“Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.”
Coming back to writing was the only logical way I knew I would be able to survive. Whole worlds have come apart, time has ceased to make sense and yet here I am, once again finding myself in that utter despair one experiences after a relationship ends. What do I have to mourn? A future that has been robbed from all of us? Is my sadness justified amidst this upheaval of the very core of our lives? I don’t have the answers anymore.
Many years ago, in a different time and place I would’ve chosen love. Love over everything. Love over common sense and any worldly certainties. I would’ve moved metaphorical mountains and bruised my physical self in the process as long as my heart was safe. I knew that if I was going to make it, I needed to be loved. Loved yes, but how?
I’ve been writing deeply in my journal because I was afraid to share anything on this blog that was this personal. Then I think back to some of the truths that I have spoken about on here and how warmly they were received and my argument falls short.
At my first therapy session, I was asked, “Where do you want to start?” and I cried for the next 45 minutes in front of a complete stranger. Rest assured, this has been a tender few months and if not for the little things, if not for the fact that the sun still rises and that my cat is safe and that I have a small home that is my sanctuary, I don’t know if I’d be able to make it.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a concept I came across in an essay by the author, David Sedaris. Sedaris describes this theory as the Four Burner Theory and it goes somewhat as follows:
Your life is a stove made up of four burners. Each burner symbolizes a big quadrant of your life. Burner one is your family, two is your friends, three is health and four is your career.
To be successful, you would need to turn off one of the four burners. To be really successful, you should be able to turn off two out of the four burners.
And this is how it relates back to me…
Over the last few years, I did my best to maintain all these burners on a slow simmer. If you know me outside of my writing, outside of my online presence, you’d quickly see that I’m a very driven person. I set myself to a standard and I hate, absolutely hate disappointing myself when I can’t meet this said standard. I crumble and make a mess of myself when I fail or feel like I’m on the edge of failure. It’s no secret that I want nothing more than to be successful and by my own standards.
I’d like to believe that two of these burners are burning brightly for me. I’d even say, almost three. One of them, however, feels like it may never be turned back on.
Over the last few months, I’ve been trying to understand and logically recap my life to ascertain if estrangement has always just been in my nature. I take what I can and when the purpose has been met I cut off the source and move on. Simple. Easy. I’ve done it many times and I’ve walked away without so much as batting an eyelid.
Why then, this time, it isn’t? Simple? Or Easy?
Why then, is there a little voice at the back of my head gnawing away at me. Telling me that all things that have been said and done, I should maybe reconsider. I should go back and make right what wasn’t mine to fix.
Why then, do I keep muttering to myself Didion’s words – “I closed the box and put it in a closet. There is no real way to deal with everything we lose.” And why do those words now mean something entirely different and so much more?
Someone I respect very much said that it’s justified for me to feel the way I do and it’s fair for me to have walked away. That it’s okay to feel like I’ve been wronged and that everything feels like a lie. They explained that’s it’s so natural for me to feel that way because I’m a writer and with this new influx of information I am now rewriting my entire childhood.
Part of me wonders if the four burner theory is a way of saying: don’t spread yourself too thin, don’t try to please everyone.
What makes matters more complex is that, all my life I searched for a loophole. Something that allowed me to believe that no, I wasn’t the round peg in the square hole, and that I wasn’t insane to want the life I wanted, that we’re all susceptible to errors of judgement and failures of feeling and that being caught making a mistake need not mean that you live the remainder of your days seeking a nature of forgiveness that is unattainable.
It’s about time that I tackle the question many people that have given this blog some kind of appreciation and attention have been wondering. It’s been a year of big changes and one thing that has stood out to me is that I am no longer writing. No longer writing the way I used to. Things are not being broken down and understood by means of me sitting down and writing them out. Something has changed and I want to explain myself – as best as I can – through writing.
I am no longer writing because I am unable to do so. The act of taking that voice in my head and writing it out is not something I am feeling inclined to do any more. Can it be that this is where it ends for me? When I’m older and browsing through a library and chance upon a novel that I could’ve written – will it make me feel like it was beyond my ability? Like I was only a lost cause when it came to the written word. I don’t know.
All I know is that writing is not capable of paying my rent. That writing is not a means to the end. That I chose to be where I am and I chose what I wanted to do with my day and I knowingly left writing out of it. But all that being said, I cannot stress enough that I am happy. As happy as I’ve ever known myself to be. I’m accepting now – I am no longer deeply unsatisfied with my surroundings, my circumstances, my shortcomings. I am accepting. I know love like I’ve never known before. I have the feeling of belonging to a group of people that don’t care about how trying I was when I was a child. I am alive in this moment and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
This also brings me to something that I’ve recently been struggling with. Something that I may change my mind about later but for now feels stubbornly true – I am not meant to be a writer. I thought I knew it in the bones of my being that writing was what kept me going and that writing would save me and maybe someday give me a pretty roof on my head, a fireplace and maybe even a decent amount of money. What I didn’t see coming was that writing would become a labour of love to a point where I just couldn’t even bring myself to think of it any more.
The part about this change that is still tough on me is that the writing voice in my head is now extremely faint, a terribly quiet whisper and this is simply not cathartic.
This blog still has a steady number of views and visitors flowing in daily and that astounds me. Why is anyone reading something I wrote years ago that doesn’t even come close to how I feel now or who I am now? I read some of the posts on this blog and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to write like that again. Have I betrayed myself by choosing to let go of something I was so passionate about back when I had nothing else in my life?
The changes to my lifestyle are for the better, I tell myself. The short hair, the polished heels and the potential to grow my savings are everything I need to feel fulfilled. Writing never eased the nightmares about where the money would come from.
I have hundred posts on this blog now (not including this one I’m writing – because it may just end up in my drafts like the rest.) That is something, right? A reminder that I grounded myself on Sloppy Etymology for a considerable period of time.
Even now, I believe I have failed to explain what I set out to. My thoughts are scattered and the exercise of reaching out and grabbing them and forcing them down onto paper is too tiresome. If it’s any consolation, everyday I’m doing the second best thing I can do when I can’t write. I’m reading.
In the last couple of months, every post that I’ve written on this blog has started with an apology as to why I haven’t been writing. A sort of consolation to no one but myself that if I can give a valid reason, I can escape from the fact that writing is no longer the main focus of my life, that I don’t live through words any more and that my time is not mine to spare.
Already this post is weighing down on me. I don’t check my stats anymore. I don’t log in to read other bloggers’ posts. I just…don’t.
If there’s a valid explanation as to why this has happened, I will find out as I write. Maybe some things never change – I still need to write to understand, to draw semblance and to make sense.
May was the month of new beginnings. I can see in retrospect that a lot happened in May and I just coasted through it all. I didn’t stop to appreciate or be grateful. I was glad to have a routine. I started my first real job and got an office and a phone and a name plate. But then I needed more because I wasn’t satisfied.
June brought with it a whole new change and my beloved’s presence every day when I woke up. This domestic bliss came with a new wind and evened the odds in my life. I begin to thrive on my time at home with my person but I hated everything else I was expected to do outside of that. I found myself drowning under expectations of a job that back then I could see no way of getting better at. For the first time in my life, I felt like I took on something that I was going to fail at miserably and there was nothing I could do to succeed. Tears were spilled almost every other day. Arguments spewed because I couldn’t accept that I made the wrong choice after being forewarned. The only part of June that made me feel any sense of self worth was that I was making money now and I could afford things.
Come July I started doing what I do best when things don’t go my way, I run. I explored other avenues and tried to destroy every thing that I had built in the last couple of months. I decided to throw away things that were in my lap, that I had committed to, in order to find a workplace that didn’t drive me raven mad. July was a month of absolute indecision. I tried writing in July but abandoned it because nothing was close to normal and I had no time to reflect.
Fall came around and there seemed to be hope. I reached a point of comfort at my job that I didn’t think was attainable. The feeling of composure with my surroundings set in. I felt like I was going to be okay. Right around this time, my world began settling into a routine that try as I could I couldn’t shake. There was no way to sit down write. I watched a Drake Doremus movie I waited so long for, just so it would move me to write. I started and stopped. The resistance was too strong.
With September, came responsibility. It dawned on me that I am where I am and this is the best I could do with what I was given. September brought with it a sweeping calm that I needed. I could sleep at night. I could wake up and face the day. Things started to look up in a way I wasn’t prepared for. I was…happy. Anyone who knows me well enough knows that happiness does not stir me to write. I even stopped making feeble attempts to write. Nothing mattered, I was happy and I needed it to last.
That feeling of contentment carried forward into October. Nothing special happened in October – and that’s how I like it. My person and I began to follow a pattern that made a lot of sense. Our time together was now limited and therefore precious. We could discuss our days, bounce ideas off of each other, make dinner and relax. This was exactly how I envisioned our life. I couldn’t ask for more. A spell was cast on us and I couldn’t dare to break it. I also made my first big purchase in October and for the life of me I couldn’t justify it even though if you knew what it was you would say it was absolutely justified. I hate spending money.
November was a big highlight of this year. I traced my way back to my roots. While it was overwhelming and a tad bit nerve wracking at the same time, it was much needed. I have two lives and I have to make every effort to keep them parallel to each other. I realized that people love you regardless of how far you are from them or how little you’ve given to them in return or how feeble an attempt you’ve made to keep in contact. I was touched. It broke my heart to leave. I wasn’t expecting that. I wasn’t expecting any of those emotions at all. It took me a while to come back even though I was already here.
My favourite time of the year has rolled around and here I am, snuggled in an over-sized sweater, with my cup of coffee and snow that has half covered my windows. I hear the clock ticking and I must be on my way soon. I woke up today feeling like I did when the urge to write would make me drop everything else I had on hand. I forgot how I loved that feeling. December is keeping me on my toes – in a good way. We have a tree and our first ornament and I don’t know how life together gets any better than this. I really don’t.
How long has it been since I last wrote something here? For myself? Time is strange when you are trying to accomplish something. It takes away everything that once mattered and makes it seem as though all you’ve got is the hour, the minute, the second at hand but before you know it, it’s gone.
I daresay, this might be the longest I’ve been away from my blog and this might be one of the most productive periods of my life. That is not to say that writing kept me from achieving what I wanted, that writing was in the way somehow. But writing was there for me, when I had nothing else.
I woke up the other day from a dream that was right out of a page from Joan Didion’s Play It As It Lays, a book that I took a while to wrap my head around and when I finally did I thought about how fiction was never my forte, and it’s likely that it wasn’t Didion’s either. The scene that was in my dream was the one where Maria is at a party that she doesn’t want to be at and I’m unclear on the actual details in the book, but in my dream I am Maria and I’m also pregnant. The symbolism of this, I realize later, is that I feel a heaviness inside me that has nothing to do with carrying a child. Even the possibility of that – in my dream – made me want to die.
I am going to all of these places that I don’t particularly want to be at, I am dancing those dances and playing my part and I’ve convinced myself that I’m really happy. It wasn’t until a few days ago when I got back from a celebration that made me feel so good about myself that I realized I don’t feel good at all about this. That I am only happy because at this stage in my life, I’ve come close to everything that I planned to accomplish and therefore, the expectation is that I must be happy. So I am.
Starting a new chapter in my life has never been more intimidating. Making decisions that dictate long stretches of my future are giving me anxiety that I can barely contain. Finding my voice and my personality is not the same. I am a different person everyday. My pretenses have gone a little too far and I am not sure there’s any path that will lead me back to who I used to be. Which begs the question, do I want to go back at all anymore?
The year is coming to an end and I have things to say.
It’s not fair that any kind of real life advancements that I may have come at the expense of my blog. I would like to change that in the coming year because time and again I’ve valued how much of a catharsis this has been right here. Always.
I miss people more than I thought I would and what hurts is that I know not when I can see them again. I am constantly seeing through the new people I meet. They’re all the same. I’ve always met them before. I don’t think I’m an introvert but the lack of interesting people around me forces me to retreat and find comfort in my thoughts.
The year is ending and I’m coming full circle. Last year at this time I was on a very different high. I was getting Freshly Pressed and attention on this blog was at an all-time high. I was moving to a country I dreamed about living in every single day for the last two years. I was swept into a life I knew I wanted and everything about my existence up to this point paled in comparison.
I got everything I desired and it wasn’t enough for me.
I spent a big part of this year realizing that my inherent reluctance towards embracing happiness in the little ways it knocks at my door is not something I can do away with. It’ll go with me like an anchor around my foot. I know not under which ocean does the key to it lie and to be honest I’m not going to dive in order to find it. Especially because I don’t know how to swim.
It’s December and I like this month and there’s snow on my blog and there are shimmery lights in the populated parts of the city I live in and I am here and I feel loved.
The year is coming to a close and I’m feeling like a soft blanket has been wrapped around me and I’m safe and ready for the year to come.
“You know what I’d like to be? I mean if I had my goddam choice?”
-J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in The Rye
I’m taking a moment out today to talk to myself and remember just how good it feels when the words on the screen appearing in short bursts and sometimes delayed clicks are mine and they’re speaking to me in my own goddam voice. It’s been a good weekend. It’s been a good two weeks, except for that one day. There’s always that one day. Lately, I’ve kept it in check and I daresay I’m probably going to reduce the recurring nature of those thoughts pretty soon.
I experienced the season of fall and it is everything they said it’d be. They? The government, of course. (The God of Small Things reference, anyone?) Life does start all over again when it gets crisp in fall. For me, it feels like coming full circle and realizing that I’m still me, I’m still happy and a year later exactly where I want to be. Substantial things are falling into my lap and I’m grateful, as grateful as I can be. Almost a year later, I see some sort of a goal I can work towards, the means to guide me there and an inherent sense of confidence that I will be able to, hell I was made to do it.
I spoke about my dream life the other day and I expressed what would be my dream job. I think about it more than usual lately. I feel like as much as I hated the idea of “attracting what you think” I am subconsciously doing just that. I have fallen into a mechanical routine. Sometimes two whole days have gone by and I don’t remember how. I don’t sleep very much but thankfully it is out of choice. My goddam choice.
The signal turns green. I cross the street. Sometimes I run. I see Larry in the morning. Larry, who helps kids and sometimes older persons to cross the street. Larry, who always has a smile on his face that I’m beginning to wonder may actually be genuine. On most mornings I see a guy at the bus stop who has the biggest e-cigarette anyone could ever possibly need which also means he blows out the biggest cloud of smoke and I can easily tell which flavour. Most often, candy. I get on the bus and we start moving. I am lucky to have all of these experiences and be so aware of them.
After all this time, I’m coming around to being me.
“For the few little outward successes that I may seem to have, there are acres of misgivings and self-doubt.”
I recently finished reading The Bell Jar – the iconic book by Sylvia Plath and as late as I might be to join the bandwagon, I will say, the timing for me couldn’t be any better.
For someone who hasn’t read the book, what I’m about to say, the analogies I’m about to draw might seem confusing and gibberish. I apologize. But make of it what you will, the subdued sense of having a bell jar around you is not something you can ignore and have it pop up out of nowhere. It’s been there all along and if that’s the case, this will all make a lot of sense to you.
I’ll start off by saying that The Bell Jar is often termed as a book people read when they are depressed. It is a book people turn to because they need to be understood and realize that their sadness is normal and someone else gets it. I believe it can also be a book that reaches out through a portal and pulls you into a mind that is so clearly on the decline. An honest, interesting, insightful, brilliant mind that is gradually learning that all is not what it looks like and is questioning the authenticity of everything around it. Up until the first few chapters I tried my hardest to separate the protagonist from myself. I tried not to let this book be a recap of the couple of years in my life that I do such a good job of blocking out. The harder I tried, the more Sylvia Plath prodded and probed and let open the floodgates of my repressed memories.
Although the book plays around with many plot points right from virginity, obscure desires, a neurotic personality and the importance of pretence I couldn’t concentrate on any of them the way I did on the protagonist’s descend into depression. In my few brave moments or maybe I should call them weak moments when I lifted the curtain and peeped into the incidents, the signs, the very beginning of the mark of my downfall I realized that the more I kept these memories tucked away the easier it was to forget how it all started in the first place. Sylvia Plath brought it all back in glittering detail.
The protagonist’s inability to write or read felt like a punch in my gut. Her lack of desire to continue living and thinking so easily that life is something she didn’t want any more felt like a deep stab in my sternum. What made it so damn familiar to me was the effortlessness with which she sank…and sank.
And then got better. Or not?
“But I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure at all. How did I know that someday – at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere – the bell jar, with its stifling distortions wouldn’t descend again?”
