Tag Archives: grief

Of Hopeless Tales of Hope

It had been raining for days. Days and nights.

The eternal mist had settled in front of the windows, draping a cloak of darkness for the people who wished to see the light.

To the tune of ferocious winds, the lifeless trees would sway all night.

To some unheard crescendo of a low moan, the rain would come battering down on the roofs like bullets.

The river would swell each night. More and more. Wiping away everything on its path – every bridge and every house.

Radios would chatter on evenings, coupled with feverish prayers of people.

The nights were scary. The days were as dark.

Each night, under the little light from the candle, as she’d prepare her bed, she’d hope for a miracle.

Each night, before falling asleep, she’d look out at the misted window panes and believe, deep in her heart, that the next day would be different. That it would be bright. That the rain would stop. That a miracle would happen at the dead of the night.

The next day, even though the day would be darker and the rain even worse and no miracle would have occurred, before falling asleep, she’d look out at the misted window panes and believe that the following day would be different.

No matter what, at the end of the day, she held onto the tiniest bit of hope.

No matter what, at the end of the day, she believed.

No matter what, deep in her heart, despite the thousand voices in her head that told her otherwise, she believed.

Of Twisted, Random, Crazy Tales

During Christmas nights, when the moon was high up in the sky, she and her children would sit near the window above the fireplace, their noses pressed against the mullioned windows, waiting for Santa and his reindeer to fly through the dark winter sky. Halfway through the freezing night, their mother would find them fast asleep on their beaten leather couch, their lips curled into smiles and dreams fleeting in their little hearts.

The mornings that followed Christmas nights, they’d sigh and grumble for having fallen asleep so fast. Perhaps, Santa visited them then, they’d reason. Their mother would be standing near the corner, listening to their every talk, feeling pangs of burning pain running down her heart when she revelled in their infinite hopes. Her kids never had any gifts. They didn’t have proper mittens and sweaters. They never had pies for Christmas desserts. Yet, they would never blame Santa. They would never question his existence. Every Christmas they went by, they would take the blame on themselves.

“Santa left perhaps, when we blinked!” and “Santa didn’t visit us perhaps, because we haven’t been so good this year!” They would tell each other. Dreams never died in their eyes. Hopes lit up in them with each passing day.

“Ma,” they happened to ask one night. “Have you ever seen Santa Claus?”

What could their mother say? Her heart broke in sorrow. How could she tell her kids that she didn’t know if Santa did exist! How could she tell them that the fairytale they look forward is a mere illusion! How could she tell them the things that could only bring pain?

“Yes,” she lied.

And every Christmas after that, she watched them wait.

Until one Christmas night, when they had no roof over their head and starved. The night was vast. Snowflakes covered them in its snares. To the occasional howl of a street dog, they slept. Santa was forgotten that night. When hunger scratched their poor bellies and tears dried against their cheeks, suddenly the fairytale they had dreamed of for so long, metamorphosed into a painful reality. They realized, with a heavy heart, that the fairytale was gone. The freezing winds, the lonely streets, the hungry groans – how did they even dare to think that their life was going to be a fairytale?

“Ma,” they asked again. “Does Santa exist?”

“Yes,” their mother lied.

They slept without any food. They slept to racking shivers and mumbles. They slept without waiting for Santa. In the back of their minds, they knew they wouldn’t wake up again for another Christmas.

When the morning arrived, they found themselves in a warm house, next to the fireplace. Lavish breakfast awaited them. Without a bother, they ate and cried in joy.

Santa was remembered again.

“See! Santa gave us this, Ma,” they cried in giddy happiness.

Their mother nodded in agreement.

“Ma, Santa does exist, right?” they asked for the third time again.

“Yes,” she said. Only this time, she didn’t lie.

Of Finding A Piece Of Yourself

Have you ever noticed a person closely? Yes, they do look different; they have different tastes; a myriad mindsets… but look closer.

Inside, their souls, you’ll find yourself.

They are running scared; fighting for a place; living through each day, smiling and crying all the same. Inside, they are confused. Every time they find themselves lost amidst a crowd, they panic. They have dark days. They have brighter ones as well.

