Of trying to find the puzzle you belong to

Dear You,

I know you feel like I will never get you, I will never understand the chaos that is thudding inside you, I will never understand why you behave how you behave and may be you are right. You should be right because nobody is suffering like you are right now, right here. But, if I say that not long ago I was there with the thudding chaos that was almost as loud as yours and if I say that I have had my own share of bumpy roads that gave me heart-sore will you maybe listen to me?

Yes, I have been there. I know what it’s like when you know you are pretty witty but people just don’t get your joke. I know what it’s like when people think your choice of music is bad just because theirs is different. I know what it’s like when people think you’re either too smart or either too awkward to hang out with them. I know the price you have to pay for being brutally honest and I know what it’s like to get bullied for something you didn’t say or do at all. I know what it’s like to bury hundreds of stories inside you because they won’t make others cry and laugh and cringe like they make you. I know that feeling when you crawl into your bed and wonder if you’re wrong because when the entire world is on one side and you on the other, you end up thinking maybe; just maybe you really are wrong.

And that voice inside your head- yeah I am way too familiar to that sound too. You tell yourself something is not right with you, you tell yourself that you need to change and you try but something inside you holds you back. The you on the out constantly fights with the you on the inside. You can’t figure out what’s right and what’s wrong, you can’t figure out if you want to be you or you want to be them, you can’t tell if you should be honest or just say things that they want to hear. Result? You mess up. I did. I messed up big time when I was where you are.

I thought it would be endless. I thought I would always be miserable. I strongly believed that as long as I’d live I would be everything but me. I didn’t ace my teenage. I was a trouble’s child, I got into trouble every time I was unpretentiously myself and every time I tried to be like them. I messed up everything from my academics to personal relationships. I declared that I would rather not have this life. I got very close to giving up ample of times. It was a very dark phase, so I know or I can at least imagine what you are going through.

I wish there was somebody who told me that they were right where I was back then. I wish there was somebody that I trusted enough to confide in. I wish there was somebody who told me it was okay to be me because I would eventually meet people who would love me merely for my sense of humor, for my choice of music, for being blunt all the time, and for sharing the stories that move them too. I wish there was somebody who said Gam Ze Ya’vor – This too shall pass. Because it did.

Before I knew my battle within myself came to an end along with my high school and teenage. Before I knew, the environment changed and so did my life. It’s just that if somebody had told me it was just a phase, maybe I’d rather be shamelessly alone than try be somebody that people would easily approve of.

So, listen up. Stop doubting yourself. Stop questioning your values. Stop thinking that everybody else is better than you. You are your best when you are you and the more you embrace yourself the stronger you become. Don’t try to change yourself unless you see growth in the change.

It’s sad and funny at the same time that most teenagers like me back then and you right now spend their teenage questioning why they are not fitting in. It’s only when you grow into an adult that you realize you were not fitting in because you belonged to a different set of puzzle altogether. You are growing up, and this phase is passing. I promise, there will come a day when you’ll find people who think, feel, suffer, love, dream and do things like you do. You’ll the puzzle that you’ll happily belong to. Until then, be strong and be kind because like they say- Gam Ze Ya’avor.

Love,
The girl in red loafers

Of failure and of strength

Dear Maa,

I don’t know if it’s natural or rather funny that I’m growing into you. I am becoming the woman you are. I have begun to feel like you do.

Today, I went out with friends for a girls’ adventurous day out. It was our first time climbing walls. As interesting as it appeared, the three storey high wall also intimidated me. It made me think small of myself, smaller than I have ever felt before. I dared to take the first few steps but with few more, my legs started trembling. I gave up. I climbed down. I never went back up again.

Growing up, I taught myself that it is okay to let go if something is not important for me. Growing up, I taught myself that it is okay to give up if the goal is not worth the trouble. Growing up, I taught myself to be a sport about both my success and failure. I taught myself to not make too much noise and not be too transparent about how I felt about either of them.

Wall climbing was one of the goals that I didn’t mind letting go of. Wall climbing was something I didn’t mind failing. I had embraced my failure and told myself that I needed some more strength before I gave another go. I was coping with the whole scenario like I had mastered to for years. I was calm and composed.

I didn’t regret the decision until I realized it was a mistake big and fat enough to make big and fat room for people to feel sorry for me.

