It started with perpetual silence.
Its not something I’ve never experienced before – I rarely listen to music when alone, I’ve reserved late nights to tune-out to mindless shows, I’d grown to enjoy the scattered moments of solitude I’d find in the face of so much excitement. For me, silence always meant the low grumble of all kinds of engines, the occasional loud declaration by a thela-wala announcing his arrival, and the rattling and coughing of rickshaws in the distance. Silence meant the choice to be deliberately still in the wake of constant movements, that reaffirmed I was still a part of a happening universe.
But that silence has been abandoned across the world, only to be substituted by true nothingness. The utopic silence you read about in a novel on a rainy Sunday, imagining it to be the perfect getaway but even in your imagination, never committing to it for longer than a day. So silent you hear every distinct chirp sprinkled above your head but the birds themselves never decide to stay. So silent you hear every leaf drop individually but are just as quickly blown away, hesitant to take up any more space. So silent I wonder if I could use my voice to fill up the void, only to realize that even if there was someone to listen, I’ve got nothing to say.
I can’t remember when but eventually the words melted away – first from the tip of my tongue, then those that exist in my veins. The ones that usually flow out the second these fingers hover over the keyboard but they no longer recognize the letters that are lain. There’s so much pent up inside, constantly ready to erupt and spew and burn everything in its way, but all that comes out are a few words that, when strung together, are nothing more than bored little cliches. An integral part of my identity so quick to escape, and now months of silence and blank documents later, I’m left to wonder if writer-me was just a phase?
My therapist told me to stop being so hard on myself – “go back to the things you know you enjoy” – but I don’t remember the last time I even opened my jewelry case. Fingers that were always decorated like royalty, with rings so heavy I could barely lift them all the way. But when its been months since you stepped out of the house for anything more than groceries and the occasional day at the library, the first thing to slip into insignificance is accessories. Accessories that slowly snowballed into any new outfit at all really, until I’ve somehow managed to spend months in the same pair of sweats, worn out flannels, and faded hoodies.
And even though the act of dressing up was always something I did for me, it doesn’t help that all those I care about now exist virtually. Constantly chasing moons in an effort to spend another few hours with you – entire days spent together suddenly compressed into a handful of scattered and rushed conversations that pass by way too quickly and then its time to say good night again, lock my phone and toss it aside, and return to an empty reality.
It can’t be explained as a gradual shrinking of self for that implies that there’s something else taking up space. It’s more like breathing in so much nothingness that the boundaries between you and it cease to exist and you’re left feeling numb yet still scolding yourself for being so dramatic. I was sure it was all in my head but then about a month ago a blind asshole slammed his jeep into my feeble, empty body and I awoke to everyone else calling it a miracle that I hadn’t died, and I didn’t have the heart to tell them that it’s because its been months since I was really alive.