Tuesday, 22 November 2016

You Against The World

I could think that the sky above me is pink. When it rains, down come nachos! All the trees are red due to excess of anthocyanins. Maybe, people around me have purple hair, gray hands and feet. Our blood is blue, and penguins run the government.
It is easy for me to imagine such things, but I wonder if I would be able to tell you these thoughts? If I did, I’m sure you’d laugh; or say, “Gosh, what is wrong with you? When did you stop sounding sensible?” or maybe you’d dismiss the whole affair as “funny stuff” or a joke. But, what if that makes perfect sense to me?
We all have thoughts that we’re afraid to voice. Perhaps, we’re ingrained with the fear of being looked at as different, or being labelled “weird”. We have been trained to conform, and we pretty much do things that everyone else does, for pretty much the same reasons. We follow trends, and have our preferred self-identities. But, how real are these identities? Are they really us? Why do we care so much about what others will think, when somewhere down the line we’re also taught that they aren’t supposed to matter?
I find myself bombarded with such thoughts from time to time. Maybe it stems from a state of idleness, or maybe I’m one of the people crazy enough to believe that I need to entertain my thoughts, even if nobody else does. So, let’s take this one step at a time; and start on a journey to find our “true self”, discover who we really are, and uncover a new motto to live by – that it’s probably just us, and only us, against the universe, and that it might always remain that way…
There are so many people on this planet with bewildering diversities in thought-patterns, belief-systems, and lives, yet we all seem to have adopted the image of one “common man” who strives to get through the day, get some sleep at night, and busy himself with the humdrum of life. Everyone is doing it! You can seriously see it happening all around you.
Structurally, we are all the same molecules, we possess the same organs and our brains do not develop special structures and features on the basis of our different racial, regional or sexual background. Then, why are we trying to stand out? Isn’t all the effort going to be in vain? Since we are all so remarkably similar, let’s just try to fit in. Why should we try to think different when we all come down to the same matter? “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Remember?
 Why must you stand out when you can fit in? Why should you try so hard to be yourself? Isn’t that thought by itself sinful? Why do you want to make your voice heard over the seas of the crowds? Why do you want your thoughts to soar high above the clouds?
It’s not easy to keep marching ahead when so many are trying to fit you in their mould. But, always remember, it’s you against the world. It is you against all of them. Stop feeling small, believe that you are Goliath. Don’t listen to the voices – they’re mistaken and are trying to confuse you too! Don’t dig your own grave by falling prey to their words. Just stand tall.

It could be a lonely night, but remember even when there’s no else, there is truth. It’s alright to be a little crazy because that is the real you. Life may seem terrible, but you have no clue – it’s actually beautiful, but the journey to the rainbows is you, just you…
In the end, it is you against the world, and this place isn’t going to be your home forever. As the lights get dim, the Universe will embrace your dark, and your light. If the Universe can, so can you. You don’t have to wait until after the end.
No one else matters. You matter. Only you.
Stop trying to fit in. Start standing out. Extraordinary people didn’t fit in. They broke the rules without caring what people thought. We are all books waiting to be written. But so many books have remained manuscripts in the mind, and never been chanced upon. You know why? Because we’re so busy trying to be “normal” that we don’t think crazy. Steve Jobs once said that those who think they’re crazy enough to change the world are the ones that actually do. Those are the books that get written. These are the people who do not apologize for being the way they are. They know that in the end, it’s going to be just them and their creator. The world does not matter. It never did.
I like me, but there are days when I find it hard to love me. Yet, I choose to believe in me. I believe in my beliefs and thoughts. It does not matter who else believes in them too, as long as I believe in them as strongly as I possibly can. I try staying away from stereotypes. I try to be the truest version of me. And those who know we well, I’m sure they’d agree. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t matter. Believe me, it makes life a lot easier. Own your true self, be yourself, and be totally unapologetic about it!

