I am stoned. I am watching The Mentalist. Season 2. Episode 6. I am laughing so hard. I can heart my heart go thump. thump. thump. thump. I can hear the blood gush into my ears. Suddenly, I realise I have been laughing so loud. So free. So gleeful. I thought back to the number of days I have been watching the show. I haven’t been laughing out loud. Not, until now. I have a flashback. This memory of me lying down on my corner bed in the hostel. I pull out the earphones out of my ears to hear my roommate ask which show I was watching because I was laughing so hard. I can see myself looking at the screen. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. How have I not been laughing for an fairly new show, until now?
“Cross your legs while you sit!”
“Because girls should not sit with their legs spread apart.”
“Because, it’s not proper.”
“Don’t play cricket with those boys again!”
“Because girls are not supposed to run wild.”
“Don’t talk so loudly!”
“Because girls are meant to be seen, not heard.”
“Don’t stay out to late.”
“Because, it will seem like you are asking for it.”
“Don’t dress like that!”
“Don’t date around so much.”
“Don’t drink so much.”
“Don’t wait too long to get married.”
“Don’t put your career ahead of your family.”
“Don’t infuriate your husband.”
“Don’t wait for too long before you have kids.”
“Cross your legs while you sit!”
All my life, every book I read and every movie I watched led me to believe that I would find someone who knows me better than I do and loves me for who I am. I believed, that this person would be my soulmate. I thought, that one day, somewhere in a coffee shop or while standing in the line of a grocery story I would find him. Sparks would fly, we would fall in love and I would have my happily-ever-after.
However, lately I have begun to believe that maybe our soulmate doesn’t have to be the one we choose to spend the rest of our lives with. Maybe, being someone’s soulmate doesn’t mean that you have to make a ‘death do us part’ commitment. Maybe, the title doesn’t belong to the on-and-off boyfriends we have had or the ‘one who got away’. Maybe, just maybe, our soulmates are our best friends.
These are the people who will be there for me till the end of time. They have proven to be time and again, that I mean the world to them. I like to believe that it will be these people who I will be spending the rest of my life with. Even when we are miles apart and busy with jobs and family, I like to think that we will still be connected. We would probably not be able to have our old Friday night drinking/venting sessions, but I believe, that if I chose to vent on a Sunday morning, they would pick up the phone and listen to me.
I don’t think I have ever told them how much they matter to me. Sure, I would shower them with love on social media their birthdays and maybe even tell them that I appreciate them for being there for me whenever I hit a rough patch. But, no words can help me express how much I love them for dancing with me to shady item songs (even without a drop of alcohol in them), or saving me from the guy at a random house party that I thought I wanted.They have hyperventilated over shows, characters and celebrities with me. They found time to listen to me, even when they were busy. They are the ones who I know will walk till the ends of the earth with me. I can’t begin to thank them for feeding me on broke days and for laughing at my lame jokes and making me laugh when all I really wanted was cry. For honouring our little traditions like watching The Middle after getting high, or writing farewell notes or not letting me drink rum; for loving me the way I am. Thanks for holding my hair back and helping me clean up my mess; for being real with me; for believing in me and for adding colour to my life, even when I am trying to paint it black.
They have made my life a thousand times better. They not only understand me, but accept me for who I am. They loved me even when I wouldn’t listen and talk about myself at the speed of a bullet train. They loved me even when I was being difficult and cranky. They know me- the good, the bad, the ugly and they are still around.
I have always hoped that I would find someone that would make me feel like there aren’t enough words in the world. How lucky am I to have found you all. So what if my “BFF” left for an other continent or if I am no longer in the same city as the rest of them. I spent the last week with all of them and for the first time in months, I felt at peace. I know for a fact that even if I don’t see them for years now, they will be there next to me on my death bed, making me laugh till my urine bag is full. I can almost see them, sitting around my corpse, before the funeral, drinking and reminiscing about the good old days and the stupid things I did then. That’s how I know, what we have, it’s for life. Thank you for being my constants in my otherwise chaotic life.
Unemployment has once again begun to get to me. I spend hours relentlessly mailing possible future employers, following which I spend hours panicking about my future if no one hires me. The remaining 20 hours, you will find me sleeping, eating, watching Netflix or desperately wishing for a meteor to fall on my head.
The past 40 days were interesting, to put it lightly. I spent a whole month Ramganga, a small town in Sundarbans, West Bengal. I volunteered with an NGO named Digambarpur Angikar during my time there. Only after I reached the place did I realise that no one there could speak Hindi (I hadn’t expected anyone to be able to speak English). Turns out, they only knew Bengali. The first one week was the toughest. I felt ridiculously lonely. While I had wanted to take this trip alone, I really thought that I would be able to make friends of my own in this new place. But there I was, struggling to let them know that I wanted a glass of water. The fact that the people there were friendly was the biggest blessing. Once they realised that I was alone in a land where I could communicate with exactly two people, they started making efforts to make my life easier. They tried to talk to me using gestures and whatever Hindu words they knew. Knowing that they were making an effort, lifted my spirits like nothing else. Over the next few weeks I learnt what kindness of strangers really means. When you are in a strange land with no one else, all you can really rely upon is the hope that the people around you are good, decent humans.
