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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

How Love And Lust Came To Be

They didn’t plan it.
I guess the stars above did. Somehow, the stars let everyone know about their plans.
Everyone, but the two of them.
There were four stars at work. They’d work hard night after night, trying to get their formations right so the two would notice each other.
Every design, every arrangement, every little deviation of angle was tested. Ah! The permutations were endless.
But nothing seemed to work.
The leading star, called Star, looked up to the heavens and sighed in disbelief. How could two people, so beautiful, inside and outside, so enchanting, so charming, so made for each other, not notice one another? He asked God to check his records.
God looked down at Star and smiled, “Sorry Star, I’ve checked and double checked and triple checked. I made her for him. And that’s just how it’s gotta be. I made her mother tell her bedtime stories about him. You can’t disappoint her now.”
Star knew he had to fix this.
He looked at his three followers. Place. Time. And Shiz. Poor Place and Time would work round the clock, trying to get the two of them to the same place at the same time. But Shiz was lazy. Every time that Place and Time finally managed to work something out, Shiz would mess things up.
So Star went and spoke to Shiz.
“Listen, dear,” Star said, “I see you’ve been trying, but you don’t realize how important your task is. The two people in question really need each other, whether they know it or not. And if you want something truly, with all your heart and soul, the entire universe conspires to bring it to you. If the two don’t end up with each other, the universe will collapse. And every time you work your magic too late, they end up with the wrong suitor. We need to fix this.”
And saying this, Star asked Shiz to leave the constellation working on their Love and appointed Perfect instead.
Now Perfect, as his name suggests, was perfect. The moment Time and Place managed to create and opportunity again, Perfect did a perfect job, and hence the Love was created. Star was pleased, and so was God. Now the universe shall live on.
But Shiz was still there, in the sidelines somewhere, his ego hurt. He wanted revenge. He didn’t want the two to part, for then, as Star had warned, the universe would collapse, so instead, he decided to mess around a little. Now he knew the constellation he’d just left had been working on Love, working so hard only because it was the most beautiful Love ever to be created. Shiz didn’t have the power to destroy that. So he did something naughty.
The next time that Time and Place unknowingly worked their magic together, Shiz worked his own magic and created Lust. He watched it blossom between the two in Love, and thought to himself, “Hah, Star should’ve known better than to throw me out.”
Now Star, being the leader, knew everything each star was up to. When he saw what Shiz had done, he went to have a word with him.
But then, he saw, the most beautiful thing ever.
He saw the two lovers, as they took every drop of Lust and poured it in the Love, and created the most wonderful fusion of the two. God had been right, of course. The two were meant to be.
At a distance, he saw Shiz, looking at him watching the lovers proudly, and he said, “Thank you, Shiz, for being part of the team. We couldn’t have created this magic without you.”
Hearing these words, Shiz’s naughty smile faded and his eyes went moist. Yes, he was part of the team that created this fairytale romance. And to this day, every time you see Shiz, you see his colour changing because of his light shining through his moist eyes.
Disco star, as the two silly lovers call him, twinkled away a little more brightly than the rest of them.
But he’ll take that name.
After all… he was part of the team.

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.

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.

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.

“Where is your native?”

I think I’ll miss the weather the most.    

I did make some friends in this city, of course I did. All kinds of randos. Friends who made me fluffy little omeletts when I was unwell, or just because it was a Sunday morning, friends who’d discuss the intricacies of life and love with me as they fixed their hair in the mirror, friends who’d somehow always have an appetite for a fourth Jagerbomb…

And yet, I think I’ll miss the weather the most.

When it rains in Bangalore, the roads begin to sparkle. Everything suddenly goes HD. And sometimes, if you’re lucky to be in a place where you can look far off enough into the sky, you can see a rainbow. It lies there, inconspicuous, so aware of its beauty it’s almost trying to hide. You aren’t looking for it, but your eyes fall on it. And you feel this momentary surge of happiness within you before you forget about it and get on with your busy busy life.

So often we chance upon people in the same way.

I’ve grown to love the city. Its canopied roads and little cafés, its coconut water and filter coffee. People want to get to know you, here more than anywhere I’ve ever been. And at nightclubs there’s the added challenge of getting to know someone before the 11pm deadline, almost as if mum’s set a curfew just so you only build the bridges you’re destined to.

I love a city that appreciates art. There’s graffiti on the walls that line busy roads and Rangoli outside the courtyards of little white houses and phone numbers scribbled behind bus seats with descriptive diagrams of what they deliver, but how many of us actually stop to look? Art can be a lot to look at. There are love notes and doodles forgotten; only seen by those willing to look, singing a song heard by those willing to hear, the raindrops setting the tempo in the background more often than not, bringing a smile to my face almost as if they deliver blessings when they fall on my skin.

 We all start as strangers. But everyone knows strangers have the best candy.

 So I ventured out, the aspiring adult that I was, living through the people I met and the sights I saw, getting attached to everything that had a beating heart and a story to tell, oblivious to the permanence of the bonds I forged and  ignorant to the fact that you can’t make homes out of human beings.

When a person leaves his city to travel, he has experiences that change him to the very core, and so when he returns he doesn’t fit in, because he’s grown with those experiences. He’s part of a different puzzle now. “Where is your native?” people seem to want to know all the time. I don’t know. I don’t know if it matters.

It’s not the puzzle I’m a part of, this is.

 We find our happy in strange random things; oddly enough, and for reasons lost in time, karaoke was my strange random thing, even if it involved a raging dislike for girls who can wear crop tops and leggings and sit with their legs crossed on barstools.

Like seriously, what is up with that? How do your intestines and stuff fit inside that?

 Anyway, there’s something about people singing at the top of their voices, grinning as they fumble to rap fast enough, dancing and swaying to fill the gaps in lyrics; freestyling their own versions of classics we all know because life’s too short to be predictable, and at the end of the day, just like these mashed up songs, we’re all merged into each other’s consciousness. And even as I leave I know there’s a little bit of something you in everything me.

 That’s why I think I’ll miss the weather the most. It’s the only thing I’m leaving without.