Anika walked by gracefully. She was draped in a sari bought at a local flea market and a bindi larger than the rising sun sat on her glistened forehead ; owing to the 45 degrees… More
A W K W A R D
The word defines me. Mother should have
named me that – awkward.
My right foot came in front of my left
when I tried walking. I was one.
I tripped, fell and looked around, dazed.
A W K W A R D.
Math teacher wanted a
Math textbook for the
Math oral exam.
I ran clutching mine, the idea of her possessing MY textbook
for the examination, gave me the happiness of winning a marathon.
So, I ran.
hair flying everywhere/ limbs gone awry and
thrust the book right at her hand which
rested on a book. The collision tore the book.
her book, not mine.
I haven’t seen a face redder than hers till date.
There I stood being at the podium and in one moment,
someone punched me right at my stomach.
There you go – awkward.
Until, I met her.
Just like that, the jigsaw puzzle I was trying to solve for 12 years
had a face.
Apparently, I was holding the last piece in the wrong direction.
Effortlessly, we held hands and tiptoed our way right through
boys diwalis tears and broken hearts
bunny-teeth acne algebra and mondays.
Ours was an origami that no one could create
morse code communications no one could decipher.
Friendship so rock solid that no permutations or combinations could do us apart.
11 years ago, we met.
9 years ago, she left.
It’s been 108 months yet my closet of reasoning stays empty
but I have a room full of questions.
The four walls scream/ the ceiling a volatile emotional mess/ the floor
strewn with all pieces of puzzles and
no two pieces fit anymore.
I am done with it.
I am going to lock the door today and heat the key
in the furnace till it melts, evaporates and ceases to exist
for the naked eyes.
I trip/ I fall/ I stutter when new faces appear/I break things/
I am awkward,
But dropping the glass is sweeter than
stepping on the shards of someone else’s fault.
I don’t need faux magicians anymore.
This poem, is NOT for her.
because I don’t write poetry for airplanes that never take off
and this one was engineered wrong.
This is for YOU. Remember,
Somethings are better left lost.
Me and you?
We were one. Well,
Almost because the shimmer
Of distance composed of
City lights and waves dark
Darker than the souls we
Oh so beautifully share,
I left you because I thought
I needed more.
You were not enough. But all these years
I have had a page in my wallet
Creased with six lines.
The left side is zigzagged because I tore it from an atlas in my library.
It was Day 2
I was missing you.
And I’d forgotten to pack your picture.
I am here now.
The first time we met, after all these years
The smell of Rajma Chawal
Was all I received from my teary eyed mother
You? You refused to even look at me.
I get it. You were angry.
I can see the rust
That has crept up over the years.
I am an artist now. It
Shall be painted
With my set of oil pastels and water colours
And every other tool I possess until
the muck is obliterated
And colours will bleed at your every crevice.
As I walked and see more of you, I am aghast.
It is frustrating to look at you like this.
You have been trampled
And marred with blood
Where feet of size 3 ran
With bat and ball in their little fingers.
The sound of their laughter
that sang in every street that you proudly wore
Has been silenced. It is deafening.
But I promise,
I will sing for you.
I know there were times when
You cried for help
When her shrieking wont stop.
At 2 am, her tears were muffled
And humanity died a little in your arm.
And you called out,
Out loud but no one listened.
They slept on, in your other arm
Unaware and you?
Your arm was hurt but mended overnight
But the heart? A part of it ruined beyond repair.
I am awake now. I will hear you.
Every time it was just me and you
When I got back from school
Or a late night shenanigan,
You took my hand and squeeze it.
Assuring me that I should not be afraid of The dark. That I
Am safe in your embrace.
Today, you falter.
Your hands are shaking. I can see it in your eyes that you want
To tell me, You will be okay.
But you can’t. I know you love me
And you are afraid for me.
Come, give me your hand.
It will be alright.
You are lost. You are afraid.
Because there was a day, when
You gave hope, home and loved.
But the monsters trampled all over you
Slashing, digging, hurting you.
You can hardly breathe anymore
Your voice lost in the dead of the night
When you were screaming
help that never arrived.
But trust me.
I am here now
I am sorry to have left you.
You are my home.
I will make it alright.
