Jyestha

Sonakshi closed the door behind him, climbed over the bed and crossed her legs.

She was tired of trying to get Saathvik to talk to her. He would come home, well, room actually, and spread out a dozen different maps all over his bed. Then he would study them, although Sonakshi felt like he was eyeing her the whole time, watching her shift uncomfortably on her bed and clearing her throat a million different ways to get his attention. But that might just have been her imagination.

Surely, he cared enough to leave her notes on the coffee table, about where he was going in the mornings when she was still asleep. Even that day, he’d let her know that he would be at a colleague’s house in the country side, but that was quite all. Their talking these days was only through notes, although Sonakshi felt ridiculous leaving notes to someone who probably didn’t even read them. But she still put so much thought and sincerity into every note she ever wrote to him.

Saathvik was still reading maps. She wondered what sort of a sane person reads maps before going to bed. She thought it was because the bookshelf was on her side of the room, and that reading maps was a metaphor for Get the book rack to my side or get the hell out. She quickly dismissed the thought though and decided to contemplate over it later when she wasn’t too busy clearing her throat.

“What?” he barked.

Okay, she thought, we’re making progress.

“That was a question. What do you want?”

To her, that didn’t sound like a question but rather a subtle way of telling her to stop trying. He probably would go back to reading maps if she actually spoke, and that would be nothing short of embarrassing.

“I’m tired. I’m going to bed. You only have a minute.”

That was enough to get her started.

“Saathvik, I-”

“You’re pregnant?”

“What? No! Why would you-”

“Then it isn’t relevant to me.”

“And you just assumed me being pregnant would be relevant to you.”

The words just plunged out of her mouth before she could stop them. She almost thought she saw shock in Saathvik’s eyes, but she blinked and it was gone.

“We’re done then. Remember to lock the front door.”

She wanted to yell that that’s what she’d been doing every single night when he went to bed early, leaving her watching him through the darkness and hoping that someday, things would go back to where it had been.

But she didn’t. Because he probably- no- most certainly, didn’t care.

“Saathvik, listen to me just this once.”

“Get over with it already.”

“I can’t keep paying your bills. I need to send money home. To India.”

This was, she knew, important to him as much as it was to her. He nodded rapidly and turned away.

“There’s something else too…”

Saathvik refused to budge but she spoke anyway.

“I’m leaving.”

Saathvik sprang from the bed so fiercely, she jerked backwards in surprise. He pushed his head forward questioningly and for a moment, Sonakshi thought he looked like a really small dinosaur.

“I’m moving out Saathvik. I’m going to New York.”

“Excuse me?”

“I just wanted to tell you that. You can go to sleep now.”

They didn’t speak for the rest of the night. But this time, it was Saathvik who lay awake in the darkness watching his Sona’s face glow with relief.

The next day, like any other day, Sonakshi slid out of her bed and zombie-walked to the coffee table. This time, he hadn’t left her any information of his whereabouts.

“You actually read those notes, huh?”

She gasped a little too much and placed her hand on top of her head as she turned around to face him.

“What are you doing here?” she mumbled.

“Don’t go.”

“I have to. Don’t stop me. Work would be so much better there.”

“You’re just running away.”

“From what, Saathvik? From hurt? From heartache? From- from- torture?”

“You know that guy you’ve been trying to kill for three years now but couldn’t?”

Sonakshi raised a shivering eyebrow.

“You’re running away from that guy. “

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Why I don’t call myself a writer

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.
– Anais Nin
Words like this ought to inspire me. But they don’t and it’s not the best feeling. I know of too many writers who can’t get past a day without writing and I’ve been asked if I’m one of those writers a couple of times before.
In all honesty, I don’t see myself as someone who writes to ease the pain or discover the person that they are. Sometimes, I don’t even see myself as a writer. And as much as I hate to say this, I am intimidated by writers who find an escape through their writing. Reading their work utterly devastates me and I find myself longing for more.
To a writer, writing is like breathing, and writing is a reason to live, to stay in this world. It gives me so much sadness, but at the same time, I begin to think that beautiful writing comes from pain.
“I write because I can’t imagine not writing.”
-Richard Price
Sometimes, I feel like I’m only in this for the attention and not for the love of writing. I feel less real, less genuine. Like I’m a waste of ink that otherwise, someone else could possibly use to cure themselves of heartache. I feel like a joke, you know? And I know I could stop writing any day and it wouldn’t feel any different.
To everyone who writes to get through anxiety, depression or childhood trauma, I apologize for being so inconsiderate, for romanticizing your illness even when it’s only in my head. I am overwhelmed with guilt. But you don’t know how much I admire you, and how I know, deep inside, that I would never make it there.
Nevertheless, I’m so grateful everyday that I am a happy person, in every sense of the word. I am the product of a merry childhood and I pray that I would always be able to say that out loud with the biggest smile on my face.
And what’s important to me is the people I meet and grow with, and the relationships that come to stay. I want to touch lives and inspire, but perhaps writing is not the way. Perhaps it’s something else entirely that I haven’t figured out yet.

Sembaruthi

I love how you are gentle and caring and compassionate. I love how you give so much when I have nothing to give back. I love how you look me in the eye and say- I’m here. Worry not. We’ll figure things out. I love the way you do the dishes everyday humming to old melodies, the way you knit sweaters so patiently for some baby next door, the way you always have a lopsided smile hanging from the corner of your lips, as though there’s a secret behind your strange tranquility. I love your voice when you call my name, like cinnamon sprinkled in the bitterest of coffee. I love how you ask how my day went. And I know when I ask you about yours, you will lie to me that it was wonderful. That Mother and Father came over to see you. That they treated you nicely and told you that you were a good daughter-in-law.
I wish things didn’t have to be this way. I wish I could protect you like you protect me. I wish I could love you like you love me. But if nothing else, I’ve given you one thing. Resilience. Not that I’m proud of it. I am ashamed. But I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for that fire in your eyes. I’m proud of you for that strength in your heart. I’m proud of everything in you, as much as I’m ashamed of everything in me. In your palms lie the energy that keeps us together till this day. The energy I was never able to provide like I should have.
And when my head falls in shame, I know yours is held up high, always ready for the monsters of our lives, for both of us together.
Power looks so good on you.

RED

Slowly, slowly, she tiptoed into the backyard. It looked like it was going to rain. How she used to love the rain. How she used to play in the puddles, and come back home drenched and hungry, but glowing with joy.
A gush of air hit her tired face. The baby’s cry blasted in her ears. She was confused. The baby was never this loud. And yet, she stood still. Her feet rooted to the grass. The wind blew on.
Her red dupatta stuck onto her clothes, the ends of it fluttering backwards, almost as if they wanted to rip off her and go somewhere far far away.
She closed her eyes, and took the deepest breathe she’d taken in a long time. It came out rather broken and difficult. But it felt so good to breathe like that.
And then, she grabbed the dupatta off her shoulders and hurled it in the wind.
She watched it fly onwards, dancing the same way she always did when she tried in front of the bathroom mirror, back at home. Slow, awkward and rather funny. She sighed. And then she laughed.
And then she cried.
She cried because she saw so many dupattas flying beside hers, and even more being hurled into the sky from all around her. Red. So much of it. And then, peace.