सहूलियत

छोड़ो भी,

क्या करना है जज़्बातों का,

रोज़ की आपाधापी में।

संदूक में भरकर इन्हें रख दिया है समेट कर परे।

जब आएंगे मेहमान तब निकाला जाएगा।
अपराजिता

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Keeping you alive

I woke up with a start and fumbled at the table top beside the bed. With my eyes half closed, I pressed the power button of my phone and squinted to take a better look.

It was three. Waani was still wailing and there was no trace of Amrita in the room. I shifted in the bed and tried rocking the cradle to no avail. Waani only wailed with increasing intensity. I was concerned about Amrita now. She wasn’t in the room and the stillness of early morning broken up by a child’s cries didn’t bring her in either.
I leapt up to my feet and gingerly lifted Waani in my arms. Resting her head against my shoulder, I ran my hand gently across her back, trying to sing a lullaby. Gradually, her wailing turned into a sing song attuned to my humming. Within ten minutes, she was sound asleep when I placed her back into the cradle and rocked it to and fro gently, my thoughts now returned to Amrita. I closed the bedroom door behind me without making as much of a sound. And tiptoed to the balcony. Usually I found Amrita there, supporting herself against the railing often during the bouts of depression that plagued our lives now.

To my surprise, she wasn’t there. I turned and was about to head towards the kitchen when the bathroom door slightly ajar caught my eye. Inside, the light was on.

Amrita?

I called.

No response.

I gave the door a slight push and it creaked under the force as the bathroom floor came into view. There she was, huddled against the corner,knees together, her face a dreadful mix of agony and guilt. She had been crying. 

‘Hey, hey!’

I said as I sat down beside her and waited for a response.

After excruciatingly slow moments of silence interspersed with our breathing,

She sniffed and turned her face towards me.

‘Is she asleep?’

I nodded my head. ‘She is.

Why don’t you come to sleep as well, Amrita?

When did you wake up?’
She dropped her head and was looking at the floor now.

‘Around two. I couldn’t sleep, Vaibhav.

I have been having these thoughts that I am not taking enough care of our baby. When I look at her, these scary what ifs start ramming against my mind. I am frightened Vaibhav. I can’t do this.’
I listened to her as I took her hand in mine and held it in a warm entanglement of our fingers.
‘Am I a bad mother?’
Only I knew how I had been dreading this question ever since Amrita had delivered a perfectly healthy baby girl three weeks ago. I knew this was coming and yet I hadn’t prepared an answer. I always knew.

I turned towards her and cupped her face in my palms. How I loved her so much it pained me to see her this distraught.

In sickness and in health.

‘No, you’re not. No one can tell you that Amrita. Trust me, you’re doing the best that you can. Would I ever lie?’

It took her a moment to register what I had asked of her and she shook her head.

I wrapped my arms around her and held her firmly. Her shoulders sagged, as if a load had been taken off, and she slid hers across my waist and let her head rest against my chest. I worked my way through her hair, running my fingers along the length and the same tune that put waani to sleep came back to me.
I sighed. With Amrita, everyday was a struggle.I had fallen in love with the amazing person that she was without realising that beneath the facade, there was a soul so utterly devastated that it took humongous amount of effort keeping up with the various manifestations of her depression, now made severe with post partum trauma.

I used to think the baby would change her outlook for the better.She had been happy. She had been all smiles and she had no idea I could see through that. At the second week after the delivery progressed, I knew she’d breakdown. I knew it was imminent and I had hoped I’d be there when it happened because as much as I hoped it didn’t happen, I knew it was inevitable too.
My thoughts were interrupted when she took a deep breath and looked up at me.

‘I love you so much.’

I said, my words caught in a whisper. I lowered my head and kissed her on the forehead.

She tugged at my tee-shirt, pulling at it with all the strength she could muster, and kissed me back on the lips. In that kiss, I could feel her longing to revalidate herself as someone who deserved to be loved. Tears welled up in my eyes and I struggled to keep them from leaving me when I couldn’t afford to seem vulnerable. 

I wanted to make my way of dealing with her depression work. I wanted to give her the hope that she searched for, when she looked into my eyes.

When she committed suicide nine years later, she told me in a note that it really worked. 

You kept me alive far more than anyone ever could.

Yours.

You will be fine.

Women.
Women who are mothers to us, worrying how we’re making it. What we have had for lunch and just when are we going to marry. Those who became mothers recently and are basking in it’s glory, even those who don’t think they’re carved for the task. Single mothers being a set of parents to their kid. He is going to ask you someday who his father was. I don’t know what you’re going to say.

He didn’t want you, dear.
She stands outside the obscure clinic, her face covered, awaiting her turn. They’re going to extract a part of her and set her free. Free of this judgemental world.
Women who love their husbands and women who are loved. She wakes up to snuggle up to him and he wraps a hand around her. Life’s good.
Women stuck in a loveless marriage, unable to get out. Where will I take my kids? What will people say? My parents will not take me back.

Women who go to sleep, cuddled next to their pets.

And then those who finish a sandwich on their way to office, tackling casual sexism as they drive. Women who are bosses and those who are subordinates. 
Women that bleed every month and yet try to pretend they never have it. They can climb mountains on their periods. Why should people get to know they’re having those days of the month. The shopkeeper discreetly wraps napkins in newspaper and then puts it into a black plastic bag. She feels like an undercover agent delivering a package to Matt Damon.
She watches him do that and wonders of she should be as ashamed of menstruation as he is.

Women who shout slogans and those who rather post a status update. Hashtag outrage.

Women who stand tall in the face of obstacles.

You will not go outside to work.

You will not apply for a job.

You will not drive.

You will not go to school anymore.

You will not talk to boys.
Women who carry on their heads bricks to construction sites and lament the builder’s cut in their pay.

Women, truckloads of them trafficked across states to be used as maids in upscale residential localities. Listen, you will take care of my kid and manage the chores while I go to work. Memsaab I don’t like your husband touching me. 

 To be sold to pimps. To enter a vicious never ending cycle of exploitation. Women who deal in these women without hesitation.
Women sweeping our corridors so that they can pay for the education of their children. Those of them beaten black and blue by their men.

Women motivating other women and those that pull them down.

We are friends.

Sisters.

Our own enemies.

Women who work and those that don’t. The ones creating magic out of words. 
Women who are looking for love and those that have given up on it. 

Women who are achieving milestones. Women witnessing these women and wondering what they are doing with their lives.
Then there is a tribe of those that find recluse in gossip because that’s their escape.

Women adhering to stereotypes and those challenging it.
I know that We are the same, all of us. Our stories make us different, have us grasping at reality differently.

Some of us affixed like rubber stamps into categories.

Good

Bad

Beautiful

Fat

Bitch

Cunt

Whore

I don’t understand how we make that distinction. We are misfits. 
Impossible that every woman finds a mention here but those that I have seen and those I know of, do.

Am I allowed to feel?

If it’s okay,

To kiss you like we are in a dream, about to wake up,

Then I’ll hold you up against the wall and do that.

If it’s okay,

To talk about the stars making weird shapes,

While we desperately want to fall asleep under them,

Then I will create a canvas of shapes as far as your eyes can stretch in a gaze.

Look that’s a heart, I mumble sheepishly.

If it’s okay to stand on rooftops and feel the wind on our faces,

Drive a skyfall across my skin,

I’ll want us to fly.

To test these shallow waters that keep us inches in trepidations,

If we are permitted to love,

I will dive in still for answers.

Do we sink or stay afloat?

And now I know that I am okay.

It is alright,

To talk about what is not important,

At one in the silence of the night,

And

It is allowed,

I am allowed to feel.

Have some faith.

I don’t find answers in your faith,

But you do.

And maybe we can go on living like that.

Maybe I can stop sneering at your traditional ways

 and you can keep from the thought that I worship the devil.

I don’t.

For I’ll need faith for that.
Carry on,

If you find peace,

You head bent over in front of idols,

And deities.

Books and shrines.

Mountains and rivers.

Fire and the sun.

I am but a blot on another dot,

In a cosmic space that boggles my mind,

And I tried faith to give me the hope that

There still was some hope left for us.

I am but moving towards death like you,

Trying to avoid the inevitability,

Trying to make sense in the truth that,

I am not worse off than you.
I have seen you shrug and brush off a tragedy as

The will of the Lord,

And resign to the cajoling that,

In the end,

The faithful ones shall attain redemption,

While I’ll be queueing up at the gates of hell.
I,

The faithless,

And yet neither you nor I are saved from the end.

Regret

Tell me feelings are,

Made of lumps in my throat.

