Sitting at my window, looking at the streets outside, lined with cars and leaves, I find this to be my solace. Sometimes it feels like time falls away. The subtle changes of the blue of the sky reminds me of the time of the day and gives me a feeling of being a part of something bigger. The sky has never been bluer. At other times, I forget about the maddening crises that has demanded that we not just slow down, but stop. I exist but not all too fully. I float and then grab, gasping for breath, any sign of life.
Since late January, I found it difficult to not follow the news, exhaustively, as if I was watching the last bits of sand fall in the timer. Yet this timer is endless. April, June, September, years, a couple of years, the speculation continues. At first it felt that we were counting time to an end. No longer. The damage is done and time feels a victim too.
They say this is a health crises. Of course, now, it is more, an economic, social, political crises. It is a humanitarian crises. In the attempt to preserve life, what becomes glaring is the perversity of life and the living. It is a crises of how to be human. It brings to our minds, what it means to be human.
At many times in the day, many days of the week, I find my heart pounding. At night, the barking of the dogs has never been more incessant and loud. Sleep when it comes, brings with it dreams that feel too real. I leap from the terrains of the unconscious to the buzzing world of news. The reality of the world for some reason becomes less disturbing than the cauldron of painful emotions that my mind is drowning and grappling with, and the cold outside is a relief, stripped as it is of feelings.
Sometimes I feel I am watching my nightmare being staged in the theatre of the world.
Then a dream. I see a formless face. Like death, but worse. The face, reminds me of Voldemort. Of his desperate attempts to stay alive. Ravaged, torn apart, even in life, not alive. Destroyed by the touch of love. I see in the dream, pieces of decayed skin held together, barely. Skin that is no longer holding a life together but spilling and rotting. I am being spoken to by this face. It confronts me, challenges me. I scream. And scream. I scream long enough that it wakes me, but the nightmare, like the grip of a villan desperate for its life, claws at me, keeps me in its grip. I can feel my face paralysed. Lips letting out a scream, but unable to open fully. I fight and fight, and finally wake. Terrorized. Afraid to ever sleep again.
Meaning eludes me. But I have to trust my mind. It’s making a desperate attempt to communicate and process what I’m carrying, the pain and heaviness in my body. I feel bruised. I keep wondering if I had hit myself. But the aches are there. I find myself noticing the little bits of skin that cover my desk. It’s my skin. Dead skin. Some yet to be dead. That I have scratched out till my my fingers bleed. The blood is red and fresh. I exist. A familiar body. A familiar feeling. I soothe it slowly with oils and cream. And think no more.
But then the dream comes back. It nudges me. Cajoles me. Slowly, nearly lovingly, pulls me towards itself. The skin, a container, a form to my existence. Do I exist? Do I matter? Will I just disappear, cease to exist? I feel less clear of where I begin and where I end. The rooms of my house merge into one another, my body moving from one to the other without a sense of its movement. I sit for hours, unsure. Perhaps eating will remind me that I exist.
Without the daily touches of life, confined in space, I lose myself. The potion of life, a rhythmic exchange of feelings and thoughts, of gestures and movements, tell us we are alive. We are seen and we matter. I miss friends, lovers, family I can’t meet.
At my window, I wait for the morning and evening walks of a neighbour’s dog. He-she, brings me to a smile. So cheery, his bouncing step, wagging tail leaving no doubt of his joy in the walk. He feels like a friend, whom I am eager to see and whose presence creates me, renews me.
I find myself trying to master Beethovan’s ninth symphony. My piano, a symbol of my desire. A beautiful dream. The ninth symphony, also known as Ode to Joy, strikes me as beautiful. It is a masterpiece. For me, now, it is more. When I first heard it, it was a moment of freedom. Freedom from the anxiety that consumes me. From the heaviness and the deadness. It sparked a wish to live, to feel, to celebrate and to love. I felt it could lead me, like no leader has. I felt it would preserve me. It caressed me, aroused me. Like foreplay. Music has that quality.
Nature has music. It creates music effortlessly. I see it in the dance the neem leaves do as they fall from the tree outside my window. I see it in how my little cucumber plants grow everyday. I feel it in the pink of my bougainvillea plant that changes and becomes deeper with each day. It feels like an ode to love. I hear it in the many birds chirping, in their flying, in their colours. They sound like a symphony too. Our human world, often, feels without music. Like a cold, dead block of concrete. Dense, dead, dark. There is no music. It is eerily silent. It echoes an emptiness that we carry when we lose what it means to be human. When we lose our feelings, our abilities to reflect, to empathize, to connect and to touch each other. To be human to each other. We speak but often its a screeching noise. We seem to exist, but without any rhythm and with no music. Losing ourselves slowly.
I return again and again to my window. It frames me, like skin. It reminds me I am alive, like a lover’s touch.
For now, this will have to do.
–Urvashi Agarwal (Pyschoanalytic Psychotherapist, The Psychotherapist Collective)