Truth of Our Times

hands_of_god_and_adam
Creation of Adam by Leonardo Da Vinci

 

Can every Disease be cured by Prayer?

Sometimes, isn’t Death the only cure?

 

Can every Debt be paid off?

Sometimes, doesn’t Forgiveness simply write them off?

 

Is every call of Duty heeded?

Aren’t the best of them, hidden behind curtains of Forgotten Valor ,with no sign of a shower of Love on them?

 

Is every Land meant to be Fertile?

Don’t some, though barren yield bountiful Memories that last an entire lifetime?

 

Does every Love have to be consummated?

Aren’t the greatest legends of Love about Unrequited Sagas; untold, hidden and revisited by our tears at the deep end of each night?

 

Can every Thirst be quenched?

Doesn’t unquenched thirst for the unknown lead to greatest of Discoveries?

 

Can every Prayer be answered by the All Pervading?

Don’t some lead lives of Will ‘o’ Wisps, providing Hope to look forward to a New Day?

 

Does every Earthen Lamp warranty a lit match?

Don’t some dissolve Ignorance and spread Light even without a wick?

 

Does every wound heal?

Don’t some hold permanent residency in the wastelands of our heart as phantom sores?

Imperceptibly itching behind pretentious scabs;

Reminding us of the ever growing burdens of:

Unsaid Prayers and Incurable Diseases;

Unpaid Debts and Forgiveness never bestowed;

Duties not upheld and Spineless Resignation to Destiny;

Unsown seeds of Cherished Memories never to be reaped;

Epic Loves lost in the ennui of Existential crisis’s;

Buried Thirst for Mystery lying undiscovered;

Fate blamed for Lost Hopes and Uncollected Inspirations;

Our Dark Psyche masquerading as Enlightenment Soul.

 

Originally written in Hindi in October 2018 and translated into English on January 5, 2019.

 

Behind the scenes:

Many a times, the lessons that we try to teach others are the very same ones we need to learn ourselves first.

A couple of months ago after a beautiful trip to the hill town of Kodaikanal about which you can read here, I found myself doing something totally unexpected!

I began writing couplets and short poems in Hindi!

I am used to thinking in Hindi since I was a kid. It being my favorite language, I thought I would easily nail it. Forgetting the simple fact that thinking and writing in a language ARE NOT THE SAME!!

At first the process of writing creatively in a different language was fun. Then I found to my horror that instead of enjoying the process I was beating myself up for not getting the nuances right.

It happened so, that while doing something as menial as sweeping the floor one day, some words in Hindi, all rhyming with each other, popped in my head and by the time I was done sweeping I had about 8 lines of a poem ready. Only while editing it, did it dawn on me that one of the rhyming words didn’t actually mean what I assumed it meant. After keeping at it for a few days, crestfallen that I am never going to get any better, I left it midway and tried to forget all about it.

But I obsessed about that word. So much! I just couldn’t stop thinking about it all day and some nights long. Furthermore, I wasn’t even getting a substitute for it!

I was so RIGID and fixated entirely on that particular word. For 2 long months!

A beautiful walk, catching the last light of the Sun on the first Sunday of 2019 led to a simple nudge by the Universe towards what was easily possible and right under my nose all this time.

I simply translated the words into English and despite them, not rhyming any more, I could easily write all that my heart wanted to convey. And some more!

Coming to the point I made earlier, RIGIDITY serves no solid purpose. Except maybe for people in the Armed Services!

I always prided myself on being a flexible person. Come to think of it, I realized I wasn’t!

Well 2019 didn’t take too long to slap on a lesson on me, didn’t it?

The lesson I have been trying to teach my Mother for so long is exactly the same one I need to learn myself first!

It’s so important not to obsess over things that have no larger say in our daily lives!

 

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My Dear Raison d’être…Please Come Back Home

people-vintage-photo-memories
Image credits Pexels.com

 

I WANNA BE SPIDERWOMAN!

Until I turned 26, this was my made-to-order reply every time someone posed the rather jaded question … If you were granted one super power what would you choose?

I was crazy about Spiderman. I marveled everything about him. From his red and blue suit to the geeky glasses his alter ego wore to that upside down kiss he planted on Mary Jane’s lips! I sought Peter Parker all for myself. Well, I thought we would make a cute couple!

On my 27th Birthday, my feet began walking the vandalized ground of an entirely changed Hemisphere all of a sudden. The mirror remained the same. But the reflection that stared back at me was a pale ghost of my former self.

Curtains on Spidey.

Blink of an eye and I turned 36.

All the while answering the question with the same tone of an automated humanoid witha very different answer: I WISH I COULD HAVE THE POWER TO FORGET!

And the Hemisphere I resided in decided to play a cruel joke and shifted its poles again without notifying me. I had just turned 37.

