How Things Get Old

I grab my favourite mug off the shelf and rest it on the kitchen shelf. I notice how its white enamel insides have now turned brown over time. How things get old, how fast they change colour, how quickly the dust gathers, how memory forms, and how it melds into a blob of remembrance with no end and no beginning. I remember the day I bought the mug. I do not remember anything from that point on, only infinite images of it being filled with coffee or soap and, on rare occasions when more people were over than I could count, booze.

There are times when I am dusting things off in the apartment. I pick something up only to remember how I got it, and then, the story unfolds again; the cleaning takes the backseat for a bit.

A few weeks ago, my friends and I passed an antique store, and I could not help but pause and take a picture. I could not help but exclaim how beautiful it is that something as run of the mill as an old spoon can mean so much, and can tell legends of its own: of being passing hands, getting borrowed, or forgotten. Backpacks get ripped from their sides but are never repaired, and shoes get soiled. Books get their corners blunted and dulled and never complain. It is not the toll time takes that interests me; how we fail to notice it for days on end makes me curious.

The grey shaggy rug covering most of the hall in this flat does not look or feel how it used to when I first got it. I do not see this on most days, but when I do, I cannot help but resist the wave of nostalgia that crashes over me. And what do I remember? I remember returning to this town for six months; then, six months became a year.

Now, three whole years have passed.

Now, I sit here at this desk, which too has been nicked from here and there, looking at the spotless leaves sprouting from the plants on it, which are a far cry from the dusty ones that have remained since I got them from the nursery, sipping from a mug that, as I mentioned, is browner than its original white now. None of this was here; none of this came out of my suitcases.

I admit it worries me how quickly time passes, but then I look around; I cannot help but smile at how things get old.

Hope is a Scent the Breeze Carries

I slept in, and I woke up around noon. When I did, I found my wits sitting at the lounger amidst all the clothes I had to put away into the cupboard. I opened the door to the balcony and saw the tree in the parking rustle excitedly as if it were welcoming me into this day. Today, the sky seemed clearer, and so was I. Now that I had rested enough, I stretched with a sigh. I stood there, my arms on the dusty marble sill, and I looked. At what, you ask? At nothing. My gaze targeted nothing at all. I felt the wind through my hair, and the stream of recurring thoughts about life moved through my head parallel to the wind outside. Then, it occurred to me that my lassitude until yesterday was just that: there was no reason but the need for a good night’s sleep and a moment or two.

It makes me laugh how most, if not all, cynicism can be chalked up to exhaustion. When I am weary, I am difficult, and when I am tired, I am angry, and when there is no one to rage at, I rain hell at everyone, at the whole world. Despite the vigour and energy I show in front of others, I quickly tire, a habit I probably picked up from my father. I could not know for sure, however, since he would never admit it. Perhaps, I am better in that—that I admit it, and perhaps, that is how things improve—a generation at a time. Perhaps, our anger at the world is not about the state of the world, but in how it is not and how we want it when we are here, that we will die eventually and never get to see it in our image. But the world has seldom been like any of us have wanted it. Almost all cynicism can be chalked up to exhaustion; what’s left can be left to its own devices. There are better things today: the wind is still blowing, lives are still being lived, and attempts are still being made. In the end, we must be sure of our goodness, that people are collectively good.

Today, after months, I feel my heart beating loudly. There is so much hope in this breeze, this placid day ahead of me. I wonder if the others can feel it. The trees all around town dance to the persistent whistle of nature. What else could I feel today if not joy?

Windswept on a Tightrope

It’s a fairly windy evening, and when I say evening, I am generous with my phrasing. The day is almost at its end. But I must make good on how I have motivated myself to sit at this desk. I must make it look larger than it is.

The days of April have been haphazard and all over the place, like the laundry I am yet to move to the cupboard that, in itself, needs some reorganising. Everything seems to be all over the place in this room, but I have been making sure that I live properly, and when I say that, I am still being generous with my phrasing. I have only ensured that I do all there is to do on a given day: that I move my body as much as I can, that I work my mind with diligence, and that I do at least one thing that makes my heart beat. It has been a simple philosophy for years, but things have added on top of one another.

