by Faisal Pakkali
Image: Sweetly Sally
I have been a lonely person all my life. Realising it just made it worse. I know what it feels like to be lonely and I feel we are repulsive. And so I want to betray our little secrets to you. Here are the signs the lonely people don’t want you to know:
They talk to themselves a lot:
Not in front of others, of course, that’s why it’s a secret. They do it at home, alone. They start usually, by making a few loud coughs, clearing their throats, and then perhaps later humming. This would be followed by ‘la la’s and whistles.
After I came to Bangalore I have driven straight past La La Land to thinking out loud. I speak to my cushion sometimes. It’s not a regular thing. I just wish it good night and good morning. I also wish it whenever I leave for and return from work.
It’s a warm pillow to hug, it feels a bit like her.
It’s very empowering after midnight:
The lonely sometimes may feel like they are pathetic vampires. For better or for worse, the world feels like theirs only at night.
From the terrace of my apartment, I can see the spread of all the other apartment terraces at night. The buildings are lit up from underneath by street lamps.
I would stand there and try to feel some kind of connection with the houses in front of me. “These are homes,” I tell myself, “families live here”. But I still feel like I’m standing in a dream. It is just quieter at night.
Some nights I am tired enough to be sad. I throw my pillow across the room and then pick it up, bite it, and cry. But I always feel better after. Cleaner.
The nights weren’t always easier:
Initially, the lonely hate the night, because it is the time when their thoughts start violating them. But once they reach a certain point, perhaps Stockholm’s Syndrome kicks in.
But I still believe that the night is an acquired taste. You must have a certain excitement that only the stillness of night can unlock.
But indeed, at first, I was scared of every night I would spend alone, locked in the fierce embrace of my mind.
I would be frightened by how still and silent the night was as I sat on my bed, how dark. I could not sleep. I felt something suffocating about the darkness. But, I could not sleep.
My only relief during these times would be the thought of her hugging me. And fucking me, but we’ll get to that later.
Loneliness is a shame following you around like a bad smell, sticking to you like underarm stains. People feel an instant revulsion on a physical level. Women feel the presence of an alien.
I’d been seeing her around the office for four months since I came to Bangalore. She has never spoken to me. Perhaps it is because I’m from a different department. But then, I don’t really talk to anybody at work.
Sometimes I watch her walk by in her high heels and with her tight ass and I dream of holding her in my arms like Shah Rukh Khan on the posters for “Dilwale dulhania le jayenge”, and then fucking her and biting her neck. I want her to scream while looking me in the eyes.
No wonder she does not speak to me. I must hate her. I must hate everybody. Then why am I so lonely?
We really want sex:
It’s simple as that. My own imagination is a debauched creature. But you can’t get your fix of intimacy from that alone. You can’t get it from cushions either.
That’s why I wanted to install cameras in her house. I followed her home one night after work.
It was a quiet residential neighbourhood in Indiranagar with blocks of small bungalows. The trees rustled their branches over the road and a cool breeze was carrying through. I was smoking a cigarette in my car and marking the spot on Google maps. I was parked across the road and a bit further up from her house. She probably shared it with roommates. Maybe a guy.
Maybe she was in love, she had her own life, and maybe she had taken good care of it. She might even be getting married soon.
When I came home, I sat on my bed and realised that I was never going to do it. This was as far as I could go. That’s when I decided to write this.
I’d like to confide something to you. I want to be utterly known. Funny how scary that is. But I do and there is no use pretending. Now I’m talking to you, because here’s the final secret that lonely people don’t want you to know. We’re you. We’re the part of you that get’s wished good morning and good night, but nothing more. We’re the part of you that doesn’t know what to do with fifteen minutes of free time, and we’re the part of you that wants to scream at the top of your voice as if you’re full of joy or pain, anything to still breathe.
In the end, loneliness tells you that you’re human. I suppose that’s the only thing that lonely people want you to know.
Faisal Pakkali is a Tamil writer residing in Bangalore. He has previously been published at Bartleby Snopes and The Missing Slate. He makes his characters explore parts of life he himself wouldn’t go to.