Inside Jokes and Late Goodbyes

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This must have been a dream because I can’t remember how it began, the details of the ending are hazy, but I remember everything in between. What followed waking was rebuilding, reconstructing, retracing, recovering. You and I recanting – all that was said and done before.

I was sewn back, not in a hurry, and yet threads of you embroidered themselves into me. Your dust got caught in the bricks that remade me, your voice trapped in these crooked crevices, reminding me to look for you. And so I do even a world away.

I look at every passing bus, to see if it’s your face in the window reading comics at the back of the paper. And every time somebody orders a steak well done, a smile rises to my lips, the resurfacing of an inside joke that once was – your penchant for rich food, and mine for poor puns. I look under coffee mugs, behind polished oakwood doors, waiting for you to spring at me, for the thrill of a fear anticipated. But I’ve lost the fragment of that sorrow, the piercing I felt when it was new.

When did I become so audacious, rushing to the edges of sharp cliffs? It is you who taught me to fearlessly jump. You became the air around me that scraped my skin as I fell, holding me, cradling me, even as I bled. Through those cuts and bruises, you entered and remained, like fragrance in my hair, revealing itself every time I moved. You permeated the notes of a lullaby. The one with the mockingbird.

The mockingbird…

…mocking me in turn.


Image Source: Shutterstock

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Hopeless Romantic: Part 1 – Tokens

sreesha-divakaran-petrichor-clouds

There was a time when I thought of myself as a hopeless romantic. Even as I wrote endless reports on Shakespeare’s villains for school or wrote about gruesomely severed heads to amuse myself, my secret ambition was to write a love story of epic proportions. And when no one was looking, I would let the facade crumble and write poems of love (which sound horribly cheesy now) on the lines of “I haven’t found you yet.”

All of this was before I became the hopeless cynic that I am now.

One of the reasons why I was a hopeless romantic was, I think, because unlike everyone else I knew, I was single (is single too heavy a word to be assigned to teenagers?), and the proverbial grass beckoned me like the glint of green glass. My grandmother and her sister firmly believed I was destined to die an old maid, and my academic achievements were therefore null and void. We are, sadly, after all, raised to believe that if you do not find a Prince Charming for a companion, you’re worthless. It took a lot of years for me to come out of that demeaning mindset, but the day they uttered that “prophecy”, I think a part of me believed all of life was meaningless, and everyone I knew had something that I did not. But I digress.

One day, while helping a friend choose a birthday present for another friend, I found myself looking at a greeting card. A simple one, no fancy fonts or glittery picture. All it said was “For you”. It appealed to the romantic in me, and I thought if there was a chance in hell that I wouldn’t die an old maid, then this would be something to gift whoever it was I hadn’t found yet. I bought the card, and kept it hidden in a notebook.

That was the first in a series of “tokens” I bought. My fairy tale idea of love was cemented with each token I bought, fed and watered by all the notions pop culture offered. More song lyrics, more secret poetry followed. All of it hidden in the same notebook with the greeting cards, quotes and sometimes, even old bits of gift wrapping paper, if they happened to have hearts on them.

That picture of me isn’t something I can relate to today, over a decade later. A few years ago, I was back home, in my old room, and decided to throw all the tokens away. I just decided it wasn’t me, and all those bits had no place in my life. Interestingly, I could not find the notebook. Maybe somebody found it, had a hearty laugh and threw it out. I can’t say.

Or maybe, it will turn up years later, when I’m older, to remind me who I used to be – full of wide-eyed innocence and dreams of impractical puppy love.

 

 

 

The New Friend

The five year old was shouting to be heard over the noisy whir of the blender. One hand held the lid of the jar in place, and with the back of the other, I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. I turned to the shouting, tiny human, tugging at the waistband of my jeans and looking up at me expectantly.

“I wanna go meet my friend!”

“It’s scorching outside,” I said calmly.

“No!” he wailed, “My friend is waiting for me in the park! I want to go meet him! Now, Ma, NOW!”

The tug on my waistband felt stronger, more determined, persistent. I sighed and opened the lid and looked at the half mashed bits of banana in the smoothie I was making.

