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.

 

 

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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

Corners

I pulled a chair into the balcony, it had been raining since morning, at times a cloud burst and bought in a fury of water, thundering and rumbling and then so, it drizzled and poured, like a woman unable to make up her mind, leering at the pastry counter and weighing whom she loved more, chocolate or butterscotch, yet ultimately taking two of each.

For most part of the day, there wasn’t any electricity, so me and an empty house, the rains, rhythmic melody of tip tap and fragrance, grey skies and lush green trees, tiny rivulets running down the length of my arms and pools of water in the grasp of my palms, trying to win endless battles against the laws of fluid dynamics.

Making myself a cup of coffee, a book and a pillow plonked on my lap, I wondered how long it had been since I felt at peace, no internet pulling you into the virtual world, no television screaming at the top of its lungs, no soul to put a brake on the train of your thoughts.

If I could, I would buy myself a piece of the sky to lie under,

A little place in the forest, where its scent rubs off on you,

And if you were really quiet, you could listen to your heartbeat.

Shut your eyes and disappear underneath a sky full of stars,

Watch the mountains from afar,

Let the rain seep into the pores of my skin,

Spend hours making constellations, and guessing shapes of the clouds.

An invisible corner in the middle of nowhere,

For when thoughts burden your shoulders and make your head feel heavy,

To take a pause from time.

Walk away from the mess,

Paint your nails red, the leaves pink,

Carve love on the barks of trees.

Wait for the waves to bring back what was once yours,

And the wind to take you, to where you truly belong.