To The Men Who’ve Left

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Thank you.

Thank you for showing me that I could be seen, that I was something more than a walking ghost filled with other people’s stories but my own dreams. Thank you for telling me you loved me when neither of us knew what that even meant. If it weren’t for you, I’d never know that I existed, that I could be wanted, that I could be someone.

Thank you for shifting schools and staying back in the country for me. Thank you for never giving up on me, even when it hurt your fragile heart oh so much. Thank you for letting me go when I asked you to. Thank you for never coming after me. And it’s been nine years since all of that, but thank you for still leaving behind that tiny corner in your heart for me. Thank you for your kindness, for your patience, for your faith.

But most of all, thank you for the 12th of October, 2007. Thank you for breaking my heart into a million pieces, my heart which wasn’t even yours to break. Thank you, because had I not been broken beyond repair, I wouldn’t spend the rest of my life trying to stop others from being broken beyond repair.

Thank you.

Thank you for showing me what it was like to fall in love. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t ever know what love could have been like, the passion and the madness, the beauty and the insanity.

Thank you for being my only saving grace in a treacherous, confusing cave called high school. Thank you for giving a broken girl a reason to face another day. Thank you for the 27th of October and for that day in May. That was the day I realized how beautiful love could make someone look, even when they don’t see it.

Thank you for never returning my love the same way, even for a day. Thank you SO much. Thank you for ripping my heart apart for years on end, because had it not been for the venom you injected into me, I would never have sought an avenue to extort it from my being, I would never have found the greatest friendships and the most exhilarating laughter that I did.

But most of all, thank you for never letting me know that I was secure in your love, because I wasn’t, and I shouldn’t have been, even for a day. Thank you for not holding my hand that was an inch away from yours on the cab ride that day lest you gave me something to hold on to. Thank you for leaving me with nothing to hold on to. Thank you for leaving me when I was free falling and for not looking twice when I crashed. Thank you, if it weren’t for the disturbed you made sure I knew I was, I would never have gone looking for the peace I did, and I would never have found it.

Thank you.

Thank you for being a friend when all my friends acted anything but. Thank you for sweeping in and being everything he wasn’t exactly when I needed it. Thank you for showing me that in fact, I did not have a type, none besides kindness.

Thank you for taking the wrath that I wasn’t brave enough to dump on someone who deserved it. Thank you for standing by it, confused as you were and letting me break you. Thank you for bringing me face to face with my ugly human.

Most of all, thank you for helping me see that enduring great pain does not entitle you to give greater pain. Thank you for not chasing me when I walked out of your car that February evening. Thank you for never looking back at me, for allowing me to never look back at you. If it weren’t for you, I would never know how important it is to forgive yourself every now and again. I would never know that my human was what made me real and relatable, it was my strength, and not my weakness.

Thank you.

Thank you for making me chase my dreams. Thank you for teaching me how important it was to dream. Thank you for putting me on the path to my dreams, to myself and for cheering me on every God damned step of the way.

Thank you for making me live in the now. Thank you for helping me embrace my fearless. Thank you for teaching me how to place my bets against all odds.

Most of all, thank you for cheating on me. Thank you for showing me how crass being a human can be. Thank you for your cowardice and your honesty. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t realize that I had learnt, and that I had grown, and that I could be different and do things differently. I wouldn’t have known the kindness of my own heart, how easily I could forgive. I wouldn’t have known that my kindness was stronger than my deepest pain. I wouldn’t have known my capacity to accept being human.

And thank you.

Thank you saving your entrance until I was ready to meet you.

Thank you for being exactly who you are and allowing me to be exactly who I am.
Most of all, thank you for showing me that I know exactly who I am and what I deserve, and being the first space where I ever felt emboldened enough to ask for it. Thank you for giving me what I asked for, and so much more.

And maybe this isn’t the final act, who knows, but thank you. Thank you for loving me like no one ever has, or maybe ever could.

To the men who’ve left.. and the one who didn’t.

So Here We Are.

Let’s tell them about how confusing life is right now, about how we don’t know where we are headed, about how we don’t know what this metamorphosis is turning us into.  Let’s tell them that we are afraid because we are, because we don’t know who we are losing in the process of becoming who we are becoming, we don’t know if we will lose each other.

Let’s tell them about the fearless ways in which our hearts dare to dream. Let’s tell them how you save up and I sketch elaborate plans to travel across oceans and into quaint Southern French villages. Let’s tell them about starry night dreams and lakes and mountains. Let’s tell them about discovering the world’s greatest pizza, or maybe just trying it everywhere on earth. Let’s tell them about pink gemstones. Let’s tell them we are philanthropists.

Let’s tell them about endless, boundless conversations. Five minutes? Try five hours, babydoll. Let’s tell them about pesky relatives and childhoods lost to a whole bunch of other cities and people, cause we realized that childhoods usually are.