Just some days,
You want to clutch on
To the strands that adore you
And pull it apart with every ounce of
And other days,
Tend to them
Like a new phone
Caressing it, tugging it
Behind your ears.
Also days come, when you
Want to wash the grim
And you stand there, repeating the task
Over and over again
Till you find it within you
To step out to wear
A new piece of cloth.
You can't change the body, the skin,
Or strands the wind
oh so lovingly wants to carry off.
Sometimes you want to be carried away too when
The silence of the echoes of conversations
Within you won't be replaced
With bass or strum or tune
And everyone around you,
Becomes a liability.
The first time my body realized
That it could feel things beyond
Pain, fear, happiness,
I constantly made a fool of myself.
The first time I reacted to the
Long island iced tea (of hormones) that
Coursed my arteries was when I was in 6th grade.
I was in LOVE.
I don’t remember the how and the why and the when of it but
Boy! The guy made my cells tingle.
And hence began the one sided saga
Of love and other things of a
Uniform clad – twelve year old- rabbit teethed girl.
All my free time was taken over
By his thoughts. Well,
That’s what they did in the movies!
Songs that had his name were
Searched, saved and played in a loop;
Smiling at the mention of the name.
Just like those long lost lovers living
In the two corners of the world would do.
My lunch in school comprised of three things –
Cream biscuits, fryms / Kurkure and peeking.
Not the peeking-tom kind, but more like
The devotees outside Indian temples,
Standing for 3-4-5 hours
To catch a glimpse.
Just one tiny glimpse
For just one second,
A glimpse of my super – HOT – hero!
Now, let’s talk about the ‘HOT’ factor,
I have this tendency to
Fall for people who the crowd
Doesn’t find to be good enough.
HAHA yayy! My inner goddess always does her
Ritualistic topsy-turvy step when I say this.
“No competition there woman!’
So while my friends saw
His oiled hair;
All I saw was how beautifully they shone.
While they thought he
Was an average looking nobody,
He was my Zac Efron and my Brad Pitt!
While they laughed at
His middle partition which
Ran right from the forehead to beyond,
Well, sometimes even I laughed with them.
Just like that, my Mirror
Who otherwise was a good friend,
A friend who was usually supportive,
A friend who looked exactly like me,
Only sometimes a tad but thin and a tad bit not-so-thin
With the change in the weather
Had become my nemesis.
Chiding me for the bushy eyebrows I was born with,
Showing me a ZIT!
A freaking real ugly not-disappearing-for-fifteen-days zit!
She had the audacity to point out
At the tufts of hair that grew
Right above my lips. Yes.
I had a moustache!
Also, my dear mother made me
Live with that till I was sixteen.
At this point, I would take a moment to bow down
To all those boys who fell for me,
At a time when even I wouldn’t have.
Thank you, for feeding me with false pride
That made me smile at days
I otherwise would have spent
With zero self-esteem.
A couple of changes
Discreetly crept into my routine.
Instead of ten, twenty minutes were spent
To look presentable in school.
There was the hair that had to be done meticulously.
Nails kept, kohl applied and
Lip gloss smeared on a pair of lips
That had never seen anything beyond ghee and petroleum jelly.
But let me make something clear
I never really wanted him
To love me back.
The thought never even crossed my mind.
This pea-brain was happy running around,
But all she ever craved for was
I remember this one time
When our eyes met.
I have never wanted to be more
Invisible than that day!
I kept staring
With an inane pair of huge, wide, unblinking eyes
Glued to the spot.
A heart galloping faster than Arion!
He looked away; I ran
To take cover under my self-loathe.
Well, basically I went back to attend my social studied class.
And thus went on the days;
He – nonchalantly handsome
Me- Well do I need to say anymore?
Until that day.
That day when Him and I were
In the same room,
In the same space,
On the same table
With twenty something people.
He is sitting there.
Two chairs to his right, empty.
Let me just run and
Take the one beside him.
No wait! No no no no no.
I’ll make a fool of myself.
What if he sees the tiny zit on my left cheek?
What if he finds me ridiculous?
What if he finds me stupid?
What if he finds me absurd?
Wait, don’t they all mean the same?
I’ll just sit on the other chair.
Who will sit in between?
What if it’s the pretty senior?
What if it’s the guy who smells of fish?
