Chaddi buddy

You’re 24. I know it’s an odd number to be dedicating something to you. But, it’s another milestone I am celebrating. It’s been 15 years since we became best friends. Let’s come out and say it. We were best friends the second Ramona ma’am made us sit in the same row in 5th grade. In the 15 years that we’ve been together, I made you cry only once (read: The Shanana Baby Sham) and I thought I should do that again. This time, though, for the right reasons.

Why are we still best friends? We have spent nine years away from each other. That’s 60% of the time that we’ve been together. (If you were here, you would not have needed the calculator to know that. I did.)

In the nine years that we have been apart, we told each other more secrets and shared more than we did in the earlier six. Whether it was the boy I first loved, the boy who ruined my reputation in school, the boy we both liked in school — okay, that’s a lot of boy talk. Since then, you have also literally called me up to discuss disgusting medical conditions that I wouldn’t hear from anyone else or just when you needed a shoulder to lean on. Or when you’ve had “GOSS!!!!”

I have called you when I needed to talk to someone. You’re the first person I think of whenever something major happens and you’ve been the first to know many things. In some cases, you’ve been the only person to know about some of these things. You were the first person to tell me to get over that boy. You were the reason I did get over him. We were each other’s first period buddies. When no one wanted to discuss it, we discussed our first periods in immense detail (I swear, I can retell the whole thing back to you).

In the years that have passed, you have given me more reason to laugh than to cry and more reason to be glad I have a great girlfriend in you. You’re the goddamn best for a reason. You have been there.

For those who don’t know, I could recall the time that I had to call off a party because no one wanted to come for it but you. You still decided to make it home and spend time with me because you didn’t want me to hate my life. You wanted to be there and you were one of two people who wanted that for me.

Our parents always low-key pit us against each other. But, we never let that get in the way. Eventually, I grew taller than you and you were healthier than I was. When the WORLD pit us against each other, we didn’t let that get against us. At my lowest moment losing the quiz in 10th grade, you held me by the shoulders and said, “I am happy I won and I am happy I won against you because that’s how good you are.”

In the deepest throes of my anxiety, you told me you’ll make sure I have a new job by the end of that year. I got that interview because you sent me the tweet asking for applications. I owe you the happiness I have to some extent.

During a bad time with a stupid boy who broke your heart, I stayed on the phone and sang ALL of Beyoncé’s “Irreplacable”, including the back-up vocals. I almost got kicked out of my room by my roommates at 12 am, but it was worth it. Because it was for you.

All our special moments and our mutual interests aside, I need to tell you the one thing I have been trying to say through this whole post and through our life together — you’re worth it.

You’re smart, funny, determined, honest and the most loyal person I have ever met. You are angry when it matters and you’re so easy to love. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There is no reason for you to believe otherwise. I know you live with a crippling fear of being alone for the rest of your life but:
1. that is not a terrible thing and,
2. it is not true because you have me.

Thank you for existing, you goddamn pearl taken from a swan’s butt. I love you more than I say it. I love you more than you can imagine. This is your day and this is your world. Go get ’em, tiger.

Sleeves

I love blue. The skies are the wrong shade of blue to everyone else but me. Gloom is probably my most preferred mode of being. But, that day, it’s as if the clouds around my mind drifted as I laid my eyes on him. Now, I am not one for leering at strangers (God, who am I lying to? I stare at things for long in the name of science) but, this felt perfectly legal. I am sure if he had noticed, I would have a restraining order put out in my name. He was one of the most beautiful things I had laid my eyes on in a while. But, it wasn’t as much of his face as it was the blue. I write a lot about the colour. I know. But, honestly, it’s not like that matters to the 48 (HOLY SHIT. THERE ARE THAT MANY OF YOU? I just found out my Dad is a subscriber by email. Shit.) of you, does it?

It’s a blue I had seen on someone else in a photograph long, long ago. It’s how I fell in love with the colour at all. Headfirst and spiralling downwards before I learn to fly. The blue curved and changed shades in the evening light, making folds around his body. With every roll of the sleeve, I imagined one page of his life turning over to the next. One roll for his best friend in school who he hasn’t called in four years. One roll for his mom who called up that afternoon to see if his cold was better. One roll for the boss who had no other business than to piss him off and the last, resigned one with a sigh for himself.

In those 15 minutes under the darkening sky and dim street lights, his shoulders never slouched under the weight of impatience or fatigue. He stood with his arms across his chest and waited. Once, he took his phone out and let his face show a little brighter with the tiny light the screen emitted on to his face. It didn’t light his eyes up though. That’s what bothered me so much. Where is the light in your eyes, stranger? Do you not know how you can do that without the lights in the room coming to your aid? Just when I thought I could look for it and ask him to lend me the little light he had, the bus arrived.

I hopped on and turned around for a last look at the blue. Everyone doesn’t like blue, you know. Blue is stable. Blue is calm. Blue is content. I have been searching for the blue long enough to know I might never find it again, which is why I turned back to look. Maybe, I will find the colours I have been searching for. I could paint a picture of him for you with it.

Anticipation

I wrote this story two years back and completed it this March for a creative writing module at my college in Chennai. The challenge was to write it in 1,100 words. I managed to keep it to 1,082. Phew. Enjoy.

When you’re trapped in a room with someone that special after a long wait – it does not make sense to wait any longer. But, she loved anticipation. She sprawled herself over the red armchair, and watched him from across the sofa set and smiled because all she wanted was to bury herself in him.
If this were a movie, the male lead would get off the couch and go over to the girl and just kiss her. And, he wasn’t going to play anti-hero in his own story anymore.
He smiled back at her, kneeled down and held her face. He had never seen this face so close to him before. She had never been this close to him either. But before anything could happen, the penchant for drama got to her.
She got off the couch and pulled him to the centre of the dimly lit hotel room. She took eight steps back; leaving him at that point, confused. She held her hand up to stop him from moving towards her with a teasing smile. He hated that look when he had no idea what he was getting into. It was that look and his curiosity that got him here in the first place.
“You want to kiss me? Let’s play it off,” she said.
“Are we 12?” he said condescendingly.
Flatly she said, “Your ego is still probably stuck at 17. But let’s not get into that, shall we?”
Shit just got serious. He relaxed his ego and his posture. Watching him bend for her boosted hers. She smiled sweetly and continued explaining her plan.
“Take eight steps back.” He followed her instructions with the look on his face she had learnt so well.
“When we walk, we walk together. But with every second step we take, we have to declare a personal flaw. Not something the other person knows without it having been told, but something new. So, you cannot talk about how much you love eating cold food. We’re talking real character flaws here.”
“Then?”
“At the end of our eight steps, we can decide if we still want to go ahead with the kiss.”
“So we repel each other as much as we can, and then lean in for a kiss? I cannot decide if this is a bad popularity contest or a shrink’s office.”
“Neither,” she smiled, rubbing her hands in glee.
“Why?” he asked sadly.
“Anticipation is beautiful. You’ll know.” She toyed around with her skirt like a little girl and leaned to take a step forward. Her feet barely touched the carpet because of her excitement.
He gave in willingly.

One.
Two.
Stop.

“I am a very jealous person. I-“, she started as if she had rehearsed it forever.
“I already know that. You’ve told me and I remember telling you how flattering it is. Does not count.” He knew her well and he wanted to prove it.
“I am not your regular jealous human. I can hurt myself and a lot of other people (maybe even physically) when I get jealous. I thought you need to know,” she said with her head bowed down.
“I don’t know what you mean by physical harm. But, I am guessing you won’t tell. So, I’ll continue?”
She nodded her head and looked up to see his face with a wide smile on her face that did not reach her eyes.
“I am too practical for my own good. I lost out on many things because I feared running out to get what I wanted, I guess.” She wanted to ask him if that had anything to do with her. But, he never gave her the chance. He took a step forward and she could not be left behind.

