Bookmark #276

The sun graces my balcony for about an hour and a half, starting about two in the afternoons during winters. Lately, it has become my favourite part of the day. Of course, I often get caught with some worldly business during the time, only to keep staring out the glass door to my balcony as I finish a meeting or wrap some work that makes little sense in the grand scheme of things. I often tell myself neither does anything else, even the sweet space of reading the worldly business in question makes me miss. I often fail to convince myself, though.

I couldn’t speak for others, of course, but I knew what I knew, and I knew what I had learned. Or at least, I knew what I was learning slowly, deliberately, one day at a time. I was learning that it was not too difficult for me to be happy. That I did not need much beyond what I had managed to build so far; that with some adjustment, I would be okay with less as well. It is one of the great perks of growing up without much wealth to be able to fit yourself amidst the gifts of life, however scarce or abundant they may be at any point in time.

As I stepped onto the balcony the other day, I looked around as one tends to do when one leaves a room. I stared at the view, which has cogently proven itself quite dynamic to my surprise and reluctant acceptance. Until now, I’ve claimed hills stayed the same, that no matter what happens, it is the same landscape over and over, that it is the sea which is to be looked at in awe. I stand corrected. The first thing I do when I step into the balcony is wait. I pause before taking a step to look at the view, which is always different. It has become quite the ritual. I’ve learned it is important to pause before taking a step, however banal the step may be when you’re taking it.

In any case, lately I’m learning to be happy in ways I never thought possible. I don’t know much else, and trying to say more would be forcing it. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned after almost destroying myself, holding too tightly onto things too far gone, it’s that nothing good ever came out of making things overstay their welcome.

Bookmark #275

The rain pattered on the large glass window of our quaint bed and breakfast stay. Like most people in love prefer spending idle time together, we lay in bed talking about nothing in particular. I remember she said something about how I talked too straight, that I often lost my patience when someone tried to walk around with words instead of getting to the point. That was almost three years ago. We’re not together anymore, but if there is one memory that has stayed, it’s this one and for a good reason.

Over the years, I’ve heard the same remark in different forms. Years ago, someone I loved said I was too trusting for my own good. My mother recently told me how I’m too simple for the world I live in. Most friends think I don’t understand the world isn’t as fair as I believe it to be, and they’re probably right in their own regard. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, but I’ve been thinking about anger as well. You see, I used to be angry at the world just shy of a decade ago. I was furious at everyone I met. I despised everything, and the lens I viewed the world with was painted red. Red was all I saw.

It was a terrible existence, and I didn’t know when it began, but like most people who lose themselves in their mind, I too lost the light. I found my way outside of it with experience and error, and it has been an odyssey of its own. So, now, I live by a simple philosophy. While I know the world isn’t fair, I try to be just that. While I know people often don’t stop to help someone, I make sure I am never too busy to lend a hand or listen. If someone does me wrong, I try my best to rein the rage in, or if nothing else, to forgive.

I believe in a world that offers a chance or two to most people. I know the world well enough to accept it is a somewhat stupid philosophy to live by, and I can imagine how I might write myself into a corner with it eventually. Still, I will not settle for a world of mistrust anymore. I believe the world and the times are an image of the people who inhabit them. If I can manage to tip the scales, even slightly, even for one person, even once at all, I’ll be naive my whole life.

Bookmark #274

Out of all the questions ever asked, one sticks out: how must one keep going? It’s a question that has glazed my life with its presence ever since I was a child. Over the years, I’ve found answers and then realised they were all wrong. Friends have come up to me and asked me a version of the same, dreaded question.

I don’t have an answer to the inquiry at hand. If I were even to try, I would barely be able to string one together. But there is one thing I’ve learned about myself which may or may not serve as an answer.

While I often stop walking, I’ve learned that I always manage to begin again. While there are days I want to give up, I often find an umpteen sense of hope in me on the most uneventful afternoons. I do not know where it comes from; I do not know which ancestor to thank for it, but I know it’s there. Maybe, you and I have someone in common—someone who came before—who never gave up. Perhaps that is why we are here today—talking.

