The Land of Eternal Summer: Winter

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, but somehow the words coming out of me seem to be rotten. Like my core is shaken and something is amiss. Maybe it’s just in my head or maybe, or rather more likely, what I’m writing these days is pretty much chaotic garbage.

So what’s new in the Land of Eternal Summer? Well, for one the rain is over and the stars are back for me to gawk at every night. And even on days like today when there are clouds floating in the night sky, like smoke on a stage scene from Midsummer Night’s Dream, I find myself humbled for the piece of sky that I do get to wallow at before the haze takes over. Right the second before the shimmer of the stars is enveloped in mysticism and enigma.

It’s summer here but winter never leaves me. I think I carry it with me, along with my inability to function normally. Maybe I’ve absorbed it in the deep crevices of my soul. Maybe it’s a part of my bones now. For I cannot keep it at bay for too long ever.

The other day I wrote in my diary that all there seems to be in life is to stand and watch things fall apart. All we do is build sand castles too close to the ocean no matter how hard we try not to. And then, all we can do is put it back together, fix it, bear the disappointment, and wait for it to fall apart again. And fix it again. And watch it be swept away again, only to come back and build it up from the ruin.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2019.  All rights reserved.

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The Land of Eternal Summer: Brokenness

My eyes lay on a scene that is pretty as can be and I forget to breathe.

That’s how it was when it all started. I used to say that this one good thing that happened to me, in a very difficult year, means that I’m on the wrong side of a parallel universe. Because good things don’t really happen to me. Especially me. For someone who has known winter all along, the brightness of summer seems too good to be true.

It was perfect in the beginning. I think it felt like that because I didn’t expect anything at all. And life kept me gasping at the purity of every minute as a result of that: because every turn was a surprise and every moment red letter. And then, everything changed.

In the midst of paintings and poetry and the stars and the talks of hopes and dreams, I began to expect. And that is what I account my ruin to. That is the moment of my downfall.

And every moment since has been a drop down on the graph. And no matter how hard I tried not to expect anymore, no matter how I tried to fix everything, it all kept falling apart like the ground was quicksand. And while everything was breaking around me, I fell and broke my toe.

That is how I know I’m still in the parallel universe I’ve been all along. My bonus round in Mario is over. I’m back in the arms of reality and it is a mess.

It is still summer here, but it rains everyday. My secret place is full of bugs and untamed grass. The walkways are all muddy. It’s impossible to lay in the grass and look at the stars. In fact, the stars aren’t visible most nights. I’ve lost the magic that once breathed in my soul. And my deepest fears are brimming like the thunder clouds in the sky right now.

But if there’s something I’ve learnt in these 26 years around the sun, it’s that the sunsets after the storms make the most beautiful views.

I’m trying to go back to who I was when I got here, the girl who saw magic in every speck of every moment. Maybe I’ll find her again. Or maybe I’ll grow into someone I was always meant to be.

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

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.

A Stormy Day

Pure satisfaction cannot be denied when the weather is in perfect consonance with the storm in your heart. To see the wind gurgle up dust and leaves and just blast it off the heads of all things and everything. To see chaos when that is all you feel inside. To feel the anger of the sky in the thunder brewing in the air that is far too heavy with the grayness of emotions. And to be maneuvering through it all while the world seems lost in the sudden darkness.

Because, finally, you can paint a picture of your pain for the world to marvel at. Finally, your pain has meaning in the most unprecedented way. Perhaps, not that unprecedented, for paintings of storms have existed before. Maybe the most poignant way then. Because the world cries to you about the pin pricks in their feet while you have been suturing wounds they refuse to see. And if they do, they diminish it to weakness of the skin to bleed, weakness of the blood to flow, weakness of the mind to feel.

You have to be brave, so that it’s easier for them to hurt you again without guilt.

You have to let go, so that they don’t have to deal with the ugliness of your broken heart anymore.

You have to be okay with it, because you are meant to suffer as all the happiness in the world is reserved for them.

You have to accept that they will crown their selfishness while you lie in a ditch gasping for air right before you choke to death.

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

That Girl

This post is inspired and based on the spoken word poem by Daysha Edewi (click here to watch)I Am Not That Girl, because I think it’s a conversation we need to have.

December has not been easy for me so far, for various reasons I’ll reserve for a future post, but I’ve been coming across this theme so often that I feel like the universe just wants me to address it already. Earlier this month, I myself was drenched in the swampy marsh of what it means to be pretty and have constant male attention, either of which has never been my forte. So when I’m looking at my whatsapp messages with at least 10 pictures of my friend with her new boyfriend that she just sent me, or listening to another friend describe how she’s in the middle of the Twilight Saga New Moon with two guys doing all sorts of things to win her over, I cannot help but ask why am I never on the other end of that conversation? What is wrong with me? Am I not womanly enough?

The answer in all truth is that I’m not. I’m really crappy being a girl, and I am by no way depreciating myself when I say that. I hate wearing high heels because I find them uncomfortable as hell given the broadness of my feet. I would choose sneakers and ugly but comfortable boots over anything. I cannot wear my nails too long or braid my hair. There’s a greater chance of me carrying a book in my bag rather than a bottle of moisturizer or hand cream. Some days I venture out into the world in my oversized hoodie because I just too tired to care how I look. I’m the only girl I know who didn’t depend on a boyfriend or prospective specimen to watch the latest episodes of her favourite tv show. If they could, they would have taken my girl card away ages ago, but that’s just who I am and I’m teaching myself to be unapologetic about it. I’m a few sizes above the norm for a pretty girl, I weigh a lot more than a pretty girl should, my face is too big, I’m clumsy as hell and I have the appetite of an elephant. And I’m learning to not be bothered by comments people make regarding all that.

More often than not I end up hating myself for all this, but it’s like the marching scene in Dead Poet’s Society: I too am a slave to the human need of acceptance. And this need has turned into an unresolved issue, I’ve realized, because I was the odd duck out for all the years of my college and I was quite alone throughout that. So it’s taking me a while to root this problem out and accept that I don’t really need anyone else to accept me. I’ve come a long was since those horrific days and I still have miles to go, but I’m hanging on.

But what I’ve learnt is that although I’m quite different from all the girls around me, I’m not alone. The poem I mentioned is full of comments from women all over the world who feel the same way, some with problems even more complex than mine. And every time I doubt myself, I look for similar posts and go straight to the comments section and it always makes me breathe a little easier and lifts a little of that tightness I feel in the pit of my stomach thinking about it.

I don’t really mean to tear down girls who are amazing at fitting in all the check boxes of womanly standards. If that’s what makes you happy, more power to you. I’ve learnt that it won’t make me happy, that my standards of beauty are too different from everyone else’s. I feel that if you stare at a superficially beautiful thing for long enough, you get used to it and soon it fades to being mundane if it’s hollow, if that superficiality is all that it has to offer. For me, it’s the intrinsic values that matter the most, that inspire me, that make me feel something. It’s strength in the face of difficulties, it’s kindness, compassion, gratitude, intelligence and pure intentions. It’s peace. It’s calmness. It’s doing the right thing, and doing it for the right reasons.

So if you’re like me, thinking about how different you are from everyone around you, thinking why is that you never seem to have guys professing their undying love for you, and you ask yourself the question, “What is wrong with me”, I’ll answer that question for you.

Nothing is wrong with you.

To quote the Dead Poet’s Society,

We all have a great need for acceptance.  But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, “That’s baaaaad.” Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

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

I’m Caught in the Red but I’m Fading to Grey

A constant reminder that nothing stays the same,

but nothing ever really changes.

WordPress just reminded me that 4 years ago today, I started my blog in my college library, depressed, alone, fading, in need of hope and light.

This blog has been more than a friend to me. It has been a space to feel safe, to let out my fears and cries without judgment, to learn about myself and the way I write. It has helped me speak to people I may never meet from countries I may never travel to. Sometimes the echoes have brought back words, kind and tough that have helped me realize that no matter how much I feel the contrary is true, I am not alone.

So this calls for generic introspection.

What have I learnt over these last 4 years?

What has happened to me since?

Am I still the same person who started this blog?

What am I going to do?

Do birds fly to the moon?

 

(I’m not mainstream enough to be interviewed, so I’m going to go ahead and pretend this is what anyone would want to know.)

The textbook fairy-tale answer would be that my life has completely turned around, that life has magically fixed itself in these past 4 years, because 4 years is a really long time for a person to sort themselves out.

Bullshit.

Like Gemma Hayes’ beautiful lyrics quoted by me in the beginning of this post, I am both red and grey.  My life has changed but it’s still the same. I’m still as lost as I was, as alone as I was, as depressed as I was, although in different and more complex ways than before. All my old problems have sorted themselves out, but I’ve got new ones in their wake. More challenging ones, I would delude myself into saying mainly because I can’t see the solution yet.

As to what I have learnt in these past 4 years, it mostly consists of learning about myself. I have learnt to fight and lick my wounds, to bear pain and to build fire-proof shields. But I have also learnt to put my shield down and face the beauty with the pain, a decision I’m still in a debate about (with myself, if that wasn’t clear enough).

I’ve stopped praying for someone to come rescue me. Instead I’m learning (still) to equip myself to do that, to be my own hero. And I fall and stumble as I did before, even more so now that before. Which is to be expected if you walk faster than you did before, if you cover more ground than you did in the times ago.

It hurts, I’m not going to lie. It makes me wishes I was done already. It makes me sting others in my wake. But I don’t think I really have a choice anymore.

The only way I can go is forward, the only direction I can fall is down.

So that is what we are going to do for the next 4 years.

 

Thank you for being a part of this blog and a part of my world.

All my love,

That Girl in the Fray.

 

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

An Open Letter to the Guy Who has a Crush on Me

Dear Guy Who is Deluded into Thinking He Likes Me,

I am touched in the deepest recesses of my heart that I have had the opportunity to be your crush. Thank you for this unique baptism, this utterly rare honor that you have chosen to bestow upon me. I shall never forget it.

I am at that point in my life where the turn of events has torn apart my safe haven and burnt it to ashes. To add to this misery, I have just finished watching a really good Korean Drama and after those unreal 16 episodes of pure bliss, I’m left more melancholic than ever.

So, I’ll quote the drama at you: Human beings are lonely from the moment they are born. I’ve not found any statement to be more true. At the core of every struggle and every pang of misery, at least for me, is loneliness. I don’t think I’ve ever fit in at any place that I’ve been at. I’m always longing for something else, for someone else, for someplace else. This need is insatiable, a burning fire that no water, no air, no land can extinguish. I’m always in want of something, something that is just out of reach and quite impossible, that I think would make life bearable. But it doesn’t, if I ever get it.

So with this stage setting in mind, with raging storms and unapologetic cyclones added to the drama for the amusement of whoever is the audience to my comically ironic life, you can imagine what a sunshine your misguided and unrequited feelings for me are. To be crude, it makes me feel less shitty about myself.

Like most people, I often feel starved for love and appreciation. One of my favorite songs at the moment, besides being the work of pure genius, has the lyrics that I have found myself feeling time and again:  “And all I do is cry and complain, because second’s not the same.” It’s a really shitty feeling to be drowning in all the time, when the radar that helps you detect all the avoidable bullshit in your life is broken.(Which is like 78.32% of the times.)

So in these waters, the fact that I am your crush makes me really happy. It’s unbelievable another human being could ever feel that way about me. And because of this, I think you are super awesome. I hope and pray you end up with someone who will give you the love you deserve until the stars fall from the sky.

All I can promise, in exchange for this priceless gift, is my undying adoration for you. I will always root for you in every aspect of your life; I’m forever Team You. I will never forget this.

All My Love

The Receiver of Your Unrequited Temporary Feelings

 

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

Featured Image: ‘The Letter’. Art print by Wladyslaw Czachorski. 

Dear Chester

 

This is my second attempt at this. When I tried writing this before, I was so overwhelmed and out of words that this post turned out to be a mesh and I dumped it in my drafts folder until I could muster the strength to revisit it.

I don’t want to reiterate how amazing and talented Chester was and how much he influenced the world; that has been said before along with numerous things and I’m not going to get into any of it. Despite the title and the tags, this post is about me.

I’ve been depressed throughout most of my teenage and adult life. And as any book or movie about teenage depression will tell you, I have contemplated killing myself on numerous occasions. I remember the one time I even attempted it; I walked on the ledge of the roof of my house with my eyes closed, praying to God to kill me, because I was too chicken to do it myself. And I’m thankful I was.

The things that happened to me were neither too tragic nor too painful if you compare it to the sorrows enveloping the rest of the world. But they were too much for me to handle; they seemed like the end of the world to me and I just wanted the pain to end. The thing about depression is that it gives you a tunnel vision; your view of the world shrinks and it is as if you are in solitary confinement in a tiny cell, thinking you matter to no one and, in fact, the world would be a better place without you because no one cares. You start finding reasons why everyone hates you, adding to your own resentment and the million reasons you hate yourself. It’s a deep maze there seems to be no way out of. I’ve been there, stuck in the middle of it, with darkness engulfing every inch of my body while my screams drowned in the bottomless void of my soul. And I got out of it. It is this experience that has defined me for rest of my life, because I knew if I could come out of this hell, I could pretty much handle life.

Music helped me a lot. Numb by Linkin Park kept me alive and breathing. Every time I sang along to it, at the top of my voice, I felt my pain mattered. That I mattered. That I wasn’t alone in going through this. Iridescent got me through some horrible times as well, as I tried to hold on to hope and let go of my pain, failures and tears. As it did hundreds who swear by the band and its epicness. Leave Out All the Rest, In the End, What I’ve Done, Crawl and dozens of other songs defined a whole generation. It made us who we are.

The reason why I’m so broken by Chester’s death is that he died because of the same thing he saved me from. And no one could help him out of it, like he helped me. It is the irony of this twisted fate that brings me to the brink of tears every time I think about it. It’s wrong and it hurts.

Music and words helped me get out of my labyrinth and it has made me all the more strong. It has made me independent and suppressed my need to depend on other people in times when I’m going through things. Which has in turn improved my relationships because I’m not let down by them anymore; I have no expectations because I know I’m enough for me. I still feel a little unhinged at times and I’m still on the path of discovering who I am but I’m happy with where I am in life. All because I didn’t end my life on the ledge that day. I have a goal and I’m trying my best to work a path towards it, failing and flailing all along the way. I still get depressed at times, but I know how to pull myself out of it now.

If you think that you don’t matter, you are wrong. Talk to someone if you’re going through something that is too much for you to handle. Get help. Read as much as you can about people who are going through the same things. Meditate. Let go of the pain. Let it rebuild you from the core. Listening to music. Read books that speak to your soul. Paint. Dance. Sing. Do whatever that makes you feel alive. You don’t really need to care about the rest of the world. All you need to do is repair your soul, because you are made of the same cosmic dust that floats through the sun and stars.

You are the sun and stars.

You are strong enough.

I will miss Chester with all my heart. He saved my life and I will forever love him for it.

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

All the fractures I’ve displayed

I hate it when the sky is that vulgar angry red at night. It chokes me. It’s nights like these that touch my soul, when the night sky is deep black, deeper than the depths of the ocean below me when I once scuba dived. I can breathe and feel the stars burn patches on my erratic skin. I can swallow the moon whole. The grip of those hands doesn’t feel too close to my throat anymore. But this feeling is fleeting, like the fireworks that start with a horrific bang, startling me to the core. And they end in silence. Their moment has passed. The sky is dark again. The hands are back around my neck. Slowly and slowly, the grip tightens. Inch by inch. I gasp. Breathless.

I’ve always wanted what everyone on this planet has: to be wanted. To be needed. To be loved, passionately, without any bounds, without any cemeteries. I’ve wanted to be wanted, to be missed, to be desired, to be cherished. I’ve wanted to be noticed when I’m missing. I’ve wanted my silence to be noticed. I’ve wanted to be the colour red. But it’s red that I see now, although the sky is pitch black. It’s red that I see as the last of the air in my lungs leaves my body. Breathless. I gasp harder.

Why can’t I be wanted the way I want you? Why can’t I burn into your skin like the cold does with every wisp of air that hisses among the trees. Why can’t you see just how broken my skin is now, with next to nothing left to clothe my soul. Did I give away too much. Did I give in too soon? Breathless. I choke.

The moon is full. The sky is black. The stars burn lies a million lights away. I see red. Breathless.

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

 

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.