Bookmark #660

I end this rather long day by brewing a cup of chamomile. I always make it the same way—the same brand’s bags, the same amount of water, and the same duration to let it brew. And this is extended in kind to most of my days. If a friend asks me how my days have been lately, I do not have a proper answer. I find myself stupefied in my repetition and banality. How have my days been? Well, exactly like they had been for a while now. In many ways, it is what paradise seems like.

Still, even Eden, with all its perfection, was not enough for us—ideal days are far from that. Now, I have begun feeling the urge to escape, at least temporarily. The only thing I know better than anything else is myself. I know that it has been a while since I set up camp on the loamy soil of calmer days, and now, since it has been long enough, my mind has begun to feel trapped again. My life is a continuous making and breaking of patterns. It is not in perfect discipline nor the lack of a routine that I thrive—I bloom in the in-between.

Earlier this evening, as I walked through the city and crossed the road, a little girl sitting in the backseat of a giant car waved to me, and I waved back. Almost immediately, as I passed and reached the sidewalk, I realised that this was my first interaction with a stranger in weeks. I feared it had been close to a month since I met someone new. It made me wince at the limitation of experience that has begun to set in like mould on an old wooden chair out on the patio of some farmhouse no one visits anymore. I believe I must get a change of scenery soon.

There is something about looking at the sea that you cannot get in a city fenced by hills and mountains. Mountains, especially when they surround you, are like walls. It often starts to feel like they are closing in like it has now for me. When you look at the sea, all you see is infinity; you see so much that is possible, all you cannot see beyond an unreachable horizon. Now, I cannot help but imagine a radiant, hot pink sun over calm, almost still water, the bright orange sky and no shore in sight, and the quiet hour as you take it all in, and hope—the hope that something remains to be seen.

Bookmark #659

There have been no good films in the theatre lately, and so I have not had the chance or the inclination to get tickets. When it comes to films, I am incredibly picky as to what earns that word, and I am ludicrously liberal at allowing all of them a chance. When you think of it, this is how I am with people, too. To give a chance to everyone and everything is where my life blooms, and it is also where all growth stops. To give the world a chance, to be open and willing, to do it continually—what a mutinous idea in a world where we must draw lines repeatedly around every part of our lives. As it happens for most things, the instructions for a specific few are now being followed by everyone. The world is now demarcated by eggshells, borders of preferences turned into rules plague each person. We live in rancid prisons, and we call it happiness. We must never peek outside our make-believe constructs—why someone may believe or think something else! However, all the stench outside the walls of our own making does not come from the world. It stinks only because we refuse to leave our little bubbles of convenience. The world has always had differences—what it did not have until now was a blatant disregard for differences, even the smallest, the most minute ones. It is a rebellious, almost radical idea to suggest the possibility of people not living and thinking alike.

I reckon the world has been united but in all the wrong ways. We are one how a pack of wolves is one: they do not allow anyone else to walk along, and trying only gets the unsuspected ripped to shreds. Perhaps, it is a matter of convenience, too, since finding those who think alike has never been easier, and if we can talk to anyone in the world, why must we speak to those around us? And there lies the question, the answer, and a convincing argument for both sides.

I did not want to think about any of this if I’m being honest. It would have saved me all the trouble if a good film had been playing in the theatres.

Perhaps, there still is; I just need to keep an open mind.

Bookmark #658

A while back, someone asked me if I realised how these words are a de facto archive for all who are related to me, now and forever, in whatever way, in whatever year. They asked me if it had crossed my mind. And I told them like I have to countless people before—where countless is hyperbole replacing my laziness to keep a count—that it is the only thought on my mind for most of these crumbs of my days devoured completely. People are bound to leave something behind—I just happen to have a unique say in the matter of “what”, and even then, there is little uniqueness in this activity.

