A Television Insomniac

‘All the world’s a TV show, and all men and women merely watchers’ – Well, erm Sheik Sphere

In a dimly lit room, hunched over a window to an alternate universe; a universe that could have been, but shall not be, a universe that he wishes he was truly a part of, picking up half-baked, over-cholesterolated snacks and crunching them, his face but a mask, a mask of concentration so intense that you’d think he was performing a surgical operation; lies a man. His eyes glow red in the light from the lack of sleep over the past week. He perfunctorily picks up the bottle lying on the table, takes a swig of the chilled water that he had brought himself in the break that he took between two seasons, and puts it down, all the while gazing at his all too bright laptop screen, never missing a beat, never losing a moment.

The person in question is a part of a brotherhood. A brotherhood built on unspoken consent – a brotherhood of sunken eyes, drawn cheeks and an air of indifference to the world. Each person in the brotherhood has been a hero, this week and the week before that, and the week before that, right until the beginning of time. They have been the protagonists of a hundred stories, the antagonists of a hundred more, blessed the characters that they loved, cursed those that they hated, hoped someone would die more fervently than any failed conspirator would have, and loved someone so hard that it hurt to love again. Being a part of such a brotherhood has not been easy. For one, they took no prisoners. No half converts. You either dedicate yourself to the cause or quit. There is no in between. As a consequence, it took him months of continued effort and acute forced insomnia before anyone took notice of him as a part of the society. Once they did, there was the problem of coping with the rest, with those who weren’t a part of the society, those who treated the entire fraternity as recluses. But what did they know? What did they know of the thrill of watching a TV show and then discussing what was, has been and shall be? What did they know of the relief it provided to those in need?

But at that fleeting moment, at the end of that episode, at the climax of a TV show so gripping that he had skipped meals for the past two days, he realizes the truth. As he slips into a sleep, so dreamless and deep that it could only have been brought about by nights of continued wakefulness, in that small gap that lies between sleep and consciousness, he realizes that it had all been a farce.  Fortunately, he wouldn’t have to face the consequences of his forced Russian sleep experiment. He wouldn’t have to wake up again and remember, for sleep takes all. Willing or unwilling, all of them have to go.

Ganesh Mahidhar


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