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Mad or Broken?

“I detest that I live far far away from the sea. I always want to feel the calm sea breeze across the contours of my face. And I live in the city, anyway. No lakes or seas whatsoever.” She was cut off the moment she took a breath between her words. 

“You know where we are right now, Jane?” She peeked through her glasses to glance at her. They are back to reality.

“Yes, Doctor. I know I am in a hospital.”

“Wonderful,” Sylvia replied. “I want you to tell me the story you mentioned last time. Can you do that for me?” Her sincere voice was not that sincere with the look she keeps giving her. It has been 2 months and she feels like she has gotten nowhere with her therapy. It was on March 4 she was nudged to visit the clinic for an afternoon and her surprise visit was changed into an admission. Before she knew it she was in a hospital with the likes of her. And today is May 5th.

“So, tell me, Jane. Why do you feel like you got two options only?” Sylvia insisted. She is the senior psychiatrist and she is not friendly at all. She reminds her of her mother to some extent. But she never consciously admitted that fact. Sylvia cleared her throat to make Jane start talking. 

“Yeah. I remember what I said. But you know…” she hesitated. Sylvia drops the paper on the table to give her the common guidelines on how this would work. This time Jane cleared her throat and started to spill her gut. At least she pretended to.

“I know. I know how this works. You don’t have to remind me every time. It is just … I feel like I am trapped. My ultimate choices are either to be mad or broken. I don’t want to be considered mad. That is loud and noticeable to everyone else. Nor do I want to be broken. I don’t want to feel the cracks in my life with every step I am taking. More importantly, I don’t wish to be concealed every moment of the day as if I am made of eggshells. But the other choice is not better either. Look at Sarah, my roommate here. She is mad. And I am her only friend. I am the only person she talks to. Everybody seems to be afraid of her. I don’t want to become her. I don’t want to be mad.” Jane pressed her hands on both sides of her head to make the headache stop. She knows it doesn’t work. But it never stopped her from doing it. She feels like she can catch her overflowing thoughts with that simple act. As if that would ever work. Suddenly she scoffs and looked in Sylvia’s direction. But Sylvia said nothing except push her spectacles back to their places.

Jane kept staring at the ugly grey wall for full two minutes. And she started talking again. “Look, I am not saying this is just for me. I think the whole world is trapped in some time capsule. Maybe we are living in some weird simulation. But I look at everyone and I see their brokenness written all over their faces. Some cover it with humor. Others conceal it with productivity. And the rest have some good denial stories to bury the pain. And the mad, the openly mad are either yelling on the streets or locked out in a madhouse.” She giggled after she called it a madhouse. 

Sylvia explained how she must stop calling it that. But Jane wondered if Sylvia was explaining this to make herself feel better. Who would like to work in a madhouse, anyway?!

“Go on,” said Sylvia.

“I think that has covered it all. I don’t think there is another way to exist in this world. You keep telling me that I will get better,” she started pulling her sleeves down while she crosses her legs on the chair. It was getting late. The sun is setting and she wanted to get back to her bed so badly. 

“So, you don’t think you will be healed? Is that it?” The doctor called back her attention again.

“What is healing, anyway? You just survive this world until you cannot. Why do I have to drive myself crazy for something hypothetical? Something which doesn’t exist? Are you healed? Are you completely fine? Am I going to be you when this is over?” She was raising her voice now. 

Sylvia ceased taking her notes and looked her in the eyes. She knew she hated that. Jane hated to be recognized as an alive person. She felt more dead and unnoticed in the entire universe. But Sylvia didn’t break eye contact. She kept looking at her. 

“I cannot take this anymore!” She is yelling now. “You have to let me out of here. I can’t do this. You are wasting your time and you know it. Look, you can help Sarah or that other girl. Or someone else. Just not me. You have not failed. I am just tired and I am making you waste your time over a lost case.” Her voice broke. But she did not cry. Deep down, she believed in what she just said. She knew that she was a lost cause. 

“Is that why you tried to kill yourself for the 4th time?” Sylvia finally uttered the elephant in the room.

“I was hoping we would not talk about that today,” Jane said half smiling. 

“Why are you smiling? That is not remotely funny.” Sylvia seemed cross now. Jane knew she had heard about the recent attempt and that was why she was attempting to fill the conversation with a jargon. 

“Go on, let us talk about that. You think you’re trapped and you don’t have a choice. So, you should be punished with death? Is that it? Oh, and you’re the justifier? Let us talk about that, shall we?” Her attuned voice is weirdly irritating. She wished she was yelling at her. Or blaming her for the unspeakable deed. But she suddenly laughs and started talking. 

“Wait, why do we feel like death is the unspeakable topic?” Jane continued. “As if it is sacred. I can talk about death. I am not scared of it.”

“I don’t want you to romanticize the idea as if it gives your life a purpose,” Sylvia said for the hundredth time. 

“But if you think about it, it does. Truly. Do you know how many people change their lives when they know the estimated date they have left to live on? Do you know how death is a true motivation for anything we do? Do you ever wonder that we are dying more than we are living?”

“Okay. Okay. You know what I want you to talk about. I want you to tell me how it felt.” Sylvia sounded a little irritated this time. Her monotonous voice was out of sorts. 

“Surviving it is not fun at all. I am dreading it. As I am dreading this conversation right now.” Jane continued to smile. 

“Look, Jane. I know it has been hard to stay in this institution. But if you keep doing this, you know I can’t let you go. Most importantly, there is nothing called beyond help. You are not beyond help. Just let us help you. You know you can be helped.”

Jane swallowed a sob at that sentence. Sylvia kept muttering the usual reprimands about life. And her medications. But she was zoned out in her tiny universe. And her head was buzzing with strange voices telling her how she can masterfully escape this place. For now, she has given up on the idea of killing herself. It seemed far-fetched. 4th time was not the charm. At all. 

“Jane…Jane…”Sylvia almost touched her with her pen. 

“Yeah, I am listening.” She cleared her throat again.

“Even though the so-called ultimatum exists, you can always create your third option. The key is all about managing it. Don’t let either your brokenness or your madness overflow over you. Madness can be beautiful, too. Brokenness can sprout. It is all about managing it. And that is what we are trying to do, here.”

“Yes, doctor.” She quietly muttered. She just wanted it to be over.

“Good, I think we can go on from here next time. Can you promise you will take your meds in front of the nurses?”

“Yes, as long as they don’t bother me with their history taking day and night. I won’t make progress within 12 hours, we all know that!”

“I will tell them not to bother you with that. Anything else?”

“Yes, don’t do rounds on me either. I am not a prize stock to be looked at. I am just depressed. I won’t talk about it in front of ten people anyway.”

“That was just last week. We heard from the other patients, too. It won’t happen again.”

“Good, then.”

“So I shall see you next Thursday?” Sylvia marked her calendar.

“Sure, where else shall I go anyway?”


“I am kidding. I hope you will tell me about that ultimate healing state, though. Not the medical jargon. Just your thoughts. Off the record, if you want,” she covered her mouth slightly saying the last sentence as if it is a secret. 

“If you promise to keep writing,” Sylvia smiled.

Jane rolled her eyes and left the exam room with her head bowed and her hoody covering half her face. She crossed the tiny bridge to her room and hid herself in the bed until the urge to yell that she prefers to be mad than broken passed. “1…” deep sigh. “2…” deeper. “and 3” It was gone and her earphone was loud enough to drown the voices in her head. 

