Monday, 13 July 2015

To You, O Captain My Captain

(Backstory: This is the 100th post on this blog and I couldn’t think of a more special letter to write. 
Shweta wrote in to me, “My friend who I love very much, lost her husband when he was just 39 last year. It’s her son Arnav’s 13th birthday tomorrow. Can we write her a letter and make her feel ridiculously loved, ensure she’s laughing and feeling safe tomorrow?”

And how could I not try?)

To You

If I could take the recycled paper on which this letter is written and wrap it around your hurting heart to make it stop? I would.
But can I offer you a lame inside joke instead?
Because I’d line up every comedian known to mankind to make sure you’re laughing in the way only you can- like warm, tropical rain you want to just stand under and get soaked in.

Sumitabh and you were the love story the rest of us spent summers longing for. 

I’ve heard my sister and her entire batch whisper about the way he’d make you smile. Constantly.
How he pursued you for months in school before you relented and how for 13 years you could not take a single decision without running it past him. 
How your favourite chai hangout was a small ally getaway few could find. 
He was the quiet in your hurricane. 
The velvety sitting place inside your constant confusion. 
Your Captain, as you always called him. 
Your best friend who’d take vacations with your son, where both of them would spend most of their time calling mum to tease and make her jealous. 
The one person who’d memorised the very important precise level of chocolaty-ness you needed from a cake. 
The boy you loved in school, who insisted you marry him before you run off to New York for a job and who you carry around in every careless hand gesture you make when you talk, even today.
But the true greatness of your love together and the absolute peak of its beauty is that gorgeous 13 year old whose birthday it is today.
Arnav is already frighteningly tall like his beautiful mother. 
I’m guessing a shorter body could not have housed the gigantic generous spirit he inherited from his father. 

Which logically leads me to say that both your great love story and that amazing boy, enter puberty today. 
From hereon, there will be acne. 
There will be the feeling of every feeling like it was invented only for you and put down your throat. 
There will be adventures. 
There will be nights spent staring at the ceiling knowing you're changing with every breath and turning into someone you've never even met. 
There will be an ending to every day knowing that the world being changed by you just existing in it. 

Hold on to all of those feelings, DK.
The world is yours and I’m around to make sure you take a huge bite of it.

Here are a few things I promise you:

To go on holiday with you to Turkey and Greece, 

because all the whirling dervishes in all of the world, had no twist in their movement that could match that infectiously happy curve of your smile.

To be the madness in your life. 

Because taking it seriously and softly will get us to the same place as dancing and moon-walking through it will.

To always be there for Arnav’s birthday.

So I can watch your love and that beautiful boy go from puberty to adulthood. Only the very lucky get to sit on the sidewalk, pop a beer and simply soak in the unmistakable glow of watching love grow.

To never fail to yell at you when you ditch me for plans. 

I’m not above calling your mother to cross check your excuse next time.

To chase rain and drive through it, like only we do

Always wondering if our car can outrun the raindrops falling just ahead. 

To sing Alanis Morisette songs out loud to you. 
For when life tries to be bigger than we are and you need reminding that you're the girl from Hand In My Pocket.

To make sure you’re up to date with my sparkling literary inventions like “scrotchers”- men who scratch their crotch.

To fill your heart with all kinds of love. 

It will not even be a smidge of what Sumitabh has given you, but I promise that it will flood spaces in your body and heart, that you didn’t even know you had.

Happy Arnav’s Birthday. It's a beautiful day today.

All my love,

                               (The really lovely Diya with the birthday boy Arnav from several years ago. 
                               Picture shared by: Shweta).

(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 love letter can go with real names, back stories, as many pictures as you like, aliases and even super powers.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion. Give me a shout at: )

Monday, 8 June 2015

To You, Emma from June 5

(Back-story: This To You request didn’t make its way to me per usual. After Berlin Art Parasites first featured my poem, I became friends with Jovanny Ferreyra, then editor and curator of the site, now magic-weaver and owner of The Artidote  (the internet is a strange and beautiful place- most of which depends on your search history) Jovanny told me about a young girl EC who’d written to him at The Artidote, a day after attempting suicide. She described in a terse, beautiful note- how she did it, why she failed and everything she thought of after. JF, wanting to do something more for her, asked me to write her a letter. And how could I not?
This letter is for her. I cannot imagine what it must be like to hope to never wake up.
I can't imagine now knowing and not trying to send her stories of unicorns and funny e-links and old CDs of Louis Armstrongs classic.)

To You,
Emma On June 5

Friday seemed like a good day to do it. There are millions who live for the weekend. You decided you’d stop on one.
It’s tough when your insides don’t match your outsides. It’s even worse when your own breathing refuses to get on board with what the rest of you has planned for the day. There you are, on June 5th, breathing normally. Just like everyone else, only different.

