Bookmark #256

While walking around town, I often came to an immediate halt, took my phone out and jotted a few sentences down. That had always been my process. I seldom sat down to write. I just thought of a lot of disjointed series of sentences and passages. I forgot most. I wrote some down. I used even fewer.

The one secret I knew was if you wrote a sentence with a particular emotion, especially at its peak, and then you didn’t use it while that emotion lasted, that sentence became useless. So, I often discarded old notes. It was a shame, really. Some of those rejected notes were really good, but words were like memories—they blurred with time.

It was an exhausting year.

I sat down on the rug in the absolute silence of post-midnight and set my cup of tea beside myself. The hall was lit only by the beige lamp a friend had sent me as a housewarming present last October. I began to absorb how utterly long ago I had unwrapped and set it up. If I could remember a word beyond disgusting, I would use it to describe the months that led me here. However, I was too tired to think.

As I went about that train of thought, some tiny glimpses of laughter I could remember from here and there made me feel warmer. Or perhaps, it was the cup of chamomile I had been sipping. When exhausted, one couldn’t care less where comfort came from, only that it was present.

I went back to reading my notes and stopped at the most recent one: if there’s a limit to hope, something tells me I’ve reached it. That, perhaps, I’ve crossed it. That I’ve broken something I don’t yet know in the process.

I wonder if there was a better way I could have put the year into words. Never before had I started from scratch so many times. Autumn was awfully cold that year. I could only imagine—and fear—how the winters would feel. I sat there sifting through my notes for the next hour.

Eventually, I got tired of doing it, like I got tired of most things that year, and decided to go to sleep. If I could, I would sleep until the end of December.

There wasn’t much left to do. I had tried enough.

Bookmark #255

Did you know a moment is roughly ninety seconds? If you’re not careful, however, you can often get trapped in one. For some, these are ninety seconds of regret. For others, it’s a moment’s worth of lost love.

Yet, there is wisdom in starting over; there is heart in forgetting. If you can’t bear to carry a moment further, there is happiness in setting it down. If you don’t know how, set it down anywhere, and continue walking until you can’t remember it anymore. Things happen, and then they stop happening. They don’t need to define what comes next.

New things are going to happen to you. You’ll see better skies. If you do it moderately right, there’ll be more moments that are easier to carry. It’s a long life; surely, you can smile for ninety seconds.

If you want to build a home in a moment, build it around your mother telling you things are okay. If you’re going to set camp in time, set it near the table that’s echoing of laughter. There are no rules; you can set up shop on a relaxing October morning as you lie in bed looking at the single strand of light trying to peek at you from between your curtains.

There is no meaning to this, but there can be if you create it; that’s all any of us are doing. Sometimes, it works wonders. Other times, you’re stuck in a tiny moment of failure for over half a decade, lamenting over how you could’ve been better. If you have to create meaning, make sure you don’t punish yourself.

If you’re like most people, you’re probably not as terrible. The world runs on people like you—those who carry a sort of unmatched hope in their eyes, those who tell people to have a great day. Yet, if you’re going to be good, promise me you won’t do it out of regret.

Remember, the goal is not to walk as far as possible. It’s to not miss the bunch of daffodils growing in the grass. If you walk with too much weight on your heart, you often miss the daffodils. Sometimes, you miss something far more important. Not that flowers aren’t important.

In my experience, they have proven to be the most important of them all. And yet, I had to forget some I saw a long time ago; the October sky I saw today demanded it.

So, I walked away.

Bookmark #254

There’s a sort of horror in sitting by yourself at three in the morning or night, whichever way you put it. To me, it depends on whether one is still trying to sleep or if they’ve already given up. As soon as you give up, it’s morning.

The horror is not unlike the short walk back home from the nearest bar when the feeling of utter loneliness hits you as you dread opening the door to your little palace of one. For the fifteen minutes you take to get back home, you think about how chores are waiting for you, but more than that, there’s the silence that is going to welcome you with open arms and engulf you in the closest thing to a hug you’ve felt in a while.

It’s utterly terrifying but by the time you reach the door, you’ve almost convinced yourself that it’s not the first time you’ll open the door to nothingness; that it wasn’t going to be the last; and at least, it was your nothingness. There was a solace in being uniquely lonely.

