Essays

Minutes Before Midnight

A restless midnight dies down to give birth to a new day, a day which holds plenty of promise. It’s a day that is anticipated by millions of the workforce with bated breath. The tired craziness of the weekday is tolerated only due to the promise of today, Saturday, a workforce soldier’s reward for leading a life of discipline and courage.

This Saturday is different. I wake up with the entire day ahead of me but with no tasks on hand. It’s a luxury that is priceless and extremely gratifying. Lifetimes are spent in leading lives that conform to the rules set by others. We wake up each morning and go to jobs that we do not like and be nice to people who we don’t like. Our expectation for this life is that after 5 days of relentless surrender, we should be rewarded with a couple of days to ourselves. Two days, where the rules are set by US. No tasks, no duties but a calm surrender to the numbness of nothingness.
This day was the same, Blankness on my mind and a book in my hand and the sun tricking down through the skylight in the living room, Perfection.

As has become a weekly routine, I was itching to make my way to the bookstore. It’s a pilgrimage that I make every week to a used bookstore. Whiffs of decaying papyrus make their way into my stomach as I walk through mountains of book stacks. It’s an indulgence that I cannot abandon. I go there every week to find which books are now on the clearance section. Then I purchase them and with great ecstasy, arrange them into my bookshelf. I started about a year ago and I now have about two hundred books. I travel regularly, often a great distance. The rewards are precious and the risks minimal. Such was also the case on this day; I obtained some valuable books after bartering it with worthless clunks of silver, more popularly referred to as money. Money in exchange for dreams and a surreal experience that will change you, a good deal I think.

Of course, I have probably not read more than a few handfuls but the thought of their presence amidst my surrounding has a calming effect on me. I derive intelligence by knowing that I have Faulkner residing in my house. Steinbeck has also found a home. These eminent authors are surrounded by various other literary stalwarts. Ernest Hemmingway lives here and so does Tennyson. These are residents of homes that are formed with thoughts towards literary rewards. We treasure these books because they comfort us and they reward us with knowledge of stories and lives that exist in different dimensions. They also help in shaping our philosophies and our values. We read about the consciousness of many protagonists and question our own. And cloaked amidst all these questions are daggers that carve the men and women that we become for the rest of our lives.

The rest of the day passes by with an uneventful haste. Minutes pass by intermixed with talks and words that are exchanged with others who live around me. Words those are not substantial and definitely not constructed without any ulterior motives. These are words of casual surrender, words that act as tenuous strings designed to hold relationships together. These do not demand a lot in their construction but do require their birth. You cannot expect the bonds of relation to last in the stormy weathers of life without any reinforcement. Words are our reinforcements against each other. They give us comfort and can also cause great pain. Like fire, formed to essentially help us live but can perish us when used incorrectly and without regard.

The moon rises and extracts the light from the world around me. I hear sounds of sickness that have affected the mother and thereby myself. I am reduced to making unpleasant sounds which I expect, with some futility to alleviate my suffering. How does one fall prey to the hostile whims of the body? Where do all our defenses disappear to and leave us standing naked in the midst of deadly storms. Each moment passes by asking me the same question. I stand witness to a day born and quickly killed. All that was lost and gained was a feeling of absence, Absence of meaning and absence of satisfaction. The body lulls into derision and the wounds left on my life and suddenly forgotten in the shattering rings of the last few minutes left before midnight.

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