I often notice how you refuse to give up too. I see you when I’m walking on the street. I see you sitting by the fire on a wintry evening. I see you laughing a little too loud at an unfunny joke at a party you didn’t want to attend. I do not know how long you’ve been fighting for, but I know how hard it is to keep going. I have no excuse to compare our maladies and troubles; yet, I believe something unites us.

Winters often remind me of how cold it can be. Even then, I can barely grasp how cold it must be as you lay down on your couch, all alone, wherever, whoever you are, and yet, I see you make tea for yourself. I believe the search for warmth made us human, and when there was little of it in the world around, we somehow managed to create it ourselves.

I do not know how we must keep going. I barely understand what pulls me out of bed on the worst mornings I’ve faced. To be honest, I shouldn’t even be here, writing these words.

And here I am—typing in the blistering cold on the patio of a café I visit too frequently, and there you are, reading them in some place and time far away from my own.

Here we are, together. Here we are, continuing.

Bookmark #273

I walked around town again today. It makes me glad how the unfinished sidewalk, under construction for the longest time ever looks beautiful now that it’s complete. The city is really coming together if you ask me. Truth be told, now that the dust has settled, so am I.

It’s been a while since I went on one of my regular strolls. I’m not sure if my doing that again has any significance at all, but to me, it is the only thing that matters as December slowly folds into yet another January.

I have little to show for this year, really, besides the fact that I’m still walking. But this was like most years if you ask me. If you asked anyone else, they’d be able to give you a better tally of what I did or did not do this year. I was always my meanest critic.

All that said, I don’t understand where to begin or where to end this little barrage of words. I believe it’s in line with how I walk, I barely know when I begin or when I stop. I couldn’t even tell you where this year began for me and where it ended.

I couldn’t tell you many things if you ran into me on this patio I’m sipping my coffee on and writing these words from. I’m unsure, clueless about who I am or what I do or where I’m going, but I know one thing.

I know while I’m sitting on the exact table, having the same coffee I’ve had all year, I’m happy now. I’ve left much behind, hidden in corners of most months this year. Now, I’m tucking a memory in the bookend of December, hidden amongst some flowers wrapped around a wooden beam. It’s made it easier to walk ahead, all this leaving things behind.

I reckon I had been walking away from myself throughout this year if not all years before this one. Lately, I’ve been walking towards myself. I couldn’t tell you how it feels. I’m only learning to feel happy myself.

You had to be here to see it on my face. I couldn’t tell you how it feels. Only that, it feels like the first day of my life.

You can make of it what you may.

Bookmark #272

The day inches towards an end. I still have dishes to do. It’s the middle of December. I imagine the water is cold, but for no reason in particular, I decide against wearing gloves as I start doing the dishes. It’s an important task, of course. My insistence on never leaving dishes for the next day still gets the better of me. I start to have another one of those conversations with myself—with you. If I could count the number of times I’ve stood with the ghost of you in my lamplit apartment, bargaining, I’d probably live out my days counting. Truth be told, I haven’t thought of you in ages. If nothing else, I haven’t bargained.

I still talk in metaphors—nothing new—but I often talk about grief without someone realising it at all. I speak about feeling at home in crooked corners of crowded coffee shops. I write about doing the dishes with freezing water running between my fingers. I describe my flaneurism with ardent romanticism when it merely has been a way to wait for you for the longest time. Of course, I am now ready to admit the fact—of how I have left my life on hold for years, holding out a hand to the sordid universe you preached about all the time.

I know I could still talk my life away talking about you. I could write a thousand letters and waste my words, over and over. I could detest you or be angry at fate only to begin scarring the world in my own twisted way. Or I could accept the truth staring at me. The truth is I wasted years loving someone who did not love me back. I spent my days building a future that never came to pass. I built the foundation of a life I’ll never have for no particular fault of my own—barring the fact that I held love for someone who didn’t love me enough or perhaps, at all.

But a human being was no place to hold that grief or any at all.

This one, well, was grief as old as time. Almost everyone carried it, day after day until they forgot it on the seat of a train or someone’s coffee table or in a broken bottle at the local bar. Until then, one could only hope to fall asleep on time. Laughing through the day required a proper amount of rest, naturally.

