(6/6) The Parents

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It’s a bright and sunny day. A car comes to a screeching halt outside their apartment. They look out to see what the fuss is about. They watch me get out. Head to toe in brands I once only dreamed of owning. But now I have the money. I am the Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi after all. I can afford the little things that bring me joy. Their anger fades knowing I’m okay. My father is still a little upset but he’ll come around. That’s how parents are, aren’t they?! They’re happy I got what I wanted because they know if I’d waited for them to give it to me, the timing wouldn’t have worked out the way it did. It was right to run away from them when I did…

I can’t tell you the number of times I laid on that bed I shared with my mom and my sister, dreaming about this over and over again. You see, I lack what my mother has in abundance – Patience – and what my father always tells me to keep within – Hope. So my solution was a world where I ran away. I’m old enough. I can do this. They’ll know it was the right thing to do. We children can be really stupid sometimes, you know?

My parents had an arranged marriage. They did what they were expected to do as human beings that live in my society. They created a home. Dad earned. Mom cooked. They had two daughters. Their life was pretty much every other life there ever was. Except, my dad didn’t work 9 to 5. He owned his dream company. “I was fascinated that I could talk to a machine and it would respond.” So he made it respond in different manners to keep users like you and me safe from the evils on the internet. Mom created a home for us to live in. She got us ready for school. Made us our favourite lunch on Sunday. Ensured we stayed away from junk food (I didn’t).

A lot happened in their lives before they got married and a lot happened after. Their personal problems turned my family dysfunctional and I grew up with an inability to trust and anxiety that hurt. I blamed them, of course. When I rebelled, when I made bad choices, when my life took a turn for the worst – I waited with the words, “This is all your fault.”

We don’t really yell at our Dad in this house like we yell at our Mom. There’s the fear of hurting him. So it was my relationship with my mother that became too complicated as I grew up. I wasn’t surprised.

I’ve always been the closest to him. Daddy’s little girl. He fed into my fantasies of expensive things like an American education, branded things, big houses. They owed me that much. They ruined my life by making me so complicated. It’s the least they can do. I mentioned how kids are stupid, right?!

So I got the American education. For six months. Six months in a world where I had to do for myself what my mother does for us everyday of her life and I came running back into her arms. The distance I’d created at 15 vanished the moment I knew I was home and she would be with me. But I was still angry.

Parents often forget the effect a fight or an argument between themselves can have on their children. You think we don’t hear you screaming shit in the middle of the night? We do. And then you go pretend everything’s fine in the morning and maybe it is, but we can’t tell the difference. And so we begin wondering and fearing. Your ten day split may be a speed bump in your marriage. To us, it’s ten days where a parent chose to live away from us. I wasn’t enough to make him stay. I wasn’t important enough to stop and second guess his decision to leave. He left.

You may forget the drama. But we don’t. I’ll never stop wondering if I’m going to wake up and be dumped. Because when a parent can leave, so can a stranger you met at work. I never stop second guessing my decisions. My insecurity began when I was 8-years-old. Today, it’s something I’ve accepted because I’ve lost the war against it.

I saw friends with functional families have so much hope and I didn’t. I didn’t know how to care. I don’t know how to turn on emotions. I also don’t know how to turn them off.

And it has created so much chaos. When I thought I’d lost everything I loved, I yelled at my father. I screamed. I spewed hateful words. It didn’t hit me that – I wasn’t the only one who lost something. So had he. And if he could fix it, if he thought there was a way he could give my dream back to me, he would have.

Today, when I’m writing this, I remember my father mention how he woke up one morning with tears because he’d dreamt a Tsunami where he couldn’t save me. The tears my mother cried when she thought she hadn’t given us enough time. But that depressed girl didn’t remember this version of them. She didn’t remember two parents who had given up so much to keep their two girls safe. I didn’t pause to think. I didn’t know how to. And I repeated to myself, It’s all your fault.

