Monday, July 10, 2006

Life and... you know, the "Other Schtuff"

I'm terribly insecure about Life--have been for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, I used to visit my parents’ bedroom in the middle of the night--not for a snuggle--but to check if they were breathing properly… I’d look for their chests to rise, their nostrils to flare, I wouldn’t even giggle at the whistling sounds my mother made until the next morning. I thought that my parents looked so perfect--my mother’s curly head often rested on my father’s right arm, which had huge pillowy muscles from his days as a college weightlifter. I’d trot back in the soft darkness that terrified me to the bed I shared with my sister, and fall asleep listening to the rhythm of her breathing while trying to get her to hug me back.

I worried about earthquakes, vengeful snakes, kidnappers, tidal waves (my favorite uncle was a mercantile seaman), gunmen, communist revolution (my father got carried away with the lecture on Marx), bolts of lightning, falling trees, imprisonment (because my father fired some caps into the trees surrounding our bungalow on five acres of prime Waltair Uplands)…

I don’t know how I got the reputation for being sunny… because being a city kid, I also cried if I saw dead birds, and on one memorable occasion in Bangalore, a butterfly. And as if living on my little island of entitlement wasn’t bad enough, one day I happened upon the BBC and African famine--enter weltschmerz, weltschuld, anorexia, and the lasting feeling that I was just not doing enough.

There are of course coping methods: yoga, meditation, muttering sanskrit slokas, just being with the very people you also worry about so much, having an old printout from the alt.suicide.methods website just so i can laugh at the suggestion that covering yourself in household paint would kill anyone, reading epics--like the Mahabharata--to remind me that our human life is but a speck in the cosmic vastness, doing something about world hunger, working hard at the things i love, watching sitcoms and kid movies and comedy shows and rom-coms that i can't cop to in pretentious company :)

But it's still bothersome when even a moment that otherwise feels so much like a freefall into delight--like the time i had Li'l A--is tempered by the fear of loss. I don’t think “it’s because you love so much” should be a get-out-of-this-hell-free card--it’s still downright silly and unhealthy and pretty self-absorbed. It’s surprising that I’ve gone without therapy or that I laugh so easy--i guess I should be thanking my short attention span and my fickle mood memory, because, thankfully, “constant” isn’t a word that either of them seem to recognize.

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