really get any worse? I lay in bed for a few minutes, but the voices were just loud enough that there was no way I would be able to go back to sleep.  Who were these loud, rude people? Probably those weird stoners and partiers who lived upstairs at this end of the third floor.

In one corner of the room near the closet was a large cardboard box, shaped like a cube about two feet on each side.  The box had originally held my computer, but now all that was inside was the foam packing material. I used the box as a small table now.  There was nothing on it, and more importantly, it was the first non-lethal object I could find to throw at whomever was being so inconsiderate outside my doorway.  I picked up the box and opened the door, squinting at the sudden brightness coming from the hallway.

Taylor, Pete, Caroline, Charlie, Krista, and Sarah were sitting in the hallway.  This was not whom I expected to see, not the partiers from the third floor.  This made the whole experience feel even worse, because these people were some of my closest friends.  And they could not even be considerate enough to let me sleep.

I threw the cardboard box at the wall forcefully, glaring angrily at the others and screaming incoherently for about two seconds.  The box hit the wall and almost fell on Sarah, bumping against her shoulder. Sarah looked at me, stunned, as did the other five. I ran across the hall to the stairwell and stomped off downstairs and out of the building.

Without thinking about what I was doing, I walked to the car.  I knew I had blown it. I had made a big mistake, and everyone had seen my true colors, my inability to control myself.  It did not matter anymore that I was a successful student at a prestigious university. I was just that scared little kid who blew up and lashed out when life got to him, like I had been all through elementary school.

I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I think I’ll turn on this car and drive all the way to Australia.

I had always struggled with these kinds of outbursts all my life, especially when I was young.  I was bullied and teased all through school, called horrible names for no reason other than that I was an easy target, because I was different.  No one taught me to stand up for myself or to fight back. No one taught me how to be confident or find people who would build me up. So I would take it and take it and take it for days, for weeks, until I would finally explode, throwing furniture, and pushing and hitting people.  Then my teacher and my parents would scold me and say that I needed to learn to control myself, and I would get suspended from school. 

I had been that kid all my life, and I always would be.  There would always be people around me to tell me condescendingly that what I did was wrong, even though I knew that.  Some adult authority figure would come along eventually and tell me that I needed to be pumped full of pills to fix me.  And the pills never worked.

This year was supposed to be different.  I was finally free of everything that held me back in Plumdale, and I could make a fresh start in Jeromeville.  But this was no fresh start. It was the same old dumpster fire that my life had been for eighteen and a half years.  I did not know why I was here or what I wanted to study. I did not have a girlfriend. And nothing would change as long as I kept making mistakes like this.

I sat in the car for about another fifteen minutes, thinking about these things and trying to calm down.  I closed my eyes. I opened them again. I took a deep breath. Whatever I messed up tonight, whatever mistakes I made, giving up would not make things better.  I had nothing to lose by learning from this and moving forward. This experience was not a reason to quit school.

I was ready to put this behind me for the night.  It was late, I was tired, and it was time to go back to bed.  I would apologize to everyone in the morning, but it probably did not matter.  I had blown it in front of my new friends. They had seen me for what I was. I knew that what I did was wrong, and I also knew that they were all going to tell me that I was in the wrong and make me feel worse about it.  I had violated the rule about quiet hours, so Amy or Gurpreet would probably get involved.  And I deserved it. I was just going to have to bite the bullet and let them scold me and tell me how badly I had behaved.  I just hoped I would not get kicked out of the building, or out of UJ entirely.

I stepped out of the car and took a deep breath.  I walked back to Building C, like a dog with my tail between my legs, ashamed of the way I had behaved.  I got to the front door and scanned my key card. The door clicked, and I pulled it open.

Nothing I had seen or experienced in my eighteen and a half years of life so far had prepared me for the scene that was waiting for me in the lobby.

To be continued…

The Guardian of the Curve

The Guardian of the Curve | Creative Non-fiction Random Specific Thoughts

Please click here to check out the rest of this series!

“Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

It stands off to a side such that it’s visible from both ends of the endless road. I pass by it at 8:45 am or so but the atmosphere it exudes and the stark, beautiful organisation of all the articles hints at the fact that it’s set up early in the morning.

And then there’s her. The guardian of the curve.

