For a random non-writing assignment, I ended up writing this flash fiction:
Over on the valley’s side, somewhere in the mountains, nestled deep within the landscape lays a hut, old and abandoned. It’s broken, every creak has a back story and every shattered window has been witness to pain.
The sun rose today just like it does everyday. The clouds parted today just like they do everyday. The hills rolled and woke up today just like they do everyday. Birds chirped, trees sighed, winds creaked. Just like they do. Everyday.
Something about today is different. Something is new. Perhaps it’s that man, hobbling his way into the valley. The man whose groans dissipate into the morning chaos of the valley. The man who shuffles his way towards the broken hut from the lands beyond. The man who is wounded, bleeding as he steps over the threshold of the hut. The man, who smiles, lies down and breathes his last. The man who’s finally home.
Noise. There is so much noise. Close the door, shut off your phone, fasten the window sash and close your laptop. Minimize all the distractions. Make it so silent that you can hear every breath you take, in surround sound.
It is so silent. Peaceful. Sigh, I could be like this forever, you tell yourself. And suddenly, you get a sinking feeling as you start to wonder that while you shut off all the noise outside of you, how do you shut the noise in your head?
The cacophony caused when three different songs play, while snippets of conversation float in and out of your consciousness and the things that need to be done keep popping up to make their presence felt…how do you shut it off?
It takes a while…a while to realize that with all the external noise sources having been shut off or plugged away, the noises in your head are even more deafening. And those noises creep into every single one of your “me” moments, until being alone with your thoughts becomes stressful, turning into a spiraling whirlpool of half-recalled memories, unfinished conversations and endless reminders.
We’re never really alone, are we?
In moments when we’re trapped in the depths of loneliness, in moments when we’re frozen in the throes of this pain, in moments when we wonder whether we’ll ever get out of this, in all those moments, as alone as it may seem we are, there is never an I, always a we. Somewhere, across the world, someone you don’t know and will probably never meet is experiencing the same thing.
The circumstances may differ, but the emotions, the raw, chafing, knee-buckling emotions are never felt alone. Your pain as you pen down words is shared by the one reading it. Your grief as you belt tunes at the top of your voice, is felt by the one listening to it. Your anguish as you cry your heart out, is mirrored in the tears of another’s broken heart.
Here’s to friends…the family that you choose to be with, the companionship that you cannot help falling into, the support system that surprises you with its unrelenting strength and wisdom.
There were friends I made when I was little…ones I had a sleepover with, where I promptly went off to sleep, only to be woken up by one of you spanking me with a hairbrush. We shared laughs, secrets and horror stories, lying on the floor and staring at the dark ceiling, fighting sleep just because it was cool to stay awake till late. We ate jujubes, watched films, cried and bonded. We promised to be friends for life.
There were friends I made when I was in Junior School…it was a huge group that I never really felt part of. We played games in recess, swapped gossips about other people from class and attended birthday parties together. We drifted away when we hit puberty, but those games we played were some of the most uninhibited fun I had.
There was a friend I made in Middle School…you were my best friend, my inseparable companion throughout the next three years. We were so close, I once wrote your name on my answer sheet instead of my own. In the class election for monitors, I got zero votes, while you got two: yours and mine. You were the person I came back for after I left School. It’s been around 7 years, we’ve drifted apart, but even now, when I talk to someone from School, they ask me about you, and, it saddens me to say, I don’t really know, we haven’t been in touch…
Facebook. Twitter. Whatsapp. Gmail. Skype. SMS.
So many ways to stay connected.
Such little connection.
Among the innumerable pings of the various social circles of someone’s virtual presence, something is slowly getting silenced: the call for intimacy.
No matter how fast your typing speed, it cannot replace the rush felt when you meet someone after a spell and the excitement that manifests in your tripping over each other’s sentences, eager to share so much.
No matter how many times you converse with someone through the various social media platforms in a day, it’s nowhere close to the feeling of being an equal participant in a face-to-face conversation, unfiltered, raw, true.
No matter how many times you type, retype and reconsider before sending out that message, it cannot replace the genuineness of a hand-written letter whose each word is written with care and whose very delivery and reception take effort and thought.