A Conversation with My Shadow

Pooja HemnaniJanuary 31, 2023Dreams and DesiresFiction
A Conversation with My Shadow

Artwork by Jessica Gao

What do we do when we have nothing to say, nothing to contribute to the conversation? You and me, I believe, stay silent throughout the night, two beings perhaps larger or smaller than the people in the room. I walk out, and you follow me there, you follow me everywhere.

Sometimes in moments when I feel empty and numbness courses through my veins, I wish to melt into you, your world seems new, if not happier, something to be explored; because I have walked through the grass of my earth and found not a single blooming flower on a healthy shrub that lies in my garden.

The universe with no color seems bland, just blacks and whites and grays all around, floating in every element of nature that was made for color. The lavenders, and sunflowers, and orchids, the tree trunks, the algae, the cherry shrubs with butterflies on them, the bees buzzing around to find nectar, white instead of yellow, seem depressing and yet, this world, your world, has so much more to offer to me than the world of colors, my world.

In your world, there is nothing. Nothing and nobody. Nobody alive, at least. Nobody with smiles and eyes with a brown tint, or a hazel shade. But those mean nothing to me. People in my world are alive, yes, but they don’t seem to recognize the repetition in their conversations, or days, or events. They turn the most beautiful of mankind’s inventions into the same old mundane practices. They talk about these things, art, all of it, and understand none of it.

I don’t claim myself to be better or superior to these groups of people, no, I enjoy just the same things they do, but I find beauty in those things. I find morals and patterns and connections and philosophies in art, they do art for its mere pleasure, not the deeper meaning of it.

I envy them of this sometimes, because this simplicity of doing things just for the sake of enjoyment has never occurred to me, nor have I ever done it for no moral or practical reason.

Simplicity is publicized more and more these days, in this era of fame and money and fashion and technology. Everything is done to and for the sake of making things easier and faster. In this age of hyper-productivity where people need not take a minute off their screens, guilty as charged, why would you want to complicate things?

On the contrary , I have always enjoyed complications, problems and stressful events. Of course, this could be the result of the growing notion of perfectionism, but I don’t seek perfection, I seek the pleasure you get after solving these complications or problems. The headache of trying repeatedly to achieve something, an answer, a conclusion, may seem not so desirable, but I perform best in that stress. I think it stems from arrogance, or ego, or pride, whatever you choose, it’s fitting. A real challenge, in my opinion, would be to change something very simple, very uncomplicated, untangled, into a intangible mystery, an unanswerable question, that is something I think will make people understand the beauty of overthinking, and experience what it’s like to be in the minds of beings like us, beings of the shadow world.

I know it might seem depressing that I call myself a shadow, but as a writer, I am observational, noticing details in every person. I never judge them, but I can tell clearly which boundaries they’re ready to cross with me, or other people. I am not necessarily good at collecting gossip, but that’s because it doesn’t interest me as much. I am not a reporter, after all. I read habits, emotions, intellect, behavior, opinions and gestures, not learn about who people like, who they’re sleeping with, or who they want to sleep with. Yet, I have to say, there’s a part of me which is attracted to these useless inter-social discussions that lead to nowhere, they give us a good time, and sometimes being practical is just a buzzkill. Logic is not the answer to everything in the world.

Logic isn’t something I choose to choose every time there’s a fight between itself and my heart and soul. My brain is much less developed, much less matured, and yet I cannot seem to put my heart out on my sleeve. I get it from my parents, my father, most probably, the inability to choose something risky and dreamy and ambitious instead of practical and safe. I envy people who can go with the flow, with everything, with every plan, with everything they do. I do it sometimes too, but for me, it involves thinking about it 24/7 without stopping until I actually execute the plan. I like to say that I am an unplanned-planner, filled with consistent-inconsistency, someone relaxed and stressed about events occurring that they completely thought about, and thought about practicing for, but didn’t practice for.

Janus, the roman god of doors and choices comes to mind. He haunts me, it seems. In every situation, I stand before him, still, perplexed, his two heads staring right into my soul and he sees a heart that cannot choose one for its own sake. Maybe in your world I might be able to pick between black and white, or maybe I get lost in the gray. Your life in the shadows must be a deep despair and full of loneliness, wouldn't it? Nothing to see, no-one to talk to, except yourself, you're trapped in your own light, and it takes over you as soon as day hits night. It's like a demon, the sun god punished you with, what would it be like, if you were here with me? You’d seek vengeance, I am your nemesis for that matter, but I am also just you, but happier, right? It's unfair of me to get to live a life, however simple, it's unfair to you to have to live in solitude that turns not-so-peaceful when you're in your own head for the rest of your life. So sometimes, I wonder, are you my enemy or my friend? Are you a part of me, or is this a pretense? Are you my mind or are you my soul? Do you haunt me or do you guide me? But alas, you can't talk, so I sit here alone, weeping for the life that you could've lived. The life I get to live.

Pooja is a 14-year-old from Ahmedabad, India, who is interested in poetry, art, design, and music.