We've been waiting for months so many
To hold you in our arms
All pains endured, all hurdles overcome
They were all but happiness to come.
We aren't perfect, little one,
But you aren't too, so we're even.
You may prank us all you like
But we are no less, beware! we breed on them.
It isn't just us two here, I'm sure you know
You have brothers two,
They've been waiting, to play with you,
And we know for sure, to aid them too.
So welcome home, little one
You'll be our golden child
We'll hold you as you grow, and help you steady
We'll hold you as we go, into your memory
The skies have darkened. It’s going to rain. Heavily. I’m going to wait here till it does. I need to feel her once more..
She has pursued me all her life, showering her grandiosity over my body and soul. Not once has she asked for anything in return, for she knows a day will come when, like everyone else, I’ll abandon her. But she isn’t bothered. Her heartbreaks are her downpours.
She came to us a hundred times, yet we waited for that perfect moment to ravish her beauty under the foreboding night skies. I even let her inch her way towards me shuddering in her unapologetic coldness, until you pulled me away onto your possessive warmth. I smiled smugly and drenched myself in your caresses. It was a wanton discarded for a wanton gained. To think we had her on our palms, on our body, in our consciousness, and yet waited too long to experience her magic. It was a false pride that Time would wait for us. That our love transcended all rules of nature.
And then came the ultimate reality check. Time went on it’s way. It rained again for you and me, but not for us. Never anymore.
It was a few years ago when my second baby was just a few months old and I was almost always ravenous. As a hirsute child who was constantly body shamed for being so, I was already dealing with severe inferiority complex that I hardly ever let show. While I’d begun waxing my visible body parts, at this time, I was mostly short of time and also gaining weight for two reasons- one, I was feeding my kid and always hungry, and two, I was facing an emotional breakdown on the personal front and dealt with it by eating indiscriminately, especially huge amounts of chocolate. It was at this time that a retired colleague, on her visit to office, asked my friend if I was pregnant yet again. Even with all the troubles I was dealing with, I found this very wrong for many reasons. For one, she was referring to my body and the extra fat I’d put on in the waist and tummy, as if being thin and curvy was the only acceptable body on someone. Secondly, she associated my body shape to being ‘pregnant yet again’, and made it sound distasteful, implying that gaining weight was only for the pregnant.
Body shaming can only be understood through an intensive historical analysis (not going into that now though). If we look at it on a general plane, we’ll probably find domination and roleplays (assigned and accepted) on the forefront. Over centuries, we’ve developed an idea of accepted physical appearance, both culturally and otherwise, which subjects us not just to body-shaming on a regular basis, but also compels us to maintain that ideal figure just for the sake of others. We worry too much even about a little extra fat on the waist, or a little body hair in our arms. And many times, we confuse this with healthy living, not realizing that we may be in fact abusing both of body and mind. The key is to maintain ourselves without exerting any more pressure than necessary to the extend that we are indeed happy.
While the main victims of this phenomenon are women, no one is truly exempted. By and large, the parents and immediate relatives are the main perpetrators of this ‘unorganized crime’. In my own country, after the daughter reaches a certain age, she is paraded in weddings and functions, dressed up modestly and introduced in a casual and noncommittal way. For this same reason, I’ve seen such girls laughing or complaining about how their mothers restrict their food intake to maintain their ‘figure’. Over the course of life, these kids feel that they need to keep the compliments coming in throughout their life, even at the cost of their personal comfort. Which often forces people to take extreme diets rather than eat healthy and happy, and workout to support the system.
Don’t we have celebrities who have been body-shamed? Vin Diesel, Vidya Balan, Selena Gomez, Celine Dion, Leonardo Di Caprio….the list goes on. No one is spared. We have concerned family, relatives and fans worried about the too little or extra fat in us, when more often than not, they’re nothing more than empty vessels making noise. It’s high time we begin looking into ourselves, and not into others for more than what is required. The body may be the evidence of life, but the mind is the evidence of actual living!
