Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Where Have You Been?

If you had told me, back in 2006 when I first started this blog, that I would have difficulty coming up with a single post for over a year, I would have considered you slightly alarmist and dimwitted. However, I have done stranger things in the last decade than neglecting this patch of words; although there are few things I regret more.

Writing is pain; it is also a pain. This, I must clarify, is not an excuse. As I grow older, I find myself more comfortable consuming content rather than creating it. I can spend days in a haze of YouTubing, Netflixing and Instagramming, looking at the world others create, using them as proof that I am not good enough to create realms of my own. It is easy to reinforce the notion of not being good enough if you start at an early age, as I did. If you combine this with an unhealthy love of procrastination, empty blogs are born and crumble away into dust.

Today, however, write I must. The words I have suppressed have oppressed me in turn, weighed me down. They need space to breathe and to be, just as I do. I have been making so many excuses, the biggest one being that nobody cares; I am sure nobody visits this place anymore. There was once a community of people who left their thoughts behind here as well; no one does that anymore. What is the point of talking to myself over the Internet? Isn’t my mind enough for that?

A few days ago, however, I got an email from a reader, R. At first I thought it was an automated mail from Blogger or from a bot. It turns out, it’s a real person who took out the time to write me an email, telling me that I haven’t blogged since 2017 and that maybe I should again.

Thank you, R. You may not realise the scope of the kindness you have done. Thank you for reading, visiting and caring. Thanks for making me care again. I will try once more.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


I am trying to remember the first words we ever said to each other. I think you said, 'Are you waiting for someone?' I didn't realize it at the time, but to answer your question: yes, I was.

It began right here, where you were guided by a few fortuitous clicks and chose to leave a comment. I retraced those steps and saw your heart. That was all it really took to begin. Beginnings are always glorious and we were no exception: free of heart and full of drive to spend every possible moment together. When I look back to those times, I realize with great affection how young we were, how everything around us was illumined by the love we could not contain.

They say love wanes when the first rush of excitement dies down. I have never felt a waning. Love brews, simmers and thickens. It is burnished with every day that we live together, growing into our veins and minds, taking up space that we did not know we had. Where I earlier found wonder at something new about you, I now find a gush of familiar affection at your constancy. I find it incredible that we never tire of saying the words, even if they sometimes come with a roll of the eyes.

I am grateful for many things today: life, health, friends, family, a yearning to find more that never seems to die. Yet with you, there is a part of me that knows no more want. For that and for so much more, I am grateful for you, and I will always be.

We have lived together, laughed and cried together, planned together, travelled together and shared the greatest and smallest moments of our lives. You are my road and my journey; I hope this trip never ends.

Always in love and with love,

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Let's Catch Up

Ten years to the day that you left. I am still here. We are still here. Not the same, maybe not as you would have wished us to be. So much has happened without you. We have sellotaped our hearts together and soldiered on, as you would have wished. We have managed to avoid unemployment, notoriety, and whatever else you feared for us in those final days.

I dreamed of you two days ago. I always dream of you whenever I am at a crossroads in my life. So too this day, which was a nice touch from you, so close to the decade mark of saying goodbye. As always, I apologized for the many ways in which I had wronged you. As always, you said 'It's okay.' But this time I think I believed it, which is why the decade-old knot in my stomach seems a little less tight. Thanks for the gift, as always generous.

What's new with me? I am finally living the married life, four years after I got married. I have left my city, my people, my cats behind. I am disoriented in a million little ways and I think everyone knows. There is a growing realization of the limits of my life and my capabilities. It seems the world is not really waiting to fulfill my dreams. Am I in crisis? Not quite, simply because I am deeply loved by those who matter to me. Including you, as I have finally come to accept.

You would have liked him. He is funny and warm, the life of the party, a secret poet and a great lover of good food. He has made me love myself, which was really hard for me to do. I think he sees the good things you put in me much more than I see them myself. We finally have our own household, which is small and lovely, but not a patch on yours, of course.

