Letters and Letters · Letters to self · The Paths Travelled

Okay, let’s talk about this.

You don’t know what is happening inside people’s head unless you tear the head open and reach inside and analyse all of the emotions that amygdala generates, process it, observe and understand it and even then, there is a very little chance of knowing because then there is the neo-cortex, the seat of thought, that thinks and thinks and thinks and never really stops if you are anything like me. To put it in a general perspective, you don’t really know if the girl standing in front of you in the stage delivering an amazing presentation without any fear of public speaking actually has social anxiety and she deals with it by wearing glasses that has less power than she needs so as to not see people’s faces. She does it blind. She practices for hours in her head not to shake. Gives herself a time zone where she can panic in the four corners of white tiled toilet and nowhere else. You don’t know that the boy who runs out of the class pretending he has diarrhea actually goes to throw up in the bathroom because he has anxiety attacks and it makes him feel sick. You don’t know the person who is a class clown struggles to breathe when they have panic attack and keeps staring at their hands for hours before they can move. You don’t know how people cope and try so hard to look and act normal when all they want to do is shout how suffocated they feel inside their body and want to get out of it.

And once you know, the hell breaks lose. “I thought you were strong enough not to be bothered by things like that”, “You should not be weak”, “Just think positive and eat healthy”, “Exercise. You don’t exercise much”, “Don’t worry. Be happy”, “Try not to think about it”, “At least, you have *all the things that you have*”, “You are in such a good place right now. How can you feel like this?”, “It’s time to get you married”, “You are not trying hard enough to be happy”, “Happiness comes from inside. Just look within.”

Well, all that is inside is murky muddy water that bubbles and there are mosquitoes of paranoia breeding on it, ready to suck the life out of me. You want me to grow lotus in it? Fine. The seeds are not available in the market of my life even though it is amazingly busy right now. The sun is shining, the moon makes the night clear as  day but I just cannot find the seeds because I am all set to drown in this water and I don’t know how to swim! I would very much like to not worry and be happy. But my therapist says that I have run out of serotonin and I am getting some. Truly, I am. And exercise? Well, I run and I walk and I exhaust my body until it stops feeling like my body. And it’s amazing. It works. Thank you for the advice! But I am still there. Unable to move. I am still there in a place I know everything about, trying to find the way because the panic has blocked my senses and I feel lost. And yes I am strong. As strong as I ever could be. Because in spite of every thing that is happening, I haven’t stopped. I did stop for a while. For weeks, I felt immobile. I felt like dying. I cried every day. So much that I got my periods twice that month because my hormones were all over the place and the poor uterus thought it was time of the month again because her person was stressed. Oh, and I even hid in the corner of a sofa while three people who cared about me sat there all night trying to protect me from the shadow that wasn’t there. How about a dramatic pause now?

But I am strong. I am trying to be stronger. It’s just that once in a while, I don’t want to be strong. I want to break down. Once in a while, I want to be.  Without any adjectives to describe. I just want to be. Not the person I was before, or the person I am now. I just want to sit down and breathe. I want to be the air that comes out of nose and mouth when someone sits down after a hard day of work and sighs in relief.

And I know it is hard to understand. It is hard for me too. Because all my life, I studied trigonometry and tried to do best in biochemistry (even though I was shit at both). And now, I try to logically justify my condition and nothing comes out of it. There is no “why” to this. And it is frustrating as fuck because I always have answers. I am the person with notes all ready before the final hits. I am the person who is supposed to know. I am the person who prepares beforehand, collects research papers from all over the place and books from the library. I am the person who had stationary boxes, PPV folders and Facilitation folders all ready before anything started. I am the person who knew every volunteers’ names by heart on the second day. And I cannot for the life of me figure out why I cannot breathe when I am having a normal day at work, why I shake like a leaf when there is no storm, why I feel like there is nothing but darkness and hopelessness and nothing, nothing can save me. I just cannot figure it out!!

In my last session, M asked me why I had different response to sadness. Why do I treat it as a friend while I treat anger, anxiety and shame as intruding strangers? As I pondered over it I remembered my godletter book that I used to keep as a child. And a green pen. When I was sad, I used to cry copious tears and write in it, a letter to god (whoever that was). I still have that book and there are tear stains in it. And with anger, I used a red pen and scribbled furiously on every blank page that there was. Anxiety and shame came later and I treated them as anger, I guess. Right now, I am blindly scribbling in my head. All the things that could go wrong, I play it in my brain everyday and exhaust myself to the point where all I can do is cry. So I smell the jasmine oil, rub it in my hand, I pick up the phone and dial a number and ask for help. Even when I feel like they might find me tedious, irritable, paranoid, humorless, lifeless, critical and demanding, I still dial a number. And I talk about it, cry about it, shout and wail about it. They listen. And that is all it takes to calm me down.

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Letters and Letters · Poems · The Paths Travelled

where you will find me

You will find me in places
where streets are jungles of people
that smell of old history books.

You will find me walking,
avoiding familiar eyes,
searching for strange ones
where you will find me looking
at yellow brown pupils,
holding sandpaper hands with
fingers circling the middle of my palms
with fingers filling the gaps of my hands,
feeling the woolen texture of
light green and black horizontal stripes of colors;
they speak a foreign language
but is so similar to my soul.
And when his lips brush against mine,
You will fine me in closed eye lids
where you will find me
in the pit of my diaphragm
with strange butterflies that 
do not stop tickling
with heart that stops for a while
entirely following the traffic lights of the body,
forgetting the frailness of universe, of future,
of everything scary.

You will find me in strengths of my legs when I run,
when the air holds my hair and I smile,
when the ground forgets to map out our gravity 
and she lets me float.

You will find me in gullies,
old meeting places where a jasmine tree blooms,
where poets gather and skate boards hang out with
skeleton masks, glass castles, stairs made of trees.

You will find me. 
Not where I should be found. 
But you will find me, 
Disconnected
Broken down and breathing
In key holes and red stages of dreams,
where a shadow follows me around,
showers through my thoughts,
embellishes in me, in the past,
where you will find me in 
oversize school uniforms,
mute and alone in the corner of a bench
not knowing how to end,
how to find arteries in my neck,
pills in the cabinet.
Unable to smile,
stop tears in the dingy toilet,
in a big school,
where you will find me lost,
confined in libraries,
pink books, glossy magazines,
where you will find me 
wishing to be a girl with pink rosy cheeks,
uniform that fits and 
sound that does not liquefy in big halls,
with smile that does not force itself.

You will find me in the past,
the lost hopes that were crippling,
and darkness that was blinding, maddening, 
shrilling images of green pen,
angry hand written letters to god,
burned down ashes,
candle waxes stuck in the table. 
You will find me waiting for electricity,
for energy to touch my feet in the ground,
to walk,
to live,
to leave. 

You will find me in struggles,
basic teenage years,
acidic experiences.
Never knowing who friends were,
Never knowing my insides that 
flickered, failed to light up,
tried to light up,
failed to light up,
until twenty people clicked three of their fingers together. 

You will find me in a washing machine poem,
appreciation cards,
you will find me in a brazen millet field, under million stars,
with porridge bowls, 
with Allah’s favorite people,
smelling of polar ice cigarettes 
and dusty mud, 
plastered  cow dung and 
love that sounded like river flowing along the banana groves.

You will find me
when I smelled of molten agar, 
bacillus stained in slides,
alcohol rubs, Bunsen burners, 
And dreams. 
You will find me in dreams. 
Mostly. 
Because that is where I dwell. 
Because all the places that you will find me in are 
all the places that my dreams dream of
when I am wide awake. 
And you will find me wide awake,
dreaming. 

 

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.

 

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. 

 

 

 

Letters and Letters · Places · Stories · The Paths Travelled · Uncategorized · Volunteering Diaries

A Plan at Action

This year I volunteered for 6 months in ICS program for Raleigh International Nepal. I went on from being In-Country Volunteer (ICV) to In-Country Team Leader (ICTL). Both my experiences were vastly different from each other but in them I found people who profoundly influenced me and gave me so much warmth and love. I learned about rural Nepal that was hidden from me by rings of hills I was surrounded with. I learned so much about the people of my own country who toiled all day long and were still so happy and kind. I learned about people of the UK with different cultural values but similar souls.

19399300_1873412669649970_4809511777890836339_n
This is how it started!! Prats and I were put into different teams.

There are a lot of things to share: mountains of triumphs, valleys of despair, barriers and confusions, self-awareness, DMCs underneath the stars, art of eating porridge, saga of a broken kettle, 9 and 27, firefly in the millet fields and in the room, goals in a purse, mentorship and sisterhood, open kimonos, doctor with a camera, sound of goats and chickens,  5 AM demands, spider webs, long walk uphill, silence in the bridge, pink clouds, schizophrenia and parallel universe, the laws of attraction, cultural history and many many more. There are a lot of things to think about too: the future, universities to apply and get in, courses to take,  places to travel. I don’t know how to fit all these things in 24 hour-ed days where half of the time, I stare at the wall and miss all the treasures I’ve lost and rivers I’ve seen. I feel overwhelmed and restless. So I keep pacing in the corridor avoiding my cold room.

However, today I am following the doctor (with a camera)’s advice. In his own words he said, “go back to the reality of the experience. Sometimes, we need to see experience in its objective form to understand it. Write about the simple experiences, the simple moments of belonging and being which we all felt. Keep it simple! The pebbles under your feet, the sun in your eyes, the green fields and cable lines winding their way out of view like thoughts and ideas we can never possess.”