I’ve graduated now. I’m going after everything I’ve ever dreamt about, for the second time. He’s given me my dream again. But I can never take back the words I said. I can apologize but I can’t change the hurt it caused. Someone told me recently, “You have to let go off of the guilt. Children act without thought sometimes. Your parents know.” But I can’t.

Because, back in an apartment with a view I’d missed so much, I remembered a conversation from 6 years ago. With a man I’d loved. He wanted to know why I kept repeating, “Promise you won’t leave me?” And so I explained. He did, too.

“So your parents made a mistake. They had a fight. Adults fight. They were trying to figure out life like you will, too. Parents don’t have to know everything. They’re not superhuman. You have to forgive them for whatever you think their fault was. You can’t blame your entire life on them. Your choices were, as you always say, a choice. You made them. You can stop making them. Look at them, Poornima, and see them for what they are – human beings”

And I cried. Like a baby. Because after 23 years of life, I’d understood what an asshole I’d been. Why do we always look at our parents as some sort of hero? Why do we never truly see how they’re just like you and me?

I’ll say it today – My parents aren’t the greatest of parents. They don’t always know how to express their love. They’ve made plenty of mistakes. But they’re some of the nicest human beings I’ve ever known. They gave up so much to ensure we had food on our plates and a comfortable lifestyle. When they struggled, we still lived like princesses. When they were out there fighting one battle after another, we complained like spoilt children.

No. They’re not the greatest. But I wouldn’t wish for anyone else. Because for everything I’ve done, no two people will continue to love me with as much intensity as they do. No parent will still sit me down and ask me what I want so they can ensure I have it the way they do.

And someday, I’ll muster the courage to go stand in front of them and truly apologize for all that I’ve put them through since I was a teenager. But today, I’ll stick to my Thank You.

Thank You for never giving up on me. Thank You for allowing me to choose, even if you didn’t always approve. Thank You for working so hard to give me everything I ever wanted. I know these two words will never be enough, but…

THANK YOU.

Never running away from you,

Me.

(5/6) The Boy That’s Mine

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I walked into my house and there he was. Curled up on the couch. So fragile, I thought I’d break him if I picked him up. We’d told our dad one week. “We’re just fostering him. He’ll go when he finds a good home. We promise.” We knew it was a lie before we’d even said it. My sister sent me a picture while I was wrapping up school work in Singapore and I knew I’d never let him go.

He was almost two months old. He weighed less than 2kgs. The first night he was home, mom complained the morning after – “He walks all over me. He wouldn’t sleep. He jumped on my chest and I thought I couldn’t breathe. Are we sure?”

It’s been four and half years. He weighs a little over 11kgs. He still doesn’t sleep full nights. He climbed on her chest last night. She screamed with pain but then pulled him closer and kissed him on the forehead. We all know the words she wouldn’t say. “I hope these moments never stop happening.”

Because the saddest thing about having a furry family member? Their lifespan is almost always shorter than yours and my furry child has hit his half-way point. But if someone asked me if I’d have it any other way, I’d tell them – I CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE IT.

Dala.

My mom named him before I got home. I always find myself explaining, “His name’s Dala. He’s a boy. I know his name’s girly. My mom named him.” If you thought you know what unconditional love feels like before a dog, you have no idea what’s in store for you after.

My dance partner, my shoulder, my supporter – I scream-sing with a ridiculously fake Italian accent and he still loves me, still sits by my side, still sticks himself to my back as I sleep. I’ve always been that girl who couldn’t sleep with someone else on the bed. It’s a struggle to sleep if he’s not next to me. It’s a struggle to live if he’s not next to me.

Dala came into my life a few months before my life crashed and burned. I’ve always said it – If he didn’t exist, I doubt I would have. When nobody understood my pain, when words weren’t enough to talk about it, when death seemed like the ideal solution, when tears would flow with no end – Dala would be there, not once leaving my side. If I’m crying, he’d jump up to sit on my lap. There would be no words of encouragement, no hands to wipe tears, no hugs or kisses but there would be calm. Someone was there. With the kind of love I never realised was possible. A loyalty that I’d never known.

I feel the back of my eyes sting as I write these words. Because I know I can’t keep him with me forever. Nothing good ever lasts. When I started university again, my biggest struggle was not feeling his warmth at my back.  Missing his tiny hands on my neck as if he’s holding me while asleep. I can’t imagine going back to a life where I might never feel it again and the fear is so real every time he falls ill, every time his girlfriend fights him, every time someone tells me their furry baby passed on.

I was the girl who ran scared of dogs. I still understand that fear. But I don’t understand the ones who hate them. When someone comes up to me and says, “Tie your dogs up so I can come home,” my first thought is Don’t come. It’s rude but.. It feels like asking to tie up a family member. It’s absurd.

We got another furry baby after the Chennai floods. Mika – Dala’s girlfriend. They couldn’t be more different if they tried. We constantly remind him how he’s so badass he’s living together with his girlfriend without marrying her. He probably has no idea what any of those words mean. But we still tell him things. We tell him how funny a video is. Ask him his opinion on what we’re wearing. Complain about boyfriends not texting back.

He only ever reacts to three words – Food. Walking. Sleep.

Priorities, I tell you.

But in some part of me, I believe he knows what I’m saying. Maybe not word for word. But the emotions behind it. He knows and he understands. In that odd intuitively loving manner that only my furry, four-legged, wide-eyed boy can. It’s why when I say something sad, he sits next to me.

Someday, I’ll sit in a corner and I’ll cry. The tiny things he does like walk on my earrings, eat Mika’s food or steal food from my plate won’t be the things I’ll miss the most. It won’t be his face, that hint of sadness as I wave bye while walking out the door, a feeling of guilt like I’m betraying him by not taking him with me – the face I remember the entire trip until I come back home.

The thing that will make me cry is the moment I open the door and he doesn’t come running to me. Filled with love. Like the ten minutes I was gone was actually ten years. His face in that moment.

My best friend. My baby.

My Dala.

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(4/6) The Firebranders

Patience.

That was the first thing I learnt when I waited half hour for him to show up for my interview.

Patience.

It’s what I saw when he told me to come back to work when I know I should have been fired.

Patience.

It’s what they all embraced while I created havoc.

But never once was I stopped.

In a world where degrees were a necessity, Arvind hired me for my ability. Never once were my squashed dreams a hiccup. It was always what I could do and couldn’t do. And if I couldn’t do something, he was right there, willing to teach.

I walked in on a bunch of guys that acted like a stranger had crashed their secret club. I actually had to complain to the boss that they wouldn’t talk to me. Not even to get work done! I was hoping he would talk to them in private. But you see, that was never Arvind’s style. In he walked, to the middle of our space, and announced out loud, “Shame, you guys. A girl has to complain that you won’t talk to her. What are you all doing?”

I bet sometimes he wished he hadn’t done that. Because that became the beginning of one of the best years of my life.

There weren’t that many of us. It gave us the ability to get to know each other.
The Philosopher (Hey Raj!)
The Married Man (Girish Thaatha)
The Patient Yogi (*coughs*Arun*coughs*)
The Brat (Mannoooj)
The Boss Man (He hates being called that)
The Fun Traveler (She doesn’t mind being called that)
And how can I ever forget… The Intern (Meri Shaaaamil)

Shamil was the only other girl in the gang. She also was the first person to talk to me besides the boss. We’re almost the same age. She laughed at all my jokes. She flicked me every time I swore. We got along brilliantly.

The two of us began to work our way into the secret club. With post-its about smoking, tsk-ing about nothing and laughing over everything, the wall was finally broken and the boys remain friendly until today for which Sham and I take full credit. You’re welcome newbies.

Amidst our achievements I found out that my boss wasn’t actually my boss. Arvind told me she’ll come to office at some point during the week. I expected a stuck-up and bossy human to come dictate my life. The person who walked in was anything but. She is chaotic fun redefined. “Poornima! Nice to meet you! You’ll come to my reception no?” I’d only met her ten seconds ago.

