THERE

There’s no space anymore,

Just noises and people.

And I, I’m in the gaps,

In the pauses between words,

In the silent sighs and unseen tears,

I’m in the by-lanes and turns no one takes,

I’m in the breaks in sobs,

I’m the one in traffic,

Who thinks he can slink by without anyone noticing,

I’m the stuff they write in brackets in screenplays,

I’m the aside, the prop behind the real show,

I’m in the nervous shaking hands and shuffling feet,

I’m the candlelight in an electrically lit room,

I’m the tiny, tiny sliver of glass that no one swept away when the vase broke.

I’m the silent breakdown no one knows about.

I’m the things that go unnoticed,

But matter nonetheless.

BACK AND FORTH

There’s an air of anger that hangs between them now. Thick with unspoken words and quiet simmering rage it lies- a path with dying flowers; one that neither chooses to use to get to the other. Every interaction is shrouded with veils of naked child-like pain- almost completely and beautifully vulnerable, but for the walls the two have built in silent defense. They know that the walls are shields and barriers simultaneously. And somewhere along the way, both decided that now,  the shields are worth the barriers.

THE FORGOTTEN FILES

There are too many dates,

Too many marked days

On tattered calendars lying in bottom drawers

Of rusty metal cupboards,

Days marked out in red and black and deep purple

For memorial services and candle marches.

You don’t give them names,

They are numbers in a death toll,

Statistics and coloured bar graphs in a presentation

At work or in forgotten files,

They are blurred images of photographs

Next to flowers leaning on cracked walls,

They are the manifestations of your fears

For your loved ones,

They are newspaper headlines and

Random names in well-designed paragraphs,

Written and edited and filtered and scanned,

Copied and copied and copied

Until one reaches your doorstep, crisp with newness,

To go with your morning cup of chai.

They were lives and humans,

Flesh and blood and warm breath,

They were wives and husbands,

Family and friends,

They were happy and sad and anxious,

They were feelings and desires and love,

And they matter beyond your realm of selfish care,

They matter because they were them,

Not because they could have been you

Or someone you knew.

They are more than what you imagine,

Human lives behind the shadowy ink of print,

And though it was them that faced the fires,

It is your vision that is blurred by the smoke.

#5 RESOLUTION

There is a heart,

Badly damaged.

It has been hurt too much,

Sometimes by its own doing,

But hurt nonetheless.

There is a shattered box,

The cobwebs within it ripped apart,

The thin wisps hanging shamefully-

Ornaments no one will ever really know.

A hammer lies fallen among the debris,

The centre of a powerful ripple,

Unknowingly destroying everything in its wake.

There is a girl

With scattered thoughts,

Crouching in pain, holding her chest in her hands,

Holding it together like a bouquet of flowers

Whose scent holds mysteries of untold stories.

She is picking needles out of her skin

One after the other,

And blood gushes out like water in a broken dam-

Finding freedom in unlikely places.

It does not hurt her, her tears are gone,

She is wounded, yes,

But the fears are gone.

#4 FALLING ACTION

When you hold your breath for long enough,

When you keep the secrets in long enough,

You forget what it’s like to live without them.

You forget the normalness of rhythmic breathing,

And the freedom of your lungs-

Rising, falling, filling in, letting go.

You forget what it’s like to live without the pain,

Without the angst, without the agony.

She used to feel like thick clouds of smoke

Were clogging her airway.

But now,

The smoke has cleared.

And the truth

It lies bare, naked,

Vulnerable.

#3 CLIMAX

Suffocation.

Air trapped in your throat,

Mouth gagged with tape.

Unable to breathe,

Reaching out, grabbing, falling,

Nails scratching on concrete,

The sound unbearable.

A mirror before you.

The girl in the reflection has gentle eyes,

She is calm, smiling.

Gasping.

Choking, coughing,

Anything to let go, anything

To breathe again.

The girl in the reflection stares,

Unfazed, blinking slowly.

A hundred needles scratching painfully

Down your neck.

You are screaming,

But the sound does not make it out,

Beginning with a rumble,

And stretching out up into your mouth,

Crashing onto your tongue, exhausted by the effort.

No one to see, no one to hear.

The girl in the reflection is reaching out,

Slow, deliberate, like a wave on golden sand.

The tape rips.

A searing pain.

Exhale.

Relief.

#2 RISING ACTION

Hold it in.

Breathe it in and hold it there.

Let it collect in your mouth in bubbles,

Saturated with secrets.

Savour it, but not too much.

Let it remain there-

Suspended

Like a noose from a ceiling.

After a while, the taste will burn your throat

And the roof of your mouth will light up like a Christmas tree,

With tiny scattered wildfires.

You will feel like letting go,

You will feel like exhaling.

You will not exhale-

You know you cannot afford to.

So, suck it up and hold it in,

Let the secrets hang there like decoration,

Ornaments no one will ever see,

No one will ever know.

Savour it, but not too much.

#1 THE EXPOSITION

There is a heart in a box-

Muscle and arteries and blood,

Pumping furiously to nothing.

There is a box with a heart-

Dark and dusty

With cobweb-decorated corners.

There are needles-

Piercing into the heart,

Simultaneously causing injury and preventing bleeding.

There is a hammer-

Suspended above the box,

Just a nudge away from falling,

There is a girl-

With scattered thoughts.

She is a nudge away from destruction.

UNMASK

Unmask.

You can let go now.

No one’s watching, but me.

Let the barriers break,

Let the walls crumble

To dust.

Loosen up,

And let the inhibitions

Slip from between your fingers like sand.

Unclothe

And let the secrets show,

Let me see them in the light

Glowing from the scars on your chest.

Open your eyes, truly, honestly,

Let me see you for who you are.

Wash your face with salty tears

That were held back for too long.

Let your lashes drip

With the sadness you hide behind wit,

And your palms bleed

With the shards of glass you’ve been holding onto.

Let your shoulders fall,

You have been upright and strong all this time.

You can let go now.

You can crumble, collapse.

You can let go now.

Individual Worlds

Boundless Rebelling Mind

We’re always so engrossed
In our own sweet little worlds.
A world of worlds around us,
Each so ignorant and cold.

Countless souls to contemplate,
And yet I know but one.
I lose myself, and still I can’t
escape myself, not once.

I drown in my indulgence
Till I look up and see
Someone with their own fears and joys,
Someone who isn’t me.

If I could hold the thought
that there’s thoughts that I don’t see…
If I could just perceive that lives
go on unknown to me…

If I looked up to find a world
So distant from my own,
And realized that they’d still be
If I did not look on…

“They’d never understand”, I think,
“The things I’m going through”;
Always fail to figure that
They think this of me too.

A mess of lives I’ve never met
Each as compound as mine.
The interactions, losses…

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