How does this map work?

When I was young, I thought I knew my story. My story was that of successful escape, that ended with glory. I believed so strongly in my story, that it was my map. I thought I knew what the mountains looked like, and where the rivers curved. I had barely traversed any territory, so I drew the map from reference instead.

Sometimes I feel like it was a childhood waste, for as a I grew up, little by little, I realized that my point of reference was wrong. My point of reference seemed like it was a satellite, but I realized it was just atop an obsolete watchtower. My map seemed to crumble around me, and it wasn’t long before it crumbled under me. I drove myself into the comfort of a pillow, finding the only security I thought I could retreat to. There was a life before this map – much of it was a lie, but it can’t all be.

Turned out that I wasn’t all wrong about everything. Some of the mountains were hills alright – very tall peaks, albeit. The rivers didn’t swing only in the places where they joined something called the ‘deep, blue sea’. I joined the dots again. I get this better now, I thought. I showed the map to other people, and some of them nodded. “You’re becoming a better cartographer,” they smiled.

Am I?

Only, one way to know. I set out on the greatest adventure of my life.

Seasoned explorers have told me that maps are only right about so many things. Sometimes they don’t show you the full picture. But that’s, by no means, a reason to throw it away!

Now that I have drawn a better map, it’s time to learn how to use one. Can’t stop moving though; I’ll have to learn how to do it on the move. Challenge accepted.

On my terms alone.


“How to get rid of ego as dictator and turn it into messenger and servant and scout, to be in your service, is the trick.”

Joseph Campbell

I’m no longer responding, or even reacting, from a point of love. I’m responding, nay – reacting, from a point of hope, from being slighted, from my ego. Here I was thinking that I had tamed the dragon, was completely aware of its movements and whereabouts, but all this time, it was simply waiting to rear its ugly head. Except now, it is a face I have encountered a thousand times. I have seen it through the lens of fear, doubt, bondage, confusion, submission, repulsion, ownership… And yet it is here again, and for the first time I look at it, with recognition.

‘What does that mean?’ I asked myself for the 1000th time. I wasn’t obsessed with the subject; my ego was. This wasn’t my curiosity – my curiosity is only concerned with my present path. I only fight the fire that stands in my way these days. This fire was not even a blip on my peripheral radar, and yet, it had my attention akin to a forest fire surrounding me. This was my ego’s attention. My ego springing into action like it had a thousand times before, except this time, under the guise of a tamed instinct – you almost got me there, kid.

I think I’m ready.

I was going through some of my old pins – I love pinning quotes and poetry verses taken out of context to suit my own taste and whim. However, what I could relate to once so passionately,  I simply couldn’t feel anymore. Don’t get me wrong – I remembered them, and quite vividly, but I felt detached from all of those feelings with a whiff of nostalgia. I do not feel as vulnerable and heartbroken as I once did. It was a glorious time as I knew that it was rock bottom, and that I would build my way up from there – I knew not how and when, but I knew that I would.

Now, I feel able and courageous and strong and in control, in many ways the way I had dreamed of it, but I feel rather un-human. Like somebody who has been taught how to live, instead of somebody who thrives, whose soul is wild as I once knew mine to be, and whose life was on fire.

Now, I know I need balance. I would never go close to that sort of life if I could help it. It was miserable and shrouded in fear. It was lived with awkwardness and reticence and fumbling.

How do I put this – I’d like something to happen out of the sudden. 🙂

What more?

Moments before embracing drunken stupor,

A short while after episodes of coquetry, albeit with folks unconcerned,

To the tunes of a soulful ballad,

She thought a strange thought. An unexpected thought.

It washed over her like a wave, catching her by pleasant surprise.

She stood there watching the musing of her own subconscious.

She thought her thought without judgment.

A thought of effortlessly dying in his arms, with satisfaction.

She imagined a return to the velvet unruffled veneer that was a mystery to all, but her.

No hard feelings, no bonds of longing either,

Just a sense of eternal and fleeting love. Of returning home to-

Understanding. Affection. Sympatico.

What more could she ask for, when she had a place of love to approach the world from?

Thinking thus, she turned over and fell asleep.




Believing in your special.

