Sister Dear

Finally sharing a poem I wrote for my sister on her birthday, but didn’t consider worthy of publishing then:

Whoever said angels don’t exist, was wrong;

A paragraph cannot contain my feelings, so I wrote you a song.

You’ve blessed many lives since the day you came into this world.

Through your delightful and kind ways, many lives you have turned.

Strong and bold like the mountains, yet tender and pure as a dove;

You give us hope when times get tough.

Cheers on being a great friend, a loving daughter and sister!

You’re one of the finest works of The Creator.

With a heart so warm and smile ever sweet;

You make the whole atmosphere magical, wherever you set feet.

Here’s wishing you a birthday pleasant-

Couldn’t think of anything better, than to remind you of your worth as a present!

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The Tricolour

India. Bharat. Hindustan.
The land of myriad cultures, faiths, cuisines and lifestyles.
Home to 1.3 billion people, who speak a plethora of tongues and share sundry values and yet, are united by one symbol – the Tiranga. The sense of belongingness – the sharing of a common identity – that arises from seeing the Tricolour flying is what comprises PRIDE. The three stripes embodying our emotions and the Ashok Chakra delineating our stride forward.

Saffron for courage and selflessness, so close to the colour of the blood, of our martyrs. Like the sun setting in Gujarat; or the eternal flame burning at the India Gate, as a constant reminder of those who laid down their lives, for us, while those at the border continue to do so. Weird, as it may seem, it reminds me of the bindi worn by my mother, perhaps attributing to the sacrificial nature of a mother.

White denotes peace and purity. One cannot help but picture the Dove – a universal symbol of peace. From the rice grains of Punjab to the cotton fields of Maharashtra; the Himalayan peaks or the broad smiles – white is more than just a colour.

The Green band signifies prosperity and fertility. The image that comes to mind is that of the green fields that kids run through, the Tea Gardens in Assam, the forests and the vegetative cover on the mountains – the land is embayed in greenery. Subtly hinting at the farmers that toil day in and day out – the men we owe our daily bread to.

The Ashok Chakra- the Wheel of Dharma – portrays motion with regard to virtues. Resembling the vast rivers, or, the one, blue sky we are under, the Chakra has its own sentimental value.

Reciting the school pledge, that began with, “India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters,” every morning; or the rising of the heads in pride on seeing the flag hoisted, while experiencing a rush of emotions, flowing through the body. Leaving whatever work one is doing and standing in attention, when the national anthem starts playing, or the prayers sung in times of crisis of our countrymen. We are all Indian at heart. Gauri, Amy, Zoya or Sukhman. Whether we eat dhoklas, fish, idlis or chhole-bhature; whether we speak Tamil, Assamese, Punjabi or Marwari; whatever socio-cultural, economic, regional, family background we may come from- we are still, at heart, Indians- sons and daughters of the same motherland.

Truly said, then, “Saare Jahan Se Accha, Hindustan Hamara.” My humble salute to the motherland!!

[Image and write up by me.]

A Chance Encounter

On a solitary night, I chanced upon a stranger,
Walking towards me, with a sluggish pace,
His hands clasped, gaze askew,
He wore no expression, on his pale face.

His eyes, darker than charcoal,
Seemed fixated, to the ground,
I stood there, watching him awhile,
As his stare, began lingering around.

Suddenly, his eyes met mine,
And the temperature, plummeted,
I could sense a shiver, run down my spine,
We stood motionless, as if, time had stopped.

I think, I saw him grin subtly,
His steps hastened,
As if, excited to see me,
I wondered, if he was an old acquaintance.

He came close and stood there, gaping,
I could hear him, breathe heavily,
He was reeking, of blood,
And started, whistling merrily.

In that moment, I felt stark fear,
His obscure eyes, now shining bright,
Blazing, with ghoulish fire,
Yet, failing to obliterate, the dimness of the night.

“I’ve been looking for you”, he said,
“In case you’re wondering, I’m ‘DEATH’.”

A Girl Lost

A young girl, all of sixteen,
Huddled up in a corner;
She’d sit there, waiting,
Hoping, somebody would call her.

She had friends, galore,
Everybody knew her name;
But most didn’t talk to her anymore,
Things had begun to change.

She fell, in a pit deep,
Couldn’t get out, needed help;
Nobody could see her weep,
Because, everybody had left.

She called out, but in vain,
Nobody seemed to care enough;
None empathised with her pain,
Maybe, all she needed, was a hint of love.

The young girl, is now nineteen,
Still lonely in a crowded world;
Till date, she remains unseen,
I know, because I’m that girl.

SLIDING STAIRCASES

Have not written in a long while, I know. I started my college life, last August and with that, a new chapter in my life began. An adventurous journey of highs and lows, new beginnings, budding hopes, and the thrill, of starting something new. The journey so far, however, has not been very smooth and rosy. There has been immense pressure, fear, crying and sleepless nights, after exhausting days. Rollercoaster rides could not have been more tantalising, excruciating and intriguing.

I started college, excited at the thought of entering a new phase, with an environment different from the suffocating one at school, while also apprehensive of, what if it turned out to be just as draining and saddening, as school. College life is definitely poles apart from school life, both in a positive and negative sense. I got to meet and enjoy the company of many nice mates, and have been a lot more social and talkative lately, than I was, back at school. On the downside, college is vexing and way more demanding, and had me physically and mentally exhausted, initially.

The first semester was especially hard, because it was altogether a different zone. Nevertheless, I began attending classes, high spirited and determined, to learn and do better, than before. After a couple of weeks, however, I started losing interest. I would often find myself dozing in class, with no clue about, or, enthusiasm in what was being taught. Weeks rolled by and it became increasingly difficult for me to stay focused or concentrate, and I was back to procrastinating (like I did in the final year at school).

From the day of registration and till much later, I would come home and cry my eyes out, feeling ‘trapped,’ in a pandemonium. Right from day one, I was brimming with thoughts of fleeing, burning with the urge to get out of that toxic place. My suicidal fancies returned during the very first week of college and kept blowing my mind up, like a violent storm, very frequently after that. I had not had suicidal thoughts in a long time, and had been feeling much better, ever since I was out of school.

As the semester came to a close, and examination time appeared, my anxiety was back at its peak again, and so was the crying and the desire to escape. A part of me knew I had to brace the examinations and college life, while the rest of me wanted to turn my back on it and run. I was terrified, trembling with fear, knowing that there was no way out, that I could not keep running all my life. I had to go through, to get through it. That is where, the trouble began. The more I tried to have a grip on things, the more the sands of life started slipping, out of my hands.

I was not quite ‘prepared’ for this low phase again; it was not something I was expecting, and upliftment in my mood before joining college made me feel I had finally made it – I had conquered my inner demons. But it all gradually returned and I was devastated. There was a voice inside me screaming, “NOT AGAIN.” I did not want to feel that way ever again, I did not want to go through it all and suffer like before. It took me a lot of strength, patience and courage, to fight it and I thought I was strong enough to do it, again. But when things started getting ugly and gruesome again, I broke down like before. I cried, felt hurt and suffered, just the same.

It can be quite terrifying, experiencing a hellish nightmare, more than once. Falling down the ladder you gave every bit of your energy, to climb. A piece of me sincerely hopes, though, that I will get over it someday. I partly believe people, when they tell me it is going to be alright. But at the same time, I am also plagued by the thought that it will always keep coming back, because that is pretty much what has been happening, so far. One fights and tries to move, two steps ahead, to have the monster knock one down, again. I am tired of battling the same demons, over and over again.

I think the worst part about the whole strife is, ‘RELAPSE’. Imagine putting in all of one’s efforts, giving all of oneself to it, and after a very long time (perhaps, years), there are signs of improvement, encouraging one to push harder. But, it just takes a week or two, for it to worsen. Suddenly, one wakes up one day to realise, one is back to square one – and all of one’s time and energy seem to have gone in vain. The progress is lost and so is motivation. It is not a very good feeling; it is suffocating, gut wrenching and heart-breaking.

Now, consider this: one had made it out of that black-hole once, which should be a reason good enough for one to believe in oneself and that, one can do it again, even if it seems tougher next time. With every journey downhill, one is equipped with more knowledge and experience, to add to one’s weapons. Every time, one may feel that one might not make it this time around, a reminder needs to go out that one had traversed the path before and that one knows the way out of it. With every obstacle or downfall, one’s confidence grows and the hope for a better tomorrow strengthens, urging one, to keep going.

Towards the end of the first semester, I had become almost emotionless. From feeling pained and woeful for months, to feeling nothing at all. I kind of liked it that way and started willingly suppressing my emotions. I am in my second semester and doing better, now. Things have started looking up, again. My mood is merrier, days sunnier and I have started paying attention in class. Not sure if this is the calm before the storm, but I am hopeful that this time, I might just make it. As clichés go, am keeping my fingers crossed.

GOOD GOODBYE

Woke up Thursday morning to the heartbreaking news of Sir Chester Bennington’s demise. One of the finest artists of our time succumbs to depression, and kills self. He will be dearly missed, and it is, indeed, a big loss for us. I have grown up listening to Linkin Park. Their songs were very touching, the lyrics so relatable. Little did I know that it was Chester expressing his true emotions and struggle with depression, and perhaps, a cry for help, through his works. Now my heart feels HEAVY.

As George Shrouder mentioned in his tweet “Depression is hard to understand. But if it can kill Robin Williams, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington I’d say it’s pretty damn real”.[1] Legends like Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, Kurt Cobain (his was a case of manic depression) and many others gave hope and added meaning to the lives of millions through their music and enriching words. However, the same have fallen prey to depression and could not inspire themselves the way they inspired their fans. Then it must be true that “Words may inspire everybody but the person saying them.”

Depression can hit anyone, including powerful personalities and people with seemingly ‘perfect’ lives. On finding out about my mental health, the first thing people ask me is “Why? How? When?” I am often met with questions regarding what causes led me to this or why it had to happen to me, a young girl, of all the people. Many a times, I have found myself pondering about the same. Well, it can happen to anyone. I cannot think of any possible causes or any traumatizing incident, or a tragic loss of someone dear, or anything of that sort, that might have resulted in my present condition. It was perhaps, a combination of various, relatively trivial, yet detrimental factors that led me into the treacherous hands of depression.

A few weeks back, a random lady, with probably little knowledge about mental health and disorders, upon being informed about my medical history, asked me how could I had fallen prey to depression at such a young age and further added that it is “All in my head and not real.” She refused to accept that depression exists, and kept insisting that it is just about how I feel. She believes that if I tell myself that it is nothing and that I am okay, then I shall be okay! If only it was that simple…Well, as a matter of fact, I do tell myself that I am going to be okay and that I will make it. But one cannot live in a state of denial.

Depression is real, very real. A proper disorder that can be treated; and it is not a joke. It is as grave a matter as any physical disability or ailment. If a person breaks a bone or gets severely wounded, he/she is given immediate medical attention, then why not treat someone, who is wounded inside, with as much love and sensitivity? Just because their wounds are not visible, does not mean it hurts less. In the words of Laurell K. Hamilton, “There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.[2]

When someone dies of cancer or a heart attack, for instance, it is called a tragic death, and the deceased is showered with words of praise and kindness. Then why is someone who dies because of internal strife or mental agony, looked down upon by some members of the society? Some usually take the plunge because the pain becomes unbearable, with the sorrow slowly killing them inside. Someone who commits suicide is NOT a “Coward” or a “Loser” or “Stupid”, and definitely does not deserve any criticism or mockery on his/her departure. Such people might not have heard many kind words during their lifetime, they at least should not be belittled after they are gone with insults from people judging them for not being able to fight it. They were brave – they lived battling their inner demons and died fighting, while the world continued to judge them. Just because someone lost their life to a mental disorder, that does not make them a loser.

