When I wrote morbid content for the first time, I was prohibited from watching my favourite television shows and movies. My favourite books (mostly works by Poe, Lovecraft, and Christie) were put it the loft and my father, who himself is an avid reader of uncountable genres, swiped my external hard disk clean to ensure that I was not exposed to “corrupting, toxic influences” that reeked of anything that was not bright, colourful, joyous (however pretentious) and most importantly, conventional.
Ever since I was a child, I have been besotted with the land of Egypt – it
is was my dream to become an archaeologist, browsing through moth-eaten manuscripts of the ancient past, breathing in the sandy air, discovering hidden tombs of rulers, unravelling mysteries of the mummies with my colleagues – before I was asked to grow up. Often mocked as the “girl obsessed with the dead”, with snide inquisitions such as – ‘khaali mora’der niye porey thakish keno’ (‘why is your mind occupied with all things dead), my seasoned ears sieve the ridicule and sarcasm before I greet and accept (or reject) what others say to me.
If I may confess, I also appreciate the remarkable mystery that is the human psyche – I read about real crime stories; accounts of clinically proven mental patients; try to read between the lines in songs, and so on. This appreciation has taught me is that everybody lies. It is either motivated by selfish requirements, or in order to provide a more acceptable version of events. It is almost like myself writing random poetry and making colourful doodles, when all I can think about in reality is how fascinating the chant – “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn” (in his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming), is. Unlike Doctor House, in House M.D., who is almost clinically cynical, I have a generally optimistic approach towards life, although a reminder of the fact that everybody lies continues to be the default setting in my head.
I have also gained weight in the past couple of years. My food habits are not entirely unhealthy, although I must admit that I have become far too lazy to exercise. I procrastinate a lot more frequently than I used to, I have grown resilient towards things that appealed to me the most, and it has been pointed out that I have built a shell around myself in the last few years. What the cause of these effects is, I have little idea.
My heart and mind have been engaged in an unhealthy tussle between self-confidence and a nagging sense of inadequacy, in the recent past. Close circumspection has led me to believe that expectations of many, and lack of faith of the rest, in me, has not only created, but asserted this divide within myself. When I read ‘The Secret Sharer’ by Joseph Conrad for the first time, the close familiarity that I felt with Leggatt who “had lowered himself into the water to take his punishment: a free man, a proud swimmer striking out for a new destiny” made me awkward, to say the least. I realise now that Leggatt had taken responsibility for his actions, he was not trying to escape from the consequences; Leggatt and the captain had both accepted one another’s being to form a composite structure of contradictory identities – both were individually whole.
I realise that my familiarity was rooted in jealousy. The knowledge that a fictional character had managed to arouse my envy has, since then, made me feel extremely reduced by the label of a (self-accepted) “idiot”. I am usually not idiotic; I just wish that complementary scales were not a myth. I am not obsessed with either the dead, or the supernatural, or the morbid; I just wish that arrogant contempt towards the macabre were less. I have not grown fat of late; evidently, I am in denial. I am not an unhappy person, I just wish that I were happier.
And on that confessional note :
Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sun-light lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley’s restlessness.
Nothing there is motionless—
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude. (an extract from ‘The Valley of Unrest’, by Edgar Allan Poe)