To the little girl who was afraid of the sea

When you were six, you hardly ever spoke. When in the company of strangers, you would hide behind my back and hold on to my shirt. When you were eleven we went to the sea and you were scared of how the waves splashed against the shore. You were terrified of the sound and smell of the water. You held on to my hand and refused to go anywhere near the it.

When you were five, we went on our first flight together. You were so shy that whenever any passer by tried to talk to you, you would squeeze my hand in a death grip. The nights they fought, we would lie close together on the bed holding each other while we shed tears.

Now you have grown up and I know are a strong independent woman. You were always the brains of the family and you always tried to do good by everyone. You are my little over achiever who aims to please. But amidst the world of thick books and medals, I hope you don’t leave your childhood behind.

Don’t make the same mistake I made at your age. Do not aim to please. Enjoy the sunshine after sleepless nights of hanging out with friends; enjoy the hangovers and the love pangs; enjoy the school dramas and the world of movies. Get your fill of sleep because after eighteen, you can bid goodbye to that. Get your fill of your family because people grow old and apart with age. Explore territories that you haven’t before. Fail once, fail twice and fail again because failure is a better teacher than success.

Dream a dream and then change that dream the next day because now is when the possibilities are most. Fall in love and realise the difference between love and infatuation. Get a job at McDonalds and understand that there is a lot of value in the smile of the boy who is given a happy meal by his father.

Join a cause and fight for it because if not now, when? When they ask you, “what do you want to be?” tell them that you want to be happy. When they ask which university, tell them the name of all possible ones because there is no end to learning.

Learn that experience is more valued than mugging up facts and that you can always change what you want. There is always a new dawn after a bad day.

Dear kid, don’t be sorry for not knowing what you want to do and for wanting something no one wants to give. It is okay. You will fail. You must fail. But you will come out of it shining, just like the time you boarded the plane on your own and made friends with the other passengers.

If a shy little kid could become a confident woman, there is nothing in this world you can’t do. I wish you knew how proud I was of you and I wish I could be the one you had your first smoke with and told all your secrets to.

But alas! It is what it is. All I know for a fact is that I will always watch over you even if it is from behind a screen.

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Could you?

Could you live with the night in your sunny universe?

Could you accommodate a tear in your vast smile?

Could you stay awake when all you needed was sleep?

Could you fool yourself in thinking everything was fine?

Could you carry the burden of the past knowing it wasn’t one of yours?

Could you be fine for you and i both?

Could you desire when i had lost hope?

Could you hope when i despaired?

Could you be ruined for the sake of my reputation?

Could you replace your warmth with my chill?

Could you truly make me yours when i’m not even mine anymore?

Could you feel when I went numb?

Could you live with knowing that it was a path of thorns you were walking on?

Could you spin poetry from the unwritten prose i served you?

Could you?

Could you?

Drugs and blanks

Blank, blank, blank…

I am blank. My mind is blank. Just as blank as it can get.

Nexito plus was the medicine.  The good doctor told me last night that I was not all that mad. Though I did have a few screws loose but the equipment was still holding on, somehow.

Mood stabilizers- they are called. Small pink medicines which taste sweet and stick to your teeth. The absorption period is just ten minutes. Taking it is easy but the sleep after that- that is the confusing part, Not the cluster B personality type lecture that I was given yesterday.

She asked me to listen to music- said it’ll keep the thoughts and sleep away. Hence I turned to Jackson for help. I wondered what Billy Jean had to do to get a spot in the star’s musical career. Was she the scrawny girl in the garage with the three older brothers who went to church every Sunday after a night of cocaine snorting? Or was she the good girl in her pink bedroom whose bent head just wanted to be in some fat good boy’s arms?

Now playing on the music application is Eric Clapton’s cocaine. I had seen him snorting once. My drugs actually started with him; he was my first drug. He fixed us a bong shot. “you gotta try a hit…it’ll change your life forever,” he had told me.

And it had. Everything was new; all passionate and toxic. He filled me up like the smoke from the tobacco. It exhilarated and burnt the lung. Yet it was welcome. It was wanted. It was desired. That day I learnt that the devil is nothing but our desire.

Fast forward to a few years. He is back and so is his energy and zeal. I distance myself; don’t engage in the drug. But what when the drug is in your blood? When disaster is a food for your soul. What do you do then?

Do you starve yourself or do you gorge down on the spread before you like the hungry carnivore that you are?

The photograph

They were facing the sun—all three of them: a man in his mid-forties, a girl in her teens and a child of nine. Sitting in a line on the sand dune, they had their backs turned to the lens. The man wore a black Adidas cap, a cream pullover and a pair of black corduroys. The older girl seated in the middle had her hair tied in a bun and had worn a red full sleeved tee shirt and blue jeans that looked expensive. The youngest, sitting on the extreme left had her arms out stretched on both sides as if stretching and looked heavenwards. She wore a checked black-blue shirt and black tights. She had hair like a boys which flew in the wind, towards the right of the viewer.

It was December of 2010 and the geo tag on the picture would identify the location as Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. The horizon was crimson-yellow mostly but the patches of sky in the middle was bordering orange. The highest point visible in the picture was blue—the type between midnight blue and light blue. There was a slight wind that could be felt on the skin of those three. The rest of the frame had one camel standing in a distance, towards the viewer’s extreme left. It would seem that the little girl was punching the unsuspecting camel with her outstretched left hand. The camel was bending down as if searching for some foliage in the desert. It makes me believe that the camel must have been a very optimistic one. In its long years on the desert, it could only have survived due to its optimism. The image in my head right now- the camel is sitting on its back legs much like a human and meditating, exhaling deeply with its nostrils flared when it breathes out.

One can’t say much about their expressions since their back is turned to us but one can guess from their postures. The man is hunched on his back as if relaxed. You can almost see the signs of a smile on the visible part of his chubby cheeks. He wears glasses and you can see the black rim of the glass. He is a man of some style sense and gravitas.

The older girl, like the man, appears to be relaxed and staring in the direction of the setting sun. Her hands seem to be joined together in the front part of her body. She could have wrapped them around her torso to protect herself from the cold wind. I have heard winters in the desert are cold and temperatures drop to sub-zero levels in the evenings. Is that so? Have you ever been to a desert?

The youngest has an air of comfort around her. She is stretching as mentioned previously and is looking up towards the heaven as if giving thanks for that moment of peace. She is not interested in the setting sun unlike her companions. She is just breathing in the moment and is feeling the wind tease her hair. If you zoom in enough, you can see the goosebumps on her hands. She must be cold. Yet she smiles. It is like those smiles you see on the faces of Tibetan monks- ones reflecting contentment and a secret no one will ever know.

There are no visible clouds in the sky. It seems as if the great painter was too lazy to apply the final touches on his canvas and decided that that would be cloudless day and blamed it all on the wind. The sky was a large sea monster waiting to engulf the fighting sun. The yellow mango-like thing looked like it wanted to linger a little while longer but couldn’t. An invisible hand was pulling it behind the curtain of night, holding it by the scruff of its neck.

The three were on a holiday. One of those rare places which lack network connection, fast cars, geysers and emails. One of those places where the railway station can be filled with ten men standing on the platform. One of those places where people still waited for the postman to arrive and he was treated like the lover’s God. One of those places where a traveler had to strain his eyes to search for a fellow human being. One of those places where people crawled into bed by 9 pm and woke up by 6 am.

It was a week long holiday and the girls had urged their father to take them for a night stay on the desert. The tour guide had been given strict instructions to take them to a place far from civilization where the cries of monotony and routine couldn’t be heard and you were left with the wind in all its purity. A place where the sky kissed the sand without being hindered and the sun watched over the smaller creations.

