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In the secret places inside her head,

she made too much noise.

She trudged uphill along the rows of trees;

speaking to herself aloud.

Intimacy haunted her.

It brought her to life.

Distance wrecked her

and it put the pieces back.

‘Have I lived this more than once?’

she thought as stray goats grazed around.

Here and now; there and then; over and over again.

With doubts piled up,

she rode the uncertainty wave, frivolously,

without grace, elegance or class.

She dealt with it as only she know,

as only she could.

For it was her emotions that were at stake.

321 of 365

I stopped making resolutions. In fact I mostly stopped making lists. Not that I was above lists, it is just that I hated that I couldn’t draw a neat line across each item in the list for I never finished them all. So I gave up making lists to calm my obsessive line-cutting self. But my engagement with resolutions has been worse. I never could manage the dedication to stick by them. I would ditch each one of my resolutions eventually and just blame the laziness that I was filled with.

But this year, I battled it out with myself whether I should make a few resolutions. Quite frankly, my life could use some structure. After much thinking, I have abandoned the idea. I realised that I more than anything else I need to take my life one day at a time. This decision was made not so much by my laziness or inability to stick by anything but mostly by my cynicism. I suddenly found it hard to imagine that the new year meant I could suddenly turn over a new leaf and break out of bad habits. Stop beating myself up. Stop eating candy instead of meals. Stop guzzling the Thumbs Up. Stop feeling guilty when it isn’t my fault. Stop pressurising myself to attain perfection. It was only a new year. I had hardly become superhuman to let go of habits; some at the core of me.

So, no lists, no looking back at the year gone by, no pinning hopes on 2014. Just taking it as it comes.

Taking it as it comes.

As it comes.

Let’s see how that turns out.

320 of 365

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.

307 of 365

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.

304 of 365

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.

300 of 365

Someone recently asked her to look in the mirror and narrate what she saw. She couldn’t do it. Not only because she couldn’t lie to that person, but she didn’t recognise what she saw. The person standing across from her wasn’t horrible. The person just needed to shake out of the funk and get rid of the dark cloud hovering above her head.

She had been lying to herself for a while. Pretending things that bothered her, didn’t. Assuming that putting herself above others was a bad thing. She was being harsh. She had forgotten how to look after herself. Importantly, she had forgotten to forgive herself. Nobody is perfect and that cannot be said enough. In an attempt to acquire the things she wanted, she made mistakes. Probably horrible feats of numerous errors piled randomly on top of the other. But these weren’t intentional to harm another. Does that make it okay?

She wholly believed that ‘Carpe Diem‘ was the way to live her life. She tried to swallow the principle. But in practice, she fared poorly. In fact she didn’t seize life by the moment. She actually didn’t seize life at all. It mostly passed her by as she looked on apathetically. Until retrospectively, it pinched her. Like in that moment.

She looked in the mirror. She didn’t focus on the tired eyes or the frizzled up, unkempt hair. She sought to piercingly look at these patterns she mapped out.

Could she snap out of this mode?

Meanwhile, she pulled out her phone and replied to someone’s text: ‘I am looking. But I am yet to see.’

299 of 365

I hate the word normal. I didn’t realise how much I hated it until I heard it too many times. And, till it was pointed out to me of course. It is an ordinary word that really, truly means nothing. What is normal for me is hardly normal for others? Coincidentally, one might find people who’s ‘normal’ radars fall on along similar lines. But that doesn’t happen often, I assume.

Normal doesn’t cut it. Normal doesn’t fit it. It is a loose word thrown around that means nothing. From being indifferent about it, I have realised I need to be cautious about its random usage. Normalising any behaviour leaves space for negligence and callousness. Neither I wish to entertain. At this point.

Somehow ordinary doesn’t make me half as agitated. Though it has a similar ring to it. An undertone of acceptance and submission clouds both the words. But normal fares worse. Much worse.

 

296 of 365

I stood in the middle of the square in the centre of town. I stared at the world whiz past me. Cars, bikes, people, birds, buses, dogs all continued their lives.

It took a while to sink in that I was nothing but a speck in the world. To tonnes of people around I didn’t exist or matter. I decorated just their backgrounds. Photos could be clicked at that moment and I would only be a passer-by in their memory. A blur in some and insignificant to others.

The realisation was not saddening but relief inducing. I watched the world continue to be even as I stood transfixed in my thoughts, in my selfishness. A weight lifted. A shadow emerged.

I could just be. Without any responsibility.

290 of 365

I walked towards the lighthouse in quest for a guiding force. The signs weren’t enough. I needed more.

I made excuses for myself. For quite a while. I dunked my head in water to drown my mind.

Head heavy with water, I emerged. To find everyone had left. It was like a calamity. No living being in sight.

 

I set out again towards the lighthouse. Hoping for direction this time. The fog was yet to lift. I impatiently waited.

The roads ahead of me diverged. I couldn’t, wouldn’t choose. Each seemed worse than the other.

I burrowed my head, like an ostrich, waiting for the crisis to pass. It didn’t.

 

I wanted somebody else to make the choice. Hence, I looked towards the lighthouse. But they shouldn’t. Not even a random lighthouse should have such pressures.

I needed to just wait. For the fog to lift. For the water to drain.

 

286 of 365

I have gotten so much unsolicited advice and snide comments from people that I finally decided to write this. Let’s get a few things straight shall we?

One: Sexual assualt has nothing, NOTHING to do with the victim. If you seem to believe that how I dress, or what time I am out at night has anything to do with it, I think you need to not speak. At least to me.

Two: Telling me to stay at home in the night cause ‘it might happen to me’ is not an option and hardly advice even. From experiences of the women in my life, I know for a fact that we all have a self-censorship system in place and a fear button that is superior to your nagging voice. We are already probably fighting ourselves to do what we want to do. In this case it could be taking a bus at night or walking home alone. So your advice or comment about my presence outside at night is actually reinforcing my fear. I don’t need that.

Three: Most women that talk about their experiences of sexual assault have thought about it extensively before they spoke out. We have lived and been indoctrinated into a culture of silence where we learn early to ‘ignore’, ‘let it slide’ or ‘forget about it’. Speaking up is an exhausting process for one has to deal with a rigid system that is mostly insensitive. So, they are not liars.

Four: Sexual assualt jokes, rape jokes, jokes about the victim being promiscuous are not funny.

Five: I want safety. Not protection. Learn the difference. It is not a thin line; there is a world of difference.

I have had many conversations on this with the women I know and love. We agree on a lot of this and we also disagree. For the reality of the situation is that we want to be safe (yes, not protected!) and we don’t feel it. So how do we then ‘behave’ in order to not curb our mobility and still be assured of our safety? There is no simple answer.

We negotiate these spaces each day. Some of us challenge them more assertively than others. Some of us are testing our limits each day. Some of us are learning that there is life beyond sexual assualt and rape. Some of us realising that the fear governed us. Others are discovering the power of speaking out and the solidarity that follows.

Mostly, I am learning, struggling and doing the things I want to, going to places at the times I please, using the modes of transport I wish. In the process, I try to let go of this haunting fear that ruins these experiences. Like travelling alone. This is a tough battle for me. There is no right or wrong. But I am happy engaging with it.