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THIRTY DAYS ~ Sushant Singh Rajput




Iss umeed se dil behalata rehta hoon 
Ke tere manzil ke taraf mere kadam aate hain 
Bas kuch dino ki hi toh baat hai
Iss hi umeed se dil behalata rehta hoon 

Ab na aankhon mein hai namee
Aur na dil mein woh dukh
Bas kuch dino ki hi toh baat hai
Iss hi umeed se dil behalata rehta hoon

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WHAM-BAM-THANK-YOU-MA’AM


“Dude!” said a friend most forlornly, “this Covid-19 seems to have left my dick insolvent, man.” 
I laughed. 
“What the fuck,” he reacted sharply, “what was the laugh for, dude?”
“The words.”
“What words?”
“You know, the – seems to have left my dick insolvent.”
“Fuck!” he exclaimed, “You writers a weird lot, man! I am here lamenting about how sex deprived I am, and you are bloody delighting in the creative manner in which I strung those words together.”
I chuckled. 
“Fuck you!”
I chuckled even more animatedly. 
He handed me over a glass of beer. “How are you coping with it?” 
“With the seclusion or the sex?”
“Sex obviously, dude.”
I hesitated. “You know,” I stopped at that.  
“I haven’t fucked for the last three months and it’s driving me crazy, man!” 
I merely made a mild – umm – sound. 
“What the fuck was umm?” he asked. 
“Just umm,” I added with nonchalance, well aware he’d scoff at that. 
He rolled his eyes. “Aren’t you missing it?” 
I took a deep breath and preferred not to answer something that silly. 
“What?”
“You know I’ve never been into casual sex, mate.”  
“You’re a fucking dick, dude,” he said rowdily, “if I don’t go to the club and make my moves, I feel like I am losing the plot, man.”
I deliberated for an instant, “Ah, you are merely missing your sexual ego being babied, that’s all.” 
He rolled his eyes again and abused me for having been such an insensitive twat. 
“You’ll be fine,” I patted his back. 
“You’re telling me that you don’t actually miss the sex every now and then?”
“What do you want to hear?”
“The truth.”
“I was reading that for some there is nothing easier than understanding the sex life of someone they’ve never met, and easier still when they are conveniently dead in the head.”
“You mean like Don Juan who fucked as many as he wanted and then killed them in their head and went onto the other,” he halted, “or wait, even like Casanova.”
I shook my head as I exasperated, “Are you conveying that human sexual habits have always been more or less the same? That the only variables being the degree of hypocrisy and cover-up?”
“I am meaning to say that sex is a world in which self-deception can so easily present itself as objective fact, and brutal honesty is no more likely to be true than shy evasiveness or sentimental melodrama as an explanation of what really took place.” 
“Was that you, or the effect of the beer?” 
He threw a cushion at me. “No, wait, there are enough and more married people too who end up having sex outside of their marriage.”
“Humans have been cheating from the start of humankind. So what’s surprising about it?”
“It’s simple, people like to hook up because they aren’t looking for a long-term commitment like marriage. And anyway marriage is overrated, dude. As they say, I am single, but not as single as these married people, and one of the perks of that is to be able to have full control over your cock than to have it handed over to some woman who has no clue what to do with it.”
I nodded. 
“And I fuck at the slightest opportunity I get because I love it, and not because some privileged deep thinking arse like you might think that I suffer from a lack of self-esteem, or because I am trying to use sex as a tool for covering up some sort of blemish I may have, which I don’t.”
I breathed deeply. “We are in the same club by the way.”
He winked. “What’s the objection then when you get what you want without any emotions involved? It’s not like it is any ticket to damnation, or that I am a victim of depression or whatever such fucked up stuff that these nerds keep coughing up all the time.”
I smiled. “If you meet someone casually who then ends up being a long-term partner then I do agree that these digital driven hook-ups are most welcome.”
“Otherwise?”
“Otherwise there is some sort of psychological imbalance, pre-existing depression and self-esteem issues that are perhaps the result of early-life abuse or neglect, and given these circumstances it might cause a person to engage in casual sex in an effort to feel wanted and desired, if only for a few moments.”
“I don’t intend to delve into such depths, man,” he said flatly, “I just want to get my dick serviced. And honestly, I would fucking fuck this Covid-19 if it would take for me to get back to my normal.”
“Whatever.”
He swallowed the last drop of beer by sticking his tongue out and tilting the glass upside-down over his tongue. After he had finished, he said. “You agree that one cannot be in love with the same person for all their life, right?”
“I do.”
“What if you were to find the one you wanted, and with the passage of time you figured that it was not working with her, wouldn’t you fuck around on the quiet?”
“Nope.”
“Really?” he exclaimed, “What then would you do?”
“I would tell her in the most honourable fashion that it is not working between her and me and leave her, on amiable terms of course, if it permitted, than to be unfaithful to her by doing things on the sly.”
“How exactly are we friends?” he asked laughing.  


