She told me about the trauma she endured as a young bride and how far she has come.
She told me how she felt beautiful and confident.
She told me about how she wanted to go study for this course, now that her kids are big.
She told me about her caring husband who surprises her.
She told me how she is trying to win her marriage back.
She told me how she has finally got approval from her family to marry her long-time boyfriend.
She told me the family secrets and makes me swear that I not share with anyone.
She did not tell me that something was wrong. But I made out from her silence.
I know a lot of women from different walks of life. Some are very close to me, some I have known for years, but just opened up; some are practically strangers and some I recently met.
I don’t know why they tell me the things they did. But, I believe they just wanted to talk.
I see a bit of me in them definitely. But most importantly, do they see a bit of themselves in me?
She went to the town square and the crowd made their way to wherever they were headed on both sides. It brought her memories of that documentary she had seen where ants broke away from their line when it faced an obstacle, only to carry on to its destination a few minutes later.
She saw someone who wanted all the attention and almost annoyed the others, but they put up with her because it was the norm. Besides she had the clout that forced others to put up with her antics.
Then, there was this guy who was too aloof, as if he was forced to make conversations. People were intrigued by him, but he seemed to be either humble about his achievements or he found others too lowly to engage with. She was not sure which one was it really; may be it added to the mystery about him.
There was a silent guy with a forlorn look, gazing at the happy couple. There were young couples looking at old ones and wondering how they can still pull it together. And, there were old couples who were too stuck up in their routines to care about anything different.
Also there were several who were there because it was important for the person who they came with. They sat there with a forbearance that was often not subtle not to be noticed.
And there were couple of them who came alone because they could not force someone to accompany them. Well, they so badly wanted to be here, that is why they came here alone. But, now that they were here, they seemed lost alone and yearning for the other.
There were people who did not turn up, but was still talked about. And, people who walked about as if the entire burden of universe rested on their shoulders, while some others laughed without a care in the world.
There were busy bees and social butterflies buzzing from one person to another. There were spiders with their webs in a corner, waiting for the fly to walk in. There were oysters cozy in their shells.
And, then she was there too. She could not decide whether she should stay or leave. She could see a little of her in everyone, but still not find something common with any of them.
That urge to feel included and left alone at the same time was hard to beat and she felt alone in midst of a crowd.
And, later that night in comfort of her room, tucked into the bed and re-living the moments of the day, she felt a strong sense of companionship.
There are so many things to say, but cannot be sure it is what you want to hear.
And, because too many people are saying things you like to hear, it does not mean it is always true.
Say the right things? Is right- what is truly right for the other or just politically correct or diplomacy!
If we burn bridges or dislodge a brick or two, every time we speak something, then is it not better to walk away?
To brood, to stare beyond, when words surface from heart and even from belly; but get stuck in throat!
To swallow hard with saltiness of tears, while eyes remain dry, as not many lend ears.
Too much white noise everywhere; but not sure anyone is being heard, and sometimes not sure if we are talking what we want to or what would sound right? And, are we listening or just hearing and sometimes not even latter??
You know what, forget it!!
To say the right thing, and be perceived wrong
To be someone, and is mistaken for someone else
To do what seems right, and is told it was wrong
To want to dream, but end up having no sleep
To hold people close, only to see them drift away
To seek help, and be ignored
To tell something and be falsely quoted
To show courage and is asked to fear the norms
Independent, and called selfish
Confident, and deemed arrogant
Proud, and told boisterous
Ambitious, and judged greed
I started this PoemX series long back to write about feelings/emotions. I have not been consistent at it.
And, the other day I saw Robert Plutchik’s theory that says there are some eight basic emotions. Then I read Aristotle’s “Rhetoric” and Darwin’s view on emotions.
But none of them has anything to say about being misunderstood. I feel that it is the most common emotion that is not often acknowledged and hence, honoring it with few words.
There was a time I would walk into a store and casually look at things, and buy something that I swear I would never have thought of buying in the first place.
And, I would listen to music that is not my cup of tea, because I stumbled upon it, and end up actually liking it.
I would go to a book store looking for something, then forget why I was there in the first place and explore the cover of books from different genres.
