Daddy’s little girl…

http://www.creativeadawards.com/hurt-girl/

You lug yourself forward, it hurts in places you did not know existed, until now. You drag yourself ahead; your body is heavy, panting like a dog in a desert. You are all alone, but that is a relief. You don’t mind dragging yourself to the bed stand, you don’t mind using the dying strength in your arms to slowly lift your upper body, and plop it on the bed. You don’t mind being alone; in fact you are positively relieved in your solitude. Because the alternative, the alternative to being alone propels you into tears of dread, misery and frustration.

You know that for at least another three to four hours, you will be alone. That time would help you lick your wounds, huddled in the corner of your bed. But before that you need to check, check your body, check your bones, check your face. No cuts, no visible wounds, no broken bones; that is your first priority; because the last thing you want is for people to notice. Your abdomen screams in pain, so does your nine months old daughter, she screams in hunger. Your abdomen can wait maybe, but not your daughter.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Come on Sarah!

Now that you had not seen this coming Sarah, it’s safer to assume, you are caught off-guard. Perfect. It’s time to put your training to use, and the training remember Sarah, as you have been told by Mr. Kyle repeatedly, is merely about strength, or agility, or tricks, it’s more about the awareness of your mind. So focus.

A man has broken into your house. You have heard the shattering of the window glass. It could be a wild animal too, but what if it is a man? An animal does not know you are home alone, a man does.

He knows you are alone and mom has said she will be late, so of course dad has a big enough window to go out and gamble. You be the secret keeper and don’t tell anyone, not even your brother Eddie when he comes back tomorrow, dad has told you and that’s fine. Let dad gamble. He is not an addict. Plus he is good at it. He is fine. You are fine. Everything is fine.

So come on now, do the thing where, facing downstairs, hands on railing, you hop down the stairs,  one at a time, when mom’s not watching, and it’s okay if it’s getting a lot harder now compared to how it felt a few years ago, because someone’s feet are getting longer every day.

3c9a2a0d2d6ec08caf845dd5a92b856e

At fifteen, Sarah, you grow faster than ever. And people notice that sort of thing; “Hey! You are developing breasts!” Continue reading

Friend with a Question Mark

loneliness-320x297

“This doesn’t feel right” he says.

“It doesn’t have to”

You want to say more and your face does that twitchy thing it does when you’re lying but it doesn’t matter because you’ve just switched off the lights in your roof garden, it’s well past midnight and he’s looking away and it isn’t until he lights the joint that you would meet his eyes.

Weed doesn’t work its magic on you but you didn’t smoke much either. He had to pluck it out of your hand after you coughed hysterically, collapsing on the ground beside a cactus pot. You are surprised by your theatricality, you’ve put worse things in your mouth out of sheer curiosity. You’re afraid your curiosity is merely a euphemism for something dark and twisted. He doesn’t need to know any of that and neither should you need to know anything about his life. Life is long and complicated and you feel lucky for being in this moment.

It was only yesterday though, when you were anything but delighted – you were pissed that you’d reach home to find someone in there already, a pair of eyes, a pair of limbs, a pair of ears, someone breathing in the same space as you. You have to learn to be live with people, your mom had said on the phone, stressing every word, but she’d corrected herself soon enough, cautioning you not to do any drugs-wugs and you were angry about that as well, or at least you wanted to be.

But on your way home through that night, you felt a pang of thrill knowing that you were headed towards something, that you were not hurtling with your eyes closed into a cold dead space as always, that someone was waiting for you in your house, walking around and breathing and touching objects that have known no human but you.

You’re relieved to discover that you can be silent around him and he can be silent around you but you try to be funny when you can and he tries to laugh and you both pretend not to take anything seriously. You’ve never learnt your lessons in intimacy but he looks broken too – why would he be here, otherwise?

Three nights through and you’re convinced he smokes for a good night’s sleep. He asks you whether you’ve watched that movie that you’d played for him that night four years ago when he was too high and you forced him to sleep over at your place. You tell yourself that he lives in the moment but truly, you’re swept by a wave of sadness, and a crumbling bitterness for you have, on a good number of nights, reminisced about that night you’d watched that movie together. It used to be a memory worth revisiting but only for you.

