And Then We Spoke

The first part of this story was written 2 years ago. Read that HERE before you proceed.

“I hope you realise that all the alcohol in the world can’t bridge it.”

I almost fell down. After a yearlong tumultuous uncommitted, unspoken relationship she had finally broken the barrier.

“Bridge what?” I asked, trying to seem unaffected.

“This chasm of unspoken emotions between us.” came the reply. “Come, let’s take a walk.”

As we exited our cubicle and walked towards the door, I could sense eyes shadowing us. But all I could see was her lustrous hair, her supple skin and oh those eyes. I always knew I was in love but today was the first time that my denial had taken a backseat.

We walked into the neighbouring coffee shop (the same one where she avoided eye contact) and took a seat.

“One Cappuccino for me, with 2 sugar sachets and an Americano with milk on the side with no sugar for him.” she said to the server.

I was taken aback. All this while I’d been deducing ways to tell myself that this woman didn’t know me and didn’t love me…and here she knew my exact coffee order like the back of her hand.

After what seemed like a long silence of around a minute she took my hand in her own.

“I like you. A lot. And I know you share the same feelings. But what you don’t understand is how difficult it has been for me to accept this. Since childhood I’ve been ridiculed and poked fun at due to my dark skin. At an early age, I built a cocoon around myself and never let anyone in. It may not be the best defence mechanism but it worked. And then I met you. It took a lot of courage to come to terms with the fact that someone could like me for who I am. In a society obsessed with the notion that women should be fair, it seemed like an impossible dream. Especially because you’re fair. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it and didn’t want to take a chance for fear of being hurt. But I cannot see you drink yourself to death just because both of us were too afraid to be open about our feelings.”

A small tear escaped her eye and her grip tightened.

“I’m so sorry. I’ve been extremely judgemental about you in my mind. Yes, I like you a lot. But I lacked the courage to approach you; and then as time passed I interpreted your behaviour as a ‘stay away’ sign. Never did I try and understand how you actually felt.” I croaked. I could’ve sworn that my usually confident voice had got stuck somewhere in my gut.

As we sipped our coffees, we spoke about the coffee shop episode, the accidental nudge at the water cooler and a lot of other previously unsaid things. This time too our eyes met…and spoke…but the language had changed.


No Will. No Way.

There’s something disturbingly, cloyingly polite about today’s world. I don’t quite understand whether it is due to the unwritten pressures of social media, the corporate rat race or whether we’re just too lazy to disagree. But the bitter truth is that we’re afraid to say NO.

For the simplest things in life, people need to think, re-think and then think some more to simply say, “No. I do not want to do this.” I’ve seen people choosing career paths they intensely disliked, doing favours they didn’t want to…just because they couldn’t say no; or they felt caged. And guess what’s the best way for anyone to wriggle out of unsolicited advances from the opposite gender (or even the same gender)? Just say the bloody word – N.O.

Steve NoSaying ‘No’ comes with a lot of responsibility and very often, social stigma too. But if you don’t have the gumption to refuse, you lose the right to crib. We’ve all been there…bad relationships, life-consuming requests and sometimes character-tarnishing expectations…but then there is always the proverbial “What will happen if I say no?” lurking in the dark, grimy corners of the devil’s workshop. And eventually we give in. What follows is usually misery, self-doubt and an overwhelming sense of hollowness.

I’ve noticed that people almost never compare the directly proportional value of a ‘No’ to future expectations. Once you’ve said ‘Yes’, the next time it is expected that you’ll do the same. Or you could say the magic word and be free from future requests. Value yourself and your time. Don’t wonder what excuse to provide in order to turn someone down. You do not owe anyone an explanation.

Benefit NoI often say ‘No’ to a lot of things that I do not wish to do/participate in. It has cost me a great deal in shaping my relationships with people. But it turns out that it worked out for the best. The small, select circle of close friends that I have are also from the land of ‘No’. All of us mutually respect the other’s N-bomb without batting an eyelid. And no one judges the other. I prefer that to a huge-ass social circle with whom I’ve to constantly be on my ‘society-approved’ best behaviour.

The hardest part about saying ‘No’ is doing it the first time. Thereafter, it’s a cakewalk. It’ll save you time, heartburn, impossible expectations and above all it’ll keep banal stresses at bay. This Independence Day gift yourself the freedom to refuse. Just look the other person in the eye and say it. And if you’re asked “Why not?” …I recommend turning to my favourite retort – “Because, I said no.”

Lonely in a Crowd

Through all those years of pain and sorrow
Every moment a testimony of my thorny existence
Never did my bleeding heart make a sound
I guess that is why I feel loneliest in a crowd

Deception was his favourite pastime
Betrayal, the dagger in his cloak
Plunged deep into the small of my back
All it gave my dead emotions was a blood soak

Friends enjoyed the drama, society the show
As our relation rotted with time and tide
Not a soul offered a hand or a hug
All the social voyeurs saw it end blow by blow

The fear of death engulfs me such
I have nowhere to run or hide
Redemption is not a choice much
Just want a reassurance by my side

Once the life of every social meet
Now I sink into an obscure corner
Today I’m struggling to find my feet
And the air of unsureness takes me further

Through all those years of pain and sorrow
Every moment a testimony of my thorny existence
Never did my bleeding heart make a sound
I guess that is why I feel loneliest in a crowd

Lakshya Ki Awaaz

Dil toot gaya tha pyaar ke bazaar mein
Sapne bikhar gaye the zindagi ki giraft mein
Jazbaat jo samete the chun chun kar
Choor hue dheere dheere waqt ke gujarne se

Bhool gayi thi woh saans lene ki tehzeeb
Sar par junoon tha samaaj se ladhne ka
Par jab apno ne hi peeth par kiya waar
Saamne aayi do dhaari duniya ki asli tasveer

Lekin waqt ke sannaton se ladhti hui
Rooh pe giri umeed ki ek kiran
Chal padi woh apni rah phir se banane ko
Iss jahaan se duur apni manzil ki dagar par

Himmat hai ab bhi iraadon mein bohot
Buland hai dil-o-dimaag ka sandes
Ijaazat ki zaroorat nahi usse kisi aur ki
Lakshya paane apna chali woh pardes

The Twisted World of Accountable Freedom

Over the last weekend we had some close friends from out of town staying with us. As a family we’ve always been bordering on addiction to gregariousness. Conversations from the utterly inane to the intensely intellectual find easy acceptance in our friend circles. So during the near-ritualistic quaffing of a delicious Speyside single malt whiskey our talk veered towards impossible dreams.

While most impossible dreams featured private islands, limitless books and single malts and even socialistic endeavours, mine was one of ‘absolute freedom’. For the longest time I have been convinced that human beings have deceived themselves about the concept of freedom. Freedom as we define it comes with a plethora of terms and conditions. I like to call it ‘accountable freedom’. Accountable freedom begins at a very early age through social conditioning; and by the time we’re adults it is a way of life for most. Those who read between the lines and express their desire for absolute freedom get branded as rebels or misfits or even freaks.

Brain Cage

Think about it for 60 introspecting seconds. When was the last time you did or thought something for which you were not accountable to anyone, including your own conscience (which more often than not is a well programmed, socially conditioned machine)? The Government, school teachers, college professors, office colleagues, parents, relatives, friends, spouse(s) and even your beautiful children…everyone expects you to be accountable. You relent, partake and in fact advocate the system of accountable freedom.

While absolute freedom is an impossible dream for most, there are ways to get close to that ideal Neverland. For starters, make peace with your past. Try to actively face everything you fear or abhor, with a view to gain resolution or closure. Recall how Po faces his ultimate moment of truth and finds inner peace while encountering Shen, the peacock, in DreamWorks’ 2011 animated feature Kung Fu Panda 2.

Problem of Choice

In a world dominated by emotional, preconceived notions over a logic-based approach, external absolute freedom is a myth. But your internal journey can craft its own destiny. A path less travelled that shapes your willpower, and puts you on the road to absolute freedom. As a wise person once said, “You don’t make your choices. Your choices make you.”

Soulmate Spotlight

The sound of someone’s inimitable laughter. A feeling of intense bonding. Experiencing your thoughts, emotions and sometimes even actions emerge from another body. Feeling a warm tear slowly escape your lachrymal glands, as you get overwhelmed by pain or fear. The number of ways you can be attached to your soulmates is nearly endless.

A while ago I’d written a post about friendship titled ‘*Terms & Conditions Don’t Apply’. I got a lot of emotional calls, messages and even in-person hugs from many who understood exactly what I meant in my post. During some of my conversations with friends we happened to discuss intensely about soulmates. I’m deliberately using the plural form here because I honestly believe it is almost impossible to have a single one.

Soulmate Quote

Soulmates are like a mirror image of you. Imagine walking out of your body and observing yourself for a whole day or month from a third person’s perspective. Your best friends may or may not be your soulmates. Your spouse/partner may not necessarily be your soulmate. But your soulmates are definitely the best friends you’ll ever possess. It’s hard to distinguish but give it a calm thought and maybe you’ll figure it out.

All of us come across a sea of people every day but it’s hard to spot a soulmate. More often than not it’s purely intuition based…a bit like falling in love…you can’t plan it. Often people confuse soulmates being romantically involved, which is plain ludicrous. Your soulmates could be men, women, transgenders or from another species altogether.

So, go out into the big bad world full of positivity and have faith. Sooner or later you will bump into your soulmates. They may be people you’ve known all your life or someone you met fleetingly. And once you’re sure, don’t let go.

The Unsaid Words

For the first time yesterday, I saw her eyes. And they spoke. A lot.

I’d been observing her mannerisms, for quite a while. Since we shared a 4-seater cubicle we used to greet each other cordially. But that was it. None of us had made a move beyond ‘Hello’. It was almost as if both knew that any further words would lead to the unimaginable. No, not attraction. Pure, unadulterated pain taking shelter in those unsaid words. Neither had the courage to face that intense pain.

The only time that we had coffee together was as part of a larger group, working on the same assignment. As fate had it I was seated opposite her. But she shielded both eye contact and conversation with the help of sunglasses and a book. I didn’t take that nicely.

Over the course of the last year, I observed her and made critical judgements in my own mind. Criticising her for things she’d not said, things she’d not done and things she’d not thought. All the while, conveniently forgetting that I was equally to blame. She had become the central object of my mean disposition; and I, her subject of torture. Or so I thought.

As time consumed our better emotions, I took to extreme bitterness. She, to outright reclusiveness. Still we’d give each other the occasional glance, when the other was not looking. It had become an unhealthy commitment without being committed.

I thought it’s best to move ahead with death. Because moving ahead with life was something I’d tried and failed at. Miserably, if I may add. Starting with a peg a day, I soon vanquished a full bottle in two days. Such was my dedication towards self-destruction that one day I sat for an office meeting in an inebriated state. When my boss tried reasoning with me, I invited him to drink with me.

Then, almost surreally, time stood still. It was a Monday morning. I came to office, a little less drunk from the earlier night. Bloodshot eyes but walking and reacting perfectly. By now, most people in office used to avoid me. And the only reason I was still employed was because I was making the company richer. I walked into my cubicle and saw her sitting. Almost as a knee-jerk reaction I was about to turn away (I had no idea where I was going to go) when she turned in her chair and looked right into my eyes. And there it was…the very pain we both feared. But she had mustered up the courage to face it. I? I was still grappling with my own miserable existence called a life.

For the first time yesterday, I saw her eyes. And they spoke. A lot.