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She held out her hand; I couldn’t wait to hold them. But just a handshake will have to do for now. I didn’t wish to overwhelm her.

He shook my hand very ceremoniously. He must do this a lot. It was firm and formal. It is but normal. I nodded as we shook hands. I hated handshakes.

“We’ve gathered here in solidarity with women, men and children living in these lands. We wish to not be oppressed by the State no more. Fight, we won’t. Unite, we will,” a voice blared.

It would be a shame to die in a lathi charge today, I thought. I have only begun to realise what my life’s goal is. Direction that I have been craving finally materialised. Even if it was a distant voice and a feeble light. Their struggle would not go waste. I looked over to see him focussed on the voice. He was absorbed, too.

I caught her glancing towards me. The movement had just begun. The cause brought me closer to people that lived their ideals, their passions. Not just her.

“We stand today and we will continue to stand here in a silent protest, refusing to tolerate these injustices. We will grow as people from across the lands of Kaila here about our struggle. Patience. Dedication. Determination. I ask these of each of you here,” the voice continued.

It seemed simple. But it was a lot to give. I looked around me. Nobody retreated. That gave me the reassurance I needed.

“Don’t look for external reasons to stay,” he whispered.

I was baffled he had read my mind. I nodded solemnly. He had a point.

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She and I never agreed on this. She believed we couldn’t agree. Our arguments, thus, were always the same.

‘How is it possible? We are different people!’

‘So you are telling me no two people can ever experience something the same way?’

‘Exactly! How I see the people is tweaked to be different from how you see it.’

‘That I agree. But how can this be true for other things?’

‘My experience of this ice cream sundae for instance is coloured with my previous experiences of eating ice creams with other people. The songs I listen to create different imagery in my head than yours. The books I read have an unique effect on me. The movies I watch create emotions in me specific to me.’

‘This is absurd! Then, no one can ever speak or say something without it being restricted to one person alone.’

‘True! I definitely think so. I cannot and will not speak with authority on how you feel in a situation, react to a scene or see any person. For you and me bring our own distinct baggage into the frame. The incident or person is probably not even how I imagine them to be.’

‘I don’t think I see your point.’

‘Don’t think or you don’t?’

I stared at her quirky, sure smile. Is this indeed possible? Is everything we see, hear and experience subjective?

‘Can I never be objective then?’ I asked.

‘I don’t see the need to be objective. I find subjective interpretations more powerful and lasting.’

‘I don’t agree with you.’

‘I don’t expect you to as this is my interpretation.’

She was still smiling while I continued to wear a perplexed look.

‘Why would you want two or more people to see life the same way?’ she asked.

‘Wouldn’t that be easier?’

‘Easier, yes. But less interesting and highly impossible.’

I changed the topic awkwardly till another time when a similar rerun of this argument came up. Her stance remained the same.

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I only heard the sounds;

they were full of pain.

The collision, the clamber

and the clutter in my mind.

The holy trinity

was anything but divine.

I didn’t feel a thing

anymore. For I was used to

the constant gnawing.

Aren’t you?

You must function differently,

less inside your own mind, I trust.

But I rage within.

Against myself the most.

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As I lay down beside you, I could hear a continuous breathing and a soft snore. It calmed me down; my body went limp on the bed next to you. Your breathing and mine don’t sync. I was not oblivious to your breathing, either. I was aware. Very aware.

You were already asleep for a long time before I lay down. I waited for the calm to sink and settle before I could effectively fall into deep sleep. It took a while but I do drift. Our bodies don’t touch; we don’t even lean towards the other. We just were. I don’t think it was love; I breathed in your smell when my eyes were shut. It was intoxicating and binding. The emotion felt all consuming. I just wanted to wake up every day and find you there. I was unwilling to deal with the mortality of your bones, of your flesh.

I was in denial as I saw you age. Quicker than me. But there was a grace to it. I stayed enveloped in your intoxication. I moved closer for a milli second and you pulled away. You hated proximity while you slept. I forced my insecurities on you as you travelled through several dream lands. You resisted; I yielded to your demands.

Truth be told, I was happy just falling asleep hearing the soft snore, the loud breathing and inhaling the familiar smell. Occasionally, my weak heart reached out for me. Only with you.

