I am an Alien

Beautiful places, beautiful people, beautiful pictures
And I am not a part of it
Despite being a part of it
My existence – dusted at some neglected corner
not meant to be discovered,
I stand silent, trying to admire, trying to convince
that I am in love with what lays before me
An ineffective camouflage for how really detached I feel
In my head, I am already miles away
Though I stand right here
In my head, I am already mourning the separation
Though I haven’t felt a single ounce of love for your company
In my head, I am crying over an alternate future
Though I can’t even admire the present.
Beautiful pictures, beautiful places, beautiful you!
Would you call me insensitive?
Is my heart really a stone?
Never overwhelmed or underwhelmed
I am just whelmed
Not too happy, not too hurt, not too furious
I anticipate a storm inside
But there’s no destruction
There’s no scope for creation
For a poet –
I am surprisingly devoid of turbulences
Maybe I am being too harsh
Maybe I am being too vain
All this meaningless rant –
Beautiful pictures, beautiful places, beautiful people!
And I am not a part of it
Despite being a part of it.
I am an alien and I couldn’t be more ordinary.

*

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How to open the door the correct way

I am sitting on the pot, locked inside my bathroom clutching an unusual realization with me, “I am going to die today.” I am aware that it’s a bit uncommon thought considering the location. After all, relief is what they call is a bathroom’s real forte. But I am far, far, far away from that emotion. I am drenched in anxiety. I am assailed by the kind of panic that surpasses my worst panic attack by hundred folds. I am going to die today. Right here. For a twenty-two year old young woman like me, who has been blessed with good health, this scenario doesn’t make sense. But how is it that I am dangling just a few inches away from jumping off the cliff into my after-life forever? It’s such a weird spot to have death embrace you but it’s too late and it seems that there is indeed nothing I can do to change it. Death is near; a potential groom – a mere mutter of “I do” away. I can already hear his steps approaching. Thump. Thump. Thump. My heart is in my throat. I am breathing at a frequency which even the latest computer processors can’t match. As a desperate attempt to distract myself, my brain performs an old trick – it throws me into a day-dream. It could be called a good move had it actually been a day dream. Even in the crucial times like this, my brain can’t let go of his sick sense of humor. He throws me into the dream that does the opposite of what it was supposed to do – It intensifies my panic. Can you believe that guy? In my head, as I time travel two to three days in the future, I can see my mother returning home to find our house in a perfectly normal condition. Perfectly normal condition except for the terrible stench. “Where is it coming from?” She wonders. She enters my room. The smell intensifies. Maybe a rat died in the bathroom. She tries to open the bathroom’s door. But it doesn’t budge. It’s locked! Now, she begins to grow anxious. Something is wrong. This stench is too strong to belong to a dead rat. Or the rat is too smart to lock the door. She tries to break open the door but it’s too heavy. She can’t do it. Her brain has already started formulating alternative plans. She rushes downstairs to the fifth floor immediately where she remembers she may be able to find a carpenter. The moment she enters the apartment, carpenter stops his work and stares at the woman’s grim face sprinkled with sweat. Something’s really wrong, his intuitions tell him. Slowly and calmly he asks, “Kya hua Madam?”
“Darwaza todna hai.”

The carpenter doesn’t ask any further questions. He abandons his work, accompanies her upstairs, to my home, to my room and ultimately to the bathroom door. The wretched bathroom door. It doesn’t take the carpenter long to break the lock. He takes a moment before opening the door. From the smell he can guess what he is about to see is going to haunt him for a long time. He slightly pushes the door and it swings open slowly, as if gracefully preparing them for a horrific sight. The woman behind him has already fallen to the floor, unconscious.

I never thought that the first one to see my dead body would be the person whom I had never met in my lifetime. I kind of always fantasied that my death would be glorious one. Glorious not in the sense that I hope to die at a war. By glorious I meant I die in the arms of a loved one. I die with smile and contentment. But this death is the exact opposite. I have never felt loneliness the way I feel right now. I never thought I would die in a freaking toilet! I never thought I would die grieving over my youth and all the dreams that I had once hoped to realize. I had always hoped that I would die with all my dreams already turned into reality. How cruel fate can be!

I had been so engrossed in my day-dream or rather nightmare that I had completely grown oblivious of the banging and voice coming from the other side of the door.

“Are you there? Answer us!”
“Yes, I am here. I am here.”

My friend had been standing outside the bathroom for a long time. I had been standing inside the bathroom for a long time. All I originally wanted to do here was to pee in peace. Since I had guests with me – my friends, I had taken extra precaution of locking the door behind in order to avoid any potentially awkward situations. We weren’t after all in a usual state of mind. Well, congratulations, there will be no awkward situations. They can’t get in even if they tried their best.
When I had been asked to pull the latch even harder after my multiple futile attempts to open the door, I had mustered all my strength and broken it instead. The broken piece is still lying on the floor. And yes, that’s why I am going to die here today. “You can do this,” my friend says again. “Wash your face. Breath. Breathe, okay? You will figure out a way.”
Figure out a way? Yeah. Right. I wash my face anyway. I am never getting out of here. Could be that my friends, on the other side (on the other side of freedom!) figure out a way to open the door. But it will be too late by then. I pick up the piece, to acknowledge how a tiny thing is going to result in my death and then suddenly I am greeted by a tiny ray of hope! I discover that there are threads in the end. Threads mean that the piece is not broken but just detached! Brimming with joy, I insert the piece in the gaping hole of the latch that had been terrorizing me until now and rotate it in. It’s moving in! Maybe I won’t die after all. Boy, I had been so stupid! Filled with hope, I try to open the door again.

It doesn’t budge.

Perfect! The carpenter has called my neighbors. My mother is conscious and furious. Furious. Not sad. Not weeping. Not wailing. FURIOUS. Because that’s how her daughter died? In a bathroom? From a drug overdose? And which drug? Cannabis? Seriously? No, that’s not my daughter. This is not her. I don’t know who this girl is. Take her body away. Take her to a morgue. Dump it. Do whatever. This is not my daughter—

“There?”

That’s my friend again.

“Yes I am here. Not dead. Not yet…”
“Breath, okay? Try to open the door again.”

I take a few deep breaths. I approach this monstrous door, devoid of hope for any success. A funny thought strikes me then. What if you pull the latch on the opposite side?
The opposite side? But that’s the wrong side!
I would lock myself further into this hell! Crazy or what?
But what’s the harm in trying? So, I try anyway.

The lock slides with an unbelievable smoothness. The door is open.

THE. DOOR. IS. OPEN.

I was pushing the latch in the wrong direction this whole time.
I am overwhelmed by relief and happiness and suddenly a deeply profound thought dawns upon me – Maybe that’s how it works with life. We are trying to push the doors open so hard but nothing works even then. Maybe we need to sit back and breathe. And the solution, an incredibly​ simple and obvious solution, will appear out of nowhere. Push the lock in the other direction. It’s that simple.
Door swings open.
Life swings open.
I am laughing. All my tears that contained panic a while ago contain nothing but joy. My friend, my beloved friend throws an incredibly annoyed look at me. I apologize to her. I need to. I must. I ruined her beautiful date with Mary after all. But did you notice how simple it is? Push the latch on the opposite direction and that’s how you open the door the correct way.

***

The Puppets

In this brief moment, when the puppeteer above has paused his show thinking about what his next move should be, the puppets below stand still and shocked at their absolute inability to move on their own. For the first time in their lives, they realize how badly they mistook their actions as their own voluntary movements. So, what has their life been? Nothing but a portrayal of some fictitious story weaved by the hands above? Their life has never been theirs. Their reality has been nothing but a performance. What is the relevance of this kind of life? Should it even be called a life? They examine the strings attached to several parts of their body. They want to look up, curse the man who had been leading their lives instead of them but they can’t, not without his permission. In their motionless state, they could feel their mind sinking deep into the ocean of restlessness. They suddenly become aware of the thrilled audience at the front who sat anticipating for yet another wasted show. What joy can one derive from this? From someone’s misery? Are their lives nothing but a medium of entertainment?

Why did the puppeteer pause? They had been living happily in their ignorance! Now, how would they continue breathing with this horrifying realization when every single hope of any possible meaning to their life has been completely annihilated? Meaning of life? Maybe, maybe to be “puppetted” had been their purpose all along. But what kind of purpose is this which is by default, already attained? But this was their reality. This is their reality. Maybe they should just go along with it. But should they not be angry at their pitiable state? At their irrelevant existence? But what kind of relevance would their “voluntary” actions would bring anyway? They would still be on stage. They would be still performing – maybe with a bit of spontaneity but that doesn’t really make a difference! Maybe, it’s good that now they don’t have to carry the burden of making their lives extraordinary. Maybe, it’s for the best that the responsibility of such magnitude has been taken off their shoulders. Maybe things would be simpler now. But the freedom! Aren’t they going to miss their freedom? How could they be so confused, hopeful, furious, curious, morose and even relieved at the same time?

