An Account of a Night too Brief

By Nafis Shariar

“A rainy day is dull and gloomy. The sky is overcast with thick clouds. None can go out without an umbrella. Water stands on the roads and the roads become muddy and slippery. Those who have offices and other businesses go out with umbrellas over their heads, shoes in hand and clothes folded up to the knee. Passers-by also move in the same way. Sometimes people slip and fall on the muddy road.”
Woke up with a dull throbbing inside my head. Time: 1.30 am. Date: Specifics don’t matter;

September, 2017
I wish it weren’t, but I don’t make the rules. When one is a prisoner, he doesn’t get to dictate the terms of his sentence. He only gets to decide how to carry it out, even that with a limited amount of flexibility.

Cause of awakening: a slight pitter-patter on my bedroom window. Note to myself: The sound of rain works as a better alarm clock than the heaviest of metal blasting from the cutting edge in smartphone technology (looking at you, Steve).

Should have woken up a while back, two hours back to be precise. But that kind of tardiness isn’t anything new. In fact, if I were anyone but myself, then I wouldn’t even be awake now in the first place.

Again, specifics don’t matter, but it is a weekday. And if it is a weekday now, then it will be a weekday in a couple of hours. Which means that I have to go to college. Which means that I have to make the most of the night I have left while getting some sleep.

I had a weird dream. I was back in high school, taking an exam, writing an essay on rain. The weird part is that I got woken up by rain while I was dreaming about writing about it. Talk about art imitating life (according to Lynch, dreams are the source of life itself).

I light a cigarette, and taking my computer closer to the window, play blade runner blues while listening to the ordered heartbeat of the rain. I used to hate rain, and that is something I still proclaim in my public life. Privately, I now have a soft spot for it. I may have even begun to love it. For all things that are tranquil and calm and silent have found a resolute spot inside my heart, as those are the things that my soul longs to be. Then again, rain is never calm or tranquil or silent. All that matters is perspective.

Or, when I get down to the nitty gritty of things, it is all about privilege. It’s because I am privileged that I can take solace in the rough kisses of lady winter. It’s because I am privileged that I have a roof over my head. It’s because I am privileged that I at least have a phone that I can use as an alarm clock. And it’s because of privilege that I can have all the things a layman would wish to have and still be miserable about it.

Darn. The cigarette went out. It must have burnt to death while I was busy with other things, just as I have been reckless with others things while I myself withered and wasted away. Well, I can always light a new one. And just like that, if we could change ourselves, make ourselves anew with each rainfall, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could buy a new soul, at the start of every year?

Of course, we can, at least, that’s what the self-help gurus that are in vogue these days say. In a way, they are right. I’ve lost count of the days when I have used nights like these to build myself up, only to see my self-image shatter into a thousand pieces each morning.

Grains of sand, that’s what our lives are. To be specific, that’s what our identities are. Darn again. I said I wouldn’t be focusing on specifics. Consistency – when have I ever been consistent? Camus was right to view existence as a kind of meaningless struggle, where if we even roll the rock to the top of the hill, it will inevitably roll back down again. The tragedy of it all is that it doesn’t crush us in the process. Sometimes, when things get particularly bad, I wish it did.

Ow, how I wish it did!

The rain has settled into a nice rhythm now. Not too slow. Not too fast. Time: 2:30 am. Background music: together in the moonlight.

The throbbing is still there, but it has lessened. I don’t feel as burdened as I used to be, and I am actually enjoying my cigarette. That’s the feeling I was looking for: enjoyment. For once upon a time: sleep did bring a sense of ease, a feeling that I was moving through the clouds with nothing pulling me down. Nowadays, sleep does nothing but work as an extension of this daily nightmare, this inherited prison we must all inhabit as part of our deal during the aftermath of the original sin. But still, there are surprises to be found. Just as I am now enjoying my cigarette. Just as I have begun to love an aspect of life that I used to hate.

I live beside the road, and I hear the sound of a truck speeding away. Just as I am doing. Just as we are all doing. And just like that, from a speck of dust we have come, and to a speck of dust we shall return. Most of us can live our lives in relative comfort, with the rain being an occasion for umbrellas, and an annoyance in the schedule of those with things to do.

As for those of us who have understood the true horror of our plight, those of us who have realized that nothing matters, and that time is a flat circle, that everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again; the nocturnes, the absence of light, the drops of rain, have become a sort of comfort.

To live is the original sin. To lose rhythm with life is the replication of that anew. And when something like that happens, when one notices the inherent absurdity in the movements of a person doing the simple task of talking on the phone, when one finds oneself moored in a desert of mirrors with no way home, then taking refuge from the world is the only thing a person can do, until time rewinds itself back when things appear sane again. And to that end, there is nothing better than something that puts a stop to the whole world, and creates an artificial equilibrium between the outside world and the travelled of the absurd planes. And to that end, what better boon of nature there is than rain!

I felt a cool drop of water fall on my face, so I decided to look up, only to see that it is morning again.
“Dear god,
Can you make the rain stop? I have very important business tomorrow. My friend Saif has come over, and we have a race to decide who is the fastest. And most importantly, I wanna see the sun again. Dear god, why must there be rain in such a beautiful world as this? I know some people love the rain, but they are old and boring. Dear god, I will never become old and boring. You would never do that to me.
Would you?”

Nafis Shahriar is an Apprentice Sub-editor at Dhaka Tribune and an Editorial Assistant at The Woman Incorporated

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