Window Seat Chronicles

Travelling to Chennai for the first time after hearing people talk about it for several years is kind of like going on a blind date with a stranger with a bad reputation. You don’t know him personally and when you finally see him, your first thought, no matter how he looks, is “Oh…”
It’s an I-didn’t-really-know-what-to-expect-but-had-I-known,-I-would-probably-have-expected-worse-than-this-so-you-come-as-a-pleasant-surprise kind of “Oh”. I would imagine that’s how strangers with bad reputations score so much. Low expectation is key.

Anyhoo. I had about five thoughts on my three hour flight from New Delhi to Chennai because I spent most of the time sleeping and most of the remaining time making faces at a particularly obnoxious kid who kept making funny-scary faces at me (which was unnecessary because his face was funny-scary in itself. If you’re judging me, I have two words for you: Green snot).

Thought One:
Why are people travelling in heels? Stupid question – Heels are sexy. So I’m going to amend that to HOW are people travelling in heels? Oh dear lord I feel the pain as I watch Delhi women with their Delhi figures from their Delhi appetites, balancing themselves on six inch long and one decimeter wide stilts, as they ricochet from item x to item y for support, passing off prolonged glares if item x or item y happens to be a man (though the good looking men get shy oopsy-daisy-tee-hee-hee smiles). On third thoughts (hey, if second thoughts is a thing…), I’m going to amend my question back to WHY.

Thought Two:
Its 6 am in the morning and the last time I ate at an airport pre-8 am, things did not go down too well. Literally. So even though I’m hungry and I can feel the hungry people I ate for dinner last night running around in my stomach for food, I will not eat anything.

Oh my God that’s a lot of cheese in one burger.

That chicken looks juicy.

Oh my God I can smell the cheese and all the marinated chicken and wow is that yesterday’s dead animal you are serving me no issues make it two.

Thought Three:
I know I said I wanted the window seat but now I have to pee. That is the tragedy of life, in a nutshell. You get what you want and then suddenly it’s not what you need (#deep). It doesn’t help that Mr. Venkatanarasimharaja (Boarding passes are very informative) is snoring in the aisle seat and I’m so fixated on his surname that I want to wake him up using it. Should I attempt it? He snores louder, as though in response to my thought. I don’t want to pee anymore.

 Thought Four (with subthoughts):
What?! Why??!! Why is the seat belt sign red twenty minutes into the flight? This is NOT the outfit I want to die in! Oh man I really should have learned to swim well. WHOA did the pilot just say we’re experiencing mild turbulence?!?! Even Mr. Venkatanarasimharaja is awake and all this moving and shaking in the seat is just torture to my bladder and now that kid is crying because his milkshake fell out of the container. How cute, little does he know he has bigger things to cry about. Like death.
With a funny-scary face like that, it’s probably best he doesn’t live to grow up though. Just kidding. I don’t wish him ill. I just hope the “mild” turbulence makes his green snot fall into his milkshake before he drinks it all up. Ok now I’m going to read the safety manual, because death is definitely taking me to hell.

Thought Five (post – nap, landing, pee-break):
The total number of known languages people use in Chennai is minus one. Zero, because they know none, and minus one for incorrectly answering instead of ignoring other languages. It’s as if they’re communicating through their eyes.

“In which terminal do the Air India flights land” I ask a man.
His eyes widen and his eyebrows go up. This means “Huh?”
“Air India. Flight. Land” I say, while I somehow also expertly act it out.
His eyes go back to normal size and eyebrows flatten. This means “I dunno watcha sayin’ bruh”

I go to another man and ask the same. He points me to the washroom.

I ask a third man, he says “No”

He’s probably right though. The Air India flight in question is already delayed over three hours and “No” just seems like when it’s finally going to land. Now I shall proceed to memorize the Chennai Airport while I wait.

Advertisements

Pills We Don’t Take

It’s hot and my toes are sweating. It takes a special kind of heat, you know, to even realize that your toes are sweaty. I push my way through the crowd and head towards the balcony. Some ventilation would do me good, do my toes good.

As I reach the balcony, I notice a boy sitting in the corner. I haven’t seen him before. To be fair, I haven’t seen most of the people at this party before; but this boy, this boy looks especially out of place. Like I wasn’t supposed to have seen him before. I wonder if I should step into his line of sight. He seems like he wants to be left alone, at first. But as I linger at the entrance, he looks up at me and smiles.

