not that usual ‘burnt bread’ morning.

7 PM. At the 2nd beat, he says, you have to stretch enough to bend over your back but not so much as to crouch at your knees. Your fingers try hard to reach your toes but the expanse somehow still falls short of the touch by an inch or so.

After the class, you feel unusual. Like baptized by the sweat. The sudden endorphin rush. The euphoric high that follows after. All feel like unexpected remittances earned on a whim. You haven’t felt quite this way in days, even weeks, perhaps months? And you can’t really put a finger on what exactly is working for you this moment, just that it is, and unparallelly well. You watch your reflection in the mirror. A body shifting and swaying. Swirling around and strutting its parts into shapes it has never worn before. Inside these walls now, there is no place for inhibitions. You immediately fall in love with the shadow dancing behind you.

11 PM. Winter doesn’t touch Bangalore half as intimately as it permeates Delhi. There, it marks its territory on your body through the cracks on your lips. There, when it arrives, you come to know it and know it well. But here, things are different. Subtle. And for once, you miss the harshness of it. For once, you miss Delhi. But maybe it’s just the memories. Maybe it’s just home and the roots and stuff like that. Snap to the next second and you’re like, chuck it! Delhi isn’t half as fun as Bangalore.

Anyway, the chill in the air is still well perceptible. You have been riding against speeding winds. Slapping your face. Trying to cut you into two. Biting a freezing hole in your chest. Your fractured self almost wonders if it could bury all its bruises in there.

12 AM. The hotel looks like a swanky place. You doubt if you should hit the bar here. One beer shouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket a size that big. But R says you are just overestimating the place. So you walk in, into the lobby, up the elevator. There’s some corporate party going on. You grab one of the chairs and blend in. Blame the fruit tarts and the green tea cheesecakes for their hypnotic pull.

You watch the city from this roof. A sea of bright dots punctuating the space all around. It looks beautiful. And the night’s perfect. Everything of it. The time, the place, the table, the view, the beer too. Eventually, you muster enough courage against your own self and try to articulate into words what you have been fighting, for a long time now. You try to put a name on your pain. Maybe, giving it an appropriate identity will make it ordinary, cliched, usual, normal? Maybe, just maybe, it will take away its power so that it tones down its wrath. So you try to label the source, categorize the hurt. Also so that you could outright blacklist that thing from your future. Everything else too, that comes bearing the slightest resemblance to it. You dread all that. You build walls now. But, funny thing: you don’t always get to pick what you experience. And weirdly, the party’s too loud to allow your pain to touch the right decibels. Nothing heard is nothing said. You quickly chuck it and settle with gobbling up the white chocolate swan. Sometimes, little pleasures are the biggest things in the world.

1 AM. You crash at the next door bar at Hammered for a while. R says you don’t have to figure out your life this very night. You don’t really understand what he implies. Would there be ample time for it later, or would there never be enough time so there’s no point at all?

Anyway. Distractions are good. You never imagined they could be reassuring. Like stepping stones through a puddle. Helping you skip past the middle of nowhere. You learn to identify them for what they really are. All the bardot dresses choking your Shein e-cart? Passion weighing down on an app closet. The body craving the satiny caress of the scallop suede halter top that you cannot even slither into (will! one day, will!), but are still ordering anyway? It’s a waist-sized revolt. And this proud collection of rust, nude, and cocoa lip colours in the frayed pocket of your handbag? Palm-sized flags reminding you to also feel alive while you be. New folds on the pages of old books? Creases marking your reclamations of personal time and space. That tiny assorted pack of 12 sketch pens lying on your bedside table? Wilderness sealed in plastic. You pick a pen, implode inside a notebook, and take back the world.

2 AM. IISc Campus. You park outside the N Block. The institute air has something about it. A whiff of those days. Delhi. NSIT. Parking. MPAE block. You tiptoe into the jungle, and back in time, simultaneously.

4 AM. Chai-hunting all around Bangalore. Even the railway station doesn’t have shops open this late. (Or this early?) You end up grabbing some banana cakes on the road. It is an upbeat morning. Today you won’t feel small. Today you won’t run to the corners of the corners and hide. Today you won’t need to stain ten china cups with coffee in their bellies and lipstick marks on their rims. No. Today you already feel like devouring a slice of the sky. Today all mishaps are going to be merry. Today they can go ahead and break the melody in your head and you will totally forgive them for doing so. Today you can be a beatrice. ‘She, one who makes happy’. A beatrice. By yourself, to yourself, and perhaps then to some.

the fumble for a path.

Tripping yet again upon a choice, you fear a trap. Unable to view the choice for the gift it is, you frown at the privilege, of having possibilities to pick from.

But no, you are not being ungrateful.

Rather, you know yourself. Your indecisiveness. Your impulsive decisions. Your sudden quirks. Your weird whims. Your idiosyncracies. Your screwed sense of direction. Your ambiguity. Your failed sense of judgement. It’s all happened in the past!

So, fear paralyzes you at the crossroads.

It’s funny when you get lost on your way and accuse the GPS of betrayal every time. But alarming when you have no idea what you’re doing, where you’re heading. In life.

Wedged between what to do and what not to do, you are scuttling through cities, flipping over jobs, tipping on the edge of aspirations and apprehensions.

But then, you have never been a calculative one.  You would never weigh the pros and cons in and out.  You wouldn’t tread lightly over gunpowder.

You have always been this frivolous, this turbulent, whose impulse would flutter like butterflies refusing to be bottled up, who would shrug all conscious rationale, at one bend of intuition, at one slant prick of psyche.

And so, even knowing the magnitude of impending change that will rock your world, may be, even upend it, you turn the page to the next chapter of the book, and watch anxiety melt into excitement!

Okay, you might be clueless. But you are not naive.

You attempt to sketch your own path.

You realize that, you yourself are the anchor to your chaos. You might be the epicenter of your quakes but you yourself are your recovery guide too.

You have this storm raging inside you.  And you use it to arm yourself to meet the one brewing in the outside world.

And even if it churns you to dust, and you end up gutted under the rubble, you would not fold your cards. You would rather choose to learn from your mistakes.

It’s hard, daring to defy the odds. But you have this thing knotted in your memory that you can’t forego.

This moment is all that’s there to live, and whatever you choose to do right now will become what you will have ever done at all.

 

when you unbottle to unbother.

you watch the stars parcel you an invite into a night

so perfectly pinned to the sky at its fuzzy dark corners

that you don’t want to dim its beauty with your inhibition

or dissipate its magic with your fear

or ruin its romance with your indefinite whys and why nots

so you ask reason to pack its bag and leave

and tell responsibility to stop weighing down its burden on you

and as the duo give in and walk away

you lean over the parapet

into the glass in your hand

and roll your head an inch back

and exhale

what had been asphyxiating you since eons

tonight, you let this roof become your salvation ground

and as you sprint around the terrace

and giggle into the moonlight

and dance without watching your step

you realize that you are capable of seeing beauty

even in the darkest nights

that you are capable of being happy on an unfamiliar roof

when the roads leading home seem illusory

you had been feeling unreasonably displaced

or rather like a misplaced LEGO piece

made to fit into blocks

that bulge and dip at all the wrong places

only if you had realized any sooner

that your universe is different

that you cannot fill, with what you don’t have

so you stop caring anymore

about anything at all

and from among the billions dotting this night sky

you point your finger at a random star

wish upon it, a countless fantasies

then unclench your fist in sudden keen

and let all go.

15 days.

You realize in 15 days, what you never could, in all those 120 days of working.

15 days of not having a job or rent money or a backup or any kind of plan and still choosing to stay rather than giving it up all and running back where you started from.

14 days of feeling a searing helplessness inside yourself as your bank account stares at you with a fat zero in your face.

13 days of trying to sell yourself out on a piece of paper which fails to identify with you as closely as it rather should.

12 days of taking rejections in your face and not bending the knee.

11 days of clinging on to a tiny voice inside you that keeps reiterating, everything will fall back in place.

10 days of drowning in your own mess, while trying to breathe through your sudden seizures and emotional downpours. Additionally, you learn what insomnia feels like.

9 days of having forgotten, how looking up at the sky and guzzling the sun, felt like.

8 days of not knowing where you’re going, not knowing where you’ve come.