From the moment I stepped out of the train until the moment I took a his back to Kolkata (from where I took a train to Tirupur), I was in the hands of a complete stranger. The guy who picked me up, could have taken me anywhere and I wouldn’t have known until too late. The Swiss knife that I was clutching in my hand could only do so much. If I had to run asking for help, no one would probably even understand me. But, I chose to trust. Probably because I knew I didn’t really have much of choice. It wasn’t easy though. This is something many people out there wouldn’t understand. When you have grown up hearing about girls being raped by their friends, and loved ones, it becomes quite hard to trust someone so blindly. Every night when I would get on his bike, I would pray that I would return home safely. And when I would, I would wonder if I was being paranoid for being afraid, but the next day I would find myself clutching my Swiss knife and praying. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking I had a terrible time.
I was at peace there. Ironical, I know. But, when you wake up to the river and you get to watch the sun rise and set against the backdrop of a beautiful clear sky, all complaints just fly out of the window. I could sit by that window and smoke for hours. There, at that point, I was just happy existing. However, before I knew, I had to say good bye to boat rides, the beautiful night sky and the gentle breeze and the view from my room that made my day a little better every day. I made my way to Kolkata, where my college roommate, Sohini was waiting to show me her city. The two days there flew by in a frenzy. Sohini and Sreeparna, my two guides in the city, were practically my gym instructors. Everytime I was too tired, they literally dragged me to new corners of the city and each time I was grateful that they didn’t just let me sit there like a cow. Following Kolkata, came the favourite part of my trip– 10 days in Tirupur, with Radhika.
Tirupur is Radhika’s hometown. If I haven’t mentioned it before, Radhika is pretty much what someone would label as my best friend, but we decided long back that tags are not our thing. Of course, there may be no tags, but there is a lot of love and history between us. She is the person I would call crying at 3 am, she is the one I would send my ugliest selfies and the one I would tell my deepest, darkest secrets to. Truth be told, she is my happy place. I mean, I fight with her and I get annoyed when she is irritated with me (and that happens a lot), but I am always happy when she is around. And now, she is leaving for Canada this August and I don’t know when I will be seeing her again, which is why I had to make this trip.
We spent the days chatting till late night and smoking cigarettes in the terrace once everyone at home fell asleep. I would watch her swim (I am terrified of pools) and we would drink beers after and sometimes I would smoke a doob or two with her brother. My favourite parts were when we would sit in her room and laugh over the lame things we did in the past. It never gets old–laughing over how naive and Stupid we used to be. We even managed to stuff in a two day trip to Kerala. For the first time, I didn’t cry after I said goodbye to her. I cried in a train that she was leaving in after school got over, I cried when she left Bombay after college, I jumped in joy when she came back to the city and cried like a baby she left it for Delhi. This time she is leaving the country and all I feel is excitement for her. From the day I met her, I knew that she was going to kill it in life and this is just taking her one step closer to it. I know that keeping in touch will get harder, she will make more friends, maybe better ones. We will miss one too many Skype dates and maybe I won’t see her till my wedding day. But, I will always be the girl who wrote her a book as farewell, she will be the one who comforted me as I cried over the loss of my aunt. We lived together for years and apart for years and we survived both. I think we will do just fine 7,127 miles apart. I will miss her like crazy, though.
Well, I should probably get back to my job hunt, or well, Netflix.
Hopefully, the next time I write, I will have a job in hand. Let’s wait and watch.
This is me. Quirky and patient as ever.
I have always been an overweight girl. I have not myself in any other avatar. I went from the girl with the chubby cheeks to the chubby girl and have stayed that way since. Over the years, I have learnt that I can complain about my weight to people I am comfortable with, and also to break the ice with people I am not comfortable with. The complaints always come masked under a layer of joke, because no one like a fat, whiny girl. While they laugh and call me ‘silly’ or ‘funny’ or ‘cute’, I wish that at least one of them told me that I am not fat.
Sometimes these jokes lead up to the question almost every woman dreads—’How much do you weigh?’ What they plan to do with that piece of information is beyond me. I always lie. ‘Oh! I haven’t checked in a while,’ I reply quickly, knowing that they are going to tell me that it is very silly of me. In my head I can almost see the double digits glaring at me, almost accusingly. ‘Fat! Fat! Fat!’ the siren goes off in my head, but I plaster a smile on my face and tell them that I will check as soon as I get the chance. A lie. Somehow, the fact that until I tell them, they can only assume where that arrow stops on that scale, calms me down. I guess, that is naive of me.
If I am fat, I must me ugly. Or, so I believe. On a night out, unlike almost every single one of my friend who can push their bodies into ridiculously tight fighting clothes and look like they stepped out of a modelling magazine, I pull on a pair of ill-fitting shorts and floral, flowy top, hoping for magic. Skinny girls can pull of almost anything by virtue of being able to fit into almost anything. When you have a tummy that can gain you access into the maternity ward, boobs that would have put Pamela Anderson to shame if it came with a body that take could rival that of Shay Mitchells and a face that makes you look like a teenager, it is really hard to shop.
I guess when you are unhappy with a small part of you, hating the whole becomes an easier option. Probably why I can never look at a mirror and end up feeling ridiculous. I go on diets, a lot. Fruit diet, GM diet, Corn flakes diet, and my favourite— starvation. But, every time I see a slab of chocolate or a tub of ice cream, my resolve waivers. ‘Just once,’ I lie to myself. I don’t generally stuff myself to the point of oblivion. In fact, I get full really fast. A fact that no one can believe, because if I am fat, I must be eating like a pig. Sure, I do snack in between meals, I have a sweet tooth and maybe I have a few too many biscuits with my coffee, but I can never eat too much in one sitting. I do exercise. Almost regularly. I guess if I had to choose between exercise or an extra hour at work, I would choose work.
I guess, if you live away from your family, coming home almost always feels like the test. The first challenge is, of course, to see if you have finally been able to enter the ‘omg-have-you-been-starving?’ club. I haven’t managed to. And, then, despite the fact that for days I could barely scrape together two chappatis and I was looking forward to pampering myself with some good home-cooked meal, I start Diet #768788. Then, I meet my relatives who greet me with an extended disco version of the same performance by your mother. At the those moments, I wish I could lose weight just to spite them. But two days later I will find myself munching on the nibbles my grandmother lovingly made for me.
In all my dreams, I am never myself. I am always a new-and-improved version of who I am. I have managed to convince myself that even though I am smart, funny, well-educated, my body is a shortcoming that can’t be forgiven. Funny thing is, a few years ago I was in a far better shape and yet, I assumed otherwise. The fact that people kept telling me that losing a few more kilos would do me good, didn’t help. But, when I could have been happy, I was hard on myself and stayed insecure. Now I wonder if I will feel any other way. The truth is my insecurity is my problem. No one asked me to feel that way. When I see women like Iskra Lawrence, or any woman brave enough to be comfortable with herself, I feel stupid. But, when I scroll down and read the hate comments, I tell myself that maybe brave is not such a good thing.
The idea of sticking a finger down my throat never appealed to me. I do dream about getting a liposuction or working hard enough to transform into someone else. Then I realise I am stupid again. I mean, if I can’t love myself, I can’t expect someone else to love me. While being fat isn’t my identity, it is a part of who I am. While I do know that people come in all shapes and sizes, I can’t seem to accept the fact that maybe I am going to be this size all my life, and maybe that is not such a bad thing. I probably will continue a life of countless diets and experimenting with various exercise regimes, until one day I realise that I am good enough. Until then, and probably after that I will still be wearing tops a few sizes too big and jeans a size bigger cause my ass won’t fit otherwise.
Until then, this is me. Chubby and quirky as ever.
Having a nomad of a family has its perks. I learnt early on that nothing is permanent and that while change can be heartbreaking, the pain too isn’t permanent. I also had to accept that unlike for most ‘home’ was never a permanent place. I have moved so many times that I have stopped making an effort to try and personalise my room. My current room back home has nothing save a bed and a cupboard filled with my clothes. Apart from Mr.X, my teddy bear who is pretty much the only thing I have from my childhood, there is no trace of anything that makes that room mine. Its probably that lack of something concrete to call my space that has made me spend hours imagining what my perfect room would be like.
I always imagined a house by the beach. A small one storey house tucked away from the noise of the world. My room, I always pictured, would be cosy- small enough to feel comforted and serene, but big enough to fit a big screen TV and a bean bag. There would be a table in the corner with all my art supplies strewn about in an orderly manner. There would be a wall filled with pictures and tokens from some of the happiest days of my life. But the best part of the room would be the view. There would be a window sill where I could sit with a book, mug of coffee and maybe some green. There would be cool breeze softly caressing my skin. I could look out and feel the river calling out to me and I could strech my fingers and feel the moisture and taste the water on my lips. I could sit there for hours together and watch the sun retreat and give way to the moon. I would watch as the sky was slowly lit by a hundred thousand bright stars and all of it being illuminated by the milky moonshine. I would look out and see the river dancing with the moon, swallowing it and releasing it, only to tango again.
What I never thought is that I would travel 1599 kilometres to see that dream come to life. There are lot of things you imagine in your life, but somehow when it becomes a reality words fail you. Pictures may speak a thousand words, but the thousands you clicked on your phone seem to not do justice to what your eyes can witness. The words that seem to flow from your soul when ranting about something frivolous will seem stuck in some other world.
Here I am, sitting at the window will, watching the moon and river romance each other and the sky shine brighter than all the fairy lights in the world and I don’t have enough words to immortalise this moment.
So, I am putting my phone down and going back to the view- the one I dreamt of for all these years.
This is me. Happy and quirky as ever.
Ours was a relationship doomed right from the start. I knew it all along, but I couldn’t help myself. There always was this fascination on my part. You were always so popular. So many of my friends loved you. Many of them were in a steady relationship with you at various points in their lives.
I always told myself I should stay away from you. If I got to know you, I wouldn’t be able to help myself. I would fall hard for you. You were there everywhere. It was almost as if I couldn’t avoid you. As if it was Fate. We were just meant to be. Only, I knew, no good would come from us being together. So, I told myself over and over again that it was in my best interest to stay as far as possible from you. We all know that in matters of the heart, the mind always loses. Regardless of how hard I tried, the concept of ‘mind over matter’ didn’t work. I was drawn to you, hook, line and sinker. I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t avoid it.
I always told my friends that I hated you, that I couldn’t stand you. I knew what you did to people. You made them want you, need you, in fact. You made it impossible for them to live without you. You got off on it, didn’t you? You enjoy watching them worship you. It didn’t matter that in the end they would just stomp you with their feet because those few moments of high you got from being loved so much, that was enough for you. I only wanted to avoid you as long as I live. I hoped to avoid people associated with you also. But, life other plans.We, somehow, ended up running in the same social circles. Almost everyone I knew, loved you and the others, tolerated you, save one. I hoped that her hatred for you would give me the strength to stay away from you.
But you know what they say. What’s meant to be is meant to be. I couldn’t resist you any longer. After all, I am only human. I still tried to avoid the inevitable. At last, I succumbed to your charms. I tried to convince myself I hated you still. After our first meeting, I knew deep inside that I was doomed but I couldn’t stop fighting. I avoided you. I still remember the first time I felt you against my lips. I felt guilty knowing what I had done. You know how sometimes friends like to play cupid? That’s what happened with us too. I may have successfully avoided you for the rest of my life but my friends made sure I didn’t. Fact is, no matter how much I denied it, I was unconditionally and conclusively in love with you. But I knew, we wouldn’t last forever. Someday, we would have to part ways. But right there, right then, you meant everything to me so nothing else mattered.
I wanted to keep our relationship a secret. It was like my dirty little secret. But it didn’t stay that way for long. I always wanted to spend more time with you. Every chance I got I only wanted to lock my lips with you. It didn’t matter where I was or who I was with. Rickshaws, cabs, Marine Drive, Carters, Tryst, Royalty, outside the movies, Barista, home and sometimes even in the middle of the road. I would see judgmental looks from all directions but I didn’t care. I had you and that was more than enough for me. I knew my parents would never approve of you. Hell, many of my friends didn’t. None of that mattered. It was you and me against the world.
Being an outstation student, coming home was the hardest time. It meant months without you. It was excruciatingly painful in the beginning but slowly, I learnt to be without you. Remember that time when we broke up for 5 months? I missed you so much then. Anytime, I would be alone, I would think about you. It was for the best. We wouldn’t have worked out anyway. Being around you was only slowly killing me, because I knew what the future had in store for us. Ultimately, I gave up. I am only human. I loved you too much. Life is too short to tread so carefully. So, I threw caution in the wind and got back together with you. The initial months were extremely passionate. I couldn’t get my hands of you. The passion slowly cooled down. I could spend hours without you, as long as I got to be with you often. We broke up several times, but everytime I made sure you came back into my life. I am like a moth drawn to flame when it comes to you. What can I say? I guess, I am just a tad bit self-destructive.
Everytime I try to end things with you, it never sticks. When I have a bad day, I need you. When I am happy, I need you. If I am drunk, I better be holding you. And, everytime I try to walk away, the smallest things remind me that I love everything about you. How you look, how you smell, how you taste, and how you feel against my lips. Everything about you only draws me closer to you. Right now, I can’t even imagine a life without you but like I said, sooner or later we have to part ways. You are not the love of my life and you know that very well. For now, none of that matters. As broke as I am, I know will shell out money for just a minute with you. I just need that rush of holding you, bringing you close to my lips and just taking you in like it might be my last breath. It is almost disgusting, this relationship of ours. Sometimes I wonder if you will be the end of me, but then again, I know if I had a chance to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I will gladly inhale that mucky tart and deal with the smell of abandoned houses in the crevices of my palms a thousand times over for that little rush of nicotine.