It’s not so much a smile, actually. It’s a half smile. And a half smile is a dangerous thing. Half smiles hide more than sullen faces ever will. Half smiles come with a sense of resignation, the wrong kind of peace.
He smiles at me, half smiles at me, then looks away, into space, at nothing really – maybe a star, I can’t be too certain. I walk across with my drink and stand at the edge, looking down into the beautiful city, lights dotting the landscape till as far as I can see.

“How does one bring themselves to forget someone who loves them?” says a voice from behind me.

“Nonchalance and distractions, mostly,” I say, still look at the moving specks of light in the distance.

I can feel his eyes on me as I say this. He’s probably hurt. He’s probably aching in love, furiously looking for a profound explanation to justify his pain.
I turn now, to look at him. There’s an interesting expression people have when they don’t get answers they want to hear. A look of confusion mixed with incredulity, a feeling of “How could you!” with a side of “Oh”. His moustache is barely sprouting and his eyes are red with memories of someone who held his hand one moment too long.

“You’re young,” I say, as I turn back to face the city and its specks of light, their anonymity comforting me.

“Until I’m not”

I don’t know how to respond to that. That blatant crisp truth. I’ve been young, I’ve been in love and I’ve been in pain and I’ve been in thought. I’ve wanted to sit in someone’s lap and not be touched at the same time, I’ve wanted to play with someone’s hair and not call back and I’ve been young and I’ve been old and it never really goes away. I don’t remember much but I remember feelings.
And the trouble lies in the expectation. The expectation that someday true love or maturity or destiny will work its magic and you’ll fall into a love that won’t make you claw your insides out. The expectation that things will turn out the way everyone who ever comforted you said they would, the way everyone who ever comforted you wished they would.

So I turn back to face him, determined not to fill his head with false promises of a world that’s fair and a heart that beats one beat at a time. But as soon as my eyes meet his, I know he knows. He knows what I want to tell him, and he knows I won’t.

“I know,” he says. “I know”

A few days later he jumps off the same balcony. I don’t feel anything.

He’s left a note for me, they say. I still don’t feel anything. I open the note that looks like it has been scribbled hurriedly in pencil, rewrites on top of rewrites, and remnants of a chewed up eraser the only saving grace of the words meant to be hidden.

“How could you forget? What kind of sickness of the brain eats up your ability to love someone back?”

Nonchalance and distractions, mostly, I think to myself, as I forget what I’m reading.

The eye of my storm

What is this need to be in a constant unrest that engulfs you? Just when the air around you has settled and the sun is finally shining its brightest; this need for a hailstorm, for rain and thunder. As if the calm doesn’t make you feel alive enough. As if the fragrant wind doesn’t please you unless it ruffles some feathers if shouldn’t ruffle, unless it breaks some branches it shouldn’t touch.

What is this unsolicited aversion to tranquility? Has your life been so tumultuous that when peace finally arrives it must be nothing but the eye of the storm? And even so, who can explain this itch to take a step out into the whirlwind? Is the silence beginning to bore your demons?

It’s late in the afternoon as these questions cloud my mind. I sit on the balcony and enjoy the rain, watching it turn the blue sky grey, and the yellow soul blue. Lightning breaks the horizon in the distance and I feed off it like a parasite of havoc. Drenched to the bone, the cold takes my head and makes its way down my spine and I smile as I feel it warm something inside of me.

There you are, somewhere, happy and whole, loving me with a love I can feel to my toes, a love I’ll never have to recover from. It’s so serene it’s killing me. This recklessness will be the death of me and yet it’s what’s kept me alive for so many years that it’s the only way I know how. And even as I feel my dreams take shape in the distance as you talk about us ten years from now, twenty, even forty… I can’t help but wonder what happened in all those dreams I don’t remember. What did I create some nights with my own imagination that was so confounding, my mind decided to leave it behind in my pillow instead of carrying it along? Was it something different from these pictures you paint, was it what enters me every now and then, this sudden urge for chaos, for godless limitless fearless love that takes fate by the throat and says I know you have plans, but bugger, so do I.

I feel myself settling into the cloud of plans and as wonderful as they seem they’ll amount to when they do condense, there are moments when I feel I need the rain tomorrow, or I need to fly. This silence of the clouds is making my demons restless.

