Inventory Project · Letters and Letters · Odes to people I know and don't know

27

Dear 27,

Iqra. You said. “Read. Read. Read. Because knowledge is power. Power is Knowledge.” You quoted brother Malcolm. You told me the secrets of Quran. You prayed for both of us when walking through the edge of the cliff at night. You stayed with me under the stars when I was too stressed to sleep. You played your songs for me and helped me look at the brighter sides. You became my sister and a best friend and turned those three months into a poetic pleasure. I love you 27!

Today, I am writing you a long overdue letter. It will not say what I am up to and what I have been through in the past few months because I aim to tell all of that in person when I meet you. I pray the day is coming soon. This letter is just to let you know how special you are to me. Just thinking about the moments we spent together in the village with our family makes me smile and cry, makes me miss you more. I will never forget the first time you lead me to the river and we sat on the rocks for what seemed like a minute and we had to go back to our meeting. We kept going back together and alone. Do you think we like the sound of rivers because that is the sound our blood makes when it travels through veins and it is so very prominent in the womb and because the womb is the safest place anyone has ever been in, we seek that sound and our safe place? Because I keep going back to the river. Even with so much current and speed, rivers make me feel like I am home.

And I have never stopped seeking home since I came back. For three months, you were home. Amling was home. Aama Fulmaya, our sisters and our pink pastel house was home and since I have been back, I haven’t been home at all. I dwell in the past a lot. I revisit the banana groves, walk my way through the sketchy uphill, reach the community center, buy some ‘ainthe’ in the shop, walk straight and up to the exotic house where the dog barks at us, until we reach our ‘moment of the day’ point, breathe in some air and go up the mud ladders towards the maize fields where Aama waits for lunch. And then we are in our room again talking away our worries, writing and reading. There is rain that makes the road slippery and we slip on it number of times and laugh about it. There is always rain. And the cloud surrounds the river sometimes like they are friends beyond horizon, like they just found love in their elements, like they never knew they were made up of exactly the same things and they do now.

I am really lucky to have found you 27! And I hope I will never lose you even though we are miles apart. You have courage and power to change the world and I know one of these days, you will change the world. I am looking forward to seeing you soon!

Lots of love and respect,
9.

 

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Letters and Letters

Inventory of all the amazing strangers I have met

Hello everyone, 

I am at this stage where I feel like I have to think about every small and big consequences before writing/ posting anything. And writing when the mind feels caged doesn’t go well.  But, I have decided to put a stop on it. I am done overthinking…. who am I kidding? I am never done overthinking. 

Anyways, this is going to be my project for rest of this year. Until December 2018. I am going to write letters to every person who has meant something to me. I am going to be thankful for all the good things I have in life. 

Meanwhile, 
Thank you for still following this blog and still reading it. Whoever you are and wherever you are, it means a lot to me. And I know you are a stranger. But strangers are the best people in the world. I have strangers who turned out to be my best friends. And strangers who love me sometimes more than I love myself. 

So it begins! I am determined to stick to this project. Wish me luck!! 

Alles Liebe,
Pallavi. 

 

 

 

Poems

Insomnia

Late at night, when sleep won’t summon me into his arms

I think of all the people I want to talk to

And I can think of none because they are deep in slumber

Engulfed in their temporary death,

Flying in seemingly colorful dreams

So instead, I think of caffeine coated books

With the corners and nooks

Filled with these amazing beings that make me believe

Insomnia is like a knight in shining armor.

Savior and protector of realism,

Killer of nightmares,

Proprietor of unseen marks under spectacle ridden eyes.

 

Late at night, when I keep staring at the ceiling

With nothing but thoughts popping out

Like bubbles in murky muddy puddle

I think of time as a domestic abuser who

Drags me faint through corridors and stairs

Kicks me in the ribs till I scream in pain

So I pretend that night never happened

Darkness is just a state of mind

There is still sun in the sky

And I wake up, brush my teeth, and write a poem

About a girl who died in library and woke up in the book she was holding,

Where there was a person who listened,

To things she whispered about the dreams she never had.

 

Late at night, I try real hard

Not to give in to my demons,

Not to walk in to the ghosts of my past

But I still do sometimes

I stumble into the thorns of uneven future

That stares at me through walls which were supposed to be doors

I stare right back at it,

Eyes fixed on it

I try hard to summon sleep,

Just few hours of thoughtlessness,

Where the mind won’t whisper my cause of death

Where I am free of me and everything I see

Whoosh of the wind or smell of the sea

It’s unreal as myths can sometimes be

Because the sleep won’t come to me

No the sleep won’t come to me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places · Prose · Stories · The Paths Travelled

Tugging in the Threads

There is a person standing in the door in surfing shorts. In the land without sea, he is full of ocean who carries secrets and cigarettes in his back pockets.  The door leads to a garden. There is a swing and there are trees cut in the shape of triangles. There is one big tree with a pocket made of clay fish. It serves both as ash-tray and bug-house. Dry leaves keep falling in the ground and the ground is stammeringly beautiful with them. They cover up for the unkempt grasses: brownish yellow from the sun. The evening breeze has just started playing through my hair. They hide within the layers of clothes I am wearing and touch the skin where my leggings are torn from carrying the bag with knitting needles poking out. I try to make sense of the touch; connection nature so easily makes with us.

