Leave, if you must?

To the person who I keep holding on for,

Here’s how a story starts: Imagine yourself in a room full of people, laughing, smiling, and ecstatic in discussion. I’m in the room. More often than not, it’s the loudest person in the room who’s facilitating whatever narration or dirty joke that cracks them up. It’s funny, I swear it is. But I’m lost without a comeback, there’s small nod or a smile every once in a while. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to even be there. Sometimes, you never have the right thing to say and that’s enough to give birth to the wallflower, you. You sit there, observing, quiet often in corners. Maybe, I’m not meant to be in the centre of the room. I’ve made peace with that.

And after all that time, dependency is what nullifies all my personal progress.

You disappear, a lot. Where does a person draw a line between running away from everything you hold dear and truly healing? What if someone else’s healing is what destroys you a bit each time. I’m still here and I tell you each time that I will be, I feel myself slipping away. Don’t do this, please, because the next time I’m afraid I won’t be here and I’ll be just another broken promise. My word has to mean something when everyone gives up. Our parents belonged in a time where what was broken could be mended and the scars were the pride of a warrior. I hide mine like that battle was never fought. I told someone important to me about what happened, she said you stick around for family. But would you forgive me if I stayed yet said every cruel thought to your face about how mad I am at you? I’m worried all the time, in the mornings, in between breaks where I remember you’re an entire ocean apart and there is nothing I can do to help. I hate you for not letting me be a hero. I’d fail, but I’d try for you anyway. I know I need to be a more accepting person, but I can’t right now. Because all I feel is misery and each time a little worse. I have so much to take care of, and I can’t do that while I’m worried about you. It’s who you are, the kind that treats everyone with grace except yourself.

Just hang in there, I am too. And if I give up, I hope you’d forgive me. I always wanted to be someone fearless but I was wrong. I’m scared I’m alone if you’re not here to tell me it’ll be alright, I won’t make it. I’m scared I’ll live in the past long enough to blur the future and present even more than it already is.

I honestly don’t know what to do. The practical person in me knows that this looks toxic. I’ve had a pattern my whole life so why should she surprise me? It’s just that easy, to cut your losses and move forward like it never happened, but what am I supposed to erase? The people who make living worth it but are also your own personal hell? How do you love like this, like you don’t know if they are the reason you breathe or suffocate your soul?

There’s that one morning where you feel everything. And then there’s now, a big void of nothingness. The pressure to be functional and what if, the only way was to look the other way?

I hope the next time we talk, you’d be ready and I’d be wiser.

Yours,

The person who only wanted someone to stay.

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Holding On And Letting Go.

July 21st, 2017

Reminder to self: The person, who can make you feel everything good, is also the one who can make you feel like nothing.

Connecting and loving a person isn’t hard. It’s about letting them go after everything they’ve done for you because of everything they’ve done to you. It’s hard because unknowingly, they became this part of your life that you thought was irreplaceable, moments so powerful they will remain frozen in time. It’s harder because somewhere down the line you starting defining every ounce of your self-worth by their opinion of you. Was I that weak? Am I that weak? Yes, I am. And it’s time I admitted that out loud.

It’s like how John Green puts it, “You can never love a person as much as you miss them”. I’ve read the fault in our stars and the only thing that separated two teenagers in love was cancer. But what happens in real life is that the cancer is often metaphorical. The cancer is every mistake you make, the ego and the inability to accept that comes along with it, the inability to forgive and need for validation from the person that gave you all of the above feelings in the first place. No one else can fix this for you. People will often tell you, don’t ever let them go, they’re the best thing that ever happened to you. My mind whispers, weren’t they also the worst?

There’s a reason why quarter life existential crisis should now officially be a thing. It happens, and I feel it happening to everyone around me. But why does it feel like it’s just me right now? Because I learnt something called dependence. I learnt to lean on someone and when we couldn’t fix the one thing that went wrong, I knew my universe starting feeling like a black hole that was sucking out all the good that was ever there, including the good I created. When you give a part of your life to someone important, you’re subtly giving up a piece of yourself. So when you let them go, you’re letting yourself go too. You will listen to the Scientist on repeat, the line that says, “Oh, take me back to the start”, and because you’ve been the fixer your whole life you will keep trying. You will overanalyze and then teach yourself that people are replaceable. Did I sound harsh? Maybe. Is this the truth though? Yes.

Here is what fucks all of us up from the time we are teenagers: The conditioning that every story must have a happy ending. Because, sadness like everything negative must take a seat in that cupboard like the tea set your mother will only admire but not use. Remember when God punished Adam when he ate the apple? He brought seasons to the earth. Here is where Adam went wrong. The seasons didn’t merely refer to climatic conditions; they were also what people would do to each other. People are like seasons. Everything is happy and full of songs in the spring, summer will show you just how much heat the two of you will take, autumn is where the leaves will wither and so might the bond you share, rain is where you’ll hope that the water will cover up for the tears you can’t stop and then finally winter to give you nostalgia. Now nostalgia is a curse. It won’t just remind you of what you had, but what you have now and who you’ve become.

Here’s what the last person who was part of my fixing process left me:

Funny how leaving is significant,

Some people actually left,

Some never left,

Quite a few never existed”.

And finally, here’s to the person who made me understand why I go through, what I go through:

“Trauma is what you turn into a masterpiece”.

 

 

Moments.

I was so tired and all the driving didn’t really help with all the soaring issues that needed to be sorted out in the following week. Today was just one of those days where I had decided to dress like a hippie, hair all miserable, and my old Dartmouth T-shirt on, and ear phones to avoid the crowd as I set out towards the metro station. It was 9:15 right on clock except too crowded to even step into.

So I waited for the next one. There was just one more person at that station next to me that night. I looked at him but then was too tired to strike a conversation. It didn’t stop me from noticing that smile though.

The next train arrived. Neither of us stepped in as it was too crowded again. This time he looked at me and I smiled back. The song playing through my ear phones was perking up the mood in ways that I really wouldn’t want him to know.

Our next 10 minute wait started and went by in silence. When the next, finally empty train came in I was too absorbed in the music to notice. I felt a strangers hand pat my shoulder and pull me in with a “You really don’t want to miss this one, it’s really late”. His voice had brought me back to the void that was this universe and left this unusually happy feeling inside me. It had been a while.

The 10 stops in between neither of us said a word but I could feel this aura between us that was undeniable. I wanted to talk and cursed myself for looking like a complete slob that day. I’m pretty sure he noticed because I didn’t try to hide the fact that he was observed, noticed and I was in awe.

20 minutes later, his stop came and he left. He came in, no warning and left just the same. But the intensity of that time left me thinking all through my ride home. In my head I had conjured these universes where we’d meet again, mysterious circumstances, make a story together that was worth narrating even to that relative you’d absolutely loathe. Maybe, it was that disgusting music I’d kept playing.

I smiled because that’s the power of a moment, you don’t need a story, just 20 minutes that help you heal from a gruesome month.

……………………………………………………………………………………

“You won’t believe what happened last night!”

“Spill”.

“Pick up the damned phone. I had a moment of sorts”.

“A moment?”

“Yes. A Moment”.

“So I had a conversation with a client a few months ago. And didn’t really result in a deal, but we parted on good terms. Anyway, fast forward to last night, he found one of our advertisements that I’d curated recently and since it had my email address he kind of texted asking if we were the same people”.

“Uhuh. Go on”.

“Anyway, when I said yes, he told me it was a good ad. I mean, it’s nice to know that your work is being recognized. And then he asked me why I spent so much time doing what I did when I could always relax. I told him I liked being busy and while most kids have college, I had this. He told me that was the most confident line I’d heard in a while. I had no idea where this conversation was going since it was midnight but I liked talking to a complete stranger in that moment”.