Unclipped Wings

My wings are unclipped, now. I can see my wings spread. I think I can fly.

“If you haven’t forgotten how to,” her inner voice deliberately reminded her. She can’t go on and give her a little speech now. She is cheaply optimistic. Naively driven. To fly. To let go of everything and just fly.

The last time she could fly was in her cage. She never knew who got the lock of the key. All she knew was she had to practice fluttering her wings before she forgot how to do it at all. Her cage of sadness was unlocked, rather dissolved, a while back. She couldn’t tell how or why. She was out in the air all of a sudden. 

She considered building her cages back. Maybe erect them loose in case she regretted their existence. Because freedom smelled like a trap more than a locked cage. The air suffocated her being. The possibilities drove her wild. She, yet, didn’t know how to live in the open after living in the shadow of all the eyes that have been gazing at her. She killed them all. She drowned them in her sadness. Maybe that’s why her cage dissolved. Pain never disappears, it abides in others. 

After a while, she went back to her cage. She never left it, to be enitrely honest. She never built the bars back either. In her imagined reality, she was still in the cage behind the bars. Truly enough, they existed for her. No one gazes at her now. No one is there. She is truly alone. Whether imagined or real.

But, today. Today is a new day. She can see her unclipped wings. She can see herself soaring beyond the heavens. She is neither happy nor sad. She is just optimistic. And she burst her imagined reality into disperse. 

Her inner voice yelled, “You can’t fly, you can only flutter.” But these efforts are proven useless. She thinks she can fly now. It is just a matter of time before she discovers whether she can or not. 

It’s all a Story!

“It’s cracking,” she said in a mundane tone. 

“You do realize the clock is ticking, then,” said Dolly lifting her legs upon the chair. “I see you are making yourself rather comfortable.” Angel continued. “So what?! I built myself a home at the top of a tree, and I knew the tree was hanging only for two decades or more. Sue me, I love life with an expiry date.” 

“Yes. Yes. You symbolized a house at the top of a tree to mean what? That you’re a misanthrope? No…no, that you’re a philanthropist and this was you doing the world a huge favor?!”

“Ha ha, Dolly! I do not condone your sarcasm. I will never expose my secrets of why I built my own house. I wish to see you boil yourself in prospected theories of why I did what I did.”

“Oh, shut up. This is not the time for drama.”

“For shame, Dolly. For shame! In the last 23 years, we have made our lives great with drama, enlightened speeches, and great judgments of ourselves. And now we are at the end, you wish to leave me stale?! Is that what you are up to?”

“I am not one for avoiding drama, of course. But I am, for once, denying denial. We can be sentimental or true to our innermost thoughts since we are literally to fall apart by falling down from this tree.”…Another huge crack broke Dolly’s speech and the floor. They are hanging slightly now. Yet, both seem comfortable at their post. Dolly is hugging the book she was reading for the last time. She folded her arms tightly around the book, almost hugging herself. She can hear her heart racing. But she is not scared of death. She was never scared of death. ‘Dying is the most natural thing in this world,’ was the title of her old notebook. She romanticized death and passion way too much back then. But right now, she figured her body is only reacting to extenuating circumstances around her.

“Okay, if we were to deny denial right now, what would you suppose to say?” Angel inquired. 

“I would ask you a series of questions.”

“Like what?”

“Why do you like stories?”

“Because, the universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

After a bit of a gasp, Dolly continued to ask. “Were you ever part of your own stories?”

“In those, I wrote or the one I lived?”


“In the one, I lived in, I was barely part of it. For the most part, I was an outsider. A third person to the moments and happenings. I am usually too passive to take part and be present while happening. I bet if I was ever part of the stories I wrote, I was the gutless, cowardly creature whom every reader would hate.”

“I don’t see much of a difference between you and your characters, then? Did I misconstrue?”

“I cannot tell. I believe my character would be more alive because of the ink that traced her in great detail. I, on the other hand, is the unfinished piece where the idea of me is alive only in the head of the artist. While in reality, I am the portrait you would never show to anyone else.”

Dolly closed her eyes and tried to compose her next question. It felt like she is stalling the last hours with words. And then she heard it. The rain is starting to pour on their hanging home. ‘This is it,’ she thought to herself. All of a sudden, her mind was engulfed with nostalgia. Rainy days were always her favorite. “Do you think the self is a misconception of our own perception?” She almost whispered the question while resting her neck on the couch.

“Oh, yes. More often than not, I think we perceive ourselves in the wrong. Ideally, in a way we would like to be perceived. Or the right standards as put by someone else. I don’t think we ever managed to get close to our true selves no matter how hard we try.”

“Do you think, then, the perception of others about us is true”

“Well, I think that is the paradox. Who are the others? If you ask your nemesis, your menace would suffocate you till you die. If you asked your friend /lover, your flaws would be overlooked greatly.”

“What if you asked both?” Posed Dolly.

“Huh?! I have never considered that. But yeah, why not?”

A lengthy silence splashed in the room. The room is getting cold. The rain is creating a rhythm with the air, the earth, and all the unfallen things in the room. Both are humming a song without opening their eyes. 

“Why do you think they build ledges if it weren’t for jumpers?” Angel laughed at her own thoughts. 

Dolly slightly smiled and said, “There are few who seize their days at the last minute, perhaps.” She smirked.

“Carpe Diem, indeed” nodded Angel. “Isn’t life more of letting go, though, rather than seizing?” She added after a while. The crack is extending fiercely. Quickly. They are looking at each other, their tiny home for the last two decades, and then the town. It is awfully quiet. The rain is getting stronger, now.

“I would like to believe it is both,” said Dolly after a while of contemplation. “Or maybe you seize while letting go. I don’t think there is ever a moment where you ultimately be one of the two.”

“Hmm…that is probably true.” Angel conceded.

The room is empty now. They are probably left with few minutes. They are both wondering whether to speak or to absorb the moment as it is. “Moment of Candor,” Dolly broke the silence. “Solitude was never the enemy. It was the isolation that was brutal. I often think we, probably, judged ourselves harshly. And I think we could have managed to obtain solitude without necessarily isolating our lives in its entirety.”

“Was that what you intended to say at the last minute?” Angel arranged her spectacles.

“Not per se,” Dolly hesitated. “I think it has been dawning on me for more than a while I think.”

Angel quietly sat on her couch. She is not hyped as she was few hours ago. She is just there, also not there simultaneously. 

The next day, the magazine was read as follows:

An elderly tree has been found fallen as a result of the heavy rain from yesterday. According to the reports, a woman was found dead while hugging a book inside. The neighbors couldn’t recognize this woman even though it has been apparent she lived in that tree for more than two decades. The posthumous notes found have shown that the woman kept every record of her life including the very last minutes. A heavy box was also retrieved which was labeled as “It is all a story!” 

Clandestine Party: Before It Began

I got up from my bed because I thought I heard a slight knock at my door. Rubbing my eyes to awaken myself, I stumbled the whole way through the door. For a second I thought, did I dream that? With my hesitation intact, I reached the door. To my relief there was no one at the door, only a lonely mail smeared on the ground. I looked left and right only to find an empty hallway. 

It was an invitation to a party. The mail, I mean. I couldn’t think of anyone who would address my name in such an elegant manner. Nor anyone who would invite me to a clandestine party. 

