Dear Amma,

As soon as I put the first morsel of the mess food in my mouth, I missed you. I missed those delicious, warm meals I took for granted, for 17 years of my life. I crave for your ulli chammanthi, your adda dosa, and basically everything you make. After travelling around a lot, eating all sorts of food, I can sincerely and proudly say that, you are the best chef because you made all of it, with love.

As soon as it was time for my first test where I was away from you, I missed you. I missed those days when you, albeit very impatiently, taught me the subjects, easily. I still remember me, crying about all those difficult spellings that I had to memorize, and you explaining to me how “together” is just “to-get-her”. It was that easy. I’m envious of all the students that have you as a teacher now. You were the best teacher because you taught me not just the school subjects but also how to be a strong human, how to stand up for myself, how to believe in myself and many more lessons that I am thankful for as the days go by.

As soon as I fell ill, I missed you. I missed that hot coffee, that seemed to make everything better instantly. I did not miss the kanji vellom. No surprises there, right? I even missed the reprimands I received for drinking something cold, when I was not supposed to or for not taking steam. You were the best and the only doctor I believed in.

Some of my best moments were when, classes would get over by 11:15AM, and I would reach home early. You would be there, waiting for me at the bus stop, with a juice packet, an umbrella and a smile. You would lift the bag off my shoulders and we would walk home together. Life passed us by quickly, and now I carry your bags (always to the airport!)

Happy Mother’s Day, Amme!

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What is Beauty?

Beauty is the warmth of your mother’s voice, when you’re having a breakdown. It’s watching the sun set on a happy day. It’s playing your favorite song while watching the rain fall. It’s is the realization that you are in control of your life. Beauty is the endless possibilities that life could take you on.

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An Evening In Quarantine

Since the start of  the ‘Social Distancing’ phase, I had figured out that any burst of dopamine in my life would have to be generated by myself. I picked up a couple of activities like learning American Sign Language or ‘Art Journal-ing’, however those died out in the first ten days and I was starting to feel stuck at home for the most part. It was during those “down days” that I started working out with my younger sister because both of us wanted a “glo-up” post lock-down. It started out all fun and games- waking up early morning, pushing myself along with the youtube instructor and moving my body just enough to break a sweat.

Now, if anyone knows me, they would surely know that I am NOT a morning person. I hate being awoken at the break of dawn so much that for the first hour or so, I would not even speak a word because I need to “adjust”. However, as I started exercising in the morning, I learnt more about myself, in the fact that, right after work out I feel this high and it didn’t feel like a chemical high that was produced by any substance, rather a pure rush of happiness and motivation to live life to the fullest.

Slowly, I started craving that feeling that I would endure any sort of “work-out” to get back that feeling. My cousin and I stopped working out together and then it was just me and my yoga mat. Usually, this would be the part where I give up, but for the first time in my life, I liked working out. For the first time in my life I started enjoying sweating it out and not just as a punishment for what I ate.

This may have been a long drawn way of saying that, I work out now, In the terrace, alone, hungry for the endorphins. I put on a podcast and I make it a >vibe<. I love it.

Now, everyday I go up there, I look around at the forbidden outside world. It is so tempting to just risk everything and go out. (But I won’t! Stay inside!) Recently, I started noticing this house, the one with a big yard in front of it. A yard so green, surrounded by pots, filled with colorful flowers. An older woman comes by every evening to water the plants, and the yard, and with her, are two young children. I always wondered, how are the children coping. Have they grasped the reality of what’s going on? Does the fact that their mom and dad are in the house all the time surprise them? But, all those thoughts vanish when I look at them running around, chasing each other, laughing non-stop, sometimes even rolling around on the grass. The woman doesn’t seem to mind. Apart from the occasional yells to not open the gate and to not hurt each other, she usually lets them be. Sometimes, when she’s hosing the grass and the flowers, she hoses the children too, playing along with them. The children, dripping, continues to laugh and tries to evade the thin stream of water aimed at them. This is their new game for the evening, until she turns off the pipe. Gradually, as the sun goes down, they go in. And I continue my search for endorphins, yearning for normalcy.

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Imagine

I imagine myself, running from the sidewalk, all the way, on the sand, to the waves and by the time I reach, I’m overwhelmed with emotions – happiness, relief, pent-up sadness- and tears form. But those tears make me feel alive. Those tears are a privilege.

I imagine, when I feel the water touch my feet, ever so slightly, and I’ll think of all those days when I couldn’t fathom entering muthassi’s room without washing my hands and feet. I was afraid for her. Yet here I stand, with glee over salty water washing away the sand from underneath me. The glee is a privilege.

I imagine, when I finally feel the warm sunshine on my face, I’ll smile. I’ll think about the days where I longed to feel the scorching sun rays on my face, just for a little while to ward off the anxiety and stress the dark rooms made me feel. Now here I am, sweating profusely, washing away the sunscreen I had put on. The sunscreen is a privilege.