So many leave journals behind, some get bound into a book, and a few are read by enough people for anyone to remember anything. For all the great souls to have lived, thousands have died nameless, remembered only by those they left behind, if they bothered to reminisce. Besides that, all of this is futile. So, without wasting many words when people ask me this, I tell them: yes, it is a thought that is always on my mind, and it is unnecessary. I could live my days perfectly, with the same zeal and the same conversations, even if I did not write these words. It is a habit, a choice, and from the little I know about choices: no one but the person making them carries any justification for them. The rest of us are almost always left in wonder and awe, asking: why? And from what I know about conversation, no one ever truly answers the questions people have for them.

When I ask anyone why they made a certain decision at some point in their life, they often jump into pleading not guilty for a crime I did not insinuate or even suggest. They begin to relay a defence for no accusation, no question. And then, they start justifying it. It always makes me curious. Then, I look at them with shock, hidden by the facade and smile of my faux understanding, all the while thinking: who are you trying to convince if not yourself? Then, someone asks me the same question about these words, and it occurs to me that a writer can only comment on the world because they live in it—complete with all the idiosyncrasies and oddities that plague those they comment on. We rally to convince ourselves through others.

Bookmark #657

As far as the clock is considered, it is closer to the evening than the afternoon, but looking outside, this cloudy steel blue, almost metallic, chrome-like sky tells me it’s still morning. The clouds give both highlights and shadows, it is a beautiful sight, and it does not seem like the day will descend into darkness soon. If every clock in the world was suddenly out of the picture, and if we went by what we saw, I would be convinced it was still early in the day, that the sun had just come out, if at all. This is what a couple of days of rain does to things. Its purpose is to slow things down, to help us eliminate the construct of time. On a rainy day, delays are okay. When someone enters a room drenched, drops trickling off every corner of their being, you can only offer a towel and ask, “Are you okay?” That is all you must do. If you’re on the receiving end, well, rest assured. The weather has your back.

On this languid day, this comfortingly listless hour, I make another cup of coffee and walk about the apartment. It is a moment of thought, but most moments are made better with a bit of perspective. If only most of us know this before we let them—and our words—slip. I often wonder what other people think on a day like this or throughout their lives. Even if they told me, it would not be enough. A description is a washed-out version of a vivid picture. Even if your vocabulary is overflowing, you cannot convey the image formed in your mind.

Do other people also have a reel playing in the background like a never-ending film, like the television in a noisy home? Does it stop abruptly in irrelevant places? It is a pointless inquiry. Even if someone said yes, I could not believe them.

The sun has started to peek a little—the grass has turned from green to a sort of chartreuse. But it is too late today—a formal appearance, like a friend drops at a party for fifteen minutes, not because they wanted to be there, but out of duty, out of time spent together earlier. Then, they look outside the window and say, “It seems it is going to rain; I should get going,” and no one protests their leaving. It is reasonable—after all, we do not want anyone to get drenched.

Bookmark #656

I wait for the espresso to kick in, sitting in the cab, driving through this town, an early morning tableau that feels alien enough to give it all a second look but familiar enough to know where I’m going. It does not matter which city I’m staying in—to look at another neighbourhood in the morning hour never fails to knock the wind out of me. I do not walk these streets as often as others, yet I can sense they look different than they usually do in the pale morning light. The morning does not get washed over a city, and the slowness of life beginning to spring back into its zeal and motion is something to watch. This, I recommend as a remedy to most troubles. Watch the morning. Things soon fall into place.

Then, the ride on the morning taxi soon turns into a breakfast, a walk, and a conversation about how things only get better for the world as time moves on. The unparalleled tenacity in humanity today amazes me, and I often get carried away if I begin talking about it. We do not have to look too hard to see that we live with magic around us or closer to us than a stone’s throw. Life is effortless in this time and age, in more ways than we keep a tally of, but humanity’s song has always been that life is hard, and so, we shall consider it so, but it is also better in many ways, more than we can name, more than we realise. I look at the world and carry nothing but respect for it.

In the end, I hope through this day, and many like this one, I have made some impact, that I caused time to ripple over itself, no matter how soft, how undetected it went on its way. In my understated life, perhaps, I, too, have been useful? Perhaps. We can only hope. What our life turns out to be, we cannot say, but we must try to make it count for something. I look at the world, and beyond the thin covers of civilisation’s pretence, underneath religions and borders and other fictitious creations of people who did not have anything better to do, I see people working hard for reasons known and unknown. I count myself in this tribe. I bow down to all those who came before. I hope I can pay it forward in my own way. The rest will go as it goes, as it has in the books of history.

Bookmark #655

There are things you cannot learn until they happen to you. I do not mean some moral learning or some wisdom that life sprinkles on you. A few years ago, a cat stumbled into our home, making its presence known for at least the six months that followed. During that time, I learned a lot about cats. I learned that the running gag with a ball of wool and cats is true—something I had always had my doubts about. I learned more, of course, but I have made my point.

Once we make our point, we should stop talking about it. A good example is often sufficient. Anything added beyond that point is more about the speaker than the topic. The cat eventually left, as they often do, but I have its pictures, and I often think about it if I see one of them. I miss many things when I look at pictures, but the person I regularly miss is myself. And no, it is not that I have any reservations about who I am today. I am, in many ways, precisely who I thought I would become by this point, and in many other ways, it has been a pleasant surprise to make my own acquaintance. But even when things are good, you tend to miss what once was.

The other day, as I was getting ready, I looked at my face in the mirror and noticed that the greys on the side of my head had become more than I could feasibly count in a glance. It made me feel many things—in some ways, it was also a good reminder of how fast time passes. I look in the mirror and still remember every person I have been. I do not know where to draw the line. It has been a spanning narrative in my mind. Perhaps, some sort of inventory is in order. That is if I ever find the time for it. The more time passes, the shorter a day begins to feel. There are things on my to-do list I have put off for more hours than it would have taken me to do them.

Life tends to force our curiosity out of us with this talk of time. We must resist as much as we possibly can. But it is a worthy opponent. Take my morning that day, for example. When I looked at my reflection in the daze of sleep, I was still the curious child who cast his suspicions on a cartoon playing on the TV. Until I saw the burgeoning greys and remembered the cat, bested again by “knowing”.

Bookmark #654

Done long enough, everything becomes a habit, even thoughts—especially thoughts. I look around, and I say there is nothing to see, and suddenly, the world caves into itself, and I am standing in the centre of vast nothingness. And when I wonder at the tiniest things, the whole world seems to overflow with little joys as if it is creating it all for me, personally. This is a trick, of course; learning this takes us more years than we would like to imagine. It should be easy, and it should be simple, but those two words are seldom in the same sentence, and rarely ever do they describe the same thing. It is simple to feel joy in the smallest things possible; it is rarely as easy.

This world has enough to offer me that I could never see it all, yet one does not need to travel around the world to feel alive. It is often simpler to just sit and notice a chameleon wandering about the plants outside your home. To sit and see it with honesty in your heart—the way it moves its head at the slightest of noise, its slender, alert eyes, the little spikes all over its body, reminders of history we were never a part of. Or to look at a flower and not just claim its colour but genuinely look at it. We must refrain from the opportunity to describe the world. Adjectives are a dime a dozen; there is only a shortfall of wonder.

It is not that the world has fewer wonders to offer; it is that we often stop looking. The intricacies in the neighbourhood of a living, breathing person are enough to change their whole perspective on things, but again, it is rare that simple and easy are found in the same sentence.

Entrapped in all of this, in all the offerings of the world, and in the dearth of experience simply because we refuse to open our eyes, we live our lives in longing. Longing for that distant island, longing for luxuries we cannot make sense of, but the person who lives through a sunny afternoon with all their heart has no use for a billboard advertising the next getaway. But they must begin doing it, and then, they must form a habit.

It is simple—you must only do it repeatedly; the jury is still out on whether it is easy.

Bookmark #653

With the night, the fog outside my window seems to have found a place to stay. The balcony is engulfed by the fluffy translucence, just as I am enveloped by abundant joy. I wear it like layers on a usual winter day. I wrap it in a snugly tied muffler. There is so much good here, in this life, in all places I leave bits of my heart, like crumbs from a crispy toast. I don’t know how else to acknowledge this, and all my attempts feel like they are a bit short. I feel I could never do this moment the justice it deserves. This slice of my life oozes with jubilation—some of it falls on the plate like a dollop of thick tomato sauce. Without a second thought, I wipe it with the slice and have it still. Not a drop of it shall be wasted; it has taken its due time. But in my heart, I know I will miss this one day. I know I will have no way to come back to it.

