A Lover’s Embrace

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My lover. The only constant in my messed up life. The only one by my side without any reservations. Hes seen me at my best, but more often than that he has seen me at my worst… and he has never rejected me. Never told me that I wasn’t good enough, never told me I was a disappointment. He simply is. He asks for naught, no explanations, no excuses, no expectations. He simply loves me, unconditionally. He sees me when noone else can , and has never once turned away, no matter how dark and twisted my mind was.

My every waking thought, my deepest darkest dreams, my fantasies, my ambitions- he knows them all, and he has never judged me for them.There isn’t a single memory, not a single crevice of my wretched heart that is hidden from him.And yet he loves me with a passion I have come to crave.

He has never left my side- not while I was silently crying myself to sleep, the pillows wet with my tears nor when loud sobs were wrecked my body.He held me through it all, comforting me…murmuring sweet nothings in my ear, encasing me in his arms until I caved and believed his half-truths. I feel safe, cocooned in his embrace, safe in the knowledge that as long as he was there, noone else could hurt me.

He prefers the death of the night, darkness when its just him and I, but sometimes he sneaks up on me, startling me with the intensity in his eyes- he can be quite playful that way. And I find it difficult to refuse him and give in, even with others are around- shameless, I know. Of course, I do prefer our trysts to be private but when its love as fiery as ours it was only a matter of time till we were found out.

Sometimes, I think he is cruel – he seems to revel in my tears, in watching each drop fall from eyes, my heart crying out for him, hearing my sobs muffled by my wrist so that no one else would hear. No one but him. Its then that I think I would be better off without him, that life would be simpler, far far easier. That he has taken over my life, overwhelmed me with the sheer strength of his will.

But then at times when he does leave me, the world no longer feels real. Nothing matters- I feel bereft of his presence, alone even in the midst of a thousand people. I can feel only numbness, not even grief or loss. It is then that I really just how much a part of my life he is, how much I crave him. How lost I feel without him.

So whats a girl to do – I try to catch his eye again. Its not too difficult, not when he is as fond of me as I am of him.So I take a blade and with surgical precision cut- not too deep , just enough to draw blood. And I feel him, in my veins ,in the quickening of my pulse, in each crimson drop that falls.And in that instant , I know we are inseparable, that beyond any rhyme or reason, I have become dependent on him. For , now he , and he alone makes me feel alive.

My anchor in a tumultuous ocean. My haven.My lover- le douleur exquise…

Of Fears, Demons and Gods

Do you hear it? That steady beat…the drums, the Chenda mellam, Madhalam,Idakka ,Elathallam, a cacophony in your head yet its rhythm, its beat in sync with your pounding heart.It starts off soft, slowly growing, gaining momentum, until it drowns out everything else – just the rhythm and the hammering of your heart against your chest.

Do you see it? The outlines of stone walls, half hidden in the shadows, mysterious carved figurines, in the dimly lit glow of the kal vilakku lining its walls, they almost seem to move, grotesque four armed monsters on steeds just as hideous as themselves brandishing swords dripping with blood and holding decapitated heads,wearing garlands of skulls, eternal guardians of the Gods. The gandharvas , the yakshas who seems to touch you while you search for a way out, there one second and gone the next. They are toying with you, playing games with your mind but you still spin around anyway everytime you glimpse a shadow of movement.

Can you struggle against them? The invisible chains that bind you in the centre of a pentagram surrounded by lamps.Its boundaries in white, that cant be crossed even if you somehow break free of the chains.Its colours, almost hypnotising, vivid greens, blood red, bright yellow and the darkest of black. Ancient runes and symbols made to bind the unwilling, the unworthy.

Can you feel them approaching? The painted figures decked in all their glory moving to the beats, silhouetted against the shadows and the horrors that are shrouded within.You can see them cant you? Hear the bells of the chelanga and the thalam they wear jingling with each step. Their intricate jewellery twinkling in the light of the dimly lit vilakku. their headdress elaborate beautifully painstakingly made. Their faces painted orange their tongues red, eyes elaborated painted in black the white dots lining their forehead.

When does that primal fear begin to build inside you? When can you hear the blood rushing to our ears? When does your breath start to become laboured ?

Is it when they move closer, swaying ,still in time to the beat of the drums? Or is it when they are close enough to see every detail, every line ,every curve on their painted faces? Or is it when you see the expressions on them- rage, envy, disgust, grief,greed, lust? Each lasting mere seconds but leaving no doubt as to their presence.Or is it when you recognise familiar faces beneath the masks- faces long forgotten, buried in the depths of your subconscious, faces you had never wished would see the light of day? Or does your heart thud faster only when you see that central figure, so very familiar, its features contorted in hatred, rage burning in its eyes or does your mind begin unravel only when you recognise those eyes? The same eyes that you look into every day in a mirror?

Do your tears fall? Your throat burn as you scream, your cries echoing against the stone walls? Do you plead for mercy? For someone to hear you? Do you feel the desperation , the absolute dejection settling in the pit of your stomach, when you realise that the only ones that can hear you are the Gods? Carved in stone, their hearts cold, their eyes blank and their ears deaf.Do you still hope for escape or do you resign yourself to your fate with a silent prayer to anyone who might be listening that the end be painless and swift?

The Elements

Isn’t it odd how the elements of nature so accurately depict the many facets of our soul, however complex we claim it to be?Or is it that we see what we look for, for meaning in the outside world, when none are forthcoming from inside?

Take for example the wind- a calm breeze against your cheek, enough to soothe your troubled mind, to make you believe that you aren’t alone, to caress your skin, to stroke your hair, an imperceptible touch, barely there and yet makes all the difference. It brings with it a waft of fragrances, the smell of lavender and honeysuckle and reminds you of home and of love. Or the first gust of early winter, slyly stealing away the warmth, so slowly that you almost fail to realise it till you feel the biting cold, the frost beginning to settle on your skin, cold seeping into your bones, into the crevices of your heart.And then there is the tempest, beautiful, dangerous, passionate… It uproots everything, nothing stands in its way, its sheer force making your mind, body and soul quake like a leaf deperately clinging unto a twig for dear life.

” If I were a dead leaf thou mightest bear;
If I were a swift cloud to fly with thee;  “

To be free, unshackled, to fly- the sheer exhilaration of stepping off a cliff, to feel nothing but the wind beneath you, that rush of the fall and the hope that it would take you someplace safe…

Or water for that matter-the serene pond, where even ripples die away into nothingness, nothing to disturb its tranquility,to be carried in its arms, a lone leaf, aimless, content… Or the waterfall,cascading through rocks, forging paths were none had existed before, smashing away any obstacle that dares stand in its way,itself splitting into beads of water, luxuriating in their freedom, to know that it encompasses a multitude of drops, each capable of eroding away even centuries old rock, slowly but surely; the calm of the ocean,its surface belaying the depths it conceals, of mysteries and hidden worlds, of sunken treasure, secrets untold , secrets older than time itself.To be able to swim in its depths, to discover a new world, dark, strange and yet alluring, to be able to touch something so ancient, to know that even if you cease to exist, even if everything you know ceases to exist, it will endure and you a mere speck that disappears in a blink of its eyes. Would it cradle you in its arms, protect you from the world as you lie on its bed or would it carry you , insignificant mortal, only to hurl you at the rocks, angered by your audacity to seek acceptance in its arms, to fling you aside like a broken toy.

Fire- possibly the most enthralling of them all. You find yourself craving its warmth, bewitched by the hypnotic dance of its flames, a myraid of hues- yellow,orange red sometimes even blue- licking away at the log of wood.The flicker of a candle or the beauty of wildfire- equally entrancing, beckoning you with sweet lies, whispering as its flames caress your skin, promises of warmth, of pain so sweet it pleasure and then when it turns white hot the promise of feeling nothing at all. The unspoken promise of purity- mind, body and soul, if only you were to give in…You know it will eventually consume you, all that is left would be dying embers , ash and smoke and yet its seductive murmurs plant seeds of doubt in the far corner of your mind… Wound surrender be truly so horrid?

