Conversations – Part 1

Recently someone who reads my blog pinged me and said they wanted to know more about my life. It wasn’t creepy or anything, but for a moment I had to consider the request — what did that even mean? I declined to divulge because it’s boring to talk about one’s life as a subject and honestly everything changes as time passes by placing the act of living inside a relativistic perception. It now is, it now isn’t.

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I’ve begun not to worry about why the jasmines won’t flower or the perfect cup of pumpkin soup. It’s a bit much, this pouring of my life into a vessel such as a ramekin bowl or the sweet heady scent of you. Maybe life wasn’t meant to be distilled shamelessly such as this. Maybe it was all supposed to be a tangled yarn of purple wool. Maybe. But to tell you the truth, I saw a bud peeking at me yesterday. 

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I’ve been silently angry for weeks now. I try to mask it behind eating copious amounts of chips, Instagram stories, and lots of listening instead of talking. It’s not a ‘let me change the world’ kind of anger but quieter and more helpless than that. Make no mistake, I’m not a damsel in distress. That trope is far too outdated. It started with an unwelcome, unwanted romantic/sexual advance. Everything has been downhill since. Let us not pretend that most women we know haven’t had their bodies compromised in one way or another and the world will be a safer place in a minuscule way.

It has been a very long time since I have been made to feel so cornered. I had forgotten what it felt like because I am largely in comfortable spaces and with people who I feel safe with. I’ve not had a romantic relationship in ages. I’ve not travelled by public transport for a long time. So far, it has all been good. But here’s what happens when women’s bodies feel compromised — we close off. That’s exactly what I did. And like I said, it has all been downhill since. Nothing has happened, I’m alright. But triggers work in strange ways. They do.

You know what was worse? The way I had to conduct myself after that. Hide in such a way that I wasn’t a person, but just a body to be desired. Feel the need to keep my eyes downcast, stand behind barriers to protect myself, prove that I didn’t ask for this, that I had made it clear enough, that I had said ‘No’. I’ll tell you something, no matter how well-intentioned you might be unless you’re a woman you will never understand how it feels when we are made to feel vulnerable. No words will ever be enough.

So that’s where it started and it went on to me thinking about who I was as a woman, after all. Was it easy to make advances at me because I was already not “protected by a man” (read: married)? Why does my self worth have to be tied to my marital status…yada yada. It goes on, you know. Like they say on Twitter, I spiralled. I’m not the one to pretend as if my life is not influenced by society at large. I just deal with it as best as I can.

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What if I wished I weren’t capable of living this way? The way cardamom diffuses into milk not knowing if it will belong and then it does? I don’t wish that I had found something else: a patch of hope, a bud of fresh dew, and a jar full of faith. It is all enough for me, the unlit roads, the decadence of emotion, the way I am now friends with the dark. 

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In other news, I have recently finished reading three books. I’m happy about this because in some more time it would be hard to distinguish me from the very tasteful cushions on my mother’s sofa. All three books were very disparate from each other but enjoyable in their own right. I guess what happened was that I became a non-Western literature reading prude. I was stubborn to the point of being foolish such that I didn’t read any of the copious Western but diaspora literature thrown at me on Instagram. (I use Instagram only for books, embroidery,  flowers, craft, colours, and 9gag. Don’t ask me to follow you, I will become secretly annoyed and then blog about it in public.) The books I read:

“Luck, you see, brings bitter friends.”
– The Pearl, John Steinbeck

“Auntie’s remarks were no more substantial than the drops of dew on the cool grass or the sighs of a butterfly.”
– 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

“When you have no choice, you have no discontent either.”
– Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbagh

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In the days leading up to the present, I used to ask myself how the heart would heal itself, whether I’d have to save half a loaf for another day, and if there would be anyone when I came home. Now I don’t question the future. I just watch the light fading in the sky and sleep with my fears tucked in the bottom drawer. Sometimes they creep out. Or not. Who knows?

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Sometimes, I am a detriment to myself, but sometimes I am not. I have made peace with the fact that largely I like who I have become. I do, however, have to be talked out of myself at times. The past few weeks have been those days.

So, yes. This is my life, but then, this also isn’t. Depends on the day you ask me, you know.

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