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“My sputtering ramblings that night and abrupt retreat were a consequence of the fast-growing suffocation and a dreadful helplessness that had suddenly engulfed me in overwhelming darkness. The silence agonized; I gasped for words, hoping to stumble upon an elusive moment of sheer, cathartic lucidity, and in absolute desperation, I resorted to self-loathing and complaint, a perverse getaway. Despair’s paradoxical nature makes it a sick instrument of peace and solace, conjuring illusions of safety and contentment. It is a depraved bliss to revel in while you sink further down your own guilt and shame. The mind’s most pitiful defense mechanism.”
Standing on the raised divider running through the road in front of Old Campus, I experienced a brief moment of pure, blissful solitude. As busy traffic ran by me on both sides, I caught sight of the famous jet, now an obsolete model, mounted in the roundabout near Nasir Bagh and in one fleeting second, the absurd irony and futility of my complains dawned on me. A lone figure standing amidst cacophonous mayhem staring at a relic of war and the years it’d endured standing in one place, while life around them never stopping to breathe. It made perfect sense.
There are some mistakes in life that you never learn from and always end up making them again. Like haircuts. After a while, if not right away, you invariably begin missing your former mane. You feel stripped and suddenly vulnerable, a weird Samson Complex, and begin longing for the day when your hair would again be their previous length and you’d regain your lost strength. It’s a feeling of sheer helplessness, but with an undeniable hope to it too. If you’re an optimist, your long hair is the biggest affirmation of spirit you have. If you’re not, well, too bad.
So you’re curious and want to spend your life chasing around elusive answers to questions you’re not even sure of yourself. You know it’s all a fraud and eventually you’ll realize you were better off without the knowledge you’ve spent so much time accumulating. But you’d also like to think it might not be that pointless after all. You thrive on the risk. It keeps you going. ‘Cause you know that if all else fails, there’ll still be the letters in your drawer, the ring on your finger, the taaveez around your neck, and the wish-stick in your cigarette pack.
And you manage to allure yet another unsuspecting sucker-for-love and charm her subtly till she’s more caught up in her curiosity than is good for her. You feed off her innocent fascination, the puppy-like intrigue, and make her do circles around her own heart and mind till she’s dizzy and ready to fall; it causes you immense amusement. But what you don’t know is that when she does eventually fall, you’d impulsively reach out to hold her up, only to realize that somewhere along the way, she’d become the reason in the absurd, formless rhyme of your life. It’s accomplished.
And right in the middle of ‘Black’, the door opens and Chaachu enters. All three of us looked at each other hopelessly as he made himself comfortable. “I’ve come to correct our singer here,” he said, referring to yours truly. After shedding some of his valuable opinion, he abruptly started singing, demonstrating to me the scales his voice could cover. He indeed is quite soulful. So am I, but at that moment I was more concerned about the sickly sweet scent of marijuana that wafted from Usman’s joint, than my chaachu’s precious, expert advice, which isn’t that expert after all.
A too tall twenty-something guy walks down the curb, idly kicking an empty can, hands in his jacket pockets, top three buttons of his shirt open. Its dusk; the city’s skyline against the sea looks beautiful in the backdrop. His face is grave, mind pre-occupied, eyes intense. He stops and looks out to the road; there’s nowhere for him to go tonight. The haunting melancholic theme continues playing. He perfectly personifies a whole generation of disillusioned, aggravated sonsofbitches; he stands up and fights for their jaded nihilism and his. Our hero, he’s us, this brooding rebel, this angry young man.
Did he wear bones around his neck…did he ever wanna fly a jet… did he pay a visit to Dr. D…did he really look at me…? I don’t know, this is a strange man… an empty bottle or a tin can…Like the kid who stole and ran…who never came back again. What was there before those scars…empty bullets or shooting stars…? Did you ever learn to fly… did you never want to die? I don’t know when this began…there was too much time on our hands… lucky’s the kid, he stole and ran… he never had to come back again.
Something happened to me on tour. I’d been all tapped out and dry even before that, yes, and for quite long too. I remember that night with Ahad, the reunion of old school friends, when I launched into my drunken rants of misery. He tried his best to console me, the poor guy. I was quite amused by his genuine concern. That same night, Qasim asked me to join the band as bass-player. I instantly agreed, my ego making me a Roger Waters. Then the rehearsals began. A jam session usually revitalizes me. These were very draining. Emotionally. It’d begun.
The numbers of the entourage exceeded the band’s itself. Qasim wasn’t traveling with us; he’d arrive later at the venue directly, with Ahad. We were literally a ‘camp’, complete with the cheap remarks, cheesy slapstick and general, all-around misbehavior. They all seemed like overly excited, ill mannered children going on a school trip; that invisible corny-and-horny-geek’s bond was undeniably there. I’d decided long ago that I didn’t like these guys too much, and also felt somewhat guilty about it. But it was ok. Luckily a movie was put on and I tuned myself out of all the happy-crappy mayhem around.