And then those lines right there were what pushed me over to the point that I just had to sit down and write this. To say it out loud that I wasn’t sure either. That when I made the biggest decision of my life and thought, well from here on forward my bell jar will not be able to lay a finger on me, I was lying to myself through my teeth. When I took a picture of my face before leaving and shared it with a caption “Infinite Joy” I was only just hoping against hopes that it had gone away. But I was wrong.
Dark rooms and an odd plastic smell. The inability to move my limbs. The hollow, terribly hollow feeling in my legs. A sinking, drowning, half-there-not-there feeling. Numbness. And that’s what my bell jar looks like. There are good days and I forget altogether of its existence and just like that, bang, when my bell jar chooses to make its presence felt it latches onto my body and stays for as long as it pleases. Nothing I do makes it go away. Some days I fall asleep in it and when I wake up it feels like it was a nightmare. I only wish it was.
“They seemed to be in New York as I was, on some indefinitely extended leave from wherever they belonged, disciplined to consider the future, temporary exiles who always knew when the flights left for New Orleans or Memphis or Richmond or, in my case, California. Someone who lives with a plane schedule in the drawer lives on a slightly different calendar. Christmas, for example, was a difficult season. Other people could take it in stride, going to Stowe or going abroad or going for the day to their mothers’ places in Connecticut; those of us who believed that we lived somewhere else would spend it making and canceling airline reservations, waiting for weatherbound flights as if for the last plane out of Lisbon in 1940, and finally comforting one another, those of us who were left, with oranges and mementos and smoked-oyster stuffings of childhood, gathering close, colonials in a far country.”
-Joan Didion, Goodbye To All That
This is the first time I’m quoting from my favourite essay by Didion. I tried my hardest to not do that here because I was afraid that this essay says a bit too much about my life right now. It explains in torturous detail what I’m thinking but not quite ready to say out loud. But that’s the funny part, I read it almost everyday. I read it while huddled in a corner of my room, trying to make sense, trying to find something in between the lines that may have slipped past me the first time, the third time, the hundred and seventy fifth time.
I think, often, about how I could be anywhere but here. And then I see that Didion thought that, too. It’s oddly comforting.
Right now, I should be doing something else. I’m actually supposed to be doing something else. I have in front of me, more than eighty-five printed papers to be memorized, a pen cum highlighter that never fails to stain my fingernails, a packet of spicy, minty potato snacks that expired last month but I keep around because I like how it smells.
At nights, I huddle up under two blankets even when it’s awfully warm. I don’t eat very much but that’s only because nothing has changed. Guilt is overpowering and dulls the senses – in my case, taste. I get asked often by people who want to know if I’m doing okay whether I have any friends. And that’s a trick question, I believe. I never cared much about friendships anyway. For me, a friend was always someone who knew, understood, told me they cared then carefully stepped back. God knows I have loved those friends more than I thought I could. I have three separate blogs written in my head and I revise them everyday while I’m on the bus. Time will come when I can be writing and submitting again as I was at this time last year. Much has changed. Yet nothing really has. I’m doing what I need to do and on some days, I’m even perfectly happy with it all.
Found a rant in my drafts. Thought it would be appropriate since my blog’s been a little quiet lately.
I call myself a writer. But in privacy. I call myself a writer but I am afraid to say it out loud. I want to give an elaborate explanation to the world that the act of arranging words into sentences – often ambiguous, seldom meaningful – is a craft. I am a writer and saying that should be simple. It’s not something I get paid for. It’s not something I’m forced to do. It’s not a full time job. It’s not a part of some religion. It’s nothing but who I am. I write, therefore I am, right?
I find that all of my writing is ingrained in a deep sense of grief, inexplicable and a continuous sorrowful feeling, tragedy and insurmountable sadness. I don’t know how to be any other way. Having had my share of depression, having had my troubles with leaving my room for days, having had all of those things you don’t talk about once they’re in the past. I still feel like sorrow lingers long after the reasons for it are reconciled with. It lurks in the corners of the smile you fake when you get asked if you’re doing okay on a completely disorienting day. It scrambles and settles inside the pockets of a jacket you wore too much but couldn’t get rid of. It reappears in the late hours of a party when you’re too tired to keep up with people and all you wish for is to leave, to have simply not been there to begin with. But that’s something for everyone every once in a while and that doesn’t make me a writer.
The stories I love most and even the books I cherish to an obsessive level are all rooted in layers of tragedy and loss. I feel like grief is so goddamn beautiful and to find words fit to describe it is an art that few possess. But for some reason, every person between 20-35 years of age in the 21st century who has access to a keyboard and knows how to type is a writer. Being a writer is the simplest thing in the world from what I’m seeing. Nothing says it better than the words “Writer” in your Instagram bio. Followed by a link to your Tumblr. Tell me it gets any easier than that and I will cry.
So I shy away from the part where I ought to be describing myself as a writer because maybe I’m not. Maybe I have urges to pen down stuff and maybe it’s my safe place and maybe as Didion once wrote that I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking about and what I fear. I battle these thoughts and I feel that self-esteem as a writer is more difficult to attain than I hoped. I envy the people who confidently dish out the part where they freelance and are able to pay monthly rent for luxurious apartments and buy extra-large coffees with bagels and other side dishes every morning. I never question my writing. But I often question the label and what it entails. I don’t know how to separate one from the other. Is there a point where you suddenly go from not being a writer to being one? For the life of me, ever since I started reading I’ve wanted to write. Ever since I realized I could write sentences I wanted longer sentences and perfect sentences and I wanted many of them, lined up one after the other. Because when I sit down to write and when I talk about my blog with someone, it’s just so much easier saying I am my writing and honestly I couldn’t elaborate even if I wanted about there being any distinction between the two.
“Looking around, do you see ruins? That was to be expected. He who lives in the world of words does not get along with things.”
The strangest things are happening.
I sit down to write and it feels like I’m doing this for the first time. I’m not too perturbed; this has happened before.
I try to occupy little space because I know what it does to others when I want too much. I try to be me and then I try to be another me from another time and place. The back and forth, the trial and error, the near impunity of knowing I can choose and yet that I’m bound in ways I’ll never be able to unravel completely – it’s all so strange, you know.
I think I admitted to myself a while back – and it was the most difficult thing in the world – that my unhappiness is not cause of my circumstances, it’s not what others do to me, it’s not about what I don’t have and what I continue to pine for, it is in fact something that I can’t escape from. I’m unhappy with me.
So no matter where I go, no matter the continents I cross, the places I go to seek knowledge or the ones I choose to give my love – I will take this box of unhappiness with me. It fell the other day and it cracked and spilled my unhappiness everywhere. I could not make sense of it. I was there and my unhappiness took a form, it hovered all around me, it settled before me and made me see that what I said had nothing to do with anyone but me.
It’s strange you know, realizing that you have to keep something like that inside you at all times. That it can suddenly surface and throw off all your carefully crafted plans. That you are inherently sad and it can’t ever be changed.
I walk by myself in the cold every day. I feel the chill settle onto the corners of my mouth and the tip of my nose. Sometimes the wind blows my hair to curl around my neck, the stranglehold of it is never subdued by how ticklish it feels. I’m still more afraid than sensitive to it. I often look at my feet and I see the arches my lover adores very much. How is it that I never looked at them the same way?
The point is that happiness is – as people and books might have already told you – a matter of choice and that we all walk around with in-built sadness. The fear of it showing up unannounced at 3AM is what unnerves me. I know all too well that to be happy I have always paid a price. I keep the invoices tucked away in a dark drawer in the recesses of my brain, and it’s strange how sometimes they all decide to come along and collect their dues at the exact same time.
I don’t think you need to adjust so much to other people as you have to with yourself when you start living alone for the first time in your life. I feel like the last year has been just a series of repetitions in so many ways. I start. I hesitate. Come to a standstill. Stop. Now weep. Is that what it’s going to be again? Am I that hard to please? I might be jumping way too far.
So many things that I didn’t know about myself that I’ve only just discovered.
- I’m no good at boiling something in the microwave without having it spill over. I don’t know what it is about being watched when you’re trying to cook but it unnerves me. I creepily try to eat at the most odd hours now.
- I’m having a hard time not judging people only because I feel like I’ve constantly been under the radar over the past few days. Minutely scrutinized for inconsistencies. Been under watchful gazes. I’ve tried my best to be myself and I’ve done satisfactorily well, I believe. I’ve watched how I went from nervously touching my hair when talking to someone way older than me to resting my chin on my palm in rapt attention.
- I feel like I can see through some people and then again others are so difficult to read. People all over the world are mostly the same. It feels odd to say that as if I was going to move to another country and expect to meet a different breed of humans. We’re just all creatures of habit. It’s amusing the things one can get accustomed to.
- Somehow, I just can’t be sure if I have turned off the light when I leave the room. I’ve been going back and forth, upstairs, downstairs double the times to recheck. I don’t know what it means to care so much about these things. But I do know that being obsessive about them is certainly not a good sign.
- Living alone doesn’t bring so much freedom as it does responsibility. So easy to get confused with the two, even though they’re hardly the same.
- I must stop leaving the keys in the door.
- I’ve found that some people respect me far more than I deserve and I’m adjusting to that, too.
- I’ve found that I have a capacity to love far greater than the capacity to hate. Maybe when people continuously disappoint you, all that anger and distaste piles up like grime around the soft corners of your heart. I’m all cleaned up now. The rooms of my heart are open and I will accommodate as many as I can and keep them grounded in there.
- I can honestly say I’ve known money’s worth and always been wise about that knowledge. I’ve known all my life that I must spend reasonably and that money is important but not everything and definitely not more important than love, safety, genuine concern and graceful words. But only now do I feel that I could do so much more if I had that kind of money. The kind of money that doesn’t make you think twice before buying yourself a meal at the mall or debating about the size of your drink. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I needed to make money as much as I do now.
- This transition has also diverted my inherent pessimism into a structured, rational pessimism. I’m less bitter even when I have good reason to go all out and be furious and hateful. I see people and I think about what their story might be and for a second when my gaze lands upon them, in that moment, they are important to me. They give me a reason to think beyond myself. So often been told that I’m self-centered and I have never been able to rightfully deny it, either. If this isn’t a first step of rectification, I don’t know what else is.
- My energies are being split into so many directions and there are a hundred things that feel like they’re begging for my attention all day and night. My source of nourishment for this crass sapping away of energy is always the person I love.
- Some people label me as very brave. Others use sophisticated terms such as courageous but really I’m anything but. If anything I’m reckless and I’m a little selfish when it comes to what I want in the moment. I believe that even in my worst moments I’ve been fortunate to have had a few things that kept me going. I know some people who can’t describe the light at the end of their tunnel and my soul crushes in pain when I imagine what it was like. Oh trust me, I know.
- Someone I met today told me they wanted a tattoo that read, “Everything happens for a reason.” I said to this person whom I just met a few minutes ago, “You have no idea how many times I’ve repeated and just how much I believed in those words in the last few weeks.”
- I’m having no difficulty in staying true to my roots. However, unlike the others I’ve met I have no qualms about cutting off my roots and crawling out of the ground, either.
- I’ve realized over the last few weeks that people can overwhelm you in a way that you feel like you’ve merged into a singularity. That the rest of the world is just a swirling ambiguous motion of fractals around you and that when this person moves, you move instinctively and when this person wants to pull away you emerge and grow separately like the newly sprouting branches of a tree. Together or apart, you’re still blooming. That’s what matters.
Write a short story about this, a novella maybe.
Those were the words my friend said to me before I left home. Words I’m going to repeat to myself over and over until I can’t do much else except sit down and write.
But not right now. Not when I’m so busy actually feeling. I feel like writing about a hundred different things everyday. Experiences and stories are being served to me on a silver platter. The urge to record every single happening is so high. I get inattentive at times when I’m talking to someone because I’m mentally writing down how the conversation went for future reference. I’m pretty sure this is a writer thing and I’m not alone.
This may or may not be an excerpt of what I’ll write but if, for no one else, this is for me and M. That’s all that matters anyway.
Time, I’ve come to understand, can be stretched. It can be expanded upon, when need be and it can also be paused, made to freeze if your need is that powerful. It’s hard for most people to agree upon this. But how can I not? Time has literally changed for me altogether as I’ve gone several hours back in time by leaving home.
Sooner than I expected I feel so much at ease with myself. Like this is who I’ve been all along but only allowed to exhibit in the company of a few trusted others. I feel comfortable with who I am and isn’t that ultimately the most important thing?
M is a part of me now that is simply indispensable. We’ve gone back in time, too, in a way. Reliving the start of us all over again. Only this time, we get to see and feel the same things at the same time. There’s no question of missed connections, misconstrued tones, confused (and very often, poor quality) signals. When you love someone from a distance you create a personality, an impression that is – in all imaginable ways – tweaked to your understanding of perfection. But the last few days have made me realize that there’s no such thing as perfect. I am so far from perfect. My definition of it can’t possibly be accurate. And maybe, we don’t really even need perfection.
I am aware that this is one of the best feelings there is. We’ve all been there at some point and the sweet scent of it lingers in our imagination forever. Being happy. In love. Finding joy in the smallest of things – a back rub, a shared meal, an inside joke. I feel other things, too, but cannot explain and that’s why I come back here. Where I can discover what I can’t quite say out loud.
Over the last few days, I’ve been asked how it feels to be away from home, whether I’m homesick, able to adjust, sleeping okay. It is all out of pure, genuine concern and it humbles me to such a great degree. But I almost wish they wouldn’t ask because my response is far from honest and it makes me so angry at myself, my life, a helplessness at the cards I’ve been dealt. Oh, but why would I miss home when I never felt at home? What a silly question is that? Must we just overlook the fact that there are some people who do not grow up with the privilege of knowing how to feel at home at home.
That’s the thing. I believe children that grow up or rather grow out of an environment they simply cannot adapt to but are forced to live in nonetheless, will always find the question “Do you miss home?” to be hostile. Almost an accusation, which will develop into resentment and ultimately confusion, “Why don’t I miss home?”. But how is it their fault? You see, when you’ve understood that you don’t fit in at home you subconsciously search for another safe place. For me, it was my books, it was words and all the spaces between them. It’s really not that different now, except that it includes M’s fingers and the spaces between them, too.
It’s only understandable that having a home, that very concept of being at home and having a place to live and leave becomes an in-built compass. Whatever comes next must be measured, paired up or brought to par with it. It’s the source of solace that has been yours inherently – without having to strive for – and therefore your right to look and expect it wherever you go. You know no other way of living. You are fortunate. However, what happens when that needle isn’t there, when there is no direction or expected standard, no means of understanding what you deserve.
It’s a disconnected, silvery, semi-porous, unevenly segmented, half-there, half-not-there feeling. Like when you want to rest your feet on the bottom of a swimming pool but you can’t quite do it. Your legs flap about desperately trying to reach out but it starts to feel like there is no landing, that it wasn’t there to begin with. You then have the choice to stay afloat or – like me when I was nine – you can try so hard that when you reach, you slip and almost drown. I never got into a swimming pool after that. I knew better than to wish for what was clearly beyond my reach. Once rescued – disoriented and cold – you can feel people peering down at you and hear their voices which are more eager than your own to know if you’re okay. I was okay.
Last night I cried quietly over the phone as many things came to my mind. I was crying out of joy. I was crying for the person I was and who I became and the tortuous road that lay in between. I believed that there’s only so much joy another person can bring to you and then you’re left to make do for the remaining part yourself. I was wrong.
A very safely nurtured dream came true a few days back. I saw my words being approached by complete strangers and being respected and praised immensely. I realized that the very nature of my writing that day – different from what it usually is – was still my writing and it made it to the Freshly Pressed page of WordPress. For people like me, this means everything and yet it stings just a tiny bit.
What followed in the coming few days was overwhelming, exhausting and so incredibly amazing; I guess there’s no way to entirely explain what I felt in words. Especially not in words. My views climbed and soared. My followers and like counts peaked. My phone was blown up with the incessant notifications and still goes off suddenly on a vibrating trip. But that’s not even the important part.
I received the kind of love writers can only dream about. More people than I can count told me how my writing reached to them. Some offered solace, some gave me their compassion, others promised to read, while the rest simply and honestly said thank you. There were few who said that I got into their minds and wrote their story. Which has to be what shocked me the most. I hurt all over wondering about these people I don’t know but their pain that I know all too well. It restored in me the faith that we’re never truly alone in the way we feel and think. Our experiences might be our own but there are people out there who have crossed those bridges at some point, faced the same demons and come out stronger. It’s a very big revelation to absorb when you spend most of your time cooped up in your worries and your tiny little life comprising of three or four important people. It’s an even harder blow to take when you have never been able to share your humiliating stories for fear of thinking it made you look bad.
One more reason I feel like I have to write this is because in retrospect if I had known this was the blog that was going to make the mark I would not have written some parts of it so harshly. The part about my mother. No, I wouldn’t challenge my integrity and change the facts. But I would’ve selectively imprinted on my readers a somewhat milder version of the pain I felt. The part about my mother. What part is it exactly? The part where I say how she hurt me? The part where I tell you that she only did what she thought was right? Or the part where I don’t talk about her?
Isn’t all of it in some indescribable way all her? Am I not, in the most inescapable reason simply because of her. Tied to her.
People wrote to me and said they couldn’t fathom what kind of mother does that to her child. They expressed their anger and confusion and tried to mimic my sense of betrayal, if only to form a kind of kinship with me, maybe to make me feel better, by virtue of their humanity. But I read those comments, I read the ones that said, “What kind of mother…” and I lost my cool. I couldn’t control the rage I felt on the inside at hearing someone else question my mother. I’m sorry but that is an inherent right that only I can wield.
Last night, I cried because I heard the most beautiful words spoken and they were all for me. There are elegies of love and then there are confessions. There is poetry and wit, letters of love and actions of compassion and infinite mediums of explaining what a person makes you feel and what you feel for them. The rainbows, the sunlight, the kisses sent via snail mail, the memories of the places you’ve seen together, the songs that are always about your lover. Does anything ever not speak directly to you when you’re in love? The unwavering respect that someone can give you for what you do is the most enchanting kind of confession there is. I cried because for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to wonder what it was like to feel complete. I was, in that moment, by all means…infinite.
So I’ve come to understand many things with this whole writing and going viral business. I read on a blog somewhere that you can be really good at what you do but writing is lately like high school and that it’s about who can shout the loudest. Not about who can write the best. I did that shouting into the Internet void and hoping to hit a gold mine thing. I did hit a few good shots and got published in lesser known places but it was not enough for me. I can’t self promote unless it’s absolutely essential. So I waited patiently for WordPress to come through for me, knowing that the odds were way too many. I think this happened to me at such a promising and beautiful time in my life and that instead of it being the sole reason for my joy – as I had initially hoped – it only adds to the pre-existing happiness in my life.
I believe that posts like this, are not going to be too frequent here. They take something out of me and I can only put so much of my life up on public display. I am afraid that one day I will have exhausted all of my personal experiences and that will be the end of it. I was bothered before because hardly anyone was reading my blog, now I’m on the opposite side and I’m still troubled. I patiently spoke to everyone who left their precious comments on my blog because you only get to bask in the sun so much and also because while it’s shining you mustn’t forget to make hay. I said to them that readers like them make everything possible. And it’s true.
Last night, I cried because this is my life now and it’s absolutely beautiful.
Sometimes you wish for something so hard and then it actually comes true. Has that happened to you? Against countless odds and still, your wish actually came true. Does it count as being lucky or should you be careful about hitching your hopes up too high? I’ve been thinking these thoughts for a while now. I’ve been thinking so much about it and I’ve also been trying not to think at all.
So much has happened since the last time I was here, blogger friends. So. Much. Where do I start from and how do I explain any of this? I am not sure. But I want to take it one step at a time. Keep my emotions in check. Make sure I’m not borrowing more happiness than I deserve to have in my share.
I can’t write like I used to. I’m putting that out there so you can decide whether to read further. This will be another of those journal style entries and while I could’ve just used my diary I cannot risk anyone laying their hands on these thoughts, again. I can, however, trust people I’ve never met. It’s something I do effortlessly.
I remember reaching a point in my life where I kept telling myself that if a particular thing was possible, I would do this and if this particular thing happened then I could do that and the conditions and clauses were infinite. I remember that life had become monotonous only running on that little proverbial speck of light at the far end of the dark tunnel. An endless pile of possibilities while I sunk down deeper and deeper and pretended I was fine – hopeful even. I did everything that was asked of me and I remember all too well – even though I wished I didn’t – what I received in return.
But now it’s time to forget everything I remember.
Maybe someday when I want to go back and experience pain and disappointment and need to write something of the sort I can resurface those memories. Maybe someday they’ll actually be useful.
But not now. Not when I’m this happy. Not when I’m finally getting everything I’ve wanted for so long.
I was on the phone with a friend the other day and I told him, “Everything worked out. This is really happening.”
He replied, “I’m actually happy for you.”
I said, “…okay, thank you?”, not sure about the tone in his voice.
He clarified, “I’m never really happy for anyone but I mean it, I’m happy for you.”
And I said to him, and to myself, really, “Everything is perfect except my writing. I can’t write.” I took a pause and added, “Though I’ve been reading a lot.”
He and I discussed it a bit more but I couldn’t make sense of it and changed the topic soon enough.
I think about writing a lot. More than I actually write I spend hours on end thinking about it. The words float around in my mind and it’s my personal heaven right there. Writing was what helped me and writing was what brought me ashore and it was writing that ultimately led me to the best things in my life. It’s hard to bring up anything else to par with it. Yet, I told my friend quickly that I was reading a lot and it wasn’t me trying to backpedal. When I can’t write, I read. Is that supposed to be some sort of consolation to the sad fact that my writing is no good? Does that even come close? I’m not sure if that makes sense. If my reading compensates for the part of my life where I’m unable to write well, is it a much truer love than writing?
Maybe going back to a repressed memory will help me understand.
When I was younger I started reading, collecting and hoarding books while children my age were going out and being social after school hours. Sometimes I remember being asked how I had spent my evening and I realized that the response was the same, every time. With my books. I grew up with words more than I did with people my age. I grew up in different times and different places through the escape provided in the book realm, obviously I felt no need to go anywhere. When I reached an age where subtle romance and other emotional references in books started making sense, I desired to write them down for keeps. I picked up sentences and emotions behind them and started jotting them down as I read them. I wanted to come back to these words and inspect them when the time was right and when I felt the way the characters in the books did. I knew better to keep these notes and pages concealed because my mother would not have been pleased to find them. The reasons for which are so fragile, so complicated and difficult to make anyone understand especially if they haven’t met her. However, soon enough she found the pages.
The scribbles of words and expressions of emotions so much more mature and deep than she expected I was reading. I remember sitting frozen as she put on her glasses and read each and every thing and glanced up at me once with an expression that guaranteed me that I was in a lot of trouble. Who would’ve thought reading and wanting to preserve what you read would be such a heinous crime? I couldn’t think that way then. As far as I knew, I was so scared at what would happen next I couldn’t move a muscle, afraid that I’d wet myself. (I had poor bladder control when I was younger.) While she read through all of them, handling the pages with no care whatsoever, I knew something inside me broke. It was over. Years later I understood reading was my first love. The heartbreak I felt when she stood up, tore the pages into bits and pieces and burned them on the stove will never equal to anything any mortal being has made me feel. In that moment I knew, I didn’t need to copy things other writers wrote. Because my mother would find them and throw them away and probably stop me from reading completely. Which she did, for a while. (Though, I started reading secretly at school again and no one really stopped me there.)
I wasn’t reading anything forbidden but I wonder what my mother thought I was going to do with words. She knew, probably, that words have unprecedented power. I then read books and tried to mark subtle dots in between alphabets and scratches on pages that I wanted to go back to. I then read books and memorized things in my mind because I knew my mother couldn’t get inside my head and tear up my memory. And then suddenly, it came to me that I didn’t have to depend on someone else’s words. I didn’t have to hide and read books when I could one day, write my own.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been so unimaginably happy but I couldn’t come back here to establish that on my blog. I’ve come here in the past and ranted and shared my apprehensions so many times. I’ve even had to leave this place and come back with a different identity and conceal parts of me after that, but I’ve always been around. Is writing about happiness really all that difficult? Why is my writing so afraid of being found out? Am I really never going to be able to write anything good enough and always hide myself behind this anonymity? Was my mother only trying to protect me from eventually realizing my inadequacies, the portent of failures to come? Then again, as Rita Brown rightly put it, “A writer’s life is not designed to reassure your mother.”
A few weeks back I finished Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and my life was put back into perspective. I thought to myself, “I’m glad I can’t write. I’m glad my writing isn’t good enough now because I can appreciate her words so much better. I can see that her sentences are so fluid and so perfect and her thoughts are untainted by the way other people think and express themselves.” I could connect to how Didion felt the pain of being separated from her husband, also a writer. I felt tears of tremendous joy pour down my face when John, her husband, read out a passage of her book for her on her birthday and after closing the book he said, “Goddamn. Don’t ever tell me you can’t write. That’s my birthday present to you.” I reeled over when Didion expressed the fact that it took her a year after John’s sudden death to realize he’s not coming back. I took excerpts of various pages of this book as I read it and sent them to the person I love, also a writer. I was able to explain, in whatever way I needed to satisfy myself, to another person how words move me and how I connect with them. This person has, on several occasions made me realize that my love for words, for books, for book people, for random internet writers is completely sane. He said once, and I quote, “I will champion your literary appetite’s every whim.” To be able to simply share pages with someone of a book I lived vicariously through is a joy I can’t see being compared to anything else and I couldn’t have done it if I was immersed in my writing.
I think that sometimes you spend your entire life searching for people who understand you and then you find someone who does and everyone else in your life suddenly starts falling short to this standard. I explained to my friend that leaving home like this does not affect me because in my heart and mind I had already left this place long back. People ask me if I’m going to miss them and while I know that I will go back and think of them sometimes, I will reminisce and recall fondly moments with them that made me who I am today but I will not be able to imagine going back just for the sake of those things. Home was a place I never fit in fully. Although I was sure that one day I would leave, the difference is I was not sure if I’d have anywhere to come back to. I read somewhere an odd poem of sorts which went along the lines:
How to be unloved
Lose all family,
By chance or by coincidence…
I think about those words now and I wonder if it was chance or coincidence or it was something else entirely. Destiny, maybe? I told my friend that there comes a point in life when for better or for worse a family is finished. I guess finding a safe place in someone’s heart is enough family anyone can need. And finding someone that inspires your writing, someone that respects it and believes in it even when you can’t find the courage to do so, enough love anyone can need.
I could keep quiet about this. But till I don’t write it out I am not going to be okay.
I will start by admitting I am not a fan of Lena Dunham. For various reasons and that isn’t even important at this point. Now that she’s being called a child molester for inspecting her sister’s privates as a child makes me deeply uncomfortable. I could start by making you understand how this is wrong on many levels and to come out in a book and say that just makes it worse. But what tops that off is people dismissing this as feminism. How is this feminism? In what world is this okay? Certainly not one worth living in, in my opinion.
I could give you an example as simple as, imagine hearing about this same incident from a Third World Country and trying to run it off as feminism. I know for a fact that would be atrocious. Unacceptable, even. Beyond the horrors of imagination.
When someone from a backward country, or let’s just say it out loud now, non-white ethnicity does something wrong on moral (human?) grounds and admits to it, that person is in for lifelong turmoil. Whether it’s accepting the act in public, whether it’s writing a book about it, whether it’s an outright admittance on television, the routes are endless. It’s often rare that people gracefully put it at the back of their minds when said name is mentioned. How the hell is what Lena Dunham,(at the time age seven), and her sister, a one year old whose legs she parted to inspect her vagina an act of feminism? Why is she writing about this? Who wanted to know? Who will raise their hands and relate to it? Was it to show how close they were as a family?
I read up many things a good many sensible people have had to say about this. I waited eagerly for Roxane Gay to speak my mind. She took some time coming around and I read her article several times. As you might’ve guessed she disappointed me and so here I am, doing a dimwitted stance at projecting what I don’t think is feminism. At least not white feminism.
I reached for Twitter and read a few things some other freelance writers had to say and this is what I understood:
1. Everyone thinks their opinion about this issue matters so much.
2. It’s one thing to sit around pretending you don’t care but it’ll only take that one sentence, that one trigger, that one badly framed retort someone offered to someone else but somehow bothered you to no end. Soon enough you’re pulled in the vortex and will believe #1.
3. I read an Asian person’s response to this and I also read an American’s. I read how both of them were on the same page but how personally each one took this to their race. This is not about any of us or where we come from. But even I couldn’t separate my opinion from my background.
4. Say what you will, feminism is now a word with a negative connotation. The fact that you have to justify what it is and isn’t itself is depressing and doesn’t help the cause.
I don’t know how to be okay with the fact that Roxane Gay said families are weird and therefore justified what Lena Dunham openly admitted to the world. Yes, families are weird, they are insidiously weird. Yes, families do weird things but you know what, that weirdness stays within the family. It is not something you proudly put on display. Being able to discuss your inspection of your sister’s vagina to the world is not courageous. It’s anything but. So this is why I’m always afraid to say I believe in feminism. Clearly, in some parts of the world feminism is stitched and altered to condone certain behaviours no matter how disgusting they are. It’s a quick-save. A backpedalling of sorts. A kind of substitute moral compass.
People are forgetting feminism is never rash and vulgar.
(This is just my opinion among many others. I wrote this out to clear my mind. This might have sentence structure mistakes or other syntax errors which I plead you to overlook as I wrote this at one go and do not want to go back and proofread; that’ll only make me more upset. Typing so fast, especially when you’re angry is almost always a bad choice. I know. I never learn.)
Summer is coming to a close. Well, not the season exactly. It never really gets any cooler in my part of the world. I faintly recall it has something to do with being situated near the equator. Geography overwhelmed me very much – to be honest – not in an entirely positive sense.
I had decided that this was going to be a season of change. A few months of my life without any kind of pressure to be anywhere, have things to do, deadlines to meet, people to annoy or people to avoid. I also think it had been way too long since I last got so much time for myself and I had it all chalked out what I would do with it when it was at my disposal.
Looking back now, all those things that I intended to do with my free time mainly involved me never stepping out of my room. The idea was to limit human contact but try not to isolate myself completely as that is never a good thing and past experiences have taught great lessons that I’d rather not get into.
I think time and again I have argued with myself what type of a person I am when it comes to social interactions. I still don’t know if I’m entirely sure. The introvert-extrovert debate is really exhausting for people nowadays so they made a middle category; ambiverts. I am already an ‘ambi’ of another kind and that’s enough for me, I guess.
The days raced into weeks and the weeks transformed into fortnights and months and no surprises there, time passed. Looking back, I set out and did everything I intended to in some measure or the other. I wrote on my blog. I wrote elsewhere. I wrote for myself. I wrote a special birthday email. I read more books than I have in the past whole year. I voraciously read books on my phone, too. The desire to grasp and inhabit fictional stories was insatiable and I never felt alone. Not for a moment.
But then, as is the case with all good things, you know it can’t last forever. I recently read Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry and thought about a side-character in the book named Martin, who suffered from a severe case of OCD. He had all his windows taped with newspaper, all loose items in his house wrapped in plastic and everything set out to be in a particular way according to some inexplicable compulsive logic, as is always the case with such persons. At one point, Martin’s condition got so bad that he couldn’t step out of his house at all. He could barely stand ten minutes in front of his door before his mind mercilessly questioned his intentions of going out into the world where anything could happen to anyone. It’s funny that among all the other interesting and more important characters in the book, Martin was the one I most identified with and not because it had me thinking that I was probably suffering from anything psychological but because I knew that my summer of solitude was coming to an end. Just like Martin, I, too would be standing on that threshold of my door, wondering how I’m supposed to go out and do anything when all I needed was the safety and joy of my own company.
I began to feel that Martin wasn’t afraid of going out. He was afraid of going out and discovering that he was all alone in the way he felt. It made no sense that his wife, Marijke left him because she couldn’t deal with his habits. If he was that perturbed by her absence, Martin would’ve gone out sooner to bring back the love of his life. He did, eventually. But sometimes people do things not because they are entirely sure that’s what they want, they think that their actions will someday embody who they are and so they do those things, anyway, half-heartedly at best, against their own will.
What I’m saying is, I went out today finally. I saw trees with leaves on them and trees that provided shade on stone pavements. I saw people with faces that looked like faces and I saw the cars and buses that I hear honking all day in my room and when I looked down I saw my own two feet, walking and not missing a single step. Everything felt somewhat normal, even familiar.
A few weeks ago I wrote a short fictional piece and found that it was well-received. I was urged by more than one person to go deeper into it and give my characters some background. This may not have been what anyone expected but there’s only so much my brain can produce during everyday 4AM vigils.
It was a frosty winter morning during mid-December and it was difficult not to notice how the hostile chill in the air quite aptly described the condition of my poor, desolate heart. I got out of bed early because I like having a head-start on my daily chores. Sometimes I imagine racing against my life and emerging victorious. But these are only distractions. And I’m trying to keep myself together this morning. It’s only 9 o’ clock and I’m not ready to let my brain wander off into unsafe territories. I’m not ready. Maybe I’m too tired and I should go back to sleep instead of thinking about.. No, I cannot think about it. Think about what? Oh great, here you go.
I have a hazy memory of the first time we met. Since it’s vague I won’t share the details for fear that I’ll misinterpret my own thoughts. For fear that I’ll make up things that weren’t there. Like I’m often known to. But I’ll tell you this, we struck right away not because we had things in common or our personalities jived smoothly with each other, the only string we both held the ends of were mutual distaste and hatred for all the same things.
They say love brings people together. In our case, hatred played that key role. And right then you’d wonder what was love doing in the meanwhile? Well, love waited on the sidelines, like an all too eager menace, waiting to pounce on the weaker one among us. Love and it’s various branching definitions never brought us together, instead they insidiously did us apart.
I knew it all too well that boys who liked boys could just as easily be dead boys. I also knew that although people all over the world professed that coming out of the closet was the best way to go, it’d only do me more harm than good.
Certain countries, certain places within certain countries object to people defiling social norms in a way so demeaning that even if they grant people to come out, as they are, they make sure they pick you up and set you apart. Like the rotten apple in a basket.
What good would it do to me to tell anyone how I functioned on the inside? When you admit to people you’re gay, it’s not as though people can magically look past their insecurities and embrace you for the hardships you’ve faced along the way. I wish it were that simple.
What those success stories about teenage boys accepting their homosexuality don’t tell you is how straight boys start to fear them. Every straight boy you’ve been close to will secretly run a walkthrough in his mind trying to assess if he were one of the milestones on the road to discovery about your homosexuality. What these shallow boys also do is flatter themselves inside their heads but treat you cautiously and with a certain kind of untouchability as though if they shook hands with you, all your pressing, uncontrollable male hormones would be spilled out on a rampage. As though all straight people are deeply in love with every person of the opposite gender they encounter.
The phone rings and I’m caught off guard from my inner monologue. It’s been a year and a half since we last saw each other. The dark gray dashboard of your car and the glove compartment I stared at for the longest time while we spoke about your musical depth are imprinted on my mind with vivid clarity. It’s been a whole year and a half and now I see myself sitting there in the most uncomfortable way possible, as though I had to restrain my shoulders, square them out like my life depended on it. And my hands, I didn’t even know what to do with my hands. I remember constantly shifting them about and never being able to settle on one spot. Finally, I resorted to pressing them against my knees and watched my knuckles turn white. I watch this awkward dance playing out before my eyes as I reach out to reject your call at 9:03 AM. The time of the call matching the moment when I’m thinking about you.
You, on the other hand, were completely relaxed and in absolute control of your body. I envied that but now I realize there was no reason for you to be uncomfortable, anyway. Your heart wasn’t hammering against your chest for reasons you couldn’t understand. You weren’t expecting it to be the last time we’d sit like that. You weren’t feeling the way I did. You were in the driver’s seat and by default, in full control of everything.
I now notice myself noticing you. I watch how I occasionally divert my gaze from the glove compartment and slowly let it settle on the profile of your face. I watch all of this from somewhere above like an invisible floating presence. I don’t remember it like this. I only remember facts. Your blue t-shirt and the way it drooped a bit at the front to reveal your clavicle. I also recall how you half-smiled and smirked at the same time and how ridiculous it made you look. I remember that when you spoke you never made eye contact with me but after you were done you always looked over for my reaction. I was part of that conversation but I was also so much more that day.
I was telling myself that I was leaving after today so that you’d be happy on your own and go out and achieve what you were carved out for. I was convinced that me walking away would ensure you had space and it all seemed noble and pure, even righteous.
A year later I finally saw the truth about myself. Moving away from you was the worst best thing I could have done to myself. I’m still thinking around all these whirlwind of implications minutes after I’ve slid my finger to cancel your call. It’s an involuntary action now and I don’t have to think twice.
You’re a 20-something year old now who is making their mark and slowly climbing scales of success. I stopped interacting with you but I never stopped keeping a tab on you. I had to be sure that even though I left because of my own selfish (at the time, unknown to me) reasons, some good had to come out of it for you. I knew you had it in you and I knew if I hoped and persisted long enough the universe would guide you there. That was how much I would’ve liked to believe in you. To actually put my faith in the very universe we expressed our mutual apathy for.
I also know that you knew all along how I felt about the world and the people that lived inside it. You knew before I knew who I was on the inside and that shames me. I don’t pick up the phone to talk to you anymore because it’s easier to shoulder the hurt and sweet pangs of love when it’s unrequited for independent reasons of the heart and what it does and doesn’t want. But when your love is dictated by societal reasons that give you no right to openly acknowledge your desire without being shamed into guilt, it’s best to observe silence and hope that people like you, people who rattle the very core of my existence don’t stride into my life ever again.
“You’re my Person,” is a line I’ve said to three people in my life and meant it from the core of my being. While I can argue at length with anyone what being someone’s Person actually means I will also admit that it is obviously a borrowed idea from a TV show.
Newsflash: Nothing original about that.
The word ‘Person’ always meant something to me I couldn’t quite elucidate properly. The word in plural meant even more. Persons who knew how to use it in a sentence so as to effectively emphasize that we’re not just talking about Ordinary People always had my salute of respect. Metaphorically. We don’t salute anyone anymore nowadays.
Ultimately my concept of a Person was truly defined by a show and the way it was applied in the lives of fictional beings.
If I could ask for one wish for the betterment of everyday lives, it would be less pop culture influence on our minds and a more individualistic approach to the daily aspects of living. When I won’t be granted that one wish, I would ask for time travel to go back to the ’90s. The beautiful, ephemeral, subtle 1990s. The time when the world was on a precipice of change but not quite there yet. When pop culture was not something our lives depended on, and our face-to-face interactions comprised of inchoate words and sentences that we came up with. On our own. By thinking.
When I woke up this morning and decided to write, I paused and wondered if I was seriously doing this again. Another article to justify I’m different and very clever and a cut above the rest. But the truth is, I am not.
I’m just a nobody like everyone else searching for some kind of semblance and resemblance in a world of fiction and make-believe. I’ve realized that being your own Person is such an uphill task and we’d all rather use fiction to escape than head up that road of discovery about who we truly are.
Does it not terrify you when you meet someone new and you’re not sure if they are actually what they look and talk like? I always am. Because suddenly, we have all become sum totals of the sitcoms we devour every Friday night, the indie movies we binge-watch over the weekends and the young adult novels we bury our noses in. When did ‘you’re not alone’ somehow culminate into ‘let us all be the same’?
Ideas are borrowed from all of these media. Sometimes deliberately. Most of the time, subconsciously. We throw ourselves into these independent realms of escape hoping that we’ll come out new and refined and more knowledgeable, somehow. We come out not with new but simply borrowed, secondhand personalities.
What adds to this visceral way of life, is the kind of boost social media provides to our self-inflated egos. “What Game of Thrones Character are you? Click here to find out.” Why, of course, knowing that I have something in common with an on-screen persona would absolutely make my day. That’s not all. Maybe I should answer the quiz in a way that will ensure I’m most likely to be the Mother of Dragons. Swoon.
Then there are certain other kinds of motivators. “Ask yourself what would XYZ do?” I know more than a handful of naive people who are blind enough to worship these characters to a point that they dictate their every move. What they don’t realize is, that is the reel world. It has a definite ending which, in all likelihood, has already been thought of and anything the characters now do however morally right or wrong is only a step towards a pre-decided conclusion. Applying those things to your life (without considering these factors) is not an indication of how well you think you know and connect with the characters. Trust me, it’s far from that.
Let’s skip over to the part where we decide that reading listicles on Thought Catalog will guide us on how “How To Be A Great Girlfriend”. As ridiculous as it seems, we are all guilty of clicking on these links and mentally ticking check boxes to see how well we’re doing. The kind of validation that is expected in relationships these days simply seems to revolve around the one that social media and movies have imprinted on our minds. Suddenly, everyone’s definition of a perfect romance is a beautiful guy called Augustus Waters telling you that he loves you (in spite of your cancer, and all) and that he knows love is only a shout into the void and we will all be blown away into oblivion eventually. If someone were to profess their love to me like that I’m not sure I would be in a position to believe them. Much less hold myself back from barfing in their face.
I’m not an unhappy person. Nor am I any less of a romantic at heart, it’s just that my idea of love stems from a connection that is original and unique to the two people involved and not a by-product of a fictional story.
When I was younger I always took it upon myself to do things differently. Whether it was a simple assignment, a group effort or even a formal essay. My parents always told me that it was very easy to get swayed by the crowd and lose myself and they took it upon themselves to ingrain that in the very core of my bones. The obstacles you face along the way of being ‘different’ are never-ending. When I reached a stage where I had to adjust my personality to fit in I saw that all the lessons taught to me made no sense. I was very sharp in my mind but weak in my heart. If I did what everyone else did, if I (pretended to) enjoy what they enjoyed, it was actually somewhat of a win-win. On the surface, at least.
When you strive your hardest to be someone you’re not, you will always find yourself unhappy and I stepped out of that disguise soon enough.
While we can all fuel our addictions and interests, what I believe is that moderation is the key. When you step out of the world that is inhabited by the characters you so adore, learn to leave it behind and move on with your life. Realize that just twenty six letters of the English alphabet when arranged and rearranged into words and sentences and the permutations-combinations of writing something original are actually infinite. Maybe you won’t have to complain anymore that all good writing has already been written and done for. That statement in itself should prove how powerful originality can be and the scope of it is unbounded.
All of these facets have the usual pros and cons, two sides to every coin and every other possible adage that you can conjure. You can tell me that the pop culture influence has only brought the world closer, that it is one of the shining victories of globalization and that it unites us when we discover similar interests with another human from another part of the world, it provides fodder for a conversation and is so much better than small talk. But when you’re liked or disliked depending upon the kind of media you’re interested in, when you are basically judged because of the views you uphold about a story that is most often far from reality, when you decide that indulging in a particular activity is for the sole reason of not being left behind, whether globalization or any other heavy term, not being a Person anymore is not a price I’m willing to pay.
Making an attempt to write short fiction things. This is sloppy writing at its best and I don’t know where I drew the courage from to post this on my blog. Groan.
“I’m being optimistic here,” you said. I looked into your eyes trying to ascertain if you meant those words. I swallowed hard and said, “The world is often ruined by your optimism.”
You didn’t listen to me then.
I remember when we had only time on our hands and endless evenings to roam the streets and pay for those cigarettes you could never get enough of. I recall with vivid clarity the names of all the songs that you liked and I told you that maybe you should try your hand at music.
The first time I decided you were going to be more than just a regular friend, I knew it was going to be a wrestling match. You were always proud of not being attached to anyone. I said to you, “You’re almost my best friend now.” There was only a half-smile and a slight nod from you.
You came to me for advice about things that I wasn’t particularly good at. How to get rid of a debt, how to not let nicotine show up on a blood test, how to hold back from calling up your old flames. I was never of much help to you and I was always confused why you came to me.
There comes a time in your life when you question if being with someone, platonically or otherwise, is more of a habit or if it’s really, truly a connection you formed over the years. Maybe you get up the next morning, you bring yourself to call them and their voice on the other end reaffirms those nagging worries. Maybe you are scared and you never call.
“I’m learning to play the piano,” you said to me, while I was seated in the front seat of your new secondhand car. After all of these years, you tried to tell me in that one sentence that I was right. You tried your hardest to elicit that I always understood you and you finally understood that.
We spent a half hour discussing what your future career in music would look like and I joked about you losing interest in it within a few weeks. Just like everything else. The expression on your face, the way your hands clenched the steering wheel when I chided you, that’s when I knew that you were going to see this through. That’s when I knew you didn’t need me anymore. I thought it best not to break it to you at the time but that’s when I knew it would be the last time I’d ever meet you.
I spoke about Change in my previous post and while I’ve mostly tried not to be someone giving pointless, free advice on this blog, sometimes it comes down to just that. Desperate times, you could say.
Yesterday I got rid of one of my social media networks. The biggest change I’ve made to my life lately. If you know me, you’ll realize how much thought must’ve gone into it and courage, too. I was, somewhat of an addict at one point. I tried to rid myself of it many years back but rebounded a few months later and there’s never been a moment of silence or separation ever since.
What comes with social media is a constant virtual connection without having to step out of the boundaries of your residential territory. But it was invariably clouding my normal life and time and again I ignored the warning signs. It’s not a bad thing if you’re a social pariah but when everything you actually know about your friends is only stuff you’ve glanced at on their walls, it’s time to question where you stand.
For some of us, powering down is easy. We forget where our cell phones are, we lose touch with our online personas because we’re so busy actually going out and making memories. But for others, it’s the only medium of any kind of human interaction. Even looking at pictures of our friends having a good time or knowing where they checked in is the best we can do to feel strangely reassured that it’s too much of a struggle and we’re better off in the virtual game of life. But for the sake of introspection this question begs to be asked, when do we really power down? Switch off completely? The answer is never and don’t lie that that doesn’t scare you sometimes.
I need to focus on invaluable interactions and moments of my life other than sharing links and finding the best sized picture for my cover photo. While I sound like a complete hypocrite and I know that this rehab I’ve gone into might only last a while, I would like to pride in the fact that I did it anyway. Most people I know can’t claim to do even that.
If you followed Sloppy Etymology in the past, you’d think deleting digital footprint is something I always do when the going gets tough. However, this compares nowhere to deleting my blog (or should I say blogs?) That felt like brutally chipping away a physical part of me. This feels as though I’m being pieced back together and rejuvenating myself with a strangely uncommon
If things matter they’ll matter enough to make you hold onto them firmly with both hands. If they don’t, you can honestly press Delete with the swift movement of one finger and I promise, you won’t feel a thing. I may have lost a blog audience of over a thousand people who next to never read my blog. So that’s not even a problem. But I’ll admit that a certain amount of effort had gone in building that network and it stings just a bit to lose it all at the click of a button. I’ll reassure myself by guessing that the ones who still care about reading what I write will not require a Facebook share and maybe that speaks more than enough about my reason to delete it and thereby redefine me and my territory.
Oh and here is a song that I heard on a show and makes me feel pretty awesome about everything.
I decided it’s better to share a song and distract you than let you click on the stupid ads that sometimes pop up here below my blog.
I’ve been trying to understand so many things in my life lately. I’ve been cleaning, throwing out, recycling and constantly refreshing my space as if that’s going to give me a new, enriching life. A turnaround of sorts.
I don’t think people even realize change is important and how change alters and refines your perspective. I don’t know if it’s all right to feel a certain way but at least now I’m sure about how I feel. I’m sure that I can actually feel something in the first place.
I’ve been writing and backspacing and I’m mostly never sure about what I intended to say initially. The haphazard and mish-mash of punctuated words, opalescent thoughts trying to look very charming and eloquent, all those qualities that are rare and that the world just has to notice and appreciate. That is not me so I will erase and write what I really feel.
I’ve reached a point where I no longer self-loath. I do not aspire to be what I’m not. I’m just content and loved and that is enough. I’m no longer ambitious or even afraid about the fact that I’m not. I’m still driven by my desire to do a lot of things and be someone good but it’s not the only thing in my world and that’s perfectly okay.
I wish I could make these words spilling out of me look as pretty as the person I love. Or sound like the voice of the person I love. These are things my words can’t do but I always try. I tried when I was heartbroken and sad to provide comfort to others like me. Now that I’m happy, I’m always shy and worried about expressing it. Why should I? Why the constant guilt about being overjoyed? These are the things my summer thoughts are made of. I’m not going out very much but I don’t have to, my mind is already in far-off lands brewing tales and experiencing things which only a strong imagination can conjure and bring to life.
The days are warm and hazy. My air is filled with love. If the weather and my heart were the only things that mattered I would say my life is almost perfect and that I’ve never desired more than that.
I didn’t think that this blog would end up like a diary entry. I didn’t even know what I wanted to write about when I started. I was filling a void in my morning, trying my best to fill that space which belonged to a person, with words. But as you can see, my distractions only last a few paragraphs before I start writing about you again.
I never thought that the first time I’d write about anime would be in such a terrible light. Believe me, it pains me a great deal to do so but sometimes writing helps get rid of residual emotions that you have no use for. If I manage to make it through this blog without breaking something, I’ll reward myself with a gummy bear.