And ever so often, this perfection shows its true face. I learn, once again, that my insistence on my perfect days is only possible in isolation, and since intentional isolation is impossible in this world, regardless of how hard you try, I will forever find myself in scuffles like the one I am in now—perpetually tired, stretched thin.

I must be myself, and I must also be a part of the world. What a proper dilemma when one knows only to take away from the other. How do we go about it, I wonder? How do I go about it? I do not know.

The door to the balcony is open, and the wind blows outside, whistling with all its might. I do not have the answer to escape this entrapment I habitually put my foot in, but I can stop worrying. I can get out onto the balcony barefoot on the sheets of grass. I can take a moment for myself. That is what I will do then; we must always do what we can.

Enough of this writing, enough of this day; a slice of respite awaits me. I must go and humour myself, then.

There is still time for tomorrow.

No Beers Spilled On An April Sunday

Over some beers on a Sunday evening, I tell a friend a story for the first time or, perhaps, the thousandth time. I could not be sure. It could be that time is finicky and memory is irritating, or it could be the beers. As I go over the past with a fine-toothed comb and tell him the story, I face the fleeting nature of time again. I do not know if I ever lose track of it, but if I do, the reminder is not too far off. It occurs to me how April is almost over and how quickly this year seems to have started slipping off my grasp. Between acting my age and preserving the child I once was, my days have little gaps between them, and once again, these words have been ground between the burrs of time.

But these words, these words, enough about them! Why should I not waste a few days? What have I ever gotten for all my wasted time on them? If anything, I have lost lovers and, sometimes, friends, and the latter has hurt more. In the end, it would not matter. They call you prolific if you wrote a thousand pieces or a million. People measure writers by how much of them they cannot read or, more importantly, understand. When I realised this as I told whatever story I was telling for the first or the thousandth time, something shifted in my heart.

From then on, things are a blur, and I do not remember much of what I said or how. It is not that we had too much to drink, but sometimes, when the company is good and the day is banal enough to justify celebration, getting intoxicated is but an afterthought or, even better, a formality. Between tales of lost lovers and little nightmares that came true, I broke tempo and paused to catch my breath.

“Ah, let it all be as it is,” I said, “if it gets me to this bar, to this moment, to this pint of beer, to this friend—to you—why would I want it any different?

Tell me, how are things with you?”

Out of Mind, Out of Sight, Out of Words

Saturday is here again. The soft pastel touch of the morning light paints everything in the apartment. I make a cup of coffee and settle in. There have been days without much writing lately. While it still does not sit right with me, I can live with it. There are times we live our days, and there are times we write about them. I am only waiting for life to happen to me, and if I have it in me, on some days, I am putting my best foot forward and making it happen.

As I sat and watched some TV last night, it occurred to me how a year ago, one of my many complaints from life was that I do not meet many new people, that it is a repetition of most things but especially people, and that I thrived on conversation, but not if I kept having the same ones over and over again. Then, I did a quick tally on my fingers, and it seems even with all I had to complain about it, I had indeed met people I did not know.

How did that happen? How anything happens.

The city has been under construction for the better part of the last decade. Dusty streets, large cranes towering the little town, sounds of drills, jackhammers wherever you walk, and for the most part, you look at it, and it seems like it is all the same, that things have not changed in the slightest. But then, you stop and truly look around, and you see it has all gotten so much better, that the little town is nowhere to be seen. Whether that is for the best depends on how rooted your feet are in the cement of the past, and I do not have a stake in that. From where I stand, however, things have changed without us realising that all that noise, all that commotion, all that inconvenience has indeed led to something. That is my only concern at this moment.

I am only looking for life to happen as life does, and I think once there is enough that happens, once the well refills, I will have more to say about it. For now, I must revel in these days. My mind has gone awfully quiet. I do not know if it is for the best, but if you wait long enough, good things come out of time. That much, I know.