Words will be just that—words. They will feel empty and flavourless. No matter how vivid a picture looks, it tastes like cardboard. Nothing surpasses lived experience; nothing replaces a moment. I must live all my days with an ever-unfulfilled appetite for warmth to ensure I do not miss the moments that matter the most, for everything matters! If I remember a moment from a few years ago, it means it mattered enough to urge recalling. And since I am full of memories, I can only be sure that all of it mattered enough. I sit and miss all the days I shrugged off as regular, as banal and lifeless. I know now that life happened in them, that I crave time to rewind, that all this has only been an exercise in reminiscing. It only makes me crave every moment, every experience, voraciously. I live and drink all moments like a parched man who stumbles upon an oasis after walking for days in the sand.

The fog has put across a veil over this day, but I remember it clearly. I remember laughing. I hope in earnest, I hope with all my heart that I remember it, that I can taste these days like I do them today years from now. If nothing, I hope the aftertaste lasts long enough for me to be overwhelmed by the flavour.

I do not know much, but this I know. I know I will miss it one day. I know I will have no way to return to any of it.

Bookmark #652

The other day, I entered a cab per habit, per routine. Halfway through the ride and our conversation, the driver turned around and gave me his card. He said he has a fleet of taxis, and then he said he has drivers from all religions. And for a second, I did not know what he meant, for even our seeing the world a certain way does not change it in any way; all it does is make it easier for you to live your life. The fact that I do not watch the world through a lens of faith has little to say about how the world functions, and so when this morbid realisation hit me, and I put myself in his heavy shoes, I took the card and told him he wouldn’t have to worry about that with me for I have no religion, that I will remember him, and when I need a trip between cities, I will be sure to give him a call. He said he was glad for it but that it was not a problem and that adjustments are part and parcel of all business.

For the life of me, I cannot wipe the moment his words dove into my ears, how it occurred to me what he meant and his nonchalance about it, how terrifyingly hard some lives are in comparison to others!

Some things get plastered over your mind and change how it is that you look at the world, and so, with that moment in mind, I look at the world with a disgust akin to how you look at an old loaf of bread which is past its date of expiry but has no visible mould on it. I reject the world just how I do the bread. You cannot take a chance with these things—they may be rotten inside. While I am often not sure of the bread, I am of the world. It was rotten long before I was born and will be rotten long after I am gone.

In the end, I learned, yet again, that it is the world I love, and it is the world I despise. It is people who make me want to live, and it is people who scare me. All the things I adore are all the things I detest. All of it is so absurd you might think it is crazy to live. But then, to live is to rebel against it the craziness. To live is to find a way. Adjustments, as I have learned, are part and parcel of all business, and this may be the most important business of all.

Bookmark #651

For all the little that has gone wrong with my life, a fortunately large slice of it has gone right. This fact is seldom washed over me. On this rainy night, this day filled with natural terror, I am reminded of it again. Even if I sit by myself and write these words, the gratefulness of sitting quietly as the music flutters around all over this warmly lit apartment is not too far away. It is tucked in each corner of my heart; it is folded into a little note in my wallet. It is here, beside me. And if ever I forget all about it and sit with my arms crossed, I wish the realisation that I am angry over things that happened years ago, that years have passed, arrives just in time for me to unclench my fist and relax my body. Artists, after all, must be easy and limber in both mind and body.

You cannot sense a lot about an artist’s work. Those who analyse art and earn their doctorates over it have to only sit with the artist, to talk to him, but it is not common practice to analyse the living, and the secrets of those who are dead are dead, too. No one but the artist knows where what comes from, and as I said, you cannot sense much about an artist’s work, but you can sense when the art was forced and when it was flowing. And the artist hopes that it is perpetually flowing. That is what all writers want; that is what all painters crave: rhythm.

You know it when you see it. When you read a book that grabs you by the collar and pins you to the ground, when you look at a painting that breaks your heart in a million different ways in one second’s time, you know that the artist did not stop. You know that they kept going when things began to flow. You know they were lithe and graceful as it all happened. When this happens, and when you are sure, regardless of whether the artist is alive or dead or whether they have been analysed or if their time has not come yet, remember that at that moment, they were grateful.

In this apartment on this rainy night, I tell myself: a lot of good has come out of this life, a lot has to happen still, and it will either be good, or I will find a way to live around it.

There are only a handful of ways things can go, after all.

Bookmark #650

I like people who say what they mean and, more importantly, mean what they say. As simple as it is in concept, there is a dearth of those like us here. This world, albeit complicated enough, is filled with many people, most of who rarely know to talk to each other. For a species whose existence depends solely on this, we are dreadful at it on most days and only moderately adept at it on good ones. I say spare each other the trouble and express what’s on your mind, but it is a big ask, as I am slowly learning.

It has come to my realisation that all my demands from the world are simple, and so, they are just. But as giving the world is, it cannot give us all we want. Thus far, most of this life has been a guessing game, and for all my talents, I am terrible at reading minds. I wonder how the others do it, and even more, I wonder if there is a reason they refrain from using the words they were so generously granted by a plethora of languages. There is no shortage of words—only of people who wish to use them. Most keep their words to themselves. What do they stand to gain from doing this? I will never know. What does anyone gain from anything they do? Nobody but they know it. It is not my concern that people are terrible at talking, but it is my pain, for I know only to waste words, to say a little bit more than is required, to say what I want and to state it clearly. I only wish others were like this, but that, too, is a flaw.

Between talking to the few people who I can talk to for hours without feeling an inkling of boredom, and those I meet and come across much more regularly, my disappointment in humanity grows evermore. Between these two ends, there is a cavernous gorge, and I sit at its edge, talking to myself, making up for how little most people offer, filling in the gaps, and conjuring narratives and jokes and stories.

Somewhere between all this, I write these words, which, in turn, mean everything and nothing at the same time, but I am always writing them. Sitting at this desk is but an afterthought.

Bookmark #649

We sat in the sun and talked about things. Then, we talked about sitting in the sun itself, and I could not stop thinking about it. The golden sun continued landing its kisses on us, and I was so present, so enamoured by the moment, that if someone asked me what I was thinking about, I would be at a loss for words. It would be an understatement and a gross injustice to even the tiniest second from those hours to say that it was a good morning, that it was time well spent. If I were to live my life again, I would sit under the same sun, with the same people and talk about the same things each time, and if I were to live a different life and make other choices, I would find a way to do it still. This is how I felt, and this is what was on my mind when we sat under the golden embrace of the faultlessly clear morning.

And so, this is all I am thinking about today: people. Most people I know do not look too kindly to others until there is an agreement on everything they talk about together, and I see that as a lost opportunity. How great it is that most of the people I know do not see eye to eye with me on most things! How wonderful and truly human we are, and equally flawed and sure of ourselves! But we can sit together, sometimes, and we can search for a middle ground. My life is an attempt, a grand adventure for this: a place where everyone can sit together, all our differences kept on the table, nonchalantly and innocently, like a pair of keys, a wallet or a phone. And I am a fool for this, for most people do not think this way, but then, in my heart, I am an idealist.

It is strategic to celebrate people in a place, in a world where there is an abundance of them. It is the only play for us, but most people do not think this way. That may be true, but in the morning today, as we sat in the sun together, I forgot about all of it for some time. We sat in the sun today and talked about sitting in the sun, of how we crave it, and how that hour was a blessing—not in disguise, no—but bare and naked, outward and audacious, sure and certain.

To acknowledge a blessing, to know the precise moment it was sprinkled all over you—this, too, is an experience.

Bookmark #648

The older I grow, the more I notice how most people don’t care about other people until their world is falling apart or in an hour of extreme boredom, both of which tend to arise with haste when you do not have others in your mind when you live. That, and art. Most people look for other people and art—an extension of other people—when they don’t have much else to hold on to. It is a sad state of affairs, and I can sit and lament over this and that is often the only course of action for things out of our hands. But not being able to do much for a thing does not make it untrue. It only means you cannot do anything about it. While this thought has overstayed its welcome, I will direct my attention elsewhere in the spirit of that last sentence, so I will think of this year and its beginning.

The beginning of this year has not been as smooth as I had imagined or what I had come to expect. Expectation—what a peril, what a pain, what a thorn in my foot. When I say not as smooth, there is a comparison in my mind. Like how they say that a solitary number means nothing unless you have another to compare it to, I have been ruthlessly comparing this year with the last. At least, I have played with this thought in my mind. Where last year began with a stupendous zeal to begin anew, this year has already started with an urge to protect, and with the idea of protection, comes the fear of failing at it. When I was younger, I read somewhere: when you have something, you have something to lose.

I believe this beginning in a January when it failed to rain in the city and snow in the hills for the better part of it, where things are precisely as they were in December by design, where like my apartment, everything is in its right place at all times, I feel a mild anxiety I had not felt in a long time.

In this beginning, I fear change. It has been years since I have felt this, but that is not what scares me. What scares me is that the tendency of life is to change. To know this and still want to protect what you have is a fallacy. This is a beginning of dissonance, but here, I sit outside my life, en garde.

Once again, my fallible humanity has gotten the better of me.

Bookmark #647

All told, there is little worry about in my life—my own life, which I treat with the same carelessness as how I handle the things I have owned for a long time, and which scares others. Do you not value this? They ask me as I waltz around casually. It does, of course, I tell them, but I tend to not worry about it anymore. But our life is seldom just our own, and all poems and platitudes have lied for a long time, so I worry. I worry about everyone else in my life. That is just how things are, and there is little I can do to help it. I own many things, some of which are expensive, and if one were to break tomorrow, I would wince, and it would pinch me for a day or two, but then, I would not have it in me to care. But if it were someone else’s possession, I would treat it better than I treat myself on a good day. I would keep it safe, sound and protected. I am this way with everything people possess—including their lives and disposition.

We can always trudge around with our sadness and our pain. We have known it for years, decades even, but it hurts when there is pain in the room, and it is not our own. This second-hand difficulty makes my heart sink and suffocate in the depths of the human experience. I read a long time ago that the origins of altruism have hints in our genetics. I do not know if that is true, and frankly, I do not care enough to look it up. All I know is that if I were bleeding profusely and had all my ribs broken, and if there was but a scratch on someone I know and care for, I would tend to them first. If there were time and patience, I would get to fix my own self, but first, I would ask them: are you okay?

I smile when a friend asks me why I worry so much when life seems more fecund than an apple tree in season. I wish I could tell them this, but if you tell people this, they begin to get worried for no reason in particular, and I know a thing or two about how that feels.

Bookmark #646

Now that I have done this for an entire year, there must be something that has changed. I have the same question as any person observing this needless pursuit. But nothing feels different. My imagination got the better of me, perhaps. It has been a year. I am still writing. Now, I finally sit and ask myself the question: why? I have no answer yet, so I assume I must write more to get there. A year has given me the courage to ask the question; another may bring the answer. It has been a year. There is little else to say.

Countless hours of devouring cups of coffee have amounted to about two hundred thousand words—the good ones. God knows how many have succumbed to the reject pile, how many have suffocated under the pressure of not being just right. I’ve wasted more sentences on this journey than I have ever uttered in my life. There is something in that. At least, I’d like to think so; else, this was all a futile mission doomed from its inception. Writers often waste more words than they use, and the threshold for this is different on a case-by-case basis. Some are precise writers—they know the correct words spontaneously and instantly. I am not like them. I often avoid reading these glimpses of my life because I know there is always a better word in hindsight—a better word, a better pursuit, a better decision.

It takes a smart man to know where he is going, but it takes an honest one to admit he has no clue, and I have forever been more honest than I have been smart. I wish there was a fitting conclusion. For all I know, I have but tested myself. It has been an exercise in patience. Looking back, all my life has been an exercise in patience. Of all the things I do well—a list on which writing these words rank much lower than one would expect—it is waiting and working aimlessly that I do best. Waiting and working is all I know. I reckon that is all this is: a test of how far I can go with it.