2 years earlier…

2016 December 31. The clock was just about to strike 2 PM.

I downed the shutters of my Store for the very last time.

I was turning my back on the only thing I cared about with such passion and intensity.

My Label. My Clothing Line. My MAQTOOB.

It was my refuge, my personal Noah’s Ark when the world outside was spinning out of my control. All said and done when I had lost faith in pretty much everything and everyone in Life, MAQTOOB still held on to its Faith on me strongly.

Until that fateful day in October, 2016 when the books showed I was too broke to go on. The charade I was playing to convince myself to keep going was not working anymore. That’s when my baby silently gave up on me.

December 31, 2016 @ 2 PM the last news bulletin of MAQTOOB was read. And that was the end of an Era of Hope for me.

From a woman who worked for 14 hours a day for a decade I was suddenly this Ship who had lost its anchor. Unmoored and drifting I was numb for a long time, dancing only the dance of a fraying puppet.

12 months into it the withdrawal symptoms finally seemed to wane slowly.

6 months later in July 2018 I turned 37.

A milestone year for me just for the fact that it is my favorite number!

And when my Birthday gift was unraveled for me, I realized with horror that I was actually being granted the wish that I had always wanted for the past decade.

My memory had begun to fade…

When I turned back to look at some of my previous meetings with this D-day, all I could see was plenty of blank spaces and all I could hear was music filled with static…

The same memory that could remember names and phone numbers from 30 years ago; one that could remember faces and quirks of all that these eyes have ever come across; One that could remember every last detail of a customer’s sizes and preferences heading as far back as a decade; one that could recognize a song with just the beginning riffs…now was losing its very identity.

From a child who was applauded with envy for having a photographic memory, I was becoming this sinkhole of uncertainty and hopeless mania.

I was no longer sure of anything. Heck! I could not even remember the places I traveled to as recently as one month ago! Storylines, names of the characters from the book I had and movies I watched a week ago, simple mundane conversations with the family were slowly vaporizing from my Memory Palace.

You know what I felt when it dawned on me that this was exactly what I had wished for?

Blinding rage!

Of all the prayers I had prayed fervently, what rotten luck that this one was the one that was chosen to be answered and that too at such a difficult crossroad of life!

Of course, it was my folly. I forgot to mention that I was referencing to only the bad ones when I prayed for a little help with forgetting. Sadly, the Angel that passed by that night must have been a stickler for rules! Just like me.

And POOF!

My memory was this bat with bad eyesight trying to fly past a mammoth sized minefield! Getting hit black and blue by the unknown in the wilderness of the unknown!

I did exactly what you would expect a normal woman to do under such duress. I cried. I wailed. And I cried some more.

And then I stopped.  I grew some spine and took stock of the situation. Things were never as bad as I had deemed them to be earlier. No reason not to believe it would be otherwise now.

My sister hammered some good sense into my head. Wise as a sage, she felt it was just a phase while I, forever the drama queen presumed it was the first sign of Alzheimer’s!

So I exercised, meditated, read voraciously, learnt a language and embraced my long forgotten Violin with as much enthusiasm as I could garner.

Then the pieces of the jigsaw began to solve itself on its own.

Piece by piece some memories of yore began to return from their long, lazy vacations.

And suddenly out of nowhere a tiny piece of a lost memory popped up one night.

On a whim, years ago when I still was with the now-ex love of my life, I had begun to maintain a memory journal which no one else knew about except us.

Most of what made us, US went into that journal. Our conversations over sunrises at Pondicherry , his poems, the names of our future children, the color of the walls of our house, the cover design of his first book, our first trek in blinding rain in June, the strange way his toes curled when he walked barefoot, the wierd angle his sinus prone nose bent, how his hair always smelt of lavender ,how much we loved the smell of Ylang Ylang and Frangipani and so much more of all that was between us for 4 years and the dreams that were to come true and embrace us…

But the relationship wasn’t meant to be. And on a freak impulse, I burnt that book. Needless to say, along with it died a very dear part of me, that  I sometimes still do miss and pine for.

But that night in 2018 when the memory of that journal came to me, all I remembered was how good I had felt to create something filled with all that magic and hope, with utmost love and tenderness. I wanted to be that person again. Someone who found joy in the fluttering wings of a butterfly and the birdsong of a Starling.

10 years of doing business in the cut-throat world of Fashion had left me bitter, vicious, cynical, stressed, tired, unfit and prone to depression and bouts of insomnia.  I even feared I was becoming bipolar!

So obviously I wanted to burn this vile person I had become and rise again possibly like a phoenix.

Around the same time is when another epiphany of a totally different kind hit me!

People around me were as busy and as addicted to their phones as they previously were. I was the only one who had Time. Plenty of it! I had so much to say and no one to listen to any of it…

Ever had that fear of dying alone without a soul ever getting close to knowing the real you?

