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.

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:

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 💚

25.

Art by: Sseongryul

It’s already here.

The idea smacks me in the face at times.

This, right now, is the future I used to dream of.

This is the impalpable life I envisioned so distantly when I was 12, when I was 21. I’ve reached here somehow, pushed by Time, rushed into the next minute, the next semester, the next year and now to my mid 20s.

Expectations of grand careers, loves, travels and kids notwithstanding — the most unsettling thing about being 25… is that it does not at all feel like it ought to.

25 is uncertain, in that strange way an object loses its shape and dimensions as it descends into water and lays there, unmoved. The sight of it is troubled, changing with each ripple and sunbeam that flits across the water. 25 is so far away somehow, I always have to convince myself that it is true whenever I say it.

I am 25.

I am 25.

It’s logical. I was born 25 solar revolutions ago, therefore I am 25. It says so on my ID, my passport; it’s the box I tick now when I fill surveys, the number people use to form their understanding of me. 25.

Twenty and five years.

The first 10, a child. The second 10, a succession of transitions. Then 5 years fumbling, 2 of them in a pandemic.

That’s a lot of maths but I can cope with the number, irrational as it feels to me. 25.

25.

I’ve said it so many times, I’ve been 25 for 6 months now…but it always feels like a borrowed word, no matter how confidently or proudly or gratefully I say it.

25.

It’s on loan to me now and soon I’ll have to swap it out for another murkier-looking number.

Actually, I’m already 25 and a half.

Oh, what a pickle we’re all in! A masquerade, a performative dance with deadlines.

What power do numbers have that outweigh who we are inside?

Why are we bound Why do we bind ourselves to these bits of data and rearrange who we are to match a number, to dance to the tune of expectations and fall into square categories?

I am 25, yes, but also a million other interesting things. My age is not the most striking part of me, not the path that leads to what is true and essential in a person. It is a loanword, a name tag that Time will soon replace.


Note: So it is that time of year now where I go “Oh, it’s been a while!” 😂

Listening to: