Saturday, May 24, 2014

There is no circle

‘Being an artist means forever healing your own wounds and at the same time, endlessly exposing them.’ - Annette Messager.

There is no circle. Karma is something that we have been fed with for a long time now, and boy, does it feel good to think that those that have wronged us will get a rod shoved up their ass figuratively or literally. But it’s high time people started accepting that the concept is one of convenience. Mostly, life leaves you hanging by. A lot of people walk in and out at their will; some wounds are left gaping open. You just learn and gather your shit together to move on, because maybe time can numb it all down one day. One day when you finally accept that some closures never happen. And you just have to deal with it.

There is no right or wrong, but only perceptions. What is absolutely okay by me might seem completely atrocious to you, but I am sorry, we will have to just deal with things the way they are.  Nobody made either of us God, and if either of us thinks so, the one that does will only end up destroying the other. Live your life by your choices and ideas. I deserve to live by mine. And if this doesn’t sit good by you, let’s shake hands and go our separate ways right here.

There is no circle. Most of the people who seem to mean a lot to you right now might not be even in the periphery of your life five years down the lane, inclusive of those who drift away, those with whom rifts are created, and those who just develop a whole new life around them because such a situation arose.  No, it is not that you can treat people like shit, but understand that whatever you do, or might decide to do, you owe it more to yourself than those around you. Satisfying people has been registered in our heads as a noble deed, but growing up ought to teach that it was an overrated feeling. We owe our heads some peace before we owe anyone else anything.

There is no back button. For the better or the worse, if you made a step in either of those directions, just own up to it. Make conscious choices and decisions, for your sake more than anyone else’s. If it feels that doing something will make you happy, go right ahead and do it. You are not explainable to anyone but the voices in your head. If you are, they will eventually get to understanding; and if they disagree, read the previous sentence, because. But there really is no back button. You could try if you will, but it is and will remain to be a mangled reflection of what it used to be before you raised your doubts about it – might as well man up and accept it for what it is right now.

There is no circle. If age and wisdom had anything to with each other on a linear graph, one would know that the only way to go is that which the heart is yearning for, that which it is screaming at the self inside right now. If you let it subside for reasons that are labeled acceptable, responsible or deemed required, let this sink deep within: this scenario unraveling inside the head right this very moment, the wholeness it is sure to bring about, the meaning it is rendering to the broken mess – this is what is being given up on, irreversibly. None of us get any younger with every passing day. We all die eventually. The insides need to be in peace before the same can be offered to any other being.

There is no ‘good silence.’ Not to be confused with the subtle art of listening or the beautiful blessing that lets people connect on a different level. When something nags your head, speak the fuck up. Keeping the silence being too afraid to hurt someone talking, fearing the prospect of being judged, absolutely dreading rejection – really, not worth it.  You will go down with a million ‘what if’s plaguing your head. If it does screw up after speaking up, peace is granted to you at least in the knowledge that you did try.

There is no circle. It is pointless to beat oneself up thinking that whatever bad times that are tormenting you at the moment is because some bad Karma was accumulated in a time period that probably seems vague even to the memory. We are all only various combinations of fuck ups. Some of us are of the higher degree. Some fuck ups of others we can put up with, some we find unable to. Accept those that you can, let go of those that are difficult. And most of all, embrace all your fuck ups. If you’ve done it, own up to it, and let it be. That does not have to imply anything, know why? There. is. no. fucking. circle.

‘You will be shocked when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways with people forever. That’s why when you find someone you wanna keep around, you do something about it.’ - Ted Mosby, How I met your mother.

Peace out.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Chennai, you incredible beauty.

It was one of those days when I went a sort of weird mental. And that probably explains how I found myself aimlessly walking alone across the world’s second longest coastline. I kept looking back at the buildings and the road every second minute, and the sky kept astounding me with clouds that were changing shapes and shades so quick it looked like someone had ordered a cosmic multi-flavoured ice-gola, or a cloud-gola, rather. Blue, orange, pink, colours in between – the sky seemed to have it all. Almost instinctively, I took my phone out, clicking pictures, walking backwards into the beach, almost bumping into several couples from the rosy-phase land, immersed in deep conversations (or not).

A bunch of crows seemed to be incessantly inclined in flying in a sort of a parabolic path. If you knew my history with high school mathematics, you would understand why I wanted to pat myself on the back for having even thought of a parabola then. Somewhere to my right, an empty carousel went around. I tried to come up with a good explanation as to why the sky to the right of the carousel looked all decked up while the one to the left stood plain and empty, with a streak or two of clouds there and here, like a hurried stroke of an artist’s brush.

My phone battery beeped. It was out of charge. I switched the internet off, put it in my pocket, and walked over to somewhere near the water.

Two kids were holding the hands of their mother to go near the waves. The father, who sat behind with the bags, was telling the younger one to not let go of his mother’s hands. The kid replied, ‘Okay, pa. Two balloon for you.’

