Parth Sharma

“Fuck. Holy Fuck! What are you doing here? What did I tell you before? You cannot stay here. You shouldn’t be here. It’s late. It’s way past your time. You have to get out. You have to move out. Get out. OUT! Leave everything. NOOOO, what are you doing? Fuck it. FUCK IT! Put it down. DOWWWWN! Put everything down. You can’t carry it. You mustn’t carry it. It’ll get heavier. You’ll fall. You’ll die. You cannot die. You mustn’t die. Please don’t die. RUN! Run as fast as you can and don’t die,” Mehran said in a tone that unquestionably betrayed his pressing impatience to conclude our conversation.

I could tell it was a dream. It was easy to tell that I had been dreaming. But I could feel myself snapping out of it. My body and mind were invariably inching towards a junction. Crossroads?! Fuck no, I was already there. What was that poem again? Yes, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I had to choose. I could choose to open my eyes and be held as a hostage to the demented darkness of reality, or I could choose to stay and be part of this overwhelmingly crazy, senseless world...

Where was I? I didn’t know. My mind was a certified tyrant. It had exiled me to live in a mad world. My mind was daft. Did it not know that there are not one but two mad worlds? If it were a contest, I’d have a compelling time trying to decide a winner. A decision needed to be made and it needed to be made fast. The joints were already loosening up. I could feel my legs brush against the blanket. I could feel a comfortable warmth the blanket brought to my body. I could tell it was cold enough to not bring my head out in the open. I could tell that I’d tossed myself to the extreme right corner of my bed and was facing a window in the west direction of my bedroom. I could feel myself coming back to my senses. I was about to passively tread into reality again. My eyes remained dutifully shut and my instinct told me that it was just a little after 5 am. 

Subconsciousness violently butted in and commanded me to shut up and pretend that I was still asleep, still dreaming. Maybe I was still sound asleep, perfectly ignorant about everything. How did I make that conjecture? I don’t know. I just happened to know everything in that moment. I didn’t want the dream to end. I was confused. A passionate discord raged through the entirety of my mind and body. Was I dreaming, or was my mind playing tricks on me? Is it all real, or is it all in my head? I yearned to know what happened next. I didn’t want the thread to be severed. I was desperate – desperate to not wake up. I didn’t want to wake up. “Please, don’t wake up. Please.”

“But where do I go? Where will I run away to?” I ask facetiously. “There’s no place to run. Death will bring a decided conclusion to events, to life, to us.” I begin to laugh uncontrollably.

I cackle like a hyena. I sound like one when something absolutely inconsequential or trivial amuses me to astronomical lengths. The chuckle isn’t delightful but it’s genuine, raw, innocent. Also, who’s this Mehran? I don’t know a Mehran. Funny. This is all very ridiculous, indeed. This is maddening. I shift uncomfortably as I try to cling onto the last shreds of my cuckoo land.

Mehran isn’t charmed. Mehran is angry. Mehran is furious at me for not listening to him. I try to control my ugly fits of laughter. But it becomes laborious to control. It borderlines between ungovernable giggling and awkward bouts of hiccups. It’s exhausting to distinguish. I think I should…


I wake up.

I instantaneously open my eyes and I’ve forgotten almost everything about the dream. My world has crumbled into nothing. It is nada, it never existed, and it may never have life again. I remember not a dicky bird, almost zilch. But I remember the sentiment. I don’t want to forget the obliterated dream. I try to recollect but GIFs – quick flashes of brilliantly hazy and scintillatingly colourful GIFs - is all that I can recall. It’s preposterous! Remembering all – every twisted frame, every instant of you living in a plastic universe of your subconsciousness, but only as long as your world isn’t scheduled to disband into nothing, only as long as you wholeheartedly cling to the very last strand of the very last thread that binds you to your world. It stands still only as long as it doesn’t perish, and then, it’s over. It is nothing, it is void.

