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.

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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.

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.

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 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.

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.

On Chocolat

Have you ever come across a book that you really liked, and you kept reading it over and over till it resonated with every cell in your body and became a part of your very existence; an extension of your self?

If yes, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If no, you should be reading more!

For me, Chocolat is that book. It is not just a story that I read. I see, smell, taste and experience it. If books could be our soulmates, Chocolat would be mine. If I thought calling something my ‘bae’ was cool, Chocolat would very much be my bae. If I was an evil wizard (a female Voldemort, maybe… Voldemorte?), my copy of Chocolat would be a horcrux, because it does essentially carry my soul. But I’m digressing.

As I’m sure I have established by now, Chocolat is  one of my favourite books. Why? Because it’s a book about chocolate. It is literally called chocolate!

Now I know what you’re thinking. I have just taken you from soulmate to chocolate; not quite the climax you were expecting. But it gets better, I promise.

Chocolat does not just have a flirtatious encounter with chocolate. It has a committed relationship with it. The entire book describes different kinds of chocolate, how chocolate is made, and how our preferences in chocolate depend upon the kind of people we are. As a reader, you don’t just read about chocolate, you see it looming in front of your eyes, ready to be devoured and you smell its strong scent emanating from the book.

But the chocolate doesn’t just stand for chocolate. It stands for indulgence and individuality, for passion and proclivity. It stands for happiness. It stands for Vianne Rocher. Nothing describes this better than a quote from the book, a slogan that is used in an attempt to drive chocolate, and Vianne, out of the little French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes: Church, not Chocolate.

This brings us to Francis Reynaud, the priest of the above mentioned Church, who has a vendetta against chocolate. Here Church doesn’t stand for religion as much as it stands for impositions of morality and socially appropriate behavior. Vianne is an abomination because she does not go to Church on Sunday morning, because is an unmarried mother, and because she just arrives in the village one day and opens a chocolaterie.

Through the story we slowly begin to see the unhappiness that lurks beneath the perfection devotion of the people of Lansquenet. Sorrow at losing a beloved pet, fear of being beaten up by a husband and regret at being estranged from a grandson. Slowly, the chocolaterie becomes a space whether these feelings can be expressed; a substitute for the Church confessional. Here, the unacceptable is accepted, the unmentionable is mentioned, and deepest desires as shared over a cup of chocolate.

Meanwhile, the fight between church and chocolate, which is essentially the fight between Vianne and Reynaud becomes more and more personal. They both battle their own demons, their own fears and desires. Reynaud does this through God. Vianne has her own magic, a remnant of her mother’s legacy. This magic is never truly explained, but is felt throughout the book, a mixture of hope, intuition and fate.

So Chocolat isn’t really about chocolate. It is about love, and fear of loss, desire and self-restraint. It is about the magic of happiness.

And that’s what makes the story so beautiful. The complex themes that it covers, but the simplicity of the message it gives. ‘Be happy’, Vianne Rocher tells me. ‘Be happy no matter the cost.’

Change is… Change!

“You’ve changed!” is something we hear quite often.

We hear it from relatives, wondering how we could’ve grown up so much since they last saw us seven years ago. We hear it from our parents, when they become nostalgic and remember how adorable we were before we grew up into such monsters.  We hear it from long-lost friends when we bump into them on a street or in a mall, and play the game of ‘who’s more successful now’.

But most of the time, we hear it from the people who matter, lovers and friends. The words are accompanied by a critical tone, a frowning face, and, if  we’re in luck, an accusatory finger.

That’s the kind of “You’ve changed!” I’ve been dealing with nowadays. I try to explain myself. Try to identify what changed. Try to answer the questions  of when, where, how and why.

But the truth is, these questions cannot be answered. Since we’re born, we keep changing. Every second of every minute of the day. Our mood, our personality, our identity: everything within and around us is in a flux.

So why fight it? Why dress it in grim tones and fear it, when we can embrace it and live fully, differently, every day?

That’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna stop trying to answer questions. Stop worrying about whether the change is good or bad, and simply live in the moment.

Because changing is living, and living is all that matters.

I Dream a Dream

My eyes opened to the warm white glow of light.

