My mind doesn’t think like that. It still thinks we’re friends. It still reaches out for the second coffee mug. It still thinks fondly of that animation we watched together. It still absently makes me wear that chain you bought me for my birthday. It still thinks we’re friends. And it still adds your name to the recipient list of collective texts I send. It still recognizes your name as only your name. Nobody else can claim it from my mind. It’s your name. It still thinks we’re friends. And it still holds a grudge over the incomplete autograph you wrote me when we finished school. It still holds you to the promise of completing it later. It still digs up your name when I desperately need someone to cry with. It still expects you to show up when I’m sick. It still sometimes hopes on you, when I run out of change for the rickshaw. It still thinks you’re my friend. My mind doesn’t know. It doesn’t know. And it makes me cry that it doesn’t know. It still thinks you’re my friend. It still plans to build that underground tunnel from my house to yours. It still wants that Singaporean rice. It still thinks you’re my friend. It still thinks. It still thinks. And yours… Has ceased to think.
I have never been one for writing about events, but two days ago, my brother got married and I felt it deserved to be written about. I would’ve embellished this post with photos, but it seemed to go against the decorum I try to maintain here on my blog. I sit in my room this evening, relaxed and all done with the wedding rush and reception worries, completely left to myself, free to muse upon details of the event and in a pensive mood which usually means the beginning of a storm in my thoughts, so I seek to calm it with writing. On the 30th of January, my brother got married to a wonderful beautiful girl. I had waited for that day since I was a schoolgirl, and I used to fantasize about my brother marrying one of my friends, and then all of us living happily ever after in one home. I imagined I’d sit with his wife on the stairs of our house and talk about random things all revolving around my brother. I’d tell her his stories and she’d tell me theirs. All of those girly sisterly ideas. Over the years, these ideas matured and I stopped giving much thought to it when I realized just how complex these matters are and that I do not have the complete understanding of them, neither do I have much interest. The dream of seeing my brother married happy and well always remained. And now that it has come true, I do not know how to feel, really. I am immensely happy for them. When I heard my brother say “Qubool hae” (equivalent of I do) over the mic, I was overwhelmed and had tears in my eyes. And then when I saw the couple walking down the ramp, with my brother helping his bride down the way, I couldn’t help but smile like a lunatic. Perhaps my emotions seem like an exaggeration, only I know how true this is.
The wedding was beautiful, everyone was merry, the bride looked gorgeous, and the groom looked dashing (and very much like a groom, which I had previously doubted for some reason). But all of this is superficial. We had a new member in the family. She came home with us. We talked for quite a while, and long after everyone had retired, I lay in bed thinking things over. Hoping and praying they’d be happy together, wishing that my parents would be calm and happy as well, and that everything would remain smooth. I waited for the morning very impatiently. I wanted to see them together. It made me so happy… Alhamdulillah. Now I realize I sound like an obsessed sister, but no. Outwardly, nobody could tell I felt all of this. I guess I didn’t know either- it’s only when I’m writing about it that I know… and writing just this much feels enough.
Here’s to Bhai and Bhabhi, I wish you the happiest, most fulfilling life. I wish you everything good. I wish you bliss and togetherness of forever. I wish you two find the answers to the questions that you are, in each other.
Note: A collage poem, is the literary version of a collage. Poets select a source text or texts — anything from traditional texts like books, magazines and newspapers to more nontraditional sources like product packaging, junk mail or court transcripts — then excerpt words and phrases from the text(s) to create a new piece.
The extent of my desires was plain to see
No, upon no account in the world
Don’t make her wait
Find in death our reward, find in extinction our wage [Inner voice]
Make you his wife? No my dear lady
It will then become like giving up alcohol [Life]
I have you, it’s all right
At one time, in one place, in my soul [Death]
There was mad resolution in her face
It’s gonna be alright. It’s not the end of the world. It’s only a visit. [Death]
Explanation: The speaker wants to commit suicide, his inner voice urges him to do so, Don’t make her wait. That would be the union of the man and Death, personified as a female, and one mustn’t keep the bride waiting at the altar. Life, or the design of Fate, denies the right of betrothal to Death. Death tries to console herself; Life and Death are partners. She’s still bent on having the m,an, and so she consoles herself; It’s gonna be alright. It’s not the end of the world. It’s only a visit– Ironic, coming from Death.
