Tag Archives: new year

A Fixing

It’s warm in December and I wake up to crows cawing with a ferocity I’m inexplicably used to. Little worm heads poke out of my strawberries that were never good enough to eat to begin with, and the rat that lives in the kitchen now has a partner called Martha and they seem very happy.

It’s terribly warm this December and the sweat that has settled into my hair seeps down to my scalp and begins to smell like the rot of the day that gets caught easily in fingernails, but can’t be completely scratched out. And who even invited the houseflies? Look at them, settling themselves down casually on yesterday’s muck before launching on today’s lunch.

It seem inevitable, that the death of the calendar year come with some sort of gloom. One must, however, celebrate the survival of it all. All the baseless worry and the baseless hope.

It starts with the cupboard. A lot of people say it starts with the bed; it ideally should start with the bed. But for me, it always starts with the cupboard. It starts with getting out all I have and arranging it into neat folded piles – the dresses, the bottoms, the never-once-worns. Once in a while I shuffle their assigned places in the cupboard. One never knows what works till one has tried it all. Fixing the disheveled heap of cloth and cloth and cloth, because it’s easier to fix than whatever it is that really needs fixing. Hanging the chiffons and georgettes because they unfold too easy, keeping the belts away because clothes don’t slide down any longer, making a mental note to fix this button, that hook, those straps because you’re now with new people in a new world and what may be old to the old people in the old world is still new here, if you just fix this button, that hook, those straps.

I find the patchwork shirt I wore the first time he found out I was crazy. I find the black skirt I wore the first time I found out he was. The shirt I failed an interview in. The sari I never wore to the wedding I couldn’t get myself to attend. All the cloth of all the clothes in all my lives except this one, lying there awaiting new meaning from the new year. If only it was easier to forget why what must end even began.

It always starts with the cupboard, the fixing. Easier to discard, easier to mend, what must be. Easier to discard than mend, which is where it gets complex. With humans too though, much more. Easier to discard than mend, is where it gets complex.

I pick up the old green dress with a hole in the hem from a cigarette burn three years ago. I bring out my sewing kit and sit cross legged with the dress in my lap, ready for the fixing. The needle is threaded with the remains of the green (olive green, not the bottle green of the dress) thread I have, and pushed in from back to front, repeatedly, till a shoddy job of fixing is done. It takes a short five minutes, and if one were to look from afar, one would never spot the gaping wound and the scab I’ve crafted on it.

Imagine now, fixing a soul. Finding the hole, feeling it out, understanding the reason behind it. Then taking the time to find the thread of the exact colour and threading it onto the needle that’ll hurt least. Having the strength to push it in from back to front as the soul winces in pain while it knows it’s for the best. Ensuring you’re doing a stellar job of fixing so that the soul itself can’t find the wound again if it looked. You can spend a year, you can spend a lifetime, and at the end of the day you’ll still question yourself on who it was who told you that you had the right to go about fixing souls, deciding what’s broken from your limited perspective.

That is why it always starts with the cupboard.
It takes an afternoon.

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COME AS YOU ARE

Picture Credits: Hardik Batra

Welcome to my standard night at ISB. It’s 4am and it’s both late night and early morning. I can hear the Gurbani playing in the east as Calvin Harris slowly morphs into Nucleya to the west of my room. Outside in the living room, people are discussing public policy in rural India over a game of Monopoly, and as I look out of my window I see a rabbit hop towards the wood heated from last night’s bonfire. It gets too close and immediately backs away, hopping once again into the darkness. None of us gets a how-to guide, you see? Everybody’s just somewhat winging it.

The wine is over and the temperature is at it’s lowest for the day, so we bring out the rum. The Monopoly has begun to disturb friendships, so we bring out the rum. We’re out of ideas and the paper is due in two hours, so we bring out the rum. A little liquid courage never hurt anyone, so we bring out the rum. Only to wake up the next morning, thirsty, exhausted, drowsy – yet somehow more accomplished, dearer, warmer.

I won’t lie, it’s been an especially gruelling year – but that’s what we came here for in the first place, isn’t it? A year that would ideally have taken two. Not just in what we learn and experience but also physically, mentally, emotionally. Some days we surprise ourselves and own it – the classes, the assignments, the study groups and the networking, still somehow managing to spend quality time with the ones who matter. And yet, some days, we leave our spectacles in the refrigerator.