Everyone was lonely in a slightly different way, and for some, there was belongingness in their own way to be alone. I was like that, too. I’d hope there were others. It would be devastatingly lonely if there was just one who felt this way. As is the case with most things we feel though, there never is just one person feeling something.

In any case, coming back to the current moment from this tiny detour of a confession that won’t end, I’ve been in a sort of haze lately. I can’t remember why I do what I do. For the life of me, there’s no memory. There’s only this endless reflection of myself spread over the mirror of similar years, all facing each other. I seem to have reinvented myself a thousand times over only to learn I am who I have always been.

I have always sat by myself. I have always walked by myself. I reckon I’ve always been tired, too. I don’t remember a second of my life feeling otherwise. Perhaps, this is the very first time, I am genuinely tired of myself though. It’s the first time I’m tired of it all.

There’s a horror in sitting by yourself, working on something at four in the night, but there is comfort too; at least, there used to be. Perhaps, it was when I wasn’t so exhausted of everyone I’ve ever been.

Bookmark #253

My grandfather lived to be seventy, I think, and while I didn’t take many lessons from him for we were not as close, I remember this one thing he told me when I was a child. In fact, he was quite insistent and pestering about the idea. He said I shouldn’t look down while walking; that I should learn to walk with my head held high, no matter what. Of course, being a child, I didn’t take his advice.

It’s funny because out of the countless sour memories I have of him, this is the one thing that has stuck with me for all these years. I have a tendency to focus too much on the path. His words are a fair warning for me to look straight ahead at where I’m going. I am not quite sure what I see yet.

I am not sure how many years I have left under my tally. I have come too close to death one too many times in recent years to not trust the idea that everyone gets to an old age. But there is one thing that I’ve learned at the ripe age of twenty-five that I can impart onto others as my grandfather did me.

I’ve learned that life is a bargain, and that wanting is never enough. The wisdom was in learning to take what you get. If you want a love beyond all stories you’ve ever read and all you get is a friend, take the friend. If you get everything you’ve ever wanted but have to trade your peace of mind, you make the bargain. If you get a minute of happiness amidst it all, grab it ferociously.

There’s a truth here, and it’s one of the hardest things to admit, really. The maxims are wrong; you don’t get what you want or deserve, you get what you get. Sometimes, it’s a pint of guilt, seldom it’s a cup of happiness, and often, it’s an untimely death. The only options you have are to accept it or have life thrust it upon you.

If you accept what you get, as gracefully as you possibly can, there’s hope yet for you to have a life filled with smiles and happiness. That’s the only thing I’ve learned so far. Now, I walk around with my head held high, knowing that I am learning to take what I get with grace.

For all my obsession over control, the only thing I’ve managed to learn is how I don’t have any, and how I’ve never had an ounce of it; and how it’s all been for the best.

Bookmark #252

The other day I sat in my apartment like I always do. There wasn’t much going on like there never is anything going on. For all stories of my being able to handle multiple responsibilities at the same time, I’d have little to show if someone were to walk into my home unannounced. Most of my days went lazing around on the rug. It’s surprising I even get anything accomplished at all.

I sat in front of the TV. A rather hilarious episode of some show was on it. I wonder if it was as funny as I remember or if something altogether different was happening within me, but I burst out laughing. There I was: a madman, sitting alone, watching the TV, laughing uncontrollably without a care in the world. Perhaps, it isn’t as out of the ordinary for most people. For some of us, this feeling of joy had, for the lack of a better word, died.

Make no mistake, I have not felt dejected in months. Yet, as my laughter grew louder that day, in that moment of absolute loss of control, I learned I wanted more of this; honestly, attempting to write about it has been a terrible mistake. However, since these words are here, I can’t do much to take them back.

Now that the crime has been committed, I want to tell you that there comes a moment in our lives when we experience something that we had lost without realising it. We tend to lose a lot of ourselves if we’re not looking, and we were seldom looking.
At that moment, I knew nothing else; I only knew it was important.

Moments like this particular one are important. As I sat there laughing for an hour or so, until my stomach hurt, until my eyes got watery, nothing mattered. No amount of heartbreak I had experienced was important enough to make me stop. No memory overflowing with regret could take it away. No failure was staring me in the eye.

