Do you remember that place? A time when every emotion was a Picasso painting? Vibrant jealousy. Mind-bending joy. Lucious fear oozing through pores. Jarring ecstasy coating the roof of your mouth, the back of your neck and the inside of your navel. Crippling wonder that made you want to stop and hold the cosmos for as fleeting a moment as one lifetime would be.
Yeah, I’ve been there. We all have. Most likely we glimpsed it now and then as children and were told it was all fairytales and horror stories. And then as adolescents, it burst upon us suddenly. That one moment when we suddenly attained puberty. Or fell in love. Or watched someone die. Or didn’t fit a favourite teeshirt anymore. Or saw somebody else’s name written, emblazoned in a place that used to have our own and feel like home.
I was in that place all of the last month. It started with a new year resolution to be easier on myself, to relax some of my fear fortresses. Maybe it was the years I spent inside and that it was time to come out. Maybe it was the sleep-deprived, alcohol-soaked advice I received on New Year’s. Maybe it was just that person. Maybe it was me.
I’ve been feeling so much, struggling to set one foot before the first, walk in a straight line, act the part of the intelligent person I have enacted for so long that I forgot it was a part. I forgot I’m not meant to walk or even run. I’m meant to fly. I forgot that sky and water merge in my universe and I have always been a good swimmer. I forgot that I’d closed my eyes because the last time I glimpsed beauty, I thought it destroyed me but really, I only closed my eyes. I opened my eyes and look, the world is in HDR again.
Sabu, an alien muscleman under the friendly stewardship of the moustachioed Chacha Chaudhry was an integral part of every Indian childhood. The caption that accompanied a panel preceding a fight scene said, “Jab Sabu ko gussa aata hain, to Jupiter pe jwalamukhi phatata hain” (When Sabu gets angry, a volcano erupts at some distant place in Jupiter). It was fun to imagine the drama of a planet far away responding to what was happening right on Earth. Sabu is the the primal, muscled alter ego to the mild-looking, benevolent senior citizen whose mind nevertheless works faster than a computer. As an alien, he is not as subject to Earthly rules and his primal responses were used for laughs as Chacha explained how the world worked. But even with Sabu, rage was a displaced emotion, bearing consequences in a far away place.
I painted this on a teeshirt for a former love. Curiously telling, since that relationship was pockmarked with suppressed rage and every form of twisted anger possible. The manifestations of rage happen up close and personal, inside our own psyche and everyone nearby. Yet is our anger any different from other emotions that we own more proudly?
Anger rises from grief, from fear, from caring even. It happens to us all. If you live in a busy metro, you’ve probably already felt it already today. Annoyance at flapping curtains. Disproportionate rage at the alarm clock. Irritation at fellow commuter. Mild venom at the colleagues/teachers waiting for you on Monday morning. These are you as much as the laughter that tickled you on Saturday night, the contentment of a good Sunday meal that you ate. Yet, you plod on past the grief, the micro-hurt, the frustrations because that is the way the world must work.
You my friend, carry both Chacha Chaudhry and Sabu in you. As do we all. Let them share the panel. They’re good for each other.
So much comes up in silence, even somebody else’s silence. I was struck in an overwhelming manner by Gentleness. Notice, when Ulay approaches the table where Marina is seated. He’s a goodlooking man, dapper and obviously confident. But all of that softens in the second he looks at her and walks up to sit down. And he waits for her to open her eyes, eager anticipation but also vulnerable and hopeful.
Next, I noticed Marina’s reaction. Surprise. Wonder. Excitement. And then pain and love and fondness and memories in an uncontrollable current. The smile on Ulay’s face when she reaches out her hands. The sheer gentleness in his nod, the unmistakable male conditioning of ‘It’s okay, I’m okay’ even in a man used to thinking about and expressing emotion, as an artist. The gentleness, the utter gentleness in each of them and in their meeting.
I think I’ve forgotten to be gentle. There’s a place inside me where I feel what each of them feels but it gets overshadowed by pride, by fear, by arrogance, by wanting to create an impression. And it gets forgotten and lost. But it’s there deep down.
Gentleness brings forth gentleness, is the lesson I’d like to take from this. It’s so scary because it means in some way, promising to be gentle and trusting that the world will be gentle back. That it won’t hurt the tenderest part of you that you offer up to it. Yes.
But gentle has a serenity about it that I haven’t felt as yet. It feels devoid of the trembling that fear brings, the hard grit that the courage to face that fear adds. It just is, itself, whole and pure.
