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Posted in Musings

Nirvana

Catharsis is Nirvana.

Cave drawings. Parchments heavy with emotion. Journals soaked in pale ink and vivid memories. An envelope braving the world in search of another. Splashes of paint rebelling against grey walls.

Black letters on a white screen spilling from my fingertips.

Posted in Anecdotes

Pearls

I point out to Mr. Beloved that the chances of him winning the Nobel Prize are between zilch and zero, and that he might need a consultation for delusional megalomania on having such a bizarre thought in the first place. He meditates on my suggestion and rejects my hypothesis.

That’s when the sudden scuffle ensues. He twists my hand and holds me down and asks why I would say something like that and crush his (nonsensical) dreams. I reciprocate by attempting to pinch his skin and/or tickle his belly – my go to moves in times of such crises.

And it just so happens that a swift movement causes me to lose my drip on a little fake pearl ear ring that I had been holding in my hand.

“Now look what you’ve done!”

He lets go, and looks perplexed. This was definitely not part of the plan. He glances this way and that, trying to locate the fallen item and muttering random excuses before feigning sleepiness and slowly retreating out of the hall. The stud cost less than 20 rupees, but it was still my favourite. I make a mental note to buy a new one while heading to work, shout a couple of admonitions in the direction of the bedroom and carry on with my work.

I wake up late in the morning, having burnt the midnight oil (light bulb?) in the attempt to finish up in time for a deadline. As I sit up, he pulls me out of the bed excitedly, walks me to the hall and points to my desk. The stray stud had joined its companion next to my laptop.

I laugh, kiss him on the cheek and go about the day feeling quite ostentatious in those lowly pearls.

Fin. 😁

Posted in Verses

Stories

Are you the ghost of a dream

Or the dream of a younger self,

An obsession to be lost

Or a loss to be grieved,

A slice of my heart

Or a phantom in my brain,

The life of all my thoughts

Or the death of reality..?

.

I weave stories after stories

Of entangled memories –

A smile, a hug, a missed train ride,

Tears shed in the night,

A lonely song played on repeat,

Words lost when out of sight,

Days of eternal sunshine,

Coloured illusions of youth,

A wayward glance, a stolen kiss,

The taste of strawberries;

.

I weave stories after stories

Streaked with reds and blues

From the depth of every night

To the edge of sanity,

Stories after stories

Of what you and I could be

Even as my footsteps falter

And my fingers turn to dust.

Posted in Musings

Shackles

“Jobs fill your pockets; adventures fill your soul”

“Just go where your heart takes you”

“Money is not everything”

There definitely was a point of time when I believed that these were truly inspirational phrases, but now I largely view them as the coinage of elitists ignorant of their privilege. I still appreciate the underlying notion – that we should strive to make the most of what life offers us, grab opportunities to explore things outside of our comfort zone, stop ourselves from being bound by societal expectations, and widen our understanding of the world. Kudos to all that. But how feasible is all this for an average person?

Old English novels talk about the protagonists being tutored in languages and the fine arts, spending their time on literary pursuits. I remember wondering how amazing it must have been to live in an era where everyone seemed to do nothing but read and write and travel. Growing up, I obviously realised my folly – how the representation I saw was but one of the royal and elite classes, and the poor have always had sustenance above all at the centre of their existence.

Even today, the trend is the same -it is the higher classes who set the standards for an admirable lifestyle, even when that is not one of blatant luxury. We aah and ooh at travelers’ accounts of how they denounced money in the pursuit of happiness. I know that I certainly have. I knew people who traveled to a different country for every summer holiday, and I would wish and dream of doing the same, having the same experiences as them. The number of places you have been to becomes a benchmark of awesomeness.

In addition, we think of a 9-to-5 job as something to be ashamed of and convince ourselves that money is evil. But for many like me, earning money by working two jobs is a way to ensure my house remains mine. It gives me sanity in the relief that I will be able to pay for health insurance and save towards an emergency. Sure, given a choice, I would love to “free myself” and travel with abandon, but who would pay for my flight tickets, my food and stay overseas? How many can really afford to run on pure adrenaline?

So now every time I come across these phrases, I ask myself: are we really inspiring people with these, or simply reminding them of their shackles?

 

 

 

Posted in Musings

Ephemeral

The video pops up on Facebook – another recounting the childhood of Indian millennials, with those notebooks with scribbles on the back, water droplets falling from the covers of flavoured ice sticks and local sweetmeats eyed guiltily on the way back from school. Before even a quarter of the video plays, I skip and scroll. Is this what happens when you reach your 30s? Do you finally free yourself from melancholic nostalgia of a time long gone and find reminiscence a lame excuse for day dreaming?

I talk to younger persons and see myself in them. The same insecurities, the grandiose ideals, the confidence you hold in your views just before slipping and falling on the Dunning-Kruger curve.

And as much as I learn that my thoughts of my past self were ignorant at best, the realization simultaneously dawns of how my present is as ephemeral. It is unnerving and exciting, knowing that my mind is to me what the skin is to a snake – a source of sanity and protection from the world around me, and yet in itself evolutionary; ripening from within and periodically shedding paradigms and prejudices. It would seem that I am the same, and yet so many different people.

Who knows what I will be tomorrow?

Posted in Musings

The Wrong Bed Of Roses

It was all over the internet yesterday, a short sequel to a movie that had taken the box office by storm a decade back. A portrayal of the protagonists as quarantined souls in the current world, a slice of life wrapped in a five-minute phone call. She is married with two kids, happy and content, and he still loves her. She is all he needs, always. Her voice is what would bring him solace, clear his mind, and he harbors the desperate fantasy of a day when they would unite. And she accommodates his alternate reality, like a parent letting her child hold on to Santa, knowing well that it was all just a lie.

All I could think of at the end was, does love have to be this hard and horrible? Or selfless, so to speak. The kind of love where you are helpless and smitten and would die for the other person. The kind that people write ballads about, the kind that makes us yearn. Where you just don’t move on, because she is simply THE ONE. Why is love as a concept so beautiful only when it is elusive and all-encompassing and tragic? Could it be that the magic of lost love is so cherished only because it was never attained in the first place? Do we really need someone who adores us to death, who would put their life down in an instant for your happiness?

I have known that kind, been at the receiving end of it. He has perhaps taken care of me better than anyone in the world, looked out for my health when I didn’t and made me feel like the most special person in the world. He would lie – he was a compulsive liar – just so I would hear what he thought I wanted to hear, just so that even the slightest truths shouldn’t hurt me. It was always about my wishes, what I wanted to do, what I wanted to listen to, what my hobbies were. He would recommend random books to me after consulting other friends who read, because he knew I loved books. But the choices would be so off, because he had no idea about genres. He tried hard, too hard. He would put his life down for me; I know it. And all he desperately wanted was for me to be with him. I appreciated it and accommodated it, but it always felt too wrong, like I was living the wrong dream. Being with him was like walking on a bed of rose petals, except that you don’t really like roses.

You see, that’s the thing. Love is a paradox. Things get difficult when it is too easy. You need friction to hold two people together, to keep you firm on the ground. Without friction, you fall all too often, all too soon. The hopeless romantic gestures and happy endings we see in movies make us believe in a love that is too pure for human existence. Everyone needs to be their own individual, be able to put forth their own true selves for a relationship to work. Having a partner who caters to your every demand might be more of dystopia than utopia, because no one wants to live in a place that offers no excitement. We want to be challenged, and accepted, and respected all at once, as counter-intuitive as it may seem.

In the end, what kind of love do we need really.. one that sweeps us off our feet, or one that plants us firmly on the ground…?

Posted in Fiction

The Miracle

He was busy comparing the numbers when the call came. He ignored the rings. The numbers.. those were more important. He would show them, of course. His wife and his daughter who thought that they could make him look like a fool and get away with it.

“So what if I liked buying lottery tickets?”, he muttered to himself.. “They smirk and laugh behind my back as if I’m an idiot. ‘Look at the statistics..’ ‘look at the odds..’ well, I say the odds are pretty damn great if I buy enough tickets!”

The odd win altered his confidence in a way that the thousand fails did not. He would obsess over the numbers, absolutely sure that he would one day win that million. Oh yes, he was sure. Perhaps it was the straw that he grasped at, knowing that nothing else he did could bring back everything he plundered and ruined; that he did not have the skills or the heart to work his way up the ladder like the common man, not toil from rags to riches.. oh no, of course not. He was nothing short of royalty, and that is what he would be again, once he won his million, and reclaimed all that he lost.

Once he won. It would be the miracle he needed to show the world. He knew that he would, and so he picked at the numbers again.. ticket after ticket, staring at the numbers that never matched anywhere. The miracle was still at bay.

The phone rang again, and he picked it up furiously, irritated at the bunch of paper that refused to turn into gold in his hands.., and then went still.

What was that.. his daughter? What about his daughter?

Dead?

Dea..

It was all very blurry. The funeral, the crowd, the nods, the sighs. Perhaps it rained a little. Perhaps it didn’t. Perhaps it was too sunny. He couldn’t say. It was too bright and too dark to tell.

And somehow it was still darker a few days later when another call came through.

“What was that.. a million..??”

“Yes, sir. Your daughter had named you as the sole nominee for the term insurance cover, hence the lump sum amount goes to you. There are some formalities of course. If you could please come over to our office, we could start… hello??”

Posted in Verses

She Replies

This is related to my previous post, although it does not strictly follow the other. These two together capture the tumultuous emotions that swirled within me after listening to conversations surrounding a molestation allegation. Why not earlier? Why anonymous? Why not a formal complaint? Perhaps this is why. She replies.

How could I? She replies

How could I come out with tales

Of rough hands and sharp nails

That grazed places it shouldn’t.,

Of hungry glances

That licked the smile off my lips

Drank the sway off my hips

Till I lay cold and motionless.,

How could I name

When I knew that shame

Was an inheritance

Meant to adorn my body alone.

How could I, when I know

That I can remember.

That I can remember

The time when I stayed out past midnight

The day my shirt hugged my bosom

And the skirt my thighs.

That I can remember

The one time I sipped on a cocktail

Of laughter and merriment

And spewed dirty secrets.

That I can remember

The rare ride I accepted

The white lie I once told

The kiss I once stole in high school.

How could I speak out,

When I know that if I can remember all this,

So can you.

How could I, when I’d rather

Build a tattered facade

Than dare see my vices on display.

How could I,

When I’d rather make myself forget

Than make you remember.

Posted in Verses

They ask

It was quite sudden, the uproar of WhatsApp status updates from my contacts yesterday. Repetitive screen shots of four words and a hashtag – we stand with you; #respecther. Soon the matter came to light, anonymous messages on a group page had led to the unravelling of a cascade of molestation charges against a senior. I mentioned it to two friends. Both of them reverted with the same question.. why now? With the world neck-deep in the Corona virus crisis, is this a good time? And in that moment I realized, questions are all that the world ever really offers someone who comes out with an ugly truth.

.

Why now? They ask;

Why now

When the air is clear

And bright is dawn

Why now when the world

Has bigger problems of its own

Why now??

Don’t you know? They ask;

Don’t you know

That scandals are to be

Dispersed like hot pakoras,

Crispy and spicy

For all to relish,

Not moist and mouldy,

Seeped with the sweat

Of nightmares

And bloodied, having

Lain for so long

At the bottom of your heart..?

Don’t you see? They ask

Don’t you see

Our extravagant empathy

Turn to smirks in cosy corners

That the pat on your back

Was but a social stint

At being politically right;

Did you think? They ask,

Did you really think

My dear naïve child

That we have answers?

