Free Prose

It’s winter. More precisely, it is that annual quartet when the temperature dips, fog and dew sets in, sunlight becomes sparse, and people seem beefed up with their many layers of woolen upon. Now you might roll your eyes at the redundant verbalization of universal truths. ‘Dude, we all know that’s how winter is!’. But then there are caveats to that exasperated declaration. Winter’s not the same all around. For instance, in south of India, close to coast, winter is non-existent. In Chennai, a city I went for college, people don’t own sweaters or blankets, and are completely oblivious to the blowing of warm breath aka mock-smoke as the cheery young do elsewhere. And quite queerly, they get their rain while its winter elsewhere as due to the retreat of North-western monsoon.

Now this is not to be a prose with a hint of poetic serenade on the beauty and chill of wintery mornings. Nor is it a class in geography and seasonality of weather patterns. It is about a walk. No, not ‘The walk’ of Joseph Gordon Levitt, or it’s real live version Philippe Petit. It’s more de-glam and sober. It’s just me walking from a shopping complex back to my lab while munching on a bar of dark chocolate with quiet, dark and chill upon and around. If you are looking for thrills, well there are no zombies en route. Like I quipped before, it’s a sober account of an inconsequential banality.

winter 1My lower back ached. As while I took steps, keeping sure to keep the strides small and a slow cadence, a dull throbbing pain shot up in my left flank and seemed to radiate towards the lower spine. It was the squash the morning. The game had been a little more intense than usual. And the freeze of winter had slowed the joints. Thus the extra effort to move about on the court had put some strain on a bunch of muscles about the axial skeleton. And with each throb of pain came the very real sensation of the tangible presence of a flank, and a back, and a spine. Am no nihilist. But the human body, my mortal coil, taken for granted as my own, often seems like a silent shadow. Ever present, but one does not really feel as its presence. But this pain seemed to remind me every moment that ‘I have a back!’.

The road was quiet. Lit with occasional lamps. And the yellow smear of light in its near vicinity had a poetic charm. It is incredible how certain things are beautiful. How they capture your attention and seem to leave a gleam of heartening emotion that makes the moment seem significant, life worthwhile and existence non-trivial. ‘What a farce!’. Now that was an exclamation that escaped me without my conscious volition. A reflection of my deep seated beliefs I suppose. Beliefs based more on an understanding of life, a version I have come to conceive. It is queer how the same sight has varied mutually incompatible relevance while viewed from the eyes of different people. Occasionally, even by the same person at different time-points, in changed moods, with the ever accumulating baggage of experience added upon.

I crossed the western labs, the library plot, the coffee place and the gardens to come near the building that houses my lab. Inside, I run experiments. Experiments in biology. Trying to figure life. How it develops and functions. The lab’s lonely. But then a lonely space is where, in the quiet, one’s thoughts soar in the abstract and the intangible. Though I miss those days when I sat in my balcony, back home with coffee in hand and a book on my lap, gazing upon my pretty friend, her sweet face bent over her medical text, nibbling a pen, and trying to figure how to diagnose lupus. Life moves on. And memories remain. But what are memories but an imprint of past occurrences. Why do they carry such emotional pathos in addition to the details of the event. Or is it that the reason for the imprinting of the event was as due to its emotional relevance? If it is this latter, then how successful am I going to be to make an existence divorced of emotions, a concept I see as trivial, innate and unoriginal. Such pain it is to go against what you are, yet feel compelled to, because that is what you want of you. Such pain it is, indeed.


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