One Two Three

(Still trying to edit this some more)
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She didn’t even realise that she was making deep half-moon marks on her palm with her nails until the line connected at last after five, six, seven long seconds.

“Heya.” the ever chirpy voice of Sam chimed.

“So…” she faltered, flexing her palm, “About that spare bedroom you once told me about…”

There was a sound of a laptop screen slapping down.

“Oh crap.”

She started crying all the tears she had been saving up for later, much later.

“Lyla, listen to me.” said Sam, sitting upright on the bed, cursing all the people in the house his friend was about to run away from. “Get out of there. Now. I am coming.”

“I…” Lyla could barely throw the words out of her mouth, “I’ll be… I’ll be in…”

“I know. The bookstore.”

She started crying all over again, crying like she’d never known how to her entire life.

“Lyla.”

She somehow swallowed it in. “Yes.” she whispered.

“It’s going to be okay.”

“Okay.”

“You stand up now, and walk.”

She relaxed her palms again and looked at the few more half-moons she had created, and nodded.

“On three?”

“On three.”

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She adjusted her black habit with her left hand and flicked off the tiny bit of ash that had fallen on it.

“Hello, Sister.”

She fumbled with the white cigarette between her fingers and quickly hid her hand behind her.

“The smoke, sadly, will not hide at your command, Sister.” he smiled.

She sighed and spoke in her misplaced Southern American tones, “So, you’re going to?”

Father Isaac’s smile turned a little melancholic as he said, “I don’t think I have the right to.”

She frowned at him. “What happened?”

He sighed and waited for many moments before deciding to say, “My niece came to the confessional today.”

She looked at him, eyebrows raised. She knew his niece very well, had seen her grow up into the accomplished girl that she was now. She liked her, even though she hadn’t stepped inside the church, or any church, for many years. “Go on.”

“She said her family had sent her and that she hadn’t wanted to come because she suddenly felt their God and hers were too different to reconcile anymore. So she had waited till she knew for certain I was inside.”

“Are you surprised?”

“And then she started crying.”

She looked at his pained face and simply nodded. He went on, words running one after another, the way he used to speak when he was upset as a child, something he had rarely ever done since.

“She told me she loves a woman. She doesn’t know how not to. And she doesn’t know why this loving is wrong, but that she knows it is because that is why she was sent here. And so she wanted me to absolve her of her sins.”

He looked at her, with almost no expression at all on his face. Almost. And then he said, “I suddenly didn’t know why, either. So I told her I couldn’t absolve her of a sin that I wasn’t sure was one.”

She paused before she said, “And then?”

“And then I came here.”

This time she paused for longer. He looked at her and said, “I just didn’t know.”

“Yeah, I know. I wish I didn’t know you what you mean.” she sighed, “But I know.” and slowly she brought her smoke covered hands carrying the still lit cigarette in front of her. “Want to take it all out by stomping on something vile?”

Father Isaac smiled as she dropped the smoking cigarette to the ground.

“On three?”

“On three.”

The Winter Child’s Song

I put the star up on the tree and look around to see the glitter, golden and silver, clinging on to the black and white woollen geometric patterns on my sweater. Every year, some of the glitter falls off, and every year, I put some more on. I crouch against the back of the sofa and wriggle my fingers into the handle of my mug, curling them up against the warmth. The smell of coffee mixed with the cold and dry leaves – this is winter, the smell I want to trap in a jar and save up forever. Instead I have to make do with simple remembrance.

It is that time of the year, the one I wait for every remaining day. It is the time I feel the most hopeful, when naïve faith beats any tiny bit of cynicism I might have built up. All the days of locking myself up, heart breaking and making, all the shaking catches up with me, but for once, everything is okay. If only for a day. If only for a moment. It is okay.

And I know this is a skinny love, it ends too soon. So I remember it all – the tinsel on my shoulder, the bokeh lights on the ceiling and that smell, that smell that I am not allowed to keep to myself – and I remember them dearly, just to last another year.