Take a second and soak in its rhythm. Close your eyes and feel part of the grand orchestra. 
One count in and two counts out. 
Each time your breath is caught or you exhale too sharply, you’ll know it’s because you’ve reached a new bridge in the song the Universe has got cranked up, real loud on it’s radio.

The thing about wanting to kill yourself isn’t want of a grand dramatic exit from stage.
It’s a quiet disappearing.
It’s what the girl in the magician’s box feels before the big reveal- darkness all around and wanting to close your eyes and opening them only to nothingness. Maybe even get a gasp from the audience. No blood, no gore. Just a quiet, soft, empty imprint in the space your body used to fill.

So you take a lot of the pills your shrink recommended and cut your left wrist several times.
Your body is the real estate you’ve lived in - you’re cutting the lease short. You’re not hysterical, you’re not detached. Even here, you’re you, in all your beautiful, awkward glory. You think about people you’ve loved the most, noticing then in that moment, that there is still no sequential hierarchy around love. You don’t wonder about the funeral arrangements your family will make. Or all the big milestones you’ll miss once you’re gone- grad school and change of presidents and first kisses and pets you could’ve had and marriage and discovering new favourite restaurants. They all hold hands and slip into the nothingness with you.
There’s just you in the magicians box, the weight of the lid above you, a lead coated darkness and anticipation of the big release.

You wake up at 4 in the afternoon. Heavy, drugged and confused about why you didn’t die.

You call your friend and make plans for dinner. On the way there, you stop at a pharmacy and buy gauze pads to cover the scars on your left wrist. You remember the hot dogs your mother loves so much, you pick her up a few from the 7/11.

At dinner, you notice you’re breathing just the same again. Like nothing happened. Your body continuing to take up space, defiantly and naturally.

You tell your mom what you tried to do.
You understand now what it means to see pain calligraphed across the face of someone you love. That makes you want to kill yourself even more. You don’t appreciate this irony. You hear what they said about you at Medical Technology- how your frame of mind is too weak to take the course. They forget that your body fought the biggest act in the magicians show. No weak novice can do that. The medical technology board doesn’t realise that you’re weak but armed with a mad, throbbing desire to fight.

A fight you wage everyday in little post-it-notes tacked to a light brown cork board in your room. Scraps of blue, pink and yellow flutter and break the dead air that sometimes hangs low. Scraps of Rilke, Grayson and Einstein, scrawled in your meticulous writing.

They’re all really saying the same thing. 
That the seven billion people around the world are breathing in and out a song the Universe has cranked up, real loud. Each time someone stops breathing, the music changes a genre. So breathe in and breathe out.

Get your mom her favourite hot dogs every Tuesday, twice a month. Lightly touch the paper soft skin around your wrist. Trace verses of your favourite poems around the scars. Fight for your seat in Medical Technology. Destroy rituals that mean nothing to you. Flip burgers, if that makes you happier. Allow yourself to be lost from time to time, and whenever you find yourself in the magician’s box again, remember that it’s an illusion and you can get out. Own the space your body really takes up. Wiggle your shoulders and know that this movement alone caused a dolphin to kiss another, somewhere around the Indian Ocean. When the world and everything in it becomes too much to take, put all your faith into astronomy. Lie on your back, stare at the stars and pick out the one you’ll move to and rule on. Make a manifesto and add Hugging as the official currency. And then think about what Rilke was trying to tell you:

Don’t let the expanse subsume you. Breathe in and Breathe out, knowing that you’re making music. You’re part of a jazz quartet, you and I we both are Emma, and the world wants to rock to that, for our entire lifetime to come.

Still Breathing Emma

      (My fav Banksy work. A copy of this has been hanging in my bedroom since I lived in a dorm in london)

(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 love letter can go with real names, back stories, as many pictures as you like, aliases and even super powers.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion. Give me a shout at: )

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

To You,Tigger

(Back-story: Each one of my close friends can attest that the one candle-lit protest I would attend at India Gate would be for monogamy. Stories of cheating and betrayal upset me more deeply and perhaps more irrationally than they do other people.
 It's because of this that this was such a hard letter to write. This and how a 50 year old woman from Bombay laid bare, visceral and un-pretty details about her life with humour and majestic ease. Details that she wore like Balmain badges of honour and style on her jacket. This may not be a popular To You letter, but it takes all kinds of stories to make up love stories and we only barely understand the ones we ourselves star in.)

To You

Bright red shorts should be banned at gyms. Those and too smooth men out to break hearts.

That’s my first memory of you. The time I want to run back to and stop anything more from happening. Maybe I want to change gyms, maybe I never want to speak to you and maybe I  want to succumb to your niceness once more, just like I did back then.

When you’re divorced and a single mum with a kid struggling to make it on your own in a city like Bombay, after cash the other currency you tend to run low on is kindness and trust. That’s how you won me over, Tigger- with uncharacteristic kindness.
You were 32, I was 44. It started with a phone call and friendship. I was palpably lonely and wondering at which birthday would people just start to decorate my aloneness with candles and ask me to cut it like a cake.

