Cookie-Dough

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I come back from work, worn out and spent. Each night, I wake up mid-sleep, as if I had never gone to bed.

I walk to the kitchen and start pulling out cans and jars. My eyes don’t even have to see where my hands are going anymore, I remember what bottle lies on which stack just as I know the alphabet.

I follow your recipe to the dot.

The same amount of flour, a cup full of sugar, little chips of chocolate hidden amidst the dough like gems in sand.

But I could never bake them like you did. So by the time I finish, the house starts to feel very empty again, without you and your sweet-smelling cookie dough.

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Roses

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Dear P,

Do you remember that Friday? Your anger had made my tears run down like acid on my dry cheeks. I had freshly bathed, soaped and sponged my face, left my skin unmossed and vulnerable, sat in your wait by the window. You walked in the door and I looked at you, beaming. But you refused to love me. You looked at me with an utter disgust in your eyes. There was something between us that felt…soaked, parched; but not thirsty, never thirsty.

In some ways the rift between us did not want to be soothed. It did not want to become a garden; it did not desire to be filled with rain. A wilting rose, which had been new to our orchard only few days ago, happy to be blossoming, joyous to have met the world, had been withered by the lack of compassion and attention offered to it. A forever smiling face too will succumb one day when all who look at it shun it. So my heart wilted, withered, succumbed when you did not touch it, see it, call it your own.

Don’t get me wrong, dear loved. You did not cause me hurt intentionally, or harm me with purpose. Your words were not rude, only sharp. Your touch was never harsh, only calculated. Your love was never inferior, but it was never meant for me.

You might find it difficult, even strange, to comprehend how I gathered so much from one loveless glance. You might prematurely blame it on my overthinking, presumptuous self, but I hope you will move beyond it once you see the truth in it, a truth you had felt and I had come to know. I find my only solace in that glance. It teaches me to seek love everyday in people, it moves me to attach myself to persons who admire me and want my time, it teaches me to find spaces out of the reach of those who censure me for things that come naturally to me.

I have opened my own ballroom and am teaching young girls to dance. I tell them to manoeuvre their body to impress no one, but only to feel a happiness that is truly theirs. Last month I met a young man as I was walking home from the market, a florist. His name is Jo, and he calls me many endearing names. I am doing well for myself and am happy, and maybe even in love.

I hope you too will meet a young girl soon, walking down some solemn street in your mismatched shoes. And perhaps she would laugh at them, and point them out.

I think you will love her greatly.

Yours,

Irene 

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LITTLE THINGS

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Dear June,

Some mornings I wake up only for you.

Thank you for embracing me without hurting my bones. For keeping the refrigerator stocked, filled to the brim with eggs.

For letting me walk you down the altar, weak and frail.

For forgoing not one, but two childhoods, yours and Susan’s, in my care.

I know living with me and my cancer is difficult, but thank you for never complaining about this untimely guest.

I will love you in life and in death, and I will try, for as long as possible, to be your

Mom

 

The Train

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I know you’ve been dreaming of the train all day. I know that you still are.

I can sense that your breath is trying to fit itself within the rhythmic churning of its wheels as they go round and round the blue forest of your mind.

I know you can smell its smoke through your skin, and feel the cold mist that washes in through its windows in your heart.

What if I tell you that when you wake up you’ll find yourself on this train? That you have been journeying on it all the while you’ve been dreaming. And that all it takes to wake up to reality is to break open your dream. Would you have the courage to abandon sweet thought and place your trust where I ask you to?

I hope you do.

Because I promise that this train will take you to a place more beautiful than the one you dream of.

With love,

Dad

Pam.

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One day they will be convinced that you do not exist. One day they will know for sure that you cannot be.

And hence they will think that I am mad, Pam, crazy as a bat to know for sure that you are and that you will be.

They will drug me, and electrocute me.

They will penetrate syringes within me.

As if it is no crime Pam. As if it is no crime to separate Romeo from Juliet and lover from loved and friend from friend and dreamer from dream.

It is a crime. They must know. It always has been.

They will be certain that the cage of your persona keeps me from being free.

