Saturday, February 6, 2010

From the desk of T J Eckleburg

It is night, around him and within him, in his soul and in his mind, in his home and in his city; and such nights do not give him peace. They never had and they never will. He knew this - the old man had told him so. It was just that the old man had reasoned it differently. Either he did not know the real cause or he knew too much of it to tell so young a boy; a boy not yet capable of looking after himself; no sense of responsibility, no sense of concern; a selfish, self-centered boy.

The night was broken by the shining lights of an electronic device that served to distance him a little further from those around him, every single day. Thousands of people could be seen through it and a humdrum of their chanting voices was met by the stony silence of those who have nothing to say, to each other and to themselves. The mindlessness of one of his passions reminded him of his failures. He is only eighteen. He scored twice. At least he has done something with his life. Must have gotten a lot of support from those around him. Silent voices accused themselves and defended others. Not a sound escaped the crack between the lips and this was the only way that love could survive, at least for a while.

The battle is over; won by the better side and the celebrations follow. They have been victorious. In their minds they smile and laugh, within their souls they suspect that victory is relative. Soon they will lose to someone else and will be framed losers. They might not lose to anyone for another twenty battles, but at some point there will be someone better than they and their names shall again be forgotten. The ones who lost now have it easier for they will get over it quicker. The bitterness of defeat shall be mild for they never tasted the sweetness of victory. And how lucky each thinks the other.

He gets up to light a candle, to break the darkness that ensued soon after the shining lights were removed. He still hopes for a good night. It is a mistake on his part to say it out loud. His breath blows out the match and he knows the night will be long. He relates his story to himself, calmly, softly. He will relate it to the others, calmly, softly. They shall speak to him, calmly, softly; and no one will be able to help for he is beyond that. It is a perverse sort of pleasure that he always enjoys when he realizes that he is alone.

The lights shine again and they seem just as insignificant. But they are not, for only they can assuage the rage that grows within him, gnaws at his insides, hurting him and telling him that he has to do something to rid himself of it, but he sits and stares, sometimes at the shining lights and sometimes at the soulless words that are pouring from within him and his rage grows. Rage. Rage compounded by rage upon rage. Rage enough to blot out the sun. These words ring through his mind (They were words that he had read elsewhere. He had not the skill to come up with such words and this infuriated him, burned his insides and momentarily lit up the night until he realized that it was useless). The words he came up with always promised to take him away, into a faraway, magical land (like the lands that Enid Blyton would take him to when he was younger), and then unceremoniously drop him back into the dark night, shivering as though he had been attacked by all the devils in hell.

He was given another matchstick, another candle, another failure. The darkness is good. The darkness helps guard against the burning light.

It would pass, he said to himself, as it always did. And it would return, as it always did. Nobody had any right to control his life, he was told, but he knew they had no choice; he was not capable of doing it himself. He never would be. The words might pour out from his soul, from his mind, from within every particle that made up his misshapen body, but none would be good enough. Some are not meant to be good enough. They have to stay alive to let those who are know how good they are. Contentment was never enough because contentment was a fantasy created by men to be able to live life without killing themselves.

Death was too far away and this was what he wanted. All men are cowards when death makes the rounds. There is no man who had won over it and only stories said they had. He had read such stories and also tried to write a few. Past mistakes never help and they are not the building blocks of success; they are the clouds which darken the night.

He will fight dawn with all his might and lose. Dawn will bring a new hope, a new discovery, a new day, another opportunity to hope for a good night and a new failure. He stays up and waits for dawn and lights another matchstick.

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