I may be wrong, I may be so wrong, I may be wishing upon stars and planets as they twinkle in the sky for something completely and ridiculously unholy. And you may be right, you may be so right, when you tell me stars are just distant suns and tomorrow, maybe day after, I’ll be doing and not wishing, but not today.
But I wasn’t made to stand on the sidelines. I wasn’t made for rationed rational love and I wasn’t made to wait and wish.

I find it staggering that my soul knew a time before you. Who was I? What did I do in all the time I now spend talking to you? In whose heart did I live, how was it warm? I can’t remember a time I wasn’t incessantly wishing, waiting, hoping for the future, the next five years, and the next plane ticket that’ll bring me to your side. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t dreaming about your beard scratching my cheek, your elbows cupping mine; I can’t remember what I was waiting for before I waiting for this.

You feel like home.
And there’s something amiss when home feels way too far away in space and time, don’t you think?

Paper Person

I recently read a book called Paper Towns. It’s a fun read and all on the surface, but what really got me what the concept of paper towns itself. When companies that make maps come out with their original version of a map, they plant a bunch of fake towns on the map in random spots with random names to ensure anybody copying their map gets caught. So when unsuspecting people decide to travel to said fake towns marked on the map (in a random place with a random name), they just reach the area and find nothing. But sometimes, people settle down on this random bit of land and use the name marked on the map and hence paper towns come into existence, being made real by virtue of having been put on a map.

Did you know this happens with people too? You create a person for yourself in a random place with a random name, believe he exists and tailor him to your own version of perfection. And one day, you go to a random place with a random name and he’s there. In flesh and blood, unshaven, unironed, unabashedly himself. And nobody else knows it but he’s come into existence just then, being made real by virtue of having been designed by you.

Did nobody tell you you can create people?

The Ever Elusive First Draft

Hello, ya’ll.

Long time, long time.

I seem to be starting too many conversations like that these days. “Where have you been?” people seem to keep asking. “What are you doing?”, “Why aren’t you writing anymore?”, “When’s your next article out?”

“I’ve been away concentrating on a book”, is what I’d like to say. It’s also what I DO say, more often than not. But the truth is, I’ve been changing. And I’ve been changing on the inside and I’ve been changing on the outside and with these changes come changes in perspective. It’s been a roller-coaster ride, the past four-five months. I’ve gone from an intense and ferocious mania to self-inflicted heartache and anxiety to a controlled state of fanciful calm and finally to a kind of zen-happy.

All’s well that ends well, so yay. The issue, however, lies here-in. When I decided I was going to write a book, it was before I started changing. And as we all know, changes in life come like rude uninvited guests. They come over unannounced, piss all over your plans, crumple your sheets and leave complaining. And that would still have worked fine for me, because I planned to write something dark, introspective, borderline soul-searchy (yes, my vocab improves by the day) and winging it really always was my Plan A. However, every once in a while, life throws you a curve-ball and this whole winging it idea suddenly doesn’t seem to be your forte any more. And I’m not lying when I say I’ve been away concentrating on a book. It’s just hard to write when your protagonist is modelled after you and the model itself is dynamic in nature. There’s this ray of ridiculously strong all-consuming sunshine in my life now and as wonderful as it sounds, I can’t get my thoughts to the place they need to be in to write this introspective dark soul-searchy (i swear I’m going to google a better word for it soon) book.

So I’ve decided to go about it by writing as an observer instead of the protagonist. It may work, it may not, only time will tell. But any artist will tell you that once an idea becomes your baby, it must be executed. Before anyone else thinks of it. Before anybody takes the idea and does a shitty job of it. Or worse, a better job than you could have done yourself.

Here’s where you all come in. I’ll give you a little about the underlying concept of the book, and you give me a little of your lives in exchange. Any story/ thought/circumstance/situation/idea that is remotely relevant. Or irrelevant, but something you need to be shared. I will milk it to the best of my ability, I’ll put in a bunch of pretty words that I’ll also google and I’ll obviously obviously hand out credits. If you’d like, I’ll use it in my story. If you’d rather not, I won’t. I just need to get myself in the state of mind, and I’m reaching out for a bit of your soul after sharing so much of mine over the months that I was in full flow.