What if nobody sits and he ends up
Terming me an imbecile.
What’s with the synonym woman!
Thus began the never ending clamor
Between my inner goddess and me,
Till only the chair beside him was empty.
My Inner Goddess did
Five flips and a split.
She was on fire!
I went and sat awkwardly
Beside him, aware!
Aware of every word that
Left his mouth.
Aware of his every breath.
He breathed and I
Consciously tried to breathe in a rhythm
Trying to match it to perfection.
Twenty five times, he clenched his palm,
Six times he shuffled his feet.
Concentrate Amrutha, concentrate.
There are others, look. Look at them.
Oh seven shuffles
Look the fan! It is swirling.
A spider web! But his voice.
Can I talk to him? No!
Yes! The spider isn’t in the web.
Where is it?
Our legs are two inches apart.
Chocolate! Yes. I have to learn to make them.
I have to ask Neeta Aunty to help me with..
His palm accidentally brushed my fingers.
Oh lord the butterflies!
Butterflies from all over the planet
Seemed to have disapperated right
Into my stomach and
The part if my skin
That layered my finger,
Which he accidentally touched became
The most prices possession of my body!
“Hey! What do you think?”
“Huh?” I looked up.
He is asking me!
ME. Oh my god!
ME and NOT the twenty something faces
That all seem to stare at me.
They seem to see right through me.
They know everything I was thinking.
I looked at him.
And at that moment it was just him, I see.
Just him, I feel.
I grinned sheepishly and in a voice replied,
“I think it is perfect.”
(I don’t know what I was calling perfect. It was mostly, him.)
“You think so?” he asked with
Eyes, wide and curious.
Eyes, black and questioning.
Eyes, beautiful and smiling.
Eyes that want a YES.
And that is what I gave him.
“YES, I think so.”
And hence on the
Nineteenth day of the ninth month in the year 2007,
I had the first conversation with my first crush.
Depression. A word used often, but not always as it should be. People say, “I am depressed.” They sometimes confuse it with being sad. Depression is a disease. A disease that effects every 1 out of 4 people. A disease that should be spoken about, heard, redressed. Let’s talk, trust and carry the message forward.
This piece is a poem within a poem. One thousand seventy three words, and I still think I didn’t do justice to it. I hope, this helps someone somewhere. Also, if you feel anything like this talk to someone. Talk to me, if you want. Get help. You will be fine 🙂
Here it goes.
I am a mother
I saw my daughter in a shroud.
It was just yesterday,
When I held her;
And the midget was crying,
Life filling her with every breath.
She just lies there, denying to stir.
I cry out loud,
Cry her name,
Piercing the silence of the humming crowd.
I hold her like I held her for the first time.
But; she denies to stir.
It was just yesterday when
She took her first step towards me.
And another and another.
I stood there with arms wide open to catch her
If she falls.
She just lies there, denying to stir.
‘Tis was the autumn of the year 2002.
She rode a bike for the first time.
She laughed as she sped down the road, a laugh
So beautiful! Oh the autumn seemed to blossom out.
She lies there, denying to stir.
I..I think I said NO to half of those requests
Or probably more.
Is that where I was wrong?
Should I have said a YES to them all?
Cause may be, just may be
She would stir.
I remember when she was in 3rd grade.
Her best friend fought with her.
Clutching on to me for
3 hours 22 minutes 13 seconds.
And I held on to her.
Why didn’t she cry this time?
Why didn’t she come running to me?
I would have caught her.
I wouldn’t have let her fall.
But she didn’t.
And just lay there, denying to stir.
The other day, I saw some videos,
Videos on the World Wide Web.
Videos that might have answers
Answers as to where did I go wrong.
“The following are the signs of depression –
Appetite change, long periods of hopelessness,
Social withdrawal, concentration problems..”
Oh! That one time she didn’t attend the neighbor’s wedding!
Was that a sign?
Or that time when her grades slipped for a month.
I remember chiding her; was that a sign?
Or when she stopped having pizzas!
I stood there, thumping her on her back
To have finally listened to me; was that a sign?
She did come to me once.
She said, she sometimes didn’t feel.
I slighted it to be one of those times
I feel aloof.
Ignored it, to be a teenage whim.
“It shall pass”, I said.
“It’s just a phase.”
