Friday, December 27, 2013

Turkey Sandwich

You show up in my memory arbitrarily- that being your one constant. You left on a whim, and even thoughts of you are selfish in their disruptions. How can I explain the sudden nostalgia that fills me when the turkey sandwich in front of me reminds me of the near daily ritual we'd go through. Thousands of miles between and a lack of each other's presence giving rise to the strange comfort of knowing your life, your habits, your food. Things I should have, but didn't, take for granted.
And now a sandwich is enough to throw me off, to cause what feels like an invasion of the walls I have so carefully built.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Wisdom from Sloane Crosley

"If you have to ask someone to change, to tell you they love you, to bring wine to dinner, to call you when they land, you can’t afford to be with them"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nearly 9.

Your absence is a void that becomes bigger and bigger with every passing year. I have often sat through conversations with friends talking about how much they are like one of their parents, how much they see themselves in their mother or their father. I have listened, aware that even though you were gone before I could find out how alike we were, you were the one I took after in ways both good and bad. I usually don't know how to contribute to those conversations.
I write tributes to you every year, and if not those, then think of that night you never came back home, but instead went to chacha's loaded in the back of an ambulance. On to wherever we're supposed to go after we cease to exist in this life. I remember the last time I saw your face, wondering how the most powerful force in my young life could have been reduced to this. The way I couldn't quite understand your love for me in all the glory of my teenage awkwardness. I still don't know if I cried more over losing you, or because of the disbelief that you could even be lost.
I never felt the lack of a father more until I came to college, because everything has been an opportunity for a missed conversation, possibilities that could have been but were struck down by the simple fact that we have been worlds apart for nearly a decade now. Walking into your office is both painful and a relief. I still expect to find you sitting behind your big desk, your laughter filling every corner of the room. But you only exist in the books you have left behind- and that's how I reach you, knowing you and I are the same in so many ways. Knowing that everything about me, from my academic leanings to my humor, have been given to me by you. Even our disagreements were those that can only arise between two people who are so similar that it forces them to see their own flaws.
The heart ache has dulled over time, but I'm not quite sure how long the damned thing will take to heal completely. It probably never will. I wonder if you leaving behind so much of yourself in me is what contributes to this feeling of being but never quite belonging. I color in what I can, but something fundamental is always, always absent, and all I can do is wistfully try to recreate you through memories that can't even mimic the complexity of your existence. After all, teenagers are notorious for all angst and no depth- and I lost you when I was nearing the prime of my angst. But I am grateful that you were unforgettable in so many ways, not just for me but for everyone who knew you. What I found embarrassing as a child has become a source of comfort and pride.
Children are silly in that they march to the beat of their own drum, but expect to fit in all the same. I sometimes wondered why my Baba couldn't be like my friends' dads. Younger, aloof, quiet, not talking to their children's friends because they were, after all, children, and inherently of no value. You refused to be that kind of father, and for that I am now grateful. I couldn't have remembered you as well as I do without memories of you having an in-depth conversation about cricket with a 6 year old, of sending our friends into peals of laughter and of plotting with me repeatedly as to how we could get kittens into the house without Mama finding out. I remember our excursions to the the book bazaar, and your pride in my first poem.
Part of my faith in God and life after this world comes from a purely selfish reason- I cannot and will not accept that you are gone forever.
So until we meet again. Thank you Baba.
The more I let you in, the more you let me down.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

It beats in surrendered corners and
in shreds scattered through the wind and
In ashes that fed the bonfire we lit and
(It was never so bright before)
within us.

An inkling of the cracks,
this is the surface too but
it's just inside, I'm just here, but
it's unknown to you and
you are within me, deeply
as I am outside the world that
is you.

Wait, they don't love you like I love you.

Reach out and extend arms,
inward please, not out,
but no- that's not right-
You can't reach in,
And I can't come out.


"They write of love as if there is nothing else. I smirk in hushed, polite tones. At the eventuality of these things, at the quick collapse, at the necessary process of making it amount to something. At least we've got pretense."

look back,
deja vu and recollections
of having seen this before
and often.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


n. the moment you realize that you’re currently happy—consciously trying to savor the feeling—which prompts your intellect to identify it, pick it apart and put it in context, where it will slowly dissolve until it’s little more than an aftertaste.
every moment with you
was kairoscelrosis.
do you remember that night
that day,
or even that moment,
a fraction of a second
when you told me
that forever couldn't 
describe how long you
wanted to be with me?

maybe, maybe i
constructed that,
i constructed the real,
and not-so-real
the carefully painted greys
that i am now living
and dying simultaneously
as i live out this love
on my own.

how many sorrows should
i pen?
i am curled up into myself
curled up in memories
curled up in nothingness
and i am edging out of your mind
the more i draw myself in,
exhale to make space
in my stomach,
i cannot make way
in my head
i cannot empty it of you