As for me? Well, I haven’t tossed and turned in bed for months.

Bookmark #271

If I don’t write a word today, the sky won’t fall. If I don’t string another sentence, the world won’t stop spinning. Like all before me, I have little say in the matter. Of course, you will continue to read regardless of whether I write or not. You may find more words to read—better ones, perhaps. At least, I’d hope for it to be that way for I have little left to say. I never had much to say anyway.

If I don’t stain the page with another blot of illegible ink, nothing would go wrong. In fact, much would go right. It was the curse of a writer to unknowingly change the course of history. A word here, a phrase there, and down went the dominoes. We could never know who we affected, of the damage we did; and yet, we did not concern ourselves with matters of the world.

It was a selfish desire—to write—to tell the world we thought a certain way; that it was important enough to be recorded and essential enough to share. It was an exemplary pursuit of being in over your head, believing you had anything worthwhile to add to the deep wisdom of the world you happened to breathe in. The truth, however, was that all words to have ever been written were written already, and all anyone ever had to say for anything remotely important to life had been said countless times over.

To write was then shouting into the void: I have something to say, too. Won’t you listen to me?

Writing reeked of hubris, of thinking you could sway others to the way you saw things, the way you saw the world. It was arrogance. It was a declaration of war against everyone who came before and everyone who came after. It was an echo through time, screaming: I was here.

If I don’t write today, nothing would change. If I never wrote a word again, the world won’t miss it. There were far too many of us. Why, then, am I compelled? I often wonder. Do I have something to say or is it just empty pride, bleeding on the keys of my keyboard?

Ticking and tapping and ticking and tapping and ticking and tapping until the end of my days, repeating the same song over and over and over again: I was here. I was here. I had something to say.

If I don’t write today, would I still be here?

Would anyone believe me?

Bookmark #270

The other day, I stood waiting for my cab, staring at the countless cars crossing each other at the intersection. The coffee I had a minute or two ago didn’t seem to do much against the chilly winter air. I looked around aimlessly, as one often does when one is waiting. It didn’t matter how long you were waiting for or how long you had to wait—as long as one was amused, one could wait a lifetime.

I noticed my shoes were dusty again. They were always dusty because I walked a lot, of course. Yet, my indifference towards cleaning them on most days could be traced back to an ordinary day in third grade when a teacher berated me for having dirty shoes. She recited the age-old maxim of how we were all judged by our shoes. It was a rote retelling of the exact words everyone before and after her quoted continually.

It didn’t make sense to me because it was a fun day. My shoes were dirty because we had played a lot during the break. Any less, and the shoes would’ve probably been clean enough for her to decide against stopping me and plastering a quote over my conscience.

Later, I insisted I would polish my shoes instead of my mother hitherto doing it for me. I would smear some polish on the shoe, take the brush and polish them until they shone perfectly. Then, I would dampen the shine on them to make them dull. The ritual carried on until I stopped wearing the uniform. My indifference for shoes that didn’t look like they came out of the box continued. Dusty shoes, to me, were a sign of days well-lived.

I continued waiting for the cab. Just then, a man selling balloons walked past me with only one foot in a shoe; the other one was bare. He asked me to buy a balloon from him. I told him I had no use for one and asked him about the shoe. He said he broke it at some point during the day. I asked him if I could help him out; that it was cold. He said he’d rather I bought him a cup of tea instead. I said I’d be happy to, but a cup of tea only kept you warm temporarily.

He smiled and said, “if there is anything I’ve learned today, so does a shoe.”

Bookmark #269

I think to become a well-adjusted adult, not one who could buy groceries or hold a job, but to contribute to the world in meaningful ways, one had to learn to live in a world they disagreed with, and one that disagreed with them. That was the difficult part. Pretending you were living righteously was the easiest thing in the world.

When you believed the correct way for something to be was so and such, and someone told you they didn’t agree, you had to be okay with it. You had to be okay with the idea of there being no correct answers to the human experience, and if there was such an answer, you had to accept that you—one person alone—couldn’t find it.

Of course, that was easier said than done but you had to develop an ability for it. The ability of not only being able to see the world through the eyes of someone else, of not only being able to walk the streets as they did, but to know that sometimes, you couldn’t see how someone saw it or you couldn’t walk places they’ve dragged themselves out of. To accept that your life is utterly limited and your experience is bound by those limits.

If there was an answer to make a mark on the world, to lend a hand to everyone else, to lead so everyone could take a step together, it was in the acceptance of it all. It was in accepting that when all is said and done, for all your convictions and maxims, for all platitudes you preach, you couldn’t repeat your own life in the exact way it has panned out.

It was in the humility to accept all you had was instinct and all you had was an inkling, and somewhere between those two was your truth. Your truth was that you didn’t know anything at all. You never did.

Bookmark #268

Perhaps, it was a global crisis. Perhaps, it was the age. Maybe, it was both or maybe, it was how things had always been. I reckon that was it. Things had always been that way. The more I talked to those around me, the more I started finding stories that ended with a sigh, as they looked at whatever drink was in their hands and uttered a phrase odd understanding. “It is what it is,” they’d tell me.

⁣⁣Their biggest dreams—of extravagant careers, of ballad-worthy love stories, of grandiose adventure—left their eyes as they’d continue staring at nothing momentarily. Then, they’d look up and smile, their eyes weary and tired. I’d return the smile, of course. An inexplicable clarity was in the air all around me.⁣ All of us knew what was happening to all of us at all times. It was an acceptance that wasn’t forced but felt reluctant, still.⁣

Perhaps, this was how it happened. Perhaps, this is how the unfazed adults present throughout history were made. Not by spontaneous heartbreak but through a sort of continual failure, a continual mismatch between how they imagined life to be and how it turned out. Life was but a slow burn. But there was hope somewhere in the air, too. Behind those smiles and those words of walking away from battles we were too tired to fight, each of us found an ounce of happiness in one way or the other. At least, we were learning.⁣⁣

It makes me wonder if this was the secret to happiness all along—the acceptance. Yet, unless you dreamt and unless you failed, you couldn’t know what the others meant. You could recite a rote maxim, a platitude, but it would all be absolute bullshit. You’d know it in your heart, too, of course. It wasn’t in accomplishing dreams that we found happiness; it was in the failures; it was in making do without.

⁣⁣Happiness was what came after the reluctant acceptance. I wonder if it was when we said to ourselves, “it’s not at all how I had imagined, but perhaps, this is not so bad after all; it is what it is.”

⁣⁣Maybe, it was in that precise moment that one was happy. Maybe, one had to reach it of their own accord.⁣ Perhaps, a generation reached it together, roughly speaking.

Maybe, we had.

Bookmark #267

I believe everyone has a war within themselves. It’s what we live for; it’s what we die for. I don’t know where it comes from or why we fight it or if someone manages to win it. I see it everywhere. Show me how someone does all they do, and I’ll tell you what they’re fighting for within themselves.

For a long time, I’ve thought my war to be one for balance, but I’m learning now, I have always had balance. It’s been a war for reason. For as long as I can remember, I’ve scoured for a reason to be alive, to have a justification for everything. My war has been for the why. It’s the only question I have ever asked: why?

Sometimes, however, the answer to winning a war isn’t fighting through it all; it’s in finding another way; it’s in avoiding fighting altogether. So, now, I don’t want to know why it is that I am here. That’s the answer. I couldn’t care less if it is for myself, or those around me, or for some purpose I haven’t yet discovered.

I’ve always romanticised everything to make it seem larger. However, things just are, and no word or metaphor can make them any more or any less. If anything, we only made desperate attempts to capture this thing we called life, and fail miserably while we’re at it.

The bottom line of it all is, I’m alive. I want to like being here. I don’t need a reason to do so anymore. I want to like the days regardless of whether they’re good or bad. I want to appreciate the life I live, with all its mundane trivialities.

Perhaps, nothing will change on the surface. I’ll be the same person I always have been. I’ll have the same days. I’ll help the same way. I’ll do the same things. But, I’ll not be at war with myself at all times. I’ll not be asking: why?

I wish I could tell you how liberating it feels.

Bookmark #266

I wonder if you find yourself laughing through the day only to end up in the dim glow of your bedroom lamp, standing lifelessly, consumed by a thought too many as a morbid song plays in the background, too.

I wonder if you tell everyone you’re fixing your life as if there ever was a thing like a broken life in the first place, as if there has to be a proper way for life to be, and that if there was, you knew what it looked like enough to claim you’re hard at work to hammer it into form when all you know is how to barely brave twenty-four hours without losing yourself to the voices in your head, sometimes.

It baffles me, the audacity with which you claim you’d like to be more, to do more, as if your smiling at a stranger isn’t enough hope in the world, as if your rushing to see a friend isn’t important enough for it to count for something, as if you stringing words out of thin air did not add anything to this otherwise bleak world.

I wonder if you think of these things too as you ask yourself how it is that you can suddenly fall from a peak of ecstatic emotion into this abyss of nothingness. I wonder if you blame yourself for not being happy enough, as if the nothingness stops calling when you’re laughing, as if it has ever stopped calling, as if this is the first time you’re fighting it all.

I wonder if you lose yourself, like I do sometimes. I wonder what you do to get out of it. Do you like walking? Perhaps, you do. I wonder if like me, you walk on the road to nowhere in particular, too. I’ve been treading the road ever since I was a little boy. Frankly, I won’t mind some company. I wonder if we’ll ever run into each other.

It baffles me we haven’t yet.

Bookmark #265

In the culmination of it all, of years of holding on, of years of anguish, of years of trying, I learned my problem wasn’t that I couldn’t choose. It was that I didn’t want to choose. I wanted all of myself, in all ways, at all times.

It was as if I lived two, three different lives. As if I was changing my entire self repeatedly within a span of twenty-four hours, with each side trying to say, “this is the true me”, just as the other took hold and denied me the opportunity to be at peace, at ease. Perhaps, that is why I was so perpetually exhausted.

I wanted to spend all my days doing nothing but writing and living the slowest imaginable life, but I also craved a sort of tangible contribution to the world around me because I understood it. I understood the great human collaboration. I was also privy to artistic solitude.

I wanted to love someone with all my heart and also, love no one else but myself. I wanted everyone to be with me, and I wanted all of them to leave me alone.

On the outside, my indecisiveness was shrouded by a surety that paralleled none other, my conflicts were portrayed as unmatched clarity, and the schism within me slowly became an epitome of balance. On the inside, I was falling apart as all sides of me grew in different directions with unimaginable pace.

Slowly, however, the limits of it all were making themselves all the more visible. This conflict wasn’t one of whim or fantasy either. I continually acted upon all sides. As everyone I met kept telling me I was doing something right, for anyone could find camaraderie with some side of me, I kept asking myself: who am I?

And in the culmination of all things, after everything had fallen apart, I learned, I was all sides of me, equally. Perhaps, it was a unique edge. Maybe, it would be why I’d lose myself eventually.

The bottom line was, I didn’t want to choose anymore. I wasn’t even inclined on trying. I was going for everything and everyone I could possibly be, or nothing at all.

Bookmark #264

Have you ever wandered onto a familiar street without intending to go there at all? Have you ever tasted a meal, the first bite of which took you on a trip through the summer days of your childhood? I reckon that is how I felt today.

It was as if I was going back into an old friend’s home; one I hadn’t visited for a while. Nothing spectacular happened; nothing particular happened either. You see, I was walking down the same streets I always walk down today and suddenly, I felt this odd knowing.

I felt as if I had been wearing someone else’s clothes up until now, and it was only at that moment that I got to wear my own. Perhaps, that’s how it feels when one suddenly comes back into their stride. I wonder if you know what I mean. I wonder if you’ve ever been lost inside of yourself, if life has ever made you hide from yourself.

I can put all the metaphors on it but it wasn’t as if lightning hit me; clearly, it wasn’t a shock. It wasn’t a realisation and no large epiphany appeared. It was as if I had tucked myself into a warm blanket after a long day and a cold shower.

