The Dream(s)

So many clichés.

So many lies.

So many self assurances.

Yet so many sleepless nights.

And the “forced” dreams help you see this one sight that you ALWAYS wanted to see.

Of him.

Appearing in your dreams like the knight in shining armor.

The one who saves you from all the atrocities.

The one whose sole purpose on this Earth is to rescue you in times of adversities.

And you?

The strong person who always opposes repression of women,

The feminist in you who always fought for equal rights and opportunities,

The independent and self-reliant 21st century woman who gives karate lessons to others.

You, woman.

You.

Despite being all of that.

What would you not give to live those moments of rescue?

Rescue.

From the atrocious people, yes.

But more from your life’s hard hitting reality.

What would you not give to live those dreams where you are just an ordinary girl and he is your superhero?

You.

The woman who is otherwise bold enough to hit trouble right below the belt, succumbs to reality only to find reprieve in her dreams.

Dreams wherein she can be whoever she wants.

The soft version of herself who has no care in the world.

Or the tantrum-filled lover who knows how to make him go weak in knees even as he puts on a show of resistance.

They say you dream about people, places and products you don’t want to let go of.

And I have only been dreaming about you in the last 4 years.

Does that say enough?

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4 years since you left…

Fragment 1:

It’s funny how even after so many years, the sound of those anklets you brought me for Valentine’s day still rings in my ears.

It’s funny how the very memory of you returning from Gujarat that year is the only thing I have now. Not the fights that preceded your trip to Gandhinagar. Not the love you showered me with after you came back from your moot Court competition. Just the memory of you being away from me for those 4 days. Yes, you are long gone and may be this is all I can relate to, now.

The only period when we were together and you weren’t around.

Fragment 2:

They are haunting me again. These Memories of the times when we carefully crafted a list of all the songs I wanted to be played during our pre-wedding shoot. But then that was before you walked out on me 4 years ago, leaving behind a trail of broken records and melodies that now sound more like horror songs.

For some inexplicable reason, Din shagna da no longer leaves goosebumps on my skin and nights in white satin no longer makes me cringe. And no, the heart of life is NOT good.

Fragment 3:

We are moving from one chapter to the other and to another, just like that.

All these years, all these months have been all about incredible experiences and life altering lessons.

Instead of romanticising it all, can I just simply say that you are the reason I still exist!

Dear Santa, just sit back & relax! Let ‘karma’ give everyone the gift they deserve!

In response to self-proclaimed Santa’s 3-months old letters:

Santa talks of absolution. Can someone tell me why does he seek the same in the first place?

Santa was supposed to keep those who believed in him, happy. Then was it someone whom he failed terribly?

Santa keeps walking, sure. But why does he feel unfulfilled? What keeps him gawking? Is there more he could have done to save those who believed in him from drowning?

Does Santa keep staring into the Oblivion, trying to find answers to a thousand what ifs? What effort was missing on his part? Perhaps reciprocation! Perhaps willingness. Perhaps being more than being just the messenger of God. Perhaps being more human?

Santa talks of redemption, says it’s a sin to redeem false hopes. But Isn’t betrayal the biggest sin of all? Then how come Santa still roams around unabashed? Is no one keeping his sin count?

Santa says he won’t yield more to please, and the entire universe laughs at the irony.

Santa wishes for his dream to be fufilled, forgetting that one has to pay a certain cost for each dream.

In response to Santa’s 3-months old letters:

Dear Santa,

Just sit back and relax.

Let karma give everyone the gift they deserve.

You think listening to John Mayer will help you attain that absolution? Then God alone can bless you! Cuz… Seriously, now?

She is a good girl, loves her mama, loves Jesus, and her boyfriend too..”

Remember?

You’re a bad boy coz you don’t even miss her, you’re a bad boy, for breaking her heart..”

And now, you are free falling, and only heavens above know where your deeds will land you!

You seek absolution. Why?

Because deep down inside, you know that you have wronged someone so bad that her life is never going to be the same again.

You were proud that “your child” is writing the zenith of her stream. You wanted her to be busy after all. Eh?