It was a happy place. It was their happy place. The three musketeers sat one beside the other enjoying the silence of the desert. The desert spoke to them using a language more ancient than man himself. A language that lacks words and sounds. Something throbbed through the silence. Some mystics say it is the heart of the desert that throbs. But we will never know, will we?

Sitting on the sand dunes, they could see a vast expanse of nothingness. It was bare, dry and harsh. Yet there was beauty. A rustic, earthy kind of beauty. It took some time for their eyes to recognize the beauty of the desert but when they did, they smiled and the smile lingered on in the photograph placed right in front of me and I am glad for their smile.

The girl who worked in a bar

“I dropped out of a college, changed my stream, started over and worked in a bar.”

-Words I need to say in order to repel people or to get them to judge me. The aunty in the bus with her kid on her side becomes the cat on high alert. Her ears perk up and her hands cover her daughter’s ears. But she can’t contain herself. She has to go on and ask me; or atleast try to figure out why a girl from a ‘good family’ worked in a bar or dropped two years.

“Umm…but beta why?”

None of the explanations I give satisfy her. In her mind, I have already failed in more exams than I can count, got rusticated for rowdy behaviour and conducted myself in a shameful manner (slutty too).

“But all those men in the bar…was it safe?”

She might as well have asked me how many times I was raped or did something that would elicit the response ‘shame shame’ from her friend group.

The uncle I tell these words to looks at me like I am a piece of meat. Suddenly the wisdom in his eyes is replaced by lust. He is licking his lips mentally. Yum!

What I am doing now doesn’t matter. What matters is what I did. And what I did defines who I am right?

The girls my age run away from me. They have their morality to protect. Their mothers would disapprove. The guy I give my resume to is confused. A 8.0 gpa and then a dropout. Why?

Choice is not something I am allowed to have.

A girl from a good family cannot work in a bar because ‘those places are dangerous for women…’ As if only men drink. And a woman doesn’t have a voice, lest hands and legs.

Our girls should be kept in parda at home; should not have relationships of any kind before marriage; should not go out of home after 5 pm; should not have opinions; should not disobey- says the regime.

Marriage is the only solution for women. Once married, they are the property of their husbands and the slaves to their children. Marital rape is normal. There is consent of course- hey lady, you signed a social contract. Remember always,- the regime continues.

Why blame the regime. My gynecologist told me to not have premarital sex. ‘It can lead to all sorts of problems,’ she said with a wink.

Let’s not come to sexuality. I don’t have one. I can’t have one. The only desire I am permitted to have is that of wanting a kid. Where do kids come from? The angel plants it in my belly. In my case, the angel is my husband offcourse.

I am not allowed to be a single mother. “Shame shame,” Pammy aunty says.

Now our union minister has said surrogacy is not an option for homosexuls, single mothers and partners in a live in.

There goes my chances. After all, who will marry me? I am the girl who worked in a bar remember?

Damn I am doomed. And I am so bloody happy being doomed!

Between the worlds

Between mind throbs and heart aches, there is a world where sanity prevails.

Between the small cats and large dogs, there is a world dominated by affection.

Between the muddy muck and the grey sky, there is a world where the lotus blooms.

Between sky jumps and scuba dives, there is a world of hikes and cycles.

Between your ego and my indifference, there is a world where our heart strings are attached.

Key lesson learnt: find the middle path; the world between the worlds.

To the vitruvian woman

Your lips the color of my womb

bleed words that take me to the moon.

The look in your eyes set fire to my tomb

while your touch comes to me as a boon.

 

Bukowski, you say, is your lover,

you claim to be his bread and butter.

Gertrude has your heart in a cover,

your beauty, if shunned, can lead her to a gutter.

 

Life ‘came a full circle when I first saw your face,

your fire burnt my soul to the depth of my grave.

A Madonna on earth, you weren’t from my race,

had a halo around you, I could see you brave.

 

Your memories taunt me like something I haven’t got,

How I worship your feet and I can help it not.