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Young With Scabby Knees

Whether we be old or bald.

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Days of Our Lives

Truth and fiction: Outside of my head.

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 most 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?”

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“I am every age, up to my own.”

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

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Death ends a life, not a relationship.

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‘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

 

6 months hence: Piertotum Locomotor

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How can the sky be the limit when it in itself is limitless?

I laughed, I cried.

I fell, I flew.

I learned.

I grew.

Bannerghatta.

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It is strange that we need ‘sanctuaries’ for animals and birds; to think we think we own the planet. I look all around me and can’t help but shrug, can’t help but reject this too. The irony that runs in the name of civilisation is a thing of distaste and of wonder; oh how we ogle at these beasts, oh how we think we care for them by binding their spirits that were born free. I cringe at the sighs, the gasps and the cries that fill my ears. I look up at the clear blue sky, and I know where my heart lies, where I lie – and perhaps where their hearts lie too. This one and every other one’s for the clouds.

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October 8th, 2016
Bangalore, India

 

The Lines I Coloured When I Read Catch 22..

It’s a very recent habit when reading a book that I own – to mark the lines that mean something to me. Maybe if I ever lend the book to someone, they would know if we liked the same lines. Maybe if I read the book again when I’m older, it’ll be nice to compare notes with my younger self. Maybe I’ll never touch or open the book again and all I’m trying to do is leave as much of me as I can with book, as it will leave much of itself with me.

I finished reading Catch 22 twenty-four hours ago. I didn’t always have a highlighter pen with me, but the times I did, I sat and coloured the lines that moved me the most.

Twenty-four hours hence, I want to shout those lines out to the world.

  1. He was working hard at increasing his life span. He did it by cultivating boredom.
  2. Men went mad and were rewarded with medals.
  3. There were many principles in which Clevinger believed passionately. He was crazy.
  4. ‘Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it’s to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?’ ‘I do,’ Dunbar told him. ‘Why?’ Clevinger asked. ‘What else is there?
  5. Fortunately, just when things were blackest, the war broke out.
  6. ‘..I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving that girl. She was built like a dream..’
  7. Doc Daneeka rose without a word and moved his chair outside the tent, his back bowed by the compact kit of injustices that was his perpetual burden.
  8. Chief White Halfoat demanded with simulated belligerence..
  9. ..and the piercing obscenities they flung into the air every night from their separate places in the squadron rang against each other in the darkness romantically like mating calls of songbirds with dirty minds.
  10. ‘If you’re going to be shot, whose side do you expect me to be on?’
  11. ‘What could you do?’ Major Major asked himself again. What could you do with a man who looked you squarely in the eye and said he would rather die than be killed in combat, a man who was at least as mature and intelligent as you were and who you had to pretend was not? What could you say to him?
  12. ‘But suppose everybody on our side felt that way.’ ‘Then I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn’t I?’
  13. ‘..I used to get a big kick out of saving people’s lives. Now I wonder what the hell’s the point, since they all have to die anyway.’ ‘Oh, there’s a point, all right,’ Dunbar assured him.’ ‘Is there? What is the point?’ ‘The point is to keep them from dying for as long as you can.’ ‘Yeah, but what’s the point, since they all have to die anyway?’ ‘The trick is not to think about that.’ ‘Never mind the trick. What the hell’s the point?’ Dunbar pondered in silence for a few moments. ‘Who the hell knows?’

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  14. She was not interested in money or cameras. She was interested in fornication.
  15. There were strands of enlisted men molded in a curve around the three officers, as inflexible as lumps of wood, and four idle gravediggers in streaked fatigues lounging indifferently on spades near the shocking, incongruous heap of loose copper-red earth.
  16. Yossarian thought he knew why Nately’s whore held him responsible for Nately’s death and wanted to kill him. Why the hell shouldn’t she? It was a man’s world, and she and everyone younger had every right to blame him and everyone older for every unnatural tragedy that befell them; just as she, even in her grief, was to blame for every man-made misery that landed on her kid sister and on all other children behind her. Someone had to do something sometime. Every victim was a culprit, every culprit a victim, and somebody had to stand up sometime to try to break the lousy chain of inherited habit that was imperiling them all. In parts of Africa little boys were still stolen away by adult slave traders and sold for money to men who disemboweled them and ate them. Yossarian marveled that children could suffer such barbaric sacrifice without evincing the slightest hint of fear or pain. He took it for granted that they did submit so stoically. If not, he reasoned, the custom would certainly have died, for no craving for wealth or immortality could be so great, he felt, as to subsist on the sorrow of children.
  17. The night was raw. A boy in a thin shirt and thin tattered trousers walked out of the darkness on bare feet. The boy had black hair and needed a haircut and shoes and socks. His sickly face was pale and sad. His feet made grisly, soft, sucking sounds in the rain puddles on the wet pavement as he passed, and Yossarian was moved by such intense pity for his poverty that he wanted to smash his pale, sad, sickly face with his fist and knock him out of existence because he brought to mind all the pale, sad, sickly children in Italy that same night who needed haircuts and needed shoes and socks. He made Yossarian think of cripples and of cold and hungry men and women, and of all the dumb, passive, devout mothers with catatonic eyes nursing infants outdoors that same night with chilled animal udders bared insensibly to that same raw rain. Cows. Almost on cue, a nursing mother padded past holding an infant in black rags, and Yossarian wanted to smash her too, because she reminded him of the barefoot boy in the thin shirt and thin, tattered trousers and of all the shivering, stupefying misery in a world that never yet had provided enough heat and food and justice for all but an ingenious and unscrupulous handful. What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives socked, and how many children were bullied, abused or abandoned. How many families hungered for food they could not afford to buy? How many hearts were broken? How many suicides would take place that same night, how many people would go insane? How many cockroaches and landlords would triumph? How many winners were losers, successes failures, rich men poor men? How many wise guys were stupid? How many happy endings were unhappy endings? How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to blackguards for petty cash, how many had never had souls? How many straight-and-narrow paths were crooked paths? How many best families were worst families and how many good people were bad people? When you added them all up and then subtracted, you might be left with only the children, and perhaps with Albert Einstein and an old violinist or sculptor somewhere.

I can’t remember the last time that I both loved and hated a book so much, in equal measure, at the same time. Joseph Heller sure knew his way around the human mind as he did around words. Fin!

Plateau.

Do you ever want something so much that you don’t? Do you ever not want something so much that you do?

September 7th, 2016
Mumbai, India

Fantasies.

Fantasies.

Debilitating fantasies.

Of flying on broomsticks. Of finding the perfect cheesecake – and eating all of it. Of teleporting to the world of penguins – hell, of teleporting from anywhere to anywhere. Of bungee jumping off dizzying heights and levitating too. Of befriending enough number of dogs that you could make a football team out of them. Of willingly losing your way inside a maze of wood-panelled bookshelves that rise high into the clouds. Of northern lights, yellow tents and cups of coffee. Of endless nights of stargazing lying on warm (or cool) white sand. Of listening to the sound of waves till dawn breaks. Of Neverlands. Of Shires. Of the worlds beyond what meets the eye.

Of writing.

Of tracing continents on the palms of someone.

Of running your fingers across every inch of the face of someone, memorising every freckle, curve and crease, absorbing every smell.

Of swaying bodies, wind-swept hair and rain-soaked streets, and inebriation in moderation.

Of interlocked fingers spinning a world inside them; of eyes that are more vocal than words in a speech.

Of losing yourself – of disintegrating, against every fibre of reason, in someone else’s hands, legs and lips.

Fucking fantasies.

July 18th, 2016
Mumbai, India

Hello, world.

A smattering of rain, irregular traffic, skyscrapers that dare scrape the sky and poverty that dare be ubiquitous, claustrophobic hotel rooms and cute bell-boys greet me. I greet back.

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Hello, world.

As I walk through a maze of human bodies and squalor, side-stepping puddles of muddy water that the erratic rain leaves behind, a gentle breeze slips like silk through my fingers. My consciousness without permission fragments and my fingers, of their own volition, feel forlorn. The rest of me takes stock of the world as I pass it by, one step at a time, but my fingers.. my fingers are forlorn. The breeze rekindles in them memories of a yesterday, of a you, of a me and of ‘inside jokes’ that our interlinked hands held and kept. I stutter in my step but ever so slightly. The maze thins a little.

Hello, world.

Almost everywhere the eyes can see, they are met by a plethora of roads, freeways and highways that snake around and above the too tall towers, the too small blue-topped shacks and the occasional clump of green, all shadowed by an unending rainy haze. There are little drops of water, along the edges of the window railing, waiting to lose the fight to gravity. Sometimes I like those little drops of water more than I like rain. I sit down to compress everything that I am feeling into words in ink and paper with a trembling hand. It is only then that I realise that I don’t feel different, that I don’t care about a city or all things (pertaining to a prosperous, degenerate human civilisation) that mar the said city. Is this what ‘shapeless’ feels like – that leaving home evokes no sense of nostalgia, that finding (or losing?) your own place in the world evokes no sense of apprehension?

Hello, world.

July 1st, 2016
Mumbai, India

Of a God, of my God.

Disclaimer: If God is someone you have unshakeable faith in, is someone you’re fond of yet also angry with and disappointed in, and is someone you believe possesses power no other human can possess, Roger Federer is my God. 

I don’t remember how it all began, how I started watching tennis but it was at least ten years ago, back when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal started to be the only names worth remembering. I confess that I had initially taken to supporting Rafael Nadal – more out of loyalty to a friend than out of personal preferences – but like the earth unquestionably revolves around the sun, I inevitably gravitated towards the man who personifies grace in a game that largely is about sinews and aggression. I remember remaining in awe of his unfaltering serve. I remember my brother never resigning to doubt if Roger Federer was cornered in his own service game. “He’s going to fire straight  aces and brush the opponent  over,” he would say, which of course is exactly  what would happen. My awe towards the man only multiplied thereon. I cannot add nor redefine more praise for Roger Federer since all that can be said for the man, has been said. His movements are like brush strokes on canvass – a waltz across the court, especially if it is the central, green one at Wimbledon. As I type this tonight, Roger Federer failed to convert three of five sets in his Wimbledon semifinal against Canadian Milos Raonic. When Raonic took the fourth set, a part of me knew too well that he was going to take it all and I couldn’t find it in me to sit through the anxiety of it. Was it cowardly? I don’t know but I felt the onslaught of a downpour of tears coming my way and I tore out of the room as soon as I could. Disappointment crashed on me wave by wave. Two nights ago, I was more elated than words could describe, suddenly empowered by the belief that anything was possible, that Sunday night I would be atop the world, even if my world is making less sense every passing day. Two nights ago, I was happy and Roger Federer was sex on fire. Is this how it feels to see your heroes ride out their descent? It agonised me to see him throw away so many points that ordinarily he’d have won in his sleep. But what is ‘ordinary’ anymore? I couldn’t tell if Raonic was playing better than him or he worse than Raonic. My heart is broken for the light inside Roger Federer rages and burns but it also flickers and sometimes, dims. My heart is broken because watching tennis will seem meaningless without the calm exterior of the man I have come to love and worship. My heart is broken as the plethora of commentators and onlookers, dabbling in numbers, reduce players to statistics and a stock of score-lines.. and I dread that tomorrow’s headlines will read that it’s the first time that Roger Federer has failed to win a Wimbledon semifinal – his eleventh. Don’t they understand that it does not matter if it’s the first or the second or the fifteenth time that he lost a Wimbledon semifinal? What matters is that Roger Federer is not done yet, not yet.. not yet. And my heart is broken that perhaps we won’t see all that he can give us.

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