Tag Archives: relationships

Spoken Word 3: A Man of Few Words.

To my man-of-few-words,

Im sorry I disappeared on you, for the second time. This letter isn’t about trying to reconcile, I’ve been writing away the seconds while trying to put together these lessons I, have learnt from you. To start, I can’t thank you for all that you’ve given me. I know we’ve been apart, but I write assuming you still have the same heart, so I can at least hope that you’ve forgiven me.

I wanted to tell you that you’re in my thoughts and just in case you believe that I forgot, I haven’t, not even in a slight way. I hope I find you exactly as I left you, lazing in the sun out by my driveway; remember that’s where we first met on that slight curb? I was walking home from school, and I found you lying in a pool of your own bright blood; battered and bruised like you’d starred in a dog’s remake of Fight Club.

The first few moments, we literally had a Mexican stand-off. I took a few steps to bandage your wounds and you almost snapped my hand off with a rough bite. So much for love at first sight, with that aggression. But thank you for teaching me that love is rarely about first impressions, that there’s always so much more to discover to a person than your worst perceptions. I live my life by that lesson today.

Remember our late night conversations, at odd hours? Of 16-year-old quips, relationships gone sour and all the pain? I poured my heart out into your glass over and over again and you downed it all without a complaint, even though my words required significant strain from you to know them. I remember when I needed an audience for my first ever poem, I turned to you; I know you didn’t understand shit but you listened like it meant the world to you. I mean, you didn’t have to care, right? You could have chased squirrels, licked your own butt, or whatever it is that dogs do in their spare time. But I guess the quiver in my voice told you what it meant to me. Now that it occurs to me; it is so easy to fall in love with a person who yearns to listen, without waiting for their turn to speak. The world needs more like you. But they don’t make any more like you.

You know what else hurts me too? You know so much about me and I know so little about you. I never asked if you craved attention which is pure and undivided. Never asked if you dated any bitches too, just like I did. Never knew about the incitement behind those facial scars. Never asked about the excitement within your playful barks. Never asked if your favorite song was Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, I just assumed you’d like it because the title sounded like an amazing part. So I sang it whenever we sat in the dark, lying on our backs and gazing at the stars.

The first time I had to say goodbye, I let you in for the night at the risk of being roasted alive by my parents. I tried to tell you what was apparent; why I was going to be a ghost for a while because my father was posted, so I’d spend most of my time setting house in a new area. How could I explain that all this was going to get progressively scarier and that distance turns the most balanced of us into obscure, edgy variants? How could I tell you that the family coming in our place, were pure vegetarians?

I was away for three long months, and then I came back just for two days. And as soon as I stepped near my old house and unlatched those two gates, it was like falling in love with your cute face all over again. If you were a person, your insults wouldn’t have been misplaced. You could’ve picked a bone with me and called me a disgrace, for abandoning and leaving you all alone in this place, but here you were, whimpering and jumping in our makeshift embrace, that familiar frame still full of so warmth. Tail wagging like a windmill caught in the midst of a shit storm. How could you forgive this easily? I wouldn’t have forgiven me.

In the next two days, you didn’t leave me alone, right from the moment I entered my guest room. Even stood outside my door when I went to use the rest room so I couldn’t escape your sight. Remember I was invited to an Air Force party the same night? So here I was, dressed up in formals, with a stray dog by my side, (perfectly normal); trying to tell you that legions of people would riddle us like a task force and you shouldn’t give them reasons to fiddle or to ask more. Five minutes into the party, and I heard someone scream “what’s a dog doing in the middle of the dance floor??”

That is a night I won’t ever need to get over. I spent our last evening handfeeding you other people’s leftovers but there’s nowhere else I would have rather been to pass time. I’m sorry I didn’t have the strength to say goodbye for the second and the last time, going by the past I, wouldn’t have taken it without weeping myself sore. My friends wrote me messages about how sometimes they saw you sleeping outside my door. It’s been nine years now, and I’ve written about you so many times but I have no one to tell me if you’re dead or alive. But if you are, I hope you know I miss you too. I don’t how good dogs are with YouTube but if you ever log on I hope you’ll find this, and see how a man of few words taught a little kid, a whole new language.

