Turmoil

I don’t adore the sea anymore. Not like I used to, anyway.

I feel betrayed, though the logical part of my brain says this feeling itself is ridiculous. Despite the upheaval of emotions, this was not betrayal, for there never was a betrothal. It was me in love with the sea. Then, until yesterday, and possibly tomorrow and always, but not today.

I dip my toes into the water, but there’s no response. I wade in a little further, feel the waves lick my knees and retract as though in apology. Frustrated, I yell at the empty, bottomless froth, “Do you not know me?” The only answer I get is silence.

I talk my heart out, confessing my feelings in a whisper. “I admit, ours was an unlikely union –  ever since I was a one year old running into your embrace and you threatened to swallow me whole. Yes, I’ve contemplated the depths of your soul as though looking into the eyes of a lover. I’ve been poised at the brink of your being, wanting to forever surrender to your torrential love making. So why do you hesitate now?

I feel betrayed, though you did nothing wrong. I sensed a connection that never existed. You knew we wouldn’t be happy. And I still played the fool.”

Silently swallowing a bitter pill of hard truth, I turn my back on the ocean I’ve come to love. I’ll be back tomorrow as a different me, but for today, I’ll lick my secret wounds and mourn the loss of something unknown.

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A frivolous demise

The frivolity of death has always bewildered me.

Sometimes I feel close to it. I sense it around me, slowly inching forwards. I hear it inside my own beating heart and in the hopes and dreams of the people I love. Some nights when I can’t sleep, I can see it hovering, lingering, lurking in the shadows that dance on the walls, whispering with the moonlight. I dive inside a blanket, shut my eyes tightly and plug my fingers in my ears but now there is a loud ringing in my ears, the shadows on the wall are dancing on the canvas of my mind and death is suddenly a spiraling loop of the faces of my loved ones, creeping closer every day.

Sometimes I see it in the vastness of the ocean, an endless, bottomless life form that breathes and recedes, exhales and flows and engulfs our dead. The living seem as dead as the dying, and it pains to see precious lives die a little more with each nightfall.

And yet I’ve known a few moments, when life pushes me to the brink, right at the edge, the closest I could get to the stairway to heaven, and I do not even think about death; I simply live. I know it when I make heady, passionate love. I feel it in the thin air at the top of the mountain. I welcome it when I take a hit, smoke a joint, piss in the wind, howl at the moon, succumb to the highs and soar among the clouds. I can sense life in the trickles of water that drip down my skin after a dive. I can taste it in my nostalgia as I summon memories of sunshine, laughter and friendship.

It mesmerizes me, amazes me and drowns me. I am befuddled, still, at the transience of life. After all our struggles, ups and downs, hits and misses, what remains is the absurd frivolity of life and death.

Strangers in sync

It was the fall of 2016. While the temperatures in the Valley were moderate, after sundown, the wind picked up and howled through the trees, making them shiver and shed their autumn foliage. We were bundled up in our winter jackets and scarves, and in search of whiskey to burn our throats and warm our innards. Up in the Himalayan mountains, it is a question of survival; it doesn’t really matter whether you ordinarily drink or not.

It had been a rough hike; with the sun beating down on our backs and sweat soaking through the layers, it was hot enough to experience a stroke. We occasionally sat and cooled off, but this part of the Valley had scant greenery, and sometimes there was not a single tree for miles. We were walking through a landscape of endless mountain ranges of brown and grey, a deserted trail beside a frothing white river and a clear, blue sky; despite the hard terrain, it was achingly, breathtakingly beautiful.

The population of the entire Valley was in four digit numbers, and the locals played host to weary travelers with undisguised delight. Food, water and shelter – your basic needs got taken care of with hardly a dent in your pocket, and beyond that, there was not much you needed, for travelers in the Valley never care for luxuries, rather, they are on the run from it.

After the day’s hike, we had chosen a small hostel on the outskirts of the village; it was cheap, promised decent food and had 5 rooms for rent. We were a strange group – me and my boyfriend, a girl with glasses who wrote poems and skipped stones, two musician guys from Mumbai who had been roaming these parts of the mountain for more than a month now, an American super-athlete couple and a young German girl and her Indian boyfriend who had been volunteering for the past year at a blind kids’ school in rural India. Incidentally, it so happened that that night would be the last time all of us met together in the same place, for the next day, we would all be going different ways.

Our search for a warm beverage proved more than fruitful, for the two Mumbaites not only had a bottle of scotch saved for some such occasion, but also produced some good quality hash, a souvenir of their travels. And so that night, a group of strangers gathered in one of the rooms, lit some candles, poured themselves some scotch, lit a joint, and sat in a circle to swap stories.

Interlude

When I started this blog about three years ago, I only wanted to express myself, I needed a vent, something to do, something to care about. I was looking for someone who might empathize, who might be going through the same thing I was, and more importantly, people who would not pass judgments. 60 blog posts and 315 readers later, I realised, blogging had became all about showcasing my writing. Carefully treading the thin line between truth and fiction, the focus gradually shifted from needing a means of expression to trying to evolve as a writer. As if opening my eyes after an extended period of darkness, today I once again felt the need to simply express, to write only for myself, without trying to create a masterpiece.

