That girl

I still love that girl on the other side. I’ve known her for twenty odd years- the messy hair, dark eyes, a forgettable face to most people, perhaps. I’ve always found it beautiful. So have a select few others. I’ve never voiced it out loud, what’s the point? People wouldn’t really agree, but then they’d smile and say yes, the way they do when they try to encourage individuality.

She’s not the kind of girl you’d notice first, or even second, she always gets picked last, as she once laughingly told me. She doesn’t do things the way they should be done, even though she can. “You like me, don’t you?”, she asks. “Yes. Yes I do.”

“Then I don’t need to change to fit their ways.” she grins. That smile has been losing its shine these days. Or maybe I just haven’t cleaned the mirror in a long time.

Photo credits-http://pre03.deviantart.net/e688/th/pre/i/2012/072/3/4/the_girl_in_the_mirror_by_debbysh-d4smk4c.jpg

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The V-word

Say it too loudly in public and you’ll find people staring at you like you’re walking around naked. Which ought not to be a problem in itself. But yeah, it is. Let’s write an article on one taboo at a time.

Be it ‘Vagina’ or ‘Virginity’, growing up as a young woman in India will teach you to never utter the V-word except in a hushed tone, and only when absolutely necessary. Oh, and almost never in front of your father, brother, husband, friend. Now a number of my friends would be rolling their eyes at this point, thinking “Hey, it isn’t like that any more”. Well, sadly enough, outside the bubble of freedom a few of us have had the privilege to be raised in, the world is still raining blows on those foolhardy enough to talk about something as intrinsic as their sexuality.

It doesn’t matter that girls all over the world are still getting married off at eleven, and having a child at thirteen.
It doesn’t matter if they know how it feels to have a penis force their vagina open even before they begin to study ninth-grade Biology.
It doesn’t matter that baby girls as young as two are being raped, touched, violated by those they should be able to trust with confidence.
None of it matters, says the society,which, by the way,also means you and I. Stop reading those feminist books, good girls don’t talk about such things. Stay a virgin and you’ll be appreciated. There is also that tiny perception that women who are “promiscuous” apparently lack the capability to succeed in life, focus on work, not on “these things”, they say.

Switch focus to the other extreme and you’ll find a mocking disdain- “Oh, you’re twenty-something and still a virgin? That’s impressive.” The hidden voice of people our age echoes around the expanse of your brain- “What have you been doing with life?” it asks. It suddenly ceases to matter that you’re an accomplished pianist, or that you have the best grades in class, or that you are a wonderful friend and sibling. It seems you’ve been doing something wrong if you haven’t slept with someone. It seems there is a deadline, did no one ever tell you? 

It appals me sometimes how much we judge, while categorically disclaiming any such thing. Before you start off with “No, I don’t!”, just think back. When was the last time you thought something like “I don’t care if the society thinks I am a slut. I’ll do what I like.” Ever wondered where the thought came from? You’ve effectively judged yourself, girl, even before they begin to do so.

So I suppose when I say it is my choice, what I mean is, it is my choice not to categorize myself as a “good” girl or “bad”. I can choose to have sex or not. I can choose not to stick to any one choice if my understanding of the situation changes. I have a choice – to be a virgin in mind, body and soul, and to not be ashamed of it, irrespective of how much activity my vagina gets. I have the freedom to admit when I’ve made mistakes, but I also have the freedom to decide what a mistake is, by my own moral code, and not the society’s.

I can choose to talk about my period, my vagina, and anything else. I can choose to not talk about it at all. Just know this- you have a vote. Don’t let someone else decide who you want to vote for.

Scarred

Sometimes wounds sever a nerve. Do you realize what that means? Something that connects that part of your body to the brain, the link, the pathway, it is gone, destroyed- if you’re lucky it’s dead forever. Sometimes it lies there, thrashing in pain,sending shock waves to your brain just when you think it is over, as if to remind you that it isn’t.

They say the best thing about having a soul is it can’t be hurt. I think they have it slightly wrong. It can be ripped apart, the soul, but it always repairs itself. So each time, when it is cut open again, it feels like the first time.

In a lot of ways, that’s worse.

From Me to You

Dear You,

Love is a strong word, one that both of us don’t like much. It means a lot of things people have decided it should mean. They shouldn’t get to choose what we mean, should they? So I won’t say I love you.

I like you a lot. I like…

breathing next to you when the morning light filters in through the glazed window pane, lighting up the furrows of your face,

sitting next to you, as you hum a song I’ve never heard before, and one I won’t ever forget now,

the way we walk together, slightly apart, and yet it feels like the air has entwined our fingers, never to let go,

our silences, and the crazy conversation, not having to pretend to be sane.

I like the fact that I don’t mind making an effort for you,

I like ‘Us’, and how effortless it is.

For as long as we have each other, and for an eternity,

Thank you for being a part of my life.

Paper Baby

I read this article on a popular blog about the custom of referring to one’s creative work as the “baby”. The author is quite sceptical of the notions involved, because as rightly pointed out, although both entail labour, the forms are not the same and to equate them would be unfair to both. I’m 21, and I’ve seen a fair number of babies, but I know precious little about having one, other than the mechanics of it. From what I’ve heard though, it is a lot of effort, but they say, it’s worth it. Speaking from personal experience in the latter sphere, I think it diverges from the former early on- writing, unlike deciding to have a baby, is not a conscious choice. I think several of my author friends would agree that the writing bug overpowers them at the weirdest of places and times- in the middle of a busy road, in the bathroom at 6 a.m., in the middle of a dream, anywhere, everywhere. It’s like a vision, once it begins, you have no choice but to let it flow. Often I have had 3 a.m. writing sessions, wherein I cannot sleep unless I pen the thoughts down right then. Choosing to keep your brainchild, of course, is your prerogative.

baby-writing

Writing keeps you awake and makes you lose all sense of time and space. When the story gets cranky, that reflects in the author’s persona as well. Writer’s block is nothing but your characters refusing to behave, much like an errant child. Often after a week worth of sleepless nights, coffee stains and dirty laundry, you second-guess your decision. But like the first word, or the first walk, one beautiful moment-one vividly composed scene- is all it takes to make you realize all over again just why you love your “baby”.

The forgotten song

Once upon a time, a young robin lived in the branches of a giant oak tree. During the day she would fly to far-off places, singing cheerfully and foraging for food. When dusk crept into the crevices of the sky, Robin dutifully returned to her branch. There were a few other birds on the oak tree but they were much older and kept to themselves.
So she lived on her own, and her days passed, and for the most part,she suppressed the tiny part of her feathered chest that said it would be good to have someone to come home to. Such voices were not to be listened to, she said sternly. Hadn’t the Blue Jay promised to set up home close to her? Then he’d realized with a lament that he could never live in one place.
She lived peacefully until one day she woke up to a delightful sound. It was a Willow warbler sitting on the next branch that greeted her with a “Hello”. He was quite a pleasant fellow and soon they’d become friends with each other. He was a traveller, gone sometimes for days at a time, but he always returned. And surprising herself, our young Robin began to look out for him, staying up a little longer on her branch so she could see him return with his cheerful chirp. Days turned into months, summer faded into winter.
One day with the first chilly wind, the Warbler came to her. He said he would have to leave for the South and he would be gone for quite some time. Robin was sad, but happy too that he had come,one last time. All night long, they sat on the branch and sang songs, of unspoken love. Then the sun rose, and with it, the Warbler spread its wings and flew away.
Robin spent the winter months tucked in her cosy nest, building up any jagged edges with care. “He will come in spring”, he’d said, “and maybe he’d want to live here”, she thought. Maybe we can make a bigger nest, on that curved branch. Just enough for two, she thought, and the thought carried her through the icy gales. Soon enough, the first of the flowers bloomed and so did Robin’s heart for she knew he’d come soon. He’d never broken his word.
One morning, she heard a familiar chirrup and she hopped out of her nest, in sheer ecstasy. He was back, as beautiful and glossy-crested as he’d been. But there was something, he was happy to see her, but not the way she was. She ignored it, showing him the larger nest she’d built. He looked around, then quietly, he said he was moving- “There is a tree in the next forest,all her friends and family live there.” “Her?”, she asked. “I met Willow down South” he said, “We’re setting up nest. Will you come visit me sometimes?”
Robin smiled, and Warbler went off busily, he had a home to make.
He visited her sometimes in the months that followed and looked disapprovingly at the ruckus around her nest. There was a singing thrush, a roguish fellow,who’d be staying a few weeks. “Wasn’t it someone else the last month?” “Oh yes, the brown Magpie. He left some days ago. He had to go meet his friends. This one won’t be around for much longer either.”
“You shouldn’t let just anyone into your nest. ” He said scornfully and flew away.
Sitting on her branch, the Robin sang a forgotten song.

Love thy lover

Wordsmith

He smells of old parchment,

A faint trace of a man

Who still laughs like a child

And cries like one.

I see the curve of his hands,

in the shape of words

crafted to perfection.

A flash of colour that streaks

the canvas of my younger mind.

Lightning

He blazes across the horizon

The soft rain a warm caress,

that lasts just that long, an instant,

On my cheek,as if to say

“Always remember, I think of you.”

Scorches my soul, the purest white,

In the freezing showers, I still look out

For my lighthouse in the sky.

Weaver

He takes my tangled threads gently,

Into his hands as he kisses them,

and knots them further,

into seemingly random weaves.

Dyes them red, and grey, and

a shade of brown he resembles,

He is exquisitely clad in

A fragment of my pain.

Voice

He is the tenor of my art,

A lover, of the beauty I try to hide,

He sifts it out and holds it into the air,

And laughs as I wince.

Yet I paint words at his door,

and leave them as a mark,

For that shared thought we both

struggle to understand.

Blind spot

He looks everywhere except

the corners I throw open to him

The shreds of dark are unknown,

In his vision of radiance.

I smile, at his impertinence,

and my indifference.