DEPRESSION AND ME : WHY I ALWAYS LOSE

Depression is a lot like love.

It will always be a part of you; You might feel that pure snippet of happiness when it dawns on you that you’ve moved on, or mourn the invisible shackles that still bind you to it. Tiny, random things from normal, random days will take you back to the past and make you feel the exact same way you once felt. Most of all, though, it will remind you how utterly fickle you are – you can easily fall all over again. You won’t know it immediately, but the signs will be there. Then one night when you’re trying to make sense of the tears rolling down your cheeks without any reason and the heartbreaking desperation for acknowledgement and love, you will realize that you’ve been here before. Look around you, the chair is now a mountain of unwashed dirty laundry, the present that your friends so lovingly gave you is lying on the floor, the food and new dresses that your mother sent you are lying in the corner; they don’t really matter to you right now. However, you want to believe that they do. I realized today that one takes steps to entice joy, just to ensure that one feels happy for the things that one should ordinarily feel happy about – pushing someone to the light of joy with the hope that they’ll inadvertently gift some of it to you.

I often described depression as a feeling of emptiness. I now know that the description doesn’t do justice to it, because that is not how I feel right now. I feel like there are veins of turmoil throbbing in me but they are filled with emptiness. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense to you, but that- right there- is the whole point.

The last time I felt this way was when I was in High School. I often wonder why my best friends, the ones I spent each day with back then, never caught on to it. I blamed them for being bad friends, as any naïve survivor would. “Perhaps they didn’t care enough to see the signs”, “They probably were too busy worrying about their own issues”, “They were kids and didn’t know better” – These were the justifications that I gave myself on their behalf. Little did I know that I, and only I, was to blame.

I went out with my parents today, and despite the sense of darkness that has been haunting me, I was the poster child for happiness. I made the right jokes at the right time, laughed throughout the conversation and added the right smidgens of dramatics required of me. It was almost mechanical. I was almost mechanical… but there was no way for them to know. It’s even better with my friends. I am the same as I always was. I know at what point I would normally pass a sarcastic comment or give an overly dramatic reaction or just laugh wildly like I’m not really feeling numb inside. It’s all very heartbreakingly normal. Sometimes I caught myself getting lost in my own thoughts of nothingness when I was in the midst of a crowd that I love. Next thing I knew, I’d started to plaster a content smile on my face when I did it. It makes me uncomfortable, this deliberate addition to an absolutely inadvertent act; and all of it just to conceal the truth, the discovery of which is my only hope. Today I gave an overly dramatic speech about my optimism for the times to come and it killed me inside how I could so confidently make such declarations and not even believe an iota of it. I was reacting the way I would have normally, as if I was set in ‘automatic mode’ which facilitated me to say just the right things at the right time for the purpose of seeming normal.That is where the problem lies. How would I ever be able to speak to them about this when all they believe is that everything is normal? I’ve recently become extremely active on social media, like a 14 year old who just joined Whatsapp I chat with everyone who ever mattered to me. I wonder if, in some twisted way, I am daring them to figure it out. Perhaps, despite all my unreasonable and unalterable attempts, somebody will understand.

There are two basic realities that I must face; 1) If you don’t understand your sadness, neither will anybody around you. 2) People believe what you let them believe. As I face them, I realize that this is why I keep losing. This is why, as I sit here pondering over something so devastatingly abstract, I stay silent. Who do I talk to? You could have a hundred people around you who love you unconditionally and they still won’t be able to help you if you don’t let them in.

I want to sit down with someone and tell them this. I want to hug them while I cry my heart out like I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. I can’t, though, and that is because sometimes, you have no one even when you have everyone. While that is a rubbish way to put it, I know no other way.

So, here I lie, writing my heart out. Tomorrow, I will wash my hair and clean my room, hoping that it will help. Knowing that it won’t.

FEAR OF FEAR?

