notes from today

its six thirty and i want to cut again

its been bad since i submitted the moot memo

fuck, i hate being a law student. im too much of a coward for it

i cut yesterday, and fuck, it felt amazing.

i guess this must be the ‘bad’ part, but ive only cut thrice this month, and twice in the last

and my head isnt a fucking see-saw anymore, just like…a constant numb

my dads basically declared that hes retired now, except in those words

my mom is, well, still cribbing about life

my sister is stuck between them and i only hope she doesnt cut, or starve, or purge, although i wont be surprised if shes addicted to shit too

 

funny, my professors know the chief justices in the country and they tell us things that we hear the exact words in court judgements a week later.

my mother talks to people who say “oh, i went to arjun’s house. damn, hes having a baby, had to go visit. such a pain, these young people.” Arjun, being one of kolkata’s TV stars from an established family that has produced Tollywood who’s whos for three generations now.

my dad’s going to the UK again for the third time this year- that’s not counting his trips to the US, and the ones to Goa and Delhi. Why? To meet his friends. I get it, when you’ve got nothing else, you do the things you need to in order to escape.

 

Explains why I procrastinate so much. Work is just….needed because everything ends in mediocrity anyway.

We’re obviously not gonna qualify for the quarter finals, so I don’t know how to tell my team mates I dont really care.

Fuck, i’m so ambitious for someone who just doesnt give a shit.

 

i just dont wanna do this anymore, ya know

God, ive just got through half a yar of law school- i have four and a half more years to go.

I dont even look forward to coming back home for the breaks, I don’t look forward to going back to college either

 

shit, i must be despicable  – this trimester all i’ve looked forward to is parties – committee treats, the music fest, new years. Next year i’ll just be two because my committee is going to chuck me out when the year ends – pf, i’m not half good enough for them.

 

fuck it, i’ll just try to get out alive.

anything more is asking too fucking much

dont say i didnt tell you to

 

 

 

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Silly Love Songs

Tonight I write about a real boy.

My, I hear you say, How Scandalous.

 

 

You came with new music, so I listened to you.

You’ve ruined the Blues for me. Now everytime I want to hear a guitar I grow sick to think of the few hours we spent in the padded room tucked away in the senior boys hostel, with you and three senior guys on guitars, one on the drums, all high as fuck- and then there was me.

Your electric sang, and so did I. For the first time, my voice felt real, like it was at home, because I can’t sing pop – my throat can only cry.

I catch myself listening to a song and I remember it was the last song the F16s played at the end of the second day of the music festival, you lead me into the crowd with your palm at the square of my back, lightly leading me on,  and you had one arm around my shoulder, my arm was around your waist and we shared a beer with alternate sips. When the beer was done you left only to come back with another girl fifteen minutes later so I look at you with squinted eyes until you see them and turn around.

 

here we are nearly a month later, and with our arms around each others waists, carrying each other to the bus where us first years pile on, your head buried sideways in my shoulder. its too dark to see where we’re going but the fifth year incharge of transport collects us along with other drunk 18 year olds and we sit ourselves down two adjoining seats. you’ve got your head sticking out of the window, puking in bursts. i try and open the second window pane, but my hands are shaking. I’m too tired myself from puking continuously through the night.

S is sitting on my lap and the three of us listen to the music you play on my phone, our heads smashed into another. i don’t like you – i like your vibe, you see.

just the other day I was explaining to S on the steps next to the stage on the field that I like you – I like your style and the way your hand moves when you play the guitar and how you looked up with your eyes closed and played and played and played.

When we got back to campus you told us to meet you at the field and so we did. S and I saw you hobble in your jumper and we sat listening to music till I was almost faint from my stomach hurting and so at the sound of the mu’addhin calling at 5:30, leaving you and S as you were, snuggled into each others arms in the fucking cold.

You see, she clung onto you and you onto her, but you talked to me.

That’s all I ever wanted and that’s what I got.

Later on another set of stairs, the one in the girls’ hostel, S tells me – you tried to kiss her but she pushed you away. She felt she had to tell me, because I had told her I liked you, but I couldn’t feel happier – that you liked her.

I got her to believe me, that I didn’t care – in the end I value my fast friendship with her more than I any small possible romance I would have had with you and very honestly, I didn’t have to lie.

I don’t like you – I just like your vibe.

Next year, when you play on the stage I will be there, singing with you and that’s all I could ever want. You might not even be there – you’re missing too many classes this trimester for you to make it to the next.

 

It’s hard – I haven’t been able to work in days because my head sees no point, and while S was sat there cuddled into your left side and I was much farther away on your right, you had turned to me and said “we’re artists – what the fuck are we doing here?”

 

You look up and point at the orange sky and the shimmering stars and say this is all you need.

 

I value riches, I’m not as brave as you are, to give up on materialism for the only drug you need. You had pulled out a small white paper wrapping of soaked weed and another of dry cigarettes. You’re addicted – I sat there inhaling the wisps that came from your burning intoxicants.

when i see you the next night you tell me that you two stayed till dawn – i say i hated to but i hat to go before I full-on passed out from the pain in my head – and you laugh and say that before we had arrived at the field you were half asleep on the bed yourself, but you came because music, you know-I’d do anything for it.

 

I can escape in you and forget you as and when I need to – I’m glad you feel for S because I would just make you hate me.

I love law school more – my books more, my marks more, my academic competition more, my elitism more, my public facade more, my debate groups more, the respect I get when fifth-years-say-my-project-can-very-well-be-published-in-a-proper-legal-journal more.

Oh well.

All we have left is words #rehash

At half past midnight, the veena sounds.

I try and tune the radio, but we are too far south to hear anything but white noise. I heave and pant and soon enough I’m crying, because the last time I heard those strings it was in the car on the way back home, dusk falling over New Town and the chants from the temple drowning any thoughts I could have. The dusty orange of Aruna Maam’s home and the pungent smell of her filter coffee are ghosts in the hostel rooms of bare white walls.

Do you remember the sky that night?

It was painted a dusty maroon and yellow at the horizon, and the eucalyptus trees were silhouetted inky black like in the Mughal miniatures on your room’s walls. I never believed that an evening could be so surreal, forever born and trapped in paintings from five hundred years ago. Then again, I never believed in many things being real, like the pain in your throat you kept complaining about. You should have seen it, the way the lake shimmered saffron and blue in the dying moments of the day and how the mosque’s lights lit up next to it. The drums from a temple behind the building broke the stillness of the night. There were no winds and no clouds in the sky, except for the gradients of grey rising from above the trees. The crescent moon was perfectly aligned with Venus, gleaming white together in a water-washed background.

Only then did I accept it was all real, because such a sight would have had to have been real to be painted so exquisitely. It was pathetically real, the way you were being swallowed into the depths of your own hell. Suddenly, words written in text messages every evening were hard to read, not without my stomach curling at the thought of yours eating away at the rest of you. It takes so much not to scream and want to shake you back into normalcy because its killing you and I cannot do anything but watch.
I can’t watch.
I was in the car on my way back, listening to the first programme on the government classical music station – a Tyagarajada-kruti again. The town centre was bustling below the many textile stores, sarees draped over mannequins caged in glass, sarees which would look sublime on you regardless of whether you can feel your hip bones or your 53 kgs, but I know its not about your weight or frame, its about something else, something more putrid and like ash. It is something I can’t fix as easily as I turn away from the shops’ blinking lights and clothes of silk.

You are one of the watercolour wonders of the world and more precious than the dusk today. Sometime last December we realised that wanting to die so young was not okay. Maybe this December we’ll believe it.

I heave and cry because only now when the veena sounds do I see that I am made of memories from current-homes and once-homes where my parents argued about how the door got jammed, and how my mother couldn’t lock it. It ended as all arguments end – that one of us wasn’t trying hard enough.

My voice is always loud and nasal, like background noise as people’es eyes roam to more important things, but it is not loud enough when they ask for me to say it again. I can’t see anything through this mask in which my face grows hot and my head pounds, the sound of my breathing and gasping roaring loud against cardboard.

(They said that this place would make me more, instead, I find that I am nothing at all.)

Tonight there are no red lines on my arms. It is too dark for it to seem right, but you tell me to wait till when the light comes in the morning.

It rains a little later.

They tell me not to lose myself, to hold on to what makes me, me. They speak as though I ever was anything at all.

But they don’t know, so I let them make the mistake.

Suddenly, we are all not trying hard enough when it becomes only about the best.

7 is when I don’t feel. 8 is when I feel too much.

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.

In the rain hitting the earth I couldn’t hear the voice in my head change to the voice screaming – Sanjana is going to Berkley and a ghost of her sits here – here open this flap behind my ear and you will find it.

Life is an exam where the syllabus is unknown and question papers are not set. Yet, today I write the last end-term paper for Torts-I and head north before I can feel like I have. I tell myself that this is the end of term, that people do go home after law school – there – your seniors are in the next car.

It feels too much like running away again.

The city was to treat us the way it had two years ago- with China rose hanging over ladies in the street with jasmine in their hair. The white Indica taxis were supposed to be familiar, but the car smells of something between coffee and cigarettes. So then, I think my memory is failing because the city is the calcium in our bones now and the life throbbing in it is bitter behind the teeth. With the sick cold of pretty mornings, they seem to be all the city is anymore.

It is still raining when I pull into our old neighbourhood. Bangalore has changed as we have. The airport is too far away from law school, so I stop over at your place for the night. None of the old suspects can be found on the streets. You’re driving down for the long weekend tomorrow but really, between morning flights and traffic jams at Mekhri circle, the city doesn’t leave us with much left.

There’s something about here that feels dead now. I almost laugh when I name it ‘adulthood’.

At times in the mirror I stumble across short, stocky eyelashes projecting from a rim and a soft white ball with brown and black circles in it.
Near it I find a round lump with two smaller casings moulded on either side, and below it soft, thick flaps-
ah.
This must be the face.
I pull on the lower lid of the eye and see red underneath.

It’s been seven years and that little tint of disgust on your mother’s face hasn’t gone.
Just like that I’m twelve again and the sun is beating down on my face while we wait for you in the bus yard.

Maybe its me who smells.

Your house is white and green, decorated like an IKEA catalogue left open.

So I think- ah, this is where you come from.

You have always walked with stars girdled around your waist and eternity crowning your temples, and from my seat in the third row I have only ever clapped you in and clapped you out again. The ink I was meant to scribble down the astronomical equations of my future with slips through my fingers and leaves a trail on the runway behind the clicking of your heels.

The masked glass is splattered with the stardust of the first monsoon showers. The sculptor’s urban hut of blue plastic and brick on the highway is close to collapsing, straw and jute left unmoved at the feet of a clay woman, hands raised in position.
“Food?”
“Raagi dosa, you want?”
“S’okay.”

Your mother hands me a plate of toast and a cup of tea. Looking at the trunk of the almond tree outside your window, she says,” the barbed wire really takes the charm away.”

I lived two storeys above your ground floor flat, and when the robbers came one night in the summer we went up to my balcony to see their footprints on the ledge above your window. Now, the vines of the money plant crawl over the new paint and into your neighbours’ house, neighbours who know nothing of when the white paint was still the first coat on these buildings and when the fences didn’t have barbed wire over them.

I’ve told your mother she doesn’t have to worry herself with tea, that I had lunch at college, but she insists I eat. As always, she has her way.

Sometimes I wonder how far two floors could be, when every two years we throw out our things and fold memories and sobs caught in our throats into cardboard boxes.

Its the small things, like how the floor to ceiling nets don’t fringe and stick out of their frames and how the books run in series along the walls of your house.

There’s a peace in the silence here, and I wonder how many times in that silence you would have heard the shouting from two floors above.

When it rains your mother makes tea and sits me down on the white canvas chair, and hopes I enjoy it.

I’ve never enjoyed the rain before, but I’m willing to try.

All we have is words, and for once, I have the prerogative to choose what they will be. Today, I write words which don’t have to mean anything in this world. In that, I think, we are allowed freedom. In that, I think, we might find something we like.

Somewhere else, the flowers in my grandmother’s balcony bloom, and she can’t contain herself. She limps into the room and reverentially places the three small flowers before the framed pictures of her blue god.

All we have is words, and with these whispers I sing my prayers.

 

before tomorrow

trigger warning, i guess. they come in bulk packs, so i can lend you one for now.

looking around here, in this place im just another person who cries to jazz, watching the boys smoke up. but somehow, im the only one not really here, constantly fantasizing about not being here, or anywhere else.

its not the pain from the cuts that makes me cry, its when it feels good a minute later, as skin breaks and moves and just for a few moments, theres no screaming.

 

 

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.