Fire

I always liked the summer more than any other season. There is a certain freeness I feel in letting my skin soak the light and the heat.
The heat makes you feel its presence as it arrives. The cold, on the other hand, is the absence of any kind of warmth.
I always did have a problem letting go.
And so I’d rather have too much of something, feel the harsh heat on the back of my neck, than feel it slowly escape and change into a shiver running down my spine.
So I’ve decided.
I’ve decided that I’d rather the world end in fire than ice, Mr. Frost. (Ironic, much?)

I’d rather feel the blistering heat eat away at my skin than have the cold kill me from inside.
I’d rather burst into flames, licking the skies above at least once before I die, than be one with the earth.
I’d rather catch a glimpse of all my memories, than see them one by one, that way I’ll know what I treasured most.
I’d rather feel the incessant warmth, and think of it as
Every last hug, a little too tight,
Every last kiss, lingering on for just a while,
Every interruption, not stopping for a breath,
Every purge of ideas, too many to be said.

The insatiable soul inside me does not know the meaning of “too many or too much,
It’d much rather be set aflame than ebb away at a cold touch.

Seven things I meant to thank you for, but never did

One.
Before you saw me waddle onto the school bus for the first time, my entire being not more than three and a half feet tall, everyone had warned you that I was a loud, irritating pain in the ass. They told you not to sit with me, but you shoved your bag in a corner and smiled at me.
Thank you.

Two.
I tied your pigtails together because you used all the Hello Kitty stickers, leaving none for me.
Later that afternoon my mum asked me who’d decorated my bag.
I offered you a half eaten chocolate as an apology and you forgave me.
Thank you.

Three.
I told you about that guy I’d been crushing on since the past two months and you told him within the next hour.
But I also told you who I was secretly rooting for in the custody battle between my mum and dad and you didn’t tell a soul.
Thank you.

Four.
I had partied all semester with new friends I’d made and I never replied to your texts.
You called to suggest ways to fix the hangover.
Thank you.

Five.
You told me I was being naïve and innocent but I blatantly ignored your advice and did it anyway.
You picked me up, dusted me off and whacked me. Hard.
And then hugged me long enough for my tears to dry.
Thank you.

Six.
You and I grew apart as the years passed by. No birthday parties, no gossip sessions. I accidentally bumped into you on my way out of the mall. You smiled, we talked and I made you a hollow promise to meet again.

Two weeks later my phone buzzed
Hey! I miss you. Message me when you’re free.”
You never gave up on me.
Thank you.

Seven.
In the words of Shane Koyczan, “when everyone else seemed like a wrong answer, you settled for being my best guess

You are the reminder of what I was and what I am
And what I am, is thankful.

So thank you, my love.
I appreciate your existence.

Numbers

Sixty four.
The number of times I’ve stepped out of the house alone after eight, leaving my parents with their fingers as much in a knot as their minds. Should they not have let me go?

Fifty seven.
The number of times I’ve caught an auto driver scratch his chest inside his shirt as his lust filled eyes continued to bore through my thick jacket; all the specks of dirt flying onto the rearview mirror couldn’t hide his intent.

Thirty two.
Times the shopkeeper’s fingers lingered on mine as he handed me my change back; as if giving me my fourteen rupees was consent enough for him to stroke my trembling skin.

Twenty six.
The number of times I’ve hesitated to take that shorter route to class because a gang of bikers known to collect virgins in a bottle had declared the street as theirs.

Nineteen.
The age of the perverse fourth cousin I met at a wedding who forced himself onto me in the empty room.

Sixteen.
The number of accidental brushes of his arm against my leg, my waist or my chest in that crowded train when I didn’t say anything because I’d been taught it was safer to not draw attention to myself.

Thirteen.
When I first found out from my neighbourhood aunties that the length of my shorts was directly correlated with my dignity.

Twelve.
Times my father sent me back inside when the repairman came because he didn’t want me to be “too exposed”.

Ten.
The number of times I’ve been called darling and been checked out top to bottom, this past month. Hmm. I wonder if they liked my new Aldo boots.

Seven.
The number of times I’ve caught uncle looking down my shirt as I bent down to touch his feet. Needless to say, and much to his disappointment, I resort to namastes now.

Five.
My age when that casual labourer working across my house lured me to the back of the unfinished building with a cheap new toy.

Three.
The number of times he ravaged me before letting me go; my muffled screams getting lost in his grunts.
He made me promise to not tell anyone, said it’ll be our little secret.

Two.
The number of days afterwards that I had trouble walking. My mother wanted to take me to the doctor but I thrashed and screamed, just as I had that Tuesday afternoon.

One.
The number of lives I wanted to end with my bare hands.

Because if you can’t beat them, you join them, and if you can’t join them, you surrender. Lay your ashes for them to walk on; feet crunching over broken faith like dry gravel.
Because a thing of beauty is a joy forever, and when that joy is denied , the thing deserves to exist no more.
You deserve to exist no more.