There comes another night, and he’s used to sharing his joint with you. You’re on the roof garden again, with your back on the floor, lying next to each other and he’s whispering his recurrent epiphany about the chasm between the phenomenal world and the ‘actual’ world.

“It isn’t about building more houses and raising children and slogging for months in cubicles and grocery shopping and sex and obesity and hero worship and politics and… ”

You yawn in the minute it takes for him to choose the next word. “Reality TV.”

Reality is starkly different, he says, and you cannot disagree.

What to make of the presence of an old friend in your life occupies your mind to and fro from work. You were happy to have had to call him up from work, asking him to be available when the delivery boy comes with groceries you’d ordered before you left for work, not because of the convenience of it but because it made you sound like everyone else who had a life. You are twenty five and insecure and hopeful and afraid and silly and lustful.

You’re sad he’s taken away your depressing omegle hours, that you can’t croon Adele’s ‘Don’t You Remember’ in the shower anymore, that you can’t sleep only in your coffee-beans boxers and nude-dance to Katy Perry’s ‘This is How We Do It’ in the kitchen. You’re glad though, that you have a reason now to stop imagining bringing that hot guy who stays 898 meters away from you overnight. His nickname is ‘Soulmate’ with a question mark and he blocked you when you refused to send your ‘pic’ to him citing the oft-cited ‘I can’t chat with faceless profiles’ excuse but you’re convinced something gave away your ugliness and desperation before he could take a look at your sloppy pimply face. It probably broke your heart but you couldn’t stop fantasizing about him. You wonder sometimes whether his prompt refusal relieved you of a greater pain that you might have had to endure had he taken interest in what some like to call your little ‘quirks’ (which tend to be either cute or annoying, depending on things out of your control). You can fantasize about him now because it’s all in your head and it’s all within your reach.

You’re at the Corner House three blocks away from your house. You chose your apartment over a swankier option because it was two blocks away from Gold’s Gym and for once in your life, you wanted to make healthy lifestyle choices. Three months after having moved here, you’re still a treadmill-virgin and the last time you probably broke a sweat was when you ate an entire tub of mango ice-cream. You visit Corner House every weekend and they know your order (it’s not mango anymore) before you state it and are now probably surprised to find you have company today.

A voice in your head tells you that maybe it’s all in your head. Maybe you’re lonely only in your head, and no one actually sees you as a lonely person, because although they don’t have reasons to believe otherwise, they barely notice you or think about you. You look happy, you always do or at least you don’t look sad or have the words to talk about your sadness because it isn’t sadness or happiness but just a gaping absence of either. They don’t know, as they watch you eat your Caramel Cashew Delight, that you watched ‘Toy Story-3’ again last night because you knew it would make you weep uncontrollably and that it did.

He asks you if you’ve any plans that he’s coming in the way of. It’s Saturday. You sense that he’s not looking for a yes as an answer, that this is a cruel inquiry into your abject loneliness and lack of social life. You tell him your friends are all abroad, that it was more ‘fun’ years ago when you were all just out of college and stayed together. You’ve never stayed with friends even when you were pretty sure you had at least one acquaintance whom you could reasonably call a friend. You have had friends in childhood, which is a different life altogether, when the criteria for friendship was proximity and availability to play the same sport as you but lately, the plural of ‘friend’ gives you a funny jolt in your stomach. You tell him your friends are at ASU, UCLA, Illinois, Penn State. You’re fabricating a social life in real-time, re-visiting Instagram feeds of your classmates, preparing yourself for pointed questions about their life and your time together. You do have a friend at ASU but it miffs you that you are the kind of person who questions whether he’s still friends with someone who chats with him at 3 AM about what he did over the weekend. Gladly, he does not implore further.

He has been at your place for a week now and you’re running out of reasons to stay away. You don’t know why and you don’t want to question your motives. You work long hours. You take longer walks in supermarkets. You even visit the once if only to enquire about their plans (that you may as well have perused online at your leisure) and whether they have an in-house qualified nutritionist consultant and whether they host Zumba and aerobics sessions. You spend hours with coffee cups and ghee roast dosas. You hop from restaurant to restaurant and there’s no dearth of food that makes you more fat and miserable and keeps even the lesser Soulmate-with-Question-Marks out of your reach. When you reach home, you tell him you’ve had dinner. You feel the guilt every night but he appears unconcerned and maybe you deserved to find this out the hard way – that he doesn’t mind not having your company, that he merely needs a place to crash until an actual friend comes by to replace your clumsy attempts at intimacy.

You call your mom and tell her how pissed you are at not having any ‘personal space’. He’s your friend, she tells you and you feel reassured. She reminds you again, not to do any drugs-wugs.

It’s 8 PM when he texts you that he’s leaving. It’d take you an hour to reach and he can’t wait that long. He says he’d keep the keys with the neighbor aunty.

You knew this day would come. You knew you’d be on your way home one night to find it empty. You wish you could lie on your back on the cold floor of your roof garden. He’d be by your side, reluctantly offering you a joint, saying how it doesn’t feel right. He’d see you as he saw you a decade or more ago when you were a different person. You would one day come to rank this fantasy over the one about meeting Soulmate with a question mark.

 

Birthdays – The beeps of a ticking time bomb

As you grow older – and oh boy, are you getting older faster than you thought you would – you realise, birthdays are like the beeping reminders of a ticking time bomb. You have thirty more beeps to go before you explode, or fifty, or five, depending on how you are programmed.

Now, do you want to worry about the bomb the whole time it’s beeping, or do you want to forget that the explosion is inevitable, and therefore, you go ahead and indulge in things that make you happy? Like, I don’t know, perhaps, you go and make yourself a sandwich? Or watch a video on YouTube where people are tripping on hoverboards, or read a book about the Nagas or the secret or the secret of the Nagas, or get a tattoo, or have sex on your leather couch. Although, if you ask me, you wouldn’t enjoy having sex, if there is a ticking time bomb involved. But on the other hand – the hand, that you aren’t using for sex – it would be totally wild if you enjoyed it, despite being aware of the bomb in the back of your head. The bomb, that somehow feels like it’s strapped to your chest – there is no escaping from it and you’re a breathing kamikaze.

bomb-birthday-candles

And so what, if some of them continuously but subtly remind you, that you have lesser amount of beeps left than they do, and yet, you are spending it all on unimportant things; like finding happiness and peace and being as yourself as you can be. And not on more important things; like worrying and being an opportunist and reproducing, and all that. But all you know, and oh god, in your own very heart you know it’s fucking true, that you’ve not only survived through all the beeps so far but also enjoyed their sounds and learned from them, shit, you even danced to a few.

But the only problem, as it appears to you, is that somehow the beeps have now sped up. Every beep, seems like it arrived before its time, and yes, you, of course, weren’t ready for this one, and this one, and the one that is about to come, and the one that is here, and the one that will be forgotten soon.

So what do you do? Give it an old college try? A few desperate attempts in vain, to cease the moment? Because the bomb isn’t going to diffuse itself. Is it? But ah, then it all dawns on your thick skull, that there aren’t any plausible diffusing mechanisms known yet.

So then whatever, this whole fuckery and the creators of it can suck on a giant donkey hog, and that’s about how much you care!

You obviously can’t step out of the blast radius – because it’s that big – and it’s also a no-brainer, that you try very very hard to give a fuck, and hello …? That’s the best you could do. So you chin-up, make yourself one more sandwich, read one more book, have sex one more time, and do not bother, or cry, or worry, or reproduce. But that is because reproducing to you, sounds a lot like sex went horribly wrong.

Meanwhile, the bomb has beeped a couple of more times, and one beep dissimilar to many other beeps from the past, sounds a lot like an epiphany of some sort, but duh, just a temporary one. You already know, it is going to explode some day, but you still turn a corner, and someone close to you comes over and whispers in your ears, wow good one, things are looking better, aren’t they? Keep them up! And you say, thank you very much, and yet, somehow, by the next beep or the one after that, you fuck it all up, and congratulations, you’re back to square one.

But never mind, this all shall, and must, balance itself out, because, after all, it did pop-up on its own. Didn’t it? You did not plant the bomb, they did not put a snooze button on it, and oh yes, you know intuitively, acting a fool has perks involved in some good way, so go ahead and forget the beeps, put rave in crave, and the blessings shall be bestowed upon thee.

