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  • Ashi Gudibanda


Monotony. Monotony is the only thing I truly fear. Minutes that blend into days, weeks, months, the rest of your life. Because what even is life if you don't live it? If you have no stories to tell, no memories to sink yourself into? My name is Alex. I live life for the adventure, the excitement, the feeling behind it all. Every twist of a road, an unexplored path,  or a story makes my life worth living.

My greatest fear as a child was to work a boring, 9-5, dead-end job, which is why I travel the world instead. I’ve seen so much the world has to offer, but it’s still not enough. I need more, with every fibre of my being, I always have and I always will. Every country has its thrill, a new culture to dive into headfirst, so deep that you can't breathe. Food made from things no one would expect to be edible, music in thousands of languages that pulses through your body louder than the beating of your heart, the smell of hundreds of spices mingling with sweat and wet mud hanging in the air. No tours, no maps, just the moment, the music, the words you don't understand spoken by people you've never known before, and the rush you get from life itself.

I was 29 years old. I owned the world because it owned me. I would do anything for it, and it returned my sentiments a thousandfold. I had visited Brazil, Turkey, Mexico, Mongolia, Egypt, and countless other places. The Outbacks of Australia, where I had gotten kicked by a kangaroo. The nighttime phosphorescence of plankton in Vietnam, glowing organisms lighting up the ocean as if they were the stars above. Holding a starfish, being chased by a moray eel, sighting giraffes, manatees, and birds of all colours; this was what I live my life for. 

The stories I told regaled rooms of people, and they hung on to every word as I described my latest brush with death. I suppose I was the favourite of the universe, the luckiest guy in every room, and the most interesting. Life loved me, and I, it. I lived the most that anyone has ever lived.

It was perfect. An existence consisting of only highs and lows, with nothing in between. I had more than I could have ever dreamed of, and I loved every second of it, all the ugly and all the good. Imagine a children’s picture book, starring an adventurer who never stops chasing the new and undiscovered. My life was that book, and its sequel, and the one that came after that.

That is, until I died. A hang-gliding accident. The winds changed their course, and I crashed right into the side of a cliff.

People speak of heaven and hell, or of rebirth, but for me there is nothing. It’s empty, and it”s quiet, the silence deafening. I try to speak and nothing, I try to move and nothing, I try to scream, to rip myself into pieces just to feel something and, nothing. I try to cry, and nothing. 

If there is a hell, there is no fire and torture and demons. If there is a hell, I am here already, and it is a white room with white walls, white floors, and a white ceiling. A small window overlooking the small, sleepy, suffocating town I once had a childhood in.

I see, I hear, I taste, I feel, and I live. I see white walls, I hear a car drive past once in a few days, some birds chirping if I get lucky. I taste bland, mashed food being spoon-fed into my slack jaw, and I feel the hands of a young nursemaid, holding mine sometimes. I live, not by my definition, but by one from a medical journal. My heart beats, and my brain works, so I live. 

I am the universe’s favourite, and I am the luckiest guy in the one room I'll stay in forever, because I miraculously survived a hang-gliding accident that should have killed me, but only left me paralysed from head to toe.

I am 61 now, with a long while still left on this earth, but I died a long, long time ago. My life was over when my spine cracked in Peru, at 29 years old, due to a hang gliding accident. For the past 32 years, and for many years to come, I have lived and will continue to live in a white room, with a white bed, white walls, and a white ceiling. A window just out of reach, overlooking a dull asphalt street, on the outskirts of a suffocating, small, sleepy town I had worked so hard to escape. Empty, deafening silence. Only me, alone inside my head, trapped there with my screams and sobs, my cries for help that no one will ever hear, or see, or feel so profoundly as I do. Trapped trying to cling onto memories that slowly fade with each coming day, and that will one day leave me just as the fates have, and just as my life has.

Minutes that blend into days, weeks, months, the rest of my life; because what even is life if you don’t live it? My name was Alex, I used to live my life for the adventure, the excitement, the feeling behind it all. Monotony used to be my greatest fear, and now it is the only thing I know. My very own personal prison.

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