Three.
Four.
Stop.
————————
Final year of college. He was up studying wondering if he’d ever pass. His laptop was on, playing a playlist he had long ago compiled for lonely nights like these. The ping of a new message distracted him. It was her. He wanted to talk, but he could not. He had to let go of it this time. She knew he had an exam. She’d get it, right? She always did. He lifted his fingers to say hello, but instead signed out. He knew he was making the right choice.
She did need him more. At least, that’s what she thought. He did not even have to sit and console her tonight. She understood. But, why did he have to run away like that? He did not even say goodbye! All this overthinking drove her crazy. She could not breathe without breathing fire. So, she picked up her pillow and screamed into it. She yelled how much she needed him and how he was not there. When she realised the pillow was not him, but an abyss she threw her words into – she threw the pillow to the other end of the room with a roar.

————————
They smiled.

“My anger can drive me insane. I don’t always let it show. I don’t know why I never let you know till now. Some days I do want to stab you in the eye.” Her smile never left her face. He was glad she told him that. It made her more human than angel for now. Maybe she did care.
“I take things for granted… Things and people that I should not. I prioritise and don’t realise I am hurting people. I guess I trust them to be there for me when I am back. I wonder if everyone is that lucky, you know?” he said.
Another veil was lifted. Another look was exchanged.
Five.
Six.
“Stop.”
He had spoken.
The orange light shone on the sides of their faces. It was as if the lights from hell and heaven set them apart from their own selves. He stormed right up to her face and stopped. She would have stepped back, but she was tired of the distance. The closed curtains isolated them from the world outside. It was just them and this game. They didn’t know why they needed to play at all. College, careers and silly games had kept them apart for eight years already.
She was angry, jealous, caring, tempting and gave him every reason to love her.
He was practical, took her for granted, warm, tempting and gave her every reason to love him.
The anticipation didn’t die.
It was the snake that wrapped them together in their Eden

Bedtime Stories of Disintegration

This one’s for a certain Ms. Mathur. She needs her bedtime story. 

There is no emotion with less clarity than desire. It consumes you completely and renders you crazy, blind and hot all over. You’re burning with anger, with frustration. You’re on your knees with your hands outstretched because you want to touch something absolutely unearthly to you. You have not seen or felt this way before but in the presence of this one thing. What is it that attracts us to the unknown, you ask? I would not know. I am too young to tell, maybe.

But, here she was. On her knees, with her hands outstretched. Just like you. She touched his face like it was the first time she touched it. There was nothing to it but beauty. She smiled because she felt every nuance of the face with her fingers. The way his eyelids shut as she run her hands over them, his thick eyelashes, the bend on his nose, the dents on the sides of his smile, his lips, his long neck. She felt it all. She drew a picture in her head. She did not have the skill The Guy with The Upper Hand did, but she tried. She tried hard to get him right every time. But, every time she knew it was better with her eyes open.

She blinked, over and over. He laughed at her because he did not understand. It had to be perfect. How did it matter to him? He was leaving. Departure is a tragedy only for those left behind. Left behind, left behind, left behind. It does not take the pain away. No amount of repetition, no amount of reassurance takes it away. Take it away, take it away, take it away.

I want to scream at you. I want to tell you I love you. I want to shake you to see if you even feel anything. Feel something, feel something, feel something. I want to touch you and feel the curve of your elbows and the base of your neck. I could run my fingers around your ears and count your beauty spots. Don’t mock me. It’s all beauty to me.

Time is running out. I have to tell you so much.

But, we slowly disintegrate. We’re only a memory. I could only ask for so much time for you and me. I could fall in fragments on the floor in front of you. Pick me up and keep me with you? Wouldn’t that be a lovely end to this story? I could be a bottle in your pocket.

Or we could open our eyes and realise this moment never happened? We’re living a waking dream, Sunshine. We’re living out our best fantasies in an alternate universe where you believe me when I tell you you’re perfect. In that place between then and now, till we meet, I could count your flaws over and over.

