What do you do when you don’t want to do anything?

What do you do on the days when you don’t feel the magic, when you don’t feel magical and everything feels and nothing feels, and there are no feels, I don’t feel – all gone, drained like rain out of clouds, soil out of cliffs, the will to live out of a life?
What do you do, when nothing inspires, when you are unmoved like the wind on a sticky stifling sunny day – life shines bright, so bright that it blinds and cripples and you are crawling your way into the dark for some shadow for some shade for some escape from this relentless brilliance that hurts more than enlightens?
What do you do when you don’t want to do anything? How radical is the idea of inactivity?
Of just laying on the bed and taking up space , staring at the ceiling, or listening to the song of your heart, as time flows by, and you listen to its song – you listen. You do nothing. You just stare, probably waiting for the day to end because tomorrow has to be easier and this day is stained anyway. Even though it’s only 1.25 in the afternoon.
Only 1.25? You squeal.
Just 1.25, I repeat.
So many 1.25s have passed us by, but today it feels like time was a bee caught in amber, slow then stuck then fossilised.
Just one of the days, where inactivity feels more natural than moving about, seeking for something to do. You’ve given up today, trying to fill your days with action. Enough, already. Not today. I can’t. I quit.
They say don’t give up
No one talks about rest, and the nothingness that accompanies it. What are we without verbs? Phrases. Incomplete. Only a subject and an object. A verb makes a sentence a sentence, that which is whole complete perfect. What’s a phrase to a sentence? We are taught to aspire to be a sentence, treating a phrase as something of a passing grammatical phenomenon, to be taught because it exists but also to tell you, you mustn’t be this way.

***

I just read Safiya Nygaard’s blog explaining her absence from video and these words from her blog struck me
“I don’t know if it’s just the feelings of isolation or the growing sense of failure or what, but pretty much since quarantine started, and we’ve been separated not only from our families but also business contacts, employees, and general daily routine – I feel like I’ve fallen into my own thoughts and emotions, and it’s taken me months to figure out how to get myself out of that hole. I’ve had such a hard time waking up in the morning, getting out of bed, getting my day started, and feeling productive. It feels like what little structure and routine I had just flew out the window, and the days started melting away. “

I felt that. I’ve been feeling a scream develop inside of me for so long now that my body seems waiting for a release, to scream so loud that I burst, dissolving into the air like stars. I’ve been feeling so frustrated.

I tried to blame the Instagram algorithm. I tried to blame those accounts following me for not being like other followers of other highly engaged accounts. I tried to blame hormonal imbalance. I tried to blame the blooming moon. I tried to blame so many things as a way to name the cause of this massive discomfort that hasn’t left me. I’m so sick and tired of being uncomfortable in my own skin. So sick and tired of everything. I don’t want to be productive. I don’t want to write. I don’t want to read. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to text. I don’t want to call and say hey, I want you to get me without me uttering a word, interpret my silence as you please. I don’t want to do anything. I just want to dissolve. Disappear. To run away from this growing sense of disappointment that’s eating away at my soul. I am sick unto death of feeling envious, resentful of those that appear more successful than I which I equate with happiness. They all seem to have it working so well for them. I seem bitter because I am. More than that, I’m tired of running so hard, that my head hurts, my lungs burn, and my legs are about to cave in, taking away the rest of me along with it into one heaving heap. I feel like I’m waiting for that happen just because it’ll be something in this one long stretch of unbreakable time. Maybe I’m just that bored but I am actually looking forward to give exams just so I’ve got something to do.

***
As I’m writing this, I’m actually thinking of converting this into a post for the blog because I’m sick of Instagram. I loathe it with such intensity, like a religious zealot hating on alcohol and women. I loathe it, because I believe it to be the source of my misery while failing to acknowledge that it’s not alcohol that’s problematic but what it brings out of people, either mellowing the rough or roughening up the mellow. But it’s crazy, that while trying to write for myself, a part of me is also thinking about sharing it online for the world to see, anticipating the responses – few and sparse – and once again the cycle repeats. Art – content – no comment – dejection – art – repeat.
At Least there is art at the start and end of it. Art is an end. Art is the means to my end. Art is my means to the end. What is the end? Peace. Truth. Understanding.

