For the man I couldn’t love

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© Lucie Birant

This is for my almost-lover,
Well almost because we almost had it all
We wouldn’t fall into conversation. We would walk with our heads flung back into conversation.
There was this ease, this affinity that comes with knowing someone for years
The only problem being, I couldn’t love you.

You would walk in, a chiffon pocket square peeking out like a suspicious neighbour
I remember talking about my covert obsession for bright pocket squares
Accompanied with your signature smell
(One which seemed oddly recent. Hurriedly concocted)
Damp wood and strong citrus with the undertones of lavender
Maybe the information was diligently provided by my easily excitable best friend
Maybe. Not that I’m succumbing to presumptions.

You would talk animatedly about all the right topics;
The haunting melancholy of LDR’s voice
The bolt of lightening that is Tom Cruise
The multiple interpretations of The Last Supper
The super bowl, the weather, the maple syrup
We could see the stardust sneakily settling under our feet
And I sat there thinking what would it be like to taste the wine on your parted lips
And to feel that fragrance of yours inside my skin
To have it settle in my bones like a reluctant visitor;
For it to dissolve and course through my blood like a delicious poison.
The only problem being, I still couldn’t love you.

And then you brandished a cigarette stub, puffing away at the macabre street corner
While we waited for a cab to whisk us away from speculative eyes
You slid in with a natural grace, almost like a veteran ballerina and I couldn’t suppress a grin
We did what had to be done,
Getting gingerly out of the sheets, you quickly held my wrists – right at the pulse
And asked “When can I see you again?”
Well, everything could have gone just right from there
The only problem being, I didn’t love you.

– A

Detonation

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I think it’s tragic,
When people let words chew them from within
Binding them feverishly
With steadfast hands
The ‘What If’ snarling at the back of their heads.

What If your love doesn’t receive reciprocation,
Would you be stoic enough to love the way
writers think people love?
What if that biting pain in your spine refuses to go,
Would you be resolute enough to carry on?

Loving is a deliberate act of masochism
There will always be the possibility
Of breaking the way writers think people break;
Stale gas pump coffee and lying motionless on the bathroom floor
Sonorous crying fits and smudged mascara
(and the related histrionics)
Nights spent reminding yourself to sleep/breathe/exist, and then cringing at the futility of the endeavour
Floors strewn with plummeted dreams and dust
Only the dust is scrubbed off on most days.

Love is a conscious choice of self-annihilation
There will always be a moment when it won’t seem worth anything
Maybe that’s why people let it slash them indiscriminately
Love lets them don the garb of martyrdom.

I believe it’s cowardice to give up
A chance at happiness to maintain
A flat lined status quo,
A state of ostensible painlessness.

– A

Infidelity for Dummies

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1. The first step is stepping out of denial. Don’t rationalise. Don’t justify. Don’t try to pin it down to your partner’s inadequacy or flaws. Because you signed up for it when you both got together. Accept that you are a low life vermin that has no concept of commitment.

2. Don’t say it happened accidentally. What, your tongue ‘accidentally’ slipped in someone’s mouth? You have to realise that you are just a little being governed by its Love Chemicals. No one hates on rabbits, you know? Work that tushy.

3. After stripping away yourself of all shame and guilt, step forth. Infamy awaits.

4. Sooner or later, you will get caught. An alien stench, a cute love bite dancing across your neck or perhaps your credit card records. Have some sense and pay in cash for all your illicit outings. Mask unknown fragrances with a routine smell. And the love bites can easily pass off as spider bites.

Harbour a colony of spiders in your home and pay them a visit every time your lover steps up the kink. Make sure the spiders aren’t venomous. Extract their body fluid and send it to forensics, just to make sure.

5. Give your lover codenames. Your partner is more likely to suspect “Honeybuns ❤” as opposed to Scumbag. Because that’s what you both are. No offence.

6. Don’t ride on new territories bareback. Which is an euphemism for ‘Don’t forget protection in the throes of passion’. It’s a known fact that gonorrhoea is borderline nasty. It makes one’s genitals smell as if a skunk crawled up there and died. And then there’s the P bomb.

