Familiarity. A comforting concept. Warm, safe and satisfying. It is reliable too. A thing to fall back on, or in some perturbing cases, a thing that doesn’t let you get up thereby preventing a fall altogether. Everlasting? Why not! However, like all good ideas in the world, it is too good a notion to be just good!
I wonder if my spirit animal (I don’t know the exact meaning of this term but I guess it is somewhat like a Patronus) is a beaver now (was definitely a turkey in the past)? I wonder about that a lot. Beavers make dams and that is the only thing they make. Their fragile dams, constructed entirely out of twigs, stones and leaves, do not stand the test of time but that doesn’t stop them from constructing new ones. Why don’t they make other things? Dams are pretty advanced structures and if they can make those they can make almost anything, but they don’t. Then again, why build anything else when you have mastered the construction of dams? I have never built a dam in my life, just a few bridges that I forgot to check up on later, but I am beginning to relate with beavers so much. Just like them, I am getting too comfortable with familiarity.
Now coming to the real problem – at the start of every year I make a list of books that I plan to read throughout the year. I had been doing quite good with that list in the past, maybe because it was realistic (just had five or six new books, none over thousand pages). Since a few years, however, I find myself struggling with it. The fact (more like a sudden realisation) that there are too many unread books and just not enough time anymore (ageing and shortening of attention span) makes me start more than two books at a time and not all of them manage to get my fingerprints all over their last pages. Life has always been busy in one way or another, but never before I had turned my back on a book. It would feel like a transgression. Now, I am just an unapologetic abandoner. This, unfortunately, is neither the only reason of the ordeal, nor it is the biggest one ! It all comes back to the beavers, dams and the concept of familiarity…
I never had a proper place to put all my books in the house. I just had two shelves so that had meant not keeping too many books. I had access to libraries most of the times and felt good selling and buying books to and from the thrift stores. Sharing with friends, rather pestering them to read, was and still is a hobby, but somehow or the other, there are some books that I couldn’t give away and some that I cannot ever give away (the ebooks). Those books have now acquired ghost like characteristics. They are haunting me. In the worst way possible.
I pick up a new book, and after a few pages, I get this urge to read that part from Stephen King’s IT where Mike Hanlon calls everyone from the Loser’s Club, or that part in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where Ron manages to find that secret radio show hosted by the members of the Order of the Phoenix or that ending from The Catcher in the Rye where Holden watches his sister ride the carousel…the list goes on. Thus, what I have been trying to convey is that recently, whenever I manage to find time to catch up on my to-read list, I end up reading the books that I have already read (not just once, but about a hundred times)! My mind refuses to handle new stories and form new affiliations. It has grown accustomed to familiarity. I wonder if there are other people out there, presently being haunted by the books they have read before?
I bet somewhere out there, beavers are not amused.
I discovered concrete poetry a few years back and it had seemed fun. Experimented a little too but I knew that I wasn’t getting it right. This form of poetry is supposed to be visual but those visuals are usually composed of typographical elements. I find myself relying more on tiny illustrations but they seem to add meaning to what I am expressing so I guess, I am not completely destroying the essence of this form of poetry. Posting two of the better ones I have written (quite recently).
“I find myself
Like one folds
A bucket load
On a hot
With the creases,
To find the missing
Or the matching
Parts and trying to
With the rhythm
Of it all
The gowing pile
That fabric softeners
Do not seem
To be working on),
With no end
One of the hardest aspects of not-being-a-kid-anymore is trying to break out of the cycle of mundanity, even for just a few moments, to appreciate those things in life which can help us realise why everything that we put ourselves through is worth it. I often find many a things spiralling out of control and then I have a hard time reminding myself how those things are not what should matter. Those are not the things of beauty. Therefore at the very last day of this year, I am thinking about all the little yet powerful and utterly radiant things that I had observed and or experienced this year and I am enlisting nineteen of those here:
- Going for strolls, with just yourself, after twilight in late November are worth the shortness of breath and sore calf muscles,
- Waking up before birds means that you can also get to sleep before them with not a single item remaining unchecked on your to-do list,
- Tearing up your to-do list into smithereens at least once every month is quite liberating,
- Finding out that people who smile looking at their phone screens and not getting mad when you ask them about it are often sweet and kind,
- Holding doors for people buys you time to decide as to which side of the door you actually want to be at (not everyone gets that amazing an opportunity),
- Reading until you see double of everything but still cannot stop is an addiction that you do not need to get evaluated for,
- Getting to hear from a friend whom you hadn’t heard from in ages and had worried about them brings genuine sense of relief,
- Someone asking how you had been doing and not zoning out when you are telling them about it is insanely awesome,
- Rooting for those you care about and then getting to see them doing good and getting what they deserve,
- Hearing from a teacher how they still remember you and are looking forward to see you do good things in life,
- Watching a movie or reading a book that takes you way back into your childhood and erases all sense of time for a few moments,
- Not letting sadness hit you when you see someone getting old because you know how amazing a life they had lived,
- Finding out that someone who is highly educated and wealthy is still awfully polite and grounded,
- Incessantly worrying about something for days at end and then waking up one day to find out that you couldn’t remember what it was all about,
- Accepting that there are certain things you are not passionate about and you no longer have to keep doing them,
- People thanking you for a small act of kindness when all they ever themselves do is be enormously kind,
- Not freaking out catching yourself procrastinating because you finally know that you are able to power-up at the last moments and get the job done,
- Finding yourself doing things that you never thought you could do on your own,
- Your family not giving up on you even when you are ready to throw in the towel and that show of support in itself being motivation enough to go on!
The world maybe a dark place but it does have lamp posts and lighthouses that still work fine. Here’s to hope that every one of us shall have a year full of small and big wonderful moments! Happy New Year!
Being a fan of comic strips, I have been thinking about making my own comics since quite some time. Unfortunately, I lack the necessary drawing skills. Maybe one day I can collaborate with an artist and write the script for comic strips instead. Also, I have recently watched a good show on Netflix- Love, Death and Robots, and it has rekindled my fondness for short stories. With my sources of inspiration explained, I share here a few short-stories that I wrote about an hour ago:
We did not win because three stones had remained unturned. Plus, one of them had shattered. Unturned pebbles are a complete deal-breaker.
I took my bike out for a walk one day. We went to the beach and heard some uncalled-for laughter. We came back home with sand in our feet and pedals.
The next day, my bike took me out for a ride. We went to the movies and attracted some unwarranted stares. We came back home with life in our hearts and handlebars.
One night, my bike and I decided against going out. We stayed at home and nurtured some unprompted sadness. We came back to our senses with a void in our minds and drive chains.
3. Scarlet’s Letter
Scarlet wrote a letter and forgot to post it. As the night darkened, Spirits of Unfinished-business descended and claimed the letter as one of their own.
Scarlet remained unaware of the aforementioned event. She even forgot about that letter completely.
Consigned to oblivion in her writing desk, the letter oozes out demented words into every single thing that she writes. Everything she ever writes becomes the unsent letter!
June would look in the mirror and marvel at her own beauty. With sun-kissed hair, sparkling seas for irises and a brilliant, sandy complexion, she would scoff at May and July, oblivious to the fact that she was sandwiched in between those two. May and July, however, couldn’t care less. They often forgot she existed.
The grass was greener on the other side so he borrowed some. Two shades of grass then grew on his side. The other side immediately regretted sharing.
6. No Fight Left
I roll-up my sleeves with a great effort and feel the thick, sticky sweat trickle down my forehead. As weariness finds a home in my bones, I am made aware of the fact that there is almost no fight left in me. With my sleeves now out of the way, I dip my arms in the lukewarm stagnant water and a wave of nausea hits me. I cannot bear to look down. Or sideways. Or any where there is a chance of me locking eyes with the unwashed clothes! I hate doing laundry!
Imagine being here,
On this rock in space,
With breathable air and spendable money,
And not being able to say a thing,
Not being able to communicate
About waterfalls and chocolates
And other things of beauty worth obsessing over,
Not being able to say
What sets a soul on fire,
Slices hopes and dreams with a chainsaw!
Imagine being here,
On this sphere amongst stars,
With palatable greens and treadable lands
And not being able to hear a thing,
Not being able to lend an ear
To ocean waves and thunder
And other sounds of nature worth falling for,
Not being able to listen to
What shatters a soul beyond repair,
Drills holes in the heart and leaves it raw!
Imagine being here,
On this orb in heavens,
With squishable joy and palpable grief
And not being able to feel a thing,
Not being able to sense
Gush of cold air and warm sunshine
And other fine textures worth taking in,
Not being able to make out
What keeps a soul in turmoil,
Sets fate in the ice that would never thaw!
Woke up and said,
“It’s my life
I should spend it my way!”
Came back and screamed,
“It’s a strife
I don’t have time for it anyway!”
Looked at the stars and sighed,
“It’s now 20:35
I better call it a day…”
May not be greener
On the other side
It is definitely more purple
I am all for violets and lilacs…
She asks and I know
What it is,
But I shake my head
And walk away
She has set one up
In the first place.
A troubled look on her
Otherwise placid face
Never lets her forget
Her proper place
In my heart, in her own,
In time and in space
And that’s why she
Won’t ever fall from grace!
A blue ribbon
In my hair
Does not care!
