The History of People

Looking back at the last 25 years of my life is a mandate around this time of the year, so cue in the introspection, the meditation, the mirror on the wall in the vacant empty hall.

And while history has repeated itself a million times in my case, and as I said in my last post, while it always ends with a circle, I sometimes feel this description, no matter how true in its essence, is an oversimplification of everything. Which brings me back to one of my favourite songs,

“I’m caught in the red and I’m fading to grey, a constant reminder that nothing stays the same, but nothing ever really changes.”

When I started this blog a lifetime ago, I was in my college library, as lost as ever, as lonely as ever, as broken as I could be, drenched in the drama of my being and those of the beings around me. And now that I sit again in my college library (a different one this time), it’s like I’m miles away from that life but still caught in the same web of its essence. The people and the drama. But so much more different this time.

So, the conclusion I’m forced to draw is that people are never black and white, they’re always a spectrum of grey. No matter how many times you classify and reclassify the ones moving in and out of your life, they tend to fall right outside everything. Even if it is only because of a word they say, or a simple movement of their hand.

Maybe I should accept that I will always be none the wiser when it comes to human beings, a real tragedy because I do hope to be a writer someday.

Will I ever escape this web? I think I’m on my way towards it. Which makes me analyse all my past mistakes and counter claims. And I accept I’m to be blamed for almost all of them.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2018.  All rights reserved.

Advertisements

An Open Letter to the Guy from my Gym

Dear Gym Hottie

It’s been ages since I’ve seen you and to be honest I’ve, in fact, forgotten your face. So let’s hope that you haven’t gone missing and the police doesn’t ask me to give them your description  (because I’m too hopeless to even attempt to do that).

I’ve seen you about twice in my whole life, but believe me, that was enough to make me always look for you in the crowd, rather hopelessly I might add.

For me, running on the treadmill next to you on that fateful day will always be a fond memory of our non existent relationship. I cannot seem to forget how I kept staring at my own reflection in the mirror to avoid looking at you, which made me fall in love even more.

With myself, that is. Because of the perfection that is me.

And then I realized, or rather imagined, that you were stealing glances at me too, which heightened my  adoration to the infinite sky.

For my own self, that is.

And then I almost broke my teeth as I skid down the treadmill because I was too preoccupied with the love fest and lost my footing as a result of it.

I still remember what attracted me to you was how tall you were. Tall enough to stand on your toes and pluck the moon from the sky if you wanted. Everything about you reminded me of the starry sky on a clear summer night: you were dark and mysterious, and immensely out of reach. And staring at you made me happy and my heart skip a beat.

So I did what any girl with a crush on a guy would do: I completely avoided you, scowled at you when you tried to smile at me, tripped on the floor a few times and even dropped my phone on someone’s foot when you were near.

You need to come back to the gym, dear Gym Dude. I miss the romance.

With love

The Girl Who You Think Hates You But Doesn’t Really Hate You In Fact It’s The Opposite

Bye.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

 

The Beauty of the Mess: Letter #1

(This is an epistolary fictional story-series)

Dear E.

It is very unlikely that this letter will ever find you. Besides the rare possibility of me getting over my vanity and finding the courage to send this to you, there is the glaring hiatus in our correspondence, of 2 years 4 months and 26 days to be precise, that dampens my hope. Then there is also the question of you using your old post box that forbids me from thinking otherwise. Or if you even live in the same city. Or country for that matter. There are a million reasons why this letter shouldn’t find you.

But life is a long shot. Life has never made sense to me, so I’ve given up trusting in reason or signs of any kind. I’m not the believer that I was once upon a time when you used to write to me. And even if the ink and paper from my hands lies in a rusted metal box for most of eternity, the paper yellowing, the ink fading off into the air like my words and emotions, I will find a sense of calm in it. It will satisfy me that I tried to renew our friendship before I grew old and died. I tried to fix things when the world around me fell apart.

I’ll come straight to where we left off. And in all honesty, I was as angry as I’ve ever been in my life. I waited for seven hours on that rusted black bench in the far left corner of the Rose Park in your precious city, where I was supposed to meet you. You had so eloquently described it in your letters to me as your favourite place in the world, or to quote you, “the world you knew”. I wonder if that has changed in the past two years, if you’ve traveled to the far away mystical lands you always adored and admired.

