Thoughts on Living Alone

Last year I moved to New Delhi for a few internships, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Sure, I’d been living away from home since I was 18. But living on campus had its perks. There was always food (free but not very tasty), and WiFi (the painfully slow kind). Living with my friends meant that I was never truly alone. And it didn’t hurt that home was just three hours away, not too far for desperate laundry runs.

Delhi was a little farther away from home, and without the safety net of a campus. And for the first time in my life, I was truly alone.

This is probably  the part where I should complain about the loneliness of being new to a city, and the isolation that urban spaces often create.

But living by myself gave me a glimpse of independence and self-sufficiency.

When you live with people, whether friends or family, you never really have time for yourself. All your waking hours are spent in interacting with the world around you, or consuming something, whether knowledge or entertainment. And for an emotionally repressed generation like ours, being left alone with our thoughts is downright unpleasant, like in this song.

But living alone has made me comfortable with myself in a way I’d never been before. If earlier time spent alone was time wasted, or just plain uncomfortable, it isn’t anymore. And I don’t feel the need to constantly occupy myself with a show, or social media, with conversations with people or a book. I can really breathe, and let myself be in a space I’ve created for myself. After a long time, I feel free. And it’s a beautiful feeling.

So I leave you with a question: What are your thoughts or experiences on living alone? Is hell other people, or  your own mind? And a hope that we can all find acceptance and comfort within ourselves.

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Update

There was a time when I took my journey as a writer very seriously, mapping it out for future fans and autobiographies.

That was two months ago.

Giving up on ‘trying to improve myself’ freed me up to let my writing be. To see it for what it is – weird, flaky, sincere, and brilliantly chaotic. (Yes, I did call myself brilliant.)

Now I’m back to writing this blog, not to test my writing skills, but to connect with fellow writers and poets. So I’ll share my thoughts here, and you can tell me what you think.

Happy reading!

Coloured Stones

This path of the past

Strewn with rocks and stones

Reminders of past hurts

Bloodied and discarded.

I’ll collect these rocks one by one

Walk back the path whole

And paint the stones afresh

With blues and greens and gold.

I’ll bring these stones with me on the journey I undertake

Not as baggage of a haunting past

But as souvenirs for the time ahead

Like travellers have keepsakes – to remind

Them of places they have been,

I’ll keep these painted stones –

Reminders of what was and what could’ve been.

And when I encounter another traveller,

With stones marking their path,

I’ll help them repaint their past,

Just like I did my own.

Ode to Bra

An Ode to my Bra

You padded black beauty, my fashionable friend du jour,
My prison of choice,
You black lace beauty, my object of pillowy comfort,
No underwire, criss-crossing straps, and a velvet touch,
Just seductive enough, but not too much,
Protecting the two brown circles of my modesty,
Black cloth hiding scars and marks of the past.
“Keep the bra on” I tell them,
Hiding my vulnerability behind the lacy flowers of sexuality.

Then C cup became D cup, and I thought I’d lost you.
Lost you to the unrelenting passage of time and my growing body.
You would no longer be my friend in need, my comfy confidante,
You would become an object of desire, of envy,
Hiding in plain sight in my closet, a mocking motivation to reduce my size.
So I avoided you for months, as one does in friendships and relationships,
Postponing the inevitable breakup.
Until one day, I could wait no more.
And so I took you out, with tragedy seeping into my fleshy arms, and cupped you against me. One last time.
Until I realized you still fit. You would always fit.

Tired of being a poet

Tired of being a poet

Tired of being a poet,

I want to be a poem.

Be someone’s prized possession,

An object of affection,

Not an artist, but a muse.

To be immortalized through someone else’s eyes,

For once I want to be the prize.

 

Tired of being a thinker,

For once, I want to be the thought.

To not think and reflect,

Ponder and brood,

Just flit carelessly through a brain,

Maybe get lost down the shower drain.

