A/N: Perhaps this is true. Perhaps it's fiction. It's easy to be sad, easier to just drown in it. It's difficult to get out, and like every other advice, you get there, somehow. Until then, hold on to hope, okay?
Someone recently said to me that it's the little things which make my posts unique (I still haven't replied to them, for it still has me shaken to the core. :( )
Yet. It made me think that perhaps it's time to reveal a little more. Do something out of the box.
This post is something we've all felt. So take it as yours. It's okay. You're not alone.
It's easy to get lost.
I've always looked up at the stars to seek for the one. I don't know who that is, or who it will be. I am not aware of who I want it to be, but somewhere deep down, it feels as if that person would know me best, understand me and make me feel complete.
There are days when I lie down at night and just stay up for hours, looking for answers in hidden patterns. Everything feels awkward, disjointed, as if square pegs are trying to fit within round holes.
It's difficult to find reasons to be happy, things which kick the dust from the corners of my heart. It seems like it's a little too much to ask to unearth something to make me feel alive. Sometimes I wonder, am I on others' mind as much as they are on mine?
I'm aware. I'm aware that the first step to mental health begins from loving yourself, and just like that, everyone seems to love you. The key, in itself, sounds magical. So simple, yet, so unique.
But, even when surrounded by so many people, it always feels lonely. And perhaps, that's the crux of this matter. Loneliness. I am basking and drowning in it, praying for a hand yet never really recieving the right one.
I am in a relationship, doing well in studies and have wonderful dreams of floating away in a hot air baloon while enjoying a kulfi, bizarre and unique. There are enough reasons to be happy and complete.
Yet I feel incomplete, lonely and broken on some nights. Maybe, I have to keep on going a little longer, but it really is difficult.
All I know is, I'm looking for someone, something. In stories, in words, in the local alley hidden underneath the grove of trees, in every call of my name.
I'm always looking. And supposedly, I'm happy too.
But, I want to feel complete, maybe someday, I will?
Life is short. Please live it as best as you can, no regrets. It might hurt, it might bring you pain. But at the end of the day, it'll be okay. :)
I hope you like this.
A snake biting it's own tail, that's where we began.
Ouroboros, neither a beginning nor an end, we were living the ironical life from the beginning. I had been stuck in a boring 9-to-5, without any splash of colour in my life. From wearing tones of grey to finding solace in the torrential weather of London, I felt right at home.
But life never goes along smoothly, does it?
In a place full of people, loneliness was the crux of my being, the emotion hidden behind my pained smile. No one ever noticed, until you came along. A sentence full of mystique, wasn't it?
"Ready to begin this life, all over again?"
As far as pickup lines went, it wasn't one of those overtly torrid ones which were usually spouted off. You always went for that, magic and mystique, even amidst the troughs of regular life.
Drunk till the very top, barely aware of what was occuring around me, we ended up with that. A snake biting it's own tail, as if marking the beginning of our own tale. For in the hidden infinite loop, I found the joy of life within our bond.
You were a stranger, and then, you were not. I liked watching golf on the telly, before you scoffed and made me shift over to dancing with you in real life. Change, I'll admit, was terrifying in the beginning, shaking me down to my roots. Yet, the joy was inescapable, alive and thriving with something which the entirety of my soul craved for.
We were poles apart in our personalities, but that never stopped us. You learnt how to love stargazing, and then teaching me how to live. It was with you where I took my first trust fall. I still recall once at how we were caught in the alley because of our scandalous behaviour. No regrets, eh?
You, you looked beautiful in white, as we walked outside the chapel on a cold January morning, our tattoos out in the open as we excahnged our vows.
Life, as we knew it, was perfect. We didn't know how to come down from the high we were floating on. We were everything the movies claimed about, yet, more. For movies never talk about the small things, do they?
Our love, in a way, was simple. For we were everywhere, together. From giving each other haircuts to chuckling at lewd jokes made in a prim and proper bookstore.
Everything was perfect, until it was not.
Neither of us believed in the old adage of good things coming to an end. Yet, they did. They did for us. Seven months in, you went in for s checkup, the bulge showing our child.
No one knew. No one could predict. But barely a few days later, in your sleep, an arterial blockage caused due to a heart attack. It was painless, or so they say.
But no. It was not. It. Was. Not.
I'll be selfish here, Allie, for the pain on some of these days makes me wonder about living. Everything has lost it's edge. It's shadow and sorrrow, everyday. And it hurts. It hurts so much.
I have been trying to find a reason to get up, to start moving again, to accept. Yet. Yet. I can't. Some days, the loneliness gets to me, a sudden blanket draped over all the happiness we'd had.
I painted the wall blue, just like you wanted. With golden accents on our couch, hoping to find a semblance of you in the place you claimed would look as heavens.
Allie. We began with ouroboros. Neither a beginning nor an end.
Your arms wrapped around my back. Our hair being gently ruffled by the wind. I could feel you smiling against my back, savouring each moment as we cruised through the empty streets. Tinged with silver underneath the moon, it felt like you were an angel who held me close through every moment in this life.
Walking back down the lane from where we began, I can still retrace our steps. Crossing a street, where our eyes met, it was the most innocuous of meetings. We both were strangers to each other, yet felt as if we'd walked a mile in each other's shoes.
I recall how we built the blanket forts and spent the entire day within them. Ever since the beginning, we held a warm affection for invisible things. From beliveing in Hogwarts being real to Frodo dropping the Ring for us. Invisible things held us close, for that's where we found our home.
In promises without fear, secrets with hidden emotions, the warmth in our hearts when we were near each other, those were the things which held us close in this tumultuous world.
Often we noticed odd things around us. People stared as if we'd gone against the rules they stood for. They termed us as freaks, not being natural like the rest of them. Yet, we didn't think about it twice, for it was us against the world, always.
Joyce, you were and still are my entire world, with your rugged smile and warm, crinkled eyes. With a penchant for being faded and forlorn, we shared each other's sorrow, for I could never see you sad and broken, with with pearls of silver dropping from your eyes.
It took me a while to realise, what the people murmured about, what they were going on about. You never pointed it out, yet I noticed the little signs, from not feeling overtly hungry to barely feeling the need to sleep, I remember you slipping away, bit by bit.
And it all boils down to the bike ride, where with a heavy feeling in my heart, I head towards our destination at four in the morning.
It all starts to make sense now, Joyce, how you always had a reckless abandon for your own safety, how you always took care of me yet never about yourself - just feeling grateful that I was there.
For this was it, wasn't it, Joyce?
I see your name engraved on the stone, today's date from a year ago. With a sorrowful smile upon your face and tears rolling down mine. I realise now that even after you were gone, I never let you go, did I?
For all our love of invisible things, I made you one.
"It's been long, hasn't it? Come sit, the snow is melting today, the sun is up high. The porch already has a chair set out for you. "
"I'll put on the pot, some biscuits too?"
"Good lad, though I can't even begin to fathom how you drink it without sugar. Why, when I was your age, I used to adore the intoxicating sweet taste."
"You don't like Christmas, do you lad? For I can't fathom any other reason for you to be here on such a wonderful day, away from your family."
"I gathered as much, fighting will get you nowhere lad. Come, listen, I'll tell you a story about time, Christmas and trees. There's a reason why our entire generation and the god up above loves this festival."
"Come on now! Don't make the face, here, take a bite from the jam biscuit and settle in."
"The truth about time, lad, is that it passes. It doesn't matter how hard you try to clench your fingers around it, it'll always slip through, letting you be just a passerby."
"Lad, I wish I could see ghosts, I wish I could relive those old memories again. I know, I know that you are here, yet, as time keeps passing by, even you'll move on. Everyone has."
"Sixty years ago, I decorated my first Christmas tree. It was along with Annie and Josh. Three of us, barely entering double digits, using various chairs and cushions to hang shiny decorations from a humongous tree."
