Anatomy of an Attack
I still can’t always tell when it begins or even how, but it usually starts with a vague unease that I can’t quite put my finger on. I go to bed bothered, and I don’t even know why. Perhaps it was the news, or perhaps it was something someone said. Or maybe something triggered the memory of a recent sorrow. Whatever it is, by the next morning, I am anxious. It is like a fever.
What’s bothering me? Anything, everything, nothing. Who knows? But as the day trudges on, it feels as though everything has been draped with an invisible blanket of meaninglessness, and I find myself asking out loud, What’s the point?
I am not enjoying the things that give me a bit of joy. Like the electronic piano in the corner of the room, or my sketch pad. I find it harder and harder to do the simplest things. Yesterday I sat at my desk for a full two hours and did… nothing. Besides staring at the floor, and scrolling stupidly through Facebook. Ugh!
Meanwhile, my head feels like a hot mess. The dark voices tell me that I am the sum total of my bad decisions and poor choices. They tell me I am a loser and that it doesn’t matter whether I live or die. Deep down I know it’s not true, but in this space, it certainly sounds convincing…
I have begun the descent into greyness. Someone makes a mistake. I fly into a rage! How can people be so STUPID?? Mercifully, I am alone in my room and no one is watching.The day progresses. (Or does it? Feels more like it’s regressing.) I find myself thinking about hell and what a drab, purposeless place it must be, since I’m half there myself.
And that’s when I know I have to do something.
I am now up to my nose and ears now in the dark waters. I need to start swimming.
I need to take an action, any action. Just then, a friend calls. I don’t really feel like talking to anyone but I’ll talk to her because she is a good person.
“Did you hear about F?“ she asks.
“No, what about him?“
“His mom is in the final stages of cancer and she doesn’t have much time. Give him a call, will you?”
Sure, I will. F is a good guy. He’s real and bullshit-free and he was so concerned when my mom was in hospital. I dial his number and the phone keeps ringing. He calls me back a few hours later and we have a long conversation. He does most of the talking. His mom has been slipping in and out of consciousness. Mostly she sleeps and when she wakes up, she cries with pain.
“I have done everything I could, and now I don’t know what to do. I hope I have done everything….” His voice trails off.
I assure him that he has. He has been a good son and a devoted one and done everything he could have and more.
We chat for a bit and he hangs up. I am amazed at how well he is taking this, despite it all. I don’t know if I could have…
Inside my head, something has shifted. A pressure has eased. My feet have landed on something that feels like ground again. The haze starts to lift. I say a prayer for F and his mom. Nothing too religious. Just…”Please. Help them. Give them grace…”
For some reason I start thinking about the victims of the violence that engulfed northeast Delhi in February 2020. I see once again the faces of those who had been injured. I recall the fear and despair I saw there. But then suddenly, I recall the smiling face of Sunil, the biryani seller who held off a rampaging mob and saved the lives of 40 Muslims who were trapped in a burning mosque. The Devil was present that day, but something else, something much stronger was also present.
I then think about the farmers on Delhi’s borders, the old men with their gaunt faces and silver beards. The old men who have been living on the road since last November. I think about the hate and calumny that has been heaped on them since they began their morcha on the borders of Delhi. But then their kindness, grace and courage, regardless, comes to mind. These are brave souls fighting the darkness descending on us.
Where iniquity abounds, grace does much more abound.
The heaviness lifts. The perspective returns. There is despair in the world, yes, but there is also hope. This is not the time to sit and mope. There is work to be done. And we have to do it. Whatever we can. However little it may seem.
“What good will it do?”
Well, what good will not doing it do?
Get thee hence, Satan.
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