Friday, May 19, 2017

Love Story in a Cemetary

 She stopped, and we set down the water. She looked over to a grave. 

"He died last year," she said. In front of his grave was a lush flower garden. She bent down to pull a few weeds. 

"We lived in a small apartment nearby," She said. "He always wanted to give me a garden." I told her I was sorry for her loss. 

"Don't be, dear," she said. "I loved him enough to want him to go first. I was always better at handling the difficulties." 

She smiled wide. "He was better at the lighter side of life. He may be gone but not everything is gone. He left me with enough good memories to see me through until it's my time."

— Paris Letters, Macleod

Friday, April 28, 2017

Affirmative Action of Agony

Here I am. On the train, lulled by the gentle sway of the cars — a sweet caress of slow motion that contradicts the fact that the train is hurtling ahead at a speed that tolls a death call for one to step out of.

This is my cocoon, and it is in this trance-like state that in pseudo-somnolence I let my thoughts ramble.

Last year I wrote a paper on liminality in a character assessment of Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, a process and product that was in itself a paradox of sorts in recognizing the passivity of the liminal and yet its potential implied at threshold, and then applied to a woman who defied all definition through exploring extremes.

This liminal state is one I return to again and again. And in further exploration it is the simple pleasure of detachment that intrigues me. Moreso when this second truth is observed: the same can be said about my intrigue with love.

It has been too long since I have put pen to paper while in loco; years. It is in a strange turn of thought that caused me to wonder what the experience of revisiting my past voices would be like, only to realize I would in future not have anything to benchmark to this moment in time. This caused me to wonder what my voice would actually be, if I returned to this strange old habit of writing my thoughts down, old school, pen to paper, with all the generalities and trivialities.

In a moment of urgency, spurred on by this sensation that I needed to record this exact moment, I searched through my bag looking for those tools. No notebook, but a receipt from a date (its length a testament to its success) was enough to start scribbling the aforesaid.

The time between me writing on the train to me typing it here was in itself a moment of love. A walk where the time of day was at threshold; no longer day and yet not yet evening. A sun still above horizon but for not much longer, with colour painting the twilight darkening blue and grays ahead. Where the balmy wind thrilled with chills, memories and whispers of a season not yet ready to be relinquished, where gossamer tendrils and sprays of yellows and greens appear, hope amongst barrenness, and mostly a pause where April is at impasse with May.

I have refrained from resorting to music for once. In a long, quiet walk in the dark empty streets last night — where the world was already inside and the night was a companionship of fallen rain, music and petrichor — I reflected that music unearthed in me a very visceral, reactive suddenity. In one moment I absolved to be stone, in another moment giddy with DGAF adages, and in another yet I melted still in compassion.

I could no longer really attest to those emotions that mean to represent my being: there were too many.

Perhaps, I reflected while skirting a puddle that may as well be a black hole but for the dim reflection of streetlamps glinting off, perhaps this miasma of exhaustive emotions was the same black hold my heart had escaped to.

I, too, am tired. And yet, I find myself asking, what was the true agony? Was it in the tulmult of high emotions that took you around and up and down and tired you out, sometimes? Or was the agony really in preferentially holding on to peacefulness—a peace that meant a quiet agony of perpetual emptiness?


Friday, April 07, 2017

Conditioned

There's been this weird thing happening. Whenever I go to the washroom, there is something behind the shower curtains. I find my eyes returning to a certain spot inside the bathtub.  Often, it stays with me, what I've seen. I leave half-absentmindedly, mind absorbed with what I just witnessed.

Eraser. There's a physicality in the word, a beautiful sense of closure, perhaps, in the way the word rolls around inside my head.

I find myself wondering about the word. About how little it is used today. Instead we use "delete" -- an easy tap on a button to remove something unwanted. But erase, there is something physical about it, a manual act almost, summoning memories of rolled up bits of indian rubber on old canvases. Maybe it's sepia-hued. Sometimes, it's not.

Memory sometimes makes one feel that things cannot be erased. Old hurts, broken hearts, things that seem like even if they mend, they leave cracks, shatter lines ... they seem almost un-erasable. And yet, time is supposed to be that healer. Does healing equal erasure, is what I want to ask, yet I already have my answer.

Sometimes this act of erasing is a physical, conscious act. You can erase someone out of your life. Sometimes you have to, in order to clear out what isn't needed, in order to make space for the things that are important. Sometimes erasing is forgiveness. Sometimes forgiveness is the same act as erasing a person from your life.

And then this act of erasure means erasing regrets, erasing those things you cannot change. Erasing words exchanged, erasing kisses exchanged, erasing promises exchanged. And the strangest thing about this is that for someone so immersed in memories and holding on to dreams, the act of erasure is so damn fulfilling.

It is fulfilling to just let go of weighted sentences, of words riddled with meaning. Fulfillment can also come in living in this moment, in shooting out a smile to those who matter. Even to those who don't. It's in falling in love again when you don't expect it. In extending a hand to hold another person's hand, and also in retracting it without having any expectations whatsoever.

Damage eraser. That's what I keep seeing inside the washroom, behind the shower curtains. It isn't a ghost, or a supernatural phenomenon. Just two simple words on my Garnier hair conditioner, "damage eraser."

Damage, maybe it's sepia-hued. Sometimes, it's not.


music accompaniment: ben howard - empty corridors

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

That Feeling

When your eyes meet across a crowded room and the second you lock eyes the smiles are already exchanged before facial muscles can even move. The feeling of a warm, snug hug that is simultaneously full of care and yet so nonchalant because it is ready to give more. Or when you're sending messages to each other on the way to meet each other and you turn the corner to see him smiling at his phone while reading your last text and already responding. When he's drunk and spends the night talking to you while you're halfway drunk on the way to fully on what he's telling you because all he can talk about is you.  When you meet again after what feels like ages though is only days or even hours and you both start talking at superspeed to share and catch up with what the other has to say. When he asks you for songs even though he can't understand a word of the language and you start to fall in love with the songs you thought you wouldn't listen to again. When

Friday, March 03, 2017

Engrossment

"I should have known better to trust a man who wears ..."

"Should have known better than to trust a man, period," I interjected.

I was on the treadmill, waiting for my Friday night date to text me back on where we were going for dinner and was listening to my other friend tell me the saga of her recently failed relationship.

"I don't know," she sighed. "I should just give up." She hit the stop button on the treadmill.

"Turn that back on! You were on it for 20 seconds," I reached over and turned her machine back on.

"I'm tired!" She moaned, and reluctantly picked up her pace.

My phone beeped. "Anywhere."  I rolled my eyes. I was just surrounded by people with strong decision-making skills.

I turned up the speed and ran for dear life.

"Oh fuck. It's him again!" I opened my eyes and peeked over as her voice overlapped my workout music.

"What, who?" I looked around the gym wondering what her problem was.

"HIM!" She gestured at the window in front of us.

There was a dude smoking in front our window, the sunlight glinting off his sunglasses.

"He's checking me out again! Remember I told you there was this dude who's stalking me whenever I'm at the gym?"

I looked at the dude. I looked at her.

"He's checking out his own reflection. Not you."

She opened her mouth. Closed it. Shook her head. Sighed.

Turned up the speed and ran for dear life.






Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Endless Loop

"You think you're hurting now? Now how does this feel?" and I stuck the knife in deep, twisting it further into the heart — slicing, ripping, tearing. 

"You think this pain is killing you. In fact, you are dying. You are dying a million deaths and have died a million deaths and will continue to die a million deaths. But you will also continue to live, even when feeling this pain again and again. And you will learn to appreciate it, you will learn to think of it as your own, you will learn to live, even while dying."

Countless times I have found myself giving relationship advice in the last several months, and yet it is only now I pause to realize this has happened. Why is it that one becomes a beacon of hope, light and wisdom when you've been to places they don't even know exist; when people turn to you and ask, "How do you do it?" But really all my advice is pretty much the same. Don't be me.

I was asked: what is the one thing I would tell my younger self if I could go back in time? My answer was that I wouldn't even tell my younger self anything. I would backhand my younger self the hardest slap ever, making sure it drew blood.

And then I — like everyone else — would walk away.


