Poems

Physiology of Self-doubt

1. It begins with a kid.

    dubious “Can you do it?”

    instead of

    smiling “You can do it!”

2. It begins with a fear.

    you’ll fall down the bicycle

    before you even learn to ride.

3. It begins at night.

    crawling ghosts will eat you alive

    if you go down the stairs alone.

4. It begins with mark sheets

    nothing is ever good enough

    you can do better next time. 

5. It begins with how they see you

    too fat; too skinny;

    too much make up; no make up.

6. It begins with silences

    half broken homes

    incomplete sentences

    waiting approval. 

7. It begins in a dead end zone

    a cul-de-sac

    of conversations

    in broken dreams. 

8. It begins at the very beginning

    as an embryo metamorphosises

    into you who knew

    where the limbs belonged

    where the brain belonged

    into you who doesn’t know now

    where you belong

    where your life belongs.

9. It doesn’t end.

 

 

 

 

Stories

A Tale of a Lost Hippopotamus

Sometimes I cannot write and at times like that life happens. So maybe I should not always write to let life happen to me.  It sounds stupid and lazy because I don’t know shit about my life. It  has been slow and fast at the same time. Paradoxical.

I am a  Hippopotamus with my eyes just above the surface of water watching deer, monkeys and giraffes drinking from the lake as they go on with their life. They have stuffs to do: application forms to fill, exams to take and classes to go to. They know their grounds. Submerged in the deep, treading through the dirty water, I cannot even find a ground to stand on. Where is my ground?

I am trying to find one. In the lake. Because I love the lake. I love treading, floating and swimming even though I mess up and drown sometimes. Water is where I belong. When the air blows soft ripples on the surface, I feel alive. Little things make me feel alive. I like the solid ground as well. It has grasses where I can sleep in and I have lots of terrestrial friends who love me. They have excellent GPS system on their brain and they help me navigate through the forest. I get lost everywhere which is sometimes a good thing because I have made lots of new friends in places where I got lost. They know their grounds too and they know it so well! However, I am always searching for misplaced pieces of puzzles; always squabbling with myself; always intruding the crocodiles. So I have more chances of being eaten by a crafty crocodile than finding a ground!!

Sometimes I dream of being a Hippogriff like Buckbeak because he can fly. Buckbeak is a war hero and lives in the Forbidden Forest. I know it is hard to believe, but he visits when I ask him nicely. He doesn’t believe in grounds because he has wings and he can go anywhere he wants. He is proud but polite. He found me when I was absent-mindedly thinking about the shape of clouds.  He loves solitude and so do I. We stare at each other silently and he goes away with a gush of wind. And I stay. But now, I am leaving too. I am going on an adventure in search of realms that never existed. It is going to be a long ride and I have no expectations. I plan to embrace everything that comes along the way. Far from the hullabaloo of my crowded forest, I am going to swim in strange waters and hear strange stories. Regardless of grounds and knowledge, I hope to find my sleepy soul.

Prose · Stories

Kopfkino

“About time I wrote something”, thought a wandering mind on a breezy morning. It was easier to think then. It was much easier to make a cinema out of the scenarios that went on. Naked trees somehow inspired vulnerability. I wanted to sit on the footpath and scribble shamelessly on the ground about how happy I was at that moment. I have always had a thing for silent roads. They let you soak up all the calm and space that you need. That is when the entropy comes in. Total randomness of thoughts, inaudible and lively and everything in between. Rational even but not always.

There were no ends to the words that flowed this morning as I was walking, no ends to the metaphors that came up. I think blankets beckon the stringent side of me who does not hear whispers of that morning soul. It craves for foreign words instead. And the rational papers made up of logical points. It seeks answers to all the questions asked in the day. I also have a thing for answers. The folders of questions open up making it impossible for the Kopfkino to go on. It never stops entirely though. In fact, I have doubts on entirety of the Universe. Nothing is ever complete. Everyone’s life looks like an unfinished Venn diagram. And that is how, the night becomes a bane to all the calmness and sleep becomes “Leises Leiden”.

So the stories of the mind end when there is a desire to be something more than the story. The road to reality is painfully crowded and noisy. It smells of cigarettes, sweat, and thousand other unpleasant stuffs.  I am homesick for words, for lies and for sleep. They are all within my reach. There is a drawer full of books behind the bed, adorned with words and bewitching lies. The magical worlds, soulful poems and tragedies laden with blood and tears. Lies. Then there is sleep in my eyes which I ignore most nights in the pursuit of time. I am homesick for time too. I need more. I need more easy breezy mornings in still silent roads, I need a slow-paced hour to fall in love and I need a couple of hours more between 4 AM to 5 AM because that is when real sleep occurs. Before that, the sleep is a werewolf, a metamorphosis of restless voices and visions.

