A Letter from my Childhood Room

You were ten when we first met.

You were fighting with your sister for me

I was the bigger room

It was always about bigger things – better things

Younger ones are like that among your kind

You were no different

 

But my four walls were never enough

At ten years nothing is enough

It was the first home you owned – all four of you

“You can scribble in these walls”, your father said

Admit it though

You were still scared of sleeping alone in your bed

 

I was there

When you father told your mother, she was a terrible cook

You wondered why you loved everything she made

But You kept quiet

He was more important to please

So you became his perfect little girl

 

I saw him, so did you

But you let your silence win

Each time he raised his hand

Your father was always right, right?

Your sister had made a mistake in math

She “deserved” the punishment

 

I was there

When you were angry coz your sister wouldn’t come out and play

She is being a snob, you told yourself, why else?

I knew why

Back then you didn’t know the meaning of rape, neither did she

Little girls aren’t supposed to

 

I saw you learning every prayer your father taught

You were perfect in your efforts of winning him

I was there

When he decided to leave the house for 3 years

He left to buy you a better life

I saw you miss him everyday

 

I saw her –

Your mother fighting your teenage self in vain

Your sister becoming the man of the house

She bravely chased the rats away

She was always your knight

Her armor would never grow a chink

 

I saw your mother confide

She wrote in her diary

“Am I a bad mother?”

At the age of 11, you had made her wonder

Were your lies her fault?

You may’ve been a child but you weren’t easy

 

You invented stories by the day

Yet you were scared they’d come alive at night

I saw you read your sister’s suicide letter

She had torn it up and thrown it away

You walked outside her closed room that night aching to hear her breathe

You heard her move about and then you went to sleep

 

At 14, you’d wake up in darkness every night

You’d see a shadow on your doorway

You were not really scared of a nightmare

You were just curious as to why you cherished them some nights

The shadow wouldn’t say anything

It just stood there – a silhouette of a woman

 

You left me when you turned 17

By now even the house wasn’t enough

You were angry at everything

Angry at your mother for her silence

Angry at yourself for yours

Angry at your sister for not being angry enough

 

I lost you for a while

You slept without dreams and nightmares for 10 years

You grew up

You brought up your heart

You trained it to forget the fights, the beatings, the masochism of it all

You grew out of the anger

 

You stashed your pain away in boxes

You only shed tears for your friends

Your own sorrows didn’t deserve them

Your sister was still your knight inside your temple for Athena

She’d passed on her armor to you

There was no room for weakness now

 

And here we are 

You are 30 years old

You peeping into me from the doorway

You fear the darkness inside

You think you see her – the ghost of a memory – that 14-year-old girl

You wish you could tell her

 

It’s not you, dear girl

It was never your fault

You see that’s why you were never scared of nightmares!

You know now

These shadows at the edge of the doors are just pictures of you years from now

Now you wonder why that silhouette stayed in the dark?

 

You didn’t know then what you’d look like now

You didn’t know then you’d forgive

That you’d promise to fight for your sister when no one fights for her

That you’d promise strength to your mother when she’s crumbling

That you’d promise forgiveness to your father when he’s lonely

Above all, you promise tears for yourself

 

I see you

You’re a woman, a little rough around the edges but mostly nice

You – you look beautiful

I see you

You were my child too, if only walls could talk

I’d say I’m proud, dear child

I’m proud!

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A Suitable Girl

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For when you think I’m too old
To love and to have and to hold
Your Dorian laughs in his frame
As cracks appear across his face

For when you tell me I should cook
And not be reading so many books
Your kitchen sink mocks you
When everyday your dinner gets brutally bruised

For when you chide me for being too loud
And ask me to hold my tongue in a crowd
You know not how your friends oblige
By laughing when you really make them cry

For when you wonder if I’d be a good trophy
Me, with my innate lack of propriety
Your workplace thanks heavens
When you step away from matters of importance

For when you check if I’m “suitable”
If I’m a good enough “marriage material”
Alas! You are not able to see
You are not good enough for me!