That, or the making of something greater than I can ever imagine. I would never know. I look around, and I see so many people; I may as well be the stranger I look at when I walk down the street—nameless for so many, faceless for others, existing, working and waiting.

Bookmark #645

I’ve walked through the bookstores year by year. Year by year, I have watched the Fiction section dwindle and die. From a whole store to an aisle or two, now a single shelf, if any. Where I come from, no one has time for fiction or a short poem, and surely, no time for whatever it is I do, lying neither here nor there. Where I come from, we are so desperate to use our time to make things happen, to get out of our neighbourhoods, our terrible influences and great troubles, that we do not have the time to read some words about the rain. We must feel as if something has happened when the words end. We must get an insight out of everything, and if not insight, then something we can project into the world. Oh, it would be a travesty if we did not make the most of our time, if we did not sit and let things happen, especially if that use of our time is with reading. At least, this is what everyone tells me.

But I look at them as if I have been betrayed. If this is how it is for everyone here, where then, did I come from? What happened to me, and more importantly, when did it happen? Why can I sit and think about a cup of coffee and not have it take anything away from me? Or should I reverse this interrogation, and would it make all the sense then?

Where I come from, we do not talk about this; instead, we simply say, “I do not like reading stories.” Where I come from, even those who believe in religion seldom read the books they quote so often, or worse, paint the town with in enamel or, sometimes, blood. Where I come from, people are too busy, so no one will read what I write, for this does not give them anything. At least, that is what I have been told time and again, but then, I think there is more to it than meets the eye. The words I write do give people something—they give them a moment of uncomfortable scrutiny and ask: why can I not celebrate this life, have a moment of respite? The answer is too difficult to face.

And where I come from, we do not face anything, especially our need to squeeze every second out. Here, we watch the Fiction section of a bookstore die, inch by inch, all the while asking: why does the world always feel like it is going to end?

Bookmark #644

I made my way outside the cafe and stepped down the staircase. The lights, lights all around. The lights made me jump in ecstatic happiness, and I could not see my face, but I knew I was gleaming, too. No flaw was visible. What a city, I thought. Almost as if the hour, the moment was as perfect as perfect can be. Everything is redeemable on a January evening, even this brimming, overflowing hot mess of a town. For reasons I could not finish listing, this city has my heart. No one can love it as much as I love it in the way I love it. It is the nature of expressed love. We claim, “many before may have loved like this perhaps, but not truly like this, not like I love.” All people think of it this way, and all of them are filled with hubris, but some illusions are worth the risk, and some falsehoods need not be interrupted by blunt truth.

Why do I feel this, though, when not a long time ago, all I felt was disgust for it?

I believe in most lives comes a moment, and it has no age, time, or season. In it, you must learn that no part of life matters more than the whole. You must learn this in your own way, and like expressed love, this will be yours and yours alone. Once you are through the turmoil, you will be armed with wisdom readily available at the newsstand on the street. However, most things cannot enter our minds without our permission.

There is so much joy and grace in expecting nothing from anything, but most people try to twist life into shape. This seldom goes unpunished, and so, along the way, you get the ever-churned, regurgitated idea of letting things happen.

This time is different; this time, it means something; this time, you fail to shrug it off as philosophy or hullabaloo.

Something about it suddenly starts to make sense. Perhaps, some things are often repeated because they are true, but we cannot know them until we see them happen on our own. Children often learn things by doing them in their own way, stumbling to a solution. Then, something changes along the way, and then, like an unexpected storm, comes the reminder. That is what happened to me, too.

The city is but a small part of it—I have not looked at anything the same way since.

