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Young With Scabby Knees

Whether we be old or bald.

Rum.

I look at his fingers as they handed me a drink; they were bony thin, much like the rest of him. When not handling drinks, those fingers spent time scratching the crop of beard that he’d allowed to grow unfettered on his face.

I swallow the rum in three long gulps, unevenly paced.

I look at his fingers cradling a pen, plotting equations between the finite and infinite in one breath. He says the logic is flawed and I believe him because it is. He steps into a discourse on the theory of everything, stopping mid-sentence ever so often, stretched thin between confidence and the lack of it within him.

I lie on the floor imagining the arithmetic unfolding in psychedelic patterns on the white ceiling.

I look at his eyes, closed as they are, entranced by the music. He does not respond as I call him out because he’s lost in the one without us. We leave the room for a smoke, a view of the receding monsoon’s full moon sky and another stutter-ridden discourse.

I smoke only by way of three drags, each longer and slower than the one before.

Swan song.

We were
closet writers,
YOLO travellers
and capricious lovers.

Did you know they looked for us?
They looked and found none of our remains;
our ashes had flown away at the speed of the carefree wind
when our words did not.

We were
unwritten stories,
war-ridden skies,
and broken promises.

Did you know they looked for us?
They looked and found none of our remains;
our ashes had flown away to the place of stars, rain and no name
where our words did not.

We were
the silence in a library,
the purple twilight
and the coalition of feet.

Did you know they looked for us?
They looked and found none of our remains;
our ashes had flown away from the currency of lies
when our words did not.

We were really handsome
most of the time,
wonderful silver and gold plumage.
“Fascinating creatures, phoenixes.”
It’s a shame they looked for us
on burning day.

But in the place of stars, rain and no name,
did rise newborn birds with wings,
ugly as they were,
to fly
at the speed of the carefree wind
and to write
the truth as it comes.
It’s a shame we did not look for us
on burning day.

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‘Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby’

A Tinder conversation escalated from “Hey” to “I’m a fuckboy and I am here for hook-ups. Why are you here?” in the space of one text which was my reply to the said “Hey”. The prude in me was all but set to take offense except the rest of me shut her down as soon as she started to wrinkle her nose.

I spiralled off into my mind palace, reasoning with myself: Would you rather he charmed you with Harry Potter quotes, Manto translations and biryani stories only to mislead you with the oh-so-wonderful signals? Or, would you prefer absolute honesty from the word go? You do know this is Tinder, right? Besides, let’s not pretend that you’re high on all things serious and are here for anything more than thumb exercise and unlimited validation.The abysmal sex ratio makes Tinder a fertile ground for temporarily curing my insecurities. (Tinder is the Haryana of apps, one date had quipped to me, as we jokingly discussed how every right swipe mostly is a match for women, in our limited experience.)

It took me three seconds to be so but I was glad for the change in the script that I was used to. There has emerged a dating trend, one that is inspired by social media’s pervasive YOLO hangover, which amounts to multiple one-night stands with the same person. I’ve been a participant as well as a victim to it.

I replied, “I’m here cuz I am bored and Tinder seems to be the shortcut.” Texting back – I’m a fuckgirl and I too am here for hook-ups – would’ve been bit much of a banal meet-cute. Fuckboy replied, “Wow that’s the first time a girl did not overreact! You wrested a screenshot opportunity from me!” And so we began to spar. I admitted that the last time I impulsively agreed to go on a date without caring for compatibility, I was thoroughly bored, insinuating no fucks would be traded if I was bored. He agreed that intellectual stimulation is a cliche that does hold good. There was no flirting, only the blatant admission of intentions, and some candid banter on some of our beliefs. At the end of the conversation, I felt oddly refreshed. No one had been misled.

For the first time in a long while, I met a person who was clear with what he wants from another and we could honestly trade words and fucks without fishing for signals. A fuckboy/fuckgirl/fuckwhoever need not be a despicable species, not the ones who can own up to the task. A fuckwhoever, often misunderstood to be a modern spin on the term playboy/playgirl/playwhoever, is essentially one who can separate the emotional from the physical and treats sex as musical chairs, but with due mutual consensus. The pseudo-fuckwhoevers are those that string you along with their “I don’t know what I want”. It’s an immature lot who revel in their confusion, unapologetic of the wreckage they leave in their wake. It’s those that float their boats in high seas of “commitment phobia” that bring a bad name to our kind. We know exactly what we want, how we want it, with whom we want it and for how long we want it.

On occasions, whenever I’ve taken the hint that the other person was starting to be attached in ways more than I could ever reciprocate, I’ve let the person know that it wasn’t going to work out. I, fuckgirl, have never strung a person along but hell, none of my karma seems to return to me: I’ve allowed myself to venture into the dangerous territory of mixed signals, waving the flag of hope. It isn’t foolish to have hope, I told myself, but it is selfish to be apathetic towards those whose lives you’re fully conscious of affecting.

A friend of mine, a fellow victim of “I don’t know what I want”, cautioned me against Fuckboy saying that rat poison remains rat poison even if you’ve read the label before uncorking it. I pacified her: At least this bottle comes with a label.

 

Memorabilia.

Linkin Park, you life saver. Damn it!

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Back when such a thing as having a favourite band existed and everyone quoted The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Metallica to be their choices, I was an unapologetic Linkin Park fan. I was a Linkin Park snob, priding myself in knowing that the band was so much more than In The End and Numb. I knew their albums backwards and forwards. Hell, I knew their solo projects backwards and forwards. Chorusing ‘Somehow I got caught up in between/ Between my pride and my promise/ Between my lies and how the truth gets in the way/ And things I want to say to you get lost before they come/ The only thing that’s worse than one is none’, Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda fixed so many of my bad days. I would foolishly pride in the coincidence that Chester Bennington’s birthday only a day before mine. I remember saving every single paisa of pocket money so that I could afford their then releasing album A Thousand​ Suns, instead of having to resort to piracy. How quickly paraphernalia turns into memorabilia.

Steal.

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The moon stares at me as I stare at it. It hangs like a quartered orange high in the sky that is a strange, luminescent blue; and the clouds are something your dreams are made with. A lone star fights a losing battle. Dazed, I wonder aloud to myself: Let’s steal the monsoon sky.

Oh please, let’s steal the monsoon sky. I repeat.

lost + found

Her warm smile, the evidence to her soul, shines and stills her restless eyes. Her fingers, the deputies to her artistry, are cold and heavy.

Her skin, the wrappings to her bones, is lost in a tangle of folds. Her life, the forerunner to mine, finds that it ebbs away from him close.

Roger Federer will guide you home & belief will fix you.

Semi-final v/s Tomas Berdych; July 14, 2017

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My insides felt dishevelled tonight.

As I watched Roger Federer point his index finger and his racquet towards the sky today in celebration of his triumph over his opponent in the semi-finals of the world’s greatest tennis competition, I felt a tad befuddled. The person who steam-rolled Tomas Berdych in straight sets was aggressive, merciless, attacking and visibly powerful, devoid of the grace and composure that is enchantingly unique to Roger Federer. To think that I knew every move of the legend as well as the back of my hand was, as proved tonight, folly. I learnt that he could still surprise me, after all this time. I suppose there’s a life lesson hidden in there somewhere.

Perhaps it was my own disbelief at the fact that he made it this far, defeating every single odd that stood in his path? I can barely believe this is happening. My potential happiness is eclipsed by my state of disbelief and shock. How did this happen? Five years of a Grand Slam drought to end so phenomenally well? How did I spend these five years, watching him lose again and again? I shudder at the complementary set of ‘what if(s)’.

I feel like time has turned back to ten years ago. Surely this isn’t 2017 and Federer isn’t 35-going-on-36?

Fun fact: He’s never retired from a match, and last year was the first time in his extraordinary career that he took time off the playing season. Then, I’d thought the world was coming to an end and that he would never play again. Oh how wrong I was and how fucking glad am I that I was!