I am starting with the crazy poetry prompts Francis and I used to come up with during the placement. She is 18 years old with a beautiful heart. Emotional and dreamy, I found a little sister in her. Our prompts consisted of random words ( the first one was: Monkey Nose) and we tried to make sense out of them in the random world of Golping where haunted places and haunted stories ruled the minds of people who were haunted by obscure life. Francis’s words flowed and with her beautiful accent and voice, she could make the images dance in cold evenings. I miss her! She’ll have her own blog soon along with Hannah (the funniest and the coolest 18 year old I’ve met). And hopefully, they’ll share their own stories and poems with you.

DSC_0617
With Hannah and Francis

So from today, I’ll be posting  those prompts and poems and small stories behind them just to make a sense to myself about where I was and where I am. It will be my tiny project along with all the bigger projects I still have to plan and accomplish.

Stay tuned! 

-Vi

Letters and Letters · Places · The Paths Travelled · Volunteering Diaries

Learn. Unlearn. Repeat.

Dear Lieblingsmenschen,

It has just been a week that I got back home. And as soon as I put down my bags and looked around the room, I understood that home held an entirely new meaning. Do not get me wrong. I still love my bed and my room. My study table and yellow daisies above it are still the places where my soul wanders. Nothing has changed but the feeling of home. I am home and I am home-sick.

I remember writing about this in my journal (which has been confiscated by a Pride and Prejudice loving freak) few weeks ago when I was still in the village. I wrote how “I” was home. I felt like I could be my own home and that way I could never ever be home-sick. It turns out that it is kind of hard to knock on my doors to let me in sometimes. I keep losing my key! And it is not a bad thing. At least, I know I have lost my key. Anyway, this letter is not about that. I will find home again. This time at a new place with new people. I will survive.

Survival is the key word here. In past two months, I’ve learned that you can learn anything if you have to learn it. I’ve learned to survive. I’ve learned to push myself so hard because there was nobody else to do that for me. I’ve learned to be brave enough to smile even when I wanted to cry. I’ve learned that love flies like soul and touches the clouds around you. And even when those clouds burst out storming water and thunder, it is okay to be outside smelling the earth. And rocks crumble like sugar but they also rip your trousers if you slide in them for too long. I’ve learned that under the river there’s something more than sand and rocks because why would I still feel them underneath my feet after all these days that I’ve been away from it? I’ve learned to stay in the ground even when my pride flees in the jungle of praises. I’ve learned life in ways that I never could learn before.

In contrast, I’ve unlearned things too. I think I forgot how to stay. And I’ve found new ways to escape. Remember how I used to run off into fantasies and have my mind in the clouds all the time? I still do that. However, the clouds are new and real. They are so approachable that I can taste them and hug them. I can be among them. I am on the edge of something and I can either fall or fly. I do not know which will be true. If I fall I get to be on a rock bottom where I can build a new foundation. But I am scared what life will mean when I am there. Will I still be this positive? Will I still have the strength to stand up? Or will I wither away like leaves in autumn?

All these questions lead me to the fact that I am still unknown to far too many things. For instance, I do not know how strong I am. I do not know how to say no; how not to be too generous. I still cannot control my tears. I wonder if I will ever learn to do that. But then I know that I don’t know all these things. Yusra used to demonstrate how we don’t even know what we don’t know. She tells it in a better way. Someday I’ll ask her to make an inspirational video out of it.

And then there are things that haven’t changed. I am still a worrier gently trying to fold into worrying warrior. Trying without succeeding. I aim to change in this cycle by trying to let the air into my lungs until it displaces the worry which, leads me to the information that I will be leaving again. Very soon. In another village. And I do not know how it will be like. It will be much different and more challenging because this time I am going as a Team Leader. That would mean a lot of responsibility, patience and resilience. I am still to conquer all those things. However, I know that nobody is born a leader, they become one. So I am going to try to be a good one.  Wish me luck!

Until then!

P.S. I promise I will try to sneak in more blog posts. Please don’t give up on me!!

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

Letters and Letters · Letters to self · Weekend Coffee Share

Letters to Vi

Dear Vi,

You’ve wanted that name since forever. You always wanted an alias, a twin who would know just what you feel and who would just know what to do. You’ve been sick. Your voice is all dried up and your throat hurts. But every morning, you wake up to face the mighty sun and work for a project that you thought would work. It isn’t working that well. Maybe you aren’t working that well. Maybe you need a breather. Maybe you need…. you.