After that conversation with my friend I hadn’t seen him for weeks. I presumed he was getting along fine, he always did, and so I thought that I would as well write about what was racing across my mind after that evening with him.  


The recent pandemic has indeed caused restlessness of various natures across sections of society, and although many are not able to express it as vocally as they would want to, not being able to get out as often as one had desired has led to a great decrease in unrestricted sex. While some have dealt with it in a most restrained manner, some others seem to await the lockdown to ease just so that they can revert to their chase in order to grease their egos quite like my friend was accustomed to catering to his own. It was evident that he was feeling the pinch, which I suspect, was not for the feel-good-factor of sex, but more so for feeling this lack of being able to smear his ego with a sense of achievement that he could get himself into the knickers of as many women as he had wished, and I can only imagine how devastating such a lack of triumph can be for such habitual go-getters. Then again the world was not bursting at the seams of men waiting to explode if the rein of the pandemic was not going to end any sooner, there were also those people, who having been confined to their spaces, had begun to rethink their priorities that included the trajectories of their sex lives as well. 

As one can conceive, sufficient material on the mental health consequences of the pandemic on the sex lives of an individual are scantily available – the timeline has been too short to arrive at any concrete conclusions – though in the material that is accessible, one recent study in the United States of America suggests that adults who engaged in casual sex sported a similar psychological level of happiness in comparison to those in committed relationships. Some other studies also cited, in contrast, that people indulging in casual sex reported feeling a dip in overall well-being, a tumbling in their self-esteem, an element of increased psychological duress, and in particular cases, symptoms of depression. Intriguingly, this study found no glaring differences between the feelings of men and women in regard to casual sex depravation, though another fragment of research states that men are more likely to accept that casual sex is indeed something that provides them a positive feeling of emotional upliftment as compared to women who felt similar, but preferred to remain silent about the same mainly because the psychological wellbeing of women was more likely to be negatively impacted by casual sex than that of men, primarily because the potential consequences; social shaming, feeling used/abused, pregnancy etcetera would seem to be much high.  

Having ploughed my way through the in-depth interviews a research team had conducted just before the lockdown as a study with men who engaged in regular casual sex for a book they were publishing, a complex imagery of the bearing of such sex on the emotional and mental health of the men emerged. Succinctly put, majority of the men derived a heightened level of self-gratification from treating themselves to the rewards of casual sex, which for them was a ‘seek and master’ strategy, and it was equally thought-provoking at the same time that a number of men testified that living a riotous life of indulging in such casual sex was detrimental to their mental well-being, and confessed to feeling better after ending such a unrestrained lifestyle. The reasons? Well, most unusual to be precise: the men who thought that such trysts were damaging to them discovered that a part of them was dying every time they had sex with these women they had only met and would never meet once they had had sex with them. As I read along the interviews, what fascinated me most was that despite the fact that they had deliberately embraced this fast life of complying to their addictive, carnal, almost animalistic pleasures, conscience and meaning had finally caught up. It was not a matter of morals or ethics, neither of right or wrong, because both are subjective, it was more a matter of behaving responsibly. As human beings the greatest gift we possess is the ability of rumination, and to think was not to behave like there was no tomorrow in order to feed our conscious as well as sexual egos. Men confessed as I read long about abandoning their moreish urges and how despite the ephemeral boost of getting to have sex with multiple women at frequent intervals, it was leaving them most hollow. Was this merely experiential or were such men satiated with their recreational pursuits was something the study was not able to pin point at this point, but one thing that was clear was that a larger group of men were no longer relishing their sexual liaisons as much as they once did, and expressed a sturdy want to bring an end to it for a life of more satisfaction and significance. 


Upon concluding reading the interviews I was reminded of philosopher Derek Parfit, in his book Reasons and Persons, he says – Like my cat, I often simply do what I want to do. I am then not using an ability that only persons have. We know that there are reasons for acting, and that some reasons are better or stronger than others. While some of these are moral theories, some are theories about rationality. We are particular people. I have my life to live, you have yours. What do these facts involve? What makes me the same person throughout my life, and a different person from you? And what is the importance of these facts? What is the importance of the unity of each life, and of the distinction between different lives, and different persons? He then goes on to explain – My subjects, reasons and persons, have close connections. I believe that most of us have false beliefs about our own nature, and our identity over time, and that, when we see the truth, we ought to change some of our beliefs about what we have reason to do. We ought to revise our moral theories, and our beliefs about rationality.




To obtain a medical impression on the same I consulted Dr Rob Weiss, an author, clinical professional and legal expert regarding sex, porn and drug addictions. Dr Weiss has been working more than two decades as a psychotherapist with a specialisation in sex and intimacy issues, and based on his research he had to say: If casual sexual activity doesnʼt violate your moral code, your sense of integrity, or the commitments you have made to yourself and/or others, then itʼs probably not going to be a problem for you in terms of your psychological wellbeing. That said, you may face related issues like STDs, unwanted pregnancy, partners who see your relationship as more than just casual, etc. And you should understand that these related factors could adversely affect your psychological wellbeing even if the sex itself does not. Conversely, if you are by nature or upbringing socially and/or sexually conservative, or you have a strict religious belief system, or you tend to attach emotionally to anyone with whom you are physically intimate (regardless of whether the other person reciprocates), then casual sex may well cause you to experience shame, depression, lowered self-esteem and the like. This may be especially true if you engage in casual sex for “non-autonomous” reasons like getting drunk, seeking revenge, trying to fit in, etc. 

Oneʼs social situation is likely to play into the desire for and the psychological effects of casual sexual activity. In young adulthood, for instance, casual sex tends to be more common and more easily accepted than later in life, especially if one gets married and starts a family. What feels right at 20 may feel wrong at 40. At the end of the day, there is no undisputed right or wrong answer when it comes to casual sex and its effects on psychological wellbeing. For some people, it is probably fine, and for others it is probably not. Each person is an individual, with a unique life history and emotional makeup, so each person is likely to respond differently to casual sexual behavior. 

I wholeheartedly respect his opinion, and yet this is where I felt that the men who had taken to this rather frivolous and short-term-endorphin-seeking methods had realised in time that they had reasons for acting. And that as human beings we ought to act in a certain way, and that some ways are ways that can also be wrong. This feeling does not stem from morality or religion, psychosomatic differences or whatever else the reasons, it stems purely from common sense and a sense of the soul knowing when it is being emptied of its resources. It was indeed interesting that some men took control of their lives and desisted from the transient upshots that were leading them away from their own conscience, and that they had resolved to remedy it before it had paralysed them any further. 

We live in a society where we are each entitled to the pleasures that we deem rightful for us to seek, and sex being something that is an intrinsic part of human desire and need, people are going to revive their sexual portfolios once things get further normalised. I would say indulge in it by all means, within the limits of the law obviously, but do not trivialise it. Sex is sacred. It is a bodily representation of the love you feel for your partner, and something sanctified like that ought to be experienced with reverence and tenderness rather than making it merely a corporeal deed of climaxing and then moving on to another being like some animals do; no wonder people do feel empty and think of the hunt as meaningless. Think, weight, analyse what your body and your soul want the next time you decide to peel your clothes off – the essence of life is in that and not in the mere mechanical exchange of bodily fluids.  




References:

Barnes, Julian. (2019). The Man in the Red Coat. Jonathan Cape.  

Whitley, Rob. (2020). Casual Sex: Harmless Fun or Harmful to the Soul?. Psychology Today. 

Weiss, Robert. (2015). What Are the Psychological Effects of Casual Sex?. Psychology Today. 

 


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THE INVISIBLE HAND OF NATURE



I sometimes feel that language is miserably insufficient when it comes to having to express what one wants truly to express, except of course, when you are talking about someone who surpasses the worldly metaphors and clichés, someone who has such a marvellous sense of humour that even the toughest moments would be made light when around him . . . someone who fills the insufficiencies of language as I aforementioned with such grace and acuity that you have nothing but great admiration for such an individual’s refinement and stability. And so, before I tire you with any more of my rather (inefficient) words, I would like to acquaint you, in complete humbleness and pleasure with Doctor Muhammad Asif Nawaz, whom I admire from every cell in me. 

To say the least, Asif is a doctor registered in the UK, he is in the PAS, the 46th Common. He is a freelance writer, or so he claims, and I would leave you to decide whether he is ‘freelance’ or a ‘master’ once you have read his words below and looked him up online to understand his full genius. He is also an amateur filmmaker, a marvellous photographer, a hopeless wanderer, a third degree procrastinator, and for better, or for worse, for me, well, he is he – a brother in a buddy who is assuredly and distinctively treasured, someone immensely rare, and without whom my life would be most meaningless and bare.

Excerpt on Asif from the Humans of CSA that was published on Tuesday, the 9th of April, 2019. 

If I had a dollar for every time people warned me against being a passenger of two boats, I would have totally done away with the idea of boats and would charter a plane to go around the world. But this life, it’s peculiar. It’s beautiful. And demanding. You always have to take your leaps of faith. And no one ever gives you enough dollars to charter a plane. My story is not about perseverance or rising against the odds - there are far too many people in CSA who I look up to in that regard. It’s about taking risks, exploring unchartered territory, and gratitude. So much gratitude! Belonging to the city of Abbottabad, I studied to be a doctor. It was in the three months after the completion of my house job that I decided to prepare for CSS - undergoing a surgical procedure while at it. After taking the exam, I geared up for the post of a Medical Officer in Khyber Pakhtunkwa’s Public Service Commission, and ended up being second in my district. Afterwards, I eyed the FCPS Part 1 exams; cleared them; and started my training in medicine as I took IELTS with watery eyes - a remnant of the recent LASIK I had had. After the written result came out, I booked my PLAB 1 exam, which, as the invisible hand of nature would have it, fell one day prior to my CSS psychological exam. (In hindsight, I made through both). I prepared for the interview while attending to the incessant line of patients in my ward. After being granted a leave from my ward, I left for the UK to prepare for and take the next step of the licensing exam, which I passed. And as the final result of CSS came out, I had topped in my province. But it’s not just this, grappling with the various opportunities that life throws at you while not losing sight of things that make it worth-while, like traveling, learning, socialising and experiencing, was the real task. Never forgetting your laughable insignificance, nor your towering significance. And as the invisible hand of nature would have it again, I received my arrival letter to Civil Services Academy and final registration to work as doctor in the UK almost on the same day. But this life, it’s peculiar. There’s so much to do. And you always have to make defining, hard choices. You can only hope, and take a leap of faith. With a silent prayer, with a handful of passion. Oh, and no one ever gives you enough dollars to charter a plane. 


Asif Nawaz
PAS – 6th position overall
1st from KPK
*Admin 46th*

KPK is Khyber Pakhtunkwa. It was called North West Frontier Province (NWFP) before 2010.


All right, some of you say, I have read the above and I think I get a fair idea about Asif. I smile and bob my head knowing that there is a ‘but’ to follow, and before I say more, you ask: but what is the intent of this? I purse my lips and take a deep breath. You wonder whether I am about to say something of great significance judging from my demeanour, but instead I utter, no actual intent, really. You narrow your eyes and look at me like I am barmy. I laugh and tell you that you aren’t wrong in your assessment because I am indeed as barmy as they can get, and that I only wished to share with the world what some people mean to me, people who make me, me. I can see that you are flummoxed. To soften the point, I pat you quickly on both your shoulders and elucidate that you should celebrate life and acknowledge every single soul who makes a difference to you because not until most recently, when I had lost a very dear friend in Sushant Singh Rajput, who, like Asif, was also a brother to me, did I understand the tangible eminence of time and of the prominence of people and how we take them so for granted. I tell you that that was my intent – a reason enough to tell the world that I am grateful for each of them who make my world as glorious and wonderful as it can be, and that without them I am nothing. You remain in a state of sheer bewilderment when I articulate further that Sushant and I used to have these impassioned arguments about my intellectual property wherein I would apprise him that a portion of it I am setting aside in my will for him, and as if to enrage me he would chuckle and mouth in his landmark intonation that there was no guarantee that he would outlive me. You pretend to be interested and I can see right through you, but I am rather absorbed in my memories, and that I have started, I do not intend to break my flow and go on that on one of those days when I had broached the same subject he had said, Agar main rahoon ya na rahoon. And before he had completed whatever that he had intended to convey, I had blurted an expletive, and Sushant being Sushant had comfortably disregarded my extreme reaction and concluded, Ho tere naal rahu meri parchhayi ve. I had remembered slaying the call and not speaking with him for a week after. However, in hindsight, I had cared less for what he had meant by that then, or perhaps I hadn’t even understood it, and when I remembered it today, I messaged Asif asking him what it meant. 

My spirit/shadow remains with you. 

Came the prompt reply. 

And that is the essence of life is it not: the spirit and shadow of those you love remains with you whether or not they are around you physically. 

You shake your head and walk away thinking what an arse I am for having wasted your time, and I feel a sense of relief that I did not have to rid the unwanted from my life, that they rid themselves by themselves, and then I remember the words of Asif – But this life, it’s peculiar. It’s beautiful. And demanding. You always have to take your leaps of faith. And no one ever gives you enough dollars to charter a plane. My story is not about perseverance or rising against the odds - there are far too many people who I look up to in that regard. It’s about taking risks, exploring unchartered territory, and gratitude. So much gratitude!

And so I take a bow of gratitude for the one gone and the ones here. Thank you both and thank you everyone else who make me, me! 



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