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For a Moment, I considered Becoming a Woman you Could Love

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For a moment, I considered becoming a person interested in gardening. I considered keeping the dark clouds hovering over me at bay and seeking sunlight. I considered being a person who likes fancy notebooks. I considered. I was about to try, I stopped. I like notebooks, you see. I like them a lot, I barely ever buy them. I take the extras that my father at times gets from his office; I take the writing pads that remain unused in his file folders after meetings. I take the Pierre Cardin pens that he doesn't write with. Everyone in my house is now aware of my love for stationary, so they store unused items in a shelf for me to take. I never ask them to buy fancy things for me, it's my way of not giving in to capitalism or so I think.
I thought of the arrogance in your voice when you said you cannot 'write' in apps in phone as you unwrapped a fancy notebook. I wondered about all the poems you had saved as drafts in gmail, I wondered about how I missed your transformation i…

Tête-à-tête: Do What You Love, Love What You Do

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I held out a coffee tumbler that I had bought a few weeks ago, after I decided to quit drinking coffee. My grandfather took it from my hand, read the text on it – Do what you love, love what you do. ‘This is what I used to tell my students. I didn’t use these exact words.’ I turned my head towards him, ‘This is what I often tell my friends and juniors too!’ He continued, ‘Accounts is a subject that I love. I used to tell my students that to understand the subject, to do well, they have to love it.’ I was excited. ‘I say the same for English!’ There were a few other people in the dining room then. Different conversations were taking place at once. No one was paying particular attention towards us. I had been making a presentation of coffee mugs and the equipment that I used to brew filter coffee. My voice itself is a people repellent. I talk so much for so long that people lose interest. They are also aware that I won’t stop until I am done showing everything in my agenda, so they resp…

The Graveyard of Ambition

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Nine minutes into the movie One Day (2011), the following conversation between Emma (played by Anne Hathaway) and Ian (played by Rafe Spall) takes place.
Emma: So, what’s your stroke? Ian: Sorry, my what? Emma: Waiter/actor, waiter/model, waiter/writer? Ian: Well, I am comedian.
I watched the film in 2015 when I still believed that job is meant to pay bills, there was no wanting involved. I was beginning my M.A then, I hadn’t given a thought to who I will be by the end of next two years. In a way, I had taken it for granted that I’ll be somebody after college. Job was just what follows college, just like college followed school. It was a completely normal rite of passage in embracing adulthood. Yet, this scene had made me wonder, what would my stroke be?
As and when I completed my post graduation, I was struck by a crisis that comes with freedom of choice. I was prepared for a step by step guide to death, I wasn’t prepared for making a decision. I struggled for a long time because an M.A i…

Musings of a Person Far Away from the Action in Kashmir

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It was raining, so we moved from the college ground to an empty classroom. The year was 2013, it was my first year in Delhi away from the place I grew up in, Sambalpur. On that rainy afternoon, we were asked to close our eyes and describe the images that we see when certain words were said. I closed my eyes and waited for a list of words hoping it won’t be as bad as improvisation sessions during theatre practice. I was trying my best but I just couldn’t understand the things that people kept saying about character building, setting, dialogues etc. I had clearly drawn lines between reality and imagination simply because imagination and I were sworn enemies. So, I held on to reality in the most stubborn way possible. I know what’s real, I don't know what's beyond. Words like imaginative or creative weren’t something I could use even while writing a facebook bio.
A few people in the group were playing guitar and singing along. How much I loved the songs that our seniors composed w…

An Unexpected Belonging in Sita's Story, A Validation of Love

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Here’s a confession: Never did I ever think that I’ll find a place in Sita’s tale. I was so mesmerised that it felt as if Sita had stepped out of the pages of The Forest of Enchantments (2019) to sing Sitayan to me. I didn’t think much of Sita until three years ago when I read Volga’s The Liberation of Sita (2016), translated from Telugu to English by T Vijay Kumar and C Vijayasree. I had compelled a few of my friends to read The Liberation of Sita so that I could talk about female companionship. We had then realised that we had spent many evenings on Whatsapp talking about Ahalya but never really saw her as a significant part of the Ramayana, and hence the book made the silences in the epic visible to our young eyes.Beyond that, we were taken by disbelief that someone could imagine Surpanakha and Sita coming together to have a dialogue, the ‘other woman’ and the ‘wife’. It was no longer about the epic as we knew it.
As I mentioned above, I didn’t think much of Sita. Draupadi is a cha…

We Are Here To Stay

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There are a few of us who like to listen to stories without judgment, for the most part. There’s something so easy about the good guy-bad guy tag in a romantic relationship that we dislike it. There’s always a supposed clock ticking to move on which basically means shoving everything that hurts in a corner and reliving the same story with another till the time to shove hurt comes again. But us, the few of us, we are cheerleaders during heartbreaks. We like to dance with pompoms when the ones who thought they’ll die without the love of their life learn to live, as they learn romance and love were a part of their life, not the whole of it. We don’t judge them for trash talking or being clingy or whiny, we love them for wanting to live on when their faith crumbles to be rebuilt.
We hear such stories all the time. The stories of heartbreaks far exceed the ones of coming together. We hear red flags and toxicity more than morning cuddles and breakfast in bed. We don’t remind them that thei…

Dissociation

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I won’t claim to know the symptom that dissociation is to many mental health conditions. I won’t be speaking about any mental health conditions; I have a very limited Google-baba knowledge about them. I have never felt comfortable calling myself depressed because I haven’t been medically diagnosed. I take depression seriously because it is as scary a word as cancer for a misinformed or selectively aware person or a person with limited awareness.
When I began telling people that I cannot recognize my reflection in the mirror, most of them heard it as a metaphor. I was talking in real life figurative terms, they weren’t literal. I was terrified every time I looked into a mirror or took a selfie or got clicked in general. The image that I saw outside wasn’t the image I had in my head. It was not even the image that people showed me or at least the one their choice of words did.
I was unable to relate any comment on my body or face or hair for that matter. I began seeing the things tha…