All made sense when my mind travelled at lightning speed to a universe where I wasn’t harassed to brave the most reticent, repressed, and unchallenged emotions buried in the bottom of my heart or my head, maybe?! I’m candid enough to admit that I’m ultimately incompetent of discerning the precise address where I stash my nauseating issues and complications. It could be the crest-fallen, failing heart and it could just as well be the witless head. Is it just me, though? Or everyone’s just like me? Who started this? How do people fathom where their emotions and feelings are buried? My insides are viciously littered. I have a perception that everything is casually dispensed into the same space. Must I mimic the world, too? Must I unconsciously designate a location because that’s what the cool kids do? I’ve learnt to not be too bothered by anything. But it bothers me. Do I pretend? Pretend to not care? I wish I didn’t care about anything. But I do care about everything too much. Everyone does, obviously. You’re lying if you say otherwise, feel otherwise, or think otherwise... aren't you? 

It’s pitiful. You know the truth. You have all the answers, but you wish to remain in an everlasting state of repudiation. You’re unwilling to accept the answers. You’re resistant to see the truth. It’s the same with me. I don’t welcome reality. I don’t want to and I won’t, either. I don’t like to be coerced into a confrontation. I like taking my time. I love having moments of self-realization. It’s less dramatic and much calmer. Conflict scares me. I can never engage in an altercation with a person or an emotion or circumstances or myself if I’m not calling the shots. I like to be in charge when and wherever I can. LOVE IT. Domination makes me feel substantial in a perverted manner. Is it a human thing? Control - to seize it, keep it, and use it? I’m not sure.

It was 5:18 am and my eyes flashed open in less than a fraction of a nanosecond. In a few seconds short of 12 minutes my phone would spring to life with the deafening sound of a Flo-Rida song. The song was my alarm theme. I never had a genuine leaning towards the song. But I thought it was cool. It would amaze so many people. I’m permanently disposed to cast an impression. I might be a phoney – pretending to be someone I never was and never will be. I’m remarkably credible. I’ve convinced myself to think, feel, and act like a tinselly charlatan. I feel secure or I like to think it gives me comfort. I don’t really know what it is, though. I haven’t figured it out. It’s my disguise – a mask I love to wear and love to never take off, ever. It is reassuring. The reality is beyond my comprehension. But pretense is engaging, alluring, and pretense is loved – loved beyond measure, loved beyond anything you could envisage. We’re conceived to enshroud the grey with colour. We were born to hide who we are. We’ve never been real. We’re legitimate actors. We perform with pronounced conviction. We’re divorced from the sense of being able to distinguish between real and the counterfeit. Deception is our reality, an absolution for our deficiency.

Irony dies a million deaths in my room. There’s no one to listen to my alarm here. The queen sized bed is half empty. It always has been. It might always be so. Why have I not changed the alarm tune then? No one’s getting impressed! My playlist remains unacknowledged. Why don’t I change it? My eyes shift uncomfortably as I glance in the direction of my phone. It lies cold and abandoned barely 10 centimeters away from me. I grab it and it feels moist. Maybe it’s because of the weather? I don’t dwell on the scientific reasoning of things. It seems primarily nonessential. I grab my phone and wipe its glass screen against the hem of my T-shirt. I think of switching it on and pass some time, but I decide against it.

It’s 5:21 am and the silence is piercing through me. There’s no sound at all. It’s quiet. Painfully so. The stillness of silence is awkwardly overwhelming. I need an explosion of commotion. I need an outlet out of my state of sedateness. This whole ‘me-time’ has outlived its stay for the day. I hurriedly grab my phone and instantly slide down the glass screen to bring the UI to switch on my mobile network. Wait, should I switch on my Wi-Fi instead? No. I’d need to wait for 2 minutes before it starts showing on my phone. I have enough GBs on my mobile data, too. I instantly open WhatsApp. I’m acutely surprised when it doesn’t show any new messages. The insides of my mind smirk sarcastically. Funny, no one bothers messaging me anymore. I think I’m to be blamed for it, too? I never text anyone, either. Never bothered, never will. I pause for a second that lasts an eternity. Maybe I should refresh my screen?! I slide my finger down on my phone’s screen to absolutely make sure of it, and sure enough, there is a sharp vibration. Part of me already knows whose message(s) it would be and every single day I hope against all odds that I may be wrong – a hope to read a familiar text from a familiar stranger. But today’s not that day. It hasn’t been that day in many years now. My family’s WhatsApp group springs up with 14 new messages. I let out an inaudible groan. My fingers sprint faster than the speed of light and I select Clear Chat and Delete those messages. In either way, those are all uninspiring, forwarded jokes. Tacky at best. Old people are peculiar. Why are jokes about casual sexism unanimously acceptable among adults? Everyone is disturbingly all right with it, too.

I impatiently proceed to Instagram to see if there’s been any activity over there. 3 new followers and 5 new likes. Wonderful?! I check the profiles of my new followers. No, I don’t know them. Should I follow back? I decide not to. “They’ll unfollow in a day or two. Don’t bother.” I scroll down through a filtered row of cautiously captured and edited pictures that are plastered on the feed. We’re consumed with making ourselves shine out. Heck, sometimes I wonder if I’m equally obsessed, too. I used to be – back in the day when my face wasn’t dull and tired and my eyes weren’t dead, empty, lifeless. There was an unwavering feeling of constancy in my insecurity. I was perpetually checking to see who liked my picture and who didn’t. I was sincerely and relentlessly trying to look cooler, sound cooler, and be cooler. But now, it all seems like a farce. It is ridiculous. Is it another mask of casual indifference? Maybe I never changed. Maybe you never really change. 

I scroll down and keep liking every picture I pass through. Everything seems to be so superficial. It’s a game of charades for adults. Who’s the best at feigning to be the coolest? Some guy has dyed his hair a bright shade of electric blue. I find it comical. I think he’s going to regret it in 5 years. I could never do something like that. It would be a sham, like I was trying to forge myself into being more likeable. It’s lame. Why would anyone do it? I’d look handsome with blue locks, though. Hmmm. 

I roll my eyes and move to Snapchat. I love Snapchat. It’s revolutionary. It allows me to be raw. It’s probably the only place where I have the downright liberty to express myself and not be bothered of the consequences. For a split second, I’m about to check whether someone’s sent me a personal snap or not. Well, no one does. Most of the time they don’t. Sometimes I do get a few snaps by some random person I used to talk to, like, ages ago. But they all seem so generic and more like a public podcast. I never send a personal snap to anyone, ever. I’m not too close or friendly with anyone. It’s beyond my level of perception. How I can send a picture to an exclusive person? I started an exercise where I post everything publicly. It’s a feature on Snapchat and it’s called Snap-Stories. I like the concept. It’s more comfortable. I go straight to look up my Snap-Stories and check how many people viewed them. 75! I scroll up and down to verify the names of every single one of them and corroborate how many people viewed every single of my 21 stories and how many left midway. It’s an endless process. I get impatient again. “Fuck it," I say to myself. I don’t care. Well, I do. But I need to pretend that I don’t. It makes me look more admirable. 

By now, I don’t know if it’s me or my subconsciousness talking, but I stop. I look at the time. It’s 5:29 am.

I decide to stare at the bright screen of my phone until it’s 5:30 am. But what after that? I’m not sure. I haven’t reached that part, yet. The minute seems to last forever as if that one minute constitutes my entire life – ticking away leisurely, taking its time, taking all the time in the world. These logistics fly past my head. Why does everything seem to be so lengthened and lethargic when there’s a vacuum? There’s nothing to fill the void, and there’s no commotion and noise. All that remains is silence – a deadly, killer, savage silence. I continue to stare blankly at the phone’s screen. My breathing is fast and heavy. It always happens when I’m nervous. Silence makes me nervous. THIS makes me nervous.

“Oh, oh, oh
Oh, my god, I think I’m freaking out
Too many drinks, too many rou…”

I was prepared to listen to these all too familiar lyrics but my reverie has been broken. My heart skips a quick beat. The trance of tranquility is abruptly broken. It takes me less than 5 seconds to switch off the alarm. But I realize that I have 3 more alarms waiting to blast. Each alarm has been cautiously planned at 15-minute intervals. The next one’s scheduled for 5:45 am. My fingers slide out of the alarm window and back to the main screen of my phone. But a second later I go back to my alarm window. I’m awake now. It’s futile to let them blast into the crack of daybreak. I won’t fall asleep anyway. I sigh when I realize that. I could do with some sleep. My body feels tired. I feel sapped out and lifeless. I want to sleep, but my mind keeps prodding me to stay up. Stay up for what? 