She’s a frail old woman, visibly somewhere in her seventies, always dressed in the sort of clothes that blend into the world and her hair tucked high into a bun with a dazzling smile plastered on her face. I don’t know her name, where she’s from or how long she’s been running that little roadside stall, situated just a few metres before the road curves into another street.

The shop itself is a cute old thing, its built almost tailored to fit into that little spot by the roadside. There’s an aluminium roof over it, a blue metal sheet that sparkles blindingly in the sun. On a little wooden box that stretches across half the width of the shop is where she exhibits all the treasures her shop has to offer. There are jars of candy; all sorts; white, green or blue and further down the wooden aisle, you can see clear plastic packets of clean, shiny new pencils, pens and erasers. The clear rulers; big and small are hung on the wall behind her because they’re too lanky, to look at home, among the other paraphernalia she houses. From the roof hangs a bunch of canes for the teachers, they’re made from good quality bamboo and while their main purpose is to maintain discipline, they’re bought for games and building childhood fantasies too.

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

While the shop itself is a fantasy house of wonder, she’s the one who gives it a soul, painting a picture of kindness sending pangs of affirmation across all who pass her and her trusty shop. Every time I pass that shop, she’s there behind the wooden box; partially hidden by a cloth hanging from the roof and the canes; beaming at her young customers as they purchase one candy after the next.

The word around is that there’s nothing you couldn’t find in that shop. Opposite her humble store is a collective bunch of three shops that tempt people with all their pretty coloured merchandise and the availability of a printer and sports attire. But even though I don’t know any student or person on that road, I have a feeling, everyone would choose the guardian over the other three on any given day.

A few years of passing by and not talking to her or thanking her, I can see the charm she exudes. Her trusty stall provides a safe and secure space for all lost wanderers, she has the best pens and on days when schools hold finals, I see lines of children stretching along the length of their school in the background awaiting their chance to get their hands on a pen from the beloved guardian.

Without realising what she does, this woman continues to watch over those who pass by her shop and those who stop by and keep them safe. A glimpse at her little, old store seems to whisper,
Here, you’ll find your heart’s desire wrapped and ready for you. Dear, stay a moment or two, for you are welcome – always.

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

The above is heavily inspired by an old shopkeeper whom I pass by daily on my school commute. Her shop is situated to the edge of a road with a school in the background. I know next to nothing about her except that she’s always there for the students, all set and ready to go by the time they’re there. She’s an absolute wonder and I’m grateful to her, for her relentless presence, at times of need.

Back to School

Back to School | Creative non-fiction Random Specific Thoughts

“how sad and bad and mad it was – but then, how it was sweet”
― Robert Browning

March 1, 2021

It’s a little past 10 in the evening, when my phone’s notification tone sends a ripple of anticipation through my heart and soul. Well aware of what it’s for, I check just to convince myself of how real all of this is. Students have to report at 10 am tomorrow to collect their end-of-term results and new textbooks along with their parents, so the teachers can discuss grade 12 options.

Last year this time, I was a carefree 16 year old, thrilled at the idea of a summer break that I knew would span months. It’s barely been a year but the thought of meeting teachers and peers after a whole academic year of virtual and invisible contact founded on trust that the student was there a screen away, is terrifying.

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

“There is no greater sorrow
Than to recall a happy time
When miserable.”
― Dante Alighieri

March 2, 2021

Thanks to COVID, the mask makes it almost impossible to smile, what could have been a quick and polite substitute for actual conversation, is now masked. I practice scrunching my face at weird angles so that my eyes appear like slits offering a mere semblance of a smile.

I dread imagining how my voice will carry through the mask. It doesn’t help I sound like a frog with a clogged windpipe on a normal day, the mask is going to make even that hideous voice, sound like a muffled grumble. Days and months of conveying my questions and feelings through emojis and GIFs have taken their toll on me; my voice sounds perfectly detached from life, a mere medium for human talk prompted by an unfeeling mind. I so loved having emojis smile for me when I couldn’t, having GIFs emulate my exact reactions to my friends at our kiddy jokes and recklessly curious doubts.