We often forget that not everyone is lucky enough to have a loving family and friends to support them, and nor does everybody get proper medical help in time. Hence, always be kind and reach out to those battling their inner demons, with utmost love and care. And if you are someone who has been diagnosed with a disorder, fear not – accept it, and you will gradually learn to cope with it. In time, you will realize that you can live with it just fine. It takes time to fight a disorder, and while it might feel like a burden sometimes, give yourself a pep talk and do not let this bump in the way hold you back from living your life to the fullest.

Let us take a moment to honour the warriors who lost their internal battle against a mental disorder, which is neither their fault, nor anyone else’s.

[1] Accessed at https://twitter.com/GshroudOCTW/status/888106151954468864 (last visited on July 23, 2017).

[2] Mistral’s Kiss by Laurell K. Hamilton.

LIVING TO TELL THE TALE

Snatching back life, from the jaws of death, might seem a clichéd fictional account. But, in my case, I literally fought death, in what can only be called, a cosmic about turn. Giving up, always seems to be an easy option, but it takes real courage to fight the odds and hold on to dear life, in the midst of a fiery and raging hurricane. What kept me going was a mix of factors, the primary one, being my “FAMILY”.

Amidst the welter of confusion and misery, echoed a voice, deep inside me, saying – think about your parents, the smile on their faces; one step could obliterate their smiles, forever. I also thought about my dear sister – living alone, in a faraway land – how would she feel to come back home and not find her little sister, waiting for her? While a strong force within nudged me towards doom, propelling me to quit; a calm but strong voice inside me, said – if not for yourself, live, for your family’s sake.

My thoughts veered towards the joy beaming on their faces, ignorant as they were, about my woes – and I said to myself – how can I do this to them? Would it not be selfish on my part? Maybe, I reasoned, I should stop thinking about myself, for once, and think about their happiness too. How would they ever live peacefully, without me? Would they be able to handle the shock? Would the sorrow, not kill them? Something kept telling me, that they would not be able to bear the pain of it all – that it would be too crushing for them.

And so, I pulled myself aside and thought about my near and dear ones, who never stopped showing me their affection, or, missed an opportunity to try and make me smile. Having felt so much agony myself, I could not push them down the same path of grief and anguish. I did not wish to be the reason behind their tears. I told myself this, every time I felt a strong urge to kill myself. I forced myself to “live and survive”. And thus, my loved ones, unaware of the internal strife within me, helped me continue, on the tortuous path of life.

They became the one reason I woke up every day, despite the sickening feeling; just how parents wake up early and go to work, irrespective of how tired they feel or how sick they are; just to ensure that their child enjoys all the comfort and lives a happy life. I did not want my parents’ efforts to go waste. All these years of tiresome upbringing and staying up till late at night, just to ensure that I was happy and contented, touched a deep chord in me.

Family apart, my hesitating, self-doubting and fearful nature, too, played a part. Though I had lost the will to live, I always had second thoughts about whether it actually was a good idea to give up that way and what, if things went wrong and got me into trouble. I never took action in haste and after a careful consideration of facts, it seemed a better idea, then, to just carry on and let whatever had to happen, happen.

Uncanny though it might seem, on hindsight, another reason could perhaps be attributed to the curiosity lurking inside me. I kept wondering about what might, or, could happen after my final goodbye. If, at all, something good were to happen, I would never be able to witness and live that. Besides, what if people started talking and judging me, after my death? What would happen after I took “that” final step? Would I remain peaceful after death, or, was it going to be the same? What was it even going to be like?

Some believe in the afterlife and some say, there is no life after death. How were I to know? The more I thought about it, the more confusing and mind boggling, it all seemed, and I realized, I was just as unsure about death, as I was, about life. So, I decided against it. It seemed wiser to stay and ‘suffer,’ rather than take the plunge into the unknown void. I decided to give the morbid thoughts, a rest; to give my mind a break and not let it wander further, into uncertainty.

I decided, I had to live. And since that was the case, I thought, I might as well let life continue just the way it had been going on. I reckoned that if I had survived till then, I could hold on for some more time, as well. I let life take over and decided to go with the flow, and see where life took me. And so I lived, to tell the tale. Not a very happy and euphoric one, but nonetheless, an account, I thought, I should share.