Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A More Conventional Prisoner

(45) A Day in the Life

…shopping, sex, kids, more work…and falling, falling, dying useless…

Woke up. Yawned and stretched, like they do on T.V. Took a minute to collect myself. Got out of bed and ran into the bathroom, enjoying a brief flash of early morning clarity. Got spaced out again while brushing, but habit kept my hand going.

I don’t dream anymore. Or I do, and don’t remember.

I smile, really wide, and check myself out in the mirror. There’s foam all over my mouth and a red toothbrush sticking out at an odd angle from a frothy white mountain of it. The stupid look on my face amuses me, and that’s my laugh for the day.

I spit, gargle, rinse, shave and shower, not thinking a thing.

I see one hand moving constantly – this is the honest one. It makes no bones about its intentions, moving smoothly and rhythmically from number to number. The others pretend – they trick you with their stillness, then turn when you’re not looking. That’s your life slipping away in slow motion, or at least what looks like slow motion.

How long is one second? Time passes faster or slower depending on what I’m doing, so, really, how long IS one second? If you add up enough, does that mean you’ve lived a long life? What if it all went by really, really fast? Or…

I look up at the clock, realizing I am late. I dry myself, hastily throw on my uniform (the tie gives me trouble), and grabbing a slice of bread, rush out onto the street.

I light up - the first, and last, for a long time - and wait for the bus. It hits me – the faint, pleasant dizziness strangely clearing my head.

…too long…too long…why do I wait?

The 45 rolls into view, and already I see people hanging out at weird angles to the ground. Office-time, we call it. I grab onto the support bar and pull myself alongside and onto the bus in one swift movement, the driver not deeming it necessary to stop or even slow down enough for me to get on without having to perform these acrobatics. The city. It happens. I don’t even think about it anymore.

We’re all acrobats. Performing monkeys. Population Trash-Compacted Public Transport Zombies.

I find myself some space to stand, only half-drowning in the crushing sea of humanity. It’s cramped. It’s dirty. It smells. But I withdraw, go into my quiet place. I’ve learnt to ignore these things.

You’d be surprised what you can learn to ignore.

I am not real. And this bus is not real to me.

I have gone away chasing dreams and rainbows.

Once I was a child, was free. And I wanted to grow up.

Once I was an addict, was lost to the world. And I wanted to quit.

Once I ran away, had the sky for my roof, the whole world to play in. And I wanted to go home.

Once, I used to dream.

I still dream. I still remember what it’s like to want to be free.

I do not remember dreams, because it hurts to. It hurts to live, just live, knowing there’s so much else you could be doing. The truth is I’m afraid. Scared enough of dying that just living seems like a good idea.

You cannot stop dreaming. So I choose to forget.

There are no rainbows left to chase. I wake up to work, money, worry…

My stop. I jump off the bus, and, landing almost perfectly, rush to work.

Arijit Sett, UG III

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