Happy?

You must be happy today, because you are better than you have ever been.

Time has passed you by, made sundry marks, and it took years to brush off the last bit of shards.

You had wished for more than you could achieve, and life, smiling wryly, let you go on still.

You wanted to make your name, again.

And proud parents, let you break it down, since you… you were born to recreate.

You took up a challenge with the certainty of winning, and your brain never told you that you could fail.

Why would it when familiarity hadn’t, yet, bred contempt?

You looked forward, and you were glad, because onwards, always onwards was the only way you knew.

That was well and good. For the longest time, it was all well and good.

But you see when you were born, the skies did not part, and no thunder struck.

It was a piece of procreation, no different from an ant or a tadpole.

When you smile smugly and believe in fate, it barely remembers you, beneath its load of human malcontent.

One day you finally realize that breathing is not a privilege because the air passes through you.

And ‘onwards’ becomes a sad little town.

Away from love, from success, in loneliness, in a depressed little place.

Still, there is that fine little hope.

That upwards is the only place to go.

You must be happy today, because you are better.

Or so you fervently pray.

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Push.

Social training is the same as teaching rats to press particular switches in a tiny cage, so that they get cheese.

We spend our entire lives learning about these delicious little switches in people which will get us our piece of cheese. (Clarification: Not talking about orgasms, yet.)

Everyone has buttons.

Some of us can see them a mile away and some of us need to employ seeing-eye dogs.

But since we are not rats in a cage, there are more than two buttons to press, and since the range of rewards is much more than a piece of cheese and much less substantial, we can afford to make an art out of it.

And such a fun art it is!

The thrust, the parry, the bandying of words and the obvious, ultimate goal – the ego massage.

The ego seems much like a penis- needing regular massages, swelling up and getting bigger in the company of women, and of course paining like hell when kicked.

And also, it gets chafed, when rubbed one too many times.

That is the most important lesson in this art of the mental orgasm.

There needs to be a judicious sprinkling of stimulus. There needs to be anticipation, there needs to be drama and there needs to be a story.

The ego needs to be seduced, she is not a paid lay.

(And my metaphors are too mixed now to have separate limbs. The beast with the two backs, it seems)

And these lessons are tough to learn. They are mostly thing you really want, things you have set your heart on and things which you need.

And they are lost because you push too many buttons, say one too many things.

Either learn to shut up in time, or learn to lose graciously.

There is no better teaching technique than deprivation.

Gloom.

I lost a quarter.

In two months I shall be irrevocably closer to 30 than to 20.

I shall have lost a quarter of my life (it’s actually more, but for calculation purposes, I’m assuming I shall be a hundred….and ugly), with nothing to show for it.

I did not achieve brilliance. I did not even achieve mediocrity in a different fashion.

I did not get anywhere closer to being who I am supposed to be. Or rather, what my idea of ‘me’ is.

I wonder if discontent is healthy. Like all things, there must be a minimum recommended dosage for it. Maybe four teaspoons of it, to be mixed with equal amounts of disillusionment and self-loathing. The whole to be taken three times a day with your meals and to be turned to ashes.

But I did achieve notoriety.

That should help me be a bit happier.

Though, I doubt it would be the same emotion for others who have a vested interest in my life eg: parents, boyfriend, other guys who seem to like me and even the one or two friends I have managed to retain.

I wonder why it is necessary for me to be drunk when I spill out my venom against myself. I suppose it is a self-defence mechanism. If nothing else, it channels the rage into less-violent pathways.

What will be the point of reaching yet another milestone?

It’s a long road and I see no end.

Haste

I was in a hurry. Like the white rabbit With a bushy tail, and bright eyes.

I thought I had it all sorted. I knew the way out of the maze and I had a compass and well, I had nice stumpy (sic.) legs to take me there.

And it was a good story.

The normal kind, but good.

Boy meets girl and tral-la-la-la.