The Performer & The Spectator

The scene ends, the curtain drops, and I await the call to on to the stage—to bow and gather all the praise for a job well done, but another scene begins. I have to change into a new role and make new conversations. It is a film that does not end. Where do I draw the line? They ask me about life, about how it fares. I tell them it has just begun. I tell them this on all days, in all moments. They cannot refute it, either. There is always a new scene beginning. It is always going on. Perhaps, that is why I like sitting in a theatre and watching films. I get to see the credits roll.

In this grand performance, we are both the performers and the spectators. I look at my life like a historian, finding all I can, building all the connections, finding the true narrative and running with it, reciting it with utmost accuracy. I also fight the same battles I chronicle and survive all the tales I write. I do this every day; you do it as well. We are stuck in this solo show. It is always only just begun—a perpetual matinee where no one but we show up. We watch it over and over, and we perform over and over, and somehow, even after years of this charade, we never get close to a sense of an ending. It always seems as far away. It does not say on the scenario when it will end. We flip the flimsy page over haphazardly, creasing it, marking it forever. There are no timelines on it. There is no schedule. In our hearts, we know time has passed.

We are the critics, too. Our words harsh and surgical, hitting the weakest points of the story quickly, unravelling any attempt to hide them. But our notebooks brimming with notes scribbled in many directions never come close to compilation. All we have are some parts we did not like, some witty one-liners describing a dialogue that does not fit well, a scene we want to forget, a moment filled with our fumbles and foibles; all we have are our nitpicks.

This life—what a spectacle, what a tragedy. Look at all of us caught in the middle of it forever. The beginning keeps getting further away, scene after scene.

The end? Never in sight.

What Do You Talk About When You Talk About Things?

Woke up with a somewhat ominous feeling in my gut, my chest, as if something terribly good or remarkably bad was about to happen. Made a cup of coffee, and it did not taste as it should have. There are days that begin with disarray, and then there is disarray that takes over your days. I do not know which is which. The coffee tastes better now. I am shocked at how quickly we get used to things.

I wonder if you, whoever reads these words, have ever found yourself to be the next descendent in a long line of those marred with the misfortune of not coming across more creators in their life, in their days, of talking to people who do not have much below the surface, and even if they do, they have rarely explored it. They live in the make-believe of all society tells them to; there are no eccentricities in them, no oddities, no human-like features. And even when given a chance to stop and think about something, they are interested in the next line of news or the next person they can bow before. Godhood, celebrity, infamy—it is all the same. It cannot exist without those who bow, and there are always those who bow. Their lives are dictated by tabloids of who went where and who said what, and it is all they think about day after day if they ever think about anything in the first place. What are they so busy with? Well, your guess is as good as mine, but I would bet my chips on some activity that brings nothing new in the world, only moves some documents around from one place to another, and now, to make it easier for them, like it was any difficult before, from one computer to another.

You talk to them about art or science, anything that truly matters, and it is only you talking. To them, it is a conversation so profoundly offensive, in how facing the truth is offensive, that they feign opinion, and even then, they quote what they heard someplace from someone. In the end, people like us, you and me, have to get used to things and never get to talk about the things we wish to talk about. It is a blessing, then, that getting used to things is so easy. ii do not know what I would have done if it were any harder.

Advice To Those Who, Like Me, Made Some Money Early In Life

Albeit moderate, of course.

I do not own buildings, fly in private jets, buy overpriced clothes, or stay in swanky hotels; I do not intend to either. But if you do, if your aspirations are higher than mine, you still have more of yourself to sell or to get luckier. All attempts are lottery tickets. All our time is about scratching them. My moment continues to affect my life in ways I have stopped keeping tally of, but I can share what I’ve learned.

When eating at a fancy place, you start using the cutlery outside in, but it is for the benefit of everyone to avoid places like these wholly unless the situation arises that you find yourself in such a setting. For those days and those days only, you must know how to carry yourself amidst the snobbery. You must also develop knowledge of all things people value. You can learn by experience or reading about them. However, you need not be a connoisseur simply because no one cares enough. People only know how to respond to confidence; if you have some knowledge, the rest is easy to manoeuvre. No, you must not lie, but if you know some things, you can readily admit that you do not know others.

You must also save money first and spend it second, lest you become a cautionary tale. You must learn your way around the complex systems that tie the world together and stick to the basics. If someone tells you they can make you more money, you tell them you know how to make it, and can they teach you how to keep it instead? That they will not know about, and that is harder. But it is possible.

You must make a life where the money to sustain it is not exorbitant. You must not live in an attempt to impress the world. Money is utility, and you must treat it as such. Most of your problems and pitfalls, if not all, will be avoided by only this; the rest, you can chalk up to lessons.

You must learn a lot about everything, but mostly, you must learn to keep your wits about yourself. In the end, it will only be about you and your days. Nothing else will change. In the end, it is about how comfortable a cup of coffee or tea is for how long.

That is all there is to it.

Afterthoughts on an April Afternoon

The remnants of winter are few and meagre. The sun shines loudly outside, shocking every part of the city with its light. That, too, is kind of a problem, isn’t it? When the good spreads so far and wide, you can no longer keep it in little boxes. In my life, there is an uncontainable joy. I have run out of boxes, and it has started slipping out of my fingers; what do I do? How do I keep it? It flows around me, and something tells me it will spill away. To be happy is one thing; to keep it is another.

I sit here without much to do for a change, and now on vacation from work, I come face to face with how it all began. With days where I had nothing to do and nothing to lose, and so, I sat to write. But things change, as is their nature. I now have things to lose and things to do, and this practice has suffered for all of it. But it would not be life if I did not have problems to solve—a lesson hammered into my conscience since I was a little boy.

Everything is a problem to solve. All things are puzzles. You just need to know which thread to pull, which piece to move, and the rules everything must obey. Everything is a pattern; even the spontaneity of life ebbs and flows; like a wave of sound, it has its crests and troughs. The sun comes up and moves down, day after day. Why care to solve it then, if it all has to work on its own eventually? An astute question, but then, why do anything at all? Our existence is an over-complication we accept. I have little say in it, but I have some say in how my days go and agency in how I do certain things.

The grand repetition awaits me. The joy I have will leave. The words that go quiet now and then will come back again. Like a dance, they will move in circles around each other. I will continue trying to fix things, they will keep changing, and I will have something to show for all my time.

After all, winter is over, and the rains have stopped. We think we have lived another season as if we had a say in any of it.

We continue the celebrations of spring.

Life goes on.

Look At Me, And Tell Me, What Do You See?

What makes a person? I asked myself this at one in the night last night as I looked at the half-filled glass of wine near my foot. Then, I got off the rug and decided to play some music on the speaker. The silence is always welcome, but it does not mean a little noise can do us any harm. I chose a song I often listen to when I need to recall how I got to this point in my life, this sunshine-filled endlessness. Then, I asked myself the question again: what makes a person?

And when I ask this, all I want to know is what makes me who I am? I had a friend in school, which now seems to be a lifetime ago, who often made fun of my gait. He said it was too stiff, that it was unnatural. Another friend I came across many years after that said the same thing in slightly different verbiage. I often think about it; it tells me there is something distinctive. What they often call personal style is more than your clothes or what your favourite kind of coffee is. It is usually a potpourri of all these idiosyncrasies, these little minutiae that people notice.

What makes me who I am? When we ask ourselves this, and we cannot find an answer, we turn to others. In the end, all lives are about humanising ourselves. You do not want to be called a hero with songs and poems about how you lived. You do not want to be celebrated, no. You do not want to be painted some demon either, known only for your exploits and only by your infamy. In the end, you want to be a person.

We spend all our time begging for this, from family, from lovers, from friends, from the countless strangers we meet.

“Look at me, and tell me, what do you see?”

And when they waste adjectives and when they hammer hyperbole, our heart sinks.

“A person” is all we want to hear, “I see a person.”

I look in the mirror, and I am not convinced of who I am. I want someone to tell me peculiarities only they notice. For all my words, I cannot write myself a poem. It will be too vain, too conceited. I must wait for others to tell me what I want to hear.

