11th Hour

Twenty Four has been a strange year indeed, and I find myself almost at the end of it. One month to go before I reach the looming ahead. One month to go till I know Beyond the number that was It. An important number. And important, I think it was.

Twenty Four started strange for sure, because I left Twenty Three ignoring a text. The evening was balmy, slightly sweaty, and I replied almost right away the next day. Meh, he’s cute. Let’s see. Turns out, now that I’m here, that conversation lead a long way down Twenty Four. I might not have spoken to him for most of it, but there was a tedious path he left behind. I’m here now though, and I can see the path, which means I’ve walked away from it. That’s good.

The mid point of Twenty Four was really, really sore. It throbbed terribly. It was a whining pain, a prolonged quiet shriek. It was breathless chest hurt with tear smeared eyes. I landed on Rock Bottom Earth upon my knees.

I left lines inside the mud, you can see it. I pulled forward with the tips of my nails. I kept insisting that it’s just not my time, but it will be someday. It has to be, right? This can’t be it. I went to class to study maths with freshly bruised knees that were always on the verge of rupturing.

I sat down a few times, and stopped. Just for a bit. Till I could cry for some time. Once, I screamed too. I thumped my fists on the floor, and it could be heard till Delhi. She sent me a tissue within the hour. I used it to brush the dirt off my hands and knees. I was still sniffling.

It went by so fast after that. I scarfed down two months of fear just like that, like it was a delicious piece of chocolate after getting high. Which it actually was, just that. Two months of downward tilting sunlight making way for high nights. Mother told me something; saday-sati she said. I listened.

I angrily, crying-ly went. I think she wanted to help me, Mother. She also wanted help for herself. That’s not her fault though, we all were pulling for help at that time. We were trying. I went though, and I sat through it, begging, begging, begging. There was only one thing I wanted, and there is still only one thing I want.

I went to write an exam. I came out, happy smiling. I folded it away, kept it inside an envelope in my chest. I sent out so many envelopes in real-life too. I gave them my everything, me, whatever good I could get out of myself within that time. I had the tracking number, but I was too scared to see if they’d reached. I didn’t want to know just yet.

You know, now in 11th hour, I still don’t want to know. I want to keep knowing what I know now: I did my best. I really, really did my best. The best I’ve done for myself and to myself till now. I’m here.

Strange.

I have this funny, funny thing now too. Like extremely strange, but also funny this. I think it’s real. I don’t want to say too much because I still have one month, and that can be a really really long time and I want things to not go wrong. But look, I’m saying it out loud. (It’s happened in Twenty Four, after all.) I think I’m dating the boy I first had the biggest crush on, like oh my god. And we’re so tiptoe quiet about it, even to each other. I try to see if he’s still there, and I wonder if he’s feeling out for me too. We’re so quiet about this, but I think I have enough kissy face emojis to feel like it’s there right now. I hope he thinks the same too.

I’m going to be Over There in a bit though. Like, Over There soon. Knowing if I’m going to have to be good to myself through another fall, knowing if there will be whispers and noise soon with him, knowing if I can handle another year of India.

Over There. Twenty Four and Beyond.

Strange, and important year indeed. I must make up for my lack of writing though. I really must. Twenty Four, this was probably the only way I let you down. I really tried everywhere else though. And I know you know.

11th Hour. We’re here, me and you. We’re here.

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February

Nerves, buzzing with dread,
Suddenly.
When something strange has happened,
And I’m denying,
I am scared.
What is to happen if I cannot take the weight
Of loving someone?
To feel like I could push against stacks of hay piled up,
To wonder if there is enough strength in the ropes
That pull me through caution,
To believe that real is real.

Twelve years old, shallow breathing.
Light bright tiles of science class.
I had liked him so much, then.
I know that I can feel it, I have felt even now
The involuntary, downward cast smile.
But while sitting right next to him the other day,
I was still afraid.

I even told him that I wouldn’t do it, theoretically, you know?
And I think he knew what I meant.
But he was so brave.
He went right ahead and brought up the bush.
At least he brought up the bush.

We danced though, we did for a while,
Right around it.
And then I became beer brave.
Or maybe I just thought,
Quivering,
Can it, though? Can it happen?

It did. It did.
I dared not to react, but it happened.
And I still sat there thinking, “Can it, though?”

I’m shifting, stirring, wiggling.
My poor aching, packed joints haven’t moved in a while.
Click, click, click, movement; small,
But certainly moving.

Lull, standstill, creaking,
It happened, though. It did.
And I know because he stroked my palm,
And I felt his hand on my thigh, for like a minute.
And I felt him, just him, near me,
Quivering too.

For both of us to know, to really know,
Privately, to ourselves,
Is not a problem.
For me to not know what he thinks,
Despite the happening,
That seems like a problem (inside me).

I know what I said! I know because when it was said,
I thought, “Really? Seriously?”
And then I thought, Yes.
I know that’s really weird.

Strange things, very strange.
But what has been said remains.
It’s there, it’s right there.
Right now, I only need to remember
And know that it happened.

Quietly gathering myself.
Have patience, I think that I can do this.
I think I want to do this.

Be kind, this time be kind.