I am an art reporter. I would like to be an art collector. But I don’t own much wealth to buy all the works my eyes set upon. I travel and write about the masterpieces I get to see. But today, I’m invited to one of the secret art gallery openings. Being nosy as I am, I have heard about these events. I was never somebody enough to visit, though. 

‘How should I feel about this?’ I asked myself hopping back to my bed again. Honored? Happy? Terrified? I inspected the mail. I felt like there was a secret map lodged in there. Or a riddle to find the venue. There is no detailed information. It only states I’m invited and the dressing code is enlisted. So much for my inspection. I yawned and drop the mail on my desk. I, then, lay on my back and started thinking. 

‘Can this be some kind of joke? No, this is way too sophisticated for that.’ I asked and I answered for myself. ‘Do they want me to report for them? Who are ‘they’? Maybe this is all a dream and I am about to wake up. Or maybe my whole life is a nightmare and I am finally waking up from it. If this is real, my whole career could reach a milestone.’ I stopped the rattle in my head. I picked the invitation up. I read it again for the third time. I still couldn’t find a clue.

‘Before it began, where did it begin?’ I uttered this out loud. My head is buzzing from exhaustion. My eyes are itching from the few hours of sleep I got. ‘Before it began,…’ My voice trailed off. I didn’t know precisely what I was referring to. As for my writing, I don’t recall where it began. For journalism, I don’t know where that begins either. Maybe the better explanation is my yawn birthed a new dream. I was exhausted of life. My exhaustion forced me to yawn which, became a new ‘dream’. A new reality, perhaps. Is there an ultimate beginning anyway? Or is everything in a loop? Can I really know where what began? 

‘Wait,’ I posed. If all life was part of a dream, as Edgar Allan Poe mentioned, ‘A dream within a dream’, then mine is a nightmare within a dream. What else could a yawn birth, anyway? Yet, why would a nightmare be all negative?

I was pacing right to left, now. I don’t recall when I get up from my bed. I paced back and forth to clear my head. ‘Why am I thinking about this, now?’ I halt and asked myself. ‘Oh, the party!’ Weakened mirth engulfed me. At that instant, the slight knock at my door was repeated. This time I was sure I heard it. I almost ran to the door. There was another mail, but no one was around. To my relief, so much detail was inscribed in this one. I saw my invite was in fact a reality. ‘This is real, too real,’ I sighed.

The Strange Spinster

“Where are you headed, young lady?” It was like an awakening call of my alarm. It was louder than the tunes that were flooding through my ears, I turned my face at once. From the looks of it, it was rather an old spinster who stood right behind me. I don’t know why I was sure she was a spinster, but she seemed like one. “I am sorry. Are you lost, ma’am?” I asked while removing one of my earphones from my ear. “Is that question intended for yourself or me?” She was heading in my direction. I was entirely confused by her demeanor which was quite rude but also too confident. “I..don’t..I..”. “Oh please, do not stutter! I asked if you were lost and something tells me you really are, are you not?” She elevated her brows beyond her glasses. I am studying her face now. And she seemed very familiar. I tried to recall where I might have seen her before. Normally, I wouldn’t stop for any passengers. But there was something I couldn’t articulate about this woman. 

“Let me save you from your troubles, young lady. No, we haven’t met yet. No, you do not know me. Nor you have seen me before. And no, I am not a neighbor whose face you do not recall. And yes, those are exactly your thoughts.” She grinned widely and started walking in the direction I was headed. I felt coldness down to my spine and I looked around. It was too early for the path to be packed by many. “Are you coming or what?” She inquired. I gathered myself as soon as I can to follow the stranger. A gifted stranger?! No, no. I put my hands in my pocket and paced faster to catch up with the woman. “Normally, people would start to wonder if they have gone crazy when someone, a stranger no less, tells them their thoughts. But, you! You are thinking of a name for me, I guarantee that is quite special. Don’t you think? Oh, would you stop with that already? No one would walk this early! Specially now the rain seems to be habitual at this hour. Walk with me, would you?” “I…I am out of sorts, I believe ma’am. You caught me off guard I must say.” I tried not to show my cowardice. The lady seemed to be in her late 50s. Yet, she is taking the longest strides than me. For the moment, I concentrated on keeping up with her while my mind raced to ask zillions of questions. 

“I must assume you know where I was heading, then.” I finally managed to ask. “Of course I did. I just wanted an opening line to converse. I didn’t want to be a stalker. Oh good heavens, no. I could have walked with you till you notice that our paces were synced. But, I was rather worried you might not catch up with me or notice me for that matter.” She corrected her glasses once again and cleared her throat. “So, young lady.” Her own derisive laugh cut her off. She cleared her throat once again and said “I always loved that phrase. When I was your age, people seldom called me that. But I liked it anyway. Oh, don’t wrinkle those skins yet. Time would do that for you.” I half grinned while touching my forehead lightly. 

“So, wherever you’re from, can I assume you want to talk to me?” I half-heartedly asked the lady of wonders. “I would prefer lady of candor or beauty, if I may.” She chuckled at her own statement. “Ah! In any case, your assumptions are right. But, no. I am not going to talk about pain or suffering with you. ‘I can sympathize with everything except suffering. I cannot sympathize with that. It is too ugly, too horrible, too distressing. There is something terribly morbid in the modern sympathy with pain. One should sympathize with the color, the beauty, and the joy of life. The less said about life’s sores, the better.’ Do you know who said that?” “I remember that I have read it somewhere.” “Oh don’t give me that look! I was giving you a chance to make this two-way conversation. Or should I say it all for both of us? Knowing what is in your head isn’t making this fun for me, by the way. Candor has its own perks. But it, sure, is an ailment.” We almost walked half a mile by now. She proceeded. “You know what they say, ‘To get back one’s youth, one has merely to repeat one’s follies.’ But, here I am telling you being a youth is more than repeating one’s follies. At least in your case, that is. First things first, having too many interests doesn’t make you passionless. Nor having no passion for life is a fault. Not everyone is filled with passion these days. If you can get a few things that can hold you long enough, you would be quite well. Yes, society romanticizes the value of passion in every path we take. But what you should know is, what would be left for you at the end of the path where passion takes you? The moment you achieve it, you would reach a sense of fulfillment, of course. But not for that long. We, humans, are not known for our satiety in life. The moment we get there, we always need more. So it really doesn’t matter if we have a sustainable passion for one, single thing. Rather too much of it will become handy at some point. So enough with torturing yourself for not settling for one passion.” 

While we are crossing the road, I saw a few strands of her grey hair were loose and lying on her face. She tucked them in where they were with no trouble. Hmm, her hair resembled mine. Except it was grayer and shorter. I clutched my jacket as the wind was growing stronger. “Age is a matter of experience, young lady. And also matter of mistakes. The one thing older people share with each other is how many mistakes they ever done over time.” She chuckled and noticed the sky intently. “I don’t think I have much time with you, after all. The dawn is fading.” She stood right before me and held my arms tightly. “Here’s the other thing I wanted to tell you. When you wake from your sleep tomorrow…” My hysterical laughter cut her off mid-sentence. “I am not asleep, for sure.” I squealed. She half grinned and continued. “When you wake from your sleep tomorrow, you are going to see a different realm of the world you have been living in. For once, your obsession with the parallel universe would pay off, perhaps. Call it the new realm or a new universe. I would leave that to you. But, what I want you to know is, as much as this life seems dull and uninteresting in your eyes, that is not only for you. Anyway, you can still survive the common bickering of the society and the inauthenticity of everything. In the meantime, you should have a heyday of your life for once. You cannot analyze everything before happening. You should let yourself feel and be there in the moment. Mistakes aren’t to be avoided. A few of them, in fact, make life wondrous. You are allowed to have some setbacks. It wouldn’t kill you to have few.” 

