Memories and Hallucinations

#1

“Write a poem that a young you needed to read.”

I found this poetry prompt for National Poetry Writing Month. Really nice prompt, except I was 3 days late. But it got me thinking. What poem would young me need to read? I mean, I have come across these pieces before – Letter to Young Me- but I’ve never given the idea much thought before. Perhaps because it was not my time yet for that contemplation. But tonight, disturbed, anxious, slightly depressed with my thoughts going where they shouldn’t, where I don’t want them to go, I am trying to think of what advice I could conjure up for a younger version of myself.

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At five, perhaps, don’t be so bitter

For being always mocked at,

For being made fun of, bullied,

For being the youngest.

We all grow up someday

And frankly, it’s overhyped.

 

At ten, don’t try so hard

To be nice, to be liked

It won’t matter, in the long run

In a few years you will wonder

That you ever liked these people,

And wanted to be liked back again.

 

At 15, don’t you crave for that tub of Fairness Cream

It won’t make a difference, either way.

At 17, don’t bother about how the starched school skirt

Looks on you, or the people who laugh

Because you are fat.

You will forget their faces in a year or two.

Really.

That part was easy.

 

What do I say to 25 who wants to dream beyond what

Even I can see?

Or to 28, weeping into her pillow, deep into the night

And in the morning, testing the edges of a blade

And drawing back only by the fear of pain?

What do I say to last year’s me?

To last morning’s me, weary of being misheard?

That it gets better?

That you grow?

That things happen in their time

And it all works out in the end?

How do I promise the ending

That still leaves me hanging?

How do I lie when I know

That we try, and we strive, and the world strikes back

WHAM!

 

And you may want to sink deep into yourself

But the world will drag you up

And like an air-breathing fish

You will learn to survive

As you always do.

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#2

Every song I’ve sung lately has been all for you, but I don’t know how to get into your audial circle across all these immense airwaves and all this noise, so many voices talking across each other, talking over me, talking in cross-currents all the time. But if souls are what they are made out to be- I wouldn’t know, in this limited corporeal version, any more than you do- may be somewhere my song has reached you. I can hope. 

I read a book about a woman trapped inside her house because the world outside frightens her. She is agorapobic and watches the outisde through the lenses of her camera from her window. And she witnesses something, but nobody believes her because she is drunk and on heavy medication and leaves in an illusory world of her own, talking to people inside her head. 

bookcover

And here I am. I haven’t witnessed a murder, as Anna Fox did, but I do know that something has died inside me, and nobody else has noticed. They all insist on carrying on like I am who they think I am, who they think I ought to be, but I know in all certainty, even if I haven’t seen it yet, even if I can’t articulate it- that something in me has died, and something else is growing. And all I can tell young me is that may be the shedding of the old skin hurts in the beginning, when it begins to dry and shrivel, before the new skin can reveal itself. There, I’ve moved from pisces to reptilian, skipping the amphibian perhaps because it is not my forte to live in both worlds. But surely I can be the bird someday, and fly?

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But as I was saying, Anna Fox witnessed a murder and had a hard time working it out. But you know what really stayed with me at the end? The longing, the love, the ache of missing a loved one. It made me miss you, it made me want to hear your voice. Is it strange that the fictional hearbreaks of fictional people makes me long for people I’ve never even met? But as true as Anna knew what she saw, I know this. I miss you. And someday, I hope, you can hear me.

Right, so that was the morbid rambling part. As for the poem, although I couldn’t make it a #napowrimo entry, I’m still including it as part of the Airplane Poetry Movement’s 100 Poems A Year Challenge. You can still sign up for that one. Honestly, it’s great. I signed up because other people on my feed were posting poetry on their timelines that was blowing my mind, even though I hadn’t seriously written poems in many years. But I signed up, and here I am. It has been a great ride so far. You can read my poems on my Instagram or on my Facebook Page. Here are a couple of my entries from the NaPoWriMo challenge. The prompt for yesterday’s poem was to write in iambic meter, and though I disliked prosody in college, I think I had fun with this one. And today, APM asked us to write a poem to advertise something, which made me confused and distracted at first, which led to the poem. I hope you like them. Let me know. And if you’re doing the challenge yourself, make sure you let me know and leave a link in the comments. And if you’ve read a book that you really liked, let me know that in the comments too.

(All pictures courtesy of DailyCalm, except for the book cover, which I googled, and the handwritten poem, which is obviosuly mine.)

Thank you for reading. 🙂

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Sayings and Stories

 

Apologies for the long delay. I have actually been busy with a couple of new projects- first, I bought a new ukulele- meet Polo, everyone, short for Apollonia, named after the Greek god of music- and I have been trying to learn how to play it.

Ukulele Love

Second, I signed up for the Airplane Poetry Challenge to write 100 Poems in a year. Usually, they give one prompt for every week (I joined in Week 13 so I’m already behind) but April being the National Poetry Month, they’re sending out daily prompts which, what with my daytime job and all the whining I was busy doing after spraining the big toe on my right foot (my theory is it happened while I was running from the alien monsters in my sleep. True story.), I’ve not had much time for the blog. But I’m ready to make amends for that, with what I hope is going to be a long ramble about three of my favourite quotes and a rather fascinating tale.

 

I’ll start off with the story. I found this little gem in the ‘Introduction’ section of Robert A Johnson’s book- Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche. It’s a fascinating book, strongly recommended. Johnson tells us that Carl Jung’s favourite story was about the ‘Water of Life’ that sprung out of some artesian well somewhere. Anybody who drank from that well would be healed and rejuvenated. But as news about the magical properties of the water spread, the important people turned up, fenced the water, set-up a ticketing system and rules about who could drink that water and when. The water, annoyed, changed direction and found an outlet to flow out somewhere else. But the people, so busy with all their rules and systems didn’t even notice that the water was no longer there. Eventually, however, the new source was discovered and the same self-important people turned up there as well and set up the whole obtuse paraphernalia till all the magic was lost yet again. And people continued to line up to drink the water that was no longer there, for it was what they had been taught to believe and we are really really afraid to ask questions. And the water found a new site, and so on, and so forth.

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(Desire is beauty, beauty truth. Photography by author)

As allegories on the human condition go, this has to be one of the simplest and profoundest ones I’ve come across. We’re all thirsty, because somewhere, the spring of life has dried up, and failing to, or refusing to notice, we plod on, only dimly aware of an indistinct lack. And the thirst leads to fear, to hatred, to anger, violence, greed and obsession, and sometimes, when all of this fails to disguise the thirst, we notice the gaping desert inside us that we call depression. And because we do not and will not know that the water is gone, we go through life craving for one thing after the other, often finding them, and yet failing to find what we were truly looking for:

“Jaha chai taha bhul kore chai,

Jaha pai, taha chai na.” – Rabindranath Tagore.

Trust the Grand Old Bard to just casually come up with a statement like that. “What I seek I seek by mistake. What I find is not what I seek.” And may be life is just a series of misunderstood desires, only to be replaced by newer and greater desires, but there is beauty in the seeking. If humans did not desire, there would not be so much violence and jealousy in the world, but if humans did not desire, the world would lose out on so much art and music and poetry. I’ve always found Desire of the Endless (in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman) to be such an enigmatic character. Our desires define and drive us, for the dichotomous nature of desire lies at the very root of our being:

“Humanity lies in the place where the rising ape meets the falling god.”- Terry Pratchett. We are all part of the divine, or the infinite, or the endless or whatever else we may want to call it, and thus the sight of an ocean or a mountain or the flash of a lightning rending a stormy sky creates those unquiet stirrings deep within us, reminding us of a past we have forgotten. And perhaps the aching hole we sometimes glimpse in us comes from light years of space that separates us from the stars we came from, and we cover that up with lesser needs because it is so much easier to be the falling god (even Newton said so) than the rising ape. But even then, despite the pain, we rise. We ask, we seek and we think:

 

Je pense, donce je suis. –René Descartes

I think, therefore I am.

 

We think, therefore we are human, therefore we are conscious, and we are aware of thirst, and desire and scattered stardust.

But sometimes I think our thoughts exist before we think them, like poetry that is waiting to be written. We just need to reach out and find them, and once again the water of life reveals itself.

 

Did you like this piece? What are your favourite stories and sayings? Are you participating in NaPoWriMo? Let me know in the comments. And share if you liked reading this.

 

Other pieces on my blog that you might enjoy reading:

 

The Flow

A Godless Universe

All I Want is a Room Somewhere

 

If you want to check out my poetry- you can find it on my Instagram or on my Facebook Page- Ruchira’s Rambling. Here is a sample poem:

Five Ways to Have a Healthy Heart

And if you’re feeling generous, or if you’re tired of reading, you can find my music on my YouTube channel. For a taster- here is my original song- Dreamers.

 

Thanks for all the love.

Lost Words

I have lost all the words and have no idea where to find them back again. They say, these modern critics, that the author died long ago, and every word that you think are his/her were gleaned from a matrix of time, canon and culture. And if all the words that were authored were never their own to begin with, was the author ever born? Or is the author an illusion, an idea or a ghost that we create in order to project the insanities we are too lazy and afraid of owning up to?

