The ocean of his love.

I liked to joke she was Jesus Christ and that love, was water.  

Always walked upon but careful not to dip. I asked her why, she told me she was young once. Naïve once, that she would put on a cute little polka dot bikini and swim confidently in pools. That on Friday nights, she and her friends would strip and go skinny dipping in a fountain at the park around the corner. On days that felt too long, she would burn scented candles and play soft music while lying in her bathtub in warm water, allowing it to slowly envelop her. That is the love she knew, the water that was fun, soothing and calming all at once. A lazy pool, a secret fountain and a relaxing bath.

7b2a3378b161942ce8847b35b70680a2She sat me down, her face stripped of an expression, and told me about the first time she saw an ocean. A water body so large, a love so deep. She looked far into the horizon and tried to comprehend its vastness.  “The waves teased my toes, I’d curl them, but they got wet anyway” she said.  “He wanted me, apologetically.” The ocean has a sound, just close your eyes and listen. It’s a romantic invitation.

“And with a smile that was larger than life itself I stepped in, slowly losing sight of the shore” she recalled. She didn’t care, he made her happy. The water was cold initially, parts of him that weren’t easy to accept. But the longer she stayed, the warmer it got. The ocean was very quiet, and she allowed the water to wrap itself around her.

“Loving him was like that – engulfing, overpowering. And I liked it” she continued. I smiled at her, she had a look I’ve seen countless times, one of a woman in love. A look that says ‘Let me make you mine, and I’ll change you forever’

She made the water hers, kissed each wave, and had it coming back for more. His love always came back. Every time a ship came by and offered to take her home, she refused. “I didn’t know what they were trying to rescue me from” she said shaking her head. When she’d doubt their love, she’d float on her back and look at the sky his eyes had to offer. In them, she saw assurance.  

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The ocean was where unpredictability is born. One minute it invites you and makes you feel like you’re one with it. Calm, welcoming with its arms wide open. But like a great stage actor, it can instantly switch. Explode with its stormy tempers, flinging you around, attacking coastlines and breaking down islands, further pushing away any sight of the shore. “His love really was like swimming in the middle of an ocean” she nodded. “It was beautiful, except he changes, and then you start to drown

I hugged her, drowning isn’t an experience that one would like to recall, but she insisted. “Suddenly the beauty of the ocean started to disappear. His face looked less like a promise and more like betrayal. The salty water began to taste like tears, was I drowning in my own tears?” she asked. I said no, I reminded her ocean water has always been salty, it’s her perception of it that was changing. Love had always been kind to her, but she was realizing its duality, and he was going to help her do it.

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“Once he left, I stopped swimming. I couldn’t move a single muscle in my body. I almost let the water take me over.” She recalled. I told her about how I was told drowning is a peaceful experience, that you close your eyes and slowly numb till you become one with the darkness and silence around you. “It is, but only if you’ve accepted your death” she assured me. “But I wasn’t able to accept anything just yet

She looked away, as if an image of him suddenly appeared. Her face first showed disgust and then a hint of sadness. “The first thing that hits you is fear, fear that comes with the realization that something has gone terribly wrong.  But fear alerts your senses and makes them sharper, forcing you to completely experience what is happening” she continued. “All I could see was greens, blues, grays and finally blackness. I realized I was underwater.  I could see memories of us, his eyes, the lines on his palms and finally, an image of him walking away.”

 

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I sat there, silent. “I just wanted to stop feeling like I was drowning……constantly. I panicked, screamed and screamed so that someone could hear me. But my throat began to tear as sharp cold water flowed in. I waved and beat my hands and legs in all directions. Nothing happened. I was suspended in layers of water and every time I tried to hold on to something, more water slipped through my fingers. No one was able to help me or stop me from feeling this way. Where was he?” she asked, rhetorically.

“I could feel my lungs fill up with the cold water. I was fighting my own instinct to breathe. Doing things to delay what was happening to me. Cut off contact, loose the mutual friends, avoid all reminders. But there’s only so much you can delay the inevitable.” She paused. I just sat there, can one really console the broken-hearted?