I came across this term ‘geographical undesirability‘ and it made me feel pretty darn gloomy for a whole moment. It reminded of that time when a superior at work told me that I shouldn’t think I am not expendable, simply because I turned in some work that wasn’t upto the expected mark. It reminds me of being ruthlessly compared to others as a child, and feeling like I could be deemed unlovable simply because of other people being way too similar to me in some ways, and better than me in some others. It reminded me of my wounded ego that reared its ugly head whenever I was told that I was like somebody else- somehow, the auto-algorithm in my heads adds that up to meaning that I am not unique. I have nothing to offer that is solely mine to give. I have no beauty that may not be found elsewhere. And I don’t have that loving quality that is essential in some way.

Perhaps I have the most fragile self-esteem when it comes to being replaceable, about not feeling exclusive, but here’s what makes it ironic – a few months ago, a dear friend told me that I don’t try and make people (who have my attention) feel special either. Call it a shallow definition of risk, but that kinda vulnerability requires all my courage and strength, and through careful study of world and the people that inhabit it, I have concluded (even if only temporarily) that I shouldn’t have to make that effort for everybody.  That kinda connection is truly rare for me.

Which leads me to believe that I am an emotionally intense person. I am inclined, or stimulated in the least, to respond to the small things that catch my eye, that others miss. It pushes me to identify myself with the seemingly mundane in a personal way. While different people have their idiosyncratic ways of dealing with this sense of overwhelming-ness, I choose to either disassociate and put it in perspective among the larger scheme of things, or to isolate it to the extent of assuming randomness to be magic. Alas, neither amounts to the objectivity that my subconscious seems to seek.

Moulds in the business of falling in love.

You assure me that I can catch and hold your attention.

You say I’m “nice and pretty”

You tell me that you see me as a ‘free spirit’.

Am I to be gladdened, I wonder? Perhaps so, I consider politely.

I can take a compliment, but with no more than a ‘thank you’.

I can smile, and not hold a grudge against you. Neither, a corner in my heart.

I say that you don’t know how to appreciate a person, let alone a woman.

You don’t see me for my courage, my efforts to keep my hair groomed.

To have a sense of personal style, to wear the clothes that seem most like the colours of my moods.

I’d rather have you tell me that my scent reminds you of a burrow

Fresh, broken in, earthy, warm.

I’d rather learn that you are inspired by the efforts I make for my loved ones.

The lengths I go to weave their stories into my own,

Instead of keeping a count of them, reducing them to a statistic.

I’d rather hear you criticize my tendency to control, and struggle while at it,

Comment on my being guarded among strangers.

That I sometimes don’t make the effort or give you enough attention.

But that I make up for it by cooking you a warm meal.

I’d like to kick back with you on a park bench, instead of constantly being barraged-

-with gifts, feats aimed to make an impression, compliments…

Compliments so cheap, that only money can buy them,

While the soul withers and retreats.

And then you remark on my demeanor aloof.

I’ll tell you what, I don’t live for comments.

I live to be understood.


Can I lay by your side?

I find it funny, and pathetic that I have no control over how my day could go after a night’s sleep. This, despite all the discipline and self-control and my so-called right choices, which in the larger scheme don’t seem to be the best after all. Just a realistic dream of my beautiful, late grandmother leaves me tortured when I wake up… not because I’m reminded of her loss, but because I saw her suffer in living once more in my dream. It was so painful to think once more of the pain she died of- what a pity that we could do nothing but watch and offer sympathetic service, while she lived through it all, on medicines, on morphine. I cannot seem to let go of those scenes in my head, when she would cough, hardly able to breathe, when she would throw up, unable to keep her food down, when she was so weak and would scarcely be able to walk by herself to the dinner table. All that pain that we watched her undergo alone, comes back to haunt me in my dreams.

Those were the last dregs of my childhood; of my life as I knew it. Suddenly I find myself thrown into an unfamiliar landscape, similar in many ways to how it was before, but in many ways starkly different. It’s a different kind of isolation that I experience now. It isn’t one of never having known love, but to have loved and lost. It’s a feeling of powerlessness, instead of pity. It’s a sense of not being of this world in the present, such a sudden onset of detachment, and then after a minute, none of that – just the comforting coldness of reality. Go about breakfast as usual, smile at people you know, greet them, tell them about your weekend, go for walks, chatter over lunch, shop for groceries, text a friend, cook a meal, and try to fall asleep, knowing that your dreams can destroy you once again and you can’t always let it show. You can’t let it show because there’s only so long that you can dampen others’ spirits. You can’t let it show because to others, it is not real. It’s just very vivid memories haunting you senseless. And you are yielding to them, against your better judgment.

That was cathartic.