But that cannot be. For isn’t a dream the part of a dreamer as much as you are a part of me? You are indeed.

But how will they free me from the drug within my mind, you?

How will they detach me from the worm that curls within each cell?

How will they erase your memories, Pam, when they live in me and flow in my blood?

One day I will think I am delirious. For believing in your existence. I will know one day that you are no realer than the air. You are yet aren’t there.

But my love for you wouldn’t change Pam. I will know in a subconscious corner of my heart that I had a friend who loved me, who held my hand when the night skies were pink, and the ground was hazy, and lived with me through locked doors of asylum. I will know Pam, I will know.

I may not remember but I will know.

Do not leave me then Pam, do not go.

Stay where you are, within my mind, inside my body and in my soul, and we will survive the drugs and toil through, but stay put Pam, do not go.

Stay in my brain, even if that truly is where you always have been, and like a secret I will keep you there.

I promise, no one will know, no one will know.

Remembering Love

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To my dead husband and my eternal love,

Who said time-travel has to be utterly physical in nature? I time-travel into your memories every day. Your memories are paper boats I can step into, row and glide in.

Each morning I travel to the damp porch of the earth, where naked sand is kissed voluptuously by the Dal Lake. The otherwise still water has developed small tremors in the fresh morning breeze, as if the lake was a young child playing joyously in its cradle after waking up from a complete sleep. I look at the warm boat that topples mildly in the lake; the boat seemed warm because it resembled the moon-shaped vessel in which Ammi served curry last night. Curry with thick-spiced Murgh-Masala. The delicious dinner was bland and colorless against my loveless tongue, it immediately took me back to that sunny afternoon where in the wait of your belated letter, I sat and learnt the traditional recipe of the dish from my mother, just so that I could get you to taste its beauty when you returned home. You loved it when I cooked.

I step into this boat dutifully each day, just before dawn is about to crack, when the sky is that tricky color of purple and white that one can never paint. It is just that hour before sunrise, before the birds woke, when you used to turn in bed and sheepishly hum, and rising from sleep, put your arms around me and kiss me with all the love you contained.

I seat myself carefully but with ease, the daily practice has made my movements natural. I untie the boat from the hinge of consciousness and I pick up the oars, and sail away, melodiously traversing this sea of memories, love, loss, pain, or alternatively, a simple sea of tears. I softly row my way to the other shore, the land of dreams…where I can lose myself indefinitely, where the vagaries of time do not trouble me, where I can think of you and remember you without guilt, sorrow or ridicule. Where you and I are one again – if not in soul, then in memory. I am taken back to the first day I met you, the snow-capped hills and the beautiful valley icy, the memory is pungent within me till date. I remember the subtle chase in our eyes, our subsequent interaction when I asked you for directions, and the many boat-trips in the Dal that you consequently took me on, on shikaras of happiness.

Sometimes I think, ever since that day, I have been sailing the same sea, while time and space have transcended and reshaped around me incessantly. To and fro, torturously.

I had decided to leave everything back at home and settle into this paradise only because the immensity and unbounded fearlessness of your love made me stay, provoked me to love you back, make you half as happy as you had the capacity to make me, to free you from all unprecedented sorrows, and forthcoming pain. My love was traditional, but complete.

It pains me to remember you, to memorialize your laughter and your love. But what choice do I have? I cannot afford to forget you or your memories, they keep me alive. I would have forgotten you if you were simply a man I loved. But you had washed into my world like a storm; to me, you had become love. And as you will understand, it is easy to live without the specter who stole your heart, but it is impossible to live without your very heart.

This sea that I travel is dark, Janum. And this land is villainy. But I must undertake this journey. With your silver hand in mine, as thin as mist, as warm as the sun, I must travel through time to reach your memories, because that is what true love is – unforgetful, forgiving, and lovely.

Inayat

Chocolates

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To you,

I know this letter is very unprecedented; it might shock you, amuse you and even manage to get you thinking. In the end, however, you are most likely to presume, like all the other people I have ever communicated with, that this letter is a hoax. Let me certify, with gripe, that it’s authenticity is without repudiation and my motives for writing are strictly professional.

I see you have been trying to save that tray full of exquisite German chocolates for tomorrow. I do not understand…I see in your eyes the most beautiful craving to hog them up all at once, but despite your soul’s crunching cries you have held your ground. You are resisting, keeping good things for ‘later’.

I do not have the faintest idea why someone in their sane mind would ever take such a measure.

Do you not know of my masterful machinations? Do you not know how the world works? The only moment you have control over is this exact instant; the very moment you start transcending into the next, I take over. You are a powerless blurry spot on my chessboard.

Eat those chocolates, and stop the defiance.

Sincerely

Fate

The Light By Which I Am Born

moonMy Sun and Stars,

Is it strange that my beauty is your gift to me? Is it outrageous to accept that it is in you that I see a reflection of all that is good in me, and that without you I am estranged?

I am afraid it is the truth.

You found me wounded and scarred, discovered me in the vacuum filled darkness of space and time, and healed me. You made me laugh and cry and rejoice and express the songs of my soul, and gave life to my dreams little by little. Your ways – subtle and natural, your love- impeccable. Never before had I known what real happiness feels like, and that it can be induced by the simplicity of a certain glittering smile.

As I rest in the lap of emptiness, I am filled with a continuous glee, given simply by your existence. It is indulged by the confidence of knowing that each young day, you shall rise, and capture me in your warm embrace, and for those still moments in time, I shall let your love humour me.

In the sound of your heartbeat I have found complete peace, and to be with you, is all I wish to do anymore; all my other dreams seem so little and obscure before this colossal desire. No star will ever let me shine the same way that you have, and none ever has. You have torn away from me my fear of the dark, and put in its place an immeasurable love for the dusk. I, the proprietress of time, submit to the clock each day in your wait.

You have taught me, unconsciously, that I must take that lovely chance, that I must be brave to fall in love, that I must shine and escape the walls of blackness that shutter my heart. And though the probability of things falling apart is inordinate, the prospects in the case they do not are gloriously marvellous. But of this you shall forever remain unaware, my fathomless star, for I am wordless as I am imperfect, and incomplete are my words.

Albeit, words unfold on paper today, unlike ever before, but perhaps it is just a fortunate night.

So, I must cease the moment to thank you, my love, even though it does not in the least quantify my passions. Thank you, for glowing upon me blessedly like omnipresent time in the dark of the night. Thank you for pasting the bruises I make on the sea, and the thunder I roll upon dusk – you have tolerated my habitual imperfection, my flaws, my mistakes and sloppiness with the grace of your ever-powerful love; it has made me want to be better, it has made me look at myself and wonder in thoughtful starlight of pathways to be my best self, and to be less reliant and less savage, so that I can at least begin to deserve the magnum of love that you have given me openly and without hesitance.

Thank you for being my strength love, for helping me shine brighter than the beautiful glow-worms, and the truest stars, and leading me to believe that I am the brightest star in the sky, that I am more beautiful than I know, that within me too is a sparkle that can be admired, and that I can, if I try, be more infinite than the galaxy of self-criticism which contains me.

Today, I can dream your dreams and look into your eyes, and surrender to the labyrinths they house without fear, for you my love are my strength, and my entirety, and it might seem bizarre that to me, getting lost in you is to be found. I will love you tomorrow as I love you today for the love you have shone upon me. I will love you as much as this infinite space, and I will love you more. I will love you now, and I will love you a lot, and I will love you always my moon.

And yes, as the hour of the eclipse draws closer, it breaks me little by little. It scares me because it threatens to pull us apart. As you fade away slowly, farther and farther away from me; my glory recedes with your light. However, today, in a very long time, the narcissism of my heart escapes me, for my love for you is outwardly greater than that – countless like the infinite stars in the Earth-sky. Nonetheless, the promise of the darkness passing, of burning in your sunshine again, fascinates me, as I tumble into love with you one more time.

Does it still seem strange that my beauty is your gift to me? Is it despicable to accept that it is in you that I see the best reflection of myself, and that without you I am unknown? Maybe it is my love, yet it is only true.

Yours Always

The Moon