Let’s get this straight, I have loved anime since as long as I can remember. All sorts of animations made by Walt Disney, Pixar, Tim Burton and DreamWorks have caught my attention and had me hooked since I was a little kid. For most people that kind of attention wavers and recedes once you mature. For me, it never did. For me, it heightened to obsessive levels. Anime, (by that I mean Japanese animation) itself was my biggest influence as a child and one that I couldn’t ever get enough of. What most people mistake for cartoons, true anime fans know is definitely more than just animated figures chasing each other around the screen like cats and mice. From a very young age, we realized what good shows should be made of (not just sugar and spice and all things nice), we knew what is a plotline, character development, complex emotions, sarcasm, satire, humour, love, desire, death all those things that many claim only a television show with living, breathing humans could display.
By now you can tell that I’m a huge anime fan and I feel like I have achieved a considerable level of fangirling with which I can discern and nitpick the good from the bad. Yes, there are some rotten ones as well so we can appreciate the plenty good ones. For many years I was a closeted anime lover. No, I wasn’t ashamed or actually hiding my obsession I just didn’t know anyone else who shared the same interest. Honestly, even right now I only know one person who has watched more anime than me and I should have listened, should not have watched Hell Girl: Jigoku Shoujo, should have saved myself the torture… should not have been so adamant… should not have… Groan.
A lot of anime I’ve watched in the past aired on the cable TV on channels like Cartoon Network having segments called Toonami and such. However, you’ll only find select anime here which are mostly dubbed in your native language or worse, in English where the translations are so literal it’ll make you barf. Animax Asia is an absolute delight because here is where you’ll find more categories, better quality shows and of course, beautiful AMVs (Anime Music Videos) in the intervals. If you’re lucky they’ll all be Japanese dubbed and even though that means constantly running your eyes over the subtitles you’ll find it more enjoyable because they have the most amazing voice artists, ever.
One fine day when I was doing my usual channel surfing from Channel 1 directly to Animax, I came across a well-drawn anime which seemed to be of the horror and mystery genre. Now let me tell you if you don’t already know, Japanese horror is easily the most terrifying, spooky and fright-inducing flavour of horror. Whether animated or not, it leaves you gasping and worrying about too many things that may have never crossed your mind before. Japanese horror takes urban legends to a whole new level.
So this show I fleetingly caught a glimpse of fit the bill. There seemed to be a solid storyline for the episode I was currently watching combined with a deep undertone of rage and revenge. The show had gory and vivid images of hell which is what it was mostly centered around. A young girl, named Enma Ai with long black hair and blood red eyes was the link which ferried a person to hell. Ferried, literally. The episode ended. I felt oddly intrigued like I do when I watch something good and then feel the urge to watch more of it so as to quench my curiosity and pass a well-rounded judgement before I move on to something else.
I went ahead and acquired all three seasons of Jigoku Shoujo (Hell Girl). I was very proud of myself for having discovered a great show without even searching. I waited for the right time and right alignment of the universe for me to delve into this show, prepared and pumped. Nothing could’ve prepared me though for what I was going to watch. Even after being forewarned by a very trustworthy source, I knew not how and why and what I was going to experience. It took me a few days, a vacation and detox juices to get back to normal to even write this blog. I do not exaggerate, my friends.
There are some animes that follow a fixed plotline in every episode. Each one can be broken down into a few parts the same way you could a letter into Salutation, Introduction, Body and Valediction. You know, like Ghostbusters and Scooby-Doo and other such shows where you already know the basic premise of the show. There is an obvious lack of continuity from one episode to the next except for the main character interactions and showdowns. You can sum up and say every episode is based on a fixed formula and even though you might know all too well how they will conclude you keep coming back to the show for those 25 odd minutes of riveting entertainment. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t even mind such shows because you can just hop on to the wagon from anywhere and still understand the goings-on perfectly. What bothered me is how confusing, repetitive and superfluous Hell Girl/Jigoko Shoujo was even though it had the full potential to be something scary and awesome.
Every short story includes a protagonist that has, in some way, directly or indirectly been wronged by another person. This wrongdoing usually takes place in the first ten minutes of the show and is often very predictable. Things like this happen every day in all parts of the world. People get cheated on, used, betrayed, laughed at, ridiculed for being different, abandoned, killed in accidents, and the list of heinous crimes is endless. Somewhere in between these few minutes, there is always a random conversation that comes to light exactly in the wake of the emotional crisis. It is so funny because I mean, how often does this happen that you’ve been hurt badly and a bunch of school girls pass by at precisely the exact moment talking about a website called Hell Correspondence that delivers immediate revenge to anyone who has wronged you. Once? Twice? Okay, okay, maybe thrice. Wait. Every damn episode? Are you honestly kidding me? I understand that there is a need to bring forth the concept of the website and the medium of obtaining revenge but can there at least be some kind of variation to the way it is disclosed.
Like that is not stupid enough, said protagonist is easily swayed and without any further ado duly returns home to their computer and logs onto Hell Correspondence, which only connects at midnight. If only I had a penny for every time I asked out loud to no one in particular, “Seriously? You want vengeance and the first thing you do is log onto a rumour of a website called Hell Correspondence?” I could still forgive the giddy-headed teenagers looking for an escape from their petty issues but when fully-grown adults sit before their computers, eagerly waiting to connect to Hell Girl I had to shake my head and resist from swearing in exasperation. (I don’t like swearing unless it’s absolutely unavoidable.)
Take a brief moment and imagine watching that exact scenario repeat itself every time only with different characters and how much it’ll hurt your brain to watch it over and over and over. Good, now read further.
After you log onto Hell Correspondence, you enter the name of the person you wish to exact retribution from. If your request is accepted, sometimes you’ll get a random update on your phone, all in red. Sometimes, you won’t. Sometimes, a little girl in a school uniform with dark red eyes and an expressionless face will randomly show up in your room, over your shoulder maybe, scaring the living daylights out of you. So what I’m confused about is, why this particular phenomenon does not follow a fixed pattern. How do you know your request was accepted or not? In some episodes, the protagonist is never given any response for days on end and is left wondering if Hell Girl was really just a rumour after all. There is no explanation to this, don’t look for it.
Let’s now be curious and ask what is it that Hell Girl does? Who is she? Where does she come from? What does she even want?
Sadly, I am only in a position to answer the first question here. The rest of them remain unanswered and I could only watch half of the first season till I figured I would take those unanswered questions with me to the grave, unless someone condemned me to hell and then I’d get to ask Hell Girl firsthand.
So after you contact Hell Girl, (depending on when she chooses to show up and scare you for no good reason) she offers a brief introduction stating her name, which is Enma Ai and that she is here to take revenge on your behalf because that’s obviously why you summoned her. What follows next is a fixed monologue which I have now rote-learned and can never shake out of my mind.
You’ve summoned me. My name is Enma Ai. [gives a straw doll to the person seeking revenge] Take this. If you truly wish revenge, just untie the scarlet thread from his neck. Pulling the thread binds you into a covenant with me. I will ferry the soul of your tormentor straight into the depths of Hell….however, once vengeance is served, you will have to deliver your end of the bargain. There always has to be a price. When you die, your soul will also belong to Hell. You will never know the joys of Heaven; you will be left to wander through a world made of pain and agony for all of eternity. The rest is upto you to decide.
Here is the part I have a huge problem with. At the start of the show, Enma Ai was extremely descriptive with this monologue. She’d appear at twilight against a bloody crimson sky and explain to the client who contacted her in vivid detail about the contract they were making with her and then hand over the straw doll with the red string. She would clearly state the consequences and even give them a glimpse of their fate once they made the choice. It was amusing to watch hell’s black hands emerge from dust and pull the protagonist into the earth with them or other such parallels, if only for a brief moment. I’m not being morbid here, what I mean is she was showing them what they were in for if they condemned someone to hell. It seemed fair. An eye for an eye, the supreme balance of the universe, to every action an equal and opposite reaction, etcetera, etcetera. But only a few episodes through, Enma Ai would appear, hurriedly hand over the straw doll and just when they were about to pull the string casually drop in a “However, you’ll go to hell as well when you die”, with a rather boring, no big-deal voice.
It’s understandable from the kind of trauma and distress the characters on the show continuously face that they’re desperate and want immediate revenge, period. Without giving them a proper explanation about their eternal damnation, I began to think Hell Girl just wanted them to pull the string already and be done with it. Thereby giving them no time to ponder over what happens to their soul later. Even the half decent things about the show were quickly falling through the cracks.
There’s another aspect about this show that cannot go unmentioned. Hell Girl’s sidekicks. Alongside Hell Girl, here are three more characters who act as her assistants and apart from passing random remarks and casually checking in on the client’s actual circumstances have no other real role to play. I am usually very good with Japanese names but for the life of me I couldn’t be bothered to remember theirs. A bald old man, a punk boy with hair covering most of his eyes, a strangely beautiful woman resembling geishas if they existed in an alternate world with off-shoulder and deep V-neck plunging kimonos. The old man has absolutely no other part except saying this one line at the end, “Revenge will be granted.” The punk and the lady step into the real world sometimes to ensure that the client’s circumstances are genuine and the revenge is not a ploy to deliberately hurt someone for no fault of theirs. What are such an odd combination of people doing together on this journey of hell? Is there anything more to their characters? Are they dead or alive? Have they got nothing better to do?
Once the string is pulled, revenge is unleashed on the antagonist with great pomp and circumstance bringing true their worst nightmares. The punk and the woman sometimes step in to role-play so as to make the whole Hell experience more…lifelike, I daresay. They really have nothing better to do, of that I’m sure. Once all the drama is over, they ask the person to confess to their sin which they obviously never do (because this show is full of vile, ruthless and awful characters) they turn to Enma Ai and I promise I’m not making this up, this is what they actually say, “That’s what s/he said, Young Miss.” Oh my goodness, the way it cracks me up. Every time.
The person then wakes up crazed on a boat being ferried along a river with floating lanterns. Enma Ai tells them, “This revenge will ferry you to hell,” as she emotionlessly rows the boat along the misty stream.
Afterward, there are a few minutes of epilogue where everything magically becomes right in the protagonist’s life and no one ever questions the missing antagonist’s whereabouts. All’s well except for the fact that the protagonist gets a crescent shape mark on their chest which serves as a constant reminder of their fate.
I’ve run you through what happens in every episode but I still cannot explain well enough just how contrived the show is and how many stupid loopholes there are that anyone even with a faint understanding of how this world functions could confidently bring up. These people who have been damaged by someone’s actions never, not even once, for the sake of God, ever consider contacting the police and letting that serve as their revenge. Whether or not Hell Girl wants more people to be condemned to Hell remains a mystery. I guess after a point, the only reason to watch the show is to find out if they pull the string or not. Spoiler alert, they always do.
To the persons who managed to watch all three seasons and believe that I was too quick to bash it up, please give me a good explanation as to how the show redeems itself, I’m honestly all ears. To the person who warned me about this show when I expressed my desire to watch it, I love you, you were right. To everyone else, keep in mind he who seeks revenge should remember to dig two graves, you know, just in case Hell Girl forgets to explain that to you in detail.
“Perhaps the only difference between me and other people is that I’ve always demanded more from the sunset. More spectacular colors when the sun hit the horizon. That’s perhaps my only sin.”
-Joe, Nymphomaniac Vol.1
My story is a complicated one. If you try to trace it back to its roots, you would find that too many Small Occurrences were responsible for the person I became. The Big Things never mattered. They never stirred anything in me and I always found it odd. All my writing is influenced by the Smaller Things which I then expand upon. It’s not all that surprising that my favourite book title reads The God of Small Things.
My writing often feels restricted to the places I’ve seen, the people I’ve experienced and every fictional character that I absorbed. That’s not much, but I improvise. Steal some details from one thought, attribute them to a mixed bag of other feelings, mash them up to make it seem real and unpretentious. It’s what I do in order to write. In order to survive. When it’s appreciated I feel strange but there’s no denying I like it and I will do it again.
Sometimes though I find something that moves me and I must take a step back and decipher what it must mean to be able to write something so original. I can’t quite do that yet and I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. I keep saying that I honestly think the best kind of literature has already been written and there is nothing more we can add to it but then a wonderful book comes along and keeps me strung for so long that I must retract my statement, for a while at least.
We need inspiration and we search for it constantly. Even subconsciously. If you’re trying to write, the first thing you’ll want to do is search for a topic that beckons familiarity. Familiarity in itself is safety. I respect people who can write poetry. Those who can play around with fiction, as well. They are tapping a part of their brain that is brimming with creativity. Not all of us are so gifted and aware.
What I don’t vouch for is people who play by the rules. While writing is said to be an art, why are we so strict and hell bent on following particular unsaid rules? No, I’m not even talking about grammar and syntax. I’m talking about how long a sentence should be. I’m talking about why there’s a twitching of eyebrows when a sentence begins with ‘and’. I mean the part where someone coins their own word which is so unique and undeniably apt for the context in which it is written, yet someone will raise their hand and say, “But that’s not even a dictionary defined word.”
I understand why conforming is important but if you need a shining example of why it’s not, I would suggest you to read books that invent their own language. I would request you to find people who don’t think writing should be studied, who write from their heart and who know how to string the invisible chords present therein. I plead you to not be quick to judge harshly, because although Small Things matter, Small Things can also be overlooked once in a while. I hope that maybe one day you’ll notice that the best books, the best writings, even the best poetry have all broken the rules and created their own universe of writing which we so comfortably inhabit that we never notice the deviations at all.
Originally appeared on Medium.com
Back when I was in school, I had a friend, who by all means was only similar to me in one way. We shared the same birthday. For anonymity’s sake, let’s call her C. C and I knew each other since kindergarten and we never really could live with or without each other. We knew everything there was to know about a person right from the beginning when we started being social little creatures.
C’s mom and my mom never saw eye-to-eye. What I’ve been told is that it started right from Nursery school apparently. Her mom forcibly made me get down from the swing so that C could swing a bit. My mom witnessed this and in her fierce mother’s heart felt like her daughter was wronged. Since then, the seed of hatred was planted.
Anyway, our mothers are not part of this story.
It must be noted that C and I were never best friends. We were only bound by the certain knowledge that we were born on the same day of the very same year and were always impressed by that little trick of nature at producing two starkly opposite people on one day. While C was on the darker side and really thin and bony, I had a fair and slightly wheatish complexion and in comparison I wasn’t so puny. For everyone else, we both appeared anorexic. We knew where the difference lay.
C was one of the most annoying people I actually loved being around. Her inappropriate behaviour at all times was the most fascinating thing I had ever seen. We also had the strange luck of being together in most classes for all ten years of schooling. While teachers chose me to recite poetry and answer intellectual questions and host Annual Day programmes, C would be chosen to be the Log Book Monitor or the Cupboard Key Caretaker. It was hilarious how contrasting we were; when birthday morning came around and we both arrived pompously in colourful frocks and shiny shoes while everyone was dressed smartly in beige uniforms, the reactions were epic. I use the word epic in the best way possible.
When we reached a certain age, C and I both started developing other interests. Particularly, in boys and pop culture and things that would make us fit in. While C brew a whole circle of friends outside school, I didn’t have much to work with because I mostly thought if I wasn’t reading huge books till I fell asleep I was wasting my life. I was precocious. C was precarious.
When we both started seeing boys and trying to get them to like us, I realized that C was better at it than me. I saw that it took her no time to talk to someone and make them ask her out. I stuck to being polite and hoping someone would tell the boy I was interested in about my existence. Soon enough, C was changing boyfriends by the week. I watched from the sidelines and wondered what it was she was gaining by any of this. We used to walk home together and at least five boys would walk up to her on the road everyday and say hi. When social media came into our lives, all these guys recognized me as “the girl who walks home with C” and they decided to befriend me. It wasn’t amusing but at least I was getting attention.
C and I also ended up being cast as Romeo and Juliet for the English dramatics. I got the part of Juliet and C was my short and puny Romeo. I remember C wore her boyfriend’s pants and wouldn’t stop gushing about it. I remember that it drove me absolutely insane when she wouldn’t shut up about that. I remember how even though she annoyed me, I always laughed it off and stuck around unlike the impatient, quick-to-get-rid-of-dimwits person I’ve become now. She was never behaving like someone she was not. She never did it for attention. She was so naturally queer and she couldn’t care less what anyone else thought of her.
When we reached our last school year, C was a total wreck. I, on the other hand, had faced some humiliations and learnt my lesson. C went on dating every guy she met. I had wrapped up my affections and put them away because they seemed to be spilling out on all the worthless ones. We were seniors at school now and I had gained added responsibilities. C was perpetually heartbroken and soothing it in very stupid ways, thereby creating room for more regret.
