Curtain Call

Wonderfully done, Twenty Four. Take a bow. There is much to applaud.

So many milestones. So much uncertainty. So much shit that hit the fan. So much mopped up. So gracefully moving forward. So much still left to do.

Pride isn’t something you feel for an age, for a number, for a year that passes, but you can. And maybe you should sometimes.

Take that final bow, Twenty Four. You did so well. I’m most definitely going to miss you.

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.

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.

Flicker

In the event of a total and complete blackout, find a flashlight.
Before the unexpected blackout, make sure you check for batteries inside.
Most of us never do that. Most of the time, the batteries are dead. Find new ones.
In case there aren’t any, find candles.
In case there aren’t any, find a matchbox.
In case there aren’t any, find two stones that can produce a spark.
In case there aren’t any, look inside yourself.
There will be something there. There always is.
Even if it’s dim and flickering, it is there.
You’ll be surrounded by darkness everywhere outside,
Sometimes it feels like forever and ever and ever,
But there is light inside, somehow.

And if the power has gone out for so long, for so long,
That your eyes have adjusted to the black darkness,
And you can see your empty, hollow room,
Just wait. Just wait.
The power has to come back.

But you have to wonder,
While holding onto yourself for years,
If the wait has to be so frightening sometimes?

Because even the best of us, striving to flicker,
Worry about being snuffed out.

One Hundred and Eighty Two Point Five (Plus Seven)

Half-Life

Sixteen I remember, when Twenty Four was first mentioned,
and I had thought about the years between us.
How long would it take for Twenty Four to be here?

I thought that the length of it all stretched and stretched
till Twenty Four remained a small ball of light ahead;
I thought that Twenty Four was a story with pictures,
Of a girl with longer hair with a laughing face and a silver spoon.
Twenty Four was for Red Hands and Red Feet and a Red Sari.
Twenty Four would come to me, they told me, when he’d be waiting for my Red Beating Heart.
And I had believed it.

Nineteen I remember, when I had a Purple-Red Neck
but I had not seen Red flow from between my legs for a few months.
It didn’t frighten me like they’d said it would.
I remember the Red Beating Heart and I remember a man had walked to me,
Trying to claim it.
I gave it to him, for I thought he gave me a laughing face
And all that was missing was a Red Sari
(That I would have willingly worn.)
I reminded myself that Twenty Four wasn’t here yet.
I hadn’t even thought about Silver and a Spoon.

I remember Twenty Two and a broken Red Beating Heart,
Spilling out nothing.

I remember Twenty Three and a broken Red Beating Heart,
Convulsing as it beat, vomitting bile.

And now, I am at Twenty Four, inside the crack of a Beating Heart
That is just not coming together again.

At Sixteen when I pictured Twenty Four as a laugh,
No one could have told me then how to clean up an infected, Broken Heart
that has lost all Red, maybe for good.

Picture Twenty Four if you will, as a story:
A small tap on the shoulder, a sudden fear, ambivalence,
Silence, structures broken, folded limbs, quiet thoughts,
Red bricks, loud voices, cracked houses, cut arteries,
Running, running, running, running,
Running.
Nowhere to go. No one around. Silence.
Quiet heart, still heart, fluttering heart,
But Broken.
Always Broken.
Twenty Four, festering in infection. Forgiven by none.

Entropy decays pained months into Infections, I think.
Because we all know if an open wound isn’t treated properly, it can become infected.
But if I am trying and trying, and trying to try,
And if the World doesn’t listen, doesn’t want me to Do.
And instead says “I will not.”
I ask you, what can be done?

***

I have seen enough horror movies to know
to avoid walking toward the place of Murder,
to avoid calling out to the murderer,
because he will not reply.
I have also seen that when a demon comes to you,
Time stops when he enters,
and if you hear shadows coming your way, you must run.
(Find the Demon’s real name, call it out,
And he will leave, they say.)

The clocks remain at half-past Nothing, never moving,
and my legs are running, running, running,
But I still cannot wash away the feeling that
I am running towards a Murder that’s already happened.

I am so afraid that I will trip over a young girl’s body,
Whose wristwatch died at Twenty One,
And her face will scream: why couldn’t I run? Why couldn’t I run?
And I will be here, watching it all from inside a mirror.

Demons don’t leave despite you calling out their real name,
And the Murder happens even if you keep silent
Before the knife makes contact and breaks open your chest.
And you could be thinking you are dying, you are dying,
But you are only in mid-death, mid-agony, mid-heartbreak,
Writhing and convulsing, screaming and crying but not dying.
Never Dying.

You could be Twenty Four
In-between the fissure Of Heart Break,
Calling out all the names you have ever known,
And then remaining so silent that the World wonders if you’re still alive,
And you find out that Horror does not have to be a scream,
That Horror does not have to be a violent death.
That Horror is only the silence of bathroom walls when you weep,
That Horror is only stained pillows and contorted limbs,
That Horror is only your face shrouded in darkness
When looking above from inside Heart Break. 

***

Twenty Four, half way dead.
One week ago, Twenty Four took a small breath,
And sat down to tell me that she’s half way there,
That when she leaves, I have to think about what is to come.

If Twenty Four was when I was told that pictures would come together,
That it all would fall together
And land on that perfect story,
That my life began when I touched Twenty Four,
They could never have known where I am standing today.

