HOW ARE YOU?!
But the lies that we tell ourselves are the ghosts that haunt the empty house of midnight. – Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts)
Khub bhaalo achhi, dhonyobad!
Very well, thank you!)
That was my everyday conversation I used to have every other day with every single person I encountered while I was hospitalized in Kolkata this February (Damn, my sore kidney!). Come attendants, visitors, doctors, nurses, sisters, brothers, carers - people kept asking me, “so how’re you today?” I used to lie. Yes, I used to avoid their volley of questions with a big fat lie, “I’M FINE” and a convincing smile. People say that you shouldn't lie to a sick person. It’s bad karma. But what do you do when the sick person is the one lying? Honestly, I don’t know. What can you say about the pain that you can’t endure anymore? How can you say that you are frigging afraid of Shinje (God of death) almost knocking your door? I have no answers.
I had wanted to write on this title some years ago but I was struck by writer’s block then. This piece always remained in its draft form with some illegible scribbles. But I've to say this is just the right time. Sometimes, you know, the timing works out.
No, everything is not okay. No, no, I’m not fine. I’m not swell like I forever pretend to be. Nothing is grand about me. I recently had a small operation. As much as the medical name is flashy, it sounds pretty surgical (so, no medical or surgical talks). The day before my surgery was appointed I was lying on a hospital bed worried about my surgery. Here I was tracing life in my head. Yet I was lying through my teeth to every other nurses, sisters, brothers, attendants and doctors in the ward where I had made my temporary home. I was lying about how I was feeling - apart from the fact that I might die, ‘I’m fine’.
It was depressing to watch the wall clock ticking right in the front (impeccable position) and to watch the IV bag on a pole right next to my bed, which was connected through the IV lines to my right hand. The liquid feed was getting into every bit of cells in my body. And my body was at least happy (I’d like to think so) sipping the warm liquid slowly. I was like holding onto it as if my life depended on it completely (perhaps I was). It felt like a dead end during my anesthetized hours. Like I could kick the bucket any moment. All those idiotic thoughts were coming and going in this basket case’s head. Like it's all that's in my head. I was fighting tooth and nail to push and shake off all the morbid thoughts. So, no, I wasn’t over the moon about that either. I thought watching too much of Grey’s Anatomy would make me familiar and less scarier. But nope, I was shit scared.
I have a stent placed inside my body and it pains every time I attend the call of nature. My life has become a juggle of drinking water/fluid as much as I can and visiting the loo after every glassful intake. My daily mission is to accomplish at least two liters of urine output. I’m trying but it sucks when some places does not have a privy. So, yes, I’m not in my best health. I hate bad health days. I haven’t gotten through some stupid person. And that has made a mess of my thoughts. I’ve changed into an owl from a lark (be damned insomnia!). That’s annoying when you need an eight hours of sleep and at the same time reach office on time without skipping breakfast! I’m desperately looking for sponsors that would allow me to travel abroad for work. So, yes, I’m not in my best mood either as I claim to be every freaking day. In fact, I'm going out of my freaking mind! Bit of a rant and rave, I know. BUT I’M FINE, still. I’ve never felt more alive! There goes another lie. Here I’m hell-bent on lying to prove that I’m stronger, trying to become the strongest one on the planet every waking second. In sport, let’s play a game - who wants to go on a lying rampage to hide your weaker side with me?
I once read that saying “I’m fine” is one of the three biggest lies every one chants when asked the usual rhetorical questions – “How’re you?” How’re you, again? I’m fine (that sounds like something I would say). But are you really fine? Are you really doing well? That sounds like you’re living in a utopian world among utopian fellows. God, we’re such a bunch of good liars. We all should be nominated for Oscars, after all we all are in the same clique of putting a mask with a convincing smile. And I should definitely win the award. All my life I’ve always said that I hate hypocrites and that liars really get my goat. Maybe all these while I’ve been one. You know, if they had a contest for the world's best liar, I'd win it hands down. Like seriously. And bonus award for the world’s best hypocrite… SIGH!
Life is difficult for everyone. It’s hard, this thing with all the unpleasant stuffs happening in our lives at some point of time. Be it bad health, death in the family, broken heart, quarrel with your significant other, distance with your best friend, relationships turning sour. It’s really hard. It’s exhausting. And well, it’s complicated. Those moments when all you need is for the pain to be gone. Flunking in your exam, losing a bet, fight with boss at work, getting fired from the job. Now that’s frustrating. Every one is going through a bad patch. All of us have gone through bad days, lost golden opportunities and feelings have eventually lost. All those feelings that you feel, that’s life. And life sometimes sucks. It is scary and threatening. I get it. I do. But you should know that sometimes terrible things happen to incredible people. And I guess it’s okay to be a little miserable every now and then in life. It’s okay to be sad even when you have beautiful people in your life. It’s okay to be depressed even though you have all the great things in your life. Eventually we get through that rough patch. It comes and goes. Life will always find a way to continue. They say that when things seem the most desperate, people find you and you’re not alone any more. And that’s part of what it means to be alive. That’s how we survive. That’s what makes our life interesting. Well, life's too short to even care at all.
It takes a lot of tries to be the toughest one in front of everyone. So, how about we come clean and pour out what we are feeling, how we are exactly feeling, how we are doing? It doesn’t take any stones. That’s like effortless. All of our primary school days we have been taught that “honesty is the best policy”. Whatever happened to HONESTY! Turns out we’re all just talk. As grown-ups we do not care a bit to heed these words. As grown-ups we're this mess of lies and hypocrites. After all, award-winning liars that we all have become with time. I guess sometimes we just need to cut ourselves some slack and allow ourselves to be just the way we are in real. No more phony ‘I’m fine’ shits. No more fake smiles behind that pain. No more lies for once. It’s about time to be honest and uncover the mask and let people see how broken we are inside. And make sure that you fight like hell to be alive. Lets shed our skin of downright liars and be ourselves. So, how're you, again?
PS. Because you’re gonna lie that you’re fine. So I’ll just leave these open-ended options: Hunky-dory? Splendid? Fabulous? Happy? Rocking? On top of the world? Copacetic? Subversive? Wired? Redundant? Scattered? Awful? Barely breathing? Nonessential? Don Quixotic? Heartbroken? Crestfallen? Addled? Apathetic? Antisocial? Jealous? Motivated? Discouraged? Hanging in there? Running away? Feel better now? In some of your answers, I see myself. Because I’m a little like you all. But it feels so damn good to say what you’ve been actually feeling, right? May the truth set you free!