Absence of Presence

It strikes me that I am irrationally ambivalent towards the passage of time.

As events unfold I cannot help feeling sad. Often it takes the form of a fleeting look of longing that flashes into the eyes at the end of a favorite retelling of long past happenings. It is almost as if the irretrievability of that moment adds the right sense of pathos to the present moment.

This year has not been any different.

The year ends with the loss of two good lives. Their seemingly unconnected lives are forever connected as testaments to the march of time for me this year.

When I think of time, fortunately, I do not always picture silent tombstones marking endless miles leading to the present. There are also inconsolably joyous births that offset the balance of passings away for instance, among other events.

Mira is 6 months old today.

She could as well be many years and centuries-old today. In her reclined gummy smiles and in the voiceless steady progress of her expression of needs is mimicked a recurring cycle of growth that has played out endlessly in children across unconnected societies.In the markings of various calendars, this mini cycle signifies a new start for me, significant to some, irrelevant to some, and unknown to many.

What marks these passages of time with their significance?

Why do we lose ourselves in relived emotions, sometimes dwelling so sensitively in the minutest emotions, most of which we are not even sure we experienced? Aren’t some of the nuances that we introduce into these repetitive reveries imagined? Do they make us that little bit more eligible to be pitied or exalted, first by ourselves, and by extension, others?

Pity and reverence are manufactured in our brains in its purest forms and turned inward. We become our own dramatists. We stage intensely emotional plays in our minds to sate our need for those emotions which we feel we are warranted but never given, or because we know there will never arise in our lives situations where we can give into such undiluted emotions.

Subconsciously we must also realize that these hued versions of ourselves are forever trapped within us never to see light. No other human will be able to see us in our most intense emotions. Even when with our closest we are a shadow of our imagined perfection. Sometimes even we wonder if we are who we imagine ourselves to be.

We never cry like in our dreams. We never can. We never love as we love in our nightmares. We never will.

That is probably why most of our daydreams dissipate into vague nothings ending in sighs and a return to reality. That is probably why sometimes even in our dreams we switch to other scenarios abruptly because we cannot bring to end an overpowering climax of emotions satisfactorily.

That is also perhaps why, even at our best with others, we will be plagued with a slight sense of inadequacy.

It is ironic that the one inexorable element, Time, allows us a degree of control for our emotional states. In our daydreams, we slow time down and replay scenarios refusing to let time pass in our reimaginings. In our omnipotence of thought, we revel and grovel in our own stories, tracing the perfect cracks of emotions, simultaneously gratified and fearful of how addictive these daydreams are that feed into our identities.

And yet time is our treacherous ally allowing us pyrrhic victories.

We celebrate the passage of time in our lives.

Birthdays, new years, reunions, anniversaries, remembrances.

We gather around, trying to share with others our feelings; opening up to trusted ones, cordoning off acquaintances into the realms of banal conversations, luring others tentatively to participate in our internal monologues in its uncompromised integrity, blithely ignoring the truth that within the same human mind there surely nestle such thoughts as deaths and births, of untold emotions, dulled joys, shames of failures and other varied ideas, all colored by primary emotions, resulting in millions of  unpredictable secondary colored memories.

Another calendar year might mark a quantum of elapsed time to reassess experiences and measure our lives with. The quantum length might adamantly adhere to an objective reality but we have a degree of control in our elastic yardstick of memories.

Stretch those you want to relive. Stretch longer those that you haven’t lived yet.

There are 6-month-old babies gently diffusing ageless glows over wisps of gray. There are those of us refusing to count days in years.

The years are indistinguishable, irrelevant even, unless we want to confine fundamentals like happiness and sadness to modernity and shackle ourselves to time.

There have been people who have been happier with similar emotions even if they sigh and brace for inadequacy at the end.

8 thoughts on “Absence of Presence

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  1. Last time, I whined about leaving long comments on your blogs, Madhu. Your blogs always made me to say more, encouraged me to add views to your views (even if mine were prosaic… ahem!), and made me leave questions like, “Hey! Have you read that book on this theme?” For reasons I can’t fathom, I am not able to say anything about this post. Why is that, Madhu? I just couldn’t say, “What a beautiful post!” or “Your writing is gorgeous!” Those comments do not convey the love I have for this piece and the respect I have for your writing. So, I might as well surrender to the inadequacy of words. BUT, thank you for writing this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And thank you for always always having good kind words, Deepika. You definitely have a better read on things being in chennai and in the thick of things. And you get to catch up with writers, dropping those interviews casually!!! What’s with that????

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wahaha! 😀 You are kind, Madhu!

        I don’t want to break the tradition. Let me ask that question. Have you read ‘The Storied Life of AJ Fikry’?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Madhu, PLEASE read that book. I have a STRONG feeling that you would love it. You have a Mira; Fikry has a Maya. Go read, PLEASE. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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