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Raven On The Willow

And the Raven said, "Nevermore"….

That One Rainy Night

It was raining so hard that day. The kind that people call “raining cats and dogs”. What a funny expression, that one! But still, would it make sense? Yes. Similar was this nonsensical debauchery of a relationship we had. And yet, that rainy night, they told me good bye.

No, no. Do not get me wrong. They did not die – though that would have saved me a lot of pain. They just left me drenched and cold and alone in that downpour. My wild hair that they loved so much now looking subdued. My edgy clothes plastering like a second skin to my shivering body, a useless armour that could not shield me from the searing pain of loss and betrayal I was about to feel. I stood panting, when they looked into my eyes and told me that they were leaving me. I stood bewildered under the neon signs of the night life we lived and I felt bleached like an over exposed photograph. Poetic as fuck – years later I would tell people. But that day it felt anything but.

I remember reaching out to take their arms and then the same cold eyes and sharp tongue that I loved in many ways than one whipped at me. They told me that “badasses” would not be so clingy. That they loved me because I would never need them. Precisely four months later would I realise that I had been in an emotionally abusive relationship. Me – a vocal advocate for early detection of abuse and rehabilitation. Me – who told my friends that abuse was not just physical. Me – who prided in being very good at spotting all the signs of abuse in any relationship. I could scoff at myself. Then six more months later, I would build myself back up. My walls would be built taller and when people asked me “Jeez, who hurt you?!”, I would smile an enigmatic smile.

But that night, under the stormy skies, my heart shattered into million pieces and their name was etched into each one. I wept along with the heavens, thankful for the rain slapping down on my face and my water-proof mascara for hiding my tears from the people we called friends and other curious onlookers. I marched – yes, for nothing else could better explain how I stomped through the small roadside puddles in my combat boots – angry, confused, questioning myself, more importantly swearing to exorcise their remnants from my life. That is precisely what I did all night long – ridding their physical reminders from my living space. Removing their scraps from my mindscape took too longer than I would like to admit. While my colleagues and friends pointed me out as an exemplary example of “How To Get Over A Heartbreak” – I wept at night and took evening boxing classes.

I did everything I always wanted to do. The very first thing I did was cutting my “wild hair” that they liked so long. I cut it and coloured it till it matched my image and not what they wanted to see in me. I dressed like me – not how they wanted to be seen in public with me. I embraced my vulnerability along with my “badassery”. I started learning and unlearning – a lot. I rejected every single romantic advance until I was one hundred percent sure I would not be blind to red flags anymore. I built my inner circle tight and got that degree. I was finally happy.

Then, eighteen months later, they popped up in front of me. Candy coated words, crooked smile that could pass for a half-assed smirk – for nothing was whole with them, nothing was all in, nothing was complete – and those haunted eyes that looked so bored and always so in pain. Looking at them now, I could see it – why I should have not loved them, but I did anyway. Their hands itching to hold me closer and then pick me apart like they always did. Their eyes travelling all along me, taking in every part of me, the wholeness of me and I could see the hunger for destruction lit up their face. I hugged them and told them it was good to see them again – I was not lying, as it was refreshing to see my progress. I healed as I stood there not feeling angry or sad. I walked away after thanking them for the time we shared together and leaving them my calling card, with a promise that I would see them in professional capacity – as a Clinical Psychologist. They could use a lot of help. As I walked back to my friend, I smiled contentedly seeing my friends’ expressions change from concerned glances to proud smiles.

I could finally tell myself – I survived.

My Embalmed Body

They laid me atop the marble table,
They laid me bare and cut me open.
Under the sheen of morning dew
Coating the glass ceiling,
They laid me bare under my skies,
And They ripped me open.

Hacked away at my skin, They did.
All the while chanting,
“Too smooth, too soft –
How would this child survive?!”
They gave me scars –
All the while whispering
How strong I would be.

They cut open my rib cage,
Took out my beating heart –
Flailing like the hapless canary,
Between the cat’s teeth.
“Too soft, too big –
How would this child make it through?!”
They leadened my heart with lessons in pain –
All the while teaching me how not to feel.

They looked through my gut – and exclaimed –
“How tiny!
How small!
How would this child devour the world?!”
They poked and prodded,
Tugging here and tugging there,
All the while telling me –
“Grow that appetite!
Devour all you can!
That is the only way to grow!
Here take these razor sharp tooth as you go!
Oh well –
Take this tongue too,
For its a set of two!”

My hands too small to grab the world –
So They made them bigger.
My legs too small to reach new lands –
So They made them longer.
“More! More! More!”
I heard Them chant.

They took my eyes unclouded –
Coloured them –
With scrutiny and mistrust,
And called it Realism.
They took my curiosity,
They took my wonder, and
Poured into that void –
Cynicism and religion –
And called it Faith.

They bled me out – my crimson –
And with it, my poetry.
Filled me up with preservatives
Of worldly knowledge.
They embalmed me with expectations,
And marked me a prodigy.
They “gifted” me with privilege
One short than that of many,
But one better than the most.

They told me to steel my back,
Race my track but with
Their leash on my neck,
Move ahead and never pause,
And for the Love Of Heavens –
Never look back!
“Don’t you love unless it’s approved of!
You shall only grieve
As much as We deem fit.
What are you unhappy about, child?
You are so much more!
You want that? Earn it!
You want this? Fight for it!
The world is treacherous –
Now so are you!
We will make you strong,
Perfect.
Your blood – now so very Blue.”

Atop that cold marble table,
Under my skies,
Under the eyes of my sun, stars and my moon,
Under the eyes of my Goddesses,
They cut me open and filled me
With hunger and ambition.
They then told me that was the way to live.
They cut me up –
That little me –
And stitched on to me –
Parts They wanted to be mine
Atop that table,
Sutured with filial piety and societal standards,
They made a chimera out of my little body.

I made my way through the world,
Wading in shallow waters,
Never testing where it ran deep,
Never exploring uncharted territories.
Read my manual to the dot – I did –
For my body was no longer mine.
I heard me speak – a disembodied trance.
I was speaking – but that voice
Was it really mine?

Along my way I met others,
Some lost their way,
Some moving ahead
With a ferocity that made Them chant –
Look, see, learn!
Be like them!
Be better than them!
They gave me this body
They made me this way –
And now – “What a shame!
How much more could this child have done!
How much more could this one have become!
Why could not you be more like them?!”

On my long perilous journey,
I lost my identity – for
Too many parts were stitched
On to my tiny body,
Who was I?
What was I?
Am I whole or part of a whole?
Was I mine?
Or is this body mine?!
Is this my voice?
Am I speaking?
Or is it Them?!
Oh, lament!

This child then started asking questions,
To self, to others,
Started to listen to others’ tales
Tales of sorrow, love and success
Amazed at the courage they had –
To feel such emotions
Slowly – inch by inch
I took my misshapen body back –
But back from whom – I still do not know.
But fiinally, once more,
I had a body.
I was told to learn –
Learn to feel,
Learn to love,
Learn to be – by people who walked –
Ahead of me,
Beside me,
And I turned to see
Them who walked behind me,
But in their own path.
For many years I contemplated –
Was this blasphemy?

They cried at me – “Look at you!
What are you doing?!
Have We not done so much for you?
We know what is best for you!”
I asked them back,
This time in my own voice –
“Tell me then,
Where does my body end,
Where does Your begin?
Which is my voice and
Which is Yours?
Which is my reality and –
Which is Your ambition?”
They cried I was asking the wrong questions,
They cried that I lost my way.
But for once in my centuries,
For the very first time,
I was breathing my own air,
Talking in my own voice,
And learning to love the chimera I have become.

They tugged at the leash,
My sutures began to bleed.
My heart had now softened,
My appetite was now my own –
I did not want to devour worlds,
I just wanted a mouthful of my dreams.

I bled out what I didn’t want in me,
I bled out the toxicity.
I breathed in poetry,
I breathed in my sun, stars and moon.
My eyes cleared and now I could finally see –
Without the filter They had put in me.

