O heart, smile or cry, but never shatter.

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Today seems like just another rainy day, sometime in the month of July. When my house used to be enchanted with the smell of dahlia and jasmine, with a scent so strong that I can still smell them in my Mumbai flat, where the seasons change just as fast as the person living in the slum right outside my flat and not a single flower has grown over the past 6 months of me moving in.

Mother hated the fact that I loved gardening and the fact that I liked dancing in the rain like a girl. But it was always very instinctive to me as if my hands had always known the art to birthing these beautiful flowers or as if my feet sprung to the act of dancing all on their own when they heard the rain drops falling on the cemented road we had outside the house.
It rains here too, and I can still hear the raindrops; I dance too, but very rarely.

It has rained the entire day today but it doesn’t sing for me anymore. It never did after I moved out of my grandmother’s house, I wonder if it sings for the house anymore. Its rubble now, I hear and I fear the house withdrew into silence long ago. Maybe even before I first moved in. Among books and birds, I grew into a house that shone every night with the moon and the stars and woke up even before my grandmother. How often do I wish to go back, maybe just for the air that must have frozen at its place, or to peep right through the windows with those thick steel railings? Maybe too often.

And if nothing, maybe in the wild despair I can still smell the rain on the thick grass that must have grown, right across the bedroom I shared with my grandmother and sister. But oh my darling, do you really believe in any of this? Can you really believe that I lived in such a house, Can you believe that I loved this rubble once?

“In the quiet, the children could hear everything that the house had to say. Even when it was perfectly quiet for everyone else. They heard stories of their grandparents moving in and of their own first steps. The house would giggle too with the children that played within.  And the children were proud, and the house ever so loving.”

But today when it rains, I have no memories of my childhood, or of the urge to dance in the rain anymore. I desire sitting by the window in my desolate flat and stare outside. I desire to be locked in and never let out. I desire nothing but you, not even the momentous pleasure sex brings with itself. And I know I ask for a little too much but trust me I’ve always been like this.

You, my lover, are a cruel irony to my love, akin to wild things that decide their own fate, like the dead leaves that float in the air, in a forest away from anyone’s gaze; you recognize me but care not. And I stand beneath the gaze of onlookers, the moon, and stars that are forever young and old, and have loved many who died in their presence. Memories cuddle and run away, these memories who are souvenirs of our love. And the moon and the stars, rule over my endurance, leave me to die: my longing lost, recognized but flown away by the wind.
You remain in the air.

“O heart, smile or cry, but never shatter.
Endure the agonizing pain of memories,
and survive.”

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At least he smiles.

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He still smiles. (Not a poem #1)

Thank goodness for the world that I cannot love you. Otherwise, what do you do when you fall in love with your brother or with your best friend. You die, or you suffocate yourself and lie. It’s a blunder.

But not really, you die, only metaphorically. Which is worse.

And then you meet them, the ones you loved, love,…… and end up with improper goodbyes, empty conversations and the love decays, except not really, because, he, still smiles. And you fall in love again. Except not really.
Not this time.

 

Tender days.

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In its undisturbed stationary ways,
Some days,
the sun is hotter than ever
and it burns
like paper on fire
while on others
it is soft, somewhere
between the clouds,
as if it were
too shy or forced to hide
and then there are times
when the same sun
reminds me of, oh,
I don’t know
maybe
of broken twig, still stuck with the plant
like a tender heart
yearning to be free.

Bad luck; of course.

 

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Write about me, sometimes.

 

“I don’t think I have known you long enough to love you, but then I don’t understand love. I am crying now, but mostly sobbing, so that I don’t catch anyone’s attention, for I would like to continue crying. Crying isn’t so bad either.”

The number of people I have dated for the first time in my life is absurd, almost laughable, to be very honest. The last one was, of course, Andrew, whom I had finally started dating after almost 3 years of crushing over him, but of course, my father who is the deputy chief of the police is transferred somewhere far away, and I had to move with him. Of course.

We have moved at least 3-4 times over the past 7 years, which increased especially after my mother’s death since my father knows that I love him just a little too much. At this point, it’s almost a game. Though, this time he did ask me, if I wanted to stay back, maybe in a rented flat, but I refused, which I guess is fine. Father is old now, and I love him, but maybe a little too much.

I have already packed most of my clothes and other belongings, I have also secretly packed the letters a few very close friends wrote, these letters define me.

“Will you write me down in your prettiest paper with your typewriter? Write me down in a story, that you love, and I promise I’ll fall in love with it too.”

I smile and giggle as I read the story one more time.I have found myself reading letters/ emails/ personal stories more than ever.

Very appropriately, the season is fall, the month of October. I remember, very vividly, last October. I fell in love with a Guitarist who was obsessed with just one tune, that he refused to play for his audience, it was only when we were dating that he played it, and realized that it was never meant for me. We broke up soon after.

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The current neighborhood, where I live, is rather calm, something which I have fallen in love over the past one and a half years.

The third person, on my list of people I have dated, at least over 1 month, was Mathew, with the stupidest beanie I have ever seen. He also had this weird obsession with carrying his giant backpack, Why, though?

