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Frozen I thought as I looked at the icy ground underneath. Through the sheer glass of the ice, I could see the blades of grass trying to wriggle out, squirming uncomfortably, trying to retain the last signs of life they had. I had found myself in the same position many times already. I had tried wriggling my way out situations and instead landed in the shiftiness of my body. I squirmed uncomfortably, in my million body aches, and tried to subside them by means of will, “I release and let go and I forgive. I release and let go and forgive myself,” I repeated mantra, an incessant effort to subside pain. I needed to forgive myself for many things- my inability to sustain myself, my need for validation, my constant quest for meaning and my need, almost addiction to bad company. As I thought about my “friends” I thought about how many of them I could actually call my own. There were none.

I realized how essentially alone I was. In conversations and fake smiles and love talks and gestures, I remained empty. I was a hollow vessel, waiting to be filled- by just anything or anyone that came along. Friends failed the test, alcohol let me down miserably, and love remained dry and blank, like a sheet of paper. In all instances, I was waiting, waiting to be filled. And then there was him. The soft perfume of his skin permeated mine and filled my senses with a wonder that was astonishing. Even in the passionate embrace of love, I remained incomplete. I was going insane. My body shifted uncomfortably, deforming itself to fit into pieces too small for it. It looked through the keyhole of hope and squeezed itself through it till it came out, painful and raw in its contorted form. Hope was what kept it alive. Hope for another day, another time, another man, and another light. But hope seemed to be an illusion- the more I chased it, the further it evaded me. It was a mirage, a distant possibility promising fruits in the future and disappearing in the timeless pain of the present. Nothing seemed to bring repose. My body was weary, my mind tired and I wanted rest. I wanted peace. I wanted home.

Home. I rolled the word around in my mouth with the whipped cream of the hot cocoa I was sipping. “Sorry,” I said, rolling my Rs like the way I had learnt it here as I accidentally bumped into a girl. Learning to be white I called it, as I picked up a new trait from the Americans everyday. I learnt that plastering a smile on your face while holding doors open for multiracial strangers was considered courteous, while excluding them out of conversation wasn’t. I learnt that open dialogues consisted mainly of individuals eager to discuss and determine their sexual identity while conveniently leaving out a majority of voices who defined identity otherwise. I mastered the subtle differences between a latte and mocha, used terms like “cultural appropriation”, worried about the fate of the country and complained about the throes of life to my therapist once a month. I was trying to erase the earth from my skin, the monsoon showers from my tears and the light from the dark of my eyes as I gradually donned the white of America.

In the crevices of my being I longed for the kiss of the sun, the earth of my land and the scent of hot frothing chai every morning. I missed the rainbow of my homeland; I had been living in white for too long. I longed to feel grounded in familiarity; I had imagined her smile soft and welcoming, her arms open wide promising settlement. But the more I looked down that road, the farther away it seemed. Would things be the same when I returned? Would anyone remember my absence? Would anyone even notice? I tossed around in my bed mulling over these questions trying to find solace in the darkness of my eerily quiet room. I was lost; I had contorted beyond my own recognition. I couldn’t settle anywhere- I felt incomplete in the face of love; I lacked recognition in my mother’s eyes and I felt lonely in the company of friends. Not a single soul was ready to anchor mine. Lonely and desolate, I proceeded towards the bathroom and pushed open the door. Scrawled across the wall in black letters was, “You can’t make homes out of human beings. Someone should have already told you that.”

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The lover’s blanket


I feel your love surrounding me like a blanket, keeping me warm. Hold me close, lover; for when the wind blows your blanket away, I do not wish to face my wounds that you keep so lovingly hidden.

I am flawed, lover. Terribly and terrifyingly. In moments of despair I see my ugliness, my extraordinary ordinariness and my darkness and I run. I run for life. I do not wish to see these monsters. I want to be hidden safe and sound in the blanket of your warmth, your touch, your taste and your smell.

Yet, despite the love, I tremble. From beneath my toes to the tip of my fingers, I feel fear, gripping and raw, tunneling into my heart. I see demons, terrible, dark and menacing, threatening to kill.

And I give in.