OK but that's just it. Don't you see? I literally DID go back and walk away from myself. I kept doing that again, and again. I did it by telling myself that everyone else was walking away. But the fact was I really needed that bitch slap, hard. Now when I think about the person I used to be, two, three+ years ago I feel grossed out. I mean, that sappy girl just needed to get a grip on herself, she pisses me off that much. She still hangs around, don't get me wrong. Sometimes her woe-is-me drama rears its head when she puts on a Hindi soundtrack and if it's this song, she gets choked up with tears thinking to herself that she believed in true love and it did not get reciprocated, or if its that song, then she'll get angry and bitter and filled with black poison about life and think about evil-sounding invectives targeted at all and sundry but mostly herself.

But I don't know, I'm kind of not really her anymore either and that's a huge relief. I stay away from watching Bollywood movies too. The few movies I allowed myself to watch recently were because xyz saying I had to watch this movie because the character's character was my character. Yeah.

So I watched Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. And I'm like, so which one is me? They're like what are you talking about, obviously that girl? I'm like no bitch, all five of them is me. They're like man you have more issues than I thought. I agreed.


Then I watched Dear Zindagi because again someone told me the protagonist is me. So I made the big huge mistake of watching it and it was a mistake because I ended up stuffing a pillow in my mouth because I was sobbing so hard it was just so much fun to pretend to be a chipmunk at 4 in the morning.

I don't know. I found that falling in lustlove so many times this year was a huge fun fest and yet, the fun was in knowing I wasn't letting myself get caged in. The best of all was falling in love with myself. And finding out that falling out of a nest doesn't necessarily mean you can't fly.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Perspectives of Letting Go

There is often a sense of fleetingness, of running out of time, as life goes on. The strange part is that in the last phase of my life, I've almost felt as if I had reached terminal velocity. It was smooth sailing and enjoying a free fall that almost did not even feel like movement, though so much was happening, fast, busy, hectic. 

There's been a sense of learning to let go. Maybe of perspective also. 

I had one of those conversations with a bunch of friends, about old expectations versus new. I shared the fabled story of how, at the ripe old age of six, I was certain I would marry at 24 and had already picked out my outfit. Of course, the punchline was that 24 was gone with the wind and I now I am not even worried about it.

I remember when I was 13 or 14 years, how my favorite uncle, himself aged the decrepit old age of 28, had finally decided to get married. The family had all collectively sighed in relief, with some general insinuation that 28 was far too old to have remained unmarried, unsettled. I, not even knowing how old he was, just that he was old, thought too, it was damn time, nodding my little head wisely.

Now in the prime of life,  Vibrant, vivid, ambitious, successful. I'm kind of satisfied with how things are. For once I am not too worried about change, about losing people, about the future. I'm satisfied yet remain steadfastly hopeful, there are people I know I will be bidding adieu to as expectations conflict and trust erodes, and memories to say farewell to — however I am looking forward to the future, looking forward to growing old. 

Monday, February 06, 2017

Breathing to Achieve

When I'm at the gym one of the things I notice is that people aren't breathing. It sounds really strange, I know. But the thing is that I see someone peddling away furiously on a stationary bike and they're holding their breath; someone executing 30 leg lifts, holding their breath. And then post workout they're complaining about cramps, or wondering why they were only able to push ten minutes of cardio.

The same goes for life. 

I continue to observe people trying to take on life while holding their breaths. It is almost as if life for them is being submerged beneath waters, trying to survive means you can't afford to inhale. But that's where it goes wrong. In order to survive you need to give yourself permission to take a moment and breathe in.

Don't try to cram in the tasks without stopping, worrying away at the amount of work piled up and making you feel as if you've got a barbell on your chest. Slow down. Take a deep breath. Fill up those lungs as much as you can and then let it go.

I was very recently in a large roomful of people all oozing anxiety. We were all there ready to give proposal presentations and the terror, nerves and stage fright was coming off in waves from everyone around me. I had been good to go throughout until I found myself in the midst of this thick blanket of anxiety surrounding me. Then I found myself closing my eyes, taking in a deep breathe,  listening to the atmosphere, and in breathing found that specific frequency where I could take all that anxiety around me and channel it into a powerful force of purpose.

It is OK to feel overwhelmed at times. Allow yourself to recognize it but also give yourself the permission to step away from it and tell it you need some space. Give yourself permission to slow down, to take time reflect on not just what you are doing but why. Breathe.