It’s difficult to get out of the maze of their thoughts now. Too late, they went in too far. “Maybe we should simply accept who we are” one of them speaks quietly. Accept who we are? Accept who we are! But who are we? Plastic! Paint! Waste! That’s what our being has succumbed to! And we should just accept that? “Then maybe we should rebel against our own nature,” the crazy man speaks again. What is wrong with this guy? We can’t move a millimeter without this string telling us to and you suggest us to rebel? Are you out of your mind? “Then what should we do?” the man shouts. Who knows! We cannot do anything! Maybe, you are right. We should accept who we are. But it is difficult. It is unfair. It is heartbreaking. It is anything but acceptable. “Okay…Well let me tell you this in that case. Why should we go on about calling ourselves a waste! If we can’t do anything about our situation, then can’t we be happy about the fact that we are also a piece of art? Aren’t we also a creation?” the crazy man says again. What’s up with this guy being so hopeful! We are doomed, my friend. We are DOOMED! “But we had always been doomed. It’s just that we know that now.” Somebody must make this creature shut up.

And suddenly, the puppets find themselves moving again. The puppeteer has resumed his show. They can’t stop themselves from engaging in this dance. They can’t stop themselves from obeying. What pathetic state is this! Can they slip into the zone of ignorance again? Maybe they can. After all, isn’t imagination supposed to be the most powerful tool? And so it begins as the puppets start imagining every movement as the part of their own life – not their performance. Of course, it’s difficult at first. Good things aren’t supposed to come easy. Their minds both protest and comply. But they imagine again. Again. Again. And again until it transforms into an incessant dream of their ideal lives. The strings break away and they dance, walk, embrace with their own will. It’s beautiful! They have finally attained the freedom to pen down their own stories. Who cares about the delusion? Who cares about the ignorance? There’s too much beauty in their independence to think about those stupid stuff! So, they sing! They swoon! They rejoice! They celebrate until…Until the moment, the hands upstairs pause again.

***

How are you?

What do you mean? I mean I know what you mean but I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that. How am I? Like the “W” in the word answer. Like the letters – U, E, U, E in the word queue. What’s that expression – French answer to this question? – comme ci comme ça. Like this like that. Like this. Like what? Like meaningless. Like pathetic. Like chaotic. Like not-good-enough. Like unoriginal. Like pretentious like I think that I am being all the time. And when I ask myself to be true, to be more “I” like in the word – I, I come up with same I.

How am I? You ask. Physically? Pretty sound. Have a slight head ache but who doesn’t. Mentally? As in if I am normal? Yes, Very. Thank you. Emotionally? Don’t ask. But then you have asked! Not well, my friend, not well. I am crushed. I am on a relentless ride of highs and lows. I have no clue how to stop it. There’s flood. There’s drought. Flood – when there’s too much happening at the same time and I am drowned in the haphazardness. Drought – when there’s too less happening over a long stretch of time and I am convinced that the end, despite being the inevitable entity, is never going to come.

Then living isn’t fun sometimes. Doing things I don’t like isn’t fun. Doing things that I like and then finding out that it isn’t as fun as I thought it would be, isn’t fun. Not doing anything isn’t fun. Just doing anything isn’t fun. But why am I complaining! I am supposed to be the lucky one! Be grateful, child! Be grateful! So, thank you for this life god, which you clearly created out of habit instead of necessity. Thank you for this.

But, yeah things are fine. This coffee is fine. My cellphone is fine. My laptop is fine. The weather is fine. The woman over there with the flowy red dress and the nicely tied bun is fine. And that group of school kids shouting over a game of UNO are fine. But how am I? I guess I am angry. Also sad. Also disgusted. Also disgusting. Also chaotic. Also ugly. Also clumsy. Also confused. But also alive. Also dreamy. Also calm. Also peaceful. Also inspired. Also amazed. Also beautiful. But then you don’t want to know all of this, do you? So, how am I? I am a careless and disproportionate mixture of fine(s). Of course, to put it simply, I am fine. Is there anything else we can all be?