The terror of dying a lonely unsung death, never having gotten the chance to share my real self gripped me and twisted my insides.

Understanding that there was no point in regretting lost chances at friendships and relationships I soon woke up one fine day feeling brave and excited with a ravenous craving!

To let go of the various masks that I hid behind, so people would assume all was well in my world. The craving to be me. The need to reveal…

It was perhaps time to be unabashed and honest and free. So I challenged my introvert self to a duel. And put everything at stake to BE REAL!

And thus began my blog A peep into my travel diaries

Sharing the travel memories of my past made me dig deep into the vaults of my memory palace but I had to give myself the time to put the pieces together of my fragmented mind. It was a lot like slow cooking. The process sounds tiresome but the results are often mind-boggling and always delicious!

Every like was a connection made. Every comment made it deeper. Every follow added a companion to get to know in this journey and fuse the bond into my renewing memory.

Meanwhile I read blogs of some amazingly ordinary people with the extraordinary talent to weave enchanting stories and breathtaking poetry!

An entirely new, colourful, imaginative and creative World opened its gates for me and I felt like a kid let loose in Disney World.

When I was ready to share more than just my travel memories with this new world, I quietly changed my blog name to A peep into my Memory Palace.

People’s opinions on it were eerily similar. Everybody who has graced a kind walk by my blog has found it commendable that I share so much about me with such passion and gay abandon. I want to tell them all that it is the only aim I set out with.

So Welcome to my raison d’être, My Memory Palace.

You can drop in anytime you wish.

The door with the label Coonoor has a quirky collection of tea. There is Orange Pekoe, Lemon, cardamom, Chocolate and well, Green tea too for the diet conscious.

Have a cup and feel free to walk around. Doors with places’ names for labels are always open. Some doors with the names of men aren’t always. Some of them with years as labels could be jammed. Just give a resounding kick and you would be in!

There is Music and Art and Movies to keep you company, as will the acoustic version of “Story of my Life” by The Piano Guys  which is the theme song. Though I hope you do like Calum Scott…he’s getting the maximum ear play this week.

Oh! Lest I forget, there is an eclectic variety of Nostalgia too!

And while you are here please tread carefully. You are in a crumbling edifice and there is much to see and hear and precious little time.

Remember my friend, each memory you read means a peep into my world and sharing a moment of my life.

Every travel story you read means you have walked with me in those divine lands, seen the gorgeous sights I saw, shared the myriad delicacies I ate and heard the silent notes of the music the Universe secretly shared with me.

Every poem of pain, loss and longing you read means you have held me, comforted me and shown that you care. With every word of your wisdom and hope, you give me the wings to fly past the remains of the desecrated fragments of my heart.

And each time you walk out, promise me to turn around and wave goodbye…So I could Thank you for leaving behind some of that divine star-dust of yourself for me to remember you by and taking a tiny speck of me with you to sprinkle into the world.

You might never come back and I might alas lose you in the quick sands of my fragmented memory.

And sooner or later I might wake up not recalling Who I am…Will I recognize these eyes when I catch them looking at me strangely in a mirror someday?

Maybe I won’t. One can never tell for sure.

But the time we spend together today as One in my crumbling Memory Palace will forever be treasured as a tiny episode of Shared-Time frozen for eternity in the womb of the mighty Universe.

A Hymn for My ‘Lil One

IMG_20181231_103831750
Acrylic on Acid-free paper titled ‘My ‘Lil One’

 

Waiting for the sound of your tiny little feet to help me take giant strides into the Unknown;

Waiting for the touch of your chubby little fingers to help me weave a tapestry of delicate magic;

Waiting for the cherub in your angelic face to break into unrestrained laughter to help me discard my masks that sing chequered narratives;

Waiting for the tinkle in your very first word to help me break free from pandemic lies and claustrophobic prejudice;

Waiting for the spring in your first step to help me spread my wings of Happiness and fly again uninhibited in the careless skies of calm Contentment;

Lest We fall,

Waiting for our first fall to help us rise again;

Grateful for the Broken bones and Chipped hearts;

For Blessing us with a Will sewn by the Hand of God.

 

Awaiting you 2019,

Awaiting your birth to regenerate my life.

Take me to your heart,

Help me find myself in this maze of Mystery and Disorder.

 

May I hear You whisper stories of Indomitable Spirit conquering Unattainable Summits;

May I see Infinite Beauty around me , pulsating with the unbounded beats of Nature through your eyes;

May I taste the Elixir of Pure Creation when my dreams walk through your long enchanting nights;

May I speak the Word of the All Encompassing Silence in my journeys through your days foraging for the smallest of Joys and biggest of Surprises;

May I smell only Excellence and Perseverance in my limited time with You,

May I touch Kindness and radiate Compassion as every hour of our togetherness progresses towards a certain end,

May my troubled mind stop spinning stories of horrible crimes of yore and mistakes of my life;

May my heart stop dreading the weed-like spurt in invisible fear lines in my palm;

May my Self see every moment of You as fast evaporating fresh dew drops;

Lent to me by the magnanimous Mx .Time;

So I may spend it as wisely as the luminous Messrs. Sun and Moon.

 

Song of the Vermillion Kanjeevaram

sindoor khela by subrata das
Sindoor Khela by Subrata Das @ Pinterest.com

 

Yesterday.

It’s 3 a.m.

My eyes fly open. Is it time already?

I walk down a flight of stairs that leads to a very long corridor with muted light. I pass by doors labeled with the strangest of names. There are names that seem like the ones I have heard sometime in the last 37 years and there’s some with just a number on them. Do they represent milestone years? There are also some doors with names of places for labels. Places whose earthy scents I am familiar with.

I walk the entire length groggily till I hear their voices. I have reached the very last door on the far end of that monstrously long corridor that seemed to go on forever.

I gingerly open the door. They are already there sipping their Orange Pekoe tea.

The Dream raises its eyebrows and with the twinkle of its eyes, motions me to an empty chair and hands me a cup.

She inserts the badly worn Casette into the VCR. The screen revs up.

She turns to look at me. Her eyes convey…well nothing.

A blank stare and a bland smile later she holds my hand. Cold, hard and withered yet strong and still smelling of talcum.

The Dream and She share a warmth, that sadly was never mine to be.

The dark of the room is illuminated when the screen comes alive. Faint strains of “Seetha Kalyanam” set to Shankarabharam Ragam can be heard on the Nadaswaram. The Thavil lends able company.

A mix of emotions wrenches my heart. A mish mash of tired resignation, anger, disappointment at this relentless barrage is written all over my sleep deprived face. I stare fixedly at the screen…as image after image flash by…

 

A tiny dot of a seed of The Dream,

She sowed in the gardens of her heart;

Before You even blinked blue,

In a tube in that cubby hole in the wall.

 

The seed broke open, The Dream sprouted green;

Jostling for space among various others of different hues;

She waited with patience, her warm bosom bursting with sweetness;

As You kicked and wailed your way out to a mad boorish world.

 

The fair Dream shed a silent tear,

For the sleight of hand Destiny dealt;

She missed a heartbeat at the gross injustice;

‘Coz Your glistening skin, as brown as Earth,

Smelled of pain the world would rain;

Again and again.

 

The Dream wiped away that moment of fragility,

And shoved the fears off its shoulder;

Then wore the corset of chain mail woven by her;

She laced it so tight it would never fall off;

The lass in You was not so lucky though;

Taunts ploughed through relentlessly,

The field of your small unarmed body.

 

The Dream grew up, feet by feet,

Despite the constricting sheath of metal around it;

While She chose bolt after bolt,

Of woven magic and vivid colors;

You tore apart clouds of insensitivity,

And shone like the sun on a bleak rainy day.

 

The Dream now tall, bounced about,

With gay pride and joyous innocence;

She smiled and prayed for brighter skies,

While embroidering roses to brighten your pretty eyes;

You, still short, bounded downhill chasing butterflies,

And hid behind the narrow road of Childhood,

That smelled only of purity up until now.

 

The Dream, in its teens, bashful of nature,

Leapt high, trying to steal the blue of the Gods;

She worried and feared the might of Men,

Refusing to hear the hateful torrents,

Hushed in shameful whispers;

You grew tall and silent and hid behind walls,

Of scars of violence and guilt ridden confusion.

 

The Dream glowed with youthful arrogance,

Gleamed gold nearing the doors of puberty;

She glowed with pride; it was that time soon;

You bled red, a proof of your worthy Holy Grail;

Coveted now on for nurturing new life.

 

The Dream walks and jumps in steps of two,

To newer pastures promising everlasting love;

She waits and holds her breath too often,

With a hidden gift dyed in Vermillion Red;

You hide your scars bleeding of incest and assault,

Your self-esteem stripped white and dignity paraded naked.

 

The Dream plump with delight,

Stands so near to the Bridge of Fruition;

She waits, now with tired but hopeful eyes,

The gift in hand, still retaining some reddish sheen;

As You wait for him to ask your hand, basking in Love,

Perhaps for the only time it stops by your heart.

 

The Dream rests for a while, it’s been too long a wait;

She knows it’s futile but she still hopes,

That one day you might say Yes!

Fresh wounds of betrayal drive You to the ledge;

Having lost all hope of finding respect,

Of love and faith, in men and humanity.