Our heritage school had many inspirational, vintage posters strategically stuck on the staircases so that they hit you right in the face when you were passing by. There was no avoiding them. When we reached the tenth grade and were allotted the topmost floor, we were being subjected to several of those posters several times a day.
One of them, right opposite our floor staircase went like this:
Life is full of CHOICES.
When you came down the next flight of steps, another one read:
There are many other fish in the sea!
Whether these were put up to mock each other or it was just a sheer coincidence, I’ll never know. But every time I climbed the stairs with C I would read the first one out to her loudly and she’d laugh and wait till we reached the next floor then read out that one in her response.
It’s been years and I haven’t met C but I see her life occasionally on social media. She seems to have figured things out. She has grown her hair just like me. Looking back, I’ll never know a friend the way I just knew her. Knew who she was beneath everything. Whether I approved of her ways or not, C was a friend to me for more than a decade and it still means more than what I feel for my present friends. Somehow, friendships like that don’t happen with me anymore. I wish that I could reach out to C now without any implications of what she might think of me for coming out of nowhere. I don’t even think it would make any sense if I did but if we lived in simpler times, I would go ahead and tell her a thank you because I realized that she was one of the best friends I never knew I had.
I feel hopeful. February has ended and memories have been photographed. Many of the things I should’ve been looking forward to in my life are now behind me. Graduation was made a big deal about and I stood under a dark sky, dressed in a way I’m usually not, surrounded by lights and music I don’t like, observing myself and the way I feel. I felt very little emotion but I saw it through. It wasn’t easy.
Recently, someone I have not interacted with very much over the past three years said something to me about my blog. It was an intentional somehow confused yet expressive style of a compliment. She told me that she had to say two things. The first one faded once I heard the next one. She said in the simplest way that she reads my blog and the only words she could muster were, “Oh my god”. Now while there have been people who’ve said more than just that about my writing and flattered me to a very great level I mostly think I don’t deserve, this struck me more than I had anticipated.
People tell you what they like about your words. They say things like your writing inspires me, your words are beautiful and you write tastefully. There is always some kind of restriction, even a compulsion to frame your compliment in the perfect, most acceptable way which I’ve never quite understood. When I see something I like, I’ll say the very first thing that pops in my mind. I won’t search in the recesses of my head for words that need to match the extent of my awe.
When she said those words and tried to think of something more to add to that, I bit my lip hoping she wouldn’t say anything and mar the moment. She didn’t.
Often, it is perceived that conforming to societal ways is the way to be. Time and again, things happen around me that make me question society as a whole.
I’m getting myself organized this month and trying to make the best use of my time. A blog I’ve wanted to write for a very long time is finally taking shape. I have so much to write about it that I pause and don’t get back to it for days in order to gain perspective. I also set a reminder on WordPress for at least one post a month. I’m always amused at the type of sassy mails I get from certain websites. I don’t know if it was that subtle reminder of my goal for the month or the sudden ohmygod, but it was the little push I needed and I’m back to say that I’m still here and I’m writing. I’m always writing.
“When you come back
from going crazy
the return trip
is twice as far
and the world
you come back to
I remember back in 2010 a string of few months where everything went wrong. I remember not having a glimmer of hope and thinking that I would never get out of that. I also recall telling myself I would never feel so awful again. I took a mental snapshot of my state of mind and saved it in the archives for future resurrections, hoping and praying I wouldn’t need to.
Jump to four years later and give or take a few months, because I can’t remember the exact month. Because I didn’t want to remember. Because I tried so hard to forget.
This last week has been quite tidal. Actions have consequences and I suppose if by now I have not learnt to think before I leap, it’s probably too late. I’m afraid I have been reflecting over the previous year far too much. A friend congratulated me recently over a certain academic achievement and told me that 2014 is the year for me. Why I smirked and refused to accept that, most people will never know.
Another close friend experienced a very grave loss and I felt like I wasn’t able to comfort her quite right. The only thing that I have, my words, they aren’t coming out right. My words feel like strangers to me. You could say I’m beginning to feel incompetent in more than one way.
If you make decisions without considering the core aspect of your life, chances are you won’t be allowed to get anywhere. I like pushing unnecessary worries to the back of my mind. The rest of my head feels like a safe zone and I can comfortably get on with my day. Until the night comes.
“My first thought was, he lied in every word.”
Lately I’ve been having a hard time talking to people. You know, actually talking. I don’t know what I should say so I borrow things I’ve read about and do a good stance at making them sound interesting. Nothing interests me these days. I’ve noticed no one really wants to talk anymore. It’s too personal, too risky. What if I say something that really means more than I intended it to be? Nah, I’ll complain about that party I just have to attend and how my life is one endless drone of heartbreaks.
If you asked me do I still want the things I thought I always wanted, I’d say no. I would also say yes if I could. How can you want and not want something, at the same time? I’m afraid that what I want is not what people want from me. So I settle.
On an average, odd years have always been the best for me. I feared a tiny bit as soon as I noticed it’s 2014. A couple of things to look forward to, a horde of unexpected things that I don’t want to face. Why is it that when I have something I can never appreciate. Do I always need to be told to say thank you? My mother said that I’ve been acting like the 10 year old me and she’s not pleased. I responded by laughing hysterically which she stated hereby proves her point.
I’ve also been doing some thinking. If I miss my graduation day, say out of a valid reason, would it account to me not actually graduating. I know, that’s stupid on one too many levels. But what if I don’t want a farewell, a good luck for your future endeavours. Just a hasty, okay I’m done with this already. Will that make me any less of a graduate than my comrades?
I suppose more than the year, it’s the month to blame. January gets burdened with a lot of expectations. No sooner this gets over, I’ll find my groove. Of that I’m sure. Till then I will binge-watch and love and cry, eat occasionally and do everything that gets me through the day.
What I mean is, I had to leave this place. I had to make sure that it wasn’t going to wreck my love, my life. What I mean is, I felt as though something was taken from me. Even though I knew it was ultimately my decision, my call, to go off that blog. Even right now as I write this, I’m unsure if I’ll end up posting this. You see, I’m now completely terrified. I’m not sure if I can even express myself the way I used to. What I mean is, I’ll always be concerned from now on. What I mean is, I’ll never be the same “I always carelessly write what’s on my mind” person again. What I mean is, this might not make any sense to anyone.
I don’t know how many times I’ve mulled over this in the past few days. How many times I’ve come back and checked my stats, out of habit and also because I like that kind of torture for myself. What I mean is, I’m word-broken right now. I’ve come back now. But I don’t think I can assure you about staying.
I never did care about the audience I was writing to. I will now have to keep things in mind. You know, just in case. What I mean is, I will now be subjected to stifling myself from talking about certain aspects of my life. What I mean is, it is unfair and it’s wave after wave of hurt. What I also mean is, I’ve cried about this. I lost something which I could’ve saved, had I only been careful. What I mean is, this is always the scenario but it never fails to shock and shatter me.
It took me about 6 hours to get this blog set up and started. I was there on that blog for 10 months. What I mean is, things can be mended in less time than you think. What I mean is, things can only be mended, and once you mend something it’s never the same. What I mean is, I lost a part of me I was nurturing all year. I wanted it to last for posterity sake. What I mean is, it gave me the most beautiful gift in the most beautiful way and I had to abandon it.
I left another blog somewhere in another time when I was another person. I deleted everything there. I let someone take what they thought and even proudly assumed they had rightly built. I let someone mangle it up and pretend that it was theirs. What I mean is, if I compared both the hurts, this, on the surface is actually nothing. What I mean is, it wasn’t about what had happened, it wasn’t something definite in this case. It was something that could happen. Endless. Not definite. Infinite.
What I mean is, this could so easily be nothing. What if it’s just all in my head? More than one of my friends pointed that out. What they mean is, I think and over-think and the strands of my thoughts so easily spin themselves around my mind that soon enough I can’t tell what’s real and what is only my imagination. What I mean is, I’ve never been good with facts, I have a tendency to forget. Sometimes I’m so slow. I say something and I haven’t understood it myself before it’s already out there. What I mean is, it’s been a few days now and if something would have to happen, there would be a sign. No, not my heart which has been jack-hammering in my chest every time someone was around. What I mean is, if this is only my anxiety I need someone to break it to me, have an intervention, anything. Calm me the fuck down. But hell, it’s so easy to tell yourself what you need to hear. No one asked me, “What now? What about your blog?” What I mean is, no one could care as much about something I cared about so much.
The funny part, (yes, there’s actually one) WordPress didn’t quite let me change my username. So even though the titles and the Dashboard belong under Sloppy Etymology now, my username continues to be what it was. What I mean is, it’s not actually funny, it’s brutal. I was asked if I would like to disable the previous blog address. What that means is, do you never want to go back? I stared at the check box for as long as I could before my vision got blurry. Finally, I left it unchecked. What I mean is, I can’t quite say goodbye yet. What I also mean is, I have a hard time saying goodbye. Maybe someday I might want to go back, I don’t want to shut the door on that. What I mean is, I’m not good at ending things which is why I would rather force someone else to do it for me.
It took me so long to get all the image and link URLs right. I altered the previous address and replaced it with the new one for every damn media item. Over and over and over and over. What I mean is, it felt like stabbing myself repeatedly. If ever there was a way of self-harm that didn’t involve blood, this would be it for me.
I guess I will try more or less to be anonymous from now on. What I mean is, those who already followed the other blog will still find out this is me. What I mean is, they will read this and feel badly for me and will ask me what happened. I will try to tell them and fail miserably at making them understand. What I also mean is, don’t ask me.
Even though this year has been the greatest, most redeeming and beautiful year of my life, I am unsure if I can hide how sad and perpetually worried I am now. What I mean is, for some it could just be words stringed into sentences into paragraphs and pages. What I actually mean is, it’s more than just that for me. If anything this blog had helped me establish myself, feel like I had found my haven, a place where I could speak my mind and never worry about the interpretations, it was beyond love. Already I talk in the past tense. What I mean is, I didn’t know where I ended and where that blog began. If you argue that I have retained all my posts, followers, stats and it’s really not much different, I have nothing to say in my defense. I still can’t bring myself to alter my Welcome page which if you read now makes little to no sense. What I mean is, this is a half-hearted attempt to come back. What I mean is, I’m not quite fully here now and I don’t know if I ever will be.
Sometimes I take someone’s life, pretend it’s my own and write about it. We all love roleplay, let’s admit it.
So I smiled meekly and said, come. Come and take this life of mine and intrude on my most private thoughts. This life of skipped meals and routine moments. You can take it all and still not have it entirely. I will never understand how that works. It’s still my life and mine to give to you. I’m telling you explicitly. Here, do me a favour. My life. Handle with care.
Here is my day, please don’t be it’s ruination. Find yourself in my thoughts. We all need to be alone. Alone and together. Find a beautiful symmetry and try to abscond it. Hurts, doesn’t it?
Here is the heart you dug your teeth into. I don’t have to part with that. It was yours before we met. So we didn’t have enough time. So we couldn’t resolve those bereft moments. So we said too much and there’s no making sense now.
Here is the part where we will never be good enough. We could resort to accusations, among other things. Here is the spite and the exaggerated rage we never tire of. All the emotional masochism we revel in. A house of cards simply balancing on Love. Hate. And more Love.
“One person in the ‘60s fascinated me more than anybody I have ever known. The fascination I experienced was probably very close to a certain kind of love.”
I recently read up a lot about Edie Sedgwick, the 1960s American actress, fashion model, socialite and Andy Warhol’s superstar Factory Girl. None of the things I read gave much highlight into what I was looking for. Blatant facts, critical accusations and fashion musings. I did pick up a lot about her background and none of it seemed to be pretty. It’s so easy to turn someone’s life inside out and negate anything and everything you see in the harshest of lights. I also understand repugnance towards certain ways of life and while that is all understandable sometimes I feel the need to restore some kind of order into this universe. The Internet is a universe on its own now, isn’t it?
I may not be too keen on facts and it is to be noted that I was born in the 90s so you’ll have to give me some extra credit for even taking an interest in the black-white cinema days. What started with a faint obsession with the movie Factory Girl in which starred Sienna Miller as a biographical version of Edie, an upcoming model and her struggles right up to her untimely death at the age of twenty-eight. I felt as though there was more to the character than she could portray. I had to watch Edie as Edie.
That led to viewing quite a few Andy Warhol’s art films and I must say I was awestruck. Edie was so much more than what met the eye at first glance. She walked as though she owned the world. She had a constant air around her that attracted people. What was more was the mystery behind her eyes and how little she gave away with that innocent yet mischievous smile of hers. Edie was always naturally mesmerising so when she was in front of the camera, she never really had to act.
Edie Sedgwick: And what would I have to do in one of your movies?
Andy Warhol: Just be yourself.
Edie Sedgwick: Well, which one?
Her total disdain for the normal stereotype was like a breath of fresh air to the fashion world in those days. She created chaos and uproar wherever she went. Edie never thought twice, about anything. She could be a different person every hour and you’d still be watching her with a bemused expression wondering how many sides did she actually have. I saw that in Poor Little Rich Girl. It seems as though the camera was kept running and Edie was waking up, deciding what to have for breakfast, talking on the phone, deciding what to wear and just being herself. You might wonder what kind of a crazy person I am to enjoy watching someone perform mediocre daily activities, but it’s Edie we’re talking about! Look at her!
She had a poignantly vacant, vulnerable quality that made her a reflection of everybody’s private fantasies.
It’s fair to say that as enthusiastic and unpredictable Edie was, so was her personal life. Nothing with her was permanent or stable. There’s something so endearing about a beautiful person being messed up. When you start spiralling downwards everyone wants to step in and take care of you but when you go over your head insane, none of your charm will work for you. When that happens, people will hate you because you’re beautiful. They will abandon you because you’re beautiful and you’re wasting it and you’ll be left alone. Ridiculously alone. That’s how it ended for Edie. I’m so fond of her, even thinking about her like that hurts.
Edie took the world by surprise what with her trademark leopard print coat, those black stockings and long-dangly earrings. She wasn’t afraid to create her own brand and she did. So many people nowadays still do the Edie Sedgwick eye make-up without even realizing it. If I ever had to go under the shears to get short cropped hair I know exactly how I would want it to look.
I went to a party once and there was a palm reader there. And when she looked at my hand, she just froze. And I said to her “I know. My lifeline is broken. I know I won’t live past thirty.”
It must be noted that Edie didn’t lead a very sane life. The admiration on one hand and the deviations on the other affected her in many ways. She was always eager to impress and it’s said by many that she was so taken by the attention she got from Andy Warhol’s movies, she would do anything he asked of her. Some of those movies are still considered pornographic and I wouldn’t really deny that. Her brief affair with Bob Dylan seems to have played a major role in what happened to her career at Warhol’s factory. You could say jealousy or any other X chromosome-related emotion must’ve led Andy to completely ruin her world which was built by him. In the movie, Factory Girl, there’s a scene where Dylan tells her that she’s a fucking toy for Andy Warhol, she’s disposable. To which Edie breaks down and admits that she can’t leave him.
If Edie was dependent on Andy only for the limelight it would’ve been okay but when he stopped giving her any work and found someone exactly like her (minus the charisma) to substitute her, Edie was reduced to rags. She stole things from her grandmother’s apartment to sell for some money. Her colossal drug usage was always something of prime concern. Edie grew up with eight siblings of which a few died, committed suicide and what not. Her brothers and even her father were always making advances at her and she never did really have much to begin with. It’s no surprise that her death was the result of an overdose.
Edie still made the most of her short life, I would say. Hell, she even got married for a few months leading to her death just so her husband would help her get sober. Sedgwick became known as “The Girl of the Year” in 1965. She was dubbed an “It Girl“, while Vogue magazine also named her a Youthquaker“.
“I do love Alice in Wonderland though, that’s something I think I could do very well. Don’t you think we ought to do an A.W.? A.W.’s Alice in Wonderland? Andy Warhol‘s Alice in Wonderland? A.W. stands for a lot of things, I understand. It, uh, it would make a fantastic film. So I wanted somebody to write the script for it, in a modern sense. I think it would be the most marvelous movie in the world, if it could be done. Don’t you think? Really, I don’t think they’ve done one since they did a Walt Disney one — which isn’t really doing it. In a sense it is, but not in the way it really should be done. What’s needed right now is a real scene. I mean not just cartoon characters, but the actual character of people because there’s so many fantastic people that you might as well use the people.”
You have to watch this. Her voice and descriptions are unbelievable.
And this post would be incomplete without The Factory Girl trailer. Here you go.
