A/ 80

For you, the truth does not float above the lies like oil does above water, instead it dissolves like sugar in a cup of tea, and you can’t tell where the truth ends and the lies start, can’t tell where the sugar stopped being sugar, and instead became just another ingredient swirling in your tea cup; your own personal storm, your own unique blend of falsehoods and sincerity- it’s been so long since you were yourself you’ve forgotten what it felt like. 

Scars form intricate latticework on your arms, embroidery on your shoulders; they’re like battle scars, like keys to unlock the truth of your trauma, and I wonder whether you run your hands over them absentmindedly, feel how the muscle beneath the hurt has strengthened to stone, feel how the scars have faded to mere pastel memories, and I wonder whether you feel proud of what you’ve managed to overcome – you have been acting like Atlas for as long as you can remember, and the scars are now just a reminder that you are no longer kneeling. 

Or atleast, that’s what you tell yourself, and you believe it wholeheartedly, there is no difference between deception and candour, no difference between wheat and chaff- so you tell yourself you are no longer kneeling, while ignoring the people around you you’ve subjugated. Everywhere you went, you bent people into monsters and hardened their hearts until the only thing they felt was raw. You flayed them alive but told yourself it wasn’t your fault. And yes, you did rise, you had your own dawn, had the sky herald your growth as a new awakening, but what about the people you left behind? The hearts you trampled? The lies you wove? You may not be kneeling anymore, but you should be. You should be. 

But I don’t expect you to. Don’t expect you to live your life in accordance with the shame I think you should feel, the shame I hope you feel; I am not that naive. Instead, all I hope for is when one day, you decide to start unravelling all the stories you spun, you’re able to face the person beneath those lies. Beneath those scars. Beneath that bluster, that laughter, those jokes- I hope when the truth emerges like the sun does from behind the clouds, it does not blind you. Or burn you. I hope you bask in it. I hope you survive it. I hope, when it comes down to the gates of heaven, you remember who you were and not who you became. Not the person you moulded yourself into. Not the person you were made to become. I hope, when you finally see what I saw, that you do not hide, but instead you become a better person because of it. The same way I have. The same way you soon will.

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challenge/79

You hover in the background

of my life, like a ghost that 

refuses to let go, and your

mind is cluttered with questions,

each one it’s own brand of 

egotistical, but you’re too afraid

to ask me anything, too afraid

to even say hello, instead, your 

eyes dart away from me faster

then I can register- I guess we’re

both trying to pretend the other 

doesn’t exist, but it’s hard to ignore

a presence that lingers so close 

you can feel it’s breath on your 

back, I guess, you don’t want to

look at the cause of your guilt. 

Don’t want to acknowledge the 

lines you’ve crossed, see the scars

you’ve left, guess you don’t want 

to deal with the fallout, so instead,

you ask other people- our hearts 

are tin can telephones and they are

the string that connects us, the

rope that will hang us; they are the

middlemen in a transaction that’s

taking place under the table, but 

I would like to change the rules of 

this game, because I hold all the 

cards, you just hold her- I hold 

all the cards, you just hold lies, 

you’re just about getting by, so 

next time you want information, 

get it yourself, stop using your 

friends as proxy walls to answer 

for your bad behaviour- 

do it yourself, and then, when

you’re standing all alone, let’s

see how well you fare.

For Vietnam, Anguilla, Barbuda, the Bahamas, etc. /78

You built your house hoping to 

build a life that could nestle 

inside it, safe from the storms

that the sea keeps throwing your

way, and you built your houses,

hoping to turn them into homes,

into places you could raise your

family, places you could grow

old, places you could exist safely, 

and now that very home has been

torn apart- the winds circled your

coasts like wolves surround their

prey, they reduced entire buildings

and livelihoods to rubble, took 

the electricity taken for granted

and reduced it to futile sparks-

but you’ll rebuild, this is not

the first time your country has

been lashed by stubborn storms,

and this will not be the last, but

each time, you will rebuild, your

will to survive will never turn to

ash, so as long as you’re alive,

you will fight. When there are no

houses to turn to, you will create

a home in yourself, in your 

community, in your strength that

remains- your buildings might 

shake, might fall, might be reduced

to mere debris, but you shall

remain standing, like you always 

have. Like you always will.

to clarify:/ 77

I AM NOT IN LOVE WITH YOU. 

Instead, I am in love with the idea

of leaving you behind, with

the idea of living in a city, or

sleeping in a bed where I have 

never kissed you- I do not long

for your touch. Instead, I have

hot showers, hoping that 

the boiling water will burn away 

the trace of your hands, because

I am in love with the idea of 

forgetting. In love with the idea 

of moving on, of kissing a

different set of lips, I am in love

with the idea of forgetting who 

you are and maybe you won’t 

understand that. Maybe one day,

you will. But no matter what day

it is, no matter what time it is,

I am still not in love with you,

and I’m never going to be again.

heart on loan/ 76

Last December, I gave you my 

heart while we were sitting on 

swings in a resort in the middle 

of nowhere. Everyone else was 

celebrating life, the air was

vibrating with joy all around us,

but we just sat there. I was

thinking about how, no matter

how hard I try, I can’t always be 

the good person, and you- well

I don’t know what you were thinking

about, but I would like to imagine 

it was me- and so while we sat

there I gave you my heart on loan,

told you I would need it back 

eventually, told myself I would 

take it back sooner than later,

but it’s been 9 months and 

I guess I got around to this pretty

late, but I would like my heart 

back now. In the same condition

I gave it to you- it was a bit bruised,

but it was still alive. Still

thumping loudly, I could hear it

in your pocket as you walked away,

it was alive. Yes, I’ll admit, it 

could have been in better shape 

then, but I’ve never trusted anything

perfect- I like to pick the less

visually appealing item no matter

what I’m buying, and my heart 

was no different- it resembled

a collection of crushed strawberries

in a small glass jar, and I liked it 

that way. So give it back to me.

Give it back to me in the shape I

gave it to you, I don’t want the 

imprint of this year on it just yet,

don’t want to see it wither, don’t

want to see it go from strawberry 

to blackberry, so give me my 

goddamn heart back. I should have 

never let you have it in the 

first place, should’ve known you 

would be the kind of guy who

would lose it in his cupboard, lose

it under the pile of lies lying

on his bedroom floor, but

don’t worry, I’ve realised now. 

So last December, I gave you 

my heart, and this September,

I would like it back. 

coward/ 75

you said it was because of them/ didn’t know you were someone/ without a spine/ didn’t realise for you/ the lies only prick when it suits you/ 

isn’t morality comfortable/ when you can alter it to the size and shape/ of your excuse/isn’t an ending welcome/ when it’s on your terms/ isn’t it nice cutting someone out/ when you’re the one/ holding the scissor/ doesn’t it feel good/ to be free of the baggage that comes with/ misdeeds-

you said it because of them/ but maybe it’s also because of you/ maybe it’s also about you/ your inability to deal with the fallout/ 

you said it’s because of them/ but maybe/just maybe/ you were lying.

the hills/ 74

I haven’t been writing much these days.

Mostly because writing makes me think of you, and

thinking of you makes me think about this 

summer- the way we hiked up a hill so that

you could show me the skyline, and, I remember

thinking that maybe you thought I was the sky,

because you looked into my eyes like they were

stars. Then, we kissed as cars passed us,

alternating between laughing and kissing and laughing

and kissing and I remember it felt like a movie,

like a reality so picture perfect it didn’t exist, and

that’s why I haven’t been writing, haven’t been

penning down these thoughts, because

I am still in love with you, and the more

I write, the more this feels like the present and

not a past, the more I write about you, the

less in control I feel- like I am still falling, like 

you will still catch me- I haven’t been writing

lately, because writing makes me think of you,

think about the love I used to have, the love

I lost; I haven’t been writing lately, because all I 

can write about is you, and you’re no longer mine.

29th July/ 73

I miss you so much. I’ve been 

thinking about you a lot lately, 

thinking about how having

you here would change everything,

how having you here would 

make me a different person,

one who doesn’t wear the

stain of grief on her soul, and

I keep wondering how you would

react to life I have, to the panic

that surrounds me, to the

things I keep trying to do, the

things I keep failing at and

I don’t know- never got enough

time to find out what could

have been, never got time to

figure out what two parents

feel like and now, now I miss

you so much it hurts on the

best of days, is debilitating on

the rest; I don’t even remember

what your voice sounds like.

Don’t even remember what I talked 

to you about, my memories 

are flitting away like migrating

birds and I’m just sitting here,

watching them leave me, while

wishing, praying, hoping, that 

they’ll be back. That you’ll be back.

on not being able to escape you/ 72

Whenever I shuffle my Spotify 

library, every second song 

reminds me of you, reminds

me how no matter how

hard I try, you’ll always be

around, because the songs

are still good even if this

love isn’t, and whenever I

see you in the hallway I 

can feel my heart skip a beat, 

but it isn’t in a good way, more 

in a way that makes me want to

dig a hole in the ground and

crawl into it until the storm 

passes- now, you make me feel

like I’m falling but somehow, 

despite that, I still expect

you to catch me. Still expect

this not to lead to visceral 

longing; after all this, I still

expect it not to hurt; but the

expectations don’t matter 

because I can’t escape you, can’t

escape the trace you’ve left 

on my life- you cover all my 

memories like a layer of 

dust in an abandoned house,

and I don’t know where to 

start cleaning, don’t know

how to start forgetting, don’t

know how to start escaping

from the death trap this love is.

letting go/ 71

Every day is still a 

struggle, your face is 

inked onto my memory 

and I can’t seem to forget 

your voice; you haunt

me no matter where I am.

Today, all I could think of

was that night in the 

park, all I could 

remember was how

good this used to be, and

now my heart plummets 

when I look at you, every 

word you say a pinprick

on my pincushion heart,

and I don’t know how to

stop hurting. Today, all

I could think about 

was your hands on my 

waist, mine around your

neck, all I could think

about was the good 

times, but those are 

over now, and I’m not 

sure how to let go.