Inescapable oblivion

I see you every Saturday evening,
In your high heels and short skirt;
lipstick so carefully put,
Your face painted with the shades
You wish to be recognized by.

I see your insecurities seep through the cracks at the corners of your mouth
As you fidget with the tassels on your dress.
You call for me every week while I wish to forever be at your doorstep;
The same one you stumble onto after a night of haze you insist on calling ‘Life’.

Your footsteps move in tandem with your hips,
Which as they falter make something inside me skip a beat.
But I,
I never come to your rescue. I wait for you to call me,
Walk up to me and ask for help.
And I, unfailingly, oblige.

I transport you to a new world week after week and take you back to reality.
I want to ask you if there’s someone else, too
Whose breath gets caught in the tangles of your hair.
You smoothen them out with a straight face,
But what do you have to hide from me?

I know six years ago you were afraid this city will spit you out like a piece of bad fish,
And now,
You drink in its lights, its noisy rhythm now a sweet symphony.

And I saw it all unfurl
As I rang your doorbell to tell you I was waiting;
For another round of clinking glasses and hollow laughs,
All clearly audible from my side of the door.
I cross my hands and wait,
Because I don’t want to save you
For then, I would lose you.

But I do wish to whisper a few words to you every now and then.
Hah, but what do you care?

All you feel is the hum of the engine,
All you hear is my silence, and
All you see
Are two white gloves and the back of a head.

A ceasing hush

Her hands trembled as she picked up the pen.
The same one which had looped around to
Add cayenne
To her monotonous life,
Imagining firsts that hadn’t happened then.
She’d construe rainy afternoons and Sunday winter mornings in her head,
A wonderland to which the rabbit hole led.

Six months later,
When she realized that perfection was as hard to find,
As that night was to get off her mind,
She steadied her hand
And wrote

I knew it had been a mistake to step out alone that night as soon as I heard the imminent footsteps…”

I wish to unravel you

I wish to unravel you.
I want to know what makes you smile and what makes silver tears roll from your eyes.
I want to know your favorite bands
What your 4 AMs look like
Do you play with your hair strands
As you nervously falter at the mic?

What makes the corners of your mouth
Twitch up in amused surprise?
Umm.. Do you think that yellow roses
For your birthday, will suffice?

What did you wish for
As you gazed upon that shooting star?
I want to know the woeful tale
Behind your every battle scar.

That empty room in your house
Whose locks rattle on a stormy night
Do you keep your fears in there, love,
Or memories to never set alight?
No,
I don’t invest in bodies; I invest in souls. For I know that when one day the body grows old,
When the skin shrivels and the hair fall out,
Your eyes will sparkle with that familiar furore
And I’ll know to peel you back to your core.
I may never love you, but I want to have you to unfurl,
Make every anecdote a new chapter in this book I’ll call “the story of an ordinary girl,”
and only upon inspection, much like with you,
We’ll all know that
That isn’t true.

This particular question

I’ve been stuck in a conundrum these past few weeks. Absconding work for too long came back to bite me in my posterior. But it kept me busy, so I didn’t really mind. Amidst all the running around and furiously studying (or at least pretending to, that’s equally tiring) I met a few great people and reconnected with some long forgotten friends. I barely had time to think and was feeling like I’m missing out on, well, life ; so when a friend told me he wanted to talk to me about something important I didn’t even hesitate before fixing a date and time. Both the urgency of his voice and the ambiguity of his words caught my attention.
Curiosity kills the cat.
He expressed his apparently “long standing” devotion towards me and used that four letter word whose meaning I still cannot grasp fully.
He was, and still is, a good friend so he completely understood why I couldn’t reciprocate.
So obviously, that wasn’t my conundrum.
That episode got me thinking about what love really means.
To me, or to anyone.
How can one differentiate between liking and love? Who draws the line and where?
I, like most of us, have been exposed to love from all sides since I grew old enough to understand that it meant something besides Mama Bear and Papa Bear.
Popular media like books, movies and endless soap operas cast, according to me, love in two lights.
Either it was eternally unattainable. Such an exclusive emotion that what you’re probably feeling for that childhood friend of yours doesn’t qualify as love. It is a war only for the passionate and valiant; and that too, in vain.
Or, it showed love as an everyday deal. Something so pedestrian that it can happen to any and every Tom, Dick or Harry. Yes, you “love” that cute guy in your English class.
My point is,
On one hand, it’s a game of nuances and shadows,
Of hesitation and deep breaths,
Of deep meanings and obscure implications.
And on the other, all attraction is construed as love. (see: Zindagi Gulzar Hai, Diya aur Bati…well, you get the idea)
I’m still grasping all of it.
This concept is either indecipherable, or all too easy.
Probably why I prefer to steer clear of it.

*mom wipes her tears of pride in the background*
Ciao.