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Leaving the Lighthouse

“The dip of the light meant that the island itself was always left in darkness. A lighthouse is for others; powerless to illuminate the space closest to it.” ― M.L. Steadman

I was young and foolish. Agreed, young is an arguably relative term, but then so is foolish. And yet, it’s all I’ve got to work with. I was young and foolish and in love. I wanted to be in love and he wanted to be happy; so that’s really where the trouble began.

Such a small word, and it means so many drastically different things to different people. To some it means stability. To some it means loyalty. Love to me then meant magic. It meant unpredictability and thrill and just a little bit of danger; enough to seek a lighthouse but not quite enough to seek harbour yet.

I think love for him meant peace. I think he was young and foolish too.

Do you know what lighthouses do? I don’t. But from all the stories, movies and legends, they seem to be both guiding lights and warnings signals for each and every ship at sea. Am I the only one who senses the irony in that? It must take everything in a lighthouse to look at a pretty little ship and say “You’re beautiful, but if you come any closer, you’ll get hurt. So go there.”

Some people are like that too. Selfless, you’d think. Strong and selfless and guiding lights to those who need them and those who don’t. But while we’re all applauding these lighthouse people for their maturity, we forget that it must take everything in an unbalanced ship to hear “You’re beautiful, but if you come any closer, you’ll get hurt. So go there.” The unhinged love stronger, you know. They run towards the light and seek warmth and love louder.

You were my lighthouse. I guess it was hard to see my hinges off from way up there. My ship wasn’t even in the midst of a storm, the sea and sky were clear and calm and I think that’s really what led me to you; the insufferable quiet of it all. I thought I’d dance in your light for a while and leave at day break, and so I did.

Once.

Felt like enough, until it didn’t.

It took me months to pass by you again. I even took a detour, for the heck of it. What harm is a lighthouse, I must have thought. What harm is another dance in the light, the light that’s shining for everyone to dance in anyway. And so I came, and danced a while in your warmth, and just as it was time to leave I noticed that the closer I got, the darker it became. You weren’t meant for me to embrace, you were meant for me to love from afar, for everyone to love from afar – little did I know then, it’s darkest where the light is being cast from.

The trouble with our tryst was that you never offered me safe harbour, you just told me the rocky island was secure. I nestled my head on your shoulders and asked if you were comfortable. “More than I should be,” you’d say, because you knew you had no room for my anchor. I was a universe too late and the spoils of the ship at the bottom of your island weren’t mine to keep.

How much we fools in love bite our wretched tongues until they begin to bleed. I loved you till I realised you were a warning sign for a menacing coastline. I loved you till I realised your light was meant to usher me, not warm me. I loved you till I realised you weren’t mine to love, till I realised that who I was wasn’t for you. A cage made of hopes is but still a cage.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” ―John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

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?

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.

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.