Yesterday was December 31st of 2015. Twenty-one years from now, on a very very cold day, I was born. My mother recalled that day yesterday. She told me it was extremely cold, and I was born entirely blue. They had to keep us in a heated room. When I was born, one of my feet was limp. The doctors said it was due to weakness, lack of calcium.
I was literally a blue baby. Perhaps that is why blue is my favourite colour. When I was younger, one of my friends and I had arguments over pink and blue. I was crazy for blue, and she for pink. Everything was blue in my room and pink in hers. I’s present the benefits of blue, and she’d defend pink. We were very young-school days.
A few days back, I went shopping with my mother. Surprisingly, everything I picked happened to be pink. I bought pink bed-sheets for my room. I bought a pink dress. Almost every fabric I put my hand on was pink. And I wasn’t even vying for pink consciously. Perhaps it had to do with the process Joy and Sadness went through in Inside Out, when they matured and eventually realized things couldn’t just be happy or sad, that they were interlinked and they couldn’t just shut one mechanism down. Or maybe, it was the people I love dearly, whose preferences shaped mine. Whichever it was, I found that I’m not in the blue/pink phase anymore. I’m in the blue & pink and every other colour as needed phase. We may pull on any skill, any quality, any technique, any colour and any emotion as we need it. In fact, we needn’t pull on any, we can just let them come to us, but we can’t just sit on one path and decide this is the one. I’m not looking anywhere else. This is it, this is where I stop. We can’t stop.
My birthday was a very ordinary day. If anything, I felt weighed down by all the bulk that comes with another year. You’re a grown up, Moniba. You’re two years out of teenage. You’re twenty-one, for God’s sake! Grow up already. This is something I’ve thought about a lot, since my early teens. Because even when we turn thirteen from twelve, we feel all grown up. Every year, same feeling. I felt this more when I turned twenty. But now, I feel it more. I actually feel it. I’m not hyped about it, I’m not like, oh my God I’m twenty-one!! I need a drastic change in life. I need to do things the way adults do! I need to look smarter, do things more maturely. No. I’m calm. almost too calm about it. Acceptance of age, maybe? Or circumstances. There comes a time in every phase, where we stop struggling against the wind. Where we let go of things we can’t do much about (example: fate) and begin to steer the wind where we really can (example: our part in life). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we sit around letting things happen to us. I’m just saying we stop worrying about things we don’t have control over and start doing things we do have control over, and then try to alter things we didn’t have control over. And this advice is more for myself than anybody else. I’ve noticed the attitude in myself. I’ll stay up all night and think about everything going wrong in life, in the world. But in thinking of all that, I lose my focus on everything I can do for it.
Previously, I said my birthday was a very ordinary day. But if I look at it from a different angle, a very beautiful person made it very beautiful. It wasn’t that great a day, but I was happy. Because my person made me happy. It gives an immense feeling, when someone who we know doesn’t even have much time free, does such wonderful things for us and tries to make us happy. So thank you. I love you. I love you extremely. You made a wish come true, one I never thought anybody would give thought to. But that’s what you do. You do things no one would even give thought to. That makes me love you more. Don’t go. Ever.
Today is 1st January 2016. I’m counting the days.
You know who you are,
You know how much I value you. You know how much your support means to me. You know. And guess what? We’re the same age again, for the next eight days. Hugs?
Remember the childhood years? That game of touch-me-not at Barray abbu’s old house, the kidnapping plays at Taya’s house, the monkey bar on his terrace and our antics of climbing it, the cousins who pretended to throw us off the railings there? Do you remember playing hide and seek with the elder cousins? Do you remember all the nicknames I gave you? I’m really sorry for the offensive one, although you did get me scolded for it :p Oh, and do you remember the mummy in my room’s store? :D It’s still there. Come visit someday, it has missed you. All those night stays, the pleadings for night stays, the ijtemaai duaaen for my father forgetting to pick me up from your place on his way home from office… and those two times that he actually did forget!! :o Oh and remember the times you and your younger sister stayed at my place, and you’d both be sad for the first few hours because…. well, you know why. It was infuriating. Oh well. I loved you then and I love you now. You two were the sole reason I begged to be transferred to campus IV of our school. We fantasized we’d play in the basement in recess time, but school brought with it quite different times.
