The BIG, The FAT & The SEXY

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I know what you’re thinking – “Oh! Another post about how it’s okay to be fat!” You’re kind of right. But it’s something else too. We’re going to talk about me. If you can relate to what I’m saying, welcome to the club.

We’ve talked about this and we continue to talk about this. Especially at a time where I’m being asked to consider marriage and my weight is a problem to address if I need a decent man.

I always want to ask them, “So if I get married and gain weight again, it gives him the right to leave me? Like what’s this facade? I’m fat. Let him marry a fat woman because he likes her, not because she’s temporarily different looking to attract him. That’s wrong!”

I, of course, get a, “You’re acting stupid, Poornima. This isn’t the way to talk. Start walking and cut that junk food. Enough of this.”

But I’m so confused. My mother is fat. She wasn’t at 25. She is at 50. She looks at thin women and goes, “Ooh! Look at her. I wish I could look like her. I’ll never be skinny again.” That is not a problem. I get where she’s coming from. I understand why she’s feeling that longing. But what confuses me is how she and so many others I know presume I feel the same way.

I’m 25. I’ve been fat since the day I was born. I’ve lost weight temporarily at several points in my lifetime. But it hasn’t lasted and I don’t really mind. I have a big ass and big boobs that makes skirts and crop tops fit weird on me. I also have a lot of flabs and I wouldn’t advise anyone to buy me fitted t-shirts. I’m not what the “industry” would call “fat and fit.” I’m fat. That’s all there is to it.

And I want to ask you, the reader and the world – Who told you that is ugly? Why is fat ugly? I know what you’re thinking. “The only person who says things like this is a fat person!” But honestly, who said it? What makes you think that every fat person looks in the mirror and picks at themselves? That we all wish we could be skinny and fit?

I looked at myself in the mirror two days ago after I’d showered. I had my underwear on.  I thought to myself, “Damn. That’s a good colour on me. My ass looks so sexy in this underwear too! I wish he could see how I look right now. He’d love it so much.” It’s not the first time I’ve done it either. Whether it’s dresses or night clothes, I’ve had so many moments where I’ve looked at myself and felt utterly hot and sexy. Yep. I’m fat. I find myself sexy. Let’s give out a round of applause for all the naysayers who think I’m lying to convince myself. My parents think it, too! So, go on. I’ll wait.

You done? Great. Glad you’ve got that out of your system.

For the longest time, I’ve felt comfortable in my skin. Every time I gain those few extra pounds, I look in the mirror and I see it. I know where I’ve gained it because my dresses don’t fit there anymore. But I don’t pick at it. I don’t pull my skin. I don’t feel like harming myself in any manner.  And somehow, that’s not acceptable!

I have questioned how healthy I am. Loved ones use that word to get you to lose weight. “I just want you to be healthier!” Such bullshit. I stopped being fooled by those sugarcoated “Lose weight” statements years ago. But I did ask myself if my health is okay. So, this past summer, I went hiking. Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma. I watched as friends opted out at different levels while I went up until the last but one – Someone had to pull the person for the last step because of its steepness and my lecturer didn’t think he could pull me. (Not blaming him. Just saying.)

I’m healthy. I can walk. I’ve run to catch buses. I’ve hiked. I’ve trekked 2 miles at a time. I’m not invalid because I’m carrying more fat content than the next person. But somehow this argument gets me nowhere. People just shrug and go, “Still! You should consider getting healthier!” Seriously, SAY WHAAAT?

Are you that person? You look in the mirror every morning and you see ugly? Fat? You find flaws on your body? “Ew. A flab!” So you walk out and you see people ten times as heavy as you are and you think to yourself, “How do they live with themselves? They should stop eating! I bet she feels insecure. Well, she should do something!” And sometimes, you even feel the need to give that person what according to you is that little encouragement they need – “You should join a gym or walk. Try hot water with lemon and honey in the morning! That weight will come right off. Such a pretty face. It’s just a few pounds.” Are you that person? Coz if you are, this message is for you:

Sweetie, the insecurity is in your mind. Not mine.