Posted in Anecdotes, Musings

Maari

“Off we skip like the most heartless things in the world, which is what children are, but so attractive; and we have an entirely selfish time..”

I do not remember when it was that I came across Peter Pan for the first time; perhaps my vivid memory of being shown the 2003 movie at my school in the 7th grade was the first. I obsessed over it for months or perhaps years; enchanted by the concept of Neverland and never growing up. And when I read somewhere that Sagittarians are known to have ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’, I was elated at the discovery. I divulged to every passer-by my noble intention to never grow up or be an adult. The concepts high-schoolers attach to coolness are strange indeed.

At 29 years old, looking back and recollecting some incidents, I am glad that I grew up. This is going to be a difficult write up, more cathartic than usual, because I am going to talk about things that I had blocked out from my childhood – perhaps because it was inconsequential, and perhaps because I knew that all said and done, I was just being a horrible person. We want childhood to be all about magic and innocence and rarely acknowledge Barrie for his realistic reflections in Peter Pan.

.

Her name was Maari. I remember it distinctly because I was taught the word first by my Malayalam teacher. I remember noting it down, in that little ruled notebook covered neatly in brown paper and with a colourful sticker in front that announced the details of its owner.

Naanarthangal (synonyms)”, she wrote on the board.

Mazha (rain) – maari, varsham

I knew her name must mean something else in Tamil, for she was from an obscure village in Tamil Nadu (I never bothered to find out the name), but it always reminded me of what was taught in class. Rain. And although I would love for someone to be named Rain, surely even myself, I did not want to be called that, as my cousin did at times. He would call me Maari to spite me, and I would be indignant. How could he call me by her name?! Sure, she was all of 10 years like me, and perhaps even the same height and weight, but she was darker, she was illiterate, she was the household help. I did not want to be her namesake.

Looking back, I wonder where my innocence lay. Why I could not accept a girl my age and play with her as I would with a classmate. Why I found it weird that she would be reluctant to approach my cousins and I, and would stick to her mother in the kitchen as far as she could. Why I found it hilarious when my cousin would threaten her with a knife or a pair of scissors or a dummy spider and she would retreat to a corner or squeal like a mouse; why, he was only playing around, wasn’t he? Why was she so scared every time when he really meant no harm at all…!

Perhaps I did not realise that anything can be scary for a 10-year-old living with strangers who speak a different language, because I never had to. Perhaps my entitlement did not allow me to see beyond her skin colour and notice the same fears in her, the same insecurities and the same dreams in her heart as were in mine. Perhaps I was so conditioned to there being two classes of people, masters and servants, that I did not feel the need to question anyone why I went to school and she did not.

I wonder whether I would have been nicer to her if my cousin were not around. Perhaps. Maybe children learn heartlessness from each other, and maybe it is cooler to be cruel than to be nice. And every act of spite eventually gets washed away by our colourful daydreams, and the reality of our childhood becomes that of wonders and laughter and sweet nostalgia.

It has taken me 19 years to come to terms with what I did. I do not know where she is now. All I can do is send my apologies out into the universe, wishing that they would reach another 29 year old woman existing somewhere, a happy place hopefully.

Whenever I come across the question of what I would go back and change, I would always say nothing,. But today, I realise it isn’t true. I wish I could go back and talk to her, be her friend and make her feel welcome. I wish I could go back and have the courage to stand up to my cousin, to tell him to leave her alone. I wish I could go back and tell myself how she and I are the same.

I wish I could go back and make sure that I do not have to write this post with blurry eyes.

Posted in Verses

A Writer’s Regret

You sense a dream

Rising out of the smokescreen

An idea, a word

A thought unripe;

But before you can take a close look

You let go

And it melts away from view –

An icicle in the summer

A child on a railway platform

Drowning in the rush of voices in your head

Pushed and pulled by fast paced deadlines

The clamor of a red signal

The cacophony of necessities.

Till one night,

When you find yourself awake

Cradling the corpse

Of a half-forgotten dream,

A forsaken word,

A drop of sanity.