As the pandemic stretched on, I found myself using more of these, even though I hated the yellow of the face emojis with a passion like never before. The smiley one ended up synonymous with ‘Thank you‘, the thinking one for ‘I have no idea. You?” and the star was the standard response to teachers notifying us of new tests, ‘That’s brilliant! The tests are going to be enlightening.

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels.com

As we approach 10 am on my clock, we’re just pulling into the school’s parking lot. When you start school for the first time ever, you get all these beautifully illustrated books with crisp pages and hardbound spines abound with colours and kindness; books that feel like they belong in a child’s hand.

The illusion deteriorates as you grow older and by the time you somehow end up in grade 12, the books are merely huge chunks of text and diagrams, hastily compiled pages with delicate covers that showcase artistic ink leaks all over the place. As much as I’m grateful for an education, these books instil in me a fear like no other.

The school’s ever so silent; no children roam these hallways now, the staff is done for the day and the classrooms have all been abandoned; the huge locks serve as evidence of the year that was stolen from us. There’s no one outside, save a man in the park; a park that has seen days when the park itself wasn’t visible owing to a huge outflow of toddlers excited and keen to try everything in there.

I see one of my teachers seated at the Reception and the feeling of nonchalance that passes through the both of us, stings my very being. Our masks give us a cold demeanour because her eyes are magnified with glasses and mine glassy with a lack of sleep. It’s hard to believe she’s still the same teacher who taught us Maths and made it seem like the most cordial subject ever. Many may have been disinterested in the subject but she was the one teacher any of us would have turned to for help, without hesitation.

We exchange pleasantries and move because everyone appears to be moving guided by an invisible hand; lost in their own worlds of expectations and dreams that just won’t be happening today. Because, for the first time ever, it’s not the students who are confused; the parents and teachers are just as lost as we are.

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.”
― Carson McCullers

I see my classmates in person, for the first time. They’re almost like I remember them from before, but there’s a pall of indifference over all of them. Our parents speak for us, while we sit motionless taking in every tiny detail of the classroom, we never got to call home. The way the corkboard has articles and projects from 2019 etches into our hearts yet another reminder of the school year that existed, but we didn’t live through. There are 20 chairs in the room and with 10 students, the classroom seems strangely out of place in itself, its shelves and boards pleading for a child’s touch.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

No one really talks other than the usual ‘How are you?’ and ‘See you later’. We’ve all grown so conditioned to online talk, it seems like everyone’s been caught off guard, by having to talk to actual humans. No one’s voice carries through the mask, the way they expect it to, and everything is repeated twice and thrice. After a few minutes or so of grumbled speech and awkward glances, because we didn’t have emojis to convey our pretend moods, we leave only to return the next day for an actual class.

“Grown up, and that is a terribly hard thing to do. It is much easier to skip it and go from one childhood to another.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald

March 28, 2021

It’s not too different now but it’s better. We’ve grown used to the masks on our faces so much that they feel like they’re a part of us. With just 10 students, we’ve accepted the other for friends because this is our last year of school and there’s no time to get selective about friends or teachers.

We’ve gotten to know our teachers a bit more, that they don’t seem like strangers anymore. Smiling is still a masked procedure but all of us have mastered the act of bulging out our cheeks and scrunching our eyes, that our faces appear childishly happy.

When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

Photo by Jess Vide on Pexels.com

Realising that the world is just another school and acknowledging my need to remain a life long student, I doubt I’ll ever miss school because every remaining day of my life is going to be just another version of all the ‘Back To School‘s I’ve had the privilege of living through.

It feels good to be given homework, scolded for our bad performances on tests and questioned frequently about our lives, and treated like young children. Because, when this is all over and we’re thrust into college and the world; it’s not school that we’ll miss the most but this precious feeling of being considered a child and the teachers’ kind mercy in seeing the child in us even when we desperately try to appear like grown ups.

“The past is a candle at great distance: too close to let you quit, too far to comfort you.”
― Amy Bloom, Away

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

The above is based off on what’s been happening recently; I suppose it counts as a ‘life update’ in a way. A lot of it was inspired by my diary entries from the mentioned days. School really feels weird now; in just a year of online classes, it truly feels like all of us lost something that made us seem more human. I hope you enjoyed reading this little write-up! A quick shout-out and huge thank you to Anna and Diamond for reading beforehand!