Look at me, pretending to understand literary theories when all I need is something to write about. And I look around, at the things people say and do around me, hoping to discern the invisible pattern that might shape itself into an idea, and an idea into a story that is my own, my original, and if I am lucky perhaps someone I love, or someone I’ve never met will tell me how my words, the words I chose seem to speak their thoughts. But the words seem elusive. Perhaps my brain has developed some strange defence towards the osmosis of words from the invisible socio-cultural matrix. If the author was a ghost to begin with, I wonder how one defines a writer who can”t write at all. An extended oxymoron, perhaps. A paradox. Or the dream of a dream that slips like water through one’s fist on waking without even the remembrance of moisture.

And I do tea and breakfast and yoga and work and I smile and I talk and I walk and all the time all I can think is I do not exist, that I have ceased to be, and I fear that the words will never come again, for I know no tricks nor secret passwords that can open the magic casement from where the great heroes who you said were dead tamed and charmed their words. What if I am lost, forever? What if I never live again?

 

Idea

 

 

Image Source: artsvector – Pixabay.com / License: CC0 Public Domain

Home

Childhood vanished like the bad man in a kid’s film, leaving behind dissolving snapshots of the long bus-trip to the grandparents’ home through a long empty road they called the Bypass. Then home changed, roads changed, people grew up, grew old, died.

I remember once going back to visit with my dad- that first tiny apartment where my earliest memories are. A big yellow front door and limewashed walls with blue pathes of damp making maps of countries yet undiscovered, a calling bell tune surely dreamt up by a tone-deaf person somewhere and the ceiling fans from a company called ‘Ranjan’ that I pronounced ‘Ran-Jan’. I thought all of that was mine. That all of it was forever. And then one day a truck arrived and we folded our world in straw-lined packing boxes and home became a goodbye in a flurry of moments that slipped out of incomprehending hands. When I went back a few years later everything looked different, though they were there as they had always been- the same playground, the little cement pathway in front of our building, even a couple of old play-mates. I didn’t even go up to check the apartment.
The world turns and changes everyday and we look at wall colours and that little black spot near the staircase and we think things are going to remain the same forever.
And sometimes I remember if houses have memories. When the neighbours left and sold their their house and the new family moved in and broke down walls and repainted, did the fern tree in the garden that had come as a sapling remember the soil where it was born, or the hands that brought it here? And did the familiar chairs and tables in the new, unfamiliar flat remember the old house, and how the light fell across the room through that window when the afternoon cookery show came on?
Every morning I get stuck in the traffic on the E.M. Bypass and I don’t even remember how this was once a road to far, far away. And there are bus numbers I have forgotten, and routes I have forgotten, but the most forgotten roads are the ones so familiar that they’ve lost the strangeness that they once had.
There are places I have lived in that I knew was never home, and goodbye was painless, even happy. But we all make mistakes. And you can’t believe the change until its there and then you just get used to it.
I would just like to be able to rest a little, that ‘s all.
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(Image from Public Domain Search)
P.S: I wrote a song. Please check it out here:

Inertia

#1

 

There’s a kind of relaxation that comes with the experience of travelling, of being transported somewhere without any direct effort on your part- this sense of a flow, of a movement towards somewhere. As the destination draws closer, an anxiety creeps in, because you know that soon, too soon, the bus or the train or the car or the plane or the boat will stop, and you will have to step out of the safe cocoon of passive inaction and be responsible for your own direction again. It’s like the breaking of a spell, or a reverie. But step back and think of the before- the past actions that led you to this journey, and may be finding a new route will become that much easier. Or may be not. Who knows! The ice melts, the oceans part, the forests shift and the maps change all the time. You are on the ride of life anyway, and there is only one destination, eventually. But maybe you can pick up a notebook and draw a rainbow or write a song while you get there. Who knows?

 

 

#2

 

Staring at flickering screens in a passive concentration so I no longer need to think of the things I could be doing, should be doing, could be failing at, could be succeeding at, looking for answers to questions I’m unsure of, I find myself in the thralls of a listless inertia, expecting something- anything, some sort of miracle, a magic gateway to euphoria. It’s like I have found my way barred by a riddling Sphinx, except that I am the Sphinx, lost in my own riddles, and I’ve forgotten what to ask. And more and more I realize that the magic resides not in some questing knight from afar, not even in the stories told by other people, but within myself. I can make my own magic, I must be my own quest, I must slay my own dragon. I am the dragon that holds me prisoner by the twin enchantments of comfort and apprehension, I am the sword that can pierce its heart and transform it. But there is a password that I have forgotten.