 

The Dream knows it is time,

To bid goodbye and go back home;

She is on the ground, broken-hearted,

Flailing arms unable to control the threats,

Of a dam break at the edge of her raining grey eyes,

Her gift lay abandoned, torn and decaying in a corner of her hardened core;

You walk away from the ledge,

Vowing never to bow and never to hide,

The pride of being who You are;

You stand firm on shutting that door, perhaps even forever;

No men, no cry; Little Darling, everything’s gonna be alright!

 

The Dream cries a heart-rending wail and lies still in eternal silence.

She’s now a walking, breathing stone of withered skin and glazed eyes;

The Vermillion Kanjeevaram all but forgotten,

Fading in memory and losing its very meaning.

You, a Temple of Titanium made from shards of shredded memories of innocence and a mixed patchwork bag of youthful dreams.

The once venerated Holy Grail lies desecrated,

Threaded with pain, stitched with the yarn of ‘what if’s’ and closed shut to the tunes of a medley of songs;

Of Nature’s regret, a future that never was and Your freedom from the shackles of age-old expectations.

The screen goes black and slowly fades away… 

 

Today.

3 a.m.

Its time.

I walk the same flight of stairs. It leads to a palace today.

Oh wait! I think I know this place!

It’s my Memory Palace.

A room with a gorgeous door casts a spell on me. I walk in with trepidation. I can only smell talcum and Orange Pekoe tea. No traces of them having been around.

But lying inside the cold white room is an Ornate Mirror, a tiny box of Vermillion and a Red Kanjeevaram saree.

I hear faint strains of the Nadaswaram and Thavil playing a Song Unsung.

I look in the mirror, horror struck!

Inside the mirror is a splitting image of Me, draped in the Red Kanjeevaram with the Vermillion gracing the parting line of my hair.

 

This is a lamentation written by the hand of the person who has been the sole witness of the above events that happened in the lives of the leading protagonists.

The old man, Time himself.

 

CAST & CREW :

She represents my Mother. You represent Me. And The Dream represents that One Big Dream she dreamt for me even before I was time stamped into existence.

Although the story is specific to my life, the leading protagonists could be any Mother, Daughter and Dream trio since every mother’s eyes begin to spin the same yarn of her daughter’s wedding much before she even gets pregnant and wishes with utmost earnestness that it come true with all the brouhaha associated with weddings.

For the uninitiated, A Red Kanjeevaram saree and a box of Vermillion (Kumkum/ Sindoor) traditionally defines a South Indian Bride on her Wedding Day.

Seethakalyanam is a song played on the Nadaswaram accompanied to the percussion beats of the Thavil.

The Nadaswaram is a wind instrument while the Thavil is a percussion instrument. Both are used in Temples, Carnatic Music and most South Indian ceremonies and rituals.

A Brief Summary of what led to the birth of this poem :

A couple of days ago I took my mom to a handloom exhibition. While shopping for an exclusive handloom saree that has been her dream since she stepped into her teens, my mother saw this child playing in the mud, rolling in it in absolute ecstacy.

The pain I saw in her misty eyes of missing a vital part of her life came to the fore and my heart racked with guilt of failing her.

From the minute I was born my mother was my Hero. She saved me from my father’s wrath and people’s insensitivity to my skin colour. She made me feel like I was a princess in her world.

When I grew up, she realized I was a lot like her. I liked the same songs she did and played the same games she did when she was little.

I get my creative streak from her. We both share our love for drawing and handicraft and sewing.

We like the same actors of yester year Hindi cinema and our love for singing old Hindi songs is renowned. We are the only ones with a gene for sport in the family.

I look like my Grandma and I play the same instrument my Grandpa played. I even followed my Grandpa’s footsteps and became an entrepreneur with just a head full of dreams and no financial backup! Suffice to say she saw her entire world in me.

And with it came too many dreams to fulfill. The weight of which could have worn even Atlas down.

I couldn’t be all that she wanted me to be.

She wanted me to be a doctor or teacher. I turned up a crippling introvert and went on to faint during the dissection of a frog in my biology class!

End of those perfectly normal dreams!

She wanted me to convert all of my hobbies into some sorta career. I did not agree. They were food for my soul. I could not make money out of them.

After 25 years of being a teacher my mother in her retired life chose to be a humble housewife. When all else failed I could always be a housewife like her, she said.

I dealt the final blow when I said No and chose not to marry and become a mother. I chose the life I lead now because of my fears and experiences. Most of which she is unaware of.

Sometimes in a flash of a momentary spurt in anger, she blames me for failing her. And for not respecting the basic nature of a woman and denying her grandchildren.

Not stopping for a moment to think that a Woman could be so much more than being just a wife and a mother.

Never realizing that our dreams need not be the same, after all.

It hurts. So much. It breaks my armour of titanium. And I end up living in a quagmire of guilt for a while.

But I cannot turn the clock back and be someone else now. Can I?

So I get up and dust myself and do all the things I love doing. And be all that I can be now.

Now one is to blame here. This is just how it is.

