GAMES

Let’s play pretend.

You can be man and I can be girl.

So, of course, you can be dismissive,

You can ignore, you can choose not to listen,

You can stay away mentally, choose to forget,

You must shut down emotionally, of course,

Close doors to conversation and embrace denial.

And I, I’ll be the one who gets hurt,

I’ll bear the brunt of your choices,

I’ll cry myself to sleep countless times,

Hold your cigarette in my hand late one night

And wonder how it could give you,

And take away from me simultaneously.

I will walk past you without looking,

And feel tears well up watching you around me,

I’ll try to forget the memories,

Bury them in places no one will ever get to,

I will watch the disintegration, the collapse,

Of a relationship that the world filled with clichés,

And I will learn to survive,

I   will   learn   to   survive.

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.

TIME LAPSE

Every time I write,

The words are pulled back,

They strain to stay on the paper.

It is probably because

With every line, I find myself

Trying to trace back to the time

You lost me.

Today, the words have leapt

To four years back.

The tears would not stop,

And nor would the relentless rains.

I remember as distinctly as ever

The phone call at dawn,

And the sorrow that stayed long after.

There was no electricity that day.

We’re moving forward now,

A year later.

There is a looming tension in the air,

And conversation is laced with anger.

Laughs are now more nervous than genuine.

The phone rings all day,

People come and go-

They aren’t bad,

But for me, they aren’t good either.

The words fast forward

And I can hear the argument,

Loud.

Heated.

Over the phone.

Off of it.

I bury my head in a textbook.

Looking back, I remember specific things:

A downcast face,

Unfamiliar tears on a familiar face,

A discovered letter,

Cigarettes,

And a glass,

Or several.

And yet, I cannot pin it down

To one day, one specific time,

It happened along the way,

With the cracks and the brokenness.

It came with the sad smiles

And pretence.

It came with the questioning of love.

It came with the realisation.

The realisation-

That’s where I lost you.