I looked around, hoping for a glimpse of something familiar. My surroundings seemed to blend into nothingness; as if this place I was in had no walls, just miles and miles of white fog with a hint of blue.

I looked down towards my feet. I was standing barefoot on a snowy white floor that seemed to stretch into nothingness, just like the fog. ‘The floor isn’t cold’, I noticed. In fact, it was quite uneven and fluffy; almost like standing on cotton!! My mind jolted back to the times I had wished I could stand on a cloud. ‘But of course this can’t be a cloud!’

Lifting my right foot, I stepped ahead gingerly, if only to make sure I was standing on solid ground. I was. ‘Maybe this is a dream.’ I pinched my arm just to make sure. But I didn’t wake up. I was starting to feel a little anxious. I started moving my arms around; slowly at first, then with growing desperation, hoping that it would clear up the fog. But the fog was out of my reach.

After a few futile attempts, I gave up. I decided to further explore this snow-white world I was in. I put one foot in front of the other and started walking, only to be amazed. The floor seemed like a sponge beneath my feet, bringing a spring to my step. The more I walked, the happier I felt.

Within a few minutes, I was jumping around in joy! I would leap in the air, and the moment my feet touched the ground again, fluffy floor would throw me up higher!

Until I landed with such force that the soft floor gave way, and I was falling. Falling faster and faster towards the ground, with the wind whistling loudly in my ears. But there was no fear, no screaming. Just peace. And pure joy.

I woke up with a start and jolted upright in my bed, feeling like I was falling. As my breathing slowly came down to normal, my alarm clock rang, announcing the start of another day. By the time I got out of bed, the dream was but a foggy memory; something to be brushed aside and soon forgotten. But the feeling remained, to be felt and cherished until the end of time.

‘The Time Keeper’ by Mitch Albom

Man alone measures time.
Man alone chimes the hour.
And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. 
A fear of time running out.

‘The Time Keeper’ caught my eye from one of the many piles of books lying in the roadside bookshop I had aimlessly strolled into. Having read Mitch Albom before, (Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven) and having loved his writing, I was excited to see what this one was all about.The book’s blurb, short and simple, aroused my interest. I simply needed to read it. Back home, I opened the first page to start reading the book. And I was hooked!In ‘The Time Keeper’, Mitch Albom speaks a truth as ancient as time itself. A truth so simple and pure, put across through the story of three intertwining lives, that it seems impossible to have not known it for so long!

Albom has created a sense of timelessness in the book. As we delve into Dor’s quest to measure time, we somehow forget our own battles with time. Reading about time makes us forget about time; a paradox that is executed with utmost skill. In the end, the message is clear. Do not waste your life measuring time and wanting for more or less. Cherish your memories and experiences. And the people around you.

The book leaves us with a new awareness of and attitude towards our own life and surroundings.

I would keep this book on my bookshelf, for those times when time needs to be forgotten again.

Being Happy

I see them all around me.

Normal people doing normal things. Achieving success personally and professionally. A well-paying and secure job, a good house, a fancy car, a family. A happy, respectable, settled, vanilla life. That’s the dream, right?! Or so we’re told.

We spend (waste would be a better word) 20 to 30 years of our lives preparing ourselves for this. A decent education to get a decent job. Following a safe career path to ensure job security. Always molding ourselves to fit society’s needs. Suppressing our  whims and fancies. Making sacrifices for a better future.

And yet I see people unhappy. The ones that have worked hard, the ones that now have it all, are the most dissatisfied. I see people unhappy with what they are doing, frustrated and on edge, wanting to quit their jobs and follow their passion, but unable to do so because they’re scared. I see people who did have the courage to quit and venture into something new, and succeed. I see people who took the leap of faith, and failed.

They tell me it’s called mid-life crisis. That it happens to everyone. Some are success stories, some are not. But there is a lesson to be learned from each one of them. A lesson so simple, I wonder why people haven’t understood it yet.

Following your passion may not give you success (money, fame, etc), but it will surely give you happiness. And this is a lesson I intend to follow all my life.

Perfect

Hair pulled back

Clothes smoothened

Not a wrinkle to be seen.

