I am sitting in front of the computer looking for words to write. I do not want to talk about myself. My mind is blank. Nothing comes to me. This image of me sitting in the cab on way home at night is the only thing. The road is empty and long and we are driving on it. Even though it takes only 15 minutes for me to reach home at night, sometimes even less, the journey seems the longest. During the drive, I do not know what to do. It is the only time when I am actually alone with my thoughts. I share the cab with three other people and sit in the front. I sit silently. I am conscious that they will look over my shoulder at my phone, so I do not use my phone. I have nothing to do then. Just sit and wait for my home to come, so that I can switch on the screen of my phone and feel a connect with something other than my brain. It becomes scary. Two things happen — either my mind is abuzz with weird scenarios and anxiety or my mind is vacant. I have been told that meditation helps clear the mind, but mostly my mind is clear. Clear is a misleading word now I realise. It is empty. I cannot think of anything. I know before I used to play these possibilities in my head, 99% of them uplifting, happy, ambitious. Now, I do not. I blame it on realism, when I know that it is cynicism. Sometimes I wish I could do that again, drives would be especially more enjoyable then? I tried to do that, imagine of a time 2-3 years from now. I am at some beach with my college friend, we are on a holiday. It is after long that we could afford this break and I am wearing a white dress and she is wearing black. We are eating an open-air restaurant aglow with yellow lights. We run into someone and sparks fly. But, I stop. One because it does not come that naturally — things being handled by serendipity is something I stopped believing long ago, even things going exactly as planned is a long shot for me. Second, I do not want to be disappointed because I know that things maybe never change. So, sit blank-faced, blank brained — feeling caged in my own vacant mind. I do not know what to wish for negative thoughts or silence, each is worse than the other. These 15 minutes every day make me realise just how much I am dependent on my phone. It is my safety blanket. I hold on to it when I want to avoid a person, when I want to slip away from a gathering, when I want to remain hidden, when I want to dodge a conversation, when I want to escape myself. I have cut everyone else for the fear of tripping into bouts of anxiety, but I could not cut off myself. But, I do not want to speak about myself or make it sound like things are nothing short of a disaster. They are good, they get better, they get worse. I handle, I do not. But, I want to. I want to be maybe someday have rosy if at all loser-ly dreams. I need to meditate not to clear my head but to fill it with something nice. Something childish, something red, something that feels like the open sky, something that smells like the forests, or something that makes me go back to those nights when I would lie in bed listening to radio and all the while in my mind dancing to the song at some party, laughing and having a good time. Until then, I will continue to sit in front of the computer and think of words to write…
The room is dark, there is a wooden chair in the middle of it. The walls are grey, there is little light. I am sitting on the chair. It is not uncomfortable but, it’s not comfortable. I tap my right foot against the chair to fight this feeling.
I don’t know why I am sitting here? But, I don’t even know where else should I be. I can’t remember what was I supposed to do? I look around to make sense of something. Why is my hair untied. I hate when it comes over my eyes. There is nothing to tie it from.
I don’t understand why am I not getting up from the chair. I can’t see any doors or windows so I know I can’t get out, but I can at least walk around the room? Nothing/No-one is holding me against my will? Yet, I am sitting here, confused.
I am not sure whether I want to keep sitting or move around. Both options seem like a lot of effort. So I don’t do anything. But, now it’s getting stupid. How long do I have to be in this room? What is this? It’s getting annoying. Plus, why am I dressed like this. I never wear jeans if I can help it. I never wear t-shirts outside — it’s too casual. I know this isn’t home, because it’s not peaceful as home. So why am I not doing anything?
Should I shout? What’s the purpose? I know no one will hear. The walls seem so thick, and I don’t feel the kind of afraid you feel when someone is around. I feel the unease you feel when there might not be anyone. How long do I have to sit here again? As long as I want? Can I leave ? I can right? There must be a way.
The two walls on my left and right seem like they can close on me. Nothing is happening, there is no movement. There is no draft in the room, but the temperature seems okay. That is something that is not uncomfortable. But, I am very aware of the two walls on my either side. My brain shows me how it will look when they try to close in on me. But, even in my imagination I sit and do nothing.
I look both ways, yes, but only to see how far it is from my chair. The chair is small. Kind of like we had in school. But the colour of the wood and pattern is just how I like it. It’s a nice chair, but seems like it will not move. It’s comfortable but uncomfortable also. My head feels like I have just taken an exam. It hurts but I have been sitting here for so long. Doing nothing. I don’t know why I am here, but then again I don’t know where I should be rather. Should I leave? Can I leave?
Somedays I am so sad, I don’t know who to talk to. I try and think of names. But, I can’t talk to anyone. At that point I just want to bombard all the unhappy thoughts at them but, it has to begin with a hi or a hello. Usually when I reach the brimming point. I have no energy left to say anything. I also do not have the strength to be snubbed my someone when I am so vulnerable so I don’t say anything. I cry. I lie down on my terrace or I sit outside among the greens. If I can’t do that. I lie on my bed and wait for the crying. Sometimes it takes time because it feels stupid. Just imagine sitting in a room staring at the wall waiting for tears to pour down and expecting some sort of relief or a poignant experience when it just feels like a big drama. Sometimes the crying comes easily, sobs followed by bawling. Sometimes I catch (read: force) a glimpse of myself in the mirror. And that image too feels so pathetically funny. I want to laugh looking at myself sitting alone in a room and crying but I know if I do so. I’ll lose the momentum. Sometimes I forget why I thought of crying in the first place and just sit there watching videos on my phone, oddly irritated and at peace at the same time. Irritated because I have this elaborate plan of emotional release and at peace because the internet videos offer me some recluse from reality.
When I cry, I make sure I am alone and I don’t make noises. I am quick to wipe my tears and blow my nose and wash my face, so that no one finds out. I find this perfect spot that is well hidden but within the range that I can return quickly if someone asks me to – to avoid suspicion. I have a back story ready, in case someone catches me, usually very thorough ( I am good at making up stories). But, secretly I wish someone should be able to find my secret spot or hear it over the crack in my voice over the phone and come and talk to me. They would be suprised and sad looking at me crying all alone. I want them to ask me what’s wrong, I’ll say nothing is wrong ofcourse for the first 2-3 times but then I will say, without any inhibition of being judged. I’ll try and clear the ocean inside me with their help maybe, but, it never happens. I am so good at hiding. It is one of the many things I learnt from Indian cinema that if you are a heroine someone will see you crying and your pain and what not. So, I wait until someone finds me crying and helps me maybe. Because somedays I am so sad, I don’t know who to talk to. So I sit in a corner stare at something and wait for the unhappiness to engulf me.
I am sitting in front of the computer thinking of words to write. I know what I want to talk about. Sexism. But, I don’t know how to talk about things that are important to me and everyone. I fumble, I misspeak or I give foolish arguments to make a point, even when I know what I want to say. There are times when due to shyness or fear, I just don’t say anything at all. But, I thought with writing, I can really think hard and frame exactly properly how I felt all those times, and especially in the last few weeks being a woman. And no this is not a ‘boo-hoo letter’. This is no ‘victimisation’ – this is just knowing that you can never really be sure from where prejudice will be thrown at you. It hurts more when it comes from someone who you thought was above all this.
I have been working for two years now and I have seen enough sexism in the workplace – already. I already think, that this is too much for me to see in 2 years. I am not scared or weak. I am just disgusted that these things happen still. More suprising is that this is so deep set in journalism – a place that is expected to show a mirror to the society.
And people say we should move past this? That women make an issue over unnecessary things? I am now beginning to sound fake maybe because I can never make very strong and intelligent arguments. So, I’ll just ask one question, why is the best compliment for a woman is that she is not like a woman? What is so wrong about being a woman that doesn’t make her good enough. Today someone in a ‘compliment’ said – she is not a woman, she is a don. Why? Since when is it better to be a don – something that in common parlance is associated with crime than to be a woman. And the sentence continued. ‘She is not a woman, she is a don. She is smart and….’
Why are they not womanly qualities. I know some super smart woman, so good at everything they do. But everyone would much rather want them to be Dons?
This is one of the many incidents that I have experienced in only the last 3 days. I know I’ll forget about this tomorrow. Day after there will be another thing to be angry about. But, someday someone will tell a child that so and so person is great because she is not like a woman and they will believe it. And they will think of it as the truth. And the age old cycle will continue
I wish there is a brake somewhere. I wish I ‘really am giving it too much importance’. I hope that things change. I hope that things change sooner, until then I’ll sit in front of my computer and think of words to write.
Why do some things suddenly flash in your mind. I am thinking of a better way to explain this. But, there are these pieces of memories that you know by heart. It’s a few seconds flash, a small clip of that time. You know it so well. The colours, the smells, the time, the people. I am not talking about memories as such. Just those kinds which you know so well that for those 5 seconds you can’t understand how so much time as passed between then and now. Because you remember it so well. It could be the middle of the night, but your nose can suddenly smell the green in the summer air. It’s dead silent, but you can hear the bell that rings before the exam and the scraping of pens and scales against the desk. Your eyes are closed, but you can see the pair of eyes look up from the book to you. And then that moment ends, and you again hear the constant whirring of your ceiling fan. You’re back in present, but you wonder how you reached here so quickly from that time. Where did everything in between go. For a period of time, there only exists now and then. You’re not sure that anything else happened in the middle.
And you try to retrace the memory in your mind over and over again. Maybe hoping to actually visit the time again, but its not as perfect as that 5 second flash – that happened suddenly – now and then.
I am sad every day almost, I guess — okay mostly, not every day. But this is the ‘why I am sad today’ list. Some are things that I always worry about some are just blekh.
- I could not do yoga today, I know it is not a big deal but it might hamper my weight loss goal that I have set for myself.
- I am questioning my creative capabilities. I cannot remember one original idea I had or one meaningful from start to end thing that I wrote that I can be proud of.
- I am feeling very average — which is not a problem — but I am getting anxious about what will happen in the future.
- I realised I am 23, I do not know why I forgot and thought I am 22. I am actually 23 and a month now, so okay the confusion because of that. I am not sad because I am ageing but because I think time is running too fast and I am not doing enough.
- I realised that a lot of ideas and opinions of mine are very utopian, and I might have to deal with that.
- I also realised that in ‘real life’ people favour snooty people and not hard-working people always and how the world is unfair that way.
- I am sad because I realise that I am sounding so righteous in the above two points when I am just one of the dumb people operating in this world.
- I am sad because I do not know what is going to happen and whether I will be able to handle the things that WILL happen.
- I am sad because I am in a fix whether I should shift to some other city for better career prospects, or stay at home and wait another year and finish the things I decided — which I did not do last year.
- I am sad because I do not know who to ask for help, and I do not know what purpose does writing here solve.
- I am sad because I have started feeling that everything is meaningless.
I don’t think we have made any technical advancement until we can retrieve a memory and play it on a screen — like a Penseive in Harry Potter.
How do you preserve a memory? Does going through it over and over again in your head, keep it as fresh as it was the first time it happened. Doesn’t time roughs it up a little? How do you make sure you remember every single thing about every single thing? I have never met anyone with a photographic memory? What happens to those people, do they remember everything in its entirety and exactness?
My mama has been battling cancer everyday for the last few years of his life. It’s gotten so bad now that all his memories are muddled. I don’t know why typing all this sounds rude to me, like I am making a mistake… But it’s the truth, everything is jumbled up in his brain. But, we and I still remember everything quite nicely — like not episodes but flashes. We used to go to his house in summer vacations, so there exist 3-5 second clips of our stay during that time. The yellow walls, the big room, the airy terrace, the scooter rides, the visit to chaat corner. Not the entire event, but in bits and pieces. I remember mama too, I know I sound so dramatic, that I remember him and all, I remember him in conscious memory and it is not a big deal, but you know from when I was a child.
Specially the scooter rides, I don’t know what he did when he stressed on a point, was it a slight tilt of the head, or a click of the tongue, it’s difficult to describe, one of my cousins still does it. I hate this talking in past tense. I don’t understand it, but it is the truth. I remember more things, too personal to write. The tall frame, the kindness, the love and care — all this and much more surrounded by the yellow walls. This thing is vague, I know there is no point, I just want to write because it might help me ease the confusion.
Back to where I was.
As we grew up, we got busy in our lives and we no longer met everyone in our family every year, but you know that everyone is going to be there at the same place and you can have all those scooter rides, and softy and water park and elephant park and boating in Ganga anyday, you just have to pack your bags and catch the train. There is still time, we have to study for the exam now. But then the exams didn’t end and the institutions changed and now maybe we will never be going back to the same place ever again. The yellow walls will be there always, but the love and care is threatened. And I have been trying so hard to preserve that. To keep it safe. Lock it somewhere. So that I can recreate it again if we ever have a technology. But we don’t, so what should I do now? What if when there does exist such a thing, we have to choose only a few. Which one do I save then? How do I go back to the original file, feel everything so that I can retrace it. What should I keep, the time when I was 5 and jumped idiotically from my mama’s piggyback and landed chin first on the floor — I still have a scar from that, or the one when I did not ‘make time’ to meet him when he was in Delhi for work, or just the yellow walls and blue scooter rides?