You Are All Stardust

Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics.
You are all stardust.
–  Lawrence Krauss, American theoretical physicist and cosmologist

As a kid I was told that when people die, they become stars. I had my own theories derived from this, of course, for the imagination of a child is infinite. I thought the brighter stars were the dead celebrities. The dimmer ones were common people. And the ones we couldn’t see were the bad people. People who had wronged society in one way or another and perished, never to shine again. (Of course at that age you think common folk, celebrities and bad people are three mutually exclusive sets.) It all made perfect sense. Every near death experience was described as seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the star that the soul turns into.

I lay sprawled over my terrace floor gazing into darkness full of nothing and yet inconspicuously everything. The sky was so tragically beautiful that night; a graveyard of stars, illuminated by a reluctant half moon. Dead in our memory not because they aimed too high and they missed, but because they aimed too low and they reached.

I wondered what type of star I’d be once I died. I wanted to be a small star. Not dim, just small. I didn’t want to be too noticeable, but when noticed, I wanted to be able to entrance the onlooker.  Like a small celebrity star, with its own loyal group of fans. It’s funny how once we start to think about death the problems of the world all begin to seem rather miniscule. Relationships and materialistic worries, how much we weigh and how much we earn. I think of what would make me want to end everything and then I realize life is so much bigger than that. It’s bigger than the last thing you think about when you sleep at night and the first thing you think about when you wake up. It’s bigger than a cheating boyfriend and a shoddy bank balance. It’s bigger than failed exams and missed opportunities. Don’t let your soul be defined by its shell, for a star will twinkle in ways the sun couldn’t begin to imagine.

Be picky with who you invest your time in. It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are just either charming or tedious. There isn’t a person you wouldn’t love if you could read their story, though, so give everyone a chance. Eat what’s good for your soul and not your body. Read books with stories and not formulae. Fall in love with moments and not people. Be someone’s shot of tequila and not everyone’s cup of tea. Feed your soul so it shines the brightest in the night sky.

After all, we’re all stardust.

Nom Nom Nom *Sigh*

I had cookie batter for lunch today. All of it.

I feel like I have a hangover now. Without all the happy memories and mystery bruises. I feel guilty and sorry and I want that cool device that Hermoine used to use to get to classes (time-turner?) to undo my eating of this cookie batter.

People do it all the time. Everywhere. I think. People want to lose weight, they don’t eat the cookie. But then they get so hung up on not having eaten the cookie that their whole life is about the cookie. And then they eat the cookie and stare at the rest of the cookies and sigh because saying ‘Fuck’ out loud is not appropriate in most guilty-cookie-eating situations.

I just… I don’t know… I really appreciate chocolate. I live alone. I am single and unemployed. My closest relatives live in Oman, which, let’s face it, isn’t even really Asia if you come to think of it. Chocolate just seems to make it all feel alright. But I can’t even enjoy some nice cookie batter without some part of my mind questioning my actions.

Are you sure you don’t have the munchies?

Why did you even start with cookies? Who BAKES cookies?

Do you know how much cardio it will take to burn all those calories? Do you know how many calories you have to burn in the first place?

And I’m just here like AAAAAAAAAAAH THAT’S SO OUT OF SYLLABUS!

So I got out for a run in the evening but got back after a kilometer because I forgot that I’m out of shape and can’t run more than a kilometer. I ran slower than internet explorer on 90’s dial up, but I ran. Turns out, no amount of motivational quotes or health facts can get me to exercise the way an ‘L’ label on the Zara pants that (finally) fit me can. And in the hour that I took to complete my kilometer run (ok I wasn’t that slow, I had to keep stopping because my ponytail wouldn’t hold), I thought of the deeper things in life, like how raisin cookies pretending to be chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.
And somewhere between stopping from excitement because I thought I was thinning down (I wasn’t, my sweatpants came untied) and re-tying my ponytail for the billionth time I realized, nobody cares. What does it matter if my waistline is 24 or 34, whether I have a thigh gap or bat wings (fitness-freak terminology for arm-jiggle), whether I can run a kilometer or ten? Besides, I’m in India. There are people who live as vegetarians or don’t eat egg all their lives (so half the desserts are off the table). I can’t compete with people who’s religion has a built in weight loss plan. No. If I’m not getting any joy out of it, nobody else is either.

If you gotta force it, leave it alone.
Relationships, workouts, ponytails. Just leave it.
Life is too short to not have cookie batter for lunch. 

P.S. I also finished that jar of Nutella. Yes. 

Voices.

 “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” 
― Kurt Vonnegut 

I found this at the back of a notebook yesterday. I don’t even remember writing it.
But the handwriting was mine and it seemed like the kind of quote I’d jot down. You know, just to revisit when I have those long introspective talks with myself.

You ever talk to yourself? I do. All the time. Some days I push and motivate myself. Some days I tell myself it is indeed okay to slack a little. Some days I talk to empty spaces that I wish somebody would fill. The sad truth is that we’re all missing someone and secretly hoping that wherever they are, they’re missing us too. It takes more than you can imagine admitting it, though.

They say it’s perfectly normal to talk to yourself; you’re only crazy if you talk back.

Now I’ve got a little hypothesis here. I feel the concept of geometric similarity is beautiful. I resonate with enthusiasm when people draw parallels to my life, when their perspective and angles match mine. And yet alone, I’m not just one person.

People always have a secret world inside them than the one they show; sometimes two, sometimes a hundred. One day you’re someone, the other day you’re someone else. And you can’t go back to yesterday because you were a different person then, with different parallels and different perspectives and angles.
But we’re all gluttons for co-incidence. So when our worlds collide with someone else’s on a particular day, we’re stoked; heady at the thought of someone to fill the empty spaces we talk to. And when they don’t, we seek the other worlds inside ourselves; trying on different identities like dresses to see which one fits best.
When your romanticism fails, you become a bit of a cynic.
When your poetry fails, you become a bit robotic.
When your boundaries fail, you put up walls.

I am made and remade continuously; different people draw different worlds from me. And every once in a while I feel like I’d make a better ghost than a human being. A better idea than an entity. I lay still on my bed, gazing out the window into darkness full of nothing and yet inconspicuously everything, wondering what it will be tomorrow morning that’ll convince me to climb out of bed and choose the person I will be for the day. Everyone has an abyss of their own, and as I sink deeper into mine, all my opposing worlds combine to become one. And they talk to me as one while my eyes get heavy, recalling incidents from years before, from lunch today, and from a past life – telling me in unison how exactly I feel; who exactly I am.

Sometimes I agree.
It’s perfectly normal to talk to yourself.

Sometimes I talk back.
We have to be careful who we pretend to be.

 

 

 

 

 

Feature Image by Akin Cetine

I wonder if she feels fixed.

Once upon a time, a few mistakes ago, I fell for someone. I found our song today. He doesn’t know it’s our song, but the lyrics go something like…

Baby we both know
That the nights were mainly made for saying things you can’t say tomorrow day
Crawling back to you
Ever thought of calling when you’ve had a few?
‘Cause I always do
Maybe I’m too busy being yours to fall for somebody new

I hate that feeling; when you feel hungry, but you don’t want any food you see, and you can’t figure out what it is you’re craving.
Then you realise it’s not food you’re craving.

I’m not one to judge, I’m broken too. Life does that to you, it breaks you bit by bit. And just when you begin to feel like the damage is permanent, it sends along something. Sometimes it’s a drug, sometimes it’s a book; for me it was his hug. Every time he hugged me I felt all my broken pieces coming together. For just those few moments, I’d feel fixed.

There was something about his kisses too. I wish I’d kissed him more, so I’d have more of the memories to hold on to. They’d start soft, like petals playfully parting petals; that taste of cigarette getting me heady, and slowly turn into a storm of sighs and grabs, so intense that it was hard to tell who was breathing for whom.

And the last time he left, it felt like he slammed a door in my face, and I realised, men lie, and they lie to themselves worst of all. The door slam is meant to be symbolic, one last “take that!” to close the argument. But that door never did fit right in the frame, so it swings back and forth, slyly revealing things I shouldn’t know – little things he says and does, how he feels like I’ve always been this wonderful possibility for him.
I feel his eyes apologizing, asking me to believe that I’m the girl he wanted to want, but just not today. Today, he didn’t want to be happy.
Or sad.
Or anything.

Did I make it that easy to walk in and out of my life?

It kills me that he let his walls come down for somebody else. It’s not like there aren’t other men in the world. They’re all there, pretty and waiting, buying me drinks and telling me how wonderful they think my smile is; marinated in cologne and talking and talking. And a few drinks down, after going through my phone and realizing I’ve deleted his number, I begin to talk to these men too. But there’s this gut feeling, that feeling in the pit of my stomach screaming HE’S NOT THE ONE, STOP PRETENDING, ABORT MISSION!

I want to call him and yell. I want to scream, and tell him I decided on him. Doesn’t he get it? I decided on him and I don’t want to go around flirting with other people and then walking around feeling thrilled and then empty or whatever. I like the feel of his arms around me, I like the sound of his voice in my ear, and I goddamn decided on him.

What do you do when the only thing that was fixing you starts breaking you?  While he’s wrapping his arms around her, at that.

I wonder if she feels fixed.

 

 

 

Feature Image Courtesy: Kelsey Heinrichs | Society6

Something to Forget Me By

Why was it that during the first ice-breaker in college, when the whole class had to go stand up and say their name and where they were from, I got so incredibly nervous? Like, I know my name, I know where I’m from; this shouldn’t be a problem.

Maybe it’s the pressure of first impressions that society’s created on us now terrified mortals. That’s probably why my best friends on campus include a girl I hated for the whole of my first semester just because she gave me the heebie jeebies and a boy with whom my first interaction included him running after a mini-football on the Bogmalo Beach shouting “Hey! Easy! Mommy told me not to get my ball wet!”

There was a time I’d complain about the freeze-dried fruit distribution in my Gelato. Now the post Sunday lunch Mother Dairy butterscotch ice cream makes me feel sexy. Like I’m eating a soft spoonful of an affair. With crunchies.

But time moves on and so does life and the fat get thin and the thin get fat and group dynamics change and re-change because nobody really likes fat people, and at the end of four years you’re left wondering how you ever got along without these people who are now more family than family itself.

And yet, forever’s not what it used to be.

He’ll finally get out there and become a standup comedian, flying for a show to Russia, flying business class, in fact, because that’s just how he rolls now. She’ll probably be the CEO of some company that you always thought was a bank’s name.
And you’ll read about them in the papers and wonder if you should call. But instead you’ll just post something on their Facebook wall and get on with your life. Damn shame.

And yet, they’ll be a part of you. In their own small way. Even the random people you interact with everyday. You might not remember their name or face ten years from now. But you’ll remember them as the person who introduced you to your now favorite music, or the guy who helped you pass that godforsaken subject, or the girl who saw you crying and said “If someone breaks your heart, just punch them in the face. Seriously just punch them in the face and go get some ice cream”.  Even if she was just quoting Wiz Khalifa.

And suddenly, after your college years, you’re not the same person anymore. You like sleeping because it’s like being dead, only without the commitment. You aren’t ‘weirded out’ by alcoholics and junkies because you realize they’re just humans with a different passion than yours. And you realize fat people are the nicest of them all.

In French, you don’t really say “I miss you”. You say “tu me manques” which, I am told, is closer to “you are missing from me”. I love that. It’s beautiful, really. Like you’re a part of me that I’m currently functioning without. I’ll miss everyone I leave behind. And when I do, I hope there’s a part of me in them. Something I left behind. Something to forget me by.

Of Graduation and Vodka

I had butterflies in my stomach right from the moment I booked my ticket to Goa, somehow managing to shut the laptop slowly because the sand stuck in it between the screen and keyboard still crunches from all the times I set out to the library and ended up bag and baggage at the beach.

As I slept though the flight I dreamed about my years there. I remember seeing the world through the bottom of a Smirnoff quarter. Peace was a permanent state. We lost phones so easily because we didn’t really need them. We spent our afternoons looking up the Wikipedia pages of our idols to see where they were at our age. We stayed away from the boys who smelled too good because anyone who smells that good for an 8 am class is obviously marinated in perfume for lack of baths. Every pizza was a personal pizza if you tried hard enough and believed in yourself. Facebook needed a relationship status called, “Man, I don’t know… Ask her…”
We could lie around in the sand, drinking vodka (because we soon learned that if you drink enough vodka it tastes like love) and looking at the stars and talking to anyone about how we missed being the age when we thought we would have our shit together by now. If they weren’t interested, they’d pass out right next to us or throw up on us.
You win some, you lose some.

I reached Goa and within a day I met everyone. Like, everyone. My best friends, my corridor-mates, the girl who helped me pass Quantum Chemistry, the boy who made me listen to Arctic Monkeys for the first time; I didn’t remember all their names but I knew them because they were all part of me in one way or another. And we took rooms in a filthy motel halfway between the college and the beach and I felt like I was in the insides or a burrito, warm and safe and filthy and whole.

I’d spent years watching these people. Borrowing food, notes, sometimes smiles. I don’t think we knew it then, but we grew up together. In humor, in ambition, in purpose, in vocabulary. We fed off each other’s energy and grew and if anyone, and I mean anyone, had been missing from the equation we’d all be a tad bit different. They’re all people I’ll never stop looking for in a crowded place. I watched them through the evening, talking to each other about their lives then and now.

He told her about his new music venture and how he was so excited to work at the studio, and when she whined about being a corporate slave and how much she hated it, he hugged her tight and said it was all going to be okay. I’d seen that hug before. I’d seen it three years back, when he’d missed a passing grade in a subject that she’d aced. She’d hugged him tight and told him it was all going to be okay.

I think that’s what college was. It was a lot of everyone telling everyone that it’s all going to be okay.

The drunken texts one received and the words one scribbled on the last pages of notebooks were really all the love and knowledge one needed to get through.
And now I hope we all make it in this big bad world, away from each other. I hope one day we all have our own Wiki pages and 7 am showers and reasonable relationship statuses. And yet, some part of me hopes we’re not all people who define ‘making it’ as having our own Wiki pages and 7 am showers and reasonable relationship statuses.
I hope we’re all people who still define ‘making it’ as belting that entire pizza.
Try hard and believe in yourself.