light up the shining night stars

Look at the stars. See yourself in them.

Writing under 25 words — April 11, 2017

Writing under 25 words

Writing under 25 words (1)

 

It has been SO LONG since I’ve written, or published a post with my writing. The thing, I’m spending a lot of time for college and have simply not found the time to write. But recently, I jotted a few small things, and I thought I’d share them with you today! They’re not very good, or eloquent, but they’re just some things that were going through my mind when I was down for a bit.



There are too many versions of those three words.


I move on too fast, they say.
I never really stopped.


I hide too much.
It’s a blessing and a curse.


Everyone is unique.
It also means I’m alone.


I don’t fit into a plan, goal or path.
Tunnel vision throws me out.


Is it me, or is time moving too fast for us to even breathe in life, rather cherish it.


I want to show off my talent.
I want to hide myself.


I am not un-noticed, but I’m also not really noticed.
Where does that leave me?


When you internalise pain, you start to recognise it in others’ eyes too.


Sometimes I wish I was an open book.
Then I’m glad I’m not.


Simple choices make big impacts.
That’s why I hesitate at every step.


I don’t know who I am.
How can I explain myself to others?


They started associating invincibility with numbness.


She was wind.
Everyone enjoys her touch, but no one sees her.


I want to be fearless, standing on the edge of the roof.
But I’m also suicidal.


The words convey only half of it. The tone conveys the rest.
Text messages mask so much.


Happiness and contentment draw me in.
Perhaps it’ll balance me.
But I might also destroy it.


Probably. Maybe. Someday. We’ll see.
These words exist in my vocabulary to escape from attachment.


By the time I brave up to say something, everyone’s moved on. I am left behind.
In more ways than one.


I need human interaction to prove to myself that I’m still alive.
But I also just want to be alone.


I am not afraid of oblivion.
I am afraid of recognition.


Let’s play a game called
who notices when I’m gone.


I am afraid of being understood.
I want to be understood.
I am a f r a i d of being understood.


The only place I find complete comfort is in the depths of my mind.
But that’s also where I drown.


Sometimes all I want is to feel.
Other times, I simply want to be numb.



I don’t — January 9, 2017

I don’t

i dont.jpg

It’s been a year and 12 days. I didn’t even notice, until I saw a message from you today morning saying you miss me. It’s been over a year now. I didn’t realise. But then, you don’t value for me anymore.

I remember, how we came together, like a wave softly crashing onto the shore. I was the shore- steady, calm, always there and you were the wave of water-in the form of my favourite color, exciting, always moving. And when we met, I held on to you, and you held on to me.

But soon, you receded, pulled away, strayed far. After that, I saw you and you saw me but we never met again. Water always moves, even under layers, to different places.

I kept count of the dates after that-a week, 10 days, two weeks, a month, two months, three. I heard what my friends told, how I wasn’t the same. How I lost my spark and they were sad to see me that way.

Slowly, I began to not think of you. I smiled genuinely, laughed from my heart and moved on. Even though you were still in front of me almost every day, moving in the same friends circles as I, I began unseeing you. You were there but to me, you weren’t more than one of the strangers in the background.

You moved on, I heard, a few months later. But by then, I refused to care.

And now after more than a year, you try to wade back into my life like a lost soul looking for home where he previously felt warmth. I wasn’t enough then, how will I be enough now.

I spent the whole day, moving around in a haze, remembering everything of the recent past. The memories of us two together which kept running through my head again and again, us laughing, making jokes, sharing our day. Today, I can hardly remember any of those moments.

It’s evening now, I open your message again.

I miss you, it says. It hasn’t changed. Oh, I wish it had.

I let out a huge breath,

I don’t.

All I have left are words as compensation — November 22, 2016

All I have left are words as compensation

All I have left are words as compensation. (1).png

I sucked at writing before, my love, and I still don’t write well

But now, I’ve got words inside me

so many

so many words

waiting to be poured out like a waterfall, to be let out from behind an invisible barrier acting as a dam

to be said.

 

We were a crescendo, building up very fast

so very fast

I was afraid and wanted to slow down but it wasn’t possible, was it? We fell into each other and I wondered if you’d catch me before I crash.

But you were right there, arms outstretched, giving me faith and belief.

Every laugh of yours, every touch gave me chills and made blood flow through my veins newly

As if I was discovering myself for the first time as I was discovering you

As you were coveting me

I smile, remembering our first moments together

And others in between

Small memories which bring a flutter of happiness from inside me even though I’m sitting alone in my room

Which make me blush while walking in busy streets

Which make me turn pink for the first time when my friends tease me

We were a crescendo of notes and words, making such music

We were.

Somehow, almost at the top, we halted for a minute

And came back down.

Spiraled down, our hands losing grip

All I could hear was the wind as it went past us, as we fell back in such a fast pace

A few minutes was all it took

A few messages

A few said words

And just like that we were two again.

I keep wondering what went wrong, how we went from talking all day long one day and breaking up the next

I still wonder why you brought it up, darling

I make excuses and reasons on your behalf in my head but I suppose I will never know

Our music stopped in the middle of a short note

Abrupt enough to put me into shock for a while

But it doesn’t matter anymore

None of my hurt or thoughts matter because you are happy

You are happy, and I guess it’s because of her

I feel glad to see you smile and laugh and not cracked inside like me

But the crack inside me opens up just a bit more every time I see you two together

Every time I find a glimpse of how we were

Every time you hold her hand

hug her tight

put your arm over her shoulder

And I just turn away

unable to bear it but unable to say anything about the metaphorical band-aids I try to stick onto the cracks on my heart

In the end, maybe I should thank you

For making words bubble up inside me again

To want to pour out

Only,

you won’t ever find a trace of them.

 

the old me — November 18, 2016

the old me

theoldme

there is this quietness that seeps into me

through cracks and edges i have not yet managed to

close off and seal

 

the old me

the quiet me

the depressed me

the alone me

the old me

who

hardly

smiled

 

some times when

in the throes of that quietness

sitting uncomfortably with the noise and interaction around me

surrounded by my friends

friends of the “outgoing” me

those times i want to get up

shoulder my bag and walk away silently

just walk away

back to how i used to be

with silence as my company

with no complications and facades to keep up

back to when

i was alone

but not lonely

 

you have become so dependant

the memory of my old self taunts me

she says

look how we were, content

now you feel lonely every time you sit alone in public

I shake her words off

I reply to a comment a friend said

and in a few seconds of being silent

I hear her again

we used to want that, remember?

want to be alone

never unsatisfied by it

look at you now

 

i do remember

how i was completely content

of being by myself

 

i’ve changed

but not so much too

i still look around

look at this big group of friends

and wish i was alone once in a while

wish i could leave

without an explanation

simply because i want to

simply because i want that silence

i lived in for so long

which feels like a happy home for a visit

 

this noise

these interactions

become too much for me some times

i just want to sit quiet

with only my own thoughts

for a while

 

I look up, hearing my name

I become the present me again.

the old me slides away, now quiet, still a reminder

the other half of me no one knows

Pinpricks — October 30, 2016

Pinpricks

Pinpricks.png

Oh, darling, do you even have the slightest idea what goes through me every time I see you now? I become elated for a fraction of a second before remembering that you are not mine anymore. I shouldn’t be looking for your face in a crowd; I shouldn’t look twice at someone else just because the colour of their shirt matches yours today.

I shouldn’t.

It would hurt more and more and more and I’ll bring myself down so much that I start to pull back from the world. I shouldn’t—because I know you don’t care.

There are several pinpricks in my heart now. Every time I see you with her, a few more small holes open up and start to trickle invisible blood of pain. I’m bleeding out slowly slowly slowly and you don’t even realise it as you smile and hug her right in front of me.

I was afraid of giving you my heart in fear that you would smash it, but I was finally starting to trust you; and you ran out of patience. Somewhere between you proclaiming your love for me and the words coming out of my mouth; when I was reaching out and handing over my heart to you, you drifted away and I was left standing there with my heart, now beating very slowly as if in shock, mocking me. I only watched when I saw you with her the next day. My heart only started trickling from those few small holes.

It hurts. I feel a small jab, a few tiny pricks every time and its oh, so hard to continue smiling and laughing and seem fine when I’m anything but. Sometimes I want to let out my feelings, and tell it to you, pour out everything inside me but the same thought holds me back. You won’t catch me as I fall. Is there a point of jumping?

This once, I wish I was selfish. So I could blame you, hate her, hate you and move on from this but I’m not able to, no, because I know that it was me who unintentionally let you go and the lack was in me, not you.

It’s all-the-more harder to look at YOU and smile and converse as “friends” when all I want to do is hold your hand and hug you tight. The sight of her in the edges of my vision, present with you always makes me want to turn around, hold my heart tight and go away away away hoping that if you’re out of sight, you’ll be out of mind too.

some days — October 12, 2016

some days

somedays

there are some days

like today

when i just feel numb

there is an ache of hurt inside me

which i become used to too soon

and its as if im nothing

but a body and a mind

not caring about opinions

or what people

think of me

anymore

 

i cut myself out

and every cut

every app uninstalled

every connection broken to the outside world

makes my breaths come easier

 

i want to be sad

i want to be quiet

some days

i just want to be alone

 

are these down days?

no, i consider these mental health days

all the sadness and hurt and worry

pushed and built up inside me

i let it all out

and it feels oh so great

i feel burden-less at the end

 

no, i am not sad because of something that happened yesterday or today

i feel sad a lot

this is just the one day i show it

and i would rather not give an explanation

one of two which i can reply with

one, you wouldn’t understand

the other, is not true

 

so let me

let me be

let me take a day off

its not easy being happy all the time

its not easy being the light all the time

its     not     easy

s m i l i n g

every time something cuts my heart

 

you know that I bounce back fast and happy

but that takes a toll on me

not letting my feelings out

pushing them in and smiling

replying I’m fine every time someone asks

how i am

i don’t understand how

you believe that im invincible

to negative feelings

i don’t understand myself

how

i manage to smile and jump

greet everyone excitedly

with a pitch in my voice

 

sometimes

my voice is on the edge of c r a c k i n g

almost wavers

but you never notice the off balance

in the end of my word

 

i love you, my friend, i do

i love you all

 

but some days

 

i would rather you leave me alone

This says it — May 28, 2016

This says it

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There was another one too, which I’m not able to find at the moment. It said something along the lines of

As she came back home with a PhD to her name, her parents’eyes shone with tears,

And a soul died inside.

It’s not verbatim, in fact it could be pretty different but it was something like that.


All credits to The Scribbled Stories and the respective writers. It’s a page on Facebook and the writers are mostly Indian, so the educational microtales are from what happens in India. There are a lot of other really good ones too, about love, relationships, death etc. I’ve been loving them and I plan to write a couple for them too, hopefully.

Counting beats — May 25, 2016

Counting beats

1.. 2.. 3.. 4..

One word to question my life

Why

Two words, everyday, running in my mind

No more

I had three words to say when we met

Leave me alone

Four words when you wanted to be my friend

I don’t see why

 

5.. 6.. 7.. 8..

Some five words when I finally gave in

Will you stop pestering me?

Six words in my mind when I started to love you

This is just a stupid phase

Seven when you asked me to love freely

I’m not sure I can do this

Eight words when we found our rhythm

I can’t believe this is happening to me

 

8.. 7.. 6.. 5..

Eight from you when we came down from the high

I can not have you being so clingy

Seven from me when we never went to parties together anymore

Are you ashamed to be with me?

Six in my head when we started to crack

I hope we recover from this

Five from a friend who noticed a lot

Maybe you should give up

4.. 3.. 2.. 1..

Circling in my mind were four words

You gave me hope

Three that I repeated to try to mend this

I love you

Two when you broke me after I bared my heart

Stop this

I had only one left while you turned around

Please

 

I am somewhere worse than before you came into my life

 

There are no more words left in my heart

 


This is something completely jumbled up that I wrote on a whim. I’ll need to fix it and rewrite later because it’s not really a poem, not really a story. I want to make it into something good—readable.

I feel like I added too much story into it and it’s not simple anymore or I added too many counts.. I’ll try again some other time.

 

 

Promises (Part 4) — May 4, 2016

Promises (Part 4)

I know! I’m super-duper late but I kinda fell into a writing slump. Since it’s been so long, I fear you might have forgotten the story or new readers might not have even read it.

If you don’t want to go back and reread part one, two and three, I have read it aloud and recorded it. HERE is the recording with the whole story together. (Apologies if I sound bad or anything) If you still prefer to read, then click the following links.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


Riley

He hugs me tigthly and I can’t help but hug him back. He sets the glass of water beside him and pulls me to the carpet as well. He continues to hug me, pressing his nose to my hair and stroking my back with one hand.

Eventually, we part and I know that I owe him a huge explanation. I need to say it before he can accuse me of anything. After going through so much, I don’t think I can handle it.

“Aaron, I’m sorry.” He opens his mouth to say something but I press my fingers to his lips. Those lips.. “I just need to say all of it, okay? Please let me explain and then say whatever you want.” He understands the desperate plea looking into my eyes and relents, leaning back and taking a sip of water. He continues to hold the glass in both hands and I can’t help but view that as a shield he holds against me, to not touch me again.

“I found out a little over two months after you left that I was pregnant.” His grip on the glass becomes tighter when I say he left. He doesn’t look at me, instead preferring to stare at a point on the carpet. “Since we broke up, my parents were furious when they found out. I didn’t want to have an abortion, Aaron, not for all in the world. They screamed at me for that decision, especially since we broke up and I would be a single mom.” My voice quivers slightly. “They couldn’t bear their daughter being pregnant out of wedlock. They didn’t want to face the society, I think, deal with the reputation. Instead they asked that I leave.” Asked would be putting it politely though. Aaron’s jaw clenches as he notices the contempt in my tone.