They Call It The Lonely Profession

I have a long conversation with a friend late in the night. It begins right before the day ends, and another begins, but it does not matter what the time is when two friends talk. We talk about so much keeping track is of no use. All I remember is a blur of happiness—that is what I remember about most friends. If I have to remember something else, I try to remember the bits I can use in my writing. But then, that is, if I am writing. If I am on an intermittent break, with words here and there but nothing concrete or worthy of saying like I am in these days of late March and early April, days of mundane busyness, days of rains and sun alike, then whatever nugget I can get from that conversation to begin the next sentence is of little use.

I tell him I have not written lately, and immediately, without asking why like most have done in these past few days, he does what a friend does, what takes me aback and catches me off-guard. It must be hard, he says to me, to do it for yourself for so long. I am guilty of not reading what you write, too; there is no explanation for it. But I do understand. I can offer you that much.

I tell him that it is quite alright, that I understand the dearth of time that we all have in this life, the lack of inclination that most have at the end of days that look more like battles leading into war. But then, I tell him I have written in a chamber all this time, and my words have bounced around the walls. I tell him it is green and thriving. I have sat there, doing my part for years, doing the due diligence and doing what they told me to do: do it for myself. But all I have heard is more of myself. I tell him daisies may grow in the cracks around me, but they do not hide them; the cracks remain. I tell him there is colour all around me, that it should all make sense after all this time, but I have never been more lost.

I tell him it is not enough. There are other things. No matter how you decorate a prison, it remains just that. I tell him I have not stopped, that I still think of words, but it breaks my heart: I do not see the point of putting them down—not today, not tomorrow, or anymore.

A Second’s Worth of Clarity

I face a screen and write about nothing at all, and then, I see words form and sentences take life, and suddenly, it all means something.

On most days, there is nothing to say, but should we not write, then? I disagree. We ought to only do this in a blank, hazy sort of space where if someone asked what was on our mind, we would not have an answer, only a hint, a little suggestion. I think that is when we should sit and write. It is the only moment when the words roam free like wild animals over the prairies, with no end in sight, no limit, and no boundary. Boundless bounty of meaning awaits when we do not begin with a destination in mind.

It is how I live my life, and it is how I write these words, and now and then, a little bit of doubt settles into my heart, but then, it drains away with a belated shower in the middle of March. It should not be raining, they have commented lately in small talk and long conversation about all sorts of things and the state of the world, and I have thought, but it has, but it has rained. What do we do now? That is the question. It is cold again, and it does not feel like spring. There are all sorts of things science has to say about it. But when it comes to us, all we can do is wear some pullovers we already put in a box during spring cleaning. All closets are in a frenzy these days. The clothes that should be in are coming out again, and then, we dare to pretend we know where things are going, that we have any sort of control over anything at all.

So, why start with a goal in mind? If you want to paint, by all means, paint. If you want to write, by all means, begin. It is as good a moment as any; it is as good a thought as any. Life is, but whim incarnated. All our actions, despite their chains of meaning and motivation dragging them down, are but momentary thoughts acted out. It is how most good things come out of life, after all. All words, all laughter, all kisses, all dreams, all happiness I’ve had have come out of fleeting thoughts where for a second, I knew what I wanted from life.

For just a second, yes; live long enough, and you will realise that much is enough.

Perpetually Out of Place

I suppose I have never felt as if I truly I have never really fit in. Now and then, this feeling discomfits and disturbs me. I always feel something is off, like a piece of furniture that is always slightly out of place, like a rug with a bit of skew in its outer edge, like things that seem perfectly in place until you look closely; I have always felt out of touch with life. A part of me is convinced there is some social contract, some unspoken set of rules that I was not told, that I missed the missive containing them.

There is a pointlessness to it all, where all the good and the bad that happens to me begins and stops with me. There is no before or after, just a single stream of events happening repeatedly. I lay suspended in this colloid of memory. And I feign interest, and I go out and about, and I listen ardently, and I think, and I try to understand, but I feel as if I do not have a stake in this world I live in, that I am an outsider still. I do not know why I feel this way, but I always feel this way, and like we rarely ever ask why we breathe the way we do, this feeling has made itself comfortable. I do not know if this will change entirely someday, but I wait for that day to happen.