Yesterday, I came back from the hills of Gorkha ruled by mountain winds and thunder. There is something about the mountains that make me feel like fiction. They are unreal. Large. They lift my spirits. I met a mountain person too. We talked through the storm and lightening while Juno the dog curled himself in a nearby tree. We breathed through the cold, challenging the heavens that threatened rain. It rained. We ran inside and said our good byes and the clouds swept away. Next day, mountains showed up in their grandeur and the mountain person was different. He had sky to look up to and ground to hold on to. So, did I.

The winding roads that brought me back to Kathmandu had a different story to tell. They smelled of cucumber-y vomit and dried river insects. They felt like skin bumps, bum sores and back aches. I rushed into a few angry birthday messages. Angry because I had not replied for six days due to the lack of a well-functioning internet.  In the verge of making connection with nature, had I severed it with the humans I loved? I still feel the strings of thread bound in my fingers that hold the other end. I am afraid to tug in and realize the absence of a similar tug.

1:12 AM. And I am still wide awake in the TV room. A soft cylindrical pillow holds my head against the couch. I missed calls and messages because my phone was on silent and I was too busy watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. I tried to make sense of future in the run this evening and did not come up with anything. I miss him who despite being so distant, listens; who smells like home. He must be busy dreaming now. I don’t know what he dreams about. I am in front of a yellow wall with mismatched mirrors dreaming widely of sleep and shutting off the noise in my head. I wish I wasn’t afraid to tug the threads on the other side.

Poems

Rubber Legs

Rubber legs run through the paved streets,

Joints crack in response,

Heart beats faster,

Skin reddens like the setting sun,

Lungs keep breathing.

As hands stop writing,

The legs compensate the ink,

Roads become papers,

Gridded in the edges but otherwise plain,

Letter sized roads re-write and un-write,

Sweat strikes through,

Muscles fold and unfold,

Body crumbles and

Throws itself into the shower,

Writing is undecipherable now,

Ink washes away.

Rubber legs.

Don’t stop running.

 

Letters to self · Places · The Paths Travelled

On Bubbles and Bubble Breaking

There is a thing about the working world that puts you into a bubble. There is nothing bad about it (as long as it helps you pay the bills) but sometimes I find it scary. The closed eyed commitment to emails and to-do lists, training and workshops, it is like falling in love. More like ‘falling in work’. The routine is attractive. It pulls with high gravitational force. Maybe it is because there are protocols to follow and you know exactly what you are supposed to do. People have thought about it. People have worked on it for years. They have hand-over documents and millions of other documents that tell you how to solve a problem. And there are higher authorities above who have answers to your questions. Everything is not just on you. That is why it’s called an organization, a team, a unit.

I still find it scary because the bubble provides a distorted image of the reality. Or rather we construct our reality bubble and lock ourselves in it. According to an article:

When we do include everything that is not based on a direct observation of reality and experience of it, our perception becomes clouded with opinions, assumptions and various beliefs. By this process, we create our own reality bubble. We might be either entirely separated from other people, or we can share such bubbles with other individuals.

If that is the case, are we limiting our brain cells to perceive knowledge? What exactly is reality and what is our relationship with it? Are we totally unaware of it or do we choose to ignore it based on the reality we create? How important is it to ask these questions? How important is it to not ask at all?

I don’t have any answers. I am not even sure if I am asking the right questions or just fooling my mind, procrastinating until I dive into another financial aid essay and other hundred things on my list. But what I know is that the possibility of comfort makes me want to run away. It doesn’t mean I don’t want a comfortable sofa to sit, or a warm hand to hold. I am as materialistic as a human being can be. I am concerned about what happens when the bubble bursts. The possibility of reality tide drowning me in. What is the worst thing that can happen? I could either swim and adapt or construct another bubble to live in. I want to swim and adapt but that requires lots of  shark attacks or falling into a whirlpool and possible case of hypothermia and madness. How am I going to survive all that?

Only once have I experienced the realms of a battered bubble. The mayhem of the soul and emotions that came with it for two weeks of extreme detachment when I came out of the village I lived in and teams I worked with. The reality slapped me hard in the face as soon as I reached Kathmandu. Heavy bags and heavy heart, I entered with my room with excitement of seeing my colored walls. It was only short lived because my reality was real no longer and what was real was that I was months behind in applications and I had to start from scratch. There was no way around it. And that reality did not match with anyone around me. Hence, I felt extremely lonely. I felt like I had failed. But was there a reason to feel like that? I was not doing anything wrong. I had an awesome experience. I worked hard. I achieved my goals. And still, the two weeks of swimming alone made me feel no less than a wounded soldier in the lost battle. All of that because I did not have anyone to share my reality with. I was searching for ‘homophily’. A similar bubble.

Now that I have come to realize it, I am in some sort of bubble again. What is different now, is that I am aware of what is beyond it. And I am trying my best to compile resources to face the reality once it is broken. Because the bubble will break. And if it doesn’t, I will be the one breaking it. There is no other way around it. I am not sure if this will make me stronger or push me into another vortex. I am not sure if anyone is.

Odes to people I know and don't know · Stories · The Paths Travelled

H for Here

There was a strange gathering in the TV room last night: the silent meeting of four unconnected worlds, whispers of books and words oozing out of fingers in the keyboard followed by sleepy eyes, goodbyes and retiring to the bunk beds through winding corridors and wooden staircases.

I have been here for a month living in a desk beside a door opposite the fish tank with people with different background music who dance and sing in a mother tongue that sounds like a story from distant lands; is a story from distant lands. There is a weird home like feeling that is comfortable and warm. The definition of what we are, would be: Family that works together, lives together and eats together. Work is a never ending aspect of our relationship. We work hard, day and night. Paper cuts greet us unexpectedly, and phone calls are unceasing even in the alleyways of department stores where we buy our supplies.

Yesterday was the first day when there was very little work to do. The lights were out and there was no wifi; no shared drives working, no batteries and hence a “pen down” day. So we enjoyed the very little sun we had, ate ice-cream and cheesecakes that our bosses bought. Today, I am sitting in a chair that is not mine, trying to update the blog that I have been ignoring. I miss writing aimlessly sometimes. Here, everything has a goal. And after a long time, I can see my goals in full clarity  too. I can see my steps in sands that belong to the ocean. I feel free. However, I can also feel the cultural responsibilities pulling me in. The consistent debates whether I should give in to the customs that have been instilled on me from when I was a child or I should journey into the roads I have waited all my life  to walk in, keeps me thinking in bus rides. It makes me wish I had a different background music. However, the history of my music is too interesting to give up. It is what connects me to the world, writes my story in a comprehensible way when ‘I’ is sometimes too hard to explain.

The best thing about being here is the independence of connections. We are not obligated to stay forever; moving on is always the best option if you are scared of being caged in; you realize what impermanence is. And the worst thing about being here is that you sometimes tend to crave permanence and mom’s fish curry. What I have learned so far is the ease of human relationships. People, entropy of atoms, profession and nationality in a same room, without speaking can make you feel connected to the universe. 

Poems · Stories

Serendipity

Serendipity

I suppose that is how it happened.

The process of regrets and gratefulness followed.

So many things followed.

Nothing mattered because,

serendipity never chose to leave.

We found our way,

through

gullies of loneliness,

streets of emptiness and

bridges of hopelessness.

Looked into each other’s eyes

only to look away.

Glances mystified and conversations halted in the tips of our tongues,

like early onset of Alzheimer’s taking over for a moment.

The bus stop was a huge stadium surrounded by people,

hearts blazing as loud as beat box,

we evaded the bond that was right there.

In front of the café in the bend of the road, we loved walking on

we needed a catalyst to swing by

and it came when clouds decided to shower the bamboo trees.

The drizzling Blues and bright streetlights

reminded us of

The Smiths.

 

There we were on opposite lanes,

same song playing in our ears

never realizing that half our souls we were searching

for every second of every day

was just a second away.

Serendipity.

That’s how it happened.

We smiled and we knew love.

You were strong enough to pick up my pieces

I was strong enough not to break you apart

 

The carousel could not stop turning in the park

where roses were shades of faded pink

Not trying to sit still, the sands took the shape of a hurricane,

passing by us like a genie in the bottle,

granting the wishes we wished last night

Without realizing that

we were no longer going to be You and I today.

And then,

we became the candles of conscience drifting in the air.

mixtures of blood mist and shattered organs.

Serendipity.

That’s how it happened.

We died knowing that there’s a light that never goes out.

 

 

 

 

Poems · Volunteering Diaries

Doors and Windows

I am always close to doors and windows

In buses, I seek out the window seats

Or seats close to creaky damaged doors

I am always close to doors and windows

Like I am close to broken walls,

Skeletons of past,

Stories of old rusty people

White haired freckled bike riding scientists.

 

I am always close to doors and windows

Places where it is easier to slip off

Unnoticed and invisible

That is why my hands search for keys in the darkness

My legs seem to stand beside gates of bye byes in parties

I am always the first one

To leave the claustrophobic elevators

Where my heart drums down my rib-cage that holds it prisoner.

 

I am always close to doors and windows

Because it is easier to escape

It is easier to find a tunnel, a worm-hole, a book

Than to stay real, unmasked, vulnerable

Because it is easier to find ways to

Unhurt, un-love,

This ever scared prisoner heart.

 

I am always close to doors and windows.