I imagine when this is all over, life will be the same. Birds will chirp, cars will honk, deadlines will be met, exams will be written. I imagine the only difference to be that the hugs will be longer, the theatres will run housefull, social media traffic will reduce, plane traffic will double up, the playgrounds will hear giggles, libraries, restaurants, cafes, markets, streets, every place will be full and our houses will be empty and I imagine everyone is well, healthy and happy. Imagination is a privilege.

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2008.

As I saw him pull up his socks under his pants, gently push his feet into the brown shoes and tie the laces with his shaky hands, I felt as though I was time travelling. Physically I was in 2019, staring at him but mentally I was somewhere in 2008. Suddenly, my mind was relaxed, a hundred things did not run through my mind, I had no deadlines to keep and I was not consciously blocking out my stress. I half expected my aunt to come down, wearing a colorful saree, smelling like the yellow- staining majanta perfume and say where all the food and snacks were kept and insist that we eat all the chocolates in the fridge- then wave us goodbye as then she would proceed to get on the scooter behind him with her bag around her shoulder and the pallu of her saree tucked on her lap. We would keep waving and standing by the gate until they turned around the corner, common courtesy I suppose. The radio in the room is still playing old Malayalam songs. The radio itself was very old and I cannot remember a time without it playing these old songs, waking me up in the morning while my aunt is in the kitchen whipping up some breakfast.

Thus began a long 8 hours in my summer vacation. Some days we would go shopping during the day. Mostly for books, otherwise we would not be willing to leave the house. Travel in the rain to buy chips and pickles? No thanks. Travel in the rain to buy chips, pickles AND look at books? Yeah, alright. (Now I understand that kids are easy to manipulate.)

And some days we would laze around watching TV, eating all the aforementioned snacks, reading books (a simpler time, before the era of smartphones) and wait for them to come back. By evening, my mom would wake me up from my nap, scolding me to not sleep at dusk, and then she would proceed to light the lamp and start the evening prayers. By the time she’s done the sound of the gate opening would be music to our ears and both my aunt and uncle would be back with a whole lot of treats. We would make Tea and coffee and sit around the table talking about our day. And without fail, every year, whenever I go there, they would never forget to buy me the traditional snack Bholee. I don’t think I’ve eaten it from anywhere except their house.

These memories felt untainted and happy. I could stay in that moment forever.

However, I was snapped back to 2019 by the sound of the door closing behind my uncle. For a brief moment, I was back to being a 11 year old with no care in the world. So much has changed-

The radio starts to play old Malayalam songs and my aunt hums along in the kitchen whipping up some breakfast for me.

But somethings, remain the same – comforting and familiar.

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The Unknown Battle

Walking with him out of the store, she felt grumpy. “Why was I the one who was chosen? Out of all those animals!”, she thought to herself wide-eyed. Harry looked at her excitedly, but she didn’t share the feeling. Harry Potter, the famous baby boy and all that jazz, was there, carrying her to be his companion. Anybody would have killed to be in her position right now.

But our dear old Hedwig was not just anybody.

When a giant man and a boy entered Eeylops Owl Emporium, which had been her home for almost 7 months now, she was eager. It was high time that she spread her wings and flew about. With the increasing onslaught of muggleborns bringing their technologies with them, the owls were finding it difficult to get sold to new owners. “E-mail”? for heaven’s sake! Will it match the happiness of getting your mail or package flown to you? People!” she huffed every day with her disgruntled kin. Until the boy with the lightening scar caught her eye. Oh no, anybody else, please! She had a terrible inhibition that this boy was Bad News. This inkling of hers would, of course, turn out to be spot on; 

Both Harry and Hedwig arrived at the King’s Cross Station, looking expectantly for the Hogwarts Express. Hedwig was the center of everyone’s attention, without a doubt; And she was, of course, used to having all eyes on her snowy white exterior.

Why is he running into the wall! Oh lord, stop! She hooted loudly. However, there was no crash like she though, and they were suddenly in a station- inside a station! Okay, now I’m excited.

Throughout the years she spent with Harry, she grew a love-hate relationship with him. He treated her as his friend and seemed to constantly forget she was still, just an owl. She couldn’t provide Harry the emotional support that he sometimes desperately yearned from her. And boy, did he yearn. She would constantly sit in the Owlery and tell the others, about the reality show that was “Harry Potter” and without fail every owl would think to themselves what a lucky owl she was. But, Hedwig? She was tired. She, honestly, just needed some person who would send occasional messages to their parents asking for new robes, or some Galleons to buy sweets and butterbeer from Hogsmeade. Harry’s life was a lot for poor old Hedwig. Her worst couple of months was when Harry was home in that nasty house of his muggles, and the elder male muggle did not let her leave her cage. She was stuck in that small room with Harry. They soon got pretty tired of each other, with her constant hooting and his constant sulking. She often wondered, if he were an owl, they would most definitely be friends. Unfortunate for him, he was born human.