My embalmed body is now my own,
But is it decaying or is it still intact?
Does it smell like rot and decay?
Or do you smell life?
Do you see the carrion?
Or do you see me?
I am learning and unlearning,
Testing my waters,
Putting my boundaries.
My little body is now my own.
I am but still a chimera,
But my flesh is my own,
I am learning to own myself –
All parts of myself –
I am taking back
The ownership of my body,
And I’m just one of the many.


A huge shout-out to Mathangi S. and Priyank Jain, two of my favourite people, for reading the poem first and giving me valuable input. Thank you, both of you!

For She Who Loved The Spring

Today, it was white carnations – pure love and innocence. I tucked them into the crook of Caroline’s arm. There she was – beautiful, innocent and very dead.

Its been quite a long time for someone like me to be grieving. My kin kept telling me that it was unnatural and very human of me. What would they know? They would never know how Caroline loved me. They would never know that in her eye I was not a sinner, not a diabolical creature – just another lost ship in the sea of doubt looking for a shore to call home. I was pardonable. I was not feared. I was not loathsome. That was my Caroline…

It was a summer night when I first met the Walter sisters. Caroline had turned 16 and her sister Selma, as always, was taking her to a party at a friend’s house. Caroline, my sweet sweet Caroline – innocent, beautiful but ever so frail. The party of two passed by me under a street lamp and my eyes met Caroline’s sweet, brown that held so much intrigue. I distinctly remember being so oddly compelled by a feeling so instinctive that it could be called hunger – but not for flesh nor pleasure – but this insatiable need to hold her close and inhale her sweet scent. I was so shocked that I lost my bearing for a split second – standing there on that street so still that I could have been a statue. I hurried to my lodgings – my heart in a frenzy – wondering how I could feel something so pure, a feeling so innocent for the first time in my long existence, for an absolute stranger who was so shrouded in the shadow of Death that I could see His hand on her shoulder. I wondered how I could be so instantaneously smitten by a girl who was already marked to be claimed by the Reaper…

My kin would have advised me to stay away from the girl. To not involve myself in matters we no longer held the right to. Affections did not keep us alive. Attachment meant peril. But I could not just leave it be. I wanted to understand what I was feeling – if feeling was possible in my existence anymore. So I frequented the town, scouted the local gathering places, listened in on the conversations to know who this girl was. On one such night time run, I ran into Caroline in a local tavern.

She approached me and started a conversation – about fashion, clothing and what not. All I could do was mumble a response or two as I sat there spellbound. She asked me to accompany her back to her house and that if I wanted I could stay the night. I politely declined the latter while taking her upon her request to walk her home. I could feel my breath catching as Caroline took my arm and smiled warmly at me. She chatted along the way to me humming to her – about her parents, sister, friends, townfolks – how much they loved her and how much they meant to her. As we drew closer to her home Caroline fell silent. I still remember her voice cracking as she looked at me and told me that she did not expect herself to see the spring this year. And I could feel it, my heart seizing in pain for her. It was then I acknowledged that I was in love with Caroline Walter.

Our kind had never revealed ourselves to humans. Blinded by fear and deafened by old superstitions they feared us. Nachzehrer, vampir, strigoi – many such terms for my kind. We stayed in shadows, fed in shadows, existed in a sort of impasse and fled when humans got a whiff of our existence. We never associated with humans, never bonded with them – emotionally or physically. But that night, I found myself revealing to a wide eyed Caroline what I was. My eyes were begging for her to not run, to stay and not look at me like I was a damnation, a blight, something so abhorrent. My pleas were heard when she took my face in her hands and looked into my eyes and whispered to me that I was beautiful. For the first time in centuries I wept that night. I wept for the life I lost, for the deeds I had done and moreover I wept for Caroline. As she held me in an embrace, for the first time in my this altered, wretched existence – I felt forgiveness.

We met frequently after that – taverns, orchards, at my cottage – she would lie on my lap and listen to my stories of a bygone era. She would ask me all about my people. Though discretion was our second nature, I found myself being like a babbling brook at her voice. She would laugh and I would tell her that I loved her and we would kiss. We held hands and when passion took over we would make love. Those were the best nights of my awfully long existence. And she was my only love.

