Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Doormat Speaks

"Mujhhe kya bura thha marna agar ek baar hota." - Ghalib

I died at the age of 19. Or rather, that's when I started dying. There were so many reasons, but really there was only one.

Self-censorship. Minding my manners. Brushing my own self under a thick carpet.

They don't tell you that it's dark under that carpet. It's dusty, and you can't breathe. There are insects and frightening bits of ancient dirt that get inside your lungs and inside your stomach and make you hack and claw at yourself. You lie like a cockroach on its back under that carpet, and when people walk on that carpet, you get crushed. It makes a crunchy sort of sound, but the carpet is so thick that nobody can hear it. Except you.

I'm not dead anymore. I forced myself to live again. It felt like defibrillation except it was my whole being - mind, body, and soul - that was being violently jolted with the electric current of life. Electricity. High voltage. The monster lives!! A bunch of dead body parts sewn together move again! Have you ever stuck your finger into a power outlet? You know how your whole body shakes so fast and so helplessly in the one second that it takes you to pull your finger away? You feel pain and fear and stupidity and relief and safety and a sick sense of speed? One after the other but so damn fast. All these things one after the other in one second. Well, I shoved my finger into the power outlet of life. I shoved it in real good, screwed it right in as deep as it would go. Make me feel pain, fear, stupidity, safety, speed! I said. Arouse me, crush me, raise me again! I forced more fingers in, my toes, my tongue, my eyeball. I spat into the power outlet and watched it sizzle and burn me even more. Punish me! I said. Burn me, here I am!! I let myself die, this is my punishment! Like when you have become so numb that you cut yourself deeper and deeper and even deeper just to feel something primal and raw again. Like when you slap someone to snap them out of a rut. Scare someone when they can't stop hiccupping. Scream when someone won't listen.

Being dead while still alive has taught me many things. It has taught me that I'd rather die of starvation or of a filthy dehumanising degrading disease rather than go back to feeling dead again. It has taught me that the terror of having to return to living inside a decaying corpse is greater than the fear of hunger, rejection, abandonment, old age, handicap, exploitation, failure, bullying, trauma, betrayal, even anonymity. Because this is a different sort of death. When you die this way, you are split into two. One part of you, the one on the inside, the one that is ether, swirls and swirls inside you like a great storm with nowhere to go. It still feels everything, and it hurls itself against the insides of the Iron Maiden that it's tearing itself on. The other part of you is the Iron Maiden itself, strong and steady and disciplined on the outside, but crucifying its own self on the inside, one sharp metal nail at a time, all sharp metal nails at a time. Nine inch nails that seal the coffin lid nice and airtight. When you die while you're still alive, you're like someone who has been buried alive. You pound against the insides of your coffin, but really, no one can hear you because you are buried six feet under thick black wet soil, and it's dark in there. No one will come to get you. No one will ever know that you were still alive. And worst of all, you were the one who put yourself in there. You were the mortician, you were the gravedigger, you read your own last rights, you were the people who shed tears at your own funeral, you read your own eulogy that you wrote quite beautifully yourself, you lowered yourself into the ground, you sealed your grave with a polite respectable tombstone. And then you realised what you had done. You had become the corpse and the coffin.

I tore my way out of that grave. I still can't get some of the dirt out from under my fingernails. If you come near me, you can still smell the earth. Do you see it, can you see the shadows of that grave in my eyes? No? Come closer. Look deep.

"And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you." - Nietzsche

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