And look at you! Amidst the chaos of the city and dwindling light, you sit and watch the world go by. You are looking for your world. You are looking forward to a day when you’ll own the stage and the spotlight will be on you. When you have dark days, you are not afraid to cry. And when the sun shines bright, you rejoice.

You have goals like them. You have dreams gleaming in your eyes. You are as beautiful as the merging colours of the sky. You are looking for your moment to shine; they are looking for theirs!

Amidst the crowds that buzz past you, you take a breath and look at every person closely. You are blurring more and more into the crowd. And they are blurring more and more into you.

And as the sun drowns against the city line casting silhouettes across the horizon, you take a deep breath and stand up. Indeed, you looked closer and what did you find? That there’s a piece of you in those blurring faces in the crowd.

Of Friends

He never understood why she had to look perfect. He never understood why she had to spend hours in the mall, shuffling through a thousand dresses. He never understood why she had spend so much time gazing at the rearview mirror of his car, trying to fix every strand of her hair. He never understood the girl that she became after stepping out of his car and entering the school premises. He never understood why she’d scurry off in another direction and leave him alone.

But the day he walked into the cafeteria and found her sitting amidst the bunch of popular kids in their grade, he understood why. He understood that she no longer wanted to be his friend. So, he stayed away.

Each day, he would see her walk past him, chattering merrily with her new friends. He would see her flashing smiles and laughing endlessly with them. But he could tell, those smiles were not hers. During lunch breaks, he would see her skip her meals along with the dozen other girls in their group. Every day after school, he would see her at the bleachers, cheering for some boy he didn’t know she knew.

He wanted to tell her to stop being the person she was not. He wanted to tell her that she looked all the more beautiful without the make-up. He wanted to tell her those people were not real – their façades his a hundred truths. Their lives were not so perfect. The people they were were not the real them. He knew because he had been there.

But he kept quiet because clearly, she didn’t want to hear him.

One autumn evening, however, he met her on the street. Her hair was messy and her eyes gleamed. As they walked past each other, she held him back. Words never left her throat. Instead, she broke down next to him.

Amidst busy people and muffled voices, he held her as she cried. She spoke things which made no sense. Yet, he listened. Her shoulders fell and she sobbed against him.

The lights above then rippled below their feet on the slippery, gravel road, breaking into a million rays.

“Why?” she asked, her gaze burning into his. “I listened to them. I was there when they cried. But why was there no one when I needed them to be?”

How he wished he could tell her all the things he wanted to, ever since the day she left him! How he wished he could tell her about her friends’ sheltered lives! How he wished he could tell her all this and more without causing her more pain!

“You,” she continued in a broken voice, “are the only person who has always stayed by my side. But now, I’ve lost you, I guess. I was so stupid to leave you for them!”

He smiled, but inside, he was breaking.

“Everything about them is like a carefully scripted play,” she complained. “I don’t want to be them. I’m just happy being whoever I am.”

“They are nice people,” he said. “It’s just that, at times, they are misunderstood.”

Shock spread across her features.

“I know because once upon a time, I was one of them,” he spoke carefully. “I went from one party to another and drank till dawn. I laughed to jokes which were so bad. I did all that because I wanted to fit in in their group. The popular group. But half way down, I realized that there’s no such thing as that. I didn’t need to be in that group just to be popular. I could be popular in my own league!”

Amidst the bright city lights and increasing unrest, they sat in silence, thinking of things which made no sense.

“It’s getting late,” he spoke, first.

She nodded and stood up and began to walk.

A pang of sorrow ran through him. How he wanted his old friend back! He waited for her to turn around, but she never did. So, he turned and walked his way.

Only, she called him back.

“Did I really lose you?” she asked.

He didn’t know how to answer that one. So, he kept his back to her.

“Can we go back to being the friends we were? Will you forgive me this time, please?” she said.

He turned around and saw her smile.

“That’s what friends are for, after all,” he smiled too.

To The Best Friend Who Wasn’t

Only recently, I happened to come across a notification on Wattpad where the wonderful Rup had tagged me for a 30-day letter writing challenge. Now, I don’t really write a lot of letters. In a world where most of our time is spent on chatting and social networking, it’s not much of a surprise that the trend of writing letters is slowly vanishing into the abyss of nothingness. I love writing letters, though. Someday, I’ll send those letters to the people they are meant for. So for the first challenge, I had to write a letter to my best friend which reads something like this:

Dear Best Friend or rather the best friend I never had,

Has anybody ever told you that you are perfect? No? Then, hear me now, you are. I’ve never seen a person as strong and determined as you. I’ve never met a person who knows how to put things back together; it’s almost like you have some crazy magic tricks up your sleeve! I’ve never come across a person as intelligent as you or as beautiful. You present yourself like the complete package.

I remember the sleepless nights we spent fangirl-ing over some Hollywood celebrity. We’d add too many ‘a’s to their names or too many ‘e’s. At times, we would be lovesick over virtual anime guys, already talking about future plans in case we happen to meet someone like them in real life. I still hold a hope that in some undiscovered dimension, anime people exist and someday, they are going to come on earth and meet us. We’ve been sending them way too many crazy brain signals and someone told me that hard work never goes into waste.

Then some days, we’d talk about books.

On cold evenings, we’d argue over trivial matters. Though they seemed heated, they had a tendency to cool down too soon. I never wanted to lose you to some silly argument and perhaps, you didn’t want that too.

I tell you, I don’t remember when we started drifting apart from each other.

Someone had told me that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I still don’t find any truth in it. Of all the instances that have happened in my life, the first lesson I’ve learnt is that, absence makes things worse. Time is a culprit and it makes every precious memory fade away. I have only managed to have grasp a handful of memories and store it somewhere safe in my memory vault.

Sometimes, I feel that I was the only person who considered you my best friend. There was never any reciprocation from your side and it breaks my heart whenever I think of it. There are some things in life which you can’t have, no matter how much you strive for it. As for me, I’ve always struggled when it comes to making a best friend. It’s like a game of playing cards, which I’ve never been good at.

Whenever I see two bubbly girls walking on the streets, laughing to something, I tell myself that that could have been us.

But the right moment has gone by. No matter how much I try now, no matter how much you do, some things between us will never be the same again.

We do talk a lot these days, but do you notice that we hide a lot too many things?

We do laugh a lot, but those smiles are not true.

We do try and pretend that things had never gone wrong between us, but the truth lingers somewhere in the background – the very fact that some things have changed between us. We have changed. Our interests have changed. Our social circles have changed. Back in those high school days, you used to be the social bee and I used to be the shy, little girl in a corner of the class. I had always, desperately wished to be like you. We talked back then. But I thought that if I could somehow fit into your group, we could become best friends.

Now, the roles have changed. I play the part of the social bee and you tend to stay in the shadows.

Still, we are not best friends. Perhaps, we never were. I was just crazy and a little too desperate.

But I don’t regret it. I wanted you and only you to be my best friend. Who wouldn’t want a girl as perfect as you as their best friend!

But I guess, I forgot to take in consideration the fact that may be nobody wanted me as their best friend.

So, as I write this, I am still best-friend-less.

I wonder of the things we could have done as best friends. We could have those girls happily running down the streets. We could have been those girls spending hours in a mall. We could have those girls who never had any secrets. We could have been so many things. Only, we aren’t.

But we’ve come a long way without being best friends and a few more miles doesn’t really matter anymore.

Time may be a culprit, but it heals wounds, doesn’t it?

Sincerely,

The Best Friend Who Never Was.

Of Not-Yous

…So one fine night, I asked her something.

“Have you ever had an instance in your life that has changed you?” I said.

“No,” she replied.

“Anything interesting or inspiring?” I pressed.

“No,” she said again.

“Something?” I asked.

She kept quiet. Her eyes wandered momentarily, staring into the far horizon. The evening sunset gleamed in her eyes.

“Interesting,” she mumbled. “My life has been way too interesting. I have been broken to pieces and have managed to glue it all together.”

Her reply surprised me. For all these years I had known her, she had never been like this – so lost. She had always been the bubbly teenager who knew what to speak and when; how to dress right and for what; how to live life and for whom. She was this tiny quantum of energy and never before had I heard her so … defeated.

“You don’t sound like you,” I told her.

“Wow, that’s new,” she said. “Why?”

I shrugged.

“It’s just that deep, dark, sad has never been you,” I said.

She sighed. A ghost of a smile flickered on her face. A sad smile.

“If only someone asked,” she said in a low whisper. I heard her, though.

Of A Christmas Without Snow

(An old lady thinks about her husband as she writes this letter… To her husband, to the snow, to the winter that is slowly withering by)

I’m thinking about you as I write this.

 An entire year has gone by in a flash. The sun was out here. Autumn did cast its cloak. The winter has arrived, but there’s no snow.

 I’m sitting in this big white room. The chandelier stares down at me in an awkward stance. Everything around me is white-dull, dark white. The walls have queer shadows imprinted on them. They trap the melancholy of this place-the silent cries, the hundred thousand dreams that threaten to ooze out of this place. The white holds the silence.

 The mist has descended from the mountain. It presses against the window, whispering against the glass. It’s as if I’m viewing the world from behind a cloaked mirror. I’m trapped within the mirror. I’m looking at the universe, seeing them stare back at me without a trace of response. It’s as if I’m no longer there.

 Slightly hitching my gown up and tucking a strand of my white hair behind my ears, I stand up and walk to the windowpane. The fabric of my gown drags behind painfully. It warns me to not breathe the breeze that has started to waltz outside the windowpane. It whispers me not to get carried away by the memories. It spreads its invisible hands and tries to hold me back.

 With every stride, I feel the cold, white marble caresses my feet. The chill presses against the wrinkles and cracked skin. They make a shiver to trail upward, but, it never touches my spine. The fabric crawls along without a noise, its shade mingling with the white everywhere. Everything around me is as white as the Christmas snow. But, what I’m looking at, casts a gray glare.

 Everything outside the window is gray. Colorless. Lifeless. Devoid of any shades. The mist has tucked them under her blanket. She, probably, doesn’t want me to see the radiant shades. She doesn’t want me to call back the kisses under the colorful mistletoe. She doesn’t want the Snowman to lure me into building a cheerful one. She protects me, only by trapping me away from the world.

 As the white ceases away from my peripheral vision, I realize I’m near the window, staring right out at the world.

 Bringing my hands up, I touch the misted glass with the tips of my fingers. It blends with the chill. A vague scent of winter seems to have sneaked into the room. It teases my senses for a spell before being withdrawn by the void of the clean room.

 It reminds me of how much you enjoyed the winter. It reminds me of the time we first met-it had been a Christmas morning. You had held my hand and guided me down the aisle. Everything had been so red and green and gray. You had taken me to the fair and bought us cotton candies. I had had my teddy bear so near to me as I had gazed into your black eyes. I had struggled with the unknown emotions at the pit of my stomach. And you had held my hands when we had kissed under the snow.

 Leaning against the frosted glass, I press my face against it. I’m not looking for warmth; I’m looking for something that feels real against my skin. You.

 See, the snow is here! The silhouettes against the shades of gray are slowly starting to bathe themselves with the Christmas snow. The universe outside is suddenly as white as the room I’m in.

 A flicker of hope takes birth in my eyes. I look down from the window, anticipating your arrival. You had promised me that you’d return with the snow.

 My eyes are refusing to stay awake. Someone is calling for me. There are faint noises around me. Everyone is so excited to see you. Everyone is waiting to hear stories of the war. I’m so proud of you already. I wait, patiently.

 Christmas is here. But it doesn’t feel real. The winter is here. The snow is here. You aren’t…

The Man Every Daughter Looks Up To

(Dedicated to every daughter)

“Dad, for the world, you may be just another person,
But for me, you are the world.”

There are moments when everything seems like they are moving at a snail’s pace. Be it boring rainy Saturdays when the drops of rain seem to be racing down your window at a pace that kills mood, or winter Mondays when all you want to do is get back under the duvet and sleep off the day.

And then, there are moments which take your breath away – the ones where you wish time would just freeze; and you could live each moment, oh, so slowly!

I had this thought while having a casual talk with my bride-to-be cousin. It is always an amazing experience to sit with elder cousins and ask them the life that they see after their marriage, their goals and their apprehensions. It is almost like a beautiful story – seeking perfection in the midst of chaotic randomness.

I have seen girls crying while they are sitting next to the holy pyre or standing on the decorated aisles, decked in gold chains and loads of waterproof mascara and red sarees and pearly white gowns. If you look closely, you’ll see that their faint smiles as they pose for the impatient cameramen, bring across a plethora of emotions. They aren’t always excited or happy or satisfied. In fact, those emotions are the rarest. Their eyes hold tears of pain and it is almost like an immense sadness is weighing them down – the separation from their parents.

It is rather strange, actually. One day we are ten and eleven, playing with our Barbie dolls and shying away from the neighbourhood boys. We have dreams, so glorious that they glimmer in our eyes. The world seems such a rosy place, then, with Mom who cooks us the most delicious recipes and Dad, who has always got our back. For each daughter, their Dad stands as the best man in the world. Though we never tell it aloud, we know that if there’s one person who can wipe away our tears and make us strong again, it is Dad.

And then, something changes. We are sixteen or seventeen and the phase of rebellion begins. Occasional arguments, the banging of doors, the confusion, the rhetorical questions we pose ourselves, a tad bit of lies, before it also drowns into a drone of nothingness. Then, comes a dawn where we realize how stupid we had been as teenagers. Mom and Dad had always wanted the best for us. With each passing day, you start loving them even more.

Then, one day, you find yourself walking down the aisle or sitting next to the pyre, with your Dad by your side. Suddenly, it seems like you are standing on a boat that is slowly drifting away and no matter how much you try, you can’t reach the deck. The thread that had always held you so close to your parents looks like it is metamorphosing into a loose string and withering away with each passing second.

You look at their eyes and see happiness mingled with sorrow. How you wish you could get up from there and hug them to the end of the world! How you wish you could cry endlessly and tell your mom and dad that they mean the world to you. Do they know that, you ask yourself.

The moment is intense. You want each moment to freeze so that you can stay with your parents for some time longer. It scares you – the future. You don’t know if you can stand up on your own. You need your Dad with you. You need him to hold you as you cry. For he is the one man you’ve looked up to, for your entire life and you’ll continue doing so.

You ask yourself, whose shoulder will you cry on when thunder bellows on dark night? You think of the times when he will not be there to catch you when you fall. Your lower lip quivers as you stare into his eyes that hold stories. You don’t feel like letting go of his hand.

Biting your lip to escape the tears that threaten to slip down, with an immense pain weighing you down, you tell him, “Walk me down the aisle, Dad.”

Of The Last Letter

Dear Dawn,

And this is how it ends.

I stand in the prom, alone. I had asked you, but never had an answer. So I stand here, in a corner, dressed in something that feels too big for me. It feels like we’ve grown up too quickly and I don’t want that to be.

When we were kids, we were happy, without a bother.

And then, we grew up and our smiles became forced.

Everything that we were, was not true; our real self still hides somewhere in the blue.

We were hurt and broken and felt unloved;

When all the while we were just blind. We never looked around us – at the anchors that were trying to pull us back to the shore. We never looked back at the people who could have helped us. Matter of fact, we never opened up.

When we felt hope was scarce and footprints were missing on the sand, it was when that miniscule remainder of hope was carrying us through every difficult day.

Each day is filled with surprises. Some days will sweep us off our feet while some will crash us down, ten feet under. And even if we continue wearing a harness for the rest of our lives, we will fall. Hard.

No amount of planning can fully prepare us for what is about to arrive.

But that is just life. It is uncertain. It us a mystery. Yet, it is magical.

If we are hurt, we will heal. If we fall, we can still stand up. If we find ourselves lost, there will be light.

I leave the hall and go there, where you had asked me to.

I kneel next to you and kiss you, hard. I feel your hands coming around me and pulling me into a hug. For moments, I sit there on the cold gravel, breathing against you. The wind blows to some silent crescendo, obliterating into the maddening oblivion of the night.

When I finally stand up, I realize the uneven plaster of the tombstone has traces itself across my face. My eyes glimmer with tears and I fight them back.

Below your name, in beautiful calligraphy, is carved, “Loved by all”. How I wish I could tell you how many people cried that day. Each of us is going to miss you in some way.

It is late, but I do realize now, that perhaps every person in the world is looking for a chance and a dawn
Something to rescue;
Someone to rescue them.

Chance.

Of The Boy I Wait For

Perhaps the best part about living in India, according to me, is the people you meet here. Tall and short, fair and tanned, rich and poor – all of then blend in such a beautiful harmony that it is like watching a sunset, slowly, and without your knowing, the orange and the purple and the white and the blue have drowned into the abyss of darkness, almost magically.

Like I’ve always said, I find every person to be truly fascinating. There is a hope in their eyes. They cry happy smiles as well as sad. And even without speaking or doing any significant thing, in a strange way, they manage to reach deep and touch your heart. You remember these people. You carry their stories with you. And once in a while, when you are lost, you remember them and smile.

I do that, every now and then as I remember the toothed smile of the frail, little boy who happened to stop by my house on Deepavali.

In his eyes, shone a winter wonderland of hope, as he watched the hundred firecrackers light up around him and bursting into a million stars. He looked at them like they painted the stars in the sky.

I watched him as he cautiously made his way towards us, stepping over the stiffened grass. His eyes kept darting back and forth, fear profound in them. He had no proper clothes for winter – no mittens, no socks – he walked with bare feet. His shirt had a torn sleeve and his trousers barely fell up to his ankles. Yet, the cold didn’t bother him.

For minutes, he stood behind Dad’s car, watching us. Until, Dad spotted him and called him to join us.

I will never forget the sheer joy that spread across his face, the instant he heard Dad call him. For a moment, he looked around to see if he was actually being called. His smile was brighter than those million lights that shone in the cityscape.

He almost cried in joy when Dad offered him a phuljhari (a cracker). I had seen his lips quiver.

He watched in awe – lights, big and small, blue and red, white and dead – as if the world he was seeing was surreal.

The firework that went up at that moment – showering the night sky with showers of light – didn’t snap me out of my trance. I was too busy watching him clap his hands and jump up in joy.

It was strange – of how a thing as small as a cracker, could brighten up this boy’s life. Just because we lived a life so plentiful, did we forget to find happiness in those little things?

When the noises started dying down and every cracker was burnt, I saw his shoulders fall. A bittersweet expression clouded his face as he looked around and watched people retreat back into their houses. I wondered if it made him sad that the night was finally coming to an end.

Almost instinctively, I walked to him and knelt down before his tiny figure.

“You want more crackers?” I asked.

Slowly, he nodded his head, almost afraid.

I pushed the few packets of crackers I had been holding from the very start, into his little hands. At first, he was too surprised. Then, he smiled.

And his smile was so sincere and so beautiful that my heart swelled with joy. I remembered that there had been a few stray packets lying in my brother’s room.

“Wait here!” I told him. “I’ll bring you more.”

Perhaps I should have waited to hear his reply.

When I returned, hugging an entire box, he was gone.

Setting down the box, with scrunched eyebrows, I looked frantically, searching for him. I looked down the street but it was as empty as it had ever been. There were no noises around – no free spirited cries of the happy boy, no sound of thumping feet – no him.

To this day, I question myself – why did he leave? To this day, every year, on Deepavali, I wait for that little boy to stop by again.

At times, I think about him and find little tears prick at the corners of my eyes. At those times, I can only hope he remembers me, as well.