Summer report: the definitive text of inadequacy

This is perhaps the most personal of all pieces that I have added to my little corner of the Internet. This post has no topic of discussion, per se, nor a sense of purpose. It has come into existence solely because I sat before my computer today, with the full intention of charging into work much as a bull hurtles towards the Matador, and realised that I had not written in what I can only describe as an eternity.

And so, for the first time in as long as I can remember, I am writing for the sake of writing, and already the blood feels calmer in my veins. As this post has no agenda, I fear it will tread perilously close to the realm of surrealist literature, only it will be much less pleasing to the eye. Indeed, even as I write this, I know little of the direction towards which this post is headed. Bear with me, though, my faithful reader, as you have over the past years (and here, we pause for a moment of introspection and the such), for I promise you mild, sub-par comedy at the very least.

Truth be told, it’s not that I haven’t written anything over these past months; it’s more of a case of me not having written anything. Before you (justly) call me out to be the raving lunatic that I seem to be, let me clarify: there’s a sense of satisfaction mingled with a curious tingling in the stomach and the extremities, that comes with writing something which has taken thought and some measure of literary skill. That very feeling has been missing for some time. I have been writing, yes (if my angst-ridden posts on Facebook can be so called), but I haven’t been diving into the oceans of language and selfishly picking out the words from the mouths of stingy oysters. It is something I sorely regret, and something that I would like to talk about here.

These months have not been good, my dear readers. They have been frightfully disappointing in ever sense imaginable, more so because I have been disappointing than anything else. I have been lazy, uninspired, dirty, unambitious, and, worst of all, I have been un-curious. Nothing has picked at my mind enough for me to want to delve into it further, and, again, that’s not for lack of stimulus but a personal shortcoming. I have been tired; more tired than I have ever, ever been as far as my (abysmal, truly abysmal; if only to be an elephant) memory is concerned. I remember taking to my computer time and again, adamant to spew into this little corner of the Internet the wiring of my brain, only to be distracted by the lights or the rain, or the little spider climbing up my left leg as though foraging through the Amazon thicket.

Then again, I have also found myself distracted by the sound of my own breathing. It’s a curious sound, really, not nearly as tidy or as even as it sounds on TV. It’s uneven, as though the heart is pushing the left lung upwards with every intake of breath to lighten the load on itself. Even as I sit here writing about the sound of my breath, I am curiously distracted by it, as though noticing its presence for the first time, every time. How can something that has been around for as long as I’ve been around (barring nine months; yes, my dear pro-life readers, I know you exist. I don’t agree with you one bit, but I know you exist) be so unfamiliar to me; moreover, how can it be a distraction?

And yet, irrefutably, there it is, like an obese manatee wrapped in seaweed, basking atop a rock in the middle of the sea, very much the gap-toothed mermaid to my drunken sailor’s telescope. But, oh, what a manatee, that I want to swim alongside it in the depths of the clear blue, and also tear it limb from limb and drown it in its own blood. It is almost a crooked love-hate relationship if one is so inclined: you love to hate every last bit of it. I love the feeling of loathing that overcomes me when I am cognizant of my breathing, as though it is my life’s purpose (hark! How is that for a paradox, Zeno?) to hate my breathing, and without my breathing, my life would have no purpose (and here I trump the Grandfather Paradox; quite the roll I’m on today).

I don’t wish to die, though. My intense melancholia (when one is at the point where one needs to advertise one’s own writing on one’s own blog, one has hit the rock bottom of writing; one is now free to socialise with Terry Goodking, Stephanie Meyer, and the horny, discount Stephanie Meyer) is not precipitated in my need to die, but in my need to kill myself. That I am my own master in my death is important to me because it reinstates that sense of control that was taken away by the erratic breathing. It’s a multi-part joy, if you think about it: being in control of circumstance when your breathing ends is a win that you have scored over your breath; holding responsibility for your inevitable end, something that life has always held over you, is yet another victory; and that you end up where everyone will end up someday, but you do it on your own terms, is the greatest victory of all.

