I wanted to write something happy today – something about finding rainbows beyond a cloud; about mirthful summers and early springs; about happiness. I wanted to write happy things and be happy.
But there’s a storm raining down upon my heart. Inside, I’m wrecking; breaking into several pieces. But does anybody realize that? No. I hide it all behind a sheer pretence. I laugh. I giggle. I look around at people. When tears prick at my eyes, I blink away. But on particularly lonely moments, when the streetlights no longer shine brightly, I sit down on the pavement and I cry my heart out.
There’s a storm raining down upon my heart. It’s been long since I saw the sunshine last. I’m waiting for the rays to break through the darkness and enter my house. I want to believe that yes, it’ll be there…soon. I want to write happy things until then – about hope. But there’s a storm razing inside me, shattering every hope of mine. So, until the dawn arrives, I sit and write another sad story about a sad day.
Sometimes, I like to stare into the horizon. Alone. Sitting in the crisp mid-August air of one of the buzzing metro cities, I sit in silence, staring at the zoning headlights and the one, solitary, constant streetlight right outside my window. There’s no meaning to it. It’s like staring at a blank piece of canvas for long, only this scene right in front is filled with myriad colours.
Cars line the sidewalk. A few happy teenagers walk alongside, laughing and singing to themselves. The evening is slowly drawing in and yet, the sky is empty. Devoid of stars. But it’s no genius prediction that they’ll soon be there. Twinkling and zoning out into the oblivion. It takes a little bit more darkness to see them in full light.
The picture in front of me is meaningless. It’s like a page ripped apart from the perfect storybook and it flutters with the wind, falling in the hands of a lonely stranger or two, causing them to stare at it awhile longer, just to see if it resonates with their lives.
It resonates with mine. It feels empty. The picture feels empty, though there are people moving and cars honking and lights speeding. There’s a wonderful beginning and a glorious end but somehow, I’m stuck in a scene which has no meaning. Nothing. But somehow, it captures me. It fascinates me. I’m perfectly happy with being stuck in the same scene for long. I’m not waiting for a shattering climax or a surprising breakthrough. I find meaning in the meaningless scene. I find everything and yet nothing.
So, I lean out of my window and watch. The people walking below the street don’t know what tomorrow holds. Yet, they want to wake up to that newer dawn, believing their lives will be better. The streetlights flicker and stay and stay and flicker, a silent witness to the everyday world. They are the much needed light for that one lost traveller who is likely to stop by right below and peer at his phone and call his family. People may think that they don’t need the weird, old lamppost there, but they do need the light. And though nights have been synonymous with darkness, surprisingly I see every picture ten times clearer. Sometimes the night hides the reality and paints a distorted illusion. But sometimes, it shows the world in all it‘s glinting, real colours. To me, the day hides more demons than the dusk.
The scene is slowly starting to metamorphose into a meaningful picture. Or may be, I’m looking at it from a different set of eyes. It doesn’t matter. I feel like I could’ve paused and stayed in this scene for even longer even if it was devoid of meaning. Surprisingly the hunt for a meaning doesn’t haunt me anymore. For sometimes, I’ve realized, that every thing in life needn’t have a meaning. Every thing in our lives doesn’t need to be making sense. All we’ve got to do sometimes, is believe, that someday it’s all going to fall back in place. Someday, when we are miles ahead, having passed that meaningless phase, we’re going to look back and it’ll perfectly make sense.
Even if it doesn’t, it’s beauty is not lost. We don’t need to find the meaning, sometimes.
I don’t want to wake up from this wonderful dream I’m trapped inside. Or is this real?
The paper below my hand feels coarse. It brushes against my fingers slowly, as if trying to remember every crack and every line on my skin. It is trying to pull me further into its lure.
There’s a pen next to the sheet of the pale, yellow paper. The pen is old with splotches of dried ink and numerous fingerprints on its dull, white exterior.
Somewhere behind me, a clock is ticking to some erratic rhythm. It is just so slow. Every other second seems longer than its predecessor. And with each passing second, the sheet of paper in front of me is slowly starting to fade away. The corners are curling on their own accord and the sides are starting to tear away slowly.
Someone is coaxing me to write.
Someone is asking me to pick the pen and write something. Anything.
Someone is asking me to paint a picture with the words.
Someone is asking me to write.
Don’t they understand that I can’t remember anything?
What am I supposed to write about?
Anything, they cry in chorus.
I know I want to write – about the sun that is nowhere in sight; about the little lamp beside me that flickers to life; about the darkness that envelops me; about the dream that holds me within it.
I know I want to write something – about you; about me; about them, calling out to me. I know I want to write about too many things, but I don’t know where to begin.
Please, they beg me, write something.
The page in front of me is merging into the darker paint of the chestnut table next to me.
Write about us, they tell me.
Who are you? I ask.
But they don’t answer me.
So, I write – I don’t want to wake up.
And here I am, trapped in my dream. Or is this real?
The sweet-smelling dust of a scorching May evening settled in front of Daya’s house. The blistering sun had dipped down beneath the horizon, the salmon sky sporting a canopy of faint grey clouds which never rained. As the darkness spread its veil over the land, the clouds seemed to be devoured into the night, replaced by a sprinkle of stars. The clouds brought with them, a little spark of hope- a hope that led farmers like Daya to believe that it would rain that night. When it didn’t, they felt their hearts wrenched out till it shed the last drop of blood. This type of hope was dangerous, for it brought them happy dreams and later pushed them into the dungeons of delusion.
That evening was no different.
Daya sat in front of his house, on top of the weak bamboo fence that had cost him a small fortune.
When his old father had passed away, the land in front of their dingy hut had been passed on to him. With high hopes and brimming dreams, he had taken out his broken bicycle with the bent wheel frame and leather-less seat and rode to the marketplace where he had brought five fences to cover either side of his land.
On his way back from the marketplace, he had stopped at the moneylender Govind ji’s house and asked him for a little bit of money to buy the seeds and the fertilizers. When the scrawny, greedy man with a bald head had hesitated, Daya had told him about the piece of fertile land he had inherited and how it would reap the gold. With eyes on the little land, the moneylender had given some money to Daya.
It was strange how things had suddenly started favouring him. He had money. He had the land. He had the spirits. And he had a bundle of hopes that he was going to make it big. Perhaps, they might appoint him as a member of the Farmer’s Association in their little town of Kaman. For a man who had spent almost half of his life doing odd jobs on another person’s land, even six feet of earth meant a lot to him.
That very evening, the rains had come lashing down on the little village, quenching the thirst of the parched soil. The rain had drenched the flamboyant trees and their leaves had turned a shade brighter. Little saplings were awoken from their slumber and they greeted the silver sheets of rain as it crashed deafeningly on the thatched roof of Daya’s hut. In a matter of few minutes, the sky had gone from an eloquent blue to an ominous shade of gravel grey.
Daya and his wife had sat in a corner of their little hut, escaping the dripping droplets of rain. As occasional flashes of lightning lit up the dark sky, Daya had felt a uncontainable joy at the pit of his heart. Oh, how he would plant the radishes and carrots and potatoes in this little land! Oh, how generous were the lords to bring them a spell of showers in early summer! It certainly meant something good, didn’t it? Daya’s poor human heart exploited his hopes with richer thoughts.
Daya had tilled his land with viral enthusiasm, singing songs in merry stupor and buying his wife a brocaded silk saree from the market. When his wife had complained, he had asked her not to worry for they were going to be rich! Such were his hopes that it drove him into a frenzy.
Each night he had gone to sleep, smelling the rain that lingered in the air and the canopy of stars in the desert night sky.
However, only the smell of rain had lingered. It never came down in a glorious downpour. It never kissed his land and never brought it back to life. It doused off all his dreams, zoning them out into oblivion.
How he had waited for the rain! How he had waited for his hopes to come back!
Two dry months.
And it hadn’t rained.
The last traces of summer wind waltzed past him, creeping into his lonely house where his pale wife lay, bathed in the glorious light of the evening that trickled in through the little windows. The same saree, that Daya had given her months ago, was wrapped around her in a careless fashion, rough knots of her unwashed, dark hair drowning into the creases of the fabric.
The sound of a little bird rose and fell with the wind, the wispy clouds clearing from the sky to make way for the stars.
The chilly desert air had taken its toll, but it did nothing to the restless, thirsty throats of the couple who hadn’t eaten for a week. The land in front of their house had cracked open. The little saplings that Daya had planted had withered away, leaving no trace behind.
A faint light from the lantern flickered inside his house and smelling the scent of the burnt wick and the smoked glass, Daya turned around to see the same, obliterated by the rapidly darkening night. The darkness of the moment devoured his sanity, transforming him into a madman.
Everything had started chalking his doom.
When he had visited the mukhiya the other day, he had waved Daya off. At a time when drought had taken over the land, there was very little anyone could do for anybody.
The greedy, heartless moneylender had come to his house, demanding him to return the money. Poor Daya could only give him the brass utensils and a pair of bronze bangles that belonged to his wife. Although the man had his eyes set on the piece of land, he left, knowing that the land wouldn’t be of any use as the drought had set in.
There was nothing left in the house. Only two pitchers of clear water stayed in a desolate corner of the house, staring at the agony of the helpless couple.
Daya jumped off the fence and started making his way inside his little abode. The tatters, he wore were unwashed, and covered with freckles of dirt and his bony chest glistened as the low light of the lantern hit him. His wife sat leaning against the mud wall, her hand on her head, wondering if they were suffering because of some sin they had committed in their previous lives.
Oh, the heartbreaking explanations we resort to!
The things that had seemed to be going so well had instantly stopped, driving their ripened dreams into an unfathomable dead-end. Life was a brute, wasn’t it? And so was the restless human heart that held on to the withering thread of hope, thinking that one day or the other, radiance shall come through the pain.
Daya staggered down beside his wife, crawling up to the bed and leaning against it. Staring at the faint darkness that was interrupted by the light from the night sky, he let out a hollow laugh.
“It will rain!” he cried in feverish excitement. “We will grow everything on our land! We will be rich! Everyone will look up to us!”
A slight sob escaped his wife’s lips.
On a dull, summer night, when the moon was high up in the sky, a blissful cry erupted from somewhere, the breeze carrying its echoes into forgettable corners of the land.
From nowhere, the air became thick with moisture, the rain-laden breeze calling out to the people of the land. A clammy haze of rain spread across the land, hiding the moon and the stars somewhere behind their drapes.
Tiny drops of rain splattered across the unpaved paths, clearing out the sand and trickling in between the cracks. A few drops trickled into Daya’s house through the thatched roof and landed on their limp bodies. If only they had held on to that hope for a little more.
The next morning, all the people of the land knew was that, the drought had driven yet another farmer to his death. No one sympathized. They blamed it on fate and they blamed it the sins the poor couple had probably committed in their previous lives. No one blamed the rain. No one blamed the drought. For them, it had become an everyday phenomenon, waking up each day to hear how a couple of farmers had given up. They stared at their abject poverty and prayed it didn’t happen to them.
I’ve always been impressed by women with strong voices – women who are not afraid to speak for their own rights; women who can handle everything in the universe; women who start out as little girls playing with Barbie dolls and grow into utterly perfect young ladies and move on to become mothers who are ten thousand times stronger.
Anything that sets us back physically, actually gives us a boost mentally. We are always striving to reach to the top, no matter what. We are always ready to speak out loud for our own rights and for the million women like us.
And in today’s world, we DO get a say.
However, there had been darker times in the past.
My brother and I, growing up far away from our grandparents, didn’t really have a close relationship with them. We visited them once in two months, only for an hour or two and interactions were pretty much limited.
My grandmother was a petite woman with graying hair and a thousand wrinkles covering her face.
The many times she would call me to her room, she would spend away every minute asking me how my studies were going on. After a couple of small talks, there would be nothing to talk about, so I’d stand up and simply walk out of the room.
Conversations with her were usually small and I couldn’t blame her for it. There was a huge generation gap in the first place and second, I wasn’t really good at conversations.
So when my grandmother came to stay with us for a week, I decided to take the opportunity and get to know her better. The entire prospect of having someone in the empty house and not having to spend silent hours, thrilled me.
Every day after Mom and Dad would leave for their work, she would call for me and my brother and tell us a story.
