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 — to not be keeled over with grief, to not be carried away by joy — 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 👌

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 — 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 😂 I hope you are all doing beautifully 💕

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 — 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 😂 (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 senses—would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly posses­sion, 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 💚

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 —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 — 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 — 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 🙂

Glow up.

young adult old soul magic realism writing

The thing about shaking off the shadows and reaching for light is that it cannot be done in silence.

I had hoped I wouldn’t have to roar to announce that I had arrived, finally, through adversity and darkness, into the version of myself I was always meant to be. Naively, I had hoped that perhaps this transformation could pass unnoticed, like the water that quietly steals away under one of the city’s bridges — drowned out by all the other manifestations of life, melting into an indistinguishable symphony of sounds.

But to be yourself is to create ripples, echoes. And people listen, they pay attention.

The other day, I realised while watering a thriving Zenith the Zealous, that weeds had only started growing my little chia plant when I started caring for it. And I think it’s as simple as that: life attracts life. When you push through the darkness, discontent with the safety of mere existence and seek light, weeds will grow vicariously through you, envious.

So yes, I have attracted a whole lot of shallow attention.

People who call me pretty disbelievingly. Formerly indifferent men who now give long looks. Others who notice every little change as if it had been made on their own bodies.

I stepped into the light hoping to be seen, but instead, I am being viewed.

It’s disconcerting, to be sure. More than that, it makes me want to crawl back to where I came from. To safety. To comforting darkness. To being alone in my own little world, my lonely little planet of thoughts.

But these reactions are just passing distractions. My quest for light goes farther than them. There is more to me than what they see: I cannot be boxed into words like ‘pretty’, I offer no explanation as to why I am the way I am.

“I am not this hair,

I am not this skin,

I am the soul that lives within.”

Rumi

Continue reading “Glow up.”

A revelation.

Young adult old soul magic realism writing
Gif by: Unknown

One unforeseen result of lockdown for me has been the stationery shortage, specifically of the pen variety, that I have experienced. Let me clarify now that by no means am I trying to complain here. I simply replenish my stationery stocks so often and so unthinkingly that the realisation I had run out of my preferred pens shocked me a little.

You see, in my country, we had a quasi-total lockdown for a while. This meant that you couldn’t even go shopping for food in grocery stores, let alone for stationery. The only places you were allowed to go out to were the pharmacy and the hospital. In that interval of time, and really, ever since lockdown regulations went into effect, there were many other commodities I had expected to run out of: flour, instant noodles (surprisingly intact now), conditioner. Miraculously still, my bottle of conditioner — only half-full two months ago — keeps giving and giving even now. It seemed strange that a somewhat luxury item like conditioner would endure and something as basic as a pen wouldn’t, even though they aren’t comparable like that.

But lo and behold, I soon had to make the switch from my preferred sleek gel pens with pointed nibs to somewhat rocky, awkward old pens with large nibs. You know, those ones you seem to have lying around for years and which still work, but which will only write in faded shades of grey or blue.

Yeah, those ones.

Needless to say, the writing experience just wasn’t the same. I loop a lot of my letters — no social distancing for my letters, no sir, no ma’am. Letters melt into each other, lines morph into curves and whole words are written in a single stroke. A non-gel, age-unspecified, large-nibbed pen does not allow for great looping, as you can imagine.

The thought crossed my mind for a moment:

“Why do you care?”

Why do you care that your letters loop, that your writing flows? What’s it to you if it does?

It was then that I took notice of the — frankly nice — notebook I am currently writing in. It’s a Harry Potter 9 and 3/4 notebook with pleasantly thick pages that don’t bleed through, a rustic, parchment paper effect covering the pages and beautiful, lush illustrations gracing a few pages. I have others lined up for succession too: an authentic Tibetan rice paper journal that reached me from, well, Tibet (through Thailand), a hard-cover, personal journal, my still plastic-wrapped Gryffindor one…

And it occurred to me then that I care about my writing. It is not something I do just out of passion but also, very much, with love. I had simply never thought of it that way. I’ve rejected writing for so long I had never come to realise that. I love writing, yes, this much I know.

I love writing.

I write with love.

They’re two very distinct feelings with distinct implications.

Strange as it may seem after keeping a blog almost regularly for 3 years now, it became an: “Oh, I never knew that about myself.” kind of moment.

The twilight in all things.

young adult old soul magic realism writing
Art by: Oamul Lu

Do you believe in Fate?

I know some people don’t believe in it at all — to them, every event is a result of your choices and Life’s own randomness. Other people believe in it sometimes, usually when something big happens, the kind that makes them say:

“I don’t believe in Fate, but even I can see that this is not a coincidence.”

Then there are those who do believe in it, quietly, without raising much of a fuss about it. On the opposite end of the spectrum, are those who attribute everything to Fate, who remove free will from the equation altogether, choosing to be moved about by life, instead of choosing where to go. All the same, surrendering is a choice, is it not?

“To what extent do I believe in Fate?” I found myself asking, faced with a strange set of circumstances I itched to call by another name. These events spoke to my heart but failed to satisfy my mind with some rational explanation or other.

But is there a reasonable explanation for everything? Should there be, should we expect one?

I thought I had answered those questions with a good degree of certainty many years ago, during The Great Existential Crisis™ that started in my early teens and lasted well into my university days. But they resurface every now and then, as though they had not been properly quashed the first time around.

The problem is not what I think, but what I believe. I’ve learned the two aren’t the same thing, that I can hold dramatically conflicting views without flinching. Logically, I know, for example, that I can never attain perfection. But do I believe it, am I entirely convinced that I can’t secretly get very, very close if I do X, Y or Z? As long as my heart won’t agree to something, I’ve found that a crack of doubt will always remain, not allowing me to seal the deal, to set the answer in stone.

Do not let your mind meddle too much with matters of the heart, whispers a voice inside my head. Not all problems can be dealt with reason, and the heart does not have all the answers either.

In my case, I have let my mind talk over my heart, interrupt it, cut it in speech, berate it, silence it. I’ve starved my heart because the adult world speaks in binary, of functions and formulae, of surface areas and investments, 5-year plans, employable skills, ‘worthy’ degrees, settling down and the stock market —  concrete, well-defined things that form the foundation of daily life. This world does not make mention of everything that lies between the binary zero and one. It has no words to explain the twilight in all things, that which is flimsy and vapour-like, appearing and disappearing like the moon. It cannot describe, explain, understand or quantify anything that refuses to be corporeal, be it a feeling, an intuition, or a dream — and so, it casts it all aside.

My heart is all of these things: feelings, intuitions, dreams, wishes, worldviews, philosophies, musings. Physiologically, biologically, my heart is right where it needs to be. But spiritually — hearts do not, should not exist spiritually, thoughts should not be invisible. All the same, they do, they are. I have to accept that there is some part of me that is not at all corporeal, that it’s all smoke and mirrors beyond a certain point. With grace, I must recognise that the heart, ever-mysterious, has its own worth, one not determined by a decidedly practical society. 

It’s a risky business though, trusting what you can’t see. Letting yourself be guided by what you can’t quite define. Seeing symbolism in things, treating events as signs. Yet I am also reminded, each time I venture beyond the gates of reason to dip into the pool-sky of my imagination, what we would be like if we didn’t colour a little outside the lines. If we dared not cross to other worlds, if we dared not believe in what has not yet been done or explained.

Free your heart, free your heart.

Do not let it be chained to a reality that does not understand it. Let it roam freely and find itself, until one day, its erratic intents align just as you knew they would.

So as I stare a fragment of Fate in the face, I ask myself:

“To what extent do I believe in Fate?”

And, well…


Note: I hope you are all keeping well, wherever you are. Where I live, the number of cases has dramatically decreased and lockdown restrictions have been extended until the 15th of May. After that, the country is set to slowly reopen.