The lecturer paces back and forth, walking around in endless circles as if, as if he is trapped, the way wolves are in their cages. And then he looks up and says, in a hoarse voice, “A circle. What is in the middle? Nothing. Nothing. Who said a circle had to be full? There is nothing in it. There is nothing in a ring. A ring is hollow in the middle. It is a symbol, of nothing. Our lives are empty. Can you, handle it?” What else did he say? I can’t remember. I understood, but I wasn’t interested in understanding. Not the way the rest of them were, fiddling with their little pens, copying down every word, feverishly scribbling away. Pink shirt boy in front of me nods gravely in agreement as he scrawls a sea of blue across his white paper. Very pretty sight. Such uniformity in gestures and actions across the room. Such eagerness to prove themselves, almost impatient, to shine, so much so that it repels me. But what more could I expect? And who am I to judge? And me. Sitting in the middle, looking at everyone else, as if I am any better than the rest of them. I’m not.
It was like in the exam, many years back. It scared me, how we were all like activated machines, programmed and desperate to succeed in the purpose we had before us- not just to pass the damn exam, but to do well. No point passing. Not here, in this country. Passing doesn’t get you anywhere. And me. Sitting, and not writing furiously even though I should, and thinking, “What if, I stood up, and walked out of the room?” No one would care. Some might stare, in that scandalous gossipy way. And the purpose behind intending to walk away? Just to see, if we were ‘real’. Or maybe I wanted the attention. Or maybe I wanted to find a philosophical excuse behind running away from taking an exam. I don’t know. Except that it keeps happening, this moment, where I can’t seem to participate in what everyone else is so intensely engaged in, and observing, almost floating, out of the window and out of the world, in between the past and the present. I think they call it daydreaming, but if it affects you aversely, do they have a syndrome called Chronic Daydreaming or something? Haha.
I wanted to ask him, “So what if our lives are empty? So what if there is nothing? (That is, if they were even true.) What I want to know is, what do we do about it? What can we do about it? Just make the most out of it? If so, what's the point of knowing it?” I wonder why I didn’t ask. Didn’t seem ‘appropriate’ at that time. Still don't.
I think Conrad believed that neither religion nor science could fill up that emptiness. Every moment of our lives, there is a part of us that is empty, that is hidden from the rest- a secret, which pins and weighs us down. But what I want to know is, even if we were to acknowledge it, even if we were to face it bravely, would it make any difference, and if it did, how much of a difference would it really make? Would it really be, for the better? Is it wrong for a man to indulge in the tiniest sense of romanticism, if it holds the capability of making his life better? If reality is subjective, if every human being holds diverse accounts of reality, I would choose to lead mine through rose-tinted lenses. I don’t care if it is deceptive. I don’t care if they are lies.
I don't know how I am going to fit in when I have the most absurd attitude one could have- disgust, jadedness, fear, propensity to judge too quickly, and pure hope. Everyone seems to walk around with clear-cut directions while I straddle in the middle. Maybe I'm just looking in all the wrong places huh. Maybe I'm wrong. It's still early. I can wait. And anyway, it's too late to regret. I turned down every 'golden' opportunity I had, to go back to square one. I can wait.