My parents tell me about their youth. Times that they would like to live again. Memories, back to when they we’re not married. They drape their lives across for us to listen and get a glimpse of how carefree they were. My mother talks about how free she was until she fell in love with a man. A man who made a cage out of false promises and she chose to stay in it. My father talks about how he always meant well but never well enough to hold his ground.
He had kept the door of the cage open, always. He never believed in chaining someone down.
They don’t ever leave one another; the one free or the one captive. The cage has room for both of them, now. They sit in it with the door open. I think this is what Stockholm syndrome is like.
I learnt the importance of detachment at a young age. My feet are quick to change direction towards an exit even when my heart tells me not to. It’s been long since my heart sounded like mine.
Tiptoeing around the ones I love, biting my nails and avoiding interactions as I make my way out of their heart.
This isn’t a heart, I say to him. This is an iceberg and I push the ones I love off the tip.
My mother taught me to have a hard heart. Having a stone heart is better than having a cold one and if you don’t have one at all? That is the best. Shut them out before they see that you’re just a tangled mesh of nothingness.
A sadist ode to the inner masochist poet.
We’re all tiny galaxies orbiting around the ones we love. We make them our center of attention from time to time. I learnt from the cage she was kept in to know never to stay around anyone longer than their intended purpose in my life. Never slip through into their universe.
A failed union taught me to never let anyone become everything; even when great poets tell me otherwise.
I become watchful of boys who spin cages out of promises that they don’t intend to keep. Boys who tie ropes around your fingers with promises; and my mother still hides the jute marks from her wrists as she talks about love.
I remind myself to always be on guard when it comes to feelings. Never get close enough for people to lure me in with their ropes and cage me.
Practicing on the ones you love is the best way to be perfect at the art of running away. Never getting attached but always making it seem like you’re emotionally dependent on them. This way you can always have someone to love you but never run the risk of collateral emotional damage.
My psychologist calls this “fear of attachment” but I call this, survival in a world where everyone believes that love is a simile for imprisonment.
Because once I knew a boy who told me that his mother refused to leave his abusive father because she loved him. Months later, I saw myself in the same position- very familiar to our conversation. However, I decided to leave because in the end-we’re all just somehow fulfilling the patterns and scripts laid out by our parents.
I decided to break the pattern as my mother talks about how I should have stayed. I wonder if she realizes that love and hurt are not similar. “There is no need to associate the notion of hurt or pain with something so beautiful as love.”, I say, and she dares not look into my eyes.
Being “present” has never been one of my strongest attribute. I like to run away on purpose from people so there is no chance of emotional attachment which can lead to detachment, later on.
Escaping everything and everyone, like a social Houdini.
However, instead of magic tricks I just disappear for days on end because that way I can be friends with the empty space of my room.
Ignoring every attempt that people make to reach out to me with the phrase “I’m busy.”
I’m not busy.
I’m just chugging in sleeping pills and valium with a tenth of whiskey to sleep off whatever it is that is bothering me. Sleep off whatever it is that has been growing inside the pit of my stomach that I have to escape to deal with it but not deal with it, at the same time.
He tells me escapism is a magic trick that is getting old
I say, “Abracadabra” , and smile.
vi) I take two pills with a glass of wine. I realize that I’m getting old and so is this liver. I find myself trying to be careful in the destructive path that I have chalked out for myself.
Shit! I think I might be in love. Because why else would I be so careful?
The next day, he tells me that I’m not as bad as I like to tell the world. I smile knowing that he doesn’t have half the clue or maybe he does and accepts.
What I am in front of people is not who I really am or maybe that is exactly who I am. Someone so volatile, raw and absurd that everyone thinks it’s an act.
A reality mistaken for illusion.
He tells me, I’m more of a habit than a love.
He says, that my attempt to throw people off is forced than natural.
So, I push him and we laugh
He touches my hand
I can feel the ropes tightening on my wrists. The same ones I saw on my mother and warned myself about.
Every man I know searches for a lava heart underneath this iceberg even though I keep on telling them that there isn’t one. They try hammering their name on it.
Freeze their fingers trying to hold it.
Break them off.
I find their attempt at trying to find something real under something false so beautifully heart wrenching, I almost give them a chance.
I run before they realize that I’m not the person they want to freeze over.
Run as soon as their fingers become blue.
Run as soon as I feel the rope creeping up on my wrists.
I say their names like an empty prayer I will soon forget. A prayer that creeps up on your lips only when you realize that “loneliness”, is a word laced with melancholy and wrapped in abandonment.
I leave because the cage door is open and I’m not going to take a chance on captivity by choice. Never by chance.
The inside of the room was reduced to rubbles and thick dust covered whatever remained. Bleak sun rays entered the room and illuminated it how a thousand cannonballs of colors collide and disperse producing nothing but white in the end. The light reflected on one of the desks remaining covered with heavy dust. She could still read words written in white thick marker, “Heart shaped box”. At once, a face came to her mind and she caught herself smiling. Even standing in between the ruins of a place she once cherished, there she was, standing and smiling at the words. Of course, Selena had written them. She loved Kurt Cobain. She remembered how Afghani down the end of the market sold old cassettes of American and European bands at high price because it was forbidden and you had to be careful in purchasing them. Her walk down the memory lane was small lived and soon she found herself sneezing because the dust was getting to her. She pulled her scarf ends over her face and only her eyes could be seen as she examined the room. It was as if she wanted to soak it all in, the before and after of it all and never let it out of her memory. She wanted it deeply engraved on the density of her cerebrum.