You’d said that the dilapidated park bench gave you hope in hopelessness whenever you sat there eavesdropping into people’s lives, forgetting about the dilemmas of your own. You used to call it “the beauty of the mess” that life was putting you through. I tried doing the same while waiting for you to show up, while imagining you in your contemplating colours: wondering, worrying, waning. It upset me even more, because it made it extremely hard for me to hate you. And I hated you for what you did to me. Loathed you. Detested you. I was disgusted by you.

The beauty of your city was dust to me. It was smoke and ashes and garbage. And I swore, as I sat there rotting away on a rotting park bench in a rotten city, to never write to you again. I swore to cut you off and forget you like you forgot me. I felt stupid for not asking for your address or phone number, or even your real name for that matter, before flying halfway across the country to meet you, a stranger I had never seen or spoken to in my life, except through letters written to a post box.

But here I am breaking my oath to myself, falling into the path of vulnerability again, for you to hurt me all over again.

In all that hurt and pain, I took another decision that I shouldn’t have, that I probably wouldn’t have had you showed up that fateful day. I can’t help but laugh at my sheer daftness; at the fact how my life would be completely different than it is now had I let the fire of hate and hurt burn down to ashes rather than adding more wood to it. I wouldn’t have been a broken man sitting in a lone cabin in the middle of an abandoned sea shore putting ink to paper in this flickering tangerine light. I don’t even have a phone or television here. It’s just me, my pain and a few empty canvases I plan to paint my pain on for my impending project.

Let us let go of what happened. You didn’t show up two years ago; I’ve accepted that now and all that has happened since then. But throughout all of it, through the anger and the impulsive decisions, the fleeting illusionary happiness and the everlasting agony, I’ve missed talking to you. I’ve missed looking at the world through your eyes. I’ve missed your metaphors and poetry. I’ve missed you.

I’m not asking for an explanation. I’m not even expecting a response. But if my words find you by a twist of fate, know that no matter what I’m thankful to have known you in this lifetime. I’m thankful to have stumbled across your pen name on that god awful pen-friends website. I’m glad I decided to write to you. I am glad you decided to write back to me.

Your friendly neighbourhood

Achilles

Ps: I hope you’ve read the Iliad by now.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. All rights reserved.

Bon Voyage, Rory

My tears have almost dried and the sinking feeling in my chest is subsiding to numbness, slowly and steadily, although my heart feels as hollow as ever. The jar of peanut butter (because I was out of nutella) didn’t help me as much as I thought it would. Gilmore Girls ended. Rory left for her first job. Logan was left brokenhearted. Luke kissed Lorelei. Now what?

That’s the question that has been haunting my life over the past few weeks. It is ironic that I finished Gilmore Girls at this close in my life, this ending of a chapter, this dawning of an era. Gilmore Girls has taught me so much about love and life, about family and hope and every other thing that matters. I fell in love over and again with Dean, Jess, Logan, Luke, Christopher (until he left Lorelei), Sookie, Lane, Jackson, Zack. I fell in love with the complexity of Emily Gilmore, the complicated relationship she has with Lorelei and all that it brought with it. Richard Gilmore taught me about pursuing what you want and not letting go of opportunities. I partied with Logan and the Life and Death Brigade, fell in and out of love with him, swooned at his grand romantic gestures and most of all, appreciated him for becoming the man he grew up to be. Rory taught me that even the best of the best can have a melt down and not everything they touch has to turn to gold all the time. But getting back on track after life pushes you down is what defines the strength of your character and it is what I wish to possess.

I was at Yale with Rory, my favourite place on the planet, walking those streets of New Haven with her as I did last summer, the best summer of my life. And Lorelei taught me that sometimes the unexpected can grow to be the best thing to ever happen to you. Gilmore Girls gave me hope and courage and now that it has ended, I don’t know what to depend on anymore. Where do I run to when I want to escape?