There she stands;

The symbol of perfection

Inner turmoil unseen.

Mechanically

She goes through

The motions of everyday life.

With a pleasant smile

And an empty heart,

She crumbles deep inside.

Episode 3: Another Year Ends

Another year of college is over. And once again, I have to pack. Pack all my belongings, everything that I have used and been around since a year, and leave this room.

I should be excited, right? I’m going home.

But this room is home. Or at least it has been for the past one year.

And as I look around the room,  all the memories come back. Of celebrating birthdays and decorating the room. Of spending time with Doll,  my roommate; being sick together for months or simply being in each other’s company. Of silly tiffs, late night conversations and cuddles.

So as I start the process of emptying it, stripping it of every photograph, every poster, every decoration that made it home, I feel a strong emotion surfacing. Maybe nostalgia.

Image after image flashes through my mind; capturing the entire year in a montage. Happiness, sadness, pride, regret, pain, pleasure; all felt in an instant.

As I pick up the last pieces of luggage and head towards the door, I pause and look back one more time.

One more year to go.

Episode II: The Fall of Panda

“No one ever messes with me.” Panda used to say. “No one dares.”

Panda was one of those children who never really got bullied. A kid did try to bully him once. And for a few days, Panda let him. But when the kid threatened to physically beat him up, Panda held on to his man-parts and squeezed and squeezed and squeezed like his life depended on it, reducing the bully to a small body on the floor, shrieking in pain.

Clearly Panda had, and still has, the potential of being a bully. But he holds his head in pride, saying that he has never bullied anyone and he never will. Little does he realize, he already is a bully.

Not the kind that beats people up or takes their food or money. But the kind that throws other people in the campus lake, knowing that no one will ever dare to throw him in. The kind that threatens to pour muddy water over my head on my birthday. The kind that can only attack but never be attacked, because he’s too strong. After all, his favourite super-hero is Hulk.

Now I’m not saying he uses his super-strength for evil, but his imperviousness has always irked me. So imagine my surprise (and happiness) when I saw the fall of Panda with my own eyes.

It was holi, the Indian festival of colours, and celebrations were in full swing. People were playing with colours and water, and eventually began throwing each other into the mud. Panda stood there threatened to throw me and Doll into the mud, chest all puffed up because no one would throw him in.Then it happened.

In a flash, three of our fellow-students caught hold of him and began struggling. They weren’t trying to throw Panda into the mud, they simply wanted to rip his t-shirt. And boy, did they succeed! After 10 mins of struggle, I saw Panda standing with GG. Both of them looked ruffled with their torn t-shirts held in place by tying knots.

I felt immensely satisfied. Panda looked humbled and quiet, and a little sad. I couldn’t help but smile. The universe was alright. Balance had been restored.

Music for the soul

It had been a long day.

Upset and exhausted, I felt annoyed at the world. I needed some alone time. I sat down on my bed, determined to divert my attention to something more pleasant.

But how to brighten up my mood? I looked around the room. Forget chocolate, there wasn’t a single sweet-tasting food product to be found. And stepping out of the room to get some would mean human interaction, which I did not want under any circumstances! Next, I turned my attention to the books stacked neatly on the shelf. With a jolt I realized that my favorite feel-good book was nowhere to be found. Saddened by the realization that I had left it at home, I looked around the room, more dazed and irritated than before.

Suddenly it struck me! The cure for all my troubles. I quickly turned off all the lights, put my earphones on and started listening to music with a volume high enough to drown the voices in my head. Happy music. Upbeat music. The kind of music that makes you forget all worries and sorrows, and carries you to a different world. That brings a smile to your face and a spring to your step. The kind of music that, if you close your eyes, makes you feel like your hair is flying in the wind, as it does in movies, even if there is no wind. The kind of music that makes you move to the beat in spite of yourself. That makes you feel happy. And beautiful. And loved.

The kind of music that gives you courage to face the world, every single day.

Music is food. Food for the soul.

 

 

P.S. In case you were wondering, my favourite book is  Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

Mother Knows Best

The first time I heard (and saw) this song in Disney’s Tangled, I couldn’t help grinning like an idiot. How could someone so perfectly fit into a song the infuriating behaviour of mothers all around the world?!