Towards the tail-end of a rather eventful year when the single strand I had been hanging by broke and sent me flying across a mess of my own making, when I lost myself one too many times, I found a single moment I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

On an uneventful afternoon, I stumbled upon joy. Perhaps, for the first time in a long time.

Bookmark #251

You don’t build a life in a day. The memories of your childhood trapped softly between the pages of a familiar book is what lays the groundwork, really. The rainy days set the music and the tone of what’s to come. Spending monsoons in your room by the window without much to do and growing up, realising you’re never sitting near the window again, is what you eventually learn life is about.

It’s about remembering. Life was all about remembering the little bits. It was of remembering the kiss from three years ago as the rain pattered on the windshield. It was about remembering enough to love, to try to love again and again. It’s also about forgetting. It was about forgetting everything and starting a new life in another city. It was in forgetting just enough and not a smidge more, so you continue to love again and again.

But love is not all life is about. It was about the certain snack you can’t decline when offered. It was about the specific way you folded your laundry because you did it like that once and never changed. Or, the cup of chamomile you brew every night because someone rubbed their habit on you. It was about the catchphrase you stole from an old acquaintance. It was about your brother’s mannerisms you didn’t realise you ended up copying.

Life wasn’t just taking, too. It was about giving. The best part, in fact, was the giving. It was in lending a hand even when your arms were tired of the weight you already had on them. How difficult could helping someone with directions be, really? It was how you often found yourself when you were lost. It was about finding yourself in others.

Life was about the time a little girl walked up to you and showed you her origami and you acted all excited at the genuinely remarkable piece of art. Life was about keeping that experience and many others in your heart as you sat down to write a few words, creating art of your own, resting on the shoulders of ecstatic kids creating something only because they could.

You didn’t build a life at all, really. It just sort of happened to you. It has always been this way for everyone who has lived, and I don’t quite see a reason for that to change.

Bookmark #250

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t sleep to the thought of you or wake up to a dream or two. If I were forced to lie, I’d lie about the times I think of you or what you’re up to during the day. I’ll tell you it barely happens.

Truth is, and I wish this were mere exaggeration, you’re always on my mind. If my mind were a room, you were always lingering near the door or moving about from one corner to another, doing your own thing. It used to irk me, but over the years, I’ve learned to let you do what you may.

So, as I go about my day spamming cups of coffee, working on things I love, drudging through things I hate, laughing, crying, going into bouts of anxiety, spiralling, catching a hold of myself, and managing to sleep just in time, I let your face grace each moment in my thought; the sound of your voice often becomes the very thing that brings me back to myself.

It has always been this way, and I used to think it will always be this way, too. But sometimes, I forget what you look like. Of course, a blurry image of a face persists but those details like the tiny, barely visible mole near your nose or the one near your eye are lost. Like an old, weary negative with scratches, I have started to lose the full picture.

I often forget what you sound like so I have to replay you saying my name over and over again like an old cassette that gets stuck in the player. Of course, I can take it out and fix the tape, but there’s something about how you say my name that makes me wonder if that’s how I want to remember your voice.

But, I have started to forget the rest. A lot of it is like letting something truly important die but never realising it until you’re at the funeral. If I was honest, we’ve been through more than one of those. I still wonder where you are or what you’re doing. I wonder if you think about me, too.

I just wanted to tell you, I have nothing but love for you. A sort of love I can barely even put in words, but I have to try. It has started becoming easier, though: letting you go. It dawned on me when it was raining the other day. I visited the grave of your memory again.

A flower had grown on it.

Bookmark #249

Places you have to revisit are a good reminder of where you’ve been and where you are now. Places like the few good cafés and eateries in your town. Places like airports and bus stations. Places all versions of you have been, and touched, and spent time in.

Almost half a decade ago, I was at the same airport. I reckon I was waiting in the same chair. I hadn’t seen much of the big cities. I had only heard of the idea of loving someone more than yourself. My right leg didn’t have its usual buzzing pain, and I was not exhausted at all. I was excited that day.

I was going to meet someone who is still really important to me. The small-town boy didn’t have much acquaintance with airports. All of it was a new experience. In contrast, I am now tired of them. They are unnecessarily complex and annoying, quite like most people you meet in them: too full of themselves, too much to talk about nothing at all.

It’s not all bad though; I’m much calmer now. I’m not as sure of myself in all the right ways. In a lot of ways, I’m a rather simple person still. Quite like the boy who was here all those years ago. I still hold on to people and things where most would give up, I’m always willing to go the extra mile, and as much as I deny it, I’m still quick to give my heart away.

In all places where things begin and end, places like the tiny airport I’m currently in, some things always remain the same. In my case, it’s the pigeons causing a ruckus all over. One just passed by my foot and a baby cackled and laughed as the pigeon hopped. The man at the concessionaire, surprisingly, is the same. The coffee is the same; terrible.

In all things that are meant to change, like all things to ever exist, some parts never do. Perhaps, that’s how we recognise anything at all. As I sit here, I know everything has changed since the first time I sat here, and yet, I know, nothing has and nothing will.

The pigeons will still annoy the hell out of people who, in turn, will annoy the hell out of one another, and somewhere in between all that, some baby will laugh. And somewhere in between all that, I’ll write some words about nothing in particular.

Bookmark #248

I don’t have many memories with friends as a kid. In fact, I only had a couple of regular friends. The friendships in school often ended right after I made my exit every day and came home. Eventually, however, I made friends who have stuck by me and stuck their necks out for me for more years than I can count. I have reciprocated the effort cordially.⁣⁣

Still, it isn’t rare for me to sit by myself in a corner of some café, at my place or in my balcony, or even on a bench on the sidewalk, provided I’m tired enough. Often, however, someone gives me platitudes about learning to spend time with myself. They seem to be all the rage lately, especially since contextless one-liners became popular.⁣⁣

Of course, I don’t go out of my way to correct them or share my story or fix them, for the lack of a better word. Most people, on most days, just wanted to be good so they often said or repeated things that were inherently good, or at least, broadly accepted. I didn’t correct them because they meant well.⁣⁣

But from where I’m sitting, staring at the blue, rainy evening outside the glass door of this tiny café I sometimes spend my evenings in, I can tell you, with all honesty, even those in our tribe—the happy loners, the solitary souls, the wanderers, use whatever fancy phrase you want—got tired of ourselves.⁣⁣

On some days, the instrumental ambient music, the flawless service, the great coffee, and the cacophony of life around us did nothing for us. Our own company became oddly lacklustre. The routine became drab and the days became lifeless. On some days, all anyone ever wanted was someone familiar to sit across from, and maybe share a meal with. Not to talk much, not to laugh a lot, or do anything out of the ordinary.

Sometimes, we just wanted to comment on the rain outside and say, “it is so unexpectedly cold today, it gets cold sometimes; I’m glad we’re inside, together.”

Bookmark #247

Maybe it was this hopeless romantic stuff, you know? The holding on, the yearning, the always looking and asking yourself, “Is this the one?”. Slowly, I’m learning that I don’t want to walk around with my heart on my sleeve anymore. It’s an odd feeling to not want to do something that comes rather naturally to you.

Perhaps, you’d say: but you’re too young. That much is true, of course, but I am weary and tired, too. It was our obsession with separating things into neat labels that were the problem. I am beaming with energy, but I am so terribly exhausted. It had been a lesson in itself that a person could be both at the same time. I was both at all times on all days.

Or maybe, it is about terrible luck, but is that any consolation at all? I think not. It’s a tale as old as time, really. We just don’t talk about the unlucky ones. Barely any stories about them, almost no movies about them, nothing. It’s just an endless barrage of things that magically work out, and that’s what you keep telling me too, right? The universe and whatnot.

Well, I have never been important enough for the universe, case in point, so I believe that’s moot, then. Even if I was somewhere in the grand scheme of things, I was just one little domino, nothing else, nothing more. It was foolish to believe otherwise, and I would fight you to death with what life I have left inside.

Morbid monologues aside, I am learning this happily ever after, this pick one person and make it work, this I knew I would eventually fall for you thing is just one of many things that people can fail at. I’m slowly beginning to accept that I am good at a thousand things; I have countless things to offer the world. I’m done focusing on the one thing I fail terribly at.

I’m done losing people over this idea of love. I’m tired of letting you go. I’m done embracing my innate nature. I shall now rebel against myself. I have so much more to give to the world. Every idiot in every corner can give it another love story.

My heart is not on my sleeve anymore.