No, the story never had princesses or horses in them, but they spoke about the lives of strong women and how they fought against the differences in the society in the past. As teenagers, the stories never caught our attention, but we heard them nevertheless because she seemed so happy while telling us those little tales.
It was the last day of her stay. My parents had taken a day off. While Mom was busy in the kitchen, Dad was talking to me. Grandma sat next to Dad, muttering something to herself as she flipped through the pages of the newspaper.
“I really think you should go there,” Dad said as he looked down at the folder containing a list of my preferred colleges.
“No, Dad! I want to go to a co-ed college!” I snapped. “I’ve told you so many times that I don’t want to go there.”
“But it’s a good college!”
“I don’t care!”
“Why are you always so adamant?”
“Because,” I spoke in a louder voice. “You don’t listen-“
“Theya!” my grandmother snapped suddenly.
For a woman as calm and collected as my grandmother, it was an unusual reaction.
“Keep your voice down,” she said.
A part of me was terribly irritated and the other part of me was embarrassed. Fighting the little tears that had started pricking at the corners of my eyes, I turned to Dad.
“I’m not going to that college, “I spoke through gritted teeth.
He sighed, shaking his head and standing up. This meant that we were not having this conversation today.
After he had left the room, Grandma motioned me to take a seat beside her. Grumbling, I complied.
“You didn’t have to talk like that to your dad,” she spoke.
“But I should have a say in what college I am going to study in!”
“You do have a say. That is why your parents are still waiting for your final decision.”
“But is it wrong to raise my voice? Is it wrong to stand up for my own wishes?”
Pulling me close, she shook her head.
“No,” she said. “I’m happy to see that you’ve a strong voice. You are growing up to be a strong woman. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Back in our times, though we had a voice, we never got a say in things.”
I looked up to meet her glistening eyes.
“Why?” I asked.
“I was born in an era of voiceless women. We were strong, but we didn’t have a voice. All we did, was sit in the kitchen and hear to the decisions being made. Back in those darker days, women were thought to be weak. The one or two who dared to speak up were looked down upon.”
“It’s surprising,” she continued, “to see how much things have changed! Women have made their mark in every field and they have struggled a lot to get there. I see the little me in you, Theya.”
By then, her voice had been breaking at places.
She held my hand and gave it a little squeeze.
“My father decided not to send me to school after the fifth grade. I was adamant to go. Yet, I didn’t know how to speak out in front of him. I was afraid of what he might say when he listens to me. So, all I could do was cry silently for several days. I had a voice, only, I was afraid to speak out. And so were many other women.”
“I don’t believe it,” I muttered.
This caused her to laugh.
“Oh, no, you don’t! Times have changed, hopefully. Women have always been strong. Back then, they had been strong as well. Only, without a voice,” she said. “When I see pretty young ladies like you, liberated and not held back by any constraint, it makes me immensely proud.”
That day, I saw my grandmother as the woman she was – strong, bold and beautiful. Though it was hard for me to believe that there had been a time like that, I could feel her pain. I could feel how it felt to not have a say in anything.
“So,” my grandmother began again. “What would you do if you lose your voice today?”
Later that night, when she was packing her stuff, I wished she could’ve stayed a bit longer.
“Grandma,” I said as I walked to her and offered to help with the packing. “I think I would probably go mad if I lost my voice for a day. I mean I can’t imagine that you’ve gone through all that!”
Shaking her head, she smiled to herself.
Her question kept me awake for the entire night. Indeed, what would I do if I lose my voice for a day?
“And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”- Meister Eckhart
Have you ever felt the urge to start a new venture but there’s always something that holds you back? Have you taken a step forward in excitement, only to retreat and sit back? We’ve all gone through this at some point of time in our lives. Putting it more precisely, most of us go through this experience every time we decide to start something new.
It’ll please some of you to know that I spent two hours trying to figure out the title of my first-ever blog post! And while I was atop my terrace, looking down at the terribly high drop and then looking back up, wondering what should be the title after all, I realized something. I realized that I was scared (no, not about the entire height factor) – of starting a new blog and taking the first few baby steps.
