Monthly Archives: August 2015

It’ll be alright

I don’t know if it’s true but I know it’s there
I know it isn’t as easy as in times fine and fair
Last night I was scared, and the night before a little more
But with each passing night my trust increases by a score
In the silent hums of the night my thoughts roar aloud
I’m afraid I’m too frail, I might get lost in the crowd
Does he really feel what I feel while the ink blots my hand?
I’m a little afraid because I’m not sure where I stand
I can’t tell other people, they’ve never felt this way
To have someone in your heart and yet so far away
But as long as he loves me and as long as I write
I’ll believe in it a score at a time that it’ll all be alright

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What we talk when we talk about love

The fear is real. It’s like yesterday you were walking around the street, buying a book, drinking a cup of coffee boarding a bus. You were thinking of a million mundane things. Of life, of people, of broken promises and untamed dreams. And then all of a sudden it happens. Snap! You meet someone and you know that something has happened, something that you always dreamt of, something you were sure would never happen to you.

It feels like all of a sudden you aren’t in your own skin, a different air surrounds you, a different rhythm in your voice, in your words, in your senses. You are more confident than you ever were. The mere name of that person lifts you up, lightens up your mood, brings out the best in you. Above everything, the new skin feels like you’ve lived in it since ages. Is this the spell broken or is this a spell? It’s hard to believe that it’s happening, you always thought these things only happened in your head.

Only that this time it doesn’t make you anxious. It doesn’t scare you, your lack of talent, your set of vulnerabilities, the bunch of fears that haunt you, the nightmares that keep you up all night. This person helps you embrace them, rise above them. This person makes you wanna be a better person, sing a sweeter song. Not for them but for your own self. And it is this tenderness, this unselfishness that makes your world go round. It’s the tenderness that heals you, the unselfish support and the lack of the fear of being constantly judged and scrutinized that makes you stronger.

You still wake up, walk around, buy a book, drink coffee and board a bus. You still think of stupid mundane things but this time you also think of how real magic is. You think of the lost breath that you were so eager to lose, you think of the rising pulse that rang in your ears. You think of the heaviness which you felt you had accumulated and then the lightness that followed and you almost felt liberated. Now you might want to ask what the hell is your fear? How the hell does this scare you if they make you feel this way?

It’s true that I feel it but does the other person feel the same way? The fear is that after feeling this way, reaching this level, if tomorrow someone told me that it was all a joke, all a time pass, all a way of life, how would I deal with it? How would I let the foundation slip without the building tumbling down? I’ve lost them all my life, these people. Today they’re there, tomorrow they’re not. No matter how you feel, no matter what you feel, you gotta live. Live even if you got scars. But scars sometimes weigh us down.

Can we ever be enough?

I comb my hair a million times
Stop my tears, fake a smile
Look at the ground, take small strides
But I know I can never be enough

I look too thin or I look too fat
Her voice is bad, her chest is flat
I run when I can, if not I drag
But I know I can never be enough

My eyes swell, my flesh rots
Her dress is too tight, what boyfriend she sought
Can’t believe what life being a girl has brought
But I know I can never be enough

I could be dark or white or pale
No matter what, same is the tale
Don’t say a word, just do as they say
Anyway you will never be enough

Oh you like that? That’s what girls like
Isn’t being a girl shameful, directly implied
Well it is but it comes with no shock
Because they know you will never be enough

We dream of love and horses and a prince
But all we do is cry and then wince
Nobody is rescued unless you put a fight
For them you will never be enough

They talk of equality, that sons and daughters are same
But if something goes wrong, it’s the girl that they blame
Whether you want or not, you are burnt in the flame
Of the illusion that you’ll never be enough

It’s fine if they wanna lie and cheat
What really matters is your heart that beats
When you fly, all of it shall take a backseat
Who cares if they think that you’ll never be enough.

You are enough. You are beautiful.

Ramblings of a fucked up heart

No I don’t want to hide things from him but I can’t get myself do it. How can I tell him that the scars he has seen are nothing. That some people burn away in their own unquenchable flame. That life’s unjust unjustly. That I regret nothing I have done and nothing I have not but what I do regret is the fact that I am not ordinary enough. That the way the world looks at the world is nothing I can relate to. That there are people like me who have been turned and twisted in ways that our wounds are beyond repair. How can I expect him to understand me when I myself can’t! Even when I know I ruin everything I touch, I have yearned for something that is so perfect in it’s tenderness. I want to tell him how I feel so strongly about everything. That being passionate is my disease. That the only way I can do something is by loving it and loving only makes one sad and vulnerable. It’s like opening a wound and letting the wind decide it’s fate. But he won’t understand. He might think it’s a poetic fantasy or a depressed expression. How can I blame him for this judgement? What the world is yet to know is that things are written because someone, somewhere at some point has felt it. That just because you can’t feel it, doesn’t mean it can’t be felt.