7 days of nurturing your grit and learning to believe in yourself, though learning it the hard way.

6 days of making wild acceptances of your truth and making peace with what now is, rather than regretting what then used to be.

5 days of working hard, chasing opportunities and decoding your self worth all along the way.

4 days of catching new possibilities blossom while you stand at a crossroads yet again, wrestling with your indecisiveness, bubbling with a hunger to leap in all of the directions beckoning you to explore them.

3 days of setting foot in new shoes and walking on, though knowing inside that they are the same old feet who will wander off, wherever they want, and not where they are made to.

2 days of relearning to look at the sky the same way again, and  flashing the sun, an overwhelming smile, across all those lightyears in between.

1 day of buzzing overwhelmingly with new expectations, standing at the plinth of your new beginnings, not afraid of the fall, now that you’ve already uncovered what the bottom feels like.

toppled utopia.

You watch the steam rising from the coffee, and you are not sure if it is trying to defy the rain, or dissolve into it. You clutch the cup harder, raise it closer to your lips, allow the warmth to permeate all your senses, unspool every thread of thought inside you, assault every cell of your being to the core, untangle every knot inside your head. Stop, stop, stop, stop, stop. This is that kind of moment. You don’t bother to think right now. You just be.

The next minute, there are a thousand thoughts jostling for space inside your head. You have been looking for a job which can make your days decently bearable, you miss him, you need to pay the bills, you have to update that resume, you miss him even more, you have to finish reading that book, you have to save for the trip to Pune, you have to buy your mom glasses, you are missing him terribly! Nobody ever told you, the most beautiful thing about you is your transparency, he said that, and you fell in love.

You have been pretty confused, lately. You could not make out the difference between what’s real and what just seems to be. Your relationship of four years (FOUR years!) fell apart like a house of sand. You wonder if it had always been this weak, this brittle, this sensitive. You had met someone and it unsettled your world. You meet people everyday and nobody moves a single brick in the wall. This time, it was different. Intoxicating-different. You had never felt this magnitude of pull before. You got so torn apart between love and liking that you mistook the fling to be more tangible than it was. You feel, it is a blessing and a curse, all at once, to feel so deeply about anything and everything. It was not your fault. You had been duped by the moment. The moment turned out to be stronger than you are.

You say it all out loud, you tell them how you feel felt about them. No matter how embarrassing it gets or how much afraid you are about baring your heart to people, you say it right to their face (or into  phone!), and stomp out. You clear your head, you do it for your own contentment. You don’t expect any response, neither do you get one (sadly!), but you hardly bother anymore. Ironically, it turns out, saying it out loud diminishes the very feeling itself, and that too, very substantially. May be, it seemed stronger before because it had been reverberating all day, every day, inside your head.

You look down the balcony, and it is a riot of color outside. Raindrops are pattering against your roof, popping into ripples on the road ,dripping down the trees, encroaching upon everything, like they own the skies, the streets. You smell wet earth in the air. It gets you higher than vodka, gets you best tuned in, with your inner self. You watch a drop, streak across the glass window, knocking off dust particles in its way, the ones that had invested months into making the panes, their home. Everything is temporary. Headlights of cars make soggy roads, glisten golden in the dark. Rain is painting the streets brown and muddy all over and yet, it looks eerily beautiful.

Breakups are hard. Liking someone and not getting reciprocated in the same proportion (or not even in the slightest proportion!) is hard. Rejections are hard! Not getting what you want from your job, is hard. Not knowing what you want from anything, for that matter, is hard. Not being able to give back to your family in the way or capacity they had expected, is hard. Feeling empathy for people, things, situations and not being able to fix them is hard. Not being able to fix yourself, is hard. Life is hard. But it is beautiful too. Not constant-beautiful. But intermittently, yes, it is. May be you just need to look for it, in the right places. Outside. And inside. Inside yourself.

You are fine. You are messy, confused and sickeningly unreasonable at times. Or most of the time! But oddity doesn’t really translate into weirdness. You are an anomaly, a rare beautiful anomaly.

May be, people don’t stick around, but love never goes away. The moments you have lived already, nobody can take them away from you, they are yours to claim, to keep, to cherish, for perpetuity. So you can get by life, pricking yourself at your pain-points all the time, or you can live your life neglecting them.