And then we grew up. There was competition for five rupee coins, there were new friendships and petty disputes over them. I apologize for those, I admit I was incredibly shallow and inconsiderate. And it hurt you. I’m sorry. In that period, there was confusion and lots of changes swimming about everywhere. It changed us as well. And for sometime, our relationship was in the background. But it was revived, no? The bathroom meetings on the ground floor? And… ahem, remember that singular exchange? :D Oh and remember the time I got a new haircut and I was so excited to show you, I opened my hair and arranged it in that specific way, outside the bathroom, and Miss Zarqa came along!! :o We were scolded. And the spelling bee!!! I can never forget that. I remember how I explained the phonetic symbols to you and Fizza. And how we memorized the spellings for typhoid and haemorrhage, and how much we loved pronouncing hullabaloo and bootee. And all the free periods we got to practice, just the three of us sitting outside to study spellings. I still blame myself for getting that spelling wrong in the regional rounds. I over-complicated it. I remember my reaction when we got our matric results, and I was envious. I admit that. I didn’t even congratulate you, and it brings tears to my eyes. But I did hug you and congratulated you at school early morning the next day. The damage was done and I was extremely in the wrong. Forgive me if you can? For all those times?
And then school ended, college distanced us. Your anxiety in those two years, and my depression; we bonded differently. Different colleges and different subjects after having studied the same subjects together, for six years, our desks almost always near, for there wasn’t much space in the classroom either :p I missed you.
Remember that one crazy night at my place when our fathers went out of city? We watched a movie, and then theorized every lunatic idea that came to mind, lying beside my bed on the carpet in the dark for so long, we ruined Einstein, and made a joke out of philosophy where everything was nothing and nothing was everything and bananas and feet and darkness and Lord knows what. Conclusion? Birmingham Asylum. Electricity went off, my mother came to talk to us, and we sobered up.
Sobering times followed as university came along. Same institutions again, we began to meet almost everyday, and found the solace of silence in each other. We found colliding and conflicting passions, favourite spots and baffling philosophies. As different and as similar as we continue to become, you still are the best cousin, and my rock. We have something different, don’t we? That kind of comfort, I can never find with anyone except you. Too sappy? But i’m being honest. See, I even wrote you a love letter ;)
We’ve changed drastically, and we keep talking of changes. All the changes aside, you need to hear what’s coming. You are a fantastic person. Your thoughts, your words, your strokes, your expression of everything and your extraordinary ability to feel (reminded me of the theater society, and need for “empathy” :p). Whatever life may have brought, you’re still that amazing person. You might not see it, but everyone else does. Have faith in yourself, as I do in you. Love thyself, as I love thee.
We believe in the process, remember? :)
I tend to usually scorn at your choice of dressing, but today I couldn’t. You were wearing a green shirt with an unmatched blue pajama, a bland grey scarf, and two different slippers. You were wearing your deceased parents’ clothes. An old threadbare rug lies in the rarely visited store room. Perhaps it was beautiful in its day, but now nobody cares about it. Nobody remembers it. Nobody needs it. Nobody depends upon it. Nobody’s happiness is dependent on it. It just lies there, dying. It is not obliged to be anything for anyone. I wish I was that rug. There was a girl. Her parents were professors of literature fascinated with paradoxes. They named her Contradiction. She lived up to her name. And lived life contradicting every term. Her life began when she died. One day, I’ll open the door for him, and we’ll think of all the instances we yearned for that door opening. One day, I’ll massage his shoulders and feet, we’ll think of all the times we wished for such a scene. One day, I’ll embrace him from behind, and we’ll think back to every time we imagined the embrace. One day, I’ll hold his hand and he’ll hold mine. And we’ll look at the stars. And we’ll tell the moon, it doesn’t even have to exist anymore. We’re not just under the same moon. We now share breaths.
Mind you, the day will come.
*Moniba, those who think about death, plead for an end, they just continue living because God doesn’t want them to die. If you don’t have a reason to live life or if you think your lifestyle sucks, you just need to reconfigure! Life is beautiful, Moniba. Don’t give up way too easily. Be thankful to God, I’m sure you are!
*And please, please, please, try to be happy. I find you as a very serious person, you’ve your own dreams, you’ve your own wishes, fulfill them, I know you can. If someday you lose hope in life and wish to die, just close your eyes and remember that there’s a person who’s not so far away from you, who believes in you, and can’t see you end your life and go away like this. I’m always with you.
*Someday, I’ll just gift you a tiny little flower and then disappear.
But don’t disappear, okay?