Bookmark #876

It is funny how you feel hesitation not when deciding things, not when they have begun, not days before them, not at all more often than not, but right at the precipice, when you could lean in for the first kiss, when you could book that ticket, when you could punch someone in the face, when you still could make a decision that goes either way, almost as if it was the universe telling you one last time choosing will change things, and that not choosing is choosing, too. I have almost always chosen to avoid complications, to not leave where I am, to not go in for the punch, but I reckon it is high time I ought to change some of that, that I should gamble with fate a little bit more, roll the bones a bit more. I reckon that is the only thing I can think of today, that and some troubles, big and small.

What a beautiful morning today, I reckon. I am glad the sun has begun its conquest over the sky these past few days. It would have been awfully depressing to leave through a fog-filled town. The hills, consistently at a beeline from this balcony otherwise still hide, though. Well, we cannot have it all now, can we? But then, I want to have it all. Is it a crime, I wonder. Perhaps I have ostracised the idea so much that it has started to feel evil to want. Maybe that is now, but it is something I must change. I must learn to grab what I can. I must, at least, be open to wanting. A constant meditation now, I must put this into action, too. So much I have wanted, and so often I have told myself no citing morality, citing ethics, citing caution, citing risk, but now, I want to want. Enough years on the sidelines, I will now be proud and loud for my share in this world, and I will be kind enough to know to quiet down when it cannot be given to me, but then, I will learn to ask regardless. Too much has been lost in this complacency, this self-imposed restraint.

What is a little bit of risk, after all? The worst that can happen is that my world could end. It is nothing I have not seen before for all my talk of safety.

Bookmark #875

At eighteen minutes past two on a surprisingly warm winter night, I stand outside on the balcony, staring at the nebulous, almost invisible hills that I have looked at time and again for the past three and a half years.

I stand here wondering what makes a person, well, a person. And I do not have any conclusion, so I will not pretend to know the answer. But I know that there are some non-negotiables, parts of the whole, if you may, and I will try to write them down, and to do this, I will simply pose questions for I have exhausted all my wits to form an answer, and which is more, I have spent this last day questioning things.

What makes a person? Is it the clothes hung behind the door which is bare now? Is it the unread books that have bent the shelf under their weight? Is it all the frivolities someone might need in today’s world and a few things they would want when need is too poor a word to describe them? Is it the pictures, the paintings on the walls, which shall gather dust in the absence of anyone to wipe it off with the first sight of it? Is it the plants they take care of, that will inevitably die in the dearth of anyone who notices them wilting? Is it the near-empty refrigerator, buzzing for months on end, keeping three packs of juice and a box of milk safe and ready on the off chance? What is a person, if not where they live—what they call home? What is a person, if not their insistence on having a meal with the people they love on a Saturday morning, whether it rains or shines on the city they call their dearest, or their compulsion to walk to the nearby patio cafe to sit and think over a cup of coffee.

All I know is that everything will wait for me in its right place, and that is all I can think of as I get ready to turn this lamp off for the last time for some time. That this life I have built will wait as long as I can keep the rent flowing, the lights on. There is this haunting feeling of this apartment without me in it. What an absurd decision, in hindsight, to want to go away but keep a foot in the door. But I swear I could not move anything away from here, from where it found its place, and trust me, I tried. God, I tried.

Bookmark #874

I did not get anything written yesterday, and even today, I am cutting it close, but then, such were the days, and what can you do when the days are such. Regardless, this is not the end of it. The next few days do not look too promising. Last night, I needed to think, and so I needed to walk. I did that, and I did not have any answers, although I had a little hope and some inspiration. A few sentences followed back home like stray dogs you befriend on the streets you walk through often, too. But then, there is nothing else to say, and I do not know where the sentences fit, not right now, not today. But there, I have noted them down in my trusty notes. I will get to them when I get to them.

Today, I can think of nothing else but people—those in my life, the problems they tell me of and the ones they never mention. And I can think of how my deadlines mean so little today. And I can think of how obnoxious the truly crucial things are in life, how they jump the line like those pesky people at the grocery store or when you’re out at the office getting some paperwork done and when someone cuts in front of you when you have already been waiting for long enough that the hours begin to feel like years, and when you, tired as you are, assert yourself and tell them to fall back. It does feel like that today, when I want to tell life to take a step back, when I want to tell it to take its place, that I have been waiting for years, that I have been waiting for so long. But I can think of all this like how we only ever think of tapping the intruder of the queue on their shoulder when, in reality, we simply let them do their thing. This is how it will be today, too. I will let life do what it does, and “it will all be fine” is all I will say to those in my life. That is all we can do, after all.

