If I Lay Here

Standard

Response to Writing101 Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

I wouldn’t call it my favourite song, but Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol is one song which I have listened to over and over again and still haven’t gotten sick of. Sometimes, the meaning of the lyrics change. Sometimes, I realize that each line has many more layers to it than what is just on the surface. It’s a beautiful song, mostly because of the meaning its lyrics hold which transcends to the music. But my favourite lines are these:

If I lay here

If I just lay here,

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

People come and go in life. There are people with whom you have so much of fun that every moment you spend with them is soaked in stomach aching laughter. There are people who irritate you so much that their mere presence clouds your face. There are people you call friends when you’re in the same place, but whom you forget once you move away; and when you finally realize you’ve forgotten, you know they didn’t matter anyway. There are people you think would be by your side till the end of your life, the people you imagine you’d die for, but who slowly fade away as you try desperately to hold on through awkward phone conversations and one-line texts. There are people who make you wonder why you put up with them, yet to whom you stick to, maybe merely as a force of habit. There are people who make your heart beat so loud you’re almost positive they heard it when they smiled at you. There are people of whom you’re so insanely jealous that you already hate them before they’ve said a word. People come and go in life. It’s difficult to accept this, but it is inevitable.

But the ones that stay, the ones who even after they’ve gone, have such a grip on your memory that you’re overwhelmed when you think about them, the ones you know have unmistakeably, irrevocably changed your life are the ones who’ve passed the Chasing Cars test. It’s the person who lies with you, amidst the rush and the noise, amid the people and the pain, and forget the world with you. And you remember them mostly, for that time you forgot the world together.

A Fever and a Fall

Standard

Response to Writing101 challenge: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

It had been a terrible day, the kind that he hated: sticky, busy and messy. The work in the office had seemed duller than ever as the heat drenched the back of his neck and the tie choked his throat. The boss’s sexist jokes during the break seemed more unbearable than usual, and he felt tiny as he laughed dully to them. The ride back home was long and constantly interrupted by speeding cars. He expected coffee when he reached home. But when she opened the door, she told him she had been sleeping the entire day.

“I couldn’t go for work. I have a fever.”, she murmured feebly.

“I didn’t call you because I didn’t want you to get worried”, she answered his unspoken question.

He made coffee, the kind she liked: with barely any sugar and a lot of coffee powder, and brought her a cup. He stopped when he saw her huddled in her blanket, fast asleep. He realized, for the first time since they got married, that he liked being with her. He had never imagined that he could fall in love with the awkward girl he had met for the first time in the presence both their parents smiling at the match. But he ended up falling anyway. Looking at her sleep, he realized that this was where he wanted to be.

The Day My Friend Cried

Standard

Writing 101: Unlock the Mind

This post is written in context of the flood that is ravaging Jammu and Kashmir, India currently. This is a personal account of a friend’s grief. If you can contribute towards the cause, please do.

I saw her cry for the first time. The person whom I thought was the strongest in the world. The person who goes through more in a year than what I have gone through throughout my life. She cried in my arms. As her sobs travelled up her body, I felt so inadequate trying to contain her sorrow in my arms. But I couldn’t let go.

Her parents hadn’t called her in five days. She didn’t know where her sister was, or half of her relatives. Were they alive and stuck? Had they been rescued by the army? Or, was it…too late? She didn’t know. Being away from it all made it harder. It was her land that was drowning, her people that were isolated. And all she could do was cry in my inadequate arms, trying to contain the sorrow within her. There was nothing she could do. Helplessness is the most painful emotion. It compounds grief and kills fleeting moments of relief. She was helpless because she was away. She was alone because she wasn’t there.

She scans the news every day. When I sit next to her in class, I see her refresh her screen every now and then. Her eyes are constantly drawn towards the unresponsive phone, as if staring at it would make it ring. For the first time, I see that the allure of Literature has failed to seduce her. As our teacher talks about Eliot’s existentialism and Hemingway’s sparse writing style, her mind roams, refusing to be captivated by words which she’d hung on to eagerly, earlier.

I do not know how to comfort her. I hug her as tightly as I can, trying to contain the sorrow, letting her know that she’s not alone. But when she looks at me and says, “What will I go back to? Everything will have changed. When the hard earth which I can feel on my palm begins to slip away from my grasp, what is home anymore?”

I cannot answer her.

To be Lost Again

Link

 

I drew the lines, the perfectly measured squares
Then I planted my feet firmly inside them.

The squares were permanent, wherever I went
They made sure that I never crossed the line.

I tiptoed from square to square,
Careful not to step on a line.

My life was a set of perfectly orderly blocks,
Something I could navigate easily, even in death.

Then I met you, and the squares couldn’t hold me
In the pauses between your words and the interludes between your smile,
I found my own laughter, and felt what it was to be lost again.

The Logic behind Candlelight Dinners

Standard

Note: Some names have been changed to protect privacy of fictional characters

         All statistics and figures is meticulously made up by an overactive imagination. Please don’t take it lightly.

 

It is a known fact that the state of Kerala is facing an acute power crisis due to lack of rain. In this difficult time, the Kerala State Electricity Board has adopted stringent measures that are harsh enough to force every sensible Malayali to charge their laptops in advance and pay for a net pack instead of waiting for WiFi: a forty five minute power cut! Movements have been organized and voices of dissent heard, saying that the Constitutional right to 24/7 supply of electricity is being violated by this crushing measure. The Opposition has claimed that electricity is being diverted to light the kennels of the Chief Minister’s imported golden retrievers. Amidst all this din and unrest. the only one happy seems to be the St. Alphonsa Candles and Incense Company, which has recorded a 232% increase in its profits. 

 

I am also one of the poor common Malayalis affected by this 45 minute power cut. My stomach has found a unique way to protest against it: every time the power goes off, it begins grumbling incessantly for food. I’ve tried tricking it by going to sleep or munching on an apple, but it shuts up only after half a kilo of rice and three pieces of fish settle in. Knowing when I am defeated, I light a St. Alphonsa candle, and walk to the kitchen. Fumbling, I find a plate and spoons, and soon, begin stuffing my mouth with food. 

It is said that brainwaves occurs in the most unexpected moments. Everyone knows the story of Newton discovering gravity because an apple fell on his head (Ever since, students have hated anything that falls: right from crow droppings to rain). But there are also lesser known examples, like how schools were formed by a man who was terrible at sports, so he developed a grudge against anyone who spent entire days outdoors and came up with a system to root out that habit from childhood; or how jeans was developed by a woman who hated to shave her legs and still wanted to look sexy. Anyway, as I sat eating dinner under the light the St. Alphonsa candle kindly let out, I realized how terrible a candlelight dinner was. 

 

I know what you will say. A candlelight dinner is the most romantic way to say “I love you”, or that it was during one such evening that you decided that that terribly boring boyfriend of yours was the love of your life. But I have careful, impartial research and scientifically proven statistics to prove you wrong. Candlelight dinners are not romantic. The fact that candlelight dinners are essential on Valentine’s Day is a myth, because the concept behind Valentine’s Day itself is a myth. Valentine’s Day is a story concocted by the brightest minds working at Hallmark to sell more cards. This was how they managed to make profits even during the Great Depression and through the 2000s, which saw a significant reduction in real human emotions. Candlelight dinners came up after hotel owners around the world met up for their annual Hotel Owners Conference (HOC) and stuck upon an idea to boost sales on a day which otherwise saw an ordinary turnout. This move by the HOC was so successful that some restaurants had candlelight dinners once in every month, while there are hotels, like the Dim Lights Wonder in Berlin, which host only candlelight dinners. 

You might argue now that though the idea behind candlelight dinners was merely a move to bolster profits and feed an increasingly capitalist economy, still the idea in practice is as romantic as, um, proposing by a beach with a solitaire diamonds as fireworks light the sky (this, let me add, actually a result of a joint deal between diamond and firework companies to sell fireworks at 50% their original price for purchasing a solitaire). Candlelight dinners are shown as romantic in movies, where the woman looks as beautiful as the audience expect her to be, and you can literally see the love dancing in the reflection of the flame in the man’s eyes. But this is a carefully orchestrated scene, shot over many hours, to once again promote the eternal illusion that life is as perfect as a movie. However, reality is quite different and quite harsh too, as is obvious when one reads groundbreaking research, like Amita K. Thommen’s fascinating piece on how Bollywood Films only serve to convince you that your ideal partner is one who can dance in water wearing an outfit that clings at all the right places. In this case, my careful research will clearly show how the movie candlelight scene is a mere farce. 

I conducted an experiment with three eminent scientists from the VELA Science Organization (VSC), to debunk the myth that candlelight dinners are romantic. The VSC is an institution known for conducting unparalleled research and proving definitely that watermelon seeds don’t kill you. We asked 100 couples who had ever gone on a candlelight dinner to recount their experience to us. What we found out what devastating, to say the least. Meghna Thoran, a 34-year-old housewife, recounts how a fairytale evening turned out to be a nightmare. Her boyfriend had just proposed, and to celebrate, they went out for a candlelight dinner. She was holding hands with her fiance and gazing into the eyes of a fiance when he reached over to touch her face. Accidentally, he knocked over a candle which fell on her arm. Instead of helping her, he quickly withdrew his hand and screamed. Luckily, the fire was put out, though the burn mark stayed with her even during her wedding day. “At least it prepared me to the kind of life to expect after marriage”, Meghna sighed, “When there’s a fire, he will let go. And there’s always a fire”. Not one for metaphors, we quickly went on to other participants in the experiment. 