I couldn’t look at him anymore, with him not making eye-contact with me. I lean back on the couch’s legs and look forward at nothing. “Clarke was the only one who stuck with me. With being pregnant, I gave up my scholarship to college and came here, to get away and start again. She helped me move here and stayed with me for as long as she could. I got a job as a desk clerk in a nearby company. After the babies were born,” my eyes water, remembering those long hours of labour, “I hired Wayna, the woman you saw, to help when I was working. I made a new life Aaron. I’ve moved on.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?” He asks quietly. Now, my anger surfaces.

“How? How could I tell you? I didn’t know how to contact you, your friends wouldn’t give me your number and soon I had to leave. I couldn’t keep searching for you, Aaron. I had to take care of myself and the babies. I didn’t have time for you.”

He flinches when I say that. “Once, Aaron. You didn’t call me once.” Tears leak out of my eyes now. “I kept hoping, kept waiting. Instead, I was all alone. I loved you. And I thought you loved me too.”

He finally turns towards me, expression full of sadness, regret and hurt. Good. “I do love you. I always will. I thought I was doing the right thing. I didn’t want you to wait for me and be stuck up on me when I didn’t even know when, if, I would return.” He pleads.

“And that way you dealt me a worse hand. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids to bits and wouldn’t trade these years for anything. But the heartache I felt for you? That killed me everyday, Aaron.” Tears are streaking unabashedly down my cheeks now. All the sadness, despair and hurt from so long shows in my words.

He pulls me into his arms. I am not able to resist and I cry and cry and cry, clinging to his chest. I can feel his tears falling on my skin too. I cry for everything I’ve been through and kept hidden for so long. He cries for everything he missed and could have made right.

After seemingly an eternity, I pull back. He cradles my face and wipes the tears from my cheek, pulling my gaze to his. I see heart wrenching regret in his eyes, it almost makes me cry again.

“Not anymore.” There is fervour in his voice. “You are not alone anymore, okay? I don’t care if it takes double the time, I am going to make it up to you until you can trust me again.” Tears stream down my cheeks again, which he wipes gently. I hold on to his wrists.

“Don’t commit to something on a whim.” I tell him. “They are children. I cannot bear it if one day you can’t take it anymore. It won’t be fair for Zoe and Zander either.”

“I planned on marrying and having a family with you anyway. What if the order is a bit wanky?” He jokes. I let out a choked laugh. “I promise, Riles. I won’t impose on you suddenly. It will take time for me to learn, and I know you; you need time to adjust to me being around again.” He says seriously. “We will make this work, you see. I don’t want you crying like this ever again.” 

I stare into his eyes for long moments, searching them, seeing if he’s telling the truth. “What about the army?”

“I’m done. I wanted to serve, I have. But I didn’t think I could stay apart from you any longer. I can’t. And now them, I don’t think I can leave again.”

I hug his chest tightly, hoping that this will be true. The hope that we might actually have a happy future, together, blooms in my heart.

And right then, my stomach grumbles. We break apart laughing. “First thing I am going to do,” he says “is feed you. You have become so thin! No, the mother of my children shall be kept happy and full.” He said ‘my children’. He must have realised it after he said it too, because then he whispers, “my children.”

I nod. “I need to feed them too, now.”

“Do you have food made at home?”

“No, I haven’t cooked.”

“Okay,” he says and both of us keep nodding, looking into each others eyes. He gets up and pulls me up too. “I’ll buy some food and get back.” He walks backward towards the door, glancing towards the kids’ nursery. “I have a lot to do and learn. I will be back.” He says again, to make me believe.

“Okay.” I whisper. Just when he opens the door, he stops and whirls around. Confidently, he strides towards me, cradles my face in his hands.

“Forgot something,” he says and kisses me.

The slow, tentative kiss, full of meaning, emotion and untold sentences. I cling to his shirt and he grips my waist. Its like listening to an old favourite song, learning the lyrics to it again and finding that you never really forgot.

We break apart and as I stare into his beautiful eyes again, I start to believe in our future. Our future, all four of us.


Yeah I know, this last part was pretty rocky (and kinda lame?) but at least I finished it right? Comment whatever you feel like 🙂 I promise to take the negative ones like a sport.

Getting to know her — April 25, 2016

Getting to know her

I perch on the railing of a balcony and look at the human standing a few feet away from me silently. She was so silent and still that I did not take her as a threat as I flew and rested my tiny legs here. Her face is still upturned, looking above into the night sky; gazing at what, I don’t know.

I am careful not to move too much, rustle my wings or make any noise as I sit there. There is something so serene about this female human unlike others that I don’t want to disturb her. I have enough patience to observe her in silence.

She sighs—not of sadness, not of longing, I don’t know why she sighed. She is still gazing up.

I carefully turn my head towards where she is looking and see nothing more than that normal night sky. I even doubt that she can see with as much clarity as me, as humans tend to have weaker sight than us. I look back at her in wonder.

I don’t make any expression. I’m a bird, not like any human even notices if there is a different expression on my face; they are not that intuitive. Birds have that intuition to understand each other through tone and tenor, our voices don’t lie of our feelings.

I go a little forward, mindful to not move too fast and disturb her. Daring, I move closer again after a couple seconds. This time, she notices me from the corner of her eye and breaks out of her trance. She jerks back slightly in surprise and I myself fly and perch farther from her, making the action in reflex.

“Oh it’s you. You scared me.” She says softly. I don’t understand why she speaks to me, no other human bothers. They usually shoo me off or promptly let out a curse. Yet, for the past few days that I have been here, she’s spoken to me.

I speak to her, but she doesn’t understand me. I make a soft noise to give a reply, my greeting. She takes it as that.

“You’re pretty stealthy, you know.” She says really softly again, which makes it almost the normal tone for me. She sighs again and slowly leans back on the railing. “Too bad you’re a sparrow. I would have been glad for someone’s company who doesn’t mind being silent.” I make another soft noise, not moving towards her anymore.

She only noticed me after a week of me coming here regularly, right around when she stares at the sky and is lost in her world. The first time she noticed me and jerked, I promptly flew away. Again the next night. Same the third. On the fourth night, she was waiting and was careful not to move too fast. She hummed softly after a minute of noticing me near her, her voice entranced me, almost as beautiful as a nightingale.

I kept coming back—for that voice, for the silent company. A few more days later, she started speaking softly to me. Talking about nothing and everything —things that seemed pointless and yet were showing the depth in her.

“Some days, dear sparrow, I wish I could fly away like you, not be stuck as a human forced to pretend all the time.” I crooned when she paused, encouraging her to continue and hoping she understood my support. “I suppose it isn’t easy for anyone to live happy these days. I see the rift between my parents and how it affects my little brother. I see how a remark about one’s body affects him or her so much. More and more I noticed the dark circles, the swollen and red eyes, the heavy makeup and the strained smiles around me.” She paused again, during which I stay quiet and still. “I started noticing the cracks and I can’t seem to stop. It’s selfish for me to be satisfied that I’m not the only one, but it also saddens me how most of us are sad.”

I don’t dare move now. She stays absolutely still too, closing her eyes and letting the moonlight bathe her face. A few minutes later, she hums a short tune, as if I’m forgotten. Then she opens her eyes and casually, as if I’m no more than another human, addresses me again. “Is all of that there in your bird lives? The heirarchies and bullies and sadness. I suppose not,” she chuckles to herself, “what do you birds do other than with to survive? I don’t know, I admit, but your life seems simpler.”

This has become too deep for me. I see it in her eyes, the growing hollowness, the ever-cementing helplessness. I cannot support her or offer words of condolence. I flap my wings twice and take off in flight. As I fly away, the wind carries the sound of her chuckle and sigh to me.

I fly only a few blocks far, taking in details out of habit, reassured that no one is around. I fly through the slit between curtains pulled in one of the open windows of a house. No human or animal noticed me fly inside in the dark night, the curtains flapping closed behind me. In a flash of light, I transform mid-stride and close the window glass with my hands. I switch off the lamp light and the room plunges into darkness.

As I fall asleep in my human form, I promise in my head, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will approach her in school. I will introduce myself and become her friend.”

Strangers and friends. — April 20, 2016

Strangers and friends.

All around me I see smiles, laughs and happiness. On me others see smiles, laughs and happiness. Isn’t this a queer game we play, pretending to be happy. I say pretending because there is no way all of us are this happy.

We are practically strangers, mildly friends. We hang out in the same circles amd only know details about each other through gossip. But how much of it is real? And does it really show insight into the person?

You say you know me because you heard quite somethings from a certain someone who heard it from another certain someone. This is like the chinese whispers game we used to play as kids, don’t you see? Facts, words, sentences and ultimately the news chamges as it goes from mouth-to-mouth. You still say you know me. You still say we’re friends.

I am blunt. I don’t say that, I hardly know you. I don’t know your hopes and your dreams, I don’t know who you love the most from all your heart, I don’t know who you want to be and whether you dislike who you are. I don’t know, how can I call myself your friend.

Would I like to? Maybe. Maybe not. Would you like to? Wouldn’t I want to know. But none of us are interested enough to truly invest time in each other. We remain mostly strangers, mildly friends.

This ocean — April 18, 2016

This ocean

Drowning in my sorrow is like the saying “drop by drop makes an ocean”. The water drips into my heart for years and years until my whole being is filled with the salt water that is tainted by the outside world and makes my body only a vessel to hold all of that leaving no place for good river water to flow in and remain pure. The salts spread until everything is bittersweet and now all the liquid in this ocean is like tears that taste of salt which give a small insight into the infinite well inside me from which water is hardly drawn. It all remains inside. Until one day when one more drop makes it overflow, when this vessel will not be enough to hold that much sadness that sorrow pours out to which others are astonished seeing. The water is blue like any other. No one knows of all the sadness inside me until they make an effort to draw out everything and help this well start afresh again. But now it’s too late because I am ocean now, not a well; an ocean too big and filled to start again. 

So I blubber, I contain, I hold all of it within my boundaries to my best extent. Drowning myself is a given, drowning others is not necessary. 

Reading all the happily ever afters give me hope, make me wish, that one day someone will willingly drown themself to give me company. The pragmatist side of me overpowers within a minute of that thought.

I remain underwater, hardly breathing, drowning forever. 

No, thank you. — April 16, 2016

No, thank you.

I try to be the perfect daughter.

I try to be the perfect friend.

I strive to be on top.

I try

Not to be a disappointment.

 

I plaster a smile everyday

Try to be calm and composed.

I keep my voice down

Trying to be the perfect girl.

I learn all traditions and rules

Even though I don’t want to follow them.

I pretend to be someone I’m not

In an effort to be accepted.

 

It is so hard

Now after so many years

To be myself

When everyone believed the fake me

As the real me.

 

I have changed, they say

I have become fake, they sneer

I am not the girl

I was brought up to be.

 

What they do not understand

Is that I have finally realised;

I tried so much

That I fell short for myself.

It is not a life I want to lead.

 

It is not a life I want to lead.

 

I will break out of the shell I made

Show who I really am because no one

No one matters more than myself

And I have finally accepted that.

 

I will stay up and stay strong.

You want to gossip about me?

I will give you something to talk about.

I will not be brought down and down and down

With these rules of the society

That were set in cement centuries ago.

 

I am my own self.

I will not bow down to your rules

Of how to be a person.

I am decent enough to apologise for it;

I’m sorry.

But no, thank you.

The Willow Tree — April 15, 2016

The Willow Tree

This short story was originally written by me for a guest post on emilyreadseverything.com


 

The only beautiful thing in Harktok was the willow tree. None of us knew how it managed to survive and grow when every other sign of greenery perished. In a small circumference around the base of its trunk, hardly two feet, grass grows. That was the sign of seasonal change for residents in the town for residents in the town. When you live near a mining area, and a little distance from metal factories, your day is filled with fog, smoke and dust. We hardly ever have a clear day, I’ve never seen a clear sky once in all the 26 years I’ve lived there. The small grass patch turning brown indicated the oncoming winter; Lush green reappearing announced the beggining of summer and thats how we spent our years – only noticing change in time with those few bits of grass.

The tree periodically changes too, but for the elderly in this town two seasons are enough, more complications and details would ruin the monotony of their lives, God forbid. All children are raised to have the same mindset. If adults lived long enough to witness their grandchildren growing, the same preconceptions are passed on.

The children go to school which is a decaying building on one end of town. Every time someone runs, you could almost feel the whole building tremor. Day-after-day, week-after week, the first thought that used to pass through my mind when I entered the school was, “I hope the roof doesn’t crumble on my head today.” I didn’t get much studying done when I was constantly staring at the ceiling cracks, waiting for the plastering to give.

When I managed to concentrate, I liked school. I didn’t mind the weary teacher dressed in slightly dirty clothes, who droned on, not caring if the students listened or not. But I did. I find facts fascinating-how each of them mean something, which fact they evolved from and what conclusions are formed from it. Most students, when they bothered attending classes, chattered or dreamt. I carefully noted down interesting information onto the few sheets of paper I owned with the one pencil we could afford.

Once, when I was seven, I borrowed a book about plants from my teacher. For several evenings I’d pore over the pages, reading as much as I could before sundown. My mother noticed and burst into tears. Even though my father said that I was wasting my time reading useless facts when my future is to continue their legacy in either mining or metal factory, my mother encouraged me. From then on, discovering that I genuinely wanted to know, she told me everything she knew and heard from others. She said she was glad that I wanted to learn, that it was rare for someone from here to dream of more. At the time I did not know what more was. I accepted her help, though.

Soon I had read and memorised all my teacher’s books, formulated ideas and pictures into my head. My father continued to voice his displeasure; my mother loathed feeling helpless to make my knowledge grow.

Days when I had nothing to do, nights when I was restless on the ruddy mat, I wandered to the willow tree. I would sit down on the road in front of it and take in every inch of the tree, never ceasing to be fascinated by how it had survived. I knew I was different, would I survive?

