Part 6 – Breswana

I spend a lot of my free time thinking about Haji Public School. I am currently sitting in Ranchi in a hotel room after a day full of adolescent girls laughing and I pictured my classes in the school.

I know teachers aren’t allowed to have favourites. But I might have enjoyed teaching Class 7 (now 8) the most. They were a small class full of characters. Mefhooz who could never really sit down. Munee and Humeera who were quiet and vibrant. Ajaz who asked questions and wouldn’t let me proceed till he understood. Haroon who surprised me with how well he wrote, everytime. Ramzan who was eager to learn, patient with my many failings and insistent with his questions. Shahid who spoke loudly and finished things quickly, his brain working much faster than his hand. Abbas who once made me cry while I corrected his exam paper – he wrote about the dismal state of the world with so much violence. Umar who rarely came to class but was always quick to grasp things.

Once before their English exam, I had created a treasure hunt with them. Each location would have an entire set of questions that they had to solve before deciphering the clue to the location of the next set of questions.

Ajaz being Ajaz was super sceptical. “We will lose. I don’t want to play.” I had to encourage him to have fun and not focus so much on the end. I stood back and watched them play that day. They were quick, active on their toes and very diligently answered all questions. I think it was my favourite afternoon with them, until of course they told me none of them had prepared for the test.

In the end it didn’t matter who won. We sat in the classroom after discussing their mistakes, sharing the clues with each other and learning. I hope I taught them some English; they definitely taught me to enjoy the ride.

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Lessons in love

It has been an odd six months. Six months of life without the love of mine.

She came into my life for reasons unknown, other than my sheer insistence for a dog. I had just been hurt by my first crush and I drowned myself in her shenanigans. In return, she taught me everything I now know about love.

Even in her loss, there has been great learning about love, holding on and letting go. Everyday I wake up in the morning with a thought of her. I don’t remember ever waking up to another thought. Boyfriends, girlfriends, lovers, friends have all come and gone. But Layla remains. In her infinite glory.

I joked a lot at home that she was the great love of my life; no human would ever come close. It is true because she taught me to not be insecure in love. To love her without expecting love in return (a love that she gave so generously). To share space with her, to allow her to make decisions, to care for her through her aging years, to be her companion.

I remember the kids at Haji Public School askimg me why I had to return just for a few hours to say goodbye. I said then I didn’t know why.

Maybe it was the right thing. Maybe I needed the closure of burying her. Maybe she needed me. I do not know.

I am sure she will be delighted to know that in my darkest, lowest, and happiest moments, she is my first thought. Her tail wagging. Her love filled eyes have carried me through and will continue to do so.

Happy Valentines Day, my love. Thank you for teaching me the magnitudes love holds. I will continue to try to be the person you thought I was.

 

Homeward dove


We thought about what to grow in the area where she is buried. We argued over carrots, papaya or some flowers. She loved both carrots and papaya, so it seemed apt. She even stopped to sniff flowers. Amma suggested papaya cause granddad had said no flowers. But we finally settled on mustard. Mustard attracts a lot of butterflies which would help with pollination in Amma’s garden. And Layla loved butterflies.

Weeks later, the baby plants have arrived and Layla must be watching with delight.

I still can’t say her name or write it or read it without crying which means buses, trains, autos have seen me burst into tears these past few months. 

Learning that grief of this kind becomes a part of you. 

Learning that I will always love her unconditionally and miss her excruciatingly. Cause that is, was and will be the nature of our relationship. One of intense feeling.

Letters of unsent past

My email drafts were full of unsent emails to you. It was embarrassing how much I wanted to reach out but the haunting “chill” that you had left me with stopped me. The answers would never be mine. So I did what I knew best, I wrote to you.

One brave-pointless day, I transferred all those emails into a password protected document on my computer. The document became longer with each entry. The letters themselves less frequent and more at peace with the situation. Several times I returned to just read and introspect on the pain. Today, I wandered to that part of my computer; hoping to read them and find the closure I desperately seeked. 23 password attempts later… the document cannot be opened.

I suppose this is how closure looks. A quiet indifference to the why, how and why me. Silently, learning my lessons from that fall and moving on. Acceptance that it is what it is. Some answers lie in letting it go and moving forward. 

Quiet

Some mornings I wake up bright and early. I cook, have a shower and settle into my chair by the window sill. I can hear the birds, mostly crows, calling out to each other. ‘Hello!! It is morning. Take in some of this goreous sun.’ Their calling is soothing. Opening the windows and drawing back the curtains allows sunlight to greet me, my bed. The warmth is my friend. Sunrays give the best hugs. It is a quiet moment of me in the world; yet it is one of just me.

My cup of tea and whatever book I’m reading then beside me. Today it is Rilke. I turn to him in moments of chaos and silence and let his words wash over me. In his words, ‘There is much beauty here, because there is much beauty everywhere.’

In this mad city, I often miss the quiet of the mountains, the less stress, the no traffic, the no-honk life. A stillness. But today, I feel content in this beauty around me. I hope to keep finding the beauty in the everyday quiet. 

Celebrations and mourning

A stray golden hair

triggered an hour 

of weeping inconsolably;

Could it have been 

a lengthy nightmare 

Of you gone?

I never believed
 in heaven 

till your death wiped

clean such beliefs.

I needed you 

watching over me.

Not too many tears today, 

I tell myself, 

for you must be 

floating in cake and ice cream. 

How else do you turn 12,

Darling?

All I have.

I carry around this yellow pad with letters written to you. I guard it from the rain – from fear that my words will be washed away. I protect it from the wavering eye – from fear that someone other than you will see it.

I scribble in it every chance I get. Using this paper to communicate with you. There is no pressure for you to respond now. You can rest in peace from my growing expectations.

These are words I’ve never spoken. Words you’ll never read. Words safe with me. Words that I hold onto.

Time. Space. You.

Time may not remember
But I was there
Holding your hand
Struggling to calm my heart beat
Sinking deep into your neverland

It was a moment in space and time
For you
For me
For those cigarettes we put out
On the floor of the balcony

Fleeting, fleeing
Leaving no trace behind
We blew away those ashes
And brushed invisible tears and fears aside
I remember. But do you?

INFJs, mountains and Rilke

INFJs*, mountains and Rilke.

Believe me, it is a deadly combination. When two INFJs decide to go to the mountains to recoup, they mean business. They carry more books than warm clothes. They have writing books, reading books and second-hand books, letter pads, post cards they gather along their travelling paths. It is dangerous to travel with them. They spend hours reading and staring into space. They visit museums with a purpose – to read the explanations. Not like many others who just see and move on.  My INFJ travelling partner is a joy to be around. She allows me to fall deep into my thought process and patiently begins to communicate for me. The beauty is when the need arises, I would do the same.

Our itinerary loving asses were treated to a surprise when the mountains were suddenly elusive because of snow/hail/rain. To be fair, our books would not have kept us warm and we would have frozen to death. So, we spent several days bummed out in coffee shops sipping coffee and wine and eating cake like we would die if we didn’t. It was difficult.

Here is where we rediscovered Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke is a poet himself and his words were soothing to our distressed souls. We struggled to calm down, relax and let ‘life be right in all cases’. It was hard but I doubt I would have been able to live through that trip without my trusty INFJ and our survival kit comprising Rilke^. I would read him out loud and then sigh over the deep philosophy. We learnt a lot through him, I would think.

We had both read Rilke before. The circumstances – being stranded at the foot of the magnificent mountains – helped us explore the depths of his words.

“It is always what I have already said: always the wish that you may find patience enough in yourself to endure, and simplicity enough to believe; that you may acquire more and more confidence in that which is difficult, and in your solitude among others. And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is right, in any case.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

It was a difficult trip with lots of rain, hail and rocky bus rides. But I remember two moments vividly. One where we were soaking wet, sitting in front of a fire and reading. The other where we were in an airport lounge for insane hours with cups of coffee and reading. Both times aloud and both times lost in the words. (The second book I suspect is another INFJ favourite [perhaps not just INFJs] The Little Prince.)

In my current moments of anxiety, depression and stress, I picture the elusive mountain ranges and repeat to myself: Life is right, in any case. Contrary to the original situation, it calms me miraculously.

*INFJ – MBTI personality type

^ After returning, we discovered in an article online that hard bound Rilke is an ideal present for INFJs. They couldn’t have been more right with regards to these two INFJs.

Difficult days.

Some days it’s hard to get out of bed. Basic daily tasks are hard to manage. But you do it anyway.

You bathe the dog.

You go to the college to get the certificate you need for your applications.

You get a hair cut.

You picture the snow capped mountains in all their glory and your heart beat slows down. You crawl back into bed and watch hours of TV. Or you play a game you used to play when you were 15. You smile.

You remind yourself ticking things off your list makes you feel remotely accomplished. For today that’s enough.

Tiny steps. Deep breaths. One day at a time.

Tomorrow is another day. Hopefully it will be better.