Thank me later.

– A

End of the world(?)

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“When you’re young, everything feels like the end of the world”. I remember this quote from 17 Again, and I couldn’t agree more. Think 15 and in love for the first time, think all the tears synching up with the raindrops on your windowpane, and think lying motionless for days when it was all over. Think the first time death just seemed more convenient and painless. Think the one lie that you never got over from.

When you are young everything has the potential to crush your body, crumbling you every passing moment. You feel that this is the moment when your life has no meaning, and that its just better to let the vultures get to you. Youth is an excruciating rite of passage. With all the hot blood, comes the fragility. The vulnerability. The fear. All those jumping hormones can’t teach you resilience and “bouncing back” or whatever you call it these days. They don’t. They jack you up like those characters of a Red Bull ad, sans the insight and maturity. There is this maddening tornado of conflicting emotions. You can’t seem to figure out if it’s your defensive mechanism or you’re just passively aggressive. It’s a mess. It’s inglorious, draining and too hard to deal with- all at once.

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Suddenly it’s like the world is walking all over you, while you suck up your pride and lie low. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t felt like a failure at some point in his/her life. It’s only natural to feel that there’s nothing exceptional about you. Because we have been conditioned to feel ashamed of our mediocrities. Yes, tonight it may seem like you are a talentless potato with no bragging rights. It will feel like your world as you know it has begun it’s downward spiral while you sit back and watch. The sense of resignation and defeat is something that creeps up when you least expect it. But being young and naive just worsens the situation.

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But if there’s one thing I’m sure about, it is that this too will pass. Remember the dread of a tooth perilously close to its final fall? Or the time the scar from falling off of your bike was the worst thing that could possibly happen to you? Or your first day of school – an institution of bereaved souls and under-paid teachers? All of these memories brought a fear of the unknown. And when we were way too young, these moments scared us witless. But we dealt with them, and here we are. Point being, that yes it hurts. Yes it’s scary and threatening. But whatever you are going through, it will be over soon.

And when you look back, all your problems will be trifles that would have fashioned you.

– A

Leaving a mark

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“We are like a bunch of dogs squirting on fire hydrants. We poison the groundwater with our toxic piss, marking everything MINE in a ridiculous attempt to survive our deaths.”
“I want to leave a mark.”

I’m scared that my life won’t matter
That I am just another desirable/undesirable outcome of human procreation
That I am just another mortal agent for cosmic recreation
A fatalistic game of odds
That I,
I am just another planetary particle in the whole scheme of things
I’m scared my life won’t matter the moment my skin turns cold
And that last poetic smoke of my ashes would be anything but poetic
Or worth writing home about

We humans have this insatiable need to matter
To ourselves
To others
To everyone in our sight
And then we discreetly believe ourselves to be the pallbearers of reasoning and logic
We desperately seek voices, no matter how faint
To say that we are more
And even if we aren’t, we will be

I have been told time and again that,
we aren’t more. And no, we won’t be more anytime soon
Maybe it is true after all,
Not all of us get to be ballads and lores,
Or magnificent busts in quaint homes
for our progeny to revere
Not all of us change the world even a bit,
fighting all our lives to deny that we are despicable encumbrances on the world instead

We tend to be motivated hoarders of memories,
Making an inventory of moments that could eternalize our little lives
And I say little because we are little dew drops sliding off grass blades,
We are accidental ripples that were never meant to be,
The kind which are created when a listless man runs his hand in a lake, unaware of the ramifications
A simple ripple
Created. Sustained. Deadened.

But I’m a ripple that wishes to outlast the forces that created
Sustained
And deadened it.

– A

Dads – The Original Superheroes

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Fathers have always been the original superheroes for me. A man working to sustain his family round the clock is any day superior than a shield-toting caped crusader on a quest to save the civilians of a random metropolis. And today marks the day when we appreciate these undercover heroes.

