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


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.”

Monday, 22 August 2016

Every Night

He was more than a thousand miles away, but he still stayed with her. He often said careless words, and sometimes, nothing at all. She still did not love him any less. Sometimes, she thought she could escape him by slipping into a different world, but he stayed with her even when she was asleep; and whenever she felt happy in a dream, she knew it was because the ripples of a forgotten river were laughing in his voice.

Why was it that there was nothing in her that wasn’t his? Why did he possess her to this extent? Of course, she knew the answers, but just knowing did not make the path to acceptance any easier…

She had always been her harshest critic. She was filled with flaws. Yet, he had managed to find some source of awe in her and made her see that she was beautiful. She found herself staring at herself through the small mirror called love each day. And each time, she only saw him there.

She had always prided herself over being practical. Her eyes that had never dared to dream before his arrival, no longer dreamt at all after he left. Her dreamless eyes were still his. 

She knew the vague words that she wrote with her hand were only desperate attempts to reach him somehow. He’d held her hand, and led her into thinking it was forever…

Her feet, when they had walked with him, were often lost. But in her heart, she knew that as long as they were walking together, no matter where they went, it was the right way. She knew that if he called, her feet would run to him even today, despite being weighed down with grief – grief over his inactions that let her leave.

Her lips quivered every time she thought of him. Once upon a time, they used to smile most honestly. The quivering lips were still his.

Claiming her heart should have been the hardest part, but he easily convinced it that he was true. Her heart had never believed in too much too soon, but it had really believed in him. But his determined destruction had been too swift. Now her heart was broken, but every fragment of it was still his. 

Now that he had left, she realized he had more than her heart, her feet, her lips and her eyes – he actually owned her whole. In the depths of her soul, there was now a void. And from somewhere there, even though it ached, she still loved him. He was a little raw piece of her. A piece that had gone missing. 

One day, she hoped she would be able to find her freedom. Somehow, she was convinced that she would be able to have it. It would be in everything; in everything that she wanted to renounce. She wondered what she would do then. She’d find herself in that everything. Then, what would she do with herself everywhere?

As her mind agonized over these aimless rambles, once again, the night called to be awake. It wanted to stay longer with her, within. It was there that she’d meet him. Yet again.  

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Be Your Own Friend

Everyone around me is celebrating Friendship Day – my WhatsApp is flooded with messages on friendship, Facebook is filled with pictures and statuses of people dedicating messages to their friends, even my grandmother has received a friendship band from our cook!

While I have often stated that I don’t believe in celebrating a particular relationship on the basis of a particular assigned day (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.), this year my cheerful spirit seems to have achieved a new level of low on this particular occasion of Friendship Day. Somehow, this day seems to be a mockery of sorts!

We’ve all been conditioned to believe that we need friends to get on with life. We’re all aware of the responsibilities and duties a “good” friend is expected to perform:

Friends make our lives beautiful by dividing our sorrows and doubling our happiness. A true friend is always there for you whenever you need them. Friends are understanding, non-judgmental, and they will never let you down. Friends keep your secrets. They know what makes you happy and what bothers you. They know when you are upset, and not only know what to do to make you feel better, they actually go ahead and do everything it takes to ensure you always have a smile on your face.

These are just some of the things that came off the top of my head; I’m sure there are many more! Now, how many of us have friends who can be honestly fitted into these perfect descriptions and definitions? In the real world, people aren’t perfect, and such an ideal friendship does not exist. In reality, every person we encounter is an acquaintance or associate with whom we are in close contact as the equation is mutually beneficial in some way or the other.

All relationships are fluid. We may be extremely close to someone, but after a few years, the person could become as good as a stranger. Once upon a time, you and your friend stuck together like glue. Now, you two meet once in a few months only to catch up over dinner or a movie. There are conflicts now, but there is no attempt made to resolve them – it seems pointless because things will never go back to the way they were, and there is no point in making things worse. Often, their newsfeed is filled with news or events that you weren’t a part of, or you probably hear about significant events in their life from someone else. The transition often hurts, and to cushion the pain, we often live in a world of denial. But, the right thing to do is just accept the things that one can’t change, and move on.

