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I don’t like some words. I feel their connotations and implications are far more than what meets the eye. Like, protect, forever, eternity, life, always. You get the drift. They remind me of my own errors, even of only judgment.

I wished I didn’t remember anymore. Each time I felt vulnerable I inched back to the comfort of conformity or what I have known. I shut those doors many years ago. But some doors never really close but the wounds caused by them heal. The gentle touch of empathy, the beauty of time and the magic of words make way for a deep white space. The white space can be treacherous with its inability to resist being overwhelmed.

The inkling to perfect or to carve till perfection was in sight was another thing I wished to forget. Too slippery a slope it was to criticise, destruct and destroy. Behind this lie the wish to do better, be better, understand better. But mostly it was confounded by fear. A fear of trusting myself as I might be very wrong.

It all feels like rambling today. Random streams of consciousness strung together.

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It was a room without windows and doors. It was large and had four corners that I prefer calling four walls. Does that make it a room or a box? How does one enter and one leave, then? There was no entry large enough. Isn’t it then like box? But even boxes have openings and peep holes. So what does this become? I was sure it would result in some poignant or profound if I thought for a bit. But I could only think of silly things. Like an abandoned home. Like a crowded brain with no escape. Like a prison. Like a place to torture bad children. Am I just being demented now and not silly? It is possible. I just stared at this large, grey object. It seemed like an idea trapped in itself.

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There was a pettiness to the way she acted. When there was love, there was everything. Except idealism as she didn’t like that. But when doom had arrived, even love couldn’t change how she felt. Or was it change that had made its presence felt? Not doom. I wondered. She jumped with glee in one instance, masquerading her anger and pain. In the next, her anger and pain surfaced but never enough to rattle the love boat we shared. So how was I supposed to know?

The mistakes she made weren’t mistakes to others. She hid; she covered up; she went on. Till it piled up and she couldn’t take no more. Then doom or change arrived. Her silence spoke she imagined. Only to find it didn’t. She needed to voice her discomfort. I couldn’t read her mind, she figured. She didn’t blame me. I did a little.

She was full of contradictions. She flirted with disaster and eternity, at once. She dismissed forever. Mostly. It was complicated. Even for her. It was also simple and non-controversial.

Maybe she thought about everything too much. Maybe she thought about everything too little. Maybe she said too much. Maybe she said too little.

It was all possible and obviously so. It could all be wrong, too. Would she ever know?

I doubt I will.

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‘Are you okay?’

‘I think I am.’

‘Why so silent then?’

‘Because reality has arrived again.’

‘It never really left, darling.’

‘There was an illusion of its distance.’

‘You can still hide if you wish.’

‘But in a new land, it is justified.’

‘Not in the one you inhabit?’

‘Nope. Now I am forced to go back and face it all.’

‘It won’t be so bad. We haven’t been gone that long.’

‘But my heart sinks as the day draws near.’

‘Just take it one day at a time. Not too fast. Not too slow.’

She nodded, solemnly, though she didn’t seem convinced.

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The sun got ready to call it a day.

The colours of the sky changed, slowly.

Simultaneously, I witnessed the mode, tone and pace of my life morph.

I watched intently; I didn’t stop the transformation.

For once a truth is accepted or made visible ,

I couldn’t refute its reality.

I couldn’t return to blissful oblivion.

That clearly wasn’t me.

The sun gone. Darkness had set in; the stars came out.

I was left to deal with my truths.

I can’t live in denial,

Or pretend I’m not made of imperfections.

But perfection is a myth. I wont endorse.

Options lie in front of me. My instincts I trust.

It isn’t the problem or even a problem.

This learn I must.

It is being comfortable with my being;

The motions, the sounds, the sights it needs.

For I didn’t see till then,

I was questioning to problematise me.

But that wouldn’t do.

I needed to accept, embrace and be.

I see, now.

The process is slow and difficult.

I need to retreat to the depths of me to simply listen and heed.

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It was day 2 in Gokarna for us. After having been slow moving objects on day 1, we decided to be active on day 2. We consumed a yummy breakfast for starters for which we had to walk a decent amount. Mine was mostly unhealthy and delicious; sister’s was healthy and light.

We set out with our smart phones in hand, dressed to walk a lot. Running a little ahead of us was a dog. He seemed to know the way but we humoured him and stared into our smart phone that showed the direction. After getting lost once while following the phone, we decided to follow the dog. The dog was light on his feet and slightly impatient as two slow moving souls trudged behind him. Often halting along the bushes filled path to catch their breaths. He waited for us to catch up. He turned back to check if we were keeping pace. We trusted the dog knew where to take us and eventually abandoned our smart phone for our new guide. The path was dodgy and mostly through the mountains. Often, we felt we had lost our way. But the dog was far from misleading us. Taking us through the bushes, he sauntered on. Up, down, near the edge with killer view, up, down, through narrow paths, hardly space for one human path, up, down and finally the beach.

He led the way from Om Beach till Half Moon Beach (almost mid way to our preferred destination). Surprisingly, he didn’t join us after this. He didn’t even come to us for a treat or a few pets. He just got busy kicking some sand up. We waved to him and thanked him before continuing on our way. The road ahead looked steep and full of mountains. On this long path, we both learnt to trust our instincts and march along slowly. We stopped to inhale the breathtaking scenery, the beauty of the clear waters and sound of just the waves; photographed what we could as we went along. It was untouched by man and his destructive ways, I noticed. When we reached Paradise beach, it was worth our long and tiring trek. We sat on the rocks in silence, letting the water wash our feet. I played in the water for a while. Taking in the serenity and beauty of the quiet land. What a lovely space and place to be.

Travelling for me is not just about seeing other places and being in awe, which frankly Gokarna has done repeatedly since my arrival. But it is about seeing my reactions and learning about pieces of my self. The morning taught me to trust my instincts and let go of always wanting control. I allowed these thoughts to marinate in my head as we took a boat back.

So much to see, learn and feel. I hope to carry back some of these lessons. But mostly the positivity and freedom I feel flowing through me.

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She had needed to get away for long. Yet, work had kept her occupied. Finally, she managed to leave all her responsibilities behind and give herself a break.

She was sure she needed an ocean; the sound of the waves, vast expanses, quiet spaces, stars, sky, close to nature, it all seemed to allure her.

When she arrived, it was just what she needed. She sat in a restaurant by the beach, ordered a bottle of beer and some prawns, pulled out her feminist book and a box of cigarettes. The words made sense to her; the beer lowered her inhibitions; the cigarette smoke calmed her. All was right with her life.

She was busy reading when a Lady, clearly not Indian, asked if she could share the table. She nodded and got back to her book. The Lady, dressed in a cotton flowery dress, now introduced herself. She smiled in response but only to be polite. The Lady ordered herself a beer and pulled out her book. It wasn’t an English one. She couldn’t make out the title, though. They let the other be as they merely shared physical space.

Men in groups, several couples, both Indian and foreign, were in the restaurant with them. All engrossed in conversation and laughter. Eventually they paid their bills separately and headed out. She felt a tingle down her spine as they silently walked down the star lit beach. It was peaceful. The silent presence of a stranger, too, felt relaxing. She waved to the Lady as she decided to stare out into the ocean for a while. The Lady waved and walked on. There was something magical about sharing space without pressure of conversation.

She sat down in the almost dark corner and smoked her cigarette. The stars made for the best company. With a little buzz and a full stomach, she felt relaxed and inspired. The waves crashed on the rocks nearby. It was all going to be okay.