Made of an uneasiness that springs around my heart,

When you go on,

Unstoppable,

On about what I do,

How I hurt you,

How I never listen,

And all of this in a spiteful breakdown.

On about what I think,

And everything I have ever chosen when I could.

Why should I speak at all,

Everything I say will be used against me;

so I don’t.

Unusual

This week’s photo challenge is about anything that derived from the theme ‘unusual’ .

Lignum Draco shares his brilliant photographs of monks in bright attire as opposed to the surroundings that are in start contrast. 
I am often captivated by the wrath of time on living beings and structures alike. Sends the message that nothing is immune to rot and destruction. When I look at this flight of stairs drenched in rain, the decay makes me think of all the times I have climbed them, during the twenty seven years of my existence. And that makes me realise how I am losing myself to the years too.

Photo by Aparajita

To those who know someone who gave up.

We should not claim to understand what goes on in the mind of a person who has given up on life.

Have you been there?

Have you been there, teetering at the edge of despair when death seems like a better option than survival?

Most probably, you shake your head vehemently in the negative.
How can you judge, then?
I know, it is better to live a long, full life. Someone who chooses death must have nothing to look forward to. NOTHING. When they put their heads to rest, they don’t lie dormant staring at the ceiling until they fall asleep.

When we look at their lives, we find it going so good for them.

What was the need?

But no, in the mind of someone pulling the trigger, she’s caught between the dilemma of jumping from the building or getting burnt along with it. When I watch from afar, I want her to stay put because it is not me faced with a choice between the devil and the sea.
So in the comfort of your friends and family, it is easy to miss what ghosts wreck the psychological defense of someone suicidal.
We have been talking about recognizing depression as a real threat to a person but we miss the signs that someone might be in the pits and we go on pretending that he’s seeking attention or just throwing tantrums.

Our answers to helplessness and desperation have set in stone.

You should go out.

You should think positive.

You shouldn’t watch such depressing stuff.

You should stop thinking.
You should stop existing.
As my bus approaches the bridge,I look down and see murky muddy water in a rage.

And I can feel myself drowning already. And I know, not one amongst the 50 people on the bus is looking at that possibility. They’re looking ahead, because this journey ends. And that is the purpose at hand. I look at the dilapidated structure as we cross it and wonder,

This bridge is in such a bad condition. It’s going to fall any day now. Will it be the day I make the return trip? And again,

I am sinking, trying to breathe, unable to see anything, the weight of things crushing on me. How much longer will I be able to hold on? I don’t want to feel death just yet. But I AM staring at it.

We have crossed the slight momentary trepidation but I am still there, I am still sinking to the bottom. Can no one see it at all?
No.
Someone who knows me, might.
So the only people who can save others from drowning in despair are the ones that truly know how the mind of that person works.

As friends, it is our responsibility to at least try. To talk and listen. To stall.
As friends, we distance ourselves from the ‘negativity’ and start telling them to not post depressing shit on social media. We ask them to not constantly seek attention because for us, the range of emotions contains only two:

You’re either happy.
Or Sad.

And nothing comes in between.
They’re not seeking attention.

It’s like a ‘save our souls’ message. Will you respond?

Will you be first responders?

What will you say?

And what a life it is.

This is your life
If I could read a book about me, I would. And it will be one ride of sorts. With painstakingly detail I read about trying to keep myself from drowning when my bus falls off the road into a raging river. Next minute, I’d be sitting at my desk, trying to sell a mutual fund to a potential customer.

I close my eyes at night and what is it that I think of?

I think it will make for a controversy if we could know what goes on in someone’s mind. We could write about something in different ways.

I watched him as he went on reading, oblivious to me.

This is pretty straightforward.

I watched him as he went on reading, oblivious to me. Barely did I know that he was distraught, thinking about his life over and over again in a playback. I could hardly fathom that the next day I’d find him bent on his desk, overdosed, wondering what could have ever provoked this.
So yes, a book about me would make for an interesting read. I want to remember what transpired to make me the person I am. I want to remember what of this life I have already forgotten. I want to know when was the last time I felt joy, the last time I fell in love and if I am capable of all these emotions that others so evidently feel.

I want to remember my nightmares, know my dreams and try to interpret them, however ambiguous. 

My life on the outside seems drab, viciously pulled into a Whirlpool of monotony.

It is the mind that’s interesting.