When did I become that person who notices the slightest change in the air. I stir my cereal and I can feel a hundred new things, without moving an inch. I think about certain mysteries and suddenly there’s magic. There’s pink flowery magic everywhere. Like an unsaid prayer answered. Like an emotion you haven’t yet named. You are aware how wonderful this feels. You like it. You are careful not to spill it around. In this case, You are me.
Everything, magnified. Laughter. Exasperated sighs. And some more laughter. Right from the oxygen you inhale, to the words you exhale. You feel the urge to scream and make everyone feel it. Road trip urges are high. The curtain unfurls and there’s a staged drama you longed to see since so long. You write about these random thoughts all the time, suddenly a muse is exactly what your writing was missing. Travelling back and forth. There’s a definite before and after now. There is a before this happened and an after this happened. A line so defined you can imagine yourself looking down at it, stepping on and crossing over.
Life is the decisions you make when you didn’t even know you were decision-making. And however obscure you might think life is, love is what will give you clarity.
A late night conversation in bed with your best friend makes you realize a thing or two. You know that you both have crossed a line. A line has been crossed. The territory of your thoughts you don’t let anyone ever see. Stories have been shared. Repressed emotions, released. Maybe you’re a sap, or you’re like me; a sap about selective things.
You figure out that there are Stories you’ve been telling yourself since you could remember faces and read the time. These are Stories that inhabit your very existence. You’re going to be dead a century later and with you the realm of your Stories shall end too. Neatly-wrapped Stories. Neatly wrapped Stories of passion and promise.
We’re all storytellers. Some of us simply possess a better imagination. Stories that we tell ourselves when we’re in the car, sitting idly in the middle of a traffic jam. Stories that we tell ourselves in the shower and at the dentist’s while staring at the fish tank. Stories that we’ve brewed along with our coffee. Stories we always knew and never fully understood.
Stories are interesting narratives. Have you ever wondered what it is about a particular Story that charms you? I would believe it to be the familiarity. It’s the stories that we’ve known all our lives. The safety, the caution, the sorrow and the hope that an unfamiliar story cannot, would not achieve.
What do you tell someone who asks you to write a Story that never happened? Or a Story you wish had never happened. You can be a smart mouth and tell them that they’re both overlapping most of the time. Remember back when you were always trying so hard. There was a face and you needed for Words, to distort that face. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Recall the moment under your eye’s magnifying lens when you told a Story just because you didn’t want to concentrate on that face. Which Story was it? Was it the most honest and heartfelt one you’ve never shared with anyone? Was it murky and had unrealistic edges, a tapestry with holes through which selective details kept slipping through.
We like to betray the Stories that support us. We betray ourselves, too and it gets tiring but we never stop. I wonder why people hold back so much. I wonder why we hold back at all and then complain that life’s never going to satisfy our innermost Stories. I’ll tell you what. We’re afraid that the Stories in our heads won’t coincide with The Story Of Our Life. The ones we sewed up in the velvet of the night. The ones that were invariably tarnished by dawn.
“If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”
Hello to the few souls who actually care and come here time and again to read what I’ve been cataloging. So it may come as a surprise when I say I’ve been experiencing a little bit of the writer’s block lately. I didn’t know if it’s possible to be completely blank when you tried to write but guess what, it is. From what I’ve understood, it doesn’t necessarily have to do with lack of ideas. It’s never the lack of it actually. You can’t not think. It’s an ongoing process and even when you aren’t entirely aware of your thoughts, you are thinking. Like you are right now, even though you believe you are only concentrating on reading this. You are invariably thinking about a hundred different things but your mind is trying to blur them and focus on one.
That moment when you decide that you want to write and the words are all there in your mind in well-framed sentences but you just can’t write. This usually stems from something you’re just not ready to accept. I wasn’t too sure why I was feeling that way until it all came rushing out in a conversation with my person. I vented it all out to him and he just patiently listened, like he always does.
He and I have always been on the same page about most things but he did go ahead to say that unlike him I don’t sell my soul for views. Breaking it down, I don’t have any desire to garner views for which I need go to inexorable heights and write about the pop-culture scene. Don’t get me wrong I love pop-culture. Oh I thrive on it! I think anyone who says that they haven’t ever been thrilled to read about pop-culture on the blogs that they follow is lying through their teeth.
But there comes a point where you start to wonder is that really what writing comes down to? Do you only sit in front of your computer and type because you want random souls to stumble on your blog? Not to mention, a blog that is popular only because of pop-culture and not because of your stupendous wit. Oh that should hurt. Views v/s content. Do they really have any kind of significant mathematical relationship? I would say inversely proportional but that would mean stigmatizing every blog that likes to delve into pop-culture once in a while. That would mean bashing up my all-time favourite blog, Thought Catalog.
There are many writers who write because they feel it’s some kind of obligation to the blogging world. They look at their blog and decide, oh it’s been ten days and it’s time for me to churn out a new post. Then there are those who make sure that they keep their audience hooked and produce post after post with such fervour, you are tempted to unfollow them. They clog up your news feed and also make you feel ridiculous about how rarely you post anything. There are some bloggers who only blog when something bothers the hell out of them. Of course, grief, anger, disappointment and any kind of displeasure is rarely ever felt as deeply as wait, what do you call it, love? So yes, they feel they must add to the misery of this world and blog only when they’re sad. Sorry fellas, my heart goes out to you and everything but I honestly am in a very happy place right now to care about your pain. I understand bloggers who search for inspiration and like reviewing things (all the time? Umm…), deep down we all know we do that for views. Hell, I would be a hypocrite if I said that the movie reviews I had written were just for my eyes alone. But then again fight on me on this, I wrote them for the few respectable followers that I have, hoping they’d read it and watch the movies that I hold close to my heart. Can’t argue with me on that, can you?
I have nothing against people who publicize things. I think it forms a major part of why you write. But it shouldn’t be the only motivation. When you measure your blog by the number of views it has received in the last 48 hours, I wonder what kind of mentality you live by. If that’s the case, I should be ecstatic because just the other day a random blogger liked all of my articles in a time span of less than two minutes. What’s amusing here is, he didn’t read a single one of them. How do I know that, you ask? That’s because my blog gets views that I can count on my hands. I hadn’t got a single view on any of the posts he bothered to like. Good going Sir! I’m not going to be flattered and curious and visit your blog so your blog hits counter goes up. Seriously, the joke’s on you, dear Sir. With publicity like that, well I do have a problem. Quick tip: Don’t insult another blogger by liking something you haven’t bothered to read but liked based on the face-value.
A few months ago, I was chatting with an American freelance writer (works for Thought Catalog, OH MY GOD!) on a social networking site. I must admit he was quite chatty for someone who should apparently be really busy. He spoke to me at length about what he thought about his writing and what it has become now. The only part of that conversation that struck out was when he told me that what I write right now, at the age of 19 is ‘shit’. He said that I’m supposed to be going out and experiencing things and experiencing people, living the life. I shouldn’t be holed up in my room, typing away at a blank screen. He also went on to say that when he was 19, he couldn’t write well and did a miserable job every time he tried. I found that hard to believe and when I go back and read the stuff he’s written I still can’t imagine a world where he didn’t write well. Then again, aren’t we our own worst critic nightmare.
When it comes to taking advice of someone you look up to, I don’t know how much of it I should consider. Hell, when I’m old and shrivelled, I would love to go back and read things I had written when I was 19. No matter how terrible and stupid they might seem to me then. I know for a fact that writing has lead me to a life I could never have imagined.
I have not known a life where I didn’t feel the need to write and keep a record of things I felt. I am not okay with the ephemeral nature of time. I can’t let moments that matter slip away and have only my memory to fall back on to, to recall them. If I ever plan on living my life backwards, I’ll know how to go about it. I’ll be able to go back to every high point in my life through my writings. I’m being selfish here because I’m writing for the future me. So tell me now, is it really that important to get ‘views’ for something that only I care about?
Purple doesn’t seek too much attention.
You’re safely between the colour and my words. I think of your favourite cherry ice cream and then I think of all the distance there is.
Purple will stand there across the dance floor and wait till someone spots it, glowing in silent exuberance.
I spot a point on a map and I calculate time variances. I make celestial references and I like looking through the glass.
Purple will swear proudly that it doesn’t pride in it’s elegance.
You say that one can get away with anything if they’re actually good enough.I have sworn to desire you with all my might but I’ve also sworn to be equally patient. Purple is for the wrestle that ensues between the two. It’s knowing what’s there and knowing full well what it can still be.
Purple is a colour just beneath your skin and outside your bones.
Purple will always manifest it’s sheen when required but purple will also be for the ones who choose to shy away from things they desire.
Purple is the place I keep you in.
I watch water ripples and wonder if it can match the curve of your smile. Nothing is impossible. I also sense the sun shine with all it’s might and listen to every sound around me, knowing full well that I need to absorb this so I can narrate it to you.
Purple is for the hearts that you couldn’t keep from breaking.
There is everything and there is also nothing. But what’s in-between counts too. You make me live these in-betweens.
Purple is me and what if I told you, you’re the Purple in me.
Spoiler: Do not read this if you’re an inherent pessimist, extremely hard on yourself, just lost your job or had a cataclysmic event destroy your self-esteem. I am warning you, it’s only going to make you feel worse.
I’m not here to please you or rub my hands all over your face, trying to wipe away the unfair trials of this world we live in. Sorry. Unfortunately, that’s not how things work. I’ve been told that I have a way of making people feel like ‘shit’ about themselves. People don’t understand that I can apply the same thing to myself too.
Do you remember the time when you decided to do something and someone marked you beforehand and told you that you just couldn’t? No? Okay, let me dig in and give you a real life example.
I was on vacation with my cousins at a hill station. It’s fair to mention I was in my smart-mouth, rebellious, adolescent phase. It was a mild afternoon and as the adults chose to settle for an afternoon reverie, youngsters decided to play under the sun instead.
I remember going up to my three cousin brothers and asking them if I could join in while they set the stumps to play a game of cricket. I remember them exchanging glances and staring at me funny. I remember not being amused at all. Finally, one of them spoke up and here’s what he told me, “You can’t play cricket with us. You’re a girl.”
I guess I stomped away from there. My reaction’s not the point to be studied here. Analyzing what I should or shouldn’t have done doesn’t make much sense. Besides, I would’ve been wrestling with someone far too little (in terms of intelligence) if I decided to start a fight. Even then I knew his logic was faulty and quite skewed. He wasn’t stating a fact, nor was he giving an ultimatum of sorts. He was just telling me without any kind of perfect knowledge about my capabilities that I couldn’t play cricket. That’s what hurt.
How often do you pin up your hopes on something and find yourself grappling at absolutely Nothing? Not even a few straws to play around with. Do you actively make Plans and follow The Steps To Sure-shot Returns but end up with a stark, glaring….Nothing. Just a void of absolute nothingness. Does it happen to you over and over, and over? Are you someone who does a test and ends up scoring something which says “above average” and when you convince yourself that that probably isn’t so bad but then you look around and see another hundred people at the same spot? Above average, my foot.
Maybe none of those things sound too bad to you. Maybe, you’re someone who doesn’t mind blending in. But what if you were someone who wasn’t cut out to just fade into darkness after the end of a play. What if you wanted to be the play-writer and wanted to be called back on stage for a round of applause, while everyone else scurried backstage, packing their things, ready to leave. Roles merely rehearsed and performed, no absolute originality in that, I suppose.
What if you knew deep down you were meant for greatness? But greatness seemed to find some kind of aversion towards you. Wouldn’t that suck?
Life isn’t fair. Everyone says that at the onset of Monday morning and ends up cursing it by the end of Saturday evening. Then enter the Optimists, “Hello! Everyone gets Sundays! Life may be unfair, but it’s unfair like that for everyone.” Picture this, you’re having a horrible time on Saturday evening and someone brutally took away your Sunday too. Is life still equally unfair? I’m afraid not.
Give and take a few rejections and we can all end up feeling pretty worthless. Come what may, there’s no shortcut to avoid it. You can’t be “excellent”, until you aren’t “above average”. And I’m not going to end this post on a happy note telling you to be hopeful and diligent, like that’s going to help you. I’m going to tell you that for the most part of your life you’ll feel worthless. Deal with it. If you deny that, I wonder who you’re trying to woo with your lies. Definitely not me, cause I’m taken.
I never considered blogging about this until I found an insane connection with someone across the world who had also watched ‘Hey Arnold!’ and had the same attachment and admiration for the show, its characters and all that fell in between. I really think it has been an insane ride and I owe this cartoon show due credit for making my childhood awesome and my teens even better.
I could make a list of all my favourite ‘Hey Arnold!’ episodes. Hell, I could quote to you the entire ‘Helga Goes blind’, ‘Helga On The couch’, ‘Pigeon Man’, ‘The Little Pink Book’, and countless other episodes but that would only imply copy-pasting from one place to another, that which already exists. I do not like to write like that and I think my Music Musings category suffices that kind of writing as it is. Of course, when you’re talking about a band or its background, Wikipedia seems the best way to go. However, I want to pour My Heart out about a fictional character that has played a significant part in my childhood days and continues to do so, even now. For this, I suppose, no sort of Wikipedia copy-pasting would ever do justice.
It would seem strange to many how I uphold a 9 year old with so much regard and even consider her as my idol till date. But we speak about no ordinary 4th grader here. We talk of P.S. 118’s pink dressed bully with an iron fist, Helga Geraldine Pataki (All right, I got the middle name from Wiki, bite me?) When I talk of Helga Pataki all I can think about is that she and I have too many things in common. She and I could essentially be conjoined sisters in another dimension and not give each other a hard time because we would get along perfectly.
We would get along not in that Phoebe-Helga way where Helga dominated and Phoebe buckled. Phoebe was probably the only person who could pass as Helga’s friend. But Helga and I both know that we would much rather not have someone so soft-spoken and with a heart made of sponge, someone who thought a hundred times before they said anything and drove you mad in the interim time between the utterance of two sentences. We would want someone who gave us enough reason to get angry but never, never for the wrong reasons. The anger would be for things which couldn’t be changed and that in itself was reason enough to be mad. All the Time. At The World. In general.
I consider myself Helga Pataki reincarnate, however mathematics was never my weak point. I could’ve helped Helga with it had she not had a hole in her Math book to keep her invaluable love possessions. I promise I’ll get to that later. Meanwhile, Helga excelled in the literary arts, she had a penchant for poetry, for vividly remembering poets and their works. Also, for a girl her age, she had ideologies and faith in authors so much more mature. How could I not adore Helga in spite of the gruff image she portrayed? How could I let her unibrow and pink bow bother me? Helga on the surface seemed like a person with a pessimistic approach to the world, she couldn’t express her emotions to anyone and often claimed she cared for no one, she was a tomboy and at the same time indulged in beautifully mature and profound soliloquy’s when she was alone.
Helga was always more than what met the eye. One could only see her true nature when she was hiding behind a trash can or in a narrow alley and especially when she was kneeling down in the shrine of her closet. A shrine built of chewed gum and other trinkets collected over time from the boy she secretly worshipped and insanely loved. A football-headed boy named Arnold. Arnold who spun her world around and made her feel things she normally wouldn’t ever want to feel, much less admit to herself about having feelings. Arnold, who with his compassion had won her heart right from their first encounter which you can see in ‘Helga On The Couch’. Helga was always torn between wanting to embrace Arnold and giving him a tough time. She always stuck to the latter and it never did her any good. I think that stems from deep, psychological childhood issues where you begin to think you are incapable of being loved and deserve no form of it whatsoever. Arnold was always patient and bore her insults and snaps with perfect dignity which deep down drove Helga crazy. Crazy enough to write a poem with her name on it dedicated to Arnold. Of course, she had no intentions of letting anyone see it until she was dead and rotting in her grave. Probably not even then. Situations would have it otherwise. Now that tempts me to watch ‘The Little Pink Book’.
Those poems weren’t meant to be seen until I am dead
and buried and worms have consumed my flesh.
When it came to Helga’s family life, I understand better now what it was that shaped her into the person she became. No one can ever be born all hellfire and it’s a well-known fact that bullies are persons with deeply-rooted insecurities. Now when I see some episodes where they show her interactions with her parents, I can completely comprehend what it must feel like to grow up with a dad who barely ever got her name right and a mother was always passed out in a drunken stupor and never managed to prepare her lunch. Helga grew up on her own. What was worse was that she had an over-achiever sister Olga who was dearly adored by her parents and Helga was conveniently ignored, left to fend for herself. I don’t think I ever thought about that when I watched Hey Arnold! back in the 90’s.
