Closed eyes: My fingers sing a song on your arms, Tracing the veins, back and forth, Meaning to recognise the stains You recognise by; It's a prayer, if you hear Closely enough. Placing your arm on my chest, I let your fingertips touch my chin Barely, enough Closed eyes My fingers tell a story on your arms, Of the lies I told, Out of the fear of falling in love with you. My nails, broken and bitten Follow the outline of your thumb, And I lift it gently, Enough To ask for permission To hold my face and touch my lips. It's a prayer, can you hear? A kiss. Barely enough; Your hand reaches the back of my ear Tugging a lock of hair And playing with my pierced earlobe. You kiss that speck on my neck, And dial the minutes past us. You kiss that speck on my neck, And playing with my pierced earlobe, Tugging a lock of hair, your hand Reaches the back of my ear. A kiss, barely enough; Its a prayer, can you hear? To hold my face and touch my lips, To ask for permission Enough.
A question, Making excuses For me, From second hand lovers, To second thoughts, I ask you; If I am a synonym To you - No longer. Lips, chapped, cracked Tired, pink, speaking Without words. Could you look at me, If I was still yours, If you could hold me, Would you look at me? Or would you close your eyes, Meaning to recognise the stains, I recognise by? If names were how we knew each other, Know, They named a hurricane after someone, And it was a disaster. And someone is no longer someone else. Someone is no longer. Your eyes, wider than mine, Fail to respond, questions that make excuses For us. Backs turned, aching my heart, Looking away from you My synonym, Reminds me of second thoughts By second hand lovers. Where do they go when they are tired? They turn around. I turn around. Your eyes, wider than mine, Wet, welled, apologising, And I tether myself to you again. My hands around your face, pushing back your locks, With fingers running through, and backwards, behind ears Dialing the minutes to a halt. Enough. Look; It's where the sun stops setting midway, And where our breaths are all I can hear, Its where time forgets to pass, It's where lovers go when they're tired.
Hands, again On your eyes, Asking you to let me in. If having you close would mean Having to share my skin Then I would. At least then, I wouldn't have to Twist my fingers to feel you, Touch you, Kiss you, Biting my lips, I'd taste you, Holding my hands, Begging, I'd feel safe. Close your eyes, Hold me close, Sit, don't stand Smile, don't care Do you feel my breath Above your lips, do you hear The gulps, and my tongue Moving back and forth, Finding a place to be - Tasteful, Your lips, the most perfect attribute That utters my name, And makes it yours, so easily, Your lips, Meet mine And your smile, ceases to exist. A fault? A crime? A distasteful placement of tongue? Your scent, lingers still Your hand, moves mine away, Closed eyes, Your fingers sing a song on my arms, And they say, "you're mine", And you hold me, Not looking at me, You close your eyes, Meaning to recognise the stains, I recognise by. It's the way you say my name, Making it yours, That makes me your name, Just the way I call you mine; So my hand runs past your ear, And my nails tend to dial the minutes slow, Digging those claws deep in your skin Deep enough to allow me To grasp your hair And kiss you deeper, Softer Yet harsher Loving you, Over And over Again. Time passes by, Swaying calmer than usual And my skin melts into your palms Till the crevices of your skin And the edges of your lips Are cemented with the essence of mine.
Hope Falters Struggling to perceive our existence. Water, beneath my feet, Puddles under my eyes, A feat. Your absence speaks words That I fail to comprehend A comb carries my hair, A towel holds the dirt off my body, A perfume bottle, the one I never use A ring, another, one more Enough. I fail to recognise your stains Over my presence; Its senile, the thought of living without you Insanity, dangerous Like walking on shards of glass That was labelled unbreakable. Making my therapist cry I walk out, proud, Looking for a chair to sit upon And tie an imaginary chain around my ankle Pretending to be busy; avoiding eye contact With strangers I hate. Walking home, I realise how the clock behind my ear, It ticks, The leaves start falling backwards And my hair trickles down, Earrings dangle forth and back Lips blush, eyes flutter down and up Time passes by, negatively, And I find myself, covered in blood and bandages My pelvis, hurt, swollen I lay, with cut wrist, broken and wilted I couldn't bloom, And there was a man, who told me, The day I was made to realise, how I can no longer be a mother "You matter to me." And hope Faltered Struggling to perceive our existence.
I believe I am a better rider than you, Just based on the fact, That I spent a year on bicycles before puberty struck me And that you didn't. A weak frame sits in front of you Won't you hold her, By her waist? My hair, brutal on your face, That you tied with your handkerchief Were moved aside, And your arms, chased mine, Till they reached my hands, grasping the handles Overlapping, as our fate Warming my skin And steering away under canopies Allowing the sun to brighten my eyes. I could feel your heart, beating on my back, And your fingers removing my earring, Looking for places to kiss And you kiss, Dialing the minutes forward. The sky seems to float, the birds left behind The road seems to end now, And the trees farther, now moving ahead Our teeth now colder from the smiles Yours, stingy, bearded Mine, uneven, with torn lips And a scalp that peels off. Close your eyes, Hold me, Close Hold me close "Where are we headed to?" "Home" "Where?" I scream "Right here."
