"I can't see my face!"
I've never had anything longer than a buzzcut and a clean-shaven face for over a decade now. But what stares back at me today is quite the contrary. I have a ready excuse of course.
"The salons are shut and I can't cut my own hair."
That pinches. All my life, I've strived to be independent. I wanted to walk to school and not be dropped off or picked up. I wanted to choose my own friends. I wanted to be independent of my peers. I wanted to walk off into the wild instead of following the trodden path. Nobody got to decide how I would lead my life. I charted my own course, right or wrong. Fiercely independent is how I thought of myself. That wasn't what the mirror was telling me. And this wasn't the first time.
I've been on the receiving end of many a beating at the hands of destiny. My rockstar 'I-don't-need-anyone' attitude led me into the depths of depravity. An addict beyond redemption, I was utterly and totally dependent on a cocktail of drugs to function as a walking-talking human. Not that anyone would agree. I weighed 36 kilos and with my eyes popping out of my skull, I was more ET than human. And I still prided myself on being independent of others. All I wanted was my drugs. I didn't need the world, or you, or you. You, either. I was the center of the universe and I could obliterate you from my existence.
And I did. I pushed everyone in my life away from me. Deep in the abyss, I sat alone, the spoon shaking ever so slightly in my quivering palm. The flame burned bright but it was the heat I wanted. Not to warm me, but to kiss the cold steel of the spoon and bring the solution to a boil. The flame couldn't even burn me anymore, impervious as I was, to all but the stimuli I sought. The needle sucked the solution out thirstily, but struggled to find a way in, to deliver the precious payload into the venous superhighway. To the heart and then to the command center — the sanctum sanctorum. A flash of divinity, a touch of purity, a moment of eternity.
Photo by Matthew T Rader
It wasn't bliss. Feelings are incapable of comprehending the infinite ecstasy and I'd scoff at my own attempts to capture that fleeting experience. But I’m left with a haunting memory in its wake. That reminds me of the impotence of independence. When I realised, I was all alone and I had no one to share my experience with. At that moment in the darkest center of my soul, I discovered the greatest truth of them all.
“No experience is complete without sharing.”
It's been 16 years since that day, and I still wake up with nightmares of my hedonic past, enslaved in the dependence of my beloved drug. But today I don't desire independence. I celebrate dependence. Dependence on the sun to wake me up, the stars to put me to sleep. The birds to sing for me. Friends to banter endlessly with. Oh... and a barber to trim my tresses.
I put down the trimmer in my hand and walk down the road to the salon, to chat, converse and share this moment I will never live again.
And to you, dear reader, I say...
“I want to see your face. To hear your voice. To know your thoughts. Talk to me.”
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❤️ Julia Saxena for her diligent feedback.