To my little cousin

I know you’ll protest that you’re not quite so little . Yes, it is true, that. Had you been in the USA, you would’ve been old enough to drive a car. You’re setting out to do new things in life, you’ve fallen in love- yes, not so young any more. Forgive me, I still see the baby boy who’d tag along after me with a picture book about a parrot,begging me to tell him the story. The chubby kid grinning toothily as he pushed his toy car with his feet- I still remember the day you learnt to pedal.

It is amazing to see the wonderful young man you’ve become- and I do realize that is a very sappy, grown up thing to say. I am a sappy grown-up now, perhaps. It is a bitter-sweet feeling to see you in love- to hear you write and talk about your dreams.  Your love is brilliant. You love with a confidence I can never hope to regain.

Somewhere within me there are two sides at war. There is a person who wants you to have every experience, good or bad, because every day is a gear in the machine of life,making it move. She knows that you need to fall, she knows it will only take you higher.

And then there is your older sister, and that part would do anything to shield you from anything that can break you. That part would trade her already fragmented soul to keep your fairy tale intact. Just so you never have to know pain. Yes, there is always pain, even in the happiest of times. Especially in the happiest of times.

All of me wants you to win. All of me wants you to prove the world wrong. To survive unscathed through the pain. To write as pure a love poem as you do now even when you are scorched. Things will break, you know, they always do. But there is a light in you and that light will always shine through.

And even if this makes no sense now, some day you’ll know exactly why I wrote to you.

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Letter to my thirteen-year-old self

Dear Amrita,

Remember that time last week you beamed with pride when someone said you are practically an adult? That’s great,but there’ll be enough time to be an adult later, be a teen now(Being an adult is over-rated anyway).

Did you throw away that poem you wrote yesterday- the one Mom laughed at, the “carrot-parrot” rhyme? Go get it from the bin, smooth out the paper and save it- there’ll be a day when a whole lot of people will tell you that your latest poem touched their hearts. Save it, so you can see that silly poems aren’t such a bad place to begin.

Let me tell you a secret. Parents aren’t really parents, they’re people like you and me. The next time you have a fight with them, sulk a while, then go make up with them- the way you would with your best friend or cousin. There’s another person in Mom and in Dad, one that’ll always be as old as you are- find that one, and you’ll be friends forever.

Don’t hide those tears next time they threaten to spill. Don’t run to the bathroom. One of the most difficult things you’ll need to learn is how to cry. And the sooner you learn the better. It won’t give away your weaknesses- it is the bravest thing you’ll ever do.

Don’t keep friends because everyone says you need to have a few. Get to know people. You’ll find them, the special ones, sometimes in the likely places and sometimes in the unlikely ones.

Don’t worry if you don’t know what your “thing” is- the one thing you’re meant for. Chances are, you won’t know that even when you’re an adult. Life’s about the journey- not just the destination. The places you stop at, the people whose lives you touch, that will matter more.

When it seems like things are bad- that fight in school, your weight, someone’s boyfriend, your lack of one- just remember. It’ll get worse. 😀 Okay, that was too pessimistic. Yes it’ll get worse, it’ll also get better. You’ll find battles worth fighting, and you’ll find your comrades.

Sometimes the worst enemy is your own mind. Know when your mind is playing games with you. Start making your own moves, and win.

You’ll be alright .

Love,

Amrita

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

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”.