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I finally just gave up. Took one breath, allowed the water to fill me completely. I allowed the breathing to stop. I allowed the darkness to eat me. As I closed my eyes for what I thought was the last time, all I felt was cold.” She recalled. “Cold, and alone” she added.

“It’s a miracle you made it out alive, huh?” I said, my voice as upbeat as I could possibly make it.

She smiled. “Ever since then love became an ocean of happiness I am unable to baptize myself in”

Like Jesus Christ” I added.

My first day back in Nagpur

“Ma’am, Taxi?” the guy at the arrival wing at the Nagpur airport asked. “Yes please, I’d like one back to Bangalore” I snapped. He gave me three gaalis in his head and I’ve come to a point where I let him. Coming back to my roots was truly magical.

My flight back to Nagpur fluctuated between two extremes, smiling to myself from ear to ear at the thought of finally being done with college and bursting into tears randomly every five minutes because if there’s one thing I cannot stand, its goodbyes. If you were sitting next to me on the flight, you’d be very confused. I asked for the coke smiling, I drank it crying. I turned on my laptop crying, shut it smiling. I said “I’m okay, aunty” crying and then said “I’m okay, aunty” smiling.

This is the state at which I found myself landing back home. Confused, scared, hopeful but driven. I walked out and towards the car a bag full of bittersweet emotions just waiting to burst. It’s always awesome to be back, the older I grow, the more I realize how much I need my parents. There are comforts only they can give you – like a fathers hug brings security and a sort of calmness brought only by a mother’s voice.  “You’ve put on weight” said a lady to me as soon as I walked out. You might think this lady is my mother, I neither deny nor accept this assumption. It may or may not be right. That’s all I’m saying.

“I know right” I reply. “Alcohol does that.” It hadn’t been five minutes since I’ve stepped foot into this state and my big mouth has already pissed three people off. My mom (Who that lady may or may not be), my dad and Sagar, the driver. I hug them both and turn to Sagar and give him big smile. You, my friend, I am the happiest to see. How many ungrateful auto wallas does it take to fall in love with your driver? Way too many. Way. Too. Many.

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If I ever do have a heart to heart conversation with Sagar, I will tell him how I truly feel.  I will tell him how every time I made a plan, I missed him. Every time I stood on the road, rejected over and over, I thought of him. When an auto walla looked me in the eye and said “Ma’am 20 rupees extra”, flashes of his face came to me, and as I said “okay” a small tear rolled down my cheek. Sagar’s face, was almost comforting. A hope. A distant dream that I was determined to achieve. But back in Nagpur, he returned my smile with a confused look. I could hear him go “wtf?” in his head.  Oh unrequited love, you evil friend of mine!

I walk into my room, and sit on my bed. This is it. I’m back. I left this room three years ago, a lot smarter and a lot stupider and here I am now. I look at the book shelf and marvel at how much my taste in reading has changed. I see my laptop and see pictures of people I never want to meet again. My study table smelt a lot like a 12th grader with a dream and my couch, had a puppy humping on it.

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Here’s my problem with a humping puppy. It’s a puppy. Here’s my other problem, of all the 83 (yes, I counted) pillows in my house that could be prospective humping objects, my puppy chooses my teddy bear. My father gave it to me when I was 7, and I’ve had teddy around ever since. I use to hug him and sleep at nights, sometimes I would sit and tell him why I’m having a bad day. He was comfort when I couldn’t find any. And now I have to watch him get humped on the couch regularly. I couldn’t have my puppy look into my eyes as he humped my childhood and so my nostalgic episode came to an abrupt end. Humped, is the polite way to put it. A week later I am to find the puppy nibbling teddy’s ears, the relationship, by then, would have progressed.  I’m half convinced my brother dims the lights and puts on slow jazz music every time my puppy enters the room.

“Figure out what to wear, there’s a dinner we have to go to tonight”  says my dad. I have to plan this. 1 hour to choose what I like. 15 minutes for mom to say no to it. 15 minutes to pick something she might like. 20 minutes to give up and just let her choose instead. 2 hours of sitting in front of the mirror and going though all five stages of grief and then getting into the car.

Hi beta” says aunty that will now tell me if I have lost or put on weight. “What plans now?”   The dreaded question. I proceed to come up with new and creative ways to say I have no bloody clue. Something along the line of I still don’t know my calling or I’m in the process of deciding, any bullshit that sounds like a response. “That’s okay, you’ll realize it” she says. It suddenly hits me, yes, yes I will figure it out. I will decide what I want to do, and will go to the best college that I can get into. I will find a brilliant job that compliments my skills and become one the best the field has to offer, it hit me like lightning.

Just kidding. Nothing changed. I smiled at her and went to next aunty to be told if I have lost of put on weight.

I spend the rest of the evening with my brother because he is my best friend, which isn’t as cute as it sounds. Can’t make any your mom jokes, what’s the point? 

I got back home that evening, a little upset. This is going to be it for a while now. Me in the blurry stage between major phases of life. Bangalore, a friend I reluctantly left behind. I slid into bed and allowed a tear. My brother walks in, “God, this is another blog post, isn’t it?” 

I laugh. Maybe I’m too hard on this city, I’m ready to give up college life.

I turned on the AC for the first time in months and wiped my tears with a 2000 rupee note.  

Missed period to magic.

At some point in her life, a woman looked at a man and decided that she wants to hold his wrinkly hands at 80. Love knocked at their door and walked straight in, like an uninvited guest that you only sort of recognize. A while later, they decided to have you.

When you first made your presence known, they named you ‘Missed period’. It wasn’t the cutest baby name out there but it was the most apt one for you. You were nothing but hope, hope that made her puke in the mornings, pee too much or tired her out more than usual.

4 weeks in, you’re the size of a poppy-seed. She ran to him smiling with a stick that said ‘Positive’. When she was 16, she sat and planned this day. There aren’t many times you can look into the eyes of the man you love and tell him you’re having his baby. You are now a ball of cells and have already given a woman ambition, a man a reason and maybe even saved a marriage.

Week 5, you look like a tadpole, but you’re growing fast. Your circulatory system is beginning to form, the first thing that will flow through it will be blood. But that will change the first time you watch your mother cry, her tears will flow through your veins forever. When you finally look at someone you like, a chill will join the mix and it will never really leave. One evening you will sit on the porch with a grandparent and hear stories about great grandparents and their grandparents – their hobbies, likes and dislikes. You will give in to curiosity and read about your heritage, history and ancestry. That day onward all of these things will become a part of your system. Every moment that changed how you look at yourself as a human begin will forever flow though your veins.

This is also the week your heart will start to beat. Let me introduce you to this organ, it is your best friend and worst enemy. Its beats are at a normal rate now, but that will change.  In some situations, this beat will happen faster – your first kiss, a job interview, when you hear about death, when you watch someone you love cry or you’re about to do something exciting. Certain times in your life you will offer this organ, metaphorically of course, to different people. Some of these people will put it in a box that has a soft pillow and take care of it. Others will throw it in the corner and watch it lie there. Both of these people will change you in different ways but the person that does both is the one that will change you forever. In a while your heart will meet its lifelong competitor, your brain, but that’s another story.

At week 6 your nose, mouth and ears are starting to take shape. This is an important step. Many many years from now, these senses will slowly start to give up on you and only then will you realize how rich they made things. The smell of your father’s cologne will become your happy place and aroma of certain foods will become all that you remember of your grandmother. That tiny nose of yours will make you love the first rain and hate the feeling of missing someone’s closeness.

Your mouth will make you who you are to the world around you. You will use it to remind your parents you love them, to finally tell someone you don’t, to make a new friend, to admit you’re hurting, to scream in joy at your first promotion, to howl the night you hear of death or put your thoughts into words. But it is your ears that will make other people’s voices familiar. They will make certain voices your home, certain will scare you and some will give you goose bumps. It is also your ears that will introduce you to music that will inspire you, and to tunes that were meant to find you.

Also at six weeks, your brain starts to develop, in time it will make sense of the information it will be fed. The tougher decisions in life will be made – a career choice, a college, a job, a soul mate, a friend and an addiction. Decisions with consequences that can’t be reversed. But your brain will also teach you joy – when you find love, a hobby, a proud parent, a sunny day, a life changing book and an awakening. It will become the storehouse of everything you see, smell, hear, feel and learn.

8 weeks into your existence, you start to develop toes and fingers. Your sense of touch is beautiful, and most people don’t realize this. You will spend the rest of your life searching for a surface as smooth as your mother’s skin. The first time you touch someone you love, you will relate to the desperation of addicts, willing to give up anything to have your fill. Your fingers will also help you create – paint, draw or write. Years from now, when you’re gone for good, what you create with these fingers is all that will remain of you, so do it wisely.

Ten weeks from now, your mother will feel you move. She will run to whoever is around and proudly proclaim this achievement. Everything you do from here on is going to be a big achievement for her. Today it was a just movement in her tummy, tomorrow she’ll be crying at your graduation, then dancing at your wedding and finally smiling cheek to cheek at her grandchildren.

A lot more is to come in this journey. Your mother will feel you kick, it is the first and last time you will intentionally hurt her. At 27 weeks, you will open your still underdeveloped eyes, growing up these eyes will see some beautiful things – smiles, mountains, forests, joy, two old people still madly in love. And some terrible things – poverty, violence, abuse, global warming, hate you didn’t know humans were capable of. Embrace both. At a certain age you will realize that the only way to get through life is to embrace the good and bad, ignoring either would be naïve. It is then, that your eyes will truly open.

At 39 weeks, you are fully developed. You’re the size of a watermelon. There are people on the outside whose lives you’ve already changed, they are desperately awaiting your arrival. You have already been planned and shopped for. On the outside, life awaits you. It’s a long and confusing journey – most of it will go in trying to figure out the things outside and the things within.

One fine day, a woman will turn to the love of her life and tell him her water broke. He will cry, laugh and at the same time rush her to hospital. The people close to them will show up for support. Somewhere also because the miracle of birth rekindles our faith in humanity. You are ready.

You will be pushed out of her body and a chord that connects you to her will be cut, you will learn how little physical connection matters in bonds that last a lifetime. Welcome to the world little one, look back at all the things this woman has already done for you. She spent nine months to develop your circulatory system, don’t lose it to drugs. She gave you a heart and made it beat, stop crying cause some silly fuck decided to break it. She’s gifted you a nose, a mouth, ears and eyes, use them to make every experience surreal rather than waste them away. The brain she’s helped you develop is a storehouse and a factory, remember every little detail and create as much as you can. This woman has literally given you a part of her and will continue to do so in many other ways, don’t waste what she’s worked so hard to create. 

The man will go and hug her and begin to cry. She will hold you and they will look into your eyes as a father and a mother for the first time. That, my friend, is the closest the three of you will ever come to magic.

A thing or two about love/loved. 

Let me tell you thing or two about love. His palms stretch from the forgotten east of this country to the dry dry west. Love, talks about biology. A bit too much. But love also gives me a hug when I ask for one. He eats like eating is going out style but always seems satisfied. His goals are now a little bit mine and man, does he have a plan. He has it all figured out. His future has just the right amount of realism and hope, a combination most of us are still trying to get right. Love, seduces simplicity on a daily basis. He has inspired 2 poems and three articles. I can’t​ wait to see what love does to my writing.

Let me tell you a thing or two about loved. He was a boy with an undying dream. His palms didn’t inspire metaphors but it sure did fit into mine perfectly. Loved, talked about his sister. A bit too much. Loved, never seemed to have a problem. His eyes shut all the way when he  smiles, he’s seen happiness and is unapologetic about it. Loved’s goals have just the right amount of faith and hope, a combination only he seems to make possible. His goals might have bits of me he is still peeling away. Loved, seduces laughter on a daily bases. I can show you books of poetry he’s inspired. Loved took my writing and built a rollercoaster for it.


When life knocked love down, he asked to be helped and sees no shame in it. Loved, would have probably taken a nap – making the best of a bad situation. Loved started his day in a certain way that is so deeply written in my mind that some mornings I refuse to get out of bed if it’s not his way. Love’s mornings are still a haze for me. He’s still a mystery to me. A book that was always on the shelf but was never read. Loved, was a book I read cover to cover, tracing my fingers over my favorite lines, repeating them over and over.


Loved came when he had to and left when he was finished, forcing me to search for past tenses of words I refused to accept: gone, was, had and loved. Love, dances on borrowed time but oh does he make it worth it.


One evening, love and I lay next to each other and spoke about the times we lost control of it all, when everything was happening too fast. He held me, and I swear, in that moment science was defied,  the world stopped spinning.


Loved, slowed down time too. Each morning, each meal together, every inside joke we laughed at will forever play at the back of my mind in slow motion. Nothing, not her, not him and no amount of broken faith can change the fact that once, loved was love. 

And we’ll always have that, won’t we?


Loved found his love too, in the arms of a girl with small eyes and chestnut hair. Giving into a building tension. One month later, I sat with an image of her, and asked her to repeat details of their evening over and over and just like that, my love became loved. She looked a little like a trash can that contained all my faith in love. But she was the girl that showed me a truth that’s existence I kept denying, and for that I will forever be in her debt.


Today I look into the welcoming eyes of love and put on my gear. Here’s to yet another adventure, sweetheart. 

Here’s to going crazy, first over each other and eventually, in our memory.

The hardest of goodbyes.

I type as I sit in my practical class, just two weeks short of graduating from college. It’s here. I got here and I don’t even know how.  I’m in a city that slowly became home, among people who I slowly learnt to make mine and here I am, slowly preparing my goodbyes.

Saying bye to people and not knowing when you’ll see them again has always been one of my greatest fears. A fear that seeped in the last year of boarding school and never really left. Distance became the friend I didn’t like but was always around. The people I love always seem to be in another city, country or continent and no amount of contact allows it to remain the same.

Some byes I’ve been practicing in my head for a while now.

The best friend I met in college and slowly got to know, I’d have her come along with me to get waxed and ask myself where she was all this time. My college circle of friends that somehow have come to know me more in these 3 years than most people have in my lifetime. I’ve rehearsed what I will say to the group of friends I thought would stick around but didn’t because that’s how the world works. I’d like to hug the people who I could have become close to but it never seemed to happen. I’m going to write a letter to every person in the group that I slowly started to call my family, the family that I was so far away from and ached for constantly. I want to personally go up to and thank the guy that became like a brother to me and stood there the morning I decided I’m impossible to love.

There’s a smart comment I want to make before saying bye to the girl who cried to me in a dingy bathroom of a pub because she was right about him and yet he continued to lie. I want to buy my joker friend lunch and laugh with him till my tummy starts to hurt. I’ll ask my roommate to cuddle with me the last night till we could escape the fact that she isn’t actually my sister and our clock is ticking. I’m going to buy my study mate a box of junk food for all the 4 AM’s we hunted for whatever little we could find. I’m going to say a simple ‘Bye’ to the boy I was madly in love with because lack of emotion is the loudest of cries. I’m going to smile at my best friends boyfriend who came around when I needed him.

I will call my nerdy friend in the middle of the night not to ask for notes 6 hours before the exam but ask for a conversation instead. I’ll drink one last cup of coffee with the girl I only seem to know over a cup of coffee. All her stories smell of the perfect decoction. I will finally go and ask the silent girl in class, who I sat next to, about her story.

With each of these people, I will leave a bit of me. These goodbyes will be teary ones. All I can hope for is to part with faith. A faith that there will never come a day I walk by them on the street as if they were strangers. We all know everything is going to change, but hey, can we please attempt to recreate our college days when I see you again, if I see you again? Can we forget the fact that time is crushing us all for just one moment?

And then there are the goodbyes I’m too sacred to say. Because these goodbyes are for certain. These even faith cant console.

Extra strong?” he asks with a smile. I nod. He knows that’s how I start my day. Bhaiya hands me the cup of coffee and I walk away. 365 days a year, 3 years, every morning. He has seen me on my worst days – the mornings after countless sleepless nights or the days that I just didn’t have the courage to get through. He’s also seen me on my best – ones where I refused to stop smiling or the excitement for something great I know is going to happen. And we don’t even know each other’s names. So tell me, how will I take my last cup of coffee from him? How will I say goodbye?

I don’t have the heart to walk into the grocery store next to my house because next week’s shampoo, will be the last bottle. The old guy that always shows me where the sugar is kept and then asks me if I need anything will never know that this bottle is my last. He first spoke to me when I walked around discovering my new neighborhood. He asked me if I needed anything, and he asks me the same question every time. With familiarity, the tone of his question changed from compulsion to concern. Genuine concern is hard to find these days. What will I say the last time he asks me what I need. That I need to find a way to say goodbye? How will I say goodbye?

She’d frown and say “Pay me later” at the end of every month, she understands we’re all broke. Talk about tough love. The lady we bought juice from had a reluctant smile, I never asked her why. She’d ask us if we ate lunch to make sure juice is not the only thing we’re having. “You girls, I’m fed up” she would complain. “Even my daughter is trying to lose weight, so fed up”. I wonder what she’s named her daughter. Few weeks from now, I will look her in the eye and order a juice that I won’t be able to taste. Can I not pay her and come back and pay her later? In a few years, for old time’s sake? How will I say goodbye?

These are just a few of the many goodbyes I’m dreading. The security guard that lets me in without an ID. The landlady I can’t seem to go beyond small talk with. The guy in class I could never get along with. The girl whose writing I’ve admired but never really talked to. The fruit guy that never seemed to have strawberries. The man who asks me to move out of the way every morning while sweeping. The security guard in my apartment that’s overly protective. The maid that isn’t. The kid in my college I spoke to only once but always smiled at. The guy that sells me newspapers outside my apartment that always gives me change.

These are the faces that I see every day but rarely notice. They know details about me – how I like my coffee, which fruit I like, how much ice I’d want on a hot day in my juice and how I switch my shampoo on the bad days out of habit. But not one knows my name, not one has ever asked. They haven’t drastically altered my college life, nor have they said or done something that changed me. These are the people I doubt I’ll ever walk by on a street, even if I do, I probably won’t even realize. 20 years down the line, I imagine talking of these people to my children and not being able to recall their faces, let alone describe them. In my lifetime, they’ll become vague shadows of what use to be people.

And isn’t that scary?

So tell me, How should I goodbye?

 

 

A morning in the life of Shyla

The alarm goes off and I am snapped out of my dream, Channing Tatum didn’t get to say goodbye. But you know what they say, never say goodbye, it means leaving and leaving means forgetting. And I don’t plan on forgetting a strong jaw line and 6 pack abs anytime soon.

I jump out of bed and get dressed. You can tell I’ve been in college three years from the track pants and badly ironed t-shirt I proudly walked out of the house in. At some point in life you hit the ‘fuck this shit’ phase and find yourself driving to work in pajamas wondering if you should stop and binge on two dozen chicken nuggets before getting there. I hit that point in college. Mummy and daddy are not proud.

The worst part of my day has already come my way. I call the cab guy and ask him where he is. He informs me he is right there. I proceed to ask him where ‘right there’ is. He promptly tells me right there is right here. 15 mins later we come to a common understanding of the definition of right here and I get into the cab. We’ve already had our first fight and our now enjoying our first comfortable silence. Before we could get to discussing our careers or past heartbreaks, I reach college.

My first stop is the canteen. “Double coffee, please” I ask the guy. He hands me a receipt, I walk over to the coffee guy and hand it over to him. I like to believe that he and I are good friends now and that we share a common hate for all things morning. He doesn’t want to be here just as much as I don’t. I ask him to make my coffee ‘extra strong’. He does and then gives me the ‘Caffeine isn’t going to solve years of late nights, no exercise and energy issues, Shyla’ look. There is a look like that, trust me. My coffee guy gives it to me every morning.

It’s 8 am and I have already been shamed by my morning- coffee-making friend. I really do need to learn to let go of the toxic people in my life.