I’m forgetting all of it. I’ve forgotten everything. Life is taking its toll on me. Lately, all I feel is the piercing hollowness of everything. The superficiality of relationships has been gripping my soul. Nothing has meaning anymore. What is anything even worth if it is just a mode of convenience for everyone, bent according to their whims and fancies and desires? My biggest problem is that when I reciprocate the same behaviour, the same fakeness they subject me to, guilt eats me alive, for that is not who I am. That is not who I want to be, although the alternative brings me pain.

Life is a conundrum I do not understand. Nothing means anything, and looking for meaning in people’s actions and the universe’s will is pure foolishness. Expecting reciprocation for your sincerity is stupid. The world is grey and I no longer have Gilmore Girls to turn to. Everything seems bleak and blank.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. All rights reserved.

A Tribute to all the Friendships that didn’t work out

Reaching the closing chapters of a novel makes you reminisce and analyze all that you’ve gone through, which in my case is quite involuntary. For now that the bedlam has subsided, I can honestly look at all that has happened and truly try to find meaning in the circus that was these last five years. So, this post is going to be me attempting to unveil the design of the cosmos.

Just like anyone else, I’ve lost and found and lost so many people in my life, the major part of which occurred these past five years. And as I sit and make a mental list of all these doomed friendships in my head in alphabetical order, I can’t bring myself to regret any of these relationships. Would I have been happier had I found the people I’m friends with at the moment earlier on in my life? Duh. But the thing is that I wouldn’t have been the same person that I am now without all those cogs in the wheel, and thus, wouldn’t have the same relationship with my friends that I have now. It was necessary to have been through it all.

Another thing that I’ve realized is that there isn’t a single former compadre that I’ve not had moments with, those beautiful moments that defined the friendship and some of which, still bring a smile to my face. It was amazing to have been close to such a different array of people, as they came into my life and walked away, for now I have a sharper insight into people. I would like to believe that I’ve learnt something good from all of them, imbibed traits of their character that attracted me in the first place. Moreover, I’ve learnt a lot about my own self having been through it all: what ticks me off, what makes me happy, what I look for in another person, how I judge people, how I let other people’s judgments affect me, what I like in a person, what I don’t like in a person, what not to say to a person, what never to say to a person, and the list is endless.

It’s like what they portrayed in the last episode of Cheese in the Trap: you have to keep dealing with the same types of people throughout the phases of your life. People are going to use you,  break you, step all over you, hit you in your gut at your weakest point and blame you for all of the shit, for the world is not an easy place to live in. You have to adapt. And that is what I’ve drawn from the last five years.

Almost all of these friends turned strangers are persona non grata in my life, but I’m thankful to all of them for everything. There are always as many sides to a story as the number of eyes affixed on it, and mine is just one of the numerous. All the people who fall under this category will have their own tales of woe against me, which in most cases will be valid, but at the end the prognosis would be the same: it didn’t work. These stories will always be lessons in the dark that will remind me of who I was and who I want to be.

The January Incident

Sometimes certain things, the simplest of things, that happen due to either complete coincidences, or due to some incomprehensible plot of the universe and all the timelines that intersect it (haven’t quite figured that one out yet), impact you with utter profoundness.

Maybe you left a place a few seconds later than you wanted to.

Maybe your friend asked you to wait with her while she waited for her friend to get over with classes.

And, you agreed to it, although you initially intended to leave a few minutes before.

And then you waited.

And waited.

And ultimately you left because you were getting too late and the prodigal friend still didn’t return.

And then, bam!

Something happens that wouldn’t have happened had you left according to your uninterrupted plan. And you sort of start believing that the universe wanted it to happen. Hence, the reason for its intervention.

Or maybe all of this is bullshit and what happens happens. (As I have stated numerous times before, I am but a bundle of contradictions.)

So, this is how the incident goes. It is nothing too memorable or out of the ordinary. It is nothing to be journaled. I probably won’t even remember it happened in a few weeks. But, it is the fact that the incident got me thinking in way too many ways and I landed up here, on my blog writing about it.