You closed the drapes
And dared not
After all these years.
Now I know
You've hurt, abused
You go on
I'm glad I know
When to return
I’d begun believing I should finally go steady with my on again, off again relationship with writing. It seemed I wasn’t serious enough and had to do something about it lest it slip entirely away from my hands. That’s when I decided to give my blogs and pages a boost. I created what I didn’t have, customized them, began reading others earnestly, and indulged in binge reading. I think I may have been feeling insecure about one of the few things I love and enjoy doing.
But it didn’t take me long to realize that for some people like me, writing does not come by forceful intervention. Try as I might, I end up gaping at the ceiling like a half-frozen tongue-tied doofus! And worse still, anything of consequence comes to me in the middle of a deep sleep or while finding peace in the toilet, when I just can’t be bothered to be shaken out of my stupor to pen them down.
So here’s the deal I’m going to make with myself again like everytime. Scribble and ramble only when I feel like it. No scrambling around for ideas. Unlike taking a break from writing, I’m going to be that girl who writes to take a break. I’m just going to accept the fact that I’m too weakly corded with the world of words to make others inspired. The only one who’s going to be inspired is, um, myself.
It’s like a social media orgy. (Almost) anything that doesn’t put you under the legal lens seems to go in there freely. Everyone’s the expert, the judge, the saint, the teacher. Suddenly everyone has an opinion and everyone has the answer. So what’s wrong in having an opinion, when that’s what we are taught to have? There’s absolutely nothing wrong.
No there isn’t. But still, there is a slight problem that taunts the human in me. People now seem to enjoy shaming, either by unthoughtful and sloppy comments, or by raising an issue in social media before approaching the right persons first. Let’s say a married person runs off with someone else. Or worse, it’s a woman with kids whose partner works abroad. The moral soldiers come flying down like a pack of vultures ready to peck away any last bit of dignity left untouched by the news media. The comments are worse than the news itself. Surveys state that at least 55% of the Indian men and 56% of the Indian women have had relationships outside marriage at least once. And that’s the count not counting those who have not been reached and those who have not disclosed the fact. And let’s not even begin with the infidelity of the heart. This would mean that a good number of the self declared righteous people would have had extra-martial affairs, but can afford to make insensitive comments because it isn’t them in the news.
Now take a quagmire that’s been raging in Kerala recently. A transgender woman happened to notice that the son of a well-known actress had sent her obscene messages over Messenger three years ago. She posted it in social media shaming the actress and son, and the grand brigade took care of the rest, with more women coming out saying he’d sent them messages as well, and many others shaming the mother for not raising her son well. I’m going to give the gender microscope and other debates a pass. What bothered me was the fact that a complaint with the cyber cell wasn’t lodged first, giving the accused a chance at fair trial. Yes, fair trial. He deserves to get it, and if he has indeed committed the crime of sexual harassment over social media, it needs to be proved, especially because the victim has noticed it on her messaging app, and there is a possibility, however thin, that the account was hacked or someone else has been bothering her under false pretences. This is just a possibility. All I’m trying to say is that there are such cases happening around the world, so directly attacking someone online is not always the best option. And I wouldn’t be saying this if the guy had harassed her in person. That’d be a whole different story.
Many years ago, my father frantically called me one day and asked my if I’d lost my mind to post such a religiously offensive picture in FB, and whether I knew I could be even killed by extremists for that. I was shocked because not only had I not posted anything of the likes online, I was brought up to respect all religions and place humanity above man-made divisiveness. And moreover, I consciously keep away from even debates that may have any religious tint. So I immediately logged in to my account, but found no such content. But my father insisted that it was there for everyone to see. So I asked my mother to check my account and there it was! An extremely offensive picture of an animal defacating over the photo of a religious place. I again logged in to my account and posted a message saying that there is something like this in my wall which isn’t visible to me, and that I haven’t posted anything like that and requested everyone to let me know if they find anything else of the sort in my account. I also immediately reset my password, after which the offensive picture became visible. I immediately deleted it and apologized again. I don’t even want to begin to think what would have happened if this had taken place in the recent times. I could have been subjected to a lot of difficulties and even physical torture before proving that my account was hacked. But then, the damage would have been done. It’s pretty easy to defame, but very hard to regain the name lost even to fabrications.