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Some writers and some books are so comforting, so enriching that I have to devour the book instantly. The words leap off the book and become a part of me. I love intense books. Especially when I feel at a loss of words. I find that the intensity from the books then transfers into my body and I feel uplifted.

I didn’t know this about myself for a long time. I read books and devoured them without really identifying what I liked most or what kind of writers I enjoyed on a level deeper. Some made me feel better with more ease. But I couldn’t quite place a finger on it.

I still attempt to read books by various authors. But in my moments of weakness, darkness and confusion, my body advances towards certain kinds of books. I stay in this frame of mind till the book is done and I have enough fuel, ammunition to prod through life again.

My sister is not wrong when she says I dwell and live free in the magical lands of words. In the articulate words of another. In the never-lost-land of my own.

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It was never about the ending. Mostly about the story.

This was just another story in the book.

There was always the risk that the journey this story takes would not be sufficient or satisfying; I would feel an emptiness for the story could have offered more. Yet, it didn’t. Who is to judge if it was too early or too late in the picture.

Truth be told, the story could be changed or tweaked a little to fulfill my wishes. Or it could be damaged entirely so I don’t know it anymore.

The story never happens in vacuum. It sets off ripples and sometimes even waves.

Some stories, however, when they end leave the waters calm and unchanged. I never see signs of them again and that knowledge is somehow soothing.

I never truly know which story will go which way. Till the story pours out of every inch of me and I then attempt to shape it. Sometimes, I don’t and it shapes me, shakes me to my very core.

Every story is not just written into my life. It is written onto my body, my thoughts, my dreams. Especially my hopes for what stories look like, feel like and taste like.

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It was supposed to be white. Plain white. Clean white. She always agreed it would be white.

It was what she was wearing the first time she caught me looking at her. I would steal glances otherwise. But she never caught me till that day in our apartment’s shared kitchen. She was cooking; I was doing the dishes. We barely spoke though we had been rooming for over 2 months. We avoided all forms of contact. Her house and I just lived in it for cheap rent.

Over time, we got close. Not like friends, but occupy space and not be disgusted. For me, it was enough. For her, I never found out.

When it came down to all the critical moments we spent together, I still remembered how she would laugh off the serious and angry bits of her life. Hysterically. Dismissively. A white flag would be plastered across her closed door forcing me, her flat mate, to every other corner of the house. This happened like clock work three or four times a month. I avoided her during this phase better than I could fathom.

We agreed that when we parted ways, it would be smooth and not fussy. But without a word, she merely painted her entire front door white. All my stuff packed in boxes was left outside. I got the not-subtle hint.

But I couldn’t believe it had come to that. No reason. No discussion.

‘Blessed are the forgetful: for they get the better even of their blunders’, the note said.

‘Typical,’ I whispered to myself in our lonely stairway.

She had wiped her memory clean and started afresh with a white and blank space. Time for me to return the favour.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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Should I neglect

these truths?

For I feel

I am different

not special;

just unlike usual.

Unusual isn’t really

a good thing.

 

I am part broken,

part whole.

Many ghosts haunt me.

All the time.

Not from the past,

or the future.

Just unacknowledged

ideas of me.

Floating,

knowingly.

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She inhabited the land alone. Until they met.

It was a beautiful space where everything instantly made sense. She hid there. When dealing with life got tough, she hid in the bathroom till the cocoon wrapped itself around her. Then, she resurfaced. Fresh and new. Masked and ready to get on with life.

The pattern was set in stone. Until they met.

He peeled the cocoon to see her vulnerabilities. She let him get close enough to smell her fears, to taste her passion, to see her faults and to breathe her insecurities. He saw it in detail but didn’t want to leave.

Life was an easy terrain to conquer. She marched on determined. Until they met.

He forced bad habits to the fringes and attempted new patterns in her life. She resisted for long. Though infuriated, he persisted. Bristling with optimism, he nudged her. Assured that she would eventually give in completely. She fought back fiercely, defensively.

She was unwilling to let down her guard. Until they met.

He was forceful, yet gentle. She was stubborn, yet yielding. He was kind, yet volatile. She was free, yet caged.

Their faults were always amplified.

Until they met. Each other.