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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Delhi.

 

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Picture credits- The Artidote.

 

“There’s evidence that D.H. Lawrence enjoyed an erotic power exchange relationship with his wife, that James Joyce was into scat (among other things), and that Oscar Wilde—well, most of us know what Oscar Wilde liked.”

The first time I met him, I passed by my lover, in the busy streets of Connaught Place, walking without a reason. Today when he and I are here again, primarily in response to our love for a certain cafe, I am reminded of our abrupt meet. Though in all honesty, I was in need of someone, mostly because of the fact that most of my friends’ lives were peopled already. Under these enormous buildings made of white marble, one is often dazed by the number of shops that have taken permanent residence here.

We sip coffee, munch egg sandwiches and engender rapport. It is easy to loose oneself in the restlessness that the city is always consumed in. I am meeting my boyfriend after a period of 3 months, and both of us know that we’ll make love soon after in either of our tiny flats, but the restlessness in our hearts is perfectly obvious. But that’s fine.

I have decided not to complain.

When we wake up the next morning, my arm splayed across his bare chest, I realize that it’s half past 11 and I have already missed my appointment with the dentist.

My body has reminisced of us making love, so I wear a turtle neck shirt, blushing at the same time. My parents would disapprove of me. Not only am I making love before getting married, but that also with someone from the same sex. Joy feels like a kind of revolt.

I endanger the lives of my neighbors every time my boyfriend is home, or when I am home a little too drunk. Divine is my body that has given birth to my senses. I have come to love a man, just like any straight person would love a woman but divine is my body.

My boyfriend wakes up soon after, but we do not talk for a short while. He tells me that he has to go for a seminar just outside the city and invites me for the same, but I refuse. I’ve come to terms with parting and meeting.There is always a form of urgency even when we meet, lost always in our words.

I leave his place after breakfast, and in hope to find a bus that goes directly towards my place, I wait at the bus stop. The bus stop is unusually crowded for a Sunday morning, so I decide to go to a friend’s place at Hauz Khas. It’s only the month of March, but it’s already over 35 degrees here. The city doesn’t have the same mystic charm as Gregory Davis Robert describes Mumbai with, but it is undoubtedly no less ambiguous to the unwary traveler. I, too am hidden in its smog-filled streets. Leaving the city to decide my fate as it goes.

I leave my friend’s place sometime around 3.3o and the market is filled now. I reach Sarojini Nagar in search of a few basic necessities, and it’s packed. With men who sell only bangles on their carts, bangles that are long discarded by their own wives to small kulfi joints, inevitably crowded by a lousy and loud group of teenagers.

I have conjured most of my life’s realities in dreams and in short write-ups, but today doesn’t feel like a day to write or dream. I feel ashamed of making love with the person I love the most, and my hands reach out for the arteries and bleeding veins inside my heart, prying with force.

But so long as I walk with a smile on my face and nobody notices me bleeding none shall stop or mutter a word. To muster enough care for my heart to nurture again. For life, for love, for sensuality. And for days to come.

 

A series of unfortunate events #1.

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Picture credits- favim.com

The day mother doesn’t come home from work, father gets worried that he will have to raise both of us all on his own. And I and my sister get worried because the father isn’t a good cook, and all we have had for our dinner, the past three nights, are oats and mashed potatoes.

But two children with neither of their parents alive aren’t looked up in the society. So we have decided against killing our father. He also earns, for us, of course.

My sister would be a fine writer one day, I’m sure. And on days when we won’t have a story to tell, we will tell the tale of our dead mother and a father who cooked terribly.

Our friends in the neighborhood are stupid and cannot fend for themselves if their mothers die. Just like little Tim, who fell down on the playground while playing with us the other day, and we tried to bury him, but the sand fell short.

Their parents complain that we make too much noise, but silencers are costly, and real kids don’t use them. Father is annoyed, but he still doesn’t cook very well, and I hope that mother is seeing this.

Father has booked our tickets to our grandparent’s house, and I remember very vividly, that the last time I visited grandmother, we were served apple pies and delicious banana cakes. Funny how they’ll live longer than the father. Or maybe not.

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GIF credits- Pureevilgallery.virb.com

The forbidden sky in the night.

