M is for Monotony
by Sindhu Rajasekaran
February 5th, 2022
Illustration by Renuka
On mundane Mondays you mull over ideas just out of reach. You realize yet again that conventional jobs of the mediocre variety pay more than those that inspire; money isn’t exactly where ethics abound; motivation is scarce and feeble. Minimalism is all the rage, but your bedroom is a dump yard of materialism – where you work these days, where boredom grows like moss. In all this mess, to live your best life, you meditate and dream of taking the middle path. Moderate your attachment and detachment. Be mindful of determinism and free will. Indulgence and self-denial. For months, you convince yourself that your choices are meaningful. Till melancholy sets in and mingles with all your thoughts, words and actions. Ethereal music is no longer mesmerizing. Your macabre thoughts become political. Grunge. Real. Time for a new aesthetic.
Romanticism in the bin. You see the world for what it is. A little ball in space run by mediocre masculinities; might they be mighty, mean, militaristic, Machiavellian, monopolistic, managerial, masquerading as meritorious men. Power is at the center.
You, in the margin. Speak of revolution. Think radical. Mutinous. Unmute. Yet, there are momentary questions. Do you want to fight your way in? Battle those bigoted maniacs to meld with the morose center, or do you just want space? Space with no center? Where we each can thrive, be more, be.
Back to work. Beep, beep. Your mobile phone keeps you tethered with reminders, deadlines, aphorisms, messages, meaningless meaning. Your monosyllabic replies mark the mood of the day. Middle-class monotony. Middle path. Middling. Mediocre. But also, it’s maneuverable; this job, this stint, this life. One where you spend your time morbidly thinking, and then switch off mentally at the end of the workday. Be at leisure. Or seek melodrama. Melt some butter, cook good food, eat. Sleep.
On Tuesday morning you see miserable news that matters. Your morality is provoked. You push out of the margins to try and take up space. You take to hashtag activism. Spend most of the day pondering over details. Type away. You are a machine. Working. Resisting. Side-by-side. Hustle. Bustle. Masterful, matchless, you are at your maximum. Being your best. Honest. No time to cook today, microwave for two minutes. Of the ready to eat variety, your food is not the best. Metabolisms be damned. Mind over body. This is a day for thought and progress––Revolution even.
Your morality is provoked. You push out of the margins to try and take up space. You take to hashtag activism.
Mid-week. Wednesday. Hump day. Mockery. You look at yourself in the mirror. Motionless. Who are you? What is this room? If it’s your own, why is there so much stuff here that you don’t care for? Unproductive, you lay on your couch. Take the calls that matter. Mostly though, your mind is muddled. Muggy; murky; musty – you can almost smell your ex’s neck. Move over, sense. You then pore over your ex’s social media pages. What’s new?
Thursdays are mechanic. You plug away mindlessly. You are just another machine - doing what needs to be done. No questions asked, non. An endless day of drudgery. But then, your back hurts, your neck feels stiff, you are a flawed cyborg. You’re an emotional machine, desiring machine; desiring meaning. Desiring rest.
Fallible Friday arrives with its meagre promises. But then (again), your mind is mangy. You need to declutter. Your house, your life, yourself. Get on with cleaning. Cooking. Some Malfy Gin to lighten up the mood? Those words refuse to leave. Mediocrity. Merit. Money. Materialism. Your monkey mind is jumping hither and thither. Chill out, you tell yourself. Play some music. Move your body.
On Saturday and Sunday, you look for Ikigai. Put pen to paper, journaling. Write down your thoughts. Produce a mediocre piece of something as you smoke some maal 1. Like this that you’re writing. Thoughts inside a thought bubble. A bubble that will burst into monotony. Questions will still be hanging. Monday will come again, you will work, you will mutter, you will mumble some truths. But will you make a change, will you break the chain?
Contraband. A personal stash of dope - in the urban Indian dictionary. In Persian, maal is wealth; prosperity; good. Maal as marijuana makes complete sense: you smoke a joint, see the Truth. That is good, isn’t it?
Puchner, Martin in Manifesto = Theatre, Theatre Journal Vol 54 2002