Bookmark #246

I believe there are two kinds of artists—the good kind and the unimportant. I was among the latter. Of course, before I dive into the why of it all, I believe I’ll have to tell you what being a good artist meant.⁣

The good were the ones who pointed out things beyond the human pursuit. They looked to the stars. They showed you new things, creating art out of thin air. They were about what could be, and that was their strength. It set them apart from the common folk.⁣

The unimportant ones, people like me, were artists born in morbidly human bodies caught in mundane human effort. We didn’t transcend any limits nor were we interested in the heavens. We only cared about the truth. The truth was often ugly and rarely satisfactory, but we told it. We were all about what is, and we could blend in.⁣

I only wrote about what I knew. There was no way I could imagine things. My imagination had long been dead. I couldn’t create a story out of thin air. A lie was the best I could do on most days. I only saw what I saw and I could only tell you how I saw it. It was nothing but the shit people went through every day. I couldn’t not talk about it.⁣

People like me often enjoyed their obscurity. They didn’t need any eyes on them. It took away from our watching of the world around us. We didn’t want to escape or run away. We wanted to crawl through the mud every day, spend time with people; hate them, love them, and fight or argue with them, sometimes.⁣

My art was all about blending into the world and throw out an obvious observation in the simplest of words, sometimes. On most days, I was running to save my own life, really. I barely gave a damn about anything else. I didn’t, couldn’t care.⁣

The only thing I cared about was living a real life I could tell someone about, and not have them stare at me as if I’m some God descending from the heavens. If anything, I wanted them to think, “if this fuck can put a few words together, maybe, I’ll try tonight too!”⁣

That was why we existed, actually. Not to elevate, but only to describe. We made the idea of art reach the regular Joes you’d find at a bar or a café or the street; some of whom then learned they were good artists.

Bookmark #245

Today is an ordinary day. It is an ordinary moment slightly past midnight, and I am writing these words with a sort of fatigue I can’t quite explain. Words come to me with difficulty now. Perhaps, it’s a sign; I’m happy or maybe, I’ve stopped.

The thing is, since there always is a thing, I don’t much care. About happiness, that is, or anything for that matter. It’s an odd sort of indifference I can’t quite explain. There are a lot of things lately which I can’t quite explain.

If this little confession means anything at all to anyone at all, I would want to make it worth your while so I’ll tell you about motion. You see, some of us are cursed. Cursed to never reach places; we could only keep running, endlessly.

You’d know you were one of us if you felt at home on exit doors, at train stations, on seats of buses, on flights, in cabs, and of course, while walking. You could often find us running late, and running, in general. It was this terrible urge to stay in motion, perpetually. Never to make ourselves too comfortable in a life; always ready to move, to run.

As long as there was movement, there was life. Once we arrived, no matter where, there was nothing but disappointment. Life was about anticipation, about waiting for things against all odds, about working through things without any resolution, even if there was one in our grasp.

It was about prolonging everything. How else does one indulge in the human experience if not by drowning in their sorrow for an extra couple of days, if not by staying in love years after someone had left, if not by always having a thought too many about nothing much of significance?

By no means, however, do I wish this upon you nor do I want you to relate.

I hope, desperately, that when you fall in love, you feel at home. I wish, truly, that you find what you enjoy and you do it for all your days with the same enthusiasm. I want, sincerely, for you to stay somewhere, to make space for where you are, and to indulge in the everyday. Lastly, I want happiness for you, but more than that: the ability to accept it.

There were enough of us on the run from ourselves, putting pointless phrases on a piece of paper, perpetually.

Bookmark #244

I love so much of what others do, but the one thing that doesn’t sit right by me is how when you have a flaw, feature or a quirk that isn’t close to perfect, people will tell you to look over it, that it isn’t there or that it doesn’t matter.

When you tell them about a scar on your upper lip, they’ll tell you how it’s barely visible at all. If you tell them about the bags under your eyes that have appeared gradually over the years, they’ll tell you they’re not as baggy. I don’t like this idea of perfectionism. It takes away the fact that you’ve lived a life that was real.

I am not the same child; my eyes don’t beam with hope anymore. When you tell me that I have the same eyes, I feel insulted. Do my losses don’t matter? You want me to believe some lie where nothing since when I was a child has affected me somehow when it has broken me, torn me apart. There are scars where I’ve rebuilt myself continually.

It may be true we see more of our imperfections, but the slightly tired eyes escape no one. Yet, I am proud of them. Being as tired as they are, they tell me I keep going, no matter how hard life becomes, that I always arrive, that I don’t stop even when it gets tough, especially then.

The scar I told you about reminds me of being the kid who stood up to a bully for something he believed in, knowing all too well he lacked any strength at all. It reminds me to be that kid when the situation demands, even if I’m weak, or when I get punched in the face.

When I’m idle or lost in thought, I’ll often stare at my right hand and wrist, the tattoo serving as a constant reminder to continue living. It is a reminder to tell myself: it’s all in my hands. It has always been in my hands.

Time carves us all in astonishingly different ways. Everything that has ever happened to me has made me who I am at this very moment, writing these words. It’s a robbery when someone tells me there’s nothing there!

There are scars, love, and I’ve only lived so long, I believe I’ll collect so many more. They will all be as important to me, if not more. They tell me the life I live is real and that I’m a real person with real feelings.

Why would you want to take that away from anyone?

Bookmark #243

The true luxury of being a living, breathing human being was the ability to chalk anything up as a mistake. We, humans, were blessed with finite lives to make infinite mistakes. No one was auditing our insignificant lives. So, it would be rather easy for me to call you one.

It wouldn’t be up for debate either. Anyone who hears the story—at least, my side of it—would laud it. All I have is my side of it; you never did tell me yours. Yet, I’m learning we can’t play it both ways.

The point of loving someone, the whole act, happens while knowing your heart may be broken, eventually. You can’t blame someone for tearing you apart. I can’t blame you for doing it either. So, there’s nothing there. No anger, no remorse.

I once told you: I don’t mind what you do with me. I still stand by what I said that day. There were better mistakes to be made. The point of a mistake was to learn something from it. As for me, I haven’t learned a thing.

The other day, I told a stranger more things about myself in one hour than I could keep track of; I went on and on, and she listened. At least, I hope she did. Now, that would be a mistake I make often: to go on and on about myself.

Yet, some of us could not help but carry our souls on our sleeves. Hearts were easy to carry; easier to give away. Souls, on the other hand, especially heavy ones like mine, were quite a burden on the arm. Perhaps, that is why I spilt myself as freely as I did. My arms were tired.

It’s true, we had infinite mistakes to make, but we remembered them all. That was the curse of being human. You could make all the mistakes in the world, and the world would forget about them all. But, in your head, the tiniest of blunders would stick out like barbs.

And you and I both know, if there’s one thing I would want to forget, to wash away, to never remember again, it would be your face. Not out of spite. I could never despise you. Only because I want to look at you, hear of you, think of you, and feel nothing for a change. I’ve felt way too much for you for way too long.

So, no, you were never a mistake. On good days, you were a blurry memory of a life that never happened; that was all there was to it.

Bookmark #242

The other day, I went to the nearby café and sat by myself for an hour. There was no one else but me sipping coffee in the tiny patio. It felt nice. As I sat there, staring at the fresh monsoon clouds reflecting in my black coffee, it occurred to me: I had mastered the art of being a recluse in public.

I was around, always. You could often spot me with friends or by myself at any bar or café in any city I lived in. The bars I only frequented with friends. There was something terribly lonely about drinking alone, which, after trying for a while, did not sit right by me. Perhaps, it was in my head. The point being, I was out and about more often than I wasn’t.

Over the years, I had managed to slip in and out of all groups I had managed to meet. I was with the artists; I was with the hustlers; I was with the sullen. Yet, I was with none of them. In my quest to learn the ways of and understand all kinds of people, I had become a man of the world in my own way, and yet, I had managed to keep what made me myself.

I was a nobody. I didn’t want to outshine others. I preferred the lack of spotlight. There was something beautiful in being a blur amidst crowds. On most days, I shied away from making my presence felt at all. I could slip in and out of rooms on a whim. Yet, if I wanted to and if necessary, I knew how to direct attention towards myself. Although, it was rarely required or necessary.

I was the man on the window seat on a long bus journey; half-awake, half-asleep. I was the lone patron in a café, sitting and reading. You could see me, but I would not talk to you unless I wanted to. I was happy in my corner, hiding amongst everyone else. I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Yet, I could fit in everywhere, as long as I wanted to do it.

