Tag Archives: chance

When Life Gives You Lemons

Nobody tells you that when you wish upon a star, you’re actually a few million years late. That star is already dead. Bummer, eh?

I turn twenty three in two days. I’m kind of in between moods right now. You know how it feels to be pissed off and ladylike? Utterly confusing. I suck at it. Of course I don’t know how to act my age. I’ve never been this age before. I’m usually a calm person but some situations really test my giveashitometer. Like when I see fresh bird droppings on my car and I go out  and eat devilled eggs by the window just so they know who they’re messing with.

I wish men could be dealt with the same way. You get over the bunch of them and you meet someone tall with a crooked smile and there comes that feeling you thought you’d forgotten. But sooner or later you find out that he’s the same old dal-chawal sold to you on the menu as well steamed long grain fine white rice from the brilliant yellow fields of Punjab, a golden lentil broth on the side, garnished with pixie dust.

And then the inevitable happens. Khichdi.

I’m feeling a little over-worked and under-intoxicated. Break ups usually leave me feeling a tad bit wild, I think. I start booking tickets to all corners of the world and getting new piercings and not waxing because lulz, lemons.
Nowadays I just get home and get the cheese and crackers out and think Screw you, recommended serving size. You don’t know my story.

I don’t know what happened. It’s sad and hilarious at the same time. But I think I learned things from my time with him that one should eventually learn. People love differently. Silence, I discovered, is something you can actually hear. And you can tell so much about a person by how they leave you. It’s sad how Wile E. Coyote is remembered for his barbarity, and not for his insanely realistic paintings of tunnels. People never forget how you make them feel. And be careful, sometimes what’s left unsaid says it all.

Then, of course, there’s the mommy angle. From what I’ve heard, parenting is mostly about telling your kid how many minutes of something they have left. Moms, spurring their offsprings to go forth and conquer the world and also get a mani pedi and find a suitable boy and HAIYO RABBA IS THAT A TATTOO AB SHAADI KAUN KAREGA.

So when life gives you lemons, contrary to popular belief and one too many T-shirt quotes, there’s not much you can do. You don’t even get to ask why. And some part of you doesn’t even want to know. Sure explanations can be helpful, but so can ignorance, paychecks and new senior recruits at the office.
So helpful.

And as I move a day closer to the first time in life I’m not excited about my birthday, I ponder over the idea of possibly not letting life happen to me again. It’s time I owned this shit. With abs and stilettos and calculated risk and my own little business because heaven knows I make one hell of a difficult employee.
Those shooting stars are long dead, and I’m feeling more alive than ever.

I’m in a really good place spiritually.

Please fuck off, lemons.

Namaste.

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The Hedgehog’s Dilemma

A number of hedgehogs huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another.

It’s a theory called the Hedgehog’s Dilemma. Freud used this as an analogy for human intimacy. Apparently you can only get so close to someone without unintentionally hurting them as well as yourself.

Ah well.

What do we, as humans, run away from? Intimacy is a relative term. For you, intimacy maybe the laughter during sex. For me, intimacy maybe the comfortable quiet during a stroll in the park.
I’ll tell you what intimacy isn’t, though.
Intimacy isn’t ordinary.

Why, you might ask, would someone write a poem that doesn’t rhyme? Maybe it’s because putting too much thought into something kills the essence. If we’re too careful, we’ll turn out ordinary.
I can turn you into poetry, dear, but I can’t make you stay. There’s a difference between somebody who loves you and somebody who would do anything to keep you. It’s the difference between want and need, I think.

I’m looking at the November sunset and thinking, if day must turn to night, this is a beautiful way. Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what it needs to. And we could think of all the ways things fall out but so little of what could happen does indeed happen. There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly. I’m no expert on relationships, but I know that if I’ve loved you, I’ll paint our sunset your color.

If people just lived off promises and guarantees, this world would be a broken place. People live off hope, that’s why it’s still warm, you know? Because people live off hope and try in the best way they know how. And they make their quills blunt together, so they can stay warm longer.

I can be mature and I can be poised and I can be an elegant dream, if you’d like that.
I like it some days too.

But don’t love me for that.

Most days, I’m lost. I write to find myself and I paint to get lost again. Science can’t excite me like a paradox can. I’ll forget things you say and do, but I’ll never forget the way you make me feel. I’ll forget your birthday but I won’t forget the way you smelled on our first date. I’ll stay close to anything that makes me glad I’m alive. Make me glad I’m alive.
Most days, I’m chaos.

And this chaos could be the quills that push you away or the warmth that pulls you close.
That’s for you to decide.

Who’s to say your quills won’t be sharper than mine?

The Soulmate

The clock ticks on. Five minutes to go.

He thinks of calling her, but he figures if it has to be her, she’ll call herself.

So he goes and opens the refrigerator for the twentieth time that hour, pulls out a slice of cheese, heads back to his laptop and plays some music. There’s beats in the background now. Beats and vibrations. No words. He closes his eyes and breathes in deep, then lets out a long sigh.

It’s about time he met her. The one. Whomever she was.

There was no guarantee that the astrologer had been right. But three years back when he’d been told by the old man in orange robes the exact date and time he’d meet his soul-mate, he’d laughed it off.
He couldn’t tell why, it hardly seemed funny anymore.

Four minutes to go, and his phone vibrates with a message from her.
Hey I’m coming over. Getting pizza.

He’d been with her for over five years now. Of course she knew about the prediction. He smiled to himself.  She’s making sure she’s with me at the time I’m supposed to meet my soul-mate.

“Maybe it’s the moment you realize I’m your soul-mate” she’d said, arguing against the astrologer’s prediction. “The orange dude didn’t say it’s the time you meet your soul-mate for the very first time!”

The orange dude did, actually, in so many words.

He finishes his slice of cheese and his phone beeps again.

Low battery. Three minutes to go.

He sets an alarm on his wrist watch for three minutes and just as he plugs in his phone to charge, he gets another message from her.
Almost there. Come downstairs.

He leaves his phone to charge, picks up the house keys and goes downstairs, his heart beating a little faster now. He did love her. Heck, he’d loved her for five years. Then why is he feeling uneasy? Almost as though he’s thinking he’ll meet someone new in the next two minutes, as ridiculous as that sounds.

He lands on the ground floor with one minute to go.

He sees her car approaching in the distance, waiting at the signal, and he lets out a bittersweet sigh.
So that’s that.

He’s walking out onto the road to greet her when a speeding car runs into him from the other side of the road and knocks him out cold. The girl driving it rushes out to gauge the damage, and as she holds his hand to check his pulse, his wristwatch alarm goes off. He looks into her eyes long and deep before he shuts his own forever.

***

As the hysterical girl from the approaching car at the signal accompanies her dead boyfriend into the ICU, the speeding lady orders Chinese in the hospital cafeteria.  It comes with a fortune cookie that reads “Oftentimes, your soul-mate and life partner aren’t the same person.”

***

Later that night, the speeding lady’s husband pulls off his orange robes and casually asks her whom she killed today.

***

We All Start As Strangers

You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew – Pocahontas


At what point does a stranger stop being a stranger?

Is it when the stare lingers on one moment too long? Or when your hands brush and then don’t pull away? Is it when they voice out your thoughts for the first time?

We all have two kinds of songs we love. The first kind, you want to share with the world and sing out loud from rooftops. But there’s always the other kind, the kind you want to keep to yourself, with tender greed, extracting all the joy from it as if to feed your soul and your soul alone; as if any other soul extracting joy from it would mean less for you. With the right music, you either forget or remember everything. People can be like that too.

And when at last you find someone to whom you feel you can pour out your soul, you stop in shock at the words you utter – they are so rusty, so feeble from being kept in the small cramped dark inside you so long. And the silence is warm and the conversation is intoxicating and there’s one part of you that’s holding you back because you know the sparks never last but there’s the other part of you that makes you realise that he’s a favourite song of the second kind, and so there’s nothing to worry about.
For once, the sparks aren’t the best part.

I don’t know when I became such a sucker for familiarity. I don’t know how it is that he is so familiar to me, or why it feels less like I’m getting to know him and more like I’m remembering who he is. How every smile, every touch brings me closer to the impossible conclusion that I’ve known him before, kissed him before, in some other existence.

You can always get to know someone by asking them straight forward questions. Where do you work? How tall are you? What did you study and where did you grow up? Grown up questions about things that grown-ups think matter. If you only ask the questions everyone else is asking, you’ll only get to know what everyone else knows.

What if I have different questions? I’m not interested in who he thinks he is. I’m not interested in who other people think he is. I don’t care what car he drives or what brands he wears. I refuse to fall in love with anything but the words that flutter from the crevices of his mind people failed to explore. I want to know what colour he likes his sunset. I want to know what he thinks of when he drives alone. I want to know what makes him sigh. These aren’t questions you can ask people, simply because these aren’t things most people know about themselves. The only answers we have ready are the ones we think matter.

I think that’s when someone stops being a stranger. When you ask them a question that makes them think and they answer it honestly, smiling as they talk, their eyes wandering, knowing they’ve never answered it before, oblivious to the part of their soul leaving through their words.

I want to talk to him, about his dreams and fears, and begin everything from the beginning. Taking time, if you think of it, is actually less time consuming. And only when the tide pulls back the sand from under your toes, you realize that you can’t hold onto something by holding on. Happiness doesn’t leave scars and peace is so difficult to remember. That’s why you need to keep it with you.

And that’s why I’d like him to stay. We all start as strangers.

Grown Up Fonts

Hi.

It’s been a while I think. I used to write in Calibri 12, its Arial 10 on a 120% zoom now. It’s weird. Not bad weird. Just different weird. The kind of weird that takes getting used to but you’ll do it because you know it’s good for you.

Arial 10. I never would have imagined.

I’ve had this strange feeling inside of me for a while. Like while I was asleep, somebody disassembled me and then hurriedly put me back together. Like I’m made of the same pieces and the same experiences but there are air pockets from the haste in which they were put back together. Air pockets trapped in spaces that used to be filled with something I can’t quite remember.