Hey Arnold! was never a senseless cartoon show which surrounded kids with no personality and only intriguing faces. Every Hey Arnold! Episode was something that could appeal to a much older audience in the ways that they broke down some of the more complex problems into a much more receptive format from children’s point of view.
Arnold lived with his grandfather and there was hardly ever a mention of his adventurer parents. His grandmother, I now figured showed early on-set of dementia and could never remember which holiday it was. The tenants in Arnold’s building had issues of their own and were sometimes shown as a side-story in some episodes.
Every student in P.S. 118 had a unique archetype and it never failed to make me laugh when Brainy would stand behind Helga’s neck and breathe heavily in that annoying as hell manner.I think my person and I laughed a fair bit at how she would punch him with the back of her palm.
Getting back to the essence of this post, although the series was titled Hey Arnold! I will always hold true that it was more about Helga’s crazy obsession with him which she could never come to terms with. I loved how Helga would blame him for every mishap in her life and exaggerate it to such an extent that poor Arnold would simply have to apologize or ‘get out of her way’.
Helga hurled insults at everyone but the attention she gave Arnold should never have missed his eye. I wonder sometimes, are all boys seriously so oblivious to a girl crushing on them? Is it that difficult to come to that one conclusion but think about every other impossible one? Arnold should’ve known that he wasn’t doing anything that awful to make Helga hate him, he ought to have noticed how she magically landed up behind trees in the park right where he was, how every weird, inexplicable thing always had some sort of connection which could be traced back to her, and don’t tell me he never caught her collecting chunks of his hair and pieces of chewed gum, are you saying he never noticed her behind trash cans drooling over a Heart-shaped locket with his Football-shaped head in it? But I also like to believe now that it was never meant for Arnold to know about Helga’s undying passion. There’s a reason a viewer would keep returning to a show because unrequited love can succeed in a way once requited love cannot.
P.S. I will never, I mean NEVER blog about Hey Arnold! The Movie. Not even at gun point. I have no desire to blog about something that ruined the essential nature of the characters just to achieve end results and satisfy the dumb section of the audience. Good day.
“A man takes his sadness down to the river and throws it in the river but then he’s still left with the river. A man takes his sadness and throws it away but then he’s still left with his hands.”
The one who didn’t treat your body right. You assumed they’d do something interesting with it. You didn’t know what.
You hoped they would find out and let you know. You waited endlessly and Time started leaving your side without a warning notice.There was a vacant look in your eye when you’ll were together. You were dreaming of coral reefs under an ocean. You were hoping for something different that you didn’t already know. For fear of losing everything you decided to hold on to at least something.
It wasn’t that you were weak. You were too stubborn to let go of what you thought (or assumed) you had rightful claim upon. Time caught up, finally. You wake up one day and the air seems heavy with the past. You look around, you have a sudden sense of emergency, of an hourglass flipped over, of the platform moving away as the train moved forward. You run like you’ve never run before. Cars and cafes pass in a blur. And you can see the bokeh from the corner of the eye. Like the ones you saw in those tumblr pictures. You think of a movie where people run towards their destiny. You avoid thinking of those that run away from theirs. You have a hand cupped around something invisible. It’s strange you can’t shake it off. But you try not to think of such conundrums. You run till you can run no more and suddenly you wake up. There’s a slight buzzing in your head. You’re in a stranger’s washroom filled with beauty products which one only buys but never intends to use. You look at your face and try to spot any changes. But you’re still the same. And your hands, they are still urging for that invisible form, so you look down at your palms. You wash them, repeatedly. You scrub them. How were you going to wash something invisible away, you will ask later. You will justify to yourself you were being paranoid. Fair enough.
You look at the mirror one more time, not knowing what to find there. It isn’t too difficult to lose yourself once you’ve lost everything else that matters. But you know in your head, you ran. You ran far away and there’s a place you’ve carved for yourself. Your very own wonderland and you can rest there. In moments of worry, you can shut your eyes and go there and come back when you please. Just make sure you wash your hands clean.
It was sunlight, just doing its everyday duty. It was passing through. I was there in its way and it didn’t bend. I wonder if I broke the cross-stitch pattern it was creating on the wooden floor. I picked up a book and looked at it longingly. I think I do that a lot, just holding someone’s world in my hand and appreciating the time and effort put into those pages to raise right from scratch something everyone could love. It’s been long since I was moved so deeply and that afternoon felt like a standstill. My world had slowed down and it was just me and some thousand books and I have never felt safer.
It is odd when material things give you such strong emotions. Remaining unattached has never done any good. When certain people occupy a good-sized apartment in your brain and there’s nothing else you can even think about, that is knowing the sunlight has already broken down the walls which by the way were always made up of Jell-o and not bricks and stones.
I was right there, under the sunlight and all I could think about was the image I was creating from a third person’s point of view. A girl standing motionless next to the window pane with a book in her hand and the sun in her eyes and the sunlight slanting on her hair. Here’s the thing: I was there and I was acutely aware of it. I doubt before that moment if I’ve ever loved my existence so much.
“The difference between my darkness and your darkness is that I can look at my own badness in the face and accept its existence while you are busy covering your mirror with a white linen sheet…”
I have been having continuous, overwhelming thoughts about many plans that haven’t worked out lately. Yes, it feels like this year has already laid down the foundation. It’s telling me in bold flash cards: Sorry you, this is not going to be your year, now go stand there in the corner and whine because that’s what you get for unbounded expectations.
This Thursday afternoon, I realized the only person who is ever there at your pity party is yourself. You are the only you who can be you. So when you stop taking the blame for everything, start thinking that everything essentially goes wrong because of the pathetic dimwits that have been placed in your life in abundance, you begin to cover up your own flaws with a thinly coated sheet of paint. When a person tells you something you’ve done, you feel accused. When someone brings up your name in a sentence, you feel mocked. Every time you try to be precocious, you have someone just so intellectually inadequate to understand what it is you’re trying to prove.
A thought entangled deep inside me like a thread of candy floss stuck in a molar; finally came free: Maybe, just maybe the flaw is in you. Ever considered that?
“…The difference between my sins and your sins is that when I sin I know I’m sinning while you have actually fallen prey to your own fabricated illusions…”
I am a talkative person when I want to be. I narrate day-to-day stories the way a poet would describe the dusty, old attic in an abandoned house. My narratives, I daresay are exquisitely detailed. This, I have come to realize can be very painful for some ears. Of course, I could ridicule these humans for their lack of sheer fondness regarding the important things that I just have to talk about. But lately, I have been wondering if I should just give up and pretend that probably no one but me could care much about what I am saying. Also, for what it’s worth, life is (somewhat) easier now.
Someone can feel vibrant as a rainbow when they’re with you. They will do everything they can to make you feel that way about yourself. But you don’t. And it’s just there. Like an elephant in the room. The two wildly different interpretations about a single human being. Make that two elephants and a rather tiny room.
“…I am a siren, a mermaid; I know that I am beautiful while basking on the ocean’s waves and I know that I can eat flesh and bones at the bottom of the sea…”
Once you know how a person interprets your existence, you can manoeuvre the person as and how you wish. I don’t understand how everyone is so oblivious to this. No one does anything about this unseen, grim brutality. Except certain loud people, who yell and scream and make themselves heard, only to be labelled.
I daydream. I create situations in my head consciously and drift away into them, subconsciously. I found myself in a corridor of unending doors. It’s unnerving how every door held a different possibility. You were behind one of them. It is pretty people like you who always get to be on the receiving end. Unsettling people like me have to make all the difficult choices and wield my way through balustrades of difficult emotions to get to you. So I stand in the corridor of what seems like the awry part of a horror movie where fear finally starts to jolt you.
I try every door and time is running out. And I don’t know what it even means to go through this ordeal anymore. But get to you I must, is what I tell myself. Somewhere in that infinitesimal moment when I step through a door and unsurprisingly don’t find you there, somewhere between that panic and remorse and self-induced disappointment, I feel a certain reassurance. Okay really, what can be reassuring about not finding what you’re looking for, I ridicule myself every time.
“…You are a white witch, a wizard; your spells are manipulations and your cauldron is from hell, yet you wrap yourself in white and wear a silver wig.”
It is the last door. You have got to be here. I step in hastily and step through. The walls collapse. My sighs linger, like smoke in the air. Unwanted yet somehow resilient. It was in finding you that I realized I needed to find me. The reassurance I sensed in stepping through every door was that I will always have one person, the only one I will ever need to walk me through all doors of life. And that is unsurprisingly, me.
“As long as you want almost never is, as long as you want, or it is much longer.”
There are things which drive you to despair, but those are also the things that have you reeling back to happiness. People will think what they want to think. Regardless.
There are enough Monday mornings and mucky roads to bring you down. Oh and those conversations don’t mean anything a few years later. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. There is ample time for you to wonder about a certain celebrity and their homosexuality. We all need distractions. I have plenty. You are one of them, which is a tragedy in its own.
This month I have been spiralling down in my addiction of strange, unknown indie movies which leave me on edge. I have also found some therapeutic insights at odd hours in the night. Avoiding confrontations is fun. Reasoning with yourself isn’t. Whenever anyone talks about trust, I instinctively start thinking about Titanic – the movie.
Somewhere deep inside everyone is that voice which makes you reason. No it hasn’t gone on vacation, yes you need to stir and shake it up a bit before use. It’s definitely there. The paradox is, no matter what you do and more often than not, people leave. They leave because they want to stay.
“Life is made of fear. Some people eat fear soup three times a day. Some people eat fear soup all the meals there are. I eat it sometimes. When they bring me fear soup to eat, I try not to eat it, I try to send it back. But sometimes I’m too afraid to and have to eat it anyway.”
I sit and think sometimes, is it possible that every good and relatable piece of literature has already been written? Is there anything more any of us futile humans can add to it? Good ideas strike me best when I am travelling. Watching people is the most interesting activity in the world.
I am in a car. The world outside is grey, dark grey and blue. I have a memory. It’s the earliest memory I can remember. Let me tell you how it goes.
I was an awkward little girl, holding her mother’s hand and walking to kindergarten. This isn’t a made-up, clichéd story to amuse you. So it is not my first day. It is somewhere down the line. The first few days, you are trying to understand socially acceptable behaviour, learning to memorize alphabets by sounds. The very first formative years of your life. Your very first baby steps into the world of making and faking friendships. For every kindergartener, stationery was important. The fancier your stationery, the cooler your social stats and higher the chances of you doing better in exams. I remember my mother telling me that I should take care of my things. She never said anything about not lending them to my friends. She didn’t warn me about friends who didn’t care to return them.
After seeing my stationery items missing on a regular basis, my over-protective mother started writing my name on things, wherever possible. What she didn’t infuse in me at that point was that I needed to be careful about who I befriend. I needed to guard myself. Because sometimes that’s what people do. They take things. They take and take and don’t return. They persistently say that they owe you but you just can’t bring them around to settle the debt. You get tired and you can’t make them reciprocate. Nor can you make them return those things because I mean, how can you give back someone their own feelings (especially when you don’t have any)?
I know you think this story isn’t going anywhere. But it is a memory, it doesn’t have to go. It stays embedded in a strand of your nerves, ready to alight at the strangest of times. Memories are baffling. They aren’t like stories. You don’t have to follow the fixed storyline. You can alter them. You can ponder and ponder and continue pondering till they stop making sense. Or you can derive something completely new from a memory you thought you barely remembered. That’s what memories are like, you can cherish them, you can despise them, fear and loathe them, you can try to forget, you can also try to relive them. Memories cannot be elucidated in words. That’s the beauty of memories. Whether you want it or not, they are just there.
Although this is my memory, you are free to imagine that I was born with an innate and overwhelming capacity to love and share and give and give selflessly. I will also let you conclude that it was this innate desire to care in which I drowned ever so rapidly. Ugh, I can barely remember that person I used to be. I alienated it and now it’s gone. Hurray!
So my mother soon started questioning me about my absent-minded habits and whether I had kleptomaniacs for friends. Of course, the latter was implied. As over-protective mothers usually are, she wanted me to introduce her to the friends I sat with in class. So she could do something about my constant missing stationery. She even made me carry a really pretty, pink pencil which was sure to catch everyone’s eye. I didn’t know that she had a plan. But then again mothers always do.
As you can now predict, my friend borrowed the pencil. Borrowed it and used it. And quietly kept it on her person. Kept it for so long, I even forgot until I reached home and my mom’s plan unfolded in full fury. She demanded I give her a name. At that moment, I lied. I lied and told her that I lost it. I did not give her my friend’s name. I wouldn’t dare. That’s not what real friends do, right? Even in that tender age I chose to protect my friend. What was I thinking? My friend would never know about my heroic feat. What WAS I thinking?
I have reached my destination. It’s time to put this memory to rest. I alight the car and wonder how different this memory would’ve turned out had it happened 18 years later. Hell, I wouldn’t even think twice to take a name. Friends are never stationary. I was done drinking the fear soup because saying you’re friends is easy. Being friends is not.
How much of our lives are spent in forgiving the ugly? The ugly in me and the ugly in you. What is it that leads us to relentless hurting and unselfish forgiving? People have a lot of patience when they are not asked to wait. Every passing second, we are waiting. Waiting on something beautiful and wondrous to happen and to leave us forever changed. Very phenomenal, of course.
Everyone wants magic and chocolate fudge. All the time. But I want more. And I am awkward about my expectations. But I will forgive myself for that, too.
It’s almost 2am. This year is ending. A lot of breakthroughs but many more standstills.
Average will never satisfy me. Yet all I yearn for at the moment is ordinary, stable and dependable.
This is my introduction. I’m hoping someone out there likes it. I’m trying to be attractive here. Or in this case, horrible. I must remind you, my expectations are awry.
I travel and thoughts are thought. I sleep and dreams are dreamt. Then someone asks me, “What is it that you want with life?” So I mutter incoherently and I’m trying to smile, and they’re trying to smile.
The way the curtain blows with the wind tonight. All those rusty sounds it makes. I won’t tell you how much it makes my insides ache. I won’t tell you how long I’ve waited for this or if I’ve waited at all. And when the time comes to broach the elephant in the room, I’ll pretend that it was all a matter of nothing new. No thing that isn’t new.
When the smell of an old book overwhelms me I won’t tell you how I think about a fireplace with honeysuckle wood. There are shadows everywhere. The lamp in my room makes disturbing images on the walls, I won’t tell you how it petrifies me. Because let’s be real, it doesn’t. I’m too proud for that and anyway you’re not here. You’re my best friend and you’re not here. Just so you know, that isn’t right.
I don’t know why it’s so easy to fall in love but so difficult to just be friends. Is it so complicated to pursue someone with the sole objective of winning them over, for a considerable amount of time, only to offer no romance or sex in return? But tell me you wouldn’t want that. I dare you.
So while we all pretend to be really afraid of getting into so-called compromising friendships, we can go about doing every reckless thing in the world to get someone to romantically adore us. Also, enlighten me as to how many people must you successfully move on with and what exactly are you trying to validate anyway. The debauchery of getting more and more people to like you, is the conquest of getting no one to actually like the real you.
So I think these thoughts.
I spot my favourite colour. My watch stops working. I have a headache. I witness my birthday end. What I mean is, I think these thoughts all the time, it’s not healthy but that’s nothing new.
I like life better when it’s a fight. Every morning I have half the heart to stay in bed and read the day away. Half my life goes in making the other choice. I try to make sense of things that pass me by during the day. The change in weather, the people I meet, the stuff I eat.
If I was with you in an elevator, if we were strangers, I’d instantly have trouble breathing. I am brushing my teeth, I am looking in the mirror, I am eating my cereal but none of this feels real. As if my body no longer can perform basic functions.
In this abandoned town, I have a purpose but that, too makes no sense. We can accuse ourselves of being blind to the soft light breaking through our hearts. Or we can embrace its warmth and fill up the empty spaces inside. Either way, it’s an ordeal.
Happiness for me runs a stipulated time. It’s unfair so I try very hard not to make sense of that. I have the urge to start my entire life all over again with certain people. Some people are just too pretty. Or maybe I am just inquisitive and want to see what happens. I guess it’s because I want to write about it. Record it. Like save a trailer so I can give people a glimpse into what I felt. But I can’t. It’s impossible to make someone feel what you feel. The questions. The answers. The leaning back and forth. The unsteady fingers nervously tapping next to you. Even when I’m with you most of my thoughts are pre-occupied, trying to make sure what I should do to not make you leave.
So anyway, I’ll go home. I’ll read Thought Catalog. I’ll laugh at the 20-somethings list Ryan O’Connell writes. When I laugh, I’ll look next to me and realize I’m alone. And just like that, nothing will make sense again.