Of course, now I sound like a brown-haired, pasty white bitch who slit her wrists (horrible method of suicide, by the way; very low chances of your dying that way) in her parents’ bathtub because the pasty white boy she liked didn’t want to bother her when she asked not to be bothered (and twelve other equally ridiculous reasons). Just to avoid stepping on any toes, I’d like to make it very clear that THIS IS NOT A TAPE OR ANY NOTE OF SUCH KIND because depression doesn’t work that way. Galen got it right, I think, when he prattled on about Black Bile, but what depression is and isn’t has been covered before (I’m not going to be cheap and provide two links to the same piece in one post; I have standards). This is merely me talking, more to myself than anyone else, about how shit the last few months have been, and how, despite everything, the fucking breathing goes on.

And on.


Kill it with Kindness

This post is long overdue. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending a symposium on “Remembering Charles Darwin”, during which the concept of Parent-Offspring conflict was extensively discussed. One aspect of the Parent-Offspring conflict was the constant attention-seeking tactics of the child, which caused the parents to devote their attention to the offspring, thereby preventing them from having the time to create more progeny. The parents, of course, cannot blame their young one for this particular phenomenon, and so the unconceived sibling is effectively “killed” by the kindness that the parents show towards the child.

This concept sent me a long way back to when I had read “The Taming of the Shrew”, where Petruchio alleges that he is killing Kate’s spirit, but he is doing it with kindness. His definition of kindness is rather crooked, for he categorises starving his wife and depriving her of sleep as kindness. In his defense, brutality at that time was physical abuse, so this kind of psychological trauma could be seen as kindness, if only in a very screwed up way.

But the phrase has evolved considerably since the Bard used it, and today it has taken on a different meaning entirely, one which is much closer to the one referenced in the case of the Parent-Offspring conflict. Today, to kill with kindness is to shower the subject of your affections with so much kindness and love, that they (figuratively) choke on the intensity of the emotion. We see it more commonly that we assume, with couples constantly asking for “space” from each other, or children needing “time” away from their parents, or any other of the myriad of examples available.

Even literature has reflected this change. The expression of affection has become more and more superficial over the years, be it the teary-eyed romance of The Fault In Our Stars or the pseud-passionate love affair of *shudder* The Fifty Shades of Grey. Art forms, in general, seem to have taken it upon themselves to be proponents of this new form of kindness genocide, with increasing amounts of pop music reflecting sickly sweet ideas which are not only gag-worthy but also completely ineffective.

The popular song by Florence and the Machine entitled “Dog Days Are Over” inevitably comes to mind when discussing this concept. To those who may not have heard this song, there is a line in it which goes: “she killed it with kisses”, and that line, for me, is a perfect representation of this idea.

We have, in my humble opinion, lost the subtle art of expressing ourselves and our emotions effectively, without making unnecessarily overt gestures. Only the other day, I was reading something written by an acquaintance of mine, and couldn’t help but notice that a very simple (and very overused) concept had been presented with gross overuse of words and an unflattering amount of literary elements. Everything stated in that page long passage could have been better expressed in a simple paragraph by a competent writer, and, of course, got me thinking.

Is it simply an unprecedented extrapolation of the age old adage “the more the merrier” which has landed us here today, at a stage where we feel it necessary to pile things on to such an extent that we eventually end up crushing our object itself?  If so, proverbialism has done us a great disservice.

In keeping with the theme of this post, I shall stop writing here, with deep hope in my heart that the mass murder of things by kindness will cease shortly.

The woods are lovely, so to speak

In the one and a half years that I have been associated with my college, and the two year or so period in which I have been posting on this small corner of the Internet, I realised that I have never quite spoken about the wonderful institution which has offered its relentless services to me, not to mention has provided the inspiration for almost all my posts. In truth, I wouldn’t even have sat down to write this post, were it not for a brightly coloured poster displayed on the notice board of my college, announcing a university-wide competition for the elusive cult of “bloggers”.

The question, of course, presents itself: what to write about? Manipal University, and indeed Manipal, is brimming with aspects just waiting to be discussed on a worldwide forum, and I have always found myself incapable of making decisions. However, sitting on my balcony this fine evening, shamefully close to the deadline of the competition, I find myself drawn to the beauty, the sheer beauty, of this little town I have called home for so long, and hope to do for a while longer. And so, risking the outcome of the competition, I shall write today about the green woods of Manipal, in all their urbanised glory.