Things happen, and then we learn to live around them. Things happen and we write haphazard pieces, no proper train of thought connecting the many different bits which could, in theory, shine if used later. But sometimes, we need to put it all down as it is and walk to the bed a few words lighter. Sometimes, that is all we ought to do, too.

Bookmark #873

And now, after a day painted brown with cups of coffee, I have time to write. Alas, it’s already about to end, and yet, I still have work to do. But then, there is always work to do. If I have learned anything from this practice in the few years I have written day after day, or at least tried to, it is this that there are always things to do, always life to live, always a task or a chore undone, delayed perpetually like a promise unkept. There are always things like these, but what of it?

I reckon all lives are filled with the never-ending stream of opportunity regardless of the industriousness of the person living said life. And you have two ways to go about this. You could cry all of us a river about how it never ends, or you could sit with your head down, with your eyes peeled, with your hands aching, and do the damn thing. I am one of the strongest believers in the latter. And I take my life as seriously as my work, and my writing as seriously as my life. And each request, each chore is also carried with the same seriousness as I would something a manager would ask me to do. After all, what are relationships, if not jobs? And I mean that with utmost respect and sheer seriousness.

When we are asked to get a loaf of bread on our way to somewhere, we must pay this task its due attention and do it. We must get the bread. We must also listen when a friend wants to talk. We must always be there in all possible ways. Anything less than this is the blatant disregard of the potential imbibed in all of us simply by the virtue of being alive. There is absolutely no excuse if one is of adequate fitness both mentally and physically, and only in severe debilitation of one or the other should we let ourselves fall short of the glorious responsibility of being a person. Everything else, when I notice it in others, is the unabashed frittering away of figurative gold. Shameful. At least, this is what I believe in.

And I carry this thought with me at all times, like a pocket watch reminding someone to be on time, ticking away reliably and ceasing only when their life has ceased.

Bookmark #872

If I have sat here and begun writing, I have done this with the confidence of a fool. There is nothing to say today, and I will now attempt to make meaning out of nothing, pretend I know anything about anything. What can you say when it is but a day out of many in a life so vividly interesting that it always keeps you on your toes? In this wintry dry air in a rainless January, I find myself handing my heart to every person who walks my way. Absurd for many, this freeness in being able to let people in has returned to me like a friend whose name you forget not because you want to but for it has been too many years since you last saw them. But like all good things, good friends and good memories, this, too, has returned to me. And now, I find in myself not just the freedom to live but one to love.

What else could matter? To be honest, nothing. There is so much of everything, so much abundance, so much meaning, so much warmth, and so much love here. I cannot contain this contentment. It leaks into the smile on my face. All this hope, all this potential, I do not know what to do but squander it. And I am not afraid, no, but you cannot capture all the rain in the world, no matter how many buckets you have handy. This is but a foregone conclusion. There will be so much hope; I am bound to waste some of it. There will be so much opportunity; I will never be able to use it all. That is how it will all transpire. I know this because despite my believing the opposite, this is how it all has happened.

Nothing else to think about except this, that there will be good in this life, more than that has been so far, more than I could ever imagine or count, my ability for painstaking inventory notwithstanding. And what is more? I feel I can smile again. That in itself has stirred every string of my heart and shook it to its core, shedding all the dust it had gathered in all these years. There is nothing else to say today so a simple sentence would do: I am happy, I am happy, and you who reads these words, I hope you are too.

Bookmark #871

Most of the day today was spent in the frivolities that become part and parcel of an adult life, but then, in the evening, I found a poem. The poem was what one would term childish if they were entirely in touch with their morbid adulthood. Fortunately for me, I am not so old at heart, and often, I find in myself what one would term immaturity, but I owe my ability to effortlessly enjoy the little things to it. I read the poem, and then I read it again. Then, I shared it with a friend and my brother, and then, I read it again like you read the copy of a letter you sent someone, only to tell yourself what you sent was worth sending, and often, pause in awe at a good sentence or two. While I am not as skilled to have written a poem so simple, reading it gave me some kind of second-hand pride. And that it was still possible for me to enjoy the levity in it stirred and shook all the smog of adulthood away. Now, I sit here, and I am full of hope again. And now, I am in my bed, and when I am done writing and working some more, I will find it in me to read it again, and then I will go to sleep.