Spectators

“The subtle and deadly change of heart that might occur in you would be involved with the realization that a civilization is not destroyed by wicked people; it is not necessary that people be wicked but only that they be spineless.”
― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

It’s a little past 8 and the night is dark as we drive along on a crowded lane. These are roads I’ve traversed all my life and apart from a few new shops and buildings scattered on the street map, I know every alley, every shop, and every single person who calls this street home. Naturally, I was quick to notice a child and a man missing. I’d seen him grow frail over the course of a few years but the child was young and brimming with life and beauty.

Homelessness had made their lives seemingly less important than others and I realised with an aching heart, how neither of them would be given the luxury of having their faces plastered around the cities or broadcasted on news channels, simply because the world’s definitions of what it meant to live weren’t defined by them.

I bring it up in school next day hoping to provoke action but it breaks our spirits to hear an adult say, “They’ll turn up dead at some point”. It hurts the very fabric of our hopes to envision a time when the girl turns up lifeless after having been subjected to inexplicable torture that no one ever has to go through. We start hating ourselves when we see her little body being cremated, with no relations to mourn or pray for her, no stories to be exchanged that will help, keep her memory alive.

“After all, if you do not resist the apparently inevitable, you will never know how inevitable the inevitable was.”
― Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right

It’s lovely to hear someone say, “Our world is messed up but we still have hope”. It’s lovely because for a moment, it makes me proud to be a human being. Because it makes us feel like we can still make a difference.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” ― Albert Einstein
(Insider @ What’s In My Mind, a wonderful friend and incredible writer, shared this quote and I found it very apt and so have included it here. Thank you so much!)

But how much will it matter, if the destruction has already been wrought and past deeds remain etched in our hearts, souls and minds; deeds that defiled innocence and extinguished lives? How can we ever express joy in the changes, differences bring, if our apathy played the biggest role in expediting events that redefined cruelty and sowed the seeds of horror?

Change does begin with one person, but only when they refuse to be a spectator and desist turning a blind eye to the atrocities, humanity inflicts on its own kind. The world is in dire need of players, of game changers, not spectators who watch as goodness burns to the ground.

“The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”
― Fulton J. Sheen

Thoughtfully yours,
-Introverted Thoughts aka D

Passage

If the whole world I once could see
On free soil stand, with the people free
Then to the moment might I say,
Linger awhile. . .so fair thou art.
― Goethe, Faust, First Part

She asks me if I recognise her, to which, I reply with my signature awkward smile, that drives away both our feelings of comfort and security. My mother comes to our rescue saying, “She was only a baby, she probably doesn’t remember” and to me, “This is so-and-so, she’s known you ever since you were a month old!” And they proceed to go on and on about how children grow up so fast and how my brother probably remembers her because he was older. This happens with a few more people who have apparently known me since I was an infant, incapable of speech or forming cohesive memories and yet they seem shocked and insulted, when my mother has to bail me out of my apparent memory loss.

“Look who’s here! Remember me? I used to play…” Their sentence fades into the background cacophony of numerous humans catching up on days unseen entities snatched from them. I see a shade of sorrow pass over her face for a split second, as she lays eyes on my reluctantly lost face, before she replaces it with a winning smile, one that has probably comforted many before me. And strikes up a conversation with my mother, who saves us both, yet again.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again.
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise

In this small but endless sea of humans, it seems I’m the only one who seems despicably incapable of remembering names and faces of people who have apparently watched and kept tabs on my growth and non-existent progress in life. There’s something hauntingly comforting about being surrounded by people you called ‘family’ at one point, who then blended into the huge family we all have but have never known or are yet to get acquainted with. Neighbors, friends and cousins who have all risen to the rank of family with prolonged hours of conversation and help provided, when needed the most.

Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.
― Kurt Vonnegut

It’s funny how time has barely moved for me in the past few years and yet, the space I’ve covered in everybody’s eyes is so enormous that memories have failed to provide a firm base when I needed them the most. I insulted more than a few people today, women, children and an elderly person too, owing to my seemingly congenital inclination to forgetfulness, awkwardness and overthinking respectively.

Friends catch up on years they missed, the little kids eat dessert and play while the men remark on economics and politics discussing how the pandemic has affected their businesses and women share stories ranging from kidnaps to a burnt cake while the youth talk about movies and indulge themselves in photography and other, worldly talks.

I stand there, utterly and completely lost, just because I was born in the wrong year rendering me too old to recall the faces that must have, once supplied me with boundless love and kindness, and too young to fall into the women circle or appear robust and youthful with the cousins. I’m just the right age that places me in a bubble of my own, either too old or too young to join any group and I witness the sea of humans before me, each making memories of their own that will soon be a part of their respective passages in life.

Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

We, that is, the same group of people that have gathered here today, will come together again someday; maybe not on earth, or perhaps for the funeral of that man who seemed pale and frail today. They’d lose themselves in talks, of how finite life is. We’ll all ponder on the etherealness of death and sermons of mortality will continue to haunt our thoughts, till we ourselves are given the honor of partaking in death’s magnificent journey.

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

But then too, men and women will go around asking those younger than them, those kids they had doted on, all those years ago, what would seem like a few days to the young ones. “Oh, dear! Bless my eyes, is that dear old Pete?” to which, once little Pete would go, “Yes, that’s me” quite nonchalantly, and they’d fake a smile, “Don’t you remember me, son? I used to help tie your shoelaces when you were a wee toddler!” to which Pete would have no choice but apologise for his lapse of memory.

Another smile would be flashed and it would all be pushed apart as a regular daily occurrence, not minding how those few words might have probably broken that old man’s heart, how the few memories he’d treasured weren’t cherished mutually.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The worst memories stick with us, while the nice ones always seem to slip through our fingers.
― Rachel Vincent, My Soul to Save

They say change is a part of life, that it’s a cornerstone of nature. And it is. I’m no prophet but I can imagine myself all grown up and asking a teenager, I’d once held and loved as a baby, if she remembers me, and leaving with an injured smile at her lack of memory.

I can see the cycle repeating, a cycle where change itself has apparently forgotten to make an appearance.

I wish more than anything, I could accompany these kind souls in reminiscing the good, old days and end our poignant banter with a word of gratitude for every second, they spent, with and for, baby me but life betrays me when I need it the most, to show me the past, not to relive it, but to glorify it for the sake of one little question, into which a tremendous amount of hope, love and thoughtfulness has been invested in.

Time is the longest distance between two places.
― Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

A few but mere seconds have passed and while I’m still standing in the place I’ve been for the past 10 minutes, I see how much I’ve grown in the eyes of the dying man, who had asked me how old I was, only to be told, he used to carry me around when I was an infant and was forced to satiate his heart with, what I hope, was a tender and grateful smile on my part.

How cruel is life, permitting the making of priceless memories but forbidding them from crossing the thresholds of man’s memory when called for?

He was still too young to know that the heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good, and that thanks to this artifice we manage to endure the burden of the past.”
― Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Thoughtfully yours,
-Introverted Thoughts aka D

Dear 2020

It’s a beautiful representation of how 2020 has been and continues to be.
Dedicated to 2020.
Give it a listen while you read!

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
(Little Gidding)
― T.S. Eliot

Dear 2020,

Just wow. To say you swept us off our feet is definitely, an understatement. Not only did you do that, but you ensured that we remained suspended in space, lost in time. Did you enjoy being feared, hated and respected all at once? Are you having a good laugh over the naivete of humans, as they bid you farewell with a joyful heart, unaware of how you were probably, merely a commercial for 2021?

Despite you being just one of your kind, it feels like it has been years since mankind was brought down to its knees by a microscopic being, while you were, no doubt, revelling in what it meant for you. I don’t blame you, of course. You just happened to come around when the virus came around. And now you, like all of us, have been afflicted with it.

I once read that a lot of what we place so much importance on, are mere illusions, ideas and imaginary entities that man has assumed/considered to be real. By that realisation, you don’t really exist. You’re another product of man’s fecundity

(yes, the same man that is now living wary of a tiny being) to understand time and life better. But because you exist in our perceptions and imaginations, you have been connected to the virus, ironically termed ‘Covid 19’.