By the time I turned fifteen, I stopped attending school as there was nothing new for me to learn, and spent time doing chores at home. The day I turned eighteen, my father accompanied my mother and I to the factory where I would work. In the first few days, I took in everything I could about the factory, looking in awe at the machines and how they molded metal. A few times I managed to observe the metal refining section of the factory during breaks. Soon my life turned as monotonous as those around me-never changing, always the same routine.

My mother grew sadder and sadder every day I spent in the factory, losing the interest and curiosity I always had about everything. My father was only slightly happier because I now contributed a salary. Trying to bring back my old self, my mother saved up money and took me to a nearby town one Sunday. We hailed a ride on a goods truck in the morning and head off. This neighbouring town was only slightly better than ours, but it made all the difference to me. While our town residents occasionally wandered to nearby places and bought everything in bulk on behalf of a number of families, there were markets in that town. Stalls and shops in ruins and old buildings sold a variety of items; they even grew some of their own vegetables. Briefly, the old me surfaced and I jumped around like a ten year old in a nineteen year old’s body. That was the best day I ever had, but as all things, it ended. We caught a ride with the town dealer on his cattle-driven cart, sitting amongst boxes of misshaped fruits that we could never grew ourselves. With every mile the light in my eyes dimmed and shoulders sunk, along with the hope in my mother’s eyes.

That day, I realized that there was so much more to see in the world. Every day, I dreamt of going elsewhere, explore places outside my tiny town. I saved up as much money as I could without being noticed. I think my mother did, but I could tell she supported me.

I was twenty years old when I saw my chance. At home, my father was now half-pushing me to get married, as it was common knowledge that people didn’t have long lives here. But he also commented on how, if I did marry, my monthly contribution would be lost.

I was working at the factory when I spotted a man being shown around by the factory manager. He looked to be in his forties. I could tell he wasn’t from around here by looking at his clothing and posture. I hesitated on approaching him and asking for help. What if he views me as a nuisance or an opportunist? I’d also heard, from some people in my town, horrifying tales of girls being taken advantage of. In the end, I talked myself out of it and I missed my chance. I’d began regretting it immediately.

Later, when I was leaving for home, I noticed a well dressed woman standing in from of a huge black metal thing outside the factory. A car, I remembered from what I’d read. I was so astonished at seeing one, and clearly I wasn’t the only one. Many other workers stared too.

I steeled myself and walked towards her before I could change my mind. I was so nervous. What if she’s rude? What if she doesn’t even bother to listen to me?

“H..Hello” I stammered. She jerked back in surprise and I recoiled. “Um, I’m Molly White.” Without waiting for her to send me back or leave, I started explaining how I wanted to get out of this small town and I begged her for help, saying that I would be willing to work for her if she gave me a chance to see the outside world. All the while she stood there, astonishment in the expression growing the more I spoke. When I was finished, I waited for her to say something. After almost a minute of silence, my shoulders had slumped with dejection. I apologised for being so forward and turned to leave.

She called my name and I turned back to face her in shock, and a glimmer of hope. She said a few sentences on how she wished she could help me but she doesn’t have any job opening now. She said that she was glad I braved to ask. I murmured a thank you and a sorry and briskly walked away in search of my mother. I didn’t tell anyone what had happened, even though news spread about me talking to the posh lady.

A year later I married David Lamnt, a miner who is a couple years older to me. In Harktok, you go to the one legal building in our town, sign a couple papers and you’re announced as man and wife. I still kept my saved cash and continued setting aside money. In case of emergencies, I said to myself. I didn’t let David know, I didn’t particularly care for him either.

A few months into wedlock I became pregnant and I was over the moon, as they say. It was the one thing I was happy about. David started having affairs with other women; I didn’t care, and I think he knew that. Otherwise he wouldn’t have dared to in a town like Harktok where a mother yelling at her children is news.

When little Clark was born I took a leave of absence from the factory and doted upon him. David looked into the crib once in a while. He didn’t offer, I didn’t ask. By then my mother stopped working at the factory, too weak to continue. I left Clark in her care while I worked. Even though my father’s vision started deteriorating, he refused to quit working. No one said anything, the money was required.

It was almost Clark’s first birthday when I got called into the head office at the factory. I remember quite well how I walked slowly, shaking out of fear.

Instead of the manager, I found the good lady from before behind the door, whom I’d begged for help. She introduced herself as Mrs. Whitaker and proceeded to explain how she needed a maid for her home in the city and she’d thought of me. I was stunned. With tears in my eyes, I asked her the particulars of the job, and that yes, I was still interested. I’d heard of Conhone in whispers around town, how the city was very different and strange even though no one from Harktok had been there. Mrs. Whitaker said that I would be given a room to stay in and some money every month-more than my current salary, I noticed. I explained to her that I had a son whom I could not leave behind, and that I was married and my husband might not want to leave with me.