 

Tired of being a lover,

Now I just want to be loved.

No long nights and days

Spent in someone else’s name,

I want to rid myself of emotion,

Numbly go through life’s motions.

 

Tired of living fully,

For once I just want to exist,

To not swim or sink,

But float effortlessly

Through space and time, you see,

I’m tired of survival,

I’m afraid of death,

Yet somehow I’m always out of breath.

 

Image courtesy: The Whim of Time by Melinda Cootsona

The Princess and the Frog

He comes, he goes, like a gentle breeze,

He waltzes in and out of my life.

Leaving in his wake a crumbling mess;

The remains of my will and pride.

 

What fantastic strength must I muster

From my body, mind and soul,

To throw him out of my life

And will myself to grow whole.

 

Once upon a time life was a dream,

Soft voices under the moon so bright,

No false promises made and broken,

No promises made at all.

 

Yes I can see him for what he is,

Not a prince, just a frog in disguise,

A fantasy of ‘what could’ve been’

Dancing before my wistful eyes.

 

Yet I leave the doors open for him,

As I bid him hello and goodbye.

I keep hoping my frog turns into a prince,

I keep waiting for the moonlight kiss.

Blue

Evenings of silent contemplation

Nights filled with remorse

Staring up at the starry lights

Stuck on my bedroom walls.

This world seems dull and colourless

But painted walls surround me

Maybe it’s not the city that’s dull, but me.

Maybe it’s my heart that paints the walls blue.

And yet I long to get out, to go outside.

But I open my window only to be greeted

By honking ghosts passing swiftly by

Their yellow eyes glittering in the moonlight.

The people have long retired

To their own multi-coloured cells.

Trapped in their own world

Of silent contemplations and remorse.

If only I could reach out to them somehow

Connect with their hearts, not just their profiles,

Maybe I would see something hidden and true,

Maybe they also paint their bedroom walls blue.

 

Illustrated by Alice in the Slumberland

Human Doings

Ring. Snooze. Ring again.

Time to get up, it’s almost ten.

Well that’s okay, ‘cause you were up till three,

Four cups of coffee, you were on a working spree.

Rub the sleep from your eyes,

Chase it away with whiskey and ice.

Sip sip. Open your laptop once more.

Pop. There’s your list of today’s chores.

Work that earns money is priority number one.

Something that’s meaningful but also kinda fun.

Then there’s the hobbies – one, two and three.

Not doing them would make you feel crappy.

Let’s not forget the social life,

Crowded bars, loud music and cheap wine.

Remember to take care of body, mind and soul,

No one’s ever too busy to go out for a stroll!

Feeling a little stressed out? Relaxation’s the key.

Read a book, play the djembe, develop your chi.

New inspirational posters for you to mount.

“Live your life to the fullest”, “Make every moment count”

Pictures of you working, reading, eating, breathing,

Snap snap. Count the number of likes you get.

Human beings becoming human doings,

Only achieving, barely living.

A Musical Journey

As summer arrives to wreak havoc over the people of Mumbai, air-conditioned vehicles become the ideal choice of transportation. Move over, affordable and efficiently well-distributed network of local trains, buses and share autos. Metros, and cabs owned by large corporations are here to stay.

To be fair, taxis have always been an integral part of the city experience. But gone are the days of being baked alive in the kali-peelis (black and yellow taxis) of Mumbai. Now we sit in the luxury of air-conditioned cars, shared with strangers in a desperate attempt to save some money.

But I digress. This is not an article about the city’s changing landscape, or a horrible click-bait article about some stranger’s terrible experience in a cab (A girl took an Uber home. What happened next will blow your mind!). This is about a cab ride I had on an average day in the city. Although I did take an Uber home. And the experience was pretty amazing. Maybe I should rethink the title of this post…

So I was taking an Uber home. I had called up a friend while I waited for the driver to find my location. The car arrived on time, a feat in the smaller winding lanes of Mumbai with inaccurate location mapping. Confused at this punctuality, I cut the call, promising my friend that I’d call her back in a few minutes. The driver enthusiastically rolled down his window to greet me with a flourish. “Hello madam! Kaisi hai aap (How are you)?” I paused for a second, surprised by this rare display of affection by a stranger. He was a funny looking man with a funny smile. I wondered for a second whether he was nice or creepy. (Yes, this is a thought that crosses my mind at least ten times a day. If this is something you have to worry about too, meet me in the comments section and we’ll discuss our sorrows in detail. )

Now cab rides taken alone can lead to a range of experiences. The most horrific ones are well documented on the internet But usually they involve sitting in an uncomfortable silence and staring into your phone, while every small sound gets amplified in the tiny space. Sometimes the radio is on, and that puts you at ease. You can now shift your position in the cab without worrying about the farting sound that these seats often emit. Phew. You can enjoy the music of course, or be amused by the driver’s taste.

This driver seemed like a nice guy, and in a great mood. He immediately began chatting about the last fare he dropped before picking me up. I responded with the cursory replies of ‘oh!’ and ‘acha’ as I settled in my seat. I figured that once the car wound its way to the main road, and the driver had exhausted all topics of conversation, I could call my friend back.

But this guy wasn’t planning to stop anytime soon. Somehow he reached the topic of Bollywood, and asked me if I knew any songs. “Haanji (Yes)”, I answered. Any Mumbaikar worth their salt could proudly spout at least a few hits, even if they sounded like badly recited poems. “Do you know any Kishore Kumar songs?” he asked hopefully. “Of course!” I replied, a little offended by his question. I might look down upon the recent drivel that they’re passing off as songs, but I simply cannot unlearn the songs of my childhood. And Kishore Kumar was my childhood, sort of.

Suddenly, as if on cue, he began singing, “O mere dil ke chain…” His 70’s playback singer voice resonated in the tiny cab. After that, he kept singing song after song, informing me of the song’s name, its composer and lyricist, the film it played in, and the actors who lip-synced the song. For a while I kept glancing at my phone, but I was soon swept away in this wave of musical nostalgia. “Aap bhi kuch gaayiye… (Why don’t you sing something?)” he nodded encouragingly into the rear-view mirror.

Why not. “O mere sona re sona re sona re…” I began. He turned back, surprised. “Aap to chupi rustom nikali! Aapne bataya nahi aapko gaana aata hai. (You didn’t tell me you used to sing!)” “Haa..” I mumbled, suddenly self-conscious. I hadn’t sung this freely in a really long time. “Ruk kyu gayi? Gayiye… (Keep singing)” he said, and I did.

He started telling me more about his life. He was a singer on the side, singing at karaokes and recording songs. “I sing with many young people just like you. You shouldn’t give up on your talent.” he told me. “Keep it alive just for yourself.” I nodded my head, touched by his heartfelt advice. The moment passed. “Let’s sing a duet now!” he said. I nodded again, gleefully.

And so we sang till we reached our destination – my house. We both were a little sad when the journey ended. I didn’t say anything, of course, but I was still working within the realms of general appropriateness. This man had shed his inhibitions a long time ago. “Thoda dur nahi reh sakti thi aap (Couldn’t you live farther away)?” he asked, as the cab screeched to a halt. I laughed apologetically.

“Maybe we could sing together in a studio sometime” he said. “Yes…” I replied, feeling a sudden stiffness in my spine. I began gathering my bag and stepping out of the cab. “Don’t worry,” he said, sensing my unease. “I won’t call you or text you. You have my phone number na. Use apne phone ke kisi kone me save karke rakh dijiye. Kabhi man kiya to call kar dena. (Save it in some corner of your phone. Call me if you ever feel like singing again.)” I laughed again. “Sure.”

That day I went home humming a little tune under my breath. In fact my next few days were filled with music, more than they had ever been. I had come in contact with the purest love for music, and it touched my soul for a little while. But like the songs I was humming, the magic slowly faded, and my days returned to normal. I never did call the guy. But he remains in my mind, a happy soul with a musical heart, the funny looking man with the funny smile.

Reprieve

Away from the world of lights and concrete,

I hide in the original jungle.

More bark than walls, more green than grey,

In this fair land I’ll stay.

 

For in the bright city

My bones grow weak and weary.

The noises don’t let me sleep at night,

The bright lights hurt my eyes.

 

But here there’s just silence

Infinite and unnerving, at times.

Here I can find all my bruises,

I can heal them in the night.

 

The night, when the city churns papers

Of ink black and white.

I wake up to piping hot tea,

With horror stories on the side.

 

Poets before me have sung

High praises of the tropical sun.

The lush green trees, the tempestuous breeze,

Are my reprieve from the city.

 

Yes here I lie, and here I’ll stay

As the world threatens to burn away.

Away from the cruelties of mankind

I’ll stay safe in my fantasy land.

I’m a Prisoner of Kaajal, and I Love It!

My tormentor has many names; eye pencil, eye liner, eye color. Sometimes it looks like a pen so you can’t call it eye pencil, and the advertisements call it kaajal, but it’s apparently not kaajal. But let’s not delve into the confusing world of eye makeup more than we have to. For the sake of my sanity, and yours, let’s just call all of it kaajal. Because I’m a prisoner of that (mostly) black curve we draw under our eyes, and sometimes over our eyes, to make them pop, whatever that means.

Now I’ve never been one to high dive into the pool of makeup products and trends (as is evident from my earlier mini-rant). I was the girl who would be happy with dipping her toe into the water and calling it a  day. I’m talking about black kaajal and lip balms. And of course, flavored lip balms for those days when I felt a bit adventurous. I kept it simple, because I was fortunate enough to consider myself fairly pretty. And I was too lazy to make an effort.

Then I went to stay on a campus, and things changed considerably. When you live with people your age 24/7, you lose all sense of shame and decency. And because they see you at your most hideous (think uncombed hair, unshaven legs and armpits, bra-less and possibly covered in food crumbs), you lose all motivation to look good. But somewhere down the line, applying kaajal became as routine as brushing my teeth. Because those were the two things I would do before rushing for an early morning class.

But I didn’t realize how dependent I had become on this tiny little stick, until tragedy struck. A few months ago, I underwent Lasik surgery, to correct my eyesight. And just like I had to abstain from technology for a few days after the surgery, I had to abstain from wearing kaajal for a month.

Yes, a month. And although it seemed like a small price to pay, that month was, for lack of a better word, disastrous. My confidence decided to jump off a cliff, leaving me alone with self-image and body issues that I never knew I had. I would look at myself in the mirror with critical eyes; my eyes were too baggy, my face was too dull. I would actively avoid stepping out of the house, because I didn’t feel good about myself. And if I did, I would keep asking my sister or friends if I looked ‘bad’.

I know all this sounds superficial, but this insecurity stemmed from an idea that I wasn’t good enough as I was. That I needed something extra to me make me look even presentable. That anything more than the little black line was too much, and implied that I was trying too hard.

Now I’ve become bolder, and my collection has widened to colorful eye pencils and lipsticks; lots and lots of lipsticks. I’ve received flak for wearing them, because I’m not supposed to be a “girly girl” who likes dressing up. Because it’s my intellect that makes me interesting, and my IQ drops every time I color my eyes and lips. Because I’m giving in to consumerism, and beauty ideals propagated by patriarchy.

But it doesn’t matter. Because now when I look in the mirror and apply that black curve, I do it for me. And sometimes when I don’t apply anything, I still look beautiful to me.

Of Sexists and Feminazis

Bear with me. It’s a question that popped into my head during one of those times when you sit quietly and let your brain run wild. It’s a question that will probably lead to a lot of hateful messages and trolling. But I’m gonna put it out there anyways.

We accept sexism on a daily basis. Accept it as someone’s religion, faith, or personal belief. We make excuses for it. That’s just what they have been exposed to, we say. That’s their reality. Well, isn’t being a ‘feminazi’ the same? It’s the belief that women are superior; a belief based on their experiences and their exposure. It’s sexism towards men. So why don’t we make excuses for feminazis?

Then it dawned on me. Sexism is only acceptable as long as it favors men. Once it starts working against them, it’s equated to Nazism.

The Smiling Face

She awoke to the shining sun;

A day of wordless beauty,

Where birds chirped, and cars

Honked their happy melodies.

 

She smiled at herself in the mirror,

Smiled at her blinking phone,

She smiled at passers-by,

Brightening their day some more.

 

They responded to her kindness,

Grateful lips and nervous teeth,

Marvelling at the warmth radiated

By the girl with the smiling face.

 

And this warmth would never fill

The hollowness she felt within.

But her face could very well hide,

How blue she felt inside.

 

As her insides began to crumble,

She prepared for another day.

Because she wanted to be

The girl with the smiling face.

Bruised

I was a bruised little animal
Hiding in the shade
Of your love, till I was healed,
And then I walked away.

Was it wrong? Was I selfish?
WIll I burn in hell for this?
That would frighten me well
If I believed in the existence of hell.

So what if I hurt you?
Someone hurt me too.
That’s just the way it goes;
The cycle of love and heartbreak.

Your wounds will heal
With someone else’s love
And then you’ll leave them
Too, all alone.

Aren’t we just animals here
Inside our civilized coats?
Looking for self-preservation.
There’s safety in being alone.

You say we had it all,
And I threw it away
But is ‘us’ what I wanted
In the first place?

Maybe yes, maybe no
Maybe I wanted it before.
But something has changed
Now I’m as jaded as they say.

And this is not our story, love.
The story is mine.
And happiness of the forever kind
Comes at a price.

The Opposite of Techno-Babble

The past couple of days I’ve been stuck at home, and it has been quite eventful.

Now when I say stuck at home, I don’t mean ‘too lazy to step out of the house’ or ‘not in a mood to socialize’ or even ‘don’t have any plans because people are busy with their lives’, because these happen way to often, and are nothing special to write about. I was in a ‘cannot step out of the house because the sunlight hurts my eyes’ scenario, and I spent an absurd amount of time thinking about vampires and their lives, but that’s a post for another time.

The reason I couldn’t step out was that I had just undergone the Lasik surgery. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s a corrective surgery for your eyes. Basically I can stop wearing spectacles and lenses. This might not seem like a big deal, but for a girl who hasn’t been able to see clearly with her naked eyes since second grade, and who was almost blind without visionary aid until a week ago, this surgery is like a piece of chocolate cake; well-deserved and worth the long wait.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting the surgery here. Because when I was actually getting it, it felt like a procedure from hell, with poking, forcible bulging and some intense laser beaming into my open, wide-awake eyes. Okay, it’s not as scary as it sounds. But maybe it is.

The point is that for the next few days, I couldn’t exactly step into the light, which worked out well for me because sitting in darkened rooms with curtains drawn and eating chocolate ice-cream has always been the dream. The only downside was, I couldn’t use electronics. Which meant that the ice-cream binge couldn’t be accompanied by a Rom-Com of my choice, or better yet, a few episodes of Supernatural.

But that wasn’t the only thing I couldn’t do. No electronics meant no using my phone or laptop, which meant no writing (ergo no blogging), texting, scrolling through meaningless crap on Facebook or Twitter, watching pointless videos on YouTube, watching  TV shows or movies, playing games, listening to music or talking to people on the phone. Well I could’ve called people from my landline, but I would have to look their number up on my phone, so that was out of question.

You might’ve realized that this list includes every single thing that we do in our leisure (and work) hours, unless we’re into manual labor or knitting. And I learned this the hard way; sneaking the little beeping box into my room and trying desperately to play some music or at least make a phone call, while the screen just shone brightly into my eyes like the sun.

The next few days were spent as far away from my phone as possible (which wasn’t very far since I’m a weak, weak person). But it gave me enough time to finish chores that I hadn’t found the time for in the last 3 months. I cleaned out cupboards, re-arranged drawers, decorated my room, and cooked a couple of meals! (For people who don’t know me, I’m untidy, unorganized, and can’t cook to save my life) I’m as surprised as you are.

This made me wonder how productive we would be without technology. As we complain of bars set too high and time running out, does technology give us a push up the ladder or hold us down? Well I gave it some thought, and then I stopped, because I could see the sun again, and my phone was back into my life.

Naturally, I no longer have time to ponder over such questions. But I do have the time, and technology, to write about them.

My Bi Friend Forever

It can be a life-changing moment; when your best friend of 12 years comes out to you as bisexual. This is a friend you’ve had sleepovers with since you were a child, cuddling together in the same blanket before adulthood made cuddling gross. A friend who insisted on eating maggi from a single plate; and whose pathetic attempts at cooking food left you eating tasteless, lumpy and uncooked biryani. A friend you’ve shared every little secret with. A friend you even shared crushes with! (We were big on sharing back then). A friend who you almost lost contact with a couple of times after school, but who clawed her way back into your life like a resilient little cat.

So the moment that this friend tells you that she’s ‘officially’ attracted to both men and women can be life-changing.

But it wasn’t. And my response of “Weren’t you already bisexual?” was perhaps surprising, and a little anticlimactic. “Yes, but its official now!” she had answered, rolling her eyes. But after hearing stories of her dalliances with both genders for almost a year, and cringing at the detailed descriptions (there is no such thing as too much information, she keeps telling me), this news was not news.

It’s been almost two years now since my best friend first embraced the ‘bi’ label. Fortunately, she’s surrounded by people who sooner or later were accepting of all her labels; whether the bisexual one, or the poly amorous one. Of course she comes across people who’re incredulous, or who say or write hurtful things under the guise of ‘trying to understand’ and ‘creative freedom’. But Sammy has always been a tough one, and I sometimes find myself getting more offended by people’s insensitivity than her (for good reasons, I assure you).

“What was it like?” she asked me the other day, “When I told you I was bi? You didn’t exactly respond.”

“Didn’t I?!” I paused for moment.”It didn’t change anything”

She gave me a relieved little smile.”Good. Because your response matters.”

So we joke about being in a relationship, because after 12 years, it sure feels like one. We’re big on sharing again; clothes, make up, even food. (She offered to share her boyfriend as well, but I had to draw the line somewhere!) We make plans to live together, travel together, sing together, write together. We’re inseparable, which can sometimes irk people, but we love annoying people, so it works in our favor.(Some may say that’s unhealthy, but what do they know?)

Maybe this is not what I expected when I started talking to the new girl in my school. But this is much better! We’re not conventional, and we don’t ever intend to be.

So this is a shout out to everyone who has that loved one who’s different from you, and makes life choices that you might never completely understand. Support them through every decision they make. Because those decisions are hard. And your response matters.

PS: For those of you who’re not exactly sure about what bisexuality is, or need a coming-out anthem, here’s a video you must watch at all costs.

The Adult Life: Part II

To be or not to be an adult… That’s the dilemma we all face.

One I pondered over last year, when I had a taste of adult life during the summer. You can read my earlier post here. Thankfully, I had one last year of college life left, and I made the best of it.

Now college life is over, and adult life has officially begun. And it’s every bit as scary and tiring as I thought it would be.

I know what they say. Stepping into adult life has its perks; the overwhelming sense of hope and confidence intermingled with a nervous energy to do things and go places. The youthful and creative ideas that give us an edge over the others. The quick rise up the ladder of success. And there’s the independence which comes from earning and spending one’s own money. That’s what they say.

But adult life isn’t all that rosy. It’s a quiet sadness over losing your friends from college, who slowly fade away as you dive headfirst into your new life. It’s the lack of energy required to make new ones. It’s the exhaustion after a long day at work, which makes you want to spend the remaining hours by yourself, reading a book or listening to some music. Sometimes it’s the restlessness from not having much work to do, leaving you feeling unsatisfied and unproductive.

It’s the weekends spent in quiet isolation. The hours spent staring into a laptop screen. The pending chores you haven’t had time to do. The people you try to make plans with. It’s the expectation of a good work-life-social life-sleep balance. It’s the lack of one.

So I spend my days as a confused, and quite overwhelmed adult, not sure of what I’m doing wrong. And I see others around me, people my age, struggling through something similar.

Maybe this is a phase; a period of transition. Maybe this is what adult life is really like. But for now, life is a bitch.

Writing About Writing

So I’ve started a Blogging U course for some regular doses of inspiration, and to force myself to write more often. Now I know writing is something that should flow naturally, but after a hectic workday, where all you do is write, it’s quite difficult to come home and do more of the same. But the woes of adult life are meant for another post at another time.

Today’s cue is to write about why I write. I have already written an article a few years ago on how I began writing in the first place, and you can find it here. This one is more of a ‘what I feel about writing’ post. Happy reading!

I write because I like to spell out my thoughts; to arrange them into patterns and give them meaning beyond the tangled web of my mind.

I like how words and sentences appear on a blank space; long and short, simple and complex, created using simple curves and strokes. How a simple word or phrase can make you see images that have nothing, yet everything to do with the image in front of our eyes.

Writing is like drawing, our words having much more meaning that what first appears to the eye.

Writing is like composing music; our words rising and falling rhythmically, stringing sounds together to form a melody.

Writing is like cooking; we either just know what words to bring together to create that favorite age old recipe, or we experiment with new words, new flavors, new textures, and create something completely different. Either way, it’s not the ingredients that matter, but how they’re brought together.

For me, writing is escape and reconciliation, pensive and emotional, tiring and rejuvenating, simple and complex.

I write because I have to. I write because I can.

A Lament

They say life is filled with good and bad moments. That the bad moments exist so we could cherish the good. We shake our cynical heads at these clichéd sentences.

It’s true, but it’s so obvious! Why say it?

Maybe it’s for days like these, that one needs to be reminded of statements like ‘bad things happen for a reason’. A day when it’s alright to use clichés, and reassure ourselves with lies. A day when being cynical is not enough to keep you sane.

It’s a day of mourning.

To be honest, I was never very close to her. She was not one of those women who spend their time doting over their children, or grandchildren. No. She was making something of herself. And she became many things; actress and author are the only two I’m aware of. But I know she became many things. She was always doing something.

She was not domestic, the way you would expect grandmothers to be. She was extroverted, and passionate, and ambitious. She was the grandmother I had, but never really knew. She was the grandmother I would have liked to know.

Sometimes I think I’m like her. Or that if I knew her, I’d like to be her. She was flouting norms, when flouting norms was not the norm. She was bold, brave and brazen. But most importantly , she was independent. She was free.

I never understood this as a kid. I understand it now.

Surely, this is unhelpful. This description that does not describe. It’s difficult to describe someone you barely knew. But love doesn’t come from knowing. Love comes from being. You love someone simply because they exist. You love her because she is your grandmother, and you are her granddaughter. And there’s no changing that.

The last few years she hadn’t been as free. You could see her mind and spirit, as fiery as ever, trapped inside a decaying body. I’d like to think she found a way out. I’d like to think she’s finally free again.

Maybe that’s naïve. Maybe it’s optimistic. But today both naïveté and optimism are acceptable. After all, it’s a day of mourning.