Today I learnt and lived a lesson that you always tried to teach me. What’s important in life is to be strong and not put yourself in a position that privileges other people to look down upon you. What’s important in life is to not appear weak, because when you do people will proudly feel sorry for you even when you don’t.

Ma, I don’t remember the last time I was so utterly disappointed with my choice. I think I now understand you. I think I now get your need to be invincible, to be strong, and to be in a position where people don’t dare make you think lowly of yourself.

I think I know what I want to be in life. Strong. Like you.

Love,
Chhori

Labyrinth

“What is your problem with her? Something is really off. I can see it. She can see it.”

“No, she doesn’t see it.”

“Oh wow! You think you are smart, only you see things, only you get things? You can tell when people dislike you and other people are just stupid to see when it is the other way round?”

“I don’t dislike her, I just… gah! I can’t explain. Let’s just say, I am tired of her, of everybody… for now”

He just stared at her. There were times when he could not stand her. There were times when he wished he did not love her enough to stay and try and help. She just went back to reading what she was reading.

“T you know this is not healthy. What you do with people, it’s not right”

She couldn’t tell if he was thinking aloud or really not giving up on her. But he was right. It was not healthy. She made people love her, trust her and left them in the middle of nowhere when they needed her the most.

“You think I don’t know that? I don’t need somebody else to judge me. I am enough for myself. I know my flaws. I know me. AND I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TRANSPARENT ABOUT MY FUCKING FLAWS. SO DON’T GO ON TELLING ME THAT IT IS NOT OKAY TO GET TIRED OF MY FRIEND…”

It was going to get nasty. She was getting louder by the moment. He was getting madder.

“You are already lonely, but trust me, if you go on this way you will end up alone”

“I would rather be alone! Why don’t you just fucking give up on me? Stop wasting your energy on me”

He did, for that day. He slammed the door behind him and left.

Today, seventeen months later, as T deleted their last picture together, she thought of the last fight they had. M had come back that day. He loved her and he wanted to save her from herself, only if she let him. If he was lovingly relentless; she on the other had been destructively relentless. Even when he gave her a chance, she destroyed everything with her words. She destroyed him with her words. He left. She never called to check if he was okay.

She had been constantly thinking of him this morning and hence she decided to look him up on Facebook. The last time she looked him up, his page was not available. She thought he had blocked her until Google assured her otherwise. This time his page was available and there were some public posts which revealed that he had grown closer to her friend. It made her happy and sad at the same time. He was a good human being. He had gone on to fulfill the promise T once made to R. He had stood by R in her toughest days when T failed to do so.

T wanted to call him up. Say thank you. Just thank you. She knew saying sorry now wouldn’t make any sense, not after all this time.

She still had his phone number stored at the back of her head. She dialed the number. He picked up.

“ Hello”

“Hi… M?”

“Yeah …Hi?”

“You didn’t recognize me..”

“You wish. It’s difficult to not recognize somebody who gave you enough reasons to hate them”

They were both silent. M broke the silence.

“That hurt eh? Now I feel a little better. ‘Sup, How did you think of me after seventeen whole months? ”

“M, I just wanted to thank you, for.. for coming back that day, for not giving up and .. uh going out on a limb for R, when I couldn’t”

“ But you’re not sorry?”

“Noo. I mean of course I am. I just thought saying sorry now wouldn’t make much sense”

“Of course it doesn’t, but you could have tried”

“Umm.. Sorry”

“It’s not okay”

She took a long sigh. He was not the same guy anymore. M was not there to impress anybody anymore and probably he had lost faith in goodness and modesty.

“ I know it’s not.. listen, umm.. do you maybe want to.. no forget it. I am just happy to hear you after so long”

He chuckled.

“You used to be bolder. Yeah sure, let’s meet up for a coffee? We don’t have anything to lose. And truth be told, I have learnt not to give a fuck about the past. We can always catch up. I’m sure you want to know what happened after that day”

She sighed. She was happy and scared at the same time. She didn’t know what he was thinking. But she wanted to see him. At least once.

“ So, same old place?”

He roared with laughter.

“T are you fucking kidding me? The place does not exist anymore. A new building is under construction in that place”

“Oh”

For the last seventeen months she had been going back and forth between her work and home and elsewhere only when she needed to. Her social life was fucked up. She either socialized with colleagues or family. She was out of touch with every friend she ever had.

But she did travel. Every once in a while, she did what she always wanted to do, pack her bags and just leave to somewhere she had never been before. She always found happiness in places and among people to whom she didn’t belong- because they didn’t know her enough to judge her or intrude when she indulged in self destruction. Detachment was healthy for her.

She didn’t recognize him from a distance. He looked healthier and happier. She had never imagined in her wildest dream that the clean-shaven look would suit him. He looked handsome. When he walked over to her, she didn’t know if she should hug him. He knew that they should. She couldn’t remember the last time she had hugged him or anybody.

“We’re good”, he said with a poker face.

She couldn’t tell if he meant it. Maybe T was looking for more than that. Maybe she wanted him to be mad at her, be sarcastic, fight or yell. Maybe she wanted him to hate her. It hurt even more to see that he was indifferent. As if he had heard what she was thinking, he told her that he learnt the art from her.

“When you got tired or sick of a person, when you couldn’t love or hate a person, you were indifferent towards them. I think I acquired the skill over time. Damn. It feels good.”

“And it feels terrible when you’re on the other side”

He looked at her painfully. “You are lonelier than I remember”

“You bet”

“So, you haven’t been seeing anyone”

“I don’t dare. Attachment is injurious to health”

“You bet”

They both laughed.

“How is R?”

“She is good. She still thinks of you. She says, you would have made her happier”

“Happier?”

“Yeah, apparently I make her happy but not as much as you did. You know what your problem is.. or was? Everybody saw it but you. Everybody felt it but you. Everybody loved you but you.”

She was quiet. The problem with her was that she always indulged in the idea that she was not a people person. She always thought that she could never help people or that she could never take help from people. She always thought that she could never love people back. She could, only she didn’t like to believe so.

“Has she settled or does she still drool over guys from a distance”

He was quiet. She waited for him to answer until she realized what she was going to hear. In those seventeen months, M was not the only one who had gone out on a limb. R did too. They had helped each other get out of their personal hell. Both being irrestibly beautiful human beings, it was inevitable. Nobody would know better than she did how easy it was to fall in love with each of them.

“Oh my god! You guys are dating aren’t you?”

“ For the last seven months. Yes.”

She didn’t know what to say, where to go, how to react. She just smiled. He smiled back at her.

“I was wrong. You were right. You two are far from similar. Always have been”

Although from outside T seemed more sorted, R was always less chaotic, R was more thoughtful, R was more loving. R was easier to love.

“I told you”

“Excuse me ma’am here’s your lemon soda with salt and sir yours with sweet”

They both smiled. The only thing that hadn’t changed between them was their taste for the drinks.

“ I want to see R”

“R wants to see you too. One thing though, R and you might go on to become friends again. She never fell out of love with you. But trust me, if you break her one more time I’ll forget that I ever loved you. At all”

The Wallflower

“Alright, ‘will see you then”

Truth be told, she was not excited about the plan. Day by day, she was increasingly becoming unsocial. She wished people didn’t make plans for her. She wished people didn’t push her to be social. She wished she could say; “I know you guys are being nice, but fuck it I’m just gonna pack my bags and leave for a nice place where people don’t give a fuck about me.”

She couldn’t. On one hand she was not a people’s person. More often than not, she’d rather be alone and indulge in things that brought her peace of mind. But she was also aware that good friends are hard to find and harder to keep. She was not ready to say “I don’t need you, I can do by myself”. Not just yet.

She turned on her laptop and started doing what she had been doing for the last two weeks. She started looking up places she wanted to go instead. Like the Guerilla Trek, Rara Lake, ABC trek but she didn’t have enough time. She would need at least a ten days’ long leave. She could resign at work and just leave. Only she wasn’t ready to.

She turned the device off. She looked at the book shelf that she had not dared look at for the last two months. Earlier this year, she had made a resolution. Read at least 50 books. She had read 5 books and then stopped.

It was like a disease. Giving up came easily to her. Too easily. She gave up on people, places, feelings, and interests and needs too.

Her cheeks tightened, her heart felt heavy. She lay down to stare at the ceiling. A wall lizard stared back at her.

She wondered if the lizards complicated things like people did. She wondered if it was easier to not feel at all.