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Corners

Have you felt that the troubles you are going through are too much and for too long, that you have got comfortable with them? How do you break the monotony of discomfiture?

Honestly, I have no idea. Else, why would this thought even occur to me?  I want to be doing this thing – writing and reading, and nothing else; but my life including bills demands that I work. I love my work, but I am riding on two horses. Yet, it is an odd fit.

I am in a place I don’t want to be, at the bottom of the barrel. I have tried to claw my way out, but somehow, there is more… I don’t know what. I am now getting used to the bottom of the barrel, a deep, dark corner. Somehow, I was driven to this corner many years ago.

I see all the walls meet, and my back is to the wall. The walls are closing in. I don’t panic, because I am now accustomed to this corner – dark, still, and silent.

This corner is the confluence of everything wrong. Yet, I feign gratitude, because I am supposed to be proud about my journey, and not the corner I am stuck in. I hear the wise people say you are where you are meant to be. I smile at that statement – it endorses my resignation that my life in that corner is permanent.

I am bottomed out – emotionally, physically, financially, and in every possible dimension of life. It is a multi-dimensional corner. I still cling to my writings and things around me that seem to give me that hope to get through the day. I think I am making progress, but when I turn my back, the corner is sticking. It has not gone. So I know that I am moving, and so is the corner.

A corner gives me the perspective of the chamber, the room I am in – my life. There is nothing behind me because I am at the worst crossroads ever; and there are things in front of me, that I can see, but can seek only if I move out of the corner.

In frustration, I skim through Instagram. The colorful lights of New York or Los Angeles, or Singapore – cities full of life seem inviting. I come across some gruesome videos of wildlife, where predators unapologetically take down prey – all blood and gore. I am unmoved.

Somewhere, between them I see pictures in Dodo, where dogs are sulking and shrinking in a corner, with their face to the wall, avoiding the rescuers’ loving hands. Once they are rescued, showered and fed, and let out in an open space, they are not the animals that they were at the start of the video. I somewhere feel that I could draw inspiration from them.

Once I am out of Instagram, I am back to my life – filled with writings, work, and sighs. For example, I don’t even know where this essay is going. But I still write.

I stop to think. Every light I have seen at the end of the tunnel is a red light. In my eagerness, I skip the red light as it just grows larger, and I end up jumping it. It is like a warning sign that I am heading on the wrong path, but I know that it is the only path.

One could say that these are my choices. I am not sure – somebody said ‘Your life, your choices’. I wanted to smack him hard (luckily, he is two hundred miles away, so I cannot do a Will to his Chris). One more dimension was added to my corner, meanwhile.

Never fight a two-front war, say the wise. But if they had looked at my corner, they would have counted so many fronts, that they would have taken back their word. What do I do when so many fronts are open?  Too many problems to solve. Sit and sulk.

I take it day by day, without a plan. Every plan that has brought hope has turned out into greater despair.

People talk about the Midas touch. But reverse it. Just. Reverse it. S-A-D-I-M touch. Sad I’m touch. How sad. I am aware of sounding so pathetic. This is a rant. Yet, weirdly it helps. It does not release me from my corner, but helps me laugh.

I am in such a place that people think I am all well, smiling and normal, successful and all. Yes, I have the gift of the gab and poker face. I even smile sometimes.

Unshackle. Unwind. I sigh. I am shackled and wound up. I sigh again.

___________________

(Ending 1)

At a distance, I hear voices. Voices of older people, who want to live a long life, smile, and pep-talk and backslap each other. The voices of unbridled, undiluted hope.

I know a bit of their corners. Their corners are different, but they too have corners. Yet they smile, joke and laugh. I have not been doing that. Exactly that. Smile and laugh. 

I try to smile. I feel stupid. Yet I try. A little curve at the corners of my mouth. My breaths slow down. I smile more. Somewhere, inside me, some spring unwinds. A deep sigh. Now I smile, at myself, alone at my corner. There is no one, but my lips curve, my cheeks bulge. My eyes widen.

Nothing special, yet it feels good. I try to smile once again. This time it is easy. My cheek muscles aren’t as taut and refusing like the last time. My breaths now become even. I smile and look – look forward. I forget that I am in my corner.

The walls of my corner slowly expand.  There is more space now. I lean back and smile. And smile. And smile.

____________________

(Ending 2)

At a distance, I hear voices. Voices of older people, who want to live a long life, smile, and pep-talk and backslap each other. The voices of unbridled, undiluted hope.

I know a bit of their corners. Their corners are different, but they too have corners. Yet they smile, joke and laugh. I have not been doing that. Exactly that. Smile and laugh.

I try to smile. I feel stupid. Yet I try. A little curve at the corners of my mouth. My breaths slow down. I am not used to this ease. I am used to the comfort of my tautness. The comfort of my corner. The constrictions. This expansion is new to me.

The more I try, the tighter my muscles become. My jaws clench, my fists tighten. My breath is ragged, with air stuck in my lungs. I sweat and tremble. My arms and body shake. I cannot laugh. I cannot cry. I am stuck, like usual in the corner.

The laughter and voices fade away in time. The quiet surrender to my corner – dark, still, and silent.

____________________

Most of us get to corners in our lives, which are complicated, and are hard to undo and wriggle out of.  Corners are good in one sense- there is a bottom out there. But even with the sparks, some of us cannot come out and there cannot be any answers.  Depression is complex, layered, and covered up. I wish those who suffer from depression find the strength to expand and move out of their corners.

I wrote two endings, just to see what readers relate to. 

Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian
Ashok Subramanian is a Poet and Fiction Author based in Chennai, India. Ashok has been writing blogs and content since 2011. From technology and management articles, and to website content, Ashok has written articles on businesses, finance, funding, capital markets, management, strategy, and sustainability over the years. His poems and articles, which were published in blogs got a publishing turn when he had time in hand to put together his poetry and short story collections. He publishes short stories and poetry reviews regularly in his medium.com blog. His published works so far: a) Maritime Heritage of India - Contributing Writer - b) Poetarrati Volume 1 &2: Self-published on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback; Ranked #8 in Amazon Hot Releases in May 2020. c) A City Full of Stories: A Short fiction Collection based on people and events of Mumbai: Self-published in Amazon in Kindle and Paperback. d) Poetarrati Ponder 2020 - A collection of Poem Reviews He is currently working with his creative advisor and publisher on his next poetry collection. His second short story collection about Kolkata, India, and his first novel are in the manuscript stage. He is a graduate in Engineering from Madurai Kamaraj University, India, and a post-graduate in Management from IIM Calcutta, India. He currently runs Strategic Advisory and Investment Banking companies headquartered in Bengaluru. He lives with his wife Gayathri and son Anirudh in Chennai, India.

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