Is that why she denies to stir?
Or was it because I was less of a friend and
More of a mother.
The video said, I should have talked.
Words would have helped.
Words, the never ending plethora of sounds
Imbibed with meanings
Could that be a mistake?
“Give me my space mom.
I’ll tell you if I feel like.”
I gave her, her space.
I should have pressed on
Shouldn’t have given up on our daughter
Who lies there, denying to stir.
I played and replayed every memory
I could grasp, trying
Trying to solve the puzzle my daughter had become.
Trying to find my fault,
Right from the first cry till the last breath.
27 days 14 hours 32 minutes later,
I chanced upon a journal
And these were the last pages:
Talking, smiling a smile that never reaches my eyes.
I weigh one hundred sixty six pounds.
I am an acne clad, love tires armored
Couple of centimeters below the
Average Indian height.
Foot size – US size 9;
I could easily pass for a hobbit.
Short, overweight, myopic.
Just above average in everything.
Getting these (teeth) aligned
Required four extractions and
Metal wires strung for another four years.
Marred at places, broken too.
Striving every day,
Every day to be acceptable.
Bit I denied to break.
My feeds on Instagram and Tumblr
Filled with scores of people.
People with perfection.
Tall smart hot rich beautiful witty.
And there sat a girl
Holding on to the phone
Just above average, denying to break.
Fifteen years of outstanding performance,
Reduced and shattered to mediocrity.
Some scoops of peer pressure,
A dollop of ‘society ka burden’.
Yet, I denied to break.
Raging like a storm, harbinger
Of sleepless nights.
Breakups, hair fall, a broken arm.
But I denied to break.
You see, I had ignited a fire within me.
And all I needed was a unicorn to sweep me off my feet.
And thus, I lived on a life,
Of Paradoxical sonnet.
But unicorns don’t exists.
Three rotis became one.
Social gathering, a headache.
Sunny days turned pensive.
I was draped on the outside
With yards of skin and layers of clothes,
Adorning a perfect mask
But what about the inside
The part that lay bare, naked.
Naked; to be trampled.
Naked; to be whipped.
Naked; to be touched, stabbed once twice,
A hundred times?
“Get a grip of yourself.
Take deep breathes.
Count forward, count backward – 1.. 2.. 3..”
There were nights in my room
Days in the bathroom; lights on, lights off- it didn’t matter.
And I cried.
Cried behind doors, cried myself to sleep.
Sleep that stopped coming.
My BMI screaked at me to stop!
Friends became people.
People became crowd.
Crowd became beings with two arms and two legs.
Moving a foot felt like moving boulders.
I didn’t know what was happening to me!
Maa told me to talk.
Failed to express, failed to know,
Failed to come out of the bourgeois.
Failed to form, failed to articulate.
Letters became mere arrays of – A B G P X Y Z.
No switched to turn off, no anchors
To hold on to.
I had no choice but to silence
The disarrayed words, figures, body, mind
Heart and soul.
Thus, I write one last time.
The last time ink shall ever leave
The tips of my nib.
The last time I shall ever
Struggle to breathe.
Let me sleep.
I sat there holding on to it.
Stunned and lamented.
Lamented for reasons I didn’t understand; but would have.
Lamented for reasons I couldn’t wrap my head around; but would have.
Reasons, I knew I would have solved
If only, if only she would have
Let me catch her
Before she fell.
Holding on to the non-existing body
That denied to stir.
I sit by the window sill.
The world passes by,
Not stumbling once.
It’s as if it was born to
Walk and talk and never stop.
The cooing of the birds
Silenced by the never ending blare
Of the passers-by.
Rumbling along the crevices
Of the city untold
Undeterred, stopped by a red light or two.
The train continues its course.
A woman smiles looking at her son,
A man hastily picks up his phone.
I sit and watch it all unfurl
On my 7:01 to Luxembourg.
My day goes down
Like a mundane show
That is played with a hope to have
A visitor someday.
A life of utter brown and dull
Is what I live every day.
But I wait for my way back on the train
To look at the world alive.
Unseen in the never ending crowd
Of suited men and masked faces
I trudge back and wait for my train.
Stuck and beaten
By the things around
All I house is disdain.
My train to Luxembourg and home
Is my only track to reign.