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Updated: Feb 18, 2023

Empathy is a conduit of love and care, so often glorified and glamorized that we forget how bruising this emotion can be. Brought up in a “Desi Punjabi” household, it’s a cycle of perpetuity, how one moment everyone is laughing, and in the other abutting it, screaming at the top of their lungs, even if it’s only to decide what we’re having for dinner. It’s almost unnatural in a home like the one I grew up in to show you’re upset without internalizing one’s angst.

In recent years, an outland-ish feeling of emotional exhaustion has unseemingly taken over the organ that unfailingly beats in my ribcage even on days when I beg for it to stop. Seldom darkness creeps in. It becomes unfathomable to find the cause in the soot. It seems as if seeking comfort is my solitary chance at a sane state of mind rather than serendipity. This exact moment when you and I would ask for help, someone I know of, shut every jackman out, hoping for the silencing whirlpool of thoughts to silence itself.

“The isolation feels so pitiless Laksh, to not breathe tomorrow would seem gentle,” said Eshan. I felt nothing but pain when he covered his arms with long sleeves in scorching heat, precisely knowing what lies below the cotton. At this moment, the unsurmountable love I have for him is so trivial to hold in front of how he loathed himself; my hands that held his with nothing but warmth look meager and meek. His eyes were heavier than my body, his corpse dented more than his bike, and his face reeked of malaise, but his words did not accede to his pleas. It chips off a piece of me every time I look at his photographs. He was a photographer, helping people remember moments that they wanted to smile about.

I told him uncounted times that I would always be there for him; I’m almost hysterical that now he isn’t here anymore. My altruistic self seems to have emancipated with whatever is left of him from my hippocampus, which now only holds onto memories of it.

I cried, I begged only to see his head move side to side. I scrutinized every word that rolled out from the tip of his tongue. No matter when he looked into my eyes, I could imagine what he feels and my heart would sink. How does a fire extinguisher help a storm? His absurd thoughts consumed what is now a mere aggregate of my muscles and bones; it does not belong to me anymore. I realized that the suffering of others is my imperial affliction, tyrannically decreeing the course of what is left of my existence.

The hurt I bear has so many names engraved on it. I have confined agony that was not mine, and today I can only ascertain a thing or two. Without any turbulence, we can change the passage of another life. Kindness - is a measure of brawn and not just the brain. It embraces the courage to thaw a frozen heart, only if I had made it through the cold.

Inscribed in my temporal lobe are 11 months of un/romantic love, internal scrimmaging, and undying periods of deafening quietude. Losing someone can open your eyes to the brutality of human nature. More often than not we are lost in our own homes, bodies, families, and friends. We feel misplaced and spend an eternity learning to sing the same notes and dance the same steps even when some of us are not meant to be singers and dancers. I hear concealed cries for help, but I can only weave a story of how we all find solace in unfolding our truths that we wish rested in falsehood; how my ache and tranquility both lie in that of others.

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