That, however, did not mean she hated Harry; Because of him, at least she was the star of the Owlery every night. That poor kid really needed some love in his life. She was grateful for that Weasley boy. He kept Harry sane, even in his darkest times. Her favorite, though, was Hermy. She was so precious and loved her as much as Harry did. And her cat! Hedwig loved Crooks. He was so cute and incredibly smart for a cat. But she hadn’t heard of an owl and a cat being friends. And she wasn’t bothered enough to be the pioneer for that. So, she ended up befriending Pig. When that awful rat of the Weasley kid was gotten rid of on account of it being a man waiting to kill Harry (Why does he always end up being around the worst possible human beings and make everything so dramatic?) he got another Owl. Hedwig did not fully understand that friendship because Pigwidgeon was always so pigwidgeon. But it was fun talking to someone else, outside of that stuffy Owlery.

The one good thing the rat-human-pet scenario brought into Harry’s and in turn, Hedwig’s life was Sirius. She loved delivering letters to Sirius. He was always so kind to her and as little as he had, he made sure she got treats whenever she flew over there with Harry’s letters to him. She was also secretly glad Harry finally found a father figure he desperately needed and deserved. Also flying that stretch was something she absolutely loved, because of the strong cool breeze coursing through her feathers, while she breathes in her long awaited freedom.

Being part of Harry’s life was almost always exhausting. Every year, he went back to Hogwarts, he was thrown into a dangerous situation. The Boy Who Lived, they called him; Only she knew, somedays he was not living. He was just surviving. He came about the owlery, took her out and sat with her in the grounds, and talked to her. What does he expect me to do about this? Was the only thought running in her head. Nevertheless, she was always happy during those afternoons, because that meant she could be out and about. Listening to the Chosen One’s dramatic life was a small price to pay. Sure, Hedwig would have been happier elsewhere, with any other wizard leading a normal life; however deep down she knew that it was not a coincidence or a series of unfortunate events that led up to this. Hedwig always believed that she was destined to be found by the boy with the lightening scar, that day, in Diagon Alley. As adventurous as Harry’s life was to plain old Hedwig, she knew he needed her there more than she ever needed him.

She did not understand why everyone assumed that the worst person in Harry’s life was Lord Voldmort (just like her owner, she was not afraid to say his name. She hooted his name all the time. Little did they know.) Did they all just forget Umbridge? The monster in pink. She once got hold of Hedwig, while she was returning after meeting “Snuffles”, with a message from him. She tried to fight her off from taking the message attached to her. Lady, it is not for you! Let me go! However, Umbridge read the message and almost caught Sirius talking to Harry. That was the first time she felt as though she failed in her duties as an Owl. I had one job. And I could not even do that properly. She spent a whole week sulking.

Harry’s last year in Hogwarts was coming up and she knew somehow that they wouldn’t end up going back to Hogwarts. She was preparing herself for dark nights and long flights ahead.

One night, she looked over at 17-year-old Harry, he sure is not the same innocent boy that walked into the emporium. Life has gotten hold of him and shaken him up pretty rough. Is this pity I’m feeling? Or worse, love? Hedwig’s inklings are usually always right, and that fateful night, she felt it necessary to show some love for her owner before taking off. Does he need it, or do I? The flaws of being a snowy white owl always affected her, because it meant always being on the lookout and this time too, Harry thought it was too dangerous to let her fly alongside him and placed her in the cage and held the cage tightly.

Bad Idea.

She didn’t see the green flash coming her way, but suddenly-

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Mediocre

-‘When I’m older I want to be a scientist!’

-‘Yes, why not? Be a great one and get a job in ISRO or NASA’

I was taught greatness

Greatness in studies

In singing

In dancing

In Speaking

Everything.

I wasn’t taught the meaning of the word mediocre.

Why?

Well obviously, because I didn’t need it.

A 12 year old pops up on a singing show

Suddenly, I am in a music class

aiming for nothing less than the Grammy’s.

A 16 year old wins a nobel prize,

And there I was, googling “‘astrophysics for dummies’

even though it was a business studies text open in front of me.

Anything less than greatness was unacceptable to me.

Aim for the moon and land among the stars?

Nah, scratch that, I wanted to land on Mars instead

Greater than any human being ever

The young me, full of hope,

aimed for nothing less than greatness, as she was taught,

in everything she did

But somehow

every time she tried something,

she was just average

ordinary

mediocre.

People ask me what am i most afraid of,

I say, deep ocean

a lie

because what i am, have been, and will be most afraid of in my life

ever since I learned it’s definition

is being mediocre

to lead a mediocre life

And what if there is no solution?

What if that is my destiny?

I could try my best,

I could put in all I have into everything I do,

but

what if

my greatest

is the world’s

mediocre?

 

 

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