Sunday, July 10, 2022

Musings on Love

Do you think that everyone is destined to find the love of their lives?

For the longest time in this universe, I have been this hopelessly romantic and optimistic in love person. The one that believed that if someone loves you, they’d move mountains for you. That the person you’re in love with will follow you to the ends of world, will see your best, worst and everything in between. And that… they’ll never ever turn their back on you. But then you see, the problem with this notion was that I never realized, that if this were indeed true, and if this is what love meant, then I’d have to move mountains and follow my love to the end of world too. And here lies the conundrum of unconditional love: if I make a step following my love to the other end of where I want to go, and they make a step following my heart to where I want to be, do we not end up mindlessly going back and forth and eventually, our love makes a standstill?

We all learn about love from movies and books and endless real-life stories of people who tell you what love is and how it should be. You’re a kid and you see your mom and dad sticking with each other and standing up for each other despite the numerous fights they have in their daily lives, and you tell yourself that love is about not letting them go even when you hate them the most. Then you watch The Notebook as a teenager and tell yourself that love will find its way to you even when you let it go. Romantic comedies become your obsession as you convince yourself that you’re the lead part in your favorite movie and some Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds will sweep you off your feet and will carry you around…forever. Then it does not matter if you watch people around you ending up in divorces or staying miserable in their marriages, because you know it in your heart that you will find your true love, because that’s what you have constructed in your head, that your one true love exists somewhere in this world and destiny will eventually take you to them, and you’ll love them forever and all will be happy. 

Unsurprisingly, you’ll find someone too. Someone who gives you the butterflies, someone who takes you on a date or two and you cannot stop laughing and giggling around them. Every time your heart flutters, an imaginary brick of your fairy tale castle is laid. The imaginary stories begin and you can already fantasize yourself in a beautifully embellished wedding lehenga while all the guests around you cannot stop gushing about how cute you two look as a couple. If that’s not enough you already predict your imaginary kids’ DNAs and decide on their names. You set yourself up for the long haul. You decide you’ll give in to this feeling, and dedicate your everything for this someone. Because some hormones said so. Because everything you saw or read as a kid made you believe so.  For a while, your real story does match to the expectations of your fantasies. Everything is perfect. Someday in the future, however, dents begin to appear and you start doubting your story. Is this the person you’re meant to be with? Their habits annoy you, their efforts do not satisfy you, and sometimes you appear to be far more distant than the day you first met. But no, you fight for it anyway- you’ve spent far too long believing that this is who you’re meant to be with, so you keep going, because this is the love you have felt and this is the love you believe is real. How long do you go on? One day you get exhausted, you snap, and tell yourself this is it. This is not love, this is not who you’re meant to be with, this is not your story.

And suddenly, it’s over. Just like that.
The castle you built for yourself, destroyed.
The wedding lehenga, stained.
And the kids, dead. 

The truth is that your love ends because you believe in this very ideology that you’ll save each other and make compromises and sacrifices and all those words that seem very beautiful, but are in fact, extremely exhausting. The fact of the matter is that love is far from idealistic, and far too different from how they make it out to be. 

Love isn’t optimistic at all. I’m not here to tell you what love is. In fact, if I do, run the other way. Because I do not think I have it figured out at all. But nor has anybody else. All I know is that love isn’t optimistic, and it’s not ideal. One day you think you have found it, and the other day, the world around you is destroyed. And you do not know what to believe anymore. Does true love exist at all? If it does, why do some people remain single until they die? If you’re destined to find the one, how long do you have to wait until you truly know you have found it?

Love’s mayhem. Love’s maybe even imaginary. After all, just a bunch of hormones, right? 

But despite of all of this, the only thing that will help you wake tomorrow is the hope that you’ll walk on the streets and go to your favorite café to find your Ryan Gosling waiting for you. Without that hope, you’ll succumb to the fear of being alone. And why, what’s to fear about being alone, you ask! But then, the answer to that lies in the very moment you opened your eyes and saw your parents, together. Not alone, but together. And you were screwed from the very beginning, because that’s what you thought you’d be too. Together. And not alone.



Tuesday, January 12, 2021

WINTER DAYS

 Trust me, I want to hate the winter here in Munich. I want to hate myself when I can't get out of my cosy blanket every single morning. I want to hate myself wearing four to five layers of clothes, looking like a Matryoshka doll. I want to hate it when everyone I meet says, 'Hey, your nose is so red, haha'. I want to hate getting a sore throat after walking out in the cold for five minutes. I want to hate it when I'm sneezing, coughing and trying to stand on the ground as high velocity wind gushes past me. 