I am tired, too, and there is nothing but cold, cold air around. The repetition is intentional for this is how we talk lately. The first time we say it softly for the air takes our breath away, and then, we say it louder. The news says the rainfall is all but disrupted thanks to the tropical storm far away from the hills parched in this fog flurry. Of course, it is the things of science that rule the world. That, and hard logic. Those two things are all that matter to us as we grow up. But then, I reckon other things count, too, if you let them.

When science fails to explain your days away, perhaps smudging your paint-dipped fingers on a white canvas comes in clutch, and when logic fails to inform you well, then I reckon a poem swoops in and saves you. They say we all should remember where we came from, but so many of us forget. Not me, no. I am as much a child as I am an adult. If there is one thing I am fully aware of, it is that simple is often better than right. Tell me, is there anything simpler than the eyes of a child?

Bookmark #870

In the evening, I met a friend and after that took a walk and for some reason and no intention, I found myself in a very popular square of the city. I stood there for a bit and watched the vehicles appear out of thin air from the streets on one end and then disappear into the nothingness of the night. This, too, I did not intend on, but I looked up, and there I was, caught in the moment. I want to say, for the sake of powerful imagery, that I could see all the moments from my life unfolding in it, for there could have been a million times I have walked over those familiar streets, but it would be a lie and you, clever reader, would catch on to it. This is a relationship of honesty, after all. And so, I have to tell you that the moment was as ordinary as it could have been, and that is solely why it felt crucial, why I had to hold my gaze at it. There are times like these, too, I reckon—the unimportant times, the parts that fall through the cracks of memory. I looked at it, and I remember it now, and this seems erroneous to me. Almost as if I were never meant to watch it, that I was never meant to see how even something we call “nothing” can look so wonderful and inspiring, too.

And now, this is all I will remember from this day. Perhaps, a few things more—knick-knacks of the human condition, I reckon—but mostly just that moment in the evening as I stood there in the nippy air of an evening in January with an insurmountable surety in my heart. What has made me so steadfast about myself? What has made me so worriless? There are, of course, always things to fix, but lately, nothing has worried me. Everything happens, and if we find something is not to our liking, then, we need not fret. We only ought to wait. Things are always happening. It is the only thing that can be counted on. And since things are always happening, eventually, they find their way to be just how we prefer them, not too hot, not too cold. And sure, vital, life-or-death things remain undone, and of course, my search for love remains incomplete, and yes, there is the unanswerable question of purpose. All in due time, I say. One day at a time, I say. Today, we celebrate the middle.

Bookmark #869

It is eleven thirty in the morning, and the sun hasn’t broken through the sky yet. The fog still covers the buildings like a memory you remember in parts. The incomplete trees appear intermittently all over the scene like a canvas on the easel while the painter has gone out to lunch. The coffee got colder before I had half of it, and now, icy cold, black liquid remains in the cup. It does not matter, but this day has this frigid cover over it. This sort of coldness never goes away until the sun breaks, but the sky, too, is uncooperative today. Yet, the chilly air has brought quiet comfort along. I stood on the balcony for a good thirty minutes and stared at the makeshift, nebulous horizon and felt the breeze go by, tracing every exposed part of my skin with the softest of touches. And I stood there, completely alive, completely aware of who I have been, who I am, who I am meant to be. It was an important yet vacant moment. Perhaps it was all the more important because it was vacant. Then, I walked back in, slid the balcony door shut, and sat to write again. I reckon there is not much to say today. If these past few days have taught me anything, it is that the wicked games of fate are beyond my understanding, but for all the fogginess in how things happen to us, good things occur, too.

Parts of my life are blessed as if I were God’s favourite child, albeit the rebellious one, the runt of the litter, for I refuse to believe in the existence of such an entity, and perhaps, this is why, or maybe for no reason at all, the other parts are cursed to the point of a personal vendetta, where I can only sit in and look at yet another impossible situation unfold in the middle of the fanciest bar as they confirm five times before opening the expensive bottle of champagne, and I can look at my hands and think, “I made this life happen,” and I can look at you and think, “yet for all the times I have met you, it has been a day too early or a year too late.” So there I sat, under the burgeoning cover of the same fog that has remained till now, laughing and oscillating between looking at my hands and looking at you, cursing a God I do not believe in under my breath.

Fiction, Or “We Must Never Say The Word”

Sit down beside me. You do not have to say anything, and neither will I. As long as we do not talk about it, it does not exist. So, we must continue this way, never talking about it, never making it true. You do not feel it as long as you do not say it, and neither do I if I avoid saying it, too. We can stay this way, in the ambiguity forever, of me never knowing it, of you never saying it, but in the end, you will have said it a thousand times over, and I will have said it, too, only in a language only both of us ever knew. The world will not know about it, and why should it? This is a tête-à-tête, and we must be quiet and we must be soft. We must stick to the whispers, corners, and shadows.

We must only meet at parties and among people. We must only talk in glances. I will know what you mean, and you will know what I do, too. This is a given. It is the only given. I do not know many languages, but I am fluent in this one. And then, we must dance with others; we must dance with every person before we approach each other, so it seems as if nothing is amiss, nothing is at play. And then, we must behave; we must maintain decorum. The walls have ears, too. No one must hear us; we must talk in silence. You will smile and tell me how you feel. I will smile at you, and you, too, will know. But we must never say it. We must never utter the word. We must take the time we have, and then, we must part our ways as people part their ways. We should go on with our lives. We should marry other people, or not, but we must never utter the word or tell the story. It will never be real if we do not say it.

This fiction exists only in the imagination of two particularly stubborn people. You have kissed me a thousand times over, and I have held you countless times, too. We have done this from afar, and we have done this with finesse, with grace, and without anyone catching on. Now, it is time for me to leave. Now, it is time for you to go. Nothing was said, so nothing happened. As long as we uphold the vow and never talk about it, as long as we never say the word, it will never have existed. And yet, I will always remember you, and I hope you will remember me, too.

This piece was first seen on The Soaring Twenties Social Club (STSC) as part of an addendum to the Symposium on Fiction, the deadline for which passed me by like most love has passed me by: without my realisation, like a swift yet furtive cat, like a confession never uttered.

Bookmark #868

The reason we know people is so we can connect them to each other. Every person is a bridge. We cannot learn everything on our own, and I say that with the firsthand experience of trying my hand and, naturally, failing at this fool’s errand. But the fact that other people can be good at things you are terrible at is often understated and rarely realised. And the goal of any life should be to meet as many people as possible, to collect people with a wildly wide gamut of expertise. When I say expertise, I do not mean some position someone holds where they can make a few signatures to get things done for you. That sort of thing reeks of ugliness to people like me, and those kinds of acquaintances, while necessary, should not be the priority for any person living and meeting people. But alas, we need all kinds. That, too, is true. But when I say expertise, I mean people who know how to do things with their own two hands and who can make a molehill out of a mountain when it comes to solving a problem. And then, we must try our best to actively seek such problems.

When meeting a friend for lunch or after a long time in another city, we must ask them, “What are you trying to fix, and have you found a way yet?” And if we learn they are hammering their head on the wall, that they are stuck like someone is stuck when they have no options but to try something over and over without possessing the natural aptitude for the task at hand, we must do our best to help them, but as is often the case, we cannot be good at everything. But if we know someone who is good at it, someone who can help and reduce the effort simply by being on the scene, then I say it is our moral responsibility to bridge the gap. This is all any person is supposed to do. We must all share all that we know with each other, including the knowledge of others who can solve things we cannot.

And what if we are the person who needs help? Then, we must have the grace to accept this, to be receptive to the hand someone extends to help us out, and we must say, without even a shred of embarrassment, “I do not know my way around this; can you help me out?”

Bookmark #867

In a world so bleak and cold, what a rebellion it is to think in the wildly varying warm hues of hope. Sometimes, I fear I am not as optimistic a man, at least not as much as I could be, but then, I look around at all the people around me. I hear them talk as they diminish any sense of warmth in the world, and I realise the error in my judgment. Then, under the heavy air of adversity that has not arrived yet, I watch as they rely on the crutch of religion or some equally outlandish and bothersome idea. I sit there biting my tongue, thinking:

If you keep your heart open, if only you accept that good things exist, and they happen, and they happen more often than the bad things do, you would not need a proverbial stick to lean on. All of you will be bolstered. All of you will be surefooted. Tell me, what good is borrowed faith?

But I continue sitting there until the topic rolls over, or if there are more pressing, urgent concerns on the table, like deciding what to order, accelerated by the server’s arrival, things naturally move to that, and I avoid this absurd confrontation. Yet, it stays with me and rarely do I meet someone who shares this optimism—the quiet kind. My optimism is not about tricking myself. It is simply one of hope. There is the beginning and the end of it. I believe things happen if we try our hand at them, and until we try things, they can’t begin happening. And what of things that happen to us, the curveballs, the unexpected? What of it? Pain occurs, and you do something to it until it feels smaller.

No matter what happens in life, there is something beautiful to look at, something warm to talk about, something of a vivid and loud aesthetic quality to embrace. This is a given. But most people do not look at things this way. They miss out on the serendipity of life. When their misery ends, they have another one to mull over. Over and over, this happens. They do not stare at the sun. They do not walk under its glow. The lengths most people will go to for this exhausts me in a secondhand fashion. I do not know what to do with this feeling.

Anything can happen—that much is true. What most people forget is that this includes the good.

Bookmark #866

I sit here writing at about twenty minutes after midnight. The day is still going on like an affair on its last legs, and I am thinking about all the times I could have written today—in the morning, under the afternoon sun, in the cafe at six, but I did not do it. The reasons for it are a mystery intriguing enough for someone to look into but unimportant enough to become a cold case eventually. In any case, here I sit, writing. Nothing else matters. One might argue that by the time I say something significant, which is often only a sentence wrapped up into the padding of mundane context, like the proverbial needle in the haystack, the piece is usually over, that I take ages to even reach what I am writing about. But all of that is hypothetical, of course, for to argue about these vignettes, one would have to read them first and read all of them, and if that is a humongous ordeal, then read enough of them to know how they exist like a pack of cards. You may not always have use for all of them, and if you are the gambling kind, you definitely will look to the few, but the fact that you need all of them to complete a suit remains unchanged regardless of the utility of any card or the rules of the game. These pieces work like that, too, or at least, I hope they do. I would not know, not for sure.

Today, I find a sudden, almost refreshing urge to be honest. Not that honesty had ever escaped me, but today, it is present in how water is present in a glass that is overflowing already, in how someone turns the tap on and forgets the glass there and then, and the glass is then filled anew with water, and when it is fully filled with it, it is filled yet again, and on and on it gets filled with it until someone notices it. That is how I feel tonight, but I do not have a reason for this, and this is what bothers me. More often than not, if you tell people how you feel, they ask you why, and they do this immediately, and they do it instinctively, and they do this liberally, without paying any heed to kind of feeling. Eventually, we begin to ask ourselves this before anyone can.

Why am I happy? We ask ourselves as if it is something strange and unknown. It makes me laugh.

Bookmark #865

While having my second coffee today—no, I reckon it was the third—I began to stare into space and looked at the sky with its odd mauve hue of winter nothingness. I forgot I was with my friends for two or three seconds, and in it, I thought of the sheer volume of time that has passed through me, and that I have passed through in return. But then, I avoided being caught up in the trap of my own mind, and I felt neither sorry nor awe.

As I said, it was only two or three seconds, and after that, I was with my friends again. We had coffee and some food. I clasped and rubbed my hands together and tucked my head into my scarf as a breeze blew. The otherwise sunny and light-filled outdoor seating was warm differently this evening. It was warm, like a walk in the narrow paths of a hilly town, with its cobblestone roads and trails moist and wet with the rain from the night prior. If we sat there for another twenty minutes, I suppose we would have frozen to death or, hyperbole aside, caught a cold, but for the time we were there, there was warmth, too. This is an evening I will carry till the last day I spend in this life, this and many others like it.

Only one kind of happiness stays the test of time, and it is this one—the one of comfort. Everything fades. I have been happy, ecstatic even, but all of it has been conditional. Happiness has filled me one day, and the next, it has spilt through the cracks in the phoney bone china heart of mine, broken, of course, on accident, as if that is any excuse anyone could give for breaking something that was not theirs. Alas, there is happiness like that—fragile, delicate, brittle and frail. It breaks the moment you get a little too comfortable with it.

Then, there is what was on the sticky wooden table in the garden today. You cannot take it away. It stays with you in all its barren coldness. You remember it because it makes no sense when you’re in it. But then, time passes, and you realise you would do anything to return to it. Moments like these are present all over. I suppose I have learned to spot some of them ahead of time without the crutch of hindsight.

I wonder why that is, but that, too, is not my concern tonight.

Bookmark #864

The city you grew up in, regardless of the times you left and returned, irrespective of whether you stay or go again, carries a unique place in your heart, but more so, in your continuity. I walk through the narrow street which, at one point, housed the kindergarten I went to. The school is no more; there are apartments in its place now. But this has no hold over the memory. The kindergarten exists still in some lives, and children still go there as far as memory is concerned. I walked through the town, which is not something I have done in a while, for the sidewalks were all turned over and filled with dust and cement—surrounded by workers toiling in the ruckus of the day and the chilly air of the night—did not offer much opportunity. But now, everything is made anew. The lights all over, the ever-evolving skyline, and the pristine and meticulously paved sidewalks have enticed me lately.

Today, I followed the route I would follow often before the city got buried in dust a year ago. A wave of nostalgia crashed over me as, once again, I saw my whole life happen before my eyes, and I walked through both key and banal events. I lost people all over again, and I found them again, and then, I lost them again, too. I lost them at crossroads, on sidewalks, on benches, and sometimes, I lost them in the crowds.

I returned rejuvenated and energised but also heaving a sigh at the sight of my heavy heart. Perhaps, there is solace in this, that I am leaving again, and that this time, unlike before, I plan to return. I am not running away from the small town anymore, no. If my eyes are any good, this sprawling urban centre is neither small nor a town. It is now the oldest friend I have. The one from whom nothing is hidden, nothing is omitted. It has seen it all, yet it invites me for a walk.

We leave parts of ourselves, ghosts only we can see and remember. Well, us and the city. I walked half a score of kilometres, and not once did we run out of stories. Remember that luxury hotel used to be an oily food joint? Remember when no malls existed? Remember when I fell in love over there, on that corner?

Of course, it did. It remembered everything.

Bookmark #863

It is eleven in the night. The fog has started to set in on the balcony outside. The spicy aroma of the tea in the mug wafts about this corner of the room where I sit with the blank page facing me. All days are different in how they eat you up, how they exhaust you. Today, I feel the most unfortunate weariness, the one of the mind, the one where you can read a sentence and know what words are written, but the meaning escapes you, the one when everything that falls out of your mouth falls wrongly, when it is all garbled and boggled, and in the end, all you can do is wait for your body to become tired enough so you could sleep. You could run a marathon, running and pacing yourself along the streets of the town, even in the dead of winter. You could do it and finish it and not grasp why they gave you the medal you now hold. This is the worst kind of exhaustion because it leaves nothing in you. This is also the most common kind of exhaustion for those of us who have to earn a living, so we can write a few words in the morning or sometimes in the night.

Music plays in the background—rhythm & blues, some song about making the right decisions, and I want to think it over. I want to listen to it and let it affect me in the worst possible way. But I am so tired. The words make no sense, and in this delirium, I sit here, enjoying it instead. So much truth in the gravelly voice, the world-weary lyrics, and to think it is merely playing as I sit and write here. One must have an even head even to enjoy a good song. Today, if all my wishes came true, I would not be able to accept the gift graciously, and what if just one came true? What if the phone rang and someone confessed their undying love for me? That, too, I would process with the hay in my head and say something wrong, or out of place, or worse, not say anything at all. On a day, or rather, a night like this, we must go to sleep as early as we can before we squander some opportunity. We must let the world live and pass us by. We must pull over and sit at the curb of the night. We must let the day end, so I will do just that.

Bookmark #862

It is Sunday, and my wish for some sun has been granted sparingly, like how a genie grants a wish in the most twisted sense, almost as if the ability to wish was a trick in itself. But I am aware of the many pitfalls of hope and wishful thinking. People learn these things early. No school is necessary, and no rubric or pedagogy is required for optimum learning. All people, at some point or the other, learn that to wish is to gamble. It is the most dangerous gamble of all—you put your life, and not just your life, but the life to come, the future at stake. Yet, we wish for things, big and small. I wished for love not long ago; today, I wished for sunshine. Banal as the latter was, it has not been granted. Sure, there is light around. We are not submerged in eternal darkness as this passage would have you believe, but there is no warmth in the light upon us. “You asked for sun, and here it is,” the genie would say, “you did not specify you wanted warmth.” And he would be right. All the fables warn us about it. I have been a fool for not choosing my words carefully.

Oh, for all the regrets I have about this to mull over. If I had a nickel, oh well, I would not be sitting here renting this apartment, that is for sure. It is the semantics that betray us, writers most of all. We say things, and then, we regret them not because we were wrong but because between all that is written (or said) and all that is read (or heard) is the valley of interpretation. It burgeons with the lush patches of misunderstanding. They grow in all shapes and sizes and, often, are alluringly beautiful. Like bees filled with the buzz of innocence, we wander to them, and there we learn, like bees often do, that of all flowers in the world, the most colourful are usually traps.

Ah, my metaphor seems to have wandered like a wayward bee who never returns to the hive. It is perhaps a hint that I have already said what I could say today. And yet, it also reminds me of all the conversations that did not go right, and there it is, the reason I woke up with the craving for warmth.

But then, you cannot merely wish for things—I will now go to the kitchen and make some coffee—you must make them happen.

Bookmark #861

After waking up today, I walked around the flat as if I had been to it for the first time, with the strange unfamiliarity of how you wander around in someone else’s home, like a stranger’s place you arrived at drunk and late in the night with other things on your mind than looking at their decor or commenting on their bookshelf and only in the morning was there any time or attention to take a look around and gauge what kind of person lives there. Once I got some coffee in my veins and things began to seem recognisable, I realised I had slept the morning away. Of course, this was not odd to me because the next immediate thought I had was about how the last week had felt longer than a month, and this, I want to specify explicitly, was a welcome change.

It has come to my realisation that, like a dog in the street, I cannot rest for long on most days, that I need to rush here and there, find things to do, go places I would otherwise not go to, and only when I am exhausted and full, and I have a corner of my own, do I find it in me to get some sleep. I reckon this is not true for all of us, and it was not true of me last year, but in the overarching continuity of who I am, I feel this has been a prevalent theme.

If you ask friends I have made over the years, they will vouch for this, and if you ask lovers, I believe they will vouch for it, too, but they may give you a look of disdain on hearing my name. I urge you to only think of this as a mental exercise and take my word for it, and if you do plan to do this, do it without my permission and at your own risk. I would not wish a sour experience on anyone, especially someone who reads my work, of which there are a handful, some I know and some I don’t, but all I could not do without. And if this is a piece being read much, much later than it was published first, you, too, have my utmost respect. Among the many avenues to waste your time, you have chosen these words. There is bravery in this, and there is stupidity, too, and both are the same, depending on what you get out of it.

Oh, how this week, this start of something new, has rejuvenated me, my writing! I reckon there is rarely a more splendid start to a year.

Bookmark #860

Lately, I have been reading a book about how longitudes were found, and it is not a long book by any measure, but it seems as fast as I can read in general, when I pick a book up, I pick it up for days and months even. And while poetry has had its heyday, and while prose has had its place, it has been a while since I have picked something so accurate, so factual, so real. Learning about how humanity overcame a glorious challenge is, of course, important, but the reason I have enjoyed this book is because of the many, and primarily loud, failures. I have enjoyed the intrigue, the depravity, the lowest of lows people can go to claim their name to fame, or simply to say that they were right, the sheer perseverance of an honest pursuit in the cannon fire of misdirects and lies. Stories, after all, follow life, and life happens without the coat of paint, without the masks of characters and metaphors. Sometimes, we must read that which really happened.

I wrote this and forgot about it, and when I reached the last page of this book, I happened to be in a plane, flying over more cities than I could ever count or name. I remembered it then, the passage I had left writing midway in the wake of something better, something more profound. But the thought, my awe at every convenience, little or large, is with me still, and it has inspired me. No, not to pursue some grand pursuit. At least, not yet.

These words I write each day are not grand. This discipline that wavers like deadwood floating on water, often diving under only to pop back up again owing to forces out of its control, is nothing remarkable. People live far more inspiring lives than I do, so I must keep an open mind for what comes my way. There are, of course, moments when life asks you to step up into greatness, but we can pass them by like we pass by the most mundane store in the neighbourhood, no name, no sign over it.

Everybody does it, but for a few of us, provided we keep an open mind, its austerity becomes a call to open its door and walk in. Now, I could not tell you why, but this life has begun to feel like a door closed for far too long. I might fling it open from the inside and see what happens.

Bookmark #859

To tell others how we truly feel, and then, to grant ourselves the same privilege is something I wish for all of us. To be honest in a way a child, who comes across as rude to a stranger, simply for their untouched, unmarred honesty. And to be as humble and calm as the understanding stranger, who does not bat an eye and often laughs and lets it go as the parents, if they are around, profusely apologise to them. To put it short, I wish innocence on all of us. But as I sit here, convoluted notions already crunching me, as they do all of us, like vines in some second-rate scary film, where the special effects are far too visible, far too apparent, but we ignore them. We suspend our disbelief, as they put it, and it seems we have done the same with our lives. I wish all of us would open our eyes now and then. At least, I am willing to try. I am eager to pour my heart out like you would pour paint on a blank canvas lying on the floor as you play around with colour, again, as children do. A lot of it has been left in bittersweet memories of summers that did not end and winters that were cosy beyond measure. A lot of it is simply left behind, like a book that falls behind the others, by itself. It is by no means unreachable, but until no one does inventory when the library is sold to an unnamed mogul or the sort, it is lost to time. Where is that book? Where is that sweater I wore when I was fifteen and January was too cold? Where is the allure of saying what truly comes to my mind? Where is the temerity, and why has it been tempered? All questions fit for a cold evening following an otherwise warm day. All without answers.

I reckon there are parts I can still change and fix. I reckon in this wish for innocence is masked a personal need, some vendetta against the world which I would admit if the world had not made me dishonest in how the cleverest of housecats are dishonest about the state of their hunger.

The world has taught me to never show all my cards. But this is getting exhausting. I might as well stake it all on the hand I have been dealt. I still have a few good years left in me before I dance to the tunes of the world. At least, I am willing to try.

Bookmark #858

Tonight, once again, I am writing from my bed under the bearable weight of the quilt, which is nothing in comparison to the desk by the window whose glass emanates a pulse of icy air, almost as if it were breathing.

Last night, I brought a book with me in bed and planned to read it when I was done writing, but then, as I wrapped the piece neatly and where I liked it, I lay down, and before I realised, it was morning and pigeons were colliding with the glass which was so frosted opaque by all the condensed air on it. I carry more energy tonight than the last, and I believe I will read a few pages. It is but a pleasure to read old dystopian novels, after all. You realise that the author was in their wildest imaginations coming up with some jarring ideas about the structure of the world, and then, you see how most of them have come to pass. You sit there appreciating the writer for the sheer measure of their genius while simultaneously crying a dry tear over the state of the times.

Today has been a rather uneventful day in that nothing special happened. Of course, what was planned was achieved, and nothing remains undone. I am forced to think of the critically high standard I have had for myself all these years. Thinking about this act of writing at this moment itself: how I have denied myself the pleasure of writing comfortably simply as a superlative pressure of doing everything the right way. But now, I sit here, having written more words than I ever imagined but not enough to summarise what it is I write in a single sentence, an elevator pitch to some stranger I met at a party who I will possibly never meet, or some washed out musician I met on the plane who would not shut up and let me watch the clouds drifting by. I sit here by myself with nothing to show for anything. If this was the final destination anyway, it could have been achieved without the added discomfort and faux discipline I put myself through.

Perhaps this monologue echoing in my head is just a lament of regret now that my life is genuinely uncomfortable—or beginning to be. How many days, I wonder, have I subjected myself to utter torment simply in the fear of becoming too comfortable?