I looked through an old file on my laptop last night, and in a moment of rare sentiment and revulsion, I opened it to find old work, in the form of ideas and poetry that made for good reading as long as it wasn’t scrutinized too much, and even more so when it wasn’t juxtaposed against the backdrop of my life. A particular folder with an ambition title caught my eye and although I don’t have excerpts from the many documents in that folder, I can give you a gist of what I wrote when I was 17 and why I wrote it.
This folder had a letter I had written to my ex, and I have never sent it to her. I can’t bring myself to copy and paste it here, because it inspires a sense of rage and in my younger self. I read it with a sense of revulsion, because it was a letter that reeked of love. When I was 17, I was madly in love with a 16 year old girl, and now, a couple of years later, I find that I have nothing but contempt for both of them. I find that I cannot forgive either of them. I cannot, for the life of me, turn to the boy I undoubtedly was and the girl my ex lover was, and forgive them both for being young and making mistakes like the humans they were. I find myself grower harsher on myself for being young and optimistic.
Part of the blame lies in my school. We were young boys, not young men, and yet, we shouldered the responsibilities of each other and we shouldered the responsibilities of our ourselves. We were told that we were young men, and given strictures on behaviour, and how to dress well, how to speak, how to be bloody punctual. We missed a step like the boys we were, and we were punished with a severity that befitted the Army. Here I am, sitting in a cold, rainy evening, in a cold European city, with a broken back and a sense of shame as I sit drinking myself to a frenzy. I made a choice when I drank today, and as I drink now, I am making a choice, a conscious one at that, to accept the drunkard that I no doubt am.
I read an old letter I sent my father when I was 10 or 11, and in that letter, I could read the shadows of the disillusionment that weighs down on me now. I could sense in the 10 year old boy’s words the weight of the coming disillusionment, the distaste and the disgust with the world. I could sense, in a child’s letter to his parents, the sense of utter revulsion that was to come. In a way, the fact that I am a cynical bastard at heart should surprise no one, and it doesn’t surprise me in the very least.
In fact it is true. A man who cannot forgive a 16 year old girl for being a 16 year old girl, and a 17 year old man for being one, is a cynical bastard witha twisted worldview. I can’t forgive myself and I can’t forgive my ex, because I still remember her for being a 16 year old girl. Every time I remember her, which is almost every day, I can see in my mind’s eye the 16 year old girl I fell in love with, not the almost 20 year old woman that she is now. I forget that I am not twenty either, and other people remind me that I am, just a little over 19. I dress like an older man, talk like an older man, and carry myself like an older man, in part because I find that life is bland, monochromatic and tasteless. Life is a Sisyphean task, 17-year-old me wrote, and I can picture the boy that I was, the light in my eyes dimmed and the expression of the cynic set firmly in my face, and I can’t help but agree.
So what keeps me alive now? Why don’t I just end it here, and now, like I fantasize about? Because I refuse to let anything and anyone get in the way of my life. I am self-centred, and that is the unfettered truth. Right now, if Adara walked into the restaurant where the Projectionist serves me my alcohol, the sense of alarm rising with every drink I order, I wouldn’t stop. Adara would know that I was an alcoholic, and I am unapologetically so. The thrill isn’t gone, and neither is the sense of defiance I made a reputation for when I was in school. I could, at this moment, drink myself to death, but I won’t, because I love every minute of it. I don’t regret the hours of sacrifice that I put in towards becoming a doctor. I don’t know if it is worth it. Suffering and the disease are the only real and impartial things in life, and here I am, trying to act the judge.
Adara, the salvation I seek, is somewhere on the globe. I don’t know where she is and if I did, there still wouldn’t be any comfort at all. I know that there is no salvation or redemption in this life. Not in this, or rather, not in life at all, because redemption and salvation are our imaginary escapes into a moral and philosophical excuse for our faults. The way it is with lovers, I know very well. Today, I will be madly in love with Adara, but in a few days I will gate her, like I hate my ex, even though I know that she was just a 16 year old girl and I will hate Adara one day with a vengeance like I hate myself, even though I know that I was just a boy. In the eyes of many people I know, I still am just a boy, who carries himself like an older man. It is a farce, but all of life is an unashamed farce and morality is just quicksand.