Breakfast as a college student is a luxury, at least that’s what I tell myself when I sit with my coffee and try to figure what I want to get. After picturing my nanis very disappointed face telling me that health is everything, I go and order deep-fried puris. I look around to make sure no one noticed. Guilt has never tasted so good.

At a distance I see my friend running towards me. There are very few reasons one can attribute to a person running in campus. Either there’s a class they just have to attend or there’s bad news.

It’s my luck, “Shyla, I have bad news” she blurts panting. “He’s downloaded tinder.”

It’d tell you who the he is and the back story to this but I’m pretty sure you and I can both agree no one cares.

“Why download tinder for constant disappointment when he could just use a mirror?” I snap back. I look around in all my glory for applause. There was no applause, there was hardly an audience to begin with. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that smart comebacks won’t make me a living.  What a shame though.

We get up and head to class. Ahead of us is four flights of stairs. Two flights in, I don’t even want my degree anymore.

I walk into class. By now I have already got into a complicated relationship with Channing Tatum, got to college looking like I’m having a pre-midlife crises , contemplated monogamy due to a cab driver, tried to solve my crushing emotional problems with caffeine, disappointed my Nani, felt a slight satisfaction in his despiration and climbed four flights of stairs.

All that, and it’s only 9 AM.

My nose ring. 

(Inspired by Melissa Lozada- Oliva)

The blood from my nose ring was like two kids kissing for the first time. Taylor Swift’s ‘Love story’ is playing in the background and they both are really awkward. They’ve watched too many movies for this to go right. They are trying to avoid the image of god staring at them in disapproval.   They kiss and it’s all slimy, the butterflies fly away and the goosebumps disappear. One eye is closed but the other is at the door in case someone comes. They both know if her grandmother walks in then they’ll have to ask for forgiveness from god.  But nothing is stopping this from happening.

The doctor doesn’t think my description is funny. “An infection is a possibility” he sighed. “If you keep touching it, I’ll have to prescribe you painkillers.”

So maybe the blood from my nose ring was like a more serious kiss. The kind where germs and promises are exchanged. You don’t mind the bad because there’s always the good with it. But once the good starts to fade, the lines get blur and you don’t know what to do. You just want to stop the pain.

The doctor asked me since when I’ve been wanting a piercing? I said I don’t know, since 8th grade. Which is something I was told by my best friend. As in how long she’s been harming herself. As in when she discovered she wasn’t perfect.

He asked me where I got it done. I told him I can’t really remember, I went into a long description of a tiny shop in the third lane of this crowded street. Which is also how I look back at trying to figure what I wanted to do in life. The tiny shop, a decision I’m not sure about. The multiple lanes each holding different shapes of promises and different colors of regrets, everyone in the crowd not only telling but also looking. But now I can’t remember.

He said “I’m not here to talk to you about your career options, I’m just pretty sure you’re about to develop an infection”

I told him it still hurt. He said that’s the thing with Piercings. The initial blow is bad but quick, it is the recovery that is painful. Which is how consoled my sister the morning he left her and did not come back. The decision is easy to take, it’s the aftermath, the quiet mornings, the silent phone and the meal for one that is hard to eat, and it becomes an infection. Sadness would look bad on her and the infection will look bad on me. People will point at us and ask what’s happened.

“Tell your sister I say hi” said the doctor, “I wouldn’t be here if I got metaphors. The hole has already closed, stop trying to re-open it.”

I walked out wondering how the hole shut 20 minutes within the ring falling off, is that how desperately my body wanted to heal? Is that how quickly it feels the need to fill the voids my decisions create?

For a week I allowed the infection to slowly spread, there will always be consequences to decisions. When the infection was gone, I stood in front of the mirror and missed the ring. I liked how it use to look.

I went back to the shop that day and got the piercing done again. Because maybe I was thinking of this all wrong. You see, there will always be that dent in my nose. Our decisions will remain with us, we might as well feel good about them. It is the things that hurt us that make us look beautiful. Be it an emotional dent or a literal one. And I liked how the nose ring looked on me.

“I am not here to over think your piercing, can you just keep your head straight and stop talking” the jeweler said to me, a little frustrated.