First Belonging

I do not know who I am anymore.

I thought I did, all this time. I thought I had peeled back and laid bare the many layers of my self. From character to personality, learned traits, preferences, triggers and addictions… I thought I had been thorough in my analyses, cutting in my judgement. I believed — worse, ‘knew’ — what I had uncovered to be the truth.

But here I am, a mystery to myself once more; a stranger in my own home.

Take me back.

I was brought into this strange world, and have been dyed by its colours and the bright spectacles it puts up…yet part of me remains foreign and calls to what once was. It seeks to unite again with the Source of all matter.

Always, in every one of the soul’s actions, in every yearning is this desire laying dormant, to return to the place of first belonging — the Place Before. Before the rushing tunnel of lights, Before the shower of stars searing soundlessly into the silent universe, Before the brief all-encompassing obscurity that lasted a billion years, Before it all exploded into red-hot life, pulsating, throbbing, crying —Before it scattered us all about, our names wiped, our memories vanished but still there, everywhere inside of us, haunting our every move, colouring even the most benign choices of our existences until our very end.

There is a void in me that calls for You. This is no simple emptiness. It is no random gaping hole. Only Your names will do. Only the truth of millennia past will ever calm my soul.

Take me back; free me from myself.


Note: So I’ve been immersed in worldly life a lot lately. I (arrogantly) thought it was not something that could happen to me, yet lo and behold I’d lost touch with my spirituality without even knowing it. And then, no amount of information or psychoanalysing or introspection could help. Even now I feel like I do not know myself. It’s strange to have lived 26 (26!!) years thinking you know yourself and then it turns out you don’t really. Welp.

Anyway, to distract myself I’m trying to say “Before the shower of stars searing soundlessly into the silent universe” fast 10 times. Maybe it’ll help (it probably won’t but at least it’s entertaining).

When the night comes

Art by: Rella

And when night falls on the neighbourhood, the quiet-looking houses that are home to the most violent outbursts and unrest… When night falls on the scenery and drowns me in the everythingness of nothingness, these moments that stretch into the void, when the darkness and quiet accentuate the maddening energy you can’t hear through the daytime noise… I’ve always thought the night doesn’t hide a thing, it reveals all: the desires that hide from the light and live in the shadows during the day and then spill far and wide into the night… When the night falls like this, I want to hide from these little houses settled so tight in their spots, made to stand upright like hair pulled in a vicious grip.

I want to steal away into the night – unsafe and cruel as it is, with its grotesque figures roaming freely about, and meet you somewhere far away. Somewhere not here. Somewhere that has never been named or discussed here. Somewhere they can never imagine. A safe, secret place. Just you and I as we share in a cold night that nips at our fingers and ears and noses, as we dive into lonely silence. A silence that slowly, surely warms up with unspoken understanding and sweet reassurance, the smell of you under all the smoke.


Note: I hope you are all doing beautifully ❤️

Im permanent

Art by: Papilarnie IV

This time will end.

Soon, when these moments crumble and we cease to inhabit Time, we too will become people of the past. Ashes. Dust. Names lost in dusty records far back in a filing cabinet. All of us – that too, if we are lucky – summarised in two dates we did not choose, and one dash (the ultimate etcetera…).

We will die a first, then a second death. The loss of our bodies, and then when our names are said for the last time, at the close of one fading memory… I will meet you there, on the precipice of oblivion – one last shared moment, one last rush of life. Even in death, we shall continue to live, if only we live now. If only we make Life remember us.

So let us inhabit every moment, let our energy splash all over the city’s walls, let our hushed voices paint every rooftop with the poetry of our impermanence. Let us tattoo our existences into the ether, let us conquer the infinite from our places in small vessels of clay.


Poem of the Day:

“In one minute the entire life of a house is ended. The house as casualty is also mass murder, even if it is empty of its inhabitants. A mass grave of raw materials intended to build a structure with meaning, or a poem with no importance in time of war. The house as casualty is the severance of things from their relationships and from the names of feelings, and from the need of tragedy to direct its eloquence at seeing into the life of the object. In every object there is a being in pain – a memory of fingers, of a smell, an image. And houses are killed just like their inhabitants. And the memory of objects is killed: stone, wood, glass, iron, cement are scattered in broken fragments like living beings. And cotton, silk, linen, papers, books are torn to pieces like proscribed words. Plates, spoons, toys, records, taps, pipes, door handles, fridges, washing machines, flower vases, jars of olives and pickles, tinned food all break just like their owners. Salt, sugar, spices, boxes of matches, pills, contraceptives, antidepressants, strings of garlic, onions, tomatoes, dried okra, rice and lentils are crushed to pieces just like their owners. Rent agreements, marriage documents, birth certificates, water and electricity bills, identity cards, passports, love letters are torn to shreds like their owners’ hearts. Photographs, toothbrushes, combs, cosmetics, shoes, underwear, sheets, towels fly in every direction like family secrets broadcast aloud in the devastation. All these things are a memory of the people who no longer have them and of the objects that no longer have the people—destroyed in a minute. Our things die like us, but they aren’t buried with us.”

‘The House as Casualty’ by Mahmoud Darwish

The Things Meant For Us

About a month ago, I lost the hide and seek game with Covid, ending a near two-year winning streak. In my fever-induced haze and struggling with the reality of being imprisoned in my body by sickness, a compartment of my mind sought distraction, something with which to pass the time and the haunting of night. I did not want to be with myself through the sickness, the dropping blood pressure, the sandpaper throat. All unpleasantness. All helplessness.

My restless eyes caught onto something on the back of the many crinkly pill packets (throat lozenges, pain relief, vitamin C, antibiotics and whatnot) I had been given: a manufacturing date going back two years. 20 Aug 2020.

All this time since, this particular packet had been lying in wait for me. For two years, before I was even close to any illness, a pill that would help me through my infection had already been made in a lab somewhere in India and was bidding its time in storage until Fate would call it forward to fulfill its purpose — to help me.

When I reflect on this, I wonder: what illusion of control are we still holding on to? What iron hand do we insist on wrenching around our lives, thinking it will make a difference? Why do we try so had to hold onto people and positions when there are greater powers at work than our own desperation? The things that are meant for us are meant for us. Regardless of fear or happiness, deservingness or undeservingness.

“Relax your hands around the wheel. Don’t grip; it won’t fall away from you. Touch the wheel, go with the movement of the car and the car will go along with yours. Easy, right?” That’s what my driving instructor says. Such a phenomenon, this woman.

Gripping harder does not help exert more control. Dedicating all our life’s energy to one purpose, to preventing one loss — none of it helps. We can never stand for too long against the currents of Life and Fate.

What is meant to happen, will.

The good, the bad, the surprising, the inconsequential, the in-between, the “What the hell was that for?!”, the “too good to be true” and so much more. So release the tension. Steer the wheel, but let Life take you places, too.


What a year! (I say, barely 4 months into it). I saw my sister after 3 years, quit my job, got covid, went freelance, am in the works to open my own baby business, started learning how to drive and, well, other sadder things, too. But whew, what a year. Each day I grow into someone I can’t recognise, and I’m still deciding whether I like that or not. Oh well. I hope you’re doing well, and that life also has its moments of craziness for you.

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 👌

In the very end…

Tonight, the twilit sky made it look like it was the end of the world.

An eerie orange lit up what should have been an inky blackness, revealing the hidden lives and habits of night. All I could think about was that letter Franz Kafka wrote to his Milena… “Ah, if only the world were ending tomorrow, we could help each other very much.”

It seems unfair that we should suffer when we have so little time, and so little control over it. There are days when I think that all the laws of this world are very stupid. Petty. If the world were ending today, no one would care about international borders and marine territory. No one would be paying for the right to exist, to own a legal identity. It’s all illusory. Yet these rules rein us in every day. We live our limited time within established frameworks because of them. If you ask me, claiming ownership of well, anything, is a lie we tell ourselves. We own nothing, and everything is loaned to us.

What if we all stopped the pretense and gave in?

I am weary of all these constructs that stop us from reaching ourselves. I am weary of the world telling me I am not beautiful, and of all its other attempts to divert my attention to lesser things. Oh, what if we realised that we own nothing? That we control so very little. When will we understand that we lose ourselves to want, to fear of loss? Property, riches, love…it is all sand passing through our hands.

What if life did not have to start at 60? What if we could live freely at all ages — and not just for faraway retirement days that we may never reach? What risk it is, to postpone living.

Ah, if only the world were ending tomorrow, we could help each other very much.


Quote of the day:

“…when the lands, the seas, the archipelagos had not yet been enclosed within their borders, when men were free and cruel like the birds of the sea, and when the legends still seemed open to the infinite…”

J.M.G. Le Clézio, Voyage à Rodrigues

Note: Am I writing this because it’s going to take even more bureaucracy for me to get my driver’s license? Or because these (somewhat sensible) laws inhibit my dreams of leaving it all behind to become a baker/perfumer/rich-aunt-in-movies-who-travels-the-world-but-is-based-in-Iceland? Who knows.

Where we belong.

Suspended in what Banana Yoshimoto calls the ‘cosmic darkness’.

Humans cannot be let free to roam. We cannot be untethered. The image I have in mind is that of an astronaut drifting in space. Free, by all means, of all bonds. But she is left alone to wonder, to gaze upon the cosmos, to reach the ends of time and space, and ultimately to surrender.

That is how I feel now: adrift in loneliness, unbound by responsibilities or impositions. I stare into space, conjure a bit of it wherever I go. It’s deep and dark, like the bottom of the ocean, where I’m walking. I wish there was a lamp in my hand, one of the old ones fueled by oil. Something heavy to weigh me down and help me feel the comforting Earth beneath my feet. To bring me back.

Who knew there was a balance in this too? That too much freedom is a curse, and we were all meant to belong somewhere.

Cut off a kite string and it is lost, forever. Pull it too tight and it never fulfills its purpose. To fly, while being planted in the ground. To be a tree, rooted solidly in place, but with flowers that dance with the breeze.


Note: A few years back, someone on this blog kindly shared some book/author recommendations. Among them was Banana Yoshimoto, who I started reading just a few days ago. “Kitchen” was the exact book I needed at the time to make sense of myself. Totally recommend it.

Olfactory.

Art by: Lallymacbeth

Smell is the most underrated sense.

There is something visceral about it, like a bullet of feeling shot straight to your core. Sight and hearing, even touch have deceived me before, subjected to the powers of anxiety or to the wishes of an overworked imagination. We see what we want to see, hear what we want to hear — but I’ve never been able to manufacture a smell.


A few weeks ago, my body crashed on the sofa, the weight of the day’s work heavy on my back, the coldness of night a sting on my face. I’m afraid it was not a pretty sight, that it somehow felt worse than it looked. I was snuffed out, like a flame, and only smoke remained.

It was the new bottle of shower gel that did it.

The gold-speckled label said the smell was of wild honey and vanilla yoghurt, a tender, rich scent that emanated from a pool of caramel-coloured product. There was something almost custardy about it, like a freshly-baked, spiced cake — courtesy of the vanilla yoghurt, no doubt. It was generous, a little bit like a caring hand that won’t stop giving. The scent only expanded from here on out, clinging to softened skin, floating in indulgent wafts, lending all its delicate sweetness to the atmosphere.

The smell filled my nostrils, and I could tell my brain was writing a new memory with every element of this scent, attaching words like “healing”, “soothing” and “home” for my future self. Its scent was sweet without being overwhelming, subtly feminine. The kind of femininity that need not express itself in garish pinks or heavy makeup, insecure should it ever be mistaken for anything else. I have never been able to identify with these overwhelmingly feminine scents and things. I mean, I own dresses and makeup and occasionally find pleasure in them. But for the most part, I do not care to ascribe to them. I shrug my way out of such categorisation, slipping past the uniformising eye of society; a true convention-shirker. In my attempt to disentangle myself from these expectations though, I also mounted a rebellion against femininity, spiting every aspect of it indiscriminately. Now, I have grown less tense, and my world has opened to ideas old and new. So, sweetness it is. Gentleness, without a hint of aversion to femininity.

Enveloped in steam, the smell of wild honey and vanilla yoghurt hung around me, hiding even in the crooks of flushed collarbones.

Next came the glass pots and vials, sprays, pastes, scrubs, serums and creams collected as part of a growing addiction to skincare. Swirling in a vial was a blend of essential oils, marked with a peeling label that read “Scalp oil”. It gave off a distinctly medicinal and herbaceous smell, strong to the point of pungency — but it was what I needed to tether the scattered clouds of my soul, to piece myself together around this scent. I was grounded by it, to it.

The knowledge that it was all natural offered great comfort, and I luxuriated in the idea that healing had begun.

April 2021


Listening to:

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: