By Ashutosh Nagada, MSc Asian Politics
‘I can, I will, and I shall stay alone’.
These were my exact thoughts for last five years. London changed it all.
To give a bit of my background, I am freshly turned 22-year-old who has never stayed away from his family before moving to London. The idea of moving out of the family is not very common in India, the country I come from. Though a lot of Indians I have met here have moved out from their home cities in lieu of better education, I, luckily or rather unluckily, found good education opportunities in my home city.
16th September 2017 is when I first moved out, all alone. The mind was all blank, there were no thoughts. The only thing I was happy about was not crying. I was afraid that I would break down a bit while bidding adieu to my family and few friends. Luckily that didn’t happen. I have always loathed crying. It makes me vulnerable and makes my already average looking face look even worse. I took the flight, reached London, got into the cab, saw clear skies, disciplined people, and I was in love with London. For the next week, my love for London just grew. I went to shopping centres, just a couple of shops here had more varieties of clothes for my ill-fitted body type than all the shops combined back home. I went to a Pizza Hut, they gave me more veggies on my single pan pizza than all Pizza Huts had ever given me back home. My happiness reached its limits when I took a tube, and found no sweaty arms thrust upon my nose unlike the local trains back home. I wish I could shed few tears of joy, alas, my vulnerability inched ahead of my happiness. But London, pheww…what can I say, London became love and love became London.
But then, I cried.
I moved to my student hall. I unpacked all my belongings. Everything just felt scattered and confused just like my brain. That’s when I got the first bout of loneliness. How the heck was I supposed to arrange things? How the heck was I supposed to set my room? “Can anyone help me?,” I shouted within myself because I found no point in wasting words loudly when there was no one around, when I was lonely. I could see tiny cracks creeping up in my love story with London.
The fall had begun.
The bouts of loneliness became frequent. Every night, a dimly lit silent room welcomed me. I had my food staring at the wall as there was no human to stare at. Slowly, I started talking to the wall. I shared everything with the blank stained creamy wall of my kitchen; my course, my modules, my readings, my essays, my London crushes, my first London love, my ideas on democracy, my ideas on authoritarianism, my reasons on why I found some goodness in Trump. Everything. The wall heard, but it never spoke. All I wanted was someone to speak to me. London was being selfish, it wasn’t sharing its friends with me.
Then came the worst week. I fell ill. For the first time, there was no one around when I was ill. Loneliness overtook my body temperature. I lay on the bed staring at the weirdly designed ceiling of my room. I couldn’t even manage to walk to my kitchen and cook something to eat. That’s when I wished the wall was humane. I felt trapped. I felt lie lying still inside a box. I felt closest to death. I wanted this to stop. I wanted this feeling of loneliness to go away. “How do I do this?” I asked the ceiling up there. I got my omen. I felt my cheeks go wet. I felt my eyes slowly turning watery. I slowly started crying. This time, I let it all go. I let the vulnerability take over and allowed my face to look shit. I let it all go.
For the last two weeks I have been trying to figure out the reason for this loneliness, this loneliness in London. At the first go, I blamed the city. I thought the city I started loving, did not reciprocate the same love. I thought London was full of herself. London was always running to be somewhere, she never paused and passed some time with me. As they say in life, walk, stop and smell the roses. What London did was walk and pass the roses. But was this solely London’s fault?
No, I too was at fault. My thoughts were at fault. The exact opening thought was at fault. For five years I have constantly fed myself with that thought. I will live alone. I do not need anyone. I do not need family. I do not need friends. I do not need Love. Friendship is bullshit. Love is bullshit. All such thoughts were bullshit. It wasn’t London, it was me. It was me who would walk and pass the roses. I did not stop. I had no sense of smell.
Now, I am going to stop. I am going to develop the sensation of smell. I am going to break this bubble of living alone. I will try and make some friends. I will try and fall in love. I will cry more frequently. I will try and not be lonely.
Oh, and I still love you London, and will always do.