 


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Today's Persecuted Maidens are Male

Now, in a time where women across the world are rallying forth, I return to the blank canvas that has been the only balm to emotional upheaval.

Growing up with a toxic male presence in my life, I've always thought that I would find those that would be different, however in reflection, I have probably not been successful. The state of masculinity is in itself a blindfold; the women must always cope and then give recognition for the male's nugatory attempt at coming to the rescue. She must not only deal with the weight of her own heart but must expend further energy in pretending to be happy simply to satisfy his attempts at making her so. The tired trope of damsel in distress is simply that: a ruse for amping that so-called chilvarous ego for which the female must summon superfluous energy to assuage it.

The many-armed figure of that female goddess is in this way accurate: in every day routine the female counterpart must juggle myriad tasks, duties, obligations, and still keep safe that fragile ego of the male. For, in all the privilege of his being, he cannot.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

There are no more perfect moments

"I know. I know that I shall never again meet anything or anybody who will inspire me with passion. You know, its quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy,  generosity, blindness. There is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice: it you think about it you don't do it."

Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

You are a milestone

"Here we are back to these alexandrine discussions I had to go through before when in my heart I had the simplest, commonest desires, such as telling her I loved her, taking her in my arms."

Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Quandary of Survival

Ana Iris once asked me if I loved him and I told her about the lights in my old home in the capital, how they flickered and you never knew if they would go out or not. You put down your things and you waited and couldn’t do anything really until the lights decided. This, I told her, is how I feel. — Junot Diaz, This is How You Lose Her

Sometimes when I look at the kitten who followed me home, I wonder what brought us together. She was starved, half-alive, having survived a harsh subzero winter yet she still battled each day and one day followed me across 20 minutes of frozen terrain.She was — is — a wild one. A ferocious, independent, and keenly intelligent creature. Maybe, in this way, she is only myself in animal form.

At times, though, I cannot help but look at her and wonder if it is possible for a human to come back as an animal. Often, when she plays soccer with her bell-ball for hours on end, I am reminded of the brother I lost so many years ago. He, too, was a dark and quiet creature, and spent hours playing solitaire foot hockey with a tennis ball.

Or, at those times when I feel her jagged tongue scratching away at my cheek, licking away my tears, I wonder if she is my mother; watching over me while I sleep.
In this way, I often find telling traits for many of those I have lost, and perhaps this is all transference of various internal feelings and thoughts that I do not dare allow myself to dwell on.

It is around this time that I observe the loss of the most important person in my life. The pain of that loss is as ever crippling, even 25 years later.  This is a pain I once felt was, if not healed completely, absolved through the nurturing care of another person I believed was my soul mate. But that person too, for reasons of his own, decided that I had weathered so many losses that one more didn’t make a difference; I was already stained and blemished from the wounds of the past and having risen each time I fell, of course I would rise again. Once, a few months ago, when I tried to communicate the destruction wreaked, I was told, by this person, disinterestedly, that it gets better with time.

I have wondered each day how it gets better with time. Does the ability to rise and go forth as opposed to wither away in a dark room mean that it is better? Does the impact of internalizing this pain and not expressing it mean that it is better? Does laughing and making other people happy, therefore the self happy, mean that it is better? Because happiness itself is so transient, and does not exactly correlate to that other pain so well hidden.

I feel sometimes that we are only given a certain amount of time with other people as they become a mirror or window, depending on the lessons learnt. As I observe one person grow into the cold, hurtful and distanced parent they never wanted to be, I realize that I should take heed and learn not to do the same. I am learning to detach myself from the emotions that have haunted me in the past, those of others and the emotions that have caused me to act out irrationally. I have ceased to abhor loss and struggle against aligning myself with pain. Instead I have acceded in the realization that this too is part of my identity. This is not necessarily better, but this is how I survive:


I rise each day ready to go forth and conquer, not because the pains of yesteryear have healed, but because I have come to accept them as part of who I am.  I continue to fight with broken ribs and open wounds because these wounds are the very things which have caused the biological heart to ragingly pump blood to these wounds in the hope that the delivery of oxygen and nutrients will one day heal them. Once healed, the heart would cease to beat so ferociously.