The Curious Case of Butterfly Belly

Ashok Subramanian
5 min readDec 24, 2020

Should I give up?

I am a victim of gravity. The gravity of my planet is overwhelming. Partly because of my own ‘mental gravity’ and partly because of destiny. The place I end up after being thrown back into the hole I have grown to hate, is a slippery slope of a dark abyss. If I try to climb up, I slide back more into the hole.

I also feel like a house fly that tries to fly away from the spider’s web. But the web is too steely and strong, and somewhere, my glassy wings are not strong enough to power my escape the silken glue. My feet feel soft, but slip again into the inner parts of the web.

If I look down into the deep and dark abyss, it is darkness beyond a point and towards the center. Somehow, that darkness is now familiar. In fact, it sounds exactly like Einsteinian. The blackhole is attractive because I have been on the slope for quite sometime now.

May be, it is the inevitability of my situation that I cannot escape the slope for eternity. May be, the fact that I continue to exist and the pain does not end — which makes me love my status quo, a ‘situational Stockholm syndrome’ of my life.

My status quo is a combination of a few things; Contrived happiness that I strive to achieve from within; Worthlessness ( this is the dominant feeling) that I have lot of talent but wasting it either by idling or wallowing in self pity; Helplessness that I am stuck with baggage of decisions I have taken and people I live with; Escapism into the world of videos — watching crime, murder & drama instead of reading the hundreds of books I want to read and buy; Guilt — guilty of not being able to carve out focus, effort and results for my clients who pay me; guilty that I am not able to spend time with family; guilty that I am seen as the pain rather than the balm.

Put it all together, I feel like wasted life.

Wait, there is more. There is one feeling that I want to talk about. A foreboding feeling of what bad things that might happen to me next is ever pervading.

My breath is often shallow, my nerves are strung, my mind anxious and ready anticipating the next bad thing that will happen in my life. I am tired and exhausted, but the same time excited with anxiety. What is the next curve ball that I will have to face?

This has manifested into long days, every hour passing like eternity. My sleep late often imagining stuff and ending up watching those videos I do not want to see. Binge watching is my escapism.

Bated breath and strung nerves manifest into that warm, smooth viscous pain. It is like some acidic honey flowing on the inner walls of my stomach.

The stomach pain, strung nerves and bated breath are constant companions these days. Add a bit of acid reflux. Every time after I eat, the same warm acid flows into my throat. This is absolutely disabling.

I went to my family physician. My family physician is a Master of Surgery from JIPMER. He is 72 years old and a specialist in General Medicine and Laparoscopic Surgery. He served in the Indian Army, and spent a year in Bangladesh during the 1971 war.

He referred and I went through a battery of abdominal and gastroenteric scans. The diagnosis was early stage ulcer. No bad habits, no outside food. Then?

He suggested that it might be due to stress. He asked me about possible reasons. I said it could be my personal life mostly. I was afraid to open my Pandora's box in front of him. I have spoken to my brother or couple of my friends about this feeling.

Should I give up? I am at the slippery slope, remember. If I move up, the sands slips and I go deeper. I stay still.

Butterflies in my belly waiting for the curveballs of life.

I now feel that the abyss I saw in mind is within me. The deep, dark center of the blackhole is at the pit of my stomach. What I feel in my mind, is within my gut. The familiar pain returns.

Meanwhile, there are butterflies in my belly. The butterflies aren’t beautiful, but they are now part of my existence. They shower in the acidic and viscous rain inside my gut, throwing bolts of lightning and tiny squalls. They fly in random, desperate patterns and crash against the wall of my stomach.

Ouch. Ouch. I fold with pangs of pain. I breath in and breath out.

Does the stress tickle my creative buds? I have no idea. But some manuscripts are creative manifestations of my pain.

I did achieve something, but I feel that I could have achieved this without the strung nerves and bated breaths. I became a poet 10 years ago, but published during COVID, and have many manuscripts in my laptop. Or it is the other way?

Am I depressed? May be. It is hard for me to say. But one thing I am sure. The all smiling and happy avatar on social media is not my cup of tea anymore. I do not want to lead a double life. So I decided to write -write about how I am actually feeling. Sorry if this blog is depressing to read, but I write this literally, to spill my guts.

Meanwhile, as I breath in and type, the butterflies get sucked into my breath and out, somewhere into the universe. This gives me a temporary reprieve. I know they will be back again in a few moments.

I appreciate the individual fights against mental depression now. I know I cannot help, and I also realize that you cannot help me. Every person to theirs.

I feel a bit better as I write this final paragraph. I wish all of you the best in your battles with your own belly-butterflies.

~Ashok Subramanian



Ashok Subramanian

A poetic mind. Imagines characters, plots. Loves Philosophy, Literature and Science. Poetry-Short Stories-Novels- Poetry Reviews-Book Reviews