I don’t.

I won’t.

I can’t.

I mustn’t.

Repitition will kill this. It won’t matter soon.

Another Blue Story

She looked at the blue shirt in her cupboard. As it lay aside, kept purposely that way, she thought of all the things she wanted as much as she wanted to wear that right now. She missed everything she did not have and somehow, her mother’s oversize shirt was the one thing she missed and could have. Without another thought, she grabbed it out of the cupboard and lay it out to iron.

She ironed it, taking out as many creases as the eye could see. Once the steam settled into the lack of creases of the shirt, she took off her own and threw it into the pile of ever growing laundry. She’d do it the next day. She would, she thought out loud to herself. Her pajamas came off with the same slow urgency. It was like she wanted to get somewhere but she did not know where or how. Or why.

She stepped into the shower as the hot water created a cocoon of steam around her body. She was alone and she felt it. But, not as much as she did today. The steam and hot water felt like her only company, even if fleeting. She caught them as they passed her by. Drop by drop, wisp by wisp. The bath was not long, but it felt like forever. The music she habitually played seemed, on that day, to be reflecting what was on her mind.

“We’re chained, we’re chained, we’re chained…”

She stepped out and wiped the steam off the mirror where it had settled. She always thought there was some beauty, some sadness about that steam as it settled onto the mirror. She wiped it off with self-destructive glee and stared at herself. Today was going to be HER day. She was going to indulge in the only thing she loved and hated the most – herself.

She moved to her room wrapped in the bathrobe, holding herself together to keep herself from shivering. She dried her hair off with a towel and looked at herself. She leaned on the dressing table and reached for the light above it. The spotlight was on her and she was going to soak it in. Without bothering about anything else, she put on the ironed shirt, a little too large for her. She felt the fabric, held it close. She watched herself in the mirror as she hugged the shirt and herself and took a deep breath. She smelt clean. A clean shirt and a clean body was what she smelt like. The music was still playing around her and she decided to get into the act.
This was her moment.

She picked up the lipstick and put it on. She was suddenly alive. She messed up her hair a little and swayed a little, mouthing the words of the song. She giggled as she realised how ridiculous this could seem to someone on the outside. But, she got her straight face back on and kept swaying, more noticeably than the last time. Her hips were more pronounced in the orange light, under that shirt and she knew it. She twirled around and faced the mirror again and looked at it like it was the man she wished to love. Her eyes bore into her own as she pretended they were the same brown ones she missed so much that day. Her focus shifted again and she leaned away from the mirror. There was no time for this today. Not today, at all.

Over the next hour, she swayed more to the music. The lilting tunes that did not (she repeats, did not) remind her of anything she missed. This was her and her, alone. Alone. She turned again to seduce the mirror. This time, though, when the focus shifted from her eyes – she saw her face. Her face pleaded. She wasn’t seducing the mirror at all. She was pleading it to love her back. The mirror, however, does not love. It merely reflects what it sees. That old lesson hit her harder than before as she took in her pleading look. She leaned away from the mirror again and decided it was not the way she wanted this to go.

She climbed on to the bed this time and took small cat-like steps across the mattress with as much grace as the springs could allow her. She flipped her hair, and let the music sink in. Her hips led her down and on to the bed till she was on all fours, almost feline. Fierce. Unafraid, she approached the headboard. She stared at it as if she wanted it to take her over. She knew there was nothing there. But, she looked at it hard. Then, she laughed. She simply laughed a hollow laugh as if it would help that tightness in her bare chest go away and lay down on her back. She stretched as if making a snow angel and then brought her legs closer. With one knee bent and the other stretched, her head bobbed left and right to the music and she smiled because she loved the tune. She hummed along with it because she loved it. She loved it because… because… she avoided that thought. But, her conscience knew what she lingered on.

She stared at her silhouette in the orange light and saw how much she wanted to be touched. She saw how much she wanted to be loved. She looked at herself and felt that rush all over again. She didn’t cry. She would not dare to. She was probably, even unable to.