But that’s not it, is it? So was last November. So was January first. Standing five feet away from each other when the sky was ablaze in more ways than one should have been magic, but it wasn’t. It was solitude. It was reflection. It was being, with ourselves, just as we were in that moment. And in that moment, I could swear we were infinite.

Why were you and I strung together in a chain of parallel worlds in a way that we collided only but once? And we moved ahead with the revolution of our own worlds not knowing the trail of forces that we undid when we collided. They hunted me down anyway. And broke my heart a dozen times before I even dreamt of calling them magic, of believing they were enchanted dust left behind by unseen angels that are always guarding us.

I believe it was meant to be, whatever it is. But I don’t think I have the kind of faith in magic that I would like to. It’s pretty, but not as tangible as the willpower of man, not as sturdy as trust and security, not as emancipating as cutthroat honesty, not as definitive as an open conversation, not as empowering as deciding to belong, not as beautiful as reality is painful.

So here we are, we are here anyway, and I’m glad we collided. And even when it’s the magic, I still am.

I Hate This Part Right Here

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So this is that part.

That part people call growing up.

I’m not ready.

Oh heaven knows I’m not ready! You don’t even need to go that far, just ask my folks, they’ll tell you I’m nowhere near ready.

Or do they think I am? I don’t know.

I’ve just begun chasing my dreams, and I finally see my dreams running towards me as well and that’s a sight for sore eyes! It’s a sight SO beautiful that I don’t think I want to look anywhere else.

I sure as hell don’t want to look at growing up.

But it’s here. It’s in my face. It’s on my homepage. It’s in my home, or lack thereof.

This is the part I was so afraid of, the part I always thought I’d box away till the day I have done everything that the adolescent in me needs to do. Broken all the rules, bent all the stereotypes, fought all the childhood demons and forgiven and set free all the survivors left behind from the battle.

I was getting there, I swear I was, but the train suddenly went off track into adultville. Weren’t there a few more years till we reached there? Let’s go over this maturely, like adults do.

We ran around in all our madness as children making for the happiest memories only innocence could conceive. And then we all turned into morbid, self-loathing, Simple Plan loving teenagers who no one could understand, including ourselves. And then we did college, we screwed up, we made mistakes, we drank and we danced and we lived a little.

And then we were lost. For a good while, we were just lost. At first we hated every part of it, nothing made sense, life wasn’t going how we planned for it to. And then slowly we began accepting that it wouldn’t, and suddenly it didn’t seem so bad. Suddenly we found room to redefine, to look for dreams, to look for ourselves. Suddenly we found a little madness to run to all over again.

Every phase meshed so perfectly into the last, but adulthood? This one came like a massive bolt of lightning. It happened so soon, it happened in a month, a week, a day. It happened in a moment.

It happened today, right now.

It happened when I was supposed to just plug in my earphones and listen to Ed Sheeran sing about life in all his eloquent obscurity. It happened when instead I saw some pretty un-obscure things that people around me were up to.

I had to sit up, look at my own life and ask the question. Do I get to be a child anymore? And the painful answer was no. No, Soumya. You don’t.

Just a little longer? A few more years is all I ask for.

No.

Nop.

You don’t.

The sad part about adulthood is that unlike the other phases, this one has a lot more to do with other people than you alone. You don’t get to decide when you are ready. You’re sort of pushed into it, ready or not.

And heaven knows I’m not ready!

I am not ready.

For that part that people call growing up.

So this is that part.

Couldn’t even find a decent stock photograph for adulthood. Pssht.

They Say I Never Got What I Signed Up For, Little Do They Know.

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The thing is, I never got to talk about it.

Not the way they all did.

I never got to speak of the way we both walked into the midday summer sky, the crunch of the leaves beneath our sore feet as we sat on two separate benches beside each other and peered into our cellphones.

And then the evenings, when we would just lie together on one small, dusty, brick red bench, our heads on either side of it, and our bodies sprawled across it effortlessly. It was honestly not big enough for the both of us, but when things are meant to fit, they somehow just do.

The sky there looked different, no, I don’t remember how it looked. I remember how I felt though, as we laid there and it wrapped itself around us. I felt safe in its velvet embrace. I felt galaxies away from everything that spelt out the life that I knew I didn’t need underneath my feet right then.

And right then, through the entangled bottle green mesh of the trees that canopied us, peeking out of the warm, dark night sky were salt like grains of stars and I was certain I was with everything I needed.

That was eight months ago.

That was the master’s project I never did turn in.

That, was our Kundgol.

I’ve never really spoken of how you sang to me as we left the city sitting beside the original superstar, because no one would ever understand how the sweet melody in your voice was more succulent than any Renuka samosa would ever be. But oh! Those Renuka samosas hidden away in the little town of Hubli, setting goals for samosas across the nation!

And I’ve never again spoken of your ugly neon cap and ridiculous loafers paired with pattialas. Because how could I ever expect anyone to believe that those set benchmarks for our emancipation?

I have never explained how our minds raced when we walked into a large, empty meditation room and stared at a blinking red dot. Could this red dot possibly be what garners us our J school diplomas?

