One or the Other

She sought him in her nightmares

She sought him in her dreams

When she woke up

She could hardly tell

The one from the other

Since he saved her in her nightmares

And she lost him in her dreams

The one became the other

Somewhere in between.

So she took to sleeping with him

Held closely in her arms

The warmth that he exuded

Ended the nightly tussle

And merged the happiness

Of the one with the other.

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Breaking the Mould of Peer Pressure

A question that sometimes drive me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?

Since as long as I can remember, I’ve been aware of the realisation that most of the time my likes and dislikes are quite different and distinct from the people around me. It would appear as if the whole world is obsessing over a certain fad at the moment while I’m unable to see any charm in that particular thing. More often than not, I absolutely abhor or despise it.

Time and time again, I’ve tried to ascertain the reason behind this discrepancy, because, like everyone else, I wanted to fit in or felt pressured to do so by peers. I failed to understand if I did not want to follow the beaten path merely because so many others were doing the same or was there some other factor involved? Would I have given the object/substance/matter in question a fair chance in vacuum without knowledge of the fact that people were going bonkers over it? It was baffling and somewhat disconcerting.

As of yet, I have no answer. Over the years it had become more and more difficult to define my own choices, to choose my own desires. It was easy to get swayed by popular opinion because of the tendency to be one of the flock. Any deviation from the ordinary is usually looked upon with scepticism and I really did not want to draw attention to myself. Was I being true to myself, however, was an entirely different question. All the lines had gotten blurry.

What I do know, today, is that it’s alright to be different. It’s alright to think differently, to choose differently and to decide differently. Peers are just that. Peers. They are not you. You’re your own person. It does not matter why your wavelengths don’t match those surrounding you. What matters is being unperturbed by their existence and concentrating on your own. So many children buckle under peer pressure. So many college kids get goaded into doing things they don’t like to the extent that it they end up ruining their lives. It is important to learn to say no. To put your foot down and draw the line between what is acceptable to you and what isn’t. No one can take the right away from us. All that’s needed is a simple assertion from our end. Within no time at all the notion of fitting in would look like the smokescreen it actually is. Sooner or later, invariably, everyone ends up finding like minded people. Thus, it is imperative to thrive in your individuality rather than to suppress it, to let yourself grow into what you’re meant to be and not what others would like to see you as.

At the end of the day, and also to answer the questions I posed earlier, remember the words of the good ol’ Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland – “We’re all mad here”.

Inner Demons

For a moment there,
I forgot myself
And let the demons of my past
Guide me.
I wielded hurt like an avenging sword
Without much thought to who I swung it on.
For a moment there,
I forgot myself,
And let all my wounds
Drive me.
I hurled mean words at the drop of a hat
Oblivious to the pain I was causing.
For a moment there,
I forgot myself,
I forgot that though pain begets pain
Nothing can justify my lashing out
On the people who were trying to help me.
For a moment there,
I forgot myself
And was no different from the person
Who broke me.

Every moment now,
I know myself
And see a vision of me
reflected in purity,
In the eyes of the one
Who took every hit
Just to get to me,
To battle every unkindness I’d ever endured
And brought me back from oblivion.

They say that demons run when a good man goes to war.

Doubt

It creeps into my mind,

Quietly, without much ado.

Once inside, it fills up the entire space

And promptly sets up residence.

From them on it consumes me,

Riles me and spurs me on.

It blinds me to logic

And makes me abandon all reason.

In mad fury do I function,

A walking wreck I have become.

When I come across her, it fills me with bitterness,

Causing me to explode.

I spew filth and make her wither

Till she’s too scared to even retort.

Oddly enough,

It makes me find comfort in her pain.

I go on till I run out of steam

But not before she begins to look at me with disdain.

Deflated and satisfied after getting rid of all my venom,

I return to normalcy.

Then it smirks,

And proceeds to leave me

With a smug smile plastered on its face.

I let one doubt destroy me,

Left without any saving grace.

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Pulchritudinous

Sitting in his empty courtyard watching the rain fall all around him, he closed his eyes and allowed the pitter pattering of raindrops to take him back to the last time he had ever seen her.

It had been a day much like today. Nature had been haughtily showcasing her beauty in all its glory. The rain gods were also in tough competition. And the wind, oh, it couldn’t have been left behind and kept sending pleasant gusts all day.

Yet, there had been a melancholic undertone to the pulchritude that day. He could sense that every element of nature was trying to soothe him, calm him down, embalm him before the felling of a grievous blow.

Nothing could have prepared him for her departure though. It knocked the very wind out of him. It would have been one thing if he’d seen some signs of this impending doom, if he’d been able to anticipate it. Doom, yes, because that moment had been the death of him. From then on, he merely existed instead of living. Awaiting the end of his corporal self.

He did realise later, in his forced solitude, where his fault had lain. It had been too little too late. When he had finally mustered the courage to go to her, apologize and convince her to come back, even if he had to go down on his knees and beg, he found out that she was dying. She had been fading away for quite some time, not that he’d ever had the time to notice. What tore him apart was that she was so far gone she couldn’t even recognise him when he said sorry. There was no twinkle in her, no warmth in her smile. It was as if she was being forced to meet a stranger and had to be gracious about it. It wasn’t her. She had always been vibrant. He could not reconcile this frail image of her with the woman he had known and loved, no matter how hard he tried.

He never got his forgiveness. He never got his will to live back again.

Now, even though years have passed, every time there’s a day with a weather like today, he looks back to the last time he had been able to lay eyes on her, the real her. She had looked as resplendent as the day they’d met.

If only he’d have given her happiness some thought and understood her better. If only he could have mended his ways earlier. If only he could have stopped her from leaving. If only he had not forgotten the beauty in her over the years. If only…

Note: the featured image belongs to the author. Kindly refrain from sharing or using it without giving due credit. Thanks ☺️

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

As I walk along the streets of my city, I see faces abound. Regardless of all their differences, I see them share a commonality. They all wear a harrowed, tensed and worried expression. It baffles me to see the time, energy and effort we waste in worrying over things beyond our control, since worrying in such cases can do no good. It saddens me to see people worrying over things that might very well be in their control – wouldn’t it do more good to expend effort into working towards solving the problem rather than worrying over it?

Now, I’m not religious by any stretch of imagination. However, I did study at at a catholic convent school and can sing hymns even in my sleep, if needed. A few words from one of those hymns learned during those wonderful, childhood years leap to mind in the hope that they might provide motivation, perspective or even some mood upliftment and, thereby, dispense with some of the worry doing the rounds.

Here goes nothing…

Do not worry over what to eat, what to wear or put upon your feet. Trust and pray, go do your best today. Then leave it in the hands of the Lord.

The lilies in the field, they do not spin or weave, yet Solomon was not arrayed like one of these.

The birds in the air, they do not sow or reap, yet God tends to them like a shepherd tends his sheep.

If you believe in a higher power, I needn’t say anymore. If you don’t, let me draw your attention to the lines “go do your best today”. Isn’t that all that we can actually do? Do your best, reap the results. Even if the benefits aren’t much, one would be able to sleep at night with the satisfaction that there was nothing more he could have done. Have faith in yourself. Trust your abilities. Push yourself and get ahead in life. Work towards what you want. When worry tries to knock you down, say “not today”. Live a happier life. Live a fuller life.

On a parting note, I’d like to leave you all a link to a wonderful song called Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin. It’s had a permanent spot on my playlist since I was a kid. It’s bound to lift your mood in its own funny, peppy way. Give it a listen! And a very happy Monday to you all! (Sorry for making it a motivational one).

Burn

He put himself on fire

Hoping that the flames

Would guide you in the dark.

All you had to do

Was douse it when you could

But you let it rage on.

Now you wish for someone

To be your guiding light

But the bridges that you’ve burnt

Can never become alright.

So cry, cry on till you can cry no more

And wonder why every match you strike

Refuses to light up anymore.

From Fear to Freedom

Her biggest fear wasn’t of being forgotten. It was of becoming irrelevant. She had strived her entire life to not just be at the top of her game, but to be ahead of everyone else as well. She did it. She achieved the pinnacle of success in her chosen field. Yet, instead of resting on her laurels, instead of sitting back and relaxing, she was consumed with perpetual worry.
What if everything that she’d done was not enough? What if all the sacrifices she’d made as life passed her by, were all for nought? She understood and accepted that even great people, who had lived inspiring lives, were forgotten and eventually relegated to some distant corner of public memory. She even realised that public memory in itself was extremely short lived. Yet, being dead and forgotten was one thing, and being very much alive but rendered insignificant was a haunting though to her.
She recalled the meeting that had taken place today. Her entire Board of Directors had unanimously suggested that she step down from her position and let young blood carry forward her legacy.
Young blood, she scoffed, like she was old. Wasn’t she hailed for her knack of always homing in on the precise pulse of the situation. Isn’t that why she was the best? She always knew what people wanted, needed and dersief and she gave them just that. Can she still do it though? What if she faltered? What if she made an error and people blamed it on her arrogance? What if they pitied her for not quitting while she was still ahead like some lucked out gambler?
No, she decided. She will not let that happen. It was not the time to step back, but the time to invest more of herself in all her ventures, to exert more in getting every decision right, to be careful and precise.
She stood up, regal and tall, looking out of the glass windows providing her an unparalleled view of the entire city. She looked over it as if it were her domain. Her face set firm in decision as she thought back to the time when she’d first forayed into her field of work. She knew she still had within her the same zeal that drove her then. Now, she had another mountain to climb. Irrelevancy, she thought, was a worthy nemesis. It shall be fun to defeat all its challenges just like she’d done with every other trial that life had thrown her way.
She will retire when hell freezes over.

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Coffee, Cookies and Barista

“Is it over yet?” Sarah enquired over the top of  the menu she was only pretending to read.
“I don’t know.” Replied Liz, drawing circles with a fork on the red and white, chequered table cloth.

“Well, What do you think?” Sarah tried to pry out something more than the hundredth ‘I don’t know’ in a row.

“I don’t want it to be over, I guess. But I know it’s not going to work out.” Liz shrugged, still feigning nonchalance.

“Why, what’d he say today?” Sarah asked, slamming down the wooden menu.

“Nothing.” Liz said, absently twirling a strand of hair in her fingers.

“What do you mean?” Sarah squinted, thoroughly perplexed and equally exasperated. Yet it was nothing compared to the anger she felt in her friend’s behalf.

“It’s just that he hasn’t been in touch much lately”. Liz said with the same faraway air.

“I’ll get you a cup of coffee.” Sarah got up decisively.

“Does this mean it’s over then?” asked Liz, sipping her coffee a few minutes later.

“I think it should be. You know better than me that he doesn’t treat you right.” Came the prompt reply.

“Does anyone ever?” Liz sighed, licking away at her milk moustache and nibbling on the complimentary cookie. 

“Maybe, maybe not. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold out hope. Atleast, that way we protect ourselves from the ones who don’t.”

“And stay alone?” Liz whined, trying to hide from the glare aimed at her by seeking shelter behind her cup.

“And stay strong.” Sarah pulled away the other’s cup, making her look into her eyes.

“Hmm.” Liz finally nodded her approval, always gracious in defeat. Though that did not stop her from stealing the cookie off Sarah’s plate too. She could not be blamed. They were divine.

“Hmm!” Sarah reiterated with pursed lips and folded arms, just to drive the point further home.

“The Barista is kind of cute though!” Winked Liz, with the hint of a smile threatening to form at the corners of her lips.

“Yep, definitely over! We’re switching to wine tonight.” Sarah said, grabbing her friend’s hand and pulling her along.

Laughing, with arms entwined, they left the little coffee shop. 

Vika watched them for a moment till they turned round a corner and disappeared from view. Then she sighed and smiled while clearing the table, mentally patting her back for adding her special, “pick-me-up” cookies to their plates because God knew the girls needed some sugary love.

Then, still smiling, she went behind the counter, walked up to the charmer manning the coffee machine and gave a quick, warm hug to her husband of 49 years. 

For more short stories, please click here. For poetry, please click  here. Please leave your thoughts and comments down below, I’d be delighted to get a feedback. Thank you for reading!

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Hey, Soul Sister!

She’s the keeper

Of my darkest secrets,

The repository

Of my deepest desires.

She’s calmed my storms,

More times than I could ever count.

She’s nursed my heartbreaks,

With a listening ear and a comforting shoulder.

She’s let me sob when I needed a good cry.

She’s made me end my pity party when she knew I’d had enough.

She’s held my through long nights

Plagued with hellish nightmares

Without ever raising a questioning glance.

She’s killed time with me

While counting stars from our balcony

When nights were too beautiful to sleep away.

She’s lived life with me

While neither had a clue of what it entailed

But powered on because we could bumble through it together.

She converses with me with just one look,

While the whole world looks in from the outside.

Ignorant of a silent exchange forging a bond so deep,

Even the darkest corner of Erebus couldn’t dim it’s celestial glow.

Soul sisters, they say, come in every form.

I found one on the first day of college

Living in my very own room.
This post is dedicated to my best friend and college roommate. We’re way past the seven year itch now! She’s known the best of me and the worst of me, and loved me regardless. As she starts on another journey in life, I can only wish her all the luck in the world as I send all my love with her. You might be going halfway across the world, darling, but I’ll still be just one text away. You’re on your way to achieving your dreams and I couldn’t be more proud! 

Thank you for enriching my life with all that you are, Megha. I love you!