This doesn’t really matter, now,  does it? I’m moving out again, and I know I’ll be off to somewhere else after that too. I love my friends nevertheless, always have, but maybe moving away has made me careless. I find myself walking by the shoreline alone now, but I am not alone. Sometimes I think, my mother died too young, too fast, but then maybe death is easier.

I have never quite loved any of these people, except my father. Neither do I mind moving out, it’s just that…………………………

I continue to love people whom I once loved, even when I try and avoid them at every street we meet. I have become painfully naive, and know no difference between the things I like and the ones I dislike. Am I passionate about both, yes.But truth be told, I don’t know who I am, maybe just a fragmented puzzle. Maybe.

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Cold

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It is half past one, and you
are more restless than I, when
this day had started, when
you and I met.

The air that parts the window from the curtain, is
colder than I guessed, and now
I fear that I might freeze to death.

And so I move, towards
the closest thing for warmth, and
I find you, wrestling for sleep.

So, I kiss you, gently on your cheeks
And it’s wet now, colder than the rest of you
But there are other things to worry about
Because the gentle peck on your cheek
Wouldn’t even be there, when you wake up.
A message, disappearing, before anyone reads it.

There is much else to be worried about
Like, the coldness, in between you and me
and beneath all of us.

Hard times.

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I remember the day my mother told me that father had died in a car accident very vividly, I also remember thinking how hard would it be for my mother to raise me all on her own, after she said that I was hard to raise, which was especially the case with her, since she had to move from one place to another during her work.

My father earned very little, so while money never became an issue, I tried and started growing up into a good boy, which is why the fridge had lesser chocolates now and every time we went shopping together I let her choose the products that were on sale or had a toy that was free with it.

She never really told me that she was sick of returning back to the same office desk over and over again, because she had groceries to buy, and groceries don’t come free. When I was 12, I was diagnosed with a rare mental disorder, and the last time I went to my psychotherapist I realized a single session costs 75 dollars. Which is why my mother’s depression was barely anything to notice because 75 dollars meant a lot, it meant a week load of groceries and it meant our house’s rent, and perhaps somewhere in between months, it also meant my sessions with the doctor.

Since childhood, I was cautious of how my mother never had to run after me. I also tried and kept her company from time to time, from standing alongside her in the kitchen helping her with the side dishes to sometimes going to her office with her favorite cake, wrapped in a silver lined wrapping paper.  When father was alive, I often tried and helped him with gardening. And while he was gone now, the garden still stayed. Places do indeed have stories to tell.

Two months back we moved from our old house to a new but smaller flat, somewhere in the middle of the city, I refuse to pray the same way my grandparents taught me.

I started writing almost a year back and I have never found myself writing merry, joyous tales; it just doesn’t feel like the right time, it never does. Last night my mother told me that she misses our old house despite the fact that I don’t, so we went for a short visit. The house is more than a millennial old and stands on the same piece of land that mispronounces our grief, but it also hides the secrets somewhere in its treasured rooms. I fear that the land will grow up to be that one exotic thing our family owns, with the house crying at our deaths and smiling at newborns.

My mother sits in the courtyard, slightly sobbing, and it is the night before we know it. We decide to spend our night in our own rooms, but my mother says she can’t sleep, because the moon is too beautiful, and she an everlasting suffering awed in tranquility.

At this point of the night, the last thing I want is either one of us bursting into tears. Sadness, is odd because for once it soothes our heart but with slight premonitions of bursting out all we have. And maybe I’ll live longer than my mother ever will and I will die each day, sobbing, crying, dying.

I am wary and fear that I’ll always be, because I know that some part of me still remembers coming out of your womb, and noticing the way you stood right at the school gates, waiting, I remember noticing your perfect hair and studying your every move, your hands always sticking out for us. I remember and I fear that I might never stop crying and crying unfurls fast.

Words encrypted on her forehead.

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Dear Shahleen,

The 12th-century dinner is laid with a platter full of perfectly cooked meat with some fancy liquor to entice its most enthralling guests, filled with compassion and sharp wit.

And since you have now grown up and finally invited to one of these places, I thought I would allow myself to teach you the basic etiquettes of one such grandeur event.

Remember that you must compliment how beautiful your host’s wife is when you first meet her, kiss her then, gently on her cheek. This would give out your intentions as being a good complementary guest. You should also say a small prayer, so as to respect the religion that your host follows, for you must never come out as an atheist or you’ll be dead before you know it.

But perhaps the last thing you would like to do or say at a dinner table at your Rich Indian friend’s house is perhaps how raw the steak on your plate is or how his servant doesn’t seem to have cleaned the house properly, pointing at a cow web somewhere near the edges.

And I must tell you that there would be nothing as offensive as that; but if you are feeling slightly lucky, go on, in fact, comment on how the silver plates don’t look beautiful enough and neither does the glass ceiling.

Be very careful now my child, and look out for an apparent reaction, and while the gentleman’s game of insults would first lead to your host shooting the servant in his head, if the setting gets way out of hand, laugh it out, and tell how you were only joking. Laugh with him now, would you?

Praise his British Sea Service Pistol…., and you will realize that he’ll readily call you to the dinner table again. Enjoy your dinner now, as the dead man lies on the left, and the lady of the house stands somewhere on the right.

“Words encrypted on her forehead, her lips sealed.”

Yours Lovingly,
Uncle Ahmad.