The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

n. the desire to care less about things—to loosen your grip on your life, to stop glancing behind you every few steps, afraid that someone will snatch it from you before you reach the end zone—rather to hold your life loosely and playfully, like a volleyball, keeping it in the air, with only quick fleeting interventions, bouncing freely in the hands of trusted friends, always in play.

  nodus tollens
 n. the realization that the plot of your life doesn’t make sense to you anymore—that although you thought you were following the arc of the story, you keep finding yourself immersed in passages you don’t understand, that don’t even seem to belong in the same genre—which requires you to go back and reread the chapters you had originally skimmed to get to the good parts, only to learn that all along you were supposed to choose your own adventure.
n. a recurring thought that only seems to strike you late at night—an overdue task, a nagging guilt, a looming and shapeless future—that circles high overhead during the day, that pecks at the back of your mind while you try to sleep, that you can successfully ignore for weeks, only to feel its presence hovering outside the window, waiting for you to finish your coffee, passing the time by quietly building a nest.

n. frustration with how long it takes to get to know someone—spending the first few weeks chatting in their psychological entryway, with each subsequent conversation like entering a different anteroom, each a little closer to the center of the house—wishing instead that you could start there and work your way out, exchanging your deepest secrets first, before easing into casualness, until you’ve built up enough mystery over the years to ask them where they’re from, and what they do for a living.


 n. the sense that the future is arriving ahead of schedule, that all those years with fantastical names like ‘2013’ are bursting from their hypothetical cages into the arena of the present, furiously bucking the grip of your expectations while you lean and slip in your saddle, one hand reaching for reins, the other waving up high like a schoolkid who finally knows the answer to the question.

tilt shift

n. a phenomenon in which your lived experience seems oddly inconsequential once you put it down on paper, which turns an epic tragicomedy into a sequence of figures on a model train set, assembled in their tiny classrooms and workplaces, wandering along their own cautious and well-trodden paths—peaceable, generic and out of focus.

the bends

n. frustration that you’re not enjoying an experience as much as you should, even something you’ve worked for years to attain, which prompts you to plug in various thought combinations to try for anything more than static emotional blankness, as if your heart had been accidentally demagnetized by a surge of expectations.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I am trying and trying and trying, every day and every second, but letting go is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I wish it was anger, I wish it was hatred or anything but this feigned indifference that I can't shake off. You were never/are not worth it, and knowing that makes it worse. Sweep it all under the rug, sweep it away until I can ignore that nag in my head, that hole in my heart that was you but now is emptiness. I am trying to fill it, but I am a bad combination of weak and strong, ego and emotion, anger and love- and when I try, it is futile, because everything just gets washed out with the next wave of nostalgia.
There is nothing but a giant cloud of sadness that swallows me and overwhelms me and gnaws away at me. I feel myself falling apart, just falling away, the layers peeling and peeling and peeling, and I am left standing naked under scrutiny, feeling like a roach about to be stepped on, like the entire burden of worthlessness in this world is beginning to crush me and I am making it my own.
I keep talking to a non-existent you, and you never leave because you were never present to begin with. You are everywhere, in my dreams and my thoughts, you are the unspoken, but immensely felt.

Where is the glue to heal my heart?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I am not a bauble
to be possessed and discarded
I am not a hand me down,
not property to
be passed around
to be trapped within the
walls you back me into
to be framed prettily,

I do not exist so
my voice, my self
my whole
loud, offensive, reckless
existence could be hidden away,
underneath what you call
because I call it death
I call it asphyxiation.

I am not tainted
or dirty
or loose or fast or
an infringement on your
proclaimed morality,
on your alpha male ego
that is so easily bruised,
so easily convinced that
i belong only
as long as my body does

There is more
than what exists between
my legs,
your petty battles,
your constant altercations
with the idea of me being
anything but saintly,
your belittling of me-

it leaves me betrayed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

I made you up inside my head.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

Sometimes I sit with a cup of tea in front of me, and stare. I stare into space, my eyes drifting away from the pages I'm trying to desperately to concentrate on. I hide myself away in fiction, more engrossing, more appealing than political theory. More personal. I find myself wanting to drown in other people's stories, because I am tired of thinking about my own, and I am tired of these circles of regret/grief/anguish chasing each other around until there is no more silence in my head. I am tired of my thoughts.
If I give myself the opportunity of solitude, it taunts me, and again my attempts to silence the onslaught of my thoughts fail until I give in.
I lie in bed staring into the darkness. Sometimes I get up and hug my knees to my chest, sometimes I curl up, and sometimes I just lie there waiting for sleep to come. Waiting and wishing I could stop thinking.
It isn't you I think about, but the idea of you that I had. Because you, and my image of you, are two different things as I've come to realize mostly through pain. So it isn't you I'm thinking about, just the idea of you.
The realization that I did, in fact, lift you out of your absolute ordinariness, out of your selfishness, out of the petulant child you are, into something quite different. I put you on a pedestal that you didn't deserve.
 I don't think of you, but I think instead of my own loss because I am also selfish. I think of my own stupidity, I think of how terrified I was of losing you. I think of promises and everything else you told me.
I think of love being pulled from right under me, so brutally that I didn't even have time to protest.
Everyone tells me I deserve better, so much better than you. And I know it, and I do not want you, or think of you. I do not want to belong to you.
 But that idea of you, that idea I held on to so desperately, because losing it was my worst fear. And then I did, and it made me understand I could go on, but it has also broken me in a way that I do not know how to fix. I find this hard to explain, this conundrum of  not wanting you, and yet not being able to explain myself in a way that will have nothing to do with you.
Some days my strength crumbles, and the resolve floats away. I do not want to reach out to you, and I don't. But I wish you had been real.

