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.

Advertisements

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.

Take me back to those days…

And she looked back at the time when the biggest craze perhaps was to blow the candles and make a wish right before cutting the cake which was custom-made just to celebrate her arrival in the world.

This is about the time when the biggest dilemma was to choose a partner to accompany her to every classroom to distribute sweets in the school.

It is about the time when setting the parrots free from the cage every year gave her the most satisfaction, and perhaps made her feel human.

It is about the time when distributing the halwa poori to the less fortunate outside the temple made her feel richer at heart.

It is about the time when birthdays weren’t just days to wear new clothes, but to beat everyone else in the presumed fancy dress competition that came alive every year till she entered teens.

It is about that time when the musical chair was the only game where people played politics.

It is about that time when each gift was unwrapped with utmost care and finesse, so as to preserve the packing paper and the tag to utilize later for someone else’s birthday.

It is about that time when all things glittery and colourful made more sense than ever.

It is about that time when choosing your own flavors and frosting for the cake gave you the real sense of accomplishment.

It is about that time when life didn’t frown and there were happy faces all around.

They ask me what love is, and I sigh..

They ask me what love is, and I am left with a blank face, and a hollow heart, the deep-rooted emptiness which echoes through my thoughts everytime.

Love? I sigh.

It is the lifetime of wait.

For that one person to return, who, you know, will never look back again.

Love is strengthening.

It is gathering all your broken pieces again, fixing them to create something so beautiful that your vulnerable heart grows fonder in awe.

Love is enduring.

It is facing the same person who has broken you, day after day, till the time you become indifferent to the hurt his mere presence causes to your being.

Love is forgiving.

The person who brought you more pain than happiness – just to make peace.

Love is letting go.

Of all the hurtful memories even when your insides are screaming not to.

Love is being kind.

Even when your ego is tearing apart the humility inside you, each time.

Love is pure.

It not only dips your heart into affection, but submerges your soul.

This month, last year..

September 10, 2017:

K: Did you ask him for the morning shift?

A: Yes, I did and he said okay.

And, we have finally progressed to WhatsApp. (*Claps)

K: It’s ME, not WE.

September 11, 2017:

A: Feel hungry

K: you can always treat yourself.

A: I am saving up for your treat. It better be grand now.

Kriti, Have you even decided the venue yet? Tell me, where are we going for your birthday?

K: I checked some places online, listed few options. Help me choose on Saturday?

A: wait a second. You are in shift tomorrow, right?

K: yes, I am.

A: we can go downstairs when I come; and talk. The roster will be out too by then.

September 12, 2017:

A: I will go, cook something for myself.

K: you skipped dinner? You could have ordered na…

A: you weren’t there. Eh!

K: does that even make sense now? So you won’t order if I am not there?

A: No.

It’s too much work. And then you don’t know whether to offer some to people sitting next to you or just eat selfishly.

You are my order girl.

K: That’s not a very appropriate term, I would say.

A: That’s what you will be on your birthday.

September 13, 2017:

A: Thanks (For the Chocopies).

It was a very nice gesture.

K: 😊

A: You do so much for me. Now I have even more reasons to look forward to on your birthday.

September 14, 2017:

A: So, which places?

K: Let’s just forget that I shortlisted any. Essentially coz it’s not a short list to choose from. (Shares screenshots of the bookmarked places on Zomato)

A: Wow! You made it so easy for me. Just 36423 places to choose from.

Let’s go to Handi pure vegetarian. Ghaziabad.

K: I told you some of these bookmarks are ages old but no. You don’t listen to me.

A: can’t I use an opportunity to crack a joke?

September 15, 2017:

A: Mote (fatty), what’s up?

What did you do on your day off?

It was so congested in the front row today that we all had to squeeze in to make way for one another.

By the way, did you decide anything then? Are you calling everyone from work then? Do you think they all would be able to make it at the same time?

Oh! And did I mention that….

(**Kriti interrupts him and punches him with a sarcasm so tight that he is now tighlipped.**)

A: I am warning you. The more you mess with me, the more beers you will have to treat me with on your birthday.

One more punch (of sarcasm) and I am adding more beer(s) to the total bill you will have to pay.

September 16, 2017:

A: Well, of all these places I think we can go to Nehru place. There’s LOTD and Social there. I hate Hauz Khas – too many people there.

And by the way, I will pay my share. It’s not a treat.

K: Cool! You can go alone in that case.

Treat yourself. Pay for it. Come back. Text me to tell me how was it.