Standing in the dining hall It's dark outside, 23:32 But the sky is chrome, Your arms around my waist And mine, around your neck Closed eyes and mirroring noses Foreheads reflecting, I smile a smile you aren't aware of, Swaying, dancing, falling in love Making love, innocently, Like bottles filled just up to the brim Waiting for an overflow. I wonder, what colour my hair would be, When I'm old, and dead. I wonder if you'll stay awake, all night, If you'll remember what my skin felt like, When you're old; and with someone else. Growing up, I will lie, cheat and break your heart, Would you still mean it, when you say now, "I can never hate you. I just can't." I wonder what your smile would look like, When you're old and with somebody new, With rings you might have exchanged, Would you let me know? I wonder if you'll believe, that this kind of love Was for the young selves, I wonder if you'll be happy that you fell in love In your twenties, When you did, with someone you might not remember; I wonder if you'll remember me. I wonder if you'll still know, what my favourite colour is, And what I used to be allergic to, When I visit for some relative's funeral, And eat some cake with tea. Would you still tell me that I'm yours? Would you still be mine? Kiss me, with your coffee lips, Before you promise this to somebody else, Fall for me, please? Sing some song, that is discreet enough To propose, like you once did before, Would you remember our song then? When we grow up, and my scars are no longer yours And I no longer can write you poems nor stories Because my father passed away And there's no one to terrorise my life; What will happen when those clocks, behind our ears Stop working, or perhaps forget each other's touch And when my skin, sheds itself and my self, accepts a new one, Letting go of your stains; from every kiss that you left behind; I just hope I don't die, after you - And you put your hand, over my heart, Another behind my ear, Looking into my eyes, you stop the minutes The time, ceasing to exist Just us, in a moment, That we claim as ours, 23:32.
(Haven't yet reread, ignore the mistakes if any for now)
"You know, I don't really mind the sugar." "Oh, I'm so sorry, I forgot, again, didn't I?" "Oh did you?"
And he chuckled, took a sip and then sat down on the floor. His was a lukewarm cup, held late on account of ill tampered arrivals and traffic. It was a replacement for coffee, just a miracle of how the milk in my fridge ran out every time he was to stop by.
"It's raining outside, else I'd have been on time." "I know." His breath smelled of cardamom. There was no mustache to be wiped off, just dried lips, not taken care of, licking themselves over and over again, worsening the flaking skin. His habit of biting his lower lip just after his first sip of tea, seemed to bother me at first, yet then I got used to the fact that he was already trying to compromise his departure every time he decided to share a cup of chai. A salted cracker and a small bowl of peanuts was all that I could provide his diabetic self.
"This is good." He sipped peacefully. There was a faint scream of crickets in the wet grass. A sense of closure, a calm; his eyes closed and his lips smiled. His checkered grey shirt had rolled down sleeves with open buttons on the cuffs and the absence of two from the collar. His wet hair began to curl upon themselves, those lines from his forehead disappeared. His wet socks couldn't hide his curling toes and his dirty jeans had pockets filled with a supposed pack of cigarettes he had been wanting to share with me and probably some mouth freshners for the moments he tried his lady luck. Those wet footsteps led from my room's door to the window pane. The cardamom somehow flavoured the overdue petrichor in a way that it reminded him of his village. "This is good."
I closed my eyes. I sighed and sipped my chai.
There was a rush. A rush of voices clubbing together; laughing and shouting, with names overlapping and smiles you could hear. There were peers on my right who wished to drink beer at 14, and satisfied their puberty with fruit beers. Some friends on my left were busy gossiping about a classmate who made out with a senior in the 'Mysterious Caves of Magic'. It sure seemed magical, the idea of convincing the father of my best friend to allow her to get out for a day on a school picnic, where I took the big responsibility of not allowing her to talk to strangers.
We were standing in front of a menu board. Her stomach was rumbling. There was sweat under our armpits from the compulsion of wearing a coat; whereas there were mobile phones in the armpits of others, from the excuse of being compelled.
"One plate is for 50. Can you believe that? I'm not carrying that much." "It's okay. We can handle this no?"
With scared school boots we headed on to the cheapest place in the cafeteria and for the first time ever, tried to use the art of flirtation for negotiation. There were huge shoulders and a big mustache behind the counter. If you were tall enough, you could see his stomach being on the risk of catching fire from the proximity to the stove.
A foot in front of the other, we smiled; hers was a chubby one, with her pretty north eastern eyes glistening in the sun, while mine was intentional, with eyes staring straight into the heart of the vendor.
"Can you do it for ten? Ten each?" "No." "What if we say "please"?" A sigh. A sigh and a huge skillet was lit. There was no reduction in the amount of noodles, nor in the chillies, nor in the seasonings. There was no reduction in the love he put into our food. And that's when we sat down behind fake plants, on a special table, with huge plates and food that was too much for our bellies. Excited, as if it was an adventure, we laughed, and paid as much as we had promised.
"A complimentary tea." There was this tea, one I've never had before, in a small paper cup, orange in sheen. It smelled of cloves and pepper, with a hint of cinnamon. The cups felt hot to our palms, so we carried our bags and walked in the park, counting the number of times some boys hit an inappropriate dance move. We sat on a porous metallic bench, heavier on her side, and we tried our best not to move much, especially after she did and caused my share of tea to spill on my shoes. I pulled her cheeks and asked her not to repeat it again, but oh well, a kid out for the first time had forgotten to have fun in all this while.
We saw the sun set until our roll calls were heard. Just a moment. I smelled marigold. "Let's go." Just a moment.
I closed my eyes. I sighed and sipped my chai.
There was a clatter in the kitchen. Apparently he had let the cups slide off the counter.
"Are you sure you don't want me in there?" "No, I don't want you in here, K. I can handle this." "Doesn't seem like it."
He emerged with a tray good enough for holding six cups, with mittens on his hands and an apron that smelled of milk. There was a non stick pan on the top of the tray.
"Ta-daaa. Here's it." "What?" "What?" "You said you were making tea." "This is the tea." "In a pan" "Yeah" his eyes widened and his eyebrows arched, "with straws. I can use some appreciation here. Did you not just hear the cups fall behind my back while I was totally not trying to scoop out the leftover tea leaves floating around?"
He sat down, took his mittens off, threw away his apron in the laundry basked and began setting his hair off in the opposite direction of their growth. He sat down on the couch and held the pan up to my face.