Bookmark #643

Most writing is noticing, but all of us have days where we barely stop to look around. The result is a blank page which faces angry expressions and morbid looks, all for the fact that it exists and all for the folly of the writer. I feel pity for this page, but that does not change the fact that I have not stopped to notice the world around me today. From the last hour of the night yesterday to this moment right here, I have been occupied beyond belief. Today, at work, during a meeting, a colleague and I did not get to the agenda till the halfway mark of it. This would rile me up on most days, but today, it was a welcome blessing because we both needed the breather. I told him I barely had time for myself, and he told me he knew what I was talking about. Besides that one moment of sheer humanity, I recall no other time I stopped. Well, that, and laughing at a film with my brother.

I wonder if it happens to other people when you first watch a film, and while you like it and you rave about it, it is not until you watch it with someone you love that you really experience the joy. A good film becomes great in worthwhile company. This has been my experience for all these years. I have watched so many of them alone—in theatres, at home—but the whole thing seems different when you watch them with someone else. Imagine this, you know what will happen, but somehow, you look forward to it. Doing things with others and doing things on your own are two different experiences, despite of what the thing is and regardless of how many times you’ve done it.

I make a cup of coffee for myself every morning, but when a friend or a date or family is over, I remember every little detail. I remember the aroma, I remember twisting the portafilter and locking it into place, and I remember the trickle of the espresso in the mug.

When I live on my own, I push myself to live; when I live with others, I am alive.

Bookmark #642

The trappings of life will get you now and then. Sooner than later, the reminder that it is not a bed of roses you sleep on but a tableau of disproportionate difficulties will ring loud, and everything else will cease to matter. I wonder if the illusions you set your day around will be able to distract you long enough from the truth. For how long, do you reckon, will you be able to ignore where you started from? There is always that problem to solve. No amount of regurgitated inspirational crap will make it true that the playing field of life is seldom levelled, and what is a desperate attempt for many is simply a choice for some. Many people have no choice but to move with the one road they see ahead, and some choose dreams like they choose their clothes each morning, and they buy a new one now and then, and that’s that. Now, it could be said that life is hard for everyone despite where they start from, and that would be true. But it could also be said that although not always, the scale of difficulty starts to factor in eventually. Both of these can be true, and only the privileged will be the ones to challenge the veracity of one of them. We all know which one of them that is, and to be able to refute that and shrug it off is precisely what privilege entails. That is the reminder I leave for myself in the wake of a day that has felt like a potpourri of everything a human being can feel. There is no other thought but this reverberating rumination roaming in my head: I must not forget where I come from, I must not forget where I come from, I must not forget where I come from… else I won’t remember to work, else I won’t remember to leave.

Bookmark #641

I woke up ecstatic today only because it had rained for the entire night. I was sure of this because I slept late and woke up twice in the middle of the night, and it was still raining. For many months now, I have wanted this: to wake up to a rainy day or a day that has just had the brunt of a shower. It has happened, and I am happy. That is no reason to be happy, one might say, and I would coin them fools. There is no better moment for it to rain than the beginning of the night. There is no proper time for it to end than the early morning, albeit if it lingers for a little bit into the morning and overstays its welcome, that is okay, too. But my joy is only partly for the rain. My joy is based on the fact that it has happened. I waited and waited, and it happened. In the last few months, I had grown weary and tired of waiting. All my days were marred by this shadow. Months of waiting to witness this: to wake up to a day that is wholly washed over, when the grass on my balcony does not feel fraudulent, and when the sky looks a tad bit cleaner, and the sun shines a little brighter.

This sluicing of everything happening overnight as if it were a highway being constructed or a city street under repair, perhaps, where if you take a walk early in the morning, you can still see the workers going at it, close to its end. That is how I imagined it would feel, and I knew it would be like this, of course. All of us have had a day like this in our childhoods. If not all, then most of us. We must always be mindful that there is always a distribution at play. Someone will always come up and say, “but not me,” and we must be aware of it and prepare for them beforehand. The preparation can be done in a plethora of ways, but in this case, it is one of welcoming. Come, look around. It has rained.

The day is exactly as I had imagined. Now, my wait is over. There is only one reason for my happiness today, and I could not iterate it more. All my tasks and activities in these months have had a corner of my mind waiting. Now, everything is clearer. What a day to go out and about, to make a joke that makes little sense and then laugh a little. But first, I must make a cup of coffee.