I’d believed great realization comes like a sudden wave, magnificent in its solitude, terrorizing because of its abruptness. Now I’ve learned it in a rather strange way that sometimes it comes to you bit by bit, like one brick after the other, forming a massive wall in the prison of your brain as if nothing is wrong. All of them are right there and you won’t even notice because hey, they don’t make you feel anything, do they? Then one fine day this wall breaks, it doesn’t matter how or when or why, the only thing that matters is the burst of emotions it brings. You needed it to shatter, get destroyed, because now that it is hurting, you will finally see the multitudinous iotas of realization backed by instances. Really see them.

I’d been delusional in my interpretation of fear. For me it was just the apprehension you feel when you’re walking alone on the street in the dark or worrying about telling your parents that you got a C in Sociology. It is hilarious how I never even noticed how fear could actually, and had actually, started ruling my life. Just the different kind.

I became afraid to write my heart out, afraid to show the world the raw thoughts that my mind housed. Poetry became a medium to pass time in Criminal Law Class and stopped being a window to my soul.

I became afraid of love because, oh well, who wants to get hurt? And isn’t love bound to hurt you? For we are mere mortals, it is only logical that the love in our mortal hearts will have its inevitable end too.

I became afraid to read, write, watch tragedies because they made me feel too much, made me think too much. I remember feeling the innocent tears on my cheeks and childishly saying “never again”.

I became afraid of losing, of not being able to excel in the things I had passion for and now, my heart has ceased to care enough even to try to win.

I became afraid of committing to real people, chose TV shows instead. That is, after all, the thing about fiction, you can choose to believe it’s real when everything is rainbows and sunshine and remember it’s not when things go dark.

I became afraid of people not liking me (yes, I am shallow that way). Sometimes I just never know if I’m being too forward or too loquacious or too frikking stupid. And soon, I realised, that I’d inadvertently started conducting mini-debates within myself even before saying a simple “Hi” to an acquaintance.

And now I have also become afraid of letting this fear rule me, which in itself means that it already does. It has turned into an anesthesia to my heart, made it numb. I have understood that smiling brightly is easier when you don’t have anything to feel. The smile will remain constant because its connection to the heart has turned futile anyway.

Today I realized that I’d stopped feeling long time ago, that I’d stopped living long time ago. And how ironic is it that I’d always tried to run away from tragedies.

THE GOOD WIFE

I was groomed well from the very beginning. The society had taught me how to be good as a woman even before I truly had turned into one. The secret, of course, was to be a good wife. One that I had become the moment I entered my new home, the house of my husband.

I  knew he was the man of the house and listened to everything he said, gave him everything he wanted. He was the king, period. When he was sick and lying on the hospital bed, I was there, taking care of him and never leaving his side. When he was infuriated over some event at the office, I would listen patiently as he rambled on and on for hours. I made his favourite cuisines, even if I had to wake up super-early to do so. I, indeed, was the classic example of a good wife.

My daughter might have felt a tad bit neglected over the years, but that was a necessary sacrifice on my part. After all, she was a girl, perhaps it was a good thing she got to learn adjustment and compromise from the every beginning, it would ensure a peaceful future for her. Oh, wonderful. A good wife and a good mother, I was brilliant. Handling the house as well as a job could never be easy for any woman, priorities had to be set for my own sanity. I was pretty clear as to how my days needed to be. I woke up early and prepared breakfast and lunch for myself and my husband. For my daughter, I boiled some milk and also prepared two eggs if time permitted. I tried to ensure that my daughter got a good breakfast, afterall, the only time she had a meal after that was during dinner. Her own mistake, to be frank. It’s not my fault that my husband and daughter have such contradictory tastes when it comes to food and ofcourse, expecting me to make a separate dish for her would simply be too much. It is pretty simple, she should eat her father’s desired dish that I have prepared, or make food on her own because I simply do not have the time. The petulant brat still hasn’t learnt though. She would starve for the day but never take a step into the kitchen, such a disgrace, who on earth would marry her? Over the years, it seems, she has gotten used to having only one good meal per day. Well, good for her. My husband understands that this is not my fault, so of course I’m doing nothing wrong. Oh but ofcourse, occasionally when she starts crying and acting like a cranky angry woman because of hunger, I make all her favourite dishes.I am a good mother after all. I make it a point, though, to not make them again any time soon after that. I don’t want her to get habituated with me making her special dishes, what if she starts expecting it every time? We can’t have that, can we?

My schedule is pretty hectic, when I come home after a tiresome day at work I take a 1 hour nap and then immediately get onto the cleaning task. My husband is rather messy, to be frank, and oh well, so am I. However, ever since my daughter shifted to her college dorm I’ve found a cheat move. I take all of the abandoned clothes, files and every rubbish from the living room and our bedroom and deposit them in her room. It is rather convenient, she isn’t here now, is she? Anyway, she deserves it. Even when she was home, she never helped me clean the house, that spoilt brat. I felt obligated to give her a thrashing everyday because of the same. She was such a horrible daughter, I tell you.

Now, 10 years later, I really wonder if she truly was that horrible. She had endeavoured to be a friend at times, I just never had the time. I wish I had though, what I would do now to get a glimpse of her. Not a glimpse of some photograph she uploaded on facebook but an actual live glimpse. She stopped visiting after her second year in college, even spent the vacations interning at some place or the other. Once she got placed she moved to a huge city situated at the other corner of the country. Never came back since. She sends us a nice hefty sum every month, also calls us once a week to know if everything is fine; a conversation too short for my liking. I wish things were back to normal, the normal that was 10 years back.

I wonder where I went wrong.

FLAWED FAMILY

She loved her daughter, she truly did, but sometimes the young lady behaved so erratically that she almost seemed like a stranger. Under the dim light of the room in the elite, ostentatious hospital, she sat with her shoulders slumped, wondering about the grim expression on her daughter’s face. Any passerby won’t think much of it. The poor girl’s father was admitted in the hospital all of a sudden, surely she wouldn’t be spurting rainbows from her mouth. However, if you looked closely, you could see smidgens of irritability rather than those of concern; a trait that would be enough to label her as an immature daughter with no seriousness or worry about her old man. This was what had gotten her mother in a twist. Her daughter was the soothing cool breeze and energizing ray of sunshine all rolled into one, a hyper-active girl who showered her father with affection all the time. She might not be perfect but she was a gem, their gem. If anything, her behavior right now was nothing but perplexing. Little did the mother know, the daughter was well aware of how the situation seemed, however, she couldn’t give a damn.

She loved her father, she truly did. She was concerned too, however, every time she noticed the look of utter peace in his face, she couldn’t help but feel annoyed. It was as if he was loving the status quo, basking over the nonexistent glory of it. The doctor hounding him to ensure he was alright, the nurses specifically assigned to him taking care of him, her mother giving him a massage and being at his beck and call, it was indubitably obvious that he was deriving some twisted tranquility out of it all. She endeavored to understand his perspective, but she couldn’t consume the fact that he was somewhat secretively enjoying at the expense of his loved ones’ peace of mind. It was a simple issue of gas, the X-ray report had authenticated that, however he was hell- bent on getting hospitalized because apparently his body felt as if it was bursting into flames. Worse was the way he changed his behavior as per the people surrounding him. In solitude, he behaved like the dinosaur-in-distress. Groaning and gnashing his teeth, only grumbling as a response to anything that his wife asked, setting up a nice pretense of attempting to speak but not being able to due to the unbearable pain. However, that didn’t stop him from indulging in a nice tete-a-teta like a smiley miley with the wardboys and nurses. What trumped everything else was his behavior when the doctors came in, the act was so perfect that even she couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. Little did the daughter know, the father was well aware of how the situation seemed, however, he couldn’t give a damn.

He loved his family, he truly did. He genuinely did not want them to worry much, perhaps just a little bit? Oh, who was he kidding, he was enjoying the fact that his wife was wound up over his health. The neck massages were truly little iotas of bliss. How long had it been anyway since she’d last done it? He didn’t even remember. She had always lived in extremes, and never in a good way. She was always either ‘too’ busy or ‘too’ tired or ‘too’ frustrated by work to ever even sit with him for a nice chat. Not now though, now she was all his. His nice little family worried sick about him, paying attention to every moan coming out of his lips and every drop of glucose entering his vein. Well, maybe not the family in entirety. His daughter seemed rather off, not in a way that she should have considering the fact that her father is hospitalized. His daughter had always been a chatterbox and a cuddler, something he adored about her. Now, though, she barely even gave him a sweet smile, a nice review of the latest book she read or the most recent episode of her favourite TV series was out of the question. He didn’t worry much though, if there was anything he was absolutely certain about it was his daughter’s love for him. He was well aware that he had multitudinous flaws, most of which she was well-acquainted with. That didn’t stop her from loving him then, so why would she now? Moreover, the extravagant attention from the hospital staff more than made up for this little glitch in his plan. Not to mention, the patient next to him seemed like a pretty cool guy. It had been too long since he sat down, relaxed and had a nice conversation with a young intellect like himself. Everything was going according to the plan, he had even successfully befooled the doctor, the good old idiot was getting all worked up as if this was the most complicated case of his lifetime. Perhaps it truly was, you never know these days. Little did the father know, the doctor was well aware of how the situation seemed, however, he couldn’t give a damn.

LET ME TEACH YOU HOW TO PRAY, CHILD


Imagine a classroom with 100 students, all of them chanting praises for you, using exquisite vocabulary to describe the greatness that you are. How do you feel? Good? Well, then, add one teeny meeny modification.

Same scenario, except, none of them truly fathom the meaning of what is so passionately coming out of their mouths. What about now? Do you feel just as good?

That is what I observe around me. Every time.

And each time I send a silent ‘I get you’ to the Father up above.


It is that time of the day, when my parents will hastily switch on the television, mother will be lighting the lamp and she would be as flustered up as ever. Father would give me that expectant look to join them on the sofa, a look that by this point he feels obligated to give. I will act oblivious, per usual. Occasionally, when they are having a particularly bad day they glare at me with two pairs of dazzling eyes or perhaps even start a fight. Not today, thank God. The last time hadn’t gone well, due to obvious reasons. It was like a scene out of some Korean drama. I truly believed there was no need for the hysterics. Our society, however, won’t allow that, especially in matters concerning something as sensitive as religion.
“Why can’t you pray?”, she demanded.
“I do pray, I just don’t find the need to pray the way you do.”, I retorted. That earned me yet another glare.
“What is wrong with the way we pray?” my dad tried to reason, the expression of utter disappointment on his face.
I simply snorted. This is probably the millionth time he had asked me this question and I certainly wasn’t delusional enough to give an answer, hoping that the millionth time would do the trick. I was perplexed as to why they were finding it so troubling to understand. Prayer, according to me, was a one-on-one communication between a person and God. Of course, I wouldn’t be interested in sitting idly in front of the television while a dozen girls, all dressed in matching clothes and wearing proper make-up, mind you, look at the camera screen and chant continuously in pure Malayalam, so pure that I found it hard to believe if they themselves understood what they were shouting. And let me not get started with the speed, every prayer was rushed as if they were in a Rapidfire game, not their fault though, there is just so much you can do when you’ve been asked to finish off an entire Rosary session in half an hour. Who cares if it serves its purpose or not. Yes, that’s right. I was expected to sit silently and watch this and that would supposedly be considered praying.
I tried not to judge for a long time. My policy was pretty clear cut, pray and let pray. But then they started judging, and I truly found their naivete hilarious. I was wrong , because I preferred praying alone behind closed doors rather than with my family, staring intently at the television screen. I was wrong, because I scripted my own conversation with Father rather than memorizing and robotically chanting prayers created decades ago by others. I was wrong, because the conventional ways didn’t satisfy me and I couldn’t force myself to adhere to them even for the sake of show. I was wrong, period. More importantly, though, I didn’t mind being wrong in this. And so kept lying on my bed, waiting for my house to start echoing with the noise of the television, a deliberate indication to the world that my house prayed.
Strangely, that indication never came. It was 10 minutes past the scheduled time of the show and house was silent. My curiosity forced me to move my lazy body and go inquire.
“Isn’t it time for your Rosary?”, I asked my parents, who were sitting by the balcony sipping on hot tea.
“No, we can’t, the TV isn’t working. Signal issue.”, my mother shrugged and then continued her tete-a-tete with father.