We were so convinced of our own immortality before. So convinced that we, and our youth, are here to stay. That we would always be eighteen and it would always be the first flush of college life and it would always be raining just like that- the sky majestically darkened, us majestically drenched but always certain there would always be shelter, nearby, when we needed it. If we needed it.
That it would always be late fall melting into a reluctant winter as it can only in Kolkata…we would always be walking through the weary grey footpath against the premature dusk in search of someone or something to get us home. That we would always be gathering our blankets together in bed, safe in our hiding places as we watched the window panes frost over.
I think it took me a year more to realise it wouldn’t always be like this. I wouldn’t always have that warm December afternoon and a burn in my throat keeping me company while I watched the sun go down. That I wouldn’t always have this summer, stretching over our heads the brightest blue sky even as it dazzled us. That this is morning, and twilight and past midnight all together and that from now, it will always be like this. That we would get used to this, and then we would get used to the not this. That there is beauty, and majesty, and immense signifance in the temporal, that its temporality does not take away any of the beauty, or the majesty or the monumentality. Knowing this, and being at peace with this- this, is all the grey twenty gives us. This is all the magic twenty brings us.

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I was terrified of temporality at eighteen. We had spent all our lives being immortal till then. We would live forever and be young forever and love forever. What were these possibilities of punctuated happiness…I had rather not be happy at all. And yet nobody really gives up on happiness at eighteen, so I watched a lot of movies with happy endings and played Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles on repeat. This would be me, someday, I would think, there will just be a long cold lonely winter to brave, some time in the future. After that, the smiles will return to the faces.
At twenty you understand temporality without grasping it, without making peace with it. And The Beatles will still play…little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter…this too, temporal and afterwards, here comes the sun. When the sun comes, it will scorch us all, and right here is that mythical winter so rare in Kolkata. Long, cold, lonely winters, and finally you will learn to shrug off the terrible shivering chill of time rushing past you-irretrievably, unrelentingly. Meeting this unshaking cruelty of time- it is impossible to make things stay. Little darling, the smiles returning to our faces…

I remember the last autumn like it was part dream part nightmare. I wore dresses like I had not worn before and I did things I had not before. Bright red lipstick, heels, smoke and alcohol. A perfect cliche, but nobody got too close and I came home to read poems that made me think of you and cry.

This fall I find myself reading a poet I have not in long. I find myself thinking not about you. I find myself thinking about the girl who loved you and I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

That is all.

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