A Recap

It has been another foggy year, and apart from a few vivid moments, I cannot recall much. I am thankful for that, though. Why would I want to be haunted by the memory of everything?

I do not have time to make the “Best of…” lists this time around, and I am not quite sure if I have enough items to list anyway. As always, I am grateful for good health, family, friends, and being able to earn a living. I hope and pray that everyone gets to have these things in life, and a lot more.

For people like me, who can express themselves better on paper, this platform has been a blessing. I am happy to have met and befriend the kind people here, and I am grateful to have an opportunity to not only read good things and look at lovely photos but also to learn passively. May the artist in all of you always have the right canvas and a kind audience!

To recap what I have done here this year, I have chosen the titles of some of my most viewed posts to compose a poem:

I thought we were galaxies apart,

Oblivious to the knocks

On our estranged hearts,

Contentedly lost and held back

By our false sense of integrity,

Out cold and out of order,

Arithmetically unsound

And drunk on the idea

Of escapism; sleepy-eyed,

We let a thought spiral

Deepen the dissociation we felt,

But we were not alone

In being conflicted about

Embracing the other normal,

Small and restricted,

With a hint of evanescence,

And a little wistfulness,

We were getting there,

Building a home in the skies

We are right here!

©Aaysid

Thank you for being here. Have a great new year!😊

Ancient

As the years

Turn to dust,

The folded scraps

Of yellowing paper

Safely tucked away

In the pockets

Of worn-out coats,

Missing a button or two,

Become fewer

And farther between,

Until no memory

Of discrete moments

Can be retrieved

Without being consumed

By the history

Of almost everything!

©Aaysid

“With each passing moment I’m becoming part of the past. There is no future for me, just the past steadily accumulating.”

Haruki Murakami

Elemental

How can you feel like water

If nothing flows right for you,

And how can you feel grounded

If the earth decides to befriend

Everyone except your dog-tired feet,

And how can you keep burning

If the fire in you keeps losing flame,

And when the wind is incessantly

Being knocked out of you,

How can you be in your element?

©Aaysid

“The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.”
Stephanie Perkins

A Haven

you have to

put it somewhere;

the grim darkness

that threatens

to blow out

a few perpetually lit

candles on the cake

inside your head

which celebrates

its level-headedness

in spite of

its inability to hold

any thought

long enough for you

to sound smart,

and its willingness

to fall apart

on cue-

you put it in your art!

©Aaysid

Being Unseasonable

Is it winter enough

for impassiveness

to set in?

Everything seems

like a chore lately.

I put “wake up”

as the first thing

on my to do list,

and it is usually

all downhill from there!

©Aaysid

“Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Going Nowhere

I missed another train of thought,

and now I am stranded at the station,

I cannot refund my one way ticket

for it was never a two way situation-

I had listened to you but had spaced out

during my half of the conversation.

There is an empty wooden bench

and it can serve as my workstation;

I believe I shall be here for a while

so this might as well be my destination.

©Aaysid

Scared

I wait outside your locked door,

drinking in the dank air

before I knock,

and I don’t take my jacket off

as I wait some more;

more than my fair share,

off the clock,

which I want to think

shall pay off

but no one’s keeping score;

nobody seems to care.

Why keep stock

of a guy who could drop off

any minute, outside your door?

And it seems quite unfair

to sleepwalk

this far into the night

only to fall off one’s mind–

what would I ask for,

standing in my jacket there,

if the lock ever clicks open?

I’d take off.

©Aaysid

“Ain’t many guys travel around together,” he mused. “I don’t know why. Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Troubled

A few untroubled poems (hopefully) about what troubles us:

I.

this time last year,

I had a different set

of worries;

today at this time,

I have more worries

than before,

the only difference

is that I am not

that worried anymore

and that, in fact,

is worrisome.

II.

I hear myself

voicing my fears,

but they come out

in whispers

and stay suspended

in the static air,

but the suffocation

that follows

becomes unbearable,

the faint

whispers unhearable;

I wonder

what it is like to have

a voice that can

diffuse across thick air,

I wonder

what it is like to have

my own voice,

but none of my fears!

