A little girl walked into a large room. She looked around bewildered. It looked like the end of something. Deserted and empty. Or was it the beginning?
She sat in the centre thinking of ways to write this story. In the meantime, imaginary objects, people and specimens piled up on one side of the room and very real issues, core ideals and values piled up on the opposite side. The room began to get filled. More and more objects. More and more principles. She sat on her stool and watched eagerly. With excitement.
Here, around her and elsewhere, too, the stories had no end. All she needed was tiny space in the world and the luxury to pay heed to her voice. She nurtured it. Calmed it down. Riled it up. Fine tuned its skills. Angered it. And she spoke. Louder and with more clarity as time slipped by. She was young. But knew she had to trust the voices inside her head. Though friends, outsiders, acquaintances, strangers told her not to.
For silence was not going to save her. It, on the contrary, corroded her insides and broke her spirit. The stories, the imagination, the writing, the fire in her soul – these things fed her. Allowed her to grow.
No. It wasn’t the end. Only a beginning.
She looked at the empty room again and wrote furiously with her imagination colouring the pages.
It was a party.
One I was reluctant to attend. Too many visitors and too many friends. Ones I hadn’t seen for ages together. Others I wished were no longer on this earth. Which of these were friends and which visitors is for you to decide. For processing and disseminating such information was too much for me to indulge in. They were all dressed formally as the occasion demanded.
The party was organised in my honour. So my presence was mandatory. The crowd made me suffocate. Just a bit. It was what happened when you married a wise, wonderful and friendly woman. Even worse when she was an extrovert. She wasn’t her usual self though. Maybe it was the large gathering. Maybe she wanted me by her side. Though I can assure you, I was useless at helping or calming her down. On the contrary, she needed to calm me down. Maybe it was the occasion.
She looked too solemn. The black just didn’t suit her.
What a shame!
I felt things I shouldn’t. With you not here.
I said things I wouldn’t. With you unaware.
I did things I couldn’t. With you elsewhere.
You were not around to see. For you had left a lot before me.
I pulled a skull from the cupboard and cleaned it up.
I pretended it was you when I was lonely.
Heart out, lips sealed, I offered you some cake.
A cold silence followed.
For you had left before you finished dessert.
This was the cake you never ate.
She and I played with the baby. We bounced him about. I tried to tell him stories but I couldn’t make him smile. Then the conversation of scars came about. He was nine months old. He had no clue, yet, what scars meant. And she and I gave him a 5 minute crash course on physical and emotional scars. His big eyes became bigger. His mother laughed.
‘Just crazy aunties,’ I told his mother. We might have been inappropriate.
Were we being morbid? I don’t think so. Are there things you don’t tell a kid? I hope he listens carefully and someone or the other tells him the truth always.
My niece came over the other day. I noticed how babies tend to follow their natural instinct. I tried to carry her and she screamed a no. I didn’t challenge her word and let her go. She has been this way for a while now. She turns two years in three days and she has refused advances or me picking her up. I try to take her word for it. But often adults around nudge her to give in. Till now, I have put my foot down and respected her wishes.
Why do we force them to give up on their instinct? I wish she holds onto hers.
My neighbour’s daughter is around 7 years old. She is a bright and adorable kid. She came with me and the dog for a walk the other day. The dog has been struggling a little. But she loves kids and I love seeing her with them. The three of us sat on the footpath below the building, like the dog loves to do. Every statement I made she responded with a ‘why’. Initially, I answered very patiently which gave her the encouragement to continue asking more questions. But eventually, I got tired. I almost asked her to shh. Then I realised often adults stop asking questions after a point. This habit actually frustrates me a decent bit. For I imagine that if we all asked questions, the world would be a different place.
How can I whine about adults not asking questions if I teach a child not to ask them? I hope she keeps asking questions. More and more.
I hated all kinds of endings.
The last page of the book. The credits. A loved one passing away. So I avoided them mostly. But endings have a way of sneaking up on me. Surprise me by jumping out of the blue and reminding me, there is no escaping them.
This ending I was unprepared for. For the beginning was my idea. The days passed. Weeks too. Words flowed. The connection brewed. Routines were set and I was happy abiding by it.
Even from the start, the end was in sight. Yet, I was hardly preparing for it.
Now I wonder what next? Where do I go from here?
I turned to N and said, ‘We are all broken aren’t we?’
N looked at me suspiciously. ‘No we are not.’
I was adamant to continue discussing this train of thought. She was not. She walked away throwing a pillow at me.
I sat down in front of the computer and typed fast. I didn’t want these thoughts to leave me. The writing would preserve it. The writing would change how that scene had ended. With her dismissal.
I wrote for several reasons. But sometimes I felt I wrote to rewrite endings. To change how I remember them. To change how I felt the ending made me feel. It was a wandering musing. I didn’t share it with N till later that night in bed. She would psychoanalyse this as she always did with my writing. I was positive and I waited to hear her remarks.
‘I know,’ she said. She kissed me and turned off the light.
There was no other way I would have written this story’s ending.
She stood in the centre of the secret storm.
Cleaning her glasses of the flying dust.
Sporting a straight face.
For all others were too rotten for her style.
They watched from the periphery.
Imagining the best not the worst.
As she donned her scars with pride and a smile.
For her to know and others to wonder why.
I remember you.
I remember the first injury you caused. And the ones you healed. What I don’t remember is when we agreed to these silences. The ones I was sure were worth it. The ones you demanded for our sake. The speech I forsake. It was a cruel path to the side of speech. Where I found my voice. I couldn’t believe you were here, again. Clarity was like wishing on a falling, distant star. Breaking. Reading. Fixing.
I don’t remember why.
I questioned me so much. Analyse, I screamed in my sleep. It sounded to others like destroy. Painful, yet, essential. I vouched for it. I defended the choice. Or compromise. Clarity escaped through the broken parts of me. Three parts broken. One part abstract. That made me whole. But the rest escaped between the gaps. Breaking it up. Reading once more. Fixing better.
I remembered you.
I had just forgotten me.
We are so afraid sometimes to show the world that we are not okay. That in fact we are the opposite of okay. It gets frustrating to pretend and we just want to be maskless in public. We being me and you. Well, at least me.
Why this need, pressure and want to be ‘okay’ if not ‘happy’?
There are nightmares I live. I was told about them once. Twice. Thrice. Told is incorrect, though. Warned. Fed, repeatedly. But I didn’t believe them nightmares. It is not that I didn’t want to. It is that I didn’t think it was possible.
These nightmares will go away. Slowly perhaps, but they will leave. I will be left with my dreams and memories. Those are mostly okay.
Oh wait. I didn’t mean that.