But some things never change. No one really cares about the multifaceted personality within me. I will always be judged for not having a man on my right and a child dangling on my left arm in that empty picture frame on the mantel piece.

And it will probably haunt me till the end of my time that I am the cause of my mother’s broken heart.

As it does already does, every day at 3 a.m.

 

A Trip down My Memory Lane : Are you who you are?

the weeping woman
The Weeping Woman by a painter I admire, Pablo Picasso

 

The road to her,

Promised to begin at the bend,

Where all roads to your past, end.

 

Needless cravings and unquenched sins,

Buried follies and torrid deeds,

Burning bright, unextinguished;

Fluttering wildly, left unwinged.

 

Cloudy smiles hiding a tarnished heart,

Veiled affection masking an unkempt soul,

Shining a misleading White;

Idling uncared, remain uncleansed.

 

Sparkling flakes of phony love,

Smoky promises of unwavering faith,

Hovering half alive, undressed;

Their death beating a hasty retreat.

 

Fragile drops of vanishing trust burn her deathly pale skin,

Tear filled fears pierce the silence of her eyes;

Their macabre dance in the shadows of the hallowed dark,

Mock, Chide and Blame her;

Unveiling the real, evil you in the nude.

 

She was a master of Trust,

You, a warlock of Anguish,

A sleight of your hand rendered her existence molested.

A hex of your wand scattered her threadbare ruins to unknown seas and skies.

 

Lost and widowed,

She drifts upon cold, violent seas and ceaseless grey skies;

Forming a million floating undiscovered islands and cumulonimbus clouds.

Each island alone and far-flung, safeguarding its anonymity.

Each cloud remote from that vile human touch,

Preserving its virgin innocence to the end of days.

 

The road to her,

Naively promised to begin at the bend,

Where all roads to your past, end.

 

Alas, the Truth’s been told.

 

That elusive road to her,

Begins in a frosty desolate No man’s land,

And ends; no further than the same wretched wilderness.

 

Because your past, like a boisterous unwieldy teenager;

Keeps tightening its poisonous grip on your hands,

As it shamelessly looks up and meets your glassy eyes.

Even as your innocent present, like a crawling toddler,

Impatiently tries to catch your presumably guilt-ridden,

But hidden in plain sight; guiltless, constantly wavering attention;

Desperately waiting for you to embrace it.

 

But you do know you can’t have it all and juggle it in sly abandon or do you?

‘Coz I hold the torn pages of ‘The chapter of Redemption’ from your Book of Life.

One day when the abused eyes of your past meets the abusing eyes of your present;

Even Dante’s Malebolge of Hell will shut its doors for you.

 

 

This is a culmination of a herculean effort, trying to combine 3 different poems into one. And I would like to think that the outcome is not so bad, afterall!

2 of the poems titled “The road to Her” and “Fragile Trust”, were published in Rediffiland in 2007. The new one was added today to refine and polish it so it narrated a story and made some sense!

Now on to the story behind the old poems.

They were written on 23 September 2007 in a studio of a fellow designer. The story behind how I met him that day goes like this.

I met him first when I enrolled myself in Fashion School way back in 2002. One look at him and I was bewildered! Dressed in black from to toe, with spiked brown hair that reeked of some cheap hair gel, he spoke in a very strange accent. He seemed like an audacious wannabe, straight out of college and tried too hard to look like a teacher to students as old as him!

To my own surprise, I ended up enjoying his classes the most! He could talk about anything under the sun and relate that to History of Fashion! He regaled the class with his tale spinner for a mouth! From ancient art to street art, Spanish Harlem to David Beckham, YSL to Rohit Bal, Versace and Gucci to Sabyasachi and everything and everyone that came in between!

I learnt more than just how a simple fabric becomes Fashion from this man. The most important thing I learnt from him and which made a profound change in me was that anyone, be it an educated person or an illiterate; an adult or a child; poor or rich, belonging to any caste or race could teach you something of importance! Life lessons can come from anywhere and anyone!

We became friends. We were just 3 years apart age-wise but I was actually in awe of this man who came from a small town and struggled really hard against his circumstances to be where he was that year.

And then it all went downhill. He suddenly began acting weirdly like a dog in heat! He had apparently developed a crush on me and was by no means trying to hide it or keep it down.

From this awe-inspiring teacher he had fallen to the levels of a lowly crazy stalker. I avoided his classes. He abused his power and my grades fell. I avoided my friends whom he was stringing along to his side. The whole college began to whisper. So I quit college.

Many opportunities to design costumes for film came out of unexpected sources but on probing discretely they all led to this man. I let them all go.

5 years later, as luck would have it, on a Teacher’s day, I got a call. It was him. He wanted to meet. Make amends. Become friends. Strange, I know!