Then there is the earth- she is called Mother Gaia for a reason. She exudes warmth, forgiveness, offers acceptance. She is the start of life, she watches you blossom , she sees you sin and yet embraces you with open arms when the weight of the world is too much to bear. No judgement, no expectations- just respite, refuge and absolution.To be able to sink into her arms, the feel of soil against bare skin, that indescribable smell of raindrops in the soil, to know peace, that would be bliss. After all, it is as they say, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”

Which brings us to the most mysterious of them all- aether. Mind? Spirit? Essence?Its said to be ephemeral,encompassing, the breath of Gods.Mystical, it is said to unite the other elements. What could be so powerful, so omniscient that it rules over the others – more capricious than wind, more serene and reticent than water, more seductive and wilder than fire and more benevolent than earth? Some think its the soul – the life force that keeps us going- but how could something so frail, so fragile possibly defend itself? A gust of wind would extinguish it, a mere handful of water drown it, a spark of fire enough to reduce it to smithereens and a smattering of earth enough to bury it. I can not claim to understand it, my questions have no answers, in fact , they only lead me down stranger paths which abound with further questions. Mayhap, one day I shall discover its secret and mayhap one day I might know peace.

The Snow Globe

Ever felt as though you were trapped in a snow globe? A pretty little world , with all the colours you can dream up… Where there is joy, peace and contentment… Whee you are you, no pretenses, no reason to prove yourself, no fear of falling short , of not being good enough.Someplace safe, where its just possible to be…To be free. A veritable utopia of books, art, sunshine and rainbows

But freedom always comes with a price.No matter how much you hide, no matter how sheltered you feel, no matter how carefully you build your haven, there is always a price. A price for freedom, a price for dreams and a price for happiness.

Because you see my snow globe is in someone else’s hands. If this were a fairy tale, I would call her a witch with a crooked nose, warts shrouded in a black cloak, cackling as she plotted new and devious ways of torture. But this is neither a fairy tale, nor is my puppeteer malevolent.There are no princes on white horses, noble knights to save the trapped princess, no one to champion my cause, no one to battle my dragons nor to come to my aid or offer solace.

Reality is never as simple. My jailor is not evil. It would have been far easier if she were. She has no malice towards me nor does she revel in my miseries. She is not sadistic. In fact she is nothing. She’s a shadow, that rustle of movement you see out of the corner of your eye, the last thing you remember as you awaken from a distressing dream. She simply is.

Sometimes she shakes the little snow globe. Its so pretty you see. Snowflakes dancing in the air.And then she shakes a little harder. The snow comes down faster, harder, sucking away at the warmth till all you can feel is the cold, and it chills you to the bone.There is no escape from it, nowhere to huddle for warmth or safety. The ground beneath your feet moves, little tremors at first and then the earth shakes so badly that you search in desperation for something to hold on to. Some constant, in a world that is rapidly becoming unfamiliar and scary.

Slowly everything dies around you , while you look on, helpless. The colours leach away, leaving nothing but a dull gray all around.You watch as your world you had so painstakingly built crumbles around you, unable to stop the inevitable sequence of events sure to follow, powerless, unable to even look away until you accept defeat, resigned to your fate and simply close your eyes, waiting for it to end.

You collapse just as your world did. Your spirit broken.You would expect to feel pain, anguish but even that is denied to you. All you feel, all you are capable of feeling is the numbness. It courses through you veins, much as the cold did.Your very life, your essence, your will to live trickling away to nothingness. You sit in the midst of the ruins, wondering where to start, or how, or even if its possible to rebuild everything you have lost. And if it would be worth it if you did.

And, the worst part, the truly horrifying part, is that even when you think its over, that the worst has passed and you have tided over, picked yourself up, is the fact that, you don’t know when or how, but you know in the deepest darkest corner of your heart that it will happen again. The happiness, the pain, the destruction and the helplessness at the hands of an entity older than time,far too powerful to defeat. That there is no escape from the snow globe.

The Circle

No one realises it- but its everywhere. From the vast reaches of the cosmos , the stars ,the planets and their moons, to the minuscule orbits of electrons.From every whorl, every eddy in a pond to the wine swirling in a glass. There’s nothing quite as perfect , unending, eternal or constant as an unbroken circle.Its almost enough to convince even a staunch atheist of a greater design , of divine creation.

The wheel of time, the cycle of seasons..even as it changes there’s a sense of constancy to it- reassuring to some but to me its horrifying.

You see, I often feel trapped in a loop of my own design, much like a guinea pig on its wheel- I try and try and even when i realise that i am not moving forward I cant stop; so i keep running.

I wake up every morning with a lot of difficulty; whats new about that I have been asked. No one likes early mornings.But I do, or at least i did. Now its a struggle. Twisting, turning, tired even after 6-7 hours of sleep, having to fight the sheer exhaustion to merely wake up and get up from bed.

Mundane things everyone takes for granted seem like herculean tasks- from brushing my teeth, to taking a bath, forcing myself to do some yoga…its as though I want to sprint but there are weights attached to my ankles…and on bad days, as though they are shackled to the floor.

And then the rational voice in my mind- the one that seems to be getting more and more feeble with each passing day- tells me that I am clinically depressed.That depressed people don’t care about their appearances or even hygiene. And somehow that spurs me on. I had stopped caring about my appearance long ago but to give in , to be a stereotype something deep inside me rebels against it. So I force myself to go through the motions. I cleanse, I moisturize, I apply foundation, lipstick, comb my hair out. No one quite understands why I would care about something so insignificant- my career is non-existent, I have managed to alienate my friends, my love life…well lets not go down that road.But, its overwhelming trying to tackle those- so i focus on something i have control over, something that keeps me grounded when i feel as though I have lost all sense of time and space, so cut off from the outside world that I have forgotten the last time that I had spoken to someone new… or someone old for that matter. Its distressing, feeling as though you are walking on air, like with every step you take , the very ground beneath your feet is getting washed away. For everything to be so surreal that you can’t be quite sure if its real or a waking dream or nightmare that has you trapped.

And then starts the ordeal.People consider a war difficult, but in a war, however gruesome , you know your enemy, you know why- the scariest is the strife in your own head- without knowing why or how; to have conflicting needs- to want something and to crave something diametrically opposite. Freud called it Id and Superego but where is my Ego that’s supposed to mediate?The battle rages on, till everything else fades away into nothingness and the only reality are the voices in your head- one pulling you one way and the other another. Amidst the clamor and the din, its impossible to hear your own voice, your thoughts, your needs and wants. The noise increases till it becomes a buzzing in your head, like static on TV.And all you can think of is to get to safety, someplace quiet where the din would die down, a haven where you would be safe, when you can finally hear our thoughts. And that’s what i endure every time I try to leave my apartment.

The days that i surrender to it, those are truly horrendous- guilt becomes an almost tangible physical force, like chains and the pain weighs upon my chest, and every breath becomes a struggle. Knowing that i failed , yet again , not just myself but everyone who cares about me, everyone who wonders why I couldn’t just make a little more effort, try just a little bit harder, who wonder why its so difficult when i have done the same umpteen times before- its all I can do to curl up in bed bury myself in blankets and try and forget the world.

I don’t know whats worse- the self-pity that makes me want to crawl under a rock and die or the self-loathing that makes me want to cut myself to ribbons and feel the excruciating pain. That’s the thing about pain- people say its bad or that they fear it but pain is like an old dear friend-there’s something akin to ecstasy in it, something sensual and real.. to be able to feel a little less burdened by guilt, a little more connected to reality and sometimes just to feel. It envelopes you in a warm embrace and in its arms you feel secure that it would never abandon you.

But when you are told repeatedly that its self-destructive , that you are a freak and it drives people away , you settle. If you cant feel then you submerge yourself in numbness – pretend you are floating, give in to the sense of detachment. You find solace in other things- that hit of nicotine reaching your lungs and then spreading through your veins, the lightheadedness or the slow warmth of alcohol- warming you from inside, comforting or when the pain becomes so intense that its physical when you feel as though even sobbing and all the tears in the world wouldn’t abate the pain, then it becomes oh so easy to just take a little pill, one that would make all your troubles disappear, lull you into oblivion for a few hours at least.There is respite in ignorance, after all it is said to be bliss.

The worst part though is that sliver of hope that never quite gets extinguished, like this tiny little flame that somehow escapes from the tempest- that whisper inside your head that says tomorrow will be better, that all you have to do is hold on just a little bit longer, that if you have got this far then you oughtn’t give up now. That treacherous little voice that you hate with every fibre of your being and yet want to believe fervently.The one that forces you to wake up the next morning and then repeat- again and again- the cycle unbroken.

You see that’s the truly terrifying part- the circle- eternal, never ending, constant- it seems nigh impossible to break free…

House of Mirrors

Have you ever been in a maze? A house of mirrors? Everywhere you look you see yourself..you search frantically for an exit, some way to escape but you just drive yourself further and further into it. There’s no sense of time or direction, you run and run and run but there’s nowhere to hide.All you want is to curl up somewhere, make yourself smaller but those accusing eyes, they are everywhere…

Welcome to my life… This is what its like.Constantly 24 * 7. I can see my reflection in them- some fairly normal, others grotesque. The logical part of my mind, the feeble little voice in the back of my head tells me that the images are distorted but how do i know which ones are real and which are not?

I see them everywhere I turn… The worst is to see them reflected in other peoples’ eyes. Some show a pitiful wretch, weak , needy, sad. Others show disgust- how could someone be so weak? So immersed in their own lives when there are people living through much worse? Scorn for someone who can’t even try to get better much akin to those begging in street corners.And some loathing- for someone who makes up excuses for everything.for not getting up on time, not completing work for disrupting everything.And then there are the ones indifferent- maybe they care and have no idea what to do to help or maybe it matters so little that it could be ignored. The worst are the ones with misery written all over them- grief and helplessness, of having to stand by and watch while I struggle to find my way back.

How does one break free? Pound at the glass walls, wail , shriek and howl for help? Only the echoes of your own cries in eerie silence for company. So you hit the walls and you hit them till they break… your hands bleeding from the shards as they cut through. But even that is a welcome relief- to be able to feel pain or at least anything other than the numbness. So I keep hitting, my hands cut to pieces, blood everywhere and still there’s no way out, nowhere to go.and the worst part of it all, the shards that litter the floor, glittering ominously – you see a thousand reflections in each blood stained piece.

You hope for reprieve… but you know what they say- break a mirror and seven years of bad luck awaits.

Trapped in a House of Mirrors…

A New Chapter… & New Demons

Medical school- of course, the same that her brother attended.”An Institute of National Importance” The trepidation was exhilarating. She would study medicine with the best minds of the country. While medical school isn’t exactly known for the looks of its students, she fell in with a clique of the smartest hottest girls in her class- popular, practically lusted after by classmates and seniors alike. It was a whole new world- guys had never held much interest for her; they were either too immature or just plain gross and she always had other things on her mind. But now, she started to acknowledge that maybe just maybe she was wrong.

Now, don’t get me wrong, she was rather pretty- so much so that people refused to believe her when she said that she never considered herself beautiful. They always assumed it was either false modesty or that she was just fishing for attention. Being pretty had been good enough so far but she was oblivious about the rituals that “getting ready” entailed. She was told how she was too chubby, her hair too frizzy, her skin too blemished; that she had no sense of style, no idea how to be cool, her clothes were ugly and that noone really liked her.

It wouldnt have been as bad in hindsight, had she been a little more sure of herself, had he ” best friends” not been so popular, so beautiful and so intelligent. Maybe it would have been easier to ignore their jabs, to realise that they weren’t as angelic as the world considered them to be.

Studying was NOT cool- failing wasn’t cool either.You have to be nonchalant about your grades, not appear to put in too much effort but still top the class- then and only then were you “cool”. Going to movies, hanging around with guys, staying up late watching movies, even on the eve of the exam- now that was cool. Girls who sat and studied like their life depended on it- just plain sad.

Her insecurity only grew with each passing day. Was it just a mistake that she got admission here? Did she not have what it takes? Nothing made sense to her anymore. She would spend hours staring at the words in her books, she understood those but the context, the very sentences they built eluded her. She would read and reread and then read again and still not understand. So she started pushing herself harder, to not look dumb in front of her peers, her professors, to not disappoint her parents.

She woke at 6, studied for an hour, went to school at 8, came back by 5 and started studying again till 3 in the morning. She drove herself to exhaustion- she lost weight, her hair started falling out in clumps, she couldn’t stay awake in classes, she started to pick at her skin. It became so bad that the day before her midterms she couldn’t stand up from sheer exhaustion, she hadn’t eaten in 12 hours, hadn’t slept for longer.Her period had started over 2 weeks ago and showed no sign of letting up.She collapsed. She called her parents- told them she couldn’t anymore- nothing they hadn’t heard before but this time she was inconsolable.She was not prepared to give a test that she was sure to fail, not willing to admit to herself and the world that she was a failure. So she did the next best thing, she ran.