Earlier today, my friend and I arranged to meet for dinner, and even while taking the short walk from my house to the restaurant, I was startled by how nice the breeze felt, and how soothing the shadow of the trees was. There exists in Manipal a stretch of road, long enough that it can be called long, known as the “End Point Road”. I mention this because of all the places that there are to sit or walk or simply soak in nature in, this road is by far my favourite. Often, I can be found walking securely and surely along the road, with soft music playing in my ears, and a careless sort of smile on my lips. That’s just the way Manipal is, I suppose; it makes you feel relaxed.

I kid not, though, when I call the town urbanised. It is a small place bustling with far more activity than should be possible for a place this size. Perhaps that is why I appreciate the earthliness of Manipal even more: even amongst the throngs of colleges and residential blocks and shops and bars and restaurants and whatnot, Manipal manages to be a green place. I can walk on in any direction and still have the watchful eye of Mother Nature upon me. Indeed, there are places I have ventured out to where signs of civilisation are entirely absent, and I feel as though I have been transported to some exotic tropical forest.

Having spent a good part of my life growing up in a place with minimal commotion and abundant flora, Manipal’s offerings of trees and shrubs are nothing short of divine to me. It is this aspect of Manipal which I miss the most when I return to the busy streets of Delhi, so crawling with people and their vessels that no trees stand a chance. And so when my friends ask me why I so eagerly long to get back to Manipal whenever I am away, I have but one response: because Manipal is just so green.

Even as I write this, I can see myself walking the well known paths of the town which seems to know just what I need and when I need it. I find myself inadvertently planning my adventures for the following evening: whether to spend a quite session by the Manipal Lake, or to venture out onto the roads beyond the student haunt known as “Remix”. Indecisive as I am, I choose to leave the fate of my day up to my mood at the moment. But I am consoled by the fact that wherever I choose to go, I will have the comforting embrace of nature to keep me company, and to provide me with the feeling of contentment which I so crave, and which Manipal seems to supply in abundance.

Inadequate though I find it, I think I will end this post here. I would like to go on in painstaking detail about the beautiful hangouts of this precious town, but I must let the emotion sink in, and often we find that we convey too little by saying too much. And so I will leave it at that. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep”, Frost once wrote, and I like to romanticise that had he seen Manipal, his words would have carried that much more meaning.

You see, Manipal is just so green.

Pandora’s Jar

Recently, I have had a lot on my plate, perhaps more than I can handle, maybe even more than is sensible to have. There are times when I simply wish to recede into a small, dark corner of the world and wait for the time to pass until I can resurface in a simpler place, with less worries gnawing at the edges of my sanity. Perseverance and the promise of the light at the end of the night seem to be companions of a past which has long since passed.

Hope, like many other things of immeasurable value, can be extremely difficult to locate, what with the constant aura of negativity around us. Therefore, I believe, that it is our duty to congratulate and hold on to people who have found hope, for they are our escape route from the murky waters of depression.

Today is a day of immense importance. Today marks the birth anniversary of a person who is perhaps the living image of hope. If hope were to come out and assume a humanoid form, I am convinced it would be that of the person of whom I speak. This person isn’t a wise, learned old scholar who has spent days wandering the narrow, dark, dismal corridors of an exasperated mind. No, this person is a kind-hearted, intelligent soul who believes that eventually we will overcome, for there is nothing which we, when we unite as one, cannot surpass.

These views have always seemed, to me as I do consider myself quite the pessimist, to be optimistic to the point of being ridiculous. Hope is not the answer to the very real, very tangible issues plaguing the human civilisation and, indeed, Planet Earth itself. Hope is not the solution to the absence of hope, for if it were then many a psychiatrist would be out of a job. Hope is not the key to unlocking the secrets of a greater and more promising life. Along the lines of these are further arguments which frequently cross my mind whenever this person and I engage in a conversation about the derogatory nature of society, yet I refrain from voicing them.

