About jobs – I

My newest hobby
is to look for jobs on LinkedIn
and study the job descriptions
like textbooks.
And then wonder even after decades of learning
there’s so much
that I need to learn.
And what I need to learn
is not necessarily what I want to learn
but I have to learn it
to be ‘employable’.

My newest idea for fun
is to apply to these jobs right away
(unless they ask for cover letters)
(or direct me to a new website to build yet another profile)
and even when I don’t fit
I apply
and even when I know
that most probably they won’t reply
I apply
to see how much my confidence can take it.

It’s not like I don’t have a job,
I do.
It’s not like I particularly despise it,
I don’t.
But sometimes I do
like at some point we all do
but it’s not bad
it’s great
there are definitely some good parts
and I can be loyal
because employers expect loyalty
but employees expect an appraisal
some acknowledgement,
a bit of appreciation
but these days apparently we all expect too much.

Probably, my future job will be like this too
but at least it would be new
for a while
and maybe I may not like it
but my salary, they would hike it
and I guess I would like that
and the ton of responsibility that will come with that.
At least I hope I won’t be frustrated or bored
there’ll be new people to frustrate and bore.
Also, there’ll be more experience onboard
to apply for better jobs
and get a better pay
so that I could pay better taxes
and work more
and manage more
until my work-life balance is completely annihilated.

So then I think
I should start something of my own
and instead of 9 to 5
I should work all the time
anyway I work all the time
at least I can pay myself better
if at all I get the clients
to pay me,
if at all I get skilled employees
who can work for me
with all honesty and dedication
whom I can pay less
while writing big fat cheques
to myself
and buy a bungalow at the seaside
or in the mountains
or at the moon
and finally, finally live in peace
and try not to worry
about my business not generating enough revenue
or my business not getting sold
or employees whom I may have trained and guided
leaving me for better opportunities
or clients going for better deals
and I am left feeling betrayed
if at all
the business runs at all.

Is there any optimistic ending
at any end?
My inbox is filled with rejections
and I am too busy to feel dejection
and too scared to start anything of my own
or stick to it if I do.
So I am scrolling and scrolling
not the reels
but the LinkedIn
again,
wondering
amidst all the stories of success that I am seeing
where is my life going?
Wondering
what the fucking hell!
These days
nothing rings a bell!
When I was younger there was a dream
but now I am getting older
and it seems
there’s always a movie I want to stream
because the real world is depressing.

But I need to do my job
a good job
the good job
to feel valued
to feel relevant
and finally feel exploited.
All I wanted was some money to pay off my loan
travel around
create art
eat, live, and invest
and have fun while doing it.
And that if and when I am old
I can chill, I can rest
at last
but apparently, that’s not enough.
Apparently, that’s not even possible.

Where are these roads going
the time is passing
a month, a year, a decade…
What was it supposed to be like
to live an ideal life?
Is there an ideal life?
Can I just die and never be born again?
And sound less depressing when I say that?
Oh wait,
even for that apparently
I need to meditate the entire existence out of myself
and burn all the karmic connections I have had
not just in this birth
but all the births I have ever had.
Can I do that by watching some memes instead?
I can volunteer to travel to the mountains though.
Oh wait, for that too I need money.
And more importantly, I need leaves.

I am okay, I am fine,
in case anyone at all is asking
I am not generally this pessimistic
in case anyone is judging.
It’s just that
everything is a box
and everything is a square
and life keeps on running in a circle.
I am someplace
somewhere a dot
flung far away in the Universe
looking for a job that suits me
looking for a me that suits the job
Perhaps I will find it
and later complain about it-
for nothing good is permanently good
and everything good can be better.
Meanwhile,
the Universe doesn’t give a damn.
Or perhaps it does
if I may
Just overestimate my importance a little.

So now I am on Linkedin again
Updating a new post
to be visible
to be viral
to be famous
And then do what?
Post new posts
because fame has to be maintained,
even fame is a job.
Anyway there’s nothing much I can do with it
except losing whatever little privacy I have
and get free food at the restaurants perhaps
for sharing stories
and get free trolling in case I run out of unnecessary attention.
Do we have any better purpose?
Does anyone else feel we must have something more
something?
anything more?
No? Are you sure?

