Sunday, 25 January 2015

Questions Children Ask (*and the truth they deserve to hear)




(Picture Credit: My very talented friend Ms Tara Ghale. Lust after more of her work here)
                             


Question: Where do babies come from?
Ans: Babies come from all sorts of beliefs. Belief that our love deserves a face, arms and little wiggly toes. Belief that if our forever is stitched up of people you and I made, we might still make it, because just you and I will eventually wreck everything good we have. 
Belief that if I take the best of you and the best of me and made it into a little human, that would be the sort of magic that would make others believe again. Belief that your ridiculously large, distinctive nose needs to live on in another human so some other boy or girl could fall in love while trying to kiss and bumping noses instead.


Question: Who do you love best?
Ans: My idea of everything I could be. Sometimes I take that idea and pour it neat into another person and for a long time believe that this new person will save me. I also do that with jobs, houses, new projects, diets and puppies. I love above and beyond all else, the idea of the best I could be. I just have no clue how to get there.


Question: What is the sky made of?
Ans: Unfinished love- splattered clumsily with its bits fluffed and tucked into cotton-ball shapes. Sometimes bathed in sunlight, often wiped out by rain; it's skin seared raw with fresh star-shaped tattoos every night.
You see, only pain can sparkle so bright
.


Question: Do you believe in God?

Ans: We all do. And because of that we're still hurting.


Question: Where do people go after they die?
Ans: Into dust, that floats lightly and swirls right into the air, smoke and pollution above. Then the people we loved best when we were alive, they breathe us in and we live in tiny pockets inside them until they die too. Inside each of us are all the people we've ever loved, made up of all the people they had ever touched.


Question: Why do we have a leap year?
Ans: Because a long, long time ago a pretty, young girl promised a handsome boy that she will be back to kiss him and hear how the story he was telling her, ended. He's still waiting for her, so every four years we give him an extra day, because she might be back anytime and his story does have a mad, wicked end.


Question: How do birds fly?
Ans: Birds were angels that were never any good at obeying God's mission. They were the kids in  the classroom who liked flying the best and never turned in their homework or Good Deeds Practicals on time. As punishment, they were turned into bodies made of feathers with their memories of how to fly erased and exiled to the skies forever. Once in the sky, they remembered when they were happiest and started to fly. 
They fly now out of joy. A crazed joy that only comes, when you get to do that which you love best.



Question: How big is the world?
Ans: Too big on some days and far too tiny on others.


Question: Why do we blink?
Ans:
Blinking helps us make memories. It is our bodies' method of time keeping. Each time you blink, an old story ends and a new one begins. 
Every night the time between a blink lasts 7-8 hours. That is the exact amount of time your body needs to forget some stories and to remember some. Most people call this sleep.


Question: What makes thunder?
Ans:
 Thunder is what the end of waiting sounds like. For a phone call, for a dead parent to return, for recognition or sometimes even for your pizza to arrive. Thunder is nature's timer telling you to let the waiting be done.


Question: Why do people kill each other?
Ans:
Because a lot of people are assholes. 
I'm sorry for using a cuss word darling, but there's no other way to explain it.


Question: What is a black hole?
Ans: It is a cupboard  for safe keeping. 
That's where they store missing socks, dropped pennies, forgotten punchlines, unanswered questions, missing pieces of last nights dream, unsaid wild declarations of love, lost confetti-bomb containers and names of obscure songs stuck in your head. 
Someone lost the piece of paper which had the combination lock to the cupboard, dinosaur years ago.



Question: Why is the water in the sea salty?
Ans:
That's not water, those are dead people's tears for when they see us make the same mistakes they did- murder, running away from problems, road rage, arson, late hours at work, too many extinct animal species, too few kisses and more emails than required.


Question: What is a wart? And why does grandma have so many?
Ans:
Warts are beauty reminders, placed on our bodies by nature as we grow older. They are there to remind people who love us, to tell us how beautiful we are. The more warts someone has, the foxier they are, the more often they need to be reminded of it.


Question: Why do people kiss?
Ans:
Because like ice-cream flavours, people want to know what their different feelings taste like- happy, wildly in love, disappointed, broken at the edges, hesitant, proud, remembering a memory and forgetting another.