But then, I look at a painting or read a poem, and if not something made by us or our vices, then, often, a sole patch of grass or a flower suffices, and something changes for a moment, for a minuscule smidge of time. I think I, too, belong. If I can face something so beautiful, this must be the place, and I must be a part of it.

Yesterday was one such day when a painting knocked the wind out of me. It was a landscape of masterfully textured foliage, green, sprawling, and a river cutting through it. The bubbles bounced off the canvas, and the water in the brook flowed with such tremendous speed you could almost hear it. It seemed to have drained straight into my heart; it seemed to have washed it clean.

I have never felt truly alive; I have only jumped from omen to omen. I reckon there is always something beautiful to look at; there is always something that knocks the wind out of you.

I wonder if this is what being alive is after all.

Art in The Dancing Plague of the 2020s

I sit to write, and then, I ask myself once again whether there is a point to it all. The world has run amok with the unwritten memo that everyone must perform. Corporations have perpetuated this idea, and everyone else seems to have taken it in earnest. I fail to understand why, but then, the mentality of crowds has always washed over me. The bottom line is: to be anything today, you must perform and entertain.

The intrinsic value of work is now reduced to a tone-deaf regurgitation of latching onto a trend and performing. If you cannot do it, well, you are not a writer, an architect, a painter, or what have you. People with little skill, too much time on their hands, and a really loud disposition have taken over the world. It is the end of the placid, the reflective, and if you do not like it, well, good luck to you. Trying to be exceptional is not even an afterthought; it is not even required. It is an ancient pursuit, some forbidden magic.

I do not have any qualms with how people do things, but we must put our foot down when push comes to shove, when it comes to your door. I am not a performer; no, I am a writer. The writing is far too vital for me to divert from it. The world can dance to its own tunes and succumb to its pressures. There are bills to pay, words to write, and a life to live. All that leaves little time for me to dance on my own; dancing for the world, then, is out of the question.

Maybe I am foolish, but I still think there is merit in merit, that goodness is a measure in itself. If anything is good, it is eventually noticed without you flailing and flapping your arms, selling your soul, or worse, your time. Maybe I am naive, but that your work is noticed during your life or after is irrelevant as long as you put your mind, your soul, your heart into it. Maybe I am wrong, but I do not want to be right.

If you ask me, you should write so long as one person is ardently reading your work, and if they stop, you continue writing still. The rest is as the rest happens. He was foolish; they might say when you die. You will not be here to hear it. The work, however, will remain.

Waking Up After The World At Midday

A phone call woke me up at nine on a Saturday morning. When I asked who it was, since I had not gotten a call at those hours in years, the person said they were from an insurance company. Groggy and tired as I was, I told them if I could insure my rest and if I could do that, would they stop calling? I slept again, and when I woke up, it was much after the world had gotten on with the weekend. When I woke up, the neighbours’ laundry collectively adorned all their balconies, the children were playing on the lawn below, and the honking echoed all over the city as it does. I looked at the world outside, stretched a little and got a cup of coffee. Then, I came out to the balcony again and sipped it. There were things to do, but I could take a moment. In my experience, rushing has not solved the major troubles of my life at all. It has only made them worse. So, now, I do not hurry. If I am tardy, then so be it; I am tardy. I get things done on my own time now. There is no other way to live as long as no one expects me to rush, and that, too, is in the works. Slowly, everyone is forgetting how I handled stacks and stacks of things to do. Slowly, they have begun asking me: do you have the time?

Slowly, I have started being honest with them: no, I do not, not today at least; I have a lot to do. It has been the case for years, but I can shift things around tomorrow and help you. That is always possible. But not today. I woke up terribly late, as you already know. After all, as you also know, my sleep is not insured. It tends to break too often, too quickly and arrives too late on most days, and when it does, I do not get anything for it in exchange.

Mostly, I get a list of leftover tasks from years ago. Something is always urgent when a day begins, like a favour or two or looking at a view. Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, what have you. They all meld into one another when you continue living. That is not a complaint, of course. It is still a privilege to wake up, tired or otherwise. That much is not lost on me. Not now, not today, not ever. But a man can be wise and also, be tired. That, too, is possible.