You were married, working out at our gym, wearing red shorts and amazed at how a woman my age could lift so well. I was bruised by life, standing tall and beautiful at 44. 

A single mother who’d become used to going it alone, until you came around and reminded me how heady, luscious and addictive dependency could be. 
You’d think that at our age we’d skip the talking for hours on the phone stage? But that’s where we laid our best foundation- the one that we’re ripping apart right now. Who said earthquakes were not man made?

You were married/

Your marriage was empty/

She didn’t laugh like me/

She didn’t look like me

It reads like a bad rap song here. It felt like tired, old lines when you said them to me, back then.
But when has knowing better, stopped anyone from falling into love?

And when has falling into love, protected you from being split open across the gut with a rust-embellished knife, each time you saw on Facebook, the man you loved holding someone else?
I’ve memorized our faces- yours, mine and hers. I had to. I’ve seen the slope of your thick fingers curve along her waist and I’ve known far too well what that warm hand feels like. I've always wondered if ownership added more heat.
I’ve hated the triangle you made me a part of.
I’ve hated more when you tried to cut me out of it.
I’ve loved even when I was a knobbly point , isolated and far removed within the triangle.
I’ve loved even when ‘we’ seemed to be just a fantastical construct of my imagination. 
And between the loving and hating, I’ve lived out six years that were lynched with longing and waiting.

Phone calls, your interest and our love petered out in cliché patterns. I was a woman once so wanted by you that I wasn’t allowed to hang up even to change my clothes. I was the one you’d wake up at 3am to whisper goodnight to while you were in a different time zone on family vacation, the one you’d talk to in code language and under an alias on Twitter to someone you now can’t travel from Nasik to see unless we’re counting the 4 times in a year you want to come home.

Baby, there’s no romance in drama when you’re my age.
But baby, having a broken heart still cuts as fucking deep. 

(Isn't that how the kids would say it?)

Don’t worry or feel sorry for me, darling. I’ve walked hard and proud alone. 
I’ve left a marriage and parents who didn’t want me to leave the marriage, I’ve watched the son I gave everything up for almost walk away. I’ve watched the beauty I held proudly, succumb and crumble to an illness and avalanche of steroids. 
I’ve learnt that a single mum is a liability for couple friends, romantic situations and a job. But through it all, I’ve never forgotten how to love.

Mothers worry for their daughters when they're 16 and 18. They worry for reckless mistakes their daughters can make, like falling in love with slick men who will hurt them and break their hearts.
But that’s the thing, Tigger, mothers need to realize they shouldn’t stop worrying about this, even when their daughter is 50.

Yours Defiantly,

(Author’s note: the client’s pet name Siggy was derived from her college pet name- Sigmund Freud. The time she was happiest and believed in love, "like you in your blog", she told me. "Don't ever lose that", she also told me.)

                                       (Gorgeous picture reblogged from this Tumblr account)

(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 and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: )

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Lessons #2392

        (These are my Instagram writings from the account @hyperbolemuch)


An Ode To Butterflies (In My Stomach)

I gave birth to mass populations of you
With each razor-sharp, 
Puddle-shallow breath in
And breath out.
The first time I had a crush.

I’ve nursed families and tribes of you,
Every time I’ve really
Really liked someone,
And they walked by 
And said “hi” to me.

I’ve held baby showers for you,
Given you names, like “ImDying Inside”
There’s, “OhMyGod DidWeJustMakeEyeContact”
And, “OhMyGod” “OhMyGod Junior”, “OhMyGod Senior”

Like needy, rowdy kids you’ve,
Raised hell with your fluttering around.
Pressing your downy, feathery bodies 
Hard into the anxious lining of my stomach,
Each damn time 
I even try to play it cool.

Just before I’m about to speak
The beating of your wings
Drowns out the sound of 
Blood in my veins,
And I forget how society,
Usually responds to “Hi”.

Restless kids, you’re out of control
And sometimes take up so much room,
I forget to eat.
And drink too fast.

Which is why I wonder why people
Say you’ll soon be extinct.
Don’t they know I’ve hidden colonies of you,
Deep inside 
The caves of my stomach?

Age be damned,
You’re how I’ll know at 60
That I’m young and alive.

(Picture credit @ballerinaproject_) 


And no one ever told you 
That being young meant
A folding inside,
Starting over,
Stopping swiftly,
Inhaling shyly,
Exhaling frantically 
And letting go

Always four seconds too soon.

                       (Gorgeous picture composition by @ballerinaproject_ with the lovely @katieboren1)




I took your idea of beauty and smeared my freckles over it. I took the conditions you placed on love and smudged  the "You Sign Here" space with my bleeding heart. 
Straight across. 
I bought expensive art and ran a magic marker in three different squiggles, symmetrically around its edges. 
I took this world, broken and bent and hopeful and taught it how to wear its organs inside out, to prevent being misunderstood. 
I made it all mine.