"Drink it." "I am not mouthing a pan. For some tea. Are you sure I won't die from this?" "No." "What did you add?" "Just some cloves and cardamom," "Hmm" "And sugar and pepper." "Okay" "And I wanted to balance out the extra accidental spoon of sugar with some salt." "Some salt?" "Yes. And there's some leaves you put in a tea. The one's my mother grows." "Basil?" "Maybe?"
He handed me a straw and held one close to his mouth. I counted to three. We sipped and immediately spit back the hot tea through the same straws into the pan.
A moment of silence for his efforts.
"So?" "The basil really tasted a lot like mint. I don't know how you did that, but it really was exceptional. Stood out for me."
And then laughter.
"You really can't make this breakfast in bed for your mother's birthday. Please don't." "I won't. Got it. Learnt it. It's all done and settled." "Do you want me to make some for you right now?" "No. I'm not a tea person. Oh come on, your adorable face makes me want to say yes everytime."
He sat on the kitchen counter. I put on the saucepan and turned on the gas. There went two and a half cups of water, two teaspoons of tea, an inch of crushed ginger, two teaspoons of sugar, and milk according to the colour. He watched me do it all, and watched it all be done by me. He was watching me. Just me.
"So you really are beautiful. And the best of everything." "Wait for the tea."
I strained the tea, pressed the tealeaves and discarded them. There were two non matching cups that were filled to exact perfection. I offered one to him and he immediately burnt the tip of his tongue.
"Why do you do this to yourself?" "Well maybe because of this," And he kissed me while I stood there motionless with my eyes closed and a racing heart. I never kissed him back, never known how to kiss.
"What can I give that is all for you? My heart's no good 'cause it's split in two What can I give that is all for you? These arms are all I have But I'll hold you like I do love you But I'll hold you like I do love you"
I wish brightness in everyone's life. Hope your festival was as bright as the sunrise. Love you if you take the time to read this, this one is important to me. (Caption first) Some references to "Where do lovers go when they're tired?" by Ghostly Kisses
▪where lovers go when they're tired▪
"It's been a while since I saw clouds in my skies." "My clouds are yours."
It's a certain sense of acceptance that makes me want to hold on to the thought of darkness as a way of existing. When your eyes don't lead you to a visible road, somewhere the sun is just minutes away from rising and the passersby have already passed us by, you learn to adjust your sight to a place that's always so dimly lit yet you'd always hold on to the promise of the rising sun, even though it's not much of a compromise, this closing of your eyes, when you used to worry you'd miss that single moment of dawn if you blink - not anymore. It's dark when I close my eyes, pitch black, and just the same when I open them, hoping it to be a consequence of a long overdue morning where I would've counted the number of clouds that float in pairs.
I've been walking blind, with every bit of me losing sight as I proceed, just to discover my lost sense of vision. This darkness has been very kind to me, if I think of it, in its truest sense, an occurrence to others. It's not all the same, this becoming; this is not all the same when I look away, behind myself, wondering if I should turn back and walk that way all over again; a place that makes my eyelids appear faintly crimson, telling me there's light behind closed doors; doors that I've knocked against before, doors that were closed before they welcomed me inside, doors that had keyholes through which I could see. But perhaps, that wasn't too beautiful a scene; that light summoning me behind those doors was not beautiful enough to stop myself for and give up on this newly found strength to walk blindly, towards a new morning, one that could make me see again.
Meet me in the gentle after light, where your world falls apart. Meet me where the light greets the dark, where the lovers go when they're tired.
I met you where second hand lovers have their second thoughts.
You were heading South, yet couldn't tell East apart from North, looking for something you weren't quite sure of. There wasn't much in your hands, not much to carry on, not much to lose but yourself. But if you would've asked any blind passerby, she would've told you that you were already lost enough, walking blind, just to discover your lost sense of vision.
"Miss, this is a two way street." "Hello? Who's this?" "Just walking by." "I've never had anyone walk this road before." "Well I'm walking the same way, and I'm glad to have someone along."
Two way street. All those days and I didn't know that I was racing myself on a two way street. I've walked alone, wondering if this was the right way, if there's two ways, hoping I wasn't going back where I came from. And then, it was you: a voice I was longing to hear, a voice to give me a sense of direction, to let me know where I needed to listen to, to know that I wasn't walking through a void that had no exit to proceed.
Somehow, you made me brace myself for all the tears, spontaneous and sweet, that would fall once I see the sunrise, once my eyes begin to adjust to the light.
"Do you want me to hold your hand?" "What? Why do you think I need to hold your hand?" "I don't. It was just your arms reaching out to me and your feet stomping on mine as you walked." "I'm sorry." My hands cutting through the air, wishing for yours to trust me. "Oh" you sounded startled, "Okay. Trust me, okay? Just let me know where you wish to go." The light. "Okay." A confused tone. "Towards the light it is."
My fingers slid over your palm so effortlessly, it almost seemed as if I needed you. Your skin, rough and folded over edges that were smooth on mine. The ridges on my fingertips could feel the friction of yours, and your hand felt warmer than mine. Dry and hard, strong and rough; strong enough to hold mine if I happened to stumble upon a pebble I couldn't see. It was, as if, your hands were the walls, cracked and rough, porous and grey, the walls I was looking for to be able to stand straight and walk straight, not knowing where it would lead me, but only hoping for it to be the right way on that two way street.
There was this darkness, and this time around, it seemed viable.
"How can you walk straight in this darkness?" I asked. "Darkness?" "Yes. I've been walking this way and haven't had any proof of it being right." "I believe my darkness is a bit different than yours." "How so?" I asked, walking straight, holding your hand with a strong grip, not tripping once. "Maybe there are things we can see that others can't." "Maybe." "But if I can see the way, I can walk you to it, can't I? And if you can see something that I can't, maybe you could walk me to it? Will you?" "If I see something, I'll lead you to it, holding your hand just as strongly as you hold mine."