I found myself a spot near enough and far away from the waves, took a deep breath, and started reading ‘The catcher in the rye’ from where I had left off earlier. I sat cross-legged first. Stretched them out after a while. Left my feet sink into the sand. Leaned into my bag on the right hand side. And then I reminded myself that I cannot be lying down flat, it just doesn’t work that way here. It started getting dark pretty soon. I had to keep craning left and right alternatively to find light from the ice-cream stands and the corn stands.

I paused to look around for a minute. The lighted yoyos were zooming in and out everywhere. Bright red lighted horns shone around every five feet. I had always fancied buying one for myself. I reminded myself I needed whatever money I had to buy water or a bar of chocolate in case the water or glucose levels in my body decided to go haywire out of nowhere again. I got back to my book. Something fell on me, and I thought my heart had leaped out of me in fear. It was one of them lighted yoyos. The guy who sold them came walking to pick it up.

A bunch of guys dripping in water from head to toe walked towards the left talking about a movie that had released a couple of days ago. You could always distinguish the tourists from those who lived here. You’d just know. Three women, all belonging to different generations, ran past me, giggling and chasing each other. I think I saw a pattern of the symbol of infinity as they ran. Or it could have been John Green messing with my head. A long line of a family went walking in twos, the kind that we were made to walk in when we went for field trips at school. One of the older men switched the torch on on his phone and went patrolling the line, asking the kids to stick together. A couple of boys came running to the boy who stood with the horse diagonally behind me. The boy with the horse answered the other two in fluent Hindi. The older of the two climbed up the horse and sounded very excited. I cannot really catch up Hindi spoken at that speed. I caught ‘Bhaiyya!’ The horse came back after a few minutes. I caught ‘Badiya!’

Another group of guys walked past me. One of them remarked out aloud about how stupid my face and hair looked. A little kid that was just learning to walk came running towards me. The bigger sister, a couple of years older than the little one, came running behind and lifted the kid up from behind. ‘It’s okay, ma. Akka is here,’ she said. The guy who sold cheap wooden flutes walked right behind me for the fourth time. This time, he kept playing the first two lines of one of my favourite songs, which I fail to remember now. It bothered me. Why couldn’t he just go to the next line? He was playing it very beautifully, anyway. The fifth time, I turned around out of annoyance. His huge stack of flutes that pointed around from the stack he had arranged on a singular stick stood beautifully silhouetted with a backlight that shone from one of the vendors’ shops. The colourful lights far away from the shore stretched on either side of him. My mind was quickly calculating ISO and aperture levels.

When had I become this?

The book was picking up good pace, and I had a couple of chapters left, but I thought it best not to alarm Amma with a switched off phone. I got up, walked closer to the water. Distant lights blinked from across the waters. This one thought always surfaces my mind when I stand that close to the waves. The ones that make the loudest sound, making you wonder if they will take you back with them spiral in and fall flat far away. It is that sly one that will take you by surprise and leave your pants all salty and sticky. Sometimes, it digs a nice little hole for your legs. I have developed a fancy for the way the waves retreat and the patterns they leave on the sand. I wonder if anyone else ever sees that. The water makes me feel infinite. I could have stood there like that for hours. My phone battery beeped again. I made a move.

I was almost bumping into a lot of couples again, what with the light being on the opposite direction, and my sight anywhere but what was immediately in front of me. I took my phone out to check the time, and helplessly snuck at peak at a few of the pictures I had taken on it earlier in the evening. Let me tell you, psychotic heat waves and everything said, there is something always incredibly beautiful about this city.

P.S: After catching barely an hour’s sleep in the night, I woke up to the news of the bomb blast at the central station. Everything I had read up and written about terrorism for my research paper was coming back to me in one hard blow. I was disturbed for hours together. The news channels were warning people against venturing out to crowded places. My paper reminded me that that was the ultimate goal of terrorism, not the destruction in the bombings themselves, but the perennial, viral fear that sets in the heads of people, gnawing away every other thought or emotion. I remembered the conclusion I had written for my research paper one 3 a.m. How distant the concept seemed then, and how alive and real, and scary it is now.

‘Great man’ Dumbledore said nothing can bring back the dead. But let’s stick by each other, yeah? And let them not get the better of us. Everyone’s struggling with a battle of their own. Just be kind to one another.

It’s not just Chennai’s weather that is perpetually warm, but her heart as well.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

On having read 'The fault in our stars.'

I sensed choking in her voice when she called up. She wanted to have tea. I hadn’t learned if tea was a part of her fascination for things British. Whenever I heard the British accent or heard someone even mention it, in my head, her tiny-voiced squeaky war cry outburst would play like an automated response to the stimulus. I agreed to have tea straight away, because there was no point asking her what the matter was; she had repeated her question twice without giving as much as a breathing space for me to respond, and that spoke out aloud for the state her mind was in.

It was an unusually cold February evening. Her hands gripped my unwashed t-shirt for balance and warmth – no, not my waist, only my t-shirt. The ginger in the steaming hot tea burnt the throat soothingly. She was on her way of being zoned out.