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He asks me if I have I have a girlfriend now, so I shudder and look across to him from across our laptop screens. I guess he waits for an answer now, so I reply, “What is there to say”?. He laughs and changes his question, but I continue to wonder. Am I in a relationship, Have I ever been in a relationship? I am still talking to him, but I think he realized that I intentionally ran away from his question so he apologizes. I say, “What is there to apologize for?”

It is already pretty late to talk any more, so we say our goodbyes. But I get no sleep, so I pick up my notebook and write down the sentences I had hidden, tucked in, deep within. There are about a 100 words that I have scribbled down when I am too tired to go on, and I remind myself that until I have my pen, I can write. I settle down, in the bed, playing Charlie’s first mixtape.

I’ve got one hand on my chest, while the other taps its fingers to the song’s tune. This helps me calm down. I’m 19, and in my second semester at college, unsure about getting up, as a whole, naked and unscarred.

I am still wondering if I could have come up with a better answer to my friend’s question. But I guess not. Maybe. Why did he ask anyway?


These are still better days, at least in comparison to when there is no light at all. When my heart refuses to listen to my brain and I die, slowly, but eventually. But I have found ways to console myself. It has been easier by the day.

Over the past two semesters at college, I have visited modern art galleries and roamed around on the streets of a city I’m still very unfamiliar with. It’s still very pretty, no matter how many times, I visit the same bookshop, that plays by my hours, and allows me to sink in.

Last night, I dreamt about an unknown place, where I sat with my closest friends and drank to these merry days. Dreams are awfully vague, but oh, never too far away.

In reality, I’ve never really gotten drunk, and I wonder, what it is like to be a little out of control, intentionally. And in an everlasting continuation of self-assurances and promises, I make a note of the same. Words consume me, and it’s the most beautiful thing in my life.

Days pass by, and college is only getting better.

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I don’t sleep in the afternoon, but even when I crawl into my tiny bed, waking up in the dark is rather common. I wake up to an odd sound the other day and pick my phone up for light. It shines yellowish as if the light was diseased in itself.

I dream of my house the same night, but it’s a completely different place. A river flows down a road covered in dirt and my house isn’t anything like what I remember, I can’t see my sister or my father. My mother sits in her bedroom but does not talk. But I am conscious of it being a dream, so I refuse to fret.

My alarm buzzes at this point and I wake up, almost in a hurry, worried about my own identity.


That night, when I was sure my roommate was asleep, I went over everything I had seen and taken in with a sensitive kid’s emotional intelligence and cried.


There is a story that I wanted to tell my friend, when he asked me that question, waiting for an answer so earnestly. A story that I want to tell every time someone says why are you so quiet, you should really open up a little, trust people more. There’s a story I want to tell underneath every other story I’ve ever told.

You are sitting in a room that is now part of your life. It’s familiar, like your parent’s bedroom, where you went to sleep when you were a little too scared, or like a motel room, where you first made out, with your lover. You are comfortable now, amidst art that is all across your room: paintings of landscapes and of familiar faces obscured in a thick fog.

Outside, there is none of this, but you are still comfortable. In the same dark foggy night, your cries get muffled down, and the universe doesn’t care. You frown

And so you go back to your room, not because the universe fulfills you, but because you are too scared of the vast wide world. The walls define you better. Just the same way, they define me. And because you are complete within yourself, breaking the shell is not important anymore.

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A terrible day.

 

 

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Picture courtesy- Theabsolutemag.com

 

 

“I hate you as if you were one of my sculptures that I loved but could never complete. My eyes can’t bear your shape and my scalpel won’t touch you, I hate you but love you just as much as to never throw you away.”

Dear Mary,
You remind me that I never owned you because no one can own anybody, and not because the love between us lacked. But I am too old to understand a lot of things so I would still like to believe that I own some parts of you, at least the ones I gave birth.

Nakata was born exactly 2 years after you and in my fear of never neglecting you, I tried and loved you both just the same. However Nakata was the one who always rolled off the mattresses each time, I used to put him to sleep.

I remember driving you two to the Aragusuku Beach in Miyakojima on an extremely windy day, and Nakata fell sick. And you were the one who took care of him in the back of the year. This happened on the 22nd March 1978. By the time we reached home, Nakata was sleeping comfortably on your lap, while you moved your hands softly through his hair.

To make sure that I gave most of my time to the two of you, I barely left home and only crafted when you slept, on the room in the left of the first floor. I very vividly remember your enthusiasms when I first allowed you to paint on the canvas I once used for myself.

And in the small room, concealed within the four walls, your colors flooded everything that any eye could see. Now that you are gone, I fear that my room, that stands peacefully between the four walls is slowly contracting on its own. Smaller and smaller it grows and with itself, it tends to shatter the colors within. I live a little with each shared color. I belong to these colors.

But like every other tale that revolves around life, not all goes the way you want it to. And Nakata died in a car accident 7 months back, while you never turned up, your refusal to mourn Nakata’s death is only a sign of resentment, that’ll fade away, sooner than you might have thought.

Today, it’s his death anniversary, and yet I have more memories of him than of you. Not that I hate you, but not once have you come to meet. Maybe, this is why I was so happy to meet the postman, who told me about the letter that you wrote to me.

An hour after I received your letter, the phone rang, and I picked up, but the person on the other side had already hung up. Maybe it was you, or just some random stranger, who must have realized that he has dialed the wrong number. Despite this, I kept the phone to my ear, listening to the dial tone. At this moment, I am sure that I am not the same person I once was, while the real me continues to sit alone in the same room we once painted together in, watching in disbelief.

But I won’t trouble you for any longer than it takes me to complete this final painting I am doing. I must warn you that I am no longer able to keep up with you and neither has my art. I have grown tired and restless, and my hand shakes when I pick my paintbrush. I refuse to sculpt anymore.

With love.
Truly yours,
Your mother.

“All of us have painted our own beautiful words on the canvas, very precisely articulative of our dreams. But the one thing we forget is that the wind is strong and the sea turbulent. And colors fade away.”

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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.

Borrowed times,

I remember the last time I woke up in a bed at my favorite brothel, I was worried about the fact that the clock had crossed my morning office timings ages ago, which is why I preferred to pay for some more borrowed time.

I remember greatly admiring Marquez’s “Memories of my melancholy whores” but the tragedy still lurks each time I have come here, I have confused between Veronica and Dennis, especially due to their mutual hatred for older men, which is mostly due to their unhygienic habits of not shaving their excessive body hair.

I do not blame them either. I myself saw one of these girls, yesterday while getting off at my bus station, talking or rather negotiating a deal. For perhaps an hour or two, sex becomes harder as you grow old I fear. But I still have much to live up for.

My parents died when I was 19, my father got a stroke in the same room I was born in, while my mother died a few months later due to a severe form of cancer. It was a moment of unrest, great unrest. It was also the year when I first entered a whore house.

My parents lived and died in the same house where their parents did, though in no sense do I pity them since their room opened to a small but beautiful balcony overlooking a lake. I remember how proud my father used to be when he used to talk about it to his friends, boasting about how beautiful the scenery was. I have vowed to live and die alone in the same room, in the hope that my death will come painlessly.

I am only 39, but I fear so many things, that at this point of time I have refused to make the count. I fear heights because the first time I jumped out of my terrace, I fell and broke my bones, instead of flying, and I fear queues because I was a pampered child. I still like taking the public buses, because they tell me the stories that I long for, stories about places I’ll perhaps never go to and people whom I’ll never meet. It allows to rest my mind a little bit and not think for a bit, and while I listen and barely forget any of these stories, I can never quite experience it.

I am still restless, sitting beside a lady who sells her ‘love’ for money, I tremble because I wish to be a part of their chaotic lives but I cannot. Mostly because when I say that I wish to be a part of them, I don’t intend to sell myself as a sex worker but only because I have fallen in love with Decidua and she fails to see this. She tells me that every guy who fucks her tells her the same thing, but once they are done, all they give you are shillings.

It is true. I am not a prostitute and that is why I am allowed to dream of love and of pleasant days when everything goes the way I want it and I am allowed to recollect my dreams and post them in fancy stationary and in notebooks made of handmade paper. But I am still restless. And I’m allowed to say this because there are people who will listen, but what if I need to scream. What if the whores screamed? Of scars on their bodies and of their dreams and of respect.

“I think it’s better to be comfortable in your skin than to be miserable being who you are. Sure, the meth is horrible. It ruins people from the inside out. It’s a waiting game — it’s not a matter of if it destroys you, but rather a matter of when it will. I’ve made it this far. I’m not sending a message that it’s “cool” to be on drugs and tell everyone about it. I don’t sum myself up as a drug addict and a hooker. That’s not what I am. Those are juts things I do, they don’t define me. Jobs and addictions do not make us who we are.”
Ashly Lorenzana