notes

One moment

You know how people are found? In a moment. In just one moment. You either find them or you let them go. That one moment, you decide whether you want this person to stay, or let that face be the one that would be lost in the crowd.

Lately, people have been faceless. With too many faces. Too many names. Too many lists in the Excel sheets—the whole bio data. And yet there have been only few who have been in that moment, that you can’t let go.

And yet. And yet there are people who have made some moments their own. For the lifetime. Like owning a song, a word that’s always theirs, a time when you know it would be them missing you, like a typical text on a certain time, or a silly tease, to remind you how you don’t matter to them—or just owning you by complaining to you, whining to you, arguing with you for nothing and telling you they’re praying for you, even though you’re not even sure about yourself.

These are few people, but enough for you. You don’t need more. You want just them to be with you. But you want all of them. Not one less. NOT ONE LESS. You don’t expect more but you can’t take less. You want all of them. Every part of them. But your hands are tied. You can’t do anything to bring them to you. So you pray.

You pray. And you pray. And you pray.

You pray every time of every day. You may cease to exist but you pray.

Black, White and Gray

Crossroads

Roads closed

Dreams of faceless people.

Darkness,

Or absence of light,

Tests that determine nothing that was mine.

Patience,

Endurance,

All that false pretense,

Of things that would be,

and people who will change.

Everything, that has been,

Is a mass of contradictions.

Love what we trust, or trust what we love?

It’s a shame it’s all come down to it all over again.

 

 

Vows to oneself as a 25 year old

 

As 2016 comes to an end, I make some vows to myself. No, these are not New Year resolutions made to be followed in the coming year only to be forgotten a few days later. These are vows of a 25 year old to herself, who had refused to acknowledge that a tough life exists and that tough people exist who despite how much you try to please would never be pleased with you, because it’s not their priority unlike you (so don’t take it to your heart).

Yes, life is tough and yes, it does get too suffocating sometimes that you don’t get enough time or space to listen to your own thoughts, but it always gets better. Believe that it always gets better, because it always has.

When you were 18, 20-year-olds looked like they were fully grown adults. When you were 21, you thought your life would be settled by 25, everything figured out. You would have fully matured, learnt all the realities of life. But at 25, I realize we never really figure out life, we may only try to. We never really mature enough. I might have been mature enough for my age, even perhaps more mature than any other 28 year old for that matter, but under what parameters? Balancing work-life? Making family decisions? Saving money? Making new friends? Handling love life? Life is never the same for two people. Everyone has to deal with different circumstances, different realities and different strokes of luck. What we might call crazy may be completely normal for others. What others might pity about you could be something that makes you proud.

So here are some vows I make with my 25 year old self to stand by:

  1. Don’t be too harsh on yourself

Don’t judge yourself too harshly. Only you know what you have been through. You alone have experienced your journey. So don’t be too disappointed when people close to you (let alone others) do not understand. They don’t know the whole story.

Never criticize yourself on how you could have done better under those circumstances that you faced. You know you did your best. You know you couldn’t do any better. It wasn’t just written for you. The timing wasn’t right. Don’t stress yourself for it.

  1. Don’t expect. Period.

Expectations kill. It’s a lesson learnt the hard way. Never expect from people. People disappoint. If ‘people’ had a synonym, it would be ‘disappointment’. Be good to people. But never expect goodness in return. Be kind but never expect kindness in return. People are generally indifferent. They don’t give second thoughts. Why does the kindness of strangers make us so happy? Because we least expect it. So the more we expect, the less satisfied we would be.

  1. Be patient

However you work hard, you have to wait for the results eventually. And trust me, the results wouldn’t be the ones you have wanted—this is where you have to be patient. This is a gray area. There are no black and white answers. What you might think best, might not be best for you. So try again if you will, but keep an open mind about consequences.

  1. Have faith

Point 3 automatically brings me to perhaps the most important promise to myself—having faith. Having faith might be the easiest and yet the most difficult thing to do sometimes. For things we don’t have any control, we can’t help but let them be. We leave it to God (or whatever you might believe in) despite having insecurities. It’s easy because we couldn’t do anything even if we wanted to. And yet it could be the most gruesome, self-tiring chore to do. For having faith requires patiently enduring our inner struggles for everything we have stood up for and worked hard. And it doesn’t just end there. Having faith requires us to accept the results as they come, with our head held high, because that is what’s best at the given time and therefore it has been given to us. It might look like we have been cheated, not given what we deserved (and that God has been unjust and whatnot), but trust me, it’s always for the best.

The lessons in defeat, in heartbreak, in going low, in acceptance, would prove to be your lifelong mentors. The timing would be so perfect, only you would understand later.

So don’t rush. Have faith.

  1. Smile

You have smiled too many times for people. It’s time you smile for yourself. There are far too many reasons. For one, it gives you wrinkles at the right places.

  1. Surround yourself with good music

Good music makes good memories. Or rather, good memories are made even better with good music. So listen to new songs, make mixtapes, send them to people you love (but remember point 2 above), play old songs, write about them, write about memories associated with them and don’t forget to make new ones.

 

PS: Unedited

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detour

When past makes a detour, it’s almost as if we’re not ready. We’ve tried to let go of things—no matter how pretty, how beautiful–and it’s been excruciating. They sting—reminding us of what are made of: shy smiles, coconut flavored candies, board games, anxiety attacks, pure glee.

For some it wanders—the past. For others, it comes back, like it’s written to connect the dots that we didn’t understand as kids. Things we had to let go but weren’t ready to do so. So past makes a comeback. For closure. Only, past is not as we’ve always imagined, not as we have lived. Is it playing with us? Are we hallucinating? It’s an old trick. Only Past would know.

Past has gotten old, just like we have. Twelve years older. But past is happy. Proud. Past is proud that we had to go through him, and just when we were getting used to his presence, he had to leave. But Past is back now. To commend, to applaud, to tell us that he would not desert us again. Past now has wrinkles, instead of worries, all at their perfect places. Past has learnt to smile more, to tell more and is more eager to listen to what we have to say. It’s been more than a decade since we lost contact—or since he decided to flee—but he is not here to stay either. Past promises to visit again, with more surprises—but this time with future. Soon past would become our future.

Things would change. No more chasing little girls playing, no more nursery rhymes or hide and seek in the shades of trees, no more peeking from windows too tall for our height. When past decides to bring in future, all the leaves would have shed, October gone, welcoming the onslaught of early snow and December. Future-past would bring campfire and melted snow, grown up kids, their eyes filled with amber and glow.

Past has promised that things would change, because once again we’ve opened the Pandora box that we had buried under heaps of sand.

But this time, things would change. We would keep our hopes but we won’t let past dictate our show. Past has the choice to come but we won’t mind if it decides to change its home.

 

 

 

Letters to her (1)

“You are the dreams you chase, the things that keep you awake.

You are the mountains you have climbed and the waters you have dived.

You are the playlists that you listen to, always skipping some songs, while putting others on repeat.

You are the wild car rides, speeding tickets and narrow escapes, those that brought you closer to life and close to end.

You are the karaoke nights and clumsy slumber parties and singing at the top of your voices on the radio with your friends; you are ugly gifts and pranks and arguments and later amends.

You are the stars in the sky that make you think of falling in love and seas and clouds and unicorns all at the same time; you are texts and chats and phone calls after rough patches telling them you’d be fine.

You are the tears of happiness and sighs of pain, you my dear are the first dance of monsoon rains.

You are all the books, the songs, the movies you own, you are the nostalgia of your sweet childhood gone.

You are your first love, the pure glee that it brought, the nervousness, and later the courage that it taught.
You are the shine in your eyes, the curves of your lips, the crooked collarbone of yours that you secretly adore; you are all the beautiful nights chasing after the moon and so much more.
So dont you dare believe them when they tell you they want better, for you my love know what they are missing on later.”

