Somewhere inside my head, in the depths of
my cranium, there lives a monster.
This monster does not have a name. It does
not need a name. It is, simply, the monster.
If I could draw this monster, I would give
it a beak like an eagle, claws like a giant anteater, and the predatory
instincts of a hyena. I would clothe it in armour-plated scales, and give it a
tail with a spiked end like a scorpion. I would give it venom, and the patience
to wait for decades for its moment to come.
What I would not need to do is make it hate me.
Yes, it hates me, this monster. It hates me
for confining it inside the bony prison of my skull, where it has not the space
to spread its membranous wings. It hates me for being me. And so, quite
logically, it does its very best to destroy me.
I remember the time I first realised the
monster existed. I was eighteen, and lying in a hospital bed after a series of
suicide attempts, and I could feel it inside there. Slithering around in the
bloody darkness, infuriated that it had not escaped, and determined to try
If I could talk to the monster, I would
say, I did not confine you. I did not imprison you.
I cannot tell the monster this – or anything
else. It does not listen to me.
And why would it? I am its enemy, and it
wants to be free.
So it crouches, and it waits, for its time
to come round again. We both know it, and we both know that someday it will
claw its way free. But not yet, not now. I am not ready to grant it its
Today, now, it lies bound in chains,
breathing hate and fury.
Poor monster. If I could let it go, I would. It gives me no pleasure to hold it inside me.
Last night I had a dream. I dreamt of a
journey on a train, to a destination that I did not want to reach – and yet, I
could not stay where I was either. I got on the train, and I had a sudden doubt
whether it was even the same train as I wanted. By then the train had stopped
at a small station, and I tried to get off. I could not get off because of the
huge number of people trying to get on. And the train started again.
Then I was at a house with my grandmother,
who was alive and well. It was night, and I could only be with her a few
minutes. She took me past her garden to show me her beehives – her tiny
beehives, made of earthen pots. She took one of them up, and covered it with a
little net. All the bees flew into the net except for a few stragglers, which
did not sting.
“Take some honey,” she said, handing me the
pot. “Take as much as you want. It’s all natural. And I’ve kept fish preserved
in it as well. You can taste for yourself what fish preserved in honey tastes
And I looked in the pot, expecting to find
fish fillets in honey. Instead, there were entire fish, packed side by side,
and they were alive, and moving sluggishly, struggling to breathe in the honey.
My grandmother, who would literally not hurt a fly in her life, was drowning fish in honey.
Somewhere in my skull, the monster was
It knows, you see. It knows it will escape
someday. It knows it will roam free.
But it can’t, not here, not now. All it can
do is hurt me.
Don’t be so impatient, monster.
I’m in no hurry to let you go. There’s
still too much of living in me.
|Depression, watercolour on paper|