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 doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for – and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing. It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool – for love – for your dreams – for the adventure of being alive.
–Oriah Mountain Dreamer
Once upon a time, in a world where nothing was complete and nothing was perfect, walked a person who was both complete and perfect. However, since the world around her was so broken, she felt like she was supposed to be broken too. Hence, everyday she started breaking pieces of herself to fix things around her. She never realized that the things she wanted to repair were so far gone that nothing and no-one could ever fix them. Each day, she became smaller and smaller. Each day, she was wrecked a little bit more. On a chilly December morning, she was walking by a road full of fallen stars. She felt lost, alone and hollow. She did not even notice that the sky and the earth had somehow changed their positions. The earth was as clear and blue as the perfect night sky and the sky was green that smelled of mud. She had no idea where she was going. Each step she took, it felt lighter as if she was flying. Suddenly, her feet were not in the sky looking earth anymore. She was floating somewhere in between. The world she tried to repair with pieces of herself looked so unfamiliar and distant. Nobody tried to stop her and nobody held her hands to make her stay. She floated for what seemed like hours and at a point where oceans became rolling balloons and clouds became mountains, she stopped. There was a low hum of music and its waves were thrashing the Cloud Mountains. Everything else was perfectly still except the rolling ocean that was moving very swiftly towards her. At any minute, it could crash into her and it did. She was now inside the blue water but the thing was she did not feel alone, lost and hollow anymore. Somehow, she felt complete again even though she was far from it. The parts of her were still missing. A wreck she was but a happy one because she knew where she belonged now. All she needed to do was swim and everything would fix itself. In case it did not, things would still be okay. She enjoyed the low hum of waves crashing the mountains made up of clouds while her ocean rolled away.
Moral of the story: We might be floating in this undeniable mess of things and waiting for our rolling oceans to crash into. I desperately want to stop floating and start rolling.
Other moral: I am good at making things up. hahaha
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.
Put into words whatever comes into your mind, no matter how seemingly insignificant or embarrassing or painful or meaningless. If there is more than one thing in your mind at the same time, then you are to choose to speak that thing about which you are most reluctant to speak.
Life is difficult. Once we truly know that life is difficult— once we truly understand and accept it— then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters. It is in the whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom.