The noise of the rattling window panes keeps me awake at night. The winds are howling outside like the sound of an engine revving, and the rain is pounding away relentlessly like it is the last time water meets earth from above. The sun will soon rise and, I wonder whether the fragile window panes will survive and how in the morning their shards will lie.
They broke your heart, I think.
Mine too, I know.
I saw it coming and yet, I let it shatter, my heart.
Perhaps I was hopeful, or was it masochism?
I wonder if you did too: see it coming.
I pray you have too.
I don’t know if happy endings exist,
if a place where I can go exists,
but I pray I never stop to find out.
No matter the wreckage they left behind for you to heal, and to make art out of.
“It is not your fault that you don’t assume the worst in people. People are at fault when they let you down; you are not at fault for not anticipating that they will let you down,” as a wise friend tells me often.
“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.”
“Do you own a dress?”
“I am going to buy you one.”
“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
A final few hundred steps were climbed to believe that you can do anything, you can be anything, even if it is everything, even if it is nothing. You are okay.
Three thousand and five hundred steps and then three thousand and five hundred more were climbed to reach bliss point. There was hot tea, careless laughter and dumbfounded disbelief.
Three thousand and five hundred steps and then three thousand and five hundred more were climbed to reach bliss point. There was rain, there was hail and there was snow. There were clouds, mountains and a chimney stove. There wasn’t money, there wasn’t electricity and there wasn’t soap. There weren’t telephones, warm baths or fresh clothes. It was bliss point.
Three thousand steps were climbed to taste the sense of an ending (and a beginning).
Two thousand and some hundred steps were climbed to feel the limbs give up and the conversations with feet cease.
Twelve hundred steps were climbed to feel the lungs complain and the frustration pile up again.
The sun slid down the sky that threatened to tear the dark clouds asunder so that tears and fear threatened to magnanimously make their presence felt.
Two hundred and sixteen steps were climbed to realise that bliss does not come easily.
Little by little, a wise trekker once said.
Love Affairs In & With Nepal
The sun tan on my hands is akin to the memories in my heart – both perhaps will fade with time. Adrenaline no longer courses through my body as adventure no longer moves my feet – both certainly will be rekindled time and again.
The torn map in my hands is akin to the feelings in my heart – both perhaps seemed pivotal to my being at the start but neither certainly could plead its case over time. Blood no longer rushes to my head as 9.8 metre per second square no longer is the approximate rate at which my body is freely falling towards the earth – time had stood still and certainly will again.
Love Affairs In & With Nepal
Oh, we do not deserve this world.
You may think you’re a traveller, not a tourist.
But, no, neither of you deserve this world.
None of us do.
The world is big, and you are small.
You do not own any of it.
The world was here first.
Imagine two people. Both are fiercely independent and both like quiet. One wishes to carpe diem unto infinity. He wants to walk a million miles with no accoutrements, no entanglements and no predispositions, and then a million miles more. He wants to sleep under the night sky and wake up to the sound of waves lapping at his travel-worn feet, with the smell of salt in the gentle warm breeze whispering sweet nothings to the bare bits of his skin. He wants to roll in cold, white snow and swim in oxbow lakes even though he never learnt how to swim. He wants to stand on the edge of the world with arms akimbo, wishing he had a cape fluttering behind him and an S imprinted on his chest. He wants to dangle his legs from a sea-facing cliff and eat food from a box with chopsticks. He does not know how to use chopsticks nor can the food, the name of which he knows not, be eaten with chopsticks but he never fancied limitations and definitions anyway. He wants to light a cigarette – only light it – whilst sitting on a precipice; he’d stub it out on the rocky surface, and then flick it into the nothingness below him, as if the cigarette were an ivory striker on a carrom board he had grown up playing with. He wants to sit atop a speeding bus that is weaving its way through the labyrinth of roads nestled in hills and valleys, with wind in his hair, music in his ears and smell of wet copper red earth mixed with dew-kissed leaves smeared on his skin. He wants to watch the northern lights from his yellow tent with nothing but a flask of coffee that his gracious hostess, from the night before, lent him, a torch light and a book that he bought from the local post office, because he was overwhelmed to find that they stocked novels in his spoken language, especially after having meandered for so many days through kindness and beauty of unknown tongues and origins.
The other one breeds realism of the paranoid variety in every molecule of his being. He likes safety nets, contingency plans and insurance. He is anxious of under-using the faculties he was born with and of misusing the privileges he unfairly receives. He likes the nighttime. He’s not an insomniac; he simply thinks sleep is a waste of breath that could be used to knit the worlds that his perception of reality has denied him thus far. He likes order, design and to-do lists. He has more calendars, checklists and Post-Its pasted on the walls of his room than he has posters and pictures. He likes to sleep till late to avoid waking up to the claustrophobia he’s churning out each day. He reassures himself that he’ll change, he will.. when the ‘appropriate time’ comes and the ‘circumstances’ are conducive. He shushes the impulses that seldom course through him. He likes the occasional self-endangering, masochistic thrill. He’s self-conscious and, outbursts are despicable things to him. He doesn’t look up at the sky through the window from his room at all.
Imagine another. He has a deep distaste for the excesses of materialism and consumerism. He despises furniture and luxury transportation. He fancies walking and ponders on the insufferable self-pity swallowing us all whole. He ponders on our desperate need for nomenclature and our abuse of it. He thinks of one of the quotes by one of his favourite authors: “Cats don’t have names. Now, you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.” He ponders on “the ineffable yearning to be saved” and to find meaning. He does not find it in him to be able to give himself over completely to another person by way of the thing they call ‘love’. He’s known infatuation, longing and lust but the notion of love eludes him. He wishes to melt away by melting into the teeming throngs that suffocate the world. He wishes to expand across the sky and be one with the universe, uncaring of the multitudes populating the world below with their cantankerous politics and insatiable thirst to control what was never theirs to control. He likes music, dance, a few best friends, sleepy Saturday mornings and spunky, sexy conversations that last till dawn.
And imagine one more. He is painfully aware of himself, of the gaps and the surpluses in him, of the war inside and out, and of the faceless stranger he sees look back at him from a mirror. He is swimming against the current in an ocean that is the universe whose ends he’s unable to grasp. Put them all together into one person: this is she and she is a you or a me or a he. Who are you today?
No, really, fuck it!
I want to go:
I want to go to a place where furry dogs and furrier pandas are universally acquiesced as the only fit rulers of the universe!
I want to go to a place where stars are strewn across the sky every night.
A place where I can look at those stars every night.
I want to go to a place where the sight of an endless green and gold does not melt into the ubiquitous lottery of birth and blood;
Where there is no lottery!
A place where propriety and affectation for appearances are only doled out as punishments for criminals.
I want to go to a place where a filthy hatred, familial as well as societal, does not claw into my existence.
I want to go to a place where the hours late illuminate not the depraved human traits.
A place where guileless conversation is the only currency of barter and trade.
A place where I can unabashedly declare the untoward fantasies that twist the spaces in my stomach;
Where I do not stifle the sporadic mad impulses of committing interstellar perversion for the sake of a system,
Or where there is no system!
I want to go to a place where dreams and fears weigh more than grade points and competition.
A place where employers treat tattoos and the state of my clothes with indifference.
A place where every excess is shed.
I want to go to a place where more numbers of olive ridley sea turtles exist.
A place where our misguided need for nomenclature (alongwith the despicable rungs of the social ladder) can be discarded to waste.
I want to go to a place where my feet never tire of walking;
And where Pablo Neruda writes more poems.
And I will.
Why? Why do we have to be proper? Why are we so enslaved by that which should be done, by a duty that we needlessly swear to abide by till death does us apart? What about an unfettered soul? And an endless field of dandelions and sunflowers: yellow, red and orange? Imagine running through such a field until your lungs choke you with a fierce burning and then you collapse beneath the clear spring sky, convulsing for all the right reasons. Why are our slates so unclean that we’re entirely cooped up in the little worlds we build for us? Why not be open? Why not smile at careworn strangers with the purity of a thousand silken moons while twirling around metaphorical poles of our fantasies? Who are we but the impressions of all that we have touched, felt and seen? Who are we but the consequences of everything around us? We look to define our consequence, add it to the world, but do you ever wonder that maybe we are the consequence of others? But what sort of consequence have they left inside of you that culminated into your being tonight? Good? Bad? Surely the nature of our experiences that make us who we are, transcend such petty nomenclature: Pandora’s box. Why not be one with the stars above us every night, and be infinite for those moments every night? Ever wonder Bill Watterson was wise as fuck? Why settle for one place when the world remains untrodden? Why not pursue that which spreads warmth inside of you? Why is comfort a threat? Why not fall? Why read books and poetry, and be touched by the stories, lives and romance of the imagination of others? Ever wonder if it’s to vicariously live all the lives that we don’t allow us to live or even the lives that we weren’t allowed to live? Why not be free? In words. In sentences. In paragraphs. In prose. In stanzas. And every single thing beyond? We’re the collection of our past experiences, insecurities and timid dreams for the future, curated, consciously or not, by us. But ever so often, we are inspired. And in those brief moments of pure inspiration, we look to find meaning. We look to tear down brick by brick the walls, mazes, trapdoors and skylights to take us as close as possible to a clean slate. And then you begin. Again. There’s so much to weigh us down. There’s so much to set us free. What kind of negotiated freedom would it be if we’re somewhere in between? Why not be either 0 or 100%?
You only live once.
Write/Walk. To/With. You/Me.
(January, 17 days passed. Already)
A dark, foggy morning greets me quietly. I pull up my jeans and wrap around a sweatshirt. I slip into my worn out flip-flops and head out into the dewy morning. I can hear Roald Dahl’s words swirl around inside of me as I walk on and on: “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” And find it we must. Find it we will. Sigh. Won’t we?
(18 days have passed. Of January)
I woke up with steel and concrete in my throat. I couldn’t breathe or think. My head spun. Before the whirlpool tried to swallow me back, I rushed out into the arms of dawn. It wasn’t even cold. The blood pumped in my head as I felt a familiar emptiness in the pit of my stomach. How did I ever become thus? How did six months reduce me into this.. or did it reveal me? I thought I’d never be this person again. A small, smug and self-assured voice of reason inside my head prompted an answer, one I didn’t like. Bitch. So, I walked, emptying myself of the panic as I did. I didn’t want to go back home. I broke into a run.
I woke a few hours ago; the muscles in my calves complained and I let them, so I slept again. But now I’m awake.. and high. My head spins: the good kind. I miss certain things. Some others I don’t. Where would we be without music.
What was last night like?
A tale of plastic smiles and sympathetic eyes:
I am at a sixty year old man’s sixtieth birthday party. He is a close family friend and he turned sixty today. His family thought that, being a supposed landmark in the lives of men, it warrants celebration: one at a terrace, unsheltered on all sides, and in it, there are manicured shrubs and potted plants plenty. I barely care for the burst of colours that they exhibit. I lurk in the dark, virgin corners and hungrily stare at the sky. The cold air presses against my skin but I barely shiver. I dearly miss terraces and the long conversations that I used to have with the moon. The food is stale and ordinary. I look at the faces. Those are plentiful too. Some I recognise. Most I do not. The ones that I do, beckon me towards them and taking my hand, flood me with questions. The platitudes never cease to end. I nod and conjure small smiles, lips pressed into a thin line. The man’s wife, the best friend to my mother, takes it upon herself to go an extra mile. She considers me kin and thus tries to introduce me to everyone. I wish her well but I draw the line at ‘She’s the daughter of my friend, the one I told you had cancer’. I drop all pretence, visibly shrug and quickly excuse myself out of another introduction. I go to the dark, virgin corners again. I wish they’d stop telling me that they miss her. I wish they’d stop apologising for saying that they miss her because they think my loss is greater than theirs. I wish they’d all just stop. But they won’t, will they? Every time. It’ll be this. I live in the fear of the impending First Death Anniversary Ceremony. I hate all of this so much, I can barely contain it inside of me. Make it go away. Can I go away? Take me away. There is.. err.. ‘groovy’ music. The kind you would never play yourself but wouldn’t mind if someone else did. I quite like it. I like the terrace too. Everything else I could do without. I could dance. I could run. I close my eyes and relive memories inside my head that spread warmth around that empty pit in my stomach but at the same time, remind me of the steel and concrete that I woke up with in my throat. I crave.. open skies and undying nights. Good music and warm bodies under blankets thick. Three bottles of beer, a cool breeze and a sunset. A small fire lit atop a small summit and a silence shared with the stars above. The smell of railway tracks as the steel rails groan under the weight of movement. I could run.
(20th of January)
The clock just struck midnight. It would be easy to deem these mixed feelings in my heart as love, wouldn’t it? Alas, I don’t think I’m capable of it nor does such a beautiful soul deserve a two-bit bipolar hazard. In any case, it certainly would be easy.. for I would know why I feel off centre so often and why I’m transported back in time to December nights, why I couldn’t concentrate – the one thing I secretly prided myself in – before my finals and why I keep writing everything to a particular person. The muscles in my calves complain still. Tomorrow, I won’t give in.
At night, before we conk out, a friend and I bitch about the world, its weddings and relationships, and then sigh at the ridiculous lack of drama in our lives and how our little problems are terrifyingly run-of-the-mill. [Note to self: Need me some warm loving that competes with my disbelieving, relationship drama that I can win at and marriage threats that I can shrug off! And while we’re still on this topic, need – for real – me some night moves and a ’67 Chevy that I can drive off into the Milky Way!]
Ah, the exhilaration of a seven minute run whilst the world is still nestled in the arms of yesterday! And the purr of the engine as your foot caresses the accelerator. Damn, I could get used to this feeling of empowerment!
Lend me a room on your roof, won’t you?
I drown and not drown. I think and not think. I feel and not feel. I believe and not believe. I care and not care. I depend and not depend. I stand torn between the two opposite sides of every spectrum.
Find me a third way in. You’re the only one who can. Fin.