Just because it keeps getting better doesn’t mean it won’t get worse.

It’s 2:30 am. The night is heavy and in a pensive mood, as though depressed by its own darkness. It’s been a day of too many thoughts. Thoughts that couldn’t be comprehended completely, mulled over leisurely or reflected upon fairly. A day where seductive fragments of ethereal world were lost to the dustiness of reality. A handful of evanescence that slipped through my fingers like loose sand. The loss is mine to antagonize over and I am doing so with a brave face. The pain hiding behind a lazy smile, tired bones and sleepy eyes.

I dreamed.
I felt bewitched.
I saw you push me back in bed.
Your palm touching me just below my neck.
A painful shove.
It woke me up.
I can still feel it between my collar bone.
On my skin, your touch.

I have a memory, wedged deep into me, from years back. It is not a shadow of thought but something more tangible. It is physical, this memory and it is resting near my heart, dangerously close and ominously opaque. Threatening to grip my being, tightly and forever. I must have been six years old. Maybe five. It was a game of push and pull with my brother, pillows, bedspread and a favorite uncle. And somewhere in that plethora of playfulness I got trapped. Literally.

I found myself buried in quilt and something else, something that was stopping the air from reaching my lungs. My brother had me by the shoulders, his hands around my neck, his weight on my back. I could hear him laughing with mirth and accomplishment. I remember his voice ringing deep in my ears. It was the only thing I could hear. And there was no air.

I couldn’t get up. I couldn’t make a noise, my mouth muffled in cloth, my arms crushed under my weight, my legs twisted painfully and not in my control. There was nothing to do but wait. Wait for a breath of air to reach me. Wait for fate to intervene, show death the door. Wait for Raiyan to stop laughing.

It can still make me cry, that feeling of utter helplessness. The thought of not being able to breathe. To not have control. To be in the hands of another person. That’s a terrible feeling. Of not being sure. Of not knowing. The bleakness of it all. Something that I decided I never wanted to feel again. Something that has dug deep into me a seed of fear. A need to be in control, always. Of never losing myself to another person. Or loving with no inhibitions.

Someone pulled Raiyan away and fished me out. Lifted me to my feet and patted my back. It rattled me, that thumping that was meant to reassure, to let me know I was okay. I was anything but. Between heaving sobs and hugging mama I tried to explain to her what I had just been through. She didn’t get it. No one did. And no one will. And that’s what has made all the difference.

When you say you understand, you don’t really. But I appreciate you lying to me. For me. Do you lie? Do you hide the truth? I am smiling. But truth is not synonymous to honesty, DiCaprio said. And if he said it, it must be true. Call yourself an honest person. Wash your sins away under feeble pretexts. Believe that your heart is not changing colors. Believe whatever you wish to. Because what you think is what you are. You think therefore you are. Cogito ergo sum. Je pense donc je suis. Just in case you didn’t get it the first time. Or the second.

Sleep is clogging my mind, restricting free flow. I want to stop it. These seemingly unfinished conversations. The silence is deafening tonight. Nothing around me feels friendly. Comforting. The house too is aloof, the walls turned away from me. Is it something I said? I would apologize, if I knew for what. I would grab your hand if you tried to walk away from me. Fall to my knees and shed a few tears. Swallow my pride and beg you to stay. To forgive. To smile.

I dreamed.
Of us in a house.
I rushed to get out
But the door was locked.
I turned to you
Scared and out of breath.
You smiled.
I trembled. 

Stop, drop and roll might save my burning skin but not my burning soul.

I am sitting on the stairs beside my favorite window. The leaves are rustling and the rain heavily hints on making an appearance. The earth is breathing in deeply, sucking the air, sound and feelings, preparing itself for onslaught. The electricity is gone and the candle light gives me company. It feels good, in a calm and cozy way, the light swinging in all directions, unpredictable by nature. Stooping down and lurching upwards, causing shadows to dance all over me, my words, and my thoughts. The hot wax has formed a soft puddle on the wooden stair. I have pressed into it, leaving strange patterns behind. Till the time it gets meticulously scratched out by the maid, my imprint will remain here, vague and unnecessary.

Let’s hold hands and walk
through the sun and rain.
Let’s try and fight the pain.
And exchange stories,
Of our hopes and fears.
Our dreams and tears.

I unearthed an old picture of mama’s today. It was taken on her mehendi ceremony, a couple of days before her wedding. She looks pretty in her greenish sari. The ghoonghat has slipped off, revealing an innocently charming face and dark curly locks. I was quite taken by her beauty when I first saw the picture. And even now, as the photo leans against the railing, half hidden under the shadows, I can’t seem to look away from it for too long.

She looks delicate, sitting there with her henna stained hands outstretched, head down, a shy smile lingering hesitantly at the corner of her lips, fighting the urge to curl. She is as old as me in this picture and I wonder what was going in her mind as she slouches awkwardly from the many prying gazes. She seems happy. And very sepia toned beside the candle light.

The moon looks jaded today, as though surprised by its own appearance. It is shining over the plants outside, giving them reason to sway, to swagger. The light is reflecting off the windowsill, adding an element of surrealism to the darkness that is lurking close by. I can hear bats. I can hear their urgency and their desperation. The rain will only disappoint by its absence now.

Picture of Dorian Gray is being read. Again. The knowledge of what’s going to happen next somehow adds depth to the words uttered carelessly by carefully created characters. Words that have etched themselves deeper into my mind the second time around. Making my heart ache for Basil. And for Dorian. Allowing bad influence is as big a crime as having a bad influence. 1984 and Love in the Time of Cholera lay forgotten.

Artists need to be protected. They bare their souls too often and for too many people. They strip their thoughts one by one and lay them on the ground, allowing it to be trampled over by the moving crowd. The book makes me want to sit beside Basil, cover his shoulder with a thick shawl and whisper words of hope into his ear. To hold his hand when he shakes in dismay, at the thought of losing his love. His muse. His life. I want to invite him into this house and show him around. Give him a reason to breathe again.

I change the channels but nothing is changing.
I whisper a prayer but no one is listening.

Manipal in a few days. My heart is too easily swayed in that city. I am bowled over a little too suddenly, pleased too easily and swept off my feet repeatedly. I plan to have a tight grip over my heart this time around. To look both ways before I cross the street and to think twice before I melt away into oblivion. I think it has something to do with the beauty that surrounds that place, the surprises hidden in every corner and the memories of the past 3 years that strut suggestively within my grasp. It will be the end of an era for me. I am trying not to feel maudlin about it. The rains, the greenery, the secret waterfalls and the noisy classrooms. Interesting friends, tacky restaurants, winding roads, splashing puddles, buzzing campus, shimmering love. And all those people who touched my life and molded me into the person I am today.

Papa is sitting with his parents, reminiscing about the old times, talking about people they love and the life that has been led. I can hear bits of the conversation from the living room, filtering towards the foot of the staircase. If I bend a little and tilt my head to the left, I can see them. Their faces mere shadows, their smiles hidden, their outlines faded. Dada, dadi and their first born. I think I will go join them, their first grandchild.

I hear you.
As you turn over in bed
And as you think of me.
I hear you.
As you sigh and go back to sleep.
You don’t hear me.
While I stay awake by the window
Looking at the moon and thinking of you
Thousands of miles away
And sigh.
You don’t hear me.

Your love is going to drown if you don’t let go.

An American soldier is on my mind tonight. It’s 3 am, it’s sad and I am alone with my thoughts. I don’t know who he is, how he looks or the demons that dwell within him. I haven’t met him, seen him or heard from him. The little I know about him, I know from dad. He was described to me as ‘a young man, little crazy and very messed up’. Papa was on one of his many business trips, a mere routine. And this soldier, on his way home for the first time in two years.

He chose to go to Germany first, to meet his girlfriend, who decided this was a good time like no other to break up with him. He was stinking and temporarily homeless in a strange country after his girlfriend threw him out of the house. He was wounded in Iraq but refused to talk about it. There was no one waiting for him in America either. He had no home. No hope. No job. And a break up to deal with at that. To be coming back home after two years and no one to receive him at the airport. No one to hug him and tell him how glad they were that he got back safe.

I think about him from time to time. I wonder if he is safe. And happy. If he has been able to forget his love. If he is dating again. If he has a drinking problem. If he comes back to an empty home. If he has nightmares about his days in Iraq.. I hope he is surrounded by people who love him. I really do. And I hope they never forget that he is allergic to cashew nuts.

I don’t quite know,
How to say
How I feel
About you.
I wish there was a way
To let you know
How important you were.

There is an acrid smell in the air, a remnant of the paint job done earlier today. The dark maroon to my right has been washed over with light beige. The walls around me stand tall, proud in their spotlessness. The plastered area is completely camouflaged. Not only is there no window but there is no hint of a window ever being there. I can’t decide which is worst. A bitter sense is blanketing the tongue. Strong enough to force me into my bedroom.

I have started reading Love in the Time of Cholera. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Always be wary of books that are preceded by great reputations. They are more capable of disappointing you. Too many things need to be said about it, but currently I am quite taken by its cover. A splash of delicious orange. With hints of flowers, blood and buckle. There are cracks, adding depth to the treasure within. The words, I have a feeling, are only going to get better.

I am like a stranger in my own room. The ticking of the clock is annoying. The stickers on the wall seem childish. And the bumps in the mattress feel unfamiliar. There is a wind chime hanging from the chandelier, a gift. It sounds beautiful on quietly windy days. But today, it looks out of place. The glow in the dark galaxies over my bed no longer please me like they used to. There is too much cacophony. It feels as though my state of mind is being reflected around this room. I should try and spend more time here. Get to know my own space. Make friends with my childhood again.

These are slow days for me. I have the time to lie down and look at the stars, read one book after another, scribble disconnected and highly pretentious thoughts in my journal, watch strange movies and get inspired. And if I so wish, I can also just sit in a corner and do nothing at all. The books are all jumbled up in my head now. It’s one long, amusingly twisted tale of brilliant characters who have come together on one stage just to please me. Bringing a smile to my face.

You said you were lonely
And I held your hand.
But when you tried to hold the whole of me
I got scared.
Are you lonely again?

Everything you can’t be is everything I should be.

When you come to collect your stuff from my place, I will invite you in graciously. This is the last goodbye I am ever going to waste, I promise myself. You ask me if I am okay and I will lie convincingly. There is an awkward hug and a peck on the cheek. There won’t be any tears. Not in front of you at least. You notice the shirt I am wearing. It’s yours. You wonder if I have any plans for tonight. I don’t. Dinner? Why not? You wait patiently as I get ready.

You open the door of your beloved car for me and I will allow myself to feel like a princess again. Take me to your favorite restaurant and I will enjoy my soggy salad. We avoid the others eye when our song starts to play. Later, over dessert, I look over the table at your perfect face. Under the yellow lights, you seem faded. My hands have forgotten how your skin feels. I notice you have missed a couple of spots while shaving. You smile. And cause a piercing ache in my heart. I smile back. And it has the same effect on you.

Let’s not talk about how you broke my heart. How I smashed your Blackberry into the wall. And about all the passion that wilted away. The way you stormed out. The way I slammed the door. All the words that were thrown at each other. Indignant looks. Infuriated gestures. Irascible behavior. Ferocious words. Heart wrenching truths. Hurtful. Heartless.

And when the valet winks at us you tip him. I see you haven’t taken my picture out of your wallet. I haven’t either. Conversation will be made. But we will avoid the questions we really want to ask. You talk about your mother. I will drone on about my writing projects. We will both listen politely.

While driving along the shore I request you to stop. It’s a beautiful night. Do you have the time? You comply. I will ask you to take your shoes off and sit in the sand. You will be kind and not complain about it getting between your toes. You are thinking about the messy laundry you will have later tonight. I will dig my feet deep into the ground. You will frown disapprovingly but only when my head is turned away. We will share the headphones. And it would be safe to stick to Coldplay.

I will reminisce about the fresh love, shy smiles, holding hands and biting into the same candy. You will smile your disarming smile, hide my hand in yours and promise me that nothing has changed. I will shake my head disappointingly. You will remind me of the reasons. You use some of my words. I will smile a weak smile. And you will place your arm over my shoulder. Our heads touch in collective dismay. There is moonlight bleeding through the sky and onto us. Blessing the cursed.

