As I entered the main office, the flickering tube-lights failed to ignite my anxiety. I don’t remember the last time I had an episode of anxiety, I probably got used to it.
I remember the sight of my face when I stared into my faded mirror in the morning. I don’t know even know how long and for how many days I’ve been nearly awake. My face had probably shrunken, I had managed to roughly shave off my stubble, but the razor cuts were clearly visible. I have gotten used to looking at my eyes red almost all the time. My hair had become matted, curled and had bits of food snuggled in here and there.
Although I looked thin, I don’t believe I was malnourished, but I definitely wasn’t well fed. Any person passing by would call me a mess, a vagabond, an invalid or some other glorious judgemental praise. But after all these years, I will never believe that I’m a mess.
Before I began to wander off into my thoughts, the secretary of the head editor spoke to me,
“Please stay in the waiting room for some time, he will call you soon” she said while prompting me towards the office waiting room.
The waiting room was empty. All it had was a few white plastic chairs, one ceiling fan that seemed as sleepy as me and a water dispenser that had collected fungus at the mouth of its tap.
The fungal stains in the water would’ve bothered my long ago, but not now. I drank the filthy water and splashed some on my face. I was now sitting under the slow moving fan, waiting to be called by the editor’s secretary.
It has been a long time since I’ve been this idle, so I began to count the revolutions that the drowsy ceiling fan made. It was while counting that my thoughts rolled back to my childhood.
As a 7 year old boy, I had imagined a lot of things about myself when I reached the age of 23. I thought that by the age of 23, I would become a successful businessman handling a huge business empire, travelling in expensive cars and private jets and a lot of other such nonsense. But life is your best teacher of reality.
I tried many times to fly, but didn’t realize that I wasn’t born with wings. Watching all those movies in my childhood had corrupted my sense of reality. It was a gradual and painful acceptance of reality.
At 23, I didn’t become the superhero that I had envisioned as a young boy. I was just another corporate employee, like the rest of the rats. The biggest problem with all those movies is that they make us think that we aren’t rats. When reality strikes, it isn’t easy to accept but I eventually got around as I blissfully accepted the monotony of my corporate job.
Entering into the corporate world, I found myself caught in a vicious cycle. I would wake up everyday, get ready and go to office. In my corporate job, I would be subjected to general corporate repression. Laughing at the boss’ stupid jokes, doing a nonsensical job that made no sense to me, and getting into the vicious cycle of climbing up the corporate ladder. Work five days a week to sleep off the weekends; all I did was live for the weekend.
That weekly cycle bothered me. So at the suggestion of one of my friends, I began to visit the local pub every Friday. I would get tipsy and try all sorts of embarrassing mating dances to enchant a female, although my success rate was really low. For a few weeks, going to the pubs on Fridays helped relieve me of my work stress although I would end up waking up with shame and regret the next morning.
But I soon realized one thing. In my corporate office I was under the control of the person giving orders to me. In the pub, I lost my control after inebriation. There was no difference. The corporate office was full of rats, so was the pub. In both the office and the pub, I had no control.
I had gotten into another cycle and again I wanted to break out of it. So one Friday, instead of spending my savings to get drunk and dance embarrassingly in front of strangers, I decided to stay back at home and stare at the wall. Some of you might think that is strange, but the moment I decided to stare at the blank wall, I felt a sense of calm in doing nothing. I felt a sense of relief in being unproductive.
The entire week, my boss would hound me to be productive in my hours. But staring at this wall, indulging in this unproductivity provided with the greatest escape from the vicious corporate cycle that was driving me crazy.
Some thoughts ran by me and I scribbled them down on a paper for some reason.
When I saw what I had written down, I realized one thing. I had enough ability to string together a few words and call myself a writer. So I began to regularly write in my free time. I forced my friends to read and review my work. Of course, not everyone liked what I wrote, but I was happy that I found a hobby that helped me break out of this vicious cycle.
So when my first short story got published, I dived into another fantasy.
I saw my future, a best selling author with publishers struggling to get my signature.
Since then, it has been fifteen years. As you may have realized, I’m not a best selling author, neither am I still a corporate employee. I’m not sure if was the right decision to rage quit my corporate job, as I didn’t get hired back to that corporate job after my writing contract with the local magazine ran its course and they didn’t find me appealing enough to renew the contract.
Since then I’ve been a freelance write for nearly fifteen years. I have done odd jobs to survive. I’m now waiting in this waiting room to hear from the publisher for my book “Is This It?”
Writing this book has taken away fifteen years of my life and left me on the brink of homelessness. This editor is with one of the largest publishing houses in the world. If they decide to accept my book, I will almost surely become an overnight sensation. Copies of my book will fly off the shelves. I can finally become the bestseller I wanted to be or am I drowning in the misery of another fantasy?
Maybe… finally.. Is This It?