Immediately prior to taking time off, when Roger crashed out of the Wimbledon semi final, miserably losing from a winning position against Milos Raonic, failing to convert so many opportunities, I remember darting out of the bar I was watching the match in – well before the match ended. The second the match entered the fifth set, I knew he was done for, and I left. I knew him like the back of my hand and I knew he was done for. I was crying because I was angry, because he had so much more to give to tennis. I wish to go back to that day, outside that bar, when I’d sat on the footpath hugging myself, hands turning cold, and tell myself that it’s all going to be okay. He’s going to win an 18th and then another one (the holy grail of tennis). I wish I could tell myself that he’s going to steamroll Raonic, among others, and make Wimbledon matches seem like an exhibition tournament. Vindication will arrive in due time.

Final v/s Marin Cilic; July 16, 2017

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The win was clinical and so very one-sided. Anti-climactic? Yes. I’d been conditioned to expect roller-coasters. The Australian Open victory echoes off the walls even today. Wimbledon was a cakewalk in comparison. I feel only a fraction of the overwhelmed feelings that I felt six months ago, but it isn’t fair on Cilic to put the same weights on his shoulders as you can on Rafael Nadal’s.

Looking at the calendar year thus far – Australian to Roger, French to Rafael, Wimbledon to Roger – it does indeed appear that the world order has been restored. Time HAS turned back, hasn’t it? Not once could I stuff my hands in my mouth tonight, as is my nervous tic. He is rather brilliant, but then Gods are rather brilliant.

Roger Federer will guide you home and bel19f will fix you.

(Pictures courtesy of Wimbledon’s official Instagram page)

XIX: (Sweet) Dreams Are Made Of This.

“Great Scott, he can fly!” yelled Bagman as the crowd shrieked and gasped. “Are you watching this, Mr. Krum?”

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Ah, Great Scott, Roger can fly!

It isn’t how JK Rowling meant it but tonight, it is how I mean it.

It may not have been a match he’d wanted, but it was a victory he’d deserved.

“I kept on believing and dreaming, and here I am today with the eighth.”

 

Madness, really. – ii

Today, the first word that left my pen was a seven lettered one.

Madness is a realm so wide:
It holds not a you or a me,
Only but our two pennies’ worth of
pride.

Madness is an interlude:
It builds not between a you or a me,
Only within the walls of
yesterday’s dues.

Madness is a singsong trite:
It rings not a tune of a you or a me,
Only aches of tomorrows
unalike.

Madness isn’t mild, you see.

Today the only words that leave my pen want to honour a seven lettered one.

Today it’s all I want to write about.

Madness, really.

July 6, 2017
A chair and a table, India

 

Madness, really.

Madness is a realm so wide:
It contains not a you or a me,
Only but our two pennies’ worth of
pride.

For whom the bell tolls.

January 27, 2017

When he’d lost the Wimbledon 2016 semi-final from a winning position, my fingers were hurting from the number of times I had stuffed them in my mouth – my teeth mercilessly digging into them. I came home and wrote down the torrent of emotions that I was then feeling: Of a God, of my God.

If I said a part of me was gunning for Grigor Dimitrov today because I knew Roger Federer would find it easier to defeat him than Rafael Nadal, I wouldn’t be lying. As the near-five hours of high-adrenaline tennis comes to a close, my stomach is in so many knots that I’m no longer sure if I can untie them all. Dimitrov is the new sex, and one of the commentators’ closing lines – Dimitrov did everything right today apart from winning the match was perhaps the best way you could put it. I might even have fallen in love a little. My nerves are frayed, fried and fucked; meanwhile, my sore voice probably snow-dived to a new low as I doled out swear words and curses generously at the computer screen. Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal. I can’t decide if I’m happier than I am nervous or the other way round. It’s been such a long drought and I am parched.

Andre Agassi’s OPEN sums up my feelings perfectly. I like tennis because it’s a one-man show and only an insurmountable amount of mental strength and composure can see you through from the first round to the finish line of a tournament. It appeals to me greatly how you must teach your mind to calm the fuck down or else it’ll only be helter-skelter on the court. It all comes down to one thing – you. There’s no fate, no destiny or no team members to let you down. It’s your talent, your perseverance and your choices. Andre Agassi compares it to life, and I think I agree.

