Flicker

This name came to me first. Nothing else. And nothing more has come after that, yet. And I am afraid I am not in the mood which gave me that name. This has happened so many times.

I hate this noise. But nobody lets me shut the windows.

I used to be someone a pretty long while ago. I am not going to dramatize. I am much of that person, but a part of it is no more. The part that used to give me these names. The part because of which I was able to write so much, feel so much. Emote so much.

I have lost it. It’s just gone. And any effort to feel that, or write stuff, is an artificial way to poke it up. Which wouldn’t happen.

The flicker thing was about the brevity of life. But that stuff ain’t gonna come today. I don’t know when it will come. But I know no one’s waiting.

I have lost a lot of myself. Sort of rusted and broken away, piece by piece. I am not the man I used to be.

Oh yeah, I am also seeing things. My room is dark and shut, except for the light from the laptop screen and the door. I thought I saw a dark, thin, female figure, dart into the room from the door. But then I didn’t see anything.

It might be a ghost who’ll wait till I go to sleep tonight.

What am I doing? What is this? What farce is this? Why do I refuse to understand that that part is gone, and all this effort amounts only to pain? Only to an irritation for what won’t come.

My friends are sitting far from me. And it’s like the space among us is filling, that they are inevitably drifting away in an expanding universe. Sorry, that’s inexorably.

And people bear with me. How do they?

This could have been called recap, you know? Because today was like a whole lot of really old past was again avalanching back on me today, like an overstuffed and messy cupboard thrown open.

It was the same thing again. A few days of being just friends. I have a tendency to land up with such things.

I am making such a pitiable effort to churn up emotions within myself. And this bloody keyboard won’t even let me type.

Hey, I am so not original, so not authentic. So false, so pretentious. So not reliable. So contraband. You can’t count on me. I am dangerous that way. I look like the truth, I smell like the truth every time you care to sniff. But every time I am thinking something else, planning something else. I am not there. I am not that. I am dangerous.

Isn’t everyone, a bit?

That’s the problem. We are all so alike. That’s the bloody damn problem. The bloody. damn. problem.

We do such things because of our large heads.

My head hurts a little. Not enough to not be called contraband. As always.

No, man, my head really hurts.

So fake.

I am getting worse here.

1Life.


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18

Well, today I had to go to college for some work. Going to college for me is not as easy as you might be tempted to think. It’s 80 kilometers from a place that is at least 15 more kilometers from my house. No, I don’t do it everyday. Yeah, that means I stay there. But it’s our summer hols now, full three months of it, and there’s no college. I had to go there because of some work.

So I was returning from there by train, local train. I had to get off at Dum Dum. It was pretty empty when I got on it. Pretty empty means that if you run and be bad-mannered and shove a few people around, you have a chance of getting a seat. I got a seat.

Where I sat was at the end of a compartment, a sort of half-closed space with the seats, and most of them were occupied by boys slightly older than me. They looked like they were travelling together.

One of them cracked a very, very poor joke and started laughing hysterically, drawing his breath in with loud squeals. Very weird. Everyone else was quiet. Nobody laughed at the joke. The joke was conceived when these guys saw a cow outside half-running beside the railway tracks. Then this guy said that there was a meeting in the forest where every animal came except one. Which was it? When no one could answer, he said it was the cow, because it was running over there. That was the joke. As one of them correctly pointed out, it wasn’t a PJ. It was an NJ or a no-joke.

After a while I found out that they were from Jadavpur University, and two of them were from my school, two years senior. Same section, in fact.

A lot of time passed by, we were talking, and then they mentioned a math problem. Not very tough. How many 3-digit numbers have their cubes ending with 44? Well, I gave it a hurried initial thought and said none, because I thought that there was no digit which when cubed gives 4 in the unit’s place. But they said there would be many numbers.

I started thinking again. I realized that 4 cubed gives 4 in the unit’s place. No other digit does that. So the unit’s place digit of the number must be 4. I took the number as a string of 3 digits represented by x, y and z. Then the number was 100x + 10y + z. I tried to cube that expression in my head, but my formula wasn’t right. I was thinking (a+b+c)^3 = a^3 + b^3 + c^3 + 3(ab+bc+ca), which wasn’t right. I thought in that line for a long time, with the wrong formula, and couldn’t get anywhere. Then I took out my phone, and started the calculator, and found out the cubes of all 2-digit numbers ending with 4 and various leading digits, and checked how many ended with 44. This I did with the idea that the 100th place digit wouldn’t affect the last two digits of the cube. Which was right. I did this for a while, then thought some more, and got an answer. But it wasn’t ‘a lot of numbers’. The number wasn’t a lot. So I didn’t know whether to tell them or not.

All this time, the train had stopped at some station. Not a very small station. The guy who had originally mentioned the question had got up to stand by the door. I had felt like asking the name of the station once, but hadn’t.

Then the train started moving, and I looked out of the window, and slowly, floating past it, I could see a covered stairway leading from the platform and sinking down. That was familiar. I had seen it on my way to college that very day. And I felt a little queasy. Then I saw the Metro tracks outside the station, running parallel to our tracks, and the words DUMDUM JN. written on the platform wall in large letters. It went right past the window. And I thought, man, I have missed it. I felt pretty queasy.

I kept thinking about it for some time. That was bad, missing my station like that. I wish I’d asked a guy sooner which station it was. I hadn’t paid any attention at all all this while to these stations and all.

Then after some time, I asked the guy opposite me, ‘Is the answer 18?’

He said, ‘Yes.’

Then I asked, ‘Is there another station where I can get off and catch a Metro?’

He said, not really, but why didn’t I get off at Dum Dum?

P.S. It later took me a whole lot of time to get home that day.

1Life.


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Now

What do you do when you don’t want to write, yet want to write? It’s not like there’s nothing to write about. Maybe there is something that could be written. But I’ve lost that touch, if ever there was such a thing. And all this can be called is rambling. I have lost a lot of things in the recent past. A lot of things have changed. They don’t come separately and conspicuously to the mind when called, but certainly a lot of things have changed. What has been the net effect? Have I grown happier? Or sadder? Happier, I guess. But right now, I would say sadder.

What do you do when there’s something burning away inside you but you cannot speak up? Will you compromise and let it be? Will you speak up and let actions take their course? I don’t have guts for the second choice. I don’t have the guts for a lot of things. I am being made to realize that. But I am cultivating guts for a lot of things. And I guess I can see it a little. But the bottom line is that I’m not feeling hundred percent now. I don’t remember when I did. Sometimes, rarely, I feel suddenly hysterical like when I was a kid. Only to be followed by a period of brooding.

Is this going to bring back those times of blackness? Then maybe it would be bad. I remember, hazily, that it was bad.

What do I need?

The problem is, I am always feeling there are so many things I could be doing that I am not doing. I am not being productive. I am not working my ass off and producing anything worth sitting back and looking at for a while. I am not learning enough, learning with enjoyment. Cramming before the exams is not learning.

For that sort of work, you need to be in a good mood. And the things that are supposed to be looking after my good mood are not working out.

There is something called personal space. I am suddenly reminded of that American man and the Japanese man at the party, with the Japanese man subconsciously chasing the American around the room.

It’s not that bad.

Am I saying that because I am making way?

1Life.


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