Tuesday, November 08, 2011
“But is it wrong for a man to make a house, a place where he can return in the evening?” – The Journals of John Cheever
There never has been a home. He thought of it many times. In the cacophony of train compartments. At some airport lounge. On some night journey in a bus. He has not been able to sleep. He gets up in a fit, at some odd hour in the night, and then he cannot return. In the darkness of the night, he stares at the tiny red light on his mobile phone. Sometimes he feels warm breath on his neck. Or a nail digging into his arm. Or a leg plonked on his thigh. But he knows there is nothing.
The other day, he was in this departmental store, picking up some grocery. He felt strange putting garbage poly bags and disinfectant in his shopping trolley. He didn’t know why, but right afterwards, he also picked up biscuits and chewing gum. He didn’t need them. But he picked them any way. There were too many things that didn’t make sense. He didn’t think of them. But there never has been a home. He thought of it many times.
Sometimes he felt life had bypassed him. Sometimes he was not sure of that. Sometimes he felt he was still seeking love. Sometimes he was not sure of that. Earlier, he would mingle around, during the day – talk about food, about someone’s marriage gone kaput, about a film that was being raved about. The nights were different. In the night, he turned into someone else – someone he had no clue about. The nights had always been like this, more or less. The nights were always tough. But now, even days were turning him into someone he had no clue about.
He would wake up in the morning, go to the balcony, look at the cars in the parking, and then turn back to the room. He would read the newspapers without even registering a word. He would drink tea. He would put last night’s socks into the washing machine. He would stare at his shoes. They stared back at him. Finally he would get up and put them inside the shoe rack. He would keep on checking time on the table clock as if he was not sure time was passing. He felt like getting out, and yet when he did, he would long to return back to the room. There was always the comfort of a whisky bottle lying half hidden behind the sofa. He could always hide behind what lay half hidden behind the sofa.
And, more than often, he returned. He would then get up in the night, and find himself resting against a lean pillow. He would have drifted off to sleep like that. His neck would be sore. He would taste loneliness in his mouth.
In the darkness of the night, he again imagined things. But he knew there was nothing. There never has been a home.