Plastic

Dark and cold, the city awaits

For a gentle touch of the sun.

And trapped within its concrete walls, I wait

For redemption, yet to come.

 

The buildings cast long shadows,

Blacker and deeper than trees ever could.

And yet my plastic mask threatens to melt

From the heat of the elusive sun.

 

Is this what I seek? A reprieve from the dark?

A rendezvous with the sun, to dance among the stars?

To shed all my veils, like leaves from a tree,

And reveal my true self, for you to finally see?

 

But here’s the catch, the clincher of it all,

The fear that keeps me locked within these concrete walls.

In my mind every day this question does stick

What if, in the end, all I am is plastic?

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Heartbreak Hotel

Come spend the night

With me at Heartbreak Hotel.

A destination date, if you will,

Into the recesses of my heart.

 

Take my hand in yours,

We’ll enter the beast together.

This house built on bad memories,

With shabby furniture and faded walls.

 

But before you say yes, my love,

I must warn you of what lies ahead.

Of the scars you might see,

The screams you might hear,

Or the feelings you might feel

If you come too near.

 

For this hotel is haunted

By the paintings that adorn its halls

Forgiven but not forgotten,

Or maybe not forgiven at all.

 

And don’t be scared if you hear

The floors and walls creak at night,

I’ll give you fair warning, dear,

Before the roof comes crashing down.

Magic

I met you that night,

When my head spun,

And the moon shone bright.

The night I cannot recall.

But for the rushed images in my head

And the swirl of emotions in my heart.

 

I remember walking with you

Somewhere between land and sea,

Sand crunching beneath my wet toes.

Shaky limbs, blurred vision

Yet clarity, for I was sure

I had never felt this alive before.

 

As the wind gathered my hair

And whistled in my ears,

Us, our conversation

It all seemed so familiar.

As if we had met like this,

Laughed like this earlier.

 

There are so many places

Our paths could’ve crossed

Briefly met, to part ways again

But they had to merge that night

In the soft glow of moonlight

‘Cause that night was magic.

An Eyewitness Account

It was a coincidence.

That’s how these stories start, don’t they?

It was just a coincidence.

She just happened to be sitting there; at the right place at the right time. Or was it wrong place, wrong time? One can never tell in these situations. But she hadn’t meant to see it, to witness any wrongdoing. On any other day, she’d be thrilled about an opportunity like this. She was the type to press her nose against the window and spy on the neighbours. It was a childhood trait of hers. That’s why she had a flat nose, her mother would explain.

But that day was different. Tragedy had struck the Singhvi household, when the patriarch of the house refused to wake up that morning. And our Aneesha, dazed and heartbroken, had been staring out her favourite window. As you might have guessed, this is when she happened to see something that would make her such an important character in this story. But she didn’t know it back then. She didn’t care.

The mist floated, an opaque white, taking up half the view from her window. The other half seemed to have been painted in a grey palette, buildings and roads alike. And they were turning blacker by the minute, due to the incessant rainfall.

A man emerged from a building. This building was no different from the others, a cluster of mass-produced structures, except that a man emerged from it and ran across the road, trying to protect himself from the downpour with his flimsy little handkerchief. The handkerchief was pink. She remembered that because it had caught her eye, this sudden burst of colour in the monochrome of her view. Of course, she thought nothing about it then. She didn’t care.

But later, when questioned about what she saw from her optimal spying position, that’s all she could remember. A flash of pink floating among all the grey. It had seemed like a sign, she said. If that tiny little thing could survive the rain, she could survive this tragedy.

The policeman questioning her put on his best sympathetic face, his hands clenched tight, his foot tapping nervously on the tiled floor. He asked about the man’s face, his clothes, or any other feature that could help them recognize him. No, she said. Just the pink handkerchief. And wasn’t that enough, she wondered, as the policeman repeated these questions again and again. He wouldn’t even tell her what the crime was. And which man carried a pink handkerchief around anyways?

The policeman sighed. It wasn’t a pink handkerchief. It was a white handkerchief soaked in the blood of a dead woman from the building across the street.

Oh, she said, and would say nothing more. He sighed again, this time just for effect, and walked away. She turned back to the window, looking at the black and white view outside. After sometime she saw him cross the road, his pink handkerchief fluttering in the wind.

The Date

There it is again; the fluttering in my stomach. As if a thousand caterpillars have chosen this very instant to break through their cocoons and spread their beautiful butterfly wings, and are now trying to find a way out of my dark insides. My hand moves towards my stomach and lingers for a few moments, as if to soothe my body, which is buzzing with nervous anticipation. It’s a mechanical gesture, one that I’ve been doing since many years to calm myself down. Today it doesn’t work.

I look at the wall with the patterned wallpaper. An ornate clock hangs from a nail, tilting to its left. The imperfection fascinates me. I listen to the clock’s periodic clicks. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Time seems to be moving slower than usual. I will it to move faster, it refuses. I sit back with a sigh.

I have intentionally chosen a table at the back, with my seat facing the glass door of the tiny café. This way, I’ll see him when he enters. I’ll be physically and mentally prepared. I realize I’m in my head too much. I’m overthinking this.

The waiter places a tray on my table. With a shaky hand, I take a few sips of the iced coffee I have ordered. It’s probably a bad idea to order before the other person arrives. But I needed to calm myself down. The cool glass feels slippery against my palm, which has become slimy with sweat. What if he tries to hold my hand, and thinks it’s cold and reptilian? I quickly wipe the sweat away with tissues. I want to hold the glass up against my forehead, which seems to be burning hot. Maybe I have a fever. I wonder if I should use this as an excuse to cancel. I don’t. The cold glass beckons, tiny droplets of condensed water forming along its outer later. But I’m conscious of the other people in the café, huddled around their tables, deep in conversation.  What if he walks in right now and sees me holding a glass against my face? That could happen to me. I have bad timing.

I push the glass away, and my heart begins to pound. I glance at my phone to see the time. Five minutes late. ‘Why am I getting so nervous? It’s just a date. It’s no big deal.’ I repeat this in my head a few times, till I feel my throat constricting. “I know why you’re so nervous.” I hear my bestie’s voice in my head. “You like Ethan! You like Ethan!” In my mind’s eye, I see myself blushing.

I catch the waiter’s eye, signal for a glass of water and gulp it down with growing urgency. The phone buzzes. I snatch it and read Ethan’s message.

Sorry, can’t make it tonight.

As I take a deep breath, I feel my throat clearing. Must be all the water I drank.

No problem. I was running late anyways.

His message also says some other things. I ignore them, deciding to read it properly later. As my heartbeat slowly returns to normal, I feel my body relaxing.

‘What should I do now?’ I wonder, looking around the tiny café. Going home doesn’t seem very appealing. And I like it here. Suddenly I grin. I whip my phone out, and type rapidly.

Are you nearby? Are you free?

The phone buzzes back in equal haste. Within minutes, Jake is here, sitting right across me. We talk, we laugh, we binge on fries. He asks me about Ethan. I feel the familiar tightening of my muscles, and I blush. He smiles. I feel a warmth spreading through my body; the warmth of friendship, of familiarity, of Jake.

I reach home and check my phone to see Ethan’s messages. I wonder if I should be offended that he cancelled our date, but his reason seems valid enough, so I decide to play it cool. “But he cancelled on you, so let him text you first.” There’s my bestie’s voice again. I roll my eyes and keep the phone aside. It buzzes and I grab it.

You forgot your scarf in my car again, moron.

It’s Jake.

Meet me tomorrow and take it.

I smile, feeling the warmth in my body again. Looks like I’m meeting Jake tomorrow.

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.

The Great Escape

How lovely would it be

If you and me were lost at sea,

Or disappeared among the misty clouds,

Or hid under the warm brown earth?

The two of us, side by side,

Without another, for a while.

No distractions, no anxieties,

Nothing to cloud our tired minds.

How the words would flow!

From your lips to mine

And back from mine to yours

An intimacy so sublime.

Our eyes would crinkle and shine

The way they did once upon a time,

And our hearts and minds would heal

From the blows and bruises of life.

Do you think they would notice?

Realize that we have gone?

Or would the world just carry on,

The way it did before we were born?

But it wouldn’t really matter

Whether the world wasted away,

Or shook with tears of joy,

‘Cause I’d have you by my side.

So darling, come with me now,

Away from life’s cruel games.

We could finally make

The great escape.

You and Me

How do I, from this multicoloured sea,

Pick droplets of colour to describe you and me?

 

Do I pick yellow for the happy memories

And colour the sad ones with blue?

Or do I just paint a rainbow

To describe everything we’ve been through?

 

But a rainbow isn’t enough!

Seven colours don’t suffice

To show you all the things

That I feel deep inside.

 

‘Cause though my heart is broken

And it feels a little blue,

There’s a new, rosy glow around it

And that feels nice too!

 

But this isn’t about me,

It’s about me and you.

Seven colours can’t describe us,

Neither can twenty-two.

 

But darling, don’t fret. I have a solution, you see.

It’d take the entire sea to describe you and me.

What Love Was

In the beginning, love was slow;

That warm feeling seeping slowly into her heart

When she wasn’t looking, filling her up

Until she felt she would burst with happiness.

 

She’d been wrong. Love was hurtful;

Pain and heartbreak had left her raw.

Love didn’t exist! she told herself.

She would never fall in love again.

 

She fell in love again. It was patient,

Kind and gentle. Simple and familiar.

It was friendship. It was perfect.

Maybe too perfect. She fell out of love again.

 

Love was a burst of colour, a blinding flash of light.

A spark that flew when two stones

Accidentally brushed against each other.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, a fire was lit.

 

Love was the sea meeting the land.

Not to gently embrace the white sand,

But to crash itself upon the rocky shore.

Impulsive and brazen. All consuming.

 

Or maybe love was the sand

Waiting to be touched by the sea,

Glowing under the pale moonlight

With a thirst that would never fully be quenched.

 

Love was the flickering embers in a dying fire,

A brazen reminder of the spark that it once held

Brought back to life with a sudden word, a look, a touch.

Emitting wisps of smoky memories, refusing to die.

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.

The Storyteller

She had loved them as a child, listening to them with unblinking rapturous eyes, and a mind that painted pictures of every word she heard. Tales ordinary and extraordinary. Stories of hunters and monsters, heroes and villains, devas and rakshasas. They lingered in her mind long after they had been told, flashes of colourful images and strings of words woven together into stories. More stories. Different stories. Her stories. She longed to let these stories out, to send them back into the universe from which they had emerged. A universe of lights and sounds, smells and tastes, a universe of narratives.

But the stories remained stuck in her mind, like jewels embedded deep into the walls of the caves, unwilling to be separated from their rocky cushion. To smash the walls apart and pull these stories out, to heat them and beat them and shape them until they shone and sparkled with her creative zest would be nothing short of a violent act. Violence to her mind. Violence to her soul.

So the stories remained in the recesses of her mind, glowing like tiny stars in a blue sky. There they ripened, infused with the flavours of her life, until they were ready to be gently plucked off. No burning. No violence.

And when the time was right, the stories came pouring out. Stories of hunters and monsters, heroes and villains, devas and rakshasas. New stories. Her stories. She spun them into gold, and spread them far and wide.

He listened to the storyteller with unblinking rapturous eyes, and a mind that painted pictures of every word she said.