FAR AWAY

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It’s a beautiful day.

Clouds sail to and fro

Across a sunlit sky.

An occasional light shower

Reminds me of spring,

At the crossroads where

Newborn monsoon meets late summer.

It’s a beautiful day ;

But, with you so far away,

I hardly enjoy it, heedless of

Whether it’s late June or mid-May.

The roads and the trees seem to drown

In the sky’s glistening tears

And the half-hearted sunlight.

It’s a beautiful day ;

Yet, I find no delight

In watching the birds fly home

Across the fading daylight.

I wait for your call, all day,

As I prepare myself

To hang onto every word you say.

It’s a beautiful day ;

But, it grows more beautiful still,

Whenever I imagine you smile

On hearing my delighted squeal.

Words can’t describe how I feel,

On this beautiful day,

When you are so far away.

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TEN THOUSAND TIMES

“I love you” –

I hear myself say,

Ten thousand times a day.

In my throat forms

This little knot of love,

Each time I watch you

Leaving, from above.

And I fall hard, for you,

I really, really do,

Ten thousand times a day,

Whether in November or in May.

Ten thousand times I inhale,

Your sweet, heady, male smell,

Caressing your clothes, kerchief,

Or your partly wet towel.

Ten thousand times

Your name I scream,

When, at dawn,

The stars grow dim.

In solitude, tension,

Anger or evasion,

I love you with

A steadfast passion.

And if I were to die tomorrow,

Surely, it won’t be from sorrow –

Dying for love’s a better way,

If I were to die some day.

Ten thousand times will I swear this,

And seal it with a tender kiss.

Fear

People, closed spaces, crowds, helplessness, losing people, losing jobs, loving too much or too little, reptiles, insects and worms – these are some of the things I’m afraid of. I’m around thirty years old, give or take a couple of years, an editor by profession and out-and-out modern in my approach to life. I’m outdoorsy, love shopping, eating out, travelling, cooking, music, books, perfumes, watches, dresses, shoes and so much more. I’m a woman, normal in every respect, who takes life, work and relationships seriously; I’m a woman who cries when hurt and bleeds when cut. I’m a theist, a believer in good and therefore, I also believe in the presence of evil and in ghosts and demons and the rest as manifestations of that evil. I realize, every moment, that I’m human and that I, therefore, have human failings – fear is one of those failings. I face as much of it as the next person and I have my own ways of dealing with it, so that I can keep moving forward, past my fears, fighting them instead of giving in to them and coming to a standstill.

Once upon a time, not very long ago, fear used to rule my every action, every thought even, until I was so deep in my own darkness that I used to contemplate about killing myself and putting an end to the suffering. This lasted until I realized that nobody could help me unless I picked myself up and out of the darkness I was in. I also realized that the more you try to shun fear, to avoid it or deny its existence, the greater is its hold over you. So I learnt to acknowledge my fears to myself and others, in spite of the fact that people have laughed at my fears, loudly and often. I realized that bravery lies, not in being unafraid and therefore, foolish, but in acknowledging fear as being real and in being wary of the object of your fear. Once I realized this, the rest wasn’t easy; but I knew that I could scale this mountain, slowly but steadily. Overcoming fear is like climbing a never-ending staircase – one step at a time, placing one foot in front of the other and climbing upwards. And fear doesn’t hamper my day-to-day life anymore.

I’m not at all ashamed to admit that my greatest fear is of people – not reptiles or worms or insects or darkness, ghosts, height and so on, but people. I’ve been bullied, abused, ignored, duped, cheated, ill-treated, threatened – by people. Yet I still go out every day and socialize with people for three reasons – I need to face my fear instead of running away from it; I’ve realized that experience is a better weapon than ignorance, and that not all people are bad – if I’m alive and thriving today, it’s because I’ve been helped by a lot of good people. The scars from the past, however, are a constant reminder that not everybody can be trusted and therefore, I need to be wary at all times and never let my guard down. The most painful experiences have nearly always come from the closest quarters – people who I thought of as family or friends. And these experiences have led to  the realization that fear is closer home than we realize.

It is sometimes hard to get back to normal even after the trigger or object that causes fear is removed. The effect of fear might extend from a couple of hours to a couple of years, maybe even longer depending on how potent the fear is. Fear is often related to past incidents – the past, here, might refer to the recent past or a more distant past. Many of us find that we tend to forget various incidents with time. However, the memories of such incidents, especially the bad, fear-inducing ones are never entirely erased; they are hidden from sight by the gathering dust of time, but they are often awake in our sub-conscious. Therefore, we often find ourselves unreasonable fearful of certain things or even certain people. This is where the saying ‘A burnt child dreads the fire’ inevitably comes to mind.

So, the question is, how does one free oneself of the paralyzing effects of one’s fears and continue with one’s day to day life? I’ve realized from my personal experiences that we can only be truly and completely free of fear when we realize that we are trapped by our fears in a spot from where there is no going back and the only act left is to move forward, face our fears and keep moving past them. The image that can be associated with overcoming our fears would be that of a ship in a gale, the sailors trying their utmost to save the ship from being wrecked because there’s nothing else to do. Life is the ship that we try to steer in the stormy seas of time, and no matter how dark the sky, how high the waves or how strong the gale, all that we can do is to hang on and try to survive. This is fearlessness or bravery, in my opinion – the act of not giving up, no matter what; the act of realizing that if we don’t master our fears, they will master us and destroy us; and that the act of facing our fears and moving forward past them, putting one foot in front of the other and climbing from the darkness into the light is a monumental one. Once we realize these things, the rest is definitely not easy; but, the realization and acknowledgement of our fears is the first step that we need to take in order to conquer our fears and live life as it should be lived; besides, it also shows us the path out of a miserable existence. Some day we might even come to know that our constant battle against fear has helped somebody else face his or her demons. That would certainly be something to look forward to, wouldn’t it?

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MAGICAL

Tender is the night.

A cool breeze gently wipes

The clinging beads of sweat

Off the night’s tired brow.

You and I sit, lost in

The magic of the moment,

Under the dark boughs.

You stare into the distance

And I steal glances at you;

You think of far-off things

While I think of you.

The music flows into the fountain

And spreads across the garden,

Stirring the flowers in its wake;

Then it creeps up on you and me,

Connecting us, binding us tight,

Like a giant, mesmerizing snake.

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A page from THE DIARY OF AN IGNORED WOMAN

 

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Dear Diary,

Today, for the n-th time I’ve felt lonely. Left alone in a wide, wide world while the rest of the world is busy shaping up, decorating and re-decorating their own tiny worlds-within-worlds. Everybody is busy; everybody is uppermost in somebody else’s thoughts; everybody has some significance; everybody but me. This has happened often enough before – when I’ve felt insignificant, hugely underrated, purposefully, mercilessly ignored; but just because something has become a habitual part of one’s life; it doesn’t become bearable or inconsequential, does it? True, I’ve stopped asking, “Why does it always have to me?”; instead, I now ask, “Why are the most sensitive, caring and loving people always left alone during their darkest, most difficult phases of loneliness?” For, let’s face it – everybody needs attention. It’s an elemental need to feel wanted and cared for. Some people – and these people are often the ones that have the most empathy – need it more than others. I, personally, find nothing criminal in somebody’s wanting to be the centre of somebody else’s attention; and who cares whether you call it self-pity or attention seeking or blah-blah, when I feel lonely and ignored? It’s hard enough to be physically distanced from your loved ones; but it becomes unbearable when emotional distance is added to it. Ask me how I feel when I’m at my loneliest? I feel as if the walls are growing larger and coming closer by the moment, intending to crush the life out of my frail frame. I feel as if I’ve entered the darkness of an endless tunnel, and no matter how much I try to find my way out of it and into the light, no matter which direction I take, I just seem to be moving around in the darkness in circles and coming into painful contact with the cold, creepy walls sometimes. I feel like the lone survivor in a post-apocalyptic sordid world, and all I want to do is kill myself, just so I wouldn’t have to keep on breathing alone.

There now, I’ve finally succeeded in putting it into words – the fact that I am afraid of being left alone, that I fear emotional distance more than the physical one. And since you and I are having a heart-to-heart tonight, let me tell you something else. Do you know why I’m extra-nice to people and treat them as if every last one of them deserves my love and attention? It’s because I’m the most selfish creature on the planet. Selfless love? I don’t know what you mean by the term. I love because I’ve a lot of love to give and a greater, never-ending need to receive love in return, so that I can give some more. I love watching romantic comedies because I love happy endings; I share in the joys and tears of those fictional characters and purge myself; and I absolutely do not like tragedies, because they make me feel helplessly and sadly lonely. But here I’ve digressed; as I was saying, I love people, because I harbour a secret hope in my heart that may be, just may be, some day, I won’t have to shed tears in secret and feel lonely and ignored any more; that some day, when I’m crying my heart out, of an evening, and somebody suddenly knocks at my door, I will no longer have to run and wash my face hurriedly and check in the mirror if my eyes look red and puffy, before pulling up a ghastly half-smile that says, “I’m cool and all’s well with the world” and opening the door; that some day, when I feel sad, I won’t have to feel lonely, because I’ll have the rare privilege of having somebody’s arm around me, dear diary.

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PAIN

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No, this wouldn’t do. She realized that day that she loved him far too much for her own good. Or for his, for that matter. Her love for him was a constant, acute sense of pain; when she was with him, it dulled to a throbbing sensation, but never quite went away. And when she wasn’t, it threatened to consume her. It filled her with fear – the fear that all that she held dear was going to fall apart some day; and all because when she loved, she loved fiercely. Her love was of a kind; it couldn’t be contained. She loved like her days were numbered and love was the only thing left for her to do (for everybody else had excelled at everything else)- before her lamp went out.

So, she made a decision. She needed to leave while she still mattered, while everything was still in place. She owed it to herself and to him. No matter what, he shouldn’t be hurt. If hurt, maybe just a little – something that time could erase; not destroyed by love. Love builds; it shouldn’t be given the power to destroy.

She left for the mountains, without a word to anyone. She hoped to find peace. And this she did find; though not quite in the usual way. The car she was travelling by was lost in a sudden landslide. Not a trace of her was ever found. It was as if she had never existed. But she had finally succeeded in putting an end to the pain caused by this love that consumed her – one way or the other.

THE GIRL

She sits on the ledge
Staring out of the window
Into the nothingness beyond.
The moonlit darkness stretches
Within and without,
Like the enveloping arms
Of a comforting friend.
There is no sound,
No sign of life, save the
Murmur of the trees outside,
While the whispering wind
Serenades the moonlit night.
Sometimes Rain, the mischief-monger
Laughingly falls upon her
Pell-mell, wetting her,
Tormenting her, flooding her
With memories of what was
But could never be again. Yet,
He tempts her to hope and dream,
Until she is roused by pain.

DESIRE

Burning Desire Waves

The moments crawl past

As darkness digs its claws in deeper;

Yet, I cannot slumber-

I’m enervated, tempted,

Tormented by desire.

I close my eyes to shut all out,

But find your face

Smiling coyly up at me;

The twinkle in your star-like eyes

Simply steal my breath, trust me!

I pass my fingers lightly over

The slightly disheveled bed-cover,

While the brown softness of your skin

Is what my fingers truly desire.

The smokey kohl in your love-lit eyes,

Those trembling lips under my fingers,

Your perfect dimples and raven curls-

Are enough to set my heart on fire.

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EVER SINCE

I’ve wanted to be with you

Ever since, ever since…

You ask, “Ever since when?”

I struggle to find an answer

And for a long time I wonder,

Was it since for ever

Or was it only since June?

I try hard to please you

But feel like a song out of tune.

I’ve wanted to hold you

Ever since, ever since…

And you ask again,

“Ever since when?”

Was it since I first saw you

Or was it since last April?

I try to tell you how I feel-

Yet, I act like a shy daffodil.

I can churn out words (in general)

Like artillery fire; 

But when you question me,

I feel so lost in desire-

As if I were stuck in a mire.

Some feelings are best left

Unexpressed; better still,

Just discern them, if you will.

REPUBLIC DAY

January twenty-sixteen –

And we’re busy preparing

For another Republic Day.

Tiny tricolors hang,

Jubilant, from glittering

Strings that have been

Stretched taut from pillars

To posts or even the bare

Skeletons of trees that shiver

Along the wintry road.

Festoons flutter madly

In the cut-throat wind.

Amid loud song and music

We’re quite satisfied

To join our voices in

An unanimous roar of

Raucous celebration that

Nearly hides our dismay,

While dirty politics, crime,

Dishonesty and terrorism

Still hold sway.

It’s yet another Republic Day.