Maybe I should try
being satisfied with what I have,
find a new hobby
try yoga for instance,
or return to the old ones
poetry for instance
poetry which is not explosive
poetry about monsoon
about love
poetry about all the good things
all the good little fake things.
Will anyone judge me for this?
My potential employers,
My current employers,
My ex-employers,
Should I be scared?
for being honest
for letting my thoughts out unfiltered
for demanding more
for needing more
for wanting a better life
for me
and for all
am I too naive?
am I too greedy?
am I just too stupid?

What do you think?
Would you let me know in the comments?
Followed by some hashtags-
gestures of how you like this
and how you care
and still, there’s nothing you can do
to address my despair?
Or yours.
Except clicking a small little button?
Because maybe you too believe
you are just too ungrateful
for wanting to be unique
and special
and yet blend in the crowd
for wanting to be you
and not wanting to change that
for wanting to get what you deserve
for wanting a perfect life
and yet failing to achieve that
despite all the 90 percentages and percentiles,
all the fancy institutes
all the fancy companies
government or private
all the fancy skills,
and the certificates,
and the experiences,
and the motivational books, and the videos, and the success stories?
They will tell you one way or the other
that nope
you don’t deserve it.

“You are too average.”

But what about the heart that refuses to believe that?
What about the heart that yearns to be different?
That yearns to make a difference?
That heart tells me not to think about all this
That heart tells me to keep trying
keep hoping
keep making
mistakes after mistakes
until I can say
that they were mistaken.
Perhaps someday
they will be proven wrong,
Perhaps one day
it won’t matter anyway.

*

Great Expectations

No matter what you do,
they are never going to be happy with what you do.
Out on a journey to perpetually disappoint them
You cross one milestone that they set
and they would expect you to cross one more
that they would set again
because you can be better
than what you are
always.

No matter what you do
No matter how different you are
No matter how much that means to you
No matter how much you value
if it isn’t something that they value
then your life
your talent
your so-called potential
is a waste.
In your head, you have learnt so much
In your head, you have grown so much
In your head, you think
you are happy.
In their head, they think
you are just selfish
and so damn ungrateful.

Yeah sure there’s still some struggle
there’s still some hustle
Sure there is indeed some more learning and unlearning to do
but you are happy to tussle
in between whatever little you have
whatever little that will grow
because you nourish it
you cherish it
you love it
that you have the space to be you
to create your own destinations
to choose your own dreams
and when you grow older
you’d know
that you have nothing to regret because you listened to your heart.
“But your heart is too young”
They’d say
“Your brain is blind”
They’d say
Who are you to argue?
With people who came decades before you?
With the people who created you?
Sure they’d know more about your life
than you do yourself
Either “You don’t know your own potential.”
(Someone ban the word potential please)
Or “You don’t know the world”
Or both.

How bloody irresponsible!
According to them, you have not done enough
Always throwing away opportunities
to tread through roads
that no one takes –
You call that an adventure,
They call it stupidity.
No one takes those roads
because they lead to nowhere, duh!
They have had enough.
No more.
You can do so much better.
Here try some hardcore and ridiculously competitive
tried & tested options
to prove your worth
(because they dreamt of themselves once and couldn’t live it)
and finally, be respectable.
Sure they want to bring out the best in us
and a bit of pressure
turns carbon into diamonds.
A bit too much pressure
makes things explode too.
But fine, a risk worth taking, right?
Why did we grow up to have our own voice?
When we really didn’t have any choice?
Why do we create humans but not robots as our progenies?
How can they be so sure that the decisions we take for our own
lives would be a regret
just because they don’t match with theirs?

We would have aligned with you if we could
Life would have been so much simpler that way
But this same two decades of generation gap
has given us a pair of eyes
that sees the world in a different way
that inspires us to live in a different way.
Is it too much to ask to navigate through our own lives
Find our own way, right or wrong
Find our own peace, short-lived or long,
Is it too much for them to see that
We are happy, really we are okay?
With all our glaring ordinariness
we can still be a bit extraordinary in between.
But if you argue, you are left to guilt trip
For not abiding by the principle of great obedience.
God we hope we could inherit your dreams and beliefs
instead of your genes
But sadly, we ended up growing our own
And if we get to live everything
Everything that we dreamt and envisioned
We would still fall short of their expectations
Because we couldn’t/wouldn’t crack that exam that they wanted us to crack,
Do what they wanted us to do.
Now we are forever worthless no matter what we try
No matter what the rest of the world says
No matter what we say
Our lives are forever ruined
Because it didn’t turn out to be how they wanted it to be.

And we’d feel terrible
because we are terrible.
Tell me, how is that fair?

***

To my unborn child

Who may never be born,

Because first of all I will need a sperm donor

Whom I could call my husband

And you could call your father

But your mother is a bit crazy 

Harbouring many popular

unpopular opinions

Like men, for example,

who she finds pretty disappointing

as prospective life partners

and she wonders why and how this tradition even lasted so long.

Out of love?

Or out of fear?

They say there’s nothing worse than dying alone

Several lifetimes might not be enough to atone

So, many of us rush to start our families,

To chase our happily ever afters 

Knowing perfectly that it’s not always that happy afterwards

How can I say stuff like this?

Questioning the fundamentals of every damn society

Me, your mother,

A privileged little 

Unapologetic

Ungrateful 

Bitch.

Perhaps I am not even qualified to be a parent

Although I know 

If you were to really exist

My child

I would love you till my last breath

My new purpose,

My new reason,

My new strength,

Oh how beautiful you would be!

Even when you frown at me

Even when you are this rebellious teenager

Who I am struggling to understand

(But conveniently stereotyping)

“Mom! You are cute but that’s so 90’s!”

“Mom! You are getting old!”

I was born with a womb

I am biologically wired to create you

To love you

To nourish you

To raise you

I was born with a womb

Like my only real purpose 

Was to bring you on this planet

And propagate my genes ahead

Like it is for most of the animals 

Most of whom we have killed already

Because we care for our children 

But other children 

And other organisms don’t matter.

That’s how my love is

Selfless for you

And selfish for the rest of the world.

How wonderful it would be to hold your tiny body

In my arms

As I marvel at your beautiful face

My heart swelling and swelling with love

How would it feel to feel you in my womb

My placenta;

Your first bed

Your first food source

Your first-ever plastic supply.

It terrifies me 

to bring you into the world 

where all I see is concrete and more concrete

where the real jungle disappears

Too bad trees don’t make money

Only oxygen,

Which is great 

but not better than the digits in my bank account

And so what if the air has less O2 

And more dust, and more CO, and SO and CO2?

And so what if the world is burning 

And burning?

And we ignore it 

Because thinking about it is depressing

Because our most pressing 

problems just magically disappear

if we just turn a blind eye.

Tell me

How do I bring you into a world

That’s dying?

where the ocean is choking with plastics

And the river is choking with chemicals

where habitats have turned into hell?

You expect me to have faith?

Where do I put my faith?

God is dead. 

Humanity is dead.

Or at least in a coma.

I am not strong enough my child,

Perhaps I could fight for you

I could give you all my love

But I would also give you my genes

With a history of cancer

Or heart disease

Or mental illness. 

And the trans fat

And the artificial hormones

And the antibiotics

And the pesticides 

and the microplastics in the food I eat

don’t help the cause.

How do I bring you into a world

where we know so much

but are still so ignorant?

Where we talk of compassion

and still be so careless?

Where the greed still wins

Despite knowing how it leads to eventual defeat?

Where people are running and escaping

To a faraway picturesque island or a continent or a fantasy

Hoping that their lives would be better there.

But would it?

Our entire home is on fire

Or submerged underwater

Maybe not yours today

Because you are wealthy

But it will be tomorrow

And I can’t blindfold myself 

And do what we have been doing for ages

Because that’s what we have been doing for ages

Without questioning.

Your mother thinks too much

Perhaps your mother is paranoid

I am sorry I am not hopeful

They tell me I don’t have to save the world

Like it’s not mine to save

Anyway it’s too huge and complicated

My only responsibility is to survive

And settle 

And bring you

In a world that I am not proud of.

It’s not that bad though,

they tell me,

There’s still some beauty

That is left for you and me to enjoy

There is still space for us all

And who knows there could be a miracle

That somehow we will get our home back

But who exactly is bringing that back?

Most of us are too busy

To loot from what’s left

Or continue hoarding and hoarding

Not caring if nothing remains.