I felt a comfort I had long since forgotten, like a weight lifting off of myself, like holding coffee with both hands after getting drenched in the rain, like finding shelter in the starkest of storms, like a ship at sea stumbling upon a lighthouse, like a musician finally finding their tune, like the fog finally lifting after days of blindness.

Today, for the first time in what has only felt like an incalculable amount of time, I felt like myself again. Nothing changed, of course. Nothing ever does. Yet, I believe, it’s all for the better. I reckon I’d been lost for far too long.

I wonder if you know what I’m talking about. But then, I believe it’s all for the best if you’ve never been lost at all. It gets terribly lonely when one does. To others, you’re right there.

Yet, you continue to ask: but where am I?

Bookmark #263

You told me you’ll come back, eventually. You said the waters will get calmer and we’ll sail through. I loved you. I’ll wait, I said. While you were gone, I spent time walking around, tracing the streets meticulously, like you used to trace the lines on my hand.

Eventually, I got tired of walking by myself. I started building a home in your memory. It was all over the place, at first, but it took shape slowly, quite like how I fell for you. I knew you’ll always have a place to yourself in my heart.

I spent afternoons lazing around in the hall of our flaws and all our mistakes. In winters, the warmth of the memory of holding you was enough, really. I could last a thousand winters remembering the smile on your face. It was the warmest thing I knew. Perhaps, that is why I went out of my way to make sure I saw as much of it as possible. I loved you more for myself than you.

Maybe, that was the start of where we went wrong. Or maybe, we were never right at all. I never thought of it that way until, like all good things that overstay their welcome, the house got old. The years took their toll but the house stood, albeit the plaster on the walls started to crack; the paint, once bright and beautiful was now dull and melancholic.I lived in a nightmare of my own making, clinging to days I could barely remember myself, but I was living, and that was enough.

Then, one day, you showed up at my door. Everything lit up, as it should have. The house became how it used to be. I made you coffee and we sat, talking. We talked about how life had fared, about everything.

Finally, I asked if you remembered the promise. You said it had been a passing thought at best. I smiled and said I understood.

When you left, the illusion broke. The floorboards creaked until they gave in. The walls fell on each other. The house collapsed. It took its time, but the memory died too.

I took my time, but I left, eventually. Now, I live in a place of my own. The light is astonishing, really. The other day, I passed the ruins of all I ever felt for you. I stopped for a bit, staring. A boy walked around, too. He asked me, “do you know who lives there?”

“A ghost,” I said.

Bookmark #262

When I was much younger than I currently am, I’d often find adults wasting time while saying goodbye. I’d see them dawdling. I found people getting off the couch only to stop near the door yet again. It didn’t make sense to me, of course. I thought they didn’t understand what goodbye meant.

I know now that when I’m in the car with a friend, I wish for some light traffic, only so we get more time to talk. When I run into someone I haven’t seen in a long time, I often ask them if they have time for coffee. I’ll often wish for it to keep raining if I’m stuck waiting with someone.

I’m the last to hang up because I want to hear someone’s voice for the last time, again and again. It’s as if one has to steal time with someone because life allows for so little of it. When we’re done for the evening, I often ask friends if they’d like to spend some time or watch a movie at mine as we order takeout.

When someone tells me they have to leave, I sigh. It happens all on its own. I have said enough goodbyes; often, I’ve said them more than once to the same people. I know now why the adults would not let the others leave.

Life tends to starve you of the presence of those you love or want. The voices you hear every day can turn into voices you hear in a month or sometimes, years. We were all starved for the presence of everyone we had ever loved.

Between all the busyness, the chores, the visits to the bank, the grocery shopping, the work day; between all those mundane and banal activities of life, you sometimes get to steal a moment with someone; an unwritten, unplanned moment.

I’ve learned amidst this thing we called life, all we ever want is to steal a little bit of time. So, I often ask people if they’d like to walk or take the longer route or if they can still talk for some time.

I know now why the adults took their time saying goodbye. I know now why they sighed and hugged, or used more words than necessary. I’ve learned the only way to let someone go was slowly, gently, and with a smile on your face.

The only way to say tell someone goodbye was to wait, to linger, and to ask them: will I see you again? I hope I do. I love you.