It was about 8pm on a January night. I left the gym and walked towards my car parked in the semi marooned lot. As I walked, or rather dragged my sore legs towards the car, too tired even to think sanely, I noticed two guys not too far away from my car standing in the lot. Drinking. Huge bottles of god knows what form of alcohol cradled in their arms. And a red-alert went on in my mind. And the first thing I said to the friend behind me, who had very graciously agreed to walk me to my car (Hi there, you. I know you’re reading this!) was that I was so thankful not to be alone. Which is quite a natural sentiment, I presume. But it was the second thought that crossed my mind as an inherent reaction that bothered me enough to write this.

I felt sort of guilty for being out alone at the late hour. (Yes, I know 8pm isn’t late. But be it 8pm or 2am, anytime after dark is late because it isn’t as safe as daylight. Although daylight isn’t that safe either, since Vampires aren’t my immediate concern here.) I felt like it was my fault that I felt not too comfortable being out alone at the said hour, when it is not my fault at all!

I think the beginning of this viable lesson that is fed to girls from the moment they are able to comprehend words must have been, after certain disturbing incidents must have occurred, a safety precaution of not venturing out looking for trouble. But in recent times, it has become an excuse for the delinquents to do whatever gives them a rush. It has become a justifiable reason for why bad things happen. It is the female’s fault. Bad things happening to her are directly linked to where she goes, what time she goes there, and most importantly, what she wears. Because it is also your own fault when you get robbed. Because you have things that could be robbed. Or if you get murdered. Because you did things that got you murdered. You said murderable things or wore murderable clothes. Or maybe just have the sort of face that caused you to get murdered. It’s your fault. Should have got a plastic surgery or something when you had the chance.

What I want to point out is the fact that the thought of being guilty for any bad thing might happen to me because (a) I was out alone after dark and (b) because I’m a girl , is something I do not want my daughter, or anyone else’s daughter to ever think! I want my son to feel responsible for standing in a public place drinking in the dark. I mean, you could sit in your car and do that. And then drive your car into a lake and leave the planet a better place, rather than stare at a girl who passes by you like she’s dinner. (Talk about Vampires not being an immediate concern.)

In all seriousness, being socially responsible for how you behave in a public place is something all human beings should care about. Drink. Have fun. As long as you do not infringe on anybody else’s life or make them feel unsafe and responsible for the bad things that happen due to no fault of theirs. Raise your sons right first. Then tell your daughters to avoid venturing out alone at night. Also teach your daughters how to be badass ninjas. Mostly, do that though (after raising your sons right).

Whispers of December

First of all, I owe an apology to one and all who were following my “23 Poems Before I Turn 23” Challenge. But then again having a blog that is more of a quaint boutique rather than a Tiffany Store on the most expensive street in the world has its own perks. This blog is my bitch and I can do as I please.

I still do apologize for the unannounced hiatus and, most ardently, for not keeping my word. I had intended to blog about at least 23 poems before I could turn the age that is represented by two of my least favourite numbers, but alas, life got in the way and I horribly failed. But what I do intend and what I will do to make up for my laziness is turn the challenge a resolution for my 23rd year. I will finish the challenge while I’m of this age.

And if anybody ever reads this hollow voice into the void, I will be happy to talk about any poem of your choice. It could even be your own poem. So suggestions are most welcome!

To synopsize what has been going on in my life of recent would be fairly represented by a single sonorous word: finals *gong*. The fact that another phase of my life is at its close isn’t as comforting a thought as I had thought it would be. I guess what they say about forbidden love is true: it will end in tragedy. (Yes, I made that up *gong*.) I’m falling for a place I have loathed for a better part of my mortal life and instead of rainbows and butterflies, it is turning out to be rather difficult and would leave me broken in the end; I can prophesize that.

To continue ranting about my life, I think I’m still hung up on everything that has happened to me over the summer. I think I’ve lived through the entire chapter a hundred times over in my mind, going over the conversations over and over again. I know now how Cinderella felt after the clock had struck midnight.

I keep reliving it all, in my dreams and in my daydreams, and the problem with it is that I’ve romanticized it into this perfect godly sojourn, which it never was. It was full of mess and struggle, of moments of self doubt and frustration, and that is the reason why I loved it. I got to fight a war with my demons and defeat them. My deepest fear is that I’m going to turn it into something unreal and fictional. The words, the touches, the feelings. I want to remember everything unsullied.

Maybe December is a month for introspection, for whispers of the bygone year flowing in the wind weaving its way to the crypt at dusk. Or maybe I’ve just lost it.

*gong*

How You’re Not the One

There you go, a caterpillar in a cocoon of narcissism and arrogance. Vain. Egotistical. You smile a smile, showcasing your artificially whitened teeth and utterly high cheekbones on your freshly shaven face. Your cologne chokes people to death because you bathed in it, rather than spraying it on yourself like a normal human being, after you hit the gym to maintain your oh so precious abs. If only you valued humility and compassion as much as you value your abs. You park your uselessly expensive car taking up two parking spaces, not because you’re scared of someone scratching it but because it satisfies your humongous ego. You assume that every girl is in love with you. You assume I am in love with you. But oh my dear half-witted simpleton, I would rather stick pins in my eyes than even think of the possibility of us.

Maybe you’re not all that I’ve described. You’re chivalrous. Gallant. Your polished soul resonates your debonair. You serenade the birds and paint the flowers. Maybe you’re not all that either. But you think I’m falling for that faux charm and my heart is in your palm. Because that is what gives you joy. Or maybe not. But honey, you couldn’t be more wrong. I’m not a fifteen year old. Or an imbecile. Neither are most creatures of my sex.

You see, had you been the one, I would never have been able to speak to you coherently. My awkwardness would have baffled you to the point of doubting my sanity. You would have, numerous times in fact, caught me gaping at your face dimwittedly. While stammering and stuttering, and possibly literally going weak in the knees, I would have asked you if you love travelling. Or books. Or long walks in the library. Or if you believe in destiny. Or if you see the stars as evidence of the existence of magic. Or made you a mixed tape of my favourite records. I never did that, did I? Hate to burst your pristine bubble, but you are so not the one.

An Open Letter to Starbucks

Dear Commercial Giant Starbucks

You are criticized for your over-priced strangely addictive coffee and one of my cousins is among those who ardently loathe you and all that you stand for. You are considered responsible for the homicide of adorable quaint little indie cafes who cannot compete with you. You are often mocked and taunted, and let’s not forget your ‘race together’ campaign. But you, dear multi million corporation, are the one who saved me.

I owe you one of the best summers of my life, Starbucks. I was all alone in a foreign country- tired, hot, thirsty, almost broke, sans wifi with a bladder on the verge of bursting, and you saved me, although you made me even more broke while doing that. And right now I terribly miss you and all of it. If I could relive my summer all over again, I wouldn’t change a single thing. Except pack more clean underwear probably.

My summer has been one of lone adventures in an unknown land with only my wits and GPS to guide me about. And every time my feet would scream at me to stop my explorations in wonderland, I would look you up right away and there you would be, literally right around every corner I ever was. Tucked away from the bustle. Sweet. Majestic. Green, with the scent of coffee and free wifi wafting about you.

Don’t get too full of yourself though. What automatically made me search for you all those times wasn’t love or lust. It was familiarity. No matter what borough I would find you in, you would be the same. You would woo me the same way. I knew all those times that I couldn’t make a fool of myself in your Company. Pun totally intended. I, soon enough, became well acquainted with exactly how you would use me and how I was going to use you. No surprises. Like a cliched damsel running into the arms of her ex every night she got lonely. And I ran to you all those times. I’m not too proud of all the money you made me spend on you but I swear to God, you were worth it every time. Especially the Chai Tea Lattes. Oh, the Chai Tea Lattes. And me, sprinkling Vanilla and Nutmeg and more Vanilla. And Cinnamon. And more Vanilla. I could never get enough of that Vanilla. I could never get enough of you.

Some nights you made me feel cheap. The times I tried to conserve my dwindling cash, you tricked me with the fancy descriptions under your fancier coffee names and that damned Red Velvet Cupcake you displayed right where I stood waiting in the line for the bathroom. Some nights you cuddled me with your warmth while I read one of my favourite books when it poured outside. I would never forget those rainy nights. Some nights, the nights we were apart as we are now, you made me insanely crave you.