The room smelled of gun powder and smoke with a tint of pine smell from the forest nearby. It’s a miracle how nature has the tendency to mix with even the catastrophically ruined things in life and make them appear beautiful or still give them a small piece of beauty so that they too can glimmer like nature does in all its glory. The walls that were once covered with bright posters that she and her friends made, were now torn and some on the ground. A piece of the wall from the left side of the room was completely on the ground and the bricks scattered along the way giving room for animals to enter-mainly mice-to come and make home. She heard the birds, she heard the rattle sound from down the street but it was unfamiliar. The sounds she used to hear so often during the old times, the sounds that were familiar back then now carried unfamiliarity in them and she could sense it. Some sounds were missing like laughter, talking and mainly joy.
She walked over the broken wooden chairs and distorted desks. The blackboard still had 12/01/2015 written on it. Present 25. Absent 2. She saw chalks on the floor spilled out like a psychedelic pattern and the teachers chair intact. She saw a piece of poster on the floor and picked it up. Sweeping off the dirt it read, “Ye apki class hai, isay saaf rakhna apka kaam hai kyun k safai nisf iman hai” (This is your class and keeping it clean is your responsibility because cleanliness is half of faith).
She read the lines a few times and then looked over her surrounding-ruined. How was she to explain to God if he asked? That religious extremist won’t get that they just took half of her iman (faith) from her in the process of destroying her school.
“Good things in life unravel themselves, slowly”, her father used to say.
Years later she found it to be true. The love she had for her unraveled itself, gradually.
Age 10-meeting in the playground and playing in the sandbox
Age 13-together a journey towards womanhood. She cried the day she first bled and the other waited. Two days later they were on the same page.
Age 15- the boy down the street caught her heart in the palm of his hand. For the first time, there was no joy for her friend but jealousy.
Age16- One happy in her surrounding. The other confused. One cornered by lust and the other by drugs.
Age 17- One lost her virginity and the other found her sexuality.
Age 19- He broke her heart. She was there to mend it hoping to be the glue that would stick her pieces together. She helped her depressed soul and the other gave her a home.
Age 21- She declared her love for her. It poured out like rain in a desert.
Age 22- The barren land bloomed with roses and jasmines. Search of soul mate came to a halt, at last.
Age 23- Both wait outside the court for the same-sex marriage law to pass.
“Good things in life unravel themselves, slowly”, her father used to say and they surely did.
The voices around her grew clear and the colors faded away washing everything in the shades of dark black till there was no difference whether she had her eyes closed or open. In the dark chamber where she had confined herself mentally now took on a more realistic appearance or maybe she was just hallucinating like always. It is a great feeling to hallucinate and create the surroundings you want. Sometimes, an escape from the real world and a lapse into her own world was one of the sweetest moments she relished just like a child relishes on the last piece of candy.
Here no failures or defeats existed but only a sense of sheer deadness that held all the serenity and peace she ever wanted in life. The sound of the water dripping grew clear. Drop by drop onto the wooden floor. There she lay still as wood becoming more aware of her body pressing against the coldness that came from the open window. The fan slowly hummed the sound of a moth. The clock made its usual ticking sound and here she realized that each tick represented a moment of the past. All she heard were noiseless noises that occupied her mind as she lay. Darkness had instilled into her bones and crept through her veins marking each territory.
She felt her hands moving around her. She traced the outline of the wooden floor and kept reaching out as an attempt to grasp something but not expecting to catch it. Finally, her hands touched what seemed like another body. What was that she touched? Was there someone else in the room with her? She got up in a hurry but couldn’t make out what it was because everywhere she looked, darkness encompassed her. Trembling hands and with a fast heartbeat she made out the outline of what seemed like a body. After tracing out the curves and ridges did she land on what seemed to be the thud of a heart. Thud! Thud!
It was alive. It was breathing, but too dark to distinguish anything. Her patience was running out and she craved for a source of light to make out who it was. She never hoped for a day when she would be wishing for the light so badly, but here she kneeled on the body trying to find the light to see who it was.
Until, it moved. The body move and she moved back scared at whoever it may be. Her heart anticipated of something mixed with fear but hope. The man opened its eyes to reveal gold color lights. The gold color illuminated all in its path and she made out a strong jaw line and a manly face wearing a stern look. The silhouette showed some features clearly while others remained a blur,
“You are?” she said in a trembling voice
“I am you childish redemption. I am your sin of lonely nights. I am the love you deceived in pursuit of lust. I am the innocence you exchanged for cleverness”
The body laid itself down, again. The words were being digested by her mind when she saw the body melt into the ground like it never existed. It was gone now but the words remained still in the air with the same heaviness.
The dark grew strong and the sound of water splashing on the wooden board continued. The fan hummed the same tune and she sat there becoming more aware than ever. Maybe, she was hallucinating again.
Don’t look back. Didn’t I tell you? Just don’t look back. It never does you any good. Hear me? It never does. Never look back. I keep on repeating this but you never seem to listen. If you have to close a door then shut it behind you but never look back.
If you drop something then leave it there. No point in going back to pick it up. Leave it. Don’t look back. Never look back. I keep on repeating this but you never hear me. Listen to me once. Don’t look back. If the voices call you and scream your name just don’t look back.
Don’t open the doors you have once closed. Never open them. You closed it off for a reason in the first place. Never chase anything that will lead you back. Never do. Keep you face forward and your eyes always ahead. If you have to look sideways then do, but never look back.
Looking back never does anyone good. It doesn’t. The most awful part is that looking back can be consuming. You wouldn’t want to be consumed so deeply and not get out.
Make it simple and never look back. Cut off all that holds you back and never look back. Never do. You left it for a reason there so now learn to walk ahead.
It might try dragging you from your collar or your legs but please don’t look back. No matter how desperate the call is never look back. It can play manipulative tactics to convince you to look back but please, hear me, never do.
For, looking back will only haunt you and bring pain. Hear me, never look back.
*He kept on repeating these words every single day on the sidewalk be it summer, winter or autumn.*
I never thought I would meet someone like you. Someone who will teach me to love again. Honest to God, I wasn’t much of a believer in miracles. I didn’t believe someone could revive the love in my soul like you did.
You did. I spent hours and days learning you. You were a new book, I had to read but the truth was even when I was done with you, I started to memorize you.
Learn each and everything that you are. I wanted you to be stored in the density of my brain forever.
I claimed you mine like a selfish bitch I was, I claimed you mine from the heavens above.
It was gradual and not sudden. It was us.
I forgot that everything that gets made also breaks.
Law of nature.
Now, I lay here with a few chivas in my system and smoke in the air trying to let you go
trying to unlearn you by learning that you were never mine to begin with….were you?
I kept looking at this person in the mirror which was now a soul instead of a body on display. Drunk and high, exhibiting the true colors it possessed. My soul. My body long gone.
My soul looked inside to search for all the secrets it hid, all the colors it didn’t show and all the stories it cherished untold.
I saw a person who was at war with himself. Mentally torn and dejected from its own being. Striving for a better future to put the pain of past away, tucked it under the rug and pretended that it was not there.
The body asked the soul in the mirror, “What have I become?”
The soul in the mirror had no answer but just wept at the state of what the body had become.
The soul in the mirror and the body on display started talking. They talked in poetry, short verses and pieces of prose.
“Live, Die, Live, Die, Colors, Sadness, Happiness, Obtain the needs, Consume more, Search for a new happiness, Pursue happiness, Never be happy”
The soul swayed like a pendulum with the body, they both moved parallel that night under the starlit sky and the silver moon.
They danced until they became one and then went different ways.
The soul to sky and the body to the earth.
The soul looked down at the body, now grinning, saying
“It isn’t love if its not painful, it isn’t love if it doesn’t make you suffer”
The body looked at the scars and smiled,
“It isn’t love until its lost”
In the morning, it is dark. The nights are even darker. The only lights are gunshots and rocket fires. Smoke filled lanes. Abandoned houses and streets. We are crammed in little rooms. Crammed in underground bunkers. I have seen more death than life. I am just a child. I think my heart dies a little inside, every time, I hear that someone I love is no longer alive. I am a war child. Living in square rooms. Living in square lives. This is what my life reduced to. This is of what remains, of what I thought would be a wonderful life turned out to be death and fight. The weekdays pass and the weekends go. I hear screams, shouts, and nothing more. I am a war child. Trapped in a square life. I have no escape. I cannot go back in time. I cannot rewind my life. What I have seen in my life cannot be unseen. The sounds of drones cannot be unheard.
Knock! Knock! They come on our doors. When we refuse to open it, they bash it and break it through. With big guns and badges on suits, dressed up in grey helmets and brown boots. They kick us around like animals. Parade around the room. Call us names. Curses and abuse. Grab my sisters by the hair. Take them to another room. All I hear are screams and shouts. All I see is deadly grins when they come out. My mother keeps weeping. My father went numb. Trapped in a square life. Trapped with no way out. My brother went to war. He said he would fight for the homeland. I heard the news on Sunday. I realized the last good hug we had was months ago. He was hit in the chest twice in two rounds. I realized I would not feel the warmth of his body against mine, anymore. My friends are all gone. I have no idea where they went. I miss playing with them. The grown up games are no fun to play. I tasted fear. I clenched onto hope. However, a pain throbs in my heart when I think of going outside and seeing the playground in such a mess. I tasted blood in my mouth, again. We are out of food. The electricity is gone. The sounds of sirens and cannons are all around. I am a war child. I am as I am. Nothing to see here. Nothing to read here. Just another story of a war child. Just another tale of large-scale massacre.