There was another case recently when a woman posted a complaint along with the photo of two guys sitting behind her in a conference hall, and speaking among themselves with a tone that she found irritating. There were speaking only among themselves and not about her or anyone else in particular. The post quickly escalated with the viewers attacking the guys and the organisers of the conference putting out a formal apology to the woman. But when one of the guys, who had a mother and 3 sisters to care for, lost his job, the media quickly switched sides and began accusing the woman of unnecessarily creating an issue which she could have easily ignored. Now, it was the turn of the woman to lose her job. The situation turned sour for everyone caught in the eye of the storm.
All that I’m trying to impress here that ever since the world has been reduced to a micro-globe and accessibility has increased, most of us have consciously chosen to act and speak before we think on everything under the sun. We lash out and comment irresponsibly because we don’t have to face the other end. We become overly spontaneous and pass on to the next post for offering our fancy opinion. We fail to separate logic from feelings. We have become insensitive to the decorum that builds solid relationships.
We’ve ended up as our own personal emotional baggage.
‘It’s me….’ I began, to a silent answer of doubts. Why, you may have wondered. You may have wondered whether a single night of soul searching was enough to warrant this desperate call. You may have wondered whether it would be a wise to take the vow together. But we did, and you held my hands promising never to let go.
And yet, how many times have we both rocked the boat? How many times have we played with fire? And how many times have we returned to our bed not wanting to let go of the scent we’ve come to love with a passion no fervency could entice away? That’s was, and is, us. We’ve let our little secrets flare up and drank ourselves away in its warmth, and we’ve painted on walls with indelible ink, but when all the din died down, we heard only our beats, every alternate one played by the one we’ve walked with forever. No, familiarity does not breed contempt, like I once wept into an agony racked pillow.
A cryptic bond of turbulent affections was what it was, and still is. Exploring boundaries was not enough, testing it’s toxicity was the high. It didn’t begin that way though. Like childlike innocence, we succumbed to the delights of short-term memory. We wanted each other, not wanting to ever give up. So we dreamt of a life together, and then kept testing the waters. We wanted our space for us and for our own, and probed the inner sanctuary till the turbulence threatened our very existence. For someone for whom a dozen pills was just a reach away, I held my own like an undefeated warrior. It took me too long to realise that neither did I call out to you, nor did you hold out for me.
And today, this morning, here I am, with all the selfishness of a scorned lover, and all the acceptance of an abandoned one.
Today. If you remember.
There’s one thing we worry too much about- Doing it right! And there one thing we fool ourselves about- honest feedback! We work to our best capabilities(oh we do fool ourselves there too), churn out starburst creativity and scrape out any scrap leftover from our days of labour to present the sweet fruits of sweat and sleeplessness in all it’s virtue we deem it to have. The world(blaahbook, blaahgram, bloohtube, blaatsapp, blik-blaahk, ble……hlo, blablublebaaaaaa….aaaa) is enlightened by the newest feather in our cape and we finally sit back for our well-deserved rest, awaiting the honest critical feedback for future improvement, because, well let’s face it; Who doesn’t want a honest feedback? Who doesn’t want to improve? Who doesn’t want the chance to doll-up in that serious expression of impartial acceptance????
But that’s exactly when the real shit hits. The abstinence of mortal emotions in the face of feedback is tested to its pinnacle. Now all the innovator cum formulator cum spawner cum developer wants is to hit back with a braced defence of why what happened the way it worked out. The more you dole out your own inspirations for improvement using intelligent sounding ideas, the more the listener wants to rip off your actually-uncalled-for-you-should-have-realised-it advices. But then, you are to blame anyway. Why in the world would you jump in to offer your honest opinions unless you are one of those pseudo-intellectuals who bask behind the mask of friendship? Why the heck would you be that unfortunate soul who tried to be the ideal booster? Because you misread the request big-time. It was your honest-to-suit-the-hearer-opinion that was called for. Honest-to-suit-the-hearer-after-researching-the-whys-and-becauses-of-the-situation-opinion. In short, you fell even shorter because you weren’t capable enough to understand the circumstances encountered during creation and distribution. BHOOOM! There shatters your well-meaning interference. And now what you’re left with is a concealed rip in the fabric of good intentions and assurances of normalcy since it was all impersonal. It ends with the biggest bluff of the whole exchange, leaving the rest of the what-should-have-been-said to the cerebral screenplay.
So here I am, ready to give out my not-so-honest feedback to anyone who wishes for it. But beware! I have a face and a voice that I’m constantly in conflict with. So either go by my polysyllables or be ready to fight the battle with this worthless opponent (smirking in arrogance)
‘Petals and Bruises’, anthology of poems compiled by Aarthi Sampath and published by Unvoiced Heart Publications, featuring two of my poems has been published today, on 11.06.2020.
The book will soon be available for sale on Amazon.
The links to the published poems on my blog:-
Do you remember the story of my first coffee? I don’t know why I thought of it now. Maybe I’m taking a walk down the memory lane. Maybe I’m just reliving the best moments of my life. Before taking the plunge.
It was a dusky evening. The rains were imminent and the academics boring. It was my grandmother who took the detour to coffee and offered to make me my first ever cup, as far as my recollections would go. I may have seen the drink numerous times till then, but nothing ever registered. Then came that evening. The rains began lashing on the brashly cemented front yard. The deafening din was sweet music, never tiring me out. I fidgeted by the door knowing well I wasn’t allowed to go out, yet my heart painfully tried to break open the walls and skip away into the most beautiful gift of the skies.
That was when it hit me. A bewitching waft as I’d never experienced before hypnotised me to my first cup of coffee brewing away.
Later I sat by the door holding a red ceramic cup filled with this narcotic witchcraft, treading precariously on the thin thread of emotions as raw as it could get. I watched the downpour. I let my mind wander into its midst, not knowing that the unearthly image of the gushing river would one day become real. I savoured the aroma till the skies cleared, and left the coffee untouched.
You promised to pen it down for us one day. One whole chapter on the story of a girl with wander-lust eyes who reveled in her first cup of coffee with the senses of her soul. It was supposed to be a dreamy chapter, exploring the pages of someone on her walk to womanhood. It was supposed to be one of the best chapters. A chapter you abandoned, with the whole book.
I don’t blame you. I would have done it too. None us of would choose misfortunes knowingly. We lose track, we deflect, we walk the untrodden path. But we ultimately return to the crib that cocoons us from the tribulations of life. The choice isn’t just safer, but one that promises us a better afterlife in every religion. And somewhere while growing up as ‘good’ human beings, we learn the subtle art of pragmatising religion to suit the confused race of men, all the while secretly engaged in embracing it to find peace. This is nothing new though. This is a war we’ve been fighting with ourselves since the earliest stages of evolution.
I have neither the talent nor the patience to weave a surreal chapter on that beautiful day of my life. I’d given it up to you once. Now I give it up forever. It doesn’t matter because memories are simply intangible episodes that die before you do. Hanging on to them is like an evening tea to some. To others, they come over a beer, as though to suppress the bitter taste of the concoction. And while most regale their little ones with such stories laced with innocent lies, to a few like me, they are stark naked flashes rudely knocking on the conscience. Those are memories that bring tears even when the eyes are tightly shut. Those are memories that speak through ragged breaths.
Those are memories of you. Unfinished. Untouchable.
*******************************************************to be continued