These days sometimes go on for days. Some days I function on caffeine highs and praises transferred via email and some days I get my soul pureed and served to me in a melancholy cup of leftover tea. I feel people jump into the corporate whirlpool just to have an excuse to not think. About songs that get them nostalgic or places that get them dreamy. Sometimes one sees someone who looks like someone they used to love but luckily there’s so many floors to shuffle through and heels aren’t easy to walk around in and calls go on for hours at times and they forget. Sometimes a song hits them but then their playlist is on shuffle and they’re holding coffee in one hand and taking notes with the other and  probably already late for something and they’re just like ah well fuck it.
They start clocking the hourglass instead of wondering whether the sand comes from a special beach.

I think it was feelings, that held in those air pockets. I think it was superlatives too. Nobody ever warns you about the barrenness of a busy life. They say it’ll be difficult but it’ll be worth it. They say you’ll earn enough to eat whatever you want and live wherever you please and drive whatever you fancy. They don’t tell you about the spaces that stored the smell of his daily cologne and the feel of callouses on his palms, now lost in the 9278 tabs open in your brain. Work until your bank balance looks like a phone number, they say. Work until you don’t have to introduce yourself, they say. Funny thing is, we forget that we don’t have to do it all; we don’t have to prove ourselves to anybody.

And yet, life is short and good energy is contagious and the air pockets can only stay empty so long. So you stop waiting around for feelings and you try working with energy. Good vibes and new music that don’t violate your rhythm. It may have something to do with growing up. I think I like who I’m becoming. I’ve realized that people aren’t good or bad, they’re just either charming or tedious. And everyone is someone’s devil. I’ve learnt some stories don’t need endings and secrets are only safe in pillowcases. I want to be spoilt with loyalty and witty comebacks in the midst of food that feeds my soul and art my eyes can feast on. Everyone has a deep end, but people are so afraid to dive, busy worrying about tomorrow like it’s promised. I don’t care what you look like, just make me laugh.

Maybe it has something to do with growing up, but the air pockets now feel full. There’s a voice in the air that doesn’t use words. Listen. Some people are whiskey is a teacup. Taste. Eye contact is a dangerous thing, but oh so lovely. Look. Everyone’s in love with either a person or an idea. Feel. And at the end of it all, trust the timing of your life.

Maybe it has something to do with growing up, but 650 words through, Arial 10 feels just fine. It’s just not superlative enough, but then these days, what is?

Father Told Me What Serendipity Means

My father met my mother at a bus stop.

He had been late that day. He’d gotten late because a pigeon had entered his apartment and he had had to shoo it out before he left. How fate works, he muses, every time he tells us the story. So after a terrible morning, he had left home cursing the Universe, a young adult travelling to get to his first job with sleep on his mind and a calculator in his hand.

At the bus stop he saw an entirely different set of people today, being there himself an hour later than usual. He saw a girl standing with her friend, in a long green skirt and with a flower in her hair. Not a gajra that would hang by a plait the way it did on most Indian women. No, her hair was open and flying all over the place and the flower was pivoted right above her ear. Hibiscus, he says. But mom swears it was a rose. Anyway, it didn’t serve any real purpose except to attract his attention.

“The bus reaches by 10 everyday, I don’t know why it’s so late today!” she whined, half-smiling. It was 10.10 then, dad says. And then, he says, she looked at him and smiled, oblivious to the light emanating from her soul and the little hipster city she single handedly created inside the ventricles of his rural geeky heart. I think he meant he fell in love but it seemed too abrupt a decision, so he decided to go with being poignant.

I’d seen pretty girls smile at me before; he says when we accuse him of being easy to please. He says this was different. How?  We ask.  Oh I don’t know. I just wanted to see her smile again. And again. Forever.

And as it happened, for weeks and weeks he’d leave home late and work late just to see my mother at the bus every day. He wouldn’t talk to her or even make eye-contact. He’d just wait for her to smile. And she did, his 50 year old cheeks still blush as he tells us, Every day she’d turn and smile and make my mornings beautiful.

Finally one morning it was raining and my mother’s friend was absent. She saw my father standing under an umbrella and asked if she could share it. It’s not like he offered it or anything, he was so shy, my mother usually likes to join in the story at this point, after a few minutes of blushing and ‘oh-you’ing. That’s when they spoke for the first time, and my father learned that mother would cut morning class every day, and so he asked her to attend it so he could go to work on time. Then onwards, she’d catch the 9 am bus with him every morning.

And he’d buy me a rose everyday for my hair, mum says as if to wrap up the story.

They narrate this so often, I begin to think they are trying to make a point. I finally ask them after one of their routine Sunday morning narrations of how they met, what is it they are trying to tell me?

Wait for someone who’ll put effort into you, says Dad.

Mom smiles and takes me to the kitchen. That’s true, she says, I didn’t even notice him much to begin with, but I’d see his eyes light up when I smiled at him, so I smiled at him. I knew he was getting late. Every day. But once I’d smiled his way he’d stop fidgeting with his pocket pen and checking the time and just sit up straight and beam at nothingness.
But even though the effort bit is true, that’s not my intention of telling you the story.

Well what is it? I ask.

She smiles her miracle of a smile at me and says; Never touch anything with half your heart.