Bookmark #261

A note to my reader:

When I think of myself as a writer, I think of myself as a jester of the world, and I belong to those who need a moment of respite. My act of writing is one to entertain. I do not write to inspire; I do not write to change. I am too little to make a large dent in the world, and these words are too simple for someone to take note of them.

Now, of course, a jester entertains but a jester also makes you see things you know to be true but would not accept. He makes it apparent with some wit here and there. A jester is the perfect mix of show and life, often using his own act to show you something hidden from yourself.

A jester is also, of course, a fool, and a fool I am.

I could, obviously, write about three hundred words of la dee doo and give you two seconds of sunshine and false hope. It isn’t hard to do. I can whip fifty of those pieces by the morning for you if that’s what you’d like. That stuff sells too. People love leaving a piece thinking the next rainbow will grow from their footstep.

But, I won’t.

I’d rather give you something else. I’d rather give you the truth with a metaphor snuck in between. I’d give you a moment of belonging, of knowing there is someone else who feels something you feel; that there are others. For that’s what I have always needed too: not to know it’ll be okay, because it always is okay in the end, but that it is okay to feel how it feels as it happens.

I’d rather talk to my demons and my angels all night long, laugh with them over cups of coffee and whiskey sours and tell it all exactly how it all is. Just so we can be together for a minute, you and I, as equals, as humans. No, I don’t know some secret to life, and no, I can’t answer everything.

In the end, we’ll be fewer, you and I, but we’ll be the real ones. We’ll be the ones who sit together and do not say a word sometimes, but the ones who know. We’ll be the ones who know.

That’s why I write to you. That’s why I write at all.

Bookmark #260

There was a unique resignation in me that I couldn’t quite articulate. No matter what happened to me, I could always find a way to chalk it up to how I got into the situation in the first place. I could boil it down to my last action, and how everything that’s wrong spiralled from that first step, my first step.

It was a personal hell, if nothing else. If I had gotten into an accident in the morning, I’d have already convinced myself of my errors and what I had to do differently by the time I unlocked my door in the evening. I had caused all my heartbreaks; all my disappointments were my own doing.

I lived that way for years, absorbing the blame as a proxy for everything everyone ever did to me. I had to learn how to let life happen to myself again; and even in that, I somehow found a fault of my own, of how wrong I had been, of how I had been torturing myself for years.

Even in my liberation from the prison I had made for myself, I had the absurd resignation I could never properly put into words. I had a habit of convincing myself I was wrong, even when I had been right, absolutely right countless times before.

I wonder where I found it—this habit of mine; I wonder who gave it to me, who I stole it from. I reckon, at some point, I must’ve picked it up myself. Ah, you see, this was how my life echoed inside my head. Everything boiled down to a fault of my own, eventually. It was how it had always been.

I had to learn to be like a child grazing his knee while playing outside and never sitting down to analyse how to walk correctly the next time around, never thinking about it, never having the thought tiptoe around his mind.

At twenty-five years of age, I had to learn to laugh it off. I had been terribly slow to learn some things in life, but I had to start somewhere, and I had to start someday.

Today felt as good a day as any, and so today, I let it all be.

Bookmark #259

Hey, kid. A little lost at sea, are we? It’s okay. It happens to the best of us. It’s a difficult thing to answer, too. Why do you do what you do? Why you are who you are? I know you’ve been asking yourself the same questions for years. I know you’ve been frozen in time, stretching yourself in every sense of the word.

Thing is, the world will always be disproportionate. There will always be a mismatch. There will be a mismatch of happiness, a mismatch of effort, or a mismatch of love. We, humans, are horrible at keeping things balanced. We tend to make a mess of everything we touch before we start to fix things.

Don’t worry if you’ve messed up a little. If anything, you have a knack for fixing things. Most can’t guarantee that, but you tend to leave things better than you found them. You always have, and you always will. At least, you’ll die trying, which is as noble an ideal as can exist.

The question isn’t what you get in return or how you feel. One does not make an effort to get something; we act based on who we are; it shall always be that way. So, tell me, who are you?

You see, the world eventually tries to turn everyone into the same person. The same broken people, repeated by the millions. The same woes, just in different shells; the same hatred, prejudice, and grudges. Yet, here you are, trying desperately to dislike others and failing.

There is goodness in you. It has been there since you were old enough to ask a stranger if they needed a hand without thought behind your offer. I know you think the answer is guilt, but it’s the world talking, not you.

They will point out your suffering until it’s all you see. There’s more to you than a few open scars. I know you find it hard to hate and easy to forgive. It’s who you’ve always been, and there’s no need for you to change. They can do with someone as emotionally resilient as you.

There’s just one last thing I have to tell you. It’s something the world—I—should’ve told you a long time ago: it’s not your fault. You can be happy, and you can be good; there’s no reason to choose one over the other anymore. It’s not your fault, it never was.

Go now, do what you do best; be good, be yourself.

Bookmark #258

I was doing the dishes tonight, and I thought of you, again, for a wee second. If I was honest, though, it never has been a wee second. I have thought of you tirelessly and endlessly for years. I know I said I should write you more letters, but life and the way we always seem to miss each other has made that terribly difficult. Not that difficulty has any importance when it comes to love, but then again, what do I know of loving someone? I have barely begun to love myself.

When I think of us—you—I often go back to lying near the raging sea in the middle of June all those years ago. The happiness on your face from that night has kept me going for a long time now. That was many Junes ago. I’ve abhorred monsoons since. It was only recently that I have learned to embrace the rain again. It still reminds me of you. That, or a cup of chamomile after getting soaked.

When in the valley, I still think of the winding roads, the hairpin turns, of watching the town at our feet, of the blinking lights shining in your eyes as you told me about your day. The truth is, my little argument with the hometown is simply that you’re not here anymore. The streets, while crowded, are awfully empty without us walking together. For that reason alone, this city will never be what it once was, or what it can be; it will never be home.

Even with all the talk of letting go, of being friends, of losing ourselves to time, of everything else in between, I have missed you terribly. Some part of me, while entirely okay with this absence, will always think of you when October begins. I miss you like the night sky misses the stars in cities with too many people and too much light; not entirely empty on its own but well aware of how it is when the stars are around.

I wanted to write you a letter like I promised I would. I got caught up with life for a bit, but it all came back to me as I did the dishes tonight. While I have to go now, I have nothing but all the love in the world for you, regardless of time, space, or any reality.

A part of me will always remain drenched with you on that evening in June, laughing, as the waves lashed and pounced around us.

I’m glad it has to be that way.

Bookmark #257

Most people you saw around were waltzing through life because they couldn’t care less about most things. And then, there were the others. The others, like you and like me, we stopped now and then. We stopped in awe as much as we did in heartbreak.

It was this extreme propensity to feel. Some were born like that, some got humbled by life, but all of the others had one thing in common: they felt.

They looked at the sky after it had rained and felt it cleanse themselves. They looked at a tiny baby clapping his hands, sitting like a true king on his throne that was a table in a café and they couldn’t help but feel joy. They also saw something terrible and it knawed at their conscience for decades.

They didn’t just hear or see things, they absorbed them and made them their own. A gut-wrenching story someone told them would leave them with an emptiness that they would never forget as if it had happened directly to them.

But the others also suffered from a terrible possibility of losing themselves. If one felt everything profoundly, one often broke earlier than most. The human condition ran a bit too fast and far in them, and that was the curse.

The curse was also a blessing. Most of the others had to get it out, of course; else they imploded. The others were the artists, the painters, the writers, the oddballs who took things a tad too seriously and went a bit too far. But to them, it was natural, almost instinctive.

I was never told to write, and if I ever have, I have written terribly. The only time I can manage to get a few words out is when the words demand to be written. I’ve written on the curbside, in my flat, in cafés, on benches, in deserts, on beaches, and most of all, in my head.

All my life, I have been stopped in my tracks by all things terrible and beautiful, and always I have felt them to the core, and always I have let them devastate me from within. I do not know any other way to exist.

The only thing I know is that when you’re walking and you feel something, you stop and you put it down as honestly as you can. You’d know it too, if you’ve ever felt it—the desperate need to get it out.

If you didn’t, it ate you up from the inside.