Afternoons in Chennai

On weekends, I spend hours staring at the ac vent blowing ice-cold air into the small room that I have rented. The only furniture that I have in the house is a bed. I have a red Afghan rug near the bed so that my feet touch something warm when I wake up. On the bedroom door are some clothe-hooks which the previous tenants have left behind on which hang my work clothes.

When I shift positions after a long time my lower back aches. I wince, wishing I could get my routine back, before settling down again to continue staring at the billowing machine. The steady sound is like that of ocean waves. If I stay utterly still, I can forget my back pain and feel my weight melting off. Afternoons in my boxers, and staring into corners is becoming my routine.

I cannot blame my state on Chennai’s heat. There is nothing to blame. I do not think this is a sad state to be in. This feels like an extended wait in the lobby of a general physician, waiting for an annual health check. There is no need for anxiety but there is a vague sense of dread and mortality.

There is a mild dreamlike quality to this state that is unsettling. I cannot seem to land on thoughts to analyze or memories to relish. All that I have seen, felt, touched, and tasted, seem to pale into insignificance. In this small, artificially cold room, time seems to get colder. When I think of my family, I am happy. My daughter, my wife. The more I struggle to come to grips that I do not care about anything else, the more I am surprised at how few chapters in life I care about.

I sometimes start to think about some or other matters, but when I try to get specific I get bored. It is the case with any thought. I just want to somehow grasp the essence of broad fields and visualize a timeline of ideas, but I seem to slip into boredom, a sense of non-urgency. This is extended sleep paralysis. I seem to sense emotions, but I am unable to touch them. I try to analyze if this state is my escape from wanting to feel more. I have, till now, experienced emotions on the surface. I have felt fear, but not dread. I have experienced sadness, but not paralyzing depression. I have felt love, maybe not obsessively. I have wanted to be touched, but never begged for release.

I want to look down and see my hands trembling, but all I see are steady fingers, tamed over millions of years of evolution.

4 thoughts on “Afternoons in Chennai

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  1. You know how envious I am of people who are bored, whose hands don’t tremble. 🙂 The safety and stability is something to be grateful for, I think. But then, we all get wistful for what we don’t have. The wanting in itself is painful sometimes, but it reminds us of our humanity I guess.

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