BETWEEN JOBS

I’ve been meaning for some

Time to tell you this –

That I’m out of a job,

That I’ve been dismissed.

I don’t know why –

I don’t know what I did

To so much piss them off.

Do you think I should cry?

Why, oh, why? The days

Were merely crawling by.

I’d too much to do,

And nothing to heal

My wounded soul;

Felt nothing but pity

For my ill-used skills.

Now, at least, I can read up books,

Look for jobs, crack interviews,

Turn down the steam, learn driving,

Write down stuff or try new looks.

Life has been very boring –

I’m only thirty something;

Maybe I can try something new –

Adventure favours only a select few.

I don’t know what’s going on

Inside your head at all –

You’ve been still as a rag doll.

You’re staring at me, looking foolish,

You don’t look happy, but let me finish.

You think this is hard on you;

But, hey, it’s awkward for me too.

If you can’t bear to stay,

Feel free to walk away.

I can take care of my burden –

Just don’t come back all of a sudden;

And we can move on with our lives,

Even give each other high fives.

If we meet on the street,

Don’t beat a hasty retreat.

This phase isn’t here for ever.

So long, then, dear Hoover.

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.

ANOTHER CHANCE

Another chance is all I need

To make your heart skip a beat-

A timeless surrender to desire

To set the entire earth on fire.

Another chance is all I need

To make you truly mine for ever;

Another chance to forge a link

Between your water and my fire.

Another chance is all I need

To put to shame the summer’s heat,

When I hold you in my arms in June

Or in a bitterly cold December.

No other reason do I desire

To hold your hand and walk through fire;

For there is no greater power than

The match between water and fire.

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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.

DARK PLACES – THE MOVIE

I must really recommend the watching of the movie, Dark Places…it’s a dark book (and movie), with dark characters and hopeless and quite murky situations, but nobody could have done a better job of portraying Libby’s character than Charlize Theron. And Nicholas Hoult has done a good job of supporting her character. From where I stand, I don’t despise Libby (I could name a thousand people that I truly despise, right now, but not Libby). I pity her and feel a certain kind of love tinged with sorrow for her, because she deserved a better life – family, love, hobbies, a job may be, the satisfaction of earning her livelihood – all of which she entirely missed. And I can’t even imagine what she must have felt when she had to testify in court that it was her favourite brother who had slaughtered her family, the endless questions that must have plagued her over the years like ‘why did he kill them?’, ‘did he really kill them or was it someone else?’, ‘why didn’t he kill me?’, ‘why was I saved?’ and so on, and once the case was re-opened, these same doubts and so many more must have assailed her. If we are looking for a redeeming quality in Libby Day, we don’t have to look too far; it’s right there in front of our eyes – she realises that she was wrong to have falsely accused her brother of killing his own family, though she was too young and too frightened to have realised the truth, and she despises herself for it. How can I possibly hate somebody who hates herself and has realised her wrongs, somebody who achieved a kind of celebrity status for all the wrong reasons, who became a pawn in the hands of shrewd businessmen and hence, never had a decent chance of living the life of a decent, normal and happy person?
Therefore, if you haven’t read the book, do get hold of a copy; I can promise you an interesting read. Also, if you haven’t watched the movie already, please watch it; some of you, I hope, will thank me for recommending the book as well as the movie.

Knowing that my previous post, Five magazines to submit fiction (and/or non-fiction) in India has been of help to some of my readers, I thought I’d post one more with an updated list. But my work was made easier as I found a ready-made list on Facebook few days back. I would like all you Indian writers out […]

via 20 Places to Submit Creative Writing in India — Scribbles@Arpita

Real Writers Don’t Self-Publish

An interesting post on publishing

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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One of the things I love about doing what I do is that I have the ability to connect so closely with you guys and speak on the topics that matter to you. Yesterday, a fellow writer shared an article from The Guardian, For me traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way. She wanted my take on what the author had to say.

All right.

For those who’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, I hope I’ve been really clear that I support all paths of publishing (vanity press doesn’t count).

All forms of publishing hold advantages and disadvantages and, as a business, we are wise to consider what form of publishing is best for our writing, our work, our goals, our personality, etc. But my goal has always been to educate writers so they are making wise decisions based off data, not just personal…

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