Toska

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I was fifteen when the thought of dying first came to me. I don’t remember why, but I’m pretty sure it was due to some petty issue but life hadn’t seemed worse before and dying felt like the only possible option.

For those who don’t know the difference between death and dying, let me tell you, death is peaceful, serene, dying, the exact opposite. It takes you closer and away from death at the same time. And no, whoever told you this, it isn’t true. Dying is surely not an art.

And if you look at all the terrible little deaths that you’ve already had, you’ll agree too. Between body shaming and flattening your tummy, remember you died more than once? Did it feel like art? Definitely not.

Remember when he touched your skin but never your bones, when all your insides were shrinking by his caresses, I hope you remember dying then, and as you read this, dying now. It isn’t art, I swear.

Remember all those times six tequila shots made you do things you won’t remember later, remember how vulnerable you got, it’s funny how you find life sometimes when you’re almost dying, how you’re slowly dying but you don’t die.

Don’t find art in things that are not. Don’t find beauty in misery. There’s nothing beautiful about the crooked lines on your wrist or the bags under your eyes. That’s torture, that’s dying.

And one of these days, I hope you find art in living, too.

Home.

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I love the way this city got intertwined with each and every breath of my existence and how I, have started loving every element of what she offers. Did you know this city had a smell for when it rains? No, not what you call “petrichor”, not exactly that, but a different one.


I remember when I was young and free and conceived the world to be a happy place, my favourite season was Monsoon. And why not? You possibly can’t get more happiness from anything than jumping in those muddy puddles, unless your white uniform looked worthy enough to get you spanked at home.


I still love Monsoon. But a few things have changed, I realise. I won’t prefer to get drenched and hop around when it pours, anymore. I’ll like being indoors watching it all come down with a heavy intensity, and breathe in the smell I was talking about. I’ll watch the leaves get back their lives, the clouds darken and the dogs running away to hide in a rubble. I’ll watch the other kids in the field play football, and the window panes with rain trickling down the glass.


I love mornings. No, not the time when you’ve to wake up and hurry for school. Before that. When it’s all silent, a few tea shops open, a misty breeze enveloping the air above us, a few men taking strolls, no cars honking, just you and the city before your eyes, asleep, but beautiful. No clothes hanging in the terrace, next to your house, no smoke from the tower, that you see everyday but could never find the way leading to it. Occasionally, your silence is broken by the call of a bird. I never liked waking up in the mornings when I was young. Now, it seems the caffeine keeps me awake draining through my veins, over the night. And I love how the strength of a drink can help you absorb the moment so very well.


It used to be like a family gathering at the dinner table every night at 10. But that was ages ago. We don’t really gather anymore. Most of the days, we eat separately, go to separate beds and sleep, or well, atleast pretend to.


Nights are my favourite. But then again, not your clichéd 10pm, but the night after 2. Smoke in the air, and a heart in your chest that has become such a sucker for pain. The citylights blurring in the distance, a streetlamp flickering in the corner, a light breeze and an endless starry sky.

It’s post Diwali, and I still haven’t taken off the fairy lights in my room. I’ve decided to keep them on until New Year. Yet, another way of fooling myself to bring back meaning to this life.


In between daily survival strategies, brick-walled lanes and fungus-infected houses, I rest my nose on the tinted glass of the bus while travelling from North to South, yellow lights flashing by, thinking about music, about love, about the lurching in my heart- a line, paired with acoustic notes.

“এই শহর জানে আমার প্রথম সবকিছু,
পালাতে চাই যত সে আসে আমার পিছু পিছু।”

Guide to an Introvert’s World

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It’s not that introverts don’t want to fall in love. It’s just that our solitude is stunning. Breathtaking, actually. We see colours differently when we are alone. We have the time to pause and look and truly devour a scene, a smell, a stranger’s face. We notice more things when we’re alone, scenes unfold before our eyes like cinematic paintings. Time doesn’t slip away like sand between our toes when we are our own company. It lingers on a little longer, for a few extra seconds, with nothing taking us away from where our minds have wandered and what we are experiencing. We don’t have an arm tugging at ours when we are alone — we have nowhere to be, no one to put on a show for, no one to drag us out of the dreams we weave.

It’s not that introverts don’t want to fall in love; it’s not that introverts don’t want to spend time in the company of someone we admire. It’s just that we enjoy the company of the world more. It’s just that we want to discover it all without ever being pulled from its trance, from its beauty. It’s just that we haven’t found someone who can do that with us, for those people are rare and strange and often tucked away in a similar fashion.

See, it’s painfully hard to find someone who respects our need for depth, for curiosity, for quiet; someone who leaves us be when they see us staring at the ocean five minutes longer than anyone really should. It’s hard to find someone who understands that our homes are an oasis, that books and blankets and backyards filled with pine trees will always win over the loudness and the intensity of a night on the town. It’s hard to find someone who understands what it means to sit, in a beautiful place, and simply breathe it in. It’s hard to find someone who connects as deeply as us, someone whose own heart beats to the music of a softer drum. Someone who simply gets it — without words, without explanation, without sacrifice. Someone who knows.