I didn’t talk about the way I felt when we walked into the Inspection Bunglow room for the first time, when we saw the warm wooden walls and dark, worn out sofas, it was the most perfect room I had ever seen in my life. It was the room I had seen in my dreams a thousand times before. I could see us there, after exasperating days, laying down on four pieces of uncomfortable furniture and falling asleep, just as we did the very first time.

I told everyone about Baba, they all know. And I will continue to talk about him until my dying breath. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he would be in some of the last thoughts I ever had.

I didn’t ever speak about that lunch we had in a restaurant that could have been a hole dug up by a really cool rat. That papad-like, stale tasting Kundgol roti or that disgusting watered down raita. I didn’t speak about the ancient tape recorder that belted out old Hindi tunes which you so beautifully sang along to, no one would understand how that moment made its way into every cell in my body and etched itself there for eternity.

I couldn’t ever dream of telling the world about our Yeraguppi adventures, how we caught our breath as we rode on in a bullock cart and picnicked with five Pandava stones, and a beautiful family. How would they understand the way your face lit up when you ate the world’s best vada or how my soul lit up the first time I touched a cotton pod? How would they ever know how precious it was when Sagar taught me to fly a kite and I spoke to his sister about my sister?

How could I explain to them how blazing hot the sun was, how we refused to do anything but skip around the village, how everyone waved to us and led us to each other when we were lost within a few days?

How could I tell them that we said and thought the names of Kareem, Naveen, Shivaji anna and Suma more than our boyfriends and best friends? How would that even make any sense?

They would never be able to understand the kind of justice IB breakfasts delivered upon our mornings or the way walking for hours together to find cow bells was suddenly so much more important than finding out why the man I was in love with hadn’t spoken to me in a month.

I didn’t talk about our 8 pm walks before dinner where we missed the city moon but were happy we had each other in this remote hamlet, miles and miles and miles away from anything we ever called home.

I didn’t talk about the boundless laughter that held our days together or the merciless tears that tore them apart.

I didn’t talk about that Passenger sunset we hid away at Unkal Lake, or how I see you in every sunset by every lake now.

I didn’t talk about Jiye Kyun or Stay. I sure as hell never spoke about the Mathew Mole dance, who would not judge us for that?!

I didn’t talk about how our hearts wandered off a million miles away sometimes, to people we thought may have been our homes.

I didn’t talk about how right then, I knew I was actually home.

I didn’t talk about you and me, and how we became you and me.

But that was eight months ago in Kundgol.

That was the master’s project you did turn in.

You got your J school diploma, and I got you.

 

 

 

 

Pain, With A Grateful Dressing

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I think pain is a beautiful thing.

No, not because I get a weird kick out of the feeling of my heart contracting to a point that it feels like it isn’t beating anymore. I don’t like that. I really, honest to God don’t. I’d pass up on that feeling just as easily as I’d nix a salad on most days.

But it is kinda like the salad I’d order on an odd day though.

You feel it flushing out all the dirt from your system, that good cry, that feeling of ridicule when you begin questioning how you let yourself believe in happiness for five minutes, that sense that nothing will ever make you smile again (because CAMON, we cherish and pride ourselves in our sense of dramatiques), that solemn oath you almost make to never even try to believe in hope again because Oh the WAYS in which it has reverently let you down so far!

And then, once it passes through you, it leaves. And it leaves you a little better.

It leave you a little kinder, a little gentler, a little more open to gratitude.

Someone told me just yesterday that we are beings who run on hope, on expectations we rely on that almost never pan out. I disagree.

I think we are beings who run on gratitude.

We think that our journey to happiness or through happiness is fueled by hope, by the belief that things may work out exactly as we dreamt they would. We think that the more hope we have, the better the journey.

But I realized that our journeys have never been fueled by hope. Hope is the wind we can never control. Sometimes it rages against our vessel, sometimes it adheres to our wishes and sometimes it just stands still.

Our fuel is gratitude. The joy for everything we have is the only thing that will ever push us to brave the frightening ocean of things we never may. That moment when you realize that don’t need to, and that it will all still be okay because you are blessed abundantly anyway, you make room for peace along the journey.

And maybe, the winds will aid you along your journey. And maybe, it will even take you to some of the things you’ve always wanted. It’ll even take you through some of the things you’ve wanted. But coming out of the other end, you’ll be okay. Nah, you’ll be better than okay because my babydoll, you in fact do not run on hope and even if you have none left, you can still keep going.

So be happy when you are, don’t be afraid. And when it comes crashing down on you like your system rejecting that French bean which no kind of dressing can make better, remember it’s just making room for the gratitude you couldn’t feel before. When it feels like your heart just cracked along with all the castles you built in it, Rumi said that light can only enter through cracks (He did, right? You can’t entirely trust Pinterest, y’know).

So don’t be surprised when you want to suddenly compliment your annoying friend for looking beautiful or send an extra-long text message to someone you’ve been ignoring because you still do love them. That’s your fuel kicking in, full power.