Dopey Hopes

flying-wishing-lamp-hot-air-balloon-kongming-font-b-lantern-b-font-cute-love-heart-font

Morning shower used to be fun. Research says that lonely people spend longer hours in warm showers. Now my only sliver of solace and warmth is disrupted by calls from the cab-drivers. They assign a different cab-driver every day and every driver is a new nightmare. Despite satellites tracking and streaming my precise location right into his goddamn phone, the driver inevitably prefers to call me up and – against a backdrop of dire honking – I must explain in excruciating detail the herculean journey he must undertake to reach me at Number 12, 17th Main.

The commute is too long for the distance but too short for me to listen to music. I don’t like music because music is a lie. When you don a headphone, you’re immersing yourself in a lie but when you must immerse yourself in a lie, it’s a shame when you can’t immerse yourself long enough. Continue reading

That Valentine’s Day Story

You are in the open air parking lot of your high-school when you see her for the first time. You are drawn towards her—she’s the magnet, you are the metal. She has a name that you are scared to ask.

You see her again in the class—packed with a few hundred desperately inane students—the next day, and none of them matter to you. The sinusoidal wave equations, if at all you pay attention, dance funny. And in the next class, the one about the alcohols, phenols and ethers, you get up and sit three rows closer to her. The class after that—although you like limits and derivatives—is exhausting. The teacher doesn’t speak loudly, perhaps has a lisp, and the students—most of them—are either obnoxious geeks or teenage hooligans and you stay away from all of them. In fact, you stay alone, driven by an overpowering awe. Your admiration for her, from this point onwards in life, is laughable. Like your frayed and baggy, patchy jeans. Like your middle partitioned long hair. Like your cross shoulder unwieldy backpack. Like you!

You are awed by her for months, almost a year. A year and a half, maybe. You know her name now, you know she laughs a lot. You know, you aren’t the only one who is obsessed with her. You have overheard confrontations from some fuckboys in the alley. You have seen her name scribbled on the desks of the classrooms. You have seen her close friends being over-protective of her. You know she laughs loudly, maybe her friends are funny, maybe she’s always happy, or maybe she laughs only when you are around. These are just assumptions after all. You have never spoken to her. She seems unapproachable and you know you are still scared deep down. You have seen other guys being rejected, if not by her then by some other girls, so you are saving yourself from all the embarrassment. You know, you will never gather the courage to talk to her. And the day you do, pigs will fly in the air, in a flying saucer, full of Italian sausages.

It’s middle of the summer and you are in college fourth semester. You have found yourself some really good friends. You have learned a thing or two about life. Your hair is still long, your pants are still baggy and saggy and your backpack, although less bulky, is still off-putting. You have not changed much, except you talk more now. You’re quirky, funny and somewhat likeable. You talk quite often about her, to your really close friends and they laugh. They mostly make fun of you, but you laugh along. They have no idea, where you come from.

allrightsreserved,man,millennials,mobile,retail_offline,smartphone-4953df03722930856afc1d4fcf6389d7_h

You haven’t seen her in almost two years Continue reading

Earthquake in California

resize

You sleep late and wake up early. You see the sunrise after months. The sky is vast; thistle in the west and a piercing vermillion in the east. You wonder whether it’s always this beautiful out here when you’re asleep in your bed with the curtains snugly drawn.

You arrive early to work but not early enough to have breakfast. You head over to the secure zone. You key in your PIN and step inside. It’s cold because it’s a refrigerator for sensitive customer data. Terminals that hum solemnly in front of you are processing a million online transactions. You’re unpacking your bag while a million people are leisurely scrolling through items, drawn in a vortex of increasingly irresistible AI powered recommendations. You dial in to the conference and try to connect to your desktop operating sixteen floors above you. You can’t. After a moment of hesitation, it occurs to you that you don’t need your desktop right away. You’ve made assumptions you’re not aware of; that you wouldn’t be aware of until it’s time.

After a couple of hours, it is time. You realize you need your desktop. You have a had a rough couple of hours where the scripts that were supposed to work didn’t and it took someone from Dublin to fix those for you Continue reading