I am standing in my childhood bedroom
my father hikes up his sleeves then picks up a baby pink sweater,
holding it delicately as he pauses just for a moment before glancing at the clock on the windowsill.
he teaches me
how to roll up jackets till they are the size of socks
roll up socks till they are the size of fists
ball up fists and bite down tongues to keep ourselves from talking of the future and instead decide how many boxes are enough to fit my life into.
He tells me the best ways to optimise space, fit as much as possible into every crevice,
then tells me the best ways to optimise life,
fit as much as possible into every moment.
He drops me off at the airport,
the windows are misty on the way over as if to make me forget the place I am leaving and somehow make goodbye easier.
the air is filled with a heaviness of realising that we will always be in mismatched timezones
missed calls and not quite catching each other at the right time
and a sudden realisation:
i wonder how long it would be till i got to call a place mine again.
I dispel the thought from my head as I quicken my steps to the departure gates.
There is a place I must be.
a place newer, shinier, happier.
Three days before I left for college I said goodbye to my best friend.
we had known each other since the fifth grade,
grown together, our learnings of life
seeping into one another’s like too many paints in a palette too small.
We grew and changed and changed some more
but this one lesson we carried with us everywhere
like the note you scratch onto the inside your palm
to remind yourself every second of every day
“the problem is you think you have time”
I call my father in the middle of the night
it is 3pm in India, he leaves his conference room and stands awkwardly in the middle of an empty hallway
simultaneously hoping that no one sees him talking to his teary eyed daughter
but also that someone passes by and teaches him how to switch to the front camera.
I tell him I miss him,
that I spent the last half an hour flicking through photos on my phone
of that time we went out in the sweltering Delhi heat
in search for the ripest mangoes we could find
and spent an afternoon with sticky fingers and smiles on our faces.
His expression does not break as he tells me me loves me but that
that was before
and we are in the now
and in the now,
there are places I must be
places newer, shinier, happier.
it has been three years and every room I walk into I still into I look up as if to see another clock on another windowsill
Most days all I have for breakfast is a coffee and the ticking sounds from that night when I learned how to turn sweaters into socks and socks into balls and fit them into my
I have grown
With hands always turned upwards
Stretched my fingers as far as they would go,
even as the skin between them would begin to crack and bleed
Convinced that I have too much living to do
For me to stop moving.
Life has never been as beautiful as when my eyes are wide open
And an inbox full of messages
A google calendar with its brightly coloured rectangles of productivity and experience,
fitting as much as possible into every moment.
telling me I must be elsewhere.
I walk into a coffee shop for my morning order,
the barista doesn’t need to ask me for my name as she pours hot liquid in my to-go cup, I turn around to pull out my planner from my bag,
there is a quote on the front,
a line from a poem my mother recited to me when I was a child,
“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
to serve long after they have gone,
and so hold on when there is nothing in you
except the will which says “hold on”.
I have forgotten the last time I slowed down enough to write poetry.
As I check the clock on the windowsill and walk out of the shop
A young girl inside catches my eye
as she looks at me
she looks confused
as if to wonder why I am walking so fast
how many things I have in this moment that cannot wait.
we are twenty five and smiling, still smiling,
bumbling about in the prime of our youth,
the sun is glowing, and so are we
you run up the hill only to run down
as i sit scratching thought after reckless thought onto paper
my pen flows and does not stop
the best days are when my poetry does not need caffeine.
We are exactly where we are supposed to be. I think I have time.