But you know what, Alice had it right when she said “I’m late / I’m late / For a very important date. / No time to say “Hello, Goodbye”. / I’m late, I’m late, I’m late. “

I am always late. For love, for life, for that special day…or night. Silly rhyming aside, somehow, I am always a step behind where I would want to be.

Other girls seem to have it so easy. They go and bag one, like it was as easy as cutting cheese, and show ‘em off.

Fine. We get it. We are both of marriageable age, and you got married. I did not.

But I got plenty more alcohol.

Why doesn’t that count for something?

Four.

I

The point of being drunk.

The point of being drunk is to lose yourself.

The point of being drunk is to listen to great music and marvel at your nothingness.

The point of being drunk is to find yourself.

The point of being drunk is to not remember the next morning.

Ah. Partial amnesia-The great leveller.

So what if she did not remember last night? There will be more nights.

So what if she did not remember? There will be more memories.

So what if the lines rhyme? There will be more prose.

So read on.

II

The blues.

Ever wondered why they are called that? The blues.

The colour of the cigarette smoke hanging in the air.

Like a curtain-shielding you from the world.

It’s blue smoke.

 

III

One of those days when I feel that words are not enough.

I wish I could show you the picture.

A dark room, with a little halo around the fairie lights in the corner.

A mirror, with an image only half seen through hazy eyes and the smoke around.

I see my collar bones, and I know they are a lie. I’m not an emaciated waif, with starvation on her mind and a knowing smile on her lips (regurgitation is the secret of my youth).

The cigarette butt glows in the dark. And I try to pick it up and miss.

Oh, I wish I had an image to show you.

‘The memory remains’ is playing and I am trying to light another one.

And the twinkly lights are doing their job. I do not fear any ghosts.

I have taken over the shadow world.

And the twinkly lights are doing their job.

 

IV

There is a distinct point, where you stop being satisfied and start being alone.

The danger zone.

Trust me.

You will message someone. You will call. You will make a desperate gtalk gambit. You will finally use watsapp.

But you will reach out.

This is the time right before dawn. The time of the deepest sleep.

Please wake up.

We have work to do.

For god’s sake, talk to me.

Some days I wake up and the world is speaking an alien language. Those are the days that I am myself. I walk around, outside a crowd, inside just me. And a terrible, terrible silence.

I could hear a soul sigh, and feel it brush against my body, sending a chill up my spine.

To be so alone. With just me and my thoughts. I would run out and shout and cry.

Talk to me, damn you, talk to me. And the people would stop and stare. It’s amazing how they always stop and stare. But they never say anything.

But I don’t shout.

I stare at a phone which does not ring.

I make small talk with ghost people in one forty characters.

I sit in my room, I drink and I write.

But I do not shout.

That would be cowardly, and I’m nothing if not a fighter.

I might make an overture, to a once-upon-a-time friend.

I might reply to goodnight messages.

I might fill my room with smoke and put a song on infinite loop.

But, I will never, ever shout.

Then after years of just me, there might be someone who would want to listen to me. My deepest darkest fears and my abandoned self, but such is divine justice that he will listen, but he would not understand.

I might shout myself hoarse again, for him. But he is not me.

And after a time, I know I will shut up again.

Such an irony it is. This terrible struggle to be heard and understood.

Because in the end all you really want to say is–

For God’s sake, leave me alone.

The Number Game.

Age is just a number after all.

It is so nebulous. The feeling that you are either a hundred or a one. Transient.

You hear someone giving you advice and you think ‘Who the hell is he?’. Because, obviously, you have seen more. You have been through more. You have been a hundred and more and you don’t need advice from the likes of him.

Old fogies. Sitting with their Monk and three quarters coke, and thinking they are the kings of the world just because they have seen more of it. I ask them- Have you seen the likes of me?  And they smile. Because they have seen the likes of me and crushed them, or left them far behind and they look at the ice melting in the glass and say ‘Listen to me, you punk’ and -I still say ‘Have you seen the likes of me?’. They think I have too much attitude. They think I’m too cock-sure. I’m the tiny life they have seen flicker in someone else and seen it die out in someone else. They look at me and smirk. ‘Poor little kid- You will learn’. And I still say ‘Have you seen the likes of me?’.
They make another drink and say ‘We have been here for the past two decades, when do you think you will grow up?’. And I think ‘I’m here to beat you’.  They still smirk. Let them. I’m here to beat the likes of them.
He thinks he’s a hundred and seen the world. I think I won’t need a hundred to see the world.
It’s the slap on the face, it’s the thrown gauntlet.
I will win.
Because you have not seen the likes of me.

Goodbyes.

Why do hurt the ones we love? And then crawl back to them.

Ignomnious, this defeat is.

She was fiercely independent. Her life had been lived on her terms, with her rules and with people she chose. Always. And if she did not choose them, she let them go. Her heart was made of stone and she was proud of it. She was her own person. No additions required.

And then she grew old. And with age comes a little insecurity. She was no longer sure of her ‘charms’.

Yes, her smile still had that flirtatiousness, and her figure was not that bad yet, and she could hold her own in a conversation. Yes. There was everything, which had been. But overlapping all of this was a bone wearing tiredness. And an ever increasing dread of that day arriving. The day she would end up ‘alone’.

She was tired. Of all the fights and all the arguments and the ego-boosting battles which end with the other person apologising. Now ego was boosted if someone kept on loving her. This shift in the balance had caught her off guard. One day she was young and the next day, she was simply not. There was no interlude, for preparation. Nothing which signalled to her that there was a change coming, a quickening of the wind maybe, or a chill in the air. Nothing.

She woke up one day, and the freshness was gone, and all the facials and mainenance routines in the world could not make her twenty-two again.

Especially in the head. She had lived too much. The irony was deadning. There was too much life. And unfortunately, it was more sordid than most.

So she realised that her asserting herself was an option now only to a point. It was time to compromise. It was the time to say goodbye to herself. Because from now on, everythign was going to demand a piece of her.

That’s the tax on growing old. You give up yourself.

Fool me twice.

I am ashamed.

There is a very clear difference between the smart and the not-so-smart.

You think that after all the education that people go through, and the lessons which experience is purported to have taught them, and the bumps and the bruises which mark their passage through life, they would realize that there is no such thing as a decent* deal.

*(Decent- a wonderfully ambiguous term used to describe so many things by us Indians.  Bahut decent aadmi hain.)

They would realize that sooner or later, the fine print would show itself and the hidden costs would be revealed, and there would be hell to pay.

But they don’t.

They continue to be dazzled by new promises and recycled words. They continued to get teary-eyed with clichéd gestures and make insane attempts of reconciliation. They continue living in the polarized world of hope and disappointment.  They continue to be blind. And thus, they get termed as not-so-smart.

I am ashamed that I still hope. I should have been smart.

Windows.

All my epiphanies happen when I’m standing at a window gazing out.

There is something about been alone, and in your thoughts. It’s a scary territory. You look at the buildings and the trees and the traffic going on the road below, but what you actually see is the bigger picture.

The smoke from the nth cigarette of the day, turns it into a looking glass.

There are ways of looking at every situation. And invariably, I see the worst one. I see my vulnerability. And that’s the worst thing possible, when you know that nothing can be done. With the world in front of my eyes, and the horizon visible far off, I feel cornered.

There is nothing else to see, it’s the same view everyday. Buildings don’t change shape and roads don’t curve, and there is no cute stranger in the opposite window to fantasize about. So, I see inside. And it is scary. It’s like instead of the 2nd floor, I’m on the 100th and there is a yawning, gaping space underneath, and I’m on the ledge. Perpetually on the ledge.

I want to run away. But there is this view, and nothing else to see.

I’m starting to hate windows.