0

Nirvana

Day 10 of Flash Fiction Month.

The prompts I used today are:

Dictionary Prompt: exigent (adj.) – requiring immediate action or aid; urgent; pressing.

Flashback Prompt: The universe ended ages ago, but everything in it keeps going. 

Standard Prompt
It’s time for the annual sacrifice to the garden gods, the petunias are looking peaky.

Audio Prompt
Breezeblocks by alt-J

Visual Prompt
Endless Sands


Maybe it was a long time ago. Maybe it came to be.

He was the last man. Agonized from the lonely path he walked, he wanted to perish, he wanted to be with his brothers and sisters. But she would not let it be.

Every fatal step he took, she was moss to pillow his feet. With every cut and bruise he endured, she was water to ease his pain. Whenever he hungered, she bore fruit. On every sleepless night, she was a light shower to sing him to sleep.

When he wanted to die, she breathed life into his lungs.

“Why do you keep me here?” he exclaims desperately to the great unknown.

She answers with a soft breeze that caresses his body and sends a light shiver down his spine.

“Please. Let me go.”

She answers with a single droplet that falls gently down his cheek.

He falls to his knees and takes a deep breath. With an exhale, he dies.

It is an exigent matter that she saves his dying breath.

She readies herself for a storm. It lasts for moments that cannot be defined. The winds rage and she expels all the dead things up from within her core. With a sudden gust, his body explodes, releasing new life. She begins to create.

Maybe it was a long time ago. Maybe it came to be.

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0

Let’s GO!

Around the time it was announced that Pokemon Go was released in Australia – those lucky bastards – my hype levels were spiking up and down like a two-year-old waking up from its slumber to cause havoc until it has to give in to the black unconsciousness and shoot right back up until you slowly give in to the existential darkness of the reality that is this screaming, tasmanian devil of a rotten thing and then sweet, sweet bliss when it passes out and you have that one moment of relief before the cycle repeats itself. I kid you not. Between an android tablet with a completely trashed camera and a Windows phone, my hype was a roller-coaster of a thing. For days, I would see screenshots on Facebook from various friends acquaintances saying shit like, “I caught a Bulbasaur on my balcony!” or “Team Mystic!” during which I simultaneously hyped for what could be and de-hyped because Windows phone. I quickly searched for a petition for the development of Pokemon Go on the Windows OS and shared it on my social media, of course. And then occasionally google search “pokemon go on windows phone” to find a list of various petitions and rage-inducing looks-like-you’re-not-going-to-be-as-happy-as-all-these-people-haha articles which, as you’d expect, I would search for just before going to bed at the break of dawn to remind myself yet again how dark this world is.

But all this nonsense aside, I discovered that I did not actually need a camera to play the game, that that was just a silly little feature you could use to screenshot a Diglett on top of your crotch, or an Ekans on top of your crotch, or a Weedle on top of your crotch. You get the idea. I got the game and there I was, right at the cusp of putting on my imaginary cap and slinging on my imaginary bag that somehow can carry the weight of 350 items and 250 Pokemon all encapsulated in their own individual Pokeballs, no sweat. And like a first-time lazy player, I used my incense up on the first try, contemplated going for a walk then decided nah it’s too late for that.

The first outing was grueling. I workout at home. In this Delhi heat, there is no way I’m willingly stepping out for more than 30 minutes just to run around because it’s “good for my health”. So adding Pokemon Go to my workout schedule was definitely physically hard on me but wayyy more fun than deadlifting in a small room that’s about to turn into a Korean spa any time you breathe out. And we humans breathe, a lot. After that first walk around the neighborhood parks, a total of one hour, I would reach home with a pulsating headache that made me feel like my heart was in my throat telling me that this is what I get for playing Pokemon Go. I remember that first day so clearly. It took me about 4-5 hours to make the world stop moving around me and stand up without feeling like my knees would buckle beneath me.

Now before you accuse me of being weak for nearly shitting my pants after one hour outside, let me tell you, I sweat A LOT. An unusual amount for a girl, let alone a human. I sweat more than most men if you want to understand this in stereotypical terms. The term “sweat like a pig” was invented as a foreshadowing of my coming to this earth. So, if you want to feel my pain, multiply the amount of time I spend outside by 2 to 1,000,000 and you’ll get there eventually. When I woke up the next morning, my legs felt like they were lightly slapped throughout the night by entities the size of underwear gnomes like a bajillion times.

After a few more days of going out hunting for Pokemon, the headache subsided, my legs felt like they could walk 500 miles and 500 more and never so much as tremble, and I thought: this is a great time to be alive. Come Saturday, my cousins and I went to a huge park that has a bunch of deer and is appropriately named Deer Park and we caught ourselves a bunch of Horsea and I overheard this conversation, “Poliwag evolves into Poliwhirl, then?” “Uhh, I think it’s Politoed” and nearly died inside because it’s Poliwrath, you silly, silly boys! I mean, it’s both but Poliwrath is the OG. Silly, silly boys. Now that I think about it, I shouldn’t be this proud about that fact considering I’m 22 and those boys were probably still teenagers and they wouldn’t know any better anyhow. Oh well.

WP_20160723_16_10_09_Pro.jpg

See. Deer.

To this day, about two weeks into playing the game, I have walked more than I have this entire year. I feel more fit. My legs feel like they could run across water. I can go out for a long time and come back and still accompany my parents to a brisk walk around the apartment complex. Life is great.

Hallelujah!

(Was that the worst segue into self-promotion you’ve ever witness or what?)

So there you have it! That’s about all I can say about this lovely game so far. I hope to be very ripped by the end of this. And I hope people will understand how the times that we live in with 24-hour media coverage and the need to sensationalize are most probably affecting their perception of ordinary things like this game and I’m sure a lot of other things. Don’t adopt Newt Gingrich’s ‘feelings’ policy for facts. Never forget that facts are right at your disposal and never be too lazy to check for bullshit. Because that shit stinks.

Peace. Let’s GO!

0

Veng Tieng

I

After some five years, my mother and I decided to go home to spend the new year. Of course, the term ‘home’ here is one I use with a pinch of salt. I don’t think I have a home per se, except for the one where my bed and my blanket and my adorable stuffed monkey await. The ‘home’ I speak of here is called Sielmat, where both my sets of grandparents live literally across the street (in this case a field) from each other.

As the years go by, I feel the weight of this term ‘home’ slowly anchor me to something somewhat tangible. I’ve spent literally (yes, that’s how you use that word) all my life traveling from place to place, setting up a home in one place only to take things down and move out within three to four years and start anew. So, as a third culture kid, my best bet at defining ‘home’ would be to look at my parents and their home.

My mother and I left Delhi for Imphal via Guwahati on the 28th of December 2015. I was grumpy as a result of last minute packing and my mother’s flustered state. She’ll never admit to this but she’s quite a weary as well as wary traveler; dearest mother, just calm down. I get even more grumpy when she asks where to go next when the simplest thing to do is look up at the signs. Seriously, to anyone who struggles with traveling in the metro or an airport or a transportation station of any sort, look at the damn signs! As a result of all of this, I become concerned for her wondering how the hell she’d ever travel by herself. It didn’t help that when we got the tickets our seats were scattered and my stress meter most definitely spiked up when the tag on my mother’s hand luggage did not get stamped at the security check-in and I sat watching people boarding the flight for what felt like an eternity till she finally showed up.

Normally, traveling for me – especially in an airport – is a breeze. I’ve been traveling alone ever since I started college from Delhi to Hanoi and back for summer and winter holidays. Until one horrible experience where the kid next to me was masturbating in the dark as I watched 47 Ronen – thanks for ruining that movie for me, kid – eventually leaning in and saying something utterly creepy. I switched seats. Moral of the story: don’t let a creepy kid ruin a good movie for you, watch 47 Ronen again anyway. It did not help that as I waited in Bangkok to catch the next flight to Hanoi that a group of assholes did absolutely nothing to help a lady worker struggle to open a gate due to her short height. Literally there was a guy stood right next to her doing absolutely nothing but watch this poor lady, not to mention the rest of the men and women assholes doing absolutely nothing but gawk at her. I mean I can’t stop repeating ‘absolutely nothing’ because that’s just what it was. Infuriated by my dwindling hope for humanity, I went up and unlocked the gate for the woman. Moral of the story: don’t let all the assholes stop you from helping someone in need. By the time I boarded the flight I couldn’t be bothered with the creepy old man staring at me two seats away because I was two hours away from passing out on my bed at home in Hanoi. My father was waiting for me at the airport in Hanoi no longer greeting me with the embarrassing moonwalk he attempted the last time I came on vacation, his face hardened with concern for me. As we stood waiting for my luggage to arrive in baggage claim I told him about the last wave of shit I waded through on my journey and he said, “Where’s this guy? Let’s go stand next to him and stare him down.” Moral of the story: have a kick ass father.

By now you can probably deduce that the scattered seats really bothered me. There I was sitting not in the aisle seat or the window seat but the middle seat potentially next to two creepy people. I can say now that I’m better equipped to handle things in case of a creep-ergency but thankfully it was not needed. When we landed in Guwahati we happened to pick up my cousin Obed which was a pleasant surprise.

II

One of my biggest struggles upon arrival was time management. It wasn’t the kind where you sit down to study at 1:00pm, look at the time five minutes later, and realize it’s already 7:00pm wondering what the hell you’ve been doing for six hours. My problem was quite the opposite.

If you’re a night owl like I am and you’d like to change that habit to integrate yourself better into a society where time progresses from morning to night instead of afternoon to dawn, I suggest you immerse yourself in a place where everyone, and I mean everyone, wakes up bright and early. There I was going to bed at 11 pm when I’d usually go to bed at 4/5 am and wake up at 8:30 am when I’d usually wake up at 12 pm. Side note: even though the latter sounds horrible, really think about it. Is it better to sleep for 9.5 hours or 7/8 hours? (The answer is the second one so all you kids and night owls tell your parents/yourself your lifestyle is completely rational)

I had one constant in-town contact during my stay with whom I confided my struggle. Jonathan told me he never woke up before 9:30 am. Blasphemous, right? I resolved to follow his sound advice but by the end of my stay, I decided to stick with 8 am.

However, the real problem was not deciding when to sleep and wake up, but what to do in the hours between waking up and going to bed. Miles away from the city where you spend all your conscious hours watching movie after movie, YouTube video after YouTube video, or simply attached to an electronic device of some sort, you literally just sit in the sun and that’s about it. So time, taken as a relative and subjective phenomenon, moves slower.

Those initial days were the slowest I think I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’d wake up, brush my teeth and wash my face, then have breakfast, then sweep and mop the house, then eat lunch, then sit in the sun for however long was needed (two to three hours oh what fun), then have tea and snacks, then play some guitar, then eat dinner, then sit by a heat source, then calculate how many more hours until bed time, then sit for eternity because time now is subjective and eternity can exist in this sense, then go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

You need a packed and busy schedule if you’d like to feel like your life is actually progressing. You sort of wish chores upon yourself just to feel like you’re spending your time somewhat reasonably. That’s why when Jonathan asked me to join the picnic excursion that was happening the next day, I went along.

III

The last time I was in Manipur, I was about to finish high school. We didn’t stay long enough for me to socialize i.e. I was still a damn awkward teenager so I didn’t bother socializing with anyone.  And before this, the gap was about three years entering my initial years of teenage awkwardism still not bothering to remember people. So if you add that all up, really the last time I would have properly remembered anyone would have been 8 years prior to our visit; 8 years to completely forget everyone except for immediate family.

So there I was on the day of the picnic, not knowing anyone except Jonathan and my cousins, not remembering anyone and time decided to stand still to let that awkwardness set in a little bit longer. At one point, I was really tempted to make up some lame excuse and go home but I persevered and it turned out to be a really lovely day. If there’s one thing that social settings have taught me it’s that all awkward situations sort themselves out by the end if you’re willing to change your attitude to be more open to the experience. Works every single time. And it also helps to smile and laugh.

We went to Khuga Dam and spent the day listening to music under the warmth of the winter sun. When it was dinner time, we threw our disposable plates into a bonfire, a satisfying end of the day for the pyromaniac residing deep within my soul.

There was so much handshaking and re-introductions – because I’d probably met all these people before – that all I could simply do was smile and nod and answer honestly, “ka hriet ta naw”. I just don’t know you, sorry.

Side-thought: If you’re the type of person that thinks all dogs are scary and out to get you, you should definitely visit Sielmat or the North-East in general. I was in awe at all the beautiful and well-tempered and human-friendly doggies. I mean, friendly is one thing but to have friendly AND healthy-looking, shiny-coated, handsome pups everywhere? That’s a miracle. A doggy miracle.

IV

And then there was the earthquake.

On the 4th of January 2016, around 4:30 in the morning, we were woken up by an earthquake that at first reminded me of one of the scariest train-ride slumbers I ever experienced in Vietnam from Hanoi to Sapa. As if my body was sending a warning to my unconscious state, I was at the brink of waking up well before the earthquake had even started. I shook my mom awake with a “Mama! Earthquake!” then proceeded onto running out of the house with my hands in the air. No, but really, all earthquakes remind me of that one scene in Freaky Friday where Lindsay Lohan’s little brother pranks his grandfather at breakfast, shaking the table as if to simulate an eathquake upon which the old man shouts “EARTHQUAKE!” and promptly runs out of the house.

I was quick to try and the open the door and get to open air but for some reason, the lock wouldn’t give in easily so my mom beckoned me to her side on the bed and we held onto each other until the tremors had passed.

The thing you gotta understand is that a) these damn earthquakes will not stop following me, and b) these houses are not built to withstand earthquakes like the buildings in Japan are. So after surviving the March 2011 tremors in Tokyo and being extremely impressed that nothing broke in our house, you can understand if I go straight into panic-mode when I’m in a country that’s not Japan and whose houses could potentially break with even a magnitude 5 earthquake. So, EXCUSE ME little nieces who made fun of me screaming for my mom in the middle of the night during a scary ass natural disaster.

V

I have come to the conclusion that I am an ambivert. I can handle the social aspect of life and I can also be happy by myself. If ever I find myself in an uncomfortable social situation or there are just too many damn people around, I will quietly slip away and watch some birds, wander about and such. It began when in my final year in college, I decided I couldn’t handle the monotony of following the crowd that I walked past it all and enjoyed solitude instead. It was this wanderlust that sped up the time.

I began to ask my little nieces to go on walks with me. It started with a walk across the field and back and by the end of the trip we’d wander down the river into the wilderness and up a mountain. I had a camera with me as an excuse to go exploring. Everywhere we went I’d take pictures and videos that I told myself I’d edit later into something epic (still yet to do).

My three nieces and I usually started down the set of steps that lead you to Dan Veng, right outside a school. Then we’d be met by a Y-intersection, though it was rather a trident-intersection. We managed to explore all three paths; one went up to New Sielmat, the middle towards a river path that’s slowly drying up, and the last one further into Dan Veng. Usually we’d follow the last path back up and out via the set of steps behind the EFCI church or continue further in and follow another river path back up and out into the wilderness around the entrance to Prayer Mountain. Then before heading home, we’d make a quick visit to the cemetery where my nieces would gather fallen flowers and place them onto their respective grandmother’s and grandfather’s graves. What can I say? Winter is a wonderful time to go walking and exploring, especially for me i.e. a person who’s already sweating in mid-Spring.

There I was in my favorite terrain. How can you not love the mountains? There’s so much beauty to witness and adventuring to do. It so happened that I woke up looking forward to walking and exploring with my nieces and time was no longer slow. I wished there was more daylight because nights felt subzero and all you’d ever want to do is sit by a fire.

By the end of our two-week stay, there wasn’t enough time left to see everything that I wanted to or could have seen. I was just warming up to the place. It takes me a loooong time to get used to something or someone enough to open up. But, as if time and space were telling me it was time to go, I developed a small case of food poisoning on the day we departed. It really didn’t help that the in-flight dinner looked like the most appetizing airplane meal I’d ever seen.

VI

So, what is home?

I’ve yet to understand that term. It confuses me as much as my identity does. I’m Indian, yet not in the sense an outsider would understand the term. I’m Hmar, yet not completely attached to the traditions and customs that go with the tribe. ‘I’m an international kid’ is honestly the most sense I can make of my identity. I may have Indianness coursing through my blood and muscles but my mind is a mix of everything that sometimes is in denial of that very Indianness. Whatever it may be, that is why defining home is such a confusing and complicated subject to me.

I’m not black and white, I’m grey. I can’t ever look at something with concrete certainty when there are so many other factors and exceptions to consider. And that’s why home to me is whatever you make of where you are. By the end of our stay at my parents’ hometown, the place and the people started to bury themselves into my soul and I could see myself slowly integrating into it. The same way that when I watch a YouTube video or a vlog about Japan I feel an aching inside me and a yearning to walk the streets of Tokyo at night like my brother and I used to. The same way that when I think of the best street food I end up reminiscing about Hanoi – and incidentally how I never got food poisoning from eating street food over there. The same way that our Indian Ocean view from our apartment in Maputo has burrowed deep into my dreams as a recurring motif I greet every now and then. The same way that when I step out of the house, I can’t wait to crash onto my tiny mattress on the floor, pass out, and wake up again with a wanderlust to go out and get absorbed by the world again.

2

Loving and Updating

So here we are, celebrating love one step at a time.

Congratulations to The US of A – and let’s not forget Ireland – for same love.

I apologize for lack of activities on this blog lately. I’ve just been sorting through some feelings and other nonsense, too uninspired to write.

But I have been utterly inspired to paint and painted I have.

I’ve decided to take a hiatus on Justice June. The laziness and procrastination got the best of me and I feel slightly bad though on the flipside I will admit to being flaky when it comes to promising art. Before I started the Star Wars portrait series, I solemnly swore never to promise anything and then 2 lovely weeks of Star Wars passed by and I thought, “Hey, you can do this. Let’s stretch it out for a month!” And then it all just fell apart.

And now it’s nearing the end of June and I’m still very much unsure whether I want to take Justice June over to July and finish up the month.

For now, painting, just painting, is enough.

Foetal

Foetal

Water Lady

Water Lady

Mohawk

Mohawk – hair-flipping self-portrait (not a painting)

Wildling Fire - Tormund Giantsbane aka the greatest ginger god of them all

Wildling Fire – Tormund Giantsbane aka the greatest ginger god of them all

Colored - interestingly enough I was painting this in the midst of all the marriage equality excitement yesterday

Colored – interestingly enough I was painting this in the midst of all the marriage equality excitement yesterday

In other news, exam results are out and I can proudly say that I have graduated with honors in English and that I did pretty good this semester.

The whole excitement of graduation has got me missing a few people and even though I loathed college, I think I loved it too.

Onto the next chapter.

And a musical parting gift:

I messed up the first line but in my defense, the batteries I had charged the previous night were completely dead when I put them in the camera, thus began a tedious journey of dying camera and cutoff recordings for the next 3 hours.

5

Things

Things

There are too many things to do.

There are too many thoughts to think.

And words that want to rip away at the seams.

But these are imaginary seams and imaginary words.

Things that pass over you with such urgency.

And yet it feels like a millennia since you last moved.

Since you last took a breath.

Since you knew what your heartbeat felt like.

And there it goes. Thump. Thump. Thump.

A beat in your chest and your throat which closes in.

You try to sing

But none of it sounds right.

Inside you scream GO!

And your body reciprocates with nothing.

Exhale. I need time to think. I need a moment to believe in the words I set in my head. I need to clean the house. I need to wash the dishes and the laundry and the balcony outside. I need to paint. I need to sing. I need to buy a new E-string. I need to learn how to draw. I need to breathe.

Then a single moment of clarity hits you.

A faint light dancing across your eyes.

A million little electrical explosions in your brain.

A million signals in the limbic.

A thousand injections of dopamine.

You dream.

And you talk in your sleep.

Inhale. I need to know happiness in the things I’ve done. I need to learn how to love without pride and prejudice. I need to stop looking in the mirror and look behind closed eyes. I need to believe in mistakes. I need to worry about the time and how long will I love.

Will I?

Would I want that?

Would I even need that?


 

 

2

I Want To Ride My Bike

I put my helmet on
And I tag along
On the scooter you bought
With the first pay you got

I cling onto the back handles
And I sweat like melted wax candles
While moving to the corner swerves
A current runs through my nerves

Then we get home finally
Dearest brother smiling so smugly
I lie awake at night
When my thoughts fill me with fright

First
Engine too hot it bursts
We skid off and crash
The flames engulf us to ash

Second
Anxiety deadened
Distracted by a QUEEN song:
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike

Lost attention to the balance
Wonder how hell happened

Third
We stop and a dastardly bird
Bestows upon us a turd
I shout, “This is absurd!”
Brother turns and laughs
Then crashes and splits into half

Fourth
A collision course

Fifth
Miscalculate the widths
Of cars-to-buses
Face turns up in a history of great crashes
Between the pole-mangled car
And the one that drove into a bar
Except we were pressed against car-to-bus
And life ended thus
A mix of blood, guts and pus

Sixth
Become that urban myth
The one where “Come Sail Away”
Is to be recited all the way
And the mighty hand of Styx
Will bless you with the life gift
To avoid the first to the fifth

And now you’ve seen
Why at seventeen
I resolved that:
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike.


I’ve been thinking a lot about death ever since my big brother got a scooter…

That Styx reference, I swear, works. My brother picked me up yesterday from college and we made a series of complicated turns but I was singing “Come Sail Away” and it turns out I saved our asses with my perfect posture and distracted state of mind.

 

0

You’re so lucky

I’ve been thinking about luck lately and have come to the conclusion that Lady Luck is a jerk.

I’ve considered my brother lucky for many years now. He’s the only one who’s ever won anything in a lottery. Try as the rest of us might, we never get our names called out for some breakfast coupon or an LCD TV or whatever.

I feel as an anti-social person as well that my brother is way luckier than I am. He’s at least had a normal adolescence with friends, parties, drinking, girls and the like. And here I am with my messy hair, sloppy clothes and a pillow to hug, watching the season finale of Once Upon a Time.

But you know what I realized the other day? My brother IS lucky; good luck and bad. In the course of a week he’s managed to lose a client’s check, lose his phone on the road and cracked his scooter helmet visor. Not to mention his first own laptop breaking in a matter of months, having his Nokia phone graduation gift pick-pocketed in the metro and general clumsiness. Oh and his bed collapsed yesterday while he was trying to get comfy with a bowl of hot noodles. There was noodles everywhere.

He’s the type of person that you say, “This is why we can’t have nice things,” to.

Then on the other hand there’s me. Now, I’ve been luckier in the department of material things not melting in my hands. Every time I’ve dropped my phone in water, it’s come back miraculously to life (except one time but that doesn’t count :P). I’ve had my first laptop, this one I’m typing in, kept well and treated it like it deserves to be treated. I hope it loves me as much as I love it. And I’ve hardly ever lost things in school.

But there’s one department I’m lacking in. And that is with my words.

How ironic is it that an English major would fumble her words as much as I have?

My friend and I got into a mini-feud with one of our classmate’s because of the way I phrased something. I got a comment saying that I’ve contradicted myself in my writing (though that was the person misreading what I’d written). When I accuse someone of something they immediately take to the defensive of something that is entirely out of my point and I end up thinking to myself, “Did I sound like I meant that?”

I think my problem is that I get to the point too quickly. It’s true, I’d rather say all my peace in one go than write 1000 words explaining myself. And I rely heavily on induction which I’ve come to realize not many people are good at. I could use one word, say “bad” and I could imply from that “dire, evil, rotten, spoiled, the opposite of perfection which is reality” and all that someone would get from that is “evil”. Even just now I rasped at a kid and she laughed and I thought, “Wow, this is what kids are into?” not realizing that she’s an actual child and not a 50-year-old intellectual human. I need to stop thinking that people think like me.

In my first exam which was on Modernism I completely confused Robin Hood’s Sherwood to Nottingham and I may or may not have implied someone’s death who did not actually die in the novel. Gahd why?!

And just now I fucked up. I accused someone of plagiarizing an artwork and spent the past hour trying to find the source. I should have done the research before pointing fingers and now I feel like a complete ass. But I know that I saw it somewhere and it’s killing my brain because I’m stranded in the middle of this thin thin wire between the truth and a lie. I even did a thorough image search of this artwork and did not come to the original but interestingly enough I did find pieces of the components in the artwork. And yet the thing about this is that many people do photo-manipulations but are not technically plagiarizing because they’ve given credit. (Though I should say, credit was not given to the originals in this case)

Thus I conclude Lady Luck plays a hand in everything. It’s just my luck that everything I say gets misconstrued. Though I’ve noticed that’s not the case with my poetry. Maybe I should stick to that…