“Oh, nothing. Just going to scroll through random dating apps and watch porn.”

I’m predisposed to masturbate every morning. I don’t derive any pleasure out of my 60 seconds of self-gratification. It’s an inappreciable necessity to kill 5 more minutes. That’s what it has become in the last many, many years. My sexual chronicles have not been sensational. The last time I had sex was 15-16 months ago. I was so drunk. We were both so pitiably drunk. It lasted for 2 hours and surprisingly we didn’t even know each other’s name. Who were we to each other? No one. But notwithstanding the fundamental eccentricity of our situation, we could read an undeclared sense of familiarity in the room. Although, it still manages to surprise me. I’m in thorough disbelief of what I did that fateful night. My body, mind, and soul question the credibility of my seemingly-revolutionary-but-mostly-reckless actions till this day. I never thought I’d be the kind of person to hook up. The very consideration of baring it all in front of a stranger makes me feel substantially uncomfortable. The insides of my body engage in a lethal revolt against the contemporary (and fashionably seductive) rebellion of the mainstream. So, why did I do it? What was I trying to prove? Regardless of my (then) state of inebriation, I’m well aware of how bad and ‘wet’ the sex was. It felt distant. It felt empty. We were sad souls and we were conscious of it. Our tongues slithered into each other’s mouths. We weren’t hungry - we were starved. We were wild, lousy, and restless. We were waiting to feel the rush, the excitement, and the high. Or were we anticipating something unfathomable in the mess of our nakedness? I’m delighted with not wanting to know all the answers. That night, it was all about our convenience.

I start surfing a few of the most commonly visited porn sites on my phone’s web browser. I casually glance through some flashy web pages. They all seemed the same and they all seemed familiar. Had I watched them all before? Most of them, yes. Did I remember what happened? Not particularly. I didn’t need to remember anything. I don’t even know why I watched porn while fapping. My attention is focused on everything but the video. I’m just not bothered. I’m more worried about coming to the right video -- a video I’m not going to be paying attention to.

The search lasts a little over 30 minutes. Ironic. I’d last less than a minute. I slide my hand down my boxers. It’s used to the routine and knows exactly what it’s supposed to do. I train well. I start the video. I skip the blowjobs. Blowjobs are wet. I’m not fond of third base. I find it gross. It makes me want to gag. It’s a task to watch them. I ride my pony straight to pound town. My body stiffens as I begin to move my hand to and fro over my erection. Mentally, I feel nothing. I’m empty. There’s no arousal, no pleasure, no gratification, and no satiation. This has become a chore. My breathing gets heavier as the movement of my hand quickens. I must end this now. The room is filled with a haunting quietude. It’s impossible to not notice it but it gets interrupted with my muffled breathing. I stretch my legs as I decide to let go. I spread them to the far end of my bed and prepare to release. I let go. I don’t know if I actually come or not but I know I’ve had my release. The morning rituals are over and done.

It’s 6:14 am. 

Every single night before I go to bed, I decide I’ll get into the shower by 6:15 am. and every morning I never make it on time. Today won’t be any different, either. Funny, because I’ve been up for almost an hour. I look around. There’s nothing to be seen, nothing to be heard. Empty – that is what it is, and that is what it has always been. I take a small breath and turn my back towards my phone. 

It’s 6:15 am. 

I decide to take a breather. I decide to sleep for 5 minutes. I know the 5 will become a 7, and 7 will become 15. I’ll be quick, I say to myself. No, I won’t be. I’ll be late. I take time. Well, I’ll skip breakfast then. Skipping breakfast is no biggie. I’ve not had breakfast in almost 8 years now. THAT seems to satisfy me and I decide to let it be. 

I have 15 minutes before it’s a new day, and a new morning that brings a constant struggle to blend into this mad, mad world.

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