 

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This Story Is Mine.

I am writing a book
where you exist in pages,
ones I want to tear off
incinerate, erase it,
take chapters that mention you
find the will to write replacements,
but I won’t.
I won’t, because
this story is mine,
you’re a half-written character
and I, ran out of time,
and though the pain
of plotting your course
is gray and unrelenting,
I’ll let you stay the same because
this story is mine;
and you aren’t enough to change
the ending.

Everything’s Fine.

 

She sits next to me, staring vexedly at the purple sea. An expression more complex and perplexed than it was meant to be. For the first half an hour, no one talks; the only sounds we hear are the hollow murmurs of evening walks and waves crashing against the rocks under our feet. Then, after an eternity, she turns to me, breathes, and says “You’re the worst friend I’ve ever seen”. This hurts twice as much because deep inside, I agreed.

Soon, she gets to her feet with a swoon. Tears running free, glistening in the light of the moon. Like the salt in the sea breeze was singeing her wounds, she screams– Stop suffering alone. Stop hiding behind closed doors to trick me into leaving or believing that no one’s home, not when I can see you and your mess grieving through the fucking window. Stop telling me you want to make it on your own because you don’t need to. This isn’t the pact of friendship I agreed to, stop defending the pain it takes to keep you because this suffocation is unending and I need to breathe too. Stop leaving me at every turn because by now, I’m lost and blind. I’m tired of the million times you’ve said “everything’s fine” when I can clearly see I’m being lied to. For the sake of three long years of friendship that we’ve both been tied to, tonight, just tonight, I ask for truth.”

An overwhelming urge to purge all my regret is up till here now, but I don’t. I want to justify every action, reaction, every fear now; but I won’t. With a sharpened blade of quiet restraint, I slay every word in my throat as that little voice in my head goes – We don’t speak about our problems at home.

When I was a seven-year-old, my father was fighting a war when he crashed his plane. He jumped out in time, but the forces of nature weren’t kind on the day as he fell to the ground in the most excruciating way imaginable, as bleeding on a shattered spine. Lying and dying in abominable pain, his surgeon told him he’d be lucky if he ever learnt to walk again.

But even when consigned to a wheelchair bereft of the ability to stand, my father would hold take a ball in his hand, repeatedly pick it as his 8-year-old son knocked it back to him in a game of cricket. Come to think of it, 15 years on, I can’t write on a feeling as crippling as staring at the bedroom ceiling or the walls knowing your dreams were reeling and reduced to thoughts no one else would ever know. My father taught me this- we don’t talk about our problems at home.

When I turned 18, my father asked my cancer-stricken mother to choose between a house near the hospital and one near my sister’s school. Despite her weakened defences, the impending pain, the consequences, my mother chose the latter because she could deal with her demons at hand but not with the inconvenience her daughter would feel if we moved during her board exams.

I remember on hour long cab rides back from the hospital after rounds of chemotherapy, I could hear the muffled screams of her agony shake her, on every swerve, every turn, every speed breaker on the road. But for two years,  the only sounds I ever heard were those of silent suffering that torched her, but never a single word to describe the torture or the strain. Never a single complaint about a choice she consciously made on her own. My mother taught me this- we don’t talk about our problems at home.

I want to tell her this, the reason she can’t break my walls. Why every secret is a secret, and why I don’t believe I suffer at all because I have no problems. I’ve been raised by two people who’ve been cursed to go through a whole lot worse through fate’s decisions and they never let me understand what it felt like to nurse such grave incisions.

I want to tell her about the time I broke my shoulder, as I sat on my bed groaning and moaning in pain, my father took one look at me and said “That’s cute; but I fell out of a plane”.

