Semester Blues

It is the time of the semester once again for everyone to finally bleed: for words to fall heavy with the weight of farewells, for silence to finally speak the same. I think about this passing semester and remember not so much the days I stayed alive in crowded hallways and sticky classrooms listening to the hours tick away in slow motion, as the nights I spent awake thinking what will happen when all of these are over. I think about empty offices and the muted silence that accompanies them after everyone has stood up and left. I think about the stillness of the lonely river by the window, the ferry boats that pass every so often like time dragging away, and wonder what kind of lives people lead long after they have abandoned this place. I think about their plans, crafted well in pieces and hemmed seamlessly in place, and realize that I have long forgotten how to dream.

I spoke to my some of my batch mates yesterday afternoon, as if by accident. Their words were stars that sparkled in the dimness of own universe. They spoke of things that every average graduating student have in mind: grad school, law school, application forms, the endless pace of someone who chases after endless dreams. When they asked me about my plans, I spoke sheepishly of my wanting to retire already, to which they laughed almost as a form of contempt. I spoke of going to Europe and learning a language, leaving behind whatever there is that’s forgettable, heavy. I spoke of scratching the ground and starting all over again. My words were blunt, silly, marked by a childishness of someone who never take things seriously, but inside me was the turbulence of Tahrir Square. I thought about Berlin and a one-way ticket to everything that I have n[ever] dreamed, and realized that this too was practice. I thought about the future, the helpless attempts to decipher what is to come, the foolishness of it all.

In the end I wished them well and hoped that they would soon find their places, not that they haven’t found them yet. I let my words take a life of their own and dance their way into a denouement. I waved goodbye and before my eyes were smiles gleaming with gold: young, happy, and full of hope. I wanted to freeze that image for as long as time would let me. “They are leaving now,” I thought to myself. “And I am staying here.” It occurred to me that it may be the last time I will ever see their faces.

Time has a way of making us feel lost sometimes. But time too knows how to compensate. I think about time and the slow steady rhythm of days turning into weeks, of weeks turning into months, of months turning into years, and of years counting on and on into the dry and distant future, and imagine a time when I would finally look back and be glad. I would remember the unpolished stairs, the sound of footsteps behind me, the sound of labored breathing. I would remember wanting to run away as much as everyone did when life demanded too much than what we were capable of giving away. I would remember standing and holding ground. I would remember the faces of people I have loved and I have hated, and how they would blend one day with the faces of strangers. I would remember my aged professor, and how one fine Tuesday morning, he came up to me and told me what I wrote for class was beautiful. I would remember his words, their words. I would never forget.

Freud said somewhere that “one day in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” Sometimes you have to live by these words, as if they were truth, and simply place your trust in time. Sometimes I think it is the only way to live.


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