So here goes:

The underlying concept is 21st century marriages in India. Not weddings. Marriages. The surface, the creases and the dirt in the fabric. The mindset, the thousand mindsets, what overlaps and what doesn’t. The expectations and the disappointments. The good, the bad, the ugly and the unimaginable. Throw me a word, a sentence, a link, facts and fiction. And most importantly, sketches from your lives. Write anonymously, write with your name highlighted, send it in now, send it in a month.
You can message me on my personal Facebook page, or on the Lazy and the Overthinker Facebook page, or even write in to ayeesha1991@gmail.com.

Here’s hoping this helps.
And if not, here’s hoping it brings me closer to the thoughts, ideas and lives of my readers. (Hey. We really gotta start creating our own silver linings.)

So so much love.
– A writer craving the beginning of her first draft.

My Opinion On Opinions

I was probably around the impressionable age of six that day. Not unlike your everyday six year old girl in the 90s, I lived for two things – Barbie dolls and delicious food. And sometimes I’d walk around on my toes, wrapped in mom’s sheer dupatta and pretend to be Miss India. But it was mostly the food.

On the aforementioned day, I had accompanied my parents for dinner to someone’s place. I can’t recall whose house it was, but I do remember it was a newly married couple, because along with the memory of the incident comes a memory of a dozen red and white bangles jingling on a delicate wrist every time I was served food.

We were eating homemade Chinese. Terrible homemade Chinese. There was too much soya sauce in the Manchurian, the noodles were too thick and greasy and the whole point of the chewy chicken dish was destroyed with the amount of vegetables it had in it. After dinner, the host affectionately asked if I enjoyed my meal and I, full from the meal, decided it was my duty to now dish out ­­constructive criticism.
I let her know I was not pleased. My palette was not designed to enjoy the marriage of starch and soya she’d placed before me, nor was it created to have to bear with that rubber she called chicken (or whatever there was of it). I was like Gordon Ramsay on crack. Of course everyone laughed it off, but I felt the warmth disappear from the young lady’s hug as she thanked me for coming over.

There was an unbearable silence in the car as we drove back home. I kept trying to break it with a joke or a song, but the weight of it made me feel like I’d done something wrong. I asked. I always ask – it’s better than living off assumptions. So I asked my mother if I’d done something wrong.

“No,” she said, almost immediately, her voice tinted with disappointment. “You did something that wasn’t nice. If you don’t have something nice to say to someone with good intentions, don’t say it.”

I didn’t understand the difference between ‘wrong’ and ‘not nice’ then. I do now. You might disagree with what my mother said to me that day. On some level, I do too. We’re living in an era of unprecedented freedom of speech and everyone has an opinion on everything, laced with emoticons and hashtags, ready with links and videos, efficiently packaged with technology to shove itself down the throats of unsuspecting consumers.

I recently watched a video called ‘My Choice’ by Deepika Padukone for the Vogue Empower campaign. It was mostly because of the barrage of negative comments that I decided to watch it. Words like ‘hypocritical’ and ‘urban garbage’ have been used against this video. It amazes me how people have so much time, to sit through something they don’t enjoy watching from start to finish, analyze it, form opinions on it, discuss it online, bash, shame, protest. Does this community not get exhausted complaining over and over again, making a fuss about things that were merely designed to make people who enjoy it smile and those who don’t, ignore it and move on with their lives?

There was recently a big brouhaha about a photograph that Canada based poet Rupi Kaur posted on Instagram showing a lady in bed with a blood stain on her behind as well as on the bedsheet, accompanied with words on the taboo in India around the topic of menstruation. Personally, I could not appreciate it. In fact, for the first time, I was unable to move on with my life after seeing something online that I didn’t agree with. What did I do about it? I could have written a 1000-word long post about how the reason I don’t discuss my periods in public is not because it’s a social taboo, but the same as why I don’t discuss my toilet habits. But before we begin to so vehemently oppose what’s on the internet, we need to consider that we chose to watch the video. Read the blog post. Listen to the podcast. Was the intent of the artist to piss you off? Because if it wasn’t, you really need to relax.

Life is too short to watch movies you don’t rejoice in, to read books you don’t find an absolute delight. Life’s too short to spend getting offended and complaining about art. Do what makes you happy, savor what you enjoy. Spread good energy.

You have the right to an opinion. You have the right to share this opinion. You also have a right to publicly complain about what you can’t appreciate, and shame those who do for their point of view. These can’t be classified as right or wrong. I just feel what we say online should be driven by the same set of rules that govern our offline interactions.

If you don’t like something, raise your voice.

