A Record of My Inhibitions
A Record of My Inhibitions8 mins 151 8 mins 151
My life was erased in front of my eyes. Tongues of fire captured the last strand of life from the proof that I had a life, a life well lived. But the fear of being judged for my mistakes was greater than the pain of loss. Ashes flew in the air as if the lost souls of the words I wrote to map out my silent life. The sound of the fire raging on my memories filled my ears. They were the days of my life crying to be captured before entirely consumed by the fire, to make them a part of my memories, hide them somewhere in my brain where no one could find them, judge them for their shameless cowardice, the stupidities, and the honourless acts of caprice.
When I was a student, I was so into seeking the beautiful. In every girl I met, I saw beauty. I fell in love many times and broke my heart when I realized they didn’t even look at me.
Finally, there was a girl who looked back at me when I ogled at her. She was stunningly beautiful. To quench my desire to see her again, after the hours in college, I surfed through the internet for pornography. The models with innocent fair faces all reminded me of the beautiful girl. Let’s call her Sundary. She was my senior in college so I had to keep the matter a secret lest the senior boys would break my legs for chasing after a girl from their class.
I made several attempts to talk to Sundary. She was as elusive as a catfish. One day, in the canteen, we were alone. It was the day of a students’ strike. I approached her and asked her about a few things regarding her course.
The relationship grew as I spoke with her the following days also. It grew into a good friendship, much to the envy of many of her classmates, my seniors. However, I was never able to confess to her how I truly felt. So I started keeping this secret diary. The idea was given to me by my English teacher. He was also a writer and had written such books as Prabuddha: The Clear-sighted and As I Lay Waiting. He told us stories in class and we liked him.
One day, in class, he told us about the importance of writing diaries. He told us that writing is one of the most important discoveries made by mankind- it helped us not just to communicate but also to communicate with permanence. The words we record with our pen on a paper or engraved on a computer screen were never entirely lost. The written word had more value than merely spoken ones. Yes, I understood. This was exactly what I wanted to take the next step in my relationship with Sundary. I wanted to let her know how I felt for her. Also, I wanted to make her remember my words clearly, not with any ambiguity or lack of clarity. I wanted my feelings to be etched permanently on paper.
Without the courage to write a text message to her, telling her how I felt, I groped for an abandoned diary from the previous year. In my father’s small bookshelf, I discovered an old dusty diary from the previous year. I knew it was there. I had seen it before. But I never had any use for it. The situation had changed. I had plenty of use for this diary.
One day, I would give Sundary this diary as a gift. She would read it and be overwhelmed by my love, I thought.
I changed the dates, the year also. And from day one of my seeing Sundary, my life story bloomed in the pages of the diary.
At first, I felt ashamed of writing with such openness my feelings for her. There was a sentence that I wrote and cringed. I had written the following:
“The beautiful aspect of Sundary was her buttocks.”
I felt myself blushing, my imagination catching fire.
I decided that on the farewell day of senior students, I would reveal my feelings for Sundary. The day before the farewell day, she called me and invited me to her engagement. I was in shock.
“But…,” I wanted to say something. She cut me off with her excited screams. “No, listen! I am so excited. You have to come. I am inviting all my friends, yaar.”
I was too busy writing down my own feelings and capturing the beauty of Sundary with words that I had failed to notice the many changes had blossomed in her life. The secret phone calls and silently bunking of her class hours, I had missed everything.
I went to her engagement day. It was a pleasant occasion with a lot of pain smouldering in my heart. The ceremony went fine. I prayed for the couple.
Once I went back home that day, I cried my heart out. For a couple of hours, I didn’t come out of my room. If my family, my father, mother, little sister learn about my misery, that I had broken my heart due to a one-sided affair with a senior girl, they’d lose no time in mocking me.
The diary was on my table. I took the page where I wrote the date and noted down everything I felt.
From that day, the diary became my constant companion to which I told my deep-hidden secrets. It didn’t divulge my secrets to anyone like a Catholic priest serving at the Confession stand.
There was one problem. Back then I was single, a student. Now, I had a job. I worked at the same college where I studied as a student and where the teacher who was also a writer taught us the importance of writing diaries. And my family was forcing me to get married.
I was still the coward I was. My diary was the living proof of my cowardice. I had active crushes and one-sided affairs with many other women, since Sundary in college. I was at least courageous enough to write about them in my diary. That was where my courage started and ended.
Is this the same with all the middle-class common man? As I read further in the area of Culture Studies, I realize that the middle-class culture had a uniqueness to it. Perhaps, this fear, this inhibition was also part of that uniqueness.
What would I do with the diary if I got married? This diary was my secret keeper. These are the secrets that would ruin my reputation as a teacher and a husband, once I got married.
To burn my diary was the only solution that I found. But I needed the courage to do that as well. This diary was the only companion that I opened up to, always without inhibition. I’d lose that companion forever to flames if I followed this decision.
My fears grew bigger in size and strength that I could barely manage them. I couldn’t control how I felt about the situation. I bet no one can. But my situation was demanding greater attention. I had to invite somebody into my life, at a certain stage.
I had to be a family man. My family wanted it that way. Everyone around me, my friends, colleagues, and neighbours wanted me that way. I was supposed to be a family man.
What scared me the most about the prospect of being a family man was my past that I told you about. I had lived a very tumultuous life. Like every other young man or woman living in India, going through their late teens during the 2000s, I had done my share of “mischief”. At the time I didn’t call these actions mischief. Let’s call these actions mischief because now I had no other word to express them. They are far from the normal deeds of any individual. What was not normal was always termed mischief in our locality. So let’s call my actions a set of mischievous deeds. My thoughts went this way. I had a heated debate in my mind, my thoughts divided against themselves.
I had a bottle of petrol. The fire and petrol were not shy or reluctant like I was. With a single whoosh, the bundle of three diaries caught fire, in a few minutes pitting the memory of all my small big adventures to the mercy of my memories.
A teardrop escaped my eyelids. I knew after a few years, slowly my old life would slip away from my memory lane. Perhaps, I wouldn’t even notice it. I felt a lump forming in my throat. I felt a heaviness in my heart. I felt dejected. The footprints of my journey would slowly be erased by time, memories of the life of a reluctant adventure, the diary of a common man.