It is not about hope being the answer, though, as I have recently learnt from this person of whom I can only speak highly and with sheer respect and admiration. Hope is not about finding the answers, or the keys or anything really. Hope is about keeping up with the negativities and telling them to give you some breathing room so that you can think, you can process what is happening all around and assess you situation, so that you can come up with the best solution to the problem at hand.

Now this lesson hasn’t explicitly been given to me, but I have managed to interpret this and even though this leaves room for error, I take comfort in the fact that these are the kind of messages I am now able to derive from the words I once considered foolish and childishly optimistic. It gives me a certain sense of hope too; it gives me the hope that not everything and everyone in this world is rambling on about nothingness, that there is at least one person who knows something worth knowing.

Another remarkable thing about my unofficial mentor is that I have never seen even the slightest trace of hardship on this person’s face. We all have our issues, some are mountains looming in the near future challenging our paths ahead, some are demons from our pasts threatening to pull us back into their devilish clutches, and some are elephants in the room we willing to turn our backs upon. In any case, we have negativities plaguing our minds, and this is perhaps one of the defining features of our consciousness, a significance of ours as human beings. Yet even when worst comes to worst, I have never see our subject give way to the vortex of sorrows, which I believe is one of the greatest achievement’s of anyone, ever.

I am, of course, highly biased in favour of the person who taught me the meaning and importance of hope, but I cannot say it enough times for the words to successfully describe the sheer aura of positivity and the extent of hope that radiates from the aforementioned. It is my strong-founded belief that it would take something phenomenal for my mentor’s hopes to be deterred; and should such a scenario ever present itself, I shall take it for granted that mankind has seen its end.

Coming back to my situation of having bitten off more than I can chew: I was sorely tempted, until the beginning of writing this post in fact, to follow my tried and tested, and rather unsuccessful, method of disappearing into the shadows of the world. However, as I sat there, flitting from one task to the next, starting each one and leaving it midway, I though of how much further I had come ever since that one fateful night in the middle of September of last year. I thought about how my choices reflected the people I chose to associate myself with, and what I had learnt from them.

Suddenly, like a brilliant flash of inspiration, it hit me that even in the darkest, most dreary times of all, one can find hope, if only one has the strength to look for it, and stay on their course against all odds. There may seem times when all hope is absolutely lost, which is more often than not every other day of my life; in such cases, one simply has to do some soul-searching and create hope from within, which will promote the discovery of further hope, just like a chain reaction.

I knew that this realisation absolutely hadn’t come from within the dark and hollow pits of my plagued mind, and so I was, for a few moments at least, at a loss for the source of this inspiration. Needless to say, after having said it multiple times I mean, that the source of this sudden bout of positive energy was my dear friend.

That little jolt of inspiration is, in fact, all I needed to get back on my feet, and now I am ready to tackle whatever it is that needs tackling, until I hit my next low point of course. I realise how this would not have been at all possible had it not been for the wonderful person to whom I dedicate this post, as a small token of gratitude; thank you for showing me how to find myself when all seems lost.

Happy birthday.

Dealing in joy

It has often come to my attention that the Universe has, over the course of the few billion years of its existence, lost its grip on the balance of things which usually governs everything we do. I tend to flatter myself every now and then and thus took it upon me to restore the balance which I so very sorely missed.

A word of advice here, one which I have myself created and which has nothing to do with the habit of which I spoke previously: maintaining the balance of the Universe is easier said than done. Valiantly though I had set out upon my conquest, I gave up unfortunately quickly.

Often, you will find that the need to be useful, and the desire to be productive can work miracles in the case of despair. The very same happened with me earlier this year. Feeling downhearted at the prospect off having let go of my noble desire, rather mission, I found solace and, for all intents and purposes, inspiration, in chocolate, of which too I have promised to speak.

It was perhaps the sinful, bitter taste of chocolate which awakened my senses as no imbalance of the Universe had. I looked around me and was startled to see that people spoke with one another in monotonous, expressionless tones and with dull, lifeless faces. Scattered amidst these scenes of indifference were façades of intense, unyielding misery.

I myself am a great admirer of joy: sheer, unadulterated humour is my idea of time best spent. To see this lack of joy in abundance in a surrounding which I was associated with did not sit well with me. I then decided to spread as much joy as I could, which at once reminded me of the restoration vow I had taken earlier. This got me thinking about how one large, integrated vow was much easier to keep than two rather difficult ones.

This logic, at the time of its conception, had made wonderful sense and so I was prompted to follow it through to the end. I did, and I can proudly say that I found a way to bring my integrated vow to life and to hold on to it. Fortunately, the plan unfolded flawlessly and seemed to have a lot of promise in store.

It is rather a simple pan you see. For every sad, miserable, teary-eyed person I find, I shall provide some form of joy, humour or comic relief to another. In such a way, I play my own trivial part in the restoration of the Universal balance along with spreading joy, thus fulfilling both of my vows. At the end of the day, I sit and match up my joyful people with the Universe’s miserable ones.

Soon, I spotted a glaring flaw in my thus far beautifully logical act of charity: the people that I do distribute joy to eventually become miserable too. And so, I decided to instigate a small change in my M.O. Instead of providing joy to a person for every miserable person I see, I decided to give out joy to as many people as I could.

One fine day, while championing the great cause of Universal balance, I was struck with brand new realisation. Since I was helping the Universe with restoring its balance, it would be senseless if the Universe didn’t pay me back somehow. And so, based upon that completely vague, absolutely abstract and downright senseless deduction, I set out looking for a gift, more payment than gift really, from the Universe. Adamant to prove to myself that I wasn’t in fact going crazy, I actually found something which could very well be Universe’s sign.

You see, every once in a while, when the Universe feels grateful for my help, it pays me back with ready-made humour. It may be a scenario which greatly amuses me, or seeing people laugh out, or anything which makes me feel like my conquest is, in fact, paying off. This may make absolutely no sense, but once you start to give out some joy, then you shall see the feeling of greatness which accompanies seeing joy in action. For spreading joy has a joy of its own.

Happy with the progress  I was making, I decided to tell my friend about my noble act, whose only query was regarding the identity of my dealing partner. I am an atheist, and so it made no sense to my friend that I should talk about the Universe as an entity. My response was rather obscure and is really quite difficult to explain but I shall try my best nonetheless.

When I talk about the Universe needing help or the Universe paying me back I don’t mean a particular entity who is somehow in charge of the various ongoings of things around us. I refer instead to the Universal sense of balance which is so very sorely missing nowadays. This is the same sense of balance which is responsible for the existence of day and night, for desert and ocean, for sky and ground, for good and evil, for light and dark.

“Who creates that balance? Looks to keep it stable?” asked my friend and, momentarily, I was stumped. Then I answered as best as I could: the beauty of the Universe is that it doesn’t need anyone to balance. Every single particle, every single molecule works to maintain that balance by its own. Every particle in the Universe will go about doing what it is meant to do irrespective of whether we spot it or not.

My friend’s next question was even more trying: “How do these particles know that it’s their job to give you funny stuff to laugh at?” And yet again I thought that my brilliant theory had met its close, but it hadn’t. The Universe doesn’t create anything for me, or for you, or for anyone. The Universe simply exists, it prolongs its own life, and should one spot something which they feel is out of place and they meddle, well so be it.

The only reason that the Universe seems out of balance to me is because I spot something and that it is out of balance. Maybe it is not so at all, maybe the Universe is perfectly in balance, maybe my meddling will have not make any difference at all and we will end up exactly where we were  supposed to in the first place.

My friend doesn’t like the concept of anything predestined. To all such people: maybe nothing is meant to be a particular way, maybe the Universal balance has been disturbed, maybe its been disturbed because ages ago someone meddled, maybe my meddling will also cause some effect, maybe the Universe does need someone to spot its discrepancies.

Whatever may be the case, as long as what I am doing doesn’t have any detrimental effects, I feel confident in carrying on with my mission. I shall keep doing what I do, until I can sense that the Universal balance has been somewhat restored. Wish me luck.