I don’t need you to tell me how pretty my face is. I already know. I also know that hot water with lemon and honey helps reduce belly fat but tastes like crap. I know I enjoy my long walks. I know I hate the confinement of a gym. But here’s what you don’t know – I don’t need your encouragement. I don’t feel what you feel. I don’t see what you see. And perhaps, the person who needs that little push towards a healthier life is you. You need a life where you are able to accept who you are. And I’d start with finding things that make you appreciate yourself. Finding the tiny differences and feeling empowered, not disappointed. Maybe even talking to your loved ones about how you feel and asking them to help you identify your strengths to build your own self-confidence. And you don’t need to be skinny or fit or have a perfect life. You can be exactly who you are and still love yourself. It’s not that unrealistic.

I tell my boyfriend all the time how I can’t wait for us to just be together. “When we’re married, we should have naked days, baby! Like days of the week. Around the house.” I’m not afraid. I’m not insecure. I have no problem with someone I love seeing me. The real me – all the fat, all the extra skin, the stretch marks, the sagging boobs, the tiny bulges of fat on my ass and everything that makes me who I am.

I’m not going to rush to lose weight. If it’s not to find a man, it’s not because I feel ugly, it’s not because I can’t walk or I’m severely unhealthy – Why should I be forced to lose weight?

Because someone else thinks I should? NO!

I mean, haven’t you met me?

I’m BIG. I’m FAT. And…

Didn’t you read the title?

So fucking SEXY!

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Let’s Talk Marriage

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Yep. It’s that time of my life. Not the time when I’m getting married. But the time when everyone around me starts piling on the pressure about it.

I’ll start our conversation with this – I’m ready. I’m ready to go learn to live with someone. I’m ready to share my life with someone. I’m ready to have good and bad days and work our way through this insane universe while standing by each other even on the days we don’t want to.  I’m ready to start planning a wedding that will happen at least one year away. I’m ready for it all.

But I’m not ready to choose the person that I will get married to.

I know, I know. That’s the most important part of it. It’s all about the person. But here’s my problem – If I make this choice, I can’t change it. Ever. And the truth about life is, every choice we’ve made is somehow permanent, in reality or in our memory. But my choices in the past have never tied me to a person for eternity.

If I choose one person, even someone I love, I can’t take it back. And everyone rushing with their advice about how it doesn’t matter in life how carefully you pick because you can’t predict the future and how human beings change with every tide – Yeah,I’ve heard it. I understand it. And I’d totally take that gamble if I’m only looking for a husband.

But I’m not.

Because this person I marry is not just a husband. He’s not just going to be “the man I’m married to.” He’s more. SO much more. He’s my family. He’s my hug on a bad day. He’s my best friend when I’m fighting with my real one. He’s my coffee buddy every morning. He’s my companion when I’m sick and old and fragile. He’s the father to my children. He’s their “good cop” because I’m a control freak with a combination of anxiety and OCD. He’s the calm to my never-ending storm. He’s their shoulder and mine when our hearts break. He’s my person.

And I get one shot to choose him. One shot. To choose the person that will influence every decision there is to make about my future.  And I’m not ready for it.

“But you’re 25! You’re an adult!” Says who?!

If my maturity is defined by a number, we don’t need life experiences and life lessons, do we now?! “Just wait till you get older! It’ll come to you.” Seriously? I feel like the adult in this conversation right now.

But honestly, how do you choose?

“Oh, you just know,” is not an acceptable answer. I don’t know. I’ve never known. I’m terrified. I have anxiety. Even if I know, I’m afraid I don’t know well enough. I’m afraid it’s wrong. I’ve known things before, gone with my instincts and messed up terribly. How can I be sure this isn’t one of those times again?

So I did what I do best. I asked someone, “What did you ask her? What made you think she’s the one?”

He gave me a list:

  • Career
  • Expectations in her marriage
  • Likes
  • Dislikes

And.. I just sat there, staring at that answer for a while. I didn’t know what to  say because it seemed so… less.