A few centuries from now, History books will have pages after pages speaking of your wrath, “2020-The year modern humans lost their way” or even further in time “Want to time travel? Ensure no stops in 2020!!” I can already think of beautifully glorious titles for you. History lessons would begin in the most dramatic of fashions,

2020 – An Unforgettable Year for Mankind

Set against a backdrop of human loss and misery was a journey of discovery and realisation that many were just learning to undertake. It brought about a tremendous change in people’s lifestyles, perspectives and proved beneficial to the environment, with pollution rates decreasing drastically. Adoption of minimalistic living practices became the norm in view of the virus’ indefinite tenure. As death tolls rose in a staggering manner, people dwelled in a constant state of apprehension of what the future would bring…..

Of course, if worse things were to occur in the subsequent years, you’d be left alone, lost in the pages of time. Oh dear, I do make you sound quite cruel when you were a boon in many ways as well.

I don’t know whether it was a ruse conspired by higher powers like Gods, centuries and years to revive kindness and humility but whatever the case, you definitely catapulted as into a period, where humanity was brought back to life. We saw health workers putting their lives on the line for the greater good of the general public. Our self-sufficiency increased and many have realised the value of having a family and friends as we went and continue to go through these tough times. This pandemic has also shed light on our finite existence and has made many aware that life, after all, is just a dream, one that we could wake up from, any second.

Yes, I’d say you have achieved a mighty lot, in a mere 366 days. You forget that numerous people preached and spoke, and wrote and protested, warning their fellow sapiens of how our ridiculous ways of life would end ironically, if we continued to live in blatant disregard of the issues that needed to be addressed. But as usual, practising ignorance as a norm of life, we needed a microscopic being to slap some sense into our big brains.

As much as I hate admitting it, we needed this microscopic virus to help us realise that boundaries were man-made, as we saw it spread across the entire globe, in a matter of just a few months. The sudden onslaught of this tiny virus was indeed a moment of shattered pride and lost dignity for mankind as a whole.

You have three more days of your life after which you’ll have to give the mantle to 2021. We have no way of knowing what it will bring but if you could take Covid-19 with you, and return it to wherever it came from, the human race would be incredibly grateful. We may even make you sound more benevolent in the history books of the future.

But our united opposition against this virus shows us the true nature of human beings; we have never before given up in the face of a crisis and continue to persevere till our goals are met. Our history is littered with stories of courage and cowardice, wars and bloodshed, new beginnings and glorious endings, and yet, here we are. This alone is testimony to the fact that we will endure. We will eventually overcome this whether you like it or not. This is not a threat, it’s a mere promise, a statement of our goodwill.

Don’t get me wrong. We absolutely appreciate the realisation you’ve shoved down our beings, the beauty of life you’ve exhibited and the light you’ve shed on the extinguished but now flickering goodness every man possesses. We appreciate it more than you know and while our elephantine egos might prevent you from knowing this, we do owe you so much, for a lifetime of lessons you’ve etched onto us. But now, it really is time for you to leave and take it all back. We have learned our lessons and will no longer continue to ignore the pleas of mother nature or lose ourselves in ridiculous worlds of wealth and beauty.

Dear 2020, you are a prodigy of your kind. I speak for the life I have seen. In my mere 16 years of life, that is. You probably appear as a mere toddler to years like 536, 1345, 1520, 1914, 1918, 1939, 1942 etc. But like them, you too have left a mark on this world. You have created inexplicably deep and painful memories that not even time itself can erase.

For, as humans, we tend to chronicle everything that happens around. We’ll write about you, frame news reports that first announced the arrival of the virus and maybe even award a Nobel Prize to the people who come up with a vaccine. You’ll still be around, even if you are close to your physical end. Students and teachers will talk of the days they spoke into screens and were tethered to screens, day and night. Glorious tales of how toilet paper and masks were the most popular amenities will be passed from generation to generation.

You’ll always be around, suspended in time, as we have been. And we will never forget you. It’s time to rest now. Go in peace, your point has been made, you have created a formidable checkpoint in the fabric of history.

-An earthling

P.S Don’t forget to take your lovely calendar with you. I doubt we need any more mementoes. And I hoped you liked the song! You’ve inspired some beautiful songs and written pieces. I bet blockbuster movies are on the way!

And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been.
― Rainer Maria Rilke

There are just a few more days to go! 2020 was a hard-hitting year, to say the least. Here is to a hopefully better year! 🥂

Thank you so much for reading!