Rahul Kope, a 24 year old civil engineer, had the shock of his life when he took his ex-girlfriend Rashmi Potti, on a date last Valentine’s Day, “It was a wakeup call for me”, says Rahul, who said that the candlelight revealed how ugly his beloved was, Her dark circles and pimples stood out so prominently that he was forced to break up with her. Sushmita Warrier of the VSC who recorded this response wanted to punch Rahul for being a pig, but was restrained by onlookers. 

For Lakshmi Ahantha, a 42 year old cardiac surgeon, a candlelight dinner ended in divorce. “My ex-husband had booked a table for us at the Thiri Place, and had arrived early to get a seat, When I walked in, he exclaimed, “mom, what are you doing here?”. I could not recover from that statement and had to divorce him”. Naturally. She also took refuge in Ponds Age Miracle, which she applies thrice a day, leaving her feel sixty years younger.

These are a few responses from the two hundred ones we recorded. After we assimilated the data, we found that 73% of people who had gone on candlelight dinners hated it. Of the ones who liked it, 26% were reported to have eye problems, and the other 1%, according to Dr. Harsh Jaada of the VSC, “suffered from an acute case of stupidity”. 

Our experiment also revealed that candlelight dinners were part of a nationwide scam by which hotels made enormous amounts of profit by serving the rats caught in their kitchen instead of meat. Since the lighting is dim, and the idea behind such a dinner isn’t the food but the irrational emotions, couples rarely noticed what they were eating until they found their heads buried in their toilets the next day. Candle lighting also enable hotel owners to save tremendously on electricity bills, leading to a surge in their profits again. Also, the food served is prized at an average of 5% extra because the dim lighting does not allow the customer to distinguish between the 5, 3 and 8s. On the whole, hotels which have the option of candlelight dinners have made a profit of more than 64% as compared to other, more honest establishments which depend on regular lighting and broiler chicken. 

 

Thus, candlelight dinners are not romantic at all. Instead they only serve to provoke deluded fantasies and increase the profits of capitalist ventures, which is against the very Communist essence of Kerala’s, China’s and the USSR’s beautiful history. Since Thomas Edison so kindly invented the light bulb, we should rely on its benefits, except when the Kerala State Electricity Board leaves you with no other option. 

 

The Blue Bird Flies

Standard

NaPoWriMo Day#5: Write a “golden shovel.” This form was invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, The Golden Shovel. The last word of each line of Hayes’ poem is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem We Real Cool.

 

The poem I’ve chosen to shovel-ize is Langston Hughes’s beautiful Dreams:

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

 

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow. 

 

The shovel-ized version:

I slip from your hold

Falling freely, falling fast

With nothing to hold on to

I fly with my dreams.

 

What was I holding back for?

If only I had fallen sooner, only if

I’d known how beautiful were my dreams

I wouldn’t have let them die

So silently, condemning myself to a life

Where I forgot what love is,

A life where exhaustion reigned, a

World were every day left me feeling broken-winged

Never realizing I was a blue bird

So tiny, so insignificant that

I often feel I cannot

Let go, never knowing I can fly.

 

I slip from your hold

Falling freely, falling fast

With nothing to hold on to

I fly with my dreams.

 

What was I holding back for?

If only I had fallen sooner, only if

I’d known how beautiful were my dreams

I wouldn’t have let them go

So easily, condemning myself to a life

Where I forgot what love is,

A life where exhaustion reigned, a

World where days were barren

Like a drought fed field,

An existence so frozen

That I’d forgotten that with

My song, I could make it snow. 

 

They

Standard

NaPoWriMo Day#4: There are a couple of variants on the lune form, but just to keep things simple, let’s try the version developed by Jack Collum. His version of the lune involves a three-line stanza. The first line has three words. The second line has five, and the third line has three. You can write a poem that consists of just one stanza, or link many lune-stanzas together into a unified poem.

 

Two shy faces

Talked from across the hall

It was love.

 

Two shaky hands

Squeezed their quaking hearts out

They were scared.

 

Two bold strides

Taken tentatively by trembling feet

They were brave

 

Two dazzling smiles

Which were impossible to hide

They were happy

 

Two silent tears

Fall when no one’s looking

They were memories.