I want to tell her about the mother who never cried because of a terminal disease, but broke down because being in a wheelchair wouldn’t let her cook for her family every eve. My parents taught me this- pain is a very subjective entity when you put the grievances of your loved ones before your own. My parents taught me this- we don’t talk about our problems at home.

But instead of the million words inside my head that I could have said to my friend, I offer her my first line of defence – an apologetic smile. I look at her, hold her hand and say

“Everything’s fine.”


What Japanese Women Taught Me About Love.

When the cold and pristine winter air first kissed my face as I got off the plane at Narita Airport, Japan, I opened my mind to a world full of infinite discoveries. I’ll be honest, there are certain concepts and elements I am yet to fully grasp as a writer; Love is one of them. I was hoping Japan would help me understand it a little better.

On the 8th day of my Japan expedition, a tiny house in one corner of Saiki Bay made a few revelations. I finally fell in love again, and I’m pretty sure I understand it a little better. So here’s what Japanese women taught me about love.

Who are you really? (Himino-chan, age 6)

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– Every relationship starts with a conversation, if not, at least with a feeble attempt at one. However, from time to time you’ll come across a woman who speaks a different language. She probably won’t share your obsession of sipping freshly ground coffee from your favourite mug. Maybe she swears by the subtleties of white chocolate while you choose the intoxicating allures of bitter dark ones; it doesn’t matter. Words are lost in translation, emotions are not. Deciphering her tongue takes exhaustive efforts; she’s met many who speak the same language but still never really understood her. She could speak Japanese for all I care; but does that mask the honesty inside her every time she starts to speak?

– Learn to intrigue every little part of her imagination to the point where it bursts at the seams. Don’t do the same magic trick over and over. You might have the upper hand now, but someday she will learn to play her cards better, or worse, learn to read yours. Be unpredictable. Don’t pull out a rabbit from your hat, pull out a cat; maybe it’ll claw at your fingers and embarrass you completely but your misery will be worth her laugh. The day magic stands still, the world will think it’s a trick; for it to remain a beautiful illusion it must be rethought, reconsidered and reinvented for what it is.

– Learn to forget yourself around her. You’re not 22. You aren’t someone who has seen more or less of the world than she has. You’re never too mature or too naive. So every time she tries to discover you, learn to blur your lines. For you to win her over, you must make yourself vulnerable to her first. Remember, no conquests were made from staying under defensive cover.

– Make a conscious effort to give her choices a chance. Don’t you already know most of what you love and prefer? Maybe it’s time for you to indulge in things that have always differed from what you’ve loved. Maybe she thinks fish tastes better fried than when it’s poached. Maybe she thinks an accompaniment of seaweed is more digestible than a helping of sautéed onions. It never hurts to try the things she loves. After all, you’re one of those things, aren’t you?

The things I never say (Tsubaki Chan, age 3)

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– When she looks at you for the first time, do not mistake her quiet, piercing gaze for aggression. Some women measure your worth before they grant you the privilege of a conversation.

– When she finally acknowledges that you exist, make every little gesture to tell her that you care what she talks about who she is. If she’s 3 feet tall and you’re 5’7, don’t let her crane her neck when she speaks. Don’t be distant. Don’t be out of reach. Instead, go down to your knees and look into her eyes when she talks. Her voice will be warm. Her smile will be warmer. You can tell by the tinge of pink that spreads itself across her rosy cheeks.

– When she pulls you by your hand (or even wraps three-year-old fingers around your solitary index finger), don’t stop to question her intentions. Let her lead you wherever she pleases. Live the quivering excitement in her voice with her, watch her eyes grow wide in anticipation when she opens the surprises she keeps giftwrapped inside her mind. She wants you to be a part of her wonderment, her emotions, her universe. Why would you even refuse?

– One day, she’ll let out slivers of thoughts you won’t be able to grasp. She’ll say words with a weight you cannot comprehend, or maybe she’ll just sit across you and break down into quite sobs from beginning to end. At times like these, let her know that you’re listening and hanging onto every thing she spills. A gentle nod, a reassuring nudge, an encouraging word; little gestures to remind her that everything she said is heard. She could speak in rapid Japanese for all you know; in the end, what you sense matters more than what you take in.

– When it is time to say goodbye, give her something to remember you by. Embrace her, leave her with a little kiss; like you want the warmth on your finger tips and your skin to fill her empty depths with happiness. When people leave, all that is left is memories; so give her one that she can go back to time and over. Be the book she never gets bored of reading, be the song she replays in her head when she’s breathing in emptiness; when she needs something to remind of reasons to keep existing. That way, if you find yourself living a day when you have to leave without knowing when you’ll return, at least you’ll say good bye knowing you did everything to be a part of something she’ll cherish all her life. She’ll grow old, she’ll grow up with them; one day when she gets to where she wants, she will remember you.


Why I don’t fall in love.

I have been asked this one question that always tends to touch a nerve.”Shamir, tell me one thing, don’t you ever fall in love?” I think I’ve spent so much time wondering that I’ve repeatedly hit the end of my wits. But I think I’ve finally found a satisfactory answer, so here is something I came up with-
I remember when I was 17 years old, I took this girl to McDonald’s for my very first date. We’d been seeing each other for three months straight now, and everything was going better than great. She was 10 days older than I was, with skin that looked whitewashed with this unearthly glow. And if her skin was as white as milk, her hair was like fine strands of silk, which smelt of strawberries; it was weird because every time I put my head on her shoulders, I felt hungry.

Anyway, so I thought I’d take her out for a meal, spend a day telling her how exactly I feel; how having her around was a big deal for a guy who didn’t know the first thing about love. She spent a few hours looking into my eyes, and the rest with her face in Chicken McGrills and french fries, but yeah it felt kind of nice, knowing I could be this comfortable with someone. Just being around her made me numb, with a feeling I couldn’t put my finger on, but that emotion would quietly linger on putting a smile on my face that made me look dumb. For the first time, I had let someone into my personal space, and she waltzed in with such grace, that I was stunned.

Anyway, right after she’d had her fill, we walked to the counter to pay the bill. Now see, this is the part that made me wary; because the numbers printed by the little machine were scary for someone who never liked spending too much. I was cautious, being a miser is what you would call it, but it was simple self-defence for a guy with more dust than money inside his wallet. As I reached for the paper, I could feel my palms start to sweat, my throat go dry and my forehead drenched, and wet. She smiled, and I smiled back, in regret.

I think my love blinded me to how she hogged one burger after another. 700 rupees? I was convinced I was dating Godzilla’s mother. I kept staring at the white piece of paper and what was in it, losing my composure with it, growing paler by the minute. She tugged my shirt and asked “Is everything okay baby? (Like if I said no, it was going to make a difference maybe.)
But eventually I thought I could make a few exceptions; after all, wasn’t love all about learning to live with imperfections?

That episode though, became something in the distant past. Fate turned; crashed and burned, and things disintegrated so fast, they just couldn’t last till the very end. First my money ran out, then she ran out, with my best friend. To the fickle concept of love, I said, never again.

Two years later, a blank slate. I found myself in the midst of another date. I’d known this one for 19 years now, in fact right from the very beginning of my days. I stood on a white tiled floor, and she on a hospital bed, in a half paralyzed state. We’d been here several times straight now, and things were anything but great. She was 24 years ahead of my age, but with a beauty that even today, leaves me in a daze. Her skin had creases and had started to sag, her face looked like it had been dragged through six weeks of jet lag, but that smile, oh that smile, was the best thing anyone could ever have.

For an hour we gazed at each other in quiet silence, for the rest I looked at scars left by the violence of the chemotherapies on her skin. Cuts and bruises uninhibited, for a sin my mother never committed. Just looking at her made my heart sink; it was like someone added one part ink to two parts milk. It hurt how a faint impurity could taint the very essence of beauty.