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Verdict of Love

Love appears to be a silly form of a lost-and-found game. People say that when you love, you either completely lose yourself, or you become the truest version of yourself. Does that make love the best or the worst thing we do? Somehow, unbelievably and inexplicably, could it be both?

Could love be the best of the worst?

Who fixes broken people, if not for other broken people who’ve already been ruined? Sometimes, the messiness in our pasts that drives us, connects us with the same hurt at a sub-dermal level; making us recognize in others the kind of scars we cannot see in our cells anymore despite the writings being scribbled so deep. Isn’t that love? Love may take the shadows of our soul hostage, but in that lies our freedom.

Harry Potter showed us the power of love – young Harry survived the Avada Kedavra curse because of the love his mother, Lily, shielded him with upon her death. Even as a ten-year old when I read the book for the first time, I simply accepted Dumbledore’s explanation for Voldemort not being able to touch Harry – because he was protected by love – and never questioned it. It does not take a detailed equation to believe that love and magic are linked.

Being in love is a magical feeling – every person on this planet who’s had even a stupid crush can vouch for that! It is one small, four-letter word, yet it transcends space and time, saves humanity and becomes a survival instinct. Isn’t Cooper and Murphy’s love (enter Interstellar movie-reference) one of the purest kind? Maybe, in that, love is perhaps the best thing we do. And somehow, it does seem sensible to believe that love could be the fifth dimension in which we flourish, in which we survive. Love is the key to simply existing in a manner that neither the passage of time, nor gravity, nor data can achieve. Love shows us the path of transition from one blank space to another.

Maybe, love is just like all the other forces that make up the universe – unstable, just like all the radioactive elements we know, yet a stronger, driving force than gravity could ever be. Love can be the best and the worst. Love can turn us into either the best or the worst versions of ourselves. And love is the best AND the worst thing that we do, but we need to do it anyway.  
"But love doesn't make sense. You can't logic your way into or out of it. Love is totally nonsensical. But we have to keep doing it, or else we're lost and love is dead and humanity should just pack it in. Because love is the best thing we do."
- Ted Mosby (How I Met Your Mother)
You taught me well, Ted Mosby!

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Interstellar


He stared at his fellow-star tenant, and thanked her for the adventure. Space and time had fought, resulting in a break in the continuum.

The shooting star he had wished upon was already dead. He’d believed her to be infinite, but at that moment, she felt empty…As empty as the vacuum that had existed in her heart when they kept taking pieces of her and she let them. He wondered if there was any word for that.

She often accused him of acting like a storm that often came unannounced and left after uprooting her from her being. He did not dismiss that particular allegation – he was human, and storms are, anyway, named after people; nebulae are not. She was made of stardust – they’d crushed her and she’d let them. She was now going to become a star, because that is how stars are born: they crumble, collapse, burn and then finally glow. As a child, he’d stared at the twinkling stars in the sky and wished upon them, but ever since he met her, the twinkle in her eyes was all that he’d needed. Was there a word for that?

She’d wished for something that had destroyed her. Her love for him had moulded her, but, ultimately, what she’d been able to sacrifice had defined her. He couldn’t come up with a word for that.

He’d always loved metaphors even though he had a hard time coming up with original ones by himself. Yet, life had given him the biggest metaphor in her form. Together, they’d embarked on an interstellar adventure, and in the name of allies, all they had were time pirates! Unfortunately, time had always been relative…Two years, two months, two weeks, two souls who kept responding to the hurt that was taken from them. What words could he use to define that? Time was relative, yes; but the hurts were subjective. Love had managed to transform them, and though it was always transcendent, their love had never been quantifiable.

He knew she was probably laughing upon hearing of his cosmic dilemmas. To her, nothing was complicated. Love was nothing but a fleeting glimpse of eternity that would last forever; love had always been free falling, space racing, never running-away but more of a running-towards. Love was nothing other than the North Star which one could always gravitate back to.