If you don’t like something and the act of raising your voice doesn’t help anyone or leave anybody happier apart from yourself, ignore it.

If you don’t have something nice to say to someone with good intentions, don’t say it.

Love and Other Verbs

Love at first sight is rather easy to understand, don’t you think? What really grinds your gears? Grey eyes? Intelligent conversation? The way a person handles their fourth whiskey and the words they utter once it’s vanished?

Either way, love at first sight is ridiculously simple. People get it. They make movies about it. They write novels about it. It’s the ‘cool’ kind of love, I guess. The concept is easy to grasp because most people have an idea about what they want and when they see something similar to their idea of what they want, they usually decide they love it. And believe it or not, love is a decision. It all sounds very romantic and poetic to say you had no choice in the matter and that you weren’t accountable for your feelings; but while you’re out there being poignant about your life, you’re also being ignorant. Love takes time and effort, love takes dedication and decision, it takes work and it takes patience and sooner or later you realize that love in itself is a verb.

Sometimes in life we find love we aren’t looking for. What does one do with love they weren’t looking for? Some people discard it. ‘We’re not ready,’ they say. And it’s true, they aren’t, they’re simply just not ready. The trouble with even the most brilliant meal when one isn’t hungry is just that – they’re not hungry. And hunger and readiness for love are just among the long list of things one can’t force in life.

Some people, however, take it in their stride. They take the love they’re given and use it to warm themselves. They take the love and use it to smile. They take the love and use it to feel, because in this era of fashionably silent heart and constant distractions, feeling feelings requires the aid of something.

I was lost. I was happy, ridiculously so, but lost nonetheless. I had an agenda, a definite plan, and you came unannounced and charmed me into this life without an exit strategy. And the problem with your love is that it makes me content. I had plans, sweetheart, I had a blueprint and a paintbrush and a quill and a pot of ink and I thought I had the gourmet recipe for happiness. And suddenly, there I was, standing with my artillery and all your love, with no war to fight. Lost in the right direction, but lost all the same. Smiling, but lost. Warm, but lost. Using your love, but not to find directions.

Did I scare you while I was lost? I think all the weightlessness scared me.  I had lost touch with the girl I used to be and you kept bringing me so close to the brink of recollection, it was terrifying. It still is, it’s bloody petrifying, and it makes my toes numb from time to time. How could you take me, with all my madness? We’re the same on the surface, but within, we’re worlds apart. I want to breathe the air of new places and to feel every emotion there is to be felt in this mortal human life. I want to fall in love with the insides of things.  I want to taste colors and savor sunsets and listen to the sound of birds chirping make-belief conversations, because really understanding things is only so much fun.

And the reason its bloody petrifying is because I want to do it all with you. And I’m scared you’ll ask why, because I have no answer. I will find beauty in sadness and I will draw worlds from a single expression of yours and I can’t promise anything but constant emotion. But if you’ll have that and me with it, you’ll see there’s a beauty in that too.

I haven’t done a love before that wasn’t at first sight, so I don’t have a master plan here. I haven’t the faintest idea what grinds my gears here. I just know that your hands feel like home and your smiles feel as familiar as your sighs, so really how hard could it be?

There’s something beautiful about booking a one way ticket, isn’t there?

It’s Almost The End Of The Year

“I have shed my skin so many times.
The graveyards must be full of all the people I used to be”

It’s almost the end of the year. Can you feel it yet?

The tip of my nose goes pink sometimes and my eyebrows are so frozen I can’t even be surprised. Literally. Everyone’s getting their red and shimmer out. Buble’s singing out of every nook and cranny, his fondue voice making you mentally sway as you make your way to yet another get-together. Every house has a Christmas tree outside, its plastic branches decorated with leftover disco balls and little figurines collected by children too young to have memories. Everyone’s slacking just a bit more at work; eating just a bit more dessert, drinking just a bit more wine, feeling just a bit more in love or just a whole lot more alone. It’s almost the end of the year. Can you feel it yet?

It’s nearly time to decide who the new you will be. Walls are coming down and being built everywhere; some more quietly than others. People are talking to people, eager to rewrite beginnings or endings, looking for peace of mind like it was promised. We sit with our bundles of painful memories, not letting them roll out of our eyes and onto our cheeks, ready to learn from them and dispose them off like soiled items, only to realize that we barely even remember the things we never thought we’d forget. As someone famously said, the future is really that forgiving. Can you feel it yet?

There’s suddenly more cookies and rum cake and adipose tissue in life than there is intent. We all have these plan-less goals for ourselves, neatly tucked away in corners of our subservient minds, waiting for a fresh calendar to fix ourselves top down because right now we’re too busy treating our hearts as metaphors. When’s the last time you actually put your hand to your chest and felt your heartbeat? It’s a powerful thing. It makes you so aware of every passing second, so awake to the urgency of accomplishment. You begin to wonder what it was that made you think you had time. Can you feel it yet?

You think back to the times you used to think back to those moments. From another time, another place. It doesn’t make you smile and it doesn’t make you sad. It just makes you look away now. Love left your body, momentarily, yet long enough for you to realize that you need to leave some people behind in this year. We’ve spent too much time decorating our lives with leftover disco balls and little figurines, collected over time in more ways than one, as day by day we grow a bit more envious of those children too young to have memories. Can you feel it yet?

It’s almost the end of the year and you’re praying that by the end of the next you’ll have that job. That waistline. That girl. It’s what you prayed for the last year and the year before last. It’s what you’ll pray for the next year and the year after that. A different job. A smaller waistline. Another girl. Another cliché.

This year, I want to read a bucket list through. I want to really understand the colour purple. I want to cook pad thai and a mean little key lime pie. I want to swim in a new sea. I want to be an art parasite. I want to be everyone I used to be and more. There’s just so much room, now that it’s empty. I want to be the people I wanted to be with, because I always believed in forever.

I wish all of you peace and so much love. I hope you bask in happy vibes and drink mellow dreams and if you must break, I pray his kisses gave you butterflies as they came and strong art as they left.

Zen. 2015.

In Staccato Rhythm

It’s a rainy day in a college by the road, and my two corridor mates are introducing me to a blend of guitars and endlessness they call classic rock. I’ve heard its kind before, but never when steeped in someone else’s enthusiasm.

It’s yet another rainy day, in an apartment by a different road. Four years of my steadfast indifference has done nothing to dampen their enthusiasm. There’s new songs blended in now. One of them now hunts and gathers new music from the scuzzy underbelly of the city. The other has rekindled loves from his past. I still don’t understand it. I’m beginning to suspect I don’t understand music at all.

It’s the wee hours of the morning, and I’m sitting in a shared cab back from work, listening to my borrowed tastes. It fills the silence better than inflicting conversation on my fellow corporate drone. His stop is before mine. I come home to a girl who is no longer here.

It’s been ages since college when we set out to ride back to it. The road is the same, it’s sweltering hot, though. We’ve forgotten most of our CDs. This was before we, as a country, could afford streaming. There’s no classic rock. There’s the corridormate-turned-flatmate’s newest find. He goes on about how we should support the local music scene. For the first three hours of the drive, he insists it’s all alright that we can now recite the lyrics in our sleep.

I’m at the beach by the college by the road. The breeze brings back memories. They say music brings back memories. Places do, too. Smells, sounds, the feel of a place is stronger in my mind than notes in the ether. I’m convinced. It’s not music that I’ll miss.

It’s Sunday and we’re all staring at each other across a wooden table. This used to be a bar for Sunday afternoons, it’s now one for Friday nights. It plays every song you know, smeared into one explosion of sound. It reminds me of clubs, not in a bad way. New people are at the table. They remind me of clubs, not in a bad way. New people bring new music.

It’s a lazy Sunday in a new house, and the rain has obliged. I’m sipping tea with a girl I’ll hurt. She’s talking to me about electronic music. That can’t be good, I tell myself. I profess my borrowed inclinations, scoffing at the idea of anything new being good. Funny that the corridormate-turned-flatmate, in his final months in the city, would wax endlessly about how the goodness of anything new.

It’s the same early morning on another day. There’s no one in the cab today, no one waiting at home. I stumble in sleepily to soundtracks seeping through my flatmate’s locked door. Soundtracks, I understand. I begin to wonder if I’m overthinking this. One of the classic rockers left long ago, the other left less long ago. The guitars are no longer endless where I live.

It’s raining as I bid them farewell, the first time. My flatmates, neighbors, collegemates and the girl. Raining. Rain is a place by itself. I wait for my flight at the airport, watching the drops race down the glass. Drinking seems inappropriate, like I’m tarnishing the memory of the past years with more of the same. I plug in, and listen to more of the same, taking my mind off the last things I’d seen.