The Urgency Of My Tardiness

I sit outside a cafe and read Mary Oliver on a day when for no reason at all, my hope seems to have disappeared. In her words, I find what most find, and to call it a word like respite, would be incomplete despite being true. In the words of others, I find my own voice often, and to not pay homage or credit or even a note of thanks would be terribly unfair in a world where stealing and taking someone’s art for granted is normal, and if not normal, then tolerated. I have built it all—these words, this life, this disposition—on the shoulders of giants, of people who feel larger than the very life they have so much to talk about. But then, all this serious, morbid air lifts off from around me and leaves me on the ivory table and chair amidst the pollen-infused, enthused spring foliage of the garden around the patio. I sit and read the poems, one after the other, stopping only to take a sip of my coffee and sometimes, at the rude honking of the cars right outside, on the other side of the hedge that separates the hustle of the city and my moment of calm. I sit, and I read, and then I stop and check the time.

“Why are you always running?” They ask me, “Why are you always late or just on time? You should calm down and not be in this rush-filled frenzy, this urgency in your heart.”

I look at them and avoid telling them it is because I stop too much. I stop too much to think, to look around, to read a poem. My tardiness is a side-effect of my theft from all of you. All those little moments and minutes add up in the end. All the time I steal from others, I put into these very words that they sometimes (read: rarely) appreciate.

I look at them and want to tell them about this, but then, I keep it tucked under my tongue like a confession you do not make, and it remains there with all the things I do not say but think about day after day.

I wish I said some things out loud. I wish I did. I wish I could. But I have read my poems for now, and the sky is getting darker. There will be time to think about wishes and regrets.

For now, I must hurry and get back home. It seems I am late already.

I Listen To A Love Song At Four In The Afternoon

I listen to a love song at four in the afternoon as the clouds rage outside, ready to pour. It reminds me of no one, but it can still serve its purpose. It moves along like a train chugging about through landscapes of memory with no stops on its course. There is no muse in this room, this life, yet the song talks of love, yet I understand. I lose myself in the verse, the chorus, the music, and the remnants of a feeling. I let the song repeat, and the clouds in my periphery get dreamier by the minute as I lie down and let the song wash over me like the rain does on the world. So much of what I want to say is contingent on having someone to say it about. In my imagination, I have written a full anthology of poems for someone else, and none exist just yet. They say you should write what you know, and so I stop myself from putting words down until they are for somebody. So much of what I write depends on how my life has gone, and so much remains to be decided by how it will go.

It is five in the evening on a Tuesday in March, and I let myself melt into a sleep you do not get often. The one where you are still awake; you know a song plays in the room, echoing through the leaves of the plants that would not stop growing, that have far outgrown their pots; you know the clouds are dancing over the sky in a sort of waltz or a foxtrot. There is a sort of playfulness in the air around you, and you are asleep, yes, but you are also wide awake and aware of the moment at hand. I listen to a love song without anyone to dedicate it to, and I think of the poems I could write, of the moments I could live, of the laughter I could laugh, and then, the power goes out. The weather has gotten on, and the rain continues pouring. As the power comes back on, I think of starting the song again, but its moment has passed. That is the thing about abrupt endings. They tend to take everything along.

Of course, life gets on as the weather does; it does not change what you have left behind. You continue living and laughing, but not like you would have, no. Not like that at all.

There Are No Signs on the Yellow Brick Road

You get to a certain age, and you become disillusioned with life. The days often repeat more than you can keep track of, not that you are keeping track, not that you are interested in such a chore—there are enough of them to go around. The last thing you need is one more thing you have to do. Between taking the trash out day after day, all your dreams of finding the yellow brick road are gone. It has, at some point, melded into your life. Perhaps, any road we walk is the metaphorical yellow brick road. Perhaps, that’s it. It better be, or else we are all lost.