She wanted to return home to the star they came from. He used to call them “star tenants” because he believed they’d shared the same origin star. They’d embarked on the same voyage light years ago, but their pathways had been different. However, different star trails from the same star could only stay apart for so long until parallel lines and intersecting lines lost their meaning. The heart did not know of time, space, distance or choice. Heart-strings unravelled in the same way as did the fabric of the universe – there was a break in the continuum, and in their case it was a paradox of love called love.

He used to believe that a black hole is a passage through space and time. She wished he’d understand that time always stood still, making darkness perhaps the perfect place to love somebody. He did not realize that black holes were hugely dense objects, with an inescapable gravitational pull. When he’d fall, he’d fall forever. Forever. It meant there was no way out. She wished he’d allow himself to succumb to the vulnerability, to the fall…Only if he fell, could she catch him. She wished he’d allow midnight to become the easel he’d aligned his stars on – to write of his future infinitely, just like the artist and writer he was. He needed to reel himself back in; he needed to realize that the pursuit of happiness is nothing but a secret locked for safekeeping with the diamonds in the sky.

Space and time had had a fight, resulting in a break in the continuum. There was a break in the opposite end of the spectrum. What he’d believed to be infinite had become unwritten…Unwritten like the rest of his life before him. He wondered if there was a word for that. He realized that, indeed, there was a word for that! It was nothing but love. As he stared above, there it was! Against the dark sky, he saw a ray, an age-old ballad – of science and faith, love and hope. He saw white light - a million colours that briefly splattered across the easel, an aurora lasting all of eternity. He knew it was her light and in his heart, he preserved it and cherished it while it lasted. Finally, he no longer saw a black hole as a dead end anymore.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The Arrival

She could not believe her eyes as she saw the sight that lay in front of her. Finally, someone had tried flashing a torch and attempted to alleviate the darkness that had become a constant feature of her world. Suddenly, she felt as if her light had returned, and slitting the throats of her dumb tunnels, finally, she found her voice back, tearing through the vast emptiness of her long-neglected vocal cords.

Her beloved had finally come her way, and she found herself overcome with desire yet again. The yearnings brimmed inside her like the splattered paints on an artist’s palette that remind one of the uncontrollable and inconsolable passion he has for the colours he imagines in his mind. But wasn’t it now a little too late? Her branch of time hardly had any leaves left, and despite being so close to love, there was still no way for her to experience it to the fullest.

He understood her dilemma. He had been wandering for days with memories of her still lingering, and he knew that despite being away, he was still loved. He realized how, blinded by the chase to success, he had failed to sufficiently reciprocate the love that came his way.  He knew that he was late, but he had returned at last. He wished now for her to come to him, as with each kiss of hers, he fell asleep, and as she tried to overcome the trysts of life and death, he wished to wake up as she shone her light of dawn.


Time was definitely not on their side. There wasn’t enough time to listen to his small broken tales of camaraderie, but his return had finally pacified her lifelong frustration. No matter how late it was, no matter in which condition they both were, they were both together, they were both finally “home”. This final meeting seemed like a fun, topsy-turvy merry-go-round ride that completely overshadowed the tiny, dancing fireflies who stirred up fun, happy memories. The purpose of her life had been to meet her beloved, and once again, as she looked into his eyes, she saw herself, and realized that she had found her God. 


One life-time is never enough to accomplish all unattained desires. They still had to make several journeys together. But for now she knew, as she closed her eyes to rest, there was no next time.... 

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Call

It had been a long time since their last meeting. Every time, she missed him, she stared at the sky. After all, no matter where they were, they were all under the same sky; and they both fell asleep wishing under the same stars under the same sky they shared. People always told her that time is a wonderful healer, but she had seen how time had destroyed them – perhaps, it was too late for them to be able to salvage their situation. Time could heal, time could rip a person into pieces. But, time could not change the story. Ever since he had left, she found herself constantly swimming between two waves – the flood of letting in, and the torrent of letting go. Sometimes, she felt so frustrated that she thought it was time to just leave and turn to dust. If the essence of her life was leaving him, she wondered if she could just walk down the old path one last time, gather everything that she wanted and re-paint the entire road red. She missed the lazy evenings they spent together and wished she could just go back to simpler times. She knew there was still a chance – albeit a teeny tiny one – but she was not sure she wanted to take it. It required a lot of effort, and she wasn’t sure she could invest so much again. Besides, only a miracle could really save them, and she did not believe in miracles.

As he waited for his train to arrive, he remembered the first time he had met her. The swarm of people rushing to enter the train while she was attempting to get out had scared her. As soon as she saw him at the platform, she just rushed into his arms, and the world around seemed to have come to a stand-still. The way she’d held on to him made him feel incredible and uniquely warm. He wondered if she had ever been horrified the way she’d been that day. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea to endure the journey on Mumbai local-trains during peak-hours, and that had been her first time. In that moment, all she’d needed was a whisper and a hug. He hadn’t quite known what to do, but on that day, she’d made it clear that trust had no faces, only promises, and her vulnerability had involuntarily made him promise that he would protect her. She was the first person from whom he learnt that the world deserves to be loved; even by broken people, like her and him. As he thought of her, he realized that what they shared was beautiful, even though it had been dead for some years. Had it really been that long, or it just felt that way because time only seemed to fly when she was by his side chattering away to glory? He realized that the night did not always need to be dark and cloudy; light always shone to drive the darkness away. After all, they lived on a blue planet that circled around a raging ball of fire, next to a moon that moved the sea – who was to say that miracles don’t happen?

The time had come for change. It was time to recover the good parts of their life. Happiness was now just a phone call away, and this time he did not hesitate as he pulled out his mobile-phone and dialled her number. 

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Battle Of The Egos

He woke up early in the morning, before the sun got an opportunity to set his skin on fire, and went for a run. He enjoyed running. One day, he hoped to be able to race fast enough to finish life’s race. As soon as this thought crossed his mind, he stopped on his tracks abruptly. Why was he suddenly so interested in rushing through life instead of savouring every moment? He had never harboured any delusions of an easy life, but why was he choosing to run away from problems instead of attempting to solve them?
Deep down, he knew the answer. She had been his “problem-fixer”. All he had to do was tell her about what was bothering him, and she’d take care of everything. She had a knack for making all his troubles and worries magically disappear. But where was she now? He had no idea.
He wondered if he should send her a message. He was affirmative that she would reply. But then, he wondered, should he tell her about what was on his mind? Would she think he was only trying to reconnect because he needed her? He couldn’t just pick up the phone and tell that he missed her. Expressing feelings were her department, as was intuitively understanding what he was feeling even when he did not say a word. He had even stopped cyber-stalking her months ago. It was too painful seeing her constant updates with people who had once been ‘nobodies’. Even though she frequented places which were a stone’s throw away from his habitat, it bothered him that she never made any plans with him. She had always taken the initiative. Why should it be any different now?
He thought it best to keep his feelings to himself. Dismissing all thoughts about her, once again he began sprinting across the blocked paver.  

The never ending stretch of the sandy seashore seemed to confuse her way. The beach had become her new home, yet she was not able to decide how she felt about it. She’d been feeling this way for quite some time now. Since the last one year, she’d been tossing between choices, cities, and voices, and she could not remember the last time when she had felt like her old self.
Her old self always had a smile on the face, didn’t hesitate before greeting strangers with open arms, and always remained in a positive frame of mind. Where had this old self disappeared? Why did she feel so uprooted?
She’d always been a traveller. Shuffling places was not new for her. In fact, she quite enjoyed that part of her life. Perhaps, the problem was that he was not there with her…
Even though they had never frequented places together, having him in her life made her feel like home. He was her home – the home where she felt comfortable, where she felt safe and sheltered and where she could be her genuine self. When things went awry, as they often did, his voice was all she longed to hear. Just like home is a place that’ll always be there, not for once had she imagined a situation where he would not be around. Before him, she unknotted her burdens and he held them for her so that she could walk out of the door without the weight of her problems bringing her down to her knees. Home is where the heart is, and her heart always remained tied to him, no matter how far she wandered away. Every time someone mentioned home, her mind always led her to him.
She longed to be home again. So many months had passed. Did she dare to pick up the phone and give him a call? What would she say? What if he didn’t answer? What if the call made her realize that the picture of the home she had painted was a mirage, and in reality, her home had been long wrecked? What would she do then? It was best to wait for him to make a call this time. After all, nothing was over until it was explicitly stated so.

The call never happened. The text remained unsent.
Both clutched to hope with one hand and prepared themselves for disappointment with the other.
Ego had won this battle. Would the heart still manage to win the war?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Anywhere

She walked aimlessly on the deserted road, not really knowing where she wanted to go. It started to drizzle, and she looked around hoping to take cover before the rains got worse. 
He saw her standing by a dilapidated ruin of what appeared to have once been a tea-stall. She looked haggled and tired, but her spirit did not seem beaten. “Can I take you somewhere?” he offered. “I have a bike.”
She smiled at him and wondered what to say. She could’ve asked him to take her home, but then she remembered that a storm had ravaged it. She wondered if he’d help her rebuild it, but it was too late for them to salvage it. 

“No, thanks,” she replied. “I’m just on this road, walking on.” 
“Where?” he prodded. 
“Away from the ruins, and hopefully, away from the storm.” 
Thunder rumbled and lightning struck. Without another word, she got on his bike and they rode along. 

“We’ll sleep anywhere we find shelter,” she suggested. “This storm is too strong!” 
“And finding shelter in this country-side is so rare. Do you know where shelter can be found?” he asked.
She just tossed her head and replied, “Anywhere.” 

They stumbled upon an old, shady-looking hotel, and it had a room to spare. 
As she was about to crawl into bed, she warned him, “I often get nightmares when I sleep, but I dare not ask for your care. That would be too much kindness, of which I’m very scared. In case I wake up and cry, please forgive me. I only cry for my home and everything that I could once call my own.”
She did not seem to realize that he was too baffled to respond. So, she continued to speak and he listened in silence, puzzling how from this situation he could abscond.     

She was murmuring to herself, “I told them to make the house stronger! I screamed for help! They paid no heed, and dismissed the need – it’s only a breeze, they said. Don’t worry unnecessarily. What is the need?
But it was a storm alright. The very worst of its kind. I kept trying to save them. I told them to stay strong! But they huffed and puffed on the side of the storm, and there was not much I could do alone. Now everything’s gone! Everyone blames the storm! We could have saved everything, but they still blame the storm!”

He looked at her deep-set eyes. “Is that why you are on the road, simply walking on?” 
“Well, walking isn’t all I do,” she laughed and pointed out, “I sometimes speak to strangers just as now I am speaking to you! But, generally I talk about the weather, because that’s what strangers do.”
He laughed at her statement and assured her, “Now and then, it’s alright to digress. Conversation, path, or both, briefly. I am in no rush, and neither are you. There’s nowhere you have to be, and there is nobody awaiting me.”
“I could go wherever I wanted to, except, of course, back in time,” she sighed. “But I am really tired now, tired of walking, of being, and tired of trying to rhyme.”

“Then let’s just lie here, do nothing, think nothing,” he suggested. “How does that sound?”
He took her silence to mean a ‘yes’ and continued talking along, “I want to look up to find a clear sky each day, and realize the universe is awesome.”
She smiled in surprise and shared, “I want to believe that karma is a sure thing. I want to believe that there is something out there that ensures that things go right. That there is a plan. I’m not on it yet, but I believe there is a plan. I might have lost my home, but I still have two legs. I can go anywhere, and I’ll go where there’s happiness.”
“And where is happiness?” he asked with a grin. 
She returned his grin with a twinkle and simply replied, “Anywhere.”