Category Archives: Writing Challenges

I’m sorry but I am not into Golden Age Thinking.

Three years ago, I was convinced that the perfect time for me to be born was the late 1950s, in America, where my parents were probably friends with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S Boroughs. I wanted to be a daughter of the Beats, and grow up and go to college in the 70s, so I could be a part of the First Wave Feminist Movement, and against the Vietnam War, and a bunch of other liberal political movements.

A couple of years before that, I wanted to be born in Edwardian England- Victorian Mannerisms were oh so charming, and a Darcy was definitely waiting to be introduced to my wit and intellect. Ah, such sweet, naive dreams.

Today, I realize, that I’m okay, the way I am- not as a person, but as a product of my time. The future is cooler than the past.

We are talking about Social Justice, but now in an inclusive manner. We are talking about Feminism, but Intersectionality is understood and valued. We are talking about so many different issues, about what the Government needs to be and do- about what is right, and whose right it is, and what is wrong, and is it really wrong?

We have made some excellent Scientific Breakthroughs, and I don’t just mean gadgets, I also mean Psychology, and History, and all the other Social Sciences. I also mean how some of us understand that if a particular group of people do terribly in a test, it is the test’s fault for not being inclusive (Culture Fair Tests), and not that the group is inherently inferior

We, as a species are better off today than we were before, especially in terms of violence– one of the most taken for granted myths is about how violence is increasing (but also, as I have argued before, are good enough?) And as far as I can see, we will only get better. We will talk about our collective conscience, and try to be as woke as posible, and come off better, on an average. For example, do you think the Pepsi Debacle would have infuriated so many people even a decade ago?

I was also a hardbound-second hand, classica kind of person a couple of years ago. But today, I am a Kindle person. You may say I’m a shitty person and technology is shit, etc., but it’s also so much cheaper, in the long run. If, like me, you read mainly during your daily commute, Kindle is really the answer. It’s so light weight, compared to a book, for one. Second, to co-passengers (and to yourslef), it is not annoying (Context: I live in Bombay, and the local trains here are so crowded, you’ll have someone’s armpits on your face all the damn time, and when you try to turn your page, you poke someone else, yes, but also your arms can’t move much. A Kindle only requires me to lightly touch it.) The Kindle has also helped me increase my speed of reading- so much so that what I read in a year a couple of years back, today, I read in a couple of months. I could go on, but this post is not about Kindle. You can say whatever you what about the touch and feel of a physical book, but technology is much much more practical. I mean, would you write all your assignments by hand than through a computer, because it feels nice? No, right? Letters feel amazing, but texting is just more efficient.

Everything is simply better now than before. The “old fashioned way” is simply not charming, or perfect. For example, monogamy is new. If you want to say romance is dead, by all means go ahead. But people have cheated on their partners since time immemorial. So what monogamy? What “romantic”? The idea of “staying in a relationship no matter what” is ridiculous, for example. Do you know what this no matter what implied? Abuse. Cheating. Toxicity. Thank God, I have the option of not staying in the relationship if it’s harming me in anyway. People are getting divorced now because now we have choice in moving away from abuse, now we have that option of opting out. We don’t need to be in a long marriage if we don’t want to.

Sometimes, like right now, I do wish I were in the Roaring Twenties so I could figure out Zelda Fitzgerald, and go to Jazz Clubs, and be a Flapper. But then I think, fuck, Hitler is gaining power somewhere and Europe is invading a thousand countries somewhere,and next decade is going to be The Great Depression. All this only if I were White and relatively privileged. If not, I’m fucked anyway. Also, my husband (I’d have a husband by now, or I’m an old maid) would have returned from war and is most definitely lost.

Thank God I have a phone and a blog to vent into. Thank God things get better in the future. I can’t wait for it!

P.S. If you are reading this, what do you think? I really want to know. Do you agree with me, or do you not? Why?

P. P. S- Y’all should read Better Angels of our Nature, and watch Midnight in Paris (I know I hate Woody Allen too, but that movie is my absolute favourite).

P.P.P.S- I know most of these examples are from WEIRD populations, but I couldn’t find examples that I was very familiar with from others. I have tried, though, but just not my best. I apologize.

P.P.P.P.S- It feels really great to be blogging long form + opinions on this site again. I’ve been blogging (setting up and trying hard to create content) on my Poetry Blog, where I’m doing NaPoWriMo currently. If you have been following me for long, you’ll know my earlier struggle with writing poetry. But now I’m trying extra hard you guys. Please check it out too. 

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Cliché

My frazzled brain in a knot
Overburdened by daily life shenanigans
Your long fingers impatient
Try to get me into frugal conversations

We’re like sunrise and sunset
And the beautiful shadows behind the trees
Never one without the other
But never once together

Your obdurance impertinent to my soul
A fluttering heartbeat, and an impatient tapping of fingers
In labyrinths of passion and intimacy
Afraid of promises of forever

We dwell through poetry and mysticism,
Society, Evil, Popular Culture and Feminism
Always arguring, never knowing why
Till we crash through our walls

I realize you’ve saved me
You’ve made me believe in everything
I once denounced as improbable
Like soulmates and love and chauvinism

Open your eyes to find me waiting for you
Hoping that you realize that I am the cliche
That you’ve been unconsously waiting for
To do those non cliched things with.

Libraries, Starlit night skies, dogs,
The birds and the bees, the rainbows and unicorns
Netflix, Spotify, Movies, and Poetry
Await us beyond our forced ignorance.


Phases of Us

The crescent moon shines bright in the night sky; starlight on the other side- poetic perfection. The cold wind blows right into the half open tainted glass blowing the scarf that I wear loosely around my neck.

I’ve always been fond of the passenger seat where I am presently seated. There’s a soft cushion, planted especially for me. My favourite songs playing on the stereo, and my new favourite person driving the car, headbanging at the right parts.

“Tell me about your dreams,” he says, “when you were ten.” I laugh at the randomness of the question.
“I wanted to be everything- a doctor, a professor, a lawyer, everything. I wanted to spend forever studying and be the person who knew everything. I wanted to see the world, and marry my best friend. I wanted the town to be proud of who I was. Oh, and start a math club and a reading club and host balls for kids my age.”
“Always an over-achiever, weren’t you?”
I laughed in response.

This road trip had become more about exploring him than exploring places. The people sitting behind us sound asleep, I had only him for company: our sleeping patterns creepily had synchronized. Probably not that creepy, since we spent half our day on the phone, and the other half texting, even at work. We even fell asleep together, and woke up together, even though we didn’t live together. It had been months now, and everybody was waiting for us to go official. But I knew that he needed to know something- not just know about it, understand it. It was my lifelong dream, and he needed to understand that to understand me completely. I knew we were close, and his question was my door. It was almost time.

“When was your first ever crush?” I ask. “I think kindergarten two. I used to sit with her, and she was feisty. She made me pick up everything she dropped, and taught me how to use bobby pins- don’t laugh! She also taught me some phrases in French, which she’d learnt from her cousin in Paris. I’d thought they paired us up because they wanted us to be married. So I thought I should lay groundwork, or its equivalent when you’re five.”
I only laughed, almost feeling warm at his disclosure.

“You know I want you to be my girlfriend, right?” he said, suddenly, his eyes intensely focusing on me for a moment, and smiling, before focusing his eyes back on the road.
“You know I want to be your girlfriend, right?” I ask, grinning.
“So story time?”
I nodded in response, and began.

I began telling him about my childhood- an overdose of Romantic Comedies, and fairy tales, and Disney Princesses. I told him about how at ten, I had found the boy I wanted to marry- my best friend for years to come. I told him about how awkward it got at a point when he was drunk and told me he’d drop his girlfriend if only I’d date him, and how we are soulmates and we don’t have to find other people. I told him how terrified I was about loosing our friendship, and even though he wasn’t prefect, he was, I’d claimed by twelve, mine. I told him about how we watched movies at our respective homes, and texted each other comments, about how we talked late into the night, only to meet up the next morning in school, more excited than ever. I told him about how he broke my heart again and again, by dating new girls, and telling me how I was always going to be his first girl, and how I almost died, when the new girl he was dating was the girl who spilled water on my English essay, and how he told me to get over it, because she’s pretty. I told him how I applied make up to school once to show him I was pretty too, but he laughed at me, and later told me I was beautiful, and the only reason I should wear make up is if I like it, not to show it off. I told him how he tied his hand and refused to use it for a day when I broke mine, and how he got down on one knee to propose best friendship for life, when he forgot to wish me on Valentine’s Day, because he was making out with some other girl. I told him about how we went out on a double date once, and the girl was horrible, but he stayed anyway, because I liked the guy I was with. I told him how he walked me home from school almost everyday, even if it meant it was a longer cut for him, and how I had to wake him up every morning, because he had a phase when he wanted to hear my voice first thing in the morning. I told him how his first favourite thing about me was that I could answer a question about Phases of the Moon, when nobody in our class could. I told him about his drug and alcohol problem, at fifteen, which I didn’t even try stopping him from, untill too late, because I had shunned him out to study. I told him about his manic stages, where he’d come home in the middle of the night to dance under the moonlight. I told him about how he proposed marriage to me one night- asking me to run away with him. I told him how he asked me to stay at home, while he worked and bought us food, and how offended I was, even though he meant that I deserved to be treated as a queen. I told him about how I thought it was my fault that he developed bipolar, because I should have seen it coming. I told him how shattered I was when the medicine made him an empty shell, and I almost wanted him to stop taking those, because I wanted his raw self back. I told him about my guilt of leaving him because I got into the best college in the country, and how my parents moved with me. I told him how I’ve never seen him since, and how our conversations on the phone are empty, and how it’s been almost a year since I’ve even asked him how he was. I told him how slowly I stopped differentiating his disorder from the person that he is. I told him how I stopped loving him the moment he called me a whore once when I told him about the guy I was dating at that time, even though I knew it was his disorder talking.

We were silent for some time, each lost in our own thoughts. “Do you still feel guilty?” he asked, almost in a whisper.
“Not anymore. I’ve learnt that it wasn’t just me. Living with a person with bipolar was difficult as it was, and I was too young to understand at 16 what the hell I was doing. I don’t feel guilty about walking away, because I knew it was pointless being in a different city and trying to act like it didn’t matter. Because, of course it mattered. There was nothing I could do, because the harm was done. And shunning him out was his idea, because we distracted each other too much. A month off to study seemed decent enough then, because we had the rest of our lives together, you know?”
He nodded.
“Do you see me differently now?” I asked, knowing full well the answer to it.
“Well, of course I do! How can I not?” he said “But that’s not making me like you any less, okay? If that’s what you meant.”
I sighed relief.

Next morning saw us holding hands, and making it official, finally to the relief of our friends.