22 Birthdays

Every birthday I love to write about how far along I have come that year, a romantic letter for 1, if you may.

On this birthday too, I have many such accomplishments to write about. However, this heart simply has no space for pride tonight.

When I woke up this morning I wished with all my heart that I was not in bed.

Then, I lay there a lot longer.

I was thinking about where I would rather be-

roaming, exploring a palace in a quaint South Indian town, making up cute stories of everything I did there as a princess in my previous life- dancing through glorious hallways, running down winding staircases, adorning myself in crafted mirrors.

The Mysore Palace is a symbol of many things for many people. For me, it is a sign of everything that could have been. A love that I lost, a life that I could never create, a time that will never come back.

Or maybe I want to be in the cold neighbourhoods of Indiranagar, watching pretty flowers that have bloomed and children running off to school. I want to wear a large red hoodie and order breakfast dosas. I want us to share our dosas because for me the way you ate always seemed tastier. I want to feel cold hard mosaic tiles and large wooden doors. I want to feel at home, even if for just one day.

22 birthdays today.

I’ve been asking everyone what they were up to when they were 22, and my favourite response so far has been from my 26-year-old friend, who claimed he was ‘having lots of sex’, other responses had to do with college, travel, and a bunch of other FOMO inducing statements.

Be 22 or be 30, or be 40, every year I don’t celebrate with you I might never truly be happy, no matter how hard I try. But what do I know? I’m only 22.

Gloom time

I Have A Couple Of Things To Say To You, Actually.

You don’t look good in that cap. Remove it this instant. How could you ruin that beautiful head of hair? How could you mess it up so badly?remove it.

I lay in bed all day today and yesterday, and last week- when I could. Then I gathered the energy I found in tiny crevices that had been sealed away from you (yes, there were a few- and thank fuck for that) and walked to the supermarket. I did the most purposeless grocery shopping that there could have ever been, choosing apple after apple with the utmost care. I picked only the most perfect ones. I wanted not one scratch, not one soft spot, not one discolouration- perfect.apples.only. There were only 4 of such. I gathered them into the bag and left.

I ate the meal we ate long ago on February 14 in another country- masala dosa that could never match the one we had and filter coffee that didn’t seem to find the sugar.

Then the waiter told me he had no sweet for me. Not badam halwa, not any halwa. So I sat there wondering why I put myself through all that spicy chutney. What was I looking forward to?

I teared up, but didn’t cry- I can handle some amount of spice after all.

Now I am home. I have realised I have been breathing in something that could be poisonous, that could be fatal. I should be worried, I should be making plans to move away, but here I am, upset and losing myself because I see you, in another country, slowly but steadily moving away from everything you used to be. Doing the things you said you never would- being the very person you detested.

We are both inhaling poison, I guess- you by choice, and me by lack of it.

I have never felt so betrayed. If there was no badam halwa, why did I put myself through all the spicy chutney?


Jelly for Papa

Today is my father’s birthday. Though he didn’t celebrate it much, I’m sure he would have liked to. How do I know this? I just know.

I remember that he wanted a very grand 50th birthday party, but that never happened. I guess we were just too small to be able to plan one for him. I wish we weren’t.

But we did something anyway, in our small capacity–We made jelly. Jelly has always looked very rich and glorious to me, like a precious ruby stone if the light hits it right. It was chosen that day because too much sugar has always been frowned upon in our house, and jelly wiggles around somewhere on the borders of that restriction.

Red jelly was made in a glass bowl, and a tiny silver teaspoon was slipped inside. I don’t know why. Perhaps because we needed a cause to eat through this wobbly substance that makes your teeth question their purpose.

Jelly in hand, we went to him that afternoon as a Malayalam film played on in the background. He sat on the edge of the sofa, legs stretched out and resting on our carpet, crossed at his ankle. He smiled kindly at our jelly. We sang happy birthday, and he scooped some of that shiny red onto his spoon.

It was a pathetic way to celebrate a birthday I think, but it is the only celebration of his birthday I can remember. So I made the jelly again today, on his 59th birthday. But there is no Asianet film no interrupt, there is no glass bowl, and there is no papa to spoon out glorious red jelly, and giggle at the spoon frozen inside.

There is only a void of regret, memories that wiggle near the border of sweet and unsweet, and a white bowl of jelly with a spoon stuck inside it. Purposeless jelly, serving it’s purposelessness.


A 1000 Piece Puzzle

On the 8th of January at 7:56PM, I completed my first (and last) 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. A beautiful picture titled, ‘A walk in Paris.’

Lessons from a jigsaw puzzle:

  1. Everything looks intimidating at first, sometimes you just need to go ahead and do it anyway, because otherwise you’ve just made a mess and not taken responsibility for it.
  2. Pieces that seem to fit together may not actually be meant to be together.
  3. When it gets overwhelming and stops being fun, get up and leave (for a while.)
  4. When two pieces fit, you’ll know, it’s like an orgasm.
  5. Sometimes the pieces will only make sense when you look at them from a very senseless angle (I’m talking in between your legs/ upside down/ leg around your neck type senseless.)
  6. Some pieces may not belong where you thought they did,
  7. And yet, every piece belongs, no matter how odd it may seem to you.
  8. If you force two wrong pieces together, you run the danger of ruining the pieces, and destructing the puzzle.
  9. It may be really small, it may require strong vision, but there is always a clue.
  10. It’s a fucking puzzle, don’t try to seek too many life lessons from it.

Where’s my home?

People often tend to be reflections of their hometowns, or so I have heard, in this case, I am a gypsy. I belong no where. I go places, have my fun and run along to the next.

Being raised in Dubai, I never really understood the complexities and dangers of the world – it is a little bubble of a place after all! I eventually realized that though I found Dubai to be my home, Dubai would never consider me one of his, and I had to leave. Now he exists only in my memory, a someone to think of after I intoxicate myself. He was my longest relationship after all. The smell of his cologne that over powered the smell of his sweat after a hard day at work, his wide smile, perfectly blow dried hair that had been set with large amounts of hairspray, the branded clothes that drew attention to huge, chiseled arms- all would exist now only in my memory.

Kerala was my summertime fling. I visit her reluctantly every vacation and complain to her about how she is imperfect and nothing in comparison to Dubai, she listens to me and has no complains, she is just glad that I have come to visit. It is the same routine every year, I have fun with her for the first few days, until I realize the emptiness I feel when I’m with her. Kerala and I don’t belong together and perhaps she knew this before I did. I was incapable of anything with her, I couldn’t imagine myself being with her for the rest of my life and often caught myself thinking about others when with her. When I leave her by the end of the month, she smiles and says goodbye, she knows I’ll come back next vacation, she knows I’ll run into her arms, smell the jasmine flowers on her hair and the Medimix soap on her skin, Kerala, I cannot leave, I cannot avoid, she contains too many precious memories.

Bangalore was the arranged marriage. He offered me an education and so I accepted for my own sake. I found out in due time, to my surprise, that he had various interesting secrets, in every fold of his skin there existed a hidden story. He pulled me towards him with his food, conversations and opportunities but also turned me off slightly with his untidiness. But Bangalore is smart. He offered me something no other place could. He offered me freedom and made sure I was addicted. The freedom to experience life as a result of my own actions, to be able to think, question and have my own mental crisis’ – all in the hope of me becoming a strong, independent woman, that’s what he truly wishes for me. He counts on me to become great, he teaches me so much every day and I cannot wait to see how we will turn out.

I am a gypsy, I will run away when I sense that they want to hold me and keep me with them, I will collect stories and lessons from all of them and I will remember them for life, but I am sorry, I can never belong to any of them.