Now, it is so hard to break out and do something random even if I want to. I will tell you why.
YouTube has got my mix of songs. Even if I choose a song that is different from my usual style by taking some effort, it reverts to my usual list of songs.
If I ever look at something to buy in Amazon or any e-commerce site, the ads keep popping up everywhere I turn. Stop following me Google and Facebook!
Worse is the suggestions; people who bought this, also looked at these two things. And, I am like okay, go on, typecast us. Then, Facebook and LinkedIn think that I should connect to some people because we share similar interests.
And, if I accidentally I have my location on; Google says I have to click some pictures as apparently it is a popular place to do so and tag ourselves in.
The other day, I had a mini heart attack. I saw a private photo of mine in Facebook that they took the liberty of posting themselves, and I was hyperventilating for two minutes, because I did not see the disclaimer that only I can see this.
I miss doing something because I want to, and not because I need to. I want surprises, not suggestions.
I want to discover something new, not because it is trending.
I miss serendipitous encounters.
Apparently, someone said “Life is not merely a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences, but rather it is a tapestry of acts that culminate in an exquisite, sublime plan”
But right now, I feel life has become painful stalking from all sides
Recently, I went to this resort for a friend’s wedding. I had gone there several times before when I was a little kid, with my parents and brother. I remember sitting in the balcony overlooking the river and having hot cutlets with ketchup. And, several years later when I stepped into the same place, it never felt the same; not the place, not the river, not the taste, or the excitement.
Why does somethings feel so much better in our memory? And, however much we try to recreate it; it is never ever the same.
There are people that I think of with such fondness, the warmth of them in my thoughts is no longer there today.
There are places that create totally opposite and often conflicting feelings now than before.
But worst of all, when I look back, there is a different me that I see. And, I am not sure if that person is better than what I am now- but we sure are different.
I try to reach out to her, but she seems to walk away from me.
The other day my husband (may be out of his own nostalgia) bought this soap (Chandrika- a South Indian Brand), and he seemed very excited. I also could not contain my excitement (yes, I find happiness in little things). I remember that back in Palakkad, I used to walk into the bathroom that smells heavenly of this soap after coming home from school or playing. The smell of rain, wet soil and soap!
It was raining that day as well. I tried to teleport myself to those times. But it was never the same.
And, from a distance, a song seeped into my head from depths of my soul.
The poignant lines by eminent Malayalam poet O.N.V Kurup
ഓർമമകൾക്ക് എന്ത് സുഗന്ധം, എൻ ആത്മാവിൻ നഷ്ട സുഗന്ധം
“Ormakalkkenthu Sugandham, En Aathmaavin Nashta Sugandham”, loosely translated (failing miserably ) as “The fragrance of memories, the lost fragrance of my soul”
And, I have the song stuck in my head ever since.
For those of you who want to listen to the song, here is the link . Forget the video and language, may be you will be able to relate to the feel. May be you will not. And, that is precisely my point!
I left behind my mobile phone at home. I realized it on the way to office when I tried to pull it out to check time. I could have gone back, and picked it up as we were only few meters away from the house. But I let it be. It is just a day without phone, what can happen at the max.
But, on second thoughts a lot could happen and the panic set in. What if someone wants to contact me for a legit reason? So, I left my visiting card at my son’s preschool; it had my office phone in case they wanted to reach me. Once at office, I quickly called up my husband and mother, the only two people who may probably worry about me.
But it felt weird, like I had lost a part of my left arm. And, for first few hours my hands kept trying to pull out an imaginary phone; a muscle memory of sorts. A constant reminder that probably I am too attached to my phone than I probably like to admit.
I recalled from a recent talk show I watched: Ed Sheeran does not have a mobile phone. He uses email to communicate, or people can reach him on a fixed line. If he can, I can too. A flip second later, I realise I am no Ed Sheeran. Why did I even think of it in the first place? Too lame an analogy
Probably, because I started to worry that I had not checked out the cart in my online grocery app or when I was trying to transfer fund, I needed my phone for an OTP. And, let us not even get started on how I will be able to book an Uber back home (?). I and husband had a strategy meeting around this one already.
Leaving behind a phone had far more implications than I initially thought. This simply was not working and I decide to rest the case. And mind you all this happened by 11 AM
May be, I was going to be more productive with my work or perhaps spend a little extra time socializing rather interacting with my colleagues/friends at work. Because, that is what spending less time on phone should ideally bring about.
But it did not happen. I had to email to communicate instead of just calling and it was complicated. So, in the end there was no rise in productivity. And, as to people at work, I found out I don’t talk to a lot of people anymore. I actually talk to only three people and rest I communicate through phone or the office messenger and a lot of them who I used to speak to have left the organisation and moved on. So it was very weird to think that I will strike up a conversation with someone just because I forgot to take my phone. As for the three guys that I hang out with in office, I would anyway spend time with them, irrespective of phone being there or not.
So, during the course of day I hardly missed receiving any texts from the people in my life. Being a textovert, I hardly call people and I prefer people to text me than call (you can take it as a cue); so if I miss calls I know it is always an important one. But, I wondered how many messages will be waiting for me when I do get hands on my phone
As you and even I anticipated, when I reached home, I did not immediately run for my phone. I was already a bit detached, which was slightly weird. I took my sweet time to hand my son a bottle of milk, settled him into bed and grabbed my phone. There were a lot of notifications, and 90% were random updates, stupid promotional stuff and I did have few WhatsApp messages. I eagerly opened my WhatsApp inbox to find a lot of group messages, forwards and few personal ones-nothing that requires immediate attention. I am generally a well-connected person and have a 1 hour rule for any message/communication to me, I always reply to the text or return calls in an hour’s time. However, no one had even noticed that I was not responding
So, I reply to someone who had texted while I was gone and conversation goes like this
I: I left my phone behind and hence could not reply
Friend: How did you manage? I would have died
I: Really? You are more connected than I am, always updating status and all that. Did anyone miss you the other day you were in hospital and fell off the radar. Any text or call asking if you are okay?
I: See, you would not have died
Then, the next day, I walk out of home and make sure the phone was with me. I walk into office and realise the three guys I hang out with are not in office. One is on leave because traffic diversion caused his Uber to not provide any rides in his area. One is away on a vacation in the US and is available only on WhatsApp. And, one is sitting in another floor and the office messenger indicates she’s away from her desk currently.
So, at times I look at my mobile phone. There are few messages from my mom, some texts from my bank and lot of random stuff. But, more importantly, in a muscle memory of sorts I shout across to my friend (the guy who didn’t come to work because there was no Uber) and I swallow the words in my throat. I look up at the messenger to see if my friend in the other floor has returned to her desk and is available for a quick cup of coffee. And, in between I drop some texts to the one in the US disregarding the time zone issues. I send quick updates to my husband and mom; do my check-in at the school. I also send a lot of messages to other people in my network, like few feeds, tweet a bit, and adhere to my one hour reply rule.
So, in the end I realise phone has nothing to do with conversations; I mean real conversation. These are actually mutually exclusive things in my experience. I do not talk to people because I spend extra time on phone or anything else for that matter. It is because I don’t want to or sometimes they don’t want to. May be we are busy, but if we want to, we always get back and don’t use it as an excuse. Otherwise it is an issue of prioritization.
Going back to the conversation with my friend from the other day
I: One does not spend time, because they don’t have time. It’s because they don’t make time!
F: True that
Not generalizing things here. But I guess I am just pacifying myself that phone or no phone, real or virtual I simply don’t have many people to actually speak to, talk to, and reach out to.
Now, did I really need a forgotten phone to understand this or did I know it all along, I will never be able to tell
Talking mentioned above is general, we are not discussing emotional availability, needs, wants, fancies and expectations from a real meaningful conversation. Now, that is a different subject altogether and I had rather not go there. Too hard and too complicated! Also excluded are people addicted to phones and social recluses. We are talking the middle of normal curve and not the tail ends.
It is not really crazy how things change over time, it is just meant to be
The things once enjoyed become drudgery, like say a weekend, only chores to be done
Shuddering at the thought of living in places that are remembered with fondness, even for few days
No longer in touch with people to whom everything was shared a while back
And, the helplessness to share real feelings with those that matter, for fear of rejection
What if they also leave; what if it also ends; what if it all comes crashing down
Reeling at the thought of it; worries playing at the back of mind in shuffle mode
On the outward, it is all calm; No one sees the undercurrents
People call it whatever that pleases them-indifference, silence, mature, arrogant
Some say take it easy, this is nothing and dismiss the notion that it ever existed
Some dismisses you; say nothing can be done about it
And, it all hides behind the extensive to do list that are made every day
Bathroom floors and kitchen slabs that are scrubbed repeatedly
Cupboards that are pulled out, organised, put back and re-organised
Checklists of which tasks are crossed and filled in again
It all hides behind the daily routine that is built to justify living
The same cycle every day, to the point of developing a OCD
Where, even for good, a change in pattern makes us insecure
A kind of Stockholm syndrome, where we love being our own hostage
We are the captive
But we are also the captor
And admittedly, we love being both
The protagonist is not afraid to say, he is a flirt. He flirts, cause to him, flirting is a game, one he excels at. Words, have always come to him easily, when he lays eyes on a beautiful woman, ever more so. The charm and the smile does what words couldn’t if they ever failed him. Make no mistake though, a flirt he may be, but a romantic more so at heart. The protagonist wishes to relive and share some candid thoughts he had for a woman who made a mark in his life. Carl Jung once said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”, and the protagonist is thankful to “the ex”, and wishes to pay homage for the transformation she helped bring about.
And thus, came the conclusion to that, with a mighty sob that tugged the strings in my heart just as your nonchalant smile did the first time I laid my eyes on you. I wished ever so much to console you, tell you things are going to be good; With a heavy heart I said goodbye, a mumble under the breath followed by acquiescence. Long distance, have left many victims in their wake. Won’t deny it, I cried myself to sleep that night and a few after that (Alpha male, what is that? Besides manliness is overrated, unless you are one of those guys). They say karma is a bitch (always wondered who they are, hold them by the scruff shout at them while I violently shake them “Why must you always be right, and who are you to prove me wrong?”), and I shall have my comeuppance for the agony you suffered. But today, today is not the day for it. Today I shall remember you, glorify you, and finally be able to say, sorry for your misery but thank you for making me a part of your life. Thank you for having shared your time with me, laughed and shared your insights with me. I shall never forget you for as long as I shall exist.
Knock knock, rings the notification tone in the background; The clickety clack of the keyboard gone, replaced by the lull of expectation. I purse my lips, a wry smile on the horizon as I reach out to check the text. The walks where I would call you, and hear your morning voice, fresh from your sleep, those moments stay fresh in my mind. You taught me to enjoy food more (Beef Bourgogne, Indian cuisine? Yum yum), the look of relish and childlike happiness as you dip your roti in the curry and gently slip it into your mouth. You taught me to never be afraid of trying things (Avial (South Indian dish)) with bitter gourd, suffice to say, I am still scared from that one.) and most of all, I learnt to take things one day at a time.
I respect you, and I have always had nothing but love for you. Gripes there were a few, you made me feel worthless at times with your sharp words, as if I was nothing but a fly on the wall. I should have opened out about our relationship to my parents and validated it, which I failed to do. I failed to placate the doubts which should have been uprooted at inception. Times aplenty when language would stop us from understanding each other, but I also learnt how a relationship need not be anything but fun. Hurting you was never something I wished, but you knew it right from the beginning when you started calling me a foetus, and foetus is what I eventually showed myself to be. Distance, I am afraid brought cracks in my belief of us. I should have stood up, earned our right to be part of each other’s lives. Naysayers there were aplenty, but see through this with a smile on my face I should have. Counterproductive, but one day, hopefully you shall look back at this, less bitter and disappointed in me, having moved on to someone more deserving your affection, have a wry smile on your face and finally think “I didn’t understand you back then, but I can finally forgive you”.
I have known “The one who don’t want to be named” for a long long time now. I feel the best part of him is he can laugh until tummy hurts and cry like a baby when need be.To be able to go through something and feel emotion in truest sense is great, and I wish he does not change ever 🙂
Author’s inner monologue: