To be unhappy every single second of your life is an impossibility but sometimes the gloom can seem to stretch to an eternity. Or it feels that way where every sunrise comes bearing the same sorrow, the intensity neither reducing nor expanding.

 

For those times, I have a simple solution - I study. It doesn’t matter what, learning anything new takes away the focus from me and transfers it onto the painful task of mastering the unknown. A friend’s mother found herself in the uncomfortable situation of being an unwanted house guest, trapped in an unknown city for six months. My friend signed her up to learn Japanese.

 

This seventy-four-year-old lady who had never stepped out alone learnt to take trains and go to class every day. Her lectures would end at 3:00 pm. Then, she would hang around the cafeteria doing homework and practising her Japanese. She not only made friends for life but also discovered a new lease of life. Later, when she came back she said that the classes saved her sanity. Next month, she is off to Kyoto to visit her friends.

 

For some of us, institutionalised studying may require more effort and money than what we can commit to but that shouldn’t stop us. We can teach ourselves small things, how to knit or make an origami tiger or cuisine from another country. Or we can wake-up one day and decide to decipher the physics behind a rocket launch. The things we don’t know is as endless as our capacity to learn.

 

During troubled times, if we invest in acquiring knowledge we will emerge from the fog of melancholy with new skills or useless trivia. It can even make nostalgia sound more interesting. ‘Remember when you went through that break-up with G?’ ‘Yes, it was the time I learnt to name all the bones in my body’

 

I am currently in a little bit of a limbo unsure where my feet will land next. To pass this time of hovering without home, I went to a workshop titled, ‘Anybodycandraw’. I hoped the stress was on anybody. Being one of those people whom the Art Gods missed, I am always a bit conscious about my drawing skills (Irrespective of having fabled ancestry of a great grandfather who trained under Raja Ravi Verma).

 

Also read: The Unbearable Length of Waiting

 

After two hours, two things were established. First, I was the worst student in class. Second, I had finally learnt to draw a tree with real branches and actual leaves that don’t look like odd-shaped potatoes.

 

I came back home proud of my tree. I showed my partner my artistry and he very sweetly proclaimed it looked almost real. He stuck it up on our cupboard, a slightly slanted piece of white paper dotted with a splattering of black ink. Now, when I feel a little sorry for myself, I look at my tree and think perhaps, the meaning of me going through this patch is to learn how to draw that perfect leaf.

 

 

Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Saturday on Asianet Newsable. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at here. The views expressed here are her own.