I do not understand the need of approval you have. Why do you need to be approved? You are not a visa application form. And the fact that you think too much. About your flaws, about your future, about failures and lost opportunities. You spent the whole evening being sick of all those stuffs on your head. You could have just slept because it’s the weekend but you didn’t even do that. You cleaned instead. What kind of person plays with a can of pest killer and Mr. Muscles when they are sick and hungry? How stupid are you? You didn’t even get to drink tea today. Or meet your cousins and grandparents. I think you should be awarded for the stupidest decision maker. Because that’s all you did today. You made stupid decisions.

I am very angry at you. For being sick and for being the complicated bitch you are. You push yourself a lot harder than you should sometimes. And there are days you don’t even care. Why do you have to be the queen of extremes? Why can’t you just celebrate your victories before you kick yourself a thousand times for your failures? Why can’t you just stop for a while? Why are you scared all the time?

And I am sorry for being harsh. I need you to know that as pathetic as it might seem, you should still write to yourself. You are all you’ve got. You don’t need anybody’s stamp of approval but yours. You need to be healthy first. You need to not go out on the dust for a day. You need to stay home and read. Leave all your worries for a day or two. Things will work out. I promise they will. I am sorry for everything I’ve put you through. I promise to take care of you. Let’s start with a cup of tea!

Truly yours,

Your future self.

Letters and Letters · Poems

How does it feel?

Dear Junk E-mail,

How does it feel to be a Junk?

Dejected in some sidebar,

Looking up at the inbox full of “important” e-mails

Do you feel out of place too?

Maybe you were not meant to be there,

Maybe it was a mistake,

You have no way to correct it, do you?

So you accept your fall,

You sit there in the sidebar,

Stare at them typing away the replies,

Letters of love and hate, pass by you

And smile

With pity hanging

Into the end of their J’s, g’s, S’s and O’s

They are good letters,

Full of feelings and emotions,

Words full of rage, devotion,

You like them

You want to be them

You will never be them and you know it.

 

How does it feel to end up in a trash can full of other junks?

They are scared as you are.

They fear that little bin button,

A click and they will be gone

Nobody will miss them

Nobody will try to recover them.

How does it feel to know that there is nobody by your side?

To tell you that it is okay to be a Junk,

That you are important.

You will never notice them even if you tried

Because you know that, you are not important,

You will never be.

Knowledge kills you everyday

Hope still keeps you alive

And sometimes,

You find your way through servers

Ending up in the Inbox,

Shouting out loud your abilities, your worth, your words

Just to be frowned at and spammed.

 

How does it feel, dear Junk Email?

To be not worth a dime to the person you are sent to,

To be anonymous in the world full of names

Visibly invisible in the crowded shroud of letters.

How does it feel?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters and Letters · Stories

I miss my person

Dear You,

It’s been a while since we talked. And I miss you because we used to talk every single day about every single thing in the world. I used to call you when I needed to vent about thunder or sun or creepy people or anything minute that happened in the day and you used to do the same. We used to laugh so much. About everything and nothing. Do you remember all the places we wanted to go to try out the food? We haven’t gone to any of them. The chips place and the matka kulfi place in Patan. We haven’t even gone swimming this summer. And believe me, I can live without eating banana chips and kulfi or swimming but it breaks my heart a little when I don’t get to talk about stuffs with you like I used to. I know you are busy. Life is probably throwing lemons at you and you are busy making lemonade out of it. I am so very proud of you for the works you are doing and for everything you are achieving. I know you will do great in life. You will make all your dreams come true. And I know that things change. They will always change. I just cannot believe that they changed so suddenly.

In a few days, I will be heading out to god knows where with so many different people. It will be a whole new world for me. When I got the news today, I was very excited. Do you know I read the letter ten times? I don’t know if I should be this happy. But I wanted to do this forever. In the interview, they asked me about my weaknesses. I told them that I was too emotional. And as I am writing this letter, I know that this weakness is going to be the death of me. I mean, you call a person if you miss them, not write a letter! It doesn’t even make sense. Nothing really makes sense.

I try to write a lot these days. There are words and words and words that get crowded in my head. I feel so grateful for being able to write and read. I am also grateful for being able to hope. The part of my brain where “existential crisis” keeps blinking with a red light, hopes mercilessly about everything there is to hope for. It hopes that you and I will talk like we used to again. I understand that you probably need a lot of space right now. And you probably don’t need a whining presence in your life to talk about all the superficial details. It’s just that I miss you a lot. And it’s okay to not miss me as much. I know there are probably a thousand things to worry about right now. I want to say that I’ll be there for you but I don’t know how to be there. I don’t even know where you are. You’ll probably say that you are right here. And then proceed to tell me that I am over thinking and there’s nothing to worry about. You’ll probably say that you are just tired and you’ll talk to me when things get normal. Maybe I am. I always over think and over react.

And maybe, I will over miss just this once. You are my person. And I get to miss my person.

Alles Liebe,