We had been walking for days now, weeks perhaps. There were mostly silences between every word I said and every breath you took. Those silences were filled by the faint beating of your heart, slower than mine, calmer and deeper. Your breaths were heavier, falling like a hushed sheet of snow, softly and trying to be quiet. Your arm touched mine as we walked and you made sure it never happened again yet it swung as mine did and brushed past my skin - warm, unsure and apologetic. There must've been sweat patches on your shirt, just like mine, since I could smell our sweat and feel it building up between our palms that had no space to breathe. With time I had forgotten what it felt like, to have a hand hanging free, in front of my face, looking for how many more steps could lead me to a fall from a cliff of false hope.
Weeks and months, yet the sun never rose. Somehow, despite what I really was looking for initially, was never in sight, my sight; my mind had took to wanting to be able to see you in that sun lit sky. Somehow, this two way street had more than just two ways.
"Why did we stop here?" A pause. A hesitation. "It's nothing. Don't worry." "What is it?" "It's nothing really. It's all okay." "I can hear a silence." "What?" "I don't know what's happening. It's unusual. I can hear the silence. I can hear my heart beating and my blood flowing. I can hear your quickened breaths. What is it? I'm scared. I'm scared of this type of darkness. Why did you leave my hand? Why did you stop here? Why are you leaving me?"
"I'm not leaving you. Hey, don't be scared. Please don't be scared. I'm here for you. Just a little further okay? It was just something you don't need to know about, we can walk past this okay? We will do this."
Your hands over my shoulders, cold and still, scared and shivering; your left hand raised up to my face, and your right, took mine and placed it on your chest.
"Trust me okay? Listen to my heart, feel it, the pulse, make it your music. Be familiar."
My toes felt something and I jumped backwards. You assured me to stay calm and said that it was you who had kneeled down, your back against me and asked me to climb it so that you may carry me for the rest of our path. There was no saying as to what you had seen that I wasn't able to comprehend, what scared me and what scared you as well but not enough to carry me over to a place that was so important to me, in the hope that I would show you something you had never seen before.
We were on our foot again, walking still, exhausted and broken inside. There were instances you asked me how much further do I wish to go, and I'd ask you to stay a little bit longer. The birds who agreed to sat on your fingers were hesitant to my touch, yet not much if you cupped my hand from beneath. Their feathers, neat, soft and probably stunning to look at. I smiled, you smiled and I could make that out with the click of your lips. There were moments I wished to touch your face and ask you to describe it to me, how beautiful you must've been, probably a little less than what I saw you as.
Kindly refer to the first comment under this post, before reading me.
▪ tying a noose around my neck with your school ties ▪
"You should have your dinner. I'll like some time alone. Please turn off the lights when you leave." I tell her after her constant nagging about postponing the arrangement of those green rice lights since the dinner was ready.
She leaves, muttering on her way out, leaving a slit open in the doorway and allowing the essence lamp peek through. I can smell puffed lemon rice and curry leaves.
I take my spot with ease, the cold marble floor against my ankles felt indifferent over my dead skin. Or maybe, it's become a habit now.
There are no stars in the night sky these days, at least where I live. Even the clouds seem to have amalgamated into this huge mass of a patchwork above. Just like that black paint drop you spilled on my scholarship submission painting, smudging it away with your dirty thumb, leaving me with a grey, dirty patch, in life and in death.
Across the street, there are buildings that haven't yet lit up their view, part of the excuse behind it's postponement. They reach out to the balcony; standing beside their stock of broken washing machines and old newspapers, uncovered air conditioners and dusted cardboard boxes; staring at my fiction, whispering amongst themselves, when they see me sitting in front of my glass door, for the first time without the curtains drawn.
It's this peace that I'm looking for, as I let go of everything else, but you. Or perhaps, you're looking for me, letting everything go, but me. This is where you left me, a dark room, occupied by guilt so inconsiderate - my cold feet can't feel it's coldness anymore just because they're hanging at the same depth in a pool of memories that I try so hard to forget.
My pyjamas seem to be an inch shorter after I cross my legs and my hair is always a mess these days. The room I was sitting in had this beautiful sheen from the green lights that blinked alternately, ridding me of the need to switch on the LEDs when I'm scared at night. And that pipe light, white and bright, could've made me visible from across the street. It's all so beautiful isn't it, darkness is just my nonexistence in the absence of that doorway slit. Perhaps you'd be so kind to leave me some fairy lights on, in case you wish to depart? In case you wish to disappear without goodbyes, please don't close the door all the way.
"These loops you made with the lights, they're not symmetrical." "It was too short to complete the pattern." "Two bigger loops and a smaller one could've made it prettier." "Maybe I don't want it to be prettier."
You emerge from the darkness, sitting on my right, hoping my knee didn't touch yours. I refuse to look at your face; because if I did, I'd probably have second thoughts about the arrangement of those lights. If I did, I'd wish for things to be prettier; prettier in your eyes.
"It's nice here." "It is." "I didn't expect you to choose green." "I didn't. My father did." "I hope it doesn't hurt much, not anymore." "It doesn't if I tell myself that it can't."
You smile and the nodding of your head fades towards your left.
"You look beautiful." "Do I?" I act surprised. "I don't know; I'm you. I'm not him." "He would've said that I look beautiful, he would've lied." I chuckle.
"You need to leave." "I never stayed." "You haunt my dreams." "Doesn't that feel good? It's finally somewhere we can be together. I touch you, gently, we hold hands and rest our foreheads together. Just like we used to. It's somewhere we can love each other and live everything the way we used to." "It's just memories. You're stuck in memories. I don't want to live the same memories back and forth." "Even if it's me?" "It's not you." "It's you."
