Rising From the Ashes

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The last year has been very tough for me; in many ways except the ones which ultimately matter. I have lovely friends who’d still keep my company, I got into a good college and I’m doing my first choice of course, after letting my engineering dreams burn to ash and my law dreams remain just another unread chapter in my unwritten biography. I live in a house, my parents are alive, and I have some glimmer of hope of not being a total failure, which is good enough in my case.

I didn’t post anything in the last year or so because I’d not just lost the passion to write, but many other things along with it. I became the quiet guy in class, I didn’t raise my hand to participate in things that (didn’t) matter, like MUNs or debates, things that I used to love. I failed test after test of mathematics and chemistry as my teachers futilely convinced themselves that I’d do better next time, except that time never came. I was a horrible student – I’ll admit that. I stopped trying to take care for myself and my surroundings. I didn’t work at all, slept poorly, didn’t pick up phone calls, didn’t follow up on meetings and assignments and get-togethers. Basically it was a mess; everyone but me was scared, and I wasn’t aware of the situation enough to be scared, till the clock started ticking and soon it was one month before my board exams and I realised I’d messed up the last one year so hard that only a miracle could get my life back on track.

I didn’t believe in miracles.

I suffer from Thalassemia Major and a lot of my problems originate from this one genetic anomaly; it’s like a faint white noise playing in the background of an otherwise beautiful song that is my life. It’s the paper that you bite into when eating a cupcake. It’s the hot, wet rain on a lovely midsummer’s eve. It’s basically a minor inconvenience in the least and an all-pervading ‘No Entry’ zone for my dreams and ambitions at most. Thalassemia is a genetic disorder that causes haemoglobin (an essential protein required to absorb oxygen in the blood) to be produced in very little quantity. At this point in time, and probably for many years to come, it has no cure. So once someone is born with thalassemia, unless they happen to be very fortunate and are able to receive a bone-marrow transplant before the age of 5, the chances of curing it are quite simply, non-existent. I was not one of the lucky ones. Aside from the symptoms of having a Hb count perpetually below my shoe size, and a systolic blood pressure lower than my IQ, I need blood transfusions every week or two. Long story short, if I don’t get these blood transfusions, I wither and die like a plant without water.

At some point in early 2014, this Thalassemia thing ate into my life and left me starving for motivation; I’d fall ill quite often, but not often enough to warrant my absence from everything. I started playing horrible sounding video games, and my life was absorbed by it. You might have heard of it; my friends sure have. It’s called Dota 2, and I quite like the game, even now. I enjoy it for its competitiveness and sense of teamwork and belonging – my favourite and only sports team that I follow is a Dota team, so it’s still a part of my life. But I’m not consumed by illness or video games any longer. I’d like to spend time doing the things that people my age do. Which involves formulating plans for meeting people, and then not meeting them, and ending up stuck with people you didn’t want to meet but who happen to be in your college and therefore, there.

Most people didn’t even know there was anything wrong with me – my immediate  family of course made sure to tell everyone. But aside from that the biggest impact I’ve felt is a certain desolation in character, a lack of growth. My skills are still exactly the same as it was two to three years ago. Worse, maybe, since I haven’t practiced them. I haven’t spoken in public in over a year, or written any amount of high-quality, publishable content, or played the guitar often enough to count as ‘practice’ instead of just ‘showing-off’. Have I even grown intellectually? Do I know more than I did two years ago? The answer should be yes but I don’t feel the effects of this knowledge; quite the opposite infact. It feels I’ve wasted two years of my life in front of a computer, with nothing to show for it. And that’s the most soul crushing thing of all. It’s what keeps me awake at night.

There were days when I’d just read the poems I’d written in the past, for hours on end, trying to find inspiration for writing a new one. But new ones never came. I was obsessed with my own text, because I truly believed that the stories that I had to tell were good enough and worthy enough to be told. I consider my writing elegant and my speech eloquent. I wonder why more people don’t read what I write and it’s because I’m an egotist. I’m incredibly self-absorbed to the point where if you accused me of believing the world revolved around me, I’d side with you and put the onus on myself to prove that it does not, and then I wouldn’t follow up because I’d secretly wish that the world DID revolve around me. Yes, I’m very slightly crazy.

I was really scared of writing because I did not feel that my output reflected my actual skill. I’d cheat with writing; I’d Google information and look up quotes everywhere, I’d comb through the thesaurus searching for words to use, and base my sentences around that. I’d define each and every word I used ten times, including things like “the”, because I could. This process of rediscovery of the English language inevitably took time, and is what eventually lead to the demise of my writing prowess. Once you stop writing because it’s tedious or difficult, you lose the practice of actually penning down words, which is one of the most important aspects of being a writer. Yes, write crap, that’s fine – just write something! I knew it, deep down in my heart, but I guess I’d always managed to convince myself that there was something more important to do than to hone my one skill.

In the end I guess these series of random paragraphs are quite boring. They are. I understand that. But it’s a blog, and I advertise it quite heavily in my limited circle of influence, so I’d like it to finally reflect who I am, even if that person is not someone to aspire to be. “You only live twice,” is sort of a joke at this point, but in this one very rare case I do believe it to be relevant. In the same way a phoenix rises from its ashes, reborn and rediscovered, elegant and graceful and young once again – not jaded by centuries of advice and not weathered by years of battle, just this once I’d metaphorise myself as the phoenix. Only strong opinions on controversial topics from now on. So my next post will be either about Nazis, Muslims or Reservation Quotas.

Follow Upamanyu Acharya:

IIM Ahmedabad MBA 2021. My hobbies include being vague, bending rules, time-travel, and embellishment of words. This is my personal blog where I write on topics ranging from blockchain, to leadership skills and the consistency of jam.

One Response

  1. Jay

    A very beautifully wrote blog and story!!! A Must Read Blog depicting the life of Upamanyu Acharya😄😄😄😄

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