                                         (Of perfect vacation skies and footprints in the sand. Last year, Krabi)



Friday, 16 January 2015

To You~ Second Last Row Friend

(Back-story: There are all sorts of  absurd loves and soul-mates out there for each one of us. Few of these will be romantic.
This is a letter a forgetful friend asked me to write. She wanted to wish her school friend a happy birthday and to remind her school friend that of all the things you forget, there are far more details that you don't. Oh, and she's also sending over some cupcakes.)








To You,
Second Last Row Friend



I’m not entirely sure when we first became friends. Most of my school memories just begin, as if the events had already happened, as if there exist no starting points. Maybe those are only reserved for adult life: starting points, formal handshakes and dramatic goodbyes.
From the time I remember you in class 6, we were friends. Your geometry box was always missing a protractor and you always had to have mine.


Our friendship was never marked and outlined by school favoured terms like “best”, “oldest” and “favourite”. We didn’t even spend every day of recess together. And yet, I don’t have many memories of school without you in them.

We’re young women now. Older, beautiful, less awkward, more innocent than we’ll admit to even ourselves and still holding onto wisps of ideals we decidedly marked as ours somewhere during Political Science and Biology.


It’s your birthday, next month. I’ve missed a few over the years, pretending that I was buried under my Masters dissertation, a new country and lack of phone credit. In truth, I had forgotten, in the everyday-ness of my new life, I had forgotten to wish you.
Something if you’d have predicted 11 years ago, I would’ve sworn would never happen and then would’ve promptly gotten mad at you for assuming this of me. We’d only have spoken next when I’d have wanted to borrow your notes, unless they were Physics, in which you were abysmal, and thankfully has nothing to do with your current profession.



I’ve wafted in and out of your life, at whim, mostly mine. But this didn’t in any way stop me for noticing, loving and (as you’ll discover when you read on) lecturing you.



Happy birthday, old friend, these are just somethings I want you to know:



- That more than anything else, I am proud of you. I’ve seen you when you were a gangly teenager, full of yourself and ridiculously awkward at the same time. I wasn’t paying attention when you slipped into and learnt the easy grace with which you carry yourself and your many achievements. You’ve struggled, as we have all, but unlike many of us, you’ve remained brilliant and grounded. I know if I asked you how you’ve done this, you’ll probably crack a fart joke and look at me like I’m insane.



- Which makes me think, darling girl that a part of you also is. You must’ve slipped and hit your head on concrete while you weren’t looking. Why else would you put your heart, time and time again, in harm’s way by falling for married men? Which Tuesday afternoon did you decide to give up on yourself, label yourself ragingly Anti- marriage and then proceed to have your heart jerked around by men who shouldn’t even be allowed to look your way? 

The 16 year old girl I knew would be aghast, scared and upset to know this. I want to give both you and her a hug, and tell you kids, that no matter what you do, you’ll be okay. There is no happiness to be had in pretending you’re done with love and then falling for a married man. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re a commitment-phobe only because you’re afraid commitments made to you will be broken. Like the kind other men made and break with your help. 
You’re not afraid of the strength of your own commitment darling, you’re just afraid of your heart being broken. Don’t be, I’m around, you’ll be okay. And if you’re not, we’ll get a drink and I’ll tell you a fart joke.



- It was a few years ago, when we were having coffee. “What would you want to be born as, in your next life?” I only asked the question because I wanted to tell you how I wanted to be Beyonce. Except you said: To be so beautiful, that when I walk into a room, men turn around and look at me, and I can then use this power. 

 I barely said anything then, I even forgot to tell you how Beyonce was my spirit animal. But I’ll say it here-- You’re beautiful in this life, you complete idiot. Your bone structure could grate cheese and despite having had braces in school, you have the most unapologetic, full laugh I've ever known. You’re also beautiful because you’re kind and generous but I know those things don’t figure high in your rebirth list, so I’ll remind you: gorgeous cheekbones, sickeningly shiny hair which never needed conditioner and eyes full of questions and part evil. 
 Also, next time find your own friend to insult.



