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.

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.

8 of 30/ trap/ 36

I fall into the same trap everytime,

like a circus animal, I repeat the

same tricks for different crowds

at the behest of someone else, and

I never quite understood where it

all went wrong, only that I would 

rather gnaw off my own leg than

believe these silky sweet lies, rather

die stuck in the same cycle that

I was trying to escape, than 

become a pawn in your game,

because the truth is that no matter

how hard I try, my own naivety 

drawns me back in, my own 

foolishness makes me fall in love

with the same faults that made 

me leave, and most days I try

to run away from this life the

destinies plotted for me, but most

days, I don’t succeed. So instead,

I walk into the trap these days,

knowing fully well I could be

maimed, and I sit there patiently,

waiting to finally meet my

hunter, waiting to finally strike.

Proxy

​I buy notebooks and fill them

with traces of your

vivid dreams, and

I buy notebooks just to write

your name in them, just

to hold them close when

I can’t hold you. 

I write in whispers these days-

silently. 

Stealthily.

Your body is a house I wrecked

a while back, but 

I still want it back.

I sneak in sometimes (when

you aren’t around) and

watch it 

slowly,

sneakily dissociate. You hide 

your love from

yourself: blame me. 

You carve yourself up: blame

me. You scream and watch

yourself bleed: blame it

all on me,

I don’t mind being the 

proxy between you and your

body, I don’t mind being the thing

you mistakenly

attribute your hurt to. 

I buy notebooks even now.

Fill them up

with traces of you.

Traces of your lips, lingering

on mine. 

I hold them close,

because

I can’t hold you.

Breathe

​Everything around me is bright, and

I’m squinting just to survive; 

everything around me is happy 

and I’m withdrawing further into

myself at every chance I get- I 

just want to live. I just want to

dance and be able to see the 

same sun everyone else is, not 

the one that’s tinged red, thats

tinged anger, that’s tinged bitter.

What will it take to make myself

whole? Today I stood on 

someone’s chest, but I was the one

who couldn’t breathe. Who wouldn’t

breathe. Is there even any 

between the two anymore? A boy

once told me that if I wanted to

write, I first needed to experience

things, I first needed to ‘shed some

blood’; Now I’m bleeding and I 

just want to fix myself. I just

want to breathe. I just want 

to be calm. calm. calm.

Appearances 

​Pieces of me 

lie in splinters on

this dusty 

ground- nobody

has made

an effort to erase

my remnants 

from this floor. Yet. 

The key to 

self harm lies in knowing

how to hide it,

in knowing that nobody 

looks at a

supposedly happy person’s 

arms. Or legs. 

Nobody checks a pious 

brat’s veins for 

drugs- this world is about 

appearances. Not

reality. Pieces of me have 

laid here

since last Wednesday and

I don’t blame 

anyone. Why would they want

to come near 

my filthy personality when I can’t 

stand it myself?