His breath was heavy. He was climbing the Mount Solomon from past one hour. He just had to climb for five more minutes to reach his favourite spot. It was very cold. He was rubbing his hands and blowing puffs of hot breaths into them.
He sat on a big stone over-viewing the whole valley and the enormous Dal Lake. This was the only place for him to do it. He didn’t want anyone to know about this. It was a perfect spot for him. No one came from this particular track to visit the temple that was on the top of this mountain.
After taking rest he took some long and deep breaths. He took some fresh and cold air in.
He was not a regular user of Charas. It was only to find answers about why this was happening to him, again and again in his life. And to get some emotional stability to move on.
He didn’t know when he was deprived of the love of his parents. He never tasted the blessed love. He was just few months old when they left him.
He took a packet of Cavander Filter out of his pocket. It was not his regular brand. He was a chain smoker but normally used to smoke Four Square － at least a packet a day. But to feel the richness of marijuana some heavy stuff was required and Cavander was a classic style.
He was in his 9th grade when he first got high. He was in love with his classmate for four years. They were good, rather best friends. Until one day during lunch break, he was unable to get his eyes away from her for a long time. She asked why he was looking at her this creepy way. Without thinking anything, he opened his heart and told her that he is in love with her. She never spoke to him again. Not even when he was high in 10th grade and slit his wrist in front of her.
Since then he would come here on this mountain every time someone would leave him. It became some sort of a ritual for him.
He took one Cavander cigarette and started to empty it; to get tobacco out on the palm, he was rolling it slowly and artfully with his thumb and index finger.
After graduating from school, he didn’t come here for a long time. Not until another person left him. He met another girl at the Star Tuition Centre. The thing was, she was the first girl who approached him. They were in relation for about a year till one day she left him because of another boy. He was shattered again.
He went to the drug dealer into the tiny lanes behind Police Control Room and got high on the very same spot where he was right now, making another dose.
After emptying, he placed the hollow cigarette behind the upper side of his left ear. Then he took the matchbox out of his pocket and inside the matchbox was this black, irregular, bean-shaped slice of marijuana.
He broke a portion of it with his teeth and to soften it, he placed the portion between three match sticks and lit it.
At one point in his life, he thought he found someone who won’t ever leave him. He met this very intelligent guy in the High School. He was like him. Alone. They enjoyed each others company and remained friends for a long time. During that period of his life he seldom got high. After years-long friendship he left him too because he finally found the love of his life; began to ignore him and treat him differently. It was more painful and intolerable for him to be ignored by his only friend.
He was not strong enough to forget those who left him. Only after getting high, he would somehow feel able to move forward. He knew this feeling was temporary. He was not proud of it. But it was his ritual. A divine ceremony he celebrated on the high altitudes. Yes, they left me, but they left some memories behind. Memories, he was unable to forget. Memories －some awesome and some awful, some wonderful and some terrible, some blessed and some haunted. It was all he had. He was not capable to bear the load of these powerful memories without the use of some psychedelic drug occasionally.
He was in his second year of college when he made his account on Facebook. After the high-school-guy began to ignore him, he couldn’t make new friends in the real world. Not intentionally at least. And after spending few months on Facebook he thought he might never have to make real life friends again. He was very happy with a few friends he had in the virtual world. Now he could meet plenty of friends from all over the world. He can always find someone to speak to. But soon, all this proved to be an illusion.
On Facebook, he became friends with a girl from Delhi. He felt happy because he had no real sister. He would spend countless hours chatting with her and got very close to her. But then one day, this little girl was told by her elder sister that she is not allowed to chat with boys. And without any further delay, she blocked him.
He felt shattered and confused. How can one just end years long relations of emotions, love and trust with just one click? Like it was nothing. Like I never existed.
It was the first time he cried while getting high. He cried for losing a virtual friend whose reality was confined to a glowing, five inch digital screen.
Once he felt the marijuana was soft, he began to break it into small pieces with the nails of his thumb and index finger. Crushing every tiny portion like crushing the innermost feelings of his heart. He mixed the tiny marijuana pieces with tobacco, and rubbed the mixture with his thumb. Mixing one poison with another, to give his feelings a temporary death. He gathered his feelings on his palm just to burn them to ashes.
He was trying to give some temporary sense to his life.
If someone would give him time－though virtually; he would get extremely emotionally attached to them.
He got so emotionally attached with another girl. Though it was very hard for him because of the Delhi-girl, but still he accepted her as his sister. They then met in the real life and made a bond with each other. This new little sister was as crazy as he wanted to be. She became the coolness of his eyes. He forgot that there was something called marijuana. She made him forget all his pain. Her affectionate love was healing his wounds. He needed nothing from the life now. He felt satisfied that this time he found the blessed, eternal love he was searching for all his life.
Then she met someone. Things changed, again. He was not able to handle the situation intelligently, as he was emotionally devastated. Emotions always ruled him when it came to make important decisions in his life. Everything was over. Again.
She left me for love.
In his room, that night he played a song ‘the little sister’ once shared with him. It was Neil Daimond’s song…
“…“I am”… I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair
“I am”… I cried “I am” … said I
And I am lost and I can’t
Even say why
Leaven’ me lonely still…”
…and he cried and cried till his heart began to ache. He felt suffocated and passed out.
After that, every now and then he would get high, here on this very same spot.
Few years passed. He graduated from college and joined university. People kept leaving him in the real as well as in the virtual life
He never got used to it, though. He never gave up. He desperately wanted everlasting love of someone. Not particularly love of women, but love of someone－ anyone who might miss him, find him, and seek him.
He was smart. But his Emotional IQ was below average. He was extremely sensitive. The way he would experience emotions was not quite easy for others to understand. Each time he was left or blocked by someone, he would reach the dealer and climb Mount Solomon. It was his ritual after all. A ritual to find out the hidden meaning behind all this meaningless chaos in his life.
To fill the mixture back into the cigarette, he carefully took the big leaves of tobacco out. He picked one leaf and began to observe it closely. Am I like this leaf? Am I getting in the way of happiness to those whom I love? All I want is to love and to be loved. Is this something impossible? Why do they throw me out of their life like this,’ he thought while he threw this tobacco leaf into the air.
He filled the cigarette and closed its tip. It looked like a pencil sharpened by a blunt razor.
He was－once again－ready to be left alone by those who were not in his life. He was preparing himself for the inevitable, with the hope that someone will find him worth loving and want him with all his emotionally damaged demons.
He placed the cigarette between his dark lips and held it there tenderly, like a plea or a prayer. He lit the match stick and covered it with both his hands shaping them as someone praying desperately for the cure of her sick child. He was protecting the fire from the wind blowing on the mountain.
He lit his cigarette, took a long puff and inhaled the smoke deep into his lungs.
He wanted someone to miss him like he would miss every single one of those who had left him alone during the course of his life. He couldn’t get them out of his mind. Everyone of them added a new flavor into his pain, grief and loneliness.
He didn’t know when and how to quit this search for eternal love.
He closed his eyes.He remembered how he used to sit everyday between lunch breaks on the stairs, with his friend, his first love in the school. The long walks. The exchange of gifts. The late night conversations on the phone. The unending online chats and happy emoticons and similes were floating in front of him.
When he opened his eyes － there was nothing. No friends. No love. No comfort. No missed calls. No Emails. No Notifications. No nothing.
‘Don’t these people who left me have any feelings? How can one erase someone from the memories after being so attached? After so much love, how can one just leave and don’t even visit you in your dreams? Was it all just a meaningless drama for them? They ain’t dead. They are alive. They are out there somewhere laughing, living, and enjoying every breath. Why am I this way? Why do I feel so alone? Why am I so alone in this whole wide world.’
He felt an ache. This ache reminded him were his heart was. This ache was the only constant thing in his life －the ache of loneliness.
Even though high and intoxicated he was aware that he is alone. He was afraid of his loneliness. So afraid that he wanted never to be sober. He didn’t want the bird of burden to come back.
He wanted to be alone but in a state of loneliness that should not hurt. Loneliness that he could bear. Loneliness his soul could tolerate. Loneliness where he won’t be afraid of being detached and alien. The loneliness of the universe is bearable but the loneliness inside is violent, dreadful and ugly.
He took another deep shot of his cigarette. He looked around again. He felt his throat getting dry. He reached his bag for the water bottle and while getting it out of his bag he saw a book there.
He drank some water and took another long puff of the cigarette which was almost over. He took the book out of his bag and a large curve of insane smile appeared on his face. He took some last few puffs and smashed the stub under his shoe.
On the jacket of the book he saw his own picture printed on it. He read the blurb. He smiled. He put the book inside the bag and looked around. He was smiling. It was a genuine smile. A sincere smile from his heart.
Today, he was not here because someone had left him. He was on the Mount Soloman because he bought all of them back. He made them immortals. He made them to stay in his life forever. And one day when he will leave, he will leave them all － there in his words. He felt one thing for sure－the intoxication and magic of words is more powerful than any other drug in the universe.
The author is an artist based in Kashmir, he also reviews books for Kashmir Book Review.