Tag Archives: Introspection

Stars Under The Rust

I haven’t said much these past few months, have I? Most of my time and creative energy has been taken up in the shows that SXonomics has been doing on various themes of gender sensitivity. It has been intense, time-consuming, demanding and emotionally draining. I also fall into habits of writing a certain way and in a certain rhythm.

I remember when I first chanced upon 55 word stories and took to them with such passion that all I felt about to produce was them. I had to push myself to say things with more words or less and stop myself from counting if they had gotten to the exact 55. Something similar happened when I first started writing fiction and I found myself unable to write the poetry that I’d spent most of my writing life producing. Now, three years ago I started performing and more recently gender-politicised commentary in a witty form. It’s proving to be difficult to come back to blogging, this way.

Reading ‘Rust and Stardust’ recently helped. This book is a chronicle of the true crime story that inspired Nabokov’s Lolita. In 1948, a 52 year old Frank LaSalle abducted 11 year old Sally Horner by telling her he was the FBI and was arresting her for stealing a notebook from a shop. For the next two years he travelled with her, posing as her father and repeatedly raping and abusing her. The book actually begins earlier, chronicling Sally’s hard childhood with an embittered mother, herself a victim of a runaway husband, then a suicidal second husband and painful arthritis. Sally is literally starving for affection, attention and validation, not to mention a fundamental right to live. Her sad tale of neglect, abuse and prolonged torture was hard, very hard to read. I spent 5 hours reading through it in one go and crying at regular intervals. I told myself I was reading for research and because I had to review the book.

But also, in this emotion-searing act of reading, I found myself tapping into parts of myself I haven’t accessed in a long time. A place that feels deeply and profoundly. Writers and other creative people exploit their own traumas and personal tragedies for their art and gain, yes. This means as one, I also need to frequently clean out the internal machinery and remind myself to honour the emotions and experiences and not just run them through the creative mill to churn out material.

I’ve already written a review of the book itself here. But it brings up so much more that I don’t feel able to articulate in words. I relived my own intimate tragedies while reading Sally’s story. I lived through the moments that felt like I would not be able to breathe again, experienced anew the situations that held me down choking and I thought I would never see light and the world again. The despair, the desperation, the anguish — all of it sprung forth again. And then, they faded. Do we keep picking at our scabs or do we keep sifting through the mess of our insides trying to make better sense of it? I don’t know.

But today has been better. I met a friend for lunch. We met when we were both 20, through some acquaintances. We lost touch but she found my blog almost a decade ago and we’ve had intermittent conversations on social media and occasionally in person when we’re in the same city. It’s a delicious adventure examining who you were and how far you’ve come, along with another person. From the 90s down to today, we talked about love, about selfies, about the writerly identity, about toxic masculinity, about accents, about personal expression. I told her about being in love at 20 and in devastating heartbreak around the time she met me. Later she said,

“Why did you put up with it? You are so much more intelligent than he is.”

This is a question I’ve answered to myself several times so I had the response. And in its telling, I found a bit more of myself. I hadn’t lost these pieces of me. It’s just as though they had been sleeping (or maybe I was, if it is possible to be partly asleep within the context of certain memories and abilities only). Parts of me felt like they were waking up.

Last week, The SXonomics Show performed its season finale of its three month run. It’s been an exciting, gruelling experience. And in all this growth, all this living, I’ve put my head down and worked hard so as not to get derailed by the hostility, the hatred and negativity around me. Several people I know came to the final show — a teacher who changed my life, a friend who I didn’t even know was a friend until she asked me to come to her mother’s funeral, a former love and a couple. This couple have been my people, as individuals and as a couple, for years now. But I seem to keep forgetting all these people, that they exist in only goodness and goodwill for me. It meant so much seeing them there. Another room in my head opening. It’s been there all along. I didn’t even realise when it shut firmly.

What's next for me?

A post shared by Ramya Pandyan (@ideasmithy) on


I guess I’m just glad these doors are opening and I’m waking up again.


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Farewell, Good Monk


If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Mirror Maker

Mirror Maker

The person who invented mirrors knew that people needed the shock therapy of truth, daily.

