A Lesson In Blue.
A Lesson In Blue.
Life teaches a lot of things. One doesn’t realise it until the dust settles after a storm. And this one is about a storm that hit Cliff Lamington. Cliff is into his late teens. A lean, coloured man. He didn’t have the best of looks nor did he believe in the upkeep of it. A young bloke who had big ambitions. He is a clever man but loves addled him. Isabelle Faust is his high school friend. He confided in her and so did she in him. Isabelle had introduced him to Grace Adams. She was pretty, prettier than that word. The first thing he said to her when they met was,” You do justice to your name.”The way her hair fell over her shoulders, her smile, her cogent and euphonious speech, the feline grace in her gait and her inviting eyes. It was all too mesmerising for Cliff. He couldn’t resist but did engage her on many an occasion. He had to fall for her eventually. And fall he did. Is there a colt who isn’t driven by passion?
Ambivalence has been agonising Cliff for a year now. He oscillated back and forth between career options, struggling to pick the most suitable. He abhorred his mundane life but found solace while talking to Grace. They used to discuss intricate complexities of life and society, often giving up while trying to disentangle the knots. Whilst these meetings seemed innocuous, Cliff failed to realise he found himself in a cleft. He couldn’t tell her about how he felt when he should. While he was unaware of this mire, Grace told him that she’s about to leave the city for three years. Isabelle was out of the city too. He bid her adieu. As we all know, absence makes the heart grow fonder. It was late into sophomore year. Cliff had grown apathetic towards his academics. A state of hebetude engulfed his mind. He knew only one destination for emotional support-either Isabelle or Grace. The lesser he spoke to them the more he grew saturnine. He sensed a certain friendship had developed between them. So he, like a nincompoop, decided to confront Grace. He mustered enough courage to leave her a text message. It was a long night before he received a reply from her. Her reply arrived the next day but it wasn’t palatable. He called on Isabelle for some help. She turned the other way leaving him to think that she only dwelled in the suburbs of his dolefulness. He was left in a lurch.
Nothing that he knows would happen but much that he feared might. Cliff reached the deep alcoves of his mind. A pall of gloom swathed the young man. He saw everything in black and white, abandoned himself to a brown study and it all seemed blue. He lost his identity, his being. Pangs of fear and anxiety constantly pummelled his soul . He now realised how intertwined his life was with Grace. Not being engaged in any activity afforded him all the time to dwell on this. And dwell, he did. The prosaic nature of his routine didn’t do much for him. He spent time in his room all locked up. He found himself walking through a gauntlet of susurrous jibes in his subconscious. He was lost in self-introspection. After a point of time, he couldn’t tell conscious and subconscious apart. A barbed wire, with all its Gordian knots, garrotted him. All his efforts to untie those knots only hurt him more. It seemed like he read boustrophedon text every day, whilst numb to his surroundings. He took to drink and turned into a sponge. He looked for avenues to cheer him up. He tried watching entertainment shows. Much to his chagrin, he could not shirk off this feeling. He only related himself to the sorrowful character. He tried to talk to some of his friends. Introvert as he was, he couldn’t open up to them. He loathed every woman he saw. He feared his parents’ livid reaction to his mental illness, choosing not to tell him. He refrained from social interactions and preferred solitude. After months of rumination, he knew he had to accost himself. He had to accept the way he was. Lucidity prevailed and Cliff had an epiphany. He understood that people’s will and fate seldom meet. He constantly spoke to himself, calming himself down, and becoming more and more sure of who he is. Yet he felt that the treatment meted out to him was unfair.
One day, Cliff’s old man decided to take him to a nearby village. Cliff acquiesced. A change of air might do him good. It was more of a business trip for his dad. While his dad was busy inspecting a piece of land, Cliff decided to go for a walk. He found himself amidst a marketplace. The market was lined hawkers and peddlers who were selling different varieties of vegetables, meat, eggs, toys etc. The men and women were dressed with austerity. It was a typical marketplace with a lot of commotion and movement. There were a lot of kids around, playing amongst themselves, crying, shouting, laughing and fighting; few of them helped their parents. Cliff was deeply lost in thought. He saw everything but failed to observe. He bought a cup of tea and took a seat by a vegetable cart. He stared into the distance while sipping tea. Looking at Cliff’s abstraction, the peddler left his cart and attempted to strike a conversation with him. He greeted Cliff with an incandescent smile, to which Cliff responded with a nod. He didn’t smile back. Maybe he forgot how to.