Tears kept swelling in her eyes, and when they got threateningly close to drawing a path down her cheeks, her brows crossed, an effort that froze her entire face, as if gathering strength from it. Her fingers sprung to rush into a clenched fist and stopped midway to relax slowly, as though they were a part of a choreographed performance with her eyes that filled and emptied in a rhythmic pattern. Her gaze was fixed somewhere over the bare, unpainted walls of the terrace on the multi-storied building that someone was raising on the other side of the road for almost half a year now.

Just like her gaze, I was stuck. Writing was not hard for me. There was a point of time when it felt natural and easy. And with time, I had lost my familiarity with it. Surely, there should be some way to go about it and be done with it. How would she have done it? What would she notice in the glances she stole? She would have noticed how my shorts were rolled, stuck between touching my knee and desperately trying to slip past it with each movement of my leg. She would have noticed how my eyes engorged and my brows arched when I put my entire concentration into tearing open a mouth-freshener with my teeth. She would have noticed the crooked 9’s on the envelope I held and probably made a mental note that they looked like tadpoles.

Tadpoles! There. I hadn’t lost it all, after all, and she was unknowingly helping me find it in my head.

She turned slowly to face me, tears brimming, brows still crossed as though she was judging my silence and my observational skills, boring right into my shifty self. After exactly a second and a half, I shuffled and dug into my pockets, mentally noting that she would never understand why I always had to look at my notification-less phone so often when she kept throwing looks like that at me.

‘What is it about?’ I asked her.

She lifted the book she was clutching in her left hand and brought it to the eye-level, holding it with all her might, lest it slip away from her grasp, and probably the universe as well.

‘That girl died,’ I said, not entirely realizing that I had shaped it as a question in my head, but had ended up making a statement.

She remained silent, still using all her concentration to abstain from crying in front of me. From the times I knew her, her cold skin could certainly do with some warmth. She continued looking straight into me. Taking a deep breath, she gave me the book and then showed me a couple of bookmarks held together by a tear strip. She folded it along that line.

‘If this is the whole of my heart or something like that,’ she said, and pointed to one side, ‘this is the bigger piece, and I want you to have it.’



I took it and examined it to see ‘Okay?’ printed on it in an artistic little cloud. She held the other piece in her hand. It said ‘Okay.’


That February was unusually cold. I wondered if he understood the depth of what I had just said, what I had just done. And like every other time, what mattered was not if he did, but that I did. I stretched my hands open, diffidently.

‘Shah Rukh Khan?’ he asked.

‘Shah Rukh Khan?’

‘I thought you were doing the Shah Rukh Khan pose,’ he said.

I grimaced.

He chuckled softly and pulled me into his chest, letting me bury my face on the comfortable spot along the side of his neck. And through him radiated the central heating system that my body had the luxury of being spoiled by.

‘Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. (…) There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbound set. I want more number than I am likely to get. (…) But, my love, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn't trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I'm grateful.'

Friday, February 14, 2014


Pictures of her standing in the middle of my room, hands on her hips, continue to drain the empty spaces of my dreams. Knowing as she always does, better than I, where I’d left my keys, my wallet, my spectacles, the mosquito bat. With a bottle of water in one hand, she’d pull a chair, and legs stretched, watch me work, while I, her legs.

That is her, waiting at the bill counter at the supermarket, trying to verify in her head if she had borrowed the right number to get the subtraction right. Simple math, I’d snigger. She will pretend she convinced me that she was ignoring me. I will let her assume she won.

She scares me with the amount of detailing she structures me with in her eye - the subtle nuances in my gestures, tones and very presence that she had so carefully, so fervently memorized over the years she stayed silent.  The intensity knocks me off guard. And pretending to hold a deaf ear to it gets harder each time, it is almost infuriating.

Only when I wonder if it is time to throw her off the ground she was acclimatizing to, she holds her gaze with me for an instant too long, piercing me into every moment of co-existence she had breathed life into, without trying, without expecting. Nothing was ever on the platter, nothing had ever been.

For one, my t-shirt looked different on her, helping her flaunt her collarbone and everything. She had gotten into that frenzy last summer, when one by one, my favourite t-shirts went missing, one of each colour.

Last summer, when she sat in the garden and scalded her leg, pouring boiling hot tea, as she shamelessly gaped at the Vaseline on my lips, open-mouthed; no, I will not tell you what a man was doing with Vaseline.

The fool is, in all probability, writing something about me this very minute, I am sure. If only she would direct them at someone who can possibly reciprocate it all and reciprocate it well. And leave me alone and make me lie to her yet again that I do not miss her, that I do not miss yelling at her to wake up while I catch that extra fifteen minutes of sleep – sleep that was never that precious as those stolen peaceful minutes. Sleep, that she probably let go while ruffling my hair and secretly counting the number of grays, the knowledge of which she was sure to shove into my face when I least expected it.

She is now looking at something new, somewhere, and mentally making a note to describe it to me, telling herself that she would floor me with the idea. And I already know I will scoff it off, if only to see her rage in fury and call me names. She sucked at it as much as she did with the numbers.

I’ll be on my way now, thinking of her fake-punching me with all her might, with a messed up head that refuses to work when I get her anger up and simmering. I’ll be on my way home, where my clothes smell of her and where she belongs with me - she just can never know.