A: *Note to self – Don’t piss off Kriti*

September 17, 2017:

A: Calling everyone?

K: I believe, technically, it will be just the two of us.

A: And i thought it would be better if two people discuss many many things rather than 6 people discussing how fucked up our jobs are and trying to overcome the social awkwardness

K: Duly noted. And btw, I know why you said that it will be so boring with all the people from the workplace showing up on my birthday. Ofcourse, I know what you were suggesting.

A: That was quiet bitchy of me though. Wasn’t it? 😛

K: Things we do to get what we want.

September 18, 2017:

A: What happened? Tell me quickly.

K: You must be tired. You should sleep.

A: I will keep asking till you feel better or till I feel miserable.

K: I have a lot to learn from you.

A: I am suddenly feeling sleepy.

K: Me too.

A: I was in half mood to eat one of those Chocopies you gave me, but decided not to.

K: I can’t stuff it in your mouth now. :/

A: Wouldnt that be so great? If only you were here.. I would make you put some chocopies in my mouth and then sing me to sleep.

K: Woah! That escalated quickly. Aren’t you the biggest wannabe alive?

A: Aren’t we all?

September 19, 2017:

A: Tomorrow is the day.

Happy Birthday in advance (just in case I doze off early).

K: (Disappointed at the early wish, and unsure of the life-changing moments tomorrow (20th September) was supposed to bring, she says “ok, bye.”

A: What’s wrong?

K: (Sighs) Nothing.

4 years and counting…

Yes, this is another clichéd yet mandatory post that I have to write on the eve of your birthday – not only to wish you the best in life, but to remind myself that despite your absence, I am still alive.

First things first.

1. It’s been four years since the space between us grew so much that we couldn’t recognize each other from a distance. And yet each time that I close my eyes, I see you holding my hand.

2. All the letters I wrote to you are still lying unattended just like those feelings that creep up every now and then, demanding the closure between us.

3. I pause, and look back from where I started. Gathering all the broken pieces of my being, trying to fix each one of them, one day at a time.

Sigh. I have definitely gained a lot of insights. Like how forevers just sound perfect in all the romantic novels and those clichéd conversations and how the concept of everlasting relationships only exists in the world of writers.

4. I’m certainly on the verge of reaching the ‘Pinnacle of Success’ in my career but it still feels hollow inside, and only my heart knows why.

5. I still use earplugs and cotton buds whenever people bitch about me or talk behind my back, but the cotton roll you gifted me right before you left me is still packed as it is. I’m afraid it won’t be sufficient to contain all the voices of hurt and frustration that your absence filled my heart with.

6. This year, I didn’t buy you any birthday present. And it is not because the memory of you is slowly fading away, but because I am running out of space to store all the gifts and cards I have been saving for you in all these years. I waited for you every year, and you never showed up.

7. Ever since you walked out on me, I used to secretly wish that something or the other happen(s) to me so that I cease(d) to exist.

But today, when the doctor diagnosed me with tuberculosis, I realized how fragile this human life is, and it occurred to me that may be, what we shared with each other was just a lie. A lie that seemed so real at one point in time that I premised my entire existence on it.

But then one day, you walked away, decided never to look back again. And that was it.

The show was over. The curtain was lifted. The only thing no one noticed was that the protagonist in this story fell really hard from the roller coaster of emotions, and hit her head so bad that the casualty was her individuality, and the cost that she had to pay was her sanity.

8. Every year I write to you, not because I secretly keep hoping that my words will reach you, but because I know that deep down inside, somewhere in the marooned corner of your mind, you wish to read it too!

9. We fell apart from each other and yet we are growing together. I know that my insecurities will never serve any purpose just as you know by now that I have never loved anyone just as much.

10. Four years have gone by and yet my heart is still stuck on that boy who was waiting outside my college on a cold night of January 2011. Waving at me from across the road with a dimple on his cheek and a Harry Porter-like smile on his lips. And the next thing I knew was that the fireworks inside my heart glittered more than the ones exploding in the night sky.

Seven years hence, a part of me still wants to believe in the depth of his feelings and the righteous streak inside him, and I know that no matter how hard I try, I can never hate him.

As each year passes by, it makes so much more sense as to why it all happened, and I, I just can’t seem to stop loving him.

To the one who, knowingly and unknowingly, taught me so many lessons.

To the one who changed my entire perspective towards life…

Happy birthday, (my) starlight. I hope you shine the brightest.