It’s not that introverts don’t want to fall in love. It’s just hard to find someone who doesn’t rush, rush, rush us in our quiet. It’s just hard to find someone who doesn’t rush, rush, rush the world.

Brown.

It’s the color of his morning coffee, the one I purposely make a little bitter on some days. It’s my evening tea, too strong for someone who likes it five times a day. Sometimes maybe even six. It’s the color of his leather bound journal, where he writes about his secrets. It’s my worn out T-shirt at the bottom of his closet.

Who said it’s just a color?

It’s the strands of my hair when I’m standing on the balcony and the sunlight falls over my head. It’s the little chocolate still left on the corner of my lips, and he croons over to lick it off. It’s the table where I write all my verses about him and all the metaphors that do not come close to describing the way that I felt. No. The way that I have been feeling ever since I became aware of his existence.

It’s the color of the first friendship bracelet I got when I was twelve, from the girl I used to sit with. It’s the frizzy curls dangling over her eyes. I wonder where she is, now. It’s all the bakery trips and truffle cakes after some guy from the other side of the town broke my roommate’s heart.

It’s all the coffee stains on my table cloth, from when I’m too lost in the moment to realize that I spill more than I drink. Or maybe I’m just a little clumsy. It’s the boots my sister bought for me, the ones I still don’t wear. It’s all the mud puddles I have ever jumped in. It’s the soil I still cannot help getting my hands in. It’s my footsteps on aimless tuesday strolls in smoke filled alleys. It’s the smell of the dust on my window pane. It’s all my half finished unrhymed poems.

It’s the color that makes every other color question its existence. It’s that one shade I never stood a chance against.

It’s the shade
of his goddamn eyes.

Fernweh

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As long as I could remember, she wanted to escape. She desired to be somewhere she could start all over again. A place that would serve as her rebirth and where no one would know her. I remember her telling me often, whenever I would visit her café – the café where she worked as a waitress, that, she wasn’t happy with the way her life has turned out and that a fresh start would mean leaving behind souvenirs that her decisions have presented to her. She must have made many regretful decisions, I would think at the time.

In those years, I was working graveyard shifts at the station. I was the operator or rather the caretaker at a power plant and my job entailed practically nothing but keeping a watchful eye at the cameras and the machinery at the place. It was extremely, morbidly boring and I would drink cups of coffee one after another and would smoke at the floor of the smoking room, cigarettes after cigarettes. I was being paid for something I didn’t really enjoy and I remember thinking to myself that maybe I needed a fresh start, too.

I would go to her café at the start of my shift, at the break, and at the end of shift. We both worked graveyard shifts, and most times when I was at her place, I would spend my time listening to her talk, nodding, and smiling and looking at her move about slowly, tapping her feet to Patsy Cline singing Crazy. I don’t know why, but, whenever I was there, I was happy. Just happy looking at her animated face discussing about her plans. She carried a map with her at all times, and had places marked all over it, places she would someday visit and escape. I smiled at this, not condescendingly but genuinely. I wished for her to escape. I knew the importance of it for someone who was not happy.

Those nights were different. It almost felt as if the whole world had run out of people and there were only the two of us left. The nights were long and quiet and the sound of her voice somehow managed to make my loneliness go away. But, one night, when I visited the café, she wasn’t there. I asked the person who had replaced her – a young boy of nineteen or so – what has happened, to which he answered he had taken over the shift and that’s all he knew. He didn’t know what has happened to her.

I remember walking back to the station that night, and putting on the radio, – where they played Norwegian Wood, – sitting quietly, with a deep sense of paranoia within. I knew something was wrong, a feeling consumed me, as if something big had taken place in the cosmos.

I never saw her again. I only heard stories that she has gone someplace far away. But, nobody knew where. Some said California, some said Calcutta, and some said Beijing.

I bought a cassette player soon, and for many nights that followed, I would listen to Patsy Cline singing Crazy, while I’d drink my coffee. And then, one day I left my job and smiled to the heavens as I came out of the station. Something told me she would have been happy at this.

It is okay to love.

“Count the stars. Cause the moon isn’t gonna be with you always.”

Let us, for once, be silent.

One great person once said, that legend has is, there is a fountain, a fountain of Joy, hidden. Hidden inside us, underneath all our depressions, sadnesses, darkness, it still is existent. This is what connects us with the river. The source of it all. All. Let it be unveiled. Look into yourself, and not wait for someone else’s moderation for your happiness. You are the one that can make you happy.

It’s okay to love someone, you know. It is okay to fall for a person who can never be yours. It sincerely and seriously is okay for anyone to do that. Love. The word is too deep to be used everywhere. It is not just anyone’s cup of tea. Not everyone can love. Yet, those who can, or have loved, can never really move on. Cause moving on means a murder to them. Murder of memories, murder of emotions…

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Distraído

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“Who are you thinking of right now?”, she said, looking at his coarse face, smoking a cigarette. “Who do you always think of, whenever we lie like this?”

The little room with only a bed and a table as furniture, to serve its customers, was dark with only the thin silver moonlight illuminating the lines of their body.

“So, you aren’t going to answer me, now? Is that it?”, she said, putting on her pants, the cigarette held too tightly between her lips.

“Why do we always, all of us, inherently have this belief that at the end, we will all somehow manage a happy ending?”, he asked, not particularly of her, but just let loose a thought that perhaps his mind fancied for a while.

“Look at me. Do you think I can afford to hold such beliefs? It’s all bullshit. The world you describe never was mine.”, she said. And then, let out a long puff. “But, why do you ask? Do you wait a happy ending too, monsieur? In this kingdom of debauchery and sin.”

He looked at her and smiled. It bore no hope, and was broken all over. “I had my chance of a happy ending a long time ago. But, I was too late to know.”

The next door girl

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Always the same song at the same time. She plays exactly the same track every night at around 11 o’clock. Every night, for the past 2 months – that’s how long I have been a tenant in this building. I come home, undress and change, dead tired from a long day at work, and as soon as I sit down with my Chinese takeout at 11 o’clock, – give or take – I sit down to Nat King Cole singing Aquellos Ojos Verdes. It’s a beautiful song. I love it. I wasn’t even aware of him before coming here, but, then, after a couple of nights listening to the songs, I searched and found out it was him. It is the song she begins her night with, followed by his other works like Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps or rather Quizas, Quizas, Quizas. Both the songs are hip and happy with a touch of melancholy. She’s a jazz fan, I tell myself. I have never seen her and through her songs I have only been able to arrive at an idea of her person. A 26ish girl, with a brunette? Yeah, maybe, yes. Tea or coffee? Perhaps, coffee. Smokes? Definitely. Drinks? Maybe when she wants to forget, or longs to remember someone. The more I think of her, the more I feel I am falling in love with her. Why would someone listen to the same song every night at a specific time? In remembrance of an old lover? In remembrance of a string of lovers – that is, in remembrance of love itself? I incline myself against the wall, which separates both of us, and I hear her sing with the song. I listen to her for a while, and then, my body fails me, and I sleep, with lights still on and my takeout half eaten.

I hardly sleep for three hours in the night. It’s been that way for couple of years now. I am too afraid to sleep, I get dreams which I would rather wipe away from my mind permanently. But, nonetheless, I wake up and walk up to my balcony with a cigarette hanging from my lips. Her balcony is adjacent to mine and unlike all nights, I find her tonight sitting there smoking a cigarette herself. I look at her, and then look away; it’s too dark, I can’t make out any of her features, and moreover, she has her back turned to me.

“I like your taste in music”, I say to her.

Silence. She doesn’t say anything. The night is pitch black. Everyone is asleep, everyone but us, hanging by our balcony of the fourth floor, smoking cigarettes and talking, or rather me talking. But, then, she speaks.
“You know, there are places in this world where there is no night for at least a stretch of six months”, she says. But, I wasn’t sure it was directed at me.

“Yes, there are places like that”, I say.

Silence. And smoke.

“I would like to go to one of those places. I would like to leave this, all this. Run away.”

I look at her, her back, and think to myself, “But, will you play songs then, too, at 11?”

She walks away leaving a cloud of smoke hanging in air and throws off the butt of the cigarette at the street. But, I continue to stay there and still think about the songs and her.

The next night, she plays Nat King Cole again. And this time I listen and think of the nightless world, and her, and I am almost certain, I am falling in love with someone who wants to escape something that I like the most.

Hey, listen.

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It’s been a while, now, and I’ve finally come to terms with this entire circle of running to and running away, and how I’ve been a prey for you. I want to let it all out, for one last time. Will you listen?

I miss you, but not in the way that I need you or that I won’t be able to go on without you. I want to tell you that I miss you, but I don’t want to seem as if, I’m hopeless without you. Sometimes, I wander off to places that remind me of you. I can see you, standing beside me, admiring the scenery, in which we once lost ourselves in. I can see us creating memories with the wind, with the sunset, with the feel of day, turning into night.

Look, I won’t lie. I don’t think of you, but there are times, I just have to. This one time, I was in the car, with my Mom, driving me to school and your favourite song came up on the stereo. I can’t really explain why I numbed with the feel of the music and couldn’t move out of the trance, as fast as I’d have loved to.

I won’t lie to you about how rainy days bring back memories of the first physical contact, of that one time, when we bunked our classes to treat ourselves with ice-creams and talked for hours under the sun. I won’t lie to you about how I scroll up to see your picture twice, on the news feed, but I swear you won’t find yourself in my search history.

Don’t think that I’m not myself without you, or I need you here at every moment to remember that it’s going to be okay. Just know that I miss you, and if I could, I would take your voice over the silence, anyday.