I don’t feel like myself.
I’m sitting in the same bed that I grew up sleeping in. I’m home but I’m not me. I feel like I lose a little bit of myself when I come back from a new place. Or maybe the pores of my soul collect the dust from the lands before I part.
I’m conflicted, uncertain and disturbed. scrambling for the familiar, I’m losing count of the things I can call mine.
The internet is full of “trigger” memes that mock the progressing sensitisation of the masses as a fad for “overly touchy liberal hipsters”. The problem is, that it’s all fun and games until you stare into the abyss long enough for it to stare back at you. Then, there’s no going back. You end up choking a little when your friends are laughing at some offensive joke and you just can’t help feeling helpless.
So much of our daily interactions are a reflection of the popular culture we consume through the internet, TV and cinema. So much of this media is also responsible for the way we think, the way we live and the way we treat each other. Little do we acknowledge how the most minuscule choices that we make in our day to day lives are manufactured by the media. The internet has been one of the biggest drivers for movements like the feminist movement and the lGBTQ movement because of the ease with which voices could be collected over the internet. It helps reaching to out those seeking similar minded people all over the world, which not just encourages activism, but also provides a platform for these voices to be heard. However, it’s never as rosy a path as it seems. Once a movement catches on, the internet is filled up with multiple narratives and counter narratives, which is a great healthy way for discourse, but also for the asymmetry of information that creeps in. The consumer of information, be it a news reader with a particular political inclination or a “meninist” meme enthusiast, would mostly be exposed to media (News pieces from preferred online magazines or memes from liked facebook pages) that conform to his/her biases. So it restricts the discourse for the consumer where they only reflect upon half-baked and opinionated information that in turn leads him to form a biased opinion themself.
Those who firmly express their contempt for feminism often are confused or misinformed about the cause itself. It’s often hard to explain to such a person the vision of the movement because of the plethora of interpretations floating that often lead to dilution of concrete definitions. This discrepancy creates a vacuum which is filled in by mockery propagated through comfortably consumable media in form of jokes and memes. This leads individuals internalising this mockery to an extent that we almost end up ignoring them in real life. For example, we all condemn sexism and racism but do end up laughing at sexist/racist jokes ( guilty as charged). But what do you do when you start becoming actively aware of ways in which misogyny is perpetrated?
I just took one course of ‘Gender & Women In Bollywood Cinema’ this semester and it’s almost inevitable to ignore how the shackles of patriarchy still clutch on to us, including the most modern, liberal thinkers of our society (or so they say). How do you start asserting your cause onto those you consider the closest to you all of a sudden, just because you had a series of revelations? How do you make them understand that you standing up against their misogynist comments does not make you “a crazy bitch” who is “probably on her period”? It just makes you assertive. I’ve always been a submissive person who doesn’t really know how to assert herself. But I realize how I have a responsibility to stand up for my ideals and my identity because I’m a part of a bigger battle. I realize that it’s my responsibility to do so because I have the privilege and the agency unlike the millions of oppressed women of my country who aren’t even aware of their basic rights. I realize that I must do it for my sisters who can only wish for a better change and I must do it for my brothers who battle the gender norms that society imposes on them everyday. I must do it for all of us.
//It’s a little funny how I tried writing a piece titled “To The Boy Who Makes Me Happy” a few months back but never got past the title. I guess misery is a better catalyst to writing than contentment.//
To the boy who once made me happy,
I wish I was as good with words and wits as you are, so my tongue would serve me better in your presence than my fingers clacking against the keyboard alone in the dark. I wish I had a better memory so I could keep the time I spent with you in my pockets and find my escape in them when things got hard. I wish I could be that person you fell in love with a little longer than I did.
I know your love isn’t the same as mine but how would I even know what love is to me before experiencing it for myself? All I know is that I was so happy to be with you, to listen to you talk about twisted monk theories over glasses of rum on that rugged bed that detached and left that annoying space in between, that space that would persist to be there no matter how hard you tried to bring those two beds together, god dammit that space. I guess you can never force attachments onto somethings.
I don’t know why but I do wonder sometimes if things could be different in a universe where I were a little older, a little more experienced, a little more entitled, and a little more smarter. But I wasn’t, and I felt lonely and weak when things went bad. I wish you were there when they did. I wish you were there when my sister hit me so hard that I couldn’t open my mouth for days, I wish you were there when my mother told me I was a disappointment to my family, I wish you were there when I left all of that behind and came here. I wish you didn’t call me a bad person and I wish we never broke up and I wish you were joking about calling prostitutes at home and I wish you didn’t really bring other girls over either because it breaks my heart so much still, I can barely continue to type. I wish I was enough for you, you know. I wish I was more than enough. I wish you longed for me as much as I longed for you, and your voice, and your skin, and your bones, and your soul. But I never will be and I will learn to live with that.
Thank you for all the memories and all the love. I will always carry a piece of you in my heart.
Ever get that feeling,
Like your outside is covered in gasoline
and your insides are in flames?
like you might just combust any moment if the two ever collide?
But what’s the point to resist?
I’d burn the pain away and rain down in ashes, marking the foreheads of those I love
so they would remember my name.
remember me as the girl who spoke sweet words,
as the girl who felt like warm sugar, just trying her best to caramalize.
trying to melt her imperfections into something a little less coarse,
but these little monsters of flaws breed anew too soon.
Please just remember the sweetness, the salty tears are mine to keep.
And I’ll try to remember I’m important, muzzling my fires within.
Why is it that visual aesthetics are so inseparable from the concept beauty, that more often than not, they dominate the way we perceive a person?
Even though the idea of beauty is subjective in any case, why does our mind create a little bias for those individuals we find visually attractive(by our subjective standards)?
I do not know if my observation stems from the possibility of my own insecurities or whether there is a rational reasoning behind it, but those who are considered beautiful by the standards of society adopt a sense of self-entitlement that dictates the quality of their life. As Madonna said, “A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want” or when Meryl Streep said, “It’s amazing what you can get if you quietly, clearly and authoritatively demand it.” That sense of entitlement to believe that you deserve what you ask for is what I struggle with from time to time. Growing up as a teenager who received a fair share of bullying in school, be it for my weight issues or for having excessive hair on my body, I never completely got over the anxiety of not fitting in. It’s obvious that being bullied for physical appearances comes with blows to your self-confidence, and then opportunities for you to recover from a self-doubting mindset to nurture the other qualities in you. Once you face the scrutiny for your outer shell not conforming to that of an ideal feminine one, you struggle to imitate that holy goddess image handed out to you, and when that fails, you get with it. That’s when you decide to look into the inner shell and hone that instead.
For me, school got over and I found another life. I was lucky to be constantly surrounded by the most wonderful and inspiring people, and opportunities that really helped me explore myself. I grew through all my adventures and found a burning light inside of me. But even today somehow, those nights I go to bed feeling proud of myself, don’t retaliate the ones that my teenage-self spent crying in frustration, confusion and self-loathing.
Although maintaining beauty is way easier now as an adult because I don’t have to face my mom’s constant disapproval to wax my arms or remove my facial hair as was when I was too young to make my body go through the torture, the feeling of disgust for my own body hair still remains. And that sucks, because why do I hate things my body makes for me? Do you see the conflict between trying to be body positive and the reason for contradicting it? I might have a mind that’s expanding and enabling me to achieve things I never imagined, but I will never have porcelain skin, I will never have a skinny frame, I will never conform to society’s idea of beautiful. And honestly, as glorifying as being a non-conformist may be portrayed, it get’s a little kinda-sorta-miserable on the rebellion road sometimes. In those moments it seems easier to just pretty-up somehow and be treated with lesser resistance from around. when you’re easy on the eyes, you have lesser burden to impress someone (given that you want to attract their attention) solely through your wits when your looks are giving you the leverage. It just helps. Do you see what I mean?
“But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the ground fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think of how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…” -The Fox to Little Prince (Chapter twenty-one, The little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry)
Amongst the other intricate lessons of life, if there’s one thing that The little Prince has taught me, it’s that there is such cryptic beauty in being tamed by someone, as much as it is in taming them. I for one don’t know if I’ve had a fox of my own, but I’ve had my rose. I’ve had my rose, my lily, my dandelion and even the flowers that bloomed in the lap of wilderness whose sight I never saw again. So now the spring greets me with sweet fragrances instead of allergies.
I’ve never had lovers, just almost lovers that left a taste of unrequited love in my mouth as they kissed me goodbye. Closures only help so much to break the habit of being in love with them, until you see a smile that reminds you of a lost one’s smile and in the next moment bring you such agony when their eyes, nose and being don’t match. It’s almost as if the fate teases the feelings out of you with no outlet to channel them into. What do you do with that love?
I’m so grateful for all the memories I made through my travels or even the unexpected adventures in my mundane institutionalised life. I’m so glad for the music, movies, places and cultures I got exposed to and developed a taste for thanks to the people who introduced me to them. But I can’t help the nostalgia that comes gushing in or the craving for that friend when I encounter a song that we’d danced to like crazy children. The music is still here, but the moment’s passed and they’re gone. Do they even miss me? Do they even remember those moments with me? Am I the only one wearing the leash? Am I the only fox here?
what do I do with all this love
That I’d saved up for you
do spin it into a blanket of remorse
and wrap it around myself?
or cut it into paper hearts and give it away?
Would somebody else accept it with mutual affection?
Or would they reject it with the same grace
Like you did, with all your innocence
oblivious of the hurricanes,
of the storms that you’d been brewing
deep inside my head.
Let’s play a game. When you’re not just breaking down, but melting into the sheets of your bed, pull those blankets over and make a fort over your head.
Take a breath in. Now as you breathe out, free your imagination from the shackles of ethics you’ve sworn to.
No laws apply to the thoughts you seed, it’s the only freedom you’ll even know. Let the little lilies of love blossom and blow away the dandelions of dread.
Let the young blood pumping through your veins navigate the way for mind. Let the pain bleed out its venom. Its the only way you will breathe anew.
I remember the night when I was miles away from home and the scorpion bit me. The next morning when I woke up with my arm swollen, alone, with the rain pouring on my window, I cried. I howled. Then I picked myself up and I got the venom out.
The pain wasn’t as bad as the feeling of being alone. I missed my mother, I needed my mother, God where was my mother! But how did I forget that the souls of my ancestors were ghosts inside of me. I wasn’t separate from the voice of my mother etched inside my brain. I was a warrior, trained by the teachings of my parents, and everyone else who showed me love. I breathed because I was worthy of it.
So now when I’m back inside the sheets of my own bed, comforted by the warmth of the known, why does the same feeling of the night visit me back from miles away?
I tell myself to be brave, to bleed the venom out. To surrender to faith. To trust the maps my conscience was handed and look out for the treasures on the way. To believe in my worth, for those who believed in it when I didn’t.
For the longest of time, I was extremely conscious of my writing, just as a bathroom singer would be amongst Grammy nominee vocalists. I loved how any emotion, even as deep and sacred as divinity in itself could be expressed with the art of stringing together the right words. It wasn’t just an art, it was a power, and I found myself achingly devoided of it.
I could never remember words as long as ‘concupiscence’, although it’s usage always amused me. It tickled my brain to come across words like ‘Renegade’, ‘Degenerate’, and ‘Denigrate’ because they all sounded so similar, yet meant so different. I was the one who always underlined words in books, because they read so pretty and I wanted to add them all in my word-robe. But, I was neither a scholar of language nor of Literature. I just admired words, a lot.
However, bit by bit I started realizing that the purpose of words wasn’t just to sit pretty on white pages. Their purpose was to stir the soul of the reader and soak the white pages in his tears. Words meant nothing if they didn’t convey bursting conviction with which they were meant to be written. Words were the manifestation of the energy flowing from the mind of the writer to that of his reader. Slowly, I realized that I didn’t need to fret over remembering difficult words, I just needed enough. I needed the words for channeling what I wanted to suck from my insides and splash out on the walls of this world.
Thus began a new affair with words. It was the kind of love that overwhelmed me, but comforted me at the same time. I wore myself out trying to sew words together on paper that my lips never could, and God that was so satisfying. Rants turned into creative writing and the bitterness of a heartache manifested itself as art. Everything retained beauty, even the darkest of moments. I loved the way a writer could induce emotions like a magician and then manipulate them like a puppeteer. I fell in love with the process and realized that it started loving me back.
I realized that it wasn’t the words that held the power as I once perceived, it was the bond of a writer with his words that summoned hurricanes or calmed the tides as he pleased. I wanted to be that Stormbringer, I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to write, and ever since, that’s all I want to do.
I guess when you’re 20, it gets harder to diagnose a spur of sorrow that makes way into your mind. It’s a little unnerving to give meaning to the ache that makes your chest feel like it’s caving in. I guess it’s because when you’re 20, you’re not hurting because of an innocent heartbreak caused by the neighbourhood boy who never liked you the way you did. Of course, that’d be too stupid right?
You know better. You’ve learn’t through time. You’ve seen how it works and you’re certain you’ve grown above those highschool heartbreaks. Then one day, all your of your dejections trace a way back into your head all at once, and you begin to wonder if the weight of all that you’ve been through is what crushes your chest for that split second. That intriguingly canny classmate in 9th grade who fancied a little more wit than what you possessed, that football wiz kid who thought of you as just another one of the red team girls, that best friend who got way out of your league at some point of your stupid adolescence and finally the boy who just made you question all that you learnt from your previous woes, a few minutes back.
I guess when you’re 20, it’s the forgotten miseries that ooze out, as a shiny new dagger pokes a fresh wound into the soul you thought you had strengthened through these years. It’s a little shameful to see your being come crumbling down when all this while, you boasted of the age maturing you up into a sound, reasonable person.