4:34am, 20 September 2017
It started with an awareness of the darkness that one tries to envelop himself with in an attempt to drift off. I could feel how cold the air was through the fabric of my socks. It lingered outside for a bit and, sooner than I hoped, the chill began traveling from the soles of my feet to the skin of my legs, backs of my knees, shooting through my thighs. Suddenly, pain. It was a thick hollow feeling that bore through the center of my body, now an unrecognizable piece of flesh curled and trembling on some flat surface which was earlier still a bed. A streetlamp began to flicker a few meters away. An alley started to reveal itself, one spill of an old streetlight at a time. It stretched on to an end only possible in dreams. In an instant, I was up and tracing the pools of light that melted down sewers where another version of darkness took form. As I walked further, a chatter of voices began to build and my ears started feeling tingly. I knew I wanted to make out words and conversations, take out stories from the whispers which I can own and retell to someone. Then I realized there was no one for me to echo whatever conversation I could peel off the walls of chatter that lined the street. I walked on, pace steady and head hung low. I remember telling myself: keep the stride steady and don’t pause, don’t break. No matter how tempting the tone or the cackle of laughter, do not take a single moment to listen eagerly. Let it pass through you. You should also just pass through. And I did. Voices started to become more distinct at every flood of light that fell from a street lamp. The louder the light, the brighter the voices. One voice was from a wedding host, another from some close kin at the peak of a speech. And as I stepped into the dim in-betweens, faint murmurs from party tables and the sound of cutlery and pacified hunger. My ears started to hurt and my mouth began to feel dry from the chest to the throat and tongue and lips. I started walking faster. Spoons tinkled against wine glasses. The alley stretched on. Laughter. Now, shadows. Silhouettes that took form under the light and disappeared as I neared them. I remember yearning for faces to look at. I walked on and started talking at any figure of a body I could get close to. But they all fade past me. I began sentences that died in mid-air, my arms stretching out at the last second, hoping to catch whatever of my stories I gave away to the endless dark street. I could hear myself drown in the chatter. My lips moved but there was nothing there. Murmurs from tables and measured laughter. The alley stretched on. I walked and walked and walked, enveloped in the darkness. Chill in my limbs, hollowness in heart.