I want to run away and never look back. But till when can I runaway from myself? Is there really no way out of the maze of the mind?

I know he can deal with it. I know he can endure things that aren’t in my control and get us through but does he deserve this misery? This state of vulnerability where uncertainty is the only thing certain. Does he not deserve to be loved by someone who is simpler and less messed up?

And then is the most important question. Can someone love him more than I do? Can love deal with this? Is love enough? Only time will tell.

A Confluence of Hope and Hesitation

It was a week ago I was wondering how I would ever come out of the dungeon of my own thoughts. It made me shudder about how the future would unfold. How I’d never let people know anything about the chaos under my skin. Three years ago I had decided at the spur of a fateful moment, to run away from everyone and everything. I was tired, tired of explaining why I was different and thought differently. I was tired of not being able to fit in, of seeking attention I didn’t want and I just took the shorter way out. No explanation. No farewells. I hate farewells. I just ran away.

I won’t say it didn’t help me because it did reduce a lot of unwanted pressure on me. But in a different light, things got worse. Earlier I had this ray of hope, if I really felt like sharing something or venting things out I had people. Now I had none. Venting things out is important but it took me a really long while to figure this out. The sad part about people is that they’re stupid and whenever they hear you got a problem in your darn head they presume you must be stupid. Hell no! You gotta be really stupid to think that way but as I told you, I’ve stopped trying to explain things.

One of the biggest fears I had was that people didn’t care, they sympathised. They didn’t want to understand, they just wanted to be generous. It was charity to them, it gave them a sense of achievement. What they never foresaw is that at the receiving end it really felt like shit! To need and to be needy are two completely different things. And come on, they couldn’t have solved a thing even if they tried. They knew that themselves.

It wasn’t about fitting in you know, this thing for me. Giving yourself away to someone is not all that easy. But then, people generally don’t give themselves away either. Then why would I be with them at all if their soul doesn’t set fire to mine? If they’re not at peace with my existence, if they can’t erase the touch of those that have hurt me, changed me, thrown me away. Of course I didn’t want to be judged. I didn’t think they understood anything I spoke when I was speaking of love. I don’t think they still would.

“I’ve never been loved. I wouldn’t know what to do.”

– F Scott Fitzgerald

Exactly Fitzgerald, had you been alive right now, we would’ve been mates. I don’t know if it’s real. I don’t know if he loves me. I don’t know if I’m supposed to do something or say something or behave in a particular goddamn way. I just hope it’s no sympathy-charity bullshit. I hope I’m not burying myself farther, deep into the dungeon, getting lost in this maze. But I’ll risk it. I gotta risk it. I got no other option. I can’t trust anyone but I can trust myself. So yes I make a promise today again, if I ever get lost, I’ll cry if I want but I’ll find myself back, I’ll love myself back to life.

Blades of Grass – IV

I saw my reflection in the huge terracotta container where drinking water was kept and instantly regretted looking at myself. My lower lip was swollen, in the middle of which was a small patched wound, eyes were bloodshot and one eye was a complete dark hollow. A part of me wanted to yell and cry and break the damn pot but I knew better of it. My spine ached in a way it hadn’t even during my labor pain. What i felt wasn’t self pity, it was hopelessness. The fact that one human being is more human than another. The fact that justice is a luxury not everyone can afford.. Not a woman at least.

Ramlal walked inside the house as I had set out a tray and several cups of tea on it.
“Where’s Chotku?”
“I.. I don’t know Malkin…” He looked doomed, as if I had asked him something sinful.
“Who knows then?” Before Ramlal could answer my husband barged into the house, swinging the door open and letting it slam several times.
“Why? You plan to seduce him too? Do you?” He barked.
“No.” I looked down.
“Then why are you whoring around your nose about it. One more word and you won’t recognise your own self, I’ll male sure.”

I swallowed hard and went about my chores. By the time I reached Shashi’s chamber limping and aching, it was already 1. I knocked the door and moments later he opened it.
“Come in Radha.” The room smelled of medicines as before but it didn’t have the scars I had on me. It was cheerful and full of life, serene and settled, just like Shashi was.
I couldn’t help but smile. But what happened next was completely unforeseen. The little patch in the middle of my lip burst open and a globe of blood oozed out. My eyes stung with tears and I tried to blink them back. Shashi looked at me and pursed his lips, then he gestured me to come inside and closed the door behind him.
“Please sit on the bed Radha.” He said with a smile. It was then I realised that a man could make a woman happy just by taking her name, just by the sweet acknowledgment of her existence. I sat down and he fetched a small briefcase. Gently and with utmost care he dabbed around my wounds, bandaged my hand which I had scraped trying to clutch on the iron bed. As I stood motionless, aware of his presence, of the burning on my wounds that the spirit caused, of being vulnerable at the hands of a total stranger, I thought of days back at home when my mother had nursed my wounds with the same tenderness. To my embarrassment, after he finished dressing, he was the one who thanked me instead of otherwise.

I quickly got out of the room and rushed to my own. I didn’t sweep or mop that day. All I did was lied on my bed and peered into the cracks in the ceiling. He had not asked me if my husband had hit me, he didn’t ask me if it was my fault. It didn’t matter to him at that moment. What mattered to him was that I was in pain and that he being a doctor could relieve me. Was it out of pity? I didn’t have an answer.

That night while cooking I thought of Chotku. I didn’t know where he was but I had a funny feeling that there was something behind his sudden slack. Of course I didn’t dare ask my husband. He, like many other people can relate everything a woman might say to her somehow being a whore. That night when he came in the room, I didn’t say a word. I did what I was supposed to while my body was covered with goosebumps of disgust. It felt like I was eating someone’s leftover, something that wasn’t mine, that I didn’t want.

The next day I felt much better and went  early in the morning to the temple near the pond. Several women were washing their clothes by the pond. I carefully covered the wounds with my drape and walked towards the temple. As I bowed down near the first step to touch it with my hand and then touch my head, I heard a woman crying.

“He says he wouldn’t take him.. The police might press charges.” The woman sad in the saddest possible voice, I, with all my sadness wasn’t even nearly sad as her. It was Chotku’s mother. When his elder sister saw me, she prompted her mother to be quite. At once both of them looked at me and the scorn that I saw in her eyes could’ve burnt me then and there to the ground. I didn’t know how to react. I quickly bowed and walked out of the temple hardly completing any ritual.

I spent the whole day listlessly pushing my mop around the house, the incident in the morning had struck me like lightening. Was he in some sort of trouble or was she talking about someone else? But she had mentioned the police also? Did he try to steal? I can’t believe he would’ve done that! Hundreds of possibilities whirled around my head as I chopped onion and garlic finely, the way Shashi preferred them to be. When I took the plate to his room that afternoon, he first asked me if I felt better. He was talking about the wounds. I said I did and started for the door when he called out.
“Radha!”
I looked back at him. “Yes”
“You look bothered. Is everything okay?”
“Actually…”

Blades of Grass – III

Heavy silence hovered around the house the next morning. I woke up with a burden in my head, it felt like I had a real wound brooding. I carried on with the chores of the day , only when I had readied food for the cattle I came to know that Chotku and my husband were off to his factory which was in the neighboring district. I hurried with my work in the kitchen, cooked a little rice which I would later have with curd. Grains and spices had to be prepared anyway for the neighbour.

As I proceeded with my daily ritual of cutting, chopping and cleaning, I felt frustration spreading through my veins. A worm crawling over each nerve giving out creeps to my soul. I couldn’t get last night’s image off my eyes.

Pretenders, aren’t we? We pretend to be happy when all we wanna do is cry. Pretend to love them when they make our flesh rot. Pretend to be married when our souls hardly seem to recognise each other. Last night, in a way, the face had been unmasked but why wasn’t there any trace of shame? Did I not deserve an explanation? An apology? I didn’t. For him I deserved nothing.