Unsullied

There is a book that lies on one of my bookshelves that I will never open again.
The yellow cover will only become yellower.
Dust will settle on the edges of the paper and stay there.
This is the only change it will see.
Soon it will smell differently,
Older.
But I will never know this,
Because I will never smell it again.
There is a book that lies on one of my bookshelves that I will never open again.
Its spine will never see a crease.

I never finished reading it to you.

Tell me your dreams

Let’s start at the very beginning today, because I have a lot to say (I almost always do) although I’ll still try to be coherent (something I’m not quite feeling tonight).

I am a complicated girl. Not just the normal complications that come with being a human being, but many added confetti-pouring, darkness-dripping paradoxical facets that the maker thought would be extremely funny to throw on me. Which is fine, I like being this person even though it makes me want to beg for tranquilisers a lot.
I like creating things. Yesterday I went through our whole collection of photographs and saw that about 90% of the moments of leisure in my toddlerhood involved sitting down with a pen and a notebook and writing down, what I must have thought, Tennyson-like poetry (which infact was mostly curly-wurlies). So needless to say, this (and I am waving my hands over all the notebooks and pens and poetry strewn around me on the bed) was kind of inevitable.
I am a science student. I scored 9.8 on my 10th grade CGPA. I took up core science for my 11th and 12th grades. I scored 93.5% in my finals. I took up science again for my bachelor’s degree (RIDICULOUSLY analytical statistics). The catch? I never wanted to.

Two years into my degree and I am officially a mediocre student. Actually, that is being stupidly optimistic. By Indian standards, I am a bad student.
For the past one year I have attended classes everyday (barring health issues) and every single day I have felt stupid. And I wish I was exaggerating and I wish all of this was a big fat hyperbole, but it’s not. This year, all of it overwhelmed me enough to make me cry (the number of times I have cried in the past 4 years can be counted on one hand) and this academia-induced crying last happened in 12th grade with, no points for guessing, physics, after which I had sworn to myself that this won’t happen again. It did. Hurrah.
So what happened? Am I stupid? No. Not because I scored a 93.5% in my finals in 12th grade because that happened after almost murdering my entire soul and hence doesn’t count. But because I know what I can do, and I do them all pretty damn well. I have and will have great stories to tell if you’ll let me. Is it my fault that none of them are bound in calculus and normal distributions and projectile motions? Science is a beautiful world. But it is just not my world.
I work with words. And people. And ideas.
I am working with numbers.
And it is killing me.

I am not blaming anyone anymore. Firstly, I am too exhausted and do not have any modicum of energy to spare for blame, but more importantly, I know I now have a longer, ridiculously winding path ahead to do something that is remotely connected to what I want. Because even though all I feel is despair, I cannot give in to cynicism. It’s the last straw I have left and I’m not going to let anyone take that away as well.

So my dear fellow countrymen with your ever-growing obsessions that ruin lives – when a little girl or a little boy goes up to you and inevitably asks you the wide-eyed, hopeful question, “Can I be anything I want to be when I grow up?”, don’t, please don’t say, “Yes”. Because in 15 years you will completely forget that pact you made with a 5 year old and you will be sending yet another person down the road where they no longer know what to do. Not because they never knew what to do.

Rather they always did. But you took it away.

A Firefly and a Butterfly

Where do you go with your broken heart in tow?

Legend had it that they were of the same soul. She would have missed her, even if she hadn’t met her.

What do you do with the left over you?

They had pulled apart each vestigial plaster and only they knew how the other looked beneath it all, each mark of a bad day etched like constellations on their skins.

Where does the good go, where does the good go?

But then with the music turned up, they danced; she, at one end of the city, she, at another. They both knew, always, without a word exchanged.

Look me in the heart and tell me you won’t go.

After all it had all started there – two whispers piercing towards each other in a crowded room. They could always complete each other’s whispers.

Look me in the heart and unbreak broken.

“Be okay”
*Be okay*