You try to hold my hand and I free it from your softened grip.
"You're guilty of feeling happy when you dream of me." "I am."
I wake up, with a feeling of betrayal. A feeling so obscure and pungent, it doesn't let me visit the mirror. I wake up and watch my hands that held yours last night. It's such a funny thought, to wrap you up in cloth and bury you in my dreams, every time the memory tape rewinds.
Your hand reaches upto my face and pushes back my misfit hair. I smile, at the glass door, looking at my reflection, yet unable to find yours in it.
"Maybe if you could have a reflection of your own, and maybe if I could see a smile through it, things would've been different." "That's all it takes?" "Maybe if you stayed, yeah."
"Choose a memory." "What for?" "I suppose we have some time until dinner, don't we now?" "How about the time you noticed how I was a really quiet little girl in my first grade, so you came to my bus seat and started troubling me?"
▪ 15 minutes from my bus stop ▪ "What's your deal? Why don't you speak anything?"
I shrugged my shoulders, one of my braids light enough to flow with the wind from your window.
"Do you want to play something?" You asked me, pinching the sleeve of my shirt and I pulled it out of your grip. Your eyebrows furrowed and you seemed to consider me a crazy child. I was younger; much more calmer and shy. With my bottle hung around my neck and my bag straps falling off my shoulders I prepared to ignore you.
"Hey, do you?" "Okay." I nodded with my meek voice that not many people got to hear.
"Let's make chapatis. Okay?" "Okay." "This is the dough. I took some of the dough. Roll roll roll, this is a ball. Now you make a chapati. No no no, that's not a round chapati. Do it again. This is the dough. I took some of the dough. Roll roll roll. This is a ball. Make one." I made a chapati. Perfectly round, perfect enough to please you. "Is this okay?" I tried to correct my bag strap. "Yes. Now this is the dough." You took some in your hand. "Roll roll roll," it was a ball, "now you make a chapati. Wait! Let's add some mint. Make it." It was a green one. "Roll roll roll, let's add some ketchup." It was a red one. And a brown one, a yellow one, a pink one, a white one.
"You were the cutest little girl." "You were a mad lad, you dumbo." We are sitting across ourselves, making chapatis, stacking them, eating them in a rush. I giggled, you giggled. "I miss this." "You said you don't." "I don't miss you. I miss this. Ah, here comes my stop anyway. Look at him, my brother, he'd wake up, any minute now, knowing instantly that our bus stop was close." "You didn't even say goodbye to me." "You never even talked to me after this day. You were just bored and wanted to pass your time with me. Like you always did."
The green lights showed a new pattern. Slowly dimming into darkness.
▪ tape #768 ▪ I was standing there, right in front of the mirror, like a fool. Freeing the hook of my bra, with a still developing body, I observed the hair growth in my stomach. My hand racing down, along the birthmark that looks like a scar over my stomach, down into my pants. I removed my bottoms and stood there, naked, looking at what I found ugly.
You were standing there, right in front of me, across the school playground, laughing about something you didn't bother to share with me. Your friends giggling and commending you, whispering abusive words and enjoying themselves. You were proud.
"I wasn't." "You were proud."
And I didn't know what it was about until later, when you left me those recordings and videos. I was standing there, right in front of the camera, like a fool. I removed my bottoms and stood there, naked, looking at what I found ugly.
I found you ugly.
The lights stop blinking. It is dark. Darker than I remember, so I look behind and find the door completely closed. Probably from the wind coming in from your window side.
"You think you love him, don't you?" "I love him." "And me?" "I loved you too." "That's a relief." "I fell out of love with you. As a friend or even as a boredom killing human being." "Then why do you enjoy these memories?" "I don't. I saw you, being who I fell for and you were beautiful. So beautiful and I loved you and we lived those memories together. Every night. Every morning, after I woke up, I regretted even remembering what it felt like to touch you. I fell in love with this amazing man who loses his mind when he even thinks of something inappropriate about me, and throughout the night all I'm thinking of is you. Then it's the morning, where all my mind can comprehend is him. I hated myself for this, all of that, tried so hard to allow him inside my head at night. But you wouldn't let me go, would you?" "You've never even touched him." "Maybe that's what it is about don't you see? I'm so in love with him, it doesn't even matter if he's far from me anymore. I fell for him without him touching me, without him kissing me without my permission, without him being you. And then I dreamt of this. This crazy bully that you were and never a friend. I dreamt of this idiot that I was for drooling over you. For hating your touch but allowing you to make me believe that I was lucky. And I felt like a loser in my dream but then I woke up. I woke up and finally felt happy that morning. That morning, I won over you. You couldn't haunt me that night. And maybe that's a start."
In case I replied to anyone at 4 am, please ignore my typos because I was slightly drunk on brandy and cough syrup.
I'd prefer a 'she' please; not so comfortable in pronouncing my own name though.
There are days my mother would ask me to stop wearing bloomer panties and exchange them for the more 'feminine' ones, at least on instances when she realises that I've grown older than she last remembered; just in case a man happens to ask me out for a movie that he had been waiting for months, only to make out in the back seat of his car. Opportunities like such are always missed, and I'm always the more fortunate one.
There are bras I wear with no embroidery or colour whatsoever, with straps dangling off my shoulders and a bow that my boyfriend thinks is cute probably without the realisation that most bras have a bow stitched onto them. This is a daily routine that I took to just recently, not because I feel uncomfortable when men feel uncomfortable watching my unnoticeable breasts through a double layered outfit, but because it's been a painful task for me, much more on the physical gradient. Wearing shorts seems too much of a task when I know I will have to shave my legs every two days and having sleeveless dresses in my wardrobe will not be a compliment to my dark underarms. Skirts never were meant to be lifted by old men in the metro but I find it hard to man-spread in those and shirts are not a symbol of masculinity but they somehow have a greater space for my chest to fit in better.