*If you liked this, follow my microfiction/micropoetry on https://www.yourquote.in/ideasmithy

Hair Clip

Evolution Isn’t A Race

Falling Off The Swing

I see boredom in my eyes. Weariness. Wariness. Cynicism. An unwillingness to believe that there can be more or better or nicer or greater. This is a different sort of fear.

Does a playground stop being fun
when you fall off the swing enough times
and realise
that it won’t kill you?

Still waiting.

Love, Learn, Live

You never stop growing. Never stop marveling at how little you knew last year or ten years ago. I wonder if it’s just me or everyone feels this way sometimes. Like I’m so different now than I was a few years ago, if I went back in a time machine, I wouldn’t recognize myself. Who was that stranger? Why did she think the things she did and do all that was done?

I wrote a post, years ago about loving silently, about the agony of caring for someone who didn’t know or seem to care. One of my commenters remarked that perhaps someone felt that way about me. I scoffed, so supremely arrogant in my ability to read people, so confident in my own sensitivity.

I spoke to someone I knew years ago. I had a dim idea that he was a ‘nice guy’ who was generally nice to everyone and so also, to me. I also realized, equally vaguely that we were friends for awhile and then we weren’t. There wasn’t a fight, a grand parting of ways but I realize now that that’s not everyone’s style. Some doors shut very gently and it’s years before you realize who walked out of them.

He was in love with me. That thought should send me into a thrill of delight. After all, it is terribly flattering and comforting, knowing that someone gave you that precious emotion. But it doesn’t. It makes me uneasy, restless. It’s not that I treated him badly. It’s that I was so caught up in trying to get my life to go on plan, protecting myself from anyone or anything that could derail it, that I never realized what was right in front of my eyes, every single day for months.

I always thought of myself as a good listener, but it seems I must not be. I listen, when it’s someone and something and in a way that I’d like to hear. But real listening is unfiltered, nonjudgmental, unencumbered by ego, isn’t it? He let me know enough of times. Not in wild, flourishy strokes which may have been my delusional idea of love at the time (well, perhaps even till very recently). But in quieter but definitive ways. The message seeped in occasionally but since it didn’t fit my plan, I found a way to not make it be by focusing on what I thought of as his indifference and commitment-phobia. I don’t even know if he was commitment-phobic but should that have mattered? Knowing someone cares for you, even if it may not amount to marriage, is not the worst realization in the world. And I might have treated him more gently. I really should have.

I’m so determined, so focussed, so driven by what I want. The world tells me that’s a good thing and rewards me with achievement at most times. But I’m only now realizing what I’ve given up all the time I’ve been doing this. I don’t know how many people or situations or things I’ve missed simply because they got in the way. I have no idea how many emotions, dreams and gentle words I’ve run over in hobnailed boots because I was chasing something else on the horizon.

I told him how sorry I was but he just smiled and said it was okay, that he had enjoyed knowing me. Really, I asked him, I’m so bossy and compulsive, must have been even worse back then. He smiled, ever so gently and said, no I never thought so. Then he asked me if I remembered the walks we used to go on. Who was I back then, who was that girl and what made people fall so much in love with her?

Realizing you were wrong, that you’re as capable of cruelty is an uncomfortable realization. But it’s not unbearable. Perhaps that’s growing up. I also always imagined that growing older was like a race, where you ran to a definitive finish line and then there was no more left to run. Turns out, there’ll always be further to go on this and I don’t have to do it all running. Stopping to look around might be a good thing for me to do.

This is to slowing down. To the poetry of beautiful walks and the excruciating gentleness of people who preserved the memories I was too busy to remember. And to the richness of life, always learning, ever growing.

Reverb 10.3: Life In A Moment

Another Reverb 10 prompt that made me think and think and come up with an answer I feel is less than satisfactory. But then again, I think the purpose of this exercise is to engage in such questions and be surprised by what comes forth.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

I first thought these should be the happiest moments and that gave me enough of grief (!) since there have been a wonderous number of them, especially in the second half of the year. But I realized I need to stop feeling guilty about that. Okay, so that’s the touchy-feely Chicken-Soupy bit of it out of the way.

As I started to type out this post, it also occurred to me to wonder whether happy moments are the only ones in which I feel alive. Undoubtedly the first six months of the year were shrouded largely in gloom. I felt like everything was slipping away, not just out of control but out of reach – health, family, friendship, career, creativity. Every single thing that mattered to me was vanishing into a black hole. I felt like I was being stripped away, layer by painful layer and what would be left of me in the end?

This was among the first things I talked to the boy about. He found it difficult to imagine having a crisis of identity of the sort I was describing but he was wise enough to conclude that it indicated our differences not my problems.

I don’t quite know if I felt alive in those moments. Actually it felt more like what I had thought of as my life was just flaking off, chipping off, peeling off in ugly, painful ways, the ugliest, most painful sensation being the fact that they came off so easily. I think this poem from my past captures the feeling perfectly. That time was about one person leading a crowd of others. This time, it was true of every single emotion, way of being, person and relationship. A winding down, a closing out, an approaching full stop.

And then there was life. Just as it is hard for me to understand completely what happened in my head in the first six months, it’s equally difficult to sort out what’s been happening since then.

Mornings are usually my favorite time of the day. I’ve stayed awake through nights often and the subtle start of each day is always one that lifts my spirits. It’s still an odd feeling, sometimes having to go to sleep right after that. But the glory of the moment hasn’t been lost.

Then there are specific moments when I’m swimming, a more recent occurance. I usually swim a number of laps, going one way freestyle or breast stroke. At the other side, I’m usually out of breath so I flip onto my back and float back, my legs gently pedalling and my arms loosely drifting along the sides of my body. The sky is usually a pale greyish-brown, the colour of ash as it falls off burning paper. I often see crows flying in V-formation overhead. I can’t hear the usual sounds overground, of voices, car horns and daily life. But I can hear splashing, bubbles floating by as other swimmers splash past, muffled sounds which is what water does to voices. And it feels like the water washes away the confusions and strains overlaying my thought process. Then the top of the club building comes into sight, which is when I know I’m nearing the edge of the pool and need to be careful not to bump my head. And as I touch the side and drift up to vertical place, I am ready to turn around and swim another breath-challenging lap. Or walk out of the pool into whatever waits for me next.

That’s alive indeed.

Crashing Point

I couldn’t sleep. I knew I had to. I stared in the direction of the wall in trepedition. I knew the clock’s hands were inching towards the crashing point. Perhaps they had already passed. I was too scared to switch on the light and check. If they had passed the point, then well, I would have crashed.

The crashing point is a concept rather than a position of the clock’s hands. When you are a kid, it’s about 43 minutes after your bedtime. At least it was for the kid me.
As you get older, you push the hands of the clock with your eyelids, daring them to crash on you. They never did on the rebellious me.
And I was duly packed off to bed to lie in wait for an extra 15 minutes for pushing bedtime by about that much. The crashing point knows when you’ve started waiting for it. At least mine did.

By the time you are an adult, you’ve gone a few rounds with the bedtime and you’ve lost a few of those bouts. Each time that happens, it is a surprise considering how infrequent it is, compared to how often you seem to win. And it’s a crashing defeat, please pardon the pun. At least it was for me.

The thing about the crashing point is that you really know where it is, after you’ve crashed a few times. That sounds almost Zen doesn’t it? There has to be a reason meditation always felt like a walk into the long, dark hallway with crashing point waiting at the end of it. And in my best times, we danced together, each one showing off our prowess at being able to return to our original places if we so desired.

Then I lost my crashing point.

A few years ago, I started to experience the frantic panic of not being able to get to crashing point at all. It wasn’t exactly insomnia. I woke up in the morning after all and that’s only possible if you have fallen asleep in the first place. And yet, the waking up felt like something else. Like sleep was an intercontinental cruise, a long, engaging journey whose start and end were clearly demarcated and noticeable. This, what I was experiencing, felt more like a tentative wade into dirty seawater and being yanked back, wet and sticky. That feeling wouldn’t go away for the rest of the day. The blurry, topheavy feeling of carrying an entire aeroplane on your head, being afraid to shake your head too much for fear you’d topple right over.

I don’t know now, whether that was necessarily a bad thing. The distance, the absorbedness, the sheer effort it took to just focus that numbed out most of what else was happening to me…I suppose that’s what people otherwise take to drugs and booze for.

The few times I did sleep heavily and well, I woke up feeling like my eyelids were stretched back a little too wide and they might tear in the corners. The day began bright and chirpy with a nursery rhyme ‘early to bed, early to rise’. And then I’d go into the day. A high heel grind into my bare toes. A toenail sluice right off and hang mid-way. A missed station. The sun burning hot, so hot, I had to yank my arm out of the sunlight or turn my face away. And then people. Faces. Expressions. Annoyance. Resentment. Pettiness. Fakeness. Joy, not for me. Jealousy. Bitterness. Bile. And as afternoon arrived, exhaustion.

And eventually, without thinking about it at all, I fell off the sleep bandwagon. Back into oblivion. Crashpointless. Up all night reading. Or so I said. Reading for awhile. Staring at the ceiling. A meditation on the dusty corners. Zen with a dust bunny. Lights out after awhile. Staring at the lights outside my window. An auto creaking its way down the road. Two in the a.m. and this city is still awake. I hated those kind of realizations so I took to shutting the window and curtaining it off even in the height of summer. The tchuk-tchuk of the fan was my background score for each nighttime drama.

Sometimes I’d replay a situation of the day. And then all over again with a different ending. Or a different twist in the story midway. And over again. And again. And again. And before I knew it, the other people were being replaced by childhood bullies, by ex-boyfriends, by screaming teachers or parents, by other people. Who says you need to sleep to dream? Waking nightmares are the real thing.

Who needs drugs, I wrote? Your body is the factory of chemicals, your brain the lab, the projector room and the control panel. I dosed on such potent fare each night. Occasionally I dozed as well, waking up to find my cheeks wet. It was delicious, the pain. And the hangover, devastatingly nauseating.

What I think is this. Living, it hurts. It heals as well but that takes time. And when your life is about bigger, faster, better, right now, there’s no time to even count your wounds or even stem the bleeding. And little by little you’re wearing away till all that’s left of you is a wraith. I’ve always had a talent for self-preservation, unconsciously, that kicks in when my masochism transcends adventure and goes into the realm of being serious. Insomnia was a drug. It had me out cold, just enough to be able to sustain the daily farce but inside a glass case of unfeeling. I would never have been able to bear it otherwise.

It has been awhile since I left behind the life I led, the person I was then. I find myself laughing much more. Sarcasm doesn’t come as often as it used to. And talking, really saying what I think or feel…I do and I wonder why I thought it so difficult. The world behaves differently too. People are nice. Or stupid. Sometimes I cry. A lot actually. And even in the middle of conversations or with other people. That’s news. That’s new. I never used to be able to cry, I think.

I spend days on end just stringing together moments the way kids put beads together. And then one day I can suddenly do everything and anything. A social outing. All the housework ever. Writing. In buckets and waterfalls of words. A blogpost. New chapters on the book. Short stories. And then a word document just because I’ve already posted and how would it look if I shot off 10 posts in a day after nothing for 10 days?

I sleep a lot these days. 12 hours sometimes. And then, 7 hours later, I’m drifting into deep sleep for another 10 hours again. I say, my body is making up for all that sleep deprivation of the years. But I don’t really need that kind of rest and relaxation, not after nine months, not after virtually zero exercise. It isn’t the heat, it isn’t depression and wanting to hide away. I think what it is, is making peace with the crashing point. Whoever called sleep, the little death or a sibling of death was seeing things the way I am. A little death every night allows you a new life every day. It is about succumbing, about giving in, about acceptance. Let go and tomorrow there will be a new person in a new world and how she takes the day is her problem. Today is over and not your worry any more.

I don’t know where the crashing point is. I’ve been staying up all night some nights and through the next day. Or sleeping for a couple of hours interspersed with bouts of talking and writing. Or slept through the hottest part of the day and awake at both of the cool ends. It’s around somewhere, I know it is. I won’t worry. It’ll happen to me. Perhaps it already is happening. The body can and does take care of itself. Its rhythms can even take tampering, just not micromanaging. The crashing point needs to have its own anonymity.

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