His enlistment date was roughly a month away. Not that life in military service was particularly scary to him, it just merely marked a new phase of 18 years of life. While the impending death of a cancer patient would not be the best analogy to use, it should suffice: he felt like a terminal cancer patient with a fixed expiry date and this naturally gave rise to a burning desire to maximise those 31 days with friends, family and deeds before he would pass on to the next phase of life (or rather the lack thereof).
Desire, however has this strange paradoxical relationship with fate and it was precisely the vicissitudes of fate that forced upon him a condemnation of solitude – in the form of unanswered phone calls and ignored correspondences, leading to long listless days of utter pointless existence. For him, the imposition of anything upon his being was unpalatable. If he were to be forced into a month of solitude, he would do so only under the illusion of choice. As much as illusions are false, they were powerful and enough a psychological coating to make any sort of solitude palatable.
It was thus in this pursuit of an illusion of choice that he took the pre-emptive initiative to shut himself out from the world, leaving his letterbox unattended and unplugging his phone. He had in essence wilfully subscribed himself to a totality of isolation. He spent the wee hours of his mornings in the public pool where he was the sole human trudging in the ice cool water, swimming 24 laps (a product of 3 and 8) each time because he couldn’t decide whether 3 or 8 was his favourite number and because 11 laps (a sum of 3 and 8) were too little.
There, aloof in the cold, chlorined expanse of lifelessness, his was the only beating heart and his was the only pair of panting lungs. That fact alone made him recover some semblance of self-importance and thus self-identity. The sense of importance to him was the essence of the sense of self-identity because boiled down to its primordial conceptual dichotomies, self-effacement, the opposing notion to self-importance, was itself the antithesis to the identity of the self.
But all that is just a meaningless tautology. More importantly, those hours spent in the cold, dark void of ultramarine-blue water was the principle form of physical catharsis to negate the trauma of the sleepless nights. Each night to him was a personification of horror. A nightmare may be an object of fear, but an eternal nightmare without any parole of a waking moment is terror in its most visceral form. That however is another story for another day.
It was in this little world of absolute solitude, that he had, above all other persons, shut her out. His self-imposed alienation was a vengeance for her ignorance of his pain. He knew consciously well that she was faultless, but the human mind in a state of alienation and disaffection has mysterious ways of mangling logic and emotion.
Her letters remained unopened and her phone calls unanswered.
Fate after all doesn’t exist except as a construct of the human mind. He was painfully aware of that reality but the very notion of fate and pre-destiny remained a convenient scapegoat for his ennui and for his abject lack of agency. He would very much rather die in a pretension of blamelessness than to live forever under a shadow of inaction.