Here’s what I thought I should start with – What do you do from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep – On a working day? On a weekend? On vacation? What’s your lifestyle like? What do you want our lifestyle to be? Do we watch movies every weekend? Do we stay in on Sundays? What are your questions for me? If I need you, would you drop what you’re doing and come to my rescue? If I need a day off, will you take care of the children and work from home? Can we split the house expenses? Can you deal with my need to plan every last detail about everything? Will you fuel my wildest ideas and craziest dreams? Will you understand my love for surprises but my inability to deal with them? Will you put up with my need to know the ending before watching thriller movies? Can you promise me “us” time everyday? Will you cook on alternative days? Will you go grocery shopping with me? Can we have a snack drawer? Will you take me out for midnight food cravings? On a weekday night? Can our children be vegetarians even if you’re not? Can I take over the closet in our room because I have too many clothes and nothing to wear?  Can I choose our home decor if I promise not to let our room turn pink? Can I cry my mascara into your new white shirt? Will you hug me even when we’re fighting? Will you find me beautiful even when I’m sitting with messy hair in the middle of chaos after yelling at you for no reason other than the fact that I’m PMSing? Oh! And we’re going to adopt pets. LOTS OF THEM! That’s cool, right?!

And after he answers all this, I still have that burning question running in my head – “What if he changes his mind about it?”

Because arranged marriages or love, they’re still human beings. And there’s almost 7 billion of them on this planet. You need to choose one. This person, his past, his present and his future will help determine whether your kids are going to Harvard Law or sitting behind bars. How do you choose him?

What do you look for? What lifestyle is acceptable? And what if mine changes? What if I grow up and become a different person who wants different things? I used to love H&M and Forever21. I’ve wasted so much money there. But I don’t shop there anymore. Three hours, a documentary and some Google research later, I couldn’t bring myself to buy fast fashion anymore. Three hours to change something I’d done for a lifetime.

What if everything I love changes someday? Will he still be the right person or me?

“That’s the main question to be answered. That’s when the soul searches as to whether this is an age phenomenon or is this my phenomenon. Answer that.”

– Sai Krishna

But how do I know? And the unknown is the scariest of them all.

It’s funny when everyone around you wants to talk about getting you married. They talk about how you’re old enough to find a groom. If you can’t find one, they’ll find one for you. But the thing about all that is – they’re not really talking bout marriage. They’re talking about a wedding. They’re talking about finding a man and tying the knot. And they’re right. I am ready to have a wedding.

But the problem is what comes after. And in their need to see me as a bride, they forget –  After that one day of dressing up and celebrating, there is still the rest of my life.

And I’m not ready for that. I’m not ready for a marriage.

Why isn’t that okay?

I WROTE A BOOK!

Yep! You read that right.

I turned 25 on September 22 and as a present to myself, after 5+ years of effort and procrastination, I’ve finally published my book!

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A crime mystery set in a fictional town, 3 hours away from San Francisco, Claire is the result of sleepless nights and endless hours of editing!

You can get it on your Kindle or on paperback!

Amazon.com Kindle: goo.gl/GvEzRk

Amazon.com Paperback: goo.gl/t1ggr6

Amazon.in Kindle: goo.gl/2VcJeE

Amazon.in Paperback: goo.gl/kuZGpY

Thank you all so much for your never ending support. Your support through likes, comments, shares and just your time to read has motivated me for so long. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the book!

Do post a picture with your copy on instagram and tag me! – instagram.com/loudthoughtsvo

#Claire #WhoKilledClaire

The Difference

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Yesterday, walking out of a hospital at 11pm, I had to walk around the building to get to my Dad. The road was empty and three young men walked towards me. My reflex thought was, “How do I escape?” But they walked past me like I was invisible and I realised, it’s in my head. I was not scared because they looked aggressive or scary. They looked like normal young men who I’d probably befriend in broad daylight. What actually scared me was that it was 11pm and I’m a girl who was out past social curfews.