My dad has always been my superhero. There may be things I don’t like about him, there are times we end up shouting at the top of our lungs (sometimes it snowballs terribly) and days we go without speaking to each other. But that is the beauty of a father-daughter relationship. You don’t need to communicate everyday to love each other. You don’t even have to agree all the time to get along with each other. Being very opinionated is not a breeding ground for arguments, according to me.

Dads are interesting beings. They are not verbally expressive, so you actually have to strain your mental faculties to see all the love and caring. It’s the little things they do that make you realise that they’re no less a mush ball than your mother. Buying you books the moment you shamelessly state your demands, listening to your endless harangue about everything wrong with your friend circle and college – as if yours is the only problem worth dealing with in the present scenario, always allowing you to indulge your sweet tooth while chiding you for your health issues, the frenzied running when you fall down from the stairs perfectly aware that you are as accident prone as they come – the list is endless.

There’s this thing with dads. They don’t need to hold placards saying I LOVE YOU to make you see that they do. They keep on doing these little heartwarming things without being too obvious. It’s endearing to me, honestly. They don’t need levitation skills and lasers to rock your world. They are just perfect with their scruffy beards and made-up songs that can induce convulsions of laughter in you. They are always there – brooding in silence. They may not pack your lunchboxes every morning because they are busy rushing to their offices themselves. They may not help you with your homework because they have a meeting the other day. They may not stay up nights with you because they barely get 5 hours of sleep a day. Dads may not always be physically with you, checking up on your lives every now and then. But that doesn’t make them any less important in our lives.

It’s true for me, at any rate. There are these moments that I have grown to appreciate. Cricket matches and Hollywood movies on HBO on weekends, getting to share my playlist with him and watching him like some of the songs in it, telling him about the newest book I read and how it could be the ‘Best book I have ever read’, sulking about the creative writing society I couldn’t get through, sometimes ganging-up against my mother…. The list is endless.

Here’s wishing my personal superhero a very happy Fathers’ Day. No home baked cookies and ridiculous banners because this is the only thing I’m remotely good at. He will understand. He always does.

– A

For Orlando

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If I say “I support homosexuality and gender fluidity”
Or “The world is not a binary arrangement of sexes”
Or even “I believe that love transcends our pathetic ties and boundaries”
It won’t lessen the pain that you have caused.

For every time you buy Her Pink and Him Blue, you propagate a figment of your paranoia
Every time you snigger at the ‘sensitive’ man and call him “faggot” and “homo”; multiple dominoes topple in the distance
Every time you spray paint Dyke on that girl’s locker, several other girls add a padlock more to their closet doors.

Every time you attack my “colourful” and “rainbowed” brothers and sisters, I feel attacked myself as a human
If this isn’t your form of cannibalism, then what is?
Don’t you dare give me your Biblical jargon and your holy discourse
That the Lord made us in a perfect cast, and any deviation is a horrific sin.

You who smear coal on their faces, and rip their clothes apart
You who rape them as an antidote to their perverseness
You who cat-call them at every street corner
You who bludgeon them mentally,
You with the bloodied hands and the besmirched hearts.

You who make my sky a little blacker everytime I look up
You who make my blood cold, and my evenings colder
You who stop us from expressing our solidarity, our support for a cause

My mother who laughs ever-so-softly everytime a homosexual character lights up the celluloid
(I block my ears to drown out that hint of condescension)
My best friend whose “That’s so gay!” remark is now a running joke,
Eliciting shoulder pats and appreciative smiles
(I don’t react. I don’t know how to)
My colleague who can’t help but declare emphatically,
That women with short hair are 100% “into women”
(I would be lying if I say my hairdresser doesn’t receive strict orders to maintain an “appropriate” length)

I feel attacked as a human,
But I sit here,
Stewing in hypocrisy.
No lesser a criminal than you,
You with this homophobia;
And I with this dormancy.

Dante said “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis”
But if this world that I live in isn’t Inferno,
Then what is?

– A