We are pronounced girls,women-in-blossoming at birth and so we grow up dreaming of love.Dreams whispered to us since the crib by sad-eyed mothers and weary-limbed grandmothers.Hazy tales of how love was a drop of rain they cupped in their hands last monsoon,gleaming a subversive silver on their brown skin before drying out of sight but always inextricably woven into the tangle of their souls.They whisper the stories to us because they are afraid of being heard,but they must keep them alive because they never know if it will ever rain again.

They hand us,with these stories,sad saplings of loss which we spend the first twelve years of our love diligently watering and pruning into adulthood,then carry them around looking for a customer-never showing how much our backs strained under the weight.

We have key words learnt by heart,but we stumble into love and not know at first because it is less fairytale more nightmare but we can’t outrun it because every fibre of our beings are on fire and we curse curse it straight to hell with us but never away because our tongues don’t trip in that direction.

Our tongues set to patterns (man woman love love) will always betray us and too often draw in men and men will turn into wolves at the blood splattered reality of our soul.Sometimes we do away with ourselves early to spare our lovers the blame.

We wonder where the mellow raindrops of our  bedtime stories disappeared,whether the salt dried on their narrators’ cheeks turned them faulty recollecters in retrospect.But we dream of it still and often dream that someplace sometime this thing called loving will cease to strain our souls and ache our thighs and callous our feet a little less but till then we count the colours in fire till then we say thank you please till then we are only happy our mothers won’t ask us why we weren’t more careful watering those magic saplings every night.

Sadnesses of the autumn gone by. part 2

Other girls are always writing to lovers new and old and I am still clenching my fists,bottling up my fingertips,shutting out poetry because even now,they smell of you.

Other girls write of moonlit promenades and musty cafes which still bear their and their lovers’ odes to each other,their burnt over grimy wrecks of love still bubbling in their veins,their patterns of love burning out in justified,time-tested ways.

I wish we had evolved more elaborate means to self destruction. You know,I am as bad at it as at nurturing or creating-I can’t light a cigarette because I am scared of fire so fucking close to my goddamn face, I am still blowing smoke into my eyes and they end up burning red.I don’t sob out then and there.I apologise to my body and try to make my scars look different from what they did when I was sixteen.

I went six months without bleeding but only because my body still hasn’t learned to follow routine.Yet I still wound up with thighs ruby-red.I don’t wear white anymore and everything is okay.

I don’t feel much anymore,and I am so grateful. Everything is receding to a blur-this is how I will remember all this in years to come-butterscotch walls,badly painted over art,ghosts plastered on them a year back long since fallen off. I spread myself out below familiar branches and tell myself I should probably stop aching so I closed my eyes and chewed down the words till my throats swelled up from it.

I am sorry, half burnt cigarettes,eyes wide open,aglow till death. I am sorry, sooty heart,face-down burying itself . I am sorry,mother who so hoped I would stay good,thank you for holding me when i cry. I am sorry,doughy flesh body I am too tired to even hate now. i am sorry,poems that I won’t let be written. This is an obsession with premature deaths,and my whole life,terse on tiptoe,is a goddamn scrawl on it,that and of swallowing rusty could-have-beens.

-This was supposed to be a poem and this was supposed to be not about you.

Sadnesses I scribbled last fall.

I am writing again,but it’s disconnected jargon and it makes no sense. I’m using I so often it’s making me sick,but at least I’m not writing about you.At least I can trace over the patterns of my scars just fine on my own.Maybe one day I will wake up in love with myself-some part of me still worth the same,left over from a half-forgotten dream.And then maybe I will write of city lights from the rooftop at two in the morning,of autumn smells and festival sounds that are just that,in themselves. Maybe I will look beauty right in the face and smile,maybe I will say to the old aches,not today.And then maybe my words will be worth microphones or even grace paper.Till then I still feed on tomorrows that won’t look as pretty as they do in my head,and yesterdays that never glowed the way they do on paper.

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wanting it to be winter-skip forward the festivities and the end of sem exams,a sudden craving hits as i lie among blankets with tea and books,the peculiar cosy i live for fits right into the winter warmth of kolkata-because this city is always warm,different hues one month at a time

the feeling of longing after so long-a heavy anticipation,restlessness at the possibility of a better way of existing and the oppressive sense of not being there-yet living on hope,always feeding on tomorrow

winter in kolkata is special because of its novelty,the absence of heat and humid and sweat for once-the novelty that heralds in a sense of possibility-if fairytales still exist,they will play out now,they should if they have any sense of propriety at all

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love was supposed to be majestic. all the good art made it so. parting is such sweet sorrow. anne shirley and gilbert blythe finally kiss. you go back to her i go back to black. shall i compare thee to god knows what on earth. you explode in my heart. it does not matter. rust to rust. stardust to stardust.