“What in the universe do you do at midnight? Can’t you be a normal person and sleep?”

“Hey, first of all I never started this, he messaged me. Anyway, right after him talking about how great the ad was, I thought he was considering taking it up. So I asked him if he was up for a 5 minute conversation and he said sure. Anyway, so I called him like an idiot post midnight and while he was all sharing pleasantries and asked me how I was, at the same time I asked him if he would take the deal”.

“Oh my God, it was that late and all you had to say was about the deal? Can you stop working for a second and ask people how they are? Although this hilarious. Go on”.

“Dear Lord, please stop laughing. I’m still embarrassed from that. And as surprising as this may sound he laughed when I asked him about the deal. He wasn’t even offended. So he asked me if the deal was all I wanted to talk about. And I told him while the deal was a very ,very huge reason why I called, I was pretty sure he was a super interesting person. I could feel him smirk on the other end of the phone. And then we went from talking about that ad, to what we wanted out of life to all the times and places we travelled to. And I couldn’t stop laughing because he was so funny and all the things I left behind last year were worth remembering just for a while. He told me about the random strangers that he met in taxi cabs that changed his life in so many ways and for the first time rather than talk, I listened. It was a good change. And we talked until 2:30 AM in the morning”.

“I can feel you smiling as you’re saying this. So, what’s his name?

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

“Can you please stop driving like an old lady?”

“Would you rather prefer we were both dead? Also, it’s starting to rain, so calm down”.

“Geez ok”.

“You still hung up on that time at the train station? You seemed unusually happy today”.

“Well, I have thing a thing for unforgettable eye contact moments”.

“You’re a diehard romantic aren’t you? How many Bollywood songs were running through your head while that happened?” I said while I couldn’t stop laughing as she had found a new muse for the week. Hell, she’d probably decided what to name her hypothetical future kids after that one moment.

“Oh shush, you’re one to talk”. I smiled while not answering that statement as the rain started pouring.

“Do you think you’ll see him again?” I semi-screamed through the traffic that defined my city.

“Do you?” she retorted.

I thought for a while and answered, “Maybe I don’t want to. I had a beautiful genuine conversation after the longest time I can remember with an absolute stranger I had never met. And in some sense, it was perfect. And I want to keep it that way and remember it for just that, a conversation”.

She knew what I meant. Some stories are just that, moments. Your story doesn’t  need to have a beginning or an end or even an expectation. You need to let things pass you by and let go and remember with smiles that could light up everything around you. So you make peace, and hold them dear, because that is what life is, a collection of moments. And as I kept driving, I couldn’t wait for the next one.

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

How virtual are you?

I’m a millennial and I have a life. I like old books, coffee, travelling, and long naps. But if you really wanted to know me you’d want to go through my cell phone. The other day I had a water leak in my bag and some of the leaked water entered the circuitry of my laptop and alas when I got home, it wouldn’t charge. It gave me half a heart attack because I wasn’t sure if I’d just lost some absolutely important data and I that laptop was my baby and I took care of it more than I took care of my own sibling.

On a normal day, I’m an absolute pessimist but that day when my friend, an absolutely brilliant Samaritan called to tell me I could wrap up my laptop in uncooked rice and it would absorb the water from the circuitry. The typical Indian who likes to bargain over an Rs.50 earring would rather have a bag of rice fix her laptop than a HP Service centre who might take Rs. 5000 instead. The laptop worked the following morning, but the brain wonders, what if this was my phone instead? The pessimist was back.

I’m always a call or a text way and suddenly what if I couldn’t be?

The entire convenience surrounding my life would shatter following my phone breaking down. I’d miss out on group chats with quirky emoticons, words that would be so much easier to take in over a text than have the courage to ever say them to someone’s face(that’s a psychologically proven fact by the way) and mostly social media that lets the average  human get a legal means to breach someone’s privacy. We’ve all been there, done that.

There’s an app for everything that could replace the person sitting right next to you. Why would anyone ever feel the nostalgia of the 1800’s again when you could feel the emotion through a Skype call and rant out in 1080 p or full HD? Why meet and date like regular people when Tinder was presenting to you the ideal soul mate? Indian parents have a fascination for IIT and IIM graduates and how much easier would their life be if the average relative could be burnt with the fact that their child was married to a person with the most esteemed qualification in the country. Yes, there’s an app for that too. Prove me wrong if you aren’t thinking about searching for it on your play store, having a good laugh, screenshoting it and sending it to your online BFF with the caption LOL. Why ever be there, when all you needed was to have a much better virtual presence?

Polaroids took a back seat when a selfie came along. 21 Megapixels and each image being around 6-7MB and showing off my jaw line was all I needed to forget about a DSLR. I have an all in one. So as a millennial, if walk out without my phone, I’m walking out without my brain. I don’t control my phone, it controls me and I’ll let it till the battery dies and the universe surrounds me again.

So, ask yourself, will let you let anything besides an electronic device that fits perfectly in your pocket represent all your being, or would you just say this again, I’m a millennial and I have a life?

Home – Two nations, one roof

To the people who took me in so I could carry on,

Home. What does that 4 letter word mean to you? A roof? Your parents? Your sibling? Your best friend? Your dog? Let me tell you what it really means, two eyes and a heartbeat. A living, breathing person that lets you see yourself and the world through their eyes. Take all the above equations away and put yourself in a foreign land for say, 6 weeks. Now, what’s home?

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She was lost and maybe she wanted to go away a while, because sometimes that’s the only way to be found. So she booked a flight and started her journey to a foreign land. It was overwhelming but a sense of independence and adventure always tends to take over and that’s the moment she changed forever. When you walk through a door, you never think, this is the day your life will change forever. It isn’t merely a place that changes you, it’s mostly the people that bring that for you. A Little positivity, a hope for acceptance and the need to carry a torch for a better life.

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So while she started out with zero expectations and nothing to look forward to, people took her in till she understood what it was to have a family outside of a family. People who take you in irrespective of your faith, your colour, your nationality and mostly love your quirks which were generally hidden. So the day you accept another whole-heatedly, is also the day you decide to carry on the legacy. So she came home and opened her doors.

Fast forward to half a year later, is a phone call that made her decide to be someone else’s home. It’s fascinating how suddenly you want to know someone else just because they’re another person. And what’s even more unbelievable is to see your own nation through their eyes. Most people don’t realize that we have is so much more than so many in the world and your home, your language, your culture beats the hell out of being anywhere else. You can go anywhere but you carry your home with you and for the people who witness it, they get to take a piece back home with them so in some way, your kindness carries on. It’s that day, that you start the cycle of peace while somewhere in the world someone preaches the opposite.

To the girl who stayed a while,

It had been a while since I spoke to someone knew, so you can imagine how excited I was with my friend to pick you up at the airport. I was trying to see myself in you and trying to live what I had once loved to experience. My parents were curious to say in the least, we had never had a foreigner stay over. My mother was worried if you’d like the food because spices aren’t exactly your thing and I wondered if you liked soft or hard pillows at night. I kept talking to you on the way back home from the airport while worried if I’d already bored you. Having a good impression was so important that day and for the rest of your stay because you are truly amazing. While someone had let me feel better about myself, I was determined to leave the same thought for you.

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You liked the places I took you to and every photograph had genuine smiles. I had been there so many times, but thank you for making my childhood spot special again. You were intriguing even when the spicy food made your nose go red but you tried them anyway because your taste buds craved the newness.

I saw my mom come into our room each night to check on us to see if we were sleeping okay because you were yet to adjust to the time zone. My dad was always calling to know if we were home back on time. And somewhere down the line, they had two kids and not one. It feels that natural to simply be with another human being. A smile, a little kindness and a little conversation. So we were a family that prayed to different Gods under the same roof but lived the same faith, humanity, and that’s all we needed. And we went on till you had to leave and a part of me did not want to let go and neither did you. I’m not one to shed a tear but you let me feel a little emotion that left me warm and blessed inside. And while I’ll remember you by our moments, my parents will each remember a child they adopted for a while. My mother will hang onto that little souvenir you left of how your country depicts my religion. It was your way of respecting our boundaries and yet breaking the barrier.

You’re home now and you’re safe. I hope every moment you spent here leads to you to believe there’s still some good left in the world and if you ever traced your path back to this city, you’d have more than a house, but a home. And two nations would always love each other under one roof.

It was nice knowing you.

Your’s sincerely,

A proud friend, a proud AIESECer and an even prouder global citizen.

 

 

 

In Between.

The world’s a cruel place. You don’t know what cards you’re going to be dealt with when you wake up tomorrow or if there ever will be a tomorrow. Do you remember when you were a kid and couldn’t wait to grow up? How does it feel right now? Are you everything you hoped you’d be? Has your dream job or dream destination arrived? Did you meet the love of your life yet? Are you satisfied?  Do you have what it takes to truly be happy?

In case you don’t have all of the above figured out, then take a seat and let’s talk. I’m trying to guess which one of you is reading this. Maybe you’re an academic that just wants that break from life, maybe you’re a guitarist, and maybe you’re that beloved poet. What makes you tick? If you’re that Indian who’s getting a high over electrical sciences, I’m happy for you. If not, even better. I’m your average person who has her life planned out, a degree in 2 years, a Masters in the next two after that, to work till I die. There’s a beauty in routine but there’s ecstasy in adventure.

The truth is every single one of you will have that, your degree, job or the good old wife. But how are you different from any of the rest of us? What’s your in between the beginning and the end that will define you? Come on, you want a story, something you want to shout to the rest of the world. Now walk that extra mile. I’m walking with you. Not to be dramatic, but you’re probably smiling right now because I know you don’t remember what you had for breakfast last morning or the last time you had a good nap. What was your in between that first meal and crashing on your bed?

Did you talk to your mother yesterday? I’m not talking about the general mumble or yelling where she tries to get your ass out of bed. Did you smile at her, hug her because she is, after all your mom.Are you ignoring your friends because of work? It’s not work, its priorities. Your work will not wake up in the morning and tell you it hates you, but the people around you do matter. What’s all the money for if you’re eating that pizza alone? Joey did not share food, but Joey at the end of the day was a F.R.I.E.N.D. And so are you. Pick up that phone right now and make that call. Meet a friend you haven’t talked in months and catch up.  Tell that girl you’ve been crushing on since 2nd grade that you adore her. It doesn’t matter if she says no, but you’ll have your peace.  Stop the small talk, there’s more than a hi or a bye that you can say to a person. Take a minute to not judge them and say something silly. It’s worth making someone laugh in a world that tries to break your spirit every chance it gets.

Some days the universe will sleep, on the rest, you shall be its centre. And just to make up for the days where you will be ignored, set off on an adventure of your own. Steal a candy from a 5 year old when their mother isn’t looking; swim when you were always terrified of water. Live, because everyone breathes oxygen, but you will set someone free. Eat that extra donut because while burning calories is important, feeding your soul is too.

Sit down and listen to someone rant. They need it right now more than you’ll ever know. Listen to someone else’s playlist, and you’d have known them better. Ask your dad about his childhood and ask him why he is the way he is. Be kind to a stranger, you never know what a person is going through. Dance at a party even if you have two left feet.

Take a minute of your day to remember the ones that were there for you. Because I’ll be there when you’re studying and working, but you’ll remember me so much more when I listened to your heart speak. So go, take care of yourself and excel in life, but don’t forget to savour your in between.

Sincerely,

A girl who lived.