"No need to scoff, lad. We were kids, enjoying the first time we got that privilege. It was a bad time, war was dragging on and the entire nation was floundering. Christmas time seemed like a bleak ray of hope back then, providing a reason to hold on and not let go."
"Isn't that enchanting? Just holding on and not letting go? A promise to yourself, for everything. Love. Life. Relationships. It comes at a cost, of course, but it ends up being so beautiful."
"Biscuits? Tea? Anything else, lad?"
"Where was I? Ah. Yes. The Christmas tree."
"Do you know of the beautiful feeling budding up in your heart when you come back home? That's what it was for us. It was our bonds pushing us close together, clutching on and just collecting our little pieces of magic."
"Needless to say, we were very bad at decorating. There had been a massive fight over candycanes, Annie and I wanted it at the top, whereas Josh wanted to hoard it all up."
"Ah, don't grin now. Even though we fought, it was a good natured one, lad. We decorated the tree with chuckles, squabbles and memories."
"It was bad, the candycanes ended up on one side, with all the shiny red baubles surrounding them like a lion's mane. It wasn't good, nor could it be called beautiful."
"But lad, it was a brief, fleeting moment of peace, warmth and love. That's what Christmas was for us. A small, weird time to just hope, hold on and wait for the best."
"I know that you like the stars, claiming they make you brave. Christmas is like that for many of us, lad. It's full of small rituals, making our heart feel brave again."
"It's us, all of us, allowing ourselves to love a little more, to trust a little more."
"Even now, lad, I wish I had the ghosts of my family here, the ghost of Annie and Jack. Someone, anyone to sit with me on this beautiful day. They can't be here tonight, and I have made my peace with that. They'll live forever in me, and I'll decorate a small tree in the evening. For us."
"If you don't want to go back, join me for it. Love with reckless abandon, lad. You'll never regret your life if you do."
"My shoulders are warm now, I hope your soul is too. So, what will you do?"
"Ah. Going back to your family? That's good, lad. That's good. Give them a hug from me. Christmas is a time to be with family. I'll be here. I'll be here. Go on now. Don't be a stranger now."
Words tumbled out of my mouth as tears streaked down my face, imagining the words you'd have said if you were here. If I close my eyes, I see you here, embracing me in your warm, wrinkled arms, murmuring the same words you uttered the first time you saw me, held me.
"Cry, child. Cry. There's a freedom in breaking down. Let your hidden tears flow, calm down the ugly storm raging within you."
Grandpappy, you took me in, an unknown child of six left at your porch, on the light of beginning his seventh year. You didn't ask questions, you considered the situation a sign from destiny.
I was just the beginning, wasn't I? You took out all your life savings and converted your home into an orphanage, deciding that it was your turn to give back to the society. Well, you were always like that, weren't you? Taking large leaps for any unknown things tossed towards you.
Before long, it was seven of us, all of them younger than either of us, yet trudging on through any challenges thrown towards us. You kept us up till two am sometimes, taking us to fantasy lands with your tales, letting us believe that we were destined to be the magical, shining knights to save the beautiful damsel in distress. You made us believe again, in magic, in love, in hope and in people.
You made us open up to you, at our own pace, letting us trust again. We all cried together, when Jamie ruined the batch of hot chocolate on that blistering cold winter night. But you didn't, did you? You swooped in, boiled water and made us drink that, letting us learn the lesson of making the best from what we have.
Grandpappy, none of us had a family, yet you created one out of us. From the two of us to seven, then expanding till twenty, you considered everyone of us as yours, providing a home to our broken souls, healing us with sprinkles of your magic.
You were everything to us, Pappy, from a grandfather with his mystical tales to a mother when we were quivering with sickness. You became our world, and we, hopefully, yours.
Soon, it was us along with you, allowing for more children to come. Many left, yet they all came back to give more. Pappy, you defined each and everyone of us.
Today, thirty years from that fateful day, even the heavens are tearing up, and we, all seventy seven of us, are murmuring the first words you said to all of us, breaking down and letting our tears run down.
For you began our magical journey with those words, Pappy.
"it's okay to break down, child. It's okay. Cry, and we'll create a fairy tale together."
When I was a kid, yellow had always been my favourite colour. It always signified the warmth all around. The glaring sunshine, the blooming flowers in the fields, everything which was warm, a safe haven, was always yellow. It had begun slow, with a yellow plushie in the beginning, ending up with yellow in everything.
It's certainly weird, how abundance of anything could lead to a shallow hatred. By the time I hit my teens, a genial loathing for the colour settled deep in my soul, vying dearly to set itself free from the encompassing presence of it.
It was a hop, skip and jump from there. Only a little ways down the road, with a few years notched in achievement, yellow had crept out, sneaking away from all the little bits and pieces it existed in.
I turn twenty five today, and barely anything is yellow now. All that hatred had mellowed out sometime in between, acceepting that colours would always be there, and it's only my imagination fueling the presence they exude.
It's five minutes before I gain another year, five minutes full of hopes and wishes, with my entire soul yearning for a better year. It's been dark for a while now, settling into the backseat of my own life, being morose in the happiest of situations. Everything has started to feel like a dream which I can't seem to escape from.
Everything seems bleak and pale, washed out, lacking all the vibrance which it should have. Many might say that it's going to be okay, whispering their promises to stick through, helping in their own way to pull me towards their own tomorrows. Yet, my soul just doesn't want to be dragged towards that, settling for abstaining from everything until the world stops shaking.
I've sought out salvation in little activities. I've had splotches on my shirt with agressive painting, drawn tattoos with a sharpie. I've sought out peace in numerous bodies, only to realise that redemption and warmth never arose from changing body parts if my heart never opened itself up.
I'm two minutes away from gaining a year, two minutes for a new promise. I'm tired of being sad through everything, and twenty five seems a good number to change things. It adds up to seven, after all, just like all the good days in my life seem to have. It was a seventh when I had my first kiss, a sixteen when I graduated with honours. It's never disappointed before, I believe it wouldn't do the same now.
A meagre hope, I think, but it's all I have for now. I'm tired of my thoughts keeping me up through the night. I want to let the vocies fade away, the voices murmuring their own thoughts of telling me to give up. But, no, not anymore.
It's time I opened my heart up, opened up to the warmth which I knew existed once in the world. I want to take back the people I pushed away once, making it through to a tomorrow of my own, with all of them present in my life.
I want to take control, love recklessly and jump with joy again. I want yellow in my life again. I crave the warmth I knew I had back then. I want to go out on picnics, read amidst flowers and dance with everyone when the new year rolls around.
I know I can't roll back time to make changes, yet this seems a good time as any to chip away the ice which has been forming along the walls of my heart, to not drown in the numbness of pain anymore.
I have ten seconds left until the phone starts ringing, and this time, I'll reply with a smile, accepting everyone with a warmth. It'll be my own beginning, a new one. A warm one. With my heart on my sleeve, a new promise engrained my soul, I've got all the time in the world, a new night each day to begin afresh. I've got nothing left to lose, only to walk forward from here.
And tomorrow, when I meet everyone, I'll don something yellow. I'll accept the past I've been avoiding, the vibrance I left behind.
But for now, I'll change the wallpaper to yellow and accept the first call.
Let's wear yellow today, feel warm and fuzzy, pushing away all the sadness, shall we? Mental health is a real thing, along with depression. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to need others.
It's okay to be trying to get better. It's okay to just do everything to scrape through one more day.
Everything will be okay, I promise.
But until then, let's wear yellow today? Make that promise to me, will you?
There's darkness all around, encompassing and overbearing everything in its vicinity. Twinkling from high up above, stars seem to provide a brief respite from the deafening silence. There's no wind out here, even the wilderness stands still. Amidst all this, with red, raw eyes and a shattered heart, I embrace the sorrow to fill out the void left within.
It's difficult to come to terms with a broken heart. It begins at a timid pace, sneaking in through the chinks of the armour we've constructed around ourselves - only to make every wall come crashing down, snatching away any semblance of life we held dear.
I'm in the woods tonight, only with my phone and music to keep me company, along with the stars and memories. Twenty five years, that's how long our marriage lasted, with its own ups and downs. We'd created stories and moments, picked up our misaligned puzzle pieces and tried our best to make it fit. It might have been a vain attempt, yet it was our very best.
The gold band lies heavy upon my finger as memories begin to sprout up. Memories, that when spoken about, felt as if an invasion of something beautiful, something private. Memories which had been held so dearly for the entirety of the quarter of a century, never been shared with anyone else apart from the two of us.
We'd never been a believer in the fantastical notion of soulmates, settling for two imperfect beings going together on a journey to gain our own semblance of perfection. It was a cold December morning when we'd finally decided to open up, share our soul and shudder along the daunting fact that we weren't going to be alone again, ever.
Through cooked up fantasies and irrational dreams, we were held together with promises and wishes. Within our mummured, hushed up conversations, we shared our soul with each other - allowing ourselves to be weak in front of someone else for the very first time. Trudging through all the bad days, beaming through the joyful ones, we slowly sculptured up a wall around our bond, sealing merry memories within to keep us warm on the coldest, harshest of nights.
We weren't perfect, each built up with our own flaws. Always embracing each other, we knew that there was always something or the other left to uncover about each other, an alluring mystery which sought us out, leading us towards each other like heeding a siren's call. Emboldened by the people around us, claiming that we had it, the unknown, magical factor which was dearly sought out, we braved through all the challenges thrown our way.
In our own way, we wrote down our own story, only to close it shut yesterday. As I sit here, wallowing in misery, barely holding myself up, waiting for peace to settle in my bones. Having spent more than half of my life with one person, there seems to be a gaping hole left behind.
Our marriage had been crumbling for a while, a forgotten promise here, a disastrously went wrong wish on the other, the very things which brought us close seemed hell bent on destroying us. Stretching our bond each day, being held through sheer will and the enormous time spent together, it was only a matter of time before it snapped - and, as foreseen, it did.
Everything seems devoid of colour, less vibrant and warm. It's suddenly colder, with a heavy weight on my chest. And even now, as I look back upon us, I know that we weren't perfect, yet we were good in our own way. We cared for each other, walked down numerous paths to keep each other happy, did everything we could to cling on, to bring back the passion of old. Alas, it probably was never meant to be.
As I come to terms with my own broken heart, I realise that even if it's unfair, beating down upon the very notion of happiness, there are days when good things just seem to fall apart. Days when everything seems to fall apart, shattering the very world we'd settled in.
Yet, time seems to heal and numb even the most perilous wounds. Blindly placing my faith in that, with a smile upon my face, I'll dearly hold on to the notion of a new beginning arising from this end. Maybe, just maybe, everything will be alright.
It's been a while since I wrote something, been a while since words found their way again. I felt like writing this yesterday, regaling back to the saying that pain demands to be felt.
Drowning in sorrow, with red rimmed eyes, I'll quietly put this up here. I hope you find hope from this, just like I did.
It's been two years from that day, and I can imagine you right beside me, sitting on the bed with your socks underneath the covers for they had holes in them, just like your soul did. Even now, after all this time, I can see you floundering about, hoping to find something to believe in. I still remember how joyous you found writing here, silently sending out prayers of gratefulness to the mystical universe out there.
I know how you feel and I know what's coming up. There will be days when you'll be scared and alone, when you'll face heartbreak because the bonds you believed in didn't come through. Even after all that pain, you'll find yourself trusting others again, because you want someone with whom you could relate to, with whom you could whisper, "The books had it right all along."
Life might seem dark right now with suicidal tendencies welling up within you. I know you'll end up reaching out to the one bond you hold close, seeking to find home and comfort there. It'll keep you warm and sane, it'll give you a reason to live. I'll not mince words with you, it's going to be a difficult road from now on. You'll stumble and fall, you'll end up curling into a ball with tears falling on the duvet.
I know you find this hard to believe, but good times will come, just like mother promised. You'll remember all the stories which lifts your spirit up. You'll find love where you least expect it to come from. There will be days when you'll feel like a child again when father tells how we were small enough to fit in his arm only to have outgrown him now. That's where you'll find your first home, in their arms. They'll always be there, with their endearing warmth as they'll always stand in your corner - being your rock whenever you need them to be.
But, I know you best. You'll always be in search of a home, for all the happiness you've known always had a sense of sorrow lurking underneath it. I know that you associate joy with upcoming pain, weary of the battle which has been going on each day within you. I know that you still go for walk at midnight, with only the moon above you and your own thoughts making it difficult to breathe.
It breaks me to say this, but there'll be a day when it'll seem unbearable and difficult to wake up and you'll find yourself questioning the purpose of life. I wish I could say that it'll get better from there, for the moment you end up there - everything you know will fall apart, fear will grip your heart, days will pass in a monotone blur and even your tears will dry up for there'd be nothing left inside.
Allow me to step in here, allow me to instill a few words for you. I know that there'll be a weight on your chest and nothing I say or do would make it easier. Yet, I want you to know that I'll be there every step of the way. You'll know when you reach there and for that time, I want you to promise me that you'll try to pick yourself up. That's what I'll ask from you, a promise that you'll never give up.
I'll confess, barely months after that time, you'll find believing in your past and present again. Stories of those good times yet to come will begin in earnest and you will find someone to hold on to. You'll learn what happiness is, unabirdled with any other emotions this time. It'll be difficult reaching here, but you'll be grateful for everything which has occurred.
For all the heartbreaks which might ensue, all those people who'll walk in and trample on your heart - this is the reason you'll be living for. I won't spoil the surprise by revealing everything here, just trust me that good things are on their way. They always are.
I've learnt one thing during these past two years, and I'll tell it to you now - because you'll be walking the same journey. The same paths that I took and fell down upon, only you'll have me this time round.
You've always been on the search for a home. You thought you had it in a friend, only for him to betray you. You thought you located it in your own journal, and it hurt the most when it went up in flames. You think you have it in her, with her promises and warmth, that'll go away too. Everything you've known, it'll be for naught.
Yet, it'll be the reason you'll end up where you are. And maybe that's what we need from time to time, going through the motions to make us into who we are.
I know you're terrified right now, shaken and broken. Two years, give yourself two years and you'll have everything you wished for. A home, a family, warmth and love.
And I'll all begin from here, the first write on this platform. So, take a deep breath, believe in me and begin. You'll find your peace in your finale, and you'll be right here along with me. You'll still have a long way to go, but that'll be for a different letter.
This is from me to you, a message full of pain and promises. Words full of love and hope, for this will happen, and you'll live.
Believe, and you'll be everything you dreamed to be.
Yours, Two years elder self.
200. This has been a long time coming. Mirakee has changed, I've changed. In a way, we all have grown up a bit. I found a home here, people I'd miss if they weren't here.
Without this app, I'd not have turned into who I am, I wouldn't have found happiness. But, as always, all good things come to an end.
I'll keep on writing, I'll always write.
But sometimes you need to close the door at a happy note. For it's just that time.
Let this be an indefinite hiatus, for who knows what the future holds.
I got a box of donuts for myself today, from the same place that we used to go to. The same place that we'd met for the first time, all those years ago.
It was amusing, looking at you trying to barter your way through fixed rates, your nerves frayed and hair frazzled. Dressed in a sundress, with spectacles drooping down your nose, grey hair tied up in a bun - it was almost hilarious to see you waving your arms about. Your hands were clenched into fists, devoid of any articles.
You'd tried to rope me into it, perhaps to gain the virtue of numbers. There always was a power in majority. That's what you taught me. It was the first time we interacted, two old people squabbling with a young lad over a box of six donuts.
Ever since I went through my first heartbreak, I'd learnt that love occurs at varying speeds, and I was always going to be the one who's make a fool out of himself before the time was right. Now, I'd also taken precautions to not go through that rigmarole throughout my life, in particular, I'd pasted those pesky sticky notes on my fridge, reminding me about the speed.
All those thoughts, all those precautions of keeping myself in a safe zone - they went up in flames the moment you smiled and offered to share those donuts with me in the park. It was a sunny morning that day, with the sunlight sneaking in through the leaves, dust motes dancing in the beams which surrounded us.
Ploping down on the ground and dragging me down with you, it was where we had our first conversation. I'd never forget that one, for it was where we found our love for sugary confectionary. Toffees were my pet peeve, while hers revolved around licorice sticks.
This became a routine, every Friday morning, a box of donuts and us in the park. It was on the third visit, when we blabbed about our kids, and how they were a menace when they were growing up and how retribution felt sweet to see them struggling with their own newborns.
It was on the seventh meet when you whispered about the pain lurking in my heart. You could feel it, you said. It had stunned me right to my core and left a part of me wondering if denial would work. Apparently, it didn't, for you were stubborn and didn't let go.
Two months later, I knew about the insecurities lying within you, where you starred as Robin in your own fantasies - being terrifed to step in the shoes of Batman. I knew about how you felt about the tides being against you, how you felt you weren't good for anyone.
It was then I'd wished I could show you what I knew, how wrong you were. It was then I knew I had to stay, to be there when things went wrong. A promise to my own self, which ripped all the post it's to shreds and burnt all the journals from my younger self to a crisp.
I'd never been a fan of fantasies and dreams, nor did I believe in fate - it felt rather fickle, to place the blame in fate when the going for rough and to steal it away and claim it as our own, when the world glowed with happiness.
Yet, a line from my childhood creeped up to me, whispering to me as the wind in the park ruffled my hair, "The universe paves the way for love to occur." That's how it felt with you. A misguided, mystical emotion raging deep within my heart, proclaiming for me to confess.
I remember, walking with you, on a Saturday morning to the local fair which had been set up. It was the first time we'd broken the routine, where we'd set another day apart for each other, where we'd taken another step to know each other. I remember you, demanding for a stick of pink candy floss - only because you'd taken it upon yourself to make my face sticky with it. We took the Ferris wheel together, sitting beside each other and pointing at the park from where we were. It was the day when we'd taken part in silly games, where you ended up winning the teddy bear and gifted it to me.
It was two months from that day, when we'd started spending each day with each other, slowly getting over our the guilt of our conveniently dead partners. It was amidst this, when we shared our first kiss underneath the tree, where your lips tasted like glazed donut and snowed sugar.
We slowly shifted in with each other, battled the social stigma which surrounded our bond. This is where we started to learn the little things about each other, where we instinctly did the things the way the other liked it. I remember holding the gate for you, for you loved being treated like royalty. I remember you waking up numerous times during the night, muttering about how you were like a toy who needed winding up to sleep again.
I know you knew about my fondness for chicken soup, my absurd obsession with singing in the shower and an OCD to stack the paper towels in a particular way. I remember making you try wine for the first time, handing you one of the paper towels when you coughed at the burn it left behind, muttering curses at me amidst my muffled laughter. The retribution you took for that wasn't pleasant, for, baking appetizing muffins with salt is not the way I would prefer to begin my day, ever.
That's how we were, performing antics with each other. Sometimes we placed oily fingerprints over the spectacles of each other, sometimes it was about the last bite of a delicacy. There were days when the road was rocky, where long talks about our pasts came forth, issues which plagued our hearts for eons.
We've talked about numerous things since then, from the desires we've always had, the experiences we'd already crafted. We've accomplished a few of those since then, namely staying behind in a cinema till the closing time reached us, watching movies on repeat. Screaming out our names from the top of a mountain, hearing it echo.
Then there were the little quirks, where you fell asleep while we were talking, trusting everything you had with me. It was then I knew that it's not living if it's not with you.
Ever since then, all I have ever done is sit and think about you, everywhere, with warm emotions coursing through my soul. It's been over a year and a half since that first day, the day we met. And right now, as I stand in the donut shop, I know you're waiting for me in the park, a band of gold glinting on your hand, this time round.
-x- It's been a while, I hope you all are doing well. A story, straight from my journal, I hope you like it. For this is a Friday morning. Happy new year.
Dreams have always enchanted me, drawing forth all the belief I have within me.
It was seventeen years ago when I was delivered, signed and sealed with a personal card at the doorstep of my orphanage.
In a country where population has broken the billion-barrier, it was the benevolent matron who took me in, shriveled up like a prune from the cold in the world.
That was seventeen years ago, and in all those years, I've found a life for myself out here - battling the odds life had stacked up against me.
Today, it's that time of the year again, a time which I love and adore with all my soul. It's Diwali today, my last in this place.
Next year, as I reach adulthood - I'd be forced to move out, make my way out in this world. So, it's with a bittersweet smile that I go through the motions of the day.
There are a lot of memories attached to this place, and I just can't let any of them slip away. There's the wall where Reuben and I slathered the wall in paint, laughing manically at the prank we'd pulled straight underneath the matron's hawk eyed gaze.
As I duck underneath the wind chimes hanging at the end of the verandah, the memory of Alex - who demanded to be called as such, for it had a sound from lands of afar and felt exotic in our culture - tried to hang from the chimes, as if a monkey's spirit had taken hold of his soul. Undoubtedly, the broken arm he'd been through had caused hell for us in the form of making up his bed and picking up his chores.
At the edge of the lawn, I see little Rhea staring at the yellow, twinkling lights in a starstruck manner, surreptitiously touching them when she thought no one was looking. Rhea had recently joined our abode, climbing ship when her mother had passed away due to an illness. She was quite an imp, cheeky and cute. Her dimples certainly didn't help her in proclaiming her innocence.
Just beside her was Anusha, dangling her legs in a dazed manner as she kept one eye at the younger kids playing out in the yard. A year younger to me, we had a different sort of kinship, one which bloomed last year when we shared our first kiss, underneath the tree - away from the eyes of the matron. She has a certain place in my heart and I might not be able to forget her - if it comes to that.
I still recall this orphanage feeling like a desert, drenched in darkness as everyone seemed distant. Yet, as if the universe had peeked in a glance at my thoughts, it had worked its magic and found me a family, the family.
Being my oasis in the middle of a barren heart, each one of us has lifted each other up - partaking in numerous pranks, crafting memories while we squabbled for our pick amongst the movies for the movie night, forming bonds when none were ever given to us.
Ours is a family without any resemblance, a family without a name - yet we would move the world for each and one of them. In all but blood, we'd formed a bond deeper than most others out there. It was our tiny little paradise.
Ever year we lose someone and gain a few others, such is the way of this orphanage - yet we all get to meet them on this day, Diwali.
Everyone returns today, reconciling with their pasts and finding warmth in their home. In all the people present here, old and new, I spot those who made me into who I am.
Idris stood there, with his curly hair falling to his shoulders - laughing at something Aishwarya had muttered. They both were the first ones to leave, around twenty five by now.
In a world full of broken souls and miserable hearts, this gang of misfits and outcasts is my family, and we look out for each other - taking care of tiny insecurities as if they were major world issues.
People say that change is a good thing, what they fail to consider is how it's just an excuse for us to come to terms with a situation which we never wanted to occur in the first place. I can see the resigned acceptance in the people who've left, an uncertain fear in those who are still there.
Yet today, when the world is lit up in lights and diyas, flames flickering as if hope itself stood there, we bickered and laughed out loud. Sitting in various groups yet as a family, some of us chuckled at the antics of Alex, stealing a laddoo from Anusha - daring to face her wrath.
It was here when my heart was filled with warmth, I'm sure it must be the same for all the others present here.
Next year, I will be back here - for this is my family. And if there's one thing this place has taught me, it's that a family is comprised of the people there, not the place nor blood.
For in the end, I'll step out from here with a smile, only to come back to this place.
A paradise in a place where nothing was ever destined for us. A dream which I'll always keep alive, a dream which actually came true.
My dream. Our paradise. Us.
I've always loved Diwali with all my heart, just fell in love with the lights and warmth it always seems to bring with it.
This piece is close to me. This is that one piece which brings forth contentment from my soul.
It's that one post I'd call my own favourite.
I wish you all a Happy Diwali, and I hope you all are happy today. ♥️
I wanted the seventh to be this. *smiles* Mirakee, you might not be the same as you were three years ago, but I'm grateful I was here back then. In that time, with those people. The people who are still here, as much of a ghost as I am. And I'm grateful for this moment too.
I suppose I always knew this somewhere, even felt it time and again, but I hadn't quite understood just how hard goodbyes were until it was you I smiling down at me, with a goodbye on your lips. The goodbye I kissed before whispering it back. Above us, planes were flying in and out, writing stories in the skies. Stories of both homecomings and farewells. Stories, I'd never think of, if not for you. It had started with "I'll write you a story." Three winters back. Clutching at the cold fingers of the night from far ends, we had smiled at each other, like kids sitting astride those beautiful horses on opposite ends of a carousel, calling out each other's names, laughing as the wind blew on our faces, even though we had bruises. But unlike kids on a carousel, it was our hearts that carried the bruises, instead of our elbows and knees. I'd call it some part magic, some part warmth, some part sheer tenacity, how we built bridges out of words and crossed them to find each other waiting on the other side. Some nights we'd look at the stars, you sitting on a ledge, I, staring out of my window. Some nights, you'd take my hand and lead me underwater. Atlantis, I'd think. Magic, you'd smile. Some nights, we were bones stitched onto brokenness, lying in heaps trying to mend each other. Some nights, I was tears and screams, and you were lost in the dark, both of us still clutching our hands in space and finding familiar calloused fingers of each other. I'm lost, I'd think. You're here, you'd smile. It took a while but I realised this is where I've always been, here, with you. Because you're the comfort of home, and the vastness of the world sewn together. And it's been a while now, a beautiful, breathtaking while from when we said to each other "I'll write you a story". For I will. I'll write you a story. I'll write you into a story.
Hello. I hope you're all well. And I hope nobody has lost his mind yet.
THICKER THAN BLOOD
Families are strange. There are families that never talk, families that love out loud, families that go on happy vacations in summers, families that wish they weren't families, and then there are families like ours.
Brook came to our family just a year after I had come. She had always been a troubled kid, throwing things, crying, banging her fists on the floor when something didn't go quite as she thought. Mum would often break down, even though she tried to hide it. She'd sit on the balcony in the nights and soon her body would be shaking from her sobs. I was just six then, so I never quite understood what exactly made an adult cry. But I told myself it must be Brook. I'd go to her, and kiss her on the cheek hoping it'd stop her from crying, just like hers made me stop. And she'd smile through her tears.
Brook got better after months of going to a doctor. She was calm now, well as calm as a seven year old could be. Our parents loved us unconditionally, and I assumed that's what all parents do. As we grew up, Brook and I were nothing like normal sisters. Well, I don't think it was fair of me to expect us to be like normal sisters anyway. But Brook and I had never even been friends. I'd see other siblinhs in school, sisters dressed up alike, walking hand in hand. I wonder if Brook ever noticed it. I wonder what she thought.
By the time we were teens, we were completely estranged, and we were startlingly different people. I started preparing for college, knowing that standing on my feet was the only way I could try to give my parents back a fraction of all they had done for us, tell them I was grateful that they chose to pick a child off the streets and give her a life she could never have fathomed. Brook was part of some weird band that would practise in some garage somewhere, but I doubt if it was music they got together for. She'd come home late and her eyes would be suspiciously clouded and red. I never asked because I was disgusted by her.
I got through college and moved to the city for a job. It was a good pay, with a lot of perks. But what made me happy was watching mum and dad dance slowly in the hall, in the going away party they threw for me. Now that I think of it, I don't remember where Brook was. It didn't matter. I was with my family.
Sometimes, life feels like a ball of yarn and all we do is try to chase the end of it like cats, unaware that unrolling it is going to leave us trapped in a loop. When mum died, we were all there, even Brook. I think she was happy, I hope. Home felt strange now. Hollow. Like Dad. I'd never seen a man grow so small in just a day, and it broke my heart. That night, after I put Dad to sleep, I knocked on the door to Brook's room, for the first time in years. Strangely, it didn't smell anything like I had imagined it would, when we were teens. She had a little glass on her desk where she had collected dried flowers. The wall had paintings, and the window had a windchime that she must have made out of shells. We didn't know what to say to each other. I suppose the years between us had eaten up all the words. Brook stared at the wall for a long time before saying "I know you'd not believe it but I loved mum a lot. And I miss her terribly." I don't think I've ever cried in front of Brook. As a child, I was so careful, trying so hard to not trouble mum and dad that I never cried even if the tears threatened to spill out. I'd just calm myself down and try to move past it. Over time, it became a part of me. But that night, I cried in front of the unlikeliest person. And surprisingly, she held me. "I miss her too" I croaked as I hugged her. That night, Brook and I talked for the first time since we stepped into each other's lives. I told her how scared I had been of hurting these beautiful people who had accepted us as their own, so much so, that I kept so much of myself from them. I told her how terrified I had been of her, that she'd do something so wrong someday, that our parents would finally decide that it wasn't worth it at all, getting kids off the street, trying to give them something they never deserved, and how that fear slowly turned to hate. "I'm sorry. I should have been there. I should have hugged you back then and looked out for you like a sister would." She smiled through her tears and in that moment she looked so much like mum. She told me about her life, her life before she came into our lives, that she only remembered bits off. Running from men, from the police, from other kids like her who'd fight for survival on the streets. She told me how hard it had been to trust that people actually wanted her, loved her, that she had a family. She told me about how she had been terrified of me, that I'd been so much better than her that our parents would decide that they didn't want her after all. She told me how she struggled for a job after college, how she got pregnant once and had to be go all alone to a doctor and how scared she had been. Brook had been through so much. I couldn't believe how brave she was. "I'm sorry too, Sylvia. I'm so sorry." She said as she hugged me again.
Sometimes, life feels like a house plant, somehow finding its way, bending towards the one thin shaft of light, even if there's darkness all around. It took weeks, but our lives slowly started picking themselves up again. It was like the windchime on Brook's window. One of the threads could come undone but it still danced to the wind, with a fainter sound. That's how our lives were without mum. One weekend, I came home to find that Brook had set up a board and in the backyard. She smiled as I looked questioningly at her. The next day, I woke up to the sound of kids repeating numbers from 1 to 10. I must have stood at the kitchen door for a long time, looking at Dad teaching the kids. He was starting to look like the man I used to know. Brook came up from behind me, handing me a cup of tea. "We're going to be okay", she said. I burned my tongue as I sipped on the tea and Brook laughed. I glared at her, turning to open the fridge for cold milk. But I stopped short abruptly. On the door, held up by a fridge magnet, mum was smiling at us. We were going to be okay. I thought.
When I read poems on love It seems that almost all Of them focus on the guy At the grocery queue or the Girl/guy at the book store and how Sparks flew and then they broke Each other's heart kind of love The "fuck your brains out" and "I'll be here for you (until I won't)" Kind of love.
But a very few of 'em seem To talk about the parent kind Of love, how mum would stay up Till two in the night making Sure that you fell asleep, or Tell you she wasn't hungry When there was only one Piece of cake remaining, how Papa would bring the coloring Book you had always wanted So what if they didn't tell You "I love you so much" Every hour of every day.
And even fewer talk about The best friend kind of love The 3 AM texts, sending you Links to Instagram videos And making you laugh like You haven't the whole day Who would ask you "how much Do you need" if you ever hint That you are in a financial jam So what if they don't tell you "I love you" every hour of every day.
And rarest of all, they never Talk about the sort of pure love That only an animal can give you A love which is unlike any human Affection and operates purely on Its own wavelength, how you can Learn to speak their language Because they can't speak yours And know that they care for you Far, far more than you'll ever know. (God I wish my dog wasn't Already eight years old)
They don't talk about these sorts Of love too often, because It's not the kind that Sells too many copies, and I Honestly think that that's Kinda sorta unfair to The whole idea and definition Of what love is supposed to be.
In case you don't notice, the cities mentioned in the first half of the poem belong to the countries with the highest number of Coronavirus cases. Here's a small homage to everyone fighting this war, everyone combating this battle.
Love will find a way to you, no matter what. And we will survive against the odds, 'cause hey, we're in this together.
Hello. I think I've gone long enough to be able to say "Long time, no see." But I'll come up with something clever. *grins*
In college, I had shared my room with this girl who had always wanted an elaborate proposal. Roses and rings and the boy going down on his knees. When she had first told me that, I rolled my eyes, and laughed at her audacity. One night, months later, we stayed up late, talking after a long time. She showed me the ring on her finger. And I remember it was the prettiest thing I had seen that day. "And he gave me a rose and he went down on his knees too." It wasn't perfect, but it was so beautiful, she said. I rolled my eyes and laughed at her audacity. Whenever someone would tell me a story, I'd play it in my head, all the parts and think of how I'd have written it if I could write it. Sometimes, I'd make it an entirely different story, and beam at myself, despite my joblessness. Sometimes though, I couldn't think of anything I could add at all. That's when I knew no version of my imagination, could ever match up to how perfect it already was. Her little story was perfect.
When we were young, our mother had this thing she did every time we'd be upset about something, like a broken toy or a lost sock. Are you going to remember it in a couple of days? The answer would vary. If it was yes, she'd ask me Are you going to want it in a couple of years? It took me long. But I think I began to understand it eventually.
When I grew up, I met this boy with a glint in his eye and a smile on his lips and always a story to talk about. It was beautiful. It was love. And he, he was perfect. It was like looking into a mirror, he'd say. But where does the person in the mirror look when you're looking away? I don't know. I don't know where he looked when I looked away. But I knew it wasn't me. When it all fell apart, I crawled into bed, crying into the pillow, everyday for weeks. Are you going to remember it in a couple of days? Yes. Are you going to want it in a couple of years? I thought of the mirror and the uncertainty and how every time you have to look into a mirror, actually look, you have to stay rooted in one place. And I realised I didn't. I never wanted that. I still cried myself to sleep. But I didn't think about boys and mirrors for a long time.
It had been years since the day I was the girl who lived through all of those stories. And my mother had been right. Did I remember it in a couple of years? I remembered her, us, not from when grandma died, or when we lost our shop, or when our father never came back from work. I didn't remember the boy who broke my heart, or the nights I stayed up late at night, worrying about things I had no control over. I remembered her, the aroma of tea in the morning and turmeric in the day. I remembered the mint soaked in water in the little glass vial by the window. I remembered her baking biscuits and placing the dough on the Formica topped table and make the flower-and-vines pattern on them that I loved. I remembered all that. I remembered her telling me If you think too much about the past, you're always stuck in a place far away from those who really love you. I remembered the man I met in the train back home one evening, who helped me chase the boys who grabbed my purse. We never found my purse. But we found each other. And we found a home.
Home is just this two bedroom apartment which we have made our own, with mint soaked in a vase, a shelf made out of cardboard, with the speakers we got last Christmas. And I think it looks good now that the shells I pasted on them hide the ugly brown. Home is this man who sits by me by the window, looking at the people rushing on the sidewalk, trying to get home while the sky is still streaked with colours. "It's almost like a unicorn, the sky, with all the colours." I turn to look at the man whose eyes are smiling over the rim of the coffee mug. The man who paints flower-and-vines on the clay figurines we made one Sunday because we were bored out of our minds. There is a love song playing now. I always sing along to songs. But I also always forget the words in the songs. So we make up our own to fit the holes, and laugh when it turns stupid. The song closes with "I love you, Just the way you look tonight. Just the way you look to-night." We get that bit right. We always do. I love you, he says. I think of how this story would have been had I actually written it. I think of my mother. Did I want this in a couple of years? I did. I wanted it forever. And I realised I actually had written this story. Long, beautiful, slightly tiresome at parts. But there was one more thing I could add. "I love you too". I smile.
Hello. Wherever you are, I hope you're warm. I hope this gives you something to smile at.
WHERE ARE YOU?
When my sister was leaving for college, I tried to be happy for her. I was, actually. I was quite happy. But a part of me was moping in a corner watching my little sister leave the warmth and familiarity of our home to go to this new place.
I wondered if Tris had felt the same several years ago, when I had been leaving. Then I felt a pang of jealousy. Tris had the privilege of holding onto Mum and bawling and throwing a fit as I tried to get my clothes out of her grip. I wasn't the kid and we didn't have Mum anymore.
Somewhere, in the middle of packing the boxes, Tris looked longingly between me and the birds we had painted on the wall and I glimpsed the little girl who had put up sticky notes on these very walls the day I was leaving filling it with "I love you. Please don't go.", "I promise I won't steal your Chapstick.", "You can take my cookies." When I smiled at the memories, I felt the taste of tears on them. Tris had never made things easy.
She was still sitting on the floor, leaning against the bed that will soon be cold and barren. I brushed that thought away, pushed the box and sat down beside her.
We had this game we played. Whenever we needed to find each other, our ourselves, whenever we were lost, we'd sit beside each other and ask "Where are you?" We had played this game so many times over the years. When mum had passed away, Tris had told me. I'm locked inside a closet, and no one can find the keys, Eva.
And I had held her, as we sat against this very bed. "Hear my voice through the door? I'm calling out to you, Tris. We'll find the keys. I'm on the other side. I'm here. I'm always here."
So when I asked her this time "Where are you, midget?" She smiled, and closed her eyes "I'm at sea. The ship is rocking. The waves are huge, really. It's beautiful. But it's scary and it's making me a little dizzy." She looked at me.
"But the skies, Tris. The skies are clear. They're blue. We love blue. And the sun is bright, so bright that my skin is all red, the way that makes you laugh. And we're wearing straw hats looking at the horizon because you know what? We'll soon see the island. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
When she laughed, a part of me wanted to wrap her in a hug right away and tell her everything that I couldn't put in words.
That night, she crawled into my bed, falling asleep to Simon and Garfunkel playing on mum's mixed tape. I stayed up late, willing all my warmth and courage into my baby sister. And some, into the letter.
Dear Tris, You're about to start what is going to be your life from today. There's so much I want to tell you. There's so much I want to protect you from. But I know that they're all going to be your stories. So you'd have to write them. They could be gifts, they could be lessons learned from mistakes, but they're all yours. So, my darling, I'll tell you this.
It's going to be beautiful. It really is. You'll find friends you'll keep for life. You'll also find people you'd never want to meet again. You'll run out of money all the time. You'll eat a lot of cold pizza. And drink a lot of coffee. You'll skip deadlines and you'll somehow always run late. You'll miss out on sleep a lot of days, and some days, you'll sleep through breakfast and lunch.
I know you're already smiling, and you're slightly slackjawed imagining all that. And I know you're both happy and scared. I know you're scared of getting lost, or getting hurt. And chances are that you will. But would you let that be your story? You'll get hurt. But I promise you you'll also get better. You'll learn to dream, and you'll find your feet to chase them too.
And you'll find people. You'll find your people, people who make you feel like you belong. Even if people is just one person. Or two. Or a handful.
You'll fall in love, Tris. And you'll realise, maybe with time, that it's the little things that matter. You'll realise that contrary to what we always think, it's not the big things that build or break a bond. You could tell someone you'd die for them, you'd cross oceans and fight everything and take a bullet for them. But you know? The bullet never comes. And it's always easier for people to love you when you're alive, than dead. Because what matters is that you're around. That's the magic. Being around. Being there for the little things. The little moments. When you trip and fall, and you're having a bad day, that is when you want someone. When they're staring out into the dark, at two in the night, thinking thoughts that are gnawing at them, that is when they need you around. When you're lying in a heap of tears and loneliness, wondering if this is what it will always come to, that is when you want someone.
Don't wait for the big things to define your life, Tris. Don't wait for death or bullets to make you and the people you love realise you love them. Don't wait until you're out of time to do and to say the things you want to to the people you love. Take the little moments and make them big. Make them yours. Be there. Show up for the little things, Tris, because they're going to be the big memories when you look back. The little things, midget. Always the little things.
Be there, even when you have to wait. I promise you they'll find you. Just like I had found you. Even if you're locked away in a closet. So that whenever you ask each other "Where are you?", you can both say "I'm here. I'm always here."
The night is beautiful and I dearly miss my best friend. I just felt like saying that. *smiles*
Grandpa was a lot of things. But of all the things he was, he was a storyteller at his best, at his happiest. He'd live for stories, my grandpa. Living in a country house looking out at rows and rows of maize shooting up from the ground, he and I would sit on the steps on the porch, listening to the sound of farmers in the field, of wanton birds paying no heed to scarecrows and distant households. On Sundays, there'd be the musical ring of the ice-cream truck in the distance. We'd always get the orange popsicle not just because it was the cheapest, it was also Grandpa's favourite colour. I'd always ask him to tell me the story of why it was. And he'd always say. Sunset, Ellie. Sunset and your grandmother. She loved the flowers like her own children. She took weeks to grow them, watering them every evening, chipping off caterpillars and weeds. There were these flowers that she looked at the most affectionately. Right there, underneath the window ledge. A patch of calendulas. Orange reminds me of my Trudy and her calendulas.
Grandpa had always been my favourite person. Even now, half a country away, I could hear his voice beside me as I sat staring at the screen, feeling parched off words. You'd think stories would come naturally to me. I write for a living, after all. But for every story, I had to go down a mine and dig in. Sometimes, I'd be the canary that'd die right there in the depths of the mine, looking for a story, getting lost in the hollows. On those days I'd hear Grandpa say "Ellie, my darling girl, remember that wherever you go, you carry stories with you. Everyone does, really. But the ones who retell them are the ones who live forever." Grandpa always had stories. He always believed and made me believe that I could be a storyteller. As for me, I didn't want to live forever. I just wanted to pay my rents. So that's what I did. Scraped stories that paid the rent. Trying to keep the canary alive.
You don't know all the things that your mind holds until it's being forced to close like an overstuffed briefcase. Despite being a writer, I'd always been a bit of a cynic. But the thing about cynics is that we're all just one spell of magic away from believing. For me, this magic spell came in the robe of a road accident that took my life. Well nearly.
You know there's this thing that parallels death and black holes. Nobody quite knows what it feels like. Even when it's upon you staring in the eye. You know the moments before. Not the during or the after. Whatever gets close enough to peek, never gets to turn around. Maybe this is why I'll never be able to write a story about death, or afterlife. And this isn't one about it. What this is about is life. All the lives inside me.
They say I was gone for days. They say grandpa and Jamie stayed up all night fearing they'd miss a moment, one moment of life, one flash of movement, my eyes, my fingers. That's when it happened. Through the blackness in my mind, I heard a voice. Unlike what happens in stories, it wasn't Grandpa's voice, reaching out to me through the dark, trying to haul me back into consciousness. It was a voice I recognised. And when the blackness faded into mist and the mist into clarity, I found a little girl in dungarees, pigtails hanging on both sides, with teeth that grew on each other like vines proudly on display as she grinned wide. I realised with a shock it was me. Ellie had a tube of toothpaste clutched behind her back as mum went on and on about how terrible it was to suck whole tubes of toothpaste. "For goodness'sake Ellie. It's not even chocolate!" I heard my mother's voice, both in my memory and in this film playing out in my mind. "But mum, I like how sweet and cold it feels!" I grinned. I don't know how my mother brought up a kid like me and still had the courage to have Jamie.
The picture fades and the voices garble up into another. The television in the background. And a man, sunburnt skin and grey eyes, lying on his front watching the news reader go on about how the rains would be late again this year. Dad buries his face in the pillow. Little Ellie climbs on top of the bed and does what she knows Dad loves. She takes off her socks and gingerly, stretching out her hand to the wall for support, steps on Dad's sore back. Dad sighs. "You gonna have to wait for your shoes, sugar. The corn won't grow without rain." Ellie kept on stepping carefully on his back with her little feet. Later, in the evening, they played hide-and-seek until dinner. After all, hide-and-seek was best barefoot, wasn't it?
I saw Ellie and Grandpa tip toeing in the middle of the night and lick jam off jars, while trying to be as quiet while slurping as they could. I saw Jamie and Ellie dressed up as Dora and Boots on Halloween as they ran about from door to door tricking-and-treating. I saw Ellie massage mum's foot on the porch swing. I saw Grandpa and Ellie water the garden, and the calendulas. I saw Ellie run between the bedsheets hung out in the sun to dry as they flailed about in the air. I heard mum's laugh ring through the air.
And then I saw Ellie and Grandpa on the porch. Ellie had her feet sticking out in the sun, the rest of her in the shade. Grandpa was talking between popping oranges in his mouth "Ellie. Wherever you go in this world, remember that as long as you take yourself, you'll never be alone. As long as you take yourself, you'll always have stories. And as long as you have stories, you'll always be alive. Leaves fall, flowers wilt, the sun goes down. But souls and stories stay forever. Let your stories find you, and you'll never be lost."
And that is how, in the midst of the blackness I had been plunged into, one that I had been in for days, I realised how I was never without stories. How Ellie and Grandpa and Jaime and mum and dad, every story I ever lived, every person I ever was, every Ellie that existed were all trying to keep me alive.
And just like that one moment that played in my mind while I was in the abyss, when Ellie had fallen asleep in the closet trying to hide from the monster under her bed, and come out after Jaime and dad called on for hours, I woke up. I woke up to Grandpa and Jaime and Dad all huddled up around me. I woke up to the beautiful emotion on their faces, one that you have when you can see the outline of your home in the distance after a long day. I woke up to all the stories, and all the lives I had ever lived. And I realised, I wasn't ever going to die. After all, I was finally, a storyteller.
@hoshi I don't know what I'd do if not for you. Thank you for making me write again.
@allbymyself It's been ages, Avitaj. AGES. I haven't done this in so long. How old are we?
@divokost When are you going to come here? Come here already! I miss you. Hobbit wants you here.
(Mirakee was so long ago. Two years, nein? I'm forgetting things. I'm finding them too. And God. I feel old.
The moon and my favourite company made this one happen.)
You know people say happiness is an inside job and all those things. But sometimes, I quite believe that happiness is sheer dumb luck. I'm staring at the man standing in front of me at the altar, blue eyes dazzling against the black tuxedo. I'm staring at him, hearing him, hearing myself, repeat the vows. I do. He said and kissed me. I do. I said and melted into the kiss.
I thought of school and how I'd come home every time, and rush into my room before mum saw the blood on my shirt. I remember hiding away every little thing I ever wrote that would give any inkling to anyone of how I felt. In retrospect, I think it's a good thing I hid them and threw them away. They were all terrible, really. For what it's worth, I was only in high school. I thought of all the lunches I had alone in the cafeteria, looking at groups of friends, wondering if I could ever laugh and be like that with people who'd love me, and accept all of me. The dead frog they'd leave in my locker would tell me the answer.
I remember mum looking at me, questioningly everyday, worried as every mother would. I remember staring at myself in the mirror for hours wondering why I was like this, why I couldn't get a hold of myself and my thoughts.
