Tag Archives: Writing

Brevity and the beast

It was too late by the time they diagnosed me. I never saw it coming; I did not even notice the symptoms.

I guess I first began losing my words a couple of years ago. The big ones were the first to go. Sometimes they disappeared from the tip of my tongue, never to return again. It seemed to be happening to everyone around me, but of course no one realized it. That is, until a famous writer was trolled for using the brief but eloquent word ‘BRB’ in the middle of a live chat. Investigations were carried out, revealing that this was indeed a serious problem that was spreading through the masses like a raging wildfire.

Word Loss Disorder. That was the official name given to this widespread phenomenon. It is now simply called the WLD, since patients at a more advanced stage of the disorder were unable to remember all three words in a continuous string.

The doctors told me I am currently at stage two, and fast progressing to stage three. I hear that people at stage four only communicate through emoticons, gifs, memes and the occasional ‘LOL’. They also post pictures that speak a thousand words each.

Rumoured to have begun with a virus inserted into a popular social media network, WLD sparked off a series of controversies and protest marches. While the writer / journalist / lawyer type people were severely agitated and demanded a cure, teenagers began marching in streets with slogans that declared ‘Brevity is the new slang’ or ‘We don’t need big words, we ain’t a bunch of nerds.’ Apparently, the power to rhyme was untouched by the disorder.

Eventually, WLD claimed almost everyone as its wordless victims. The internet is now bursting with a new language that contains abbreviations which are easier to retain than the shades and nuances of the beastly English language. I still have occasional urges to write a full-length article instead of a tweet, or an entire paragraph instead of a quote for Instagram. But they told me this was only natural, and even established writers all over the globe have already started to adapt to short forms.

I am now trying to memorize the new slang before I lose all my words, lest I end up flailing my arms and making mute sounds while trying to communicate with another human. I can almost picture my English professor weeping in his grave at the victory of… ah, I had the word right here – it begins with a ‘col’, and I’m pretty sure there’s a ‘q’ in there – colloquialism, yes that’s it – at the victory of colloquialism.

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A rant about rants and other things

Here’s the funny thing about rants. No one wants to hear them, much less read them on blogs. Rants rarely make sense. They exist purely for our own satisfaction. We rant because we would much rather direct our wrath and scorn at some poor unsuspecting bloke than the ones who caused it. The good thing is, the title of this post makes it clear that this is a rant, so feel free to ignore it. I won’t be mad, I promise.

I have a dash in my bank balance, followed by a three-digit number. That dash represents negative balance. I’ll do the drum roll myself, thanks. The last three months of unemployment have thickened my skin, shrivelled my balls (figuratively speaking) and sharpened my pride. But I’m not running for the hills, not yet.

I wrote a short fiction piece and sent it to a few magazines for publication. I am looking forward to being rejected, not because I am a pessimist, but because I know it is not great writing, and I know I can do better.

There are days when self-doubt creeps in and I forget what I am doing this for, I wonder if there is even a purpose. I am tempted to succumb and take up a measly job doing something I hate just so I can enjoy a fat pay check that allows me to eat fancy food, drink alcohol every weekend and travel as an excuse to find myself. However, on most days, this experience exhilarates me because every moment has only me stronger. I thought I had wasted the whole year sinking into some private hellhole of depression, but I have learnt to love fierce and dream bigger.

The point of this particular rant, ladies and gentleman, is this – I don’t think I’ve hit rock bottom yet. I am not done sinking, but I think I’ll survive. And here’s a comforting thought to leave you with – after rock bottom, the only way out is up.

Queens of Instagram

Instagram is depressing me.

I overheard a couple at a café the other day. The girl wanted to travel the world and take pictures everywhere. So the man painted her a beautiful picture of all the trips they would take together. In the end, he promised, “Baby, I will make you the queen of Instagram if that’s what you want.” Now, isn’t that just lovely?

Instagram is now the countryside home with a white picket fence, the Everest for the aesthetics and an unsolicited portfolio of kids and booty.

I get it, people. You want to strut your stuff and share tidbits of your fascinating lives with the world. Just… don’t share every minute of it. Save some of the most important moments for you and you alone.

I was moved to tears today, listening to Maxim Vengerov performing Sibelius. I was lost in the music and I shut the world out. Such moments come rarely to me and they mean a lot, because they remind me that I can feel. This is the link if anyone wants to check it out.

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In a daze I stumbled back to my dorm, stoned on some of the best hash the country had to offer. I crept inside my blanket and began tripping to the breathing of seven men into the silence of the wind. I had surrendered to the daydream delusions and fantasies of my drug-addled brain, when I heard a sob from the bunk above mine. One, then another, until great heaving wails rocked the entire bed, yet the others continued breathing and snoring, as if I was the only one alive or sane enough to hear the sound of grief. Listening to the drunk little boy shaking with tears, I froze within my stupor, unwilling and unable to reach out. I pretended to be asleep, and he continued sobbing into muffled pillows. These are tears of self pity, I thought with disdain. These are not tears where you feel sorry for a three-legged dog or a poor beggar kid; these aren’t tears of losing someone dear or missing someone who is far, far away. These tears were because he felt sorry for himself, sorry for the way he is, sorry for those that were no more in his life, and because he never knew the love of a mother. I knew, and I understood, but I was hardened and he was weak; I despised his tears, I hated a man who could cry unabashed for the man he could not become.

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I’m surrounded by people, but I am alone. As always, alone. I wish the smoke from my cigarette could obfuscate some of the thoughts floating around in my head, the ones that are too clear, too sharp for this particular moment. They worry about me. They think I am turning dark. They think I am letting myself go. Well, go where? I am right here, letting empty days stretch out lazily before me like a long winding road – their favorite metaphor for life. I may not laugh as much as I did, there are definite dark circles under my eyes, and I may be writing about death and sex and the darkness that shall fall when that last cigarette falls from your limp hand. I may be tempted by Death as a mysterious seducer, the she-Devil, a Scheherazade of the netherworld. But no, I am not ‘turning’ dark; maybe it was you who chose to only see the light. And no, I am not suicidal, I have always been strong enough to ride the wave. Let me reconcile with my darkness; I cannot shove such bile back down my throat like you did, only to have it erupt when you least expect it.

Expel

I ate a burger today. Immediately after, I wanted to shit it out.

I listened to strangers yak about bullshit until my ears began to burn. I needed to vomit the poison I had injected.

I went for a run until sweat dripped from every pore.

It wasn’t enough.

I wanted to cut myself and watch the blood trickle from unsuspecting veins.

I wanted to reach inside my throat and turn myself inside out. I wanted my guts to spill out in a heap on the side of the road.

Instead, I expelled words.

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.