In between the deafening reality, sometimes, I can hear my Scorpion twin scribbling away all my thoughts back in the 1950s. Only that she was one of the most eloquent, innovative and intelligent minds and I am not even close. As ingenious as she was, she writes in her journal, “…… to know that it’s four twenty three o’clock by the watch you got for graduation and that in three days you have your first midyear exam and that you’d much rather read anything but what you have to, but you do have to, and you will, although you’ve already wasted two hours writing Stream-of-consciousness stuff in here when your stream isn’t even much to brag about, after all.” I wasted three hours writing this stream of semi-consciousness. But thanks to her, I wrote fearlessly after a long time.

Places · Prose · Stories · Weekend Coffee Share

TIHOOOO!!!!

Grandma told me a story when I was young.  She said that there was a girl taken away by wolves. The king wolf then turned out to be a young prince and they lived happily ever after…. I imagined myself being that girl and waited for the “Tiiihoooo” sound which grandma said, was made by wolves. The sound never came. The wolf didn’t show up but my obsession with the wolf story didn’t falter. The story is large enough to fill a page and I feel lazy to write it down. I have listened to this story, so many times, with so many variations, from so many grandmas. And I still wonder about it. The wolf and the girl. The night and Tihooo sound. That’s what stories do to me from childhood. I get obsessed. I get chained.

More than the story, I associate myself with my grandmas telling me this story. When my great-grandma told me this story for the first time, I had spilled hot water on my knees. This was the story that shut me up for a night. Tihoooooo… I remember imagining the sound right next to the front door of my old house….. Tihoooo and wolf and the prince. This was the first story I ever heard. And I remember each and every grandma’s version of the story. They were so happy when they told it and so full of joy as if it really happened.

Stories…. they still have the same effect on me. I believe them so blindly and I live them so faithfully. People say that I live in fictions more than I live in reality. But what if I say that fictions seem real than reality ever is? In reality I’d be learning complex cycles of amino acids and in fictions, I’d be turning them into witty magic charms and laughing at its silliness. I get all possessed by the stories. I irritate people with stories. I get into fights for stories. I have been to cities that never existed and as weird as it sounds, I love the characters, more than I’ll ever love real people. Yes I sound absurd, mad and to some people even lifeless. But to me it’s like a single world is not enough. I live in multiple universes and I rejoice every moment. And it all started with TIHOOOOOOO!

daily prompt · Odes to people I know and don't know · Prose · Stories · The Paths Travelled · Weekend Coffee Share

The Week Story (and one bad thing that happened)

There are times you forget that you are living. The only thing you realize is that you are breathing. The only thing you feel is the scorching sun burning your body and sweat plastered in your clothes that stick like rice cakes. This was one of those weeks. However, I wouldn’t say it was a bad week. I got many things done. For example: we organized Science Awareness Day in one of the schools in the community. We taught students about miracles of Science and we taught them how to extract DNA from a banana. They were an amazing bunch of students. Enthusiastic and diligent. I loved every moment of that day!

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The group photo after the program 

Bad things happened on Thursday. Someone stole my purse in the crowded Zebra Crossing. It had all my belongings and money. It would have been alright if it was just my money. But it had the money of our organization too. Total of Rs. 4000 and my ID cards and bills, all got lost in a moment. I felt devastated, scared and vulnerable. I don’t know what I would have done if Rabbu wasn’t there. Rabbu is one of my best friends. And she was there with me on Thursday. She has been there this whole week. We have been doing the official works together. She is one of the kindest souls I know and I would literally be lost if she wasn’t there. We went to the police station to file a complaint. It was overwhelming. The security cameras in the road faced the other direction, so it is kind of impossible to track the thief but they said that the lost identity cards sometimes turn up in the station. Someone brings them in eventually. I don’t know if anybody will bring mine. The whole event happened so fast. I was sad and angry. Angry at the sinful thief and angry at myself for not thinking about the safety of my purse. I wanted to cry but there was work to be done. Rabbu held my hand the whole time. We somehow managed to go through the official works. While heading to the next office, Rabbu asked me not to blame myself for things that happened, because she knew I was. She was still holding my hand and we were walking towards the bus station to catch another bus. I realized how lucky I was to have such a friend who understands so compassionately, the unsaid, invisible words and feelings. That was the moment, the anger somehow faded bit by bit. I was still sad. But sadness and anger are different. Anger is like a heavy bag you carry around your shoulder. Sadness is just sadness like happiness is just happiness.