So I have decided to be selfish too

That my life is mine

And just mine

Not yours

Not his

Not theirs

But mine

And that would be the end of it. 

***

The Problem Party

I sit on the commode of my locked bathroom,
Ignoring my problems
That knock on my door
“Hey, are you coming out?” they ask
“Yup, in 2 minutes. Or days.”
I am wondering
Whether to shit
Whether to bathe
Whether to die –
They come in all shapes & sizes,
These knocks, these problems
Fiction & Nonfiction
Irrelevant & Important
Impulses and Oversimplified extrapolation
Some are short-lived
Some stay for a long time
Some come and go
And come and go
And come and go
Some visit me frequently as if they love me
And l love them back
How long can I go on hiding from them?
Not much, I know
These movies, this music,
These musings in the toilet
These books and poems,
The to-do lists & planners,
Latches and locks
But not the solutions
How long can I go on?
I need to open that door.

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there?
Your relationships.

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there?
Your career.

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there?
Your health.

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there?
A gigantic pimple.

Knock. Knock.
Who’s there?
Your bank account.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Your addiction.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
A pandemic.

Knock, knock.
Shut up.
Shut up who?
Shut up you.

Dancing around my porch, my problems,
My privileged and pretty little problems,
They must be wondering what a party it is
While I try to poop in my toilet
Wondering how they are the real party poopers.
Enough talk about shit.
I am supposed to find purpose somewhere in this problem party

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Wars.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Poverty.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Climate change.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Extinction.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Who.
Who who?
Who gives a shit who.

So I shit a bit longer
wondering if I am the who
who at all gives a shit,
dwelling in the washroom
while the party goes on outside.
Terrified of the ugly world
I can see beauty in the closing walls of this tiny refuge.
Why shall I entertain them?
Why shall I be stuck in this endless circle of
Problem-solving, and problematizing the solution
What do I get out of it?
Is the purpose worth the price I pay?
And by the way,
when & why was I even pushed into it?
Did anyone ask if I was up for it?
But dear, your problematic life is bliss you see!
You get a lifetime of beautiful experiences that you need to let go of in the end.
Or perhaps you’d realize it was all for the greater good as a barren planet billions of years later
Anyway, there is nothing to be missed about this,
The pleasure and the pain,
Even if it is, we can tell you that nothing goes in vain.

Great.

Knock. Knock!
“Anthropocene age is coming to an end. Are you going to miss this shitting in the toilet?”
“Has it really been that long?”
“No, it has just been really fast. Come out!”
“No.”
“We’ve got alcohol.”
“And?”
“And some other stuff.”
“And?”
“Yeah, that too.”

Great, time to escape.

*

I am an idiot.

It’s hard to dream really,
Once you finally get started,
You are bound to ask
Why
Why
Why
You chose to make love
Over making money
And now you stand naked in front of the people
Asking them to like you
Some of them do,
Some of them don’t,
Why do they not?
You look yourself in the mirror
And find only flaws
Why do they even do?
A question you throw to those who love you.
It’s hard to dream really
There’s one step toward progress
And two steps to regress
Two or three,
What’s wrong with me?
Where did it go, all the glory?
Once dispersed in the air like confetti
And now there are ashes slowly floating down to the ground.
What stupidity!
Now, I weep on my pages
On crazy outrages
Gasping for breath, floundering,
My mind madly meandering.
Maybe I would continue to suffocate,
Maybe I would continue to suffer,
And still, I would be an optimist
Even when the times are tougher.
I will cling on to the rope,
I may never give up hope,
And even when I weep,
I would think of the promise I must keep.
Of course, it’s hard to dream,
No wonder so many don’t.
Idiocy,
Idiosyncrasy,
And I have chosen both.
Sure, I have been upset,
But there have been no regrets,
I never stepped in with an expectation of how everything would be perfect.
And it hurts,
But also it doesn’t.
I would be honest.
I wouldn’t lie
Still each morning I need to remind myself why.
The doors are far behind,
Much farther than I thought
And even if I were to return
I will find them all locked.
So the only option is to move ahead
The real choice is between confidence and dread.
If an idiot is what they have been calling me,
Then idiot is what I would confidently be.
You have your security
And I have my dreams and my heart
I don’t know if it’s a fair trade
But I hope without too much of a fuss,
That it turns out good for both of us.

*

How not to date in the 21st Century

Growing up in India, when I was in school I lived with an unsaid rule – Dating was strictly prohibited. It was believed that a heart in love could be a major distraction for the brain preparing for a “bright” future. And since nothing comes before career, I stayed away from boys. Even with the onset of puberty when I was being ravaged by hormones and what seemed like infinite crushes, I kept to myself. But secretly I did harbour a desire to be desired. My crushes would crush me because it seemed to me that no one would ever like me. I had to be more pretty, I had to be more intelligent, I had to be perfect but I was anything but any of that. So I hid deep under the books.

Then came college. Everyone falls in love in college or at least that’s what I had figured from the limited Bollywood movies I had watched. But the problem was I didn’t. I waited for someone else to fall in love with me but that didn’t happen either. I made many friends along the way, some of them were guys. Ek jawan ladki aur ek jawan ladka kabhi acche dost nahi ho sakte (a young man and a young woman can’t ever be good friends) – the famous dialogue from the movie Maine Pyaar kiya would echo in my head but soon I realized that that was utter bullshit. I learnt to love the platonic way. But still having no boyfriend made me feel like I was missing out on something. Everyone needs to have a love story, come on! While I crushed over some out of my league seniors, and rejected some so-called under my league juniors nothing materialized. First year turned into fourth and there I was still without love. But at least I had a few not-so-great stories of unrequited love up my sleeves – seniors dating other seniors, friends falling for other friends while I sat there watching, liking a few of them but clueless about what to do about that. And why would I do anything anyway, it’s not like anyone was going to love me back.

I was not pretty enough, I was not smart enough, I was not confident enough.

At the beginning of my professional life, I downloaded Tinder hoping that it would open new doors for me, that maybe it would revive my pathetic love life, maybe finally I would have some good gossip to share with my diary. This new raging popular app was about anything but love but that didn’t matter. It wasn’t exactly love that I wanted. I was desperate for attention.

And Tinder was perfect for that. I was overjoyed to see that so many people had swiped me right. Maybe I was more attractive than I thought (I realized later that was only partially true, I had an advantage of being a girl). Out of so many matches that I had, certainly I thought, I would find love. The year was 2015 and six years later through all the deep ocean of matches I found only and only disappointments. First, most of the matches are ghost matches. Your conversations would never begin and if by chance they do, they won’t go beyond how do you do. And if at all things go ahead and you go on a date, you’d for some reason never go on a date again with that same person. Something just wouldn’t match with your match and then you would go back to the app. Maybe after a small break or a long one, you’d go on another date. And finally, after a lot of swiping, you’d find someone decent. Someone you find yourself laughing with, someone you find yourself thinking about, someone you find yourself obsessing about. Congratulations, Cupid has finally hit you. You are falling in love. And that’s the precise moment things between you and him would end. Mr. Cupid has led you to another disappointment only through a slightly longer route.

Have you too dated someone who was already dating someone else but he chose to keep you in the dark about it? Blissfully unaware, things between you and him are going well. You have been seeing each other for a while. You have explored every restaurant in town together. You feel comfortable with him. You can be your weirdest self, crack lamest jokes and talk about all the things white and blue. You think about him all the time. “Dude, I like you”, you finally admit and tell him.

“Hmm, but I am already dating someone else.”

Your heart is a bit broken, but you pretend you are cool about it. You are chill, you are indifferent. He is not even worth your anger. But well you are angry. After a couple of imaginary conversations where you tell him how wrong he has been, he realizes his mistake, and he apologizes but it’s too late and you walk away even though you still like him but you know better. That you deserve better. But these confrontations would never actually happen. He would never realize his mistake. And in case you forgive him and give him another chance (which I actually did) he would hurt you again (which he actually did). You wish it wasn’t like this. You wish it was better. You still missed him. His thoughts wouldn’t stop haunting you but slowly and steadily, like that damn tortoise, you would finally heal and come out of it.

Congratulations, now that you are all fit and fine, time to get some bruises again. Feeling bored and lonely? I know just the app you need.

Once I met someone I thought was great. He was a part-time comedian and we really were hitting it off well, especially over the chats making each other laugh over lame jokes. Constantly sending each other texts, our phones were frustrated with 24X7 WhatsApp notifications. Then we decided to meet. It was a good date, there was a connection, I could feel it. “So, when can we meet next?” I texted later. “I have decided to get back to my ex.” He replied.

Oh well, that was a joke enough. My phone fell silent again.

But okay, fine, it’s just one date so you move on. Shit happens, you move on. You move to another country in fact. And yet the Tinder stories don’t have any better ending. So you decide to date someone outside the dating apps. The old way. The organic way. Just want a boyfriend for fuck sake! Is that really such a complicated wish? You ask the Universe. Nope, it isn’t, the Universe replies. And voila you have a boyfriend.

But he is nothing like you ever imagined.

Have you ever dated someone who is both absolutely obnoxious and ridiculously sweet at the same time? Someone who is both shallow and deep? Someone who is both smart and dumb? Someone unpredictable? Someone borderline bipolar? Okay, nobody’s perfect. You also have your vices. Weird as he might have been, at least you have a boyfriend. Every time you are with that guy, you question why you are with that guy. Every time you aren’t with that guy, you still want to be with that guy. Even when he is not there, he is there in your head. What will you say if this happens and he says this? What will you do if he does this? The daydreams won’t ever stop. Why do I have to be this obsessed? And why can’t you stop? Like you are trapped in a swamp, you fall in love. At last, you surrender. Love is blind after all. You will figure something out. Maybe you will learn to navigate through the confusing lanes of love. But before that even happens he is already stomping all over your heart.

Damn my heart has been broken so many times it doesn’t even resemble a heart anymore. It’s more of a heart bhurji, heart keema, heart soup, heart kachumbar.

And yet my beloved finds a way to break that into tinier pieces as if on a quest to find my heart atoms, and the subatomic particles, the quarks, and maybe also the sub-quarkic particles.

You break up and after a long process of healing, you are back in the dating arena. And somehow the only option you can come back to are the dating apps. And they throw at you all kinds of weirdos. Like for example, this one:

Do you remember that one kid in your building who would ring your doorbell and run away? We have all been him at some point but then we grew up and stopped doing that. Except for those limited edition premium quality fuckboys who have internalized that game into their psyche.
I met this person, I went on a few dates, I liked him, and it seemed that he liked me too, so I liked him a bit more. But then he started ignoring me. And I was like, huh I see. Another defective piece I guess. I ignored him and I moved on. We weren’t that involved anyway so it was relatively easy. But three months later, he was back. He was replying to my stories, liking my posts, trying to initiate a conversation. I didn’t understand that. “Dude what the fuck?” I asked. “I am sorry,” he replied. To ignore or not to ignore that’s the question. Maybe he meant that apology. Maybe there was a genuine reason for his behaviour. So I gave him the benefit of doubt, and in the process, I also gave him what he wanted – a place in my head absolutely rent-free. As soon as he has my attention he throws it away again. As soon as you ignore him he comes right back in. Some call it the typical “Hot & Cold” behaviour – if someone you are seeing displays it, get the fuck out. Otherwise, welcome to another freshly brewed toxic relationship made out of completely organic bullshit and mind fuckery. Throughout the time you are vested in him, he’d give you mixed signals. So you are constantly busy plucking the petals of a rose wondering if he likes you or not. Does he like you or does he not? Does he like you or does he not? And meanwhile, he is already engaged to someone else, and guess what you don’t have a clue about it.

How can one dare to date in the 21st century? Love is dead. Humanity is dying. Anyway, you don’t want children from someone who’s still a kid ringing people’s doorbells and running away, someone whose gene pool deserves to be stopped ASAP. There is no point in bringing children to a world that is dying, where there is no love, no respect, no kindness, no trust – just an endless game of swiping left and swiping right, scamming left and scamming right. We fear what machines will do if they become conscious like us. Do we fear what humans are doing while we become like machines – disconnected from our conscience treating others like play toys, like yet another commodity?

Stop it Saloni! Don’t be such a cynic, you tell me. There is someone out there in the world for you, you console me. And someday you will find that person, you reassure me. Yes, love in the 21st century can’t be this grim for everyone. And I am glad it isn’t. Surely the pre-wedding shoots tell a completely different story. If they are not a hoax, I guess there is hope. Some of us are lucky to have partners who understand us, who stand by us, who genuinely love us, trust us. While some of us are not that lucky despite having found partners. Because like we observed earlier that not all partners are right partners and sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart. Some of us may never find love. Some of us may never find partners but still find love. And some of us may find none. What category do I fall into?

Through all my dates (and I have only narrated a few here) went wrong and right, I have learnt something. First of all, I have realised that I am pretty enough, smart enough, and confident enough and I don’t need any man to validate that. In between the heartbreaks, there lie memories that are close to my heart and those have really helped me grow as a woman. I am grateful for that. Surely, I have not found romantic love that could last long but I have found love in a spectrum, taking different forms, holding different meanings, and that love still exists in my life in relative abundance. For that again I am grateful. As for romantic love that is supposed to last long, I am clear that I need a man who is not another disappointment and if that can’t happen, then I have been single almost all of my life. I think I can manage it for the rest of my life as well.

Being single in your youth is great but who will take care of you once you grow old? You ask? Well, with the kind of air we breathe, the food we eat, and the health services we have it’s possible that we might never get that old anyway.

So yeah, don’t worry, be happy.

***

Writer’s Block

Days I spent
Thinking
and thinking
and thinking
Finding excuses to procrastinate;
After the lunch
Or Netflix
Or sleep
Or Netflix again
Or read
Or a bit more research
And then ofcourse
Netflix yet again,


So many days I have thought
Passing by the same old roads
Eyes seeing everything new
yet registering every thing same
Time flying by
As I think
more
and more;
Unstructured
random memories
coming from different corners,
How do I weave a story out of them?
Plain and simple
I can understand
and yet can’t translate.


As the clock’s hands tick by
And I think
think harder
sitting by the window
breathing in the air
without mask
listening to the music
without earphones
Memories of green farms and rustling leaves
Blue sky dotted with gray monsoon clouds
As I gaze
And think
I think even more
About the people I have found interesting
The people I want to write about
About the places
About me
About my life
About their lives
About non-lives
About semi-lives
About changing the world
About the changing world
About being immortal in this universe
And yet utterly
Insignificant.

Probably it’s time to stop
And turn all that thinking into prose
I miss the days when the words would just flow
and flow
and won’t stop
pushing me to write
and rewrite
till late into the night
words flowing like music
words moving like dance
words coming straight from the heart
words making an honest art
But now
How do I weave the fabric of my mind?
How do I dye it with the ink of my pen?
How do I?
When there is so much
And when the nib touches the page
The magic disappears.

***

Lockdown days, it’s fine.

Lockdown days,
When from your window you look at other windows, from your balcony you look at other balconies – children dancing, children playing, children doing jumping jacks every single morning, or just sitting with their heads resting on the railing looking bored; mothers teaching their kids, women sweeping, watering the plants, drying the clothes, grandparents offering water to the morning sun, fathers standing by the windows of their rooms talking to their bosses loudly enough to let the entire building know.

Lockdown days,
Pigeons flying, shitting, breeding, eating, plucking your favorite plants while you curse them under your breath, or out loud. They don’t understand English anyway, and in case they do they still don’t give a fuck. Children coming out in the evening, cycling in the society campus while you gaze from above wondering if it’s safe to step outside, men and women walking and jogging wearing N95 masks, the lone girl sitting on the bench reading a book. Same pinch, you say, as you read yours 8 floors above.

Lockdown days,
Rushing to get the groceries before 10 AM, careful not to touch anything or anyone, or if you do, sanitize your hands! Sanitize your hands all the time!
Cars running on the distant streets, swiggy delivery boys delivering your food, big basket delivering your groceries albeit two days late, amazon delivering your other needs or addictions, while you are cooped at home taking an active interest in your neighbourhood. Or jumping from one screen to another, the only travelling you do these days – mobile to laptop to TV and back. Online meetings & Netflix TV series while the plants in your balcony keep growing – do you finally know what it feels like to be us? They ask. To be static, to be still, to be grounded to one place. But not quite, says the purple flower that just grew. And wilted a day after.

