Dear Dazai,


There’s a sense of fear that accompanies everything that I do. An uncertainty about the world around me that I’m unable to move past. Perhaps it’s the fact that I don’t always recognise the person in the mirror, the face that stares back at me a stranger, and that makes reality harder to grasp.

I spend many hours reminding myself of who I am.

It’s become monotonous and boring, in the way that only a truly terrifying existential crisis can be. Too large a scale to properly worry about, but not small enough that it doesn’t make your chest tighten or heart race.

I got cats to remind me about my job in this world. Even if I was unsure of my own existence, they rely on me in order to exist. I feed, water and shelter them, therefore I am. I do not know if I would be here without them, if there would be any purpose to my existence.

Am I me? Do I even have a concept of who me is?

I’ve started growing citrus fruit out on my small inner city balcony. I have three trees, a mandarin, lemon and lime, and spend a lot of my time anxious about the thought of them surviving and potentially bearing fruit. I doubt I’ll ever bear any fruit of my own, so I’m growing citrus to fill an innate need I’m trying desperately to believe that I don’t have. It’s also important to me to know that plants are not destined to die in my care.

Animals are easy, plants remain an enigma.

All of this is marking time, marking the days that seem so endless and ephemeral at the same time. My own mortality ticking away as I wait for news on the other people in my life. There’s an anticipation, nay hope, that one day my mother will ring to tell me that my grandmother has died. That her life has come to an end, in a slow and less dramatic way than any of my other grandparents.

I’m hoping she’ll die at home in her sleep, so that I can be spared the hospital vigil. That I won’t have to make the right gestures, or say the right things, because I don’t know how to do that in this case. There is no affection between us and even less since dementia has rotted away the mind that was once there. It’s swiss cheese now as it melts into the cavernous hollow of her echoing consciousness.

Most times I suspect that she doesn’t really see me.

I suspect she hasn’t seen any of us since Luke and Cameron died. They died long before I was born, a car accident in which their mother was the only survivor, should many years spent in a mental institution count as survival. My grandmother doesn’t cope with these things. Doesn’t cope with the big emotions. So it’s easier not to see us since then. If there’s no genuine affection there then you can’t be hurt again.

We’ve become strangers to her as a result.

It’s hard to mourn a stranger, I suppose that was the whole point.

I’ll mourn my citrus trees if they die. I’ve named them now and once you name something there’s this intrinsic need to have them survive. As if the simple act of naming something gives you responsibility over these things, a care and need for them to live. It’s our way of praying, of giving importance, reverence.

When my cats die, I’ll likely lie in my bed for a week wondering as to the point of my existence again. There’s no point to surviving if there is nothing to give us purpose.

I’ll probably get more cats.

I’ll still wonder at the face in the mirror.

I’m a stranger to myself. It’s easier to mourn that way.

Until next time


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