I tried a lot to change myself. Most of it, out of hate for my own self. My wrists still have the telltale signs of those trials. I would run until I couldn't hear anything from the bloodrush and nausea. I'd scream in the afternoons when mum would go with Chloe to the park, after asking me if I'd come. I think a part of her always held herself responsible for how I'd become. I wish I could tell her it wasn't. I wish I could tell her everything. I wish. Oh I wish.
It was in high school that I told Chloe I'm gay. Her eyes had opened wider and her jaw had slacked a little in a poor attempt of a pretence of surprise. Chloe knew. She'd always known. So the moments that followed after I told her were something I could easily expect of my sister. Smiling, uncertain but warm. And stepping close, embracing me in a hug. She said "Tell me about the boy who loved you in a way that made you accept yourself." "Well, I can tell you it wasn't my first love." "For what it's worth, it wasn't mine either." She had rolled her eyes at what I was sure was a memory of Gideon Briggs. I laughed, with my sister. For the first time, I really laughed. For the weight off my shoulders and for sheer joy of having a sister who'd understand me. I laughed and thanked God for the stepfather I hated that gave me this sister of mine.
When I was leaving for college, Chloe was all the anchor I had to home. Chloe was the only person I had ever truly loved. For every boy I slept with and cried over, Chloe had come and held my head between her hands telling me how all boys were asses and I was going to be just fine. And when I'd tell her, glumly that I was a boy too, she'd say "Then you're an ass for interrupting me." And even through the mess I'd smile. The time I had come home with my nose bleeding from a guy who punched me because I had refused to answer "How do you guys do 'it'?" Chloe had been so furious, her tears spilled over and pitter pattered on the soup she had made to comfort me. It was scary, leaving all that. Knowing that the only person who loved me as I am, was behind me and walk away from there. But you do what you do. And I did.
College was both merciless and beautiful. It didn't allow me the time to think, and yet I grew. I grew up, my soul reconciling with all the pain I'd weathered, and survived. I found friends. They were few. Fewer than the fingers on one hand. But I had never wanted many. When I went home that summer, Chloe told me about the boy she was going to the library with, and "he wasn't an ass." She had thrown the pillow at me when I asked her if it was really the library she was going to with him.
It was when I had just passed out of college, living across the bakery shop that I found James. The blue eyed boy who'd always get the chocolate muffins on Saturdays when I came back from office. We finally talked when one day he had knocked on my door late in the evening asking if I'd let him in just long enough so he could wait out the storm. And from there, began our slow beautiful journey of finding love. You know people say happiness is an inside job and all those things. But sometimes, I think I quite believe that happiness is sheer dumb luck. Like I found mine. With James.
When I lost my baby sister to the flu, I had fallen on my knees and cried until I was wheezing. I had held mum, in what must have been years, as sobs wreaked her body when they lowered her coffin. James was my rock, for all the months that followed. Holding me through the nights when I'd whisper her name into the air willing her to come true all over. He held me through every day until I could look at Chloe's pictures again, knowing that as long as I was, so was she. And I promised never to let memories of her become tinged with gloom or bitterness. It was Chloe. It had to have warmth and happiness. Only that, for my baby sister.
That summer, I visited her grave for the first time. And that day, I finally told her. Because I finally had something to say. I told her about the boy who loved me in a way that made me accept all of myself. I told her about mum and how she'd gotten into gardening now. And she had found her peace. I told her about the man I was and how I didn't feel the need to hide anymore when people asked me "What is it like for you?" I told her about James and the life I lived now. A life I knew she wanted me to have. A life I knew she'd be proud of. I knew because like her, I had started believing in miracles too. I knew because on her epitaph were the words that "The fact that Chloe lived is evidence that miracles exist."
For almost a decade now, I've woken to the smell of warm toast and coffee. My daughter had a love for coffee, which to her disappointment, I didn't share. And she made her displeasure clear every once in a while, clucking as I sipped on fruit juice and saying the words that I could now recite in my sleep. "You need some caffeine to shake you awake, Maa." I'd grin, and as she'd look at her newspaper from over the rim of her cup, I'd steal a glance at her, this beautiful daughter of mine who grew up beyond her ears long before she should ever have, this beautiful daughter of mine who switched roles with me, in the ripe ears of early teenage, when she saw me struggle with home and work.
On some mornings, she'd catch me staring wonderingly at her and I'd see a glimpse of my little girl. Or maybe it was just wishful thinking. When I had held her in my hands the first time, I found myself in a rush of elation and fear. How, just how, could I tell this child as she grew up that the man who was supposed to teach her how to walk, who was supposed to be in the picture that the nurse had gifted to me, never made it back from work one evening? I had stared at the phone for long, my mother's number staring at me from the screen. I wonder if this was the time to call her up, gush over the phone that I had a beautiful daughter and that I was happy but I was scared. I was scared I wouldn't do her right. I was scared I wouldn't be able to raise this beautiful child. When I had left my parents' house five years earlier, I had left it knowing that I could never come back to this place that was never home. It had taken me years, years to gather the courage to stand up to my father and say that I had had enough of him, his tyranny, his beatings. My mother had clutched at me, begging me to stay, begging my father to let me. I had whispered under my breath, a question, almost like an apology "Would you choose me over him? Would you keep me safe from him?" We both knew the answer. We had known it for years. I walked away.
I hadn't made the call that afternoon. I had never made the call. And even though I was terrified, I found my way. With Alice. For Alice. The first time she said her name, the first time she said mine, the first time she went to kindergarten, the first time she went to the school with the bus and the fancy uniform, coming back with stories so happy, they made me wonder if they were all really true, the first time she told me she had a boyfriend and the utter mess that the chap left her in. How I had rolled my eyes in my mind, knowing this was coming and how she rolled hers a couple of months later when she claimed "I'm over him. God, he was stupid, wasn't he? I was stupid." Our trips to the mall, and realising how most of it was too expensive for us, we had taken to stitching clothes a lot of times and doing a pretty neat job.
I told her all of my story, about all the people that were ghosts in her story, unlike in the other girls'. I told her how sorry I am that she didn't have a grandmother who'd force her to have beetroot, just like she did with me, and a grandfather who'd always tell her to exercise, just like I knew he would. I told her everything and she held me, her warmth enveloping me in the feeling of home that I had only found in her. We went to see my mother that winter. It took her a moment, incredulity and age keeping her from responding for the space of a heartbeat before she broke into tears and hugged me and then looked at Alice in wonder as she saw my eyes, her eyes, in Alice's face.
During her years in college, away from me, I'd only see her in summers, each time thinner than before, and I'd tell her in vain to eat well. My mother would keep telling me to bake her biscuits and cakes and send them off with her so she'd always eat. And she'd wave it away saying there'd be no space in the room. I remember worrying as she stayed up nights, doing lessons and projects and juggling boys. I remember how she had squealed over the phone when she got her job at the publishing house and the dinner we'd had that night. It was mushroom and steaks.
My mother wasn't there to see her get married. She'd looked beautiful, in the white dress and the flowers that she matched not with the dress but with the tinge on her nails. And I had felt both happy and terrified, thinking how would I ever be without her. But then I saw her smiling, holding hands with David and talking to the small group of people we had come to know us family, some of her friends and some of mine. And I knew in my heart it was right.
It's been three years to that day and I'm smiling looking at the pictures on the cabinet. A lot of Alice and David. A lot of me too. I'm smiling as I realised that despite my worst fears, I had never been alone, not since Alice. In the kitchen, I smell Alice's coffee again, her low hum reaching us, me and the child I'm holding in my arms. Alice steps out of the kitchen, placing two porcelain mugs on the Formica topped table as she croons and takes April from my arms. Over the rim of my mug, I see her stealing glances at her daughter. And when she catches me staring, I place the mug down and smile gently, tapping her knuckles and I hope. I hope with all my heart that she knows that she'll never be alone, and that together, we were going to give to her daughter everything I always wished I could give her.