Hopeless patterns

There was a pattern,

always a pattern

In the books read, recent playlists played,

Colors of weather and unwritten letters,

Badly scribbled notes under the mattress of the bed.

There was a pattern in the first said words of that broken conversation—if only you knew

Those tucked away pictures hidden from the world,

And tickets that were never used to fly 7000 miles away.

There was a shameless pattern in all the words unsaid, all the endeavors to make you break away

In the first days when seasons changed—the leaves falling off or turning green,

There were patterns in the first fall of snow and my perfect summer dream,

There were patterns in the waves of the ocean that connected lands in between.

There were perfect patterns in the winds that blew; signs if only you knew.

But oh well, never mind

Why did it matter?

When our minds were always a mess, a hopeless clatter.

 

Nostalgia

Merriam Webster defines Nostalgia as ‘pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.’

Dictionaries are supposed to be accurate in their meanings that they provide. However, it doesn’t do justice with the word ‘nostalgia’. I’m not good with words but I do feel more than an average person does and it doesn’t feel right that nostalgia is just a ‘noun’ given to some feeling we think is bitter and sweet. Nostalgia is a past that sticks with your present and haunts you with emptiness and loss of all good things that were once yours when you so much as come to brush something vaguely similar, that might or might not be yours at present. It is that tingling sensation of hopelessness and misery that comes with knowing that you cannot go back to what you’ve lived, that seeing other people go through it will make you smile but hate that you’re not in their place again. It’s the reluctance to play that song for the fear that it would trigger those memories of goofing around at sunset at the top of your lungs blanketed in 5 layers of clothes and still shivering but not letting that moment go. Nostalgia is the fear that when you play that song, you won’t be able to believe it was you—and how an eternity seems to have passed making it an unreal fragment of memory.

Why can’t we have a time-turner? No really. Not the Harry Potter one where you could make deviations so the future is safe, but just the one where you could go back and relive it once more, just like it happened in reality—where you could experience it just like it happened the first time, those heart palpitations, those real laughters in between exam preps at 3 am in the morning to release stress of failing the next day; late night winter walks amid security situations and curfew timings and singing 90s pop songs in horrendous voices which would lead to complains the next day. I don’t know if we could call it cruel that we were once those people in photographs which are now stored in long forgotten folders somewhere in the PC waiting to be opened only when one of the us passes away. Also isn’t it strange how photographs never do justice to the memory, either being too visually bright—when the memory’s only source of light is bonfire—or being too still, hiding away all behind-the-scenes and position-settings and everyone-yelling-at-the-top-of-their-lungs-to-be-heard for taking the picture perfect? The only good photographs are the blurred ones where the moment is caught in between being and having been done. And yet it misses the frame-worthy click. Shucks.

But nostalgia is not just the moments, it’s the smells, the sounds, the playlists and those lights that make us feel a certain way that no one can explain. It’s excruciating and not pleasant despite what they tell us in books and novels. A bowl of badly cooked noodles, a cup of black coffee on a hot evening, a randomly switched channel on TV which plays Coke Studio’sKinara, a group of friends procrastinating late at night for their group project—it’s like a remake of a movie, only we’re not the main character this time. It’s almost mocking, in-your-face, déjà vu, where we have no control.

I’ve met people who move on, no longer smile at old photographs, not even look at them anymore—it doesn’t work as a stimulus for them. Would I rather be like them? Maybe. It’s a good state to be, a past no longer there to haunt with beautiful memories. Would I choose to? I don’t think so.     

 

It’s a mirage

There are songs that you listen to, that shape your memories; there are people who constantly make their way towards you—directly or indirectly, sometimes even forcefully—to shape your lives, both positively and negatively, even so that they might be the force of a constant distraction in your lives, but you need to focus. You need to focus on good things, the positive energy that comes from waking up early in the morning to pray fajr, even though you might have slept at three in the morning—for you need to realize that you’re not doing it for the sake of making the Almighty happy, you’re doing it as much for yourself too.

Our jobs suck most of the times, we don’t get along with a lot of our colleagues, but we need to find that one ounce of motivation that makes us go to work gladly every morning—be it the smile of the guard who greets you at the gate or the lady guard who you sometimes help financially to make her ends meet, or that one colleague who brings you video games that you could play when the boss is not around, or that group of people who you have your lunch with.

Life is not always easy as we might like to think for other people who always have their way. You would look at their social media and find them smiling and having fun but no one knows if they’re doing it for public validation or a general show off, none of which is healthy. Adulting is a tough task—for people like me it’s a 24/7 job that you’re constantly struggling with, trying to ace it following the ‘fake it till you make it’ mantra. And s much as I would want to deny it, we are not young anymore. We are neither fresh-out-of-college-graduates nor 22-23 looking forward to settling. And although we are still looking forward to settle, we are basically nowhere. Our dreams are yet to be fulfilled, love of our lives to be found, careers still in a phase where we are in a dilemma of whether to switch or to get going with what we have. We are so confused. And while we are acing some of the job interviews and getting into that school for post-grad education we’ve always wanted to get into or getting told in some family gathering by teenagers that we are their inspiration and asked by some youngsters to speak at their college as a motivational speaker, we still tend to underestimate ourselves. Why are we so confused?

Is it a quarter-life crisis? Our parents are our friends but sometimes their wants and our needs don’t match. The books we read inspire us to write but what we don’t have is time—no time to catch up with friends from college who we miss constantly but are embarrassed to admit because what if they have moved on? We don’t have time to listen to that song that friend the other day recommended us to listen or that article they shared with us thinking we would appreciate the genius of it, the book we borrowed from that friend who never minds is still lying on the bedside table because ‘who has time?’

Why has time become such a lMirage.fulluxury all of a sudden that we don’t have? We have money but no time to spend that money, and honestly when I say this, I’m not exaggerating. We keep on procrastinating, on planning that trip, reading that book, cooking that great recipe, baking that cake, eating healthy and working out, gifting that whatever our friend liked the other day but couldn’t buy, what do we have if we don’t have time to give ourselves and our loved ones?

We are going after all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons. Most of us. Career plans. New job. Progression. Happily ever after. It’s just a mirage. What we are, where we need to be, is here. Right where we are. And that is where we need to make amendments.

 

 

 

PS: It’s a rumbling, only a slight reflection of a chaotic mind. 

3 am

Have you often wondered about that middle hour of the night, when it’s only you and your silence to accompany?

Have you wondered why you feel so connected at this time of the night? What is it about 3 am, when it’s neither the beginning of the morning nor the end of the night? It’s when you can’t decide what you want to do with your life.

3 am is when you listen you to those songs that haunt you during the day, full of memories you’re afraid to replay. 3 am is when you think of replying to some texts, those emails that you’ve been ignoring since God knows when. It’s the hour when courage comes from within, for it’s the time when you’ve applied to that school you’ve been dreaming about, registered for that course you’ve always wanted to be a part of, filled that job application, wrote that short story that has always been at the back of your mind but could never come out.   3 am is that time which always cries, ‘send away that text, we’ll see what happens next.’
3 am is when a movie has just ended and you don’t know what to do with your life anymore, so you try to listen to the silence around, breathe and take in everything that is around in that odd hour of the night when even the early birds are sleeping.
3 am is when you have conversations with people in other time zones, mostly because you can’t ignore them or because they are too funny to be ignored.

3 am is also when you recognize your true friends. An hour more needy hasn’t been discovered yet.
3 am also brings upon conversations with God, about life, and things that you’ve been trying to understand but failing. It’s the time when heartfelt prayers are made, listened and answered to.
3 am is the hour that is mostly deserted yet always awaiting guests who are either smiling at the past day or crying for the pains tomorrow brings. It silently blankets the drunk, the homeless, the artists, the depressed and those who are preparing for an exam tomorrow and haven’t studied a word before.
3 am sounds really late and perhaps a lonely time of the night but it really is another world altogether waiting to be discovered where the best secrets are shared, the best conversations take place, the best books are read, the best bars, the best friends and the best people are found.