You are bigger than this, than all of this. You are flawed, yes, but you have a voice strumming inside you. Follow that and you will be just fine. You might be neck-deep into this mess you have got yourself into, but this is your mess, and nobody knows you better than you yourself do. You are well acquainted with all your patterns (and unpatterned eccentricities !).

You found a way in, you will figure one out too.

revelation.

You don’t know what’s real anymore. You come back home exhausted from a job that hardly feeds your soul, rather it crushes it, moulds it like plastic into forms you cannot recognize anymore. No, don’t get scared, it’s not a bad job to start with. Atleast, it’s not one of those jobs that are physically excruciating, or frugally paying. No, this one is diamond compared to that crap. Or, so everyone else says. But you, you just can’t wrap your head around it. You cannot dabble in numbers, you forget things, you attend training lessons you don’t remember after two days. It does not surprise you anymore, how you write down formulas in your notebook ( it looks like you are the only one putting your notebook to that kind of use in office!) and still manage to get the syntax wrong the the next time you type them into your computer. You send out wrong files, wrong emails to wrong people. You can easily imagine firing yourself had you been calling the shots, you are that pathetic at it. But they are keeping you. Persevering with you. Wow, they must be saints in a parallel universe, you think.

You come home to a terrace flooded with a full moon glinting at your face and your eyes light up more than the two 15 W LEDs you had had fitted in your room just because you are scared of being alone in a dimly-lit space even with the TV blaring out at full volume. But on the roof, strangely, you like the darkness, you dig it, probably even love it. You might be weirdly wired, you think for a split-second. ‘Probably’, you second yourself.

You get friends over, for a beer or two. Mostly, to drown your misery into that poison and coat ‘happy’ all over your day or atleast over the fagends of it. You gulp it down, one bottle after another and as the more of that goes inside, the more of you comes out. At first it is all frivolous talk, like how it is so cold up here and how the streets look all colorful and the night sky looks so beautiful. You are blurting out things you don’t usually tell people. You say, you love the metro ride back home from office every evening when it gets all dark, and that, you always stand glued to the glass doors, perfectly adjacent to them, and even when it’s all crowded you would kill for that space, to watch the lights glittering in the distance because they look like stars and make you think you have descended upon a magical landscape. You say, you love the chill, the terrace, the sky, the vastness of it all, encompassing you from all dimensions but oddly, making you feel more liberated than ever. You are talking so feverishly now, you just cannot shut up. Like someone has uncorked a lid somewhere and years of  subdued emotions have come bubbling to the surface and are spilling out, eager to make their presence known, eager to occupy a space around you, eager to fill the void of those usually-hollow talks with their weight and volume and density and all that makes matter matter for real . You cannot stop smiling. You are happy. Period.

And then it is their weight that pulls you down. Those emotions. They are all over the place now. You feel like your life is dangling mid-air and you are crying. You cry and brawl and shriek your heart out. You cling to that dusty piece of floor underneath you and let out screams that have been suffocating you from within, since what feels like forever, screams that come out, throbbing with an intensity that has compounded over the years, screams that have caught you unguarded, you were not aware what you were capable of unleashing . You are not conscious that you are baring the darkest corners of your heart to people. You are making it known that you are vulnerable. You always end up putting yourself in an inexplicable position like that. You are not too proud of it either.

The next morning, they will tell you that you had thrown them out of your house the previous night. You won’t believe them. You will beg them to tell you what had exactly transpired, and in the exact chronological order that it had , but they will be so mad at you, that they wont divulge a thing. They will break off from you. You won’t be able to process what’s happening or figure out the WHYs of it for that matter. Once the hangover lifts in the evening, you will go back to your phone, explore it more intricately, only to find thirty eight voice messages that you had sent out to them, drunk, the night before. Probably after you had actually thrown them out. You will listen to your own voice and cringe. You will feel embarrassed by your own words. You had never wanted to hurt anyone! Or sever your ties with them! And then you will recall how much you had cried. This will make you feel vulnerable again. You will feel exposed. No, overexposed. Like you have let on, more than you should have. Rendering your soul open to someone pinches you more than baring your body naked to them.