Do you see how busy she is today that she has no time to attend to the wounds that still give her pain. She has all the money and niceties, but nowhere to go and nothing else to do.

So busy that there are days when she fails to tell the difference between beginning and ending.

Days when she is so occupied that the only thought she sleeps with is: Do I have a life of my own?

Where did we go so wrong? Why is it that we have both settled down – but in different cities. Why couldn’t we end up together – like we promised?,” She asks.

And each time she cries herself to sleep even after 4 years, in her dreams she asks him the same set of questions:

Do you like going back to an empty bed after working your ass off for 11 hours at work?

Don’t you crave for that one long compassionate hug?

Now all that is left within me is a trail of broken dreams that has somehow managed to follow me till date. It’s like my life is a background on which John Mayer keeps playing like a broken record.

You still don’t get it. Now, do you? How the memories of those shared dreams are just reduced to the sweet nothings now! How all that I do is to secretly cry over random pre-wedding shoots, realising that we could have been so much more than just strangers with memories. How I still go silent when someone brings up your name, or asks me to marry.

How after all these years of being at the receiving end, I still want to believe that love lasts.

How I still write to you, hoping that my words would be able to do what I couldn’t – turn it all around like an hourglass.

‘Reverie’ 2011 – The day our story started…

28 January, 2011.

It was on this day that our story started, when you came running back from Andrews Ganj to Gargi college back in 2011.

Even though it’s been 8 years since the saga of our madness started, it still feels like yesterday.

And remembering those beautiful times, I cried a little less today..

The very memory of meeting that child who ordered two plates of veg chowmein along with two other dishes and a beverage for two people to consume in their very first meeting – is something that is going to stay with me for the rest of my life.

After all, it was the same child I fell in love with, eventually.

That kid in the mould of a 19-year-old who would steal ice-cream cones from me just to get clicked in the not-so-cool underpass routes in the heart of the city.

Not to mention his cutesy dimples and his antics that he ensured to use vicariously whenever he was with me.

A story straight out of a fairy tale – where the girl and the boy knew each other from before (4 years to be precise) but never really interacted.

And then on an unforgettable day like this, something magical happened – I first met him!

It will only be unfair if I skip mentioning that there were fireworks all above us – Not the metaphorical ones that we get to to read in every fine piece of poetry ever produced on Love – but there were fireworks, for real – with hues of pink, purple, and silver lighting up the heavens above.

Yes, we met in that crazy madness where people were being lathi-charged for illegally entering an all girls college during the two-day musical fest – Reverie – organized by its students union.

It’s about those days when Nadaan Parindey was none less than an anthem and Mohit Chouhan was a music sensation.

It is about those days when I Googled oxytocin for the very first time in my life, as I held on to that gush of emotions inside of me when he brushed past me. (The best part? He still doesn’t know it!)

It was about those moments when I had, for the first time, felt happiness (read: love) “differently”.

Saying that it was Pure Bliss will only ruin it. It was more, so much more, that even though the person who made me feel that way is now long gone, I am still compelled to write about it.

It was as if someone had enthused life in me.

It was the day when our story started, the very beginning of a beautiful journey…

Happy Birthday, A.

We loved, we despised;

We laughed, we cried;

We broke each other,

and never apologised.

So here’s wishing happy birthday to the one who changed my life in just a matter of 9 months.

How fast this time has passed.

Last year around the same time, we were dealing with our own set of problems like how to combat the awkwardness we felt in each other’s presence and how to kill those butterflies in stomach.

How we were still learning ways to avoid embracing each other for long during those bear hugs on our birthdays.

It’s funny how even the repeated anxiety attacks failed to deter me from sending presents your way when it was your birthday.

It’s astonishing how you pretended like it was something that didn’t please you much while you acknowledged that there was no need for me to “go out of my way” to celebrate your special day.

It’s amazing how subtly you revealed that day as to how you once wished that I entered your life before “she” did.

“No one has ever done so much for me. I still don’t know how to react. If only we met each other at a different point in life…” Your message read.

And I can’t deny that those words are etched on my heart even to this day.