By the time I finished chopping vegetables, our servant who took care of the cattle had gone home. I picked up the plate in one hand and pulled my drape over my head with another. Slowly, almost mechanically, I walked through the backdoor towards the stranger’s house as soft dewy grass gently caressed my sole. I gently knocked the door and waited, I was about to knock again when the door opened.
“Hello! Are you Mrs. Shastri? Please do come inside.” He said cheerfully. Amidst all chaos happening in my head, the existence of this man seemed completely unnatural.
“Please have a seat ma’am” he said, disappearing into the kitchen. The room was identical to our own but the air seemed different. It had minimum furniture, hardly any decoration. A photo frame was lying on a rusted iron table. Possibly him and his wife. Dozens of books lay here and there, as if they were people casually sitting and passing time. Two minutes later he came back with a glass of water and some brown things on a porcelain plate. “It’s a chocolate roll. I’m sure you’ll like it.” I could feel the pulse on my forehead. Is this man insane? What if someone sees me with him? What is it and why is it brown?
“What’s your name?”he asked, it was the first time a man had asked my name.
“R..Radha”
” Beautiful name Radha. My name is Shashi.”
I smiled and this time it wasn’t forceful. I saw him eating with a spoon and did the same.
“What are your hobbies Radha?
“What?”
“I mean what do you do in your free time?”
“I… ” I stared at him unblinkingly. I had no idea what he wanted to know.
“There must be something. Like gardening, reading, something like that?”
“Oh. I knit sweaters.”
“Great. I can’t knit.”
I tried to smile. Before I could say something I heard the loud screech of the large iron gate. Losing my breath, I adjusted the drape over my head and ran.

My husband was back, I couldn’t see Chotku though. I asked if he wanted tea but he flatly refused and retired to the veranda. After dinner that night, I lied down in my bed thinking about everything that had happened in the afternoon. Why was he good to me? He didn’t stare at my the way a scavenger stares at its prey. He was gentle.. His voice was soothing.

My train of thoughts was disturbed as the door was banged open. I sprang up immediately and adjusted my drape. My husband in with the same intensity and shut the door. My heart was pounding. In a fraction of a second he was there, pulling my drape off.

“I don’t want to do it.” I said in a soul less voice.
“What?” He barked as if something stank in the room.
“I don’t want to sleep with you tonight.” I stated.

Before I could realise what I had told or anticipate an answer, a slap landed on my cheek. My inner cheek and lower lip was now bleeding profusely as tears rolled effortlessly down my cheek.

“Do not raise your voice you pig, your mother didn’t teach you how to talk to your husband or is she a whore too?”

Next morning when I woke up, I had a swollen lip, a black eye and several bruises. I could’ve been a punch bag but punch bags provide no sexual pleasure. It was my fault, how could I defy my husband! So what if he slept with other women! So what if he, for a while was violent. I shouldn’t have crossed my boundaries.

Blades of Grass – II

Nothing much had changed except for the fact that more grains had to be cleaned and more spices had to be ground. My husband wanted to buy the house himself so that we could make a huge mansion of our own. Unfortunately this man had come back and wanted to stay. My husband was of the opinion that if we treated him well, we might trick him into selling off the plot.

My husband had a full time assistant Chotku. Chotku was called Choktu because he was short in height and was hardly twelve years old. My heart went out to him when I’d see him work like a mule all day, but what could I do, I was doing the same. Everyday I’d clean the grains, grind the spices and chop vegetables and give them to Chotku so that he give it to our guest. Chotku said the man is a curious case. He walks around the place in a pant half his knee length, listens to music of some weird kind, cooks with less spices and offers Chotku a tip everyday he hands him the cooking material.

“Well.. Whatever he is, it’s none of our business. We must just continue what we’re doing. If he is paying you, be happy. Just don’t let malik know about it.” I told him once when he was repeating the curious case for the utter nth time. 

Some nights after the mandatory coital chore had been completed and my husband had left for sleeping on the terrace, I’d stay awake for a long while. I’d stare in darkness falling into it deeper, going to a new place. Was it really possible to be touched and to be not hurt? Isn’t it unfair that all of us are given the same abilities, the same brain and the same heart? If You wanted me to live like this, You should have made me an animal. Did Chotku feel the same? Does every wife feel as lonely as I do? Why is food, clothing and shelter not enough? Why do we yearn for something we don’t even know? Something that might complete us.

One morning I was struggling to get out of my slumber, the lantern was still burning. It was 1 am. My husband had not touched me that day, which for me was my monthly bliss and for him it was just that I was too filthy to be laid eyes on. I felt extremely thirsty, possibly because of the extra sleep I had got. The idea of having a couple of hours more to sleep almost made me dizzy with joy. I woke up with a sort of intoxication, a feeling that made me nostalgic of days back at home. I took the lantern and walked through the corridor, the cold floor pressed needles into my cracked heels. I was about to turn towards the kitchen when I heard a creaking noise. Was it a hiss? I wasn’t sure. It came from the room near the front door. In one instant all my slumberous feelings vanished, an animal had sneaked into the house. It couldn’t have been a snake because it was definitely something much heavier. I forcefully swallowed, I had to make up my mind. If I didn’t try to intervene, it might climb up the roof, on the terrace where my husband was asleep. I couldn’t yell, making noise would agitate the animal. I quickly went near the kitchen where a wooden torch was kept. I lit it with a match and with great caution, steps soft as a feather, I walked towards the room. Needles no longer pierced my heels for they were now in my heart. I was fearless, death would mean freedom.

I reached the door and drew a deep breath, I thought of my son who studied far away in the city, of my mother and oddly enough of Chotku and opened the door. Flames of the torch filled the room. There was no animal in there, what I saw there was nothing I could’ve fought with, nothing that could swallow me and set me free. It was my husband lying on the bed, naked as a newborn, in the arms of a woman. One moment and I found my soul collapsing into an abyss I would never come out of. He started abusing me but my ears were already ringing. This is the same man for whom I had risked my life. How stupid Radha! How stupid!

Blades of Grass – I

It was nearing dawn. Our village is at that side of the globe where the sun relentlessly rises early unless it is shadowed by the dark monsoon clouds. I remember the time when my mother used to wake me up early in the morning so that we could empty our bowels in the fields that my paternal grandfather owned. The smell of the 4am village is not an ordinary smell, it is intoxicating. It persuades you to come out of bed again, as early as you can, to fill yourself up with it, as if it were partial, as if it smelled that way only to you.

But eventually I had got over this feeling, the only reason being, I hardly slept. All I could manage was a half an hour nap in the afternoon and a three hour sleep at night. That particular morning I had risen early. I went through my daily need of sanitation since my house now had our own private bathroom. Slowly, I opened the gate so that I wouldn’t disturb anyone. To my surprise my husband was up and about. A few useless men had gathered around him, I heard some vehicles too, it was 4am, seeing a vehicle at that time in the village was as strange as seeing an alien.

” Stop sleeping like a buffalo, you whore!” It was my husband yelling. Sweet names to begin your day with.
“The tea is brewing.” I said quietly, the way I was supposed to.

It was an ordinary day of housework. I made countless cups of tea for useless visitors, watered plants in the back yard, readied food for the cattle, also for others. My daily goal was to hear the least curse words I could manage to get away with. I cleaned five bedrooms, two halls, 6 corridors, a huge veranda and the aangan. Of course by clean I mean both mop and sweep. We were the rich upper-caste people. People with privileges. To tell the truth, the privilege wasn’t mine. We had a million visitors, two meals and two snacks had to be cooked, number of people uncertain.

The grains used for cooking have to be cleaned rigorously before use, unlike the packeted once you casually pick up at supermarkets in cities. The spices have to be ground on stone with a stone, and stones are heavy. The most important thing was to do everything with perfection and on time. If not he’d just strip my dignity off in front of strange men who would laugh the matter off.

That day was brighter than usual since I didn’t get as many abuses as was my routine count. My husband ate quietly whatever was served. That night he came into the room early, at 11. Generally he’d come after midnight when almost everyone was asleep. He sat on the bed, I immediately stood up and sat down near his feet.

“The house adjoining ours?”
“Which house?”
“The one with whom we shared our terrace, you bitch! Are you really so stupid!”
“Oh.”
“That bastard has come from the city. Not to sell it but to live in it.”

What would I say! Good! At least I don’t have extra rooms to clean.

“Why am I telling you all this! What do you know you uneducated slut!”

So the day continued as it always did. He turned off the light, I mechanically took off my clothes, careful not to piss him off. Eleven minutes. It could’ve been an animal instead of me but that would bring shame to the family. So that’s that. He didn’t know what love is and if he ever mentioned it, he never forgot to mention how unworthy I was of it. For I lacked what a woman must have, however what must a woman have to be loved? I didn’t ask. I wasn’t there to ask questions, I was there to serve. It hurt, hurt a lot. But more than it ached there, it ached in my heart. Mother’s tell stories of love and princes. Why did you lie mother, why did you lie!

Darkness

The air is thin and cold with mist
I shiver as I stand leaning on the railings
My heart is heavy, what if it falls
It has fallen already in love with the dark

Some love with their soul, others by habit
Tender is the night, to all who have loved her
Who have found peace in her, felt at home in her

As the silk black sky flashes the moon like it’s crown
I sit back and wonder, how infamous the night has been
In darkness she gave us enlightenment
In it’s hollowness we found courage

It’s the night when all love is expressed
It’s the silence of the night our heart yearns to hear
So next time when you find her, be kind
For she will show you all you need to find