“The idea is to die young as late as possible. ” 

Some people are blessed to bluntly refuse accepting non-sense from social monkeys. Their novelty is too sacred to be contaminated with such disasters.

I was reminded of the fact yet again by Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. Other than being a popular masterpiece, the book is unique in reflecting upon how walls can preserve sanity of someone exposed to systematic trauma of a prudent, confused and way much occupied society. (The Metamorphosis is about sudden and literal transformation of human form into a giant insect and how he and his family survives it). Metamorphosis leads Gregor Samsa (the protagonist) through a laborious process of surviving do-ability of human conscience locked in the body of  an insect, fixating him intellectually. As Gregor’s confinement-misery consistently falls short to ever pending petty jobs of a family obsessed with the idea of fiscal prosperity, his transformation suffers an oversight throughout and I became interested in finding about how he gains endurance and resilience at any point if at all.

As soon as I finished first few pages, the book began to make sense. However, it is painful and ironical about the time I read The Metamorphosis. 

The Room, a central figure reappearing in Kafka’s novels, is a place for people who are alone but not lonely.

I know as I saw someone living in that room. My brother, Ishaan.

A gifted writer and aspiring theatre artist, Ishaan built his ivory tower in the same room. Compulsions from family, friends and society to never reach him, he immunized his genius through these walls. Two sides of the walls; two different personas of Ishaan and we hardly got to know either one.

 The Room’s interiors were neat, organized and chaotic as they attempt to contain ever-expansive and ideal worlds of arts, literature, sports, music and abstract. Books and lots of books that will take years to grow up with, movie-collection that will scratch you to the farthest of believable illusions of your world, curiosity and challenging semantics gave Ishaan his share of peace and wonder. Drama, humor, comedy, philosophy, auto-biographies of Tagore, Chaplin, Hitler and Tolstoy were precious gems and he often cited quotes and instances for me.

What’s common between the two room-mates is misfortune in form of the confinement born out of the need for desperate escape from mechanical and creatively rotten orientation towards life. Imagining plight of a creative soul burdened with conservative ideologies of leading a life, is not difficult. We face it quite often but not to the point that drives us to confinement as it did to Ishaan. Past, present and future of Ishaan’s life were rooted deep into his room. Like Gregor’s, Ishaan’s family except his sisters, was oblivious to the frustration their son faced almost always by being born for intellectual pleasures of life and not monetary.

 Locked and on-watch all the time, room is all alone as his master lives no more. He died on 8 November last year after struggling with renal failure for a year. Tormented by his memories, his family recently vacated the house and his soul, books. As we were vacating, we saw Ishaan’s favorite quotation hidden below the wallpapers:

“Status for absolution shall be prioritized to death over life, curiosity and chaos.” 

It’s like he knew his time will be up soon.

It was Ishaan who introduced Kafka to me years before, if only I knew he will introduce my brother back to me. A brother who deserved to be understood more, supported more and above all to be alive more.

Lesson in the loss.

What’s left is his books, few regrets and life-long struggle to deal with this huge loss. As painful as it could be for a family to come to terms with death of the only son is crushing. We never knew his e-mail Ids,  Facebook account or for that matter, the fact that he was in the middle of finishing a book. He hated shopping and always kept a low profile with simple clothing and goofy humor. All his lifetime, he asked me for a couple of things including a PlayStation and a bag. I bought it for him. What would you call it other than a cruel and barbaric irony that back in time, I was shopping for a bag that will contain my brother soon to be transformed into ashes and dust. He used to leave from home with the bag over the shoulders and ear phones plugged in. In the end, the same bag carried him (Ishaan’s ashes) to Ganges.

I knew he was brilliant and talented enough to make it some day to mainstream cinema or publishing world. I grew up on the belief or more of a fantasy that people gifted with such remarkably rare talents reach their rightful place sooner or later, are immortal and certainly earn their name long before they say goodbye. Gifts that Ishaan possessed ought to serve a purpose and so I hoped for his D-Day could realize any time soon, so did the others who knew him close and believed he was destined to go places.

And may be this was my mistake, I thought Ishaan like others will lead a grand life. But…

 Unfortunately and very cruelly, I was brought down to a brutal reality that for death, all are equally perishable. To this day, it’s difficult to believe that he is gone and I will never have a single conversation with him again. Although being a non-believer, it became an urge to browse internet for afterlife, heaven and hell to find out if there is any truth in the world beyond ours and if it is, where is Ishaan now?

 Loosing a loved one wounds a soul forever. In a strange way, I loose him everyday as I learn more and more about our mortality as the ultimate truth. As I held his ashes and remains, what I felt was more than a usual sense of touch, a horrible and nerve-wrecking experience that was Ishaan. Life is one big trickster, en-circling creative souls in mechanical routines, it’s crushing,  painful tricks work every time when I realize that my grief isn’t about loosing a brother or loosing the only happiness of my parents, it is much more deeper. It is about loosing a mirror. Like a mentor has lost his precious protege, a writer lost his inspiration or a sage has lost the possibility of a beautiful conversation with a beautiful soul for ever.

But all of it is bearable with the only exception of the fact that Ishaan never got to experience life’s little cherishing episodes. He never fell in love, never went through the pain of a break-up, never felt what’s its like to drink irresponsibly and behave madly. Didn’t travel and explore how sun, moon and stars shine out there. Never laid down on foreign soils and knew how earth smells in exotic places. Didn’t get the chance to explore wilderness of nature. Couldn’t finish his guitar lessons or sang along on long drives. How could time be this unfair to such a decent soul, crushes my hope always when it comes to believe in anything.

The pain of not being able to live the life we want for being stuck in one plane throughout is terrifying and  I have lost the companion who was my inspiration for freedom. And I emerge as a legendary loser when his lively absence makes me feel that a person who was just an ordinary relative to me was closer than whole of the universe and it’s too late to understand him, respect him, adore him. All I can do is miss him and that’s what I do.

Endless calculations of how we could have averted this sadness out of our lives follow me always. What eventually went wrong as I read and continue to read more and more about fatal Sepsis or chronic kidney failure that Ishaan died of? How and where it began? My confused brain tries hard to figure out how to conclude the quantum of fate and chance mechanics. Things just do not seem to add up. Nihilism is more than just a theory and reason is the new perspective that needs to guide the definitions of good or bad.

Death is a part of life. The idea of time as the only real currency never made sense any better.

 All that I learn everyday is that Ishaan is gone!

Ishaan died young quite literally! 

Writing this post and taking it out, feeling exposed and naked in front of people is terrible but sort of compulsive. It works best for someone like me to express what otherwise is suffocating. So is the overwhelming feeling that every time I watch a movie, read a book or write something, I miss him. When I reach home, there is no one to participate in my happiness and excitement or understand my language of intuitive communication I shared with Ishaan. What’s even worse is, peace and accomplishment I derive from writing and uptaking cinematic excellence, is the only way to find myself.

We all have limited time, do not ruin it in doing something you are simply not meant for and more importantly not asking or expecting the same from others. 


3 thoughts on “‘The Room’ in Kafka’s Stories; Ishaan Lived There

  1. I remember Ishaan as life and the number of things reminding him are too many… I met him only once.. we shared our fav authors, our books and our share of peace together… Your brother remains a part of our lives… Let us continue with what he taught us most… live life.

  2. Nidhi, I am sorry for your loss. I am a fan of your writing. What you write makes so much sense to me and I really get a lot out of it. Well, please write more. I am desperately waiting for some new posts from you.

    Take care

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