There is only so much time before my fault lines show again and divide the ground on which you and I stand. There is only so much time before I shiver, holding your blanket close one last time. There is only so much time before I can take solace in three words that you so incessantly utter every day and every night.  There is only so much time before the trembling begins again.

I need to let go of your blanket lover. I must go and spiral into the incoherence of my tunnel.

And so I have.

I have held my misery and let it rain stones till I sat helpless and vacant, with tears as my only companions. I have let pain claw into the crevices of my being, stretching me apart and miraculously back together again.  I have been touched by the center of my sorrow in the naked solitude of the night and have found myself still alive, breathing and clutching at the pouch of my heart.

In the midst of it all, I can feel a noise: a gentle knitting, a weaving of threads that dissolve and mold into each other, a soft whispering, a reminder, that joy stands at the threshold of my door. I feel the threads taking a form, a form so utterly unique that I can call it mine.

I am building my blanket, lover. I am learning to walk. I am learning to see the beauty in your face, in your presence, in your voice and in your being. Above all that, I am learning to see the beauty in me.

The human experience


Stand at your window. Nonchalantly notice the greenness of the tree leaves and observe your windowsill. Let your eyes wander till they settle on a speckled red flower. Observe its yellow markings and lose yourself in marvel. Feel the stillness surrounding the trees surround you and hold it in your hands. Look at it- its overwhelming presence, its nauseating fear, its piercing clarity- feel the gentle thud of your heartbeat pounding against your chest in synchronicity  with the trees’ movements. Realize that the trees breathe too. Feel connected. 

Hold a rabbit in your hand. Feel its heartbeat running a million miles a minute, notice the gaping terror in its eyes, feel its pulsating clock reverberating with the rush of your veins and realize you hold life.

Fight with your mother. Know that the fear in her eyes brings tears in yours and turn away. Become numb, stoic and insensitive. Clench your insides and draw yourself into a shell. Bend over and internally release the silent conflicts. Let them play havoc in your heart. Feel the anger shaking within making no effort to release without.

Hug a lover. Feel the invitation of his heart stretch itself wide enough to make room for you and feel welcomed. Feel the throbbing vulnerability of his being as he kisses you. Feel loved.

Lie awake at night. Watch your heart, twisted, clenched, and dirty, suspended in mid air and hear its blaring conflict. Ponder over your miseries and your need for fervid self annihilation and know that you are gloriously, infuriatingly and inevitably human.

Freedom…salvation…redemption…


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The engine wheels chugged in, belching smoke on to the station. She looked at the clock. 11:53 am. He had promised to come at 11.

She sat on the rusty platform bench, mopping her brow with the loose end of her shirt. She could feel it coming- the shortness of breath, the perspiration, the anxiety, the confusion of it all balling into a giant mess. She could feel this mess, she carried it within herself, day in and out- a leaden weight in her heart- expecting someone to come along and make sense of it all.

He had come, a few months ago in the dawn of winter. In the dead silence of the night enveloped in his embrace, she had found the corners of her heart being tugged, gently indicating…maybe, just maybe, her time had come. This was it- her ticket to freedom, her time of salvation, her shortcut to redemption.

12:00 pm. No sign of him. Tired and sleep deprived she questioned the validity of it all. Her initial months filled with honey like sweetness had turned into a battle of existence, of making it through. But had she done enough? In the months of their romance she had flitted between the desire to love and the desire to take for a million times a minute. She was tired now. Yet, her love of those words continued to haunt her. Freedom…salvation… redemption…

She said each of them out loud, enunciating every syllable. Oh how well she had relished their piercing illumination and agonizing beauty! She wanted it all back.

12:00 pm. She looked at the faces in the train. The newly wedded couple whose dreams intertwined in a shared space no less than paradise holding hands, their eyes promising each other of happily ever afters; the old man, decrepit and withered, gazing at the station with soulless eyes; the young entrepreneur gazing listlessly at the pages of a book titled “You Can Do It” and herself, sitting on the rusty platform bench, waiting.

They were all looking for answers, be it in the eyes of their lover, in the hope of a miracle at the end of their life or in the leaves of a book that promised inner transformation.  Yet, they were all waiting.

She wanted to tell herself that in those silent moments of waiting, she had experienced a profound revelation…that she had taken charge and boarded the train after promising herself a better life…that he suddenly appeared and whisked her away. The cogs churned in her head, calculating her triumphs and misfortunes, her yearnings and desires, her pitfalls and failures. Freedom…salvation…redemption… She wanted them badly.

Didn’t they all?

A new world


The music dimmed, the streetlights brightened and out of the corner of my eye, I saw your Adam’s apple bobbing as you hummed a tune. Within the periphery of a car glass and two seats, I could see the stirrings of a new world.

That was just the beginning.

The bowl of noodles in front of me starts to turn cold as I gaze aimlessly into space. I try to segregate the noodles, thin from thick, small from big. But like my emotions, the more I try to separate, the more entangled they become.

There are times when I want to love you. I want to give you pure, unconditional love. I want to be carried away into wonderment and follow you wherever you lead. I want to love you with a love so profound that would whisper warmth to you on a dark lonely night.

Then are times when I want to scar you. Emotionally and mentally. I want to put you through suffering for reasons inexplicable. I want you to answer questions that still burn my heart. I want you with me in the deepest pits of hell. I want to be loved.

Like a lot of other things, I cannot find my way across the battle of love and hate, pride and envy. I feel lost. I feel different, I see different. The stars lose their charm and the lake its shimmers without you. I feel incomplete, as a burn simmers its way through my heart. I see lovers and I see you.

I see us huddling on a front porch on a winter night. Out of the corner of my eye, I see your Adam’s apple bobbing as you strum your guitar. I look up at the stars and find them glittering again. I feel your hand on mine, and I begin to trust life.

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The person


The person is dead. She has built up walls to keep away people. She feels nothing, sees nothing. Occasionally she pretends to believe and see, but she finds it useless. So she retreats to her shell. It is warm and comfortable here. Nothing can touch her- no one can know her thoughts, no one can see her emotions. Sometimes she meets friends and goes out for parties and pretends to have fun. Deep down, she is lonely.

One day, someone comes along. He sits beside her beneath the stars and shows her the might of the sea. She sees the raging sea and for what feels after an eternity, she feels terror. Heart clenching, hair gripping terror. She gropes for an escape; she is unable to run away from this terror. Like a lightning bolt it strikes, and with one thunderous clash, her walls are shattered.

The person is in love. She feels things, she sees things. She feels a plethora of emotions- she feels alive. Her walls have been broken and she feels free. She is poetry- walking, breathing, dancing and loving. The person is very happy. She rejoices in the fragrance of the first blush and starts dreaming of eternity. Slowly she feels eternity slipping away. So she starts clinging. She transfers her hopes, dreams and fears onto him. Very gradually he becomes her hope, her dream and her worst fear.

He notices something is wrong. He cannot understand what has happened to her. All he knows is he is getting suffocated. So he starts moving away. But she simply cannot let that happen. She needs him for her eternity. She cries, she begs and she pleads. But he doesn’t budge. He knows he must go. Without a word, he disappears.

The person is enraged. She calls him names and destroys his memories. She drowns herself in remorse. She revels in her rage. She turns vile and mean. Her bloodshot eyes spit hatred. She loses sleep. She loses herself. The person is dead again.

After futile attempts and fruitless efforts, she begins to complain. She talks to people about how miserable she feels. People decide she cannot be sad for too long. They decide it is better for her to forget all about love. So they tell her to move on. She follows their advice, plastering smiles when her heart aches and losing herself in work when her eyes water. People are very impressed. They say her strength is commendable. The person hears this and feels very good and continues to pretend. It seems as though pretense is the way of the world.

She sees people getting up and going for work. She sees them making international phone calls and signing important documents. She sees them in absurdly tight and uncomfortable clothes. She wonders why they do so. They tell her it is to make an impression. Now the person finds this very absurd. But she doesn’t utter a word. Yet she sees hands typing away with dexterity at phones, eyes trained to avoid contact and heads filled with overflowing clutter. But the person’s eyes are not trained. She looks deep into their eyes and she sees boredom. She sees repression. And she sees fear.

So she talks to her parents and they say, “Work hard, mint money and then enjoy.” The person finds this even more absurd but again, she lets the opinions of others drown out her own voice and tries to show excitement at the ambitions others have and decide for her. But deep inside, she hates the world. She hates its people and their ways.  But she cannot show her resentment. Because the leaders say peace is the way of the world.

Sometimes her heart aches for love. She longs to be held. So she latches onto a stranger and makes mechanical love to him. She allows him to deduce her to a thing. She secretly wishes that he might look past her layers and love her. She doesn’t know the stranger wishes for that too. But the stranger is more adept at the ways of the world than her and he knows that he has to act grown up. He cannot show his emotions. He simply cannot be vulnerable. And when he sees the person breaking down and exposing her broken state, he gets angry. He very gets angry because he hates her for being weak. But deep down, he envies her. She can be something he would dare not. So he gives her a sermon on being strong and walks away.

The person is broken. On a rainy day she stands and watches him fade. She allows the rainwater to seep into her cracks. But she doesn’t want pain. It is too strong, too devastating for her. It is just too much. So she finds another stranger. And then another. By this time, she knows what to do. She parts ways with firm nonchalance and poise. She stops complaining about heartbreaks and stops dreaming about forever. Forever seems to be a faraway reality. Loneliness is the only reality she knows.

She moves along life until one day, she feels like writing. The words leap at her out of the page, constantly streaming across her eyes. The person knows only too well that she cannot let this voice subside. So she writes. She writes about love and hate, sorrow and loss, envy and lust. She starts complaining about the state of affairs again. She shows her hatred openly.

One dark night, she lets her monster surface. The monster claws in on her heart and shrivels her insides. It threatens to take over. Its flames rise slowly, licking her feet and torso. But she patiently waits. She resists the comfort of prayer and help. She lets it overwhelm her.  For the first time, she lets herself be utterly and terribly alone. In that one waking moment, she is surrounded by her hate, her lust, her envy, her greed and her revenge. She is surrounded by her demons. They take over, consuming her like a fire. And out of that fire, the person is born again.

I want to be a speck of dust


I want to forget myself- the accumulated knowledge, the quest for love and self inquiry, the meaning of god and everything else. I want to drop all books- spiritual and non spiritual and delve into the world of fantasy and irrationality. I want to hide my vulnerability in the silence of the night and cry away in isolation as I seek emotional validation. I want to lose this endless battle of learning and unlearning. I want sweet repose.

I want to forget all dimensions of space. I want to erase time- past and future and be in the now. If you asked me what the now meant, I would probably not know. And I would know it too. But I don’t want to know anymore. I am tired of reasoning and rationalizing. I want to forget what it is to be alive. I want to forget the touch, tastes and sounds of the world. I want to lose love, approval, acceptance and desire. I want to kill passion and keep moving in this endless flow of existence.

If you were to be driving down a long winding road, you would find me hidden in the crevice of a rock, in a speck of dust. I want to be a speck of dust. I want to erase myself. Be nothing, feel nothing and know nothing.I want to be a robot- unaffected by emotions, events and thoughts. I want to live a life of utter ignorance. I want to drop this jaded skin. I want unconsciousness and suspension in this limbo- formless, thoughtless, nameless…

I am the most tired woman in the world. I am tired when I get up. Life requires an effort I cannot make. Please give me that heavy book. I need to put something heavy like that on top of my head. I have to place my feet under the pillows always, so as to be able to stay on earth. Otherwise I feel myself going away, going away at a tremendous speed, on account of my lightness. I know that I am dead. As soon as I utter a phrase my sincerity dies, becomes a lie whose coldness chills me. Don’t say anything, because I see that you understand me, and I am afraid of your understanding. I have such a fear of finding another like myself, and such a desire to find one! I am so utterly lonely, but I also have such a fear that my isolation be broken through, and I no longer be the head and ruler of my universe. I am in great terror of your understanding by which you penetrate into my world; and then I stand revealed and I have to share my kingdom with you.

― Anaïs Nin