“Fine. But you will finish this smoothie and only then we’ll go to the park. Your friend can wait.”

The boy was jumpy with impatience. He gulped the smoothie faster than I’d ever seen him gulp any food or drink. As he ran to get his pail and shovel for the sandbox, I asked him who this new friend was.

“I met him yesterday.”

“But what’s his name?”

“I didn’t ask.”

He bolted out the door just as I grabbed my keys from the bowl on the table close to the door. I saw him rush down the stairs and called out to slow down.

“You’ll fall down and hurt yourself! We could’ve taken the elevator.”

“It wasn’t working! I checked!” he replied without breaking his stride.

I smiled as I watched his enthusiasm. Barely three feet tall, and his whole being seemed so focused on meeting and building sand castles with his friend.

The sun was blazing down on the sandbox and the air was hot and humid. The playground was empty – predictably, given the heat. My son set down his little tools and got to work.

“Right, so where is this friend of yours?” I asked, a tad irritated.

“Right here,” he replied, without looking up from the sandbox.

“You dragged me down here to meet an imaginary friend?”

“I didn’t ask you to come. And he isn’t imaginary,” he replied, as coolly as before.

“You will not talk to me in that tone, young man! We’re going back home this instant. It is hot; this is no time to be out playing!”

He gave me a deaf ear. This infuriated me further. I forcefully picked up one of his moulds and began to walk away, announcing, “I am leaving. You can be here alone if you want.”

“No, Ma! Wait” he cried. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw him quickly pick up his sand toys. I walked back into the lobby, with him close at my heels. I stole a glance at him and noticed him smiling. That was odd.

The elevator was working now and I pushed the button. It was one of those old-fashioned elevators with cage-like doors that had to be manually opened. My son was still smiling. Once we stepped in, my son said, “Ma, turn off the light, I want to see my friend.”

“Enough with this friend!” I replied exasperated.

“Please, Ma!”

I gave in, because I was in no mood to argue. Heat gets to me like that. I flicked the light switch off and the elevator was plunged into darkness, being lit up briefly as we ascended the floors.

It was during one of those brief moments of light that I noticed – there were not two, but three shadows in the lift.

A Tale Of Nordic Walking, Blogging and Empty Ad Spaces [#FridayLessons]

Image – Shuttersock: Val Thoermer

One of the chapters of Like The Flowing River describes how Paulo Coelho and his wife discovered Nordic Walking. They loved the activity because though it was rigorous and burnt a lot of calories, it did not make them tired at all. One day, Coelho went online and found out that they were doing it wrong! The next time they did it, they decided to do it “by the rules.” It was terrible, it was boring and it was tiring! So they went back to doing it “the wrong way.”

I attended a very interesting session on blog monetization the other day. As someone who once swore to never monetize her blog, it was a pretty drastic step for me to choose otherwise – huge shift, really! My main takeaway from this session was that every blog needs to have a niche. Or better yet, a micro-niche.
Mine doesn’t. Hell, it’s not even streamlined! Nor does it have a definite pattern. I do have another blog though – which focuses solely on books – mostly indie books. Let’s talk some numbers for a bit, shall we?
True, that I don’t make any money through my blogs (the ads started appearing only recently if you’ve noticed; less than a month ago – this blog was started in 2008). What do I know; I haven’t even applied anywhere except AdSense. But if we were to talk sheer pageviews and numbers: my niche-crafted blog gets hardly any visitors, whereas I am pretty satisfied with my broad, all-encompassing blog, i.e., this one.
Another thing that was mentioned that day (at the session) was how anyone without the intention of monetizing their blog would soon lose interest in blogging. I did have another blog, created solely for the purposes of “making money” (hey, don’t judge me). It was fun for about three months. I even got some tiny voucher type thingies. I stopped updating this one, cos I have only one brain. They say women are great at multitasking, but I’m secretly a man I couldn’t focus on both at the same time.
Then I got bored of it, simply because whatever that blog was about – it wasn’t me. This blog is me – telling stories and yakking, that is who I am. That blog was unicorns and puffy pink sleeves – made me feel like Deedee from Dexter’s Lab. I stopped updating it and eventually deleted it.
I am still interested in this one though! Very much so. I am also interested in my book blog, despite its low pageviews, because I love books. That’s it, I love books, period. I don’t know if I am doing something right here and something wrong there, because I feel I am doing the same things for both, so I don’t understand the disparity of numbers. But my point is this – monetizing isn’t the only aim; money isn’t the only thing that keeps us hooked. Some of us genuinely love writing.
I’ve forgotten what this post was about. Oh, right, rules. There are those who say Follow These Blogging Rules, Be Successful, Hire People To Wipe Your Bum! They may be making money and that’s great (for them)! I, on the other hand, was a happier blogger when I wasn’t looking at numbers or monetization. I didn’t feel like there’s this whole “performance pressure” sort of thing on me; as a result my mind was entirely focused on what I was writing, as opposed to whom I was writing it for. Probably, there’s no predictable, quantifiable “right” way to go about blogging. 