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Her shadow

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I was born as an afterthought
A shadow of her truth
I was never surprised
That I wasn’t their God’s perfect muse

I was a plan B
A wilful addition
Aren’t we all?
We ,the secondary volitions…

I often wonder
Would I have been different
If she’d have stepped in after me
Like her, would I have been as benevolent

In sharing their love
Like a share of the pie
Would I have done the same?
If she teared up would I have cried?

Would I have felt then
What I feel now
Would I have thought myself
A useless tug along tow?

But it hits me
Uselessness is a disease
It has nothing to do with her
My mind goes where it pleases

And it pleases to think me
Unnecessary!
I’m masochistic that way
Without her as my blissfully ignorant glee

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Sigh. Smile. Reminisce.
The thought awakens real slow
In this empty world
I’d rather be her shadow
Than go it alone
Or grant her my own

The day she cried…

She cried
For souls lost
Love forlorn
And tombs in gold were cast

Like flickers of a lamp
The tiny hearts they beat
Fading slowly I wonder
Is their pain the same as the one she feels

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When did innocence die
Was it the cold November day
Or has it been dying
Since He left us to wander astray

She cried
Wondering where the brother went
Sighing about how without a fight
One loses a best friend

How do we walk on
Paths laid out by those who rest
How do we smile
Across shrouds of souls thus blessed?

This little angel
In my minds unnerved eye
She cries today
As the processions pass her by

How many more sons
How many brothers
Must walk this cursed path
She wonders

And then in a breathy sigh
She walks back through the rusted doors
Wondering does he play here still?
Are those his footsteps on the floor??

Ramblings…

I haven’t been here for a while. And well it has almost been as if I were cheating on someone. Like this book that stares you through from the corner of the eye and then jeers away the moment you turn around. So here’s starting with an apology to the mirror, I have been living far away from you for a lack of emotion.
But for the first time in many years, I do not have a feeling of extreme. No joy, no real sorrow. I am just trudging along an existence. I have made new friends, rejoined the old and through it all one thing remains – my renewed faith in life. Oh, Great! Now  I sound like I have come right out of an Elizabeth Gilbert book. But this is not a claim to being a romantic (I saw that in my mirror a long time ago)
This is just a diary entry that everyone should write once in a while to remind themselves of the beautiful people around them. A few days ago this cousin of mine left her humble origins at my dad’s village in Kerala behind to do her masters at one of most prestigious arts college in Chennai. Her neighborhood at the village wasn’t exactly the most conducive environment for studying; in fact the biggest ambition in the family was perhaps to go work in Palakkad (the nearest town). For girls, in particular, the ambition starts and ends at a marriage.
The education system in Kerala doesn’t really help the undergraduates if they want to leave the state. My cousin’s biggest fear is not being able to understand her class as even though she studied in an English medium Arts college in Trissur, the classes were mostly in Malayalam.
But despite of all of this, she is here. She is scared, is tentative about the course but nonetheless she is here. I feel proud, scared and this incessant need to constantly call her up to check on her and I wonder did my elder sister ever feel that anxious for me? Perhaps she did and never showed it or perhaps even better she had such belief in me that she knew I’d do well wherever I’d go.
Sisterhood is difficult, because you aren’t allowed to be as clingy as say a mother to her child and yet you can’t help but worry about the little girl or boy who walked in your shadows all your life and then one day decided to step up to the sun. The feeling was till now unknown to me for I was the little girl in the picture. But the past few days have been pretty different.
I often wonder had I been in my cousin’s place would I have had the drive to be anywhere close to where she is. To be driven when the whole world around you is asking (sometimes begging!) you to succeed is easy. But to look for greatness when you are really surrounded by none is the biggest challenge. This one is a tribute to my little warrior! Hope she prevails the big bad city!