It’s a different early morning. I’m in a different cab. It’s driven back from the airport by two grim chauffeurs. I reach home to utter silence. The entire flight here, I’ve drowned anxiety in simple mash seasoned with the occasional weird taste. There’s no filling a silence. That phrase shouldn’t exist. Silence breaks. You can only break a silence.

My second farewell is less charged, if more permanent. I’m back across the oceans. I move from the job with the late night cab and find another one. I move from the city with the job with the late night cab and find a new one. With new people. There is a bookshop under my house. I almost never go. My little portable speaker is still in my boxes. I’ve forgotten the playlist on my phone.

It’s a cold winter’s day as I trot from the bus into work. I rummage about in my backpack, looking for a mouse. I find earphones instead. I plug in. It’s the playlist I’ve built over these years of growing up. It’s every rainy day, on every road, in every house, in every cab, for every farewell. It’s everything silence isn’t. I’m still unconvinced I understand it, but it’s getting harder to believe that.

It’s the same day’s evening. I call the corridor mate. He’s crossed the same oceans as well. We talk like it’s all one day, seven years wide. He has new songs, of course. So do I, now. I hear the new ones, while I finally listen to the old.


This post was originally written by Abhijeet Sathe.
All rights remain with the author.

Musings of the Moth-Human

“I saw this moth in my room, it was going towards the light bulb and it was buzzing around it and I wanted to know why they did that, so I looked it up. It’s because moths are looking for the moon, they’re looking for moonlight because they’re trying to fly north. So this moth, everything in it is telling it to do exactly what it’s doing. It’s doing the right thing, but it’s just the wrong light.”
– Childish Gambino

I wanted to be happy. We writers, we take words too literally. So when I say I wanted to be happy, I don’t mean I wanted to be exhilarated. I didn’t want to be beaming and buoyant every waking moment. I just wanted to be happy. The simple kind of happy, without all the frills. The fragile kind of happy, that you strive to keep because it’s so precious and so hard to come by. The peaceful kind of happy, that lets you breathe at a constant rate all day.

I’ve felt like that before. Those days I sat with my people under marmalade skies, quoting Chanel and Freud in the same drift of conversation as we spoke out our thoughts in screams or subtext; depending on the subject in question. We laughed and loved and ate and slept like a can of wine, fancy and brassy all at once, and that was enough.

I don’t know when it stopped being enough.

I suddenly wanted to be in love. I thought that would make me happier. I sought, I waited, I loved over and over again. I love you, I won’t tell you, but you can tell. Don’t be scared, don’t be appalled, what are you panicking for? Did you think you were special? I love everyone. I love everything. You’re not the only one I love, but I love you. I’m just one of those people, who fall in love with anything that shows me its raw soul, straight up until they show me what became of that raw soul.

What makes us think we humans are any different from those moths?
Happiness is our moon. And we’re all convinced that love or money or beauty are the paths we need to take; little light bulbs hanging low enough for us to feel we’re headed home. I speak for all us moth-humans who picked love; what were we thinking? What were we thinking, walking around with our souls unfenced, unwittingly seeing the moon in the candle flicker that warmed his eyes as he sat across the table and spoke of how much money there was yet to be made in the world.

Sometimes I feel words take away from an emotion as much as they give to it. Just like light hinders vision as much as it aids.

So we moth-humans who picked love, we did what we could. We made little villages in our hearts for them and smiled when we thought they were thinking of us. We wrote letters and spoke poetry, sang songs and kissed scars and wondered what it was that made them wonder why.
Everything in us telling us to do exactly what we’re doing; we’re doing the right thing, but it’s just the wrong light.

How does the moth really find the moon, then? Does it hurt itself on bulbs the way we do? I want to go to a bookstore and leave notes at the ends of books I’ve loved for people who read them, because I know they’re people I won’t fall out of love with. I want to stop falling out of love with people.
You’re not the only one I fell out of love with, but I fell out of love with you. I’m just one of those people, who fall in love with anything that shows me its raw soul, straight up until they show me what became of that raw soul.

And if I can’t find my moon of happiness, I’ll make do with the moth-humans who think the path to it is love. Passionate, all-consuming, soul-wrenching love. I don’t know when it stopped being enough.

Things I think of. And quotes of famous authors interspersed in my writing.