***
From my window, I can see a lone star. But if I lean in, take the effort to bow before the window, I can see the moon, slowly waxing its way to its own fullest glow. As though, all of us seem to look up to the sky only when the moon is this way. But when she’s disappearing into the dark, she’s truly in the dark. The sky is empty, and we don’t care to notice the stars, the clouds, or even the faint outline of the moon. She never left. But to our eyes, she did because if one isn’t active, turning the sky into a carefully curated performance, informed by posts, and stories, the world forgets you. You are lost to the dark. But the same fickle world wouldn’t hesitate to take multiple pictures and sing paeans of your return to form. Your comeback, ah what a return! That’s what we want of ourselves. An arrival with a bang, a blast, that stops the world in its fidgety rotations and revolutions. But why all this talk of arrival, when there was no departure? Is disappearance an exit, or a magician’s anticipated performance? Must it even mean a thing? Must it be a thing?

***
Good for you, dearest Moon. While you are en route to becoming the stuff of poems, I am feeling like an amavasya night. Dark, with the promise of regeneration and healing.

***
I’m tired. Bye.

I am caught in a blizzard

They Are The Same (The Left Hand Of Darkness), 2018. By Vanessa Lemen
10 min read 

I am caught in a blizzard. The snow is frantic white petals swirling with great turbulence, as though in an agitated snow globe. This is my blizzard, and I am heaving my exhausted bones across a dark mountain on a dark night, where clouds have firmly sealed all sight of light and respite. I am still heaving, still determined, ploughing one heavy foot after the other on the snow choked land, snow raining down on me, one soft feather after another and another and another, until I am smothered. I can feel the light leave my eyes, but I push, despite the shrapnel like wind, biting and tearing at my clothes, my skin, my bones, turning warm blood into icy glass. I know that if I stopped, I will shatter. Right here. I shuddered, as if the relentless shivering wasn’t enough.

Photo by Katrin Koenning

I am still climbing – but where am I headed? I don’t see the way. I don’t know where I am going. All I know is I am in a snowstorm on a dark mountain on a dark night, the darkness setting into my soul. And then I think of faith.

What is it with faith and mountains? Moses had to climb Jabal Musa to receive the Ten Commandments. Kedarnath, Vaishnodevi are pilgrimages located atop mountains, informed by an arduous trek, gruelling weather conditions; a test of will. Still people do it. Is God, then, someone removed from the world? Man makes the ascent, defying gravity; defying the numerous aches blooming and sprouting on the body; defying the mind that says “stop! Enough, let me rest”; defying every groan, growl and grinding pain, only to learn that at the end of the mind, there is God. When the mind ends, when the body fades, God begins, God happens. Call it runner’s high, call it the thin air on the mountains, call it will.

I will fight.

I will not give up.

I will do it. 

I will.

The defiance and strength of spirit – at that moment, man transcends. He is no longer dirt, but something more. 

Faith will move mountains. 

On one such unmovable summit, I am moving my unmoving body. Will is the last ember that refuses to die, no matter how many freezing petals fall on it. It refuses to be defused… 

… suddenly I fall, face forward, on the soft snow, the wind tearing at my soul. I know, I know, that if I don’t get up, I am doomed. This will be a period on my jagged sentence. I close my eyes, the snow numbing my already numb face –

My eyelids are battling, trying to push my body, foolishly attempting to shove the snow away… 

Stars! My eyes zap open! I think of stars, and I am overcome by this inexplicable desire to see them. I must! I will!

Photo by Katrin Koenning

I turn my body around to lie on my back which is already in preparation for death’s warm embrace. Slowly, ever so slowly, I am on my back, as vulnerable as a separated petal, the wind jabbing daggers into my face. My eyes are fluttering, but I am determined to catch a glimpse of the sky. The heavens must witness my defiance. I wanted God to see me, and to show Her that look! Look at me! I am still fighting, see? I am still here! Bring on the storms, the plagues, the very fire of hell – I don’t care! I can take it! BRING IT ON! 

However, what was a scream inside, escaped as a sigh. Death was near, dangerously near. 

I closed my eyes. I wanted to cry. If only I wasn’t frozen inside! How much can an ember thaw?

When from my cold cold lips, a surprisingly warm warm prayer escaped me: “I surrender”. I imagined a ball of fire shooting up from me to the heavens. A distress signal. I am here. 

Photo by Katrin Koenning

I surrender. I surrender. I surrender.

I leave it all to you. I came half way, more than half way, and now it’s your turn to go the distance. 

I thought of the number of times God met me halfway, the number of times God covered more than halfway, walked thousand steps for one step of mine. I smiled, a sprig of warmth breaking through the cold tar, my dying body. 

I surrender. I surrender. I surrender.

I leave it all to you. 

What was mine anyway? I thought of my selfishness, my anger, my hatred, my jealousy, my envy, children of Fear who governed me, nursed me, raised me; the numerous times I broke hearts, inflicted wounds, acting on the commands of Fear – I thought I was doing it out of self-righteousness, out of the need for maintaining control – who was I fooling? When Fear rears her head, who is the charmer, who is the snake? I spent so much time hoarding. I wasted so much time being a miser – unwilling to share my knowledge, my time, my attention, my love, me. I gave freely to those who did not value me. I was stingy to those who did. I made mistakes. I was mistaken. I hurt. I was hurt, till I became a waking walking wound, living in the stench and pus of this unhealed existence. My mental and emotional immunity had become so low that I attracted every possible infection, coming close to ending my life on numerous occasions. 

What was mine anyway? Can I carry validation, applause, approval, praise, money with me on my journey to the afterlife? 

What was mine? What is mine? This body that I rubbed into exhausted dust? This body, home to my soul, but treated worse than a homeless stray. All my life I strove to keep a white knuckled grip over life, that even if Life tried to free herself and knocked me out in the process, I refused to let go.

I surrender. I surrender. I surrender. 

Heavenward or earthbound, I am out of my hands. What intellect, what ego, what mind, what body, what are these anyway, when in the battle for life, with Death just a breath away, they do not serve me – did they ever? To some extent, yes, but not as much as I gave it credit. In the name of reason, I lost count of the number of times I numbed myself to the voice of my intuition. This ego – an angelic demon, a demonic angel. This mind – O Milton and his words: “the mind is its own place and in itself, can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven” – I have lived in Hell all this while. Death, death would be a respite, no?

IsurrenderIsurrenderIsurrender… no. I must not fear. I battled, did I not? I battled myself, MY SELF, my mind, my ego, all that I called mine, and did not call mine, and wanted to claim mine – I battled, did I not? Till the very end? So I will battle fear too. I will die brave. I will die calm. I will die, fearless. 


Thus, I say slowly, calmly, humbly,

“I surrender. I surrender. I surrender. 

With my eyes closed and heart open, I surrender.

With forgiveness and love, I surrender.

With gratitude, I surrender. 

With humility, I surrender.

With my entire being, that was never mine, ever yours, I surrender. 

I surrender…”

Gently, I open my eyes. 

The winds rage but the snow has stopped. The sky is clear. I see the stars. Brilliant, magnificent stars. Luminescent, splendorous stars. Twinkling, laughing stars. I laugh and I cry, and then the glass shatters and I sob and sob and sob, the stars with their loving warmth caressing my cold heart into life, the tears thawing my frozen face – 

I begin to melt. Death retreats, but not before kissing my forehead with a warmth that took away my fear of her. Death is ready for me and I am unafraid for her. But not today. Today I am melting. I am thawing. The stars are shining brightly, and I have eyes to see them. The winds are calming, and I am alive to feel them. 

The night is alive, and so am I. I surrender. Faith moved my mountain. I surrender. I am alive. I surrender.

I surrender. I surrender. I surrender. 

They Are The Same (The Left Hand Of Darkness), 2018. By Vanessa Lemen

You know you are in love when his favourite songs become yours

You know you are in love when his favourite songs become yours. No, not just your favourite songs. Yours. They become yours, just like his smiles, his words, his “humour”, his eyes, his heart. All yours. 

The Half of It, directed by Alice Wu

All mine.

So when I find myself listening to “Pachai Nirame”, whose Hindi version “Saathiya” is his favourite, I know I am deep in love.

Listening to Hariharan, then switching tabs to watch a young Madhavan and Shalini dancing and swaying and looking at each other with those eyes…

And then shifting to Sonu Nigam and Vivek and Rani – the same music, but the different everything else, and still the same feeling, that feeling…

Love!

To attempt pinning Love down in words! Wow, the audacity. But here goes: 

Love is attempting to pin Love down in words.

Love is… seeing couples with masks lowered sitting on a pavement, shrouded by trees and envying their luck because damn they get to be in the same city and we don’t, but still feeling happy for them, ‘cause why not?

Art by: Giovanni Esposito

Love is planning the after of “happily ever after”, of the films we’d watch together – Alaipayuthey and Saathiya, back to back because I just must compare even if you don’t want to, because analysis runs in my veins even if all you want to do is marvel at the genius of AR Rahman and the beauty of love, and I’ll watch your eyes light up because music is your life blood, and as you wave your arms over that beat and that part in that song I’ll reach up to kiss you not to shut you up but to taste your excitement. And also to shut you up.

Love is some days feeling the long in long distance, some days the distance in long distance, and some days feeling the relationship in long distance relationship. 

The yearning of lovers! Ooof! I don’t yearn for you though. I want to consume you, devour you, eat you. I am hungry for you, and I won’t stop at kisses.

Love, love, love – when the love songs, sad songs, break up songs, all songs become a part of our language, each lyric bearing a memory, that when played, brings smiles, exclamations and recalls secret connections. Even if I were to tell someone else that you know this beat here and that melody there and that song reminds me of such and such with him, you won’t get it. You weren’t there. You are not him. No one can be like him.

Love, then, is him. Love eats the veggies that I don’t like off my plate quietly without a fuss; Love knows the veggies that I don’t like in the first place; Love knows my favourite albums, musicians, writers, books, smells, places; Love safely keeps with him my dreams, fears, prejudices, and more importantly, Love becomes my safe place where I can be, unfiltered and unadulterated, simply, purely, unabashedly me. 

But Love is also not him. Love is free falling backwards with eyes closed. Love is surrender. Love is trust. Love is faith. Love is God. Love is the Universe. Love is you. Love is me. In choosing to love him, I discover pockets of undiscovered love in me. In recognising the barriers that keep me from truly loving him, I discover my own want of love. In learning of my own want of love, I swim deeper and deeper into myself, towards Love, the life source embedded in all of us, and upon seeing it, touching and embracing it, I let Love in, into myself –

Frances Ha, directed by Noah Baumbach

Listening to “Snehithane Snehithane”, a language I do not know, I think to myself: isn’t Love a language we do not know? But I feel that song. So isn’t Love a something beyond language, beyond intellect? 

So here is how you know you are really in love: when you have swum into the depths of yourself, discovered Love within yourself and chose to give it to yourself and the world around you, that even if there is no lover to give, you are still in Love because Love loves you, Love is you, you are Love and if some one does come along, they become your saathiya, a companion on the journey of love, but not someone whose role is to complete you because you are Love, and Love is whole, wondrous, magical, beautiful, and all Love demands is to be shared. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, directed by Stephen Chbosky

All Love demands of you is to share and be shared. 

Crazy, no?

Have you ever thought about how easy it is to end it all?

Content Warning (CW): Suicide

Have you ever thought about it, how easy it is to end it all? A snap…a snap of the mind, a coming together of resolve, like ants clustering, a quick gathering, all synapses tingling in one bright light…and then nothing? Standing on the terrace, looking down, seeing a ghost, a hallucination of your body, the whoop, the rush, the fall, the bones shattering, an agonized thumb, the blood, the eyes glazing, glazed, gone, the ants, the flies hijacking the corpse, you are a corpse now, and then the discovery the people, the comments, the concern, the baffling why why why, how how how, why WHY why WHY?! And then comes the wailing, perhaps; the pain, perhaps. The living go on living, the dead go on dying. And then a facebook post, an IG post, my words read discussed hunted for signs, perhaps; or worse forgotten lost never spoken.

Art by Cody Rocko
Art by Cody Rocko

I don’t know, but it’s so easy, so easy to snap. Look, the fan, humbly circulating air; tomorrow, maybe the home for my body to hover still; a suspended timeline – Time can stop still. 

That knife, to draw a trickling red line on throbbing green lines, a criss cross, Jesus on the cross didn’t look as pretty. 

So many ways to cross the line, to cross out the line, to cross over the line towards annihilation. Just so easy, a snap is all it takes. 

Art by Cody Rocko

What held you back today? What holds me back?

Sometimes though, I am tired of being in control, of holding this body together, this embodied, pulsating life from disembodying, because I know how easy it is. The easy lure of the siren song to give up the ghost that has tried life and is tired of trying again and again, a moth that beats itself against a window again and again and again and again and again and againandagainandagainandagainandagainandagain… ENOugh… 

It is so hard to stay in control, to keep your head above the water, when all I have to do is bury myself in rocks to pull me down and down and down, never to surface and face the world up there. 

It’s that easy. Just a snap, a snap of the fingers, to self destruct. 

But I don’t. Not today. Because I am scared that it is that easy. The hard thoughts, these thoughts, their easy entry in my head, it scares me. I am scared. So scared that I begin gasping for air. Breathebreathebreathebreathebreathe.  And these gasps tell me I don’t want to drown just yet. No no no no. It is easy to snap, oh lord, and rest with the restless dead. But living is the hardest part! And fortunately or unfortunately, I have always been a hard worker. I want to live because I am scared of the consequences of snapping, because I am scared of being another suicide statistic, because I am scared for not having tried harder, and fear whips the battle for living into a wild bloody frenzy, such that I just must hold on.

Breathebreathebreathe breathe breathe breathe breathe…   

I entered this world with a gasp; I return, with a cry for life.

Art by Cody Rocko

2019

The country is burning. I uninstall Instagram. I uninstall Whatsapp. I consider deactivating my Facebook. 

The Government kills Internet somewhere. I kill my online presence.

Information smothers me. Whoever said half knowledge is a dangerous thing didn’t foresee the age of Internet. 

Assam, Kashmir, Sudan, Hong Kong, China – states, States – the state of the Earth – burning up up and up in smoke, and its fumes kill me.

I have run out of compassion, care, comments – it’s such an overkill now, I can scarcely breathe. There’s just so much misery. Students on the roads when they should be in school. Time’s Person of the Year is a 17 year old child woman. In my backyard – I don’t, there are too many people fighting for too little place – in my metaphorical backyard, people hurt, and choose governments that hurt. Some people fight for the power to choose their leaders, some misuse that choice, some don’t know how to use that choice. 

Women continue to burn, hopes continue to be ignited. 

Good days are promised while the old say, “oh but this is nothing! We have seen worse!” Was there ever a good time?

We are nothing people fighting nothing wars that reap nothing results all the while adding to the ever growing stack of folders tucked amidst other folders that are rotting and stinking in that old, ill maintained, poorly lit office of the long forgotten Registry of History. The lone clerk maintaining the Registry is a schizophrenic man – memory plays tricks on him, he tricks memory – both play tricks, and the maintenance is one massive trick because there never was a maintenance, never a History, but histories – plural, always plural. 

I see everyone saying we are in the midst of History – of course we are! Time is a snake that eats itself, Pac Man style, the moment consumed is past, the Moment shat down on pages, art, memory is History; History is shit; not all can be humus used for farms or building walls for homes or fuel; most just stinks – but what if I don’t wish to participate in the making of History? What if I don’t understand it? I wish no part in this hashtag blitzkrieg. I don’t want to be another number adding to the trends. Neutrality is a sin – add that to the New Commandments. But what if I am too tired to try and educate myself and take sides? There are just too many wars, too many fires to quell and I can’t – I have run out of compassion. Even these walls of History, once home, once at home, feels tall and imposing, the foundations jittery ready to collapse on my puny self; even this food of History chokes me, poisons me – I have diarrhea, I am bulimic, I am dead. 

I thought revolutions will shape me; the only revolutions I care for is that of the Earth’s around the Sun – ripping off the page of Time, claiming a New Year, a new start, and hoping it continues, hoping it lasts, hoping that hope endures in my heart. 

Countries are burning. The Earth is burning. I am too cold to give a shit.