Chai. Tea. Latte. And Vanilla.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Sometimes in life (almost all the time for me, actually) one goes through something I like to call the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” phenomenon. It is characterized by those times when one really has two opposite opinions about something and the real test of the soul lies in the guess work involved. In recognizing the part of the split you that you should trust. Of my recent experiences, I can say that I’ve acted in haste, while being drenched in emotions and not seeing the complete picture. And I’ve failed at choosing the right way out.

What I’ve gone through, if I try and spell out those facts and circumstances in third person without any emotional involvement, it would actually seem like nothing too tragic or worthy of the million rain drops I’ve shed. In fact, any sane person would lecture me that people in the real world go through some real problems and my pain in comparison to theirs is like comparing the height of a sand castle to the John Hancock Center. But I’ve always felt that pain is subjective in nature. We measure the magnitude of our despair and cataclysms with reference to the things that we ourselves have gone through. We can empathize with the sufferings of others, but we can never truly understand the things they had to face and the monsters they had to slay and the beasts that almost trampled them. Or in fact did trample them. We can never truly fathom someone’s sorrow. So, telling someone that their problems really aren’t that big or worthy enough to get upset over is ethically wrong.

Pain has a definitive character unlike any other sentiment. It ends up deciding who you become. It defines who you are. When I am subject to pain and bleed furiously with battle scars that run deep and wide, I have the habit of shielding my soul and attacking back, even though the blows on my enemy take their toll on me too. I can never get over people who hurt me. I might forgive them as time passes and the memory of the pain fades a little everyday. But I can never forget, especially when the people who attack you were your own trusted friends. Why is loyalty so hard to find these days?

Another really important life lesson I’ve learnt recently is the dire need to get out of abusive relationships. Now, the dictionary meaning of an abusive relationship is “a state of affairs between two people characterized by wrong or improper action, either physical or verbal.” This very well includes abusive friendships. Holding on to people who have always just used you for their benefit while being malicious towards you. People whose conduct towards you has been laced with rudeness, sarcasm and taunts. People who have dragged you down, made you more depressed and darkened your soul with their apathy and cruelty. When I look back at these past months, I’m horrified at not realizing this any sooner. I had known their conduct towards me was wrong, but instead of having the courage to walk away, I started changing myself. Stopped being bothered by their snide comments. Kept my mouth shut all the time. Never shared any of my thoughts or experiences. I remember infinite instances when I began narrating some anecdote only to stop and realize that no one even noticed that I had left the story halfway. Because they treated me like garbage and had no interest in what I had to say. They were willfully committed to misunderstanding me and still are. And the honest truth is that I don’t hate them. I hate myself for ever putting up with those fiends just because I was afraid to end up alone.

I think that is the very reason people tend to stay in abusive relationships. The fear of loneliness. The fear that maybe what lies outside the relationship is much worse than the present torment. So we deny the wrongness. We justify their conduct by pointing out mistakes in ourselves. We change ourselves to suit them, to fit into their idea of right. When actually all we should have done was stepped away from such people. It requires tremendous courage to accept the truth and move on towards uncertainty and possible loneliness. But it really is worth it.

But not all of life is cruel and untrue. I really admire the people who stepped up and stood by me in my hour of self doubt. I am indebted to their help and kind words. I wouldn’t have survived this storm of my life without their love and support. Their courage and strength is a source of inspiration to me and I will do everything in my power to be there for them when they are in need of my tattered soul. It may not be much but I promise my loyalty to them.

I’m done with people who walked away at a time in my life when everything went haywire and I lost myself for a while. I’m glad to have gone through this ordeal because everything is so clear to me now. My troubles proved to be a litmus test for me and the people around. I have realized now that at the end of the day, the people who were left standing are the ones worth dedicating yourself to. It’s like waking up from deep slumber. There is just so much beauty around me and so much to take in. I may not have too many friends, but I will fight wars for those who helped me in my battle. I will ensure that from now on, my life is a reflection of the clear peaceful sky. It might take time to reach the zenith of clarity and peace, and I will  fall and stumble along the way, but I do believe that I will get there someday.