"A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life"
- R.K. Narayan




It was a cold night - one of those where silence chills more than the weather. DB, as he was called by one and all, sat up on his bed, wet with sweat and constipating in his thoughts. He peered and glanced at his mother's bed, throwing a loving and helpless glance at her. He got up, picked the bottle of pesticide mixed water hidden under his bed and walked out towards the fields. His mother shivered and murmured as if she was having a bad dream. DB heard it, but did not turn back, because if he did, then a demon would stop him from going forward...

 
Cut to flash-back
 
DB had always been an ace at academics. His mother beamed everytime he got an award certificate home. She would proclaim, time and again, that DB would go on to be a big man one day. A man in big position, with lots of riches and fame. Every waking moment, she just prayed to see that day.
 
But with DB it just didn't seem to be happening. Every time he graduated cum laude, he would enrol for another course - a higher degree or an alternate stream. Whenever his mother broached the topic of him getting a job, he would evade and escape. If she complained about the money, he would cajole her to make-do with the meagre stipend he earned through his library assistantship. She kept persisting and he kept avoiding. Her patience grew thin with time. A society that did not celebrate DB as a god, she had felt, would someday chastise him as a demon.
 
We all have demons that we fight. They come in many forms and shades - as fear, as desire, as lust, as attachment. They infect the soul - lie embedded within - far from the sight of any 'outsider'. Nobody ever wins these demons. Life, in this respect, is not a war, but just a struggle. Demons never go away, they can only be kept at bay. They wait constantly and hungrily - like vampires baying outside the ring of fire - waiting to pounce back. For DB, this struggle assumed enormous proportions. The light of his achievements were so bright, that nobody saw the shadows that haunted him.
 
DB was a loner; he could not socialize. He avoided confrontations and lengthy discussions. He felt scared to take on responsibilities, to stand up and fight for a cause. He didn't have a thirst for ambition. He was a coward. Anxiety and panic attacks were the order of his day. DB tried many a times to educate himself - to believe that he could survive the normal life - but something inside him broke down. No matter what he tried, he just couldn't stand up, not even for himself. DB's intelligence, which sometimes felt like a curse, made him stand naked, right in front of his demons -  neither were they going away nor could he turn and run. The only sanctuary, that he managed to make himself believe, were the walls of his university, where he was left to work on his own, undisturbed, unchallenged. He was just not cut out for the world outside.

When God blessed DB with intelligence, a path was cleared for him, but all other paths were closed. DB wasn't the common man, who could avoid confronting his demons through living a superficial life. DB's intelligence dragged him to the depths of his soul, forced his power to analyze and made him understand his vulnerabilities. He was a bundle of contradictions and inabilities, and he stared them in the face.
 
Then one day his mother confronted him. She wanted him to end his college streak and get a job. She envisioned him getting married and becoming a very successful person. Her happiness was pegged on it, and she wailed and begged DB to give her a mother's due. At that moment, DB had discovered a new demon - he could not handle too much emotional entreating. He had felt a nausea and leaving his mother sobbing on the floor, had walked out. His hands were trembling and the sweat on his brow felt really hot. It wasn't his mother who had made him nervous, but the thought of leaving his college. He had realized that day, that people see happiness in the direction where their demons don't stand, and sadly for him, there was no such clear view. The path connecting him with his mother was fraught with those freakish monsters. Their gory dance clouded and drowned his voice from reaching his mother's understanding.
 
At night, when he sheepishly returned home for dinner, his mother had sternly laid out a deadline for him. She made him promise, on her life, that he would end college that year. "Yes, I will end it" he had replied.
 
When great forces press against each other, the ground begins to shift. And then the levees break, and the floods come, and in the water come the sharks...
 
Back to the present
 
DB's mother was indeed having a rough dream. A God, who usually blindly granted her wishes, brought up a strange question this time. He asked her in case she had to choose between two sons, one a long-lived loser, and another, successful but with a short life-span, who would she choose? Mother, without a second thought, chose the former. Having her son with her, no matter how he turned out to be, was more important for her. The God frowned and disappeared. Mother slumped back to dreamless sleep. Somewhere in the woods, the demons had their last laugh...
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