Aquarelles.

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Writing

It’s 00:50 where I am.

I am waiting for watercolour wreaths to dry on a birthday card. Another hour will probably go into that card, crafting a message, trying to make it look dainty. I am trying to send something beautiful to someone dear to show her how she makes me feel. She sends me messages, telling me the family misses me. She makes me feel like pouring hours into painting watercolour, even though I’ve never learnt how and I am not good at it. She makes me want to spend my time on her, to weave my time grains into every brush stroke that makes up this little aquarelle.

I want her to think: “Oh, she spent so much time on this because she cares.”

A while back I swore off this kind of self-expression. Personal, involved, intimate, the kind I gift to other people.

Once bitten, twice shy.

I had invited someone in, given her a “Drop by whenever you need” card. Yet after several years of beautiful friendship, her actions, like mud splatters, ruined all my delicate aquarelle feelings, shattered my porcelain-like vulnerabilities in one fell swoop. Even now, a year later, I cannot begin to figure out my feelings. I keep switching between denying the pain and feeling it. I struggle with forgiveness and moving on. Some days I tell myself to forget it ever happened. Other days I feel like apologising even when I’m not wrong just so I can get her back.

Heh, who said friends can’t break hearts.

I remember how I refused to even write “letters to read on the plane”, which for years was a personal tradition I treasured. A last, lingering forget-me-not, a relic from the time spent together in my city that would follow loved ones on their plane journey home, sealing all the memories we’d made that summer.

I wished I could tear all the ones I had given her. I wished I had written something different in them, as if that would have changed anything.

But hope grows like a weed in my heart. No matter how many times I pluck it out, it somehow always finds its way back there. So I am flinchingly trusting other people again, writing letters against my better knowledge. I’m holding back on emotion, but at the same time giving so much more than I thought I would.

I am learning to accept that this is who I am, regardless of what other people are.

 

 

Watermelon pink.

Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism Writing
Art by : Awanqi

Today, life is sweet and refreshing, lightly tinted pink. Like sipping watermelon juice that has run down the side of my hand. Cool, sweet without being sugary. And sticky too, but all the more memorable for it.

1 or 2 years ago, I never believed I would think this but even with all the things going wrong…I don’t think I can get enough of Life.

This is the summer of my life: beautiful, somehow timeless, not without its storms and rainy days, not without reasons to wear gratitude every day that goes by.

Another name for wonder

“My wonder was not quite so proactive; it was just leftovers from childhood, like stubborn dregs of idealism that remained stuck to my brain…”

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Art by : James Fenner

Wonder is such a rare, rare resource. Somehow, it is something I’ve only realised now that I am losing mine. Wonder is something you cultivate, which you train your eyes to see even when it is hidden deep under a pile of grime and waste. It is to believe that there is good in the world, even when the actions of its people say otherwise. My wonder was not quite so proactive; it was just leftovers from childhood, like stubborn dregs of idealism that remained stuck to my brain, even after it was upended and prepared for the real world.

In a way, my wonder grew like an insurgence, a rebellion; like something that rose stronger after someone tried to kill it. A weed growing back with a vengeance, truly, wishing to overcome everything, to layer it in green. Or pink, as it so happens with wonder. But rose-tinted glasses do shatter, I’ve learnt. And when they do, the contrast is striking. Nauseating. All around is oozing darkness and filth, even the most beautiful souls host some kind of festering illness, most things seem ugly, ugly, ugly.

So, is this what I’ve not been seeing all along ?

Hidden behind bullet-proof, rose-tinted glasses, is this what the world truly looks like ?

Is wonder not just a deception, then? A weed, truly, growing over more than just your sight, but your vision, your perception? A truth-obscurer. How can anyone find any beauty in a world like this? A world that kills and hates, discriminates—a world that hurts so, so deeply; somewhere deeper than any muscle tissue, deeper than the very marrow of your bones. An ache so profound it continually rings through your skeleton, there with you at your every step, at your every glance at this desolate, capsizing world. And through your ache, you feel others’ aches, too. Millions, billions hiding their own pain. The old Earth even aches, and its pain is something so profoundly sad, most of all because it is a wordless cry. It is the sound of trees being felled, of the surface of the Earth being clawed at, of oceans being poisoned.

Beauty?

Beauty, if it ever was, is withering now.

Nothing is beautiful, nothing is good anymore.

The world is all one hollow crater resonating with the cries of all who find themselves in it.

Idealism was a beautiful lie, while it lasted.

Losing wonder is very much like losing one of your 5 senses. The world is never quite the same afterwards. Or maybe it is more like gold that loses its shine with the years.

As I trail past the abandoned Earth, past the desertification of this world, I realise I am not sure what to do at all. Where to start? With the starving, with the injured, the children, the old people? With…myself? The Earth is bleeding, and I only have two hands to stop a haemorrhage larger than all the life I have led up until now.

Soon, night falls in this deserted Earth, like everything else. Everything falls, and decays and dies. Life is a downward spiral, a slope too steep to climb. I let go of myself, slumping into the dunes, the biting cold of the desert at night.

Above me is this huge void, an all-encompassing darkness ready to swallow us whole. The sky will one day fall on our heads and take us all.

Tears, salty and cold and prickly sting my eyes. All of this desolation has welled up into something terrifyingly large on the inside, something that will come out one way or the other. And I can feel it already, lodged in my throat, straining, struggling to be let out.

Then, the first tear falls.

And another and another, and another.

As I rub furiously at my eyes, irritating them even further, something…stands out in the distance, in the corner of my eye.

There, scintillating in the void of night, the first star to appear in the night sky. Something you have to train your eyes to see amidst all the darkness.

Wonder. Wonder blooms in the night like a desert flower.

Quietly, another star alights.

And another and another, and another.

All of the night is alight with stars, blinking from light years away.

And it strikes me then, lightning-hot. Do you know what another name for wonder is? Hope.

Slowly, the blank spaces around me fill up with humans who are stargazers like me, too. The starlight reflects in their eyes, and they, we, can see clearer now.

You know what Hope and stars have in common? They help humans find their way in the dark.


Note : This is NaNoWriMo Day 5. You can find Day 4 here. Also, if you thought this was going to have a bleak ending, well, surprise ! It does happen though, that our idealism dulls. Sometimes you realise again how messed up the world is. Like everything else, wonder has an ebb and flow. But it is so important to not be stuck at one stage or the other and to keep moving forward. Also, side-note, this is the most complete blog post I’ve ever written lol. One very relevant cover photo, a quote of the day AND a song to boot? #Productivity.

Quote of the day :

“There is some good in this world, Mr Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien

Listening to :

Subterranean Lights

“You and all your subterranean lights — may they make the world shine, even as they dim and fade. May they light up the world from the inside, like the earth has swallowed a star that won’t burn out.”

hajinbae2
Art by : Hajin Bae

When people die, we light candles to remember them.

To bring a light to the darkness now that they are no longer able to. When someone dies, I wonder how many more lights go out, how many unknown worlds living under their skin are submerged in an eternal darkness, extinguished. Mourning, grief, they feel like a power cut all throughout the city. Like the spark of electricity has stopped flowing, no longer sizzling with life, leaving us individually in our own rooms, our own houses, stranded in the dark. Reaching out in the dark, hands closing around emptiness.

Because when even one light goes out, all of our collective lights shine the dimmer. It may not be apparent all across the complex networks, the bundles of lights that can be seen from space, but there is always a gap. Which is why night rides always make me so wistful, you know. Looking at the city lights, at what every single one of them represents. Life, rising above the night. Light, when even the sun does not shine.

In grief, what comes to my mind first is somehow, always, always, this : “Where is all that light that used to animate your body? Where are the stars in your eyes?” And the thoughts that were like pulsating lights under your skin? How many more worlds slumber now in the darkness, how many more worlds were there that I will never explore? You and all your subterranean lights — may they make the world shine, even as they dim and fade. May they light up the world from the inside, like the earth has swallowed a star that won’t burn out.

But good things can come from the darkness. Sometimes, when we reach out, we find another hand is reaching out, too. And we can hold on to each other until the light arrives, again. It makes us talk, pop our heads out of the window and ask the neighbours if the light has gone out at their place, too. 

“Do you have candles we can light ? I have matches.”  

We can light them together, and share stories until the light arrives, until the light arrives. We do not have to be alone, lonely in the dark.

And I wonder, when we kindle all these candles for the dead, to light up the darkness — do we, do we look like stars to the stars ?

From space, where we are only networks of light, constellations ( This one here is China, and this one is Australia, this is…) does it look, to the stars that came before us, that we did not change so much after all ? And, did you notice ? Much like stars, our individual lights blaze long after we’ve died, because others carry it with them, like a torch, a light of remembrance.

And when one light goes out, how beautiful it is that we pour in our own strength, like a red candle held in one hand lighting another, and say that no matter how overwhelming the darkness, no matter how deep the grief, this star won’t go out ?


Note : Life has its own ways. This was something I wrote on Thursday, a week back, as a general reflection on grief, death and mourning. On Friday, however, I received some news. Saturday, I went to a funeral. And this became too relevant. So now, here it is.

Thoughts About the Sky

purple.jpg
Art by: Unknown Artist

 

I saw you today, in the velvet of the lavender sky. In the dragon of clouds that coiled  proudly in it, in the iridescent puddles that spelled your name. You didn’t lie, you know, when you said that there was nowhere you could go that you wouldn’t be with me. (Do I believe that you’re up there looking at me from above? Probably not. But you’ve planted a piece of you in me. And that seems to have done the trick.)

—17 December 2017

There remained no sky that night. Merely clouds shrouding the moon. No moonlight touched us and our eyes laid cloaked in a darkness that would never come.

—20 December 2017

I can’t begin to guess why, but even the night is rose-tinted. Like darkness just could not be bothered. Or like we’d done something so good (not right) that it made even the night luminous.

—22 December 2017

Fireworks, by all rights, should be arrogant displays. But they’re really just naive, aren’t they? Humans trying to imitate stars, to light up the sky with their own kind of energy. And creating instead flashy copies, the beauty of which is equaled only by their ephemerality.

—31 December 2017

The sky woke me up at 4:15 today. Thunderous, alive, hurting. So I whispered poetry into the vanishing night but the sky wanted to be heard, and not reasoned with. So it exploded, all in lightning bolts and endless heavy rains, both angry and desolate, even beyond the sun’s reign. And all throughout the day, there remained traces of its tears, but never of its anger.

—03 January 2018


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Note: That is an inordinate amount of sky-related thoughts to have in such a short (?) time period, I thought to myself. Might as well make a post out of it, I shrugged.

Last Post of the Year

“We’ve lived through moments when we thought we couldn’t make it. Nights when it felt there would be no dawn. Times when we wished the world would end, but the mornings instead dawned cheerful and bright, burning our retinas. And we picked ourselves up the best we could and made it through another day. And then another, and another until the days weren’t so bad anymore. We’ve made it through everything we thought we could never survive. We’ve outlasted our sadness, outlived every envy. We’ve traveled from summer to winter, through spring and fall. “

 

pridenyasha
Art by: Pride Nyasha

And here we are, all of us. We’ve almost made it to the end of another year.

We’ve lived through moments when we thought we couldn’t make it. Nights when it felt there would be no dawn. Times when we wished the world would end, but the mornings instead dawned cheerful and bright, burning our retinas. And we picked ourselves up the best we could and made it through another day. And then another, and another until the days weren’t so bad anymore. We’ve made it through everything we thought we could never survive. We’ve outlasted our sadness, outlived every envy. We’ve traveled from summer to winter, through spring and fall. We have been journeying around the sun, and within ourselves. And it’s hard to tell exactly which distance takes the longest to cover. But I think I know now. It takes the earth 365 or 366 days to complete a rotation around the sun. But the journey inward is infinite. I hope you have had a beautiful one, this year.

To be honest, I wanted to post this some time ago. On some date with some form of symbolism. On the last day of the week (To emphasise finality) or the first (Because ends are beginnings). But I realised that it meant relinquishing too much power to Time. Giving it the ability to dictate my life choices and decisions. There might be a right time for everything, but there is also never a wrong time.

So I’ve started to do now everything I wanted to do next year. Because in the end, isn’t now all we truly have? I am already making (somewhat big) plans for next year, but who’s to say I will be alive then to see them come to fruition? So I don’t want to let Time control me. It has enough of a hold on all our lives already.

Even so, I can’t deny that it is the end of a journey. I hope that, even now, even if your year hasn’t gone as you wanted it to, you can find something in it that has value to you. And if you can’t, then I hope you can find it in yourself to be grateful that the past year has provided a bridge between the past and the future. If it hadn’t been for this year, you would never be able to live through the next. And I hope you can forgive yourself for the times when you weren’t as good as you wanted to be. When you hurt someone or didn’t live up to your expectations.

It’s a new year ahead. Heck, it’s a new day ahead tomorrow. It’s a new life ahead now. Seize the day. Do what you fear doing most. Do what you want to do most. Do what you need to do most. Tomorrow is promised to no one. All we have is now.

And yet we live in hopes of seeing many more tomorrows. It’s a delightful little paradox.

I do not think wishes alone are enough to make dreams come true. But I believe they can help along the way. Help us not lose hope. Help us believe that our dreams can manifest into reality with enough hard work.

So, if I may, here are my wishes to you for the coming year. And because I’ve said so much already, I will only say this: This year, I hope you bloom. And if you have already, then I hope you continue to blossom throughout all of the seasons. And even if you don’t, that’s fine. That’s alright. You will bloom again.

Thank you to everyone who has been reading this blog this year, or the year before. You’ve all made the journey worthwhile. I’ve enjoyed reading you all, too. And I hope to see you all in excellent health next year for another trip around the sun.

I hope you all have the best end of year, filled with warmth and family.

See you all next year (Which is to say, in less than a week!)

Yours,

A.


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I did get my symbolism after all, by the way! Today’s first post was a repost of something I’d written a year back, representing the past. The second one represented the present. And this, the future. Haha, okay, I’m done rambling.