That’s the beauty of life at this pace. Ever so often it reminds you that you’re still human. Allow yourself a breath – a wasted day, a missed deadline, a failed interview. And then get back up, immediately. That’s what we came here for in the first place, isn’t it?
A year that would ideally have taken more time.

And now with graduation day almost in sight, I try to think of all the ways to tell people all the things I wish I’d known when I began my year here, most of which have to do with emotional stability. That even as you start out, you will meet people who see the same stars as you do. They will inspire you, overwhelm you, bring out the best and worst in you and slowly become a part of you.

But people, as people do, change. Sometimes you just outgrow the ones you started out with, for you mature with experiences, not with years. All of a sudden you’ll be looking at the same stars, seeing different constellations. And nobody is better or worse for it, we just make our own momentum as we go from bone crushing hugs to firm handshakes.

And then there’s the ones you find and keep – different momentums, different starting points and all that jazz. But the same escape velocity. They come out of nowhere and as they do, you realise that for this one year, you’re always one decision away from a parallel universe. And for that one reason, this year is the beginning of anything you want.

I wish we could have bottled this year, like a perfume. Breathed in a little every time life got dreary or uninspiring.

But we can’t, so we bring out the rum.

The Goodbye That’ll Do

I was supposed to eat healthy this year. I think I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with anyone new. I had to write a book and complete blog posts and talk to publishers. I had to work on my art and fill all the empty canvases lying around my house, yearning for attention and colour as they gathered the year’s passive grey dust. I was definitely supposed to travel and subconsciously that’s the only promise I kept. And thank god for that.

I travelled to Mumbai and saw the filthy drugged and the stinking rich live side by side in perfect ignorance of each other’s worlds – not hating, not loving – just existing for purposes they found sufficient. I travelled to Pondicherry and saw three Italians pulling vegetables out of their kitchen gardens to make a meal for me in their wood oven. I travelled to Bangalore and saw some old friends. Some grown up more than they’d have liked. Some grown up less than I’d have liked. I travelled to Los Angeles and saw women with botoxed foreheads holding Prada handbags, their worry lines now buried deep inside their skulls, invisible to everything but their own soul, because that’s how they like their foreheads. I travelled to San Francisco and saw a homeless woman reject the pancakes I gave her. I danced to bluegrass banjo music with people whose names I couldn’t pronounce or hear. I saw seventeen miles of a sky in colours I can’t name.

I also loved. Deliberately, consciously, carelessly and then carefully. I loved like I had never been broken. I loved a person across cities, states, countries and continents because it’s 2015, and distance is nothing but a minor inconvenience. I got over emotional unavailability, only to realize that it’s the most selfish reason not to let someone love you.

I read books I couldn’t relate to that taught me so much about the people I’m not. The people I want to be. The people I must allow in others.

I lived with my family long enough to fall back in love with them and then remember why I can’t live with them anymore. I heard my father talk to me like I was seventeen, and didn’t get irritated for once because the last time he spoke to me over breakfast on a Tuesday morning in pajamas was when I was seventeen and we both forgot that we both grew up in the years between that Tuesday and this one.

I think I learned how to breathe slower this year. I learned my feet freeze the fastest when I’m out in the cold, my stomach last. I learned that money is important to live a happy non-materialistic life as well. Because it’s 2015, and money is nothing but a major convenience.

And with 2016 three days away, I’ve decided I’ll eat healthy this year. I’ve sipped fine sake and guzzled shitty absinthe and my body deserves some peace. I won’t fall in love with anyone new. Because my heart’s only this big and it’s full. I will write a book and complete blog posts and talk to publishers. Because I started seven books this year and they’re all now just unfinished parts of me. I’ll work on my art and fill up those canvases with colour. For no reason in particular.

And when 2017 is three days away, I’ll tell you what I did instead.

Featured Image – Picture clicked in the Standford Museum of a notebook with doodles and scribbles. This particular page ends with the lines
“Made it from there to here and now
Here’s there again”
Anonymous, like all good feelings

 

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.