wet cement.

The room is a pool of light, the shade of peanut butter, and you want more vessels – to hold your pencils and your hysteria.  

‘Do you feel I am slowing you down? That I am wasting your time?’

Sips of black coffee taste like commas through a day, nudging you onward. You are putting the kettle on for the eleventh time today. 

‘You need to catch up. Get your shit together. Gotta do what you gotta do.’

You had started buying chart paper to doodle over cracks. 

Washi tapes to make the struggle to hold shit together feel pretty. Notebooks, thick-skinned, to contain you at times you could not.

You had started carrying a pocket dictionary. 

‘I think, sometimes certain people around you can make you push boundaries you never dared touch before.’

There’s a poem in every day, you read that on the masthead of a blog once. You look everywhere. Under potted plants, in the cupboard, in the fridge as if it were chilling with your yogurt.

Occasionally you find one curled up against a cozy fold on page 3 of the fifth book from the left corner on the shelf. But where’s the fun in that.

‘ I think, you are that person.’

You hadn’t known it yourself until you had said it. Like taking a sudden liking to a stranger font.

You are tossing out tiny extinguished tins of chocolate tea-lights like one tosses away empty pistachio shells on a lazy afternoon.

It isn’t new. You usually spend your resources superfluously.

Toilet paper. Mouthwash. Even time.

What if words were currencies, and GDP was measured in words, then which country would top the list?

Would it be sacrilege if the word top appeared at the bottom of a page? Would one still believe what it says it means? Like, don’t actions speak louder than words?

If I were to go on a dinner date with a bookmark, would I be leaving a message, venue: page 121, Oxford English Mini Dictionary, menu: c food, corporeal -> cosset?

You could spend more. 

You are beginning to feel bitterly like that time when you accidentally swayed a Nordic-style sculpted unicorn diffuser off its tail in a kitsch aisle and then had to take it home with you. Notwithstanding the violation of choice.

I want to do the work of my choosing. 

You put potted plants on the balcony to root for you. You tape a map to your bedroom door to regularly remind you that there are worlds at your doorstep you haven’t yet sought to greet. 

You start lighting up your mornings – like some sacred ritual – with incense and cigarettes. 

There’s light peeling off the sun like orange zest.

Today is a brand new day to write yet another shitty piece.

You pick up the lighter off the desk. You miss the dining table soaked in sandalwood. You notice the skin on your wrist turning to pulp from all the handwashing. 

Whatever happens‘, mother says, ‘will be alright‘. You both share this uncanny ability to be restless, and resilient in the face of restlessness. ‘Everything is wet cement. Make something concrete out of it.’ You rummage around for twenty minutes and decide on Maggi. The pastel Ikea forks are a catnip to your fingers. You hover over the steam. Noodles turning slick in the disappearing water look like little waves gulping down their own shore.

March was sneaky. 

It brought on more emotions that you had parentheses for. 

R became (fa)mine. You turned a tome of memories. You want to plunder your own archives, look into legible eyes for once. You think you’ll never again be able to date a guy who takes his salad seriously. 

You pin your nights to a high. Old Monk to Magnum to Old Monk. Fixtures of your evenings have only changed so much over the years. 

You can always swipe right but ‘It’s a Match!’ doesn’t always translate into a matching frequency. Maybe you just do not get the lexicon of all this. Is there a template to do this right?

You want to be a Penrose tile. ‘Infinite variations in a highly ordered environment’. A mess with a structure.

‘Experience is not just how many years you have worked, experience comes from knowing yourself.’

…he had said.

‘used to’?

i heard him call me endless

and i almost immediately believed it

as if i were the water                                            

that was roaring at our feet

back then believing used to feel easier

the person telling me, there’s no end to me, hadn’t ended seeing me yet

it’s an art, at my workplace, they say

being able to compress three hours of some encyclopedic content

into a thirty-second video that keeps you hooked

i learned it up close, from him

he distills 30 hours of his life into a 30-second phone call and offers it all neatly wrapped with a bow of cold disappointment to me 

‘it’s alright’ 

‘everything’s alright’

don’t i wish it were!

like that night when it was, it really was

the sea was loud

but our conversations were louder

and the air tasted of invincibility

and my curls were just the shade of the horizon in my eye

eyes that shone like the flimsy silver anklet on my feet

and i almost slipped on a rock

looking for crevices to burrow into

to be able to sit beside the sea and him

to be able to sit beside the sea in him

still rumbling like a storm

back then, how i used to look for the simplest of things in life

and be able to find them at the oddest places in the world

back then, how i used to find the oddest places themselves

and be able to call them home.

 

 

momentary mementos?

a tattered wallet. a snapped zipper. and a crumpled yellow post-it.

words on the paper, like tiny tethers of ink. each orange stroke, a cursive stitch to a moment.

to the moment.

the one that stretched too thin while it did. spanning only as wide as the smile you became aware of as soon as you became aware enough.

still, a moment you could pause for. a moment you did pause for. to take notice and to smile. to take notice that you had smiled.

 

broken things keep broken things safer.

overstepping?

At work, they say being emotive is tacky. At work, they say being expressive with your feelings is tacky. At work, they say a lot of things. You can’t bring yourself to agree with the half of it.

They embrace a ‘vanilla’ kind of marketing. They don’t believe in smiling or winking or sending over cute hearts to people. They fear getting personal. They call it stupid, disastrous, even blasphemous. They don’t believe in conversations. They believe in passively stating things out loud. More like a broadcaster. They don’t want to be striking those chords that could touch people. They say being apathetic is all the identity they will ever have. And will ever want.

You can’t tell anymore if it is apathetic or just pathetic.

You believe in quirkier voices. Chirpier voices. Human voices. Unlike robot ones. Unlike theirs. 

No one hates no one but you can’t help what you believe in.

 

Pull back. Now forth. And back. Push forth.

Layzie Bone’s New Life is drowning out the whirr of the cross-trainer. 62.5, it had read on the scale. An extra 6.3 kilograms trampling down your hard endeavor to be a normal BMI.

Why ain’t weight just a number? 

62.5. 56.2. Fucking same three digits. Just different arrangements on either side of the decimal.

So a bad case of permutation and combination doesn’t just fuck up your math exam.

 

Fresh apple slices. Dark molten chocolate. In the night, you ditch the rules to fill your soul. You figured, crumbling only under salads and eggs and more salads and eggs is just depressing.

Whenever at crossroads, pick mental health over physical.

 

There’s Bollywood music. There’re disco lights. There’s you. There’s he. Some vodka and a pinch of lime later, every silly move feels the greatest dance move in the world.

Ten more blurred steps down the road to the left and you sniff waffles. You don’t walk further down. You can’t. He lifts the halfway-down shutter and you sneak in. The aroma is more intoxicating than that vodka at the bar. All the diet drama goes whizzing out the tiny space under the halfway-pulled shutter. You place weird (you-are-still-a-wee-bit-health-conscious) orders.

Plain dark chocolate. No sugar. No waffle crust. No milk. Only water. And a few strawberries to go along. For a nice snack.

They are sweet enough to prepare you the not-so-sweet craving. In the cab on the way back, all’s devoured even before the next signal arrives.

 

At the kitchen table, there’s more poking at the chopping board than at the onions. Dicing them is making your eyes water and watery eyes ain’t letting you dice properly and suddenly you are not sure which is leading to which, just the realization that collecting all the nice condiments in the world isn’t half the cooking you had thought it was.

The loud exhaust feels pleasant against the noise in your head.

You tap open Pocket in the phone. Hunt down that Coconut Curry recipe from among the million ones carefully bookmarked earlier in the day. Zone out.

Heat a large saucepan to medium heat. It ain’t easy to fall for someone. Add 1 tbsp of coconut oil. It can’t take just this. Just this? Add the onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, broccoli. This is a first. An uncanny first. Salt and pepper now. Maybe you are thinking too much. A pinch each. And one pinch back to normalcy? Cook stirring frequently until softened. This is hard. You are raising questions you don’t want to hear answers to. Add curry powder, chilli pepper, coconut milk. Raising them anyway. Maybe the act itself is enough time to live the fantasy. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat slightly. Slightly? This is more overwhelming than it should be. Because now you know what he could see. Now you know how he had felt. Now you know why he had wanted all that he had wanted and how it could have felt like there could be no other way about it. Now you know how he could not grow over that. Now you know how you had been enough. Now you know how only you had been just enough. Now you know how things had been however they had been. Now you know how he could have stayed attached. Now you know why he could not let go.  

Now you can see how the boundaries go invisible.

Now you know what an overstep is.

You have once witnessed how much it costs.

Now you’re scared you’ll end up there.

The aroma’s intoxicating. It’s flooding the kitchen. Not so much of you though. Not yet enough on the distraction-scale for your head.

This is not love. Perhaps this is no affection too. This is a misidentification. Classic even. Because actually, it’s fear. You’re scared you’ll turn into him. You are scared you’re turning already.

Now you know what acceptance is.

Now you know how certain things cease to matter, how certain conditions cease to hold. When that happens. That. The little four-lettered behemoth.

Now you know why it hadn’t mattered to him at all. What he had seen different. How he had seen it differently. Why he had wanted to be with you, around you, anyhow, anytime, anywhere, and how it had sufficed. Him. How he had wanted his world to be a certain way. How he had imagined it to be. How he could the way he did. How he could not have had it any other way.

You couldn’t relate to this so much back then. Now you’re scared that you are beginning to.

Hope might be a good thing. False hope is not. Is never.

You know how it had ended.

You don’t want to come full circle.

But.

Is knowing it better than not ever having known it at all? 

Now you get what B had meant when he had said all of that. That you’ll know when you’ll know. That it would make sense then. All of it. Even the clumsiest parts would.

You don’t want to end up in a mess. Maybe you already are in one. But you don’t want to end up deeper.

The good parts light up your world.

But is it all worth getting buried under something you don’t know how to wriggle out of?

You don’t know. You don’t have the right answers. You don’t have any answers. 

All you know is, they underestimated the power of emotions when they said, they couldn’t care enough to be emotive.

All you know is, emotions can be pretty powerful. So much so, you fear them now. They are insane. 

Suddenly you want to adopt that workplace ideology. Suddenly you want to not care enough. Perhaps not care at all.

Suddenly you want to turn apathetic. To any emotion. To every emotion. To all of them out there. To all of them in here. Within you.

You would rather choose to keep your sanity. 

 

What you don’t know right now is, they won’t leave you much choice.

in the shower.

Hot water is scalding your skin.

You let it.

You want to burn yesterday off your body, off your memory, off its existence within you, with you. It’s so ironic how you keep forgetting almost every other thing every other day but somehow never forget that one thing you really ought to and you so need to and you definitely should. Or atleast that’s what she had said. The therapist. But you don’t. Memory’s a player. It plays your personal Uber at the oddest hours. Takes you back to the things you had once owned. The moments you had once been a part of. The people you had once called yours.

Unannounced flashbacks will catch you offguard in bed. They will follow you to your kitchen when you are cracking up with a friend at having rolled a square chapatti instead of a round one at 12 in the night. Or when you will press the button on the mixer to make cold coffee on a Friday morning. And when you will fling open the balcony door to a flood of mess and let out a crazy screech on a lazy Saturday afternoon. And when you will be rearranging your cupboard and will stumble upon one long black dress you will remember having had once worn to a birthday. The birthday. You have never worn it since. And when you will realize you have subconsciously picked up a favourite from among the four pillows on your bed all because of the cover and you have been invariably choosing to sleep on it every damn night. And when you will be making random odd faces at people. For any thing. For nothing at all. When you will be breaking into a nonsensically theatrical riot of laughs. When you will be feeling you cannot identify with anyone you know. When you will be doing whatever you’ll be doing. When you will be doing nothing you should be doing.

You pour and pour. And let it scorch and sear and singe. Every naked inch. Until the steam rising from your skin is as thick as a cloud. You are enveloped in mist now. You welcome its warm embrace. You want to hug it right back. You like it fogging your view. You like it because it is a tactile inconvenience taking shape infront of you where you can do something about it rather than the one inside your head where it fogs your headspace and you cannot help it. You haven’t able to, yet. To forget one tragedy, all you need is another far bigger tragedy, you’ve been told.

And you want to watch yourself cut through it in person. You want to cut through all the blur. You want to fix it by yourself for yourself. You want to watch yourself doing that.

Your nimble finger runs across the glass and carves out a face smiling through the haze on the mirror. You desperately try to trace your reflection in that thin streak of cleared glass wherever the finger has touched upon the cold surface. You want to catch your smile in there.

You are the anchor to your own chaos. You are a woman guided by your own light. You take care alright. You know that, you know, but. It used to be nice to be taken care of once in a while. But that was a long while ago. Water drains away everything. The dirt, the grime, the heaviness, the pain. You wonder how something that takes away can be so enriching. How there’s power in the negative space. How there’s so much to appreciate when there’s nothing left at all.

It’s funny how certain things help by not being there in the first place.

one wild sway.

stripping myself bare today

of all accountability

to any thing or any one at all

trashing those misplaced apologies

closing the door on uninvited judgements

binning those useless doubts into a forever of ‘far far away’

no there’s no recycling them back from there

the sand’s rolling away from under my soles

the sea has come rushing in at my feet

irreverence is almost my new favourite word

and all i sense

all i really feel

infinite possibilities sneaking in

insisting on themselves.