A myriad of questions ran through my mind as I quietly scrolled through the themes. Having read numerous articles about why most bloggers fail and how disastrous some blog posts are, I was afraid because there’s always a possibility for joining the same train. What if my first blog post isn’t that impressive? What if it doesn’t connect with my readers? What if I start receiving hate messages? Even worse, what if someone adds my blog to the worst-ever-blogs list? And sitting on the edge of a terrace was not helping at all. Of course, I wasn’t planning on jumping down from there (and I wouldn’t ever think of it, because I want to look pretty while I’m dying and falling from that height is obviously going to leave me with nothing but grotesque bruises and broken bones. And, I’m guessing that wouldn’t be pretty!). Some part of me convincingly said that I was out of ideas probably because of gravity which was pulling every creative thought away from my brain and sending them to settle at my feet. The other part kept on laughing like a maniac. In short, half of my insides were fighting with the other half. I thought a change of place might help.
So, picking up my laptop, I trudged downstairs to my room.
That, as I had already predicted, didn’t help. Instead of focusing on the birth of my blog baby (I’m trying to be over dramatic), I started drooling over the Chace Crawford posters on my wall and playing my brother’s recently downloaded games. I had this strange thought of writing about video games in my first blog post! And hopefully, I didn’t yield to the urge. Then, I had an even stranger thought of writing about who are my best actors and why.
At this rate, I realized, I was never going to be able to start a blog.
They say that beginnings are probably the best things – beginning a new business venture, starting a new job, starting college, starting a new book – we’ve always been fascinated by the idea of beginnings. It is the end that brings us pain. Nobody wants a beautiful thing to end. That is probably why we all go, “Oh no!” when our favourite romantic movie starts rolling out the credits. The concept of an ending has always scared us. We believe that beginnings are easier. However, they are not.
I’ve no idea about the whole concept of an ending, but speaking from experience, I can say that the beginning steps are probably harder. When it took me two hours to only figure out the title for a blog post, I realized that it is not always easy to start a thing. Be it a businessman or a teacher or a kid in primary grade, they all dread the beginning steps. The businessman spends sleepless nights, thinking about his newest venture. The teacher is nervous on the first day of school and meeting her new students. The kid in primary grade fakes a stomach ache because he is afraid of facing the new kids in school. We all have several apprehensions before starting something new. And, the only nagging question in our minds is – Will this be successful? Will the idea be successful? Will I be able to do this thing right?
One of the major reasons such thoughts strike our minds is because right from the start, we’ve been told that starting anything new is a risk. And we’ve grown up with the same idea. We are afraid to go in the less-trodden way for that is a risk. Students are afraid to choose a vocational stream because that is a risk, so they tend to stick to the traditional courses. Parents are afraid to send their kids out alone because that is a risk, so they keep them inside their homes until they feel that he/she has grown up enough. New writers are afraid to send their works to a publisher because they feel that it is a risk-their works might get rejected. So they keep their works to themselves, only sharing it with their family and a few friends.
It is like you’ve been gifted a pair of wings by God and you are standing at the edge of a cliff. A part of you is excited to try the wings and the other part keeps holding you back, reminding you a numerous times that you can’t fly. It fills your head with a plethora of confusions. You’re suddenly afraid that the wings may not be real – a thought that hadn’t crossed your mind until then. You are suddenly terrified at the idea of jumping down the cliff and spreading the wings that have been gifted to you. What if you fall?
So, you turn back and walk down the safer road, back home.
The only thought that doesn’t cross your mind is: What if you fly?
The beginning to a beginning is to take a risk. Until, you’ve taken a risk, you’ll never know what is next. Let us think of risks as a series of steps. Let us, for once, forget that risk is used in a negative term. And let us embrace the new possibilities that arrive in our mind, once we’ve settled on that thought.
And that is exactly how I managed to write my first blog post-the supposedly scariest post of them all. Though the FIRST blog post sounds terrifying, I’m proud I’ve managed to put up something decent. Now that I think of it, I was also standing at the edge of the cliff, with a pair of wings. At first, I was afraid to take a step forward. So, I took two steps back. But that was only because I wanted to take flight. So, here I’m, flying towards the sun, thinking about the world that exists out there.
And I’m not afraid anymore.
For, I believe in something called beginner’s luck!
('cause caffeine is known to solve problems of the world)