-KAVYA PRIYA SETHU
Life has been quite monotonous around here. Where is here you might ask? Here is a point 10° 47′ N, 79° 10′ E on the latitude and longitude scale of a map. Here is a district (some might even say a city) called Thanjavur in the state of Tamil Nadu in a country called India. I am doing my college here. Whenever I say college, I would like to imagine myself in a place that is described in all the books and shown in all the Hollywood movies- wide variety of people, lots of fun and parties, pretty much your most memorable moments in life. Sad to say, it is nothing like that here.
We are bunch of orthodox people who follow many rules in the name of culture and religion. Do not get me wrong, I have nothing against my culture or religion. What I do have a problem with is the way it is carried out. We were once great people with a diverse land and a booming economy. We were a land where everyone coexisted peacefully. We were a land of saints and scientists. We were proud to be Indians. Somewhere along the way of westernization, the knowledge we held, the morals we believed in changed. Now our culture is merely a manifestation of the imagination of my elders. Ask them why something is so, they shush me and say do not question our culture. Or worse, shame on you for not being one of us. One of you? Who the hell is one of you?
Education is of one of our golden rules. Study well to be an engineer or a doctor. Everything else is pretty much of no use. I wanted to be a writer. However, as everyone in this god forsaken society believed it to be useless, I am pursuing Engineering. That is another one of our rules. Elders, does not matter whether they are alcoholic, rapist or a murderer, are always right. You should always blindly follow them. As you can tell by now, I am never going to be one of them. My parents call me a rebel; I like to believe I am a radical.
Books have played a crucial role in my life. They have provided me with doors to worlds that I can only dream. The more books I consume, the more my brain thinks and more I write.
“I like writing, but I like a lot of things. Maybe out of those things, I am best at writing. Maybe it’s what I like best of all. Maybe it’s where I’ve always felt most at home. Or maybe the writing part of me is over. Maybe there’s something else I’m supposed to do instead. I don’t know.”
I sat for ten continuous hours yesterday, reading your book “All the Bright Places.” It has become one of my favorite books and Theodore Finch, my newly acquired character friend. I laughed, cried and for fleeting moment, I was not alone. My monotonous life was little bit exciting and I was strangely genuinely happy. There are not many days like this.
“The thing is there are good days and bad days.”
These bad days are what I dread. This unexpected darkness drags me down like an anchor. I am neither here nor there. Sometimes it is silent, other times it is not. Silence is confusing.
The mind is still. No thoughts flit across, no emotions rage ahead. Just plain simple silence. The quiet is unsettling as slowly and steadily you realize the loneliness that threatens to engulf you. You feel lost in a dark void, an endless maze with no exit. The suffocation that creeps upon you, clutching you with its powerful hands and smothering you in its tight grip….the feeling of fear simply cannot be explained in words. You scream but no sound is heard. No voice of comfort or reason appears. You run and search for anything that will fill this awful silence. You surround yourself with people. You turn on the speaker and let the music wash over you. The dramas on television plays endlessly. Yet the silence continues. Arghhhhh… Silence is condemning. Then there are other times, when the voices in your head act like cheerleaders on crack. They chatter loudly each throwing out their opinion. Each trying out their new persuasive tactic.
“Aren’t you tired of living this monotonous cycle? Give up already.”
“Who cares what they say? Let us try something new. Take a risk!”
“Oh, you are nothing but a coward. Nobody here is going to accept you.”
“Flip all of them off, screw their acts and pretenses.”
Their voices buzz on and on until they become a consistent ringing that makes you feel like your head is going to explode. Shhhhhhh… Silence is gratifying.
“What are you most afraid of?” asks Theodore Finch.
These days are what I am most afraid of. Then there are these good days too. Days where I want to go out and live like there is no tomorrow. Days where I crave the adrenaline rush, the thrill of impending, weightless doom. These are days that I am normal.
“The fact is, I was sick, but not in an easily flu kind of way. It’s my experience that people are a lot more sympathetic if they can see you hurting, and for the millionth time in my life I wish for measles or smallpox or some other recognizable disease just to make it simple for me and also for them.”
Clinical depression. That’s what I suspect from all the pamphlets and websites that I have browsed.
“They explain people away as illness.”
My parents think it is a phase. Kids nowadays are always unhappy. What is a better word? Ungrateful. Virginia Woolf quoted, “The eyes of others, our prisons, their thoughts, our cages.” Prisons and cages it is. Their labels somehow define us and reshape our lives. But I want to block all of that out and survive. Come to think of it, not just survive but conquer. I too like Theodore Finch want to experience the Great Manifesto.
“…if death must come, to die valiantly, with acclamation- in short to remain a memory.”
I want to wander and see the world. I want to leave something back in return for a memory. I want this lifetime to count. I want to live a great story.
When I finally do finish the story, I wonder how my epitaph will be. I think Kavyapriya Sethu- I was a wild mustang, free and wild. I wandered and got lost. Nevertheless, I found my way back and conquered the Great Manifesto.
“I am rooted but I flow.”