III.

you sit quietly

with your head

bent over a table

as your troubles

threaten to leak

through your eyes,

but it feels weird

to cry at a place

that is not your home,

and it also feels wrong

to lead a flood

to your home-

it is yet another worry

you do not want to

cry about here.

©Aaysid

Home

Home was a place inside

Where the outside noise

Was welcome to stretch

Its thin, long limbs in peace

In spite of the deep silence

That had set up camp

And had no plans to leave.

©Aaysid

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”

Robert Frost

Image by Richard Hay from Pixabay

Blurry

every night you dream

about the day

you are going to have,

so living through

the actual one

feels like such a chore,

for you have

been here before,

but once again

you have no control

over the way

the day unfolds,

maybe that is why

you cannot tell

what is real anymore,

maybe that is why

you do not want

to fall asleep anymore.

©Aaysid

“For years now, I’ve wanted to fall asleep. The sort of slipping off, the giving up, the falling part of sleep. Now sleeping is the last thing I want to do.”

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

The Other Normal

Three minimalist poems about everything and nothing in particular:

I.

Poles apart

Not magnetic

No sparks

Static charge

Fizzles out.

II.

Nothing

On my mind

Like yesterday

Today as well.

Preoccupied.

There too,

Here as well.

No escape.

Since ages.

Forever as well.

III.

A crowd

To silence

The voice

In the head,

The voice

Remained;

The crowd

Fled.

©Aaysid

“I bear the wounds of all the battles I avoided.”
Fernando Pessoa

Evanescence

a whimsical little feeling

traces a full circle,

makes a full round,

changes blues

into purple halos

that take just a blink

to fragment

into shapeless floaters

that indent

an otherwise smooth

and flawless display,

before disappearing

and melting away

to become another

impermanent thing

that runs in a circle

only to fall off the ring!”

©Aaysid

“Being temporary doesn’t make something matter any less, because the point isn’t for how long, the point is that it happened.”
Robyn Schneider, Extraordinary Means

Appearances

it is downright unfair

to be known for

the way we look,

and not for

how much of ourselves

we pour into the world;

a girl with a silly,

skewed ponytail,

a boy with glasses

too big for his face,

a woman with a wild

look in her eyes,

a man who wears

the same shirt every day-

a girl can have dreams

aligned with her mind,

unlike her ponytail,

a boy can see the world

a lot more clearer

for his age,

a woman can have

wild passion for

the pen and the page,

a man may not want

to spend more

than he makes…

our looks might

be the cover page,

but they are

never the preface.

©Aaysid

Saffron

I have been looking

for you in odd places

where contrasts invoke

more dread than joy,

not many smile if they

find crimson glisten

against the expanse

of white – blood drops

against the snow;

a shudder runs

down the spine.

I have been told

that you can be found

in far less

sinister circumstances,

like in the scatter

of everything benign,

but I have not

been very lucky

to make you mine.

I am scared

that you might be

too rare a commodity,

and that you could

only be acquired

for an impossible price;

I have been looking

for a change,

the spice of life,

but I think

it might entail

a complete redesign.

©Aaysid

Featured image from Pexels

“A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”

Robert Frost

Choices

Always the ripples,

But never the stone,

All you have sometimes

Is an illusion of a choice-

To be a mellow instigator

Or an ineffective,

Transient aftermath…

©Aaysid

“There are no safe choices. Only other choices.”

Libba Bray

Co-reading

It was on a night as cold as this one when I had found out that I was one of those people who could study comfortably with noise in the background.

Everyone else in the house was sleeping soundly that night and I had a lot of studying left to do before I could go to bed. I felt angry and sad that I had to study so much and had to do it alone. I had one of those early mobile phones in which you could listen to the live transmissions broadcasted from the local radio stations but I was not a big fan of those. However, I ended up playing one of those stations in my ears while I studied that night and felt oddly at peace knowing that someone else had to be awake as well. I had studied that entire year with those radio stations serving as white noise. I got a better phone later and could play other things besides the local radio stations. I would then have my own playlist on while studying. I do that to this day. I cannot study at night without another noise inside my head.

I have listened to a few audiobooks but had to read the physical books later. Not a fan of those either. Yesterday, I stumbled across the audio-narration (on Youtube) of the book I was reading and I decided to do a little experiment – I tried to read along with it! It did not go well. I had to increase the playback speed but even then I kept reading at my own pace and completely ignored the audio-narration. It turns out that I can study with the background noise but I cannot co-read.

Here’s a short poem inspired by the above-mentioned events:

We are not keeping pace with each other,

one of us is always a few words behind,

pausing after every other line,

and exclaiming loudly at all the wrong points,

but we are still trying our best

to asynchronously co-read the night away!

©Aaysid

Nineteen Little Things of Beauty

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:

  1. Going for strolls, with just yourself, after twilight in late November are worth the shortness of breath and sore calf muscles,
  2. 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,
  3. Tearing up your to-do list into smithereens at least once every month is quite liberating,
  4. 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,
  5. 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),
  6. Reading until you see double of everything but still cannot stop is an addiction that you do not need to get evaluated for,
  7. Getting to hear from a friend whom you hadn’t heard from in ages and had worried about them brings genuine sense of relief,
  8. Someone asking how you had been doing and not zoning out when you are telling them about it is insanely awesome,
  9. Rooting for those you care about and then getting to see them doing good and getting what they deserve,
  10. Hearing from a teacher how they still remember you and are looking forward to see you do good things in life,
  11. 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,
  12. Not letting sadness hit you when you see someone getting old because you know how amazing a life they had lived,
  13. Finding out that someone who is highly educated and wealthy is still awfully polite and grounded,
  14. 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,
  15. Accepting that there are certain things you are not passionate about and you no longer have to keep doing them,
  16. People thanking you for a small act of kindness when all they ever themselves do is be enormously kind,
  17. 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,
  18. Finding yourself doing things that you never thought you could do on your own,
  19. 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!

Getting Out of Conversations

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.

Not Making A Statement

 

I saw her wearing a beautiful and very intricate gold anklet. It was a remarkable sight. Was it on her left or right ankle? I don’t remember that particular detail, but what I do remember is a strange, blue feeling that had originated in my head precisely at the moment my eyes had acknowledged its presence. One of my friends used to say that it was wrong to look at people’s feet, and that a person who held a grudge against someone would look at that someone’s feet. I must have so much hate to give because I tend to look at feet a lot. In fact, one of the first things I notice about someone is their feet. Maybe it’s because I look down a lot or maybe, I do hold grudges! Anyway, the ankle-girl had messed with my head quite a bit and for a few nights afterwards, both my dreams and nightmares had featured things that I could never wear!

I skipped combing my hair for a day and then it became a habit. I realised that I could save at least five minutes from my morning ritual that way. The time I had saved helped me to not leave for work on an empty stomach. I got myself ugly hats to hide my unruly hair and big, dull scarves to wrap around my head, making them disappear altogether. When someone would complement my hat or scarf with suppressed grins and twitchy eyebrows, I would feel a twinge of embarrassment, but that was all. Soon people got bored and stopped hurling praises and it had gotten easier to carry on with that “look”. Sometime afterwards, I found out that if I washed my face properly before going to bed at night, I could save more minutes from my morning ritual. This idea, however, had backfired, because it had added five more minutes to my bedtime ritual and that had meant less reading time. I simply couldn’t keep up with that. Deep down I knew there was a better way to do things. I could wake up a few minutes earlier to be able to style my hair and wash my face with some fancy liquids, but deeper down, I didn’t want to do any of that! I was choosing comfort over beauty. Or something like that.

One not-so-fine morning, I got into a heated argument with my roommate. We had never fought before and I was running out of mean stuff to say pretty fast. She, however, showed no signs of weakness and then out of the blue, she said something that had helped replenish my stock of nastiness as well.

               “I can look right into your little, eyeliner-less eyes and tell you that I am moving out!”