It only reflects
Of grey hair
To be there!
Say to someone
To be missing you
Sends a note?What do you
Write to someone
Have been missing
Know if they’re too?
At least one of us had to be hallucinating that day. I bet it was me…
It was just like any other day except we had finished work earlier and had been allowed to go home if we had wanted to, but the weather was just too nice to leave that place so most of us had stayed. She (of all the people) and I were standing in a crowded corridor and I don’t remember whose idea it was to start talking. The conversation was mostly one-sided and her words seemed to be rocking back and forth in the air that was already saturated with enough inane banter. I somehow end up in drawn-out converstions a lot and before the particular day in question, I had not experienced what it was like to get out of them.
My imagination has been my oldest friend. We hang out often and it has saved me from unforseen troubles on a number of occasions. That day, it took me to the bottom of a great mass of water. I’d like to believe that it was the bottom of a great, blue sea. There was a huge hole there that I was getting into (with a book in my hand) and I had felt like staying there undisturbed for as long as I had wanted to. I imagined that things were not drab because I was not stuck in a tedious heart-to-heart any more, but was reading inside a hole at the bottom of the sea! Reality was reduced to only a minute, insignificant concept in my head. I have been told repeatedly that life does not work that way. I am still working on a way to untell myself that.
Coming back to the place where all was not well- I had crawled out of my imaginary underwater haven and was trying to focus on her face in hopes to see whether or not similar signs of boredom (or something more sinister) were registered there. She was pausing between sentences, mostly to chew on her lower lip and every now and then her gaze kept darting sideways. It was difficult to discern, however, whether she was alright with me not having much to say or she in fact had no idea that I had spaced out a long time ago. Just then, out of nowhere, I had a strong urge to fall asleep. Right there, in the middle of it all! From that point onwards, keeping my eyelids apart had begun taking an enormous amount of effort out of me.
Mustering a chastened smile on my face, I sneaked a look at my wrist watch and found out that I had missed my shot fifteen minutes earlier and if things had kept going the way they were going, I had a slim chance of catching another break like the one I had missed. I blinked rapidly a few times, curbed a yawn at the back of my throat and tried putting up the best expressions that I beieved could insinuate the act of listening.
Fifty five minutes had passed and she had given no indication that she had to use a restroom again, like she had to fifteen minutes ago. Instead of removing myself from that awful situation while she was gone, I had remained rooted to that spot as not to appear impolite when she’d return. Politeness causes more damage than rudeness (why no one ever tells me that is still a mystery to me). Anyhow, I was stuck there, waiting for her to stop talking. I began loathing my mind for acting like such a weakling and making me feel that helpless. I was not finished rebuking it when suddenly, both my arms had registered a violent movement and my auditory neurons had manged to reconnect with my brain, for she had grabbed me by both arms, shaken me and while wearing the most perplexed look on her face shouted, “What do you think I should have done? Why are you looking at me like it was all my fault? What in the world is wrong with you?”
I don’t know whether there were any acceptable retorts to that or there existed ways to effectively manage that situation, because I had simply seen it as one big opportunity to bring an end to the mayhem once and for all. My sleep-craving head, bored-out-of-its-life heart and dwindling-imagination joined hands and out of my eyes unleashed a river that couldn’t be dammed! At least not for a couple of minutes…
It has been quite some time since I have last found myself in a lengthy exchange. Chit-chats are all I find myself involved in now. I am now known as a woman who bursts into tears during unwanted, stretched out, unimaginative conversations.
It is beautiful outside tonight. The it-is-not-fall-yet-but-close breeze is divine. Night sky in this weather is extra special and has a peculiar hue. The air feels lighter than it was in the morning, no longer saturated with unrained water. If I can appreciate and experience all this by sitting beside a window, the people who are actually outside must be having the time of their lives.
I wonder why it is almost never this magical in the mornings? What is the point of it being this breathtaking if you are stuck inside just because it does not make sense for a female here to be out on her own at night? I find contentment by imagining that another-me in an alternate reality is in a place where it is not unusual for a woman to be out alone in the dark, owns a car or a bike and is going bonkers tonight.
One tends to miss anything in the past that didn’t outrightly kill him/her. When I think about my college days, not many enjoyable experiences pop into mind. However, one of those adventures that I had often complained about back then but miss now are the bus rides. On one of those rare occasions when the weather was as enchanting as the aforementioned scenario, bus stops and bus rides had seemed like the most fun things in the world. On other days, not so much.
This reminds me of a book, that I don’t remember the name of, in which one of the characters was not a big fan of almost anything (it was not The Catcher in the Rye, that I am sure of) but all of a sudden he started travelling by buses to not any place in particular and just could not stop. This poem has been inspired from that character in the story: