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I’ve always believed you become what you’re destined to become even before you realise it. Oh, I’m not talking about careers here; I agree with what Jon Krakauer when he wrote in Into the Wild, “Careers are a 21st century invention, and I don’t want one.”

What I am talking about is… who you really become.

In hindsight, as I’m thinking sitting in this lonesome cabin up in the hills, I wonder if this was really me. The cancer in my body would have confirmed this, but of course we found out about it too late. My mum, when she heard it first, did accuse the doctor of intentionally keeping the news away from us – saying he didn’t to save his clinic, though I don’t know how concealing the development would have helped his establishment – but reason soon found way in her rationale.

The next two months, I saw both my parents sink into an indefinable shell. Oh, they did care for me. Gave me all the help I could want; and maybe even more. And yet something had changed in them. I noticed a kind of what I want to say resignation on their faces, as if they had failed at the one think they prided themselves over – parenthood.

Now, their son was deteriorating in front of them; and if the doctor was to be believed, which he of course was, there was little to nothing they could do about it. It didn’t matter how effective a problem solver my dad (The Fat Dad, remember him?) was, this was one problem he couldn’t right. I saw my mum break down many times right in front of me. My heart broke at that, but what could I, the terminal patient, even do? Console her? Tell her how everything was going to be okay? That maybe there was a silver lining to this dark cloud?

Ha ha, right? You can say I’m funny.

You could tell something was the matter, when I was called in after my yearly “routine” check up. This was in the second month of grade 11. I wasn’t in touch with anyone from The Boys Club anymore. I did see them occasionally in the park. If our eyes happened to meet (which I did try to avoid), I would just smile and maybe wave; and then carry on with whatever I was doing before giving them a chance to see the opportunity as a window to talk.

Anyhow, the doctors had found a… mass is the word mum told me they had used. I was sent in for a few tests, and a few days later my parents were called in. Of course, they were going to tell me. I honestly don’t recall what my reaction was; I don’t remember time becoming still, or the world and everything in it stopping in its track. My head didn’t become empty. My heart didn’t seemed to beat any louder. I just hmm-ed at the news when they told me, went to my bedroom and slept.

But seeing my parents, and despite their concern the strangeness that I saw in them, affected me even more. I’m not proud to admit it – something which I now realise is not a sign of weakness, as I believed earlier – but I started feeling… detached. Oh, I did care for them. I do care for them. But if something changed in them, there was something else that changed within me too.

And as someone battling a disease that will soon kill me, I get to have that, don’t I?

So, I did what any self-righteous person would do in my case. Okay, maybe I’m being a little too liberal in calling myself self-righteous. But remember when I told you about how I’ve learned we become who we are destined to even before we know it? I’ve realised that’s who I am. I love my family, of course I do. I care for them, I want the best for them. But, above all, I want the best for myself. I’m not resentful, I’m merely… trying to live my life.

Or what I have of it.

What I did was… run away. Much like Christopher McCandless – the guy you may remember from Into the Wild – except that I took my cash with me. Left my debit card home, because, well, paper trail. Even my phone, which I’m sure my parents would have found by now in the drawer next to my bed. The most I did to try to conceal it was put it on silent mode. I don’t know why I tried to hide it in the first place. Maybe to buy myself time.

In the words of Chester Bennington, the voice behind Linkin Park, in the end it doesn’t even matter.

Which reminds me of a funny story. A couple of years ago, when, in a coaching class mum had enrolled me into, this and guy who used to sit next to me and I were discussing music. I was into a lot of hard rock back then – since my tastes became more, shall we say, subtle. I asked him if he liked Linkin Park. And his reaction was, “Where is it?”

Anyhow, except a bag I stuffed with a few clothes and the barest of essentials, I didn’t carry anything with myself. I didn’t know where I was headed, or what I was going to do for the rest of my days. But I took the bus – sneaking out not just of the but also the neighbourhood was tricky – came into the hills, and stepped into the wild wilderness.

I think that I should reemphasise that I actually had no plan. But I trekked for the first four days – slept wherever I could, ate stuff you don’t even want to know about, took care of my business in the open – before I discovered a little shack. So, the last couple of weeks, I’ve been here. Don’t ask me how what I’m eating; neither would I be able to answer nor would you really like what I’ll say. Let’s just say I’m getting through.

And I do not regret it.

I spend much of my time wondering. I thought living such a life – out in the open, at the mercy of nature – would broaden my perspective to the things that till now were outside the periphery of my limited understanding. That I would be able to let go of… well, the things that shackled me to my previous life. And what’s what we all have dreamed about at one point or the other, haven’t we? Forget the past, even if the past wasn’t forgettable, and start afresh?

But I was wrong. That’s another thing I realised being here. I do believe I’ve been an arrogant kid. Would have never admitted to it of course, but I think I always knew. I was wrong that I could just abandon what I left behind.

Don’t get me wrong. I know my parents must be hurting. But would it have been fair to suffer the pain myself – you can’t even believe the kind of colours I vomit each day – and see them hurt; which would have, and I understand I say this at the cost of sounding incredibly selfish, hurt me even more? Since they told me about the diagnosis, they’ve done everything they can. What they haven’t, and let this not be a complaint please, is sit with me and talked to me. Told me it was going to be all right, that often life has a way of surprising you (and many times not how you would have liked).

Sometimes these lies, even though you know these are lies, help.

 So, yeah… I am where I am.

I’ll admit, though. For one miniscule moment yesterday, as I was lying down for a nap following a difficult and massive coughing fit, I was struck by a sensation; a sensation that was longing in disguise. Longing to be back home, in the comfort of my home, sitting with my parents having a nice warm meal. Watching a movie, as was our ritual for every Friday. Such was that hankering that it sent a welcoming current of warmth through me. I think I even cried.

I woke up feeling groggy, a metallic taste in my mouth, and remnants of that longing still lingering in the corner of my mind. I got up and went outside for a stroll. My mind was empty; a deeply satisfying yet strange feeling.

Strange because I can’t recall the last time I experienced not having any thoughts in my head. In the monotony of everyday life, there was always… something. You know? Homework, the weekly exams, whether I was up to date with my Netflix… even anxiety that United would lose the title. These and so many other things that lived rent free in my head.

But now, walking down the slightly mushy ground under my feet – it had rained the previous day – through the jungle, listening to the twittering of the birds as they flew back home after a long hard day, an orange streak of light in the western sky, a cool wind wafting about, I felt… liberated. A weight – needless, pointless – of the kind I didn’t realise I had been lugging around with myself had as if slipped off. I felt ten feet taller.

Around the corner, right next to a large tree – peepal, I think – was a little curved platform. A deeya was burning on this platform, its flame flickering wildly yet persistent. I looked around, wondering, but definitely not hopeful, if anyone was around. But I saw no one; nothing except the vast wilderness – trees, creepers, dried leaves that had fell here and there, muddy, mushy ground, and a squirrel darting from one corner to another. Except the wind, the place was still.

I sat next to the deeya, breathed in a lungful of clean air. Feeling calmer than I already was, I sat back, leaning against the trunk of the tree; and closed my eyes, feeling the envelope of peace, of a deep contentment settle on my skin, like raindrops.

This… this is why I had come here.

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