Lockdown days,
About outcries on social media; Where’s Remdesivir? Where’s Oxygen? Where are the hospitals? Where are the crematoriums? Where are vaccines? Where is the government? People from across the world reaching out and asking – how are you? I am fine, thank you. Well thank God. Yeah, thank God. Where’s God? Your new hobby is to visit the worldometer website the thousandth time, watch the curve peak and peak, and drop and then peak again. Where’s my life? Coming in a month, or next month or next year. Or never. Mobile on aeroplane mode please.

Wait, there was this meeting you had to attend.

Lockdown days,
Children forgetting where the schools are, employees forgetting where the offices are, employers forgetting what the increments are but the joy of not commuting though, of waking up 5 minutes before the class, of multitasking – cooking and meeting simultaneously, with formal shirts at the top and shorts at the bottom – let’s login, let’s keep our camera on (or not), am I audible (or not), is my screen visible (or not), is my Wi-Fi working (or not). Is it still March 2020? Or not. Has the time really passed? Or not. How the fuck did China contain this virus? Or not. Where’s my office? Where’s my home? What’s the time? What’s this place? What’s this day? In the middle of space time continuum – Einstein, I think I’ve reached singularity.

Albert stirs in his grave.

Lockdown days,
Nightmares of stepping outside home without masks, nightmares of not washing your hands enough, nightmares about what does the new variant of virus do? Nightmares about who else died? Do I need to wear one mask or two or three? Fuck it, empty your closet and fill it with PPE suits. Are the vaccines still effective? Or do we need a new one? Who am I? Who are you? Is my mom well? Do people exist out of screens?
My own company is becoming boring. Netflix is boring. Dalgona coffee is out of fashion. I don’t want to build my hobbies anymore. My friend’s grandmother died. Fine. Friend’s father died. Fine. A relative died. Fine. My favourite actor died. Fine. Sometimes, it feels like death is just two steps away. Fine. Sooner or later the virus is coming for you. Fine. You reassure yourself with recovery rates. Good, you should. It’s fine. You are here, in your room, breathing, surviving. Yeah, you are fine. Everything’s fine. Everyone’s fine. The sky is falling. But that’s fine. It will rise up again someday. This is the new normal. This is fine.

***

Melancholy nights

Melancholy nights
Reminding you of
failed love affairs
embarrassing mistakes
futile struggles of life
the meaninglessness
the blues
and the greys
everything that shouldn’t return
coming back –
memories that can’t be made again
people you can’t meet again
roads that cannot be taken
things that you shouldn’t have done
words that you shouldn’t have said
wiser choices that you could have made, but you didn’t.

Melancholy nights
when the moon peeks from the formless clouds
stars blink through the mist and dust
when the streets go quiet
and the crickets come alive
when there’s no one in the room
but you
and just you.
Are your cheeks already wet?
Are you already missing the life that you never really had?
Dreams that were never going to come true?
Through ashes and smoke
Through spirits and songs
The world runs and runs
And in this melancholic night
you are left alone.

To be unlucky in love

To be unlucky in love
to have your heart broken again
and again
and yet again.
To feel as if you have been used
and to a certain degree been willingly abused
To know
that somehow you have known all along
that past can’t be turned into present
that present can’t be turned into future
but yet you gather the pieces again
to assemble something
that resembles a heart again –
a little bit more bulletproof than before
battered
and ridden with holes
still vulnerable anyway
only to be offered
and rejected yet again
back and forth
back and forth
and to be back to square one again.
Is there an end to this?
Or maybe you can expect
everything and anything but love
in this ultra abundant world.
Is there a medicine
to let go
and get right back up?
To accept
but be incapable of feeling love?
Is there a poison that turns heart into a stone?
Is there a way you can move on
unmoved?
How do you find hope in this mess?
How do you find strength to lift this off your chest?
And how do you stop being a fool?
How do you follow the unsaid rules?
Is there a way that memories can be erased?
Is there a way that fresh starts can be made?
And yet nothing changes
You continue to stay who you are.
Is there a way to stop bothering?
Is there a way to stop longing?
Is there a way to accept the abrupt endings?

I know there’s nothing wrong
With being unlucky
Perhaps there’s a latent desire
to be ultimately left alone,
With amicable traces
of now dormant volcano of emotions
exploding now and then
everytime, everytime when
I find you.
But you disappear
terrified
petrified
to become another forbidden name in my history
In late night drunk thoughts;
What if this?
And what if that?
A ghost
An idea
A dream
Now lost forever.