If the townfolks were noticing two young women spending too much time together – they were not making it obvious. Selma looked happier now that her sister was happy. Caroline was my salvation and I revelled in her love and attention. But I could feel the Reaper tightening His hold on her as days passed. It was a cold winter night when I felt His scythe too close to my liking.

That night – our last night together – Caroline was wearing a white dress with so many layers and a fur coat to keep her warm. We spent the night in my tiny warm cottage. That night we were both silent – her eyes sad. I wanted to kiss every inch of her – so that was what I did. Her hair so soft and mellow wound in my fist, the tender flesh kneaded by my fingers, her whimpering sighs and then needful moans filling me with a fire that burned inside me with such passion, such intensity that I fell all over again in love with this sweet little innocent girl who gazed up at me with her doe eyes. We held each other in a naked embrace while I whispered to her what she meant to me and she looked at me, completely disarming me when she said that she knew she was going to die soon. As it was my duty to the one I loved – I offered to turn her and stay with her for an eternity, which she lovingly declined. The love she received – she told me – was enough for a lifetime and that she was sorry to leave me alone. That was my Caroline – considerate even in her pain.

I walked her home that dawn and met Selma at the gates. She smiled at me – a small sad smile. The winter was in its last legs but Caroline was about to leave without seeing her favourite spring…

The next few days Caroline did not come around. I visited her home each night where I saw her through her window, surrounded by her weeping family, while a lonely raven cried at the highest brach of a tree stripped to nothing by the brute force of the winter. Wretched bird. She laid there with her eyes shut, so still, so beautiful, barely breathing, her once ruby red lips now pallid. On the fourth night, Caroline opened her eyes and gave her family a tired smile. She whispered something to Selma who looked so solemn and about to breakdown in tears. She kissed the cheeks of her Papa, Mama and held her maid’s hands and smiled. Then she slowly turned to the window to smile at me and she slowly shut her eyes. That was the last day of Caroline Walter, my one true love.

Her funeral and wake were held the next day and I visited the grave that night. I had found a Blue Bell flower deep in the forest at the first thaw of winter – defiant and wilfull it bloomed as if it was challenging the cold. I had scooped it up for her who loved the spring. It was the talk of the town that Selma was looking for a sculptor for the gravestone. That night Selma found me, wondering if I were any good. Of course I was – over all these drastically long years it was one of the skills I had acquired to pass time. So I made a sculpture for the grave – life size and doing justice to her beauty. Selma was so moved when I installed it on her grave the next night – on the condition that she would never reveal the sculptor to anyone. In return for the work all I asked for was her permission for me to visit Caroline.

With Caroline gone, I had no more reason to be near human settlements or walk the dim lit night streets. I could not enjoy the air thick with drunken excitement from taverns. So I moved my cottage deep into the forest and immersed myself in gardening and learning how to grow flowers even in cold harsh winters. It was difficult back in the 1860s compared to modern times, but I had not missed a single day. For all I could do in this eternity was to remember her. So I decided to show her spring everyday. Everyday, one flower for my love who loved the spring so much, but perished in the winter. One flower for the one who forgave my existence and had granted me a love larger than anything. One flower for my salvation, my home. One flower a day for my Caroline.


Inspired by a Tumblr post (included below). Thanks to the users who made the post. Thank you Mr. PJ for your motivation. This is a fan fiction of sorts.

Choice

You choose your happiness.
Most of us are very familiar with this quote. But let me tweak it a bit.
We choose our pain.
We choose our sorrows.
We choose our sadness.
Its the innate emotional response of any human.
Thinking back to our childhood or even our turbulent adolescence, we have vague memories of being happy. But strikingly clear memories of screaming into our pillows or droning out our pain with loud music our parents hate. Our sad memories are precise. The feeling acute. The pain threatening to surface with our neurons firing at high velocity at even the slightest remembrance of anything even remotely connected to the incidents.
The song you cried to, the smell of your no-longer-lover’s perfume, the dish cooked by your favourite aunt who is no longer there to hug you when you visit – they are strong enough to fill you with a deep pain of loss. We may smile at our fond memories but don’t the sad ones wreck your heart?
That’s because our brains are partial to pain and suffering and sadness. We, hence, have an affinity to hold on to anything that hurt. We are sorry little creatures with the ability to make choices and we choose to hurt. Its easy to be sad. Funny, isn’t it?
That’s why its important to choose happiness. Its audacious, going against how we are set. To break the mould. To beyond. To choose what isn’t easy to choose. It takes courage. It requires constant effort to choose the ever transient happiness. To press forward to that happy song from the lure of replaying the sad song.
So the next time, cry your heart out when you’re sad. But please don’t forget to smile too. Choose when you still can make a choice. And choose to be happy. Put an effort to be happy. Because as Hayao Miyazaki said,
Yet, even amidst the hatred and carnage, life is still worth living. It is possible for wonderful encounters and beautiful things to exist.

Phantom Foetus

You know those old grumpy ladies who give you mean looks and appear as if they could eat children for breakfast? That could be me in another twenty to thirty years. The young mothers pity you, children fear you. Your face would be starring in all negative roles of old wives tales in the minds of children. You’ll be essentially the witch down the lane.

And on the outset, let me tell you this- I didn’t plan on it. I’m no spinster. I’m not barren. I’m just a mother who lost her only child. My son, my blood, my world. When you longed for a child oh so long and finally you have one, the happiness is beyond compare. If you saw me five years before, I was rather exuberant. A new mother, good wife and moreover a happy woman. 

Tragedy has poor timing. Just like all the other times. I’m not asking why me or what I did wrong. But I lost my son to the fate that came in the form of cancer. Leukemia. Such a beautiful name for something so disastrous. The worst part is that I had to see my little boy going through all that – the chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery, those vile medications, loss of appetite, hair fall and the light in his eyes slowly faded. And I had to watch all that.

Now I know why them women who lost their children tell you that to see your child taken to grave is the worst thing a mother can ever witness. It breaks you unlike anything. When a woman becomes a mother, priorities shift to the child than her role as a wife. Now with the ailment in scene, my marriage was in shambles. I locked myself away. And I lost the one person who vowed to stay with me throughout. No. I don’t blame him. I was too much to handle and he didn’t deserve to be locked out of my heart. 

Even now when I see little children play around, I sense him, my boy. The womb that carried him for nine months pulsate every time I think of him. Its like a phantom limb but not exactly. I still feel him inside me, like a phantom foetus. I don’t even think the term is quite right, but that sums up how I feel. So I steel my face to stop tears falling down. My heart skips a beat when a child calls out to its mother. I’m shattered on the inside and stuck on this loop. Its like a broken record playing the same track again. 

I was just watching The Silence of Lambs again this Sunday. One question from Dr. Hannibal Lecter to Senator Ruth Martin just made me think. 

“Tell me, mum, when your little girl is on the slab, where will it tickle you?”
I think it will be deep in the lower abdomen. Just where they floated in your womb. And it will stab you through, not tickle, that phantom foetus….

IMAGE COURTESY

http://mymodernmet.com/pascal-campion-precious-family-moments/

Pascal Campion. His illustrations are amazing. Check them out!

My Battle 

​My choices made my bed.

Now I must lie on it.

My words made my coffin.

But I guess it can wait.

My decisions paved my path.

I am marching right on.

My mistakes erected the obstacles.

I am leaping over them.

My actions set me on fire.

But I am rising from my ashes.

My priorities lengthen the way.

I am, but in no hurry.

My day shall come.

And I shall burn bright.

Put the dazzling sun to shame.

To all my delight.

I want no fame, no glory.

I want to write my own story.

Here I am, waging war inside.

My demons fighting alongside.

I tamed my darkness.

Now it accepts my commands.

I shall fight.

Until my last breath.

Until I lose all my might.

I shall have faith.

So here I march.

Here I strive.

And I shall have my plight.

All for a better night.

Then shall I rest

Until He knocks to take me West.

Trial, Error and Time

​”We are done”, she said.

“I’m still in love with you”, left unsaid,

She walked down the aisle,

Courageously took her trial.

With a broken, tired and bleeding heart,

She said “I do”, playing her part.

She did her sacrifice,

For her family, she paid a heavy price.

She lost her faith in true love, 

She lost belief in Him above,

Putting on the bizzare mask,

The couple did their bestowed task.

Their broken hearts fitted o so perfect,

And with due time, they did connect.

The pain numbed and scars healed,

They then had their fairytale sealed.
Image courtesy 

http://pin.it/l_p-GUb

Nostalgia

My peaceful shopping reverie was broken when I heard an announcement through the loudspeakers. A child was lost in the crowd and that her mother was waiting next to the candy shop on the second floor, followed by a frantic mother’s voice calling out to her child.

With that came those old memories. Our first shopping to get Christmas gifts for our families, as a way to sneak into the family picture. At the mall, you lost me in the crowd. You rushed to the nearest security post and grabbed the microphone, screaming my name. I was looking so intently at an X’mas tree decoration that I was jolted into reality when I heard your frantic voice screaming my name.

When I rushed to your side, I saw that you were flushed, huddled on the ground and there was a throng of people around you. You were having a panic attack. I remember those jaded eyes darkened and brimming with tears when I took your face in my hands and whispered soothing words. I hugged you and we stayed huddled for the next ten minutes, rocking back and forth with me rubbing your back.

Your biggest fear was losing people. That shopping ended there, with us leaving right away and purchasing rest of the gifts online. 

Somewhere along the journey, your fears became mine. And then one day, I lost you. I didn’t realize I was crying until an old lady near me extended a handkerchief and an understanding smile. I was not embarrassed. I was mortified at the power you still had on me. 

I don’t know what to do. You are so far away. I’ll come to visit you today. With your favorite bouquet of blue roses. Marie always gives me a discount on them.

I will come and we need to talk. Though its mainly me talking, I’m sure you are listening somewhere, anywhere. I hope it will hurt less next time when I think of you. 

I hope you’re happy wherever you are. Because, I clearly am not.


Image courtesy 
http://welcomeyoungkitcats.tumblr.com

The Knight With Emerald Eyes

One morning all sun and shine,

A Lady came in primped and fine,

She strolled in with fiery red hair,

And emerald eyes filled with despair.

Battered, bruised black and blue,

Her eyes with fear fluttered askew,

She took her seat, proper and graceful,

With her air of elegance, uniquely beautiful.

Casual enquiries on weather and life,

Then gave way to her visible strife,

“Tell me child, what had been done?”,

“Useless, for I know it can’t be undone”.

Her voice ringed with detest,

As her finger was ringed with mistrust,

She stood up, but then relented,

And then she shared what had her tormented.

She was abused, trashed and beaten,

Upon confessing which, her cheek seemed to heaten,

The vows were forgotten,

The love now turned rotten,

He gave her gashes and regret,

Whom he promised comfort and swore to protect.

She wiped her teary eyes,

And calmed her cries,

Her back steeled and straightened,

Though she couldn’t help but feel frightened.

She recounted their tale,

The one of love that now turned frail,

Of who said their vows three years back,

And rode to sunset, with a grin like a maniac.

Here she sat wiping her tears,

For he had become her greatest fear,

Accused of adultery, beaten to death,

She sat like a tombstone and took a deep breath.

She had found his indiscretions,

And cried to sleep during his expeditions,

For she was his little perfect trophy wife,

And she learned to smile through her strife.

“Why now and how, have you found courage,

To speak of this failed marriage?”

“There’s a little life inside my womb.

My little one, starting to bloom.

I can’t bring my child up in this malice,

I need to be brave and find the balance.”

She looked determined, ready to fight,

Ready to be her own knight,

For a woman, she is her own saviour,

Because no one else can ever save her.

She found her ray of hope,

And she cannot be brought to a stop,

For a mother, all is right,

What she does for her child’s future bright.

She finished her story, rubbed her belly,

Stood up tall, strong and ready.

I saw no fear nor despair,

For I saw her emerald eyes on fire.

She walked out, courtesy a grateful nod, 

I closed my eyes, muttered a prayer to God,

What doesn’t we do for our little ones?

I smiled at the photo of my twin sons.

Image courtesy

http://pin.it/eKrhyK4

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