Lipsticks on my lips tend to smell more like coconuts and Johnsons, red on the usual and maroon when I have to make people believe that I'm actually much older than their prejudgement. Somehow I still fail to leave perfect prints over coffee mugs while drinking tea, while kisses look better when received by myself through the mirror. Mostly it's my smile that's more attractive when I refuse to but then a slight smirk never did hurt. Sadly there are reflections that treat me better than a man probably would.
It doesn't seem bothering to tick boxes that ask me what pronouns describe me the best. You can refer me as a "she" before a second doubt comes to your mind. But perhaps, this time, it wasn't about what she'd like to be called, it was so much more than that.
It's so much more than that.
Shaving my labia and down till I'm close to my vagina is somehow a tricky choice between a yes and a no. The hair probably smells when I'm on my periods and if shaven, my 'socially unappealing' clitoris would hurt when I ride bicycles or perform splits. Within a day or two the tiny bumps begin to bleed but no man seems ready to give me the pleasure I probably deserved for shaving between my thighs, so I let the fur grow till it's comfortable enough for myself. Probably a simpler observation for the next time - I shave when I want to and not because I was looking forward to sex or skinny dipping on a beach in the Indian national capital.
Men with their oiled bodies and an impressive beard growth seem handsome and good on their looks but it never really made my pants wet. A good sense of humour and opening the door for me when I walk out of my own room isn't that kind of a nice guy trope that I'm looking for. I claim to find a man's intellect attractive yet contradict myself by disagreeing with everything that he has to say. There are men with strong arms that appeal me, that attitude of a gentleman that weakens me, but none that I would dream of when I'm in bed at night. I will stick up my middle finger at you but probably will never lick yours if you ask me to.
I've never used a condom before, never lost my virginity. Actually it's something that's really not needed when everyone around you waits for you to get to the ripe age of being sexually assaulted by a family member. But surprisingly I carry on my own virginity and the cycle is broken when I hand it over to someone by saying a yes that wasn't interrupted by stammering, wetting the bed or tears in my eyes. Letting my boyfriend know how much my periods actually hurt was more interesting than a surprise, considering how they never really taught about sex, trauma associated to periods, postpartum depression or even the structure of our vagina for the poor lads to at least be aware of where they should lick. Unfortunately the syllabus cuts down to reading about the female reproductive 'system' and an overwhelmingly detailed structure of the male reproductive 'organ'.
Giving myself pleasure in bed isn't something that I'm fond of, but I don't necessarily disprove it. My own fingers hurt me if I go too deep, and the usual toys aren't really accessible to me. Naked strangers imitating rape don't excite me, but then, they shouldn't. Clicking my own pictures without my clothes and watching someone else's package isn't as appealing as I thought it would be. My underwears are bleached and remain wet almost everyday but that isn't because I am turned on, it's because my body is hyper active when it comes to releasing toxins.
There are girls I find beautiful and hard to ignore. I get as uncomfortable by a woman hugging me or sitting on my lap as I do when a man's breath falls on my neck. There are men I find beautiful and hard to ignore. Falling in love at first sight was never the sort of thing I admired.
There were bullies in school who knew how to flirt. Luckily they managed to look attractive. Unashamed to say that I romanticized my bully to the point of no return. Spitting on my face and kissing me without my permission was indirectly permitted. Girls used to wonder if I was a lesbian and felt uncomfortable watching me wash my hands in the washroom. Some were brave enough to ask me themselves, others were scared to imagine their short term boyfriends sharing a book with me.
Falling in love was always about how he saw me. Falling in love was never about the way he looked.
My sexuality was never about falling in love. I could've easily fallen for a woman instead. I could've fallen for you.
It was when I fell in love that I began trusting him to touch me, to kiss me, to feel me. I'll prepare myself to be sexually active with whoever I fall for. It could've been anyone.
My sexuality isn't described by who I am interested in. It's not about the person I am in love with. It's defined by who I'm comfortable in.
I'm comfortable in myself. And that's what my sexuality is about. It doesn't have anything to do with me having sex with a man or a woman. It's about who I want to be looked at as. It doesn't have to come with a label, it comes with a body you're confident to keep.
I am a woman. I'd prefer a 'she' please. I am a woman who isn't sexually excited by many things, a woman who doesn't have gender preferences yet wouldn't want any labels to define herself. I'm a woman who probably doesn't love herself but that is who I am and that is who I will be. I'm a woman who's open to change as long as the change doesn't bring me shame, as long as it doesn't make me uncomfortable in my own body.
As long as I am myself.
Not so comfortable in pronouncing my own name though.
I've loved someone before and I am in love with someone right now. It's almost as if they love you back, except when they actually love you more than you think you deserve. Trust me you'd know.
▪honey, there's a pimple on your chin▪
"What about the things we did? You know it wasn't easy letting you in, So how could you leave without me? How do you go to sleep without me? me" - letting you in; awfultune
"I can't really see much, so I'd pluck out the ones I am able to see", I felt my pillow sinking next to my right ear, the ruffling noises making it altogether familiar, just as she got up and put all of her weight on her dominant hand; her hand still smelling of coriander from the afternoon meals. My mother's eyes always squinch whenever I ask her to pluck out the most notorious hair strands that fall out of my eyebrow outline; the thinner ends of the thread slithering in and out of her mouth . Laying on the bed, stretching out my skin in front of her, while she rotates her hand to thread out my unwanted facial hair, makes her seem like a professional who herself never required such a treatment. Sometimes the wet ends of her thread touch my forehead and yet I don't find it preposterous enough to stop her from doing her task.
