اکثر (Aksar: Often)

I find myself being pushed out of sleep, deep at night,

A faint cry of time, an abandoned dream, a lost star.

Pulling the quilt over my head, I remind myself to breathe,

In ones, twos and threes.

One

A song I learnt long back, a decade and a half between the times,

The rhythm and words difficult to roll over my tongue,

A particular antara always managed to throw me off,

When I sang, I ran out of breath midway.

Every night I listened to my music teacher sing, on a cassette, in an old walkman,

Rewinding the tape with my fingers and letting the shruti flow.

Late one night at the ninth attempt, I figured her trick.

One sharp breath in the beginning and to pause at the right places,

The music magically took over, and she let her heart sing.

When I feel overwhelmed, I sing this song, to breathe easier.

Two

A few years back while studying I realised that no amount of cramming could help me,

The concepts flew over my head and all I wanted to do was, raise my hands and walk away.

Which is what I did.

I shut the books, made myself a tall glass of chai and looked out of the balcony,

Watched the traffic make its way through the narrow arterial lane,

Tiny marigold flowers, bright orange and yellow resting against the lazy creepers,

The sun set in all its glory, calling the birds and bread winners alike.

And for once, in a long time I slept, for fourteen hours straight.

I woke up in the morning and thought to myself, what was the worse that would happen if I fail?

I walked out in the balcony with the question, to breathe in some air and sunshine, and the question answered itself,

Nothing.

A moment of surreal clarity amidst chaos.

Three

There was a time when the pain was much to bear,

I can’t quantify the time, sometimes it seems like yesterday and during others, a previous lifetime,

One that reddened my eyes, choked my throat, brought tears and anger bubbling right beneath my skin.

Everytime I felt I couldn’t, I would remind myself to breathe and repeat,

This too shall pass.

A stab turned to sear, slowly became a dull throb and now is blue and numb.

And that’s okay, for maybe time heals all.

 

 

Thoughts over the week

I bury my nose in a pillow, my legs resting atop another, I close my eyes and inhale. A tired muffled sound, of fatigue of travel that has come tumbling down. Through the streets of sri lanka, specks of sand that coat my legs, sting of salt still in the humid air, to the winding cobblestone streets in England, behind closed windows that smell of illicit affairs, to strolling down generations in Calcutta, nostalgia of a language, of a childhood that ran by, a stream of events that altered the course of many entwined lives.

Over the course of two days, I devoured 3 books, in the company of a tall glass of sweet brown chai, 6 marie biscuits, intermittent rains and a burst of glitter coloring the skies.

Oddly I feel like the words have traveled, through my fingertips and into my veins, an odd sense of calm in my heart. The promise of the pages of a book bearing the story of a library in Japan to make peace with the pile of work that the week brings.

I watched a movie last Saturday, and of the many words uttered between characters, one line struck a nerve, rather an artery that made my heart bleed, yearning for a long forgotten feeling. The protagonist describes his happiness as “dil ka pet bhar gaya“, which loosely translated meant that the heart’s stomach was full. What a strange yet accurate way of describing happiness, the feeling of contentment, of not wanting any more.

Oddly enough this got me wondering about companionship, of the feeling of content that seeps through your pores, makes you heart smile, sends your brain on a high, makes your pulse race. Offlate my phone has been buzzing with messages, some etch a punctual good morning, others indulge in flattery, words strung like a delicate string of pearls, of brash inquiries of weekend plans, of resorting to reason for a yes.

I have realised, been painfully aware of it for a while that I bear no affection for a skin, dressed in expensive clothes, doused in aftershave and perfume, of a collage of words from movies and books, of the need to replicate the usual romantic gestures.

What lies beneath that carefully embroidered mask and the instant noodles philosophy that you are so quick to dish out, of the things you think when you are alone, of the thoughts that haunt you, of the talisman that you live by. What drives you, stops you, makes you smile, brings tears to your eyes, crack into laughter or descend into silence.

There are days like today when I do not feel the need of someone else, when I’m mindful of the fact that I have nothing to give in return for someone else’s time. When I can feel the gears that keep the clock of this world running slow down, my heartbeat sink to a low whimper.

When solitude no longer means being alone.

Perspective

You squint your eyes to look ahead, long winding road, black shining tar, sweltering heat. And then you turn back, look at the miles that you’ve covered. Half wondering how you reached where you reached, you can’t see the pit stops, all a daze, the sky and earth blend, grey and bright.

But you keep walking, running, in a make-believe race. Your bones hurt, your soul questions, but you never wake up. And then you think of how would it be if you quit. Just walked off that road and sat down on the sidewalk, refusing and bobbing your head no, to all questions asked.

But there is no side walk, so you walk, fatigue ripping apart all your dreams and hope.

Have faith, breathe. Sometimes that is all we can do. I have often wondered where and how do people end up and the past few years have taught me that sometimes you have to believe that there are things written for you, fate, destiny or position of stars. Sometimes circumstances take the decisions that we are too scared to make, that carry the burden of being indecisive.

You don’t need to climb any mountain to enjoy the view, to reap the fruits of your hard work, to put in 30 years of numbness to watch your account balance swell.

Stay. Still, calm. Let your lungs breathe. Smile, as often as you can. And look up.

Out of all the lives you could live, as what you could be born, you’re here. Of all the inhabitable universes, here you are on Earth, with a blue sky above your head, with a heart that pumps blood relentlessly never giving up hope on you. So that you don’t.

For those reading this, its easy to quit, its easy to concentrate and read all that is wrong, its easy to run on the well trodden road. You aren’t here to do all that others have done earlier, chart your own course, satisfy your desires, do what you want, wish others well, from your heart, take a learning from everyday and thank someone, anyone, give a hand to pull someone who needs it, give a shoulder to lean on, sometimes all that any of us want to

Questions

Have you ever questioned everything that you do/ have done?

Off-late I’ve been having this sneaky feeling, I have this tiny voice inside of me that has been screaming at me that I’m probably not great at what I do. The thing being that being good enough has never just sufficed for me.

Since childhood I’ve learnt that practice makes one perfect, hence whenever and where ever I managed to get stuck, I’d put my heart in it and practice. And because I’ve had pretty less experience work wise and most of what I did till now is study, this system worked wonders.

Almost 6 months into this field of work and I can see my confidence wilt and wither away. Every assignment is different, and with each of them, I’m barely managing to keep my head above the water or whatever it is supposed to be.

I like the field, its interesting, challenging but maybe I’m not cut out for it. Like the time you know something is great but its maybe not just yet meant for you.

In the effort to keep trying, I’m getting burned out. From putting in long hours (really really long ones) to talking about different techniques with others, trying to learn the various aspects of things, I’m falling in this pit of unhappiness.

The point that eats me up from within is that I want to be good at what I do, no not just good, great. If I am putting in all this time and effort, then it should be for something worthy, right? Some universal input – output law.

Pushing myself this hard has left me with absolutely no time, and if that isn’t the case then the lack of energy/motivation to do something else. To try and have a life outside and beyond work, to not constantly be in my head.

I’ve spoken to people about this, of shifting lanes into pursuing something else in the creative field or really building my skills in terms of what comes easier to me and that I feel is my inherent quality (communication/writing?). On the other spectrum is the crowd that say that I should stay, for learning ropes of this business atleast a year would make it count. Six more months seem far too long, but I honestly don’t know what to do.

Slightly at my wits end, I haven’t really got any feedback as such on my work, so do I take that and then decide where it is that I’m headed or just make a mad run out of this for whatever it is that I supposedly maybe headed for?

With all the doubting and second guessing and multiple time checking of what it is that I do, I have managed to stress myself really badly. Have a swarm of negative thoughts on what if situations. And hence I’ve been listening to positive thinking videos on a loop.

Frankly speaking, I’m terrified deep within. The not knowing thing is scary. Will I be stuck doing something that I’m not good at? Am I running out of time to make that choice? Do I stay or go? and if I do run, run to what?

 

Sink

Ever felt like your feet were chained to a boulder and you were flung, sent crashing into ice cold waters?

Exactly how I feel, every single day, at work during weekdays, post work timings on weekdays and weekends.

I try to make a checklist and get things off my to-do list, magically something gets skipped it and all comes tumbling down. The time that I spend staring at the laptop screen, I’m consumed by work. Off the laptop screen and I still can’t shut my brain.

I’m sinking, drowning, grappling for air.

Books that would be devoured within 2 days of arrival, have been collecting dust since three weeks. I’ve stopped replying to messages, taking calls in general. The intense urge to blow off steam by screaming and venting out is met by a competition. Of who has been working how hard, whose work is tougher, who is more pained.

Any and all conversations invariably go down the work route, at this point I’m tempted to run away to a forest, sit next to a brook, drown my phone and laptop in that very brook preferably and be able to read 10 pages of a book and savor a cup of coffee for half an hour.

Which is why when I’m not cooped up in a corner at office, I’m trying to catch up on sleep, watch phone calls go unanswered and put conversations on mute in whatsapp. Safe to say my social life is in the dumps, most recently last Saturday I went to a friend’s place for an apparent girl’s night out, spent the night eating and watching porn (cause the human body has needs and well this need not be justified). Which is how after a long time I felt ‘normal’, and could drag myself to face the Monday morning blues.

Monday should be declared a holiday, all Mondays irrespective of month/ profession/ country. If there aren’t any Mondays to get out of bed, there would be no Monday morning blues! And we could do this rotation every few years, taking it to Tuesday morning blues and back to when it rounds up to Monday, henceforth the cycle continues.

Honestly enough I’m tired. Sometimes I just fall into a day dream of rolling over and taking a nap for a few hours. Funny thing being that I almost have a love hate relationship with what I’m doing right now. I love that the work is interesting but hate that I’m tired and I positively have dark circles, I’m reminded on an almost weekly basis on the ‘oh relationships are great’ motto by everyone who’s either committed or getting married, really behind on my reading schedule, have my poster paints and brushes dry and wither and take up a teeny nook on my shelf.

At this point if I were given a million dollars, the only people I could call would probably be my parents and a heart to heart conversation with my dog on how many dentasticks and chews he’d be rewarded with, for just being there.

I have been showing terrible restraint to not walk over and buy a bottle of vodka and ice cream, slump into the sofa, tie my hair into a bun, wear loose pyjamas, prop my legs up and watch mindless television.

Well that pretty much looks like what I’m going to spend one entire day of my next weekend doing. Care to join?