For a long time I was scared I would forget you. That the contours of your face, the booming sound of your laugh and the scent of you, the scent of home, would fade in my mind. Thanks for showing me that as long as I live, you will live in me. I wish you peace and rest. Keep visiting: I fall asleep in hopes of meeting.

All my love,

Thursday, December 18, 2014


He used to call her Scout. She felt important because of that. He had a way about him: quiet, self-assured and somehow magnetic. It flattered her that a guy, no, a man like him found her interesting. He was intelligent and instinctive enough to be devastatingly charming when he needed to be. His attentions warmed her, made her feel like The Only One. Scout, the Only One for Him.

Their meetings were electric, secrets that she hugged close to herself. Every touch ignited a spark; every breath was an affirmation of desires granted. They lit up every time they were around each other. So this was chemistry, she thought in wonder. Each loved the hint of challenge in the other, the fact that this was no straight and simple love story which would eventually become mundane.

He disappeared one day. Given his intelligence, he did a thorough job. She knows the futility, but can't stop looking for him every once in a while. His absence is a vacuum she carries within. She misses being on fire. She misses being Scout.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The mountains are where I am

All my roads have led me here. This place where the gurgle of flowing water is a constant music. Where the wildflowers run riot in imaginative ways. The snow on the mountain peaks shines silver in the moonlight. Every breath of air you draw in your lungs is more than air, more than substance.

This is a hamlet in the mountains. Picturesque does not come close to describing it. Every way you turn, a picture awaits. A family’s humble kitchen garden against a backdrop of wild fir, where bears are rumoured to live. An undulating bridge over a blue-green river rushing off to its destination. Small roads with smaller paths leading away to mysterious places. Apple-cheeked children with diffident smiles running past you to more pressingappointments.

And yet, beauty is a very small part of the magic that this place casts.  There is a waiting, a knowing that one day, you will come here. An ancient acceptance of intertwined fates, of destinies that intersect after eons of unknowing waiting. The first time the mountains set their eyes on you, they remember. You may take a while to realize why your heart seems at peace, why there are faint memories that lurk behind every corner. It’s a moment you may not even recall later, but one that will change your life. The moment when you know, without any shred of doubt, that this is your place in the world. This is where you will be happy, where you can finally stop racing. Now all that is left to do is to come home.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Why Highway is probably the most personal film I will ever see

Spoiler alert: if you haven't watched the film, you probably shouldn't read further. Duty done.

Let me start off by saying that I haven't been Imtiaz Ali's biggest fan. I really like his filmmaking style because it is innately gentle, and somehow....decent. But I really disliked Love Aaj Kal, and  Rockstar's casting choice felt dishonest to me. Initially I dismissed Highway because I'd heard that Alia Bhatt was the female lead, and the ridiculousness of her debut film led me to believe that another Rockstaresque debacle was on its way. It was only the songs that pulled me to the film inexplicably; I've been obsessing over them for the last 2 weeks. Some instinct told me to watch it alone.

On Saturday morning I caught a morning show of the film, trying to temper my excitement with a cynical detachment. The film drew me in from the first frame. Somewhere, something wonderful happened: the line between the characters onscreen and myself became completely blurred. I was no longer watching a story, I was being it. It was one of the most profound, moving experiences of my life.

First, a tight slap to all the film critics who talked about the moral dilemma of liking a film about Stockholm Syndrome. A film critic is supposed to be someone learned and discerning, someone who can look beyond the surface of a film and find its internal rhythm. Stockholm Syndrome is a lazy, superficial and misinformed reading of this film; a reduction of a beautiful story to a cliche using its most obvious elements. This film is not about a woman falling in love with her abductor. The abduction is peripheral, a narrative device to explain how two very, very unlikely people came together. Even if it were about the Stockholm Syndrome, why on earth would liking the film mean that you were glorifying kidnapping? That's like saying that fans of Baazigar go around pushing women off skyscrapers. Ridiculous.

What I saw onscreen was a story about two people forging a tender, tremulous connection; one that need not necessarily have been romantic love. It was about the feeling of being trapped by the life you know, about the need to break away from the structure you are afraid to live without. It was about acknowledging that some hurts never go away or get easier over time, because they are not meant to. It was travelling over an emotional landscape that was brutal and dry at one moment and raw and vulnerable the next. I saw two people becoming more than the summary of their characters, becoming what the other needed in order to let go of the most private, the most brutal  pain. That may be love, but not the romantic love that made the critics uncomfortable. It was a love born out of wonder that someone, somewhere knows, even without knowing your story. Someone understands, and will still be there tomorrow.

I doubt if people who have never had anything really bad happen to them will understand what happened to me in that movie theatre. For the first time in a long time, I wept. The intimate knowledge of how it feels to lock down pain in the most secret part of you, the amazement of someone really seeing you for the first time, the ache of a lullaby that reminds that some aches always remain, the guilt you bear, illogically, for your own trauma, and the redemptive power of being truly loved: it was like watching the most tender parts of myself come to life. My most intimate emotional locks were washed away, I was left vulnerable after a lifetime, and I was thankful.

We all meet people who hurt us; a lucky few meet our healers. I know this personally because I married mine. An even luckier minority comes across a transformative artistic experience. I count myself blessed.

 P.S.: I am almost always let down by the pettiness of people. There were a few who just couldn't stomach the idea that a billionaire's daughter could hug a truck driver: it made them laugh. They couldn't understand the emotional intimacy resulting from sharing one's deepest, most traumatic secret. Would it stop you?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Letters to love

She sat under the tree on the hill, took out the notebook and began to write. Another letter to him, about life since the last letter. Her hand flew over the paper, struggling to keep pace with her thoughts. She paused once, wondering whether he would really be interested in reading about the shade of yellow that she had painted her bedroom walls in, or the new herbs that she had planted in the kitchen window of her tiny cottage. No, he would want to know, the voice in her head assured.

She looked down at the small valley below the hill, taking in the small, colouful roofs and the winding roads. Tiny figures walked about, going to school or work, engaged in their lives completely unaware of her observant eye. We must look like that to God, she suddenly thought. Pleased with the thought, she proceeded to pen it down.

She wondered what he was doing right at that moment. He must be in his office, with his back to the huge window, shouting at some nameless minion who had displeased him. She remembered how, at the beginning, she had never heard him raise his voice. The beginning was a wonderful place. It was where they had explored these mountains together after meeting on a hiking trail by chance. It was where they had been enchanted by wildflowers, the crisp, fresh air, and each other. The idyll was perhaps even more beautiful in her memory now. She remembered his glib talent for weaving dreams, dreams of a future with a grand house by the sea, a life where there were no empty moments. It had seemed something worth leaving behind the peace of the mountains for. After all, he had already taken her heart with him to the city.

She had tried. At the job which killed a bit of her spirit every day. At making the small, airless house that they shared a home. At being alive, even a little bit. At first he hadn't noticed her struggling. He was always busy, his eyes and heart full of the city, its noises and rhythms. The crowds, the jostling, the daily struggle for survival only energized him. Unable to return his enthusiasm, she retreated into silence. The one-sided fights and remonstrations started, and became a matter of course. He could not understand her, her unhappiness with his growing success. He didn't remember the last time she had smiled. He was sure her malady could be diagnosed and cured. His inability to do so led to another round of guilt-fuelled fights.He was becoming someone else, someone she couldn't love.

So she came back to the mountains. To where she could breathe again. Where a house could be small but still filled with sweet sunshine. Where people didn't jostle because there was nowhere to rush off to. She had feared being lonely at first, which is why she started writing to him. She realized it was easier to talk to him, to love him this way. Where he was just a memory, full of youth and hope.

She finished her letter, put it in an envelope and sealed it. She got up and removed the rock in front of the small hole in the mountain's face where the other letters were kept. A lot of letters, with all the love in her heart over the last decade. After placing the newest letter there, she sealed it again with the rock before going home.

The mountains would keep her secrets, and her heart.