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.
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.
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.
She didn’t see the green flash coming her way, but suddenly-
I wanted to write something sad, to reflect the mood I’ve been feeling, but as soon as I opened a new document, my phone started playing Perfect Two by Auburn. And man, that song took me back almost a decade. Mouthing along to the song perfectly, I was suddenly in 8th Grade sitting with Jemi and Liya. Thinking back, boy, did we take 8th grade for granted. For me, it was always something that would never live up to 7th. But it wasn’t that bad. I mean, I had my fair share of drama, laughter and boy problems. 8th grade is so underrated. I get why, at that point of time I thought it was the worst class ever. After the “famous” 7th-I, nothing was good enough for us. However, right now as an emotionally unstable college student, I wish I could go back to Sasikala teacher’s social studies class, or Savita Teacher’s “physical science” or Tilottama teacher’s biology class. Not going to lie, but 8th grade biology was extremely interesting and controversial.
It’s strange how playing a specific song floods your brain with memories you forgot you had. 8th grade is always represented by Perfect Two and When I Look at You by Miley Cyrus. It was when my friends had boyfriends. What! Didn’t boys have cooties? I still remember Jemi taking me to meet her “boyfriend” for God knows what reason and, me awkwardly standing there. He offered me some chips and I was so self-conscious that I quickly replied “no!” and turned away. Later Jemi asked me why I blushed when he offered me chips. And the one time, my friends “fought” for me(!) in that dingy classroom of Nehru Block. Gayatri screaming, “She’s my friend! I’ve known her for 2 years” and Jemi saying “So what? I’ve known her for lesser time and I know her more than you do!” Did I have actual people who wanted to be my friend back then? Wild. Most importantly though, it was the foundation of my friendship with Liya, I think. I mean I basically shamed her for being more close to Ritwika than me, and made her tell me everything in her life. But, she should be glad I did that. Who else was going to break up with “Chris Edgehead” for her? Certainly, not “Rtiwi” or “Sangu”. I’m still convinced he was not a “student in New Indian School” like he said and was a middle aged man. Boy, were we foolish. Through all the secret codes and journal entries and Sasikala Teacher catching us saying that her actually very interesting civics lecture was boring, and making me cry(?!) and first crushes and first fights- I made friends for a lifetime. I don’t give 8th grade the value it deserves. I think, it started the mold of the person I was going to be today.
I always wanted to get out of school. Even when everyone said I will regret it as soon as I am out, I thought I’ll be the exception. But now, four years and being emotionally unstable later, I just wish I could go back and sing When I look at you, in class with Jemi or Liya and have silly crushes that don’t mean anything and cry about drama that I don’t even remember now and sit in that dingy room in Nehru block with a few friends who truly care for me and write my journal, because writing journals were the coolest thing back then (I think. I wasn’t very popular.)
A new year, a new me!
I cried out to the world
But do you see
Do you see how vague was that phrase.
I did too.
However, the most magical thing about adulthood is,
You learn something new every moment,
And so imagine;
Imagine what 366 days could do.
A year ago,
I was a different person.
A person who was afraid,
A person desperate to get out
A person unsatisfied.
A year ago,
My happiness did not depend on my actions,
It was stuck in the hands of others
Friends, family all the same;
played hide and seek with it.
My worth wasn’t determined by myself
I looked at them for approval
Needless to say, I didn’t think I was worth that much
In a world of diamonds and rubies, I was a pebble.
But oh its a wonder
What 366 days can do to someone
A year ago, I gave up hope
I decided, I was destined to be mediocre,
But these 366 days was a wake up call
Not exactly a call; more of a slap in the face
Each of the 366 days taught me how to be a young adult in this world.
It taught me to be passionate,
Be adventurous, be spontaneous.
I learnt to be kind to strangers,
Show my affection and not bottle them up,
To try new things, to take some risks.
The past 366 days taught me to keep my happiness in myself
My happiness belonged to myself.
It taught me not everyone will love you and that’s okay
The important thing was that I loved myself.
That everyday I looked in the mirror and said,
I’m happy to be myself
It dawned on me,
You needn’t wait for a new year,
To turn your life around.
My new year wasn’t January 1st
My new year is today,
My new year is tomorrow
My new year starts whenever i make a change,
My new year is everyday.
‘This place seems super cool! I hope I get in here.’ I exclaim as I reach the gates of my home for 5 years. Of course, I didn’t know then.
Fast forward 7 months. First day of college. I have the same excitement as I walk in. All new (confused) faces. Everyone put up their most sane and well behaved selves on display; So did I.
Then it began. “The Saga of Anagha trying to be like others, so that she would fit in.” I cursed my usual introvert self, and tried hard. Topics I had no clue about, became my favorite ones. The need to impress people grew everyday. The narcissist in me who thrived on the attention, suddenly didn’t get any and was, I quote, “depressed.”
The weekend arrived and took me home.
The following Monday, I was a changed person. “I tried. I can’t anymore.” I thought, if I didn’t try people around would magically want to talk to me. Playing hard-to-get with around 120 people of my batch. As I walked over to my academic block, the building that once astounded me, now seemed like a magic trick you knew the secrets to.
I took solace in the library. I assumed, if I spent most of my time there, I wouldn’t need to talk to anyone and also, I would score good grades. Flawless plan.
But , my library turned out to be a place that would hear my whining and complaints about my college life, to my ‘real friends’ – states away.
Library: where I grew closer to people across countries, than the girl in the bed beside me.
The weekend knocked on my door and I ran home.
The following monday, I was a changed person, once again. I broke away from my cell(phone) and started conversations. The only difference was, this time, it was the real Anagha and not the Cool girl Anagha. (Although, the real Anagha was pretty cool too, thank you very much.) Steering the conversations into my forté, I thought to myself ‘ I could survive here afterall. ‘
The real Anagha impressed people, without even trying.
The weekend had to pull me home this time.
The following monday, everyone was a changed person. The obligatory smiles had turned into warm ‘Good morning!‘s ‘
I did it! I cracked the code to happiness! The secret was to be myself. ‘Not really a secret is it?’
And at the end of the rollercoaster ride that was ‘The first month of college’ , when the last weekend was waiting at the gate, I heard it;
‘Hey, will you stay here for the weekend?’