At that moment, one of the doctors I’d seen around walked in. You see, this is the part that made me wary, because the words printed on the paper in his hand were scary to someone who wanted to see her recover. I got up and stepped outside the door, to a suffocating corridor on the second floor. I walked up to the benches arranged in a long line; my mind preoccupied with how she was doing with a chemotherapy needle slowly piercing her spine. Was she crying? Was she fine? I could never tell. Those few moments are the closest I’ve ever come to dying.

During those terrible moments, I was grateful for certain things, like a significantly advanced science stream and a soundproof door to muffle the screams of an angel losing her wings. Ironic why they called the room intensive care.

I think my love blinded me to the predicament we were in. We were breathing the same air, but only one of us was living a sin. I took her out of the ICU in her wheelchair, pushing no faster than what her back could bear. “Is everything alright Mom?” I asked her, with a petrified stare. I dread asking, or being asked this question, even today.

So when people ask me, Shamir, why don’t you fall in love, I give them this one explanation first. I do fall in love but the definition of the word itself is something I’ve never been able to infer. I’ve felt good love at a bad time, bad love at a good time, I just don’t know which one it is that I prefer. Maybe I fear that both parts of love are a paradox I won’t be able to break or bend, or maybe the women I’ve loved will inevitably leave me in the end. I know what I have lost and how much I miss them. Which is why the question of love doesn’t touch a nerve, it wrecks my entire nervous system.

But what I realize, is that I fear not love, but possibilities. I wrap myself in insecurity, but I still admire the sanctity and the purity of what love tends to bring. Maybe I’ll find love hogging over french fries and onion rings, maybe I’ll find it frozen in the midst of chronic cycles of suffering. I don’t know, I can’t read fate; but if love is anything like what I’ve had to take, I think I prefer to wait.


The Perfect Man.

Found something I wrote when I was 17-18 years old. Until something better comes along. This one is dedicated to all the girls I know. And Shambhavi, thank you for the beautiful idea, I hope you like your little birthday gift.

I’m sure that when I came into this world, your face was shining with glee,

You were selfless enough to stand aside, to let Mom have the first sight of me.

Since then you haven’t stopped sacrificing, you did everything to keep me going,

From being a toddler, to girl, to woman; you silently filled all the gaps that were showing.

You gave me every little pleasure I know, and you found happiness in every squeal,

You trusted me to sit on your lap and drive, when I could barely hold the steering wheel.

You were always there- my strongest protector, the first and most trusted line of my defence,

You raised me carefully with everything good, and the bad you meticulously cleansed.

Of all the times I  was found begging for support, you blindly offered to be my staff,

You did silly things (like rub your stubble on my face), just about anything to see me laugh.

You lay the whole world right at my feet, and made it so embarrassingly simple to walk,

Your gentle yet strong presence always around me, quietly negated life’s infinite shocks.

You surrendered your life all to my cause, attached yourself to everything within my sights,

No wonder I loved being Daddy’s little girl, (not just because you took my side in fights.)

You’ve been an inspiration and a hero too, rescuing me every time when I sat down and cried,

Brothers, boyfriends or husband for that matter, can’t match your greatness if they tried.

You groomed me for life’s bigger stage, and you did it relentlessly without a single pause,

You watched me perform from behind the scenes, even when YOU deserved all the applause,

God knows the million times when I fell, you managed to make me fight another day,

You were there on all the big occasions, to hold me steady whenever I would sway.

There was nothing else I could’ve asked from life, you mapped everything out before I knew it,

You made sure no opportunity slipped me by, even if I was naive and stupidly threw it.

You won this woman’s heart, right from the start, in a way that will never again be won,

With all that you’ve ever done for me Dad, you left God’s wildest expectations stunned.

I love you for all the uncompromising love, which flows from your blood and every bone,

Thank you for giving me all this happiness, even before you thought of your own.