"Tsk, it broke again, what a waste of time" and then she makes that face which makes her white hair seem even more beautiful along her receding hairline.
It often hurts more when she moves over to my right eyebrow; her arm not setting straight enough to feel comfortable on my breast as she shapes my eyebrow.
It often hurts more.
"You know how much I hate bright lights, Amme." "Yes, but they help me see your hair." And then she goes on playing the switchboard like a piano. "It's the first switch." I smile while rubbing my eyes. "You just lay down." "There's three lights right above me, you know I get a serious migraine this way." "Just fifteen minutes." And I close my eyes. "You know, I can see that circular light everywhere when I close my eyes." And I disturb her focus, the thread breaks again. "Amme?" "Hmm?" "It reminds me of that bus." "What bus?" "My school bus."
My school bus. It was as far as the dairy from our place. But then you don't even know how far the dairy was. There was a huge park in front of our home, a posh area, somewhere we didn't belong. My cousin and I used to walk barefoot around it's pavement and pluck flowers for our mothers, but stopped once I began feeling bad for the flower itself, how could I break it to the prettiest jasmines that all they ever produce is just one smile. Then there was an extraordinarily brilliant plot having all of the lamps around it's vines lit when we got on the road, walking towards the main road. The lamps on the street were still on, dimmer than last nights. And there was another building that had been under construction since I remember. There was a pile of small pebbles in front of it, and once I'd walk all over it, only to have my unpolished school shoes get dirty with faeces. Most of the days I couldn't walk straight and had to cling onto my mother, who held my heavy backpack and a container for milk. Those were the days when old men jogging around and riding bicycles would tell me to eat clarified butter to get my body strong enough to hold my own backpack, all with one hand. Somedays I used to forget my charts at home, so I'd have to run back, open the main door without making my brother awake, to fetch them. I'd ask my mother to reach the bus stop in case the bus reached before I did, which was rare enough. Then we crossed the guard, the temple and finally the road.
My bus stop. It was where every other public bus would've stopped, where we'd struggle with our mother to find a transport to get to our grandmother's, when our father slept at home with his car keys in front of the photograph of his parents. Somedays rickshaw drivers would stop and offer a ride. Other days pilgrims wandered in orange, drinking a mild drug in their milk, or perhaps in blue as well, with a dagger hanging against their waist. I'd watch the metro go by; apparently, I wasn't old enough to quit the bus route and hop on the metro by myself. But the truth be told, I didn't want to. How could I?
"Here! Right here! Stretch here. I can't get this hair out." And I opened my eyes, the light almost blinded me. "Use the plucker maybe." "Wait" And she'd not stop until my skin goes red and my hands slipped off of it because of the oil that I just applied. "Ah, I know what to do. I'm going to use the tweezers. Why didn't you remind me?" She'd say.
The school bus would become visible from afar. Stopping at the traffic lights, one at a time. One of its headlights blinking all the way through, and the other open always. We joked about how it was winking at my mother. And then some random man, being drunk from last night near the liquor store would sing a cheap bollywood song while passing right next to us, just when I happened to laugh. The bus would come and stop right in front of me, no matter where I stood. And I'd climb up, searching for someone I wished was late to board the bus, just not late enough to miss it altogether. When I didn't see him in the midst of a crowd, I'd watch the metro go by. Somewhere in there, he was. Somewhere in there, I should've been.
But then, when the bus would be late by five minutes or more, I waited for the rumbling of an engine behind us. Stopping by the liquor shop, next to the restaurant that was closing down, somewhere I loved to be. My mother had never noticed my eyes looking for a motorcycle behind us, whether it was a foggy day or a rainy one. She had never noticed me looking sideways, instead of eyeing the bus, not when she'd get busy scoffing at my father and sometimes at the boys who drove their motorbikes faster than they could handle.
"Open your eyes, look at me" "What?" "Pay attention, look here. Should I clean your forehead too?" "Yes please. Thanks." "And the upper lip?" "No. Don't get too handy, you know it hurts me more."
On some lucky days, my eardrums would tremble from an approaching vehicle. An all black bike, driving in perfect motion, not fast enough to catch my mother's attention. He'd stop, step down and push back his hair, setting them in place as he watched into the driver's mirror. He'd pick up his bag, probably carrying just one notebook, as opposed to mine, carrying the entire library within. "Why is yours so fat and heavy, it's almost about to burst open." My mother would say, when she looked at him despite me asking not to be too obvious.
He'd have a loose tie around his neck; his hair, brown, still a bit imperfect than the way I would've set them. His hands always in his pockets, a pant over which he wore no belt, a coat and a shirt with folded sleeves. He'd pretend not to have noticed me, until he wanted to, when he gave his deadly smirks almost making me fall down to my knees. A smile traded back and that would unlock his wink. Sometimes I blushed a bit too hard for it to be the winter season. Other times I wondered if I wasn't the only one to receive that smile. And then there were times I wouldn't bother to look at him; times when he made a face that begged for forgiveness, after having just bullied me or my friends the previous day.
He'd always step in on the bus after me, and that did make my mother proud. Looking back over my shoulder, he struggled to make a clumsy heart with his fingers. And I'd laugh with my imperfect teeth as he followed with his perfect ones. That crooked walk towards me when I dropped my handkerchief, the one with the rose on? The one I painted? Yes. That one. He had pinned it onto his diary through which he wrote me Letters to Inanimate Objects. I'd tell my mother how I had lost countless handkerchiefs to incidents I no longer remember, receiving her scoldings in return. But that was all okay when he asked me to wipe off the sweat from his forehead, the food from the edge of his lips. That was all okay when he wiped off my tears when I found out that in fact, I wasn't the only one.
That rose painted handkerchief smelled of chocolate when he rubbed against my cheeks, the day I couldn't stop crying when I found out how he and his friends admired me changing clothes. That was probably when I first slapped him, hard enough to remind him how much I had loved him and how much he had forgotten to give back, despite the reluctant kisses he had stolen from me in his treehouse.
And then he was gone. No more slow paced motorbikes. No more sleepy faces against the window side of the bus behind my seat. No more smiles. No more handkerchiefs. Just that diary that I buried with his body. And a letter.
No more kisses. No more heavy backpacks. No more walks towards the bus stops. Just those lonely rides in the metro, the women's section.
"Oh my God? Does it hurt? Is it bleeding? Why are you crying?" And I opened my eyes.
It often hurts more.
"I'm okay. I'm not crying. It's just the light that's bothering me." "Okay. Thank God. We're done here. Check yourself in the mirror." "It's great. Thank you."
"What about the things we did? You know it wasn't easy letting you in, So how could you leave without me? How do you go to sleep without me? me" - letting you in; awfultune
I'm no person with big words. I'm just another person trying to say something, and also writing a caption calling myself an imposter, in case some reader is keen on finding loopholes in what I wrote.
Here's some truth, my thoughts aren't rigid, they are contextual and circumstantial opinions as well as observations. I'd appreciate some benefit of doubt before groundbreaking assumptions of my stupidity or my genius.
Do they sit beside me every night and sing lullabies of love?
Or Do they sit beside me every night and weep at my sorrows?
Words. Funerals for my thoughts. That's what they are.
A farewell that sometimes makes me happy and sometimes burrows my happiness under the thick sheet of melancholia. Crestfallen braces call my name when i put the grey curtains down. Every night when I'm about to fall asleep, i hear the void coughing. I look for it beneath my bed, beside my orange lamp and even in my half wedged drawers. But the voice seems to move further, further beyond my reach.
I hate that i no longer hanker for the mornings like i used to. Everyday i wake up more tired and more sick. My heart longs for drowsy summer evenings and rainy afternoons. It longs for peace that i once had when my mind ran filter-less on the clouds of a shimmering world. It longs for some fresh breath, out and away from the suffocating crowds. It longs more for something less.
Once a day, nostalgia overtakes my vision and i fail again and again to see what is in front of me. The past seems like a sweet fruit grown on a plum tree near a grassy orchard, alluring and enticing. Hope becomes fragile and delicate, it soon dilutes into the void and renders me with a home devoid of anything except it.
Sometimes it is a hassle to write. So i read. I end up reading writers that are well versed in narrating tales. But reading them doesn't fill my heart. Maybe it never will...I was on a train which was heading far away from my home. It took my heart some courage to sit down and pick up a book again, but i did. I started reading it. It was not a book of an adept writer, but of a writer with a shattered soul. Broken, like me. Her words screeched what my heart crumpled to convey. So I read it again and again until i could no longer hold my tears and i wept and then I left the train with a wet handkerchief and weepy hisses and ended up around a park. I sat on a bench which was beneath a pine tree. The weather was warm, it was as if winter had just departed and spring had just arrived. The trestle was slightly tepid too, as if someone was just sitting there and left it a few minutes ago. I glanced at the sky and wondered if the writer of the book felt the same way i did.
"Maybe emotions cannot be read like words nor can they be disposed like books" I thought..
That night, i could feel the void shrinking and collapsing like a balloon which was punctured with a tiny toothpick. Slow and steady it deflated. It felt more painful than ever but i knew that this pain didn't signify destruction. It signified healing. I just knew it.
They opened their eyes to the red hot sun but never to the blue sky. Yodeling vehemently the black music passed down to their illiterate tongues: "Let us break bread together on our knees; Let us break bread together on our knees; When I fall down on my knees With my face to the rising sun O Lord have mercy on me." The air sang too finding lyrics between experienced, young, new born and adult voices. Their lost bodies and innocent minds, eyes fogged with perspiration and bloody atrocities, harvested in corn and indigo fileds.
Do you know why they looked up? They searched for the embryo of freedom feticide by white folks. They talked to birds hovering above. If they would share their wings Or take them on a flight ? Far far away... Had unanswered questions to the humanity... Their coloured skin were no less than of packed animals, as inside it dwelt the bruises and burnt souls. Hollowed too. For they had no dreamscape. But to go home. Find home. Meet their sold wives. Meet their escaped husbands. Embrace their brought kids. Kiss the wrinkled foreheads of their old and weak mothers. Present few yellow flowers to the headstone of their fathers and ancestors all gone. Whose blood is mixed with theirs as they worked on the same dark soil of plantation. Unknown to tomorrow or yesterday. They knew today was the same caged daylight. Orphans, of their own country. With rivers of pain running on their flesh. Their breathe held in chains. In their sleep of few hours, they longed for a secret death, resting in peace with few yellow flowers.
No more the children of god were they. Bought and sold. Sold and bought again. Fluctuated prices: low and high, traveled them from Virginia to Kentucky. Fist fighting with survival. They loved each others scars. For they were the trophies of their hard work, unpaid endless works. As if they were inanimate. Born to serve the privileged race. The four letter words be it love or life were meaningless to them. The sweat on their face sprinted to catch up the marathon of out cries hidden in their eyes. Indeed they woke up to the sun but never to sky. Indeed they forever slept on the fields but never rested in peace. -Samiksha ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I know it is long, may be too long this time. I hope this does some justice in pouring light how miserable was black slavery and racism in American soil and air. #slavery#pod @mirakee@writersnetwork@john_solomon PC : to the rightful owner
I don't care what they say I know what you meant for me that day I just wanted another try I just wanted another night Even if it doesn't seem quite right You meant for me much more Than anyone I've met before
Let me sing you a waltz Out of nowhere, out of my blues.