Category: personal

Old Letters and Cologne #Ramblings 1 

My love is gone. 

My life has fallen apart. 

And I miss it. Miss him. 

There is a gaping hole in my heart.

That nothing can fill. 

But still. 

I read old letters, I smell your cologne. 

And for a few moments, I don’t feel so alone. 

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Collecting Souvenirs

In my family, I am known as the hard drive. From about the age of 2 years, I can recall details about the 10 schools, 18 houses and 8 cities that I have spent my life in.

For special instances, like a life altering event, for instance, when my grandparents died, I can recall everything. Who was there, what were they wearing, the clouds in the sky, the smell of incence sticks. For such instances the files in my brain have HD video with Dolby surround sound, and often slow motion effects in sepia filters.

But I am also growing up. And the more memories I make, the more I am fearful that I may forget. Since I pride over my abilities to recall, it is crucial for me to remember. What will happen when I grow old? Since I am the one who makes people remember tiny little details, who will remind me then?

We love to travel. My family is a travel freak family. But collectively, we came to realise, that after seeing so many things, your memories tend to blur at times. Photographs are there, but in this digitised world, who has the time to go through files looking for a particular image.

This made me think about journals. Now, as I child I wrote diaries for quite a long while. They were my friends and confidants. You can imagine the despair my little heart went through, as I had to change yet another school and city. However, as time went by, their secrets became heavy, for them and for me to carry. And so I stopped.

Years later, I have mustered courage to do it again.

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AT Chandertal, Spiti, Himachal Pradesh

Hopefully, this time, I will not stop.
Each sketch, as and when I make them, will have the date and place.

I can imagine myself, years later, alone somewhere, or perhaps with my grandchildren, going through these journals, and instantly being able to feel the cold, bone chilling winds of Chandertal or the aromatic pine winds of Kinnaur.

I have for a while associated diaries with the darkest phases of my life. Despite the strength I derived from them, they also held those secrets which I feared would incenerate my image in front of all those I hold dear. And who, have no idea of what I go through.

I wanted to change my views on an activity so intrinsic to my survival. This time, I have decided to record all the good and the beautiful in my diary. Instances, quotes, sketches.
The mind and heart are enough for the bad. Its the good I need to be reminded of, time and again.

Its a bit late to make a new years resolution, but by putting this out here, I am hoping I can hold myself accountable. Lets see.

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At Kalpa Valley, Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh

What is your favourite book and why?

Every time I read book, it seems that my internal chemistry has been altered. I feel different, as if my stomach is no longer where it should be, my knees feel wobbly, my limbs go wonky and my mind refuses to come back to reality.
It is this, out of this world feeling, that makes me read more.

I have read many, and loved many, and my conscience wouldn’t sit at ease if I didn’t recall them all.
However, as I am, in my current self, on this day, writing this piece, there is one book which keeps echoing through my sub-conscience.

And that is
“And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini.
There is no one particular reason why I chose this, but a few different ones, which I will try to spell out.

I have travelled all my life.
Every two or three years, a family of four would humbly pack up their entire universe and set course to some place new.
There was never any permanence in our life. Life has been a beautiful unsettling chaos.
The country of Afghanistan has also been craving some stability, some permanence. Afghanistan and I are both vagabonds, looking for our roots, trying to establish ourselves, while undergoing constant turmoil.

Set within the heart of Afghanistan, this book narrates stories which are heart wrenching, painful, complex and human. Each tale involves a character in the process of soul searching, to understand who he is, and who he is not.

The narrative depicts the different bonds that can exist between sibblings.
I am the eldest child in my immediate family. Even before I could identify myself as an individual, I was an elder sister, to three adorable sibblings.
If one were to ask me, who I was,
I am “Didda” before anything else.

It is Abdulla and Pari’s story that resonates the most with me. Destiny plays her cruel hand, and two sibblings get lost in this big wide world.
The brother keeps souvenirs of his long lost sister with him all his life, hoping to one day meet her. While Pari continues to feel conflicted about who she is and where she has come from. She has nothing but a hunch that someone had existed, a mere shadow from her past?
Years later when they finally are re united, a twist of fate still wrecks them.
What is left is a box of souvenirs, that Abdulla cherished all these years, and that Pari doesn’t  remember why.

Like Pari, my little brother also had the habbit of collecting feathers.
Through years of scavenging, trespassing  neighbour’s properties, he managed to amass a collection any bird enthusiast would be proud of.
But then time passed, he grew up, and a passion got relegated to a mere childhood hobby.
Since I have read this book, I have been collecting the rarest, and finest feathers to gift my brother on his 18th birthday, as my contribution for his long forgotten passion.

As an elder sibbling, I feel Abdullah’s anguish. Unlike him, I can watch my sibblings grow and evolve into unique individuals with flaws and attributes. Like a catterpillar transforms into a butterfly; I see them fall, and rise again. At every fall I rush at their aid, and have to painfully stop myself. For how will they learn to fly and soar if they don’t taste mud and blood.
As time goes by, Abdullah and I reminiscence about what their life is and will be like, do they need us anymore? Do they remember?
They are growing up, and alas it seems that we are growing apart. The world is too wide for an elder sibbling’s heart to be at peace.

These three souls are my entire universe. Whatever I am, whatever I have done is because of them. And I would be nothing without them. Just like Abdullah could never be the same again

Ma

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You told me I was beautiful.
Ma you made me strong.
Why do I now think,
That somewhere you were wrong.

You made me humble.
Ma you made me kind.
Why do I not remember,
When there are storms in my mind.

You made me gentle.
Ma you made me appreciate life.
I wish I had remembered,
Before I found the knife.
-Fictionatrix

Little Secret #6 – Anxiety

Anxiety is the uninvited guest that depression brings to the party, which you are coerced to attend.

I have always been an artist. However the past two years I have done nothing. The monster in my head keeps me from enjoying the things I love the most.
It was a cycle of hate I couldn’t escape.

The past few weeks have been quite an anxious time for me. I was crippled by insomnia and couldnt function like a proper human. I was always on the edge, waiting to explode.
I tried a multitude of things to help me cope, but all failed.

Then finally, out of curiosity, I took out an old sketch book that had been lying unused.

Sketching after such a long time made me even more anxious. I kept telling myself that it will look horrible and that I am doing nothing but just wasting more time. I tore about 5 sheets after mere incoherent scribbling.

However, once I started, I couldnt stop. I guess, the first step is the hardest.

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The past few nights I have been sketching everytime before I go to sleep. Now it hasn’t actually benefitted my sleep schedule, however it does give me a little sense of satisfaction.

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As you can see, I started small. Since I had so much trouble at starting.
With a simple feather.
I have a certain unexplainable fascination with feathers.(More on that later)
Then I progressed slowly to making things that may take more energy and effort.

It has been a challenge to revive my cognitive interests. Reviving my muscle memory. I hope I can stick to this plan.

Because my art supplies have been eating dust. Its a shame how at one time I wanted to make a career in fine arts. And today mere doodling is a challenge.

But I will keep swimming.
And try to attain a sense of balance.
Like the yin and yang I just drew.

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What do you do to sleep at night?
Have any of your dear interests and hobbies been affected by mental illnesses?
Any tips for curing my insomnia?
All ideas are welcome.



Walk

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Walk and keep your eyes on your goal.

Even when the Sun shines down upon you…

and your troubled soul is anchored.

Even when they call you names and stab your back,
and your spirit is shattered.

Even when there is no one to trust but yourself.
When the path is too dark to see your shadow.

Walk.
Just walk.
Breathe in…and walk.

None of this will matter.
Not those people, not those fake friends and real enemies.
Not those unfinished goals and broken dreams.

None of this will matter if you can just walk.

Walk away,
Walk ahead,
Walk alone.

Because its the walk, it is the journey that makes you worthy of the destination.