I feel happy today. Perhaps the reason is something as superficial as – it’s the weekend! and I roamed the city like a free bird this cold winter morning, feeling the warmth of early sunrays caressing my face. I hit a couple of minor snags, potential dangers to my mood upswing – I sneezed 72 times (goddamn dust allergies), and, courtesy the new wave of black money eradication that’s gripped the nation, I waited 3 hours in line at the bank (which, I must say, was quite entertaining to the people around me, since I finished Tina Fey’s Bossypants laughing my ass off and grooving to Tool) – as I said, these were minor incidents, I wasn’t about to let anything get to me.

My mind was at peace. No restless drumming of fingers on the table, no sudden bouts of anxiety, and, thank God, no depression relapse or drooping self-confidence. It was calm inside, and laughter on the outside. Not particularly wanting to dwell upon the past few months, I can only be grateful for days like these, and hope they stay as long as possible.

Banal

There are times when I envy people their happiness, their joyous lives, pain free, carefree; superficial and shallow, perhaps lacking substance, yet happy. I sit at cafés, alternating between hope, despair, exuberant bliss, pessimism, sudden highs – wind through my hair, night lights, rings of smoke – and then I look at other tables, people laughing, eating, talking about mundane incidents from a mundane life, and it all comes crashing down near my ears, like waves crashing on a shore at high tide. I envy their normalcy, their ability to take life and just live it, without struggling to find answers for questions which have no answers – the reason for our existence, the meaning of love, an escape from the dry monotony dragging us by. Suddenly, I haven’t the slightest idea what I am doing there in that café in the midst of happy faces, so I overdose on caffeine and blow smoke on their faces, silently cursing them for having most of it together. I wish to be free of this eternal struggle with myself, the endless moralizing, philosophizing, rationalizing, and bouts of utterly bleak despair. Everything seems bleak. Get me out of here.

Another lie

He lies.

He speaks with fantastic conviction, spilling half-truths and twisted facts with every word. He’s mastered the art; he keeps a straight face and looks directly into your eyes. His hands do not tremble when he looks away, and his lips do not press together to hide his guilt.

You’ve known for weeks now. He comes home sweaty and tired after work and immediately hops into the shower. Once you thought you saw a bite mark on his neck; another time you leaned in to kiss him and detected the unmistakable scent of another woman on his mouth. You recoiled from him then. You began to watch him closely for signs of a nervous collapse, but he seemed to have it together.

He makes no mistakes; no phone calls, messages, no photos. All data erased from memory. But you know it, you have felt it. There were no signs, but you have noticed the occasional hushed phone call to a ‘colleague’, meeting ‘college friends’ on Sunday afternoons. He never once slipped, but you saw and understood the ache in his bones after fucking her, or the smell of her pussy on his lips. He sleeps soundly at night, snoring loudly the moment he hits the bed. And you lie awake in the dark, wondering what your life has come to.

So why haven’t you confronted him yet? Perhaps you aren’t really sure and there’s a possibility that he isn’t cheating? Or perhaps you are scared to find out that he is; it opens doors to darker and disturbing questions – Who did he fuck? Did he love her? Are you not good enough for him? You close your eyes and push the thoughts out of your head, too painful to deal with at the moment. You find yourself still hoping for all this to go away, like a bad dream that never happened.

He wakes you up one day with kisses and caresses. He wishes you good morning, plays with your hair, smiling the way he used to. You smile back at him sleepily, and suddenly you’ve gone two years back in time; when you were young and stupid and madly in love. His lips graze your earlobe and whisper words of love. And just like that, you fall for his lies yet again.


Stimulus

It may be a sign of growing up, or growing wiser – when studies, friend circles, and clubbing no longer takes precedence in your mind, and gone are the days when you dreamed of stability – career, house, car, marriage and kids, when you worked yourself to a frenzy on the weekdays and blew up your hard-earned money on clothes and partying on the weekends and making grand plans for Friday / Saturday nights. You no longer remember the person you used to be, and those ‘adolescent’ days occasionally come back to you in a mist of nostalgia, but you no wish to live them over again.

I find myself constantly craving a stimulus, be it intellectual, artistic or sexual. I turn out to work wearing jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers and tune in to books, music, anything to get me through the day. Weekends find me enjoying quiet cups of coffee and smokes with my own thoughts or a book for company. I find myself flitting amidst the crowd, breathing into the lull of people’s conversations, covertly stealing characters out of their lives, making up stories in my head.

Hanging out with friends means conversations; a quick recap of mundane lives, then give me the dirt, cut to the chase, dig deeper into the humdrum, provoke me, stimulate me. Intimacy can be achieved over a cup of coffee and two hours of honest-to-God talks, and I want that intimacy. Tell me what moves you, tell me your recent favorite character, tell me about the people in your life, tell me what gets you worked up, what bullshit worldview have you adopted, what do you dream of when you wake up in the middle of the night, sweaty and too tired to get up for that glass of water?

In turn, I will tell you my stories. Let me tell you about this fascinating character I met on my travels, what zone I am in, my crisis situation, my sex life, where all this introspection is taking me. Come, talk to me. Be my muse and I’ll be yours.


Hi! Feels good to be dropping in after a long blogging hiatus! What’s up? 🙂