Blue night.

Summer nights shift through my hair, pressing gently on my eyelids.

This, I realise, is the feeling of summer: not fun, a spark-like joy, but rather a feeling that is half relief and half boredom, underpinned by old longing β€” something that was once desperate, restless yearning but that has since been worn into this pale, tired feeling. It’s the saddest thing in the world: for yearning to become a wistful “could have been”, to see your longing through a veil of impossibility where before it was real, throbbing in you.

With the gentleness of a mother explaining the limits of the world to her child, the years crush your most feverish yearnings, rearranging them into artful melancholy; faraway looks into the night sky, sighs carried away by the vastness of the night and a heaviness from which there seems to be no relief.

Where “I long for you” was once a promise branded in heat, it is now a space in your body β€” a small, distant illness, something you live with most days, something you ignore and forget about, until. Until it is summer again and the end of year frees you for a precious few weeks; until you start getting drunk on the coolness of the night air; until you let your hair down and your shirt clings to the back of your neck; until you feel a smile tugging at your lips as the neighbours’ music echoes in the streets; until you are allowed a moment’s contemplation and the matter of your own happiness comes up, the figurative lid popped off by the heat, loosened while you were busy cutting open watermelons and picking at the fibrous remains of mangoes between your teeth, while you wrinkled your nose at the smoke of cigarettes the neighbour indulges in even more zealously in the darkness of his veranda.

It is summer, it is the end of the year and there are no hermetic spaces left. All the possible doors, windows and vents have been flung open and the summer air commingled with hope and regret infiltrate your lungs, even as you are too busy partaking in the rituals of summer: getting burnt by the sun, haggling prices for litchis, complaining about the people.

This is all it takes: a stream of warm, good days to envelope you and the cold, repressed truth comes streaming out.


Note: Happy New Year to you! Be blessed with warmth, goodness and light for this year and all the ones that follow. This piece is a bit late but here it is anyway, featuring some of the most egregious use of semi-colons and repetition you have ever seen πŸ˜‚

Big details.

There is something to be said about the aching tenderness with which the afternoon light layers itself on the tops of houses, with what fondness it settles there, tired and warm.

I am in quiet awe of such end-of-day scenes lately, caught up in these little love affairs that are there for all to see, should the eye but linger a little, just a little. Life becomes a picture, a post card in these evenings. As we melt into the summer and humidity clings to us, the sunsets also grow more colourful, the sky painting scenes that might seem fabricated were they not so overwhelmingly, achingly real. One sky, dyed the colour of daydreams, summer loves and the tunes of youth. Pink and lilac, purple and fiery orange, yellow and peach, all blooming into the wide open sky. A spectacle, a feast, a homecoming. The essence of our beings. Mostly ignored. Forgotten.

How essential it is, how absolutely essential.

It was just a few days ago when I was telling him β€” as we pulled up in a parking lot, reclined our seats and watched the sun lower behind the mountains β€” how endlessly important it is to take one step back, to feel small. Problems too quickly seem insurmountable, too easily become the point to which our lives and consciousness are moored when we focus only on ourselves.

Step outside of yourself, understand you are small, so small in the vastness of this universe and if the sun can move, if the colours of the sky can change, then will your pain last forever? Will the sadness never pass, when even clouds and seas shift? Is there no hope in a world that everyday revolves around a ball of fire? Though our routines lull us into a sense of stability and stagnancy, should we ever forget that there are greater powers at play? Should we ever forget that we are moored not just to ourselves, but to each other? That our lives and selves ripple across time and space, and there is always, always more to us than what we limit ourselves to?

It is vital to get lost in the details of life, to follow each one until one forgets, until one’s own self becomes a point in the distance, small and surrounded by so many others, part of a much vaster picture.

Art by: Alexandra Levasseur


Note: So I guess this is where I give up all pretense that I will regularly maintain this blog (?) It’s been a strange, healing, bad, no, actually good year. And even though it sounds too good to be true and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, I’m officially a business owner! (WHAT). Ahh anyway, I hope you have all been doing beautifully.

In a vacuum.

Art by: Jon Marchione

It rattles, rattles, rattles…

The train dives head-on into the scenery, currently flanked by yellowed, crackly bushes. All of us are locked safely, almost hermetically in this moment in time. We are suspended in the infinity of those few minutes, a sort of solemnity not even broken by the stops few and far between, the beeping, the sliding open of doors, the driver’s staticky voice on the intercom announcing the station and closing of doors.

Nothing takes away or interrupts my longing gaze into the faraway, the zooming past cities and villages, cutting through congested arteries, sugarcane fields and mountains alike.

The train’s ‘new’ pathway slices through and lays bare even the most intimate details of the city outskirts: holey shirts and dingy shorts hanging on the line, someone’s dog looking all but melted into an early afternoon nap and the piercing gazes of people-watching grandmas now hourly exposed to the eyes of thousands β€” all of this private life, previously hidden away has now been bared, and has become a part of the spectacle the train offers. And I, I was brought here as a spectator, not an actor. These days, everything I do feels wrong. Tough decisions with tough consequences that leave me feeling not at all like myself. I was brought here not to be, not to change or disturb the littlest thing. I was brought here to see and feel and maybe, maybe write about it.

The train should go on forever. It should cross into the night, rattling on its way to unknown galaxies, to stories I was told as a child, to blurry memories of childhood beach days. The train should go on forever, with me on it, a traveller, a spectator. Someone who does not influence the story but only records it. A record-writer, quiet, unassuming, existing outside of the rules that the rest of the actors are subjected to.

Let me hold onto life a little lighter. Let me have these moments forever.


Listening to:

Binary.

I am currently processing difficult things, and finding joy in others.

Is it terrible of me to not simply be sad?

It’s a terrible, sublime, ecstatic experience to be able to hold both grief and joy so closely to my heart. To have a current and a counter-current running their own separate courses in one vessel, never being in the other’s way. Maybe this is the most authentic I have felt. Being able to hold both with grace β€” to not be keeled over with grief, to not be carried away by joy β€” perhaps this is the way inwards and outwards, closer to the universe pulsing with hidden life.


Listening to: Welp, YouTube videos are currently refusing to be shown here. But recently, TikTok (yes) has brought me some of the most soulful Indian and Pakistani music and it’s just πŸ‘Œ

Free your will.

Stills from the movie “Whisper of the Heart” by Studio Ghibli

As surely as the water must meet the shore, and the seed must rise from itself to greet the sun β€” as surely as our destinies are written in the stars, this was ineludible.

That I should struggle against my restraints, try to dislodge myself from the mould of pre-made decisions. It was meant to happen. It was either this, or a life like drawn-out death. A death that would look like success but never feel like it. What is success if you’ve lost your spark? What is success if your most violent passions, the ones lusting for fulfillment, have dulled into what-ifs that punctuate the daily routine? Days that are different, surely, but all look the same… What is a life if April 23rd and November 16th are one and the same?

It is no easy thing to seek freedom.

How much simpler would it be to sit back in life and bear the drudgery, the grating injustice and follow the path? The congratulations would have flown in, drowned me. The awe and the envy would have made it all utterly delightful.

“So young, to have reached this far at this age?”

“How did she do it?”

Like expensive cocktails, I would have sipped on these words delicately…

Even now, I am still drawn, hypnotised by the path, like a fly to the light. How desirable. How endlessly pleasant to knock yourself out for the day, and emerge after-hours and in the weekends? How delicious would it be to fall in the ranks and make no hard decisions, to flow like water in a stream.

It’s madness, a form of insanity to leave that safe mould.

(Yet I have.)

Another comfort zone smashed.

Another state of weakness, back bared to the world.

I still ask myself what I’ve done, what I think I’m doing, what I think I could possibly achieve this way.

But it’s too late for all that now. The only way is forward.


Note: I really said New Year, New Me πŸ˜‚ I hope you are all doing beautifully πŸ’•

Listening to:

Twenty twenty too.

Art by: Haranikala

Even now, I almost write ‘2020’.

Like everyone else, I think, I am still living somewhere in the past, finding no noticeable distinction from the present. Roaming the dark tunnel of these past two years has made me lose my sense of time. More of the same everyday. And the next day, and the next. Is it today or is it still yesterday? Ah, it’s already tomorrow?

But again, summer is upon us. And not just any summer – a December summer.

Sticky days with a punitive, skin-burning sun and sultry nights that have you tossing and turning, unable to sleep from the heat, the airless atmosphere. Still, summer calls us to it, in spite of all its inclemencies. It is a summer that hides a lot of pain β€” not the summer of love or discovery, but the summer of time lost and adventures unhad. A summer of grieving all that could not happen, and all that did.

Still, and perhaps most cruelly, life goes on. On the remains of yesterday, the seed of the present grows.

Our other freedoms cut short, we partake in the remaining rituals of summer… We grab on to ripe mangoes of different varieties: some round and firm like apples, others mushy and fibrous, with that signature curve. Then, we hunt down laden branches of plump litchis at the best price, we pick sweet-smelling pineapples and haul heavy watermelons, the kind that have juice dribbling down your chin.

Here it is, another summer of hanging on, worse for wear.

And yet, and yet, we are lost if we do not believe.

If we do not believe that tomorrow will be better. That, like the summer, this darkness is a passing thing.

Beautiful days come if you believe in them, so believe.


Note: Merry Christmas to all those of you who celebrate and Happy Holidays! I’m going to stop saying I’m back to posting more regularly because I feel I’ve been jinxing it πŸ˜‚ (And now I am going to pretend like me not writing is the result of some jinx and not, you know, me making excuses not to write 😬)

Listening to:

Letters to a Young Poet

Art by Bobri

I’ve grown so unbearably fond of Rainer Maria Rilke.

I read him first on one of those Facebook pages and then again in another corner of the internet. A kind, devoted voice.

Then, one late night, plagued by boredom, steeped in loneliness, the name came to me as through a mist.

Reading him felt much like a meeting, a physical introduction. I could picture him with his back bent over some sturdy desk, carefully writing these long letters under candlelight to Kappus, the young poet, his face burdened by the worries of poverty… yet ever still believing, holding onto the beauty of this life.

“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place. And even if you were in some prison the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your sensesβ€”would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possesΒ­sion, that treasure-house of memories?”

Some books provide distractions. Others, fulfillment for what we cannot experience for ourselves. Many inform and broaden horizons. But some books, some rare books are friends. I have precious few of those: Le Petit Prince, Le Grand Meaulnes, Love in the Time of Cholera, The Prophet…and I cherish them to the point of pretending they do not exist in front of others. They are mine, in that strange way. Nobody else can love them in the precise manner that I do; others could not possibly have experienced what I have, they could never love them the way they should be: as sacred maps to the soul and what lies beyond it…

“Things are not all so comprehensible and expressible as one would mostly have us believe; most events are inexpressible, taking place in a realm which no word has ever entered, and more inexpressible than all else are works of art, mysterious existences, the life of which, while ours passes away, endures.”

It should be impossible to feel this way, as though you know someone you’ve never met. How can you connect with someone like this, across the chasm of years? Someone who would never know I would one day exist.

It’s home, somehow.

Home, the only feeling that matters. Not love, but home. The welcoming, the casual certainty that your place is waiting for you, as you have been waiting for it all this time. It is shelter, for a moment, for a piece of your soul.

“…for at bottom, and just in the deepest and most important things, we are unetterably alone…”


Note: So it’s been a long while…

All your kind words.

Art by: Titsay

I will take all of your kind words and keep them in a book. Every acknowledgement and encouragement, every advice and well-intended remark ⁠— every word, every word, I gather close to me like a fragrant bouquet on a summer’s day. I feel it as I feel the sunlight on my skin, the warmth of a star light-years away.

All your words have left an imprint on me, similar to a pattern left behind by a pressed flower.

An imprint like a touch of sweetness. Something to say that I was there and you were there and our lives crossed in the gentlest of ways.


Note: Thank you πŸ’š

Her.

I imagine this is what she would have looked like.

The purified, wispy white hair of later old age peeking out from behind her headscarf, loosely arranged around her rosy face. The same kind eyes and gentleness. Except, she would have had strength even then – that brilliant liveliness and loudness, the same sense of humour that so boldly painted her personality.

It’s been 10 years, my Mother reminds me.

How could it have been? Life has grown around the wound, the hollowness that was left once she was snatched away. The pain has dwarfed in comparison to 10 years of life. But it never fully went away. It never will. Grief is the mark Love leaves behind, it is where we pour all of our feelings, our care and frustration, our anger, our despair once there is no one to receive it.

Seeing her always triggers a back and forth between tears and hope. Tears because they look too similar – it’s like seeing her, hearing her, feeling her again.

And hope, gratitude that something of her survives.

How many people get that? How many people get to have such vivid recollections? As though the person was truly there again, for just a second. Who gets that? I do.

It is a kindness. It hurts but it is a kindness all the same.

I’m always a little shaken after these encounters. We all are. My sisters burst into tears as soon as they saw her. She understands, they all do. They know the pain of loss, how tender it leaves you in places, even if it’s been 10 or 20 or 50 years.

I’m 25 and well, I want to tell her. Life is long at 25; everything has both changed and remained the same. I think of you even now.

For now, these thoughts will keep falling in the timeless space of grief. But someday, someday…

Nightscape.

Artwork by Hajin Bae
Photograph by Eduardo Acierno

Trigger warning: Street harassment, misogyny

I, as a girl, am terrified of the night β€”this world owned and ruled by men since the first dawn.

I find myself engulfed in its obscure depths, comparable to a small fish darting in the abysses of the ocean, this place of corners and hidden holes that the sun does not touch, deserted in some places, teeming with unprecedented creatures in others. In it, men lie in wait like eels that could snap you without you even feeling it, others like angler fish that lure you with the illusion of compassion, and yet others who, in their numbers, amass the strength to harass.

At night, my very existence is an anomaly, an anachronism begging the question: “What is she doing here?”

My presence is an open invitation. After all, how dare I be in the world of men, if not to serve them in some way? If not to please their eyes, then to relieve their itching hands, to caress their deflated egos in dire need of a superiority boost? They inflate, these men of the night, when they understand that their presence can intimidate women. It is perhaps the only time when they have that power β€” when the world is stripped of expectations of good conduct, and all is let loose.

Their eyes are aggression enough. Their gazes land on me like unwanted touches, lingering like dirty hands that come too close for comfort or decency.

Most of them do not do anything, though. After all, they are not the sort of men to do that kind of thing, no. They are just men – boys, really – looking for some innocent fun. So what’s a taunt compared to actually touching a girl? It doesn’t mean anything if they walk close to you β€” what, the streets belong to everyone, right? If they call after you repeatedly, that doesn’t make them bad men, you know?

Women can’t take a joke. Now, that is the real problem.


I feel as if they win though, if I let them take the night away from me. If I let myself be scared.

There is a night that does not belong to men.

A night that is all cool breaths and freedom.

An ancestral night, the first one that welcomed all the stars and you and me in it.

There is comfort in darkness, as all the world fades into the distance and I retreat into the shore of my inner home.

I cannot let them take this away.


Note: It’s been a long, rough week. I don’t think I’ve ever posted something of this nature on here. I think it means I’m growing up, who knows. But either way, I hope that this coming week treats you well πŸ™‚