The office was located in a silent part of the city. It was a strange place. It rained as we reached the red building full of files and old looking young people. It was as if the sun allowed the clouds to take over the sky to relieve all the heat for a moment. It was as if the sun knew that we were having a bad day. The rain made the whole place look beautiful. We had to wait for an hour but we made it through by stalking celebrities on Instagram. We were extremely hungry so we had puff with tea as we loudly wondered about how the thief was using the money. The sadness seemed to wash away with hunger. We were refreshed again and thankfully, the work for the day was done. I ended up at Rabbu’s home again and we ate and watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episode where it ends with one of Phoebe’s iconic lines “He’s her lobster!” I went home with mixed feelings.

So many things had happened in a day and I was indebted to so many people: the police-woman who wrote the complaint and was so polite and assuring; our senior who sent the required money immediately and helped us through the whole process of the work; the chartered accountant who answered each of our repeated questions; the rain and the small house across the red building that felt like a tender hug. And most importantly, Rabbu, who stood by me through everything understanding my silences and smiles. I am grateful that she is in my life. In some ways, she has always been there: as an unknown childhood neighbor to a best friend, we might have a history and lineage we don’t even know about. I do regret that I lost my belongings and money but I don’t feel hatred for the thief anymore because that one bad thing made me notice so many other good things in the world. And I am thankful for all those good things in the world.

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Tender

 

 

 

Letters and Letters

Mitochondrial Eve

Dear Mitochondrial Eve,

People are battling over your existence and non-existence. Some say that the idea of you is mesmerizing. An idea of a founding mother. Am I really carrying your mitochondrial DNA? Do I have a whole history of evolution plastered on every cells of my body like you once did? Am I that important?

I still cannot grasp the concept of you. But I cannot help but imagine what you felt like when population went through the bottle neck effect. Of course, it wasn’t just a population for you; it was your family.  Because I cannot grasp the concept of you, I don’t even know if you were real. I would like to believe you were. The belief somehow feels like a security blanket. It makes me feel less chaotic and more real. I wonder about your village and your people. I wonder about your daughters who crossed Oceans. I wonder about your sons who perished. I could make up a whole unscientific story about you. I wonder if you loved making up stories too.

I wonder if you had a name. Would I be able to pronounce it? I guess, we would not even understand each other’s languages. It’s weird how small this world is. And yet, the people are so distant and different from each other. It is difficult to comprehend how dauntingly similar we are in the same way it is difficult to understand our magnificent uniqueness. Had you ever imagined the world would come this far? Or did you always know? Do you still exist in the fragment of our souls? Or did you not exist at all?

I am sure you were dwelling on similar questions. Maybe not. You had your own hunger games to win, children to feed and roads to travel. I am sure you must have loved passionately. Because that’s what we crave the most today. I wish we could see how obvious it is. The love. It’s right there, engraved in our DNA. Love is our heirloom. If we could realize that, the world would be a happier place.

As the science continues to debate over you, I will continue to write to you for reasons I don’t understand…..

 

Artwork by : Ashley Bickerton

Odes to people I know and don't know · Poems

Don’t need no Dufus theory

Senpai has a drawer full of chocolates,

Desk full of tea cups,

And a laptop in front of him,

While he writes me letters,

Long, beautiful letters.

He speaks about his Harry Potter marathons.

Luna Lovegood reminds him of me.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S marathons,

He is Ross to my Phoebe.

Senpai, with so much going on,

With reports to submit, with proposals to work on,

Sits down in an easy chair to answer my tricky questions,

He explains bio-informatics in metaphors

His luck packages come through exam phone calls.

Senpai sings through the youtube links that goes,

“tera mujhse hai pehle ka naata koi,

Euhi nahi dil lubhata koi!”

And then I miss the early mornings

In the corridors where we teased him singing,

“You are my senpai, my only senpai,

You give me dokis & shades of grey!”

Miles away senpai sits in an easy chair,

To answer my questions that starts with WHY

Why me!! Or Why not me!!

To reply to the whining letters

Where I ask him about the whereabouts

Of nice dufuses, the cute dufuses,

Who were supposed to show up,

Because it was time

It was high time for a dufus to come along

To spin my world around

And then with a few 100 reloads,

I get a letter where he explains to me

What he calls a theory:

 

It states that,

Souls could exist like Helium

Not needing a compliment

A single stranded RNA

Inside a protein named body,

Existing and breathing and being

Just there alone

Happily expanding

And contracting

Living.

It states that

You are a sun

Or The Sun,

You can burn YOU down

From an average star

To a Red Giant

And then

An interstellar cloud

How fine does that sound?

It states that

You don’t need a plus one

A plus anyone

But in time,

Someone will come along

And you’ll start to see

The ideology

Behind not being

A sun or the sun

Behind not being a helium

But till then,

You don’t need any dufus.