This is my lowest point.
There is something absolutely unpardonable about a virus that attacks so insidiously. It doesn’t help that I know my Aunt/Grandma passed away because of the same buggering virus. It makes me hate it with a vengeance.
This time there really was no excuse.
I’ve weaned myself off immunosuppressants. I have been taking care of myself. But I must have been weak anyway because I caught a nasty flu from the babies – four-year old Deepak, and Riya who is all of seven months. But I have the babies in my life, I am on a sabbatical, I am teaching again, I am doing only what I want to do. And I haven’t felt this good in a long time. So I am really quite fabulous these days.
But herpes? Again? On my lips? Just when the scar was finally fading? Unforgivable. Unmanageable.
I have been meeting very spiritually inclined people of late. One chap dabbles in black magic; a young, beautiful girl I know has become a mother/a guru to others in the quest for all things spiritual and holy. A guy I’ve been speaking to has been telling me all these fabulous tales of a life dedicated to spiritual pursuits. It’s almost like a sign if I still believed in signs and magic.
For a time, I dabbled in witchcraft. It was new, fun, empowering, and made me feel special at a time I desperately needed to. When the man you think you love beyond all prudence tells you matter-of-factly about all the other women he shags besides you, and spares you no detail, you feel the need for some reassurance. So that’s when witchcraft found me. It even worked. Not your mindless let-him-love-me spells. I concentrated mainly on healing spells and energy spells. And I think it worked. Only as time went by, I felt a weird presence around me. It wasn’t exactly threatening, it was just there. But my point is, I’d rather live without a presence however non-threatening it is. These are things sensible people don’t like to talk about because it all sounds so mad and fantastic. So that’s when I decided it was time to put a stop to it and packed my athame, chalice, besom, and other tools for good.
When I found God, it was mad and fantastic too. God is the ultimate crutch. You can absolve yourself of great and small crimes, shirk big and tiny responsibilities, dream and hope and live confidently in the belief that there is a benevolent force that is working for you. As long as you live in the God bubble clutching the crutch, nothing really fazes you. The little rituals are charming and pretty and fun. And importantly, comforting.
It’s when you question the veracity or even the wisdom of depending on a crutch that it all crumbles down. You understand that you are alone and only you are responsible for your self and your actions. That it all happens here. With you. In this life. Without cause or reason or meaning. Life, even little things, becomes difficult. Nihilism tinges every thought you have. Existential angst creeps in and makes even getting out of bed an ordeal. But somewhere, I think it is worth it. Because that is how you become truly free. And now I am a bit of an atheist who is weary of metaphysical concepts.
So while I have been getting spiritually fucked the past few weeks, it hasn’t been mind-boggling because I understand a little about rituals, elements, symbolism, spirituality, religion, even God. And when they share fantastical experiences that chill me to the bone, I know it’s probably not entirely far-fetched.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
It’s interesting that it is happening now while I’m trying to free myself of all manners of blind beliefs, superstitions, and fun practices. I no longer wish upon a star, or look to birds to tell me my immediate future. Things like that. I don’t want to find reasons and explanations because they seldom make sense. After a while, everything becomes a crutch. So as I am weaning myself off drugs, I’m also controlling thoughts whose veracity cannot be proven. Which doesn’t explain why I think ‘the gaze’ or the ‘Dhrishti’ as we call it in Kannada, makes sense. Dhrishti is malevolent gaze.
When something is near perfection, humankind cannot tolerate it. Some humans more so. That is when they feel inadequate or negative or just plain envious. And then their negativity touches the near-perfect object and brings it crashing down till it becomes merely mediocre, or worse, dies a silent death.
Rama and Sita were an exemplary couple. He was a perfect husband. Kind, loving, courteous, he worshipped the ground she walked on. She was the only woman to his man. He could never look at, much less love another woman. She too loved him the same way. Since she was a woman, her love was stronger and more powerful. It made Rama more of a man. Everyone in that world spoke about what a perfect couple Rama and Sita were. Lotus-eyed Rama with his almond-eyed Sita. What a family they’d make. The beautiful marital accord they would enjoy. The love and prosperity the lands would see because of their ideal coupling.
But that didn’t happen. We all know what did. Was it Dhrishti? Did it touch even a Godly being? How malevolent is this Dhristi?
My Aunt was a staunch believer in Dhrishti. She always said that ‘her child (meaning me) suffered as much as I did because people put dhrishti on me. Once I was older and understood what it meant, I used to laugh and argue with her. ‘But look at my life, hardly anything great, is it? Why would anyone care?’ She would just disagree and nod away my disbelief.
After she passed away, my mom’s faith in Dhrishti quadrupled. What else would explain the senseless illness in all our lives? What indeed would explain the death of a woman, who was deeply respected and revered by everyone who knew her, at the hands of a silly virus? Why else would Rama leave his Sita to fend for herself in a jungle? Why would he suggest that Sita prove her fidelity? And Sita? Why would she let her lotus-eyed man put her through fire?
Why? This search for meaning will be our collective undoing. And thoughts like these keep me awake at night.
Three nights ago when I couldn’t sleep, I began to think about deep, important matters. Like, whether I like my lips. So I got up from my bed, looked in the mirror, and examined my lips. They seemed fine, but I realised people rarely see me without lipstick. If I were to actually see how I liked my lips, I’d have to wear lipstick. I did. My new scarlet lipstick and the vermillion lip-gloss. What happened next was really fun. I fell in love with my own lips. I took a thousand pictures doing the half-open lips pose which looks so uber-hot when my men do it. What was gratifying to me was that even I looked uber-hot. So obviously the next day, I had to put it up as my profile picture on Facebook. Of course, my men behaved like they didn’t know me and had nothing to say about my lips. But in cyber-land, red-hot lips are attention-grabbing and I got a few compliments. Everything was fine.
Suddenly yesterday, the herpes attacked. Without warning. With little cause. Dhrishti? Coincidence? I don’t know what to think. But I succumbed. I removed the picture and substituted it for one with my footwear. It seemed the right thing to do.
However, I would like to tell men and women who envy me just one thing – don’t. Really there is no need. I can bet you anything your life is better than mine. Or at least will be if you do what your heart desires. Or if you show some balls. Don’t waste time and energy getting so het up over my red lips, my various husbands, my myriad dramas. Live and let die. Thank you.
If it isn’t Dhristi and is just buggering herpes, then please, leave me. Live and let live. Please. Thank you.
I have borne all sorts of pain in the past couple of years and I swear this pain caused by this dirty virus is the hardest to withstand. It means around 15 days of not eating, not being able to talk. It means crawling into that space at the back of my mind and just waiting. Waiting to get normal, waiting to speak again, waiting to eat. And that’s when I think. I think about reasons and people. The past, the present, the future. How little we can do. So few left to love. What little comfort there is. It will hurt. I will not like my lips again. I will not like my body. So I just want it to leave. Not become a secondary infection. Not cause too much pain. Not make me suffer anymore than I already have.
A woman’s life, it is true, is filled with undue suffering and pain. Like the Sita before me, like my daughter after me, we weep useless tears and pray to a cowardly but beautiful lotus-eyed God to let us love. To let us revel in our notion of loving. To let us feel happy about foolish vanity. To let us fall in love and be proud of our own lips. To not have to pay a price for loving, for being happy, for being loyal. To let us live as we deem fit.
But of what use is prayer? Oh what use are tears? What use is an impotent God even if He is beautiful? Even if He is perfect? Even if he is noble, loyal, steadfast, royal, a God?
A crutch, you know, can only do so much. O Rama.