How does one mourn the loss of another that is so distant, yet so present in the dark recesses of one’s heart, asks Shakeel Anjum.
“To keep alive, within oneself: is this the best sign of fidelity?”
—Jacques Derrida, ‘The Deaths of Roland Barthes’ in The Work of Mourning
I wish to say, no, I wish to mourn. I wish to feel this, this and only this. How to mourn this loss of another that is so distant and yet so present in the dark recesses of my heart, beyond the horizon? I can see it, but cannot access. I find myself incapable of mourning the loss of another I never met, never conversed with. This impossibility of mourning. There is nothing left in me to mourn, since I have already died with this suicide letter, addressed to me, without knowing me. I am not touched by death, death touched me, this life now has been emptied of the living.
I wish to begin, to write at least, a few words from the ruins of this body that has been ruined still, and this ruining continues to ruin. I feel a sudden jolt, a Mallarmean moment, a “crisis of verse”. Again, in front of me, when I did not sleep, could not sleep, awake, unconscious before this letter, at the edge of this writing, where everything has been said, a time, a grammar of past tense devours me. At the bottom of the right-hand corner, where the words of my intimate another close, it says, “The writer was a PhD. Student.”
Now again this question of mourning, this life of another that has been, haunts, brings out what is dead in me, buried in me, my own self. How can I mourn when I am no more?
Isn’t everything that has come up from a being, so intimate, yet so far from this? A great writer, or the very thing called writing itself, is a matter of what that has been, history, biography…Now again this question of mourning, this life of another that has been, haunts, brings out what is dead in me, buried in me, my own self. How can I mourn when I am no more?
I am metamorphosed, before the words that still bring the memories of beyond the grave that lies silent, in front of me. “I will not be around when you read this letter.” This letter that is before me, words that have glued together to form a constellation of death, this absence of another called death. I wish I could read these words glued together. Before I read it for the second time, a second gaze at these words, I find myself alone, at the edge of this sentence, hanged, poisoned, scattered, being emptied of its being. No dialectics works; here, at the very beginning of this letter that is before me, dialectics stands still, facing death, directionless, motionless, and, along with this death note is the endpoint of dialectics, my own self, to steal a phrase from Roland Barthes, “reduced to the region of death”, my inability to come to terms with these killing images, rustications, suspensions, national integration, which the suppleness of my another’s body resisted, until when cornered, this body offered its last revolt by revolting itself in itself.
Haven’t I felt this emptiness a thousand times, every moment, running here, there, everywhere, the impossibility of loving “without getting hurt”? Do I not live with this wound called love, that my being craves? In pursuit of this craving called love, haven’t I died, haven’t I suffered from this birth, “my birth”, “my fatal accident”, an impossible recovery “from my childhood loneliness”?
No dialectics works; here, at the very beginning of this letter that is before me, dialectics stands still, facing death, directionless, motionless, and, along with this death note is the endpoint of dialectics, my own self, to steal a phrase from Roland Barthes, “reduced to the region of death”
My another’s note says, silently, only this much: “along with my death dies also my favourite writer buried in me”. Carl Sagan died with you, along with you, next to you, two or more funerary flowers, me and my favourite writer too, as reading a favorite writer scratches those wounds and it is writing alone that heals that wound. Now the enigma, no, not a single enigma, but several—one doesn’t die alone as one lives alone, “unconcerned” selves, “pathetic” selves, this maniac in me, this madness in me, the pathological criminal in me, the gaze of everyone’s accusations, everyone’s curses that go on and on, continue even when I have gone.
This world’s curse will travel with me; only my companions, my friends on a funereal journey where they will stop and I will go further where this silent grave awaits me, arms stretched, ready to engulf me in an amorous encounter, where I meet my own happiness, my own utopia, “from shadows to stars”. Where my belief shall do away with this “colour”, a self no longer “divorced from nature”, no “second hand feelings”, outside this construction called love, reunited again with nature from this “forced divorce”, where my soul and my body remains intact, no longer “reduced to immediate identity and nearest possibilities, to a vote, to a number, to a thing”. Where my mind shall be mine and still be mine when others gaze at me, this utopia “made up of stardust”, I shall migrate with you and you only, and along with me still others shall join.
What is left with me, of me, without another that is you, except a suicide note and a rugged gesture called death, my own rugged death? I wish at last to steal a phrase from Walter Benjamin, another philosopher who committed suicide, “a storm is blowing in the paradise”, and further, in memory of Roland Barthes, my favourite writer, what tears me apart, leaves me wounded perpetually, repetitively is this, “the irremediable”. What contains me is the same—“irremediable”.