~Musings from the coffee shop

I wish I had some courage

I wish I had the courage to declare myself eccentric, to talk to myself in public ; loudly and clearly, to quit my job, to truly hate it and draw inspiration from that hatred, to be determined enough to never succumb to it again, to dream relentlessly or not to dream at all, to accept the world for how it is; not how it should be, and if the world is not acceptable then to take up the responsibility of being the change, to do things I feel like doing, to live through impulses, to travel and get lost, to leave myself entirely and then be rediscovered, to criticize and not be likeable, to have my heart speak through my voice and not by my unheard thoughts, to tell someone that he is special, either that or that I don’t like him at all, to not be bothered by the fictional thoughts of others, to greet strangers like old comrades, to smile on a shittiest day, to share my deepest pain, to wail in the middle of a street, to be vulnerable, for once at least (and then suddenly find the strength), to learn things that I am too old to learn, to applaud myself if needed and not care if called conceited, to not let anything deprive me of my esteem or respect, to love without fearing that one might reject, to be visible and not be conscious if seen, to be able to say things that I truly mean,  to not heed the delusive stories spun by my mind, to revere happiness and not be scared of its disappearance if acknowledged, to not care about money, or my own irrelevance, to not hate myself or life or fate, to love the face that stares back in the mirror, to accept who I am and not compare, to be the unadulterated myself completely and be it even if it is the stupidest thing to be.

I wish I had the courage. I wish I had just a little courage to do the things I wish.

The Invisibility cloak

“How did you get this?” She enquired (not) looking at my invisibility cloak with her coveted and infatuated eyes. I sat speechless, surprised at her choice – How did I get it? I don’t know. I don’t remember.
“How did you get it?” She asked again, more curious now.

The greed and admiration in her eyes caused an unexplained agony in my heart.

“You seem utterly fascinated by it? You want it?”

“Want it?” She exclaimed. “Hell yeah! I want it!” And then she went on to how she would use it; How she would blend right in and no one would ever know, how she would run freely, oblivious of the eyes and voices around, how she would observe and never be observed, how she would be anyone she wants in her own little world. It would be amazing, she said. It would be the greatest thing, she said.

Her naivety stabbed jealousy in my heart and her ignorance made me chuckle. How did I get the invisibility cloak though? Oh! I remember! I did not get the invisibility cloak. I made it. I casted a spell weaved out of colloquial speech and vernacular thoughts. I dyed my cloak with the rainbow colors of society. I washed it in the buckets full of dreams and fairy-tale fantasies and squeezed them right through it. I dried it under the sunlight of approvals and normalcy. I sewed it with the delicate soft threads of comfort and advantages. I ironed out the wrinkles and creases with the heat of conformity as well as frequent genocide of idiosyncrasies.

“You like it? You can take it.” I said.

“Really? You sure?”

Am I sure? Of course, I am sure. I don’t want it. In fact, I loathe it. I am tired of wearing this depressing thing! And your admiration! Jeez! It doesn’t make even a bit of sense to me! How can you be so fascinated by this? What’s wrong with being seen after all? When there is nothing to hide why do you need this cloak? Once you start wearing this, you can never take it off! Why do you want to spend your whole life peeking through this deception? This cowardice? This great doleful irony?

“Yes, you can take it. It is yours now.”

And anyway, I have already started making myself a new one.

A happy ending

image

I feel like a child sometimes. My hand is held by my fate who happens to be my loving guide and we walk along this beautiful monotonous road that I love so much that I loathe it. I am easily distracted by the things that pass by our journey. And why wouldn’t I be? Grass is so green all around me and the road is so dull! So, I try being stubborn and all -putting forward my desires to leave the road and take a detour among the greener sides. Fate says no. I insist. Fate says no again. I throw some tantrums. Fate is tired  and so she says – Okay go ahead, explore.

I am delighted! My heart is elated! I hurriedly let go of her hand and begin to run towards the unexplored woods, my feet touch the green grass, my hands are not held and I am free to run! To dance! To go anywhere I want! It’s amazing! And it is finally happening to me!And it is at this thought that I stop and look back at her.

Pause.

Play.

I start to walk into the woods again reminding myself that this is what I ever wanted!

Pause.

Play.

And then for no reason or for those reasons that I am not ready to accept just yet I stop and look back again.

Pause.

Play.

Fate smiles; she knows what’s about to happen. I turn my head towards the woods again, I look at it so lovingly – “I am almost there!”

Stop.

And then I give a sigh and trace my way back to the road. I hold her hands again and we begin to walk.

I tell myself that grapes are sour. I tell myself that the day wasn’t right. I console myself – Maybe tomorrow. Fate senses my sorrow, being the encouraging person she is, she assures me how beautiful the road is going to be. The trueness in her eyes is not deceptive, the dumbness in my perception is just appropriately clandestine ; I am convinced it’s for the best and hence we walk again.

We are walking again, walking again through the road that I loathe so much that I love it.

It’s a happy ending. My happy ending.