I felt hot tears prickling my eyes. I swallowed and saw my strange company right in her eyes. She seems to have my eyes, too. But hers were surrounded by wrinklier skin than mine. I cleared my throat to thank her. But she gave me a look that assured me that she already knew what I was going to say. I closed my eyes to help myself think. But when I opened my eyelids, I was standing by myself. I looked around to see where she could possibly go. There was no sight of her. “Well, that would be the best ending for a strange morning,” I muttered to myself and continued my walk. I couldn’t help but wonder how much resemblance we had with the woman. She was far more interesting than me, though. 

When my alarm buzzed, I searched for my glasses drowsily. I was asleep. Moments ago, I was sure I wasn’t. Apparently, I was asleep on my desk. I must have slept while reading. I yawned and stretched my body. I cleared my eyes to look at what I have been doing a few hours before. “Oh, the dream!” I nearly screamed. “Oh, it was a dream.” I stood in the middle of my room confused. The weird thing is I recall the dream with much more clarity than I ever recalled any other dream. The rain started to tickle the roof. I paced in my room from one point to another. But there was no other explanation for it, except it was a dream. The rain intensifies as well as the coldness. I picked up my jacket from the pile and clutched myself in it. My fingertips sensed a piece of paper inside the pocket. As I unfold it, it read “The Strange Spinster”. I gaped at the paper for a long while. 

A Conversation with Gertrude Stein.

“We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair. But to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.” She said, loudly. “Yes, yes, Gertrude. I get what you are saying. And I wouldn’t dare to contradict you.” She gave me a weak grin as if she knew that I am going to. “But…”, I went on. “…How can one write about something she doesn’t know? Specially when there is something one is fully acquainted with!  Despair! I cannot only write about it. I can tell you the building blocks. I can tell you how those blocks come into being. I can tell you about the edifice. The Edifice of Despair! I might be romanticizing about it a bit…” “A bit?!” She cut me off mid-sentence. “You are head over hills for despair. You are not only obsessed, but you’re also madly in love with it. Why can’t you see beyond your despair? You know there’s something beyond the reef, don’t you?” I sighed deeply. So deep, I felt my ribs protruding. “I like your writings.” She proceeded. I am sure my eyes almost popped out in unbelief. “I do. I just think your soul is not in any of them.” She stressed her point probably noticing my surprise. “It is a muffled scream located from beyond. I hear the echo. Not even the first echo. The third, weakest echo which is disappearing into the air. Where is your sound?” She posed for a moment trying to come up with a better explanation of what she said. Or is she reconsidering her comments? I usually think I can read and interpret people’s faces. But sometimes it is beyond difficult. The contours on her face couldn’t give me a hint of her thoughts. 

“Sure, write about it. Write about despair as if it is the only thing to be written about. But…” she is pointing her finger directly at me along with her soul-piercing eyes. I break off eye contact immediately. I can’t stand people staring at me. “But…” she almost yelled the moment my eyes started wandering. “Find your voice! Stop mumbling. Quit this muffling nonsense and step out into the world. Tell me the depth of despair out in the light. Shout it out at the top of your lungs until my ears are deafened. That would be the first step of something.” “Yeah…” That was the single word I could utter at the end of her speech. “The muffled noise” My brain registered the phrase. She is right, of course. I’m barely making a sound, let alone a noise. It can’t even ripple the surface, don’t bother to see a splash. But finding my voice is going to be hard. It is going to be harder than finding myself. Oh wait, I didn’t find myself yet. In fact, I don’t think I will ever find it. But- maybe finding your ultimate voice, even in an imaginative world might be easier. Just maybe. 

The next day, while I was lying on my bed, a heavy knock at my door woke me up. It was Gertrude Stein at my door. I was more than surprised to recognize her voice as it was coming a few steps away from my door. “Gertrude?” I sounded sappy because I was trying my hospitable voice while trying to hide my surprise. “You’re even weirder” She almost knocked me down as she entered to my tiny apartment. And she was right, I am weirder at home. I didn’t know what my next steps should be. I felt like I stared at her for two full minutes. “Stop standing there as statue. Bring me a coffee if you have any. Otherwise, sit. I felt like we left off things hanging on a cliff.” I almost ran to the kitchen to prepare coffee for my house guest. I was too conscious about my every move. I feel her eyes on me the whole time. When I half turn my face, I saw she is not even looking at me. I exhaled the heavy air off my chest. “What brought you here, Gertrude?” I asked. “Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.” I figured she wanted me to be seated first. “I didn’t know you were a coffee person.” I requested, but she didn’t respond. 

She started talking when I settle with my mug in front of her. “You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterward in a recasting…It will come if it is there and if you will let it come.”  She went on after a sip. “After all everybody, that is, everybody who writes is interested in living inside themselves in order to tell what is inside themselves. That is why writers have to have two countries, the one where they belong and the one in which they really live. The second one is romantic, it is separate from themselves, it is not real but it is really there.” 

“But it’s so frightening, Gertrude.” My voice shrieked. “Nothing is really so very frightening when everything is so very dangerous.” She said and continued to see me right in the eye. The woman had answers for every question I might raise. She is still waiting for me to say something. All of a sudden I felt like I actually lost my real voice. “A very important thing is not to make up your mind that you are any one thing.” She broke the stillness with her bold voice. “You cannot only be despair. I’m sure there are left over pieces here and there. Gather them. Or don’t. Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure? Just remember, there is more of you. Even in this Lost Generation, there is more of you.” She didn’t say another word for long. The thrill of having a houseguest was overwhelming. But I was trying hard not to let it get me. She studied my face for a while. But she didn’t say much. When she was done with her coffee, she left the apartment at once. 

It was the buzzing sound of my alarm that awakened me. It was 4a.m. in the morning. I must have dozed off for an hour or so. I rubbed my eyes to see where I am. I am not in France. It is not the 1920s. It was all a dream. It was in an alternate reality I had two days long conversation with Gertrude Stein.

A Memoir of Trapped Girl.

She felt her cold hands. She must have laid on the floor for almost 6 hours. She inhaled deeply, her whole body stretched and her eyes twitched when she felt the coldness through her linen-layered back. The rain must have stopped. She can only listen to a drizzle on the outside. She opened her eyes. But she couldn’t see a thing. It is almost midnight, she surmised. She gathered herself to turn on the light. 

Her eyes struggled to close again to fight the brightness of the light. Once again, she wanted to lie on the floor. Not that it changes anything, not that she could think better nor she would be comfortable, but it had its own solace and cordiality. For the last few hours, all she could manage to think about was if the ground could handle her weight. She felt so heavy along with her sadness that nothing would be able to hold her weight. It was at moments like this she turned to words. Not words to speak of. But words to imprint on her notebook, phone, or anywhere she can engrave them. She goes back and forth on the idea that words are great weight holders than anything.

“A girl escaped death but was trapped to live.” She writes. “The moment she escaped death, she thought she was free from every shackle. The power of escaping, running away from a thing is enthralling. The feeling is exhilarating. Nothing seems impossible. No amount of chain would seem enough to hold you captive. How little did she know then?!” Her eyes took a break to stare at the wall. “Nothing, no one is free in this world. The moment you escape the prison of death, you are yet entering a new prison. A prison of life! That’s a much worse prison, to be honest. You are trapped in every way imaginable.” But she couldn’t go on further. 