“It’s no accident, I think, that tennis uses the language of life. Advantage, service, fault, break, love, the basic elements of tennis are those of everyday existence, because every match is a life in miniature. Even the structure of tennis, the way the pieces fit inside one another like Russian nesting dolls, mimics the structure of our days. Points become games become sets become tournaments, and it’s all so tightly connected that any point can become the turning point. It reminds me of the way seconds become minutes become hours, and any hour can be our finest. Or darkest. It’s our choice.”

You go through so many emotional upheavals, constantly hitting crests and troughs. Physical fitness is paramount but mental fitness is equally important. Rafael Nadal is the most resilient players in the game, and he can unravel Roger Federer in ways unique to him with his mental resilience alone.

Some say Roger should retire. Some overenthusiastic in their show of support say he should win every tournament. But it isn’t like that. It isn’t like that at all. He’s 35 years old and he has won 17 grand slams, while having stayed world number 1 for 237 consecutive weeks. He’s 35 years old and he’s still here, moving so well that he puts everyone else’s athleticism to shame. He hasn’t won a single slam since July of 2012, and if he had listened to any of his critics and retired from the sport, he would never have known that he could make it to what would be his 29th grand slam final on Sunday. And these are mere numbers for those hungry for such banalities.

There are things that occur inside of me only when I watch him play. There’s some sort of relentless, passionate devotion that I never exhibit for anything or anyone else. Something that fills the void. Aside from Harry Potter, maybe. While watching yesterday’s semi-final, one of the commentators said that – when you watch other players like a Novak or a Rafa, you’re left wondering what’s going on inside their heads but when you watch Roger, it’s like instead of him feeling anything, it is what he is making you feel. I couldn’t agree more. With every passing tournament, I’m dreading that we are near the finish line. The final finish line.

Let alone my children watch him, I’m afraid I will never be able to watch him in person. Even as I try to make peace with that, I’m afraid that I’ll never be as passionate and devout a fan for a Dimitrov as I am for Roger Federer. Because only players like Federer and Nadal have achieved the pinnacle and stayed at it. Because they are legends. And legends never retire. Whatever happens on Sunday, I know my heart will break. Whatever the outcome on Sunday, I will keep wanting more and I’m so afraid.

Whatever happens on Sunday, send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

Whatever happens on Sunday.

July firsts

Do you remember our second night: the quiver in my step, the disbelief in my senses and the hours terrified?

Do you remember our first night: caught between no roof to sleep under and no friend to go beside; building forts out of white sheets and black backpacks on bunk beds?

Do you remember our second night: battling the rain and swimming with suitcases; the flooded pavements were a sight slight better than the gloomy apartment?

Do you remember our first night: making conversations with strangers was easier than I had been given to think?

Do you remember our second night: I was anxious and afraid for I hadn’t known you enough?

Mumbai, it has been a hell of a year.

5:52PM

What did we ever do to deserve a sky like this?

4:26AM

The day breaks early today with colours incandescent.

The open skies of the open terrace breathe life into me, and I find purpose again.

Sleepless with Morrie

There are a few minutes left until the clock shall tell me that it’s 4 in the morning and thereby unintentionally imply that I have stayed awake through yet another night. But this night/morning is special. I met Morrie tonight.

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It wasn’t until I had read three quarters of the book that I realised that the contents of it weren’t fictitious and that it was all true.

Morrie and Mitch, in 192 pages, condensed and consolidated so many of my thoughts that I have been trying to process for the last couple of years; amplifying the single chant in my being, something I have consciously striven towards for the greater part of the last couple of years – (pardon the Bollywood trope) Follow your heart.

“Why are we embarrassed by silence? What comfort do we find in all the noise?”

.

“I am every age, up to my own.”

.

I convinced myself that my needs were realistic, my greed inconsequential compared to theirs. This was a smokescreen. Morrie made that obvious.

.

Death ends a life, not a relationship.

.

‘You’re not a wave, you’re part of the ocean.’

I couldn’t bring myself to read or write meaningful words from the time I returned from Nepal. I gave a big piece of myself away to the country and to re-align myself with the world that I had left behind has not been easy. The ‘tension of opposites’ persists.

At such a juncture, ignoring the nagging feeling in my head (which was conceived when I read the back of the book and groaned at the prospect of having to read two hundred pages of self-help under the facade of a story) and trusting the word of the friend who owned the book, I started and finished the book in one night.

You won’t even realise how you cannot put the book down until you do.

May 26, 2017
Kolkata, India

Men & Women Are Not Equal.

Maybe it was the physical exertion resulting from ascending the 20-odd (give or take a few) kilometres from Tatopani to Ghasa, or the psychological stress and anxiety surrounding the trip to Nepal; maybe it was the release of a year’s worth of sexual and emotional frustration, or the unbridled exhilaration and disbelief at being able to complete the first day of the trek; maybe it was the ridiculously affordable and effective locally-brewed liquor or the canopy of stars blanketing the skies above me. The list of what can affect your menstrual cycle is rather long and unimaginative.

On the morning of the second day of the trek, I was awoken by an uneasy feeling in my stomach that immediately resolved itself to be the start of ‘that time of the month’. So there I was – ten days early, a person who has never been early even for a single day for all her post-pubescent life.

Disclaimer: Do you remember the girl, who runs around in white trousers while on her period, in the commercials for sanitary napkins? I am not that girl. I am the girl who falls unconscious from the pain in her belly and who the doctors tell that all she can do is pop pills. I hated helplessly swallowing down those pills.

I wasn’t alone and I did not want my weakness to derail the trek so I popped pain pills, sparing only seconds to curse the universe at large, as is routine, and started off. As I made the slow progress from Ghasa to Kokhethanti, I was quiet, breathless and alone for the most part, perennially lagging behind, ever so reminded of the fat to muscle ratio in my body. In the serenity of the world’s deepest gorge, amongst other things, my mind was a bundle of calculations.

Why can’t I tell my companions that I will need bathroom breaks oftener than usual? Why can’t I tell my companions that there’s a party in my uterus and I wasn’t invited to it? Why can’t I tell them that I need another minute before we start again? What is this strange sense of martyrdom that I am resorting to?

We climbed a mountain that day. I thought I was going to die.

The day after, we braved the infamous roaring winds of the Jomsom basin and crossed a river on foot. I thought I was going to die. I popped more pills that night and drank more local liquor (less affordable, the higher you are), the combined effect of which strung me up high as a kite. I slept like a baby that night, feeling triumphant, triumphant that in the war that my body was waging against me, it lost. I won.

It was the fourth day of the trek (and the third day of the period), when I couldn’t move a hundred metres without my legs giving away. I was foolish to believe that it would only get easier from the third day on. I was giddy and nauseated yet I refused to accept help or acknowledge that I may lose the war that day.

But I did lose the war that day: I resigned to take the bus. In the hours I gained by hiring a ride, staring at the dried blood at the base of my fingernails and biting down on bars of chocolate, I untangled the calculations.

Why is it easier to blame AMS for your inability to walk any further today? Consider this: once in every 35 days (barring the occasional irregularity), you are ill. Menstruation is not a weakness. Weakness assigns a sense of volition to itself. No. Menstruation is an illness, because what is illness but a condition of the body that you did not choose and only have an ounce of control over. You did not want to add to the prejudice against the physical abilities of women; to make matters worse your fat to muscle ratio also did not help your case. You wanted to prove that once in every 35 days, you were no less, but the truth is that you are less. Your body is expelling blood. Take the bloody day off.

Reaching the summit of the trek on the fifth day, at Muktinath, my happiness was still weighed down by the disappointment that I could not walk all the way, that I had somehow failed by revealing and succumbing to the ailments of my body.

I solemnly resolved to return, fitter and stronger, bereft of any malformed instincts to prove or validate the worth of womankind to mankind.

It is still sexism if you are trying to ‘equal’ a man. Women and men are not equal. Human beings, for that matter, are not equal to one another. Sexism only lies in the prejudices you derive from the differences.

Love Affairs In, With & After Nepal
India

 

‘Scribble: Fall 7 Stand 8’

Fall 7 Stand 8

It’s true for those who can count till 8. Octahedral systems. For those who live in 0 and 1 says – fall 0 stand 1. For those till 10 –fall 9 stand 10. For a human who knows infinity – fall infinity stand infinity.

No end.

She says it her way. Life. It’s an extraordinary thing. Feet, hands, languages, sweat upon brows, eyes with blinkers, eyes without blinkers, skies, water, snow, wind, trees, little feet, little hands, fire. So much fire. So many words.

No end.

And the sounds which flicker around.

Scribble: Just throw it. That’s all we can do.

Scribble: ‘…Mumbai Kolkata India Asia…’

…Mumbai Kolkata India Asia…

5:51am on a Mumbai Wednesday

Everything is loud. I’m awoken by the sound of waves and a strong breeze carrying the whooshing sounds to them. I can hear the sea, relentlessly crashing upon the shore, wave after wave. I sit up straight and stare. Ah, fuck sleep.

Everything is loud.

7:38 pm on a Kolkata Tuesday

I wish everything is loud.

Scribble: Just throw it. That’s all we can do.

Scribble: ‘I was thinking of a question’

I was thinking of a question

If I stand on a shore I can see the sea coming towards me
I know that there is land on the other side too so the sea moves towards the other side
So, the question is what is happening?

I was just wasting some of your time.
Don’t have to know the answer.
Just enjoy the sea.
Relax.
We always need a friend who knows nothing.

By the way a friend who writes lighting-ly made me question this thing.
She writes:

Who knew the sky could be so many colours in one day? I’ve seen snow-white turn to steel and menacingly grey which yet again turns to white and thence to a pale orange or pale indigo.. to dark blue to pitch-black and then waking up to the sound of rain and an ink-blue sky.. when dawn is yet to break. Sometimes when I’m in the middle of thinking too much, I simply stare at the far horizon trying to differentiate between the sky and the sea, and for a moment, it’s peaceful and all that goes on inside my head or outside in the world, the riot of emotions and the riot of people – none of it matters. Because there is a place where the waves relentlessly reach for the shore day after day. And there’s some wisdom to be gained from it, I think.

Scribble – Just throw it. That’s all we can do.

‘Ode to Track Pants’

“Do you have a dress?” you ask.

“No, I don’t wear dresses,” I say.

“What will you wear to the club?”

“Track pants and t-shirt, of course.” I dismiss you.

“But you should wear a dress to a club!” you insist.

“You’re stereotyping. I can wear whatever I want to wear.”

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“Do you own a dress?”

“No.”

“I am going to buy you one.”

“NO.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t like dresses. I’m a track-pants-person. I used to wear them to work too! I wear them everywhere.”

“Why don’t you like dresses?”

I stutter and stammer, wishing I could summon my guardian angel to put sensible words in my mouth so that I don’t communicate to you like a sack of potatoes.

“Why do you hate dressing up?” you relentlessly pursue.

“I dress up! I dress up.. once every quarter when I feel like it. I like being comfortable in the clothes that I wear and I only ever am comfortable in tracks and t-shirts.”

“Dresses make you feel uncomfortable?”

“I am conscious of my body, yes. It’s part of the reason.”

“You shouldn’t be. You should wear a dress. Let’s go shop for a dress.”

“I hate shopping.”

We don’t shop for a dress.

Nine days later, as I roam a shopping facility that a metropolitan city provides, I look at the rows and rows of clothes on either side of me and find the words that would’ve helped my case nine days before.

I don’t consider clothes an investment of time, energy and money necessary to my existence. I like the six t-shirts and three tracks I own. I do not receive commensurate returns from the investment made while ‘dressing up’. The four times a year that the returns are indeed favourable, I do ‘dress up’: I borrow and I get by.

Nine days later, as I roam a shopping facility that a metropolitan city provides, I come across a little black dress.

I would still wear tracks and t-shirts if I were possessing the type of body that would not make me self-conscious.

Nine days later, I own six t-shirts, three tracks and a dress; and four is still the number of times I am likely to find the aforementioned returns favourable.

Love Affairs In, With & After Nepal
India

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