I stare at the mountain that hides the treasure. It is impossible to climb. I watch the fearsome slumbering dragon, and I am afraid to wake it. I know I don’t have the strength. Where have all the mentors gone? The wise old men, the fairy godmothers? But they have taught me what they knew, and sent me on my way, and they can no longer help. The bystanders shout words of encouragement, or tell me to forget the treasure and go back and find some prosaic trade. But I know if I turn back, the dragon will follow in my waking moments and restless nightmares, slowly but surely devouring me whole.  And I stare at flickering screens, playing for time, figuring out the shapes of whetstones and the inscriptions on sword-sheaths, waiting for the blue moon or the eclipse or an apocalypse. The dragon grows in size, even as it sleeps, gnawing at my heart all the while. And I cannot remember where I kept my sword.

For a very long time stretching into forever, I have been a wasteland waiting for rain. Teach me the words to become the flood.

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(The Quest of Saint George’ by Frank O. Salisbury)

In quest of happiness

Have I drunk of the hemlock? How else do I explain this numbness of the soul?  As part of his death sentence, Socrates was offered a cup full of hemlock, and ordered to keep walking after. I read this story in fourth standard history book and somehow remembered that last part- “You must keep walking.” Years later, a professor in college explained that the effect of hemlock begins from the legs and makes its way upward, till it reaches the heart and stops it. And the brain knows the gradual numbing of the toes, the feet, the legs, the thighs… it feels the slow but certain disconnect from everything that orients it in the world, and it knows the assured arrival of death.

Sometimes on the infinite cosmic stage, the trappings fall away, briefly, to reveal the utter nothingness of it all. Ennui, we term it.

Must I smother my soul daily thus wasting this one, singular chance that comes with an expiry date without an alarm bell? But what feeds a soul if the body dies? The soulless work of days might buy the little material joys that quietens the soul for an hour or two. But is that all that is there to it? Is that all?

A decade ago, I went to a musical night to hang out with my friends. But my friends came with bigger groups of friends of their own- cousins, boyfriends, friends of boyfriends- people I didn’t know, and I found myself standing alone in the crowd- the usual connections broken, the familiar wavelengths blocked as the faceless men on stage crooned of distances greater than lightyears. And I said goodbye to my friends and came home.

Sometimes we hide in solitude because if you can forget that you have limbs and skin and a heart then your soul does not need its flash of nihilistic epiphany when the connections break down. And you make stories inside your heads, and most of the time, they work, but one day you are weary and your imagination falters and you feel the insidious hemlock seeping in through the pores of your skin, and through the air as you breathe in. And you keep walking.

I couldn’t have explained on that evening ten years ago, that the soul seeks communion. I can’t explain it much better today, but as my stories fail more and more, with greater frequency, all I know is that the soul seeks its purpose, its joy, and that I must find it, for communion also lies in that search. And so I keep walking, despite the numbness, to find my lost connection back to the universe.

And at the turn of an unexpected corner, who knows what bliss might await? For happiness is the realizing, all of a sudden, that you can breathe and laugh and sing without failure, censure or judgement and to know that deep inside, you are connected to infinite beauty.IMAG0383_1[1]

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Etherized

Dusk is a kindred spirit. Have you ever noticed the colour of the twilight sky- light, but not light, dark, but not dark, and the street lights lining the streets- bright and sharp, but not really needed yet- everything seems to be in a vacuum, waiting for something. The rush of the day is over, the rush of the night yet to begin, and the world moves around you in fast forward while you seem to be suspended in slow motion. They pick up tired  smiles, and cheerful anecdotes, and they all have a destination, a goal, and you ask- What is home? Where is home? Why am I going there? And I’ll leave again, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and return in the evenings once again.

“…and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm”

Is that all that is there? Through the days and weeks and months and years? And for how many years must Icarus fall before he can rest in the sea?

Reincarnationists say that this world is only a temporal school for old souls to learn to love and let go. And then what? If this world doesn’t matter, what do we do with all those lessons and all that love? And if it does matter, why is it so difficult to understand? If we plan our life paths, why can’t we give us little cheat sheets so the whole thing doesn’t feel like an exam where we try to frame our answers without even knowing the questions? Like the hidden mind that tries to give us clues in jumbled dreams that disappear like bubbles when you try to touch them.

All I wish is for everything to make a little sense.

 

bubbles

(Free Stock Photo)