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Diwali Downer

Ah, Diwali.

Granma decides to hurriedly fry chaklis(rice flour in oil) because her sister phoned her up at 9am to ask what she has already made for the festival, with the underlying message of expecting a picture of it all to be sent to her over WhatsApp so that our extended family in Mangalore can scrutinise her cooking from all angles possible.

An entire day is spent in finding the perfect outfit for the three of us; burger king breaks inclusive, of course. Said day draws to an end with us diving nose-first into our respective beds, fatigued beyond words.

Sweets are bought from, arguably, the best sweets shop in town, after much deliberation and serious taste bud judging.

What’s not to like? Everyone’s in a festive mood, we come together as a community to share sweets, spend ten minutes catching up and complimenting the beauty of each person’s clothing, the birds are chirping and everything is juust peachy..

Except, it isn’t.

Allow me to elaborate by shedding light on yesterday’s glorious festivities.

You see, I wore a spaghetti strapped tent dress. I would have looked flawless,(well, almost) however, I suffer from chronic cystic acne. Which means, my back, shoulders, chest and face are swamped with mountain-sized ‘pimples’ which give off a rather, purple-ish, monstrous shrek colour. And trust me when I say that there are tons of them, on each part. The efforts of concealer, are, well…appreciable, at most.

But, of course, I thought to myself-what the hell! I deserve to feel good in this dress, and shouldn’t allow a skin condition to prevent myself from exactly that. So I pressed it with love, and managed to cut two gaping holes on either side of it while trying to remove the two extra sleeve materials that were stitched on the inside(don’t worry, two safety pins came to my much-needed rescue!)

and so I wore it with the hope that people would be kind with their words and gentle with their stares.

oh, what a fool

It was the second house we visited. An elderly malayali couple who have known my grandparents ever since they moved into this flat.

She complimented and oo’d and aah’d my sister’s neck-piece, and then looked at me with great disappointment. “Why aren’t you wearing a choker like that?” she asked, with pity. “That’s not how fashion works, you bitch” is what I said with my eyes.

my sister, the incredible conversationalist, came to my aid,rather quickly, by stating that my stone-studded hoops, paired with a choker like hers, would be more bling than I’d like to display.

My new favourite aunty retorted, in my direction, with a callous and condescending wave of the hand, “Your hair’s covering your earrings, so I can’t see them. You should have worn a neck-piece like your sister’s”.

My unwillingness to confront her, unfortunately, meant that victory was hers.

The couch I was seated on, no longer felt comfortable.

Of course, dear aunty couldn’t let me leave without a second round of discomfort. As we stood up to(finally) leave, she asked, “What are you doing about your skin?” with a frown, her eyes darting all over my body, akin to that of a frog’s, when it spots a dozen flies- an unexpected buffet for dinner, waiting to catch and feast on the first pair of unlucky, fluttering wings.

The four of us spent five whole minutes discussing the wonderful topic of my skin, the initiator(favourite aunty) and body of interest(yours truly), igniting an unspoken emotional war, which will now last as long as the earth keeps moving, thanks to my stubborn and unforgiving nature.

And people wonder why I get riled up so easily.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come to love Diwali more and more, as the years pass. Maybe I’m just allowing myself to let one small incident lash rain and thunder on my entire illuminated parade. Maybe it’s my cancerian tendency to be sensitive when people comment on my insecurities, much less, discuss and deliberate them.

Maybe some people just suck, period.

Oh, well. Generous slices of Baskin Robbins chocolate truffle ice cream cake, motichoor ladoos, pedas, chocolates and namkeen snacks sure as hell made up for it. Although it is the price of Hell that I will eventually have to pay for my guilty pleasures, in the form of nice, round, deep acne cysts, the burial of feelings in food is a classic for a pretty darn good reason- it works!

Oh, and, don’t even get me started on the firecrackers. It’s heartbreaking that people here have absolutely no concern for the environment, inclusive of the cleanliness of the atmosphere, sound , and animals with sensitive hearing.

I pray that the Government eventually grows a pair and bans these trouble-making ‘celebratory demonstrations’ for once and for all.

Have a happy and safe Diwali!

muscat.

all this while, i’ve been focusing on what’s been kicking me to the ground from the past.

Today, while going through old pictures to spend the “quaran-time” away, i was hit by a tumultuous wave of nostalgia; one that i’ve never experienced before. not just nostalgia, but a strong urge to go back in time, and relive all my beautiful memories, no matter if they were sweet, or bitter.

the little things.

blueberry pies from lulu that were devoured by dad, mom(discreetly, in little slices, of course) and myself. dad liking a current pop hit that’s playing on the radio, and making me download it onto his usb when we returned home. the radio jockeys, wishing everyone a good morning, every morning, in the bus, on the way to school, lifting our spirits. watching in awe, as my sister sketches someone’s portrait, the final result being shockingly uncanny to the original. singing with my sister. being called to relax with my parents on their bed, every time i entered their room.

 gazing at the stars from the sofa in our living room, while listening to soul music. making small talk with aunties and uncles who always wish for the best, for you.  school. my friends. the stairs i’ve climbed. all the laughs i’ve shared, even adopting the nickname, “laughing buddha” in grade six. feeling prideful of the fact that teachers rarely called me out for bad behavior. feeling prideful that i adopted a “silent angel” persona in their view.trying to be perfect. being carefree. without even knowing it.

coming home to a blast of air conditioning that hits you and recharges your body, mind and soul after you’ve walked a total of six minutes under the harsh Oman sun.

the beauty of the city, especially at dawn. when it gets cloudy. oh, when it rains. it turns into heaven when it rains! opening the door to receive tasty food from your mom’s friends because they love you. running around the building, high on adrenaline; nothing compares to playing with your pals. the fights, the drama, the making up, all of it.

from playing, to walking, to sitting; we were all growing up. we all knew it, yet, there was nothing we could do to stop it, even though we longed to. more than anything in the world. talking about our plans for the future, or lack thereof. dreaming of growing up. dreaming of making it on our own. big dreams.

Little did we know.

those little things weren’t so little after all.

they were our lives.

and i’ll cherish them forever.

getting there

Bangalore, India: These days, I find it easier to put a smile on my face. I wish folks, ranging from dawn-joggers, street hawkers, watchmen, the homeless, soldiers to sleepy schoolchildren, a good morning in my mind every day, as I ride in my auto, to get to my bus stop. I smile at dogs, stray and domestic alike. I smile at dogs’ owners. I look forward to meeting the few precious friends I made in college. I feel energized every time I have a good conversation with someone, anyone. In fact, it would probably be the highlight of my day, something I can feel good about even if the successive happenings were relatively less dopamine-generating.

I don’t wish I were dead. I don’t not have the will to keep going. I don’t dread the next second, minute, day, month, year. I don’t cry myself to sleep anymore. I hardly cry that much anymore. Not that I don’t cry at all, that would be as unhealthy, but I’d like to think that I cry the right amount. I definitely do not cry because of the way I am. Because of the life I’ve pushed myself to live. Because it’s so fucking hard. I just don’t hate that much, anymore.

I’m not saying I’m having the time of my life. Far from it. I will, however, give credit to the fact that I’ve risen to sea-level, from twisting and turning in rock bottom. The journey was definitely not akin to some sort of gliding glory. It was riddled with sharks, puffer fish and stingrays. Not to mention the occasional lapse of oxygen. I’ve had days where I got by by zoning out completely, and putting on a long face. I’ve had days where I’ve felt nothing but anger and annoyance. Sometimes, I thought it was the end, again. The only difference is, this time, I kept going. And for now, that’s enough.

IM NOT READY FOR LIFE

You held my hands

on either side of me

crossing the road with utmost care

as though i was your precious bundle

one that neither of you could live without

i was your baby

and you two were more than just my parents

i saw you as my own angels

sent from above

the only two people i would ever love

mom, you sacrificed your dream

of being a working professional

it’s all you’ll ever dream of

dad, you were ready

to travel to the moon and back

if it meant seeing a smile on our faces

our guardian angels

Time; time is a cruel, cruel thing

it’s taking away your prime health, dad

it’s making you tire, mom

neither of you have the energy

nor the spark,

nor the love

the love i would crave

so, so much.

I don’t know if I can do this on my own.

I honestly don’t,

I needed you guys then,

and now, more than ever.

Happy 19th to Me!

I turn 19 in nineteen days.

When my friends tried to get me hyped up about it, I’d tell them with a frown and pout that I did NOT want my birthday to happen, and when they asked why, in utter disbelief, I’d say that I did not WANT to turn 19.

No way. I have hardly accomplished anything, to be able to be blessed with another year of life, my experience in this world, adding up numerically. They’d look at me with a funny sorta’ expression, since that was probably the first time they’ve ever heard of a complaint of this sort.

I maintained this outlook, until one fine morning, as I was about to hop into the tub for my bath, I felt sharp pains in my body.

These pains maintained their intensity throughout the day, and I found myself praying to God to make it stop, to make everything alright again, to let me live.

That’s when I felt it.

Now, I’m not usually a very religiously-obedient person, but I do believe in God, and I like to think that I keep God in my thoughts and address my prayers to Him/Her ,because it makes me feel like I’m being watched over by a greater force; like I’m not completely alone in this Game of Life.

As I pleaded with God to make the pain stop, which it did, after a while, I felt as though this was a sign.

Call me crazy, but maybe this was a sort of punishment,or, rather, an eye-opener for me, to realise that I should be grateful for this life.

I should be grateful for the things I have, the people whose company I enjoy(or even the ones I don’t), the hundreds of opportunities I’m presented with every single day, the lessons I get to learn everyday,…the chance I have to actually be someone.

As Chad Kroeger from Nickelback once sang- “Each day’s a gift, and not a given right.”

Maybe it’s okay that we don’t have our shit sorted out.

Maybe it’s okay that it’s taking us forever to get up.

Maybe, just maybe…we gotta keep going.

Let’s just make the most of it.