I ache for solitude. A few minutes of uninterrupted silence. I want it so badly that I can taste it under the roof of my mouth. I can smell it in the air that I breathe out. And I want to make a dash for it. Kneel before its fountain, and tongue its sweet nectar; wincing as I feel it on my skin.
Because solitude is not a rash. I cannot scratch it, and make the itching go away. It travels through my small intestines. Finds a home wherever the human soul is supposed to be hiding. It is my ticketless passenger. By now, it has hitched a ride so frequently that I am not sure who is giving directions anymore.
And it is not a disease I carry around. It is a beautiful scar. A pivotal part of my psyche. A bar graph that precariously body-surfs on the totem pole of my actualized needs. It comes in different shapes and sizes.
Sometimes, a songbird perched upon my shoulder; chirping sweet nothings. Maybe, a wood squirrel, hiding in-between branches, predicting my next move. Or a mushroom resting on a bed of twigs and gazing upwards at the sky. Each one without a care in the world about how or where they are supposed to fit in; feeling neither lonely nor lackadaisical about it. I wish I could be like them. Free of stress, doubt, anxiety, and social frustration.
But, for now, this solitude… this loneliness… it is mine to bear. Whether a burden or a boon, it belongs to me. Sometimes, it can be my knight in shining armor. It gallops in to rescue me from social frustration. Other times, it plays a damsel in distress. And it pushes me to be more protective of it.
I owe it to myself to take good care of it.
I will not put it on a leash and parade it around. It is nothing to be proud of. Those who understand it, never glamorize the process. Or foolishly go in search for it. Because it always finds us when we do not expect it.
Solitude is as much my nemesis as my bosom buddy. My birthmark. My birthright. It humanizes me. Enriches me, even. Especially, when I spend time with birds, mammals or reptiles. While atop a grassy knoll. By a quiet riverside. Inside an abandoned lighthouse.
Some place that I do not have to call my home. Where I can be a permanent visitor. Happy, safe and uninterrupted in someone else’s house.
A stranger in someone else’s paradise.
(Photographs: Thattekad & Thekkady)