Today I found an article about a journalist who interviewed 100 convicted rapists. One part of the article really got to me – “In the interviews, many men made excuses or gave justifications for their actions. Many denied rape happened at all. “There were only three or four who said we are repenting. Others had found a way to put their actions into some justification, neutralise, or blame action onto the victim.””

The article also quoted her saying how many didn’t know that it was rape because their society hadn’t taught them the difference. It made me think.

I can’t justify rapists due to lack of knowledge. I’m never going to say, “Oh you’re right. Society made rapists do what they did.” No. I know men who wouldn’t do that. They come from the same society.

But we can’t ignore our role in it. My world taught me to be safe after dark. “It’s 8pm, where are you?” is such a normal question to me. “We live in a neighbourhood where people notice. You can’t be walking in so late at night. What will they think of you?” – If I could have a dollar for every time I heard that, I’d be flying private to a penthouse in Manhattan today.

My parents cared so much about the faceless society that they have often chosen what the society would think over my happiness. I tell myself, “Oh I can’t wait to live away so I can live as I please.” But I can’t. My mother’s voice is stuck in my head and so I will continue to live the rest of my life in fear of “What will they think?” The things that make me happy will also make me guilty. The things that I enjoy will also make me scared.

I never stop worrying of the day I would have to explain to my husband about my ex-boyfriend. What do I say? It was nothing? It was a childish thing? But it wasn’t. Yet, if I tell the truth, he won’t marry me. I don’t know how to nod my head yes. What if my husband hates that? What if he hates me?

“Don’t play that sport. Don’t jump so high. Don’t climb walls. Don’t join gymnastics. Careful with the yoga.” Because – WHAT IF MY ENTIRE LIFE, ALL THE MAGICAL MOMENTS I COULD POSSIBLY HAVE WITH THE ONE WHO WILL HOLD ME CLOSE – EVERYTHING VANISHES THE MOMENT MY HYMEN BREAKS BECAUSE OF A REASON THAT DIDN’T INVOLVE MY HUSBAND?

My life has been a series of careful moments to keep myself ‘intact’ for a man I am yet to meet. And in that, I have struggled to find the things I really want to do. Because it’s always about what he might someday want. I have been told repeatedly that having a child is not my choice. It is not a mutual decision. It is his choice. If he wants one, I need to have one. I can’t say No. And that’s part of the problem.

Teach your daughters to be their own people. Let them have their likes, their dislikes. His likes are not her likes. His life is not her life. Even if she’s married, if she wants to say NO, she has the right to say NO. Don’t raise submissives that a man will “want” to marry. Screw him if he doesn’t want someone who knows how to think for herself. EXPECT MORE OUT OF YOUR DAUGHTERS.

My biggest worry today when my father says, “But you’re old enough to be married,” is ‘If I were a guy, I’d be expected to do more with my life.’ Expect them to achieve their own form of personal success. If it’s marriage, good for them. If she comes home crying, don’t send her back to him. Acknowledge her problem. She’s your daughter!

And teach your sons to put it in their pants. Unless a girl – sober and in the right frame of mind – says YES, it automatically means a NO. No excuse they conjure up while sitting in prison justifies a man who enters another’s personal space without their permission.

Don’t tell them they are better because they have a penis. They’re not. Genitalia does not make a human being better. Their behaviour and manners towards another human being does. You expect your daughters to be kind hearted and caring. Expect your sons to be the same. Nothing wrong with him being treated like his sister. “He’s a boy,” is no excuse. It never should have been.

Don’t blind him to the truth by encouraging an ego that doesn’t need to exist.

Teach him that his wife is a fellow human being. She is not made to serve him after a long day. He is not “providing” for her care. That’s someone you employ. Not someone you marry. You can’t teach a man the difference between consent and rape if you tell him that one day he is going to find a girl who has dedicated her entire life to serve him well. She is a PERSON. Not a sex toy he uses as he pleases. Teach him the difference.

