Of Knowing My Life In Ten Tags

1. I want to become a writer. But I don’t have a story. I don’t have the entire oh-my-god-that-is-going-to-be-the-next-bestseller plot with me. So far, I’ve faced 3 rejections and I know that there are many more to come. What saddens me is the fact that among perfections of character building and grammar, some have forgotten to find the story in the story.
I have a habit of creating memories about every other person I encounter. Even with the briefest encounters, I find every person to be truly interesting. And no matter how much wrong they have done, I believe that there’s a person inside them who is good and is waiting for his/her chance to shine.

2. I love train rides. I love the way the ground seems to be jerking underneath, even after I’ve stepped out of the train. Often, I look forward to longer journeys in air-conditioned compartments, minus noisy kids. I think about grabbing my phone or laptop and writing about something, but Mom keeps shooting me angry glares at frequent intervals, which is pretty disturbing. So, all I end up doing is lazing around for hours, feeling the leather carve against my cheeks and waiting for tunnels.

3. When I was ten or eleven, I wanted to have a Doctorate degree in English literature from the prestigious Oxford University. I had a knack for drawing and at twelve, I decided I was going to become an animation designer. At fifteen, I planed on becoming a doctor after having watched a few seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. And here I am, eighteen, and common sense has been slapped into me – what is in the TV, stays in the TV!
Till this moment, I’m clueless if sitting inside a cabin, 10*7, is what I really want to do with my life.

4. I have a Plan-B, but I don’t see the first steps for the staircase. Somewhere, in a crazy corner of my brain, I wish to inspire people. I wish to write something that will make them cry in joy. For now, I think I’m pretty young.

5. I think horror movies are romantic. I don’t understand why people don’t have horror movie dates! Though I agree that the best way to torture me would be to ask me to watch a horror movie, I find the fear, rather enthralling. For once, amidst the screams and shivers and darkness, something feels real!
I don’t understand why some people absolutely hate horror movies and tell that those are the scariest things in the universe. I believe, life is scarier.

6. My brother’s name is Joy and he forms most of my life.

7. I believe in God. But I do not understand Him. I do not understand why in a world so beautiful as ours, people are still in pain.
When Mom asks me to stand in front of Him and pray at a particular time, I ask her, why? Why do we have to remember Him only a particular time? I tell her that I’ve told my prayers throughout the day. He is around me and He provides me strength. Although I do not voice out everything aloud, I know that He knows all of them.

8. I’m having a hard time figuring out two other interesting points about my life!

9. Theya Catalan is basically my pen name. I go by the name “Akanksha” (pronounced: anyway-you-like-it) which means hope and aspirations and wishes, or that is what my mum tells me!

10. The Diwali of 2013 happened to be one of the most painful ones for me. I met this little boy who was an orphan and he had been lingering on the road, secretly watching us burst those crackers and shout in merry. Dad happened to spot him and called him to join us. I will never forget the glimmer of happiness in his eyes. I will never forget the way he smiled when he held those crackers in his hands and lit them with us. When it was time to leave, I gathered some packets of the left crackers and gave it to him. When his eyes lit up with unparalleled joy, I asked him to wait awhile so that I could run into the house and grab some more crackers.
By the time I returned, he had already left. I waited for long, in the chill of the winter night, thinking he would come back, but he never did.
He taught me a very important lesson that night that, don’t make people wait; for they’ll leave.
I’ll write more about him some day.

Of The Delusional Human Heart

She pulled out a few letters from the old, brown leather bag that she clutched weakly in her hands. The little young man, who had helped her get on the ride, had asked her to leave behind her bag in the waiting area, but she had smiled at him and told them that she needed to keep it with her.

She ran her hands over the skin of the letters, running the tips of her fingers along the crumpled edges of the hundred letters she had written to her husband over the year. There were blotches of ink on them and some letters had been smudged. Yet, she could read them like the back of her palm. She knew the contents of the letters, in her heart. Subsequently all, she was the one who had penned them with extreme care, debating her husband’s replied with every course she wrote with the drying ink.

How she had been so madly in love with him to write the letters and expecting him to reply back when he was serving the country at war! Oh, how she had been so madly in love with him that she kept on sending the letters without an address on them! Oh, just how madly in love she had been to write “To, My Husband” on top of the pale, yellow envelope and throw it into the mail box and require it to be handed over! Indeed, she had been so crazily in love with him that his loss was breaking her apart every second the ride moved up a short bit in the breeze.

The old mailman, with his several thousand wrinkles intricately drawn upon his face and a bald, shiny head, had seen those letters and collected them over the years. More often than not, he would have discarded them as they never carried an address, but something close to the letters reached him. Maybe it was the illegible writing of the solitary woman who sat near the window, waiting for her husband. He had lost his wife and he knew the grief. So he kept them in a corner of the post office.

And one day, he had seen the old lady make her way to the post box again. He had run after her and inquired her husband’s name. And he had written it on all her letters and sent them with the army men who occasionally came to their town.

Only, the letters had returned back to him as no one had claimed them. With a painful heart, he had given them back to the old woman.

The trumpets and several noises filled the town. The men were coming back from war. Instinctively, she looked down from there, thinking that her husband would be there, although she knew that he would never return.

Yet, a part of her held on to the hope. A part of her believed that the news reporter had made some mistake while reading out the names of the soldiers who had died on the field.

How could her husband be one of them?!

He had always been so strong and so bold!

He had survived several bullet wounds!

He couldn’t have died!

Oh, the pitiful, human heart!

With a painful smile etched on her face, she returned to those letters and read them aloud as the ride soared up. She read those letters to her husband who was probably somewhere, listening to her…

Of Confession Pages

I remember waking up to Facebook notifications.

It wouldn’t have been a surprising thing if it hadn’t been 20 notifications at once. For a person like me who has always maintained a low profile in the school, I was surprised someone or a few people even took the chance to visit my profile. I presumed the notifications were those of people liking my posts or something, but when the Facebook app finally managed to load completely, what I saw… scared me.

Mornings were supposed to have a schedule. I used to leap out of my bed, faster than a rat in trap and rush into the shower before anyone else occupied it. The usual clanking of metal utensils downstairs confirmed that Mom was busy cooking breakfast for all of us, and at occasional intervals, she’d shout to me and ask me to come to the table. Everything in the morning happened in a rush because no one was willing to wake up ten minutes earlier.

However, something was strange about that morning. Either the house was unusually quiet or I was too lost to keep a track on the drone of noises. The sky wasn’t amber but grey, exactly like how I was feeling when I scrolled through the notifications.

“XYZ Confessions tagged you in a post.”

“R commented : This is precious.”

“T commented : Check this out! That girl deserves this!”

“S commented : Lol.”

“P commented : So fucking true!”

Even before I had opened the entire post, I knew it had to be something bad, because the comments came from people who I really didn’t like a lot.

I remember my lips quivering as I clicked on the post and waited with bated breath for the post to load. A hundred apprehensions clouded my brain and suddenly, the schedule of the morning was forgotten. When Mom called for me to come downstairs, I lied and told her I was dressing up, when in reality, I was still sitting on my bed, chewing on my nails, waiting to read the post.

Every second of wait was killing me.

And when I happened to finally read the post, it killed me. Goosebumps arose on my skin when the slightest wind brushed past me. The comments started blurring and when the pain started settling across my nose, I realized I was on the verge of crying. Questions shot through my mind. Who could have written something like that? Why would anyone hate me? And why have some of my friends liked the post?

Mom called for the umpteenth time and after getting no response, she decided to come upstairs herself.

The moment I heard her footsteps on the wooden staircase, I took a deep breath and slipped under the blanket again, burying my face in the bulges of the pillow.

“What?” she asked, entering my room. “Why are you still in bed?”

“I’m having a headache. I don’t think I can go to school,” I mumbled.

“But you have a practical test today!”

As much as I didn’t want to go to school that day, I knew I had to. I couldn’t miss my practical exams. But a part of me was okay with the prospect, if it meant not having to face the students in the school that day. I was afraid that they’d talk about me in the hallways. I knew my classmates were going to have a questionnaire ready for me. And I knew I couldn’t take all that.

However, after Mom’s constant persuasion, fifteen minutes later, I sat in her car.

“Do you still have a headache?” she asked when we reached the school’s parking lot.

I shook my head and managed to give her a convincing smile. After her car had left the school premises, I walked slowly towards my class.

Yes, they were talking about me. Everywhere. Be it the crowded corridors where group of girls sneered and made dirty comments or bathrooms, where everything was discussed in hushed whispers or my class where the recent post on the confession page was as trending as hash tags on Twitter – they all talked about me. And it was tough to put on a pretence. It was difficult to behave like nothing had happened when everything written in that post, affected me a lot. I acted like it was okay with me, but deep inside, I was breaking.

Over the days, though the discussion died down, I found it hard to face someone or to talk with them, because at the back of my mind, I always had a perennial fear about what he/she might be thinking about me.

All my frustration started to build up. I lived in constant fear and doubt. Each night, before I went to bed, I thought about the people who hated me and could have posted that. Too many names came to my mind. Every minute that I was free, I whiled away my time on the Confession page, stalking every post, refreshing the page every five seconds to check if there was another confession about me.

Then one day, I decided that it was enough. I couldn’t live my entire life with my face glued to some stupid Facebook page. Once or twice, I took out my frustration on posts, commenting on how derogatory certain things on the page were and that they must be stopped, but I was faced with even more criticism. Some told me that I was plain jealous because there were no good confessions about me. Others retorted that it was none of my business.

I deleted my Facebook account. I knew it was no use talking to deaf ears. And I never visited confession pages anymore.

Until last night.

One of my friends happened to forward me a link to a post on the same confession page. The post called a girl too fat and that she must get a life. Below were several comments, criticizing the girl on her weight and making cheap remarks on her clothes.

It made me sad. Depressed. To think about what the girl might be going through.

We all have flaws. Perfection is something that can’t be achieved. So what if someone is someone, they could never be? Does it give them the right to tell her whatever they wish? Does it give them the right to bully her to a point where she starves herself to fit in someone’s books?

As I happened to scroll through the various posts, I wanted to know WHY? HOW? How could people be so rude? How could they be so insensitive to post things like this about another person?

Confession pages were supposed to be fun. But halfway through, they presented a darker picture to all of us. People started using it as a platform to post rude and derogatory comments about someone and to spread rumours. Seventh grade girls were called “sluts” and senior girls were the so-called “bitches”. Are these called confessions?

I was frustrated.

Just because confession pages allowed the confessor to be anonymous, didn’t mean one could bully someone to no extent?

And what about the people who actually run these confession pages?

The few posts I saw were pretty rude and the admins of the page were quite okay with it, even joining the line and adding a few more shameful remarks!

Amidst a hundred positive things, a person will only remember the one negative comment told about him/her. That one negative comment, destroys a life. People drown into fits of depression. There have been cases of suicide due to instances of cyber bullying. After how many such incidents, are people going to learn something?

What have we done to the social networking portals?

Is it always going to remain such a scary place?