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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Trauma 

My mother tried to strangle herself with her dupatta today,

Leaving marks on her neck that scream at me:

BITCH. BITCH. BITCH. 

I saw the same message in my father’s eyes when he said goodbye,

Before he boarded his flight back home. 

His limp hug lukewarm, his hands somewhere far away. 

And I thought to myself, 

“Is this the price I have to pay for being an outspoken girl in a conservative family?”

I have struggled and struggled to manage the dark waters, 

Keeping myself afloat just enough to get by. 

And today I saw that when I tell them they went wrong somewhere,

They only see that I have pointed my one finger at them

And have 3 others pointed at myself;

And cheekily say: you only have yourself to blame. 

I collapsed on the sofa like a ragged doll, 

Disbelief washing upon me at twilight. 

Is this what a mother is? 

Someone who needs 4 people to come rushing towards her saying: stop it, stop it, stop it! 

We believe you! Your daughter makes you want to kill yourself! 

And to think, what could I have become, 

Had my mother decided that a girl who asks questions 

Can still be loved, can still be loved. 

Twenty One Days

In the middle of a sleep paralysis nightmare, her alarm rang.

She could turn it off, but not do anything more.

Did she turn it off?

Was she able to move?

No. She wasn’t. The alarm was still ringing.

She tried to turn it off again.

Silence from somewhere for a second.

There it was again. Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep.

She screamed, she opened her mouth.

She’s screaming. She’s trying to scream.

Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep.

Her mouth isn’t opening.

She’s trying to scream for help. Someone come help me.

Someone.

Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep.

What now? What do I do now?

Her eyes dart around the room.

A woman sits in the corner, her head resting against the wall.

She is watching.

She screams again. She’s trying to open her mouth.

The sounds of her scream echo inside her head.

Outside it is only beep beep beep. Beep beep beep. Beep beep beep.

And the watching woman.

The woman throws her a handkerchief because she wants to stifle her screams.

The woman can hear her scream.

But she can only hear beep beep beep.

It is a never ending nightmare.

The alarm does not stop ringing.

The woman sits and watches her scream.

The handkerchief lies on top of a mouth that cannot open.

It has been twenty one days.