Insomnia Has Been Cracking Me Up

Friday, May 13, 2016 Of Minds And Mixtapes 0 Comments

Zaheera Vaz

The Kinks were singing A Well Respected Man through my earphones.

It was past three in the morning when I got back to my room that I share with Bridget Jones (BJ). I sat on my bed and stared through the window at my neighbour's balcony. They had an old disused chair there. A beautiful wooden chair that looked forlorn and forgotten. I poured myself half a mug of coffee flavoured Smirnoff, a drink I didn't like much but drank a lot of those days, took off my shoes, my jeans, and in my tee, got down to the business of replying to emails received months ago.
Yes, months. Some, two; some, three; one, last year.

I had been drafting some of these emails for a few weeks, and kept reading them aloud to check for contradictions, typos and unintended puns. Addressed to an ex I briefly knew not too long ago, my roughly drafted email said, in a little over 400 words, that it's perfect that we feel differently about each other now.
"I'm sorry for replying this late" I intoned and recognized that familiar wavering in my voice, a shorthand for my sentiment that I recognized as my grandfather's reading voice. "I'm sorry for replying this late" I repeated, a lot flatter now. Scanned through most of the text to the last part -- "...It's good. But we can't go back. It has been many weeks since I slept for more than a couple hours, and lately serious issues have me on the verge of cracking up, and matters that are quite likely to have little or no consequence years from now have me weighed down. This, us, is neither." I hit Send.

I finished the coffee flavoured stuff and got into my pyjamas. Stared at my inbox for a while. Watched Yahoo Ads change over the edge of the screen. Craig Cardiff finished singing Dirty Old Town and Jim Reeves came in with Yonder Comes a Sucker.

5A.M., my neighbour was up. The light in their balcony switched off and a rotund silhouette stepped out, stretching themselves for an eternity, emitting sounds that could be rivalled by a birthing cat, and plopped their ass onto the balcony railing, precariously balancing three stories above ground. I was quite drowsy by then, but this new possibility that I might well be the last person to see rotund silhouette alive was making me nervous. I did however let out a giggle.

BJ woke up, curious to know what I had been laughing at. "This will not end well if he falls, na?" she says, making me a little more nervous. I looked at the chair again. This time wondering why one wouldn't sit there instead. It seemed like a good spot to sit and do nothing for a while.

Seemingly anxious for an answer, "Hmm?" BJ asks.
I shrug.
She doesn't take my shrug for a reply, and goes "What do you think?" 

Unsure why BJ wanted to know my take on the utterly unpleasant possibility, I said, "I'm sure he won't bounce back off the ground". She laughed out loud at this; loud enough to catch rotund silhouette's attention. He handcombed his hair, trying to figure where the laughing woman was, which made us both laugh. Yeah, comb your hair, I thought, you wouldn't look cute all messy haired, and bloodied and dead, if you fell.

"When did you come in?" BJ asks turning toward me, "...I don't realize when you come to sleep or when you wake up, y'know".
"Yeah, I'm a vampire like that" I say. "I like it!", she says, "My previous roommate used to make a hell lot of noise everytime she came or left."
At least one of us is enjoying it, I thought, and laughed again.

After what seemed like a long time, rotund silhouette finally got off the railing, and returned inside. BJ, too, went back to bed.
It was 5:20 by then and my alarm was set to go off at 5:30. I reset it to 7:30. Why hit snooze when you can reset, right? I chuckled again; this time, the reason was a blur. I contemplated switching my laptop off and trying to sleep for a few hours, but instead stared at the inbox, at emails that deserved my attention.

I went to the saved drafts and chose to deal with the one that was long overdue. Why delay a reply another day, when it was due last year, right? "I'm sorry for replying this late. How's the weather there?" I intoned and chuckled; for good reason this time -- a little shame, some residual sadness. Scanned through to the third para-- 'Yeah, should've told you sooner'. Added a last line-- '...If you're ever in the area, try the blueberry cheesecake at Melange.' 

We never shied away from ramblings anyway. I hit Send.

A certain chill rushed through me and I realised that I had been up for way longer than I had anticipated. Dawn was breaking; a chirpy Wednesday morning had arrived. It was pointless trying to get some sleep by then so I chugged down a bottle of water, got out of my pyjamas and into track pants, put on my running shoes, brushed my teeth, and ran three floors down, out of the building, into the empty street; Chumbawamba's Tubthumping blasting through my earphones.

I returned in under an hour, feeling more energized than before. BJ was up, hiding her diary under her mattress. I looked at my to-do list on the table. Funny, I thought, I need more money; and this rhymes as well, like, the story of my life and my sentiment towards it were meant to be. I laughed again. BJ gave me the curious look, "Sooo bindass, always! How come?". "I find a lot of stuff funny", I replied matter-of-factly.

"Are you seeing someone?" she asks.
This was a question I never particularly liked to answer. The two second delay made her grin. "I'm seeing a lot of people" I said, a little louder than normal. She jumped closer with a confused but oh-please-tell-me smile on her face. "I see a lot of people", I continued "I'm not blind, y'know. I see a lot of everything-- Trees, cars, birds, dogs, rats, men, women, babies. I see you as well, and I've seen where you keep your diary."
"Fine! Don't tell me!" she snaps as she sips at her coffee, knowing she'll never know.

Noon, and the ninth coffee made sleeping with my eyes wide open possible. I had been reading the same page for more than an hour with zero comprehension.

A little past three in the afternoon, and I gaze at my inbox again. I had read that email so many times in the past month that I could easily recite it from beginning to end, with all the tickle it carried in those fourteen scornful lines.

Hell hath no fury like a bygone love allowed to be.

Muffled fury, this one. Always had a way with words. My reply had got to be tangent if I had to survive her. I stared at the keypad wondering what to write next. My head was pounding and the skin around my eyes irritable. Christ, I thought, do I really need to reply? I hear distant drilling, some hammering on metal, a reverse alarm, my colleague typing away with purpose, the fan whirring. May be it was all that coffee. And the lack of sleep.

I left my desk and moved to the sofa downstairs, laptop in hand. 'I don't know how long I'll be out of town', I wrote, 'but if it'd make you feel better, let's Skype'. Then I stopped. Wasn't there another, more ambiguous, way of saying what I want to say? I deleted that line.

This conversation was pointless; we were outdated.

'It's a free country', I type.

I sort of hesitated for perhaps a moment, but thought fuck it and hit Send. That smothered laugh that followed.

It was half past seven in the evening when I return to my room. BJ wasn't back yet. The Scientist was blasting from a room few doors down the hall. Outside my window rotund silhouette balanced his ass and aspirations on the balcony railing again. It might be none of my business, but it might be a good idea for rotund silhouette to sit in that vacant chair for the sake of remembering whatever it was he thought deserved.

The beautiful empty chair is as is. So is that dubious glee in my head.