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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Her.

She laughed at my joke,

Loudly,

Her mouth wide open,

Crinkles formed by her eyes

And if someone could look away from that masterpiece

And look at my face instead,

They’d know what love looked like.

I smiled softly,

– her laughter

That sound made sense to me when nothing else did.

The first time I met her,

my eyes locked into hers

Her eyes held the sunset

She smiled and asked me my name

why was my heart beating so fast?

everything I thought I knew ,

I didn’t anymore.

I think my life was in the Stranger Things Universe

Because it was upside down.

And suddenly,

All my happiness seemed to radiate from her presence

all I wanted

Was to talk to her

Sing with her

Take stupid poloroids with her

I wanted her to hold my hand,

Stroke my hair

I craved the taste of her soft lips against mine

But I knew

Every part of me knew this was wrong

I should not feel this way

it’s not normal!

the world shouted.

And I tried to stop myself from feeling anything at all,

But God,

Everytime I heard her voice

Everytime I felt her skin brush against mine

That look she had when she got excited

The way she moved her hands through her long hair-

With every little thing she did

She made the ordinary , extra in my mind.

I’d never felt this way

It was new

this is wrong! it’s not love

Everybody seemed to say

Yet the butterflies in my belly told me something else.

if this wasn’t love,

well then I didn’t want love

I wanted her.

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A new year, a new me. 

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 

Finally,you see

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. 

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About 14.04.2016

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This is super cute, ah.
‘Vishu’. Its a cultural festival in India celebrated mainly by Keralites. It signifies the beginning of a new year. Bursting crackers, getting ‘vishukaineetam’- basically money from elders and so on.
So much fun.
In my 18 years I’ve never burst crackers or had any authentic vishu celebrations because I was in an Arab country.
But this year,2016, marked a new year for me.
I burst crackers for nearly 2 hours. Various kinds of them infact. Such a lovely day of laughter and joy. The greatest moment though, was when the person who taught us all the meaning of vishu and most importantly,  how to correctly light up crackers, persuaded by all of us, lit a cracker for herself after a really really long time. It really makes you wonder doesn’t it?
Somethings don’t change. Crackers made her happy then, they make her happy now.
Maybe traditions aren’t such a bad thing after all, is it?

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