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  • Kanika Bhatia

LIMBO.

Sunday afternoon, your best friend and you overeat. You crash on your respective couches and stare at the wall. You casually share a few deep notes on life, using small scenes, spiders, money plants as metaphors. You also zone out more often than you prefer, you have company after all. You wake up, it’s dark outside. Even though it was the best nap you ever had, there is guilt. Now, somehow you continue doing that for a few months. That’s limbo.

I think it was 10th. That’s when I began observing, I mean really observing people. Sometimes, I would pretend to have a solemn attitude as opposed to my usual cheery self. Why? In retrospect, it might be to gauge who cares, or the width of my personality, or if am believable as a thoughtful person. Maybe all. Why I misconstrued thoughtful as somber is a hazy thought. I would just gaze at people in those lunch breaks. It would be “one of those days” when I wouldn’t talk. My best friend then, knew better than to push me. She simply laughed it off. That was teenage limbo. The nothingness where overthinking means you’re mature to you. Where questioning depths meant you know something adults just don’t get. Where dreams were too big for reality, and reality too big in itself to be borne gracefully. Sometimes I placed a finger in the blunt socket of my table sharpener while trying to fathom just how central my life is in the bigger picture. It was the star.

The crisis of a young teenager with the biggest problems as serious as fatalism.

This casual cruelty of nothingness in life continues. No matter the success, money, satisfaction. If subtlety is your flavour, and you love classics, maybe, you have seen Silence of the Lambs. As the movie opens we see Jodie Foster running back to report in FBI headquarters. She runs past a series of signs nailed to a tree: hurt, agony, pain, love, pride. That’s life. The day you think you can’t decide between these emotions, that’s adult limbo.

To live the thematic frame of this write up, I took a little longer to publish it. Daryl Chen in an article writes, “Writing is visceral. If you write something down and don’t feel some kind of way, then it’s not working. It’s not what you wanted to do.” This limbo was lived and hence writing it took so long. I don’t know if it serves you a purpose, but I hope to relate to you. If I don’t, you’re doing better than a lot of us, and you should be proud. Sometimes I latch onto learnings from random places. Once on Koffee with Karan (excuse my taste in television), Shahkrukh Khan with Alia Bhatt, talks about this new generation in Bollywood which keeps doing what they do. They don’t stop, breathe and think. It’s a limbo of it’s own kind. The routine is followed, work is delivered, body is exercised and you probably do everything by the book. But you don’t stop and think. You don’t know why you’re doing, what you’re doing. We don’t ask what story is our work telling the world.

Like with everything in our life, these stages of oblivion have constructs too. Except no one reveres, fears or even writes about it. Funny. With a pandemic looming, and no-one getting a rest with the term “new normal,” this limbo has been paraphrased as side effects to a catastrophe. Undoubtedly. Current state of presence, is like living on a floor where the rain doesn’t make any noise. It just passes through. I have aged, cried, celebrated, morally condemned someone who makes pot brownies while smoked as it drizzled outside, and yet that feeling of nothingness remained. Because the gram is where deeper life questions find solutions sometimes, I asked, what do you feel today? Sakshi with an ‘I’ and Sakshee with a double ‘e’, felt lost and nothing too. Maybe the pandemic isn’t just the virus. Clearly, this blankness is running laps around the world too.

Gary asked everyone to not condemn the year that “woke” them up. I agree. Limbo is where I have come of age. This is where I realised I am a marketplace of ideas, and no matter how bad life gets, I will always find a way to amuse myself. I will always create. This yawning void is where I realised how I don’t expect all my happiness to come from one place, event or ambition. Limbo has made me empathetic, balanced. To quote Konkana in an interview to IE, “In essence, we are all living, we all know what it is to feel life, love and loss.” Limbo is where I have created some of my best work because here is where I reasoned less, and did more. Blinkers and blinders serve one role well. You do shit, even if it’s stupid shit. Limbo is incomparable. Compare it to what? Dog hair? Hate it, but I miss it when it’s no longer visible on my carpets and clothes because it symbolises the absence of something I truly love? Limbo also justifies these pamphlets to pistols kind of analogies sometimes. It defends my hopelessness (it’s a pandemic!), reduced output (it’s a pandemic!), mindless gazing (you’re thoughtful), lost aggression for ambition (for the last time, it’s a freaking pandemic!).

I am not sure how many downward dogs in a day make up for adequate “workout.” Limbo taught me it’s however many you want to do. Not keen on knowing how many cups of coffee signal a long term health hazard, because limbo doesn’t keep a count. Limbo forgives, nurtures and asks you to slow down. Biblical references point out ‘Limbo’ as a space where those souls, who haven’t fallen out of favour with God, but don’t deserve the pleasures of heaven reside. It’s mythology doing it’s share of convincing us, you’re not totally lost. We have hope for you. If this listless living is getting to you, be assured it’s the good kind of time. To quote Hugo, “Why should I believe you? Because it’s true.”


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