I have been having trouble recently. Walking away and walking alone takes a lot of courage. You have to swallow your pride. You have to let go of relationships that you thought mattered.
The journey is not about who reaches there the fastest.
It is about who can pick themselves up, after falling and still have the courage to continue walking.

May you always find courage within your heart.

What makes Jawaharlal Nehru University Special?

Years ago, there was a certain, highly coveted institution of magical learning that was shut down.
The Ministry of Magic disagreed with its practices and the Daily Prophet went on to spread lies about its functioning.
Cornelius Fudge was on a rampage and Dolores Umbridge was appointed to take matters into their control.

What happened next was a series of acts to punish students, eductional decrees that prohibited them from basic functions like going in groups and having discussions.
No opposition was allowed or tolerated. Will this be our future?

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As a graduate student in Delhi University, I would look at J.N.U with awe. Those students seemed so well informed and in control of their lives. They had stand points and opinions,had in depth understanding. They stood for what was right, what was human and made their opinion matter. They made headlines,they shaped politics, they made the present and they made history.
The three years in my Graduation, I wanted to be just like them.

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The media has a very different, stereotypical understanding of what Jnuites are like.

“Leftists kahinke”

“Khadi kurta donned charasis”

“Dadhi waale radicals”

Who, according to many, run the narcotics trade in this country.

J.N.U they believe is home to and a breeding ground for communists, radical feminists, anarchists, naxalites, maoists, and now even anti-nationals. These are beef eating, devil worshipping misguided stoned youth who are wasting tax-payers money.

However, in just the one year that I have spent in this place, I have seen a very different world.
A world where one can truly be themselves. Where every opinion was appreciated, even encouraged. Because all opinions deserve the same platform and equal respect.

I studied Political science for 3 years in graduation, and dissented the whole idea of politics vehemently.
But after coming to J.N.U I have truly understood who stands left, right and centre, and why. Because here I get to witness mere theory in active practice!
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Most of us don’t even have political associations. Even I don’t adhere to any ideology or political association. 
We see practical results, based on what the counsillors have done for the centres and then we caste our votes. Not once were we pressurised to follow an agenda. We joined in large numbers because their agendas made sense to us. We joined because we believed in their argument.

The recent events have been coloured with the wrong brush. Media trials and hashtag trends have distorted the truth.
What the students union did was merely support the rights of an alternative minority opinion to have its freedom of expression.

As is depicted by this very famous quote allegedly attributed to Voltaire.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
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From where I stand, the situation has grown beyond what each of us thinks individually. There is no black and no white, just a whole lot of greys.
And amidst this, the unity of J.N.U is nothing short of beautiful.
We are united and are very clear in what we stand for. And that is the sanctity of J.N.U as a democratic space.

In our opinion nothing justifies police presence on campus or Bajrang Dal on our gates questioning students.
The fact that I was scared to express my opinion for all these days, is proof of the fear that the current scenario has left on us.
Today it is J.N.U, tomorrow it could be any other University.

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But, yesterday I saw almost 20,000 people on the streets of Delhi, Teachers, students, social activists, city dwellers, karamcharis even Journalists. All supporting the idea of J.N.U and its cultural ethos. All supporting the idea of democracy in educational institutions.

Voltaire, in his Treatise on Toleration(1763) said,
“The supposed right of intolerance is absurd and barbaric. It is the right of the tiger; nay, it is far worse, for tigers do but tear in order to have food, while we rend each other for paragraphs.”
This can be paraphrased to fit our digital age of TRPs and Retweets.

But the matter of the fact remains that Jnuites are as much a part of this great Indian Democracy as anyone else.
As students and as citizens of this great nation I think everyone has a right to be heard.
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I am proud of this nation and its institutions that work for the people, but  I am also proud of this educational institution I worked so hard to get in.
Because today if I can have an informed opinion, about a pleothora of subjects across the canvas globally, it is because that I get to live in breathe in this space. It is J.N.U that has given me the courage to stand for others, and the confidence to stand up for myself. And I hope that its sanctity shall remain sacrosanct.
And if you were to ask me, I’d do it all over again.