Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dear Best Friend

Here we are.

This day always seemed so far away in space and time, despite its ghost hovering over us for years. But in daylight, ghosts are never recognized for what they are; it’s at dusk that their contours emerge, their presence freezes you veins.

This is the part where tears pool in our eyes, where we hug and sob and sniffle and make each other promise to keep in touch. Where we quash like a beetle the growing fear that the winds will blow us too far apart to let us find our way back to each other.

This is supposed to be the parting of the ways, the last good day.

Now here I am, left with nothing but the realization that I won’t even miss you.

There we were.

Our story didn’t have the best of openings, and I take all the blame for that. I was a walking bundle of pettiness and hatred and prejudice – a girl who wanted the throne and poured acid in the way of everyone, anyone, who dared to come near. Yet you stepped across the grass I’d burnt, the bridges I’d destroyed, neutralizing my acid with your own brand of alkali.

Sometimes I still wonder how we went from all that to one a.m. song recommendations, debating Harry Potter, cursing Rick Riordan, sobbing through How To Train Your Dragon 2 and scouting out the city for college shopping. The Limca Quiz might have been a catalyst, but I still don’t know what I did to deserve you, your kindness, your grace, your empathy. Your love.

You’d always be there, a phone call away, when grief and pain and bitterness banged against the floodgates of my reservoir, demanding to be let out, to consume, to drown me. You’d build that third space where our voices cease to be a bunch of signals transmitted over a network and instead be as they are: air strumming our vocal chords just as a pick for a guitar. A place where, with each spoken word, with each inflection, with every rise and drop in volume, our voices would solidify into us.

It definitely wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Between the two of us, we had an arsenal of words to detonate charges of anger and frustration, to wound, to make the other bleed, to sow misunderstanding and reap a metric ton of unintentional hurt. There were wedges driven, tears shed, splintered silences.

Every single time, we rose from the ashes of whatever we’d set fire to with more beauty, more grace, more strength. Together, we were a phoenix.

Here we are again.

And this is what it is: clarity, aching clarity, crystallized in a moment as a fly trapped in amber.

I’m in Chennai and now you’re in Kolkata, each of us chasing our dreams and trusting our hearts to take us where we want to reach. In a matter of weeks, we’ll find our feet in these new worlds, inhabit our own new bubbles of academics and extra-curriculars, tremble at the threshold of eighteen.

But all I can think of are colours, a palette of words and memories and gestures and impressions coalescing into each other.

Pastels of well-worn pages and Baskin Robbins flavours. Reds belting out Taylor Swift. Railway-berth blue weaving together bittersweet triumph and carefree laughter. Sombre blacks and greys thrown everywhere – scars of all that has aged us beyond our years, of the steel in our spines, of the weight of all the hopes we bear. Threads of sunshine yellow slipping in and out, reminding us it’s okay to be frivolous, to be the children that we never were.

A patchwork quilt that I can draw around me wherever the world takes me, whenever the cold tries to sink its fangs into my flesh.

The next five years will set the stage for our true metamorphosis, and I don’t even know whether we’ll recognize each other by the end of it.

Here we are, and this much we know: we won’t miss each other.
Because we can’t miss what is already a part of us.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Standing My Ground

I never learn.

I try to run away from the blood and gore every time. I run, run, run as fast as my feet can take me, as far as I can make it from the epicentre of the earthquake that threatens to dismantle my illusion of happiness, of safety, of peace. Away from the nucleus, so I can be a valence electron and break away from the despair that pulls me inward.

But as much as I close my eyes - however hard, however long - I can never see the whites of my eyelids. It is always stained red. A red that refuses point-blank to be washed off, to be bleached.

As much as I run, the aftershocks always topple my rosy bubble.

And as much as I try to break away, I end up in another atom with yet another nucleus of power, of propaganda and poisonous hate.

“Here I am
Deceived into silence.

A silence that corrupts
Corrals me into guilt

And now I learn:
Silence is only golden
Not gold.”

So, from the depths of the place where all things rusty get cast off, I reclaim my voice. Because light doesn’t come from ignoring darkness, but from acknowledging it.

My voice maybe scratched-up and bent now, but it can still make a sound. And it will.

In solidarity with justice. With peace. With Gaza.