Her hands are tied to write because her eyes couldn’t stand the flickering light rays out of the lamp. Besides the coldness is antagonizing, every time her fingers moved she felt pain. She turned off the light but her brain couldn’t stop crafting sentences. The words that were occupying her empty thoughts are rearranging themselves in a certain order. She couldn’t say if that was a blessing or a curse. But there is no off switch for her brain to stop schematizing the words she found interesting. 

After an hour or so she was still wide awake. But after forming zillions of phrases and sentences, she felt her mind going quiet. Like she is weightless and free. The arrangement, the words, the sentences, they might or might not make sense. But she felt the solemnity of the night, the tranquility of the air, and the straight line in her head.

The Girl with Freckles. 

“What exactly do you like about the rain?” She almost whispered it to his ears. The heavy pour was making all the sounds disappear. The thunder was roaring once in a while. He knows she doesn’t usually like to raise her voice. But this time, she did raise her voice even though it came out like a whisper. “What is there not to like about it?” he said. Her chuckle which hid her scoff cut him off. “Wha…t? What are you scoffing for?” He was expecting her pretentious, almost always pre-formed opinion about it. Not that he hates it, it just kills the mood or his fervor when it happens. His fondness for rain couldn’t be less changed because of this. But, he was giving her a chance to say more about it. “You know I don’t like it when you talk about things in hyperbole. This is just a talk. Not a poem or story. Just state it plainly. Like in the real world. Not like hanging up in some fantasy. As if you’re taken aback by the former world. So, what do you like about rain?”

He wanted to say how non-artistically artistic her response was. But he was afraid another scoff would cut him off again. “I love rain. I feel like the sky is letting go of some pressed-on feelings at once. I like how it cancels all the other noises. I love how people are scared of it. The serene helps me think. The quietness gives me solace. And the thunder helps me sleep. Watching nature acting up salves my pain.” Her solemn look gave him the courage to rant about his true feelings regarding the rain. “I like how it quiets down the crowd of the city. I love the spontaneity. You could guess it might rain. But it will surprise you whenever it does.” He gazed to the outside as they were sitting beside the glass window. The fat droplets are thinning down. It almost seemed like a drizzle now. He wanted another cup of coffee. A hot cup of coffee as he was feeling the cold air down his spine. She was too far gone into the wind. Or the rain. He knows how much she detests the cold. And the rain, too. So it is highly probable she was trying to see his point just for the sake of it. But she really seems to be taken away. 

“What about the grey color?” She asked all of a sudden. He almost choked on his coffee. “What about the black and white mode of the view? How did you not mention that?” She was looking at his face. “yeah, yeah…there is that too. Wait, since when are you interested in the rain?” He asked a bit eagerly. “I don’t know. Well, people change! Isn’t that what you say every time?” She responded while touching the freckles on her face. It was a habit she does whenever she was thinking deeply. In a way, she felt like her outside was reflecting the inside. Who could see the freckles of her soul? Who could feel the unhealed bumps when one is void of freckles? He wished to touch their bounds. It was like the art of constellations which he couldn’t recall the name of. 

“he..llo!” She waved her hands across his view. He woke from the daydream he was having. The rain was intensifying once again. “Yeah, I…I never thought of it that way. Somehow I’m taken by the golden hours. Unlike my usual likings, the golden hours of the dawn have some effect on me. But now you have mentioned it, that could be one of my reasons. I just didn’t know it yet.” He gave her a smile mixed with a sigh. He always stammers when he is caught off guard. She kept playing her fingers on the strings of her freckles. And he was once again taken. Her freckles matched her brown eyes. Her eyes might seem dark just like her hair. But with appropriate lighting, she is a brown-eyed girl with a brown hair complexion. 

The quietness is blooming on the streets. The rain seems to take a pause for a while. They roamed over the streets quietly. And the nighttime was hastening to conquer the day.

Insomnia Café: Expired Moods

I wish to raise my voice,


To everyone to hear it.

I don’t want to nod along,

With every idea you bring.

I don’t want to be imprisoned-

With the fear of conflict,

Or confront.

I wish to say what I feel,

The way I feel it,

Not as I’m supposed to,

Not the way you dictate it.

I don’t want you to pity-

Me or my countenance,

Or behavior or virtues.

For once,

I don’t want to grant an acknowledgment, 

For the tag you provided.

What if I am more than-

Mere Lady Creativity! 

What if I’m so much more than-

The quiet model of subtlety! 

What if I don’t want to be,

The muse you wish to see.

What if I want to roar,

At the top of my lungs,

For everyone to hear,

Until the room shakes,

Or the windows rattle,

What if I can be me?

Just me!

Without the responsibilities or requirements! 

What if I want to contradict everything you say?

Your presumptions and logic.

What if I laugh out loud,

At your hysteria and simple mind?

What if I take out my amiability-

From the pictures, you had of me?

What if I declare-

My true feelings and emotions,

Without giving my regard,

Other than myself.

What if you see the ‘wrong’ color of prospects?

What if none shall matter to me from now on?

Do you wish my company the same?

Or do you like all the things I do-

To be the reflections of your desires?

All your unattainable desires!

Impossible deeds to be performed by none!

Proprieties to be conducted by pawns!

I aligned with your rules,

And your requirements, 

With nary arguments.

To kill my true self,

And dreams I had.

Only to gain shells of a kind,

To be cleaned and polished.

To find myself now,

Dropped in lagoons of personalities,

In the sea of the dead,

Dead, expired moods.

Insignificant, unimportant images I once cherished.

All to be tied with destitute, now.

Not one of them to matter,

Or weigh an ounce.

Yes, I’m still alive! 

Only to be surrounded, 

By the morbid, I collected.

I light a candle,

Once in a while,

To the moods I killed!

My moods that expired! 

My enthusiasm I buried!

My convictions I have sent away!

My strong beliefs I extinguished!

The greatness I once acquired!

The orderly plan I once had,

Only to be captivated,

With fear and strain.

I, Lady Creativity, wish to resign-

From the life of yearning.

I wish to wallow in my pain,

For as much as I want, 

Without bearing your pain,

Or trying to be healed.

Without being forced to figure it out,

Or map the blueprint. 

Without yielding to your requests,

Or heavy yokes you detest,

Without carrying you through it,

While you are being protected and cared for.

I should learn to confront,

Without being tortured by guilt,

Or ached by wounded pride.

I wish to recover from the madness-

All the madness I went through alone,

When no one was looking,

In my solitude, 

Alone in the crowd.

Allow me to be gentle,

To my wounded heart,

To mend the tears that opened,

In my failed attempt of closing them.

Yes! Life is built amongst others,

Friends and acquaintances.

We find our true nature and color,

Amidst those who are closer.

We share one another’s burdens and secrets,

In the light of that spirit.

But, would you rather call it fair?

If the burden is to be shared only by one,

A single individual, rather than both.

Would it really be friendship or relationship-

Of any kind of sort,

If one carries and the other just dumps?

If one becomes the bruised lad,

While the other keeps punching?

If Depression keeps hitting,

Do I keep being knocked out?

If I can no longer press the juice,

Out of my misery-

If I cannot be creative 

To ease the pain I endure,

If I digress to be happy 

When I thought my ache is gone,

Would I call that a relation?

