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.
“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.
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!
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!
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.
“It takes a lot of time, focus and energy to realize the enormity of being the ocean with your very own tide every month. However, by honoring the demands of bleeding, our blood gives something in return. The crazed bitch from irritation hell recedes. In her place arises a side of ourselves with whom we may not—at first—be comfortable. She is a vulnerable, highly perceptive genius who can ponder a given issue and take her world by storm. When we’re quiet and bleeding, we stumble upon the solutions to dilemmas that’ve been bugging us all month. Inspiration hits and moments of epiphany rumba ‘across de tundra of our senses. In this mode of existence one does not feel antipathy towards a bodily ritual so profoundly and routinely reinforces our cuntpower.”
― Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence
Standing on the edge of precipice, I look at the normal and natural truth with horror. In the morning, when the cycle rings my bell, I curl up in a ball and decide whether to die or die. It gets worse in the day. The jarring pain shoots down a river of tears that won’t stop flowing. I am kind of glad I am home with stack of pads, painkillers and a hot water bag. The beginning is the worst. It resonates with me on so many levels when the period cycle begins. And the worst really happens when I am not home. When I am sitting in a class room or standing in a lab, I feel a gnawing feeling in my uterus. The irritating presence of soreness and the awkwardness when I want to cry in front of faces staring at me. It feels like a war-zone where I have already lost. It feels like I am Prometheus and the vultures are eating me away. Piece by piece. Blood by blood. Pain by pain.
The facts that it is natural and happens to every soul that is born a woman and this is how “creation” begins make no sense to me on these days. And the walk back home is the most difficult part. It takes me hours to maneuver my steps. I cannot decide whether to walk normally or act normally. Because I want to either scream and run or cry internally and walk the normal walk. There is no in between. And how hard it is to talk about it as it is! Yes it pains. Yes it feels horrible when every toilet break is a blood bath. I am sorry if I am being too graphic. But this is how it is. The blue liquid they pour in the sanitary pad advertisements is not blue. It is red. It is blood. The ultimate truth that began the human existence and that will most probably end it.
When I was 5, I greeted her every Saturday morning. I played with her in the old palaces of ancient Kings and Queens, where she was named. She greeted me back with smiles and lots of pigeons. She made me run with joy, chasing the pigeons and feeding them. She gave me wings on otherwise boring Saturdays where all I could hear were songs that weren’t in her mother tongue. When I was 5, she was my best friend. I learned her smell in spice shops of Ason and Kilagal. I learned her voice from my Grandmother’s stories. The ways she sang while making rice wines in a small terrace from which I could see the towers of Dharahara and Ghantaghar. Standing in their grandeur, rejoicing the beauty she was. She was my city.
When I was 10, I greeted her from the silent micro-buses where the polite conductors refused to take the 5 rupees I offered them. I sat on the last seat with the windows open. Taking in the air around the Keshar Mahal. She was the place where my school and my house were equidistant from each other. She was the place where bats hung upside down the witchy looking trees. She was the place where my friend and I conspired against all the odds to run to the pani-puri stall and grab a few pieces of extras. She was the place I used to sneak off to without telling my grandmother. She was the place that lead to my favorite library. She was my city.
When I was 15, she moved with me under the Swayambhunath Temple. I greeted her with anger and fear of losing my faith and my voice. I refused to look at her as I closed my doors and wrote letters to people who did not exist. I refused to notice her broken limbs. I walked on her, carrying with me, her parts. She stopped smiling and so did I. It was a difficult year for both of us. We lost our parts in dramas of daily lives. We lost our friends in all those complicated story lines.
When I was 18, I hated her. I cursed her from the crowded 5 AM micro bus rides. I hated her for sheltering the old dirty men who stared and probed. I hated her for her bumps and bruises. The ways she was so difficult to understand. The ways she was just like me. Confused and crowded with thoughts like people and people like thoughts. But she was still my city.
When I was 21, she shook me with all her strength. She cried for help as the rocks beneath her broke and slipped into hell. She screamed in pain as her children broke their bones and took off with their souls. And I cried with her. She looked like an old broken woman begging for a quiet life. Her skin patched up in pieces of old tents, she looked sad and frail. Almost suffocated with the dust that blew over her, the rain that violated her and the ground that cheated on her. I hugged myself and pieces of her that were attached to me. I tried to calm us down as I waited for a familiar face. She shook all night in terrible silences. I could not understand her still but she was still my city.
Today, I greet her with smiles and hugs. My legs love running along her difficult roads. She is still broken but broken still she stands. She still sends me pigeons from her wounded palaces. She has purple clothes draped over her and she has asthma attacks. But she still lives. She still loves me like she loved me when I was 5 years old. And I cannot hate her even when I try. She is my city. She will always be my city.
In a cold morning with fog ahead of me, rain clouds dancing with joy up above the sky, I could only feel the warm cup of coffee and the soft wind touching my skin as I stood in front of the captivating city trying to think about all the wonderful things, all the beautiful things and I could think of none.
My mind was blank as an empty sheet of waxed paper where nothing was written and nothing could be written. A sense of hopelessness dragged me into thinking about how insignificant I was until I could not breathe and all I could hear was my heart drumming inside the rib-cage, my blood flowing all over the body screaming their existence while my soul screamed the opposite as it tried to disappear into nothingness.
And it all happened in a nothing kind of morning, when nobody saw the misery of my nothingness and my mom kept complaining about how I do none of the things she asks me to do and how “No” was my ultimate answer to everything. She sighed the sigh she sighs when hopelessness hugs her and then she asked me if I was okay. And for the first time, I meant it when I said, “No”.