Poisoned, the once vivacious and zestful sky has devolved into a stygian and murky abyss. Choked out by the steely gray, the brilliant blue died a silent death. The dying light soon faded to nothing and the sun smothered by the dense smog slowly descended into its grave.

Infected by the rot in the air, the sprightly trees withered away into husks of their former selves. As a sign of the changing seasons, the lives of the vibrant green leaves slowly leaked out to leave a mixture of mottled yellow and brown remnants. The many leaves that had lost their will to live had fallen across the courtyard left to gradually decay. Languidly approaching, the winter season meekly produced a sleet of thin pure white snow which upon touching the ground joined the wet mud in an unholy matrimony of slush. No blade of grass was spared from getting consumed by the yellowish brown muck.

Bordering the courtyard, three vast walls like giants from times long past stand guard. Worn from years of duty, cracks in the dirty white paint run like fissure lines. As if to play a cruel joke, barbed wire is attached like a wreath of thorns to the heads of the already unscalable giants. Right adjacent to the courtyard is a massive white block with little windows carved in it out of sympathy. Emblazoned on the side in little black letters are the words “Callan Park Hospital for the Insane”. Armed with their clipboards and pens, the doctors and nurses in their matching uniforms march across the hallways like trained soldiers. Confined to each of their own tiny cells, each resident lives lifes not dictated through their own wills. Far off in the darkening sky in another world altogether, a single kite soars unburdened by walls through the air.

Like a puppet flung around by the invisible strings of a nameless authority, everything from the start to the end of my day is scripted. As a small boat in this raging and vast ocean of life, I submit myself to consistency, repetition and familiar cycles to keep myself from capsizing into the depths of insanity.

So, I wake up, eat, take pills then sleep.

So, I wake up, eat, take pills then sleep.

So, I wake up, eat, take pills then sleep.

Over and over again.

My mind is like a dense forest shrouded in Cimmerian darkness whose canopy prevents the warm rays of stimulation from penetrating the darkness inside. Slowly, I find myself being stripped of my individual senses. Sight, touch, smell, taste and hearing. All that is left is a lump of rotting meat floundering in the darkness of inexpression. Something that cannot possibly be classified as human. Through the blur of the many manufactured days, it is getting increasingly harder to remember the warm and soft embrace of my mother and my fathers rough but quiet voice. The memories are steadily leaking out of my being only leaving my stark white room as my past, present and future.

My fruitless ruminations were suddenly shattered by a shrill scream. Slowly creeping to the door, I peered into the hallway. Writhing with great pain was one of the residents who was being held down by doctors and nurses alike. With eyes not capable of expressing emotions, I stare impassively as the piece of flesh gets carted away. As the mechanical gears of my life were about to start to churn, a flash of black caught my eye. Lying spread eagle on the floor is a book with the words ‘Metamorphosis” and “Franz Kafka” printed on it. However, what keeps me staring is the graphic of a man half transfigured into a cockroach. Something that could not be called human. Just like me.

Picking up the book, I brought it into my world. What started with the first page, turned into 2, then 100. Dancing on the paper, the words weaved themselves together into an intricate web of meaning. My hands were trembling. I was perspiring with the vigor of an olympic athlete. Every second I was away from the book brought an intense pain that reverberated through my body. Days passed without me needing a pill.

After countless hours of manic obsession, I reached the end of my journey. However, instead of being rewarded by the fruits of satisfaction, I was instead greeted by a strange sense of melancholiness. Was I like Gregor doomed to die without meaning as a monster? Did my life have any meaning in the first place?  The ripples in the pond of my mind settled and I for once in 20 years was given a chance to reflect.

The murky haze is dissipating and the vibrancy and colors of my memory are flooding into me.

I could smell the cornfields I used to work when I was young.  I remembered how I felt when I got my first paycheck. Like a bright candle, “Metamorphosis” lit up my dark forest allowing me to finally see my path out.

It is summer now. The chromatic periwinkles and dark yellow daisies all sway in the morning winds. Resurrected from the dead, the sun rises from the horizon. With metamorphosis safely tucked in my bag, I walk out the courtyard, past the hallways and into the wide world.

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Aditya Nair

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