You will feel lost and helpless, because you won’t remember a thing and no one will be willing to give you the truth. You will feel bad about yourself, you will feel ugly, for having treated people like shit. So you will immediately call them up to apologize. But they won’t take your calls. You will text them. But they won’t reply. Or probably even read. You will feel hurt, broken, unsure of what the truth is, uncertain of what to do next.

You will live bogged down under the weight of this mess for a good many days. You will even think that you create problems for yourself on your own and that, may be, you have always nurtured a habit for it. You will live like a sorry soul. For days and days to follow.

But these days will pass.

Soon you will realize that you can no longer allow situations to get the better of you, that you can no longer let your circumstances exploit you. You will learn that you control your happiness from within yourself and that no external factor can tamper with it, if you don’t give out the permits.

And so you will heal. You will write. You will read books that will blow your mind, that will spring open pathways for you that you didn’t know, to have existed before. And you will write. You will meet new people whose words will not fall like mere ramblings on your ears, whose words will make sense to you, whose company will be fun and exciting. You will forge new friendships, even relationships, there are all kinds of it, and for the first time, you will not feel afraid of experimenting. And you will write.You will write down all your experiences, feelings, emotions, traumas and breakthroughs like you are lettering your soul on paper, lending it a tangible form and shape and color for real. You will laugh carelessly, talk unapologetically, fearless of being judged or shamed. You will hold liberal views but strong opinions on anything and everything. You will become your own person. You won’t be able to please everyone but you will hardly care for it anymore.

You had never been the one to wake up early morning, but soon you will live like you exist for watching the sun rise everyday. No matter how cold or sleepy you are, you will wrap yourself in that warm and comfy blanket of yours, plug in your earphones, tune in to your favourite song, unlock the door, head upstairs and watch the magic unfurl on the roof. Life will once again become beautiful. It will all make sense, the pink and orange and yellow smudged across the sky in uneven streaks, because in the middle of it all, a ball of red rising out of nowhere, gradually turning golden, will shine for you as a metaphor to your life.

And, you will not just start loving yourself, you will fall in love with yourself and though they sound almost similar, when it will actually happen to you, they will feel a world apart from each other.

And do you remember, how you had always been asking yourself to save yourself, from yourself?

Yeah, you will change in a way that you will no longer need to.

rock bottom.

You know, your mind is muddled with clutter this very moment and would unabashedly remain so, for all the yet-to-arrive, be-here-soon moments, and “it is going to be alright” sounds too cliched to even believe in, anymore.

You know that you are so petrified of losing everything that you make endless lists in your phone’s crappy memo everyday, to just keep your shit together but yet again it dwindles to no use at all( like it always does!) as there are two or more items still rotting unchecked, still plaguing the daunting list at the end of the day.

You know your soul is burning like camphor inside, and all the smoke is making breathing difficult and yet you manage to live another day, with all the heavy weight pounding on your chest, like an illegal assault upon your existence.

You know, no matter how hard you try to bait your attention into making room for TV series or reality shows or travel itineraries, it weirdly always ends up thronging the memory of the tragic situation that blew up your dreams like a detonator pumping life into a dynamite, and there went your whole life, whooosh! (notwithstanding how you had always envisioned it to be!), bursting into splinters up in the sky. Nowadays, you do nothing but nurse the hollow, freshly carved inside you, eating away at your flesh, stinging you to the bones.

You call up your friends and seek good advice and no matter if you are bombarded with a ton of healthy tips, to each one of which, ofcourse you nod away restlessly and without fail, but no sooner than you put the phone down, welcome home bitches! you are back to square one, trembling at the edge, scrambling for your life.

It’s not like you don’t want to move on and live happily ever after with a broad smile stamped on your face, like people around you (who would not want that!). BUT it is far more difficult to even pretend you are happy when rather that one memory is now haunting you for the umpteenth time and you just cannot shake it away, pull it out of your mind and walk ahead.

You know you cannot undo the past but clinging onto it is just fucking with your present and possibly erasing any prospects of a good future, and you know, you know all this down to your very core and you yet cannot save yourself, anyway.

Welcome to rock bottom.