Refracted

You told me to fuck off, so I came here.

 

Two weeks ago I flipped a coin. Today it came out heads.

Maybe this is the hard part.

 

My hair is falling. Pulling the strands and coiling them around my finger in the shower, I think that if I wash my hair long enough this afternoon I won’t have any left.

 

By the fifth seven minute, I’ve had enough. There’s only so many times I can go up against anyone and lose in a day.
Tonight I carve a six into my thigh and hope it won’t happen again on a paper handed to me.

You’re lonely in the hills, you say. That when people from the lowlands call, you cry and cry and can’t stop.

There’s an emptiness in the chat that means you expect me to say something.
You cry all the time, you type.

So I ask, “from the loneliness?”

 

I always knew studying in the best law school in the country would be hard, I always knew I would cut everyday. I had the luxury of knowing this, it is a privilege.

If lawyers could sit in the hills like scientists, I wouldn’t cry at night.
I cry for wanting to be lonely.

Today you said we can’t help each other anymore, that there is no point of us.
Today, I say there will be one tomorrow.

You tell me to fuck off.

Ritwik was bronzed in the afternoon light, before the tube lights blinked on and pulled a blue evening behind the windows.

If I had my pastels I would draw him, who I would never be.

They forgot me again.
I retreat into my cave in these hills and forget that I actually do exist. Here in these walls my body is yet another thing that I’ve invented for myself, that my conversations with those who’ll have one are just simulations inside my head.

You can never know, with the constant clanging.

I cannot be sure of any merit I have because I alone didn’t have to prove it to be here, I cannot think of anything else but the walls of the academic block screaming at me, that I don’t deserve this, that I shouldn’t breathe unless I earn it, that I should not speak until I am allowed by those better than me.

 

I do not know what I am doing here, what I am working towards, why I walk into this class of the country’s sixty smartest of my age and still want to try, even if I finally don’t. (Its that my father has already paid so much-)

I cannot speak.

After four rounds of lost debates, I forget how.

I muster the courage to ask a question, and suddenly I can think of nothing but fog. Words come in broken spurts.

I fear being one of those we hear about, those pitiful names who leave this place because it was simply too hard. I hate them, and I grow sick to think that I might be one of them.

My father says its only been a month, that I don’t have to do well – just pass. That they have my back and they’ll support me – but my mother’s eyes are more tired with each time she video calls, and I see bruises behind a pixilated screen.

“Don’t come back,” she says, “there’s nothing left here.”

 

(I want to leave, everything.)

 

I study and read and work, yet the class has answers that I do not, I don’t think what we need to. I cannot understand the words, I cannot recognise the sounds.

 

dontspeakyoudontdeservetobreathe

 

LnD took me this year, but they won’t next year.
I wonder if they’ve figured out I am excellent at pretending to be better than I am. They’re some of the very smartest here, among the smartest. Surely, they have.
Each time I’ve spoken in committee, I was proved wrong.

 

 

I like to think it’s not that I’m not trying.
Its just something I can’t convince myself of.

LnD sent two teams and both won the debate tournament. Grabbed best, speaker too.

I am scared that if I start to get real, I’ll find out that I am not.

 

(Annyeong, he said last October, and soon it will be October again.

All he has left is his voice to drown out mine and his long lidded eyes on sheets of drawing paper.)

11:59

This is a question of who I want to be.

(but I can’t tell the six people advising me that)

 

I want to be something more, and for once, the people I idolize are asking for me.
They sent three people, and the other side sent me a line written in gold for a CV.

 

This is about who I want to be, but for the rest of the world it’s sheer stupidity.

The boy from the slums told us to just do what we want, and we’ll get to the top, like he did in his penthouse in London.

Flip a coin.

(Are you scared of which side will face up?)

 

LnD.
Maybe I’ll come to regret not having a golden line on the CV, one that’ll bring me a job.
But is it my place to decide as a 17yr old what is more important – loving myself or my future?
What audacity can one have at 17 to make a choice like that.
What insolence can I have to choose the thing I love?

 

The coin falls. It falls on the same stone slabs as it did two years ago.
Last time, it set my sights here, to these halls where I must make the decision.

StudAd.
I have a golden line on my CV, but I’m no different.
I am still not the person I came here to be, but what I came here to do is set in stone.
I chose returns over happiness.
I’m the person I came here to be, but I regret not being the person I want to be.
But I can hate myself and blame it on something bigger, something that’s not me – something that’ll give me 3 lakhs a month, but I will regret.
Maybe the regret will be worth it.

 

Maybe insolence is when I choose to do what I love on my father’s money.

I will hate myself anyway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coin shows me a heart.

Excerpts from a college application

Meaningless

I’m not much.
Do I want to be anything more?
Sitting here, not wanting or feeling is enough.

I cant make my sister smile when she desperately walks into my room, saying nothing, sitting on the bed and then walking away when I fail.

I like a bit of poetry. I like a bit of jazz. I like a bit of politics. I like finding new things.
I like a silly dick joke.
I like reading about my history and your history.
I like intelligence,  but I can’t sit in a room full of the city’s intelligentsia. I know, I tried.
Here, have me unabashedly talk about myself in this manner.
A fish bone got stuck in my throat yesterday and we had to spend 2000 rupees to get it out.
I’m worried I won’t get into college, and if I do then I’ll be worried about the tuition because my father will pay more than I deserve.
This is me.
I spent another 2000 bucks to calm my paranoia with an x-ray and consultation,  only for the doctor to say there’s nothing in my throat.
But you don’t understand, there is.
I like London. I like the Houses of Parliament. I like Buckingham palace. But I cannot love them, for in the hour it takes to reach there on the green line from Hounslow, I forget why I like them .
There is no England I know without Slough, and to forget that makes me upset. To want to forget that makes me angry.

Sitting here is enough, but I am not. I want to do things, exciting things. I want to be great. I want more, but I don’t want it enough. I sit among giants but I am not one of them. I am the audience to conversations like radio programmes of familiar voices hundreds of miles away at the broadcasting centre of my living room. I am there, but I am not.

This is my application and this is why I do not send it.