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

"Hey buddy, do you remember that football match we played on the terrace once? How irritated grandpa was that he couldn't get the ball. Man we had such a ball that day, isn't it?" Vikram looked at his son, expecting to see a chuckle; there was none. The kid seemed to be warming up though, so he went on, "and then last Diwali when we burst bombs at 5 A.M. to wake everyone up? Remember you insisted on the atom bomb and, man, how resounding it was?" Still not even a smile, leave aside the chuckle. He knew it was a difficult exercise to get his son back to how he was. He had tried for days with no result, but he didn't want to give up.

When they had discovered the son's drug addiction it had shaken the family to no end. They got him treated at a good facility. Over time, it seemed like the habit was gone, but looked like it took his soul away too. An active and lively boy was now left blank and emotionless. The whole day his postures would change, but not the stares. Sometimes over the window sill, staring at the street outside; sometimes in bed, staring at the ceiling fan; and sometimes, looking at the television but never really watching it.  The therapist called it withdrawal symptoms, but there was none of the rage, nervousness or palpitation that they said would come along-with. There was just calm, an eerie silence.

A silence so blank that lacked even the simmering intent of erupting in words at a later point. A silence so lifeless that it couldn't even be suffocated with frustration.

The boy's eyes were like white canvas, it told no story. Like an empty cup, a closed door. Like a dried leaf tentatively hanging on to its last moments - where even a gentle zephyr could spell death.
"He is such a smart lad, why can't he reason with himself and come out of that stateless state? What's holding him back?" Vikram would think. He knew his son was not so weak willed to give in to depression, so why was he not coming back? Where was he... lost?

Any attempt at striking a conversation was met with stares, and an occasional 'hmm' at best.

And as Vikram decided to give up on the persistence - not on reviving his son, but on pushing him faster - he was reminded of his own youth where desperation was a constant undercurrent to his intellectual development. Knowledge was a great gift, but it was also a burden. The more Vikram had learnt, the more he had realized the emptiness within him. He had been convinced that God, if there was one (and there better be one), was playing some kind of rude tricks on us hapless creatures. We were literally prisoners of our ignorance and there was no hope to escape. The best a man could achieve was to open his eyes to that ignorance and foresee with conviction of the veritable dead-end in the pursuit of knowledge. Vikram had pursued many streams and disciplines of study and, in the end, had felt like a dog running around a tree chasing its own tail. Vikram's parents at one point had felt so nervous with his experiments that they had taken him to a psychiatrist, who seemingly did some treatment and let him go with some prescriptions. The doc had warned the parents of withdrawal symptoms, but there was none. Just an insurmountable silence. Vikram's dad would try to strike up a conversation, but Vikram would respond with a silence that mainly carried the frustration of Vikram's own failure with a healthy contribution from the frustration arising out of his parents' inability to empathize with him. It was a silence of giving up, a silence of being... lost!

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