In reality, the only person who can be your “true friend” is you. No one will care for your happiness and wellbeing more than you. No one will put your needs before theirs. Only you can truly look after yourself and take care of your own needs. If you start putting others before you, you are being a bad friend to yourself. As cynical as it may sound, but, we are all alone in this world, and we have to fend for ourselves. There is no glory in sacrificing your wishes to fulfil someone else’s dreams – nine out of ten times, your sacrifice is not going to be appreciated, and you will only end up being taken for granted.

This Friendship Day, resolve to fire those friends who do not allow you to be the best version of yourself. Fire those who expect you to leave everything for them at the drop of a hat, and won’t do the same for you even if you’re stuck in a world of pain. No matter how difficult it is, don’t tell yourself that you don’t have such selfish friends. We all know who they are – let us not welcome and celebrate toxicities in our life.

Spend some time comforting yourself when you’ve had a bad day. No one knows better than you what makes you feel good – instead of waiting for someone to do something, take charge and make yourself feel wonderful. If you need someone to talk, listen to yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts and get in touch with your feelings. Don’t judge yourself for feeling the way you do. Be yourself when you are in your own company. Get rid of the mask! This Friendship Day, resolve to become your own best friend. You are the only person you need. 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Time-Turner

It was while cleaning her cupboard, one evening, that she found the old silver-band watch which she thought she had misplaced a couple of months ago. The glass was dusty, and the hands were not ticking. She laughed out loud at her discovery. She had not worn a watch in the last seven months. Somehow, it had not felt necessary.

What’s the point of finding the watch, she mused. It was more important for her to find time. These days she just did not have the time. She was busy at work, moving from one task to another at express speed. When she was home, she whiled away time by completing all the household chores, even things that could be put off for a later day. Her mother and close friends sometimes expressed concern and asked her to slow down, but she hadn’t paid much heed to their advice.

As she stared at the watch that she was dusting with a piece of cloth, she noticed yet another thing that was wrong with it. The date display still showed 10th January, 2016 – that was almost seven months ago. What had she been doing seven months ago at this time? She remembered it so clearly, as if it had just happened the previous day…

Life had taken such a drastic turn in these seven months. Seven months ago, she’d have never anticipated her entire life revolving around work. She had always believed that work was something one had to do to ensure life could be lived with ease and comfort; now, work had become her life! If her existence could be equated with “living” that is. Was she happy? She cringed as she realized she could not answer this question honestly even to herself.

She knew it was time for change. She wasn’t one to live in denial for a long time. Her new journey had already begun, even though she was yet to take off. It wasn’t going to be easy for she was still muddling with the shadows of her past. However, the shadows did not cause her much distress. After all, there can be no shadow without light. They go wherever the light goes. They appear when the light appears. Somehow, this realization gave her a strange sort of comfort – it made her understand that she hadn’t completely plunged into the world of darkness. There was still a tiny ray of light – some hope – left for her.

She fastened the old watch to her wrist. The watch was old, the time was the same, but this journey would be a new one. With this time-turner, she had been gifted the opportunity of re-visiting the last few months of her life. Until she finished editing and re-writing the pages of her current life, time would have to remain at a stand-still. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Travellers

She was tired. No matter how hard she tried, he was everywhere. From the corner of signs, she could see him. Even though they kept telling her what to do next, she kept seeing him and nothing else. In the end, they just gave up. She wished they hadn’t. It was not like she was purposely ignoring their precious advice. They just did not get it.

He was her road. No matter where she was, and no matter where she wished to reach, he was the journey she would have to make in order to reach her destination. They kept telling her that many times the journey is the destination. So, did that make him her destination?

Sometimes, she tried changing her direction on the same path. She’d long realized that the path is not always a straight road, and, at times, it is easier to keep walking on the same path, exploring the different directions. But why was it that in each direction she only met him? Did he already know she was arriving? At some level, did he also believe that she was his path?

Once or twice, she stopped to wonder. Did he read her world in the same way as she read his? As he became a page-turner in her world, had she also become a bookmark in his? He still dwelled in her world, but was she also beginning to enter into the spaces between his stars? He read through the stories of light, and she read through those cracks, through which that light entered and shone.

Were they both travellers meant to keep stopping by in each other’s life? If that was indeed the case, did she have the courage or the will to wish herself and him a “Happy Journey” and meet one more time?

“On the map, it appears that I am going home. But the truth is that I’m only getting more and more lost,” he sighed.

“On the map, it seems that I’m already home. But the truth is that I’m lost with him on his road,” she realized.