Quietly, we will wonder where it all went wrong. You watch me looking at the stars, wistfully, straining my neck a little. You take your jacket off and place it on the sand behind us, for our heads to rest on. I look at you gratefully, smiling a thank you.

The iPod charge is gone and there is silence. Ruptured by the deafening waves. And the sound of broken hearts beating. We listen on, enthralled. Anything to keep the silence away. You start to whistle and I try not to get annoyed by it. And then you stop.

I turn my head sideways and catch you looking at me. Just like the old times. For a moment, we both believe the lie we have spun for ourselves. Nothing has changed.

When black was slowly dipped into clear crystal.

It’s 3 am and it’s lonely. I have taken to sleeping on the living room floor, squished comfortably between two quilts, a pillow for company and a book for moral support. The setting is going to be changed soon. New furniture is expected, and tiles instead of the soft beige carpet. The beloved window too is being altered. To what, I didn’t ask. Ignorance is bliss. I quite enjoy lying by it every night, twisting my head at a particular angle so I can stare right into the sky. Stars. Twinkling. Shooting. Falling. Sparkling. Breaking. Disappearing.

I just finished watching Little Ashes. I wept. At the death of an artist. Birth of a demon within another. I wept at the tragic losses that a man has to suffer. At the beauty of it all. What a poignantly enchanting movie. The credits rolled a while back but the sadness is still swelling within me. Salvador Dali. A man who amuses me to no end. With his work and his self obsession.

Each morning when I awake, I experience again a supreme pleasure – that of being Salvador Dali.

I don’t do drugs. I am drugs. 

There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction. 

There is only one difference between a madman and me. The madman thinks he is sane. I know I am mad.

I first encountered him at an exhibition in Frankfurt. There was so much angst in his work, it was dripping anger, desperation, urgency and blood all over the floors, over my feet and right on to me. Surrealism. That element of shock. The one that made me take an involuntary step backwards, my hands flying to the railing to support myself. The shock that had me peering into the strangeness of a man’s mind, my mouth forming a silent oval of curiosity and awe, bending slightly on my knees and leaning dangerously close to understand it better. And then standing up straighter, none the wiser and an insistent ache throbbing through my spine.

Robert Pattinson. If there was a role of his which I could lock him in forever, it would be this one. With his crooked steps, swaying body and unsteady composure. With his outlandish attire, rude hairstyle and splendid accent, he ceased to be Robert Pattinson. Just when I was getting to appreciate his acting, he got a make over and his sharp features and his charming smile took over the screen, hiding away the actor. A curse. These good looks.

It’s late. And my bed isn’t even made. Currently it is a crumpled mess of blue and white, crushed despondently onto the couch beside me. Waiting to be rescued. Waiting to be spread across the floor. Waiting to be slept in. The sight of it is depressing me.

A desk of my own, in a space where no one but me sets foot. A place where I can color code to my heart’s desire. And line all my freshly sharpened pencils according to their shade. And stack my papers in a neat bundle, giving order to my thoughts. A table lamp that bleeds yellow light over my world. And where there is silence. And cold that causes me to shudder occasionally. A carpeted floor so that every step is muffled and there is only an illusion of movement. A curtain that can be drawn completely to keep out anything and everything that might interrupt. And the birds chirp when I want them to. The light dances when I ask it to. The wind comes to a halt when I turn its way, my palm outstretched.

The Age of Shiva. By Manil Suri. First few pages and it is full of promises already. Death of Vishnu. By the same author. Excellent book. So real. So raw. Yet so sensitive. A gentle reminder of everything that is wrong with our society, with us. I remember taking a week to read it. And loving every moment of the time I stole from that book. Delicious words. Sigh. I always like starting a book by an author that I have already read and liked. I feel like I am waddling around in familiar territory, with a friend.

There is sleep. Taking over everything that I know to be real and transforming it into a mirage that escapes my grasp. The days have already merged behind my back. And here I am, lamenting today. Yesterday. And the books that were never read, calls that were never made, love that was never shared, movies that were never watched, things that were never said, hands that were never held… And the same mistakes that will be repeated with every sunrise.