But this walk was already predetermined to be peculiar. I knew that the transport strike would mean that I would not meet a face I would recognize and such was the idle antagonism of my wicked soul that even if I did, I would refuse to recognize any familiar face. So out I went, wearing a grey tee shirt and pajamas of an indeterminate hue. I looked hideous and I felt hideous. There are days when you cultivate ugliness and bleh-ness. Of course today was such a day. Had I not heard Stairway to Heaven in a loop ad infinitum and mourned the death of rock and all that rock stands for (stood for in my life, at least) all evening? Oh when did I grow up so much that all I all I ever did and do is to jazz up my existence or mourn the fact that I am not professionally trained to appreciate Classical?
"So you're going for a walk?" asked my mother and I nodded assent. "And what about money? Do you have enough for the weekend?" I carefully explained that I do not need money today, I wasn't going to do anything but walk. No coffee/drink/appendages, just walk. I laughed at her incredulity and set off. It wasn't true that I had no money left, enough for some smokes and cha. And I walked.
I could see the restfulness of the evening and it shocked me. Myself so restless, the streets were deserted, those who were walking had no desperation, no need for anything but that careless relaxation, I envied their self assurance. They would never know what it is to be compelled to walk for nothing, for the sake of nothing, for the sake of nothing but some self assurance- perhaps the next morning. I tried to analyse where my deep anxiety springs from, why I cannot control my most irrational fears. I drank some rather pathetic roadside cha and smoked a couple of hasty cigarettes that tasted rather nasty. I cursed them for their transience, for their harmful nature, and despised myself for needing/wanting them at all. Had I been 18-19 I would have read a bit of French existentialism, nothing phenomenological though and no Heidegger, thank you very much. But perhaps some Sartre and Camus. At this point of time, I have not yet grown up- just settled for some compromise. I read Rilke.
I read nothing at all today, nothing at all. How could I, when my entire existence revolved around that solitary walk and what it stood for? (What did it stand for, you might quiz, and I would still be trying to articulate my position.) I often glanced with great distaste at the chipped scarlet nail varnish that adorned my fingernails and I hated myself. I often overheard lovers conversing amongst themselves, something about The Godfather and marriage. But I paid no attention, for I had no curiosity left. Only a strange sort of distaste for a person who has no apparent problems but creates problems in her mind, almost as a mathematical conundrum is created by a great philosophical brain. But mistake her not, I must point out, her problems are not intellectual, they are very real, they apply to her life. Oh hideous momentary pleasure, how much you make us suffer all our lives....so transient, so fleeting, in fact, no pleasure at all.
I was walking past a strange building. Deserted and shady, deserted for more than two decades, left wholesale at a moment's notice. The office-goers never returned, and the building remains. If you believe in ghosts, then surely there are ghosts there- nobody passes that building without the customary shudder. It is the revulsion that one feels for something that is obsolete and no longer in use. Which can no longer remain beautiful, is ugly out of necessity and compulsion. The Romantics amongst us will find a stranger beauty in such ugliness, will savour the eerie and the uncanny, will perhaps go home and write a poem. But I alas, I had today forgotten my love for the grotesque, all that I remembered was that this building with its grounds is soon overtaken by another no less sordid reality; a police station. Overflowing with lights and bustle, harbouring elements rejected by society and who have in turn rejected society. What must they be feeling behind those bars? Have they forgotten the women they have married, the children they have borne, the parents who in turn must have borne them?
I don't think I could think much more after that, because I realized that the projapoti biscuit I had bought with Re. 1 /- at the chawallah's was mouldy and altogether inedible. In the life of the absurd man, as Camus so beautifully pointed out, bathos is often stronger than pathos.