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"

Sunday, August 4, 2013

On language and its acquisition

I wonder often if:
the space I occupy and
the words I speak are
truly my own.

When I speak in a language
Mama cannot comfortably maneuver -
but I am uncomfortable with anything
that isn’t this.
When I am startled,
shocked even,
at how quickly the thoughts
tumble through my mouth.
at the point of pride that
was my prowess with these words
that were never mine-
especially because
they were never mine.

When I think back 
to days of Catholic school classrooms,
where we were told to think
in a language that didn’t belong to us,
to abandon pride in our past,
and that rush of complacency
because I did it without being told,
because I laughed when others could not,
And because, it set me on a pedestal.
It made me better.

I remember
the carefully cultivated sense of shame
nurtured by adolescent cruelty-
my face burning at Mama’s hesitance with
words that came so naturally to me,
my disregard of sacrifices,
of her embarrassment
of my privilege.

And now,
“When did you learn?” they ask.
And often, so often
I am tempted.
I am tempted to ask how,
how they learned to think,
to live,
to say.
And when they answer,
to reply
“Well, I learnt in quite the same way.”

But these words,
They are not mine
And I have no claim over them. 
or, for that matter,
over those that
were meant to be my own.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Your birthday drifted by
While my thoughts,
Occupied by you, forever you,
Wondered and wandered over
What you might be doing
(or Who)

I remember days when
Promises seemed to be forever
When love was living on purely being
Itself, and nothing more
Or less
But now it’s less, forever less.

And I am caught in a forever without you,
I too am foreverless-
 A pun of my own creation,
            S t a r i n g
At my phone, waiting.
That I might evoke pity, love,
Even anger-
That I might evoke need in you
To reach out and ask
If I still live-

So that, my love,
I can tell you: barely.
And not enough,
That facades are tiresome,
And I am keeping them,

Monday, January 28, 2013

the end of love

What comes after
the end of love?
After you have resorted to
the superstitious and the superfluous
after you have compared
the alignments of stars
after you have looked at numbers
over and over,
until compatibilities swim
in front of your eyes

When you begin to wonder
what if, but if, and if
when you let the questions
swallow your thoughts
cloud your mind with
unnecessary conjectures
with remorse and
incomprehension and when
you think there should be a law

that there should be a law against
that you should sue for a broken heart,
that one heart should not, would not
turn away
when the other is still hanging on,
when it seems that 'half-hearted'
is a term coined
for the benefit of this place you are in.

What comes after
the end of love?

Monday, January 21, 2013

In less than a year I will no longer be able to list the same mailing address as I do now, a comfortable box number in Blanchard which I have taken for granted. It will soon belong to someone else, and knowing that feels very strange because I can't imagine that number written under anyone else's name but mine. There's a calendar on my wall that's been on November 2012 since November, and I haven't bothered to take it down. Thinking about time, how it's running out, how there is never enough, how there are so many things to squeeze into so little of it- that's bad enough on its own without having a calendar kindly letting me know how fast the days are running out. It started last semester. I didn't say I couldn't wait for the semester to end, my silence an acknowledgment of the limited time I have left here. What happens once the semester ends? There's two left. Then just one. Then it's over, but it feels like yesterday when I stepped off the shuttle that brought me here from Hartford Bradley International Airport. I remember feeling the awe, feeling intimidated, trying to take in my new surroundings. I remember before that, how I used to obsessively look for any pictures of campus, look at them for many minutes at a time trying to imagine what it would be like, anticipating living with my roommate, becoming best friends. We don't talk anymore, except for an uncomfortable nod when we acknowledge each other's presence in situations where the other person can't be avoided- but I always marvel at how things turn out.
Sometimes I wonder if people collect possessions because the things they own make them feel rooted, somehow more permanent. That's definitely true for me, except that no matter how many things I own, my suitcases are right there, reminding me that there is only limited space and I will have to give a lot away. I don't have a plan, because this was as far as my imagination had gotten me (even when I use the word gotten now, I realize how being here has liberated me from the stuffiness of my Convent school education, where it wasn't considered a word. A relic left behind by colonizers in the form of anglophiles.), I had just imagined going to college. I couldn't even think of anything beyond that. And now that beyond is fast approaching.