Twenty Four has been brave, Twenty Four has cried for all of us.
And at the meeting point, half-way,
I say the story is coming together only as it could have:
One day at a time, one hour at a time.
One thought of hope at a time.

For I would have never known at Sixteen,
That Twenty Four could have been this quick, this tender, this small.

Picture Twenty Four with almost 6 months
Of an Unwritten Story.
Hands trembling slightly, somewhat tired legs.
Head full of thoughts, still looking above.

Maybe 

Maybe someday I’ll run into you when it’s snowing. Maybe by then I will be ready to believe that I can be loved. Maybe by then, you’ll be ready to love me. I dream of winter days when the snow falls slowly, deliberately and when we both can watch it together. I think maybe, because it seemed so perfect, because it fit so beautifully for one week, that fate can still give us a chance. One week can’t be enough to give birth to Maybes but here I am, nursing them.

If you had told me that I would have been caught like a fish on the line, dragged painfully into the breathless outside, that I would be breathless for you, I would have laughed. I would have told you that you have no idea who I am. I would have basked in the impossibility of it. Yet here I am, throwing out Maybes into the Universe thinking, how did you know? What have you done? I’ve become completely undone.

On rainy days, amidst warm sleep, I tell myself that I can’t dream of you anymore. That you must not visit me anymore. There is too much to do, there is so much left to finish, there is too much that needs to begin. Yet there you are, looking away from me, when my eyes are closed and still searching for you. I think, what have you done?

Maybe you didn’t know me, when I was broken and I fixed myself. Maybe you didn’t know that I’ve met monsters in men and cried. Maybe you didn’t know that you shouldn’t have done what you did. Maybe you didn’t know better, but it looks like I didn’t either.

Maybe I never knew what I could become in one week, when you looked me straight in my eyes and kissed me softly on my cheeks. Maybe I didn’t know that that was all it would take. Maybe I’ve been so damaged, that even one week of sweetness made me believe that bitterness can be removed. Maybe I thought that for once, for the very first time, maybe, it could work out.

Yet I sit here, dreaming of falling snow and warm tea with you, a few years from now. Maybe, I don’t really know any better. Maybe by then you would have forgotten the week you spent with the severely damaged girl, for whom you have no time for anymore. Maybe you won’t know that someone thought of Maybes with you years ago.

Maybe, by then, I would have forgotten too. Maybe by then, the Universe will be kind enough to let me forget.

Mommy Issues

I would never have thought that I am capable of such negativity in myself. I never would have known that I could carry around the weight of hate like this. I would never have guessed at the end of the day, it would all be because of my mother.

I feel like I have been put into a very bitter tasting nightmare. I had imagined that my stay at home would be uncomfortable, filled with anxiety, dreadful in ways but it has blown up into a noxious plume of anger, disgust and absolute hate. I am confused here and there, I am curious as to what would make a woman do this to her child, I am pained by the fact that I will never have a mother as described by those that are loved by one but more than all of that, I feel such hatred. I feel like my insides are being frozen solid slowly with each passing day as I keep looking at my mother’s stone face.

It seems surreal, it seems impossible, but it is. It really is.

This past weekend, my family had a huge blowout just like the one we had a year ago. From that time till now, nothing has changed. Nothing has gotten better and now, I know for sure that nothing ever will get better. I heard things come from my mother’s mouth that no child should ever have to hear. I heard my grandmother feebly try to defend me, to feebly remind my mother of her motherly duties before being shot down by 3 people. I sat numbly as my father told me that I am not a good daughter. I sat silently as my very loved and pampered brother told me it is unfair of me to say that my mother is not capable of love. I sat next to my mother as she spat out these words “Had you guys not been there, I would have killed myself because of HER” after she literally strangled herself.

I have been sitting on the same sofa, in the same house everyday afterwards. She sent me a couple of messages saying she is sorry, but I did not respond well. Why should I?

Because I have not responded, because I am not doing what she wanted me to do, because she has not been successful in emotionally blackmailing me, she has stopped talking to me now. She walks about the house in her ice cold manner, doing what she wants, as she pleases while she shoots looks of disgust and anger at me whenever I speak. I should not be hurt anymore, especially after the worst weekend of my life yet, but what do you know? It still stings. It still hurts. It still pricks my eyes.

She seems almost like a sociopath, almost like she has no traces of any empathy when it comes to her daughter and her mother-in-law. It almost seems like she hates me too. Like she has always hated me.

Like mother, like daughter I suppose.

I have lost a childhood, a mother and any hope of recovering any of this. I carry a burden too big and too much for me right now. The days pass by slowly, the words said still on the floor of the living room. Those fat, heavy words that suffocate my chest every single moment. I pray for the times to pass, I pray for the days to leave me.

I pray that one day, somehow, somewhere, the Universe tells me why this happened. That the Universe explains itself for this huge, painful blunder in my life. That the Universe makes up for the absolute horror of my 24 motherless years. I thought for so long that I was wrong, that I could be wrong, that I have misunderstood her. That a mother could never hate her own child. That a mother could never want to hurt her child. So much guilt and anger at myself for hating my mother from the very beginning.

I should never have bothered. She has hated me right back all along.