Scars have stories to tell

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My body is a temple and my scars have stories to tell.

Day 1

When the first guy I ever let me touch
Told me I was beautiful,
I left the room immediately.

I ran to the empty adjacent room and locked the door. My heart was beating, like a fish out of water, gasping for breath. I was trembling.
A pit had formed in my chest.
I looked at the mirror and stripped myself off
Of every layer of cloth
That i wore to cover my insecurities.

21 : 34 pm
I stand naked
In front of the mirror, trying.
Trying to find one inch of skin
That made him tell me that.

30 sec
I look away.
What was i even thinking?
Body and beautiful are antonymous.
And when it came to me, they can never be a part of the same sentence.

45 secs
I take a deep breath and force my eyes to look back.

I look at the colour palette that my skin has become.
Arms, the darkest,
Face adorned with spots of all sizes and shapes,
Torso, two shades lighter than the back.

1 min 30 secs
My eyes catch the long scar that courses my left abdomen. It’s been there since forever. Mom still breaks down every time she talks about the surgery.
I move on.

2 mins
It’s been over 15 years.
But i still cannot look at it.
I call it ‘IT’, as if not saying it out loud or ignoring it’s existence will make me forget. Forget, the hands that brushed it, multiple times and me thwarting the worst from happening.
My clothes protected me. Or at least, tried to.
I knew something was wrong.
And I knew how to run.
And I was lucky.

2 mins 55 secs
I have reached the legs.
Thighs with cellulite and stretch marks makes me avert my eyes immediately forward to the knees that are slightly deviated.

3 mins
I reach the scar on my left foot.
This, has a happy memory.
It’s of a time when I wore whatever mom told me to. And mirrors were just used to comb my hair into a poney tail.
I’d fallen off the ‘Koi Mil Gaya’ scooter
Which had taken 2 weeks of convincing to get.
I come back to the present.
The laughter is lost.
It’s beyond my memory’s ability to hold on for too long.
It’s like a fist full of sand.
It echoes like a ghost of an unknown past.

3 mins 35 secs
This?
This cant be beautiful.
This isn’t beautiful.
It’s a map of my insecurities that cannot be privy to anyone’s eyes.
I dress myself again.

4 mins 02 secs
Hey Baby!
I am sorry to run off like that. I know it’s been three years but i still need time.
I am not ready.

4 mins 30 secs
Hey Love!
I understand.
I love you.
You are beautiful. Okay?
Sleep now. 🙂
Day 2

17 : 34 pm
I walk into my home to find him standing there with open arms and a smile that still gives me butterflies.

1 min
He takes out a marker from his pocket.
“Do you trust me?”

1 min 02 secs
“I do.”

He undresses himself.
He takes the marker and retraces every scar
That mar his body.
And with every tracing,
he tells me his story.
The stories I have always wondered about.
Stories, that make his eyes mellow for a moment
but lighten up in another.
Stories that makes me believe.
Believe that I am not alone.
Believe that scars can be beautiful.

And that we are all on the same boat
Trying to hide pain from each other,
Shying away the moment we see emotions creeping out,
Afraid to talk
Afraid of feelings,
Afraid to be vulnerable,
When all we need, is to strip off the layers in front of each other
And embrace being the
Gods and Goddesses
we are.

I AM BEAUTIFUL.

YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

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The Town of Theseus

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 celsius on an October afternoon.

She paused for a moment to makes sure her purse was still there. Her hair was awry. As if she had taken all the time in the world to make sure her sari pleats sat perfectly horizontal to one another but the hair was ignored into a messy blob. The scent of Casablanca lily wafted through the street as she made her way.

Ram Gali had been glorious in it’s time. It boasted of chattering men and laughter of women as they came every Sunday morning to buy the week’s grocery. The temple in the corner made the most money on that day and the hawker’s faces carried a smile and a bag full of rupees when they went home for the evening.

But a building was erected on a parallel street and the cacophony of Ram Gali started dying out. Rumour had it that the place sold everything in one place. It was air conditioned and ran over 12 hours a day. They called it a ‘MALL’. The only ‘maal’ the city knew was in the CDs hidden under the pillows and at the backs of their cupboard. And just like that, it became the spot for Sunday chores.

This was 10 years ago.

Today, Ram Gali was an abandoned road. Even the saccadic masking didn’t hide the ghosts of conversations and tobacco imprints had started fading from the side walks. The street was surprisingly clean with zero signs of cow dung. The walls had inscriptions of a ruling party that did not win a single seat this time. The shutter of half the shops remained closed for quite a while now and the ones open were counting their breathes. The lazy shopkeepers swat flies, watching the cricket match under the hot air emanating from the table fan which dozed lazily from right – to – left and back right. The oscillating wall clock waltzed to it’s usual rhythm chiming every time the minute hand touched number twelve.

The lone temple managed to get a small crowd on Saturdays but on Sundays, the pujari opened the doors just during the evening Aarti for the lone girl who was a daily visitor for over 25 years now. The mundane street lit up every Sunday when she walked in, carrying her beige umbrella, maroon hand purse and a familiar smile. She would go to the temple, offer her prayers and a measly 25 rupees to the coin box. She then walked around the temple clockwise, four times and walk out to Karim Bhai’s shop for a glass of lemonade.

Karim bhai had seen Anika coming to have his infamous lemon juice with a zest of mint since she had learnt how to walk. Anika and her Baba were his favourite customers because they were the only folk in the town who appreciated his innuendos. Sunday routine for him was like a well oiled machine till one day he saw her coming alone. Her eyes spoke myriads but her poise remained stout. Such was the enigma she carried with her. Silent tears trickled down her eyes as she savoured every sip of her routine lemonade. She left the ten rupee note beneath the glass and all Sundays thus, she came alone.

Today was one such afternoon. Her walk was slower than usual. The sari was meticulously draped and her eyes wandered around as she walked towards the temple.

The pendulum seemed to have gained it’s momentum. The sound of television sets were playing in a 2X speed and the sun seemed to be running towards the horizon. In no time she arrived to savour her last sip of her last glass at Karim Bhai’s. She inhaled it all in. The smell of dirt and sweat, interspersed with fading blue paint and forgotten footpaths, the sound of the table fan competing with the blare of the third umpire’s discussion ; while clutching on to the empty glass that was still cold. She stood up, walked up to Karim Bhai and left a paper note on his table and stepped out of the shop, never to look back.
Karim Bhai stretched his hand to grab the familiar 10 rupee note but found a six figure cheque lying on the timber. He ran out of his shop to find Anika but she was long gone.
That day, Ram Gali lost it’s ikigai.

The town, under the siege of black suits and crisp shirts was undergoing massive transformation. They trampled over the old, bit by bit ; replacing the stalactites and stalagmites that had grown in the streets with towering buildings. Taking one plank at a time they rebuilt the ship to an apparent new glory. They claimed that nothing’s changed. It’s just the foundation that needed revamping. They called it their very own ‘Town of Theseus’.But somehow, between two towering giants of glass and cement, Ram Gali had survived. Against all odds it had continued living and preserving the primordial.

 

But today, it closed it’s eyes forever.
Once you strip her off, of everything old, does any amount of new feel the same?