Did I care if my husband stayed behind, she asked, perhaps noting the tone of my voice. I replied, “No, I would rather he not.”

That day I went home and surreptiously packed a few clothes and small trinkets. David didn’t notice, I didn’t say. While picking up Clark, I told my mother everything. She handed me some bit of money, said to take them as her blessing and not refuse. I promised I would send for her. I admired the willow tree for the last time, vowing that I will stand out too. I will not be brought down by my surroundings.

The next morning, the whole town heard the guttural sound of a car arriving, could hear gravel crunching under the tires. Everyone was astonished when it stopped in front of our house. David was about to go and investigate when I stopped him. A cloth bag hung over my shoulder and Clark cradled in my arms, I announced that I was leaving and walked out the doorway. I honestly did not expect him to argue about it. He followed me on the small uneven path and yelled in front of the crowd gathered that I could not take his son away. I replied that he didn’t care about Clark, or me. He spit back words about me running away and leaving him behind with hardly any compensation for everything he’s done, and demanded that I give him all the money I have. If I didn’t, he threatened to take Clark away from me as, after all, he is Clark’s father.

A well dressed man got out of the metal machine and wordlessly handed a couple of costly bills to David as if they were nothing. David, in his shock of holding so much money, did not try to stop me from getting into the car when I was ushered in. The man got himself into the front seat and started the car. Soon, David, my mother and the crowd faded into dark fog behind me.

In the years I worked for Mrs. Whitaker, Tomas, the driver, and I became like siblings. He patiently cleared all my doubts and showed me the ropes of the city. I saved up as much money as I could to enrol Clark in a good school.

Today, my son is eight years old and at the top of his class. Every day I learn through him and I feel so much joy at seeing his enthusiasm to learn. I brought out my mother to the city with us after my father died three years back. I still work at the Whitakers’ but lease a small two-bedroom flat.

The story of the willow tree, surviving against all the odds when everything else perished, is one that I often tell Clark. I say that if you try, no matter what, you will bloom in contrast to your surroundings. My mother told him one day of my little story, and also how I loved that tree and was inspired by it. That night, he tells me in his innocent voice, “Mom, you’re my willow tree.”

While writing the first draft — April 7, 2016

While writing the first draft

It’s been a week in Camp NaNoWriMo! My goal is one thousand words per day and I am pleased to inform that I’ve written 10k words in 7 days. *cue: me doing a small dance*

Since I’ve made myself not read through what I’ve written, it means all my work is unedited and raw. I’m just typing with my flow of thought and let it go without really seeing my previous sentences. I know where I stopped writing the earlier day and I continue. I don’t read the whole previous chapter to understand where my characters are.

That scares me a bit because I’m worried about how much my writing sucks. I know this isn’t my best work, I know it while writing itself. But this is all about just writing down what’s in my head, right? Not the perfect outcome. Today’s Camp Care Package says that perfectly. I’m going to assume it’s legal to share the advice and go ahead with it.

Your daily Camp Care Package is here to feed and nurture your creativity. Author Marieke Nijkamp takes over as your Camp Counselor this week, offering inspiration and encouragement:

If your process is anything like mine, your inner perfectionist will have reared their head to demand you fix that small error on page two, and that continuity issue in chapter three, oh, and how about that characterization snafu, and maybe you should get rid of the entire first act of the book because there’s a better way to go about it, oh, and, and, and.

Get rid of that voice. This is not yet the time for perfection. This is the time for creativity instead.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be written.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be written.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be written.

I’m going to follow that.

I’ve been thinking of something the past couple days, and it has come up in yesterday’s Camp Care Package too. It’s about having a critique partner/alpha reader as you write your first draft; about having an enthusiasm partner. 

Author Marieke Nijkamp talks about having someone to read your story as you go and provide encouragement to continue; to say “I want more!” If there’s someone wanting the story, you might feel more inspired to write it.

I thought about that. Having two or three friends from this blogging world to read my story. But I’m hesitant. Reason: what I said a few paragraphs back. My writing right now is in such a basic level, with hardly any research and defined lines, that I feel intimidated to think about sharing it. Obviously, it’s not good and has mistakes or weak sentences.

Having alpha readers could go both ways-them encouraging you and also pointing out those mistakes. I don’t like my mistakes to be pointed out, I don’t think anyone does. Before sharing, because of that fear, I would make myself read through it again and edit which defeats the whole purpose of this challenge. I’m still at cross-roads. Maybe if, one day, my confidence is high for some reason and I decide to send out emails saying “do you want to read my work which looks like it’s written by a 10 year old?” then I might actually do it because I’m not the type to back out of something that I’ve notified others about.

What about you? Would you want to have alpha readers while you’re still writing your first draft?