Everyone I know.

Ancestral voices by Firsov Kubla (from Wikimedia Commons)
everyone i know,
wants to tell me who i am.
everyone i know,
points at pinpricks of darkness and light
within me.
as if i didn't know they were there.
everyone i know,
tries to make sense of me
find the key to messy mystery
draw a map of my psychic history
trace the origins of my insanity.
everyone i know,
pokes and prods with sadistic glee
my squirms are their sorry victory.
everyone i know,
insists on reminding me
on rare times when the sunshine pokes through
that i am porous
and i will never retain the warmth long enough
to recover completely
to regain wholly
what i was once born with.
everyone i know,
revels in chiding me
that i know nothing of real pain
that my woes are but contrived
children of a needlessly cynical mother.
everyone i know,
is a voice of annoying wisdom
a speaker of irrefutable reason
a paragon of what i should be.
everyone i really know
is just another part of me.

One quarter please.

Courtesy: Ankita Shreeram
If I asked you to describe yourself first thing in the morning, before anything had befallen you, you'd still do it without skipping a beat. You'd probably give me the same answer every single morning. Perhaps you'd say "I'm a friendly, amiable person who likes going out and meeting new people. I like black and I love jazz. I like to dress comfortably and my favourite travel destination is Ibiza. My idea of a holiday is to relax on the beach with a beer by my side." In this vein, you could probably go on until I asked you to stop.

On the eve of my 24th birthday, I ask, what makes us such great authorities on who we are? Is there any law that stipulates that one's likes and dislikes must remain constant all through one's life? Why do we wake up every dawn with the burden of our memories - with voices of a dead past telling us who we are, what to do and what to wear? I don't want to get into a relationship because memory tells me that I have difficulty communicating and sharing my life beyond a point. Memory tells me that true intimacy scares the living daylights out of me. But what if I chose to discount all of that and make a decision based on instinct alone? Instinct comes from the heart, perhaps even a primitive knowledge of the soul. It does not come from colourless knowledge of facts that have long since breathed their last.

Memory is grossly overrated in our nostalgic, reflective times. We go over events and statements with a mental microscope like detectives seeking clues to an unsolved mystery. We ignore the present and choose to stay cloaked in a secret world built upon the pillars of things we've seen, heard, smelt, touched and experienced already. Sometimes, we shake off the cloak to find more fodder for this world. But we always go back. Always.

On 13th September, I shall celebrate Independence Day. Independence from the shackles of my own memory; from that strange soulless identity that tries to teach me what my fabric is made of. My fabric is a mutating, magical thing. It never remains constant and it is certainly no slave to yesterday's events. My fabric can be sewn into a different pattern every single moment of my life. And I can change the colour of the threads with a single thought; with the simple flick of a switch called intent.

I am completing nearly a quarter of the century that most humans these days seem to live and I'm still bound by memories of childhood, of innocent fears and baseless reservations. Hiding in a dark corner is a scared little girl who refuses to leave the safe confines of my head. This birthday, I must release her. I must let her walk away into the sunset of my past. While I stride forth into the sparkling future. Adulthood, unlike memory, is sadly underrated. Adulthood is confidence, freedom and the sensibility to absorb and appreciate art. Adulthood is indeed a doorway into everything that's miraculous and beautiful. 

Monsoon goddess

Courtesy: Ankita Shreeram

The sky peers at us
Through half-closed eyes
Irises a soothing silver-tinged gray
A gaze that wills us to believe
In the charm of a glow-less day

Darkening canopy of cloudless firmament
Somehow muting the downward sounds
Causing us to move with somnambulant ease
Slowing our heart-beats
And the pace of our ever-rushing feet

Birds – oblivious
Trees – felicitous
And humans? Humans – ignorant
To the warning of imminent storm
The sky is a crystal ball
But we choose not to see
Our innate clairvoyance submerged
Under layers of careless thought

Spotted aloe plants look on stoically
As sheets of rain dance violently
On tar roads and peeling windows
On bald heads and rusted, tin roofs
With every step, she seizes a little memento
No, the rain never returns empty-handed
She will scrape away tiny bits of you
But she will also leave behind
A precious whit of her own soul
A fair barter, in her swirling eyes

Sometimes, she comes wearing bangles
Their raucous jingle jangle
A worthy accompaniment to her primitive music
She is both musician and dancer
Both puppeteer and puppet

Some babies press their noses
To misted windows in glee
While others scream in terror
Pressing against their mothers’ breasts instead
Some would like to pirouette along with her
On diamond-strewn streets
Others wish murderously
For the music to be silenced forever

Today she dances a tribal dance
Her movements feverish
Her music unsettling
But yesterday, she performed a measured Kathak
Her lashings graceful
The thunderous rumblings almost poetic
She is a woman of many unpredictable moods
But I am swept away by every single one
For I am her daughter,
Nestled in her bosom when I was born
On a glorious monsoon morning in September
The city plump with its fill of rain
Belly positively bursting with stormy goodness
I drank from that fountain as a babe
I drink from it still and guess what?
It still tastes the same.