It must start by taking a deep, deep breath. I am.
I miss you without fully comprehending why I miss you.
I miss you, wondering how it is possible for me to miss you.
I miss you like that vague empty feeling in your stomach when you wake up suddenly at 3 a.m. and then remember you had a great dinner. I hold the feeling of missing you, like I’d savour the memory of that dinner, at 3 a.m.
All I know, is that I like this feeling of missing you.
You watch them speak to and of the one they love.
And think, unflinchingly, that they don’t speak to or of you that way.
The only part that hurts is the realisation that they once used to.
When you cannot remember what you were thinking or how you could ever have made that decision and conclude that you were a completely different person then- that’s when you know that you’re completely over them.
Sometimes getting over someone or something is giving yourself permission to be happy.
At other times it’s letting go of the luxury of being sad.
And occasionally, it’s just realizing that you are bored of misery.
You talk about forgiving and forgetting like one follows the other
And some people say that they can forgive but never forget
But in my mind, that’s still vendetta since the memory stays alive and hurtful
I’d much rather forget, even if not forgive
At least life can go on unbound by a straining bond
I am not sorry that you are sad I’m no longer a part of your life
You must be punished for the crime of having hurt me, after all
But I’m just sorry that it all still matters to me
Probably even more than my absence matters to you.
Love is the experience of a person, but also emotions, places, mementos and other people. Being okay with the person is just the first step and not even the easiest one at that. Complete closure is when the entire world that you’ve built and shared with the person starts to feel alright again. It is when, finally…
Friends don’t walk on eggshells around you. Friends aren’t unsure of how to behave with both of you.
Houses, roads, parks and shops don’t make you catch your breath because you were there with them once.
It doesn’t feel ‘wrong’ to be at a certain restaurant with someone else.
Watching a romantic movie or hearing such a song doesn’t send you down a trip of nostalgia.
And you don’t feel guilty about a gift because you’ve gifted someone else the same thing before.
But then, by that premise, there is no such a thing as complete closure. Love is a color that taints you forever.
If you don’t care anymore whether they love you or not, perhaps you never really did.
Fear of loneliness is a good enough reason for a relationship, even if it isn’t a noble one. At least half the relationships around are founded on it and survive quite well.
Sheer habit is another such. What’s wrong with being in a rut? Some people call it stability.
Lack of excitement is a good enough reason for a break-up.
So is lack of commitment.
Far more than lack of love.
For love may be the name we give the ride, but excitement is the fuel and commitment is the nuts-and-bolts that holds the carriage together. And we all know what happens when you try going anywhere without fuel or in a cart that falls apart.
The experience of being loved is really as moving, if not more, than the act of loving.
So believe it or not, no matter how unfair it all was, there is justice in the end.
And they will probably miss you far more than you will miss them, when this is done.
Sometimes a person can do you a great service by not letting you fall in love with them because they think you deserve better.
Even if you disagree, if that’s what they think, they are probably right.
You have the right to be as miserable for as long as you want.
The grave stupidity has already been committed when you fell in love anyway.
Why feel ashamed now?
Cheating and lying are unpardonable.
And it is divine to forgive, a sign of shining, enlightening love.
But no one said you had to be a superhero.
Breaking up can make you feel unlovable, like you were never really loved after all.
But there are many reasons to not love a person.
Duty, ego, fear, indifference, commitment-phobia, emotional detachment.
All of them realistic and logical, none deeply noble.
And there can be only one reason to love a person.
Because you do, that’s all.
That’s neither logical nor noble.
But yes, it is wonderful.
Some of us hold on simply to assure ourselves that we were really, truly, honest-to-goodness, till-death-do-us-apart, irrevocably, madly, fiercely in love.
Perseverance is more important than happiness to some. And ah, how hard we try!
If you tried and the other didn’t, consider that a gift offered wasn’t accepted. Whose loss is that?
There are plenty of other fish in the sea.
But you can’t fish anymore if the last one reeled you in hook, line and sinker.
When it comes down to it, no one is indispensable. If they had been, your lungs would have been attached to their nostrils and your stomach, to their food pipe. That’s a far more practical apparatus.
A lover cannot have been a Siamese twin. And vice versa.
Oddly enough, the very things that attracted you to each other in the first place are the biggest reasons for your breaking up.
Part of mourning the death of the relationship is grieving the loss of their affection for you.
The other part is grieving the loss of your affection for them.
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