The lessons learnt thus were these: 1) Don’t let anyone tell you a niche-less blog is a good for nothing blog 2) Don’t let anyone tell you that you will lose interest in your blog unless you monetize it 3) Don’t listen to the “guru” with the rules.

Blogging is my Nordic Walking.

Someone Else

I walk through life often feeling
As though I might not be from here
As though this is not the era I must belong to
As though I am perhaps someone else,
Trapped in this body like a genie in a bottle
Swung far away into the sea
By a worried wanderer who was afraid
Of who I might be.
I know not yet my true calling;
Lost, I wander aimlessly,
Like a cloud unsure of whether to rain
Or simply be swept with the forceful wind
Where do I belong, I hopelessly ask
Is it just me who feels this way?

This poem is in response to the #HomoAquarius micropoetry prompt below:


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Uncertainty, Insecurity… And Trust


My mind refused to speak
Stubbornly it remained like a blank page
Like a starless sky
The waiting was costing me my sanity
I knew not how long it would take
But I was sure you would call me up and cry
What words did I have to console your weeping heartbeats?
What advice did life give me that I would offer you to take?
What good was hiding the truth when foiled were all your lies?
Being smothered by uncertainty
Above me, I was holding on to a lightning blade,
Licking my toes were hell fires.
My head was throbbing with insecurity,
The devil in my mind fought a jealous crusade,
He pierced my heart and was holding it upon a pyre.
Trust remained the open door, the one and only
Trust remained my comfort to take,
There would be no hurt; this will pass, it’s just a trial.
Linking this post to #AtoZChallenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/)

the unknown


yeah don’t go so much by the title. there is no philosophical wisdom here. just a poor little girl screaming to be heard.
a lot of us, including me, have this selfish thought that everything beyond our own problems is irrelevant and insignificant. yeah you know that feeling. we know it, accept it, refuse to do anything about it, and yet don’t mind its presence.
i was quite content at my workplace (yeah well, usually… i mean, i’ve been to hell (college) and back, so…) then, just then, don’t know when or what or why, something went wrong. don’t ask me why, because what went wrong is what we will here-fore refer to as “the unknown”.
so it just happened on this particular wednesday. don’t know why the unknown chose me on a wednesday, because usually i like wednesdays in office. the piece and quiet is, well, not an everyday (read Monday-Tuesday) occurrence in the office. the unknown gripped me, and it sort of robbed me of all emotion. all but one – restlessness. restlessness so strong, so all-consuming, that i couldn’t think straight, couldn’t get anything done. i was angry at the unknown. but when you don’t know what you are angry at, there is not much you can do about it. i was lonely, with only the unknown for company. i was suffocated.
and yet, i did not know what caused this. or why. i screamed. no one heard. it was maddening. people seemed deaf. made me feel like a ghost, just floating through some parallel world interspersed with the living world.
it went on to the next day. it seemed to me as though the day blended into the night and the night into the day with no real demarcation between the two. there was no sense of time. it was like i slept and woke up in the same parallel world and at the same time, like a nightmarish jet lag. and there was no escape.
i don’t know now what to do. or who to speak to about this. i have never known anything like this before. i have never ever before in my life been so frustrated. and the worst part is, i don’t know what this is directed towards. am i really dead? is that why people cannot hear me scream? wish i knew…