Testing times

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston.

I just read that quote here and it resonated most vigorously with me because for more than nine months now I have been going through questions, questions and more ‘testy’ questions..and I still can’t seem to find the light at the end of this dark and dreary question tunnel..

The more troubling part is that I can’t find the thread that holds my whole life story together. Why is this annoying year even happening to me? Is this year going to end soon or is it going to run into another year, or more? It’s certainly not going to be like this forever, right? Right? RIGHT?! Oh hell, say something!

This year has had possibly the most number of nerve-wracking months in any year since 2010. The current year is like a minefield with an extensive variety of landmines. By ‘landmines’ I mean bad days; but not just your average bad day…a little worse than that…like, a bad day in a bad week of a bad month of a bad year. In my case of landmines, there’s at least one such day in a week waiting to explode in my face, tear me limb from limb, and send me into an emotional vortex, and finally plonk me into a teary grave. I sleep it off. And if the next morning I still feel like a train wreck then I write it off. I mean I LITERALLY WRITE-OFF the discomfort. (RELEASE: wRiting hElps Lighten thE loAd, wordS Escape.)

All the exploded landmines in the year so far have made me so sensitive from the inside that I keep my guard up constantly. So in this state of affairs it has naturally become unthinkable to think of anyone beyond myself and that has to be the sickest part. It feels like I don’t even know myself anymore. Had I always been this selfish? There is no way to retrace my path back to where I felt I was on the right track to being a better human being: I lost track of the path of my evolution. It’s all a mess. I’m probably what one calls a ‘spiritual goner’. And for a spiritual goner I have too many emotions, soft spots, and depression-triggers. The only good thing about this condition is that PMS pales in comparison to it.

This year is also marked with intermittent phases of depression like black-holes in the unbounded space of bad days. Depression is the only thing worse than the landmines. I can never pinpoint the entry points, nor map the escape routes out of these holes. I just keep dreading them. Only last week, on a dusky Saturday evening, when I had lain down on my bed to soak in my ocean of depressing thoughts I felt a common red ant crawling up my arm to bite me any second then. I instinctively crushed it with my thumb and a sharp pain of anguish and remorse shot through my entire body, top to toe, a million times more painful than what the poor ant would have caused me if at all it had bitten me. The horrible pangs of repentance, I can vividly recall even now. I retracted my thumb almost immediately but the damage had been done by then: the ant’s limbs were all twisted out of shape. It was the first time perhaps that I truly, with the full force of truth and wisdom, realized that an ant’s life or the life of any living creature was in no way inferior to mine.  This also made me realize that I wouldn’t have had this realization, this intense shock of repentance, had I not been soaking in depression. Depression ‘marinated’ me, and brought out the sensitive side of me to a great extent, like how chicken marinated in yogurt brings out its flavors…!!!! Oh the thought of killing, marinating, cooking and consuming a hale and hearty bird! Horrendous! That meant that I had lived through the major part of my life being remorselessly insensitive, growing harder and tougher and more self-obsessed with time, not to mention killing ants and hens left and right. The awareness that I had otherwise (that is, when I’m free of depression) become so self-obsessed added to the already cluttered baggage of emotions: guilt. Guilty of not sparing a thought to family, guilty of forgetting to wish best friend on her birthday, guilty of not staying in touch with many other special ones…the list is endless.

In the midst  of all this shit, the year also featured the re-emergence of a love affair which I had thought was dead and gone by the beginning of the year. I interpreted the re-emergence of ‘love’ as the return of the cool monsoon showers after a particularly torrid period of solitude and soul-searching. I thought that that ‘love’ might be the elusive light at the end of the tunnel. It was neither monsoon, nor light: it was a farce. The guy had inadequacy, insecurity, and insincerity written all over him but my love was as blind as true love. “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.”  The differences/alterations we found along the way, of religion, caste, creed etc. would not have altered this ‘love’ had it been love. I always knew he was a hypocrite and a snake but I also believed that no person was constant, which was why I gave him a second chance. Thus, I had it coming for me. And, before I could judge correctly and get my guard up, it exploded with the force of a truckload of landmines right in my unsuspecting heart. He ditched me all over again. The re-emergence resurrected all those fuzzy feelings, at times warm and at times hot, which gave it enough pressure to finally explode. After all, the whole re-emergence episode was a mega-landmine in the array of landmines, and the year continues to test me. And in the aftermath, today’s newspaper headlines indicatively and rather mockingly read, “Ebola’s re-emergence, a wake-up call”. If ‘Ebola’ stood for ‘ex-lover’, the ‘wake-up call’ in my case pertains to perhaps these questions: “Had I not learnt anything from the previous episode of rejection by the same fucking guy?”, “If and when Ebola (read: any ex-lover) strikes again, would we be able to deal with it better?” It’s high time I worked on the answers to these questions. In any case, I have always maintained and still do maintain this: It’s his loss. I love back, like always. ‘Redamancy‘ is a beautiful word.

The year so far with all its helter skelter rush through the minefield was not without its aleatory moments of happy clarity. For instance, right now I clearly think that when all of this passes, whenever that may be, I shall be glad I had one day taken the time out to write this post. I longed to write this one for over two weeks now but could not as last Sunday I had a major ‘test’ (which was a mini-minefield in itself), which surely added a lot of heat to these testing times, and it took me till today to reorient myself to the normal pace of things. So relieved the test is done, so glad the post is written and so ready to sleep today’s landmine damage off!

Micchami Dukkadam

Khamemi Savve Jiva
Savve Jiva Khamantu me
Mitti me Savva Bhooesu
Veram Majjham Na Kenvi
Michchhami Dukkadam

The above literally translates to:

I forgive all living beings.
May all souls forgive me,
I am on friendly terms with all,
I have no animosity toward any soul.
May all my faults be dissolved.

                              Thanks to my brush with a particularly specious variety of Jainism which came in the form of a particularly specious boyfriend in an equally specious relationship which ends just about now in my head. R.I.P, Love Affair. It was as a ramification of this acquaintance that I had started to take more than a casual interest in ‘true’ Jain philosophy. To hell with the specious variety that most of the Jains of the day, like this aforementioned ex, have tailored out of real Jainism to suit their non-spiritual needs and ultra-violent desires.
Anyway, today happens to be Jain Samvatsari celebrated as Kshamavani or Forgiveness Day. Like all religious doctrines formulated by thinkers and philosophers such as Buddha, Mahavira, Bodhisattvas, Tirthankara, Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Forgiveness Day was quite obviously devised and put in place to drive home the psychological concept and virtue of forgiveness; in other words, it was cleverly brought into common conscience to give the common people a taste, on one day of the year, of the benefits of the state of mind of a forgiver. Kinda like a primer. And by driving home this concept, the thought leaders envisaged that subsequent generations of followers would make every day of the year a Forgiveness Day, that they’d absorb the virtue into their spiritual beings (as it fits perfectly with the overall Jain ideology) and that the need for a particular day (of the  year) set apart as Forgiveness Day would fall off eventually like dead skin off a healed wound.
But, as mortifying as it must be for all the dead saints, their subsequent followers (like my specious ex-boyfriend) have perverted the idea of Kshamavani in more than one way in the name of religion. For instance, I can think of two ways off-the-cuff, coming directly from ‘up-close and personal experience’. One of the ways: a specious, deviant Jain would not think it fit to forgive someone or some creature on an ordinary day of the year as he thinks he ought to forgive, if at all, only on Kshamavani! Another of the ways: a specious, perverted Jain would interpret the purpose of Kshamavani as a foolproof license to hurt and torture every living creature all round the year in the expectation of washing all the guilt away on Kshamavani!
What I am trying to say is that I am dismayed at how this perverted set of Jains has totally killed not only Kshamavani but also every single virtuous tenet of Jainism, be it truth or non-violence; my sentiment is succinctly put by Martin Luther King Jr. when he said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
On this day, as henceforth on all other days of the year, I, in the spirit of true humanity, forgive all and seek their forgiveness. Also, I forgive me for cracking under pressure, for having insecurities about my precious identity ever (which has to stop), for giving untrustworthy assholes the benefit of the doubt every single time (which I won’t stop anyway because everyone deserves yet another chance to prove their sincerity and I haven’t yet learnt/identified the limit where one ought to stop giving chances when pleaded with for that ‘one last chance’!). I also forgive, with no reluctance, my specious, insincere, untrustworthy, spineless, unscrupulous, double-dealing ex-boyfriend for every last bit of pain that I took upon myself.

