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You promised

things would be good,

like floating

paper boats

on a rainy school day.

You

were a habitual liar.

I learnt to

live

with it

and without you.

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If people who claimed Congress ‘let this nation down’, did so because of the State sponsored violence being perpetrated in the name of national security (North East, Jammu and Kashmir, Chattisgarh) under draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act or violation of rights and more violence in the name of development in Chattisgarh and Orissa or under some other pretext, then I wouldn’t be upset. But to claim that Congress’s worst crime is corruption or that only Congress is corrupt is frustrating and infuriating. How easily we pretend that running of an underground alcohol network in a state that has imposed prohibition is not corruption. Though that is not really one party’s fault. Right? But, State sponsored violence is violence, too. How about some of your outrage for that? No? Just corruption? Fine.

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No and me had a torturous relationship. Similar to the one that yes and me shared which was unpleasant to say the least. I don’t know and me were the best. So comfortable, so safe. So non-committing. It infuriated everyone and comforted me. Pick a side, they said. Make a choice! Stand by your word! Stop hanging around on the wall. The wall, though, felt clear of strife and conflict. Sometimes courage mixed with stupidity allowed me to pick one side. After numerous occasions of choosing the wrong team, unwittingly, and winding up at the raw end of the situation, I allowed the tumultuous and controversial bonds to persist. They thrived in the confusion and the reluctance.

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‘I just don’t want to,’ I said.

‘Don’t be pretentious,’ he replied.

‘Who would know? If you sniffed a little?’

‘I would know the truth. And I would rather die than lie to myself. For you will eventually leave; all I will have is what I did and said. I would hardly be at ease if it was a pile of stuff I gave into without wanting to.’

‘It doesn’t have to be all serious or nonsense. Just a party there, a drink here. A smoke there, a sniff here. Loosen up, kid. Live a little.’

‘Why can I not make choices without you assuming that yours is the better one? Why can I not do what I please? Why do I need to justify my actions and choices to you?’

‘So, you will never listen?’ he threatened.

I stood my ground and shook my head. I didn’t always have such confidence. I was shaking inside. But I knew, he wasn’t a friend. Just a bully.

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I have ranted about this before but I don’t think I am ready to shut up entirely yet.

I am terrified to read the comments in most articles. Some tweet threads can be scary, too. There is just so much spite, hatred and malaise there; it makes me uneasy. Uneasy that we are willing to dismiss each other’s opinions so easily. Uneasy cause we have not been taught how to dissent well enough. Uneasy that all this anger is being shielded under free speech.

The responses, often, aren’t articulate counter replies (which I have no problem with). But, instead allegations and abuses are hurled at each other. What defines one’s identity is marred. It forces many to retreat and feel ashamed. We seem to not be able to establish any dialogue with each other. With language like this, I cannot imagine civil discussions. Forget intellectually eye opening ones. We have become so frigid and rigid in our beliefs that reason, logic or even merely another’s opinion don’t matter. It is disturbing for me to imagine a world where everyone speaks but no one is really talking.

I am developing a blanket policy not to read comments on articles online. My poor heart is incapable of handling the brutal blows humans are dishing out to humans in these “free” spaces.

Maybe my civil refusal to engage in dialogue is as bad as the other side that yells obscenities. I don’t know.

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He turned towards me;

I could see the conflict

in his eyes

and his face.

Right down the middle

there was a split,

one side smirked

the other smiled.

He thought I didn’t see,

the conflicting

contradicting,

thoughts, words and actions.

He rather have

spoken the truth

however ugly;

lies I refused

to tolerate.

Yet, word after word,

line after line

came the bitter untruths

of our times.

I watched,

listened

without a protest

with my two faces, too.

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I remembered that day we rode back in the pouring rain. I was riding in torrential rain today. My glasses got wet and foggy and I couldn’t see the road. The dirty water washed my feet and I got grouchier. But as the rain got heavier, I drifted slowly into a tightly held, cherished memory. We were soaked on a ride back home. Yet we laughed to our hearts content. We even cursed but in the happiest way possible. We must have rode nearly 15 kms that day. You were always a safe rider. But the rain was torrential and I couldn’t see ahead of us. You rode slow, and brought us home safe. I wonder how we managed it without stopping even once. Maybe it was the warmth we had inside us from the many drinks we shared. But it was all worth it. That memory is a reflection of our deep relationship. It shows me how in crisis and we are together, I can still laugh it off. You’ve always had that uncanny ability to crack me up. Today’s pouring rain wasn’t half as pleasant or memorable. It could be the missing alcohol or just you or both. I wish you were here. Fortunately, I have this memory and many more to keep me company. On rainy days and others.