I want to hate it all. 

But the moment it snows, the world around me becomes magical. My snow layered hair looks prettier, even if it sometimes gets frizzy. The squishes and crunches when I walk on the white roads is the most satisfying feeling I've ever had (Yes, more than bubble wraps). Catching the snow flakes, like they are some precious crystals, squeezing the snow to make  little snow balls and throwing it on my friends, and begging them to throw it on me, building little snow men with whatever snow is available, and basically anything and everything to do with snow gets miraculously entertaining all of a sudden. 

Sometimes, I wonder why winters are so horrible. But then, I remember how relieving it feels to go back to my warm room after a long day of bearing minus two degrees, waiting for the sun to shine in the noon to just catch a glimpse of it, the longing for warmth and the longing for love. It's not the unbearable cold that lingers in my memories, but the beauty of yearning for that warm cup of tea, hugs and blankets. 



No matter how much I want to hate winters, I end up loving the wonders it brings. Winters are magical. Winters are enchanting. Winters are what I wait for, everyday that is not a winter day.

Monday, September 16, 2019

NON-RESIDENT INDIAN

Vignesh Rajendran.
Journal entry Day 344: 10th December 2015

A warm, cosy winter morning at my luxurious apartment by the seaside in Miami, a laptop in front
of me and a cup of black coffee to go with, that’s how I expected today to be. Instead, I’m at the
arrival gate of Kamaraj International Airport in Chennai, waiting for my cabbie to pick me up. The scorching sun in winter is what beats me about this place. Both are port cities, but you cannot just draw a comparison between Chennai and Miami whatsoever. Miami is way cooler, temperature- wise and well, comfort-wise too. Most importantly, having lived in the US for almost a decade now, it is what I call home. I haven’t been to India since forever, and it only seems right to call myself an American now. Except here I am, still waiting for the cab driver who claims that he is stuck in traffic
and won’t be able to make it for a few more minutes. To clarify things up before I proceed further, I wasn’t really a ‘Chennaite’. I hail from this small village called Echoor which falls in the Kancheepuram District and is about 60km from this place. I did my undergrad here in Chennai though, and like most people, it felt better on my dignity to call myself a city guy. My life in India was a struggle. Being a farmer's son  didn’t really help me with easy opportunities. However, as luck had it, along with a little bit of hard work on my part, I made it into a decent engineering college in Chennai and then did my MBA in IIM Bangalore.

Following this I moved to the US with a job offer in my hand and subsequently opened my own start-up which today is making a lot of cash, and I pretty much am one of the  Indian millionaires living lavishly in the US. The cab has arrived now, and I am finally able to rest myself a little bit. Almost dozing off to sleep,
thanks to the jet lag and the hours of travel, I think of the circumstances that brought me here. It wasn’t a choice, obviously. I hated India from the moment I moved to the US. After getting used to the life there, I think anybody would. And I don’t hold myself responsible for that. It was what I was put through here in India. During my initial years there, I would still feel a little attached and come by to see my parents, but now that they aren’t alive anymore, it doesn’t make any sense to me. Moreover, marriage to an American only drew me further away from my homeland. But yesterday at almost 11:30 in the night, I got a frantic call from someone who tried to speak English, but changed the tongue as soon as I replied in Tamil. Apparently, the house that my parents had lived in (I bought it for them just two years before their death in an accident), caught fire and put a few lives in danger. Nobody knew the cause of the fire but they were convinced that it was
paranormal. I tried to explain to them that I lived oceans away and they shouldn’t be making me waste my valuable time on such a stupid trip to investigate a paranormal activity but I was told that they would have to burn down the house if I wouldn’t go. Talk about irrational stupidity.

I finally reach a motel in Echoor where I decide to sleep in. It is a very small two storey building that provides extremely unhygienic non-AC rooms without a good shower. And this is the best I could find in my village. I quickly take a bath and rush to my ‘home’ to monitor the situation. It is only a kilometre or so away, so I decide to walk. The rickshaws don’t suit me anyway. I find people staring
at me throughout, maybe they’re just thinking how a stranger has stepped into their kingdom. Or they find me funny. I just pass. Then I see some children looking at me with awe. One boy even comes up and asks me all sorts of questions about who I am or where I am and when I answer, the kids relate my words to their geography classes and argue whether the US is in Europe or Africa. I don’t even try explaining. Now I ignore the faces and focus on the atmosphere around. Honestly, nothing about this place seems to have changed in all
these years. The same dirty and broken roads, little houses without toilets and Pan stalls in every corner of the street. What does the government even do to change the lifestyle of these people? I walk for about another five minutes and I see my house standing there, half burnt but otherwise exemplary. For the
first time since I landed here, I feel a pinch in my throat, like I actually care. But I rub those emotions off, and walk closer, to deal with things maturely, and then leave as fast as I can. I head to the veranda, where I see some familiar folks from my childhood chattering, and when they notice me, they welcome me with an excitement that I never expected. Trying to talk with sophistication, the elders shower me with respect and treat me like a celebrity. I feel uncomfortable for a while, but
then I get used to it and try to go straight to the point and ask them to share their concerns. They say that the fire erupted from the bedroom, but the police seemed to find no evidence of what might have caused it. The fire not only burnt half of the house, but it also caused damage to the neighboring house and put the life of a little child in grave danger while she was playing up in the terrace. This created concern among the society who, along with the police decided to contact me to avoid such problems
in the future. They now want me to sell the house to the Panchayat so that they can break it down and construct a temple so that the evil forces will be shooed away. I’m pretty convinced that someone from the government body put fire to the house and planned this whole thing up, but I’m too apathetic to argue or take this issue further. The house holds no sentimental value to me anyway, and getting rid of this liability would mean I wouldn’t ever have to come back here. So I agree to the offer and they say the officials would come and finalize the deal in a month, for which I’d have to travel here a couple of times again, to which I frown. They all leave the place soon, with relief clearly visible in their faces. Either they’re so naïve to believe the government’s crap, or they’re into this foolish plan themselves.

I walk into the duplex house, with a little bit of nostalgia rushing my heart. I could vividly remember my parents’ expression when they realised that their son was rich enough to afford a beautiful two-storey bungalow. Their teary-eyed faces mumbled words I couldn’t make out, but I knew for sure that they were damn proud of me. But my moments with them that day were short-lived as I had to rush back to the US for an emergency meeting. The next time I came here, I was welcomed by their coffins. I scurry through the living room and head upstairs, trying to ignore the isolated memories left behind by my family. I go to the bedroom only to see everything from the cot to the dressing table crumbled to ashes. I quickly search the remains for any evidence, and after realizing that it would be useless as the police would have destroyed anything that could have mattered, I decide to head back. That is when my attention is drawn towards something. In the most unnoticeable corner of the room behind the blackened almirah, I find a piece of paper, partly burnt and crumbly. I first brush it off as the remains of fire, but my instinct pulls me towards it, and I pick up the paper to see a few words clearly etched on it with my father's handwriting- I would burn my house if that would bring my son back home.


Thursday, April 18, 2019

GONE, GONE, GONE!

Some songs, you listen to them not because you like them, but because of the memory associated with them.




Gone, Gone, Gone- By Phillip Phillips

Do you remember the time before Saavn, Spotify or Gaana hit your app stores? Perhaps even before many of you owned a smart phone, there was (and probably still is) a platform where users created their own free playlists, and everyone around the world could listen to the songs on web. It was called 8tracks.com

I had not known of it until my crush told me of the platform. And then, like any lovestruck girl would do, I delightfully visited the website and soon got hooked to it. I'd listen to multiple playlists all night and discover brilliant songs. I'd make it a point to tell him of all my favourite songs, and so would he. He would suggest me playlists and I would listen to them, blushing all through, thinking of him every time I came across a romantic song.

And that is how he and I discovered this song. The first thought I had when I learnt of the artist was that he had a funny little name, with his name and surname being almost identical. Then with a quick google search I learnt that he was the winner of American Idol, which I obviously never followed. And then, I listened to the song. Phillip Phillips' voice became my habit.

'For you, for you
You would never sleep alone
I love you long after you're gone
And long after you're gone, gone, gone'

I'd imagine him singing this song to me, meaning every word of it. I'd imagine my crush dedicating this song to me on stage, with a guitar on his hand. I'd imagine listening to his heart beating like a drum, him never moving on and the both of being in love, always and forever.

Soon, in my head, it became 'Our Song'. It was the song that was to be played in the stereo of our car, it was the song we both were to listen to every night before going to bed, it was the song that we were both supposed to dance on, on the day of our wedding.

Evidently, none of it ever happened. We both moved on, and eventually, he was a crush no more. And yet, somehow, everytime I accidentally stumble upon this song, every emotion I had felt during those tumultuous days of love returns and occupies my heart for a solid 3 minute and 29 seconds. It all comes back, the passion I had felt towards him, the pain I had felt because of him and the incessant desire to be close to him, no matter what.

And everytime this song plays around me, I realise that love could only be buried but never truly erased and memories are like those already read, dusty books in your library that you accidentally pick up to read while searching for unread books.


~Listen to this song here.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A LETTER TO ROMEO

Disclaimer- Based on a true story


After an exhausting day at work, I return home awaiting a calm, peaceful evening to myself. Instead, I'm welcomed by some noisy loud speakers playing Telugu folk songs coming from my neighbour's house, who are in full preparation of the wedding of the only son in their family. Booming with headache now, I curse my stars and get to the porch to unlock my door when I find an envelope stuck to the handle of the door. I instantly pick it up, only to realise that it isn't a promotion mail, but a handwritten letter. The letter mentions no name, just my address. My headache disappears as mind fills itself with curiosity and excitement. The fact that somebody could be so thoughtful of sending this hopelessly romantic girl a letter by post, instead of an email or a text was enough to bring a smile to my face and make my cheeks blush pink.
I open the door and rush inside, throwing my bag on one side of the living room, shoes on the other and seat myself in the sofa placed in the center, facing the television set. I tear the envelope, hastily but neatly, and open the letter and begin to read it. Funnily enough, even the greeting has no mention of my name. It infact carries another name. I look at it twice to see if I'm reading it right. My excitement recedes but curiosity alleviates. At this point of time I know I shouldn't read it, because it could invade the privacy of the sender and the supposed receiver, but as my nosiness overpowers me, I continue to read.


Dear Suri,
It's been a long time and I hope that you are well and good. Unfortunately though, it hasn't been my case. I hope you haven't forgotten me, because I still remind myself of you every moment. Most of the times, with the regret of leaving you.

Do you remember that particular day years ago when I chose to get married to the guy my parents selected? I know you had asked me to elope with you but I didn't have the courage to do that, primarily because you had just began your journey with a new job and I couldn't imagine the repurcussions of building a family with no money. To this day I rue my decision for things have gone downhill for me ever since. The guy I married, my ex-husband now, turned out to be an alcoholic. While I drowned myself in misery of losing you, he'd come home every night and throw in tantrums, sometimes even beat me. I divorced him a couple of years ago when I couldn't take it any longer. I have two kids with him, my daughter is four years old and son is two. My parents have disowned me because they didn't want me to give up on my marriage. And now I sit, unable to raise my children alone, thinking how much better it would have been if I actually did make the plunge with you.

I know you'd be in a good place right now, I read about you a few months back when your business made it to the news paper. That's also how I managed to find your address.  I'm really happy for you, but I hope that you could share every joy and sorrow with me. I wish for you to come back so we can rekindle our love story, it could be a new beginning for the both of us. Because somewhere deep down in my heart, I believe that you still love me, and that it is still strong enough. If you're ready to give me a second chance, please call me to this number- 78932 19654

Yours,
♥️♥️
Manisha

I stare at the piece of paper for a while, unable to process what I just read. For a moment, I hadn't realised who this letter was being addressed to, but then it struck me that Suri could most probably be the nickname of Surinder Naidu, our neighbour's son, the groom-to-be.
The marriage is scheduled to take place in a couple of days and everything around me seems to be straight out of a rom-com movie. Unable to digest the fact that the true power in the said love story now lay in my hands, my mind crowds itself with many questions and possibilities of outcomes of my decision. Is it a sign that the letter accidentally reached me instead of him? Or Am I just a pawn in reuniting two lovebirds separated by circumstance? Should I break the heart of the bride?

After a few hours of thought sitting in the very sofa without moving an inch, I finally make up my mind. I tear apart the letter into pieces and throw it into the dustbin and decide to forget about the whole incident. Swearing to secrecy, I go to the kitchen, make myself a cup of tea, only to watch The Notebook playing on the television.

THE END