Dancing Tables

There is something undeniably eerie about the mysterious companion we lovingly call memory. I have found myself, on more occasions than I can name for lack of remembrance, thinking about the unending onslaught of memory. The devious monster parts ways with us when we need it most of all, but returns with vivid images of a past we have long forgotten when we are least on guard. Usually these flashbacks are a consequence of lack of activity, yet there are days when the cunning scythe of memory eradicates all in its path and resurfaces, unabated.

Today was one such day. You see, I had been busy all day long, and whereas I had willingly kept myself preoccupied with trivial ongoings, I was largely unavailable for random thought through no effort of my own. Yet despite being so very engaged, and with yet a truckload of very consuming chores lined up ahead, I found my mind drifting off into a time which I vaguely remembered. After fighting the subconscious recollections of that past for some time, I gave in and decided to embrace my enemy as a friend.

But I refused to be thrown into a pit of sorrow on a day when things had been favouring the tide. So instead of wallowing in the more demoralising parts of my existence, I decided to focus on the fair. I am proud to say that I did not fail. In fact, I succeeded rather remarkably. I managed to look deep into the recess of my mind and find the one memory which is the high to all lows, the up to all downs, the sunshine to all clouds. It is a memory of the simpler days, when being carefree was the only care we had.

Amongst the many great things about this one memory which has helped me through thick and thin is that I can share it with someone. It may seem like a trivial point, but in a way it makes all the difference in the world. I do not know what it is, but there is a feeling which fills your mind when you think of a happy moment spent in the company of someone you swore never to forget, and that feeling drives all worries from your mind. The feeling probably cannot be described, for it is slightly irrational, making it all the more satisfying.

Only the other day I was telling a close friend of mine about the basic principles which govern our lives, for no other reason that to make conversation, when I realised how flawed all my theories would have been were it not for this particular memory. For I have based almost all my life’s greatest decisions on the sensation of comfort which this memory gave me. Today, while trying to remember the feeling which the memory always left me with, I was presented with the greatest curse to have befallen mankind since temptation: forgetfulness.

I have spent the last few paragraphs speaking about the sweet comforts of a memory which I claim has stayed with me all these years and has been a  great part of my life, yet I honestly cannot recall most of the details of the memory at all. I do not know what I was wearing that day, what the weather was like, what time of year was it, or even how I ended up in that particular place at that particular time. So why is that memory so significant?

I do, despite my rather pitiful recollection powers, recall the person I was with, the joke which had us laughing for almost half a day hence, the place where we were and the disinterest of those around us. The disinterest, in the most corrupt way possible, gives me hope: it tells me that even when no one else cares about that one day sometime in the last ten years, I always will.

Does that suffice? Are a few details about a once happy-go-lucky time spent with an old childhood comrade enough to imbibe the feeling of warmth, comfort and security? Is that all it would take for someone to calm me down: a sketchy picture of a past I barely remember?

Somehow, I find that very unconvincing.

It is not always that I sit at my desk and lose myself in a sea of memories only to resurface hours later bathed in the sweet joy of recollection. In fact, when asked, I would say that I am amongst those few unfortunate souls who condemns dwelling in the past. And so I find myself justified when I say that there is something about this memory which not only allows me to let go of my principles, but also encourages me to indulge myself in a habit I can only ever call pathetic.

Think as I may, I cannot find the answer. I do not intend to pile upon your already swamped lives the trifle tale of a troubled boy, and I shan’t either, but in this time of the unknowing I find it best to share my woes while harbouring the illusion that someone is listening. You will find on multiple occasions that you, too, have this sketchy, unusually comforting memory, with no apparent reason for its existence; tell me when that happens, and I shall be all ears.

Life has always had a way of presenting me with opportunities to create great memories out of, and I shall be forever grateful for that. However, I do wish, on occasion, that since life is so gracious in giving memories, if it would be just as gracious with taking them, if only to create space for new ones. It is not that I do not value this particular memory above all others, for I do, but as long as this one has caught my hold, I doubt I’ll be able to move on to a newer, potentially more comforting one.

At last, I would like to thank the person who shares this memory with me, making this memory and my life come alive when I most need it. For I may one day forget all the details of this memory, and I may forget the memory itself, and the feeling that this memory leaves me with and anything about this memory, but I shall always remember my companion.

Thank you dear comrade: Dancing Tables.




There is such a thing as too much joy and, perhaps, as too much sadness. Yet think as I may, I cannot fathom for a second such a thing as too much doubt, for whenever I think, and think I do often enough, I find myself wondering if I have enough qualms.

For in this world we are blessed with a thousand and one things to doubt, a thousand more to second guess and countless more to question. Many have come and gone and they have spoken with sound minds and sounder voices that doubt is a sin, that qualms spawn distrust, that misgivings are a curse. Many fewer have said, feebly or so, that without doubt we would be clueless, without qualms we would never progress, without misgivings we wouldn’t know how to live.

My mother used to say: “one day there will come a time when you will not be able to tell your head from your bum and half the world will tell you one way and half the other. When this happens, remember you mama and remember that she made the best curry in the world”. At that time, when I was about ten or ten and a few months old, this advice made perfect sense to me and yet now, when I am seventeen and a few months, I cannot recall what that sense was.

Nevertheless, I hold on to such pieces of advice, it is a habit that I have. I have misgivings as to whether it is a good habit, but my misgivings are the reason I never let go of this habit, and this habit is the reason I caught hold of misgivings in the first place.

I remember another piece of advice given to me by a boy two years younger to me and about a head shorter, though he is today a hair’s breadth taller than me and a shade fairer. Sweet boy that he was once, he still may be but I am not so sure, he innocently asked me whether humans had actually come from monkeys. I told him that we had and he asked me if I was sure, and I found that I was and I told him so. He asked me why I was sure and I said that it had been written in a hundred books and said by a hundred people.

Charles Darwin naturally came up and he asked me why did I not simply settle for his word and why did I go on to other writers and other evidence, to which I replied that I doubted the authenticity of the claim, of course I said it in much simpler terms and I was unaware of the gravity of my answer. Then he told me that if I had never doubted Charles Darwin I could have saved myself a lot of time, to which I replied that I would never have been sure of evolution.

“And now,” he said, “you don’t read about it any more because you know it all and you don’t doubt it. Now you will never be curious about it or be fascinated by it or want to know more about it because you are so sure. What fun is that?”

This may not have been advice as we know it but it showed me something wonderful, it showed me the value of not knowing for certain, of having qualms, of harbouring misgivings. It has always been my insurmountable desire to know things, all things about everything without leaving anything out of something. But there are times when I feel that I have learnt my fill, not because there is nothing more about it to know, for one thing leads onto another and there is always something associated with everything and so it is impossible to know everything about something, but because I feel as though the time has come for some doubts to be left regarding that particular subject.

The subject of my worst nightmare is not a demonic beast or a disastrous fall or the death of a family member, all of which are most disheartening, but it is the feeling that I shall one day sit at my window looking out at the steady drizzle of water and not have a thing to think about or write about or talk about because I am so absolute in my knowledge of everything. It is a nightmare which terrifies me to my core yet I do not wish to wake from it and when I do wake from it I feel a desperate need to go back to it because I wish to see what I do to overcome my predicament, before I realise that that is my predicament.

Unwitting creature that I am, I wish to know all but also to have doubts about all, both of which cannot exist together. But there are times when I am clear in my head, times when I know exactly what I want and what I don’t want. These are usually times when I want to be in doubt, which is ironic considering the statement: “I know that I want to be in doubt”.

It is raining now, now when I am writing this, and maybe that is making me write this, but I am glad that it is. I am glad that I am writing this down as opposed to letting it sit in some part of my mind where it will bother me for all eternity or, what is infinitely worse, vanish entirely. For if it did vanish then I would never remember it and, in some time to come, I would think nothing of this night and would lose the incalculable memories this night has given me.

But memories are common, memories are found with all, memories are eventually forgotten and when they are forgotten they are nothing, for what is a memory if it isn’t remembered. No, memories are not for me. You can keep your memories, keep them all, keep them for life; I have my misgivings.