I am sure you will never get it. The fact that the day of your arrival on this Earth meant something to me back then. It was THE day. To me, it was like Thanksgiving where I could literally count the endless reasons I was grateful for.

Like your mere presence in my life;

like how your sad jokes and wisdom combined at 3 in the night helped me reflect on the bad choices I made in this lifetime;

Like how your contagious spirit filled with all things positive always compelled me to acknowledge that despite all the scars on my soul, I was still beautiful;

Like how the child inside you always coaxed me into playing the games I would never play otherwise – in dreams and in real life;

Like how your indifference towards happiness and pain alike gave me another goal for life;

Like how your disconnect with the world always made me question the depths of love;

Like how your workplace antics helped me develop the necessary tactics to deal with those morons in office.

And I could go on and on and on…

But then,

All good things must come to an end.

After all, what we shared was no different than the rest.

Towards the end of those 9 months, we had reached our saturation.

The conversations became sour as the pillows turned soggy.

The demons were out, trading on the last shreds of vulnerability.

And in the end, both of us had no clue who was to be blamed for the end of that “terrific friendship”.

A year later, as I sit here contemplating whether or not to send you a birthday message, I know this.

Nothing good has ever come out of a never-acknowledged relationship.

When Diwali wasn’t about light, but darkness

I still remember the day when mumma had asked me to switch off all the lights that hung on the walls of our house on Diwali.

I couldn’t bring myself to terms with the fact that Diwali, which was supposed to be the festival of lights, had turned so dark for all of us.

Mumma had called Papa, asking him to leave everything aside and immediately come home from work.

Me and my super-excited brother had just returned home after shopping firecrackers.

But moments after we entered the house, I sensed a strange sense of calm prevailing all over.

Too young to anticipate the gloom of the impending doom, I stood there restless.

And the next thing I know – a doctor was inside my bauji’s (grandfather’s) room, giving some bad news to my parents.

I heard him explain how “sorry” he felt for our loss.

“We lost him to cancer” – My grandfather was no more.

Too afraid to go inside his room, I peeped through the door and watched him lay on his bed – motionless.

And by the time my mother stepped outside to tell me that I needed to blow the diyas and switch off the lights that hung outside, I was already hiding behind the refrigerator.

With tears in her eyes and prayers on her lips, she pulled me out and hugged me hard.

Confirming the news of bauji’s demise, she told me what had to be done.

Unable to process all that, I ran towards the staircase, only to find myself in a frozen state moments after.

Too perplexed to move my foot forward, I stood there as a dumb spectator.

The bag full of firecrackers was right in front of my eyes. And all I could see was darkness.

It didn’t matter even if the whole sky was full of colorful lights.

The flame inside our guiding lamp had extinguished, never to be rekinled again.

And all those objects of sparkle had lost their relevance. All that glitter made no sense.

People outside my house were greeting each other, exchanging gifts, and screaming out of happiness.

And all I could hear was the chant of final prayers, accompanied by the wailing cries for help.

And in my heart, I knew – Diwali won’t be the same ever again.

That moment of honesty..

The alarm in my phone goes off. It’s 5:02 in the morning. “I need to wake up but before that isn’t one supposed to sleep?” I ask myself secretly.

Needless to say, it’s the memories of you as usual, doing what they do best. Pushing me into self-loathing mode, with each flashback from the past killing my self-respect.

I have to be in office by 7am and yet I am contemplating not sleeping till the cab comes. The ghosts from a shared past with you are frightening enough as it is. I don’t need these memories playing the bad cop and arresting my peace.

Back in time, you are already down to level 2. All those kisses for no reason have surely worked wonders for you.

A friendly touch here and there is only a testament to the fact that you are trying too hard. And for God Knows what! You had my undivided attention since the day you asked me what I wanted to do on my birthday.

And as we steal glances for the umpteenth time, I can clearly see that desire burning in your eyes. Holding my hand in yours, you coax me into telling you about my past life. And as you saw me timidly trying to change the topic, you looked me right in the eye to tell me that you won’t talk to me if I don’t open up.

For a moment, I felt perhaps that moment of honesty was the only thing that ever mattered.