Time has marched on, and it is march yet again. In many ways, this year feels precisely like the previous one. Only it seems I’ve left the harder years further behind. One would think this would make me happier. But then, try walking a little too far away from your troubles, and you will forget why you began walking in the first place. The further I leave my problems, the further I go along this path and the more lost I feel. Why am I walking? It is such a simple question but one with tremendous impact. I have asked myself this suddenly, and it has stopped me in my tracks. Below my feet are pristine bricks laid meticulously. I do not know where they lead; I have forgotten where I started. I stand here by myself.

The road is yellow with hope and possibility, yet my shadow that falls on it is still the same. There are no signs around me. The landscape around me remains the same. Nothing has changed. I look around, and I lose my sense of direction. Now, I do not know whether I face where I came from or where I was heading in the first place. It looks all mixed up, but it is all bright and beautiful. The grass is the precise green as green should be, and the sky is the only blue I know. What do I do? Where do I go?

The road stretches ahead of me. The road stretches behind me. It is all yellow; it is all golden.

Out of fear of staying still, I continue walking.

We Wish We Wished For Something Else

If I were to put my greatest wish in a sentence, it would not be for money, and surely, not for love. If I were to find it in me to tell you what I want the most, I would tell you that I want to wake up in the morning and immediately, from the slice of light that falls on the wooden desk on the wooden floor, to know that I have gotten it. It is a different kind of light when it is raining outside, softer and, in its own way, warmer. That is what I want: to wake up and know immediately that it is raining, to lay in my bed as I hear the sound of the pattering overpowering everything else, and then, to go back to sleep knowing all too well my greatest wish has been fulfilled. I have been kissed good morning by the damp hours of the morning, and I have been lulled back into sleep and comfort.

Only two nights ago, at about five minutes past one in the morning or in the night, whichever way you prefer to put it, I wrote in my notes. If there is one thing I want in life, it is to wake up on a rainy day and go back to sleep. Like we often do for wishes, I watch the days closely, waiting for this to happen. You do not know the sheer scale of my disappointment. There are so many days when it fails to happen.

Now, my wish has been granted. A part of me is curious for what I should have asked in place of this day. There are, as there always are, a plethora of things to solve and a brimming plate of things to do. It is curious, isn’t it, how when our wishes are granted, we can almost immediately think of something more fitting, more urgent, more critical that could have been given to us instead? We often forget that to be given anything in this life results from a lengthy collision course of which we are but a part. Every gust of wind in this world has conspired and blown precisely to get this rain here today, at the right moment, and here I sit, ungrateful and smug.

That is the thing about wishes: when they are but wishes still, we would trade the world for them. But on the off-chance that they are granted?

We wish we wished for something else.

Notes To Myself, About Writing After A Short Hiatus

In no particular order: To write only when there is light outside. To not force words out of myself—and if I have to, to not do it at the behest of the ticking hands of a clock. To not let myself become a slave to my fastidiousness or my obsession to have all of it in the right place. This is no apartment; this is my life’s work. I must embrace the mess, to a degree, to till I can find it in myself to manage it. I must carry it with me, and not push it into an over-cluttered drawer. All neatness, after all, depends on how many drawers and boxes you can hide in plain sight. To write in a way that is not boxed in.

To not only break the mould, but shatter it completely week after week, or at least, try. On most weeks, the trying will suffice. To talk about more, to talk about different, and to talk about things worth talking about, even if the world has no care or time for them. To not fall into the trap of wanting to be a performer for a world that forces its tunes on us; to not become an advertisement, and if I have managed to resist it so far, to continue my defiance. To be able to say I did not sell my soul to get more eyes on my words in the end. To write for myself, and sometimes, for the world.

To write about love, even if I have forgotten about what it feels like, especially then. To write about it like we talk of the sweet memory of pumpkin spice in the middle of summer. To write about it without anticipation of it coming, with an assurance that like winter, it shall arrive in its own time, too. To write about it without the worry and terror of it leaving when it does arrive. And if it fails to arrive, to talk about the loneliness, the dejection but not paint a mural out of it. To not make a monument out of pain, and to not let myself wander too far into that maze. To write about it still, however. To try to do it without losing myself.

And if it is in me, to learn to correctly title a piece for a change.