- You’ve managed to love your parents better than most of us think we do. You don’t love them in your heart, in your words and in that obvious, dormant way that most people do. You love them actively, through paid phone bills, making sure your dad gets to experience travelling first class, planning vacations, assuming responsibility and always always worrying if they’re proud of you. Trust me, they’re aware of what a fantastic kid they made.




- You’ll turn a year older than me. Your parents wonder when you’ll marry. You swear you never will, “unless it’s because all my jerk friends get married and then I have no one to hang out with. I’ll marry someone, only then”

To all of that garbled garbage you spout- you’ll marry when you have to, when it’s right and in your own time through your own mistakes. Like you've done and managed spectacularly so far. Whichever way you make your next ridiculous or award-winning decision, just know one thing: I’m in your corner, cheering you on and rolling my eyes at you.


Also, I’m pretty sure you owe me money for all the protractors you stole and lost.


With love,
Your friend who managed not to miss your birthday.







(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten/typed on a typewriter and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: kakulgautam@gmail.com )

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

There was once a beautiful boy
Who cried "Wolf", every night.
He would tell everyone he saw
Of the animals azure eyes,
The throat-gripping terror and fright.

His friends and lovers came in droves
With sticks & words, threats and stoves.
They loved his beauty and wanted him safe
Of the menacing claws, he said lived inside
a cave.

Every night with will anew,
They waited and plotted beatings
Black and blue.
Nights turned to dusk
Lovers to strangers,
Days to years,
The wolf never came
His stories they couldn't bear to hear.

So lived the gorgeous boy,
Icy winter nights alone.
Still muttering about the wolf,
So beastly and regal, it needed a throne.

He spoke about its glistening fur,
Razor sharp claws, yellowed breath
And treacherous purr.
How the wolf would howl every night,
At a monstrous moon
Far away and stark bright.

He heard its padded steps
From miles away.
Horrified by the wildness
Its softly heaving chest would betray.


Alone, the boy with the beautiful smile
Died
In time to realise
The wolf only ever howled inside.

                                             (Picture inspiration: my favourite neighbourhood cafe, and my corner to read)

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Today.

This year I hope you travel to countries you don't need a visa to enter.
Familiar places inside those you've loved. Stumble onto warmth in old, browned faces. Take a vacation to freckles you've overseen so many times, that you missed welcoming new ones that came up. 
Go surfing inside eyes of new friends when they've got excitement or hurt to share. Make a trip back to hand holding. Heck, make hand holding cool again. Hold your own, each time you need to. 
This year, travel inside out and outside in.

I hope life smacks you in the face with beauty, every day this year. Know now, that this will not happen if you're staring down into an app. Look up, and you'll find that even in squalor and grime grows all kinds of ridiculous joy too stubborn to be sad. Run into one such thing of beauty everyday. If your day is too busy just look into the mirror at night, and smile.

This year I hope you let go:
of the ball of anger curled up inside your stomach, of the weight of your sadness, of days that didn't treat you right, of the burden of old mistakes, of missed flights, of lost opportunities, of people who weren't meant to stay, of stories unfinished, of excess that consumed you, of lack that subsumed, of everything you were prejudiced against, of all the times you tried too hard and of anchors you put down when you were too young. This year, let it all go.

Build yourself in the new year, into a real person. One that lives and exists outside of selfies, Instagram updates, clever Facebook check-ins and funny texts. Build yourself and your celebrity outside it all. And in that, I wish you great fame and fortune.

In a world filled with bombings, murders, rapes and hatred, find one thing to be passionate about. It could be origami or saving the dolphin. Find it, and chase that passion down the street, like you would a hot lover trying to get away. Tell everyone you meet about it. And maybe if we all do it together, we would've saved the world. 
Speaking of, you can also do that with one kind act everyday. Especially on days you feel enraged, entitled, let down, devastated and vicious.

This year, I hope a great dream you've held close, nurtured, dreamt and prayed for comes true. So that when it does, you learn like we all must:
a) that there is more magic and miracle in this universe than bombs.
b) And that sometimes dreams not coming true is a blessing we never truly understand, until they do.

In that I hope you place your trust, faith and love for the next 364 days to come.

(Picture Credit: Me but Thailand's stunning beauty is easy to work with)