That had hit home, collided with the ceiling and broke free! Why would my eyes feature in our petty feud? How dare she insult my harmless, all-natural eyes! I doffed my scarf, folded it into a ball and threw it right in her face. She didn’t move out by the way, but my temple often throbs at the point where her sneaker had hit me that day…

Coming back to that anklet-girl who had stirred up a storm inside me; it took me quite some time to figure out why the whole thing had bothered me so much. I was jealous! Yeah, it was so simple. I was jealous that someone could wake up that early in the morning to dress nice, fix her hair and don an anklet (she must be skipping breakfast)! I could not make peace with the fact that someone could be happy with being so uncomfortable. I knew if I wore an anklet, I’d actually start having trouble walking. It might sound totally bizarre to some that something as delicate as that anklet can weigh me down, but it sounds very normal to me, and I bet it does to a lot of other women as well (okay, not a lot, just a few).

There are people out there who think that women who do not wear make-up or dress up pretty are trying to make some sort of statement. That might be true for some. Not for all of us, though. Some of us are just downright lazy!

Little Things

      My brother and I loved running errands for the man who lives in the old, shabby house at the end of the street. He used to set up a bookstall at the Sunday Market, back when he had a family and his house wasn’t old and shabby. I don’t know what happened to his family, or his house, but he stopped setting up that bookstall my brother and I were so fond of. He hardly got out of the house anymore and me and my brother would ring his doorbell coming back from the school, and would ask him if he’d wanted anything. He always did! Two onions, a bottle of cooking oil, a loaf of bread, toothpaste, a bar of soap-little things like that. We would bring him all those things and he would give us the money and four honey-coated candies. He was a nice man.

  Every year, when the sun starts losing some of its will to burn away, and the trees feel like losing most of the foliage on their outstretched limbs, the folks in our street get embraced in a festive spirit. They end up celebrating small things like good harvest, fair weather, disappearance of mosquitoes and often as simple a thing as a clear blue sky! Autumn can do that to some people. It makes them all excited, or perhaps it instills the fear of impending doom that gets them behaving as if there isn’t going to be any other chance to be happy. Anyway, the folks in our street gather in the Town Hall and play music and stuff their stomachs with sweet, home-baked cakes and cookies. It is generally a good day and a pretty genuine way to make merry. The man who lives in that old, shabby house, however, doesn’t seem to think so. He believes that happiness is always short-lived and it doesn’t do one any good to run after things that aren’t even going to last. He has never been seen at the Town Hall celebrating life!

  Today I heard a very strange thing at the pastry shop. There was a middle aged woman talking about the man my brother and I loved running errands for, with another young woman. The older woman said that the man had been taken to the hospital the day before because he had tried to ingest a poison of some sort. He would have died if it hadn’t been for a boy, with dark hair and a scary scar on the right cheek. The boy had come to visit him and got worried when he didn’t open the door. He summoned the next door neighbor and together they had bust open the front door and found him lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. This has to be the strangest thing I have heard in a while. I am rushing to tell every thing to my brother but there is something gnawing at me. My brother has really dark hair and that scar on his right cheek is pretty nightmarish!

       My brother tells me that we shouldn’t see that man who gives away honey-coated candy, anymore. He didn’t like the way my brother had “interfered” and doesn’t want us to visit him from now on. This makes me sad and I tell that to my brother. He says that it is useless being sad for people who detest happiness. People, who don’t pursue something as extraordinary as happiness only because of it being momentary, cannot appreciate the temporary nature of life itself. I suppose my brother is right. I hope he is!

Not many people survive the bone-crushing, flesh-biting cold that engulfs our town every year. They do end up alive in spring but they usually aren’t the persons they were at the start of dreadful,cold season. They either get inflicted with chronic cough or have to get their toes amputated after horrific episodes of frost bite. The worst of all, according to my brother, is cabin fever. If you stay stuck inside the four walls for good five months, it is a miracle if you can retain the ability to think rationally! I cannot help but worry for the man who used to set up a bookstall at the Sunday Market. He lives all alone and is prone to get hit by cabin fever. Somehow, he never gets it. I think that this year, he wouldn’t be so lucky. This year, he does not want to be safe…

      Isn’t it strange how some of us eagerly wait for the winter, only for one of those quiet, melancholy nights when we can huddle around the fireplace and let fire consume our worries? My father tells me that it is no use looking forward to little things like that and one should always have bigger and better things to look forward to. I don’t agree with him!

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