But…

Everybody deserves a second chance. A chance to atleast say Sorry. 5 years worth of water had flown down that river. Besides, I did not hold any grudge against him. He was just another forgotten chapter in my Book of Life.

So I met him at his studio. We talked. We laughed. We drank tea by the gallons in his terrace on a cold moonlit night.

It was one of those beautiful evenings with sparkling conversation flowing so effortlessly that you end up forgetting your past. Even it was for just a little while. This was just around the same time I had come to know about the other woman in my partner’s life. Needless to say I was in a vulnerable state of mind. But for those few hours I forgot my pain and hollowness.

Maybe it was my vulnerability. Maybe it was the beautiful moonlit night. I can’t say for sure. But when he said Sorry for the way he behaved as a teacher and as a friend, I accepted his apology. After a really long time, I thought I actually did find traces of my long-lost friend in him.

We shared our stories. Of love. Of our struggles in finding a foothold in the Fashion business. Of childhood abuse. Of failures. Of failed suicide attempts. Of loss. Of everything that happened in those 5 years.

By the time the evening ended, we had already made plans to meet again 2 days later.

And then it all went downhill, as it did 5 years earlier.

His conversations reeked of the same transgressions of the past. His body language sought an uncomfortable physical intimacy. His guiltless hands and roving eyes did their own dance.

He locked the doors of his studio and ate his chicken. I bide my time and starved. And while standing my ground in retaliation to his advances, out came this poem. The words just came tumbling out.

In a matter of a day and over 4 hours, silence stood between us as sharp as a blade.

He unlocked the door. I walked away and threw away the yellow Tee I was wearing, in the bin and let the cold water of the shower wash away the remains of my fragile trust. Again…

I never saw him again.

‘Fragile Trust’ and ‘The road to her’ hold significant importance and meaning in my life because they encapsulate the mind numbing shock, hurt and pain I went through after losing the man I loved the most to someone else and knowing the reality of the man who inspired me the most in life, respectively.

They turned out to be completely different people from who they projected themselves to be. Both turned out to be predators. Both began with the façade of friendship and ended up with abuse. They were the only 2 men who I was close enough to share the sexual abuse I suffered in childhood. And they turned out to be exactly the same as every other man who came into my life before or after. They were men who cried over my shoulders talking about the abuse they themselves went through. But that did not stop them from taking advantage of me and become the abuser themselves!

What makes sane people go around that vicious circle? Over and over with no remorse whatsoever?

This poem is a mirror held by me to all the men who have abused me.

From relatives to friends to colleagues and lastly the man I loved.

This is my way of showing them who they are. How their abuse broke my life into pieces. How it helped in changing me into this Samurai who strengthens me from within to eventually become who I am today.

I still fight my demons in my head behind my tinkling laughter. I still do and might forever look over my shoulder for predators. I might never extend my hand to a man in friendship. I might never learn to trust my choices again. My heart might never put on the light for a new love to enter. I might never be a mother for fear that I am way too broken inside to even be a trustworthy woman.

But I am alive.

And I am still fighting.

And I will always be fighting.

I will never bow down to their ungodly desires and continue the cycle that they want me to.

I will never ever stoop down to their level and become one of them.

I might be the Abused. But I know I will never become the Abuser. Ever.

 

A Trip down My Memory Lane : The Proposal

the proposal
Painting by me titled a syrupy ‘You and I in this beautiful world’ in 2007

 

Far away, the blushing coconut palms,

Sway peacefully by the warm ocean;

Amidst wispy, cherubic, baby soft clouds,

Bobbing gleefully against the oddly sweet ‘n’ salty winds;

A hazy rainbow finds time to stretch itself,

And lazily hop along the sky, stained aquamarine blue.

 

Draped akin to a cascading waterfall in silken white,

I walk down the newly birthed seven-hued aisle;

An intricately veiled future laden with promises to keep beckons us;

Towards a voyage, foretold to be difficult yet blissful.

 

As the star spangled evening welcomes us with unbounded mirth;

A smoky pine-scented life awaits us with bated breath,

The cautious crossing; ecstatic, baton in hand;

Is all set to race beyond the shadows of our known horizon.

 

I say I do.

 

Would you vow to pare our blemished past and hurl them over the canyons of our dying yesterdays?

Would you bare your tarnished self afresh to my renewed soul?

Would you dare to leap past our uncertain now to an unknown but secure land of joyous forgiveness?

Would you care to care about all our nameless tomorrows to come?

Would you say I do too?

 

An edited version of this poem was first published in Rediffiland in the year 2007.

 

This poem was written after the one that was published last week here titled What dreams may come tonight…?”

It followed the events I wrote about in the last week’s story linked to that poem.

As is obvious, this poem is a proposal. The man in question was who I considered to be my Neo -‘The One’.

Despite our differences. Despite our fights. Despite his transgressions. Despite…

I couldn’t muster enough courage to cut through the deafening silence between us that followed us after me finding out about the flickering other woman in his life.

I was too sad to convey that I forgave him.

I was too shy to say I was still in for the whole ride.

I was too scared to pop the question to him upfront.

So I took the easy way out and published this poem in my blog, of which he was a follower.

Too audacious of me, you think?

Maybe…

Naïve, perhaps?

You bet!

Was I too dumb or was it that I loved the man a little too much for my own sanity, eh?

True that. God knows!

But the deed was done. And the wait began. And it went on. And on…

Strangers stopped by to comment they would say yes if only they had a chance to get to know me better!

But the elusive wait went on.

For. 3. Long. Years!

And then came the much awaited reply.

A mousy, barely audible No.

It took me a while to register this heart stopping, mind numbing rejection! And some more to collect all the pieces of myself that the sweet irony of this divine comedy had splattered all around.

And by a while, I mean a whole DECADE!

But such is Love!

Sometimes your belief, your assurances, your hopes, your care and all of your forgiveness bundled together is just not enough to make the other person see the light.

Sometimes your entire world of goodness, trust, faith and all of your love is not enough.

To some people just being you in your boundless earthly splendour is never enough.

But such is Life!

By the time I managed to assemble this person who now vaguely resembles me again in the mirror, 12 years have quietly passed me by, leaving me with nothing but a collection of sombre poems and one forgotten proposal to remember a beloved, imperfect man and our convoluted tale, destined to remain incomplete and lost in the pages of slowly vanishing memories.

A Trip down My Memory Lane : What dreams may come tonight?

canvas sunset
Image Credit: www.shuttercock.com

 

As the scarlet sun wilts away,

Paving way to yet another spotted virgin moon,

I wonder aloud…

 

What dreams may come tonight?

As the starlings fly north.

 

Would it be another wild goose chase?

A losing battle with dying hopes,

A dead rubber I have lost even before the gong goes boom!

And life’s bid goodbye to another dearly loved soul.

 

Would it be a race with self and not with time?

A win-win chase; either ways,

When life is unadulterated fun even if it throws curve balls all day; every day,

And all I care is to love, no matter not being loved.

 

Would it be planting my roots in brown barren earth?

Carving my path in lonely misty roads,

Winding my clock tight as every second ticks by me,

Creating a brand new me every time I die within.

 

Would it be another neither here nor there story?

When all I want is you,

And all you need is she,

And the crossroads, as usual cannot decide whether to laugh or cry!

 

What dreams may come tonight?

As the starlings fly north again.

 

I know and I am sure,

None of these.

 

What I will dream tonight,

Is what I dreamt yesterday,

And what I will tomorrow,

Until the end of my days perhaps?

 

Of soft white eternal walls and fluffy blue clouds,

Me in petal pink under a glorious golden sun,

Fresh tender leaves and soothing breezes,

Flowing hair and tinkling water.

 

My world lying in wait to be painted,

The empty easel beckoning,

Blank canvas ready to converse with God,

My brush set to waltz across it, to his tunes.

 

For tonight and every night later,

I dream this one dream;

It’s the only one that’s unbroken,

And will remain so;

Ever so alive,

Ever so dreamy.

Published sometime in March 2007 for the first time in Rediffiland.

 

The story behind this poem goes like this.

2007 was the year when life took a turn for me. 3 things happened.

I was trying to figure out where I was headed in life after the first bout of depression and my first unsuccessful attempt at suicide.

I landed an internship with my favorite designer with just an impromptu interview.

I found out that my partner was cheating on me.

At work, hiding behind bolts of fabric and at home , behind my beautiful smile, I was terrified of what I might end up doing to myself.

Amongst the ghost of a departed friend and the shadow of the other woman in my partner’s life, lived various other demons from my past, in my already troubled mind.

As is expected my dreams were not pretty.

Amidst the black days and darker nights this dream began and recurred almost every night. And it is about this dream that the poem is all about.

This particular recurring dream seemed to creep into my subconscious mind every night; within which, in a room with white walls extending all the way to the bluest of skies, dressed in pink, I stand in front of an easel as my canvas awaits the brush to begin its dance across it.

This dream kept me company in the bleakest of those nights. It kept me alive.

Of course the dream has faded now, since its more than a decade since it first came calling.

But like an old friend, it often comes and visits.

And lets me know it is always there to comfort me when I need it the most.

During a meditation.

After a walk during sundown when God takes a peek from behind the clouds at my receding profile.

When a song suddenly touches my heart and tears flow unbridled.

When a beautiful day stands still and I feel so complete that I offer my gratitude to the Divine for the gift of that day.

Especially on a particularly silent windy afternoon like today, when everyone is busy lolling in their siestas and I am lying wide awake contemplating…

What dreams may come tonight?