Tag Archives: Pain

50 Uses Of Pain 

50 Uses Of Pain

A blanket of imagined futures draped
across the glass floor of memories
Walk across, lover, you tiptoe
over the goosebumps you cause me
Tear me a piece of your soul
We’ll use the drips to write poetry

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The Cup That Fears

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The Music Of An Ex

Your voice still terrifies me. If anger were energy, you’re a nuclear reactor. But I only saw the gravity, I only heard the pain, I only felt your fear. And inside your head, for you, I became everything I could see. No wonder you hate me.

Now, every now and then, I listen to you, I watch you from afar. And what’s visible now is enough to scare me away. The trouble is memory is so weak at repelling. The minute I’m beyond the bounds of remembering, I come back to listen, to hear, to watch and to fear.

You wear the face of the unfamiliar, the strange, the uncomfortable. But your anger is known, like a well-remembered accident, a bone that never really healed and aches up every time it rains. It’s only ever raining when I think of you.

The scars on my arms have healed. And the lines on my face turned to pretty poetry, gritty poetry. But in the murky whirlpool of emotion, you still linger. How do you paper plane music? Because, yes, you were right, it is music.

What Do You Miss?

When you miss someone, you think of all that happened
And wonder,

Should I have said something then?
Should I have laughed openly at that? And raised hell over this?

It might have caused a fight, you realize, and say

That’s why I didn’t.

But if I had,
I wouldn’t have been left with things that should have been said, but weren’t
Or intensity unexpressed, worse unacknowledged
And the ugly truth, unexposed

And yet, is the truth ever ugly?
Or an emotion not deserving of expression?

You miss someone most when you miss things that didn’t even happen.


Another day in paradise,
without you,
Is just another day,
for me.

But for you, maybe,
It’s room to breathe,
A place to think
A time to be.

What’s odd is that, in every minute,
in every possible way,
You’re always, completely you.
With or without me.

And I wonder then,
If, to matter to you,
Jailer or Alchemist
Is all I can ever be.

You can never lose.
For, of all things I could,
Those are things I could never be.

The Girl At The Bus-Stop

I particularly remember the details of a particular journey. It stands out in the multitude of other daily routes and frequent destinations that would checker the rest of my working life.

I used to take an AC bus to work each morning where I was spared of the usual Mumbai crowd. My favorite seat was the last one from the back, on the right side. Its window was not interrupted by a frame, the seat itself didn’t lend itself to additional bumpiness on account of being situated over a tyre and it was far enough from the initial seats which would get taken by the occasional non-regulars.

These were my early days of employment and all I had was a battered Walkman to keep me company. In fact on most days, I didn’t even carry a cassette, choosing to listen to the radio instead. Yes, I didn’t even have a phone with a radio on it.

Once I sat down and bought my ticket, I’d settle my handbag to a corner, arrange my Walkman on my lap, adjust the blinds just the way I wanted and close my eyes. The music and the motion lulled me into a gentle semi-slumber, of the sort that I, like most other Mumbai commuters would perfect over the next few years as a substitute to the regular sleep we missed. Exactly three stops (and 7 minutes) away from my destination, my eyes would fly open and I’d awaken fully refreshed. Just in time to switch off and pack away my Walkman, gulp down my entire waterbottle, tidy up my appearance and make my way to the door. The routine never varied.

On one particular day, I couldn’t sleep. Traffic jams and the ensuing horns blaring, even if they were much filtered by the capsule I was in, kept me awake and irritable. And then we passed one of the bus-stops on the way and my head jerked around, almost 360 degrees. At the bus-stop across the road, I caught a passing glimpse of a tall, slim girl with long hair in a ponytail, clad in a bright red top of some sort and jeans. I absorbed all of this without fully realizing why I had turned. It took me a few minutes to piece together with memory before coherence happened.

The ex- had spent much of our time together, playing mind-games and one of his early techniques was ‘My ex-girlfriend was hotter than you, thinner than you, smarter than you, better than you’. It was the most torturous routine I have ever been subjected to and its memory lingered on far beyond the death of that relationship. For every minute in that relationship and a long, painful time after that, I felt ugly, undesirable, unimportant, unintelligent and unlovable. Inadequate. I had never met her and she made me feel terrible about myself.

I struggled to make my peace with my past for a long time after. But I found I couldn’t stop obsessing over what I had heard about this girl. I even tried to get in touch with her, tried calling her just to be able to hear her voice. I wanted to hear a lisp in her speech, one mispronunciation or perhaps spot just one single mole on her face. Anything at all to let me know that she was not perfect. It haunted me for a long time.

All of these memories came flooding back. One time, when we drove past this bus-stop on his bike, he had whipped around and with a practiced solemnity declared that he thought he had seen the love of his life standing there. He refused to turn back or say anything more and after all this while, I suspect it was no more than a ploy to keep me troubled and under his control. Yet, I succumbed to every one of his ploys and tossed about in the black sea of self-loathing and worry.

The girl I had spotted fitted his description to some extent. What was she doing in Mumbai? Was she still living with her aunt as he had claimed? I sank back in my seat, the flood of unwelcome memories overwhelming me. And suddenly I just felt very tired. Very, very tired of hurting so much.

I closed my eyes in despair.

And that’s when I was suddenly conscious of the sound in my ears. The radio had been playing all along, only I had been too caught up in the moment to notice. And the words I heard as clearly as if someone was telling me gently, very gently,

Jin zakhmon ko waqt bhar chala hain, tum kyon unhe chede jaa rahe ho?

(The wounds that time had undertaken to heal, why pick at, all over again?)

When I finally opened my eyes, I realized that it could not have been the same girl. Or perhaps it was. Either way, it did not matter.

In the past two decades, I’ve had a troubled relationship with faith and God. There have been turbulent storms that have broken my belief. And then there have been islands of reprieve such as this one. I have no other name for them.

The hurting didn’t stop immediately. But at least I stopped continuing to hurt myself. I think I just needed someone – something – to let me know that it was okay to stop punishing myself. I made my peace with it at one level back then. But closure happens in stages, little by little every minute, some visible, some not so much.

Some time ago I thought of her again and made contact. She didn’t reply. And it occurred to me that if I had been in her place and received such a letter from a stranger, I would have responded out of empathy or at very least, pity. I know I would have because I already have, in another case. She didn’t and I think that makes me a better person than her. It may be very weak, it may just be rationalization but for what it’s worth it makes me feel better.

In a life starved of belief, when you’re being tossed about in confusion, you grab onto whatever you find and hold on for dear life. Sometimes even a stray line from a song will do.

Goodbyes & Other Wounds

Not a good time. Not a good mood. December always gets me down. Even though the fabulousness of my life must make me seem like a crank for complaining. It’s too many people, too many expectations, too much to consider and keep track of.

They say a man (person) is known by the company he keeps. Personally I always thought that was a tad unfair. After all, I enjoy the company of a wide variety of people, across age and interest groups. What does that say about me? That I’m fickle? Or that I like variety? But I realised when I was screaming my heart out this week, what that really came to. There’s warmth in this friendship, genuine warmth, at least I thought so. And yet, more than once I’ve had a chance to be pained by the people she hangs out with. Are some people natural filth-magnets? I surely don’t want to be part of such a circle. And so I resign. Even though I have no problem with her as such, I certainly have a problem with the riff-raff she chooses to hang out with and forces me to rub shoulders with, at every conceivable social occasion.

Goodbye dear friend, I’m sorry for running away this way but your ugly world scares me.


Another adage – a man is alive so long as he is remembered.

The Best Friend is moving overseas, the visa approval finally having come through. Somehow I feel like a part of me is drifting away forever. The last connection I have to my distant past, the person I used to be before this cynicism and visibility. The person I was before the fractured dreams, before those dreams were even conceived…all of them go with her. If there’s no one who remembers what you really sound like, do you have a voice anymore?

Goodbye dear friend, carry my cherished self with you. I know you’ll take care of it well. This is not a world for that gentleness anymore.


I snapped at another friend for calling me a name I didn’t like and I told him not to pick on me in my rare moment of emotion. He replied,

This isn’t a rare moment of emotion for you. Its a rare moment of this particular emotion of helplessness. And, I’m not enjoying you feeling so.

You know why that was striking? Because he pinned down the exact thing that’s bringing me so much agony. I hate this, hate, hate this feeling. Helplessness is not a place I’ve ever been comfortable in.

What am I doing? The writing is not going well, not at all, I’m afraid. I don’t want to know that I’m good, all I care about is that I’m not good enough. It may just be a matter of time but I’m afraid I don’t have that time. Or perhaps I do but I don’t think I can live on these shifting sands for much longer. I need terra firma beneath my feet and if that means I bury my dreams and sell out, I probably will.

Goodbye dreamer-girl, there’s no place for you in this gritty world. Your wings are no substitute for the strong legs I need to stay put. I’m going back.

Telling Secrets

If I had to write a PostSecret card, it would be a photograph of this old house and caligraphed over it in red ink,

I loved you only because I didn’t think I deserved any better.

Sometimes, telling a secret can be cathartic. I hope.

The Whole Tooth & Nothing But The Tooth

I had a wisdom tooth extraction earlier this week. Don’t haha (or heehaw) at me, you merciless thugs! Everyone I’ve been talking about this, before the appointment, has insisted on regaling me with their own horror stories.

My cheeks swelled up like a chipmunk’s and then someone came and pinched my cheeks affectionately! – @shaaqT (Facebook friends, there’s even a photo illustrating this moment at twestival; check out her demonstration and my horrified expression!)

I couldn’t feel one side of my face for a month! – nameless person at twestival

My tooth was embedded in a bone so the dentist has to drill it out! – @melodylaila (which comment lost me my appetite and I had to look away from the delicious tray I had amassed at Candies)

Mine cracked and left behind half inside the gum that had to be root-canaled out! – Don’t even remember who (the ghastly ghost!)

Can you tell that I have really gleefully horrible friends?! But as Baz Luhrman (playing in the background) says, advice is a form of nostalgia. I will dispense with my own now.

The extraction itself was relatively simple in my case. That’s not compared to the horrendous accounts of my friends, that is harking back to my childhood of frequent earaches (my ENT specialist really should have given us a ‘Preferred Patient’ embossed card) and other pains in the vicinity of the crunchers. I’ve had cavities, numerous extraction and the cherry on the cake – braces!

Sometime remind me to tell you about the horrors of being an orthodontist’s patient. Orthodontists are like dentists, only worse, a hundred, twenty-thousand times worse!! Mine had a sense of humour as well, which is really the worst thing for a person to have, especially when he has both his hands inside your mouth and is leering over your scared face because you can’t laugh at his jokes. What’s more, you’re afraid he’ll be offended if you don’t laugh and he might give you an inadvertent nip with his evil-looking pliers…on the wrong tooth!

And then there is the orthodontist’s office, strewn as it is with foul-looking casts of other people’s teeth structures, sculpted in green plaster of paris. It boggles the mind, how he manages to identify which one is yours and fish it out from amidst that dental array. Never mind the horrors of mouth-roof-plates (to ensure that the teeth did not go back to being Bugs Bunny-like on removal of braces) and the *shudder shudder* torture of rubber bands (hooked on to lower-back teeth braces, brought forward to string onto top-front teeth). Imagine the agony of one of those rubber bands snapping right inside your damn mouth!!

Suffice to say I have gruesome stories of my own regarding tooth-doctors and their ilk. Which is why I say I survived this extraction reasonably well. Except I started burning up with a fever almost the instant I stopped taking painkillers and antibiotics. Hmph, I never thought I’d have to sing “You give me fever” to a piece of calcium my own body created!!!

Anyway, I’m going to be brave soldier with stiff upper lip and all (not that I have much of a choice, all local-anaesthetic things considered…). It tickles me to think of having a wisdom tooth extraction coincide with my hitting 30 and all the resolutions that have followed. I was a mature adult at 16, an ambitious go-getter by 21, I never did the silly-young-thing thing. I feel like my body is also accepting and giving me the full g0-ahead. Now that I’ve lost my wisdom, I can get down to the business of being all silly and giddy-headed with gusto!!

Oh and by the way I have another appointment next week to extract the other tooth. I’m still vaguely confused over whether we have two or four wisdom teeth. I read an article online that said that excessive calcium could create even more wisdom teeth, the highest record being someone with 12 wisdom teeth!!! Gaaaaah, all the more reason to be silly, giddy-headed and errm…..avoid milk like the plague!

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