XIX | #AtoZChallenge

It was impossible to ignore the grace with which she danced. Later that evening, we sat together and compared our music playlists, and talked about the songs we both loved, which were many. But the dance or the music isn’t why she had caught my attention.

She had three scars on her arm, just below her wrist. Possibly from a history of being a cutter. You know who else had marks exactly like that? Of course you do.

*

Did you know that you laughed in two different ways – one, short, harsh, rough, like a bark, if you were tolerating someone, if they weren’t particularly funny but you wanted to indulge them nevertheless; and another – intimate, soft, a laugh that embraced the person it was directed at. 

Having been on the receiving end of both, I had an inkling of what she meant to you when the tone you used with her was the tone you once used with me, and you laughed with her in that gentle way. It wasn’t that she called you at eight in the morning that ticked me off. It wasn’t even the tone or laughter. It wasn’t the number of minutes you spoke. It wasn’t that one kiss you gave her over the phone, that you tried to brush aside as a joke because you knew I was listening. It wasn’t the three completely random facts about her you told me to avoid answering my one question about who she was to you. 

It was the one question that she asked you, and while I only heard your end of the conversation, I knew right at that moment that there was more to the story than you wanted me to know. 

I thought of all the friends I’d had over the years. None of them ever cared about whether or not I had breakfast, and if yes, what I had. The right to ask that question is a privilege we give to few. When she asked you, I realized the lies had probably begun a long time before I even noticed.

*

The dancer I met had scars that reminded me of her. When I looked closely, she even looked quite a bit like her – the same jet black hair, the same height. And each time a song came on that made the two of us squeal in joy, I wondered if she had been with you on the night you died.


Hi everyone! I’m working on a minimalist fiction project for this year’s #AtoZChallenge. The story will be shared in snippets, and the events occur non-sequentially. It is for the reader to interpret and form the “whole”. You can read all the posts here. Join me, and do share links to your AtoZ posts as well!

X

PS: The numbers in bold add up to 19 (XIX). Also, the first line of the song is: This song is not for the living | This song is for the dead.

Valentine’s Day | #AtoZChallenge

The driver sucks in his breath. Next to me, Sara gasps out loud.

At this late hour, the lights aren’t as bright, the street is awash in dim gold. We were heading home after one of those black-themed parties on St. Valentine’s Day.

“What is it?” I ask.

“A car,” she says, “Upturned. It’s in terrible shape.”

I turn around, almost perfunctorily. I don’t see the car. Perhaps the darkness rose around it like a shroud to shield it from my view. But I know. I know which car it is, the model, the make, the color. I know what the number plate reads.

With you, it’s like instinct. A kind of telepathy.
With you I always knew. With you, there were no unexpected surprises, no news out of the blue.

When you told me you had fallen for me, I knew.
Whenever you told me you loved me, I said I knew.
When I left, you came back as I knew you would.
When you lied to me the first time, I knew. And the subsequent times as well.

Even when you ignored me the first time we met, I knew. 

With you, I always knew. And I know tonight as well. The darkness needn’t have bothered.


 

Hi everyone! I’m working on a minimalist fiction project for this year’s #AtoZChallenge. The story will be shared in snippets, and the events occur non-sequentially. It is for the reader to interpret and form the “whole”. You can read all the posts here. Join me, and do share links to your AtoZ posts as well!

V

 

Sedated | #AtoZChallenge

When the numbness takes over, I find myself sitting in room after room with only clocks for company.

I never think about it, but I never let myself forget.

We died. We are no more. We went up in flames.

Never you. We.

It hurts less that way.

It tears me up from within and turns me inside out.

But it hurts less that way.

 


 

Hi everyone! I’m working on a minimalist fiction project for this year’s #AtoZChallenge. The story will be shared in snippets, and the events occur non-sequentially. It is for the reader to interpret and form the “whole”. You can read all the posts here. Join me, and do share links to your AtoZ posts as well!

S

Alternative titles: Anesthetize. I also considered Stay High, but it’s a different genre and doesn’t fit in with the theme.

Make This Go On Forever | #AtoZChallenge

It’s on nights like these. When dinner’s accompanied by laughter and wine. When I’m the one laughing the loudest, and sharing the most number of stories. When they tell me all eyes are on me. When I know all eyes are on me.

