(part of a novel I’m working on)

“I want to stop letting a sense of purpose override everything else in life. I want to live a little, and love, without the deadline for this or that scholarship I need to apply to, or this or that brainwave I need to put my life on hold for to follow through to its intellectual end – a poem or a mathematical theorem. The world doesn’t owe me any glory – glory is for the gods. I’m a mortal, and I don’t owe an enduring work of art or an invention to a world that doesn’t acknowledge my mortality, and expects my sweat and blood for glories it will take away from me as soon as there’s someone else in the limelight, or when I’m not “game” anymore, glories it will, after I’m gone, take for granted and forget.

Life can be lived much more meaningfully if you love and respect the little things around you, and not chase after the things you don’t have. I will take whatever knowledge comes my way, but I will not let my pursuit of knowledge or glory blind me to the beauty around me that I need to celebrate right here, right now. The sound of my beloved’s breath in slumber, as if issuing from the depths of his dreams. The many emotions that play on his beautiful face. The way his glass frame pushed back over his head makes partings in his heavy heath-like hair. The way he struggles to love a life that’s always falling short of his expectations, the way he loves me and is kind to me and loyal to me in spite of… everything, and not the least, our mere mortal selves.”

With his enkindled spirit, he pulls his body away from his beloved and off the bed. His feet already cold, the floor they tread feels like another layer of cold. In the kitchen, he turns the stove on and puts the water on heat, and his body, stimulated by the heat, starts to shed the cold stupor that lay encrusted on it. He watches the water dance through the opening of the vessel, which presently clouds over with incipient vapors. The heat clears up the pathways of sensation, and he hears the water sing. The water has started turning to steam, and the sound of a half-remembered dhamaal echoes in his ears as he imagines a whirling dancer’s spirit hovering over the body like this vapor over the bubbling, boiling water. He imagines the spirit soaring in its ecstasy like the vapor, diffusing into oneness with the all-embracing divine, and he imagines the dancer who lingered on this phase equilibrium too long, draining his bubbling life into his spirit.

Intending to breathe it in, he lowers his head over the open kettle after it has lent its liquid heat to his cup. The steam heals his aching sinuses just by becoming a part of his breath, and clears his eyes of the remnants the night’s shadows.