Dear Best Friend…

Dear Best Friend,

It’s amazing to see you; to meet you; to hug you again. It feels like it’s been ages since I held your hand in mine. Was it really only 3 months ago? Well, 3 months is a long time to be away from your best friend, isn’t it?

Anyway, just because we’ve been away from each other doesn’t mean I’m not keeping track of you. I periodically check your profile pictures, I follow your every status update. I read everything you write and analyse every picture you post. I don’t mean to be creepy. But, when I’m putting words to my actions, it does seem so, doesn’t it?

I love the pictures where it’s just you. Or maybe, I should say I prefer the pictures where it’s just you. Because when I see you with other people, laughing, goofing off, my heart clenches and my throat chokes. It’s a peculiar feeling. I don’t like it. But, I don’t control it either.

When I visit you, you take me around your workplace, you introduce me to your friends. I smile, I say hello, I even have conversations. But, you know what? I don’t like any of them. It’s not because they’re not great. They might be. But, I don’t like them because they’re your friends.

I don’t mean for you to be a loner. Or to depend only on me. That won’t work for us at all. The pressure of it would drive me up the wall and you to tears. I know that very well. Yet, when I see you enjoying, making memories with someone else, I’m jealous.

In the few days I get to spend with you, I want to use the time well. Even if it means entertaining your every friend. It’s not that bad. They’re usually easy to get along with, keep the conversation flowing; they’re even funny. But, I just want you to know that it’s difficult.

I’m wary the entire time- looking for signs that they’ve gotten to know you better than me, seeing if they can predict your reaction a wee bit before I do, keeping an eye on them to make sure you’re not paying them more attention than I know you to pay to a friend. After all, they are all just your friends. But, I’m your best friend.

I also want you to know that I don’t like these feelings. I don’t enjoy carrying them around. But, I might be addicted to them. Because every validation I get from you feels especially wonderful after a bout of such nonsensical shit. Like when I see that I still get the majority of your attention, or when you call me to share a secret or vent your frustration and you don’t give a damn what time it is. It feels like I’m free falling, but at the last moment I realise I was only bungee jumping. The rope is still securely attached to me and I’m safe. We’re safe.

I feel like such a parasite writing this. I want to make it clear that I want you to have a lot of friends. I never want you to experience loneliness. I want you make lovely memories wherever you go, but, I also want to make sure that I’m your best friend and no one else, because I don’t like the idea of sharing you. Or our friendship.

 

Yours with love and creepiness

XOXO

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Advantages of A Belly

DISCLAIMER: Investing in a belly can subject you to type 2 diabetes mellitus, heart disease and added health risks. Please read this article with a sense of good humour and reunite with your sense of common and caution immediately after.

 

  1. To balance your coffee mug when you sit in a chair, but can’t be bothered to stretch your hand till the table.

 

  1. To hold your laptop at a perfect viewing angle when you can’t decide between sleeping and watching a movie after a long day. So, you do both.

 

  1. To make for a nice pillow- for your friends which can get annoying; but also for your partner/crush which will not be annoying and the closeness of which will lead to a nice amount “bonding” (wink, wink)

 

  1. To catch the toothpaste foam that invariably drips out of your mouth the moment you step away from the basin (dry floors FTW).

 

  1. So, you won’t have to work hard to hide your pregnancy. At least not until you get upgraded from a double decker to a triple decker.

 

  1. To cosplay as Laughing Buddha. All you need to do is take off your shirt. Ready for Halloween any day, anytime!

 

  1. To get rich during the holiday season- by playing Santa Claus. HO HO HO!

 

  1. To maintain a healthy distance between you and the Sweaty McSweatpants in front of you in the queue; so that you can come away with your sanity and your nose hairs intact.

 

  1. To play ping pong with against the wall when you’re bored enough to want a distraction, but not bored enough to dig out the ball from under the bed.

 

  1. So, you can put muffins to shame with your awe-inspiring muffin-top! Those muffins can sometimes get too puffed up for their own good…

 

  1. To feel that somehow incredible sense of satisfaction that you feel after you’ve had a smashing meal and you’ve collapsed into your bed like a ton of bricks for a well-deserved nap and your belly sticks out taut, but happily full.

 

 

  1. To be able to write listicles like this. After all, how else will you find out how efficient a cup holder and a toothpaste catcher and a laptop table a belly can be unless you have one?

 

  1. Oh and also! To laugh; because jiggling a jiggly belly makes you laugh which makes it jiggle more, so you laugh more which makes it jiggle even more… Calvin and Hobbes ROFL

 

 

Cheers!

Mask

The room was dimly-lit and crowded. Tendrils of smoke curled towards the ceiling; vibrations from the beat spinning in the corner crawled through the walls. The people were masked and swaying. Sipping a drink, smoking a stick, a couple kissing against a pillar; some talking, some dancing; all lost in the beat and in the moment.

I didn’t know any of them. None of them knew me. We were masked people escaping the reality of our lives, of ourselves and converging in a nondescript location for a nondescript party.

Nobody asks for a name, for an ID. No one offers me a drink, but the bar stood by the door welcoming those who wanted it. Nobody questions me as I join the throng on the floor, swaying into their mix. I usually needed a drink to loosen up. But, that day, in that room, under that mask, I wasn’t me.

Somebody offers me a hand. I take it and he spins me around. I laugh as the Joker-masked person catches me with an arm and pulls me close. We dance the next beat together before he lets me go, I let him go and we become a mass of people again.

A dancing train was forming and I join the tail end of it matching my step to theirs. The sound of laughing makes a heady mixture with the disco beat. We stop being masked people and become our masks. The brown eyes of an Audrey Hepburn catch my eye and pull me out of the train and onto the bench.

I slip in beside her and she offers me her drink. I refuse. I don’t need alcohol tonight. I lean in close and whisper into her uncovered ear.

“Dance with me.”

I could hear her laughter. It was clear. It was tinkling. It was mesmerizing.

I place my hand on hers and thread our fingers together. I guide her to the dance floor through the crowd which had gone silent in my head. I slip my hands around her waist and pull her close. In that moment, only she and I existed. We start swaying to a beat in our head rather than the music shaking the walls. Her hands were around my neck; her face close to mine, brown eyes staring into black. I didn’t know who she was; she didn’t know who I was. But, right then, on that floor, she was mine and I was hers.

We dance until our feet hurt; as sweat runs down our backs; as lips meet lips, we dance under masks where she isn’t who she is, I’m not who I am. We dance into a night which had no place for the trappings of the day. We dance until music stops and we could hear our hearts pounding, breathing, trembling. A lingering touch, a lingering kiss…and we let go.

I make my way home just as dawn breaks through the night sky. I take my mask off, shed the sweaty clothes and crawl into my bed. For a second, I feel like a stranger in my own bed. Then, the light hits my window ending the night…my mask was off, my ID card was lazily spinning on my bedstead and I was me again.

*END*

Image Credit: Hide Behind a Mask II by Catliv (Deviant art)

02 Feb 2016: 04:45 PM

Sometimes your brain makes you a bystander to your own thoughts. Those thoughts might be scary or silly; they might be dystopian or nihilistic or they might make you feel like the eighth greatest wonder of the world; it doesn’t matter. The reins of control have been taken out of your hands and you’re only going where you’re being taken. But, in a bid to maintain a semblance of control, I carry a pen along and these words are from those travels of mine through the jungles of my sanity.


 

In the tale of Daniel and the lion, are you the lion or are you Daniel? The aggressor or the defender? This was the topic of my bath-time rumination today and I came to the conclusion that I’m neither; I am the spectator.

I like to watch. I like to observe. I like to know the inner workings of your life, of your brain and of you- as a person. What will I do with the knowledge? Nothing ground-shattering. I just enjoy knowing.

I think that is what drew me to the subject of psychiatry. When I was in school and was being constantly bombarded with the question of what I was going to be when I grew up, I was like everyone else. I answered it with a different answer each year. I went through a doctor, a botanist, a writer, a scientist and when I was fourteen, I finally settled on- I want to find out what makes you tick. The next bunch of choices were made as a means to an end. The best possible end. You see, I never wanted to be a doctor; I only went to the med school to be a psychiatrist.

What about you? Are you the lion? Or are you Daniel? Or maybe, you’re with me in the stands? Watching; cheering; wishing you were the lion; wishing you were Daniel; because they seem to be taking an active part in their own lives, while your life consists of sitting and watching them.

Maybe, you’re content being in the stands. You’re not one of those pushing against the constraints holding us back from the arena. You’re the one smirking at them derisively, glad that you’re not the one in the way of danger. I envy you. I envy you as much as I envy the lion and Daniel. I envy you your contentment, your self-assurance. I have an iota of it; but, I want a lot more. You see, I’m ambitious.