It’s on nights like these that I force myself to remember. To hold on with the last broken string. To never let go of what’s already gone.

Self-destruction comes on so many wings. It enters through that brief moment of silence.

In little ways I remind myself you’re gone.
In little ways I keep you alive in me.

 


Hi everyone! I’m working on a minimalist fiction project for this year’s #AtoZChallenge. The story will be shared in snippets, and the events occur non-sequentially. It is for the reader to interpret and form the “whole”. You can read all the posts here. Join me, and do share links to your AtoZ posts as well!

M

This post was originally titled My Immortal but I heard this song yesterday and knew no other song could be more apt for this series than this one. The lyrics gave me goosebumps!

 

 

Funeral | #AtoZChallenge

Aren’t we a selfish bunch!

Oh, I don’t mean you or me. I mean the human race. We always think of ourselves first. No matter what the catastrophe, big, small, medium, we ask if it affects us in any way. Most of the time, we decide it doesn’t, and continue to think about our own lives and be self-absorbed.

But there’s no excuse for how we behaved on that particular day.

We had begun to describe the “self” as the two of us. And the resulting selfishness was ours to share and feel small about.

In life, you wade through a few bad relationships and get convinced each time you try again, you’re only setting yourself up for another heartbreak. It’s this pessimism that gives way to fears of jinxes and speaking too soon, like how some women hide their pregnancies until they’ve crossed the three-month mark. So far, we had told none of our friends about us. It was swelling up on the inside, the weight of this secret. We expressed disbelief that it wasn’t plain on our guilty faces for everyone to see. It was worse that we didn’t really want to keep it a secret, and we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the “fear”. It was a bad itch, like living with sewed lips, because we didn’t want to blurt anything out. But blurt it out we did.

At Sara’s father’s funeral.

There was an air of sorrow all around. Her father lay in a casket placed in a small room in a corner of their house. It was just our group, Sara’s closest friends, that refused to step in to the room and pay our respects. Were we afraid suddenly of death? Was the grief sucking out our newfound joy? Or had we just held it in for far too long?

When we told her, Sara should have punched us in our faces for our insensitivity. She didn’t. She smiled through her tears and told us she was happy for us. Our other friends murmured in half-hearted agreement, even as they reproachfully looked at us with the words, “How could you reveal this today?” unsaid but heavy in the space between us. They also chose not to punch us in our faces. Sara went a notch further and said the two of us getting together called for celebration. The worst thing was that she wasn’t being sarcastic. This only made us feel smaller than we already did.

We made excuses. We said we were trying to cheer Sara up with some happy news during this terrible time. But in the end, we knew they were right. What were we thinking? Oh, that’s right. About ourselves.

 


 

Hi everyone! I’m working on a minimalist fiction project for this year’s #AtoZChallenge. The story will be shared in snippets, and the events occur non-sequentially. It is for the reader to interpret and form the “whole”. You can read all the posts here. Join me, and do share links to your AtoZ posts as well!

F

Bittersweet Memories | #AtoZChallenge

The small black text catches my eye. In the lower right corner, next to an ad for a cellphone, on the page for local news. The words vaguely register as I read them. I already know this at the back of my mind.

Just below the paragraph about the incident, a public figure has been quoted as attributing all of such incidents to the “perils” of Valentine’s Day. This is stupid, I snort. The problem is drinking and driving. The problem is drinking and driving on these terrible roads. But quote-worthy public figures always blame imaginary problems. It’s not their job to fix problems that don’t exist after all.

Endings are always bitter. Ours all the more so. I lied, you lied, and all the lies deepened the irreparable cracks between us. It made me wonder if I hadn’t been the first to lie, would things have been different? Would you have remained the way you were? Or were you a liar from the start? Am I the one the reason you got fractured somewhere deep within, or are you the reason I am? I’ll never get those answers. I glance at the newspaper again as our story replays in a flash. From beginning to end. So much to revisit, so much to reminisce.

But does it matter now, I ask myself. The end is not how I want to remember you. Remember us, I correct.

My arm feels heavy. I’ve forgotten to take a sip of my coffee, I’ve forgotten to set my mug down. I’m gripping the newspaper tight, as the black ink stains my fingers. Perhaps now is a good time as any to tell you this – I hated your coffee.


Hi everyone! I’m working on a minimalist fiction project for this year’s #AtoZChallenge. The story will be shared in snippets, and the events occur non-sequentially. It is for the reader to interpret and form the “whole”. You can read all the posts here. Join me, and do share links to your AtoZ posts as well!

b

Alternative titles I considered: Broken and Burning in the Skies.

The Heavier Expectations

A few weeks ago, I was discussing Past life regression with an acquaintance. While I was always interested in the study of the mind, and the subconscious, and Freud’s theories, past life regression is a wholly new area for me. I had, of course, heard of it, but it was not something I gave much thought to. To me, until then, reincarnation, or past life, or the manifestations of accumulated karma were a largely religious concept, and therefore something to be dismissed as hokum. They were also, to some extent, a Bollywoodesque idea, that had run its course somewhere in the 90s.

No matter, because the idea was still intriguing, and I have to say, all of a sudden, I wanted to know if I had lived lives before. Wait. I’d be lying if I said the idea took root when the discussion happened. The fact is, I had been curious about past lives ever since I read Ashwin Sanghi’s The Rozabal Line, back in 2009. It has come and gone like a whiff every now and then since then. If such a thing exists, then I’d like to know something about it. Anything. It is difficult not to romanticize about it once the idea has planted itself.

But this particular discussion dug its toes deeper into my head. Suddenly, I was googling past life regression in the middle of the night, in the midst of a splitting headache, and reading all I could find on the subject. I dreamed up all kinds of scenarios, where I sat with a practitioner and discovered who I was, and dramatically discovered my relationships with those who are in my present life. Most prominently though, I secretly harbored this fantasy that I would discover I was Sylvia Plath or Anais Nin in a past life. A girl can dream, eh?

One of the articles I read said that the only people who are advised to perform past life regression are those who feel there is something lacking in their present life, or those who are trying to find the root cause of a problem or emotion. I have always felt this strange sense of “not belonging”. Not to this world, not to this period in time. Always a little lost, always searching for “home.” Always trying to figure something out. I have written several posts about this as well. This explains the Sylvia Plath fantasy!

The reason why I am a writer today is partly because I have been trying to explore these questions. On the other hand, I believe writers must keep an open mind – to all hypotheses, to all ideas, to all experiences. I also believe writers must give in to instincts and emotions. Writers grow through excesses. The excesses they fit into their short attention spans. The whys. The hows. The alrights. The welcomes. The loves. The lusts. The harmonys. The cordialitys. The honestys. The opennesses. The acceptances. The understandings.

The being.

My error was, however, I bracketed all writers into these open-minded souls. I forgot, at the end of the day, we are humans. Humans with our pettiness and our general smallness of mind. I went out into the world expecting the same openness from everyone around me, placing the burden of my heavy expectations on their broad but weak shoulders.

Where I went looking for open-mindedness, I found the same kind of world I sought to abandon – closed, small souls, calling themselves creators but being nothing more than lice trying to trample each other on one head of hair. Angry souls. Dishonest souls. Backstabbing souls. Lonely and afraid souls. Friendless souls. Judgmental souls. Mocking souls.

Not souls. They were mere humans.

I went looking for people, who, perhaps felt as lost as I. I believed I would find the honesty and humility I was looking for in a crooked world. That maybe, in being among my own kind, or who I thought were my own kind, I would find myself. That together, we would better ourselves. Instead, all I found was a subset of the same people who already thought they were higher than the rest simply because they could string sentences one after the other. Who I found were those looking for instant fame. Writers on the outside, nosey, obnoxious neighbours on the inside.

Not writers. They were mere marketers.

Often, even in friendships, my expectations of others have been too great a weight for them to bear. Perhaps, this is an extension of it, and perhaps, this feeds my somewhat dormant misanthropy. It cushions the disappointments that come my way.

I wonder if I were to actually do the regression (since that is, after all, what we were discussing), what would I find about myself that would explain my boredom? What would I find that would stop me from placing so many expectations on simple-minded folk who do not deserve it.