The peddler asked, “What’s your name? Where are you from? I’ve never seen you around.”
Cliff didn’t receive this question very well. He said curtly, “My name is Johnson. I’m not comfortable sharing my details with you.” The peddler saw in Cliff’s eyes the pain he was in. “My name is Carl Markson. I’ve been living here all my life. I’ve two kids and a beautiful wife. I sell vegetables from the cart over there” pointing towards the cart, he continued, “ you seem hungry.” He runs up to his cart and makes him a salad. Cliff bursts into tears at this gesture as his head falls into hands. The peddler comforted him. He said,” I have a house mortgage and a family to feed. There is suffering everywhere and life isn’t fair. But it’s up to us what we decide to do with it. Lament it or enjoy it. I prefer the latter.” The peddler left to attend to his customer. Cliff, still in tears, was moved by this. He walked up to the man and hugged him. Cliff thanked him and left for home. After his visit to the village, all his problems felt lighter in weight. He was privileged to be born into a wealthy family and had everything provided for. He was thankful for what he had. It all became clear to Cliff that languishing in the past is akin to waiting for Godot. He decided to keep his pecker up.
In proximity to his house, there’s a pub called Dementia. Sartorially prim, but with dishevelled hair, he made the long walk to the pub. The pub was full of revellers and had an odour of pomp to it. Not yet acclimatized to the merrymaking, he took a table by the window, alone. The weather was cold with portentous black clouds. A cool breeze rattled the window and fog covered it. He was thinking about those peddler’s words. He thought about how vivacious he once was. By a mere accident, happiness was turned into desolation. He ordered a strong drink evident by the dark swirls in it. He placed his palm on the window where his palm’s impression was formed. Through that impression, he could see a woman approaching the pub. He ignored her at first, but, on a closer look, he saw the same feline gait. It was Grace, even prettier. He could hear his heart palpitate as he reeled under a paroxysm of confusion. His drink fell and the glass was shattered into pieces. He was befuddled and didn’t know what to do. A wisp of cold air hit Cliff as she walked past him. She took a table near the dance floor. The past flashed right in front of his eyes. Involuntarily he walked up to her and fell on his knees. His countenance was of utter forlornness. His eyelids drooped. Tears gleamed as they gushed down generously onto the floor. His lips quivered as he spoke. “I beg you to accept me. I’ve been pushed to the ground. The only way up is if you chose to pull me.” She felt embarrassed. He looked away with her hand on her forehead. She said, “ I’m waiting for someone. Please don’t embarrass me. I want you to leave.”
When sorrows come, they come not alone but arrive en masse. Cliff picked himself up and showed himself out. The pub was unaware of what had happened, Cliff unaware of what might. He walked into the darkness of the streets. He was crestfallen. His shirt was untidy and he held his jacket in his hand. He staggered as he walked due to the alcohol. The silence in his mind was deafening. It was punctuated by a thought. He felt like running. He threw his jacket and took off. He ran not knowing what lies ahead. He ran to forget his sorrows. He ran because he was angry. He ran because he didn’t know why. He ran with only one thing in his mind. He just wanted to run. He ran tirelessly for hours before he saw a brook. He was very impulsive. He turned towards the brook. When a man is sad, he doesn’t think twice. He reached the shore and stopped. At the moment, all he could hear was the sounds of the waves and Grace’s statement- “I want you to leave”. It was pitch black. He moved forward. He waded slowly into the depths of the brook. The water was cold, but he didn’t feel it. He trudged on. The cold got to his brain. Death was imminent. His entire life played before him. He stopped abruptly when he saw the peddler. He remembered his words. Those words pulled Cliff out of the morass. He swam back. He was panting and shivering. The cold had got to his entire body. He didn’t care much for it. For him, he had decided what he wanted to do with life. He knew he had hit rock bottom. The only way now is, up. Life hit him like a juggernaut. Only when a storm hits, one discovers his character. Cliff found himself in this tempest. He refused to give up.