Well they did. And it exists. Right here.

Now I’m not saying my mum is a villain. But there are so many similarities between Rapunzel’s ‘mother’ and my own! The criticism. The incessant nagging. The restrictions. The infuriating ‘mother knows best’ attitude.

This isn’t a post about mom bashing. Though I have been known to do that a lot!

Because there is one major difference between Rapunzel’s mother and mine. A difference that effectively sidelines all the similarities. My mum loves me, not just my hair. (Rapunzel’s hair has magical powers, which is why Mother Gothel keeps her around.) In fact she really doesn’t like my hair, but that’s not the point. Maybe if my hair had healing powers she would like it more. But it doesn’t, so she’s left with plain old me, void of any magical powers, and she loves me for me.

Mothers have this superpower, this ability to love you unconditionally. Whether you are the best and most obedient kid or a super-rebellious one, she will love you all the same.

I know what you’re going to say. People say this all the time. Why are you realizing this just now? What changed?

Well, I guess my attitude towards my mom changed.

Being a feminist, atheist and whatever else I choose to be, I am always defying the norm. And most of the times, defying my mom. (Just like Rapunzel defies Mother Gothel and leaves the tower!) I have always prided myself in being strong and independent and freethinking. In being whatever I am today despite the challenges life has thrown at me. Despite the restrictions imposed by society and *cough* my mom *cough*.

What never struck me before was the fact that my mom is reason for me being so strong and independent, and being able to face those challenges in the first place. She was the one who showed me how to stand up to bullies. She pushed me into music and dance, two of my biggest passions and talents today, to help me get rid of my shyness and become more confident. She urged me to step out into the limelight for the smallest of things. She told me I was meant for greatness. Lucky for me, I believed her.

This dawned on me with a new-found love for my mom.

Because now there is one thing I’m absolutely sure of. At  the end of the day when I come back to the tower after gathering the courage to leave it and see the world, no one will be happier or prouder than my mother.

And today I can admit, although I’m still cringing a little, mother does know best!

A little bit of Sugar

Being born into a Hindu family, Christmas was to me a strange phenomenon.  I’m not saying that non-Christians in India don’t celebrate Christmas. But people around me didn’t. So I never really had the opportunity to celebrate Christmas, until this year.

This year, me and my friends went all out. Or rather, I went all out. From joining the college choir and singing Christmas carols in dresses and Santa hats, to participating in Secret Santa and beating my brains out buying gifts for a friend, the Christmas spirit was in the air for almost an entire month!

Christmas eve was spent drinking hot chocolate and exchanging gifts.

Then, Christmas day arrived. We dressed up and went out for lunch, while the evening was spent on campus, in the quite comfort of a good movie.

The next morning, another Secret Santa emerged, inviting us all for a treasure hunt that evening! After running all over the campus looking for clues, we finally celebrated with cake and fortune cookies.

By the end of it, I realized that we did all of this not because of religion or tradition. But because it was fun. Because giving and receiving gifts made us feel loving and loved. And isn’t that the essence of Christmas?

We all need a little sugar in our lives. A sprinkle of joyful and loving moments to make life a little bit better, a little bit sweeter. For me, 2014 had its ups and downs. But with this Christmas, my year ended on a honey-filled note.

What was your sweetest, most joyful moment in 2014? Comment below!

Some days

Some days you wake up

And the world seems bright.

Life didn’t seem to go your way

But suddenly, it’s alright.

 

Some days you wake up

And a smile lights up your face.

Life is no more needles and pins

It’s just ribbon and lace.

 

Some days you wake up

And the storm has passed by.

The dream of a better present,

Still sparkling in your eye.

 

Some days you wake up

And in your mind you say,

Today is that day.

Today is that day.

Home

How I wish I could be home for a day or two.

To laze around on the bed, and chairs and sofas too

To be encompassed in the glory of the all-pervading love

To be floating in the warmth of your own nostalgia.

Time travel – to childhood, to memories old and new

Search for the old ghosts of laughter and sorrow

Etched on the walls of the house,

Invisibly permanent.