How are most of us lost! Is it the youth that drives us delirious or is our destiny of being an adult human being? We have so many questions and so many answers that deceive us. Why do we desire ‘something uncertain’, which we misconstrue in different forms, in claims of love, in high aspirations, in pain and misery itself? What is “it” that we lack? Could we ever find “it”? How difficult are the problems and how tediously we assume patience. How brutal are the times and how sensitive our souls! Is it all a farce that we keep trying to glorify or a tragedy that we decorate with romantic colours? Is it language that cheats on us or books and saints where we look for prescriptions? Is it fear that counts our ways or death itself that steers our boats? How cruel we become to ourselves at times when we fail to fulfil the demands time makes on us. O how we prick our own thoughts and let blood freeze in our limbs because we didn’t perform as highly as we were expected to. In sheer anger, we pull catapults against our own eyes and suffer with a vicious grin on our faces while we tell ourselves that we deserve the pain several folds more. All of us who were not born perfect and genius, who have engendered cracks and fears across years, who have strangled their own precious moments, do we not carry within ourselves the scarecrows which propagate all fearsome winds through our souls? Aren’t we confused by the never-ending mishaps which threaten our composure every hour? Do we not within our hearts carry grotesque paintings of our own mutilated emotions as if horror alone could have mothered us? No matter where the fault lies, we must suffer and alone, as if we were damned by the infernal lord himself. Isn’t it dread alone that we inhale and exhale, for dread alone keeps alive within us the whole carnival of despair in full swing? Do we not resemble a young child who is lost in a decrepit old house and turns into a monster fed by mousy fears and steel-made loneliness? O how far we stand from the warm understanding hand that deluding itself pretends it can rescue us from the mess we have turned ourselves into. However benumbed and sentimental we might be and responsible we might appear for the havoc which revels within us, who knows what our blinking eyes fail to see? All these claims of care and binding, in which blood relations trap us, become so suffocating. For we tremble at the menacing silence and the corruption that enacts brutally within us. Appearances, names, achievements and activities: the whole living world seems like a mockery a clever trickster is playing to infuriate us further. How futile advices and help become. How ‘survival instincts’ deceive us while we play blind man’s bluff with suicidal thoughts and self-hatred. O how we prick our own thoughts and let blood freeze in our limbs because we didn’t perform as highly as we were expected to. In sheer anger, we pull catapults against our own eyes and suffer with a vicious grin on our faces while we tell ourselves that we deserve the pain several folds more We often wonder and question who gave us this burning gift of guilt? Who gave us this guilt that appears like nails out of the ground, strewn on every path we try to run away on? Is it our parents who bring their exaggerated love, which becomes our weakness when we venture in new directions (but who will make them understand?) Do they expect us to obey their whims only? Is it society that has arbitrarily chosen annals of morals chosen and is quite rootless in their authenticity? What is bleak in this drama is the awareness that nobody can understand us – not even the quacks who read a few books on psychology – and nobody can save us, no matter how much of their love they send in bundles through the threshold. We are pathetic because we are hungry for self-pity while knowing that no cure can arise from its impotent potions. Isn’t it the past which abducts us as favourite victims? A few traumas, some horrendous memories, pain inflicted by close relations, and there we are, locked together like a rabbit in a cage of jackals. There also come those who tell us we are lazy and narcissistic! Could one walk with red bricks in one’s bag? And after bearing all this violence with cold eyes, when pain becomes a habitual beverage one gulps down everyday in confusion, there comes on the gate a knocking question: Who am I? Am I a pervert with fantasies that breach all confines of a refined culture? Am I the victim who suffers diligently as if he’s a paid clerk in a traumatic enterprise? Am I the child that yells and cries while we put our hands on its mouth to hide his vulnerability? Am I the dying homo sapien who wilts because of the incessant blows of self-created suffering? Am I the hollow-masked body, which engages with the world like a wax statue bought in a fair? Or, am I an amalgam of all? Yes, perhaps of all. How else could we say time and again that we are living hells, for that is the extent of misery conceivable by our tender hearts? What will happen when years have passed but we wander through the same wilderness, which perpetually grows within us? Will it last forever? Will we continue to hate everybody except a few forever? What about the building to which we are confined, while all the doors are locked from the outside? Can we forgive ourselves? Can we forgive our past, our traumas and regrets? Can we forgive ourselves without any reason and stop looking at ourselves through borrowed eyes? Can we convince ourselves that we do not deserve this suffocating pain anymore? Can we stop hating ourselves for the bodies that we didn’t ask for? Can we refuse to kick ourselves for the faces arbitrarily given to us? Do we have the courage to live with our imperfections, which we carry along with us everywhere? O how would it be when we don’t suffer! Will we be given another life, another turn to live as we wish to? Or is this the only one we are failing ourselves in? What plans will we make when violence doesn’t rage within us? Is love possible too? Can loneliness become a sanctuary for practicing some craft and learning about the world rather than being a garbage dump where we have so far counted our broken limbs and hopes only? Can we branch out like trees with green leaves, out of the sewer-like hearts that time has cursed us into? Do we have the capacity to say “no” to the pain which is inflicted upon us and resist it because we do not deserve it after all? Is it possible that we choose meaningful work for ourselves and pursue it rather than comply with the demands of those who will never bear our pain for us? Can we fashion for ourselves a set of ethics that satisfy us rather than serve the morality of those who are frightened of our freedom? Can we claim ourselves with all our wormy regrets and fears and uphold ourselves without trying to be ideal children? Can we stop poking our own eyes with burning match-sticks and come out of it with all our raw feelings, to stand alone and strong and confront all our losses? Is it possible that everything will start to matter, our pain and the tiny moments that we forgot to see passing through us? Can we learn to live in this gruesome world because we have nothing to lose? The writer is a student of English Literature at Government College University, Lahore and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, January 23rd 2018.