Karishma. She is your dream boss. She is my dream boss. She doesn’t care if you show up at noon. She doesn’t care if you’re working at night and wasting all day. She doesn’t care if you take a trip in the middle of the week. You can be in Antarctica, drinking with Panda bears, she won’t say a thing. “Just get the work done and have the client approve.” It was the best! 

She is downright the most chilled out boss you’ll ever meet. She’ll even be your therapist if you’re struggling with something. Her reception is also where the ice was finally broken and the team became a team

I learnt social media at this company. I learnt how good I am with ppts at this company. I learnt how to get work done at this company. And most importantly, I learnt how not to judge a book by its cover here.

The shared office space meant more people – Bushu, Laaloo and Tanya. All the people I first looked at thinking, “I bet they’re snooty af.” All the people I call with problems and gossip today. I haven’t bought something they don’t have a picture of so far. There’s not much about my life they don’t know. I can’t imagine a world where they’re not on my last ten whatsapped. The number of coffee breaks we’d take just for the heck of it. Their boss hated it so much.

Mine would join us. Both of them. That was the best part about my year. My bosses never acted completely like bosses. I’d get yelled at, obviously. But if we walked out of that meeting, they didn’t carry that fight with them. It was one of the first things Arvind told me at my interview. “We’ll argue. We’ll fight. But that’s not personal. Work is work. You can’t take it against the person in this company.” And that’s how it was. Always. Like a big gang of friends.

When I curled up sobbing about a boy, when I couldn’t finish a particular work because I wasn’t feeling upto it, when I felt sick, when I needed to go on a date, when I needed to vent – Oh my God! The number of times I needed to vent! – when I needed a punching bag, when I acted childish, when I demanded things I couldn’t afford, when I started things others couldn’t be bothered with – Nothing scared them. Nothing made them go, “Absolutely not!” I got them to play Charlie Charlie, a game that invites the demon, and they did!

And when I told them I’m leaving them in a hurry because I get to go back to study and couldn’t do much hand holding to the next guy, they smiled instead of complain. That’s why this place is so amazing.

I still go to the office. More often than most people do. I miss faces like Deepika, Tharini, Ramya Akka, Duggu and Reshma when I walk in. But they’re replaced with faces I got to know towards the end of my time there like Renuga and Vinoth. It always feels comfortable.

I still call my bosses to chit chat. When I find things that make sense to me, I always pass it their way.

I got to keep so much from my time with them. The golisoda bottle, the tiny despicable me character, the secret Santa presents, the insane birthday memories. The best of all? The friends. Sharath, Akku, Manoj, Raj and the entire lot.

The first time I saw High School Musical, I wanted to be Gabriella somewhere. I got to be her at Firebrand Labs. I got to be me at Firebrand Labs.

To finish it off the HSM way,
Once a Firebrander, ALWAYS a Firebrander.

(3/6) The Brother

From “What nonsense are you wearing? Go put on something decent,” to “If you’re getting a registered marriage, call me. I’ll come sign witness,” he’s been all possible types of a brother to me.

We fight, of course. OH MY GOD, WE FIGHT. I have an ego because it’s passed down to me in my genes (thanks, Dad) and he has one because… well, he’s the older brother. He obviously has one. And the two clash. ALL THE TIME. He’s made promises about cutting ties with me “forever.” It’s never happened. *knocks on wood*

That’s him though. It’s so easy to look at him from the outside and go, “He screams or yells so much.” Yet, if you know him, you’ll know it’s anything but.

If I have a problem, if my mother has a problem, if my sister has a problem, if we’re unsure about what to do in a situation, if there’s drama in the family, if we need to gossip, if we need to bitch, if we want to go on vacation, if we want to plan a pilgrimage, if we want to figure out how a movie is or how a restaurant is – we only have to call.

It doesn’t matter what time it is or what shit he’s dealing with while we interrupt him with the silliest of things, he’ll still deal with it like he always does.

I still remember when we officially crossed that bridge where I no longer had to pretend to be a child. He always knew it but to establish it as a fact…

“Poornima, look.” I looked up to a flash going off. “Just wait till I show your mother this.”

I was terrified for the first hour. He could tell mom. He is older. He does tell her a lot of things honestly. I should be worried.

Yeah. It’s been two years. He’s got pictures of me with glasses, of me with other people’s beer (I swear to God, I hate beer. It wasn’t mine.) and in bars / pubs. We’ve sat in a car in the middle of a cold war between us and he picked up my farewell party video claiming, “I’m going to show it to her.” He hasn’t. I don’t think he ever will. It’s just him being a stereotypical brother.

But that’s the thing! I’ve grown up with a sister that acts exactly like a sister. We fight and two days later, we’re shopping for clothes where she hates my style and I hate hers. We don’t dictate, we don’t playfully punch the other’s arm, we don’t pull hair from the seat behind, we don’t throw empty threats. Those aren’t things sisters do. Those are things a brother does to his sister. Like he does to me.

It always makes me smile when I realise, while I thought I only grew up with my younger sister, I’ve also grown up with an older brother who acts EXACTLY like an older brother.

And when you push away that playfulness and look at the big picture, he’s also helped me out like an older brother. With things as little as getting a scratch guard for my phone to first day first show Rajinikanth movie tickets. Two minutes after he teases me about my jet lag or broken aircon or sudden fever, he’ll come up with solutions to fix it – Always willing to help.

But the biggest one was the phone call that said, “A friend’s company is looking for a writer. You won’t lose anything by applying. Just send him your resume today,” followed by all the reminders until I finally sent it.

I got that job. It turned my world upside down. The internships were great but that job was what finally got me back on my feet. I learnt what I can do in life because of that job. So many people so important to me are here in my life today because of that job.

And in the two and half years since he made that call, I’ve never heard him mention how he helped get me that opportunity. The one time I tried to mention it, he said, “I got you the introduction. You got yourself the job.” But isn’t that the most difficult thing to get today? An introduction?

So I’ll say it, maybe never to your face because I’ll cry and you’ll say I’m putting scene and walk off and my mom will cry and you know… the usual? But I’ll say it here.

THANK YOU FOR BEING SUCH A STEREOTYPICAL OLDER BROTHER. LIFE WOULD HAVE BEEN SO DIFFERENT (not the good kind) WITHOUT YOU!

Also, I know you’re not the greatest fan of pictures on public platforms. So here goes.. 😀 (This is why I get into trouble!)

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(2/6) The Best Friend

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Shrti.

Oh my God, Shrti.

If it were true that people are a reflection of their best friends…

I remember when she said she was coming to visit. She’d just graduated from the dream I’d lost and my mother asked me, “Are you sure this won’t affect you?” The answer was a reflex – She won’t let it affect me. Just wait till you two meet.

The first time I ever saw her – white shirt, black slacks, high heels and a no-nonsense smile – I thought to myself, Yeah, we’re never going to be friends. But then she said, “Hi” and I couldn’t imagine anything else.

We were as different as two people can be. I was that girl you see in class but don’t really want to be seen with. And she was… She is that person who makes heads turn when she walks into a room. But she sat next to me everyday. I’d fight like a child and she’d take it in stride. She ignored my silent judgements and my open bitching made her laugh. I never understood why.

Then came that fight. The one that showed my ugly side. It brought our friendship to a screeching halt. This is it. This is how it ends. On my way to present, she came running to say, “You’re going to do just fine.” That’s who she was. She fixed things with one line.

She taught me how to socialise, how to ask for things I want, how it’s not your body that pulls of a dress – it’s your mind. She taught me to find comfort with myself and if I couldn’t, she would be there, ready with a hug.

When I moved away, I thought the distance would create a lot of space. But she didn’t let it. Irrelevant of when, didn’t matter what – All I had to do was pick up the phone and call. You see why, when she said she’s coming to visit, I couldn’t stop grinning?!

She found herself an internship and we became roommates. The last time we’d done this, it hadn’t been so bad. But I knew this time would be different. My room was my safe haven. Yet, it was okay. And not because of me.

She would insist we went out. I wasn’t allowed to whine. She’d force me out of bed for those walks that made me better. I could only complain about one thing at a time. Every time I thought I was giving up, she would all but kick my butt until I didn’t know what I was thinking about.

I’m not joking. I’m not exaggerating. I’m not being extra nice. The honest truth is – She saved me from myself.

Three months. That’s how long it took her to pick me up from my state of depression and have me signing up for internships and smiling. She’d get a cab all the way from across town to get lunch with me before we headed back to work.  She didn’t have to. She could have been that person that shrugged her shoulders and muttered, “Get over it.” Nobody
ever insisted she take that effort. But she did. Day after day until she knew I was okay.

And then she moved away. To a different house and then to her home city.

Looking back, I often wonder – maybe she came to live with me at that point just so I wouldn’t drown completely. Maybe she was meant to be my lifeguard and when she was done with it, she had to leave. Like destiny.

I never formally said ‘thank you‘ to her. We never talked about it as something significant. She didn’t do it for gratitude. But that’s what I feel when I think of it all. For the love she continues to give. For her non-judgemental listening. For her motivation. For her care. For her.

If it were true that people are a reflection of their best friends, I’d be the best damned human there ever was and Shrti, you are one of the reasons for it.

Thank you for being you. For loving me the way you do.

And always remember, I love you, too. ❤

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(1/6) The Graduate

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You remember that moment? That one moment when you’re laughing, you look around and think to yourself  I’m so happy. I hope this doesn’t go away. Imagine living everyday like that. That was university to me.

I had a ligament tear. The doctor begged me to stay in bed and rest my leg for two days. I was back in class the next morning. I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be. I was going to be a Creative Director and have Saatchi & Saatchi never let go of me.

I remember my Dad say, “Things might get a little bit bad.” I didn’t listen. I didn’t think anything was going to mess up this life. Fate wouldn’t do that to me.

If only.

It came crashing down on me. That moment when I knew it was over. I’ve been through bad things, I’ve had to handle my emotions more times than one. But nothing prepared me for this. For the moment when you watch everything you planned, every dream you dreamt be taken away from you for no fault of yours.

I… I sank into depression. I’d sit by that window on my side of the bed, watching people park their cars. I’d think to myself, Maybe if I stand there, they’d run me over. Imagine that. And to think, I’m not even suicidal. But at that moment, anything to stop the ache was a welcome present.

It’s difficult to talk about this. It’s easier to talk about my childhood than this particular year. A part of me crashed and I didn’t know how to put it back together. I needed someone to blame because that’s what you do during a heartbreak, right? You pin it on someone. Either on you or the person who was involved in the story that broke you. So I blamed it on my father. I spent hours imagining how I’d run away from it all, my life would get better and then I’d come back. I’ll show them how I had the ability to do incredible things and they almost wrecked it. It would be the perfect revenge.

And as I lived an imaginary life, my sister began university locally. She asked me to go with to pay her fees. It’s my sister, how would I say, “No?” How would I tell her that watching her take those steps into a life that was no longer mine was emotionally destroying me? How would I explain that if I go with her I would spend the rest of my night crying into my blanket, praying to be taken away from this mess? It wasn’t jealousy. It was longing for what she had.

It cost me the three steps I’d forced myself to take forward. I took six steps back. I didn’t hate her for it. I just hated myself. For not moving on. For not finding peace. For not being supportive and positive of her life and the big steps she was taking towards getting where she wanted to be.

I began to lose control over my emotions. Anger and tears were put on hold to come rushing at any moment, in the middle of any conversation. I didn’t notice. I didn’t observe long enough to know that my sanity had been replaced with hurt, with depression, with failure. I didn’t stop long enough to think that I was no longer thinking. Because thinking meant remembering. Remembering meant hurting. Hurting meant anger. And my anger was self harming. So I numbed myself to a part of my life that I wanted to pretend wasn’t real. So much that I stood there stunned when it happened.

I didn’t realise how bad it had gotten. How I no longer controlled the things I said or did. Not until my sister stood there, crying and I couldn’t explain myself because I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t understand what came over me. Her tears made me realise that my pain had taken over my life. It was clouding every inch of my existence and I no longer existed.

I volunteered to see a therapist. I knew I needed it. It was the best decision I’d ever made for myself. He prescribed medicines and walking. I put that pill in my wallet and told myself, “I’ll walk first.” Nature calmed me down. The silence of 5p.m. helped me breathe. Life began to seep itself into me and my best friend said words I needed to hear – “Get off your ass. Go find an internship.” So I did. I began a blog. I published articles in a newspaper. I was suddenly not dying in a hellhole.

I got a job offer I didn’t want to take. But I took it. I met people that would make life liveable again. I found comfort and for the first time in two years, I found a future. I would do this. I would live here. In this country that I was born in. This city that will always be my home. I will remain here, forever. And it’ll be okay. I was finally.. okay.

My father walked into my room – “I’m going to send you back again. It’s happening.” I didn’t believe it. Because.. What if it happens? Even worse, what if it doesn’t? I refused to let myself buy into that dream again.

But he was right. It happened. I made that call that would let me continue a dream I’d once lost. I enrolled back into university. I might not have my best friends beside me. It might not be the exact same life I lost. But I’m studying again! Or at least, I was.

You see, I graduated.

Six years after it all began, it finally ended. After our ceremony, back in my room, I picked up my wallet. Buried deep within the last pocket was the pill I was prescribed when I thought I’d lost it all. I never took it. But I kept it with me. As a reminder of where I’ve been. Of how far I’ve come. Of my grandfather’s words – This too shall pass. It made me cry. Because if it were upto me, I wouldn’t have survived.

And so you’ll see in the posts over the next few weeks. The people who kept me alive. The reason I have my dream. Because they deserve more than just a part of this story. They deserve a spotlight of their own.

Until then..

 

Crimson Tide

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I remember that day like it was yesterday,

My mother called my father and we went home again.

“You’re lucky we spotted it.

Bring some rice, Magesh. You please sit.”

 

Four days after that day,

Family and friends came to celebrate.

“This isn’t a joyful occasion,” I screamed.

But you see,

My first period is a sign of my reproductive capability.

“And it’s tradition to celebrate it.”

Or so she said.

 

“Do not enter the kitchen.

Do not hang out with men.

Do not run or exercise.

Just those four days be quiet.”

 

If I’d lived by their rules, I’d have failed every class,

Made no friends,

Met no men.

If I’d lived by their rules, I wouldn’t have lived at all.

But I had a father who hated tradition,

“She wants water, she’ll walk into the kitchen.

She’s not a princess, you’re not her boss.

It’s just her period. It doesn’t change it all.”

 

Eleven years later,  headed to a party,

A colleague stood by me.

As I bought *shhh*, the other nudged my shoulder,

“Told you not to buy it.”

Please do tell me – DOESN’T HIS WIFE GET HER PERIOD?

 

I’ll be honest,

My moods do change

My emotions run high

My irritation stays.

But here’s the thing – it’s not always about those four days.

 

When I’m angry, I’m not bleeding.

When I’m crying, I don’t have cramps.

When I’m flustered, I’m not PMS-ing.

When I’m laughing, it hasn’t passed.

 

So don’t ask me if it’s “one of those days”

Don’t roll your eyes when you see me cry.

Don’t talk about pads like a sinful secret,

It’s not shameful. I don’t have to hide.

 

So I get my period,

There’s no reason to lie.

It’s just another day.

It’s just a Crimson Tide.