But, a spectator has no right to be ambitious. It creates imbalance, discontent- problems that I don’t have in me to solve. So, I live my life straining against the boundary. Pushing forward and pulling myself back. It’s a daily battle between what I want and what I am. It’s tiring. But, at least, I tell myself, (I can’t help this smile), I’m doing something in my life.

When I do become a psychiatrist, I’ll know you, your deepest thoughts, your fears. Don’t worry, I’ll help you with them. Because, you see that person trying to pushing against the rope, shouting herself hoarse and trying to get herself across to Daniel (before the happy recognition by the lion)? That’s me. And I’m always there. For you.

Origins of a tomboy

When I was 5, I wanted long hair and a ball gown. I would dress in my mother’s sarees and play with her makeup and pretend I was a princess

10 years later, my wardrobe had more pants than skirts, I didn’t know what waxing was and the only thing I applied to my face was Vaseline when my lips chapped. I got my haircuts in a salon and shopping meant buying new jeans and a t-shirt once a year. And I liked it when people called me a tomboy.

I used to hide away those childhood photos where I “looked like a girl” and I would cringe at all things “girly”. I would try to hide my ample chest under loose t-shirts and daddy’s shirts and wore only those jeans that squashed any hint of an ass. It was difficult to say the least, because when you are short, busty and standing on haunches instead of hips, you are not built for squashing.

But, in the privacy of my room, in that little time between fresh from a bath and fully-clothed, I would try on my sister’s clothes and parade in front of the mirror. For that little while, I accepted my curves and gloried in being a girl. Just for that little while, before shame assailed me for behaving “like a girl” and I shrank back into my baggy cocoon.

It wasn’t just the clothes, though. Everything in my life was categorized into girly and non-girly.

Giggling- girly. Laughing loud and open mouthed- non- girly. Crying in public- girly. Crying in the privacy of my room- non-girly. Being nice to the person you think is an idiot- girly. Calling an idiot an idiot- non-girly. Getting upset- girly. Taking everything as a joke- non-girly. Feeling sad- girly. Feeling angry- non-girly.

It was a fine line that I walked. Just because I consciously denied being a girl, didn’t mean that my subconscious got the memo too and also, I was only a tomboy, not a boy.

Why was I so disappointed at not being a boy?

Maybe, it is the subconscious conditioning that tells us even before we’ve ever met a boy, that boyhood is like being a member of some super-exclusive and super-fun club; that they get to do all these things and have all these options that we, as girls, will never be privy to; that they will have all the freedom that we are allowed only to dream about.

I see my father jet-setting off to all these cities and countries that I’ve only seen in my atlas while my mother travels from the kitchen to the garden, to my school and back to the kitchen. I see my cousins who never get asked where they’ve been and why they are late returning from school. I grow up to see male relatives getting married at 28 and 30 and women of the same age cradling their first-borns. I go to a college where in a girls’ hostel, attendance is taken after curfew hour to account for our presence and the boys’ hostel has no curfew at all.

I’m not complaining. I’m just stating facts. Because I do understand the logistics behind these rules. I understand that safety is our paramount concern and that there are so many things out there, when you a girl, that can go so wrong. So, I’m not angry at these rules. No. I’m angry at the state of affairs that brought about these rules.

When did it begin I wonder? This subtle conditioning into our brains that gave one gender more power than the other. That taught one gender to dominate and the other to submit. That told one gender that it’s ok to take risks and the other to stay safe.

Because it’s almost l0 years later now and I no longer want to stay safe. I no longer want to hide behind the persona of a tomboy. I no longer wish to live in the denied existence of my “girly-ness”. I want to put on red lipstick, heels that lift up my butt and a dress that actually has a shape. I want to go out with my girlfriends at 10 in the night and party till 2. I want to giggle and laugh and get drunk and cry and call the guy who’s stalking me on facebook an idiot and get upset when I get called a bitch in return. Because, I’m sorry, society, but, I’m finally tired of the rules.

Today, I finally asked myself the question, what is so wrong in being a girl? And I answered it with- not a damn thing!

We are in the 21st century after all. Things have come a long way from a wife confined to her kitchen and girls being told to be seen, but not heard. We have the examples of Indra Nooyi and Aung San Suu Kyi and Angela Markel and Malala Yousafzai who prove that all that is required is ambition and determination and the belief that once you set out on your path, no force on earth can pull you back or push you aside.

I’m a feminist with a dream of a gender-neutral society, where on the forms you fill out, nobody asks about your gender or caste or ethnicity; where the only thing that matters is whether you are good at what you do and where we are only judged for being a person, good or bad, and not for being a woman.

So, recently, when I posted a picture of myself with my nails painted red and my friend commented with a wide-eyed smiley and a “you are becoming a girl” comment, my cheeks did go red…not from embarrassment, but with pleasure. Because, even if I do say it myself, my nails did look pretty damn good!

*END*

A war of flowers

The kids were playing with flowers. Throwing petals at each other in a shower. Their joy was a joy to behold. It brought a smile upon every face in attendance.

I too was smiling. I was impressed with the simplicity of their happiness. How little it takes for a kid to laugh…

From my superior, world-wise point of view, I condescended to take pleasure in their pleasure with this scholarly reflection: “Though it might be war, thank heavens they are waging it with flowers than something worse.”

I laughed at my own hoity-toity-ness and continued to watch children playing at war. Then, my eyes traveled to the hands waging the war and I saw the ferocity with which the petals were being ripped out. My hands clenched and my breath caught. I thought: “I’d rather they threw their shoes at each other!”

It was mutilation, a carnage of something beautiful. It was the same thing every thoughtless invader did to the beauty of the invaded. Its brutality was only enhanced by the tiny hands holding the flowers, by the delicate fingers tearing the petals, by the innocent face screwing up in intense competition. I felt myself back on the island of Ralph and Piggy and the Lord of the Flies; the severed head of a pig rose up vividly in front of my eyes; my chest constricted with fear; my breath hitched in throat; there was blood in the air!

I chided myself. I had let my imagination run riot. Again.

They were just kids, I consoled myself. 4 or 5 year olds do not know what to take seriously.  For them, everything they do is serious. Serious enough to invest their full blood and bone. It is be all or end all with them. After all, whoever talked of kindergarten kids having a sense of humor?

So, the war of flowers to them is as serious as my final year exams are to me. No, lets be honest: they are more serious. Way more serious than my exams (which are given half-heartedly and sleepy-headedly).
Isn’t that the beauty of kids? Isn’t that the very thing we call innocence? I un-constricted my chest; unhitched my breath; opened my eyes to the decorations again and let out a little laugh.

They are just kids. Playing with flowers. Waging a war with petals. And they were the reason for the smile on every face in attendance.

*END*

A reason to smile

A reason to smile on 01/07/2015

Today was a hot day and to my grandfather, for some reason, it meant bank day. I had the job of driving him around because otherwise he’d rather walk than shell out money for over-charging auto-wallahs.

So, there I was sitting in the car outside the bank, while grandpa made his slow way up the 8 stairs leading inside, holding the railing tightly with one hand, the other holding up his white dhoti and placing each step with utmost care. A few minutes passed by until my attention was captured by a young man I could see walking in the rear view mirror, a passbook clutched in his left hand.

He had a gait that was knock-kneed and off-balance. His arms were in flexed position at the elbow and the wrist and his body was flailing wildly as he energetically made his way towards the bank. He reached my car and grasped its body for support while he flailed past it. He held on to a parked auto next and then, a couple of parked scooters before he reached the 8-step staircase. He stopped here for a while and got some of his breath back. His body language screamed triumph at making it so close to his goal. Eventually, he grabbed on to the railing with both his hands, the passbook crumpled between them. He took a step up with one leg; then, lifted the other next to it. He paused. Then, repeated the process with the next step. It was a slow progress and every time he lifted a foot, I would hold my breath, afraid that it would fall short of his intended distance. It didn’t. He was halfway up the stairs now.

My grandfather came out of the door. He stood at the threshold checking his belongings while the young man paused at the 4th step. Then, at the exact same moment both of them reached the railing with their hands and their eyes met. Grandpa made to take a step back. But, before he could so much as move, the young man was down one step and then another and soon, he was back to the zero-step. He smiled up at my grandfather and waved at him to come down the stairs first. My grandfather’s face was full of gratitude and my face had a smile big enough to rip it open.

It was a simple gesture. But, suddenly, the day didn’t seem so hot anymore.

*END*