when it is evening and the smoky haze of kolkata autumns shroud you in warm anticipation. till it is sunlight again and the sweat has dried to salt on your back. sweet sick sticky mess,feet stuck. this does not make me glorious. not even in magnificent tragedy of loss, self concocted of course. this makes me tired cough up the same tired metaphor thrice in a row then lose track. this makes me feed off other people’s words and wonder why my love never looked like that. not galaxies  opening up but a five year old scribbling with crayons on a wall. maybe because it never was. or maybe it was. just humane.just off to an honest, inglorious start-indignity at the bud,everything else-all the beauty in the after I couldn’t stick around long enough for.

i don’t know.just.my poetry isn’t pretty anymore yet. it has been a year almost since I can’t write without a something else guiding my words.

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not you.the idea of love finally coming my way and saving me,when the only person who can do that is me. not love,the idea of love-that old cliche.not you.the idea of a chance at happiness. a non-lonely place.never love.anxiety betrayal hurt.not love.

only,why do i keep asking myself what i did wrong.why the idea of the right thing changed every second.when there was no such thing as the right thing.

maybe it was love.maybe not.maybe it was,and a whole lot of effort i am not ready for. how does it matter. you are not the fixable kind. i am not the loveable kind.

only,only the idea that we could have been so. the idea of coming home to anything but this dull throbbing that is less hurt,more the absence of feeling.at all. then again,you as a ticket to some other place.

not you not love never that.

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Things are bad for me on occasion. Sometimes my life belongs to the realm of the dramatically disastrous. But mostly it doesn’t.

Mostly,that is when things get really,really scary. See,there is this gray that has been chasing me around since ever as long as I can remember. I packed my bags to run away at ten, I picked up pace at eleven,I was flying at seventeen but I seem to have come back a full circle now,running straight into its arms when least expected.

See,my disasters mostly look like swallowed truths and last night’s smudged liner. My disasters are mostly quiet. Shut bathroom doors,nothing a little water sprinkled in the face can’t fix. Long sleeves are impractical anyway,in Kolkata weather.An overplayed song or two,some long forgotten lyrics still in my head. Headaches. Crumpled paper. I’m such a fucking mess it’s hilarious-no,mom,i swear  I am okay.

I was going to be happy by now and sometimes i am,sometimes I am soaring,lungs full and I can’t breathe this is terrifying put me down.

What I am saying is I’ve been dreaming in black and white for a while now,and it’s a little scary to look light in the face without it being blinding

How long has it been since the soft peace last settled in your heart and sung you asleep?Maybe you can’t remember there ever was such a thing,maybe all the still sense of quiet happiness is just a still-slipping away dream but here is what I want you to know.

I don’t know when the stars fell off your eyes but I want you to know this.That there are shinier,brighter,more devastating truths bubbling beneath your skin.You may never pick up the flimsy silver that fell away a few moonbeams ago,but wait for this.Your quiet dream of becoming,it is blooming within you and maybe you never know,not till are cowering beneath the great terrifying canopy of majesty that is your self.But just you wait.

You have been a long while growing,and you are nearer the sky than you think,still,just reach out to touch your roots every now and then and you are safe.Cradled in infinity,secure in the gentle calamity-it isn’t that scary,is it,when you know the starry dreams still recall your precise shade of soft?Never roughen,never pretend you are any less than infinite tenderness and you will always find your way home someday.

And till then,while you tie the knots out of your hair and weave a forgotten dream or two back in,just you breathe.Breathe and hold a fraction of a moment still,gleaming cobweb laced round your fingertips.You will live,you will live,you will be,you will be. And all the while home will wait,a breath or a dream away,and home will be a castle still assembling itself within the clouds.Home will wait for you,all the while you,even when you stumble upon a closed door or two.But someday,you will sink your feet into a soft warmth you have never known before,and there will be a deepening dusk dawning over the clouds,and you will know.

Love letter #3

I want us to love. Someday, not far from now, surely, the distance will melt away and we will find ourselves together beneath a crimson sky.

I want us to live. So, someday, I will write of the shadows playing around your eyes and I will write how the stars were witness to our lips pressed so soft together. I will weave a sum of cliches on paper and it will be the most ridiculous, beautiful thing I ever put to words.

I will write about us. About stars that do not cross.

At sixteen, I wrote about how I want to love.

I want to love you in the way I have learnt from the women I take after, I want to clasp you shut but let you stay right here,and every now and then, I want to shake the dust off your covers and love you again. I want to break the Love Laws for you, I want to love you with a fury like a storm on April evenings, I want to caress you with soft, nebulous gazes like the clouded skies of August. my lips against your skin mellow like clear autumn skies,I want to send shivers down your spine like cold lonely nights. I want to awaken you like the touch of spring and love you again.

I want to love you like this. Under reckless clouds gathering over our heads. Through darkening evenings bleeding into disquiet. Through the ugly, through the harsh.

And at the end of it all, when the sun taints the eastern sky with its softest awakening glow, I will love you, “like thanking god that we live”…at the end of it all, I will just write about you.

“Your writing makes me feel a certain way”, he told me once. “Like I have lost something terribly important and don’t know what it is.”

I smiled then. He didn’t understand a great many things, but he understood this. And for then-just for a little while, that was enough.

I remember the word I had used. Irretrievable. Tonight, I go back to it and revisit it-more emphatically, more ardently than ever.

I don’t know what it is about life that I miss. About life as I once lived it-between the impatient banality of school days and the self-imposed almost-exile of today, I almost lived.

An August morning, last year- a crisp dawn I didn’t see giving in to torrential rain later. We snuck out of campus, three girls huddled under an umbrella and I shrieked in laughter as I hadn’t in long.

Which takes me back to a different monsoon, and how beautifully, how cruelly it blended into autumn.

A night when we were perched on the terrace, and the city  twinkled around us with a certain dazzling glamour, yet a restrained dignity.

Were these moments as fairytale then, in the living, as they are in the reliving?

I do not know-but I know this, yesterday, a storm broke out in the afternoon,when I was home alone. It had been another blazing day of sunshine-and when it started raining, I squeezed my hands out of the balcony railings, I let the rain sprinkle over my arms, my face-and that, right there, was magic.

And I know how some days, when I am walking home early from college-in the afternoon, I am startled afresh by the beauty of the sky-stark blue, awash with the sun-or by the canopies of scarlet bougainvillea stretching across the streets. This, right here, then is something worth living for.

All this will be memory-I will remember,then, the rows of palm trees opposite our house-and how pretty they look against summer skies. I will remember the red-and-yellow blossoms amidst the green canopies at campus, and the soft fallen leaves crunching under my shoes as I walk out of gate number 2. Will it seem fairytale, then, too?

As I sit here, writing, someone, somewhere is falling in love, someone is watching a sunset set the sky aglow. There have been times when I, too, have known beauty in a way few do. The sun rise over the ocean, a quiet countryside rise to the rythm of a kalbaishakhi storm. I have known beauty and I will know it again. So will you. So will everyone.

This is when I laugh at irretrievability-there is no beauty that will not come your way twice. You will feel your heart come home, again, you will wake to beauty someday. Again.

There is much darkness and despair all around, and I cannot look away…but when it all sits too heavy on the heart, I remember this.

Tonight, I am almost alone. It is too hot even for the air-conditioner to make the room completely comfortable, and my head hurts. But I have Leonard Cohen playing softly on my laptop, so everything is okay-for a while, nothing matters. Not the fast approaching exams-three days away now, I haven’t studied,not really. Not the way I keep drifting away from everyone around me,a little further every day.

“And what can I tell you, my brother, my killer

What can I possibly say

I guess that I miss you…I forgive you

I’m glad you stood in my way”

Leonard Cohen always reminds me of winter now…last winter, and suddenly I am back to those empty,aching days of December. To think what shade of hurt I did not nurse in myself,then…how would I have lived through it if not for this plaintive melody?

“If I ever have been untrue…it was never to you.”

All the arms I almost took shelter in, just a little,just a few more days till I learnt to stand my own ground, even if my knees did tremble,still.

But all that was so long ago. It doesn’t seem so…I barely recall the last six months,except in bits and pieces…mostly in a few moments of acute despair. Yet I lived, and I will,now too…whether I like it or not.

May. Five months since December,when I quietly learnt to feel everything a little too much without breaking apart. Or maybe I had broken already and did so over again, the chilly 2 a.ms when I sobbed into the pillow, listening to Jeff Buckley cry for lost loves-“I think I have forgotten her now.”

I thought I never would forget you.

But I thought I would move ahead,all the same. I prided myself on survival. On how much I could hurt and not let it show. The sheer recklessness. I must have picked it off some song I listened to-the rage in Janis Joplin’s voice when she screamed, “so take another piece of my heart now,baby.”

A bright 4 p.m. and I am watching the sun set over stuffy buildings in some decaying part of the city. I never thought of heartbreak, not then, but I pondered its sheer inevitability the next morning as I lay in bed. It never came to anything.

I outgrew them all. The smoke. The aftertaste of beer. Short dresses. A chillum passed around in the park as we sat sweating, huddled in a circle. I lost it all. I gave it all up.

Where did I go, then? What about the after? I wish I knew. Only, sometimes, in nights like this when the moon is almost full and there’s a voice in my head, humming-

“Maybe there’s a god above, but all I have ever learnt from love,is how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya”- I wonder. Nights like these I am almost fifteen again, alone and reckless and frightened, and ready to throw myself in,headlong into any semblance of lost love.