If you’d take my word for it: I wanted both ends of everything. I loved myself, and I craved other people; I wanted nothing, and I wanted it all; I wanted to stand out, and I wanted to fade away. I was by myself, and yet, amongst others, at all times.

I was an involved spectator. Sometimes, I wrote about what I saw. Often, I kept it all to myself.

It was an art, and I had, somehow, mastered it.

Bookmark #241

To whom it may concern,

I write to you with the highest of spirits and the brightest of moods. It is the bluest of monsoons, and I often wake up at night to find the rain slowly drizzling outside. Sometimes, it’s a comforting storm. The other night I went out into the balcony and stood there for a few minutes, half asleep, staring at the nothingness as the storm raged on. It was a beautiful moment. At first, I wanted to keep to myself, but I am terrible at keeping things to myself. If you’ve been reading any of these words, you’d very much be aware of that about me.

If there’s anything I have understood in the past year, it’s that I am not a morose person. I’m not as sullen as I imagine myself to be; perhaps, I’ve just been tired for a really long time. Truth be told, I have not felt as elated as I do currently for years, and I wanted to tell someone that I took a walk today, but I was in no hurry at all. I believe if you don’t tell things to someone, they are often forgotten. We are but a collection of the mundane stories we tell each other about our days, commutes, and antics.

It turns out I don’t have much to say to you besides this tiny confession, but I wanted to write to you nonetheless. I believe I have never properly thanked you for reading those winding paragraphs. I don’t know what year it is there, what your life looks like, or how these words will stand the test of time or memory, but I do know this, you know me now, for better or worse. I hope you remember me as someone who deliberately found beauty and grace and who was happy.

Oh, before I forget, I do have something to tell you after all. The other day, I walked down the neighbourhood, and I saw a little boy run towards this lush bed of marigolds planted outside a random house. He squeaked in joy; he stood there laughing and clapping at the beauty of those flowers, but never once did he reach out to pluck them.

I think that was the most beautiful thing I have seen in my entire life. I think it saved me. I wish you were there to see it. I believe you’ll find a moment of your own when you need it. I hope it won’t take as long for you.

I feel oddly hopeful; I still have time.

Much love.

Bookmark #240

Sadness was easy. Sadness was the low-hanging fruit. Anyone could write about it and the morbidity of life. We lost more than we won. That’s what made us human. We lived our lives afraid of losing ourselves.

All anyone ever wants is for someone to understand, and when a line or two meets their pain halfway, the writer is revered. Yet, the writer didn’t make an effort. They weren’t even trying. The sole reason someone shares their sadness is to get rid of it.

Talking about sadness was routine. It became boring after a while. It was hilariously easy, too. I could whip up a sweet poem or about thirty lines of crisp prose with an impactful last line about sadness right now. Hell, I could do that while I took a walk with you. Heartbreak was abundant in my life, and all lives were generously blessed with pain. It wasn’t difficult.

It was much, much harder to write about happiness because happiness didn’t come easy. It was hard to look at the sun through the curtain of clouds covering it. It was hard because you had to believe, and most artists were too proud of themselves to believe in anything.

To write about happiness, you had to push all the hurt aside and look at a flower and think about all the beautiful things it makes you feel. In fact, you had to make a deliberate effort to find the flower on most days. It was difficult to be happy, even more to write about it.

But writing about happiness wasn’t about the preachy dimwits writing desperate one-liners in the name of poetry. Those hacks were the saddest of all. The only proper way to write about happiness was to immerse oneself in the most intense sadness one could possibly feel. Then, choose to turn away.

Sadness was the low-hanging fruit; happiness was to resist the urge to pluck it. Yet, even the greatest of artists gave in to temptation on most days.

And I was, by no means, among the greats.

Bookmark #239

Oh but I don’t want eventful anymore. I don’t need passion. I have spent way too many years of my short life stuck on temporary highs; I know better now. To have fantastic days, one must lower the standard. In a life where anything can happen, the happiest days were when nothing happened.

The truth is, there were many days where nothing happened. If one got used to them, one got used to life. There is a sort of happiness in the uneventful and banal; it is the inexplicable sense of calm. Sometimes it was gloomy but there was no rain, and then the clouds passed. All days when you weren’t running from yourself or the unexpected, pouring shower were days to be celebrated.

I’ve spent years jumping from adventure to adventure, always on my feet, always running, always looking at something new; I don’t crave novelty anymore. I crave habit. I enjoy looking at the faces of people who have been by my side on all days. I am delighted by the same regular cup of black coffee from the same regular café. I revel in the same streets. It all brings me a sort of joy I cannot explain.

Perhaps, I just want a sense of surety that has so far been absent from my life. In all love I’ve received, none has stayed. In all dreams I’ve dreamt, none have remained the same. In all my attempts at being myself, none have stuck. Perhaps, I crave certainty because life has shown me it is anything but certain.

All my days lately have been happy days; all of them have been the same. This is the first time I’ve sat so comfortably in my life. It is an unparalleled feeling to feel at home in one’s own day, in one’s own shoes, in one’s own skin. I wonder if this is where I’ve been running to all this time, or if it is the uneasy quiet before the storm.

In any case, it is the month of July, and monsoon is right around the corner. They said it may rain anytime soon. It doesn’t matter much to me, however. I’ve spent years lost in the maze of the eventful. I reckon a little rain wouldn’t make me shudder at all. I am quite sure of it now.

If nothing else, I must say, it is nice to be certain for a change. I am terribly tired of playing catch up with life.

Bookmark #238

When all of it was said and done, when the pieces all fell into place, when the dust settled, you’d still hear the sadness calling. You’d get up on the right side of the bed, the sun would be shining like it never has before, and by afternoon, you’ll begin to die inside again.

I can’t promise you that won’t happen. From what I know, and from what I have seen, it will happen; the brokenness will always call you back. It’ll disguise itself in a song you used to hear a lifetime ago. A stranger standing ahead in the grocery store queue might resemble a dream you let go of. A fleeting fragrance would remind you of a life you left behind.

Life is a maze. I can’t assure you of anything. On some days, you will feel like the universe doesn’t want you to laugh, and on some days, the universe will be out to get you. On some days, the darkness will get the jump on you, and the brokenness will get the better of you, and you will begin to lose yourself.

On those days, I want you to catch yourself off guard, just like the sadness did. I want you to stand straight and smile. I want you to act oblivious to the heartache creeping in around you. Even if you can’t, I want you to say:

Not today. Today, I choose to be okay. Today, I will look outside.

Let it sit with you as you and your friends play a board game. Let it hear you laugh with family. Let it watch you count trees. It’ll chase, for it can’t let you go as easily, so let it. Stay ahead. It will be exhausting. On some days, more so than others, but trust me, if you resist long enough, it will subside.

Ultimately and often, we became more habitual to our sadness than we were willing to admit. The truth is once you got used to the darkest parts of yourself and your story, it didn’t sit right by them to be ignored, even when you only want to take a walk to the coffee shop. When you do that, and when they try to get the jump on you, tell them: not today.

It’s how you’ll save your life. That, I can assure you of; that’s how you’ll save yourself, one day at a time.

Bookmark #237

When things are a bit too much, when the rains are too wet, when the sun is too harsh, when the days are too painful, when the coffee is too bitter, when the booze is too strong, when life is too hard, we often make odd claims.

So, on a random evening a couple of months ago, when things were a bit too much, I said there were no trees in the neighbourhood, and that was the root of all my problems. It was an odd claim, perhaps, the oddest of claims to make when you lived in the valley.

In any case, there were no trees anywhere. You started walking from dirt and you stopped in the dirt. The traffic, the cacophony, the daily annoyances were peppered in-between, waiting to grab you by your collar and drag you into the very dirt you were walking on.

The trees, if there were any, were too far away in the hills. The city was drab and dreary and dusty, and it was all a bit too much. So, when I made that claim, I was within my rights. It was a terrible place to be in, even if it was all in my head.

Today, I went outside for a quick evening walk. I wanted to get a cup of coffee and none of my friends were around so I went on my own. About a couple of minutes in, I looked up and saw the sky, but then, I saw a tree. I remembered my obnoxious claim about there not being any from months ago.

So, I began counting. By the time I reached the coffee shop, I was at sixty-seven. I’m sure I lost count and made mistakes while counting. And of course, the trees didn’t grow over the summer.

Where then, one might ask, did the trees come from?