Or a mere prison?

Would it be a passion,

Or a typical death potion?

Resentments and I are truly unfriendly.

But, it sweeps over my door once in a while.

Not regarding my marriage to Depression,

Rather about my life as a matron.

If anything my identity as a social paragon.

Or all the things I acquire as reputation.

But again,

Do not dismiss me yet,

Allow me to grow,

And be my own mellow.

Don’t grant me a title,

For being the perfect model,

Because eyes might deceive,

But words shall be candid.

She quit scribbling not because she ran out of words or reached a resolution for her climax. That could never be the case. But it felt relaxing enough to share her deepest thoughts in her secret notebook.  With that, Lady Creativity put her secret notebook back in the place where she usually keeps it. Looking at the wooden box, she reminisced all the great memory it holds from her childhood. An uncontrollable smile crossed her face for a moment. She proceeded to the bathroom to polish herself for the coming day. The golden hour of the dawn hasn’t arrived yet. But she wanted to visit the café before the day catches up with her. Her insomniac brain and eyes needed the magic of the caffeine!

A Monologue on my Notebook

Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons are perhaps the epitome of my week. The very reason that I’m not yoked by duties for the day brightens my Saturday more than anything. The very fact I do not have to engrave a smile on my face or act amiably towards anyone highlights the day. The freedom of doing anything, literally anything, is the utmost satisfaction. I can do something which I think is good rather than being dictated by someone that I should do this or that without being reminded of the consequences of my actions. Oh, the tale of freedom we tell ourselves! None of us are free, indeed. But for once in a week, a brighter morning, despite whatever the weather may look, the morning of freedom strikes. Of the 168 hours of the week, the few hours of the morning tend to dictate my leisure time.

Since I’m on the discourse of freedom, I do not wish to bound the day with a schedule or strict planning. But writing, reading, or even sleeping till the wake of the day is proved to make the day more than productive. Creating the world of imagination, and escaping reality for mere hours would certainly remedy the sour taste, rather a state of my life for once.

But if the weekend’s few hours tend to depict the brief summary of my week, then, I should mention the dreariness of Sunday afternoons. “Time flies when you are having a good time”, they say. The quality time I spent starting from Saturday morning till the very end of a week and beginning of another, marks to be the shortest period. All of a sudden, wherever I’m suited at the moment, it dawns on me the horror of facing, yet, another similar week. The fake smiles, uncontrolled agreeableness, escaping reality by “not living” but distracting oneself, and so many others follow like the dominos effect. And everything comes together like puzzle pieces. The cycle comes back! The coming and going like a machine of the sort would be once again attained. For the most part, when I realize that I’m not doing it for myself, I keep discussing it with my notebook. I cannot make a sound about this, anyway. But my notebook shall take all the screaming silences I endure.

And, just like that, another week begins! Another Monday arrives with all the baggage it carries.


I walk around holding the void in my hands. I act normal and tranquil with what I have. For many, I appear to be fine, perhaps great. The futile life of mine is spreading like poison throughout my veins. I savor the bitter taste in my blood whilst feeling the ache in my bones. Fragility is the new feature of my body. I walk, and yet I hear the crackling sounds of my bone, the ticking bomb in my head, and the rising tide in my heart.

I used to wonder how emptiness can be powerful enough to feel a void. Because the moment the void is filled with emptiness, it becomes a deserted island altogether with itself. Emptiness filled my void, then I became the great beholder of vanity for I am altogether vacant now.

Behold, the moment emptiness bewitched me, I became vacant of vacant. Who else would fight me to behold the title of vain anymore?

Insomnia Café: Discourse on Romantic Wrinkles

Life is something that happens when you can’t get to sleep.

Fran Lebowitz

The afternoon was a quiet time on mundane days. Unless new visitors are to be acquainted with the place, the constant members were not to be seen during those hours. Ms. Coffee was tidying up while humming a song she listened to earlier. At that very moment, she started to wonder what today’s discourse would be. Although she never suggested or commented on the issues, she always enjoyed listening intently to the ideas around the table. They usually occupy her mind in her leisure time. 

While she was pondering on her understanding of healing, Mr. Cynic walks into the café. He distorted the pattern of her thought at once, she hastened in his direction. “Mr. Cynic, how odd to see you at this hour? How are you today, sir?” “I’m well, Ms. Coffee. Would you do me a favor and bring me a fresh, brewed coffee?” He wished to conclude the conversation before she lingered to inquire him about his day. He needed a cup of coffee in his blood before he endured any conversation with anyone. 

Moments later, Lady Creativity walks into the café. She sat beside him in silence since she felt his negative aura all over the place. When he realized that she was not going to utter a word about his countenance, he whispered a greeting to acknowledge her presence. She only said hi. Neither he nor she was in the mood to chat. 

After an hour of silence and consumption of two cups of coffee, they glanced at each other. “do you wish to talk about it?”, he sighed. “Only the subject,” she replied picking her cup once again. “Mine would be about romantic wrinkles,” he sighed again. She gaped at him feeling like he read her thoughts. “was that what your subject was, too?” He gave her a half-grin while playing with the spoon in one hand. “I wouldn’t dream of a better phrase. Besides, it is quite uncommon to hear you use that phrase. From the looks of it, you were the one person I would’ve guessed to win over his emotion more than anyone else. Are you married, sir?” He was not surprised by her remark for he has heard it too many times by now. No one ever knew or guessed what become of him was because of too many emotions he had felt once. Perhaps, too many times. 

“Lady Creativity, did you really think I was always like this? Yes, I am not married. But, I have loved. And I’ve been heartbroken. Did you think one can mention the topic of healing as a mere objective observer of pain? Don’t you think that was a hint of emotional bewilderment I had with myself?” He waited for her reply. “Yes, but, surely romantic wrinkle wouldn’t be my first guess. You are so content with yourself, Mr. Cynic, we barely think of you as vulnerable given to emotions like ourselves. I do not wish to be an additional person to misunderstand you or put you in a box that you don’t fit. But that is the usual assumption one could get from few acquaintances.” “Do not worry, I’m not offended. You just seem to be a keen observer and I wanted to hear your first impressions of me.” He said and both chuckled forgetting the cloud of sadness they wore in their eyes. 

“How do you come up with such a title, though?” She inquired. “Because…” Both felt his shortage of words was because of unrecovered wounds of love. “I avoided romance for the fear of agony it would result. For the wrinkles and scars that would be imprinted on my heart. And yet, I stood wrinklier than ever for all the times I’ve let myself feel love.” He tried to hide his despair in a rather few words. Words that could never suffice the reality of truth he felt inside. “I bet this is not an issue for you now that you’re married?” He rather stated than asked. Lady creativity gave him a smile that did not reach her eyes and said, “you would be amazed to see the wrinkles of my heart if it were ever possible. I am forever tied to my pain and the ultimate cause of my wrinkles. Yes, I do not resent or regret the life I have. I most definitely am what I am because of it. But, wrinkles! Oh, the wrinkles would never fade or straighten because you are married, that I can say for sure.” “You must not be talking about the wrinkles around my eyes…”, said Mr. Exhaustion settling beside Lady Creativity. “I wouldn’t dare, for million years! Your Greatness!”, said Creativity in not so loud voice. “I’ve never heard of that title before. Is that, by any chance, your real name, sir?” Followed Mr. Cynic. “yes, yes. I once was Mr. Greatness. Big deal! So the wrinkles?!”, replied Exhaustion.