Micchami Dukkadam

Hunger

That’s the name of the book I’m trying to read. Hunger. Or at least, it’s the name of the book that is on my mind most of the time these days, although I’m really reading another book which is a pretty decent one. It’s on the top of my mind especially when I’m hungrily shopping for more books even before I’m done with the pretty decent one and a pile of others fighting to be read next.

That’s the name of the predominant sensation I experience every day, may be because I eat very little – may be not more than a little bite a day when I’m in the mood – and that may be because I can barely sense the taste of food when in public spaces – like a restaurant, a mess, a family dinner, a lunch break at office and that sort of a thing.

That’s the name of love that is not reciprocated at all, or worse  yet: that which is returned in meager doses. It is also another name for lust. Love. Lust. Hunger. What sin, what pain, what pleasure.

That’s the name of everything that drives every man to do what he does. That’s the inner voice, the spirit, the sinner and the saint, the will and the winter within.

That’s the name of self-penance, the pleasure of punishing the self. Being the master and the slave. Being the torture and the victim.  The offence and the defense. The test and the outcome. The victory and the failure. The victory is to survive hunger that long and the failure is to not survive it for much longer. Hunger prevails over hunger.

Hunger is what I’d like to call you, my love, if not for your beautiful name, because I want you so bad all the time but I know I’d die if I have you for any longer than this. You are good for my soul in little doses. I think I can kill you any day with just one good meal but you aren’t really dead, are you? You are just temporarily buried under all the barbecue chicken and mushroom sauce and chocolate mousse; you come back to me the next day or the day after, and I receive you with open arms just the same and lie down over there with you, under the sheets, curled up and delirious, happy and hoping to die of you some day, some distant day when I’m happier than ever.

Oh Hunger, I love you.

Leftovers from last night!

When my fusty little room is brimming
with leftovers as these from a certain meeting –
your big winter jacket with leather straps,
your weathered pocket book with local road maps,
your box of matches about half-empty,
loose, scattered coins about twenty or thirty,
all left behind on the tabletop, in the dark;
the poetry book you lovingly bookmarked,
the wilting red rose in a fat milk bottle,
my drugged slumber too powerful to throttle;
(hence) your unread message pasted to the door,
with a promise to meet again and so much more,
in the winter garden beyond the street
like crazy teenage lovers, reckless, indiscreet –
I’d buy a glass bowl with that loose change perhaps,
into which would go one of your leather straps,
the wilting rose pressed in my book of poems,
your love message rolled into the bottle,
and a page or two from the tattered guide;
and that bowl will stand by my bedside…
while we steal away into the gleaming moonlight,
with aim and hope to renew our promise by daylight
and thus I mark newer objects for the bowl daily
until all that is yours becomes mine slowly
and all that is mine, yours…
Then we belong to the bowl of memories,
just the two of us, the two of us entirely.
The next winter in the white winter garden
under the falling white snow,
swaying to familiar winter songs,
in a silent bliss,
we might just wonder if
we are that couple in a snow globe!

Two lovers

Two lovers

Things to remember on this Valentine’s Day, especially if you have broken up a relationship recently

Lately having read many a blog-post dripping with cynicism over the tradition of Valentine’s, the overt commercialization, the artificiality of setting aside a day for loved ones, blah blah blah, I, for a change, decided to depart from my own customary cynicism and write something positive about Valentine’s, especially for those of us who are healing the wounds caused by a vicious break-up. After all, there is still space for “love”, the concept as opposed to the emotion, on Earth, in whatever form or method it is practiced. Well, well, I’m atleast trying to be positive.

Love comes in many forms these days. Let me roll out a few examples, as they come to my mind with or without price-tags,…..greeting cards, SMS, e-cards, balloons, cakes, occasional lengthy phone calls, rarely flowers. While these are on the low-end of love tokens, on the high-end they have candle-light dinners, designer clothes, vintage watches, expensive perfumes, diamond-studded  earrings, sleek cars, bungalows, aircraft, nuclear armament…I mean there is no upper limit to it. I don’t mean to underscore the commercial element of it. Money is only secondary; at least, it ought to be so. The reason being – whatever token of love you receive on this symbolic day, it is not as lovely as when you receive it from the man/woman you most desire.

There is a lover in every one of us. While many of us are fortunate enough to be accompanied by a Valentine on this special day, the rest of us can still dream about having that special person by our side in the nearest future. There must be a few of us who may have broken up with  our partners recently. Those of us must be viewing the impending Valentine’s Day as a major stumbling block to the obscenely difficult course of moving on. To this last group of lovers I want to say, cheer up, because there must be better lovers waiting for you elsewhere. Here are a few tips to get yourself back on your feet, feeling great and looking up again.

First and foremost, get out of those social networking websites which can only beleaguer you with a barrage of status updates and photo uploads from people who are ever ready to flaunt their fake love, and loveless gifts from their insincere lovers. (I assure you that those who update their V-Day adventures surely haven’t enjoyed the day as much as they did uploading the pictures in the aftermath. And, if some of those usual self-publicizing dickheads didn’t update it surely means that they didn’t have any worthwhile adventures to share or are just trying to be elusive. So, there is nothing you would likely miss by not logging into those loser-friendly networks anyway, any day.)

Take a warm water bath. Put on your best-loved dress and get out of your cubbyhole. Get yourself some bright-colored fragrant roses, and chocolates… treat yourself.

On this cheerful day spread your love to those who have the capacity to cherish it. Flush out from your fragile mind those unwanted memories of your ex, forever and ever.  Light up his/her photos with a match and wash them down the drain. It works well as surely as it did for Geet and Adi in Jab We Met.

Don’t cringe at posters of romance movies or at the sound of love songs on your i-POD but enjoy them in your new-found freedom.

Gorge on your favorite pastimes in your renewed perspective of being by yourself again.  Try out new clothes, new tastes, new music, new movies, new books, new forms of art.

It is not really a good idea to reconnect with your old friends on V-Day  for you may be risking hearing an aggrandized update of their V-Day news by doing so; but don’t block an old friend from reconnecting with you.

Finally, take a deep breath and take a moment to realize that  the day wouldn’t have been so awesome had you tried to stretch that exhausted relationship this far and spoiled one of the most divine pleasures of mankind – solitude. So congratulate yourself on breaking that unwieldy relationship for the better. Remember not to blame yourself for entering into it or for being the one who was dumped. No mistake is a bad mistake for you get to learn  something from every one of your mistakes. Likewise, no relationship is a bad relationship for you get to learn something from every one of them.

Happy girl

Remember that though it may seem to you presently that every man or every woman, as the case may be, is as big a douche-bag as your ex, it is not quite true.  So do not hesitate to welcome love with open arms into your life. It may come in the form of a cheerful ray of sunlight, or a wild flower blown into your window by a stray breeze; or perhaps, embodied as a lover knocking at your door on this wonderful day.  

(Photo courtesy: http://umangsota.blogspot.com/)