The Unbearable Loneliness of Being

June 30, 2019 at 9:15 PMJun (Friends, Literature, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

There was a boy in our college in Manipal who is the loneliest person I have known in my life. For now let me call him Mr. A. When I joined the college for PG he was in his undergrads. People used to avoid him saying he is too creepy. There was one story which his classmates would recollect to all newcomers and warn them to stay away from him. The story goes like this: The entire class in their first semester first month were asked to visit the anatomy museum which is nearly a kilometer away from the college. It began to rain while they were all walking to the museum. Not everyone had an umbrella since most of them had no idea about the erratic Manipal monsoon, since they were new to the town. But our man being a local boy was carrying an umbrella. One of the girls asked him if she could join him under his umbrella. Mr. A let Ms. M share the umbrella. When the two reached the museum, we were told, Mr. A dropped the umbrella, held the hands of Ms. M and asked, “Will you marry me?” Not just Ms. M, the entire class freaked out. But eventually for them it became a story to be told, a joke to be laughed at. When I was first told of this, I too found it quite strange and I too had laughed. But over the years while interacting with Mr. A, I have regretted having laughed once about that story of a monsoon walk.

How lonely could one be if he has to ask you to marry him after walking ten steps together under the same umbrella?

Once the same Mr. A was with a classmate of his in the canteen, discussing an assignment which the two of them had to do it together as a team. This was the second assignment the two were doing together. At some point of the discussion Mr. A and this other person began to have some disagreement and Mr. A asked the other guy, “macha, why are you getting angry macha? Am I not your friend?” The other guy coldly said “No,” and there was a sound of glass breaking and blood on the table! Mr. A had crushed the tea glass he had held in his hand! He had to be taken to the hospital, he lost the only person willing to do group assignments with him, more people found him scary and he became more isolated and more lonely.

How lonely can a person be if doing two assignments together (when the entire class refused to work with him) makes him feel his co-student is a friend? How lonely he must be to be holding that person so close that he would crush a glass in his hand on being told that he is not a friend?

It is easy to say he is scary, it is sensible to suggest to him counselling etc. But can we understand that loneliness?

Loneliness has brutal ways in which it makes us function. Had read somewhere that Vincent Van Gogh used to consume yellow paints to get rid of his sadness and get happiness inside of him. While the world can wonder what relation does the yellow paint have with happiness, the man saw some relation and was willing to try it out as a way to happiness and out of sadness. In that passage the author opined that if one was terribly unhappy and equally willed to get rid of it then s/he would certainly give even the maddest of ideas, such as consuming yellow paints, a shot. Going ahead the author pointed at how consuming toxic yellow paints was not much different from taking drugs or falling in love to find happiness. They too run the risk of causing overdoes or heartbreak, like yellow paints can damage the internal organs! In the concluding line of that passage the author remarked, “Everybody has their yellow paints.”

In our loneliness we are capable of reaching out to much more harmful yellow paints than what we would reach out to in sadness or a prolonged state of melancholia.

Loneliness, sadly, doesnt get answered even if we surround ourselves with people, books, work etc. Loneliness demands love from life itself and life, especially when lonely, is unkind. Loneliness makes us do things we otherwise wouldn’t do, which we would regret later on, which hurts ourselves and others too. One can’t help it. One can’t escape it. Loneliness is an invisible decaying of life and life source itself.

To my mind, loneliness is the actual opposite of love. Not hatred. Not indifference. While love bridges the ‘self’ and the ‘other’, hatred doesnt break that bridge though sets fire on it. Indifference turns the bridge irrelevant and meaningless by making the ‘other’ invisible to the point of non-existence. But loneliness making the ‘self’ and ‘other’ significant, blocks the ‘self’ and the ‘other’ by making the ‘self’ do things which makes it more and more unlovable to both; itself and/ or the ‘other’. Also, loneliness begins with the point of the ‘self’ feeling/ being unloved.

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