The squad seems to gather after a while. Miss Imagination and Over-thinker came together following the engaged couple. “Romantic Wrinkle! Why would you link such words together? It is unfit to hear.”, shuddered Miss Imagination while adding sugar to her latte. “Just drink your latte,  Hallucination.”, called out Exhaustion. “I believe there is no better combination for these two words. I…”, gulped on his coffee and continued. “I believe the huge waves of love are more than capable of forming crinkles on one’s heart. And it would be more than wrong to assume that anyone is free from them. It could not be romantic love per se. But the love you have for your mother, or friends or to life itself results in a wrinkle time and time again.”

Everyone pondered on his comment for a while. Ms. Over-thinker then remarked, “even the love you have for your thoughts, the obsession you have for definitions in life, or affection and admiration you give for things you construed in your head are powerful enough to scar you for life. To scar your innocent heart due to the lengthened affection you acquire.” Ms. Coffee cleaned up the table while silence reigned amongst them. 

“Can we talk about something happy now?”, inquired Imagination after a while. “Please do, darling”, said Anxiety eagerly. Mr. Cynic and Lady Creativity exchanged a look for a moment and exhaled. The night went on in a pleasing tone filled with laughter while these two kept on zoning out for the most part. Anxiety followed talking about her exciting day, and everyone seemed to enjoy the merry spirit. As it was Friday night, all stayed for a bit longer than usual. 

Near to midnight though, only Mr. Cynic and Lady Creativity remained where they were. “I feel like a statue sitting here for so long”, said Cynic. “Aren’t we a statue, a moving statue anyway? We rise, walk, and sit being polished for someone else to see. Straightening the wrinkles of our hearts not to resurface on our skins? But yes, we are numbed for sitting for too long, aren’t we?” She returned her face to his. “For more romantic wrinkles on the way!” He raised his glass of water to collide it with hers. She nodded with a shred of agony on her face. “I must leave now. Tomorrow has already begun. I should go and polish myself, don’t you think?”, said Mr. Cynic and left the shop at once.

She rather lingered at the shop scribbling a few words in her notebook. And when she finally took her eyes off her notes, she saw her husband walking in her direction. He did not leave her as the letter he left suggested. He reached and hugged her tightly for so long. She felt her eyes wet, her throat closing up, and her heart forming, yet, another wrinkle.

 Insomnia Café: Antique Shop and A Salon.

When you have insomnia, you’re never really asleep, and you’re never awake. 

Antiquity is bestowed on the place in every corner. Everywhere you look there lies an original and ancient look tidying up the place. The front counter is surrounded by great paintings. There are multiple coffee makers collected from many places. The cultural, and yet the modern webs gave the place a peculiar view. 

Today’s salon (a regular meeting of writers, artists…) was about healing. Since almost everyone had a pain of their own, the issue was not to be taken lightly. The new member of the group, Mr. Cynic, started by saying there is no way one can be healed completely. All the eyes looked in his direction. He took a sip of his coffee and continued. “If pain is inevitable, and life is a continuum reality of pain, hardship, and disappointment, how is it possible for the ultimate existence of healing?” Anxiety pressed her lips and continued to consume her latte with all fury there is. While trying her best in monitoring her tone, she uttered a mumble. Mr. Cynic looked in her direction. She sighed again and said, “you cannot possibly think that’s a mere definition of life, can you? If so, how dark your life must be? If it was not for the hope of better days and alleviation of pain, how can anyone get out of bed to live for today? Do you even hear yourself?” The last two sentences were filled with uncontrolled vibration and a hint of disgust. “All I’m trying to say is,” continued Mr. Cynic, “there is no absolute state of healing where one can reach. Yes, I agree with what you have said, at least partly. My point is that you could find a way to manage your pain or even alleviate it to some extent. But, can we call that a healed state?”

Lady Creativity cleared her throat and said, “I get what you are trying to say, Mr. Cynic. But I think there is that level of inner peace and ultimate cordial state of oneself, after all. In a heat of the moment, that could seem like a very far-fetched phase. My question is this: when you say healing, are you trying to say the restoration of one’s health to a previous state or is there a new state one can reach to?” Mr. Exhaustion pulled his strength to point out his belief. “If healing is defined as restoration, I will definitely side with the newbie here. There is no way one can ever fully wipe out his fatigue with or without time. But, a new kind of health is a little bit of something we don’t know. So I believe there may be is that kind of healing.”

While Exhaustion was talking Ms. Over-thinker was looking for a quote she read on the left wall of the coffee shop. 

One always has exaggerated ideas about what one doesn’t know.” Albert Camus. “The Stranger.” 

As soon as he was done talking she read the quote out loud. Multiple pairs of eyes shifted towards the left. “I’m just saying,” continued Ms. Over-thinker while fidgeting her fingers through a strand of her hair. “What if we are thinking high of this new state since we do not know about it? Can we really rely on this definition of healing for something we don’t really know? I do not believe in complete restoration for that matter, but I cannot, in my right mind, settle for something I cannot comprehend let alone define in my own words.” Ms. Coffee rose to refresh their drink and to help Mr. Tea around the counter since new customers were entering the shop.

“So what if you cannot comprehend it? Can you not imagine it?” Ms. Imagination followed. “If you can think about it this much, you already have a map for it. And if you can imagine it, I think it’s powerful enough to exist.” She continued to fill on her chocolate cookie. All of them were staring at her as if she was an alien of some sort. That was classic Imagination. She was too naïve for this world. For her, life was that simple definition that can be articulated in her mind without being sifted through the crude reality. 

Not a single person dared to say anything after her last comment. This was a new level of innocence she portrayed today. Mr. Stress, who was sensing the intense atmosphere, broke the silence with the quickest wit he could think of. “If life was always bright, we wouldn’t have invented flashlight, would we?” He grinned to himself. Everyone smiled at that comment. “Look Hallucination (he was the one who gave Imagination this name, and she did not like it), you may think just the way you said it. But life is not all about imagination. If that’s the case, it is a hallucination. It cannot be real. Imagination is a sprinkle of life. You cannot really define the main dish with an extra of your dessert. For the record, I do not think stress/pain can ever be fully overcome. I’m with Mr. Cynic on this one.” 

The debate continued for quite some time. It got so late that the city was starting to sleep. Silence and darkness reigned the town except for this one corner. Insomnia was the greatest bonding feature for the customers of this place. They no longer see it as a problem or negative quality. The solace of being awake and cautious of your surrounding was a blessing rather than a curse. For Creativity, it was one of her favorite hours. Ms. Over-thinker shines during the nighttime. The betrothed couple, Anxiety and Stress, wouldn’t call it a blessing per se. And yet it wouldn’t be the worst part of the day. Mr. Cynic never had a fondness for sleep. His underlying question about the matter was his wonder about dreams and where exactly sleep would take him. Almost all of them were always awake even if they miss a visit to the café. But can you really be awake when you have insomnia? That was a real inquiry. 

But later that night, at her home, Lady Creativity scribed these words. Healing is, well, healing. No one has ever reached the ultimate state. Even if they say they do, it is impossible not to imagine they are probably just saying it out of denial or temporary relief of some sort. But I would be delighted if they really achieve it as they actually say. Based on my own keen observation, I must say, healing is neither a restoration nor abolition of pain. It is rather a new contract signed with pain and scar. Whoever felt intense pain, is doomed to live with the scars it resulted. And a scar is never to be replaced with new skin nor to be the way it was. And pain is a constant company. It is highly unlikely for it to leave once it is acquainted. 

As she put down her pen, she looked right at her husband. She was engulfed with immediate joy when she saw he was sleeping today. Mr. Depression moved to his other side as if he felt her stare. She stood up to brew herself, yet another coffee. The night was almost ending, and she was creating. 

Insomnia Café: A Prologue

Insomnia is a glamorous term for thoughts you forgot to have in the day.

-Alain de Botton.

On the street corner of a certain city, there was a café called “Insomnia Café”. It was a great antiquity coffee shop in the city. It was inhabited by constant customers. Ms. Coffee, the owner of the shop, has maintained the property for quite some time. Rumor has it, the opening of the coffee shop goes back to 5/6 centuries back. Although Ms. Coffee is not the first manager of the place, the name has been coming down from generation to generation. It was almost a title to be held the moment anyone assumed the position. Her fellow co-workers such as Mr. Tea were not unpopular either. 

The café has quite a schedule every single day. Unlike many other shops, it doesn’t consent to any rules. Amongst the constant customers, Ms. Anxiety, Mr. Stress, Mrs. Creativity (the oldest member of the group), Mr. Exhaustion and Ms. Imagination (Hallucination, as some would like to call her) are the constant dwellers. There were rather some occasional guests like Ms. Over-thinker, who comes during the quiet hours to avoid the constant meetings. If Ms. Over-thinker is to be present, that means she wants to be distracted by constant conversations. No one wonders where she goes if she were absent. But they always enjoyed her company when she was around. This was especially true for Ms. Anxiety and Mr. Stress.

During the morning time, Mrs. Creativity and Mr. Exhaustion are the first attendants. Ms. Coffee starts to serve her best beverages with them. Lady Creativity comes up with a fresh outlook on the day along with the cold air of the morning. Mr. Exhaustion, almost always, tries to steal her energy to wipe off his ludicrous face before he goes to his office. Ms. Coffee sits beside Creativity to get inspired for the day. She usually ends up painting or quoting her idea on the wall. She was the very reason why she loved her job. 

Ms. Coffee was not always happy about her shop. Stress and Anxiety were her living shreds of evidence for that very reason. If it was up to her, she sometimes wonder to change the shop into a restaurant or something else. Mr. Insomnia, her great great grandfather, was not a very healthy man per se. Some would like to refer to him as Inso-maniac. Ms. Coffee had obtained his notes from his room very recently. She figured that her former families did not find or cared for the content. But, he pointed out that coffee was his enemy and savior multiple times. As many would do, her family chose the positive one rather than the negative one. No one even knew his problem. His despair was discarded more than his joyful moments. Ever since then, she sometimes feels guilty as if she was selling poison to the crowd. But, Creativity was her very reason to look forward to the next day. 

Mr. Exhaustion was the very reason she wanted to quit the job. She never had enough amount of drink to take away his exhaustion. Morning time was the worst. He is always cranky, but usually quiet as if he was mad at everyone. She keeps her distance to give him all the space he wanted. He always comes around a few hours later. 

Lady Creativity, the most respected member of the group, was always the source of the topics for the discussion. Even occasional guests leave the shop with such admiration and respect every time they visited. No one knew that she was married to Mr. Depression 20 years ago except Ms. Coffee. That was one of the reasons to leave her home at her earlier convenience. She never resented marrying him, though. It brought the very best side of her for so long. Besides, except on the worst days, her husband is the greatest fan and critic she has. Mr. Depression was also a customer at the café, although no one recognized him as that. He came early or very late before anyone arrives to grab his coffee. His rush and negative aura made it impossible for anyone to give him a second look let alone recognize who he was.  

On his good days, he enjoyed the company of his wife and Ms. Coffee too. This was also one of the resolving points regarding the dilemma of Ms. Coffee. She was always satisfied by his appearance. Part of her must be relieved for Lady Creativity, too.

The café was not that large when it comes to its size. But it could accommodate around 50 or more people on average. The arrangements of the chairs were to suit any kind of customer. The sofas were usually used by the permanent members. The long tables attached to the glass walls were used by the solitude lovers. The hard chairs were usually used by those who choose to be dispassionate about coffee or any extra activities for that matter. They visit the shop out of the mere necessity of the day, they just don’t want to accept that it was being a need to go through their days. They are usually with books or magazines to occupy their hands which is to mean they are the busiest member of their surrounding. That was why, unlike the solitude lovers, whenever discussions and arguments filled the air, the dispassionate members hurried to leave. It was like their cue to leave the place. 

But, one day, an exception to this group was found. His name was Mr. Cynic. As much as he was trying to avoid the constant gatherings, he couldn’t help himself not to say anything regarding the issue on the table. It was hard to say he fitted in that group. But he was always oblivious to what was happening in his surrounding. But, that day marked the additional member of the group. Lady Creativity enjoyed his company most. Ms. Anxiety and Mr. Stress did not like him by a bit. Ms. Coffee was glad when she saw him socializing. Ms. Anxiety wanted to defend herself so much she almost spilled her coffee at his face. Ms. Over-thinker was trying to figure out her true reactions toward him. Everyone was intrigued by his countenance for he could not care about any of the reactions he was getting. 

Inescapable Sadness

“There is this inescapable sadness that I go through every now and then.” She sighed audibly and continued. “At first, I used to know what it really was. I could tell the reason or use a label to name the incident I’m going through. In time, it got worse. It did not get better. And now, all I know is the pain is spread throughout my body.” She took a pause, not for an effect though. She recalled a quote she heard or read somewhere. “That’s the thing about pain: it pursues us until we are engulfed in a wall of misery and sadness.” She pondered on the quote internally. She remembered how much she did not relate to the quote back then. And now, she was amazed thinking how much she can rearrange the quote.

“Perhaps, you are wondering, is there an inescapable sadness?” She inquired her company wondering if he is actually listening to her whilst questioning herself why she is talking about this at all. He remained quiet trying to concentrate on her words. As much as he loves this friendship, he was almost always sure he did not get her. He was always amazed by her choice of words, though. He was sure she would go on if he kept quiet and considered the question as rhetoric. “Is there a sadness which can be completely replaced with true happiness and joy?” He was right, she started talking after a while. “Well, I genuinely believe there is none. My sadness hunts me down every now and then. Yes, I’m a pessimist. But isn’t that a reality?” She gave herself a mental note to stop talking. These were things to be thought, not said. She refrained from saying anything more. Then, she gave him a dashing smile. And with that, he was sure she was not going to say more.

He debated with himself whether he want to say something about what she told him. “From the looks of it, you’re a bird trapped in a cage.” He uttered a sentence and went on again. “You may fly around it, but you can never escape and get to fly in the open air.” She gave him a reassuring nod with much more enthusiasm she wanted to show. He felt better and continued. “You know, I do not have the key for the cage. I never considered sadness the same way you portrayed it. But, the bird got to fly even when caged. Till you get to fly out in the air, do not stop flying around. Otherwise, when the day finally comes to be free you might forget how to fly. And, that is not just worth it.” He stopped suddenly to give her a chance to ponder on the thought a little. Maybe he is feeling a little proud for making her wonder. 

She took what he said to her head, and her heart despite the irreparable damages she had made to both. And, she kept the words till the day she got to fly out in the air. 

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