Armchair rockstars are a curious breed of method actors. For them, life and performance are the same; they’re in character all the time. They desire solitude, while loneliness terribly frightens them; they want people to be around such that at the same time, they’re not there. They accomplish this by being aloof and quiet, and come off as deep individuals carrying their inner burdens. Which they are, if we look at it that way. But what a fucked up bundle it is to carry. Sometimes it gets so heavy that people actually begin to irritate and anger. That’s when… (continued).
…they run away. But since they don’t like loneliness, they seek company. Sometimes they form a band; other times they become writers. They choose a role and dedicate their life to performing it with perfection. Apparently they take Shakespeare too literally, and often have nervous breakdowns. In really great actors, motivation turns into inspiration, and they also begin to express themselves through the medium of their chosen character. Such devotion however is infrequent among bad actors. They worship Robert De Niro, but aren’t yet ready to really go all the way. Either that, or they haven’t chosen their role wisely.
PROLOGUE: “shut it....usman says: i cant sleep. i think ive forgotten how to shut it....usman says: heal kartay ho? tiergeist says: god's the ultimate healer, is he not? shut it....usman says: yes tiergeist says: then why ask a red Indian...who isn't even one? shut it....usman says: why take amoxils?” “shut it....usman says: maybe ur special gift, the one that makes you different from the rest of us is ur healing power...which only heals me and no one else... shut it....usman says: maybe ur that balancing force thatll wash away my sins and blab blab blab. i'll talk to you later.”
Apathy always turns into empathy and quite imperceptibly at that too; of course, empathy later turns into apathy again, just as artfully. It’s a never-ending, vicious fucking cycle. Really, one should never underestimate the power of sneakiness. But paranoia is a clinical disorder. So are antisocial tendencies. Actually they’re inter-related. Perfect complements. This doesn’t make sense. But then again, does anything? Do you ever try to make meaning of incoherent, mindless ramblings, and more beautifully, often manage to actually decipher something? Ha ha, charade you are. You and I, who are after all, only ordinary men. What a genuine problem!
The dog came running towards me, tail wagging rapidly. I recognized him as our Tony or Tommy or whatever. He was barking like crazy; in the distance I could hear other dogs too. I thought he’d hang out a bit, follow me, like always. But he didn’t. Something was clearly up. I kept walking. Dogs were howling from everywhere. It’s their night. I wanted to join in too, find out what was going on, but it was a strictly private party, reserved only for their kind. They were the shamans tonight and I was an unwelcome tiergeist that wasn’t called.
Oh, the need to bare all, tell all, to lay yourself open for the world to see. Weird grunge mindset. Jim Morrison is dead, the 90’s are long over, Amitabh Bachchan is breaking down in front of Shahrukh Khan. What the fuck is wrong with me then? Pop culture, yes. Damn it! A pop-cultured guy is a pathetic one. I’m losing track again. Stop. Concentrate. What do you want to write about? Exactly! I have no fucking idea!! Or probably that’s all I have. Ideas, thoughts. And fucking lots of ‘em. But what about inspiration? I don’t know. Crap. Nevermind.
Blessed is he who doth not know. For he’s out there on the road, always doing what he’s told. Can he help you? No. For cursed is he who doth not listen. You never have and probably never will, so you can’t be helped. As for me, I’m gonna smoke a cigarette, try the phone again; somebody just might be home. And if my amazing powers are right (I don’t want to have any amazing powers) I’ll just grab a guitar out of the dozens lined around and try to prop…fuck it. It’s too lame and pathetic. Oh, well, whatever.
My entries haven’t really been making much sense of late. Thoughts have been too many and too random to pick one out and write it down coherently. My subjectivity is becoming objective and I’m all confused. Murky reflections on a muddy pond. I have noticed as you will too that the bulk of my entries is based on self-degradation. I’ve been picking on myself too much, hence the constant mix-up of contradiction and harmony, which ultimately results in an unfathomable and simultaneously irrelevant paradox that is the existence of me. Charlie Kauffman Complex. Or Faraz Malik Syndrome. The latter’s better.
I decided to myself while still in the bed that if I want things to be right in my life, I’ve gotta do it myself. With that newfound resolve, I jolted up with one sweeping motion to reach out for the marker on my cluttered side table, dropping some stuff in the process. Eyes still stinging with sleep, I staggered like a crazed zombie towards my door and scrawled on it in big capital letters, “HELP YOURSELF!” Quickly adding another exclamation mark, I drew a thick line under the command and left the room, still walking unsteadily. It felt good.
It’s a nostalgic season, the fall. Fall from grace. Heh. Memories arrive slowly in quiet of the evening and the solitude of night. Bittersweet recollections of moments from another era, and realizations of things that are and could’ve been. Little souvenirs of past autumns frozen in time, wrapped in smiles, laughters, whispers, and heartaches, smelling like an old book and tasting like black coffee. Autumn is a real land of magic. It’s Eddie Vedder’s wail, a Mahesh Bhatt movie, a Qasim Chaudhry riff; but as the cigarette ends, it’s just another butt in the ashtray. The joys of procrastination. Yawn.
No words of my own: 1) Mama won’t let anyone dirty get through: “Farazi, please clean up your table. Why do you like so much mess anyway? And are the empty cigarette packs going to get you a prize? Because if not, then throw them the hell out. Otherwise I’ll do it myself tomorrow. Don’t say later you weren’t made aware.” Mother did it have to be so high? 2) “Love boat captain, take the reigns and steer us towards the clear, here. It’s already been sung, but it can’t be said enough, all you need is love.” – Eddie Vedder.
“Thanks for the much-needed buckets of cold water that you threw at me. They cleared my mind up a lot and helped me snap out of the State of Nevermind I seem to’ve been living in for quite some time now. My highly irritating resignation to everything and the leechy, brazenly feeble behavior sure did deserve a kick in the balls; it actually felt liberating. Suddenly I can see everything that is and was wrong with me. Though I’m not yet fully sure of it, but I do think I’ve figured out how to set all right again. Let’s see.”
Suddenly the world has become a very small place. It’s not the vast, deep jungle anymore, but a sunny, well-kept safari. When his den becomes a cage, what’s a lion to do except to feel like a dog? Ten thousand things crossing my mind at any given time, all connected and inter-related, stemming from one crucial dilemma. This morning is going to be the exit I’ve desperately been looking for to get back on the highway from this dirt road I took with a stupid optimism rooted in the ancient discovery of a blasted European geek: The Earth is round.
I envy people with the simple but priceless ability of appreciating words for the pure beauty of them. They can scatter them across the page by hundreds, and oh so effortlessly at that, all the while enjoying the sheer pleasure of it. How serene they must be in that blissful high. Middle class wordsmen like me on the other hand spend most of their time protecting their words. They are too precious a commodity to be spent with such lavishness. My misery is justified, ‘cause words are often all I have. What an utter load of cringe-inducing bullshit. True ;)
It’s cold tonight. And sadly quiet. I turn out the lights downstairs and walk up to my room. “There is no pain you are receding…” Of all that could’ve been playing, it was this song. A pleasant revelation, laced with relief and serenity. Listening to it felt very nice, in the wintery, melancholic way, like it always used to. I’d come in feeling all dejected and helpless and weak and wretched, enjoying one of my inside out moods. This song did nothing to change that. In fact, it gladly joined in. My friends of loneliness. Thank god for small favors.
Qasim, ever the bringer of signs that all is right with the world after all, bumped into me one desolate, mundane evening on my way to Utopia. He informed me of an upcoming gig, this one at the PAF base in Sargodha. I didn’t get too charged up. High-profile shows really aren’t all that. Performance matters, and if it’s going to remain unoriginal and sloppy as hell, we might as well play glitzy rich-teen get-togethers. At least the chic morons there would be good ego masseurs. Eye candy is beside that, though it’s usually stale and has too much sugar.
Oh get up already, Farooq, you bastard! The old bitch is gonna have a heart attack. Everyday, precisely at 4:05 AM she starts banging on the door of this Farooq, who being the classic slumber-junkie, takes his time to finally answer her desperate calls. She never gives up in the meanwhile even for a second, banging constantly on his door and on my head. Her voice is meek and flail, her blows as hard as a cat’s dry turd. But man, is she persistent. I wish Farooq would wring her neck someday, for his good and mine. Or vice versa.
It’s very frustrating when you phone someone and they don’t pick up, especially when you really want to talk. A torture, really. Like the constant tick-tock of a clock in the otherwise silent night. Or like a pestering beggar kid who’d rub up against your car window and won’t go away no matter how much you tell him off. I’m hungry. In the kitchen there’s a spicy, sumptuous smelling daal, but no roti to eat it with. Petty irritations. No jesus tonight, too. That’s good in a way, sort of relieving. Let’s hope the net connects. Three more to go.
There are three of them, probably four; none is older than twelve. They brutally beat up two younger kids, until they’re dead. One meek, terribly scared boy tries to stop them, and they gang up on him. He desperately fights back for his life, smashing the face of one in with a brick. Then he runs away. He’s followed by another very young kid, beautiful and happy. He was with the bullies too, but not the least bit threatening. The boy however is still desperate to lose him, though he can’t. He runs and runs, the kid always behind him.
Stark naked confessionals are scary. Nothing is more frightening than laying yourself bare to the world, exposing the deepest secrets you wouldn’t want anyone to ever find out. But secrets are scary too. They haunt you when you’re alone, like unfriendly, menacing ghosts. Exorcising them is painful and frightening, but it also means that there’ll be no more fear, no more demons to terrify you, no more nightmares, no more waking up in the middle of the night all panting and afraid. Too many nightmares, too many dreams, everyday is a new start. A bundle of paranoias. ULRI, analyze me.
You were in shambles, desperate to get your shit back together. You tried hard. Too hard. Trial and error seldom works. Initially you didn’t take yourself seriously at all. Then you started carrying the weight of the world on your frail shoulders. You were apparently too confused, but in reality you really didn’t give a fuck. Your delusions always got the better of you. You’re in love with love, but you got nothing but hate for yourself. Snap out of it, you sorry, no-good sonofabitch. Get real. Keith Richards once said the world is perfect. Be a part of it.
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