This piece was written as a submission to the SSN Literary Contest, in the category of Creative Non-Fiction.
7:30 P.M., 30th July 2015
The blank screen in front of me does not prompt a single word worth writing and as I stare at it, my auditory faculties drawn forcibly to the sound of the ceiling fan repeatedly slicing the air above me, I begin to see myself in the non-reflective glare of the LCD Monitor. The white space, now gradually being filled with words as desperate as my hopes for an existence that is not translucent, strips me of my desires and reveals the empty shell left behind, as blank as this space once was.
Even as I type these words, I am disgusted by the pretentiousness I impart to them. The purple hue they are invariably imbued with is a mark of my failure to imitate those who inspire me, a failure of my attempts to make Time fly around me instead of flying through me. Why do I write these words? Do I sincerely believe that by writing this, I will change the world, or, at the very least, will understand and come to terms with who I am? Or do I just want to win the two thousand rupees that the nice people in college have set aside, to be offered as a prize for Excellence in Creative Non-Fiction?
Why am I writing this instead of preparing for the Dynamics of Machinery test I have to take tomorrow? I seem to have lost interest in Science, and yet, I haven’t got the courage to give it up entirely and quit college. I find myself with clumsily crafted and half-baked notions about getting a doctorate and devoting my life to research (even though I am not yet sure of what my interests are) while those around me have plotted the course of their lives to the nanosecond and are actively pursuing their goals. I am reminded of my shortcomings during every moment that I spend with them. I am forced to come to terms with the fact that even if I, in the near future, manage to find a subject that I am passionate about, I can never be sufficiently sure that I will be able make a reasonable contribution to it. This particular uncertainty, I’m certain, will haunt me for the rest of my life.
Uncertainties. Life is full of them. Mine is, at least. Even now, as I write this, the possibility that my father will not return home tonight hangs like a cloud over the air. It has been an hour since I last talked with him. He told me he was stuck in a traffic jam. Perhaps I should call him again? What if I call him and the phone keeps on ringing and he never picks up? If he has been in an accident, what can I do about it? Nothing! There is nothing that I can do about anything! There is nothing that I, or anyone, for that matter, can be certain about! You, yourself, cannot be certain about whether you are indeed reading ‘non-fiction’. For all you know, I could have made all this up. My life was, is, and will be, for the rest of my existence, a war with fate, in which nothing is certain, except the fact that fate will eventually win.
And this war against fate presents an illusion: that winning it will give my life meaning. What meaning could my life possibly have outside my immediate surroundings? There are trillions of people out there to whom I am just fiction. Be honest, as you read this, do you think of me as a real person? Do you really think you know me, based on these words I’ve written? These words may betray my stupidity, my ignorance, my arrogance, my narcissism, my greed, my hypocrisy, and my fears; but is that all I am? A collection of labels? And will any of this matter down the line when everything has been wiped out by the winds of Time? These words themselves seem to have become translucent, devoid of all meaning. This piece of writing keeps changing its nature from sentence to sentence. What exactly is it? A heartfelt confession or just a naive, desperate attempt to be edgy?
I don’t know.
So why am I still writing this nonsense? It seems designed to console my ego, and in consoling it, shatters it, revealing the depths that I am willing to go to sustain my delusions. This screen is the most honest mirror I have ever faced: It shows me not as the Stephen Dedalus that I sometimes think I am, not even as Captain Yossarian, but as Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man, trapped inextricably in a mire of my own creation.
I should just stop.