And no. That doesn’t mean I’m trying to say, “Oh marriage is terrible. Keep your daughters away from men. Men are horrible people.” Absolutely not. There’s nothing wrong in keeping the people in your life happy. I’m happy when I make him happy. But it can’t be the ONLY reason I’m ever happy. Teach your daughters that.

As a society, mind your own fucking business. Want to talk? Talk about problems that aren’t someone’s daughter having a boyfriend or turning up late. Talk about our screwed up political system. About suicides. About RAPE. And talk loudly. Let your children hear and know what to do and what not to do.

And maybe, just maybe, we might have a better country that way.

Choosing (The One You) Love

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It’s funny how, if last year today you’d asked me where we would be in one year, I’d have told you a story about two different people living two different lives that no longer intertwined with each other. But here we are…

You’re still with me.

One year is a long time, isn’t it? It’s supposed to be. We’re supposed to be fighting. We’re supposed to be bored. We’re supposed to be falling apart. That’s what I thought. Isn’t one year a lifetime of sorts? Turns out, not. Especially with you.

I’ve woken up at least 350 of these 365 days feeling like the centre of someone’s universe. Like I’m special. I’m important. I’m loved. Do you know what that’s like?

Secure is a feeling that doesn’t come easy to me. Didn’t answer by the fourth ring? He must hate me. I’ve spent years fighting with myself about how unworthy I am because someone I’ve dated for a week wouldn’t answer my texts. And then you happened. Hasn’t texted me all day? He must be busy. You know that’s a big deal? To know by reflex that it’s not about me?

You did that to me.

“You guys are so cute together! Can’t wait for you to get married.” Every time someone said that to me, I laughed nervous. Marriage is a big word for us. You’re not ready and I doubt I ever will be. So we spoke around it. Someday was a world where we’re together forever. But we’d never actually utter the word forever. We understood it. Never having to explain the fears – what if?

What if I get into the school of my choice? What if I move away? What if we fall out of love? What if you don’t want to stay? What if…

So I shut my mouth and told you off if you ever in a conversation brought it up.

You understood me.

Until, finally the day came to be. It wasn’t a choice, it was forced on me. And so we had the conversation I didn’t want. Staring at each other, I knew what it was.

This can’t be over. You can’t be gone. Let’s not end this. We can’t be done. 

“So we’re not getting married?”

“I guess not.”

“Okay.”

Then we got lunch. Like two adults who made a choice. Not one that stopped us from continuing to love.

Did you choose you and I choose me?

They don’t get it though. I’m constantly asked, “But if you really love..?” I smile and shrug.

“I can’t imagine you without him. He loves you. Why can’t you see it? Why don’t you see it? You think men like that come by everyday? Grab him now. You’ll regret it someday.”

It’s a chant I hear everyday. I try to explain to them. Even the little details. But how do you explain choosing the person you love over all else?

“But you’re breaking up someday!”

You want to do this or let me?

Have you ever been in love? The calm kind? Hearts don’t race. Minds don’t go numb. It feels sudden but you’ll know when it hits you. I knew when I first felt love for you. It was the first time you calmed an insecurity I’d carried along for a lifetime. Words I didn’t force out of you felt like a dream. And they continue to be.

Your kind heart makes me wish we saw the same future. That someday might someday happen. And I know you do too. But it won’t happen. Not because we don’t love.

But because we do.

Love does not necessarily mean being together forever. Love does not require proximity to live. Love does not mean selflessness.

I love you. I have loved you for a year.

We’ve dreamt of our future for a year.

But we’ve dreamt of our own futures for twenty.

Sitting in a room, staring at you, I can’t ask you to give that up for me.

Sitting in a room, staring at me, you’d never say, “Give it up for me.”

So here we are…

You’re still with me.

But it won’t be for long. All good things come to an end. So will we. Not because we chose what we want. We want each other.

But because we chose love.

Because the truth behind a life where we’re two different people living two different lives that no longer intertwines is..

You chose me and I chose you.

(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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