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From The Afterglow

Verses, Tales, Thoughts

by Varsha Panikar

And you know, here I am, stuck to this bed like an uninvited guest at a party who refuses to leave. The walls, the ceiling fan, the little window, they've become my audience, my captive witnesses to this grand performance of absolutely nothing.

"And you know, it doesn't really matter," I mutter to myself, perhaps hoping that by saying it, I might convince the universe to let me off the hook. But the universe, it seems, has a wicked sense of humor, and it's playing a prolonged joke at my expense.

The ceiling fan, an uninspiring carousel of boredom, spins above me, oblivious to the joke that is my life. I gaze at the walls, each one a witness to my silent protest against the mundane. The small window in my room offers a teasing glimpse of the outside world—a grill, a tree, a building, and some sky—my own personal diorama of the human experience. But what does it matter? The world outside is just as perplexing and absurd as the one within.

Her voice, with all its captivating profundity, echoes in my head. A relentless loop, a vinyl record stuck on the same melancholic note, seeping into the very matter of my brain. And you know, if it doesn't matter, then who am I, sprawled on this bed like a question mark in search of an answer? A human, they say, a walking collection of memories and attachments. It's as if life is a grand jigsaw puzzle, and we spend our days desperately trying to fit the pieces together, only to realize that the final picture is just a blurry mess.

Zooming into this picture of life, it's a bit like staring at a bizarre tableau. The little people, their faces, their hands clutching metaphorical bags of popcorn — my personal circus of inconsequentiality. But zoom out, and suddenly, they're just specks in the vastness of existence, like crumbs on the kitchen floor.

What have I wasted my life on, I wonder? The answer seems to float in the air, teasingly elusive. The broken GI Joe, a relic from the times when the world made sense, sits in the corner, a silent companion in this absurdity. If it vanished tomorrow, would the world even notice? Would reality unravel itself, or would it be just another blip in the universe's erratic heartbeat?

Those memories, oh, they're in my head, safely stashed away like secrets in a locked drawer. The broken GI Joe, a mere vessel for sentimentality, a tangible reminder of the intangible. If it disappeared, would the Earth wobble on its axis, or would the cosmos just shrug and carry on with its celestial business?

What have I done, indeed? As I lie here, tangled in the sheets of existential bewilderment, staring at the walls, the ceiling fan, the small disruptive view from the little window in my room—window grill, then a tree, then a building, and some sky—I can't help but wonder what on earth we're all living for. Because, you know, if it doesn't really matter, then nothing matters at all. The comedy of life, a dark, absurd spectacle, plays on, and I'm just a spectator in my own tragicomedy. Just a speck of dust in the vastness of the cosmos, contemplating the absurdity of it all. And you know, it doesn't really matter.

So, the other night, me and my friends got into this long chat about perfection – how we all have these different ideas about what's perfect, but it always ends up stressing us out. It's like this unattainable goal that we're all trying to reach, and it hit me that this whole pursuit of perfection is often a real trap. A concept that is, at best, elusive and alluring, a mirage dancing on the horizon of our aspirations.

We chase it, strive for it, convinced that somewhere in the vast expanse of our dreams lies the pinnacle of flawless existence. But what if perfection isn't some finish line? What if it's more like a never-ending dance with our own limitations?

As we navigate the intricate journey of life, we encounter imperfections, flaws that seem to mar the beauty we seek. We see them in our bodies, our relationships, our endeavors. In the pursuit of perfection, we often overlook the cool asymmetry, the offbeat rhythm that makes life interesting. We're so hooked on the idea of flawless order that we are unaware that it is often the imperfections that add depth, dimension, and intrigue to our experiences.

Take our bodies, for example – each one is a masterpiece of imperfections. Each face, each body, a story etched in lines and curves, tells a story of growth, resilience, and the passing of time. Those imperfections aren't screw-ups; they're signatures, marking our unique journey.

And what of the cosmic dance, the grand symphony of stars and galaxies? Is it not the asymmetry, the chaos, that fuels the creativity of the universe? From the swirling nebulae to the colliding planets, it is the interplay of imperfections that gives birth to the breathtaking beauty we behold. In the cosmic sense, perfection does not make sense. The universe is a vast and chaotic place, full of imperfections and surprises. It is in this chaos that we find beauty and meaning.

In our own lives, embracing imperfections is where the real magic happens. When we drop the idea of chasing perfection and go with the flow, that's when we open up to a world of possibilities. Imperfections become the seeds of growth and transformation.

Is it worth sacrificing everything to achieve some idea of perfections in life? Sure, aiming high is cool, but not at the expense of our well-being. When we're all about that perfect life, it's a one-way ticket to anxiety, self-doubt, and fear of failure. We might even push ourselves to the point of exhaustion and neglect our relationships, our health, and our happiness.

Perhaps, the pursuit of growth and understanding is a much more rewarding endeavour than the pursuit of perfection. Perhaps, focusing on learning and growing, allows us to open ourselves up to new possibilities and experiences. It is what makes us more resilient, adaptable, and compassionate.

Of course, there will be times when we stumble and fall. There will be times when we feel like we are not good enough. But these setbacks are part of the journey. They are opportunities to learn and grow. They are reminders that we are not perfect, and that is okay.

Here we are, teetering on the edge of a pointless argument, like two characters in a low budget rom-com who haven't quite figured out the script. Why, you ask? Because you've got this work trip on the horizon, and in my infinite wisdom, I've decided a good row will somehow make saying goodbye easier. Bit daft, isn't it?

Silly, really. But there's this weird comfort in it, like we're playing our parts in a strange play to brace ourselves for the upcoming separation. The more we argue, the less it'll hurt when you're away.

Funny, right? Love makes us do the oddest things. That suitcase by the door is like a prop in our little show, quietly witnessing our over-the-top performance. We'll probably look back on this and have a good laugh.

It's all a bit much, especially considering how glued at the hip we've been during the lockdown. We've navigated every day together, and now the idea of being apart feels like uncharted territory. Full-blown separation anxiety, right?

But hey, it's just a trip, right? We've conquered bigger dragons than this. When you're back, we'll shake our heads at this melodramatic prelude to a brief adieu. Isn't love hilarious?

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