Children Listen.

She summoned the 14 year old me to the school staff room. I knew this wasn’t good news as I nervously stood at the staff room’s entrance.

“You don’t deserve the opportunity to be in the school band. You know why? It is your smile. It is very snake-like, very sly. And what is there to constantly smile about? Only mad people do that, smile without a reason. Are you trying to impress the boys?

Do you know the repercussions of that smile? Draupadi once laughed when she shouldn’t have, at Duryodhana, in the Palace of Illusions and eventually a war ensued. That’s the implication of a woman’s unwanted and dangerous smile,” she said.

“I will never smile unnecessarily,” my confused self pleaded shedding copious tears as I continued to stand helplessly, my head hung in shame in a room surrounded by teachers, “All I want is to be a part of the band team.”

***

I worked hard.

I learned to suppress my laughter.

I became very conscious about her smile.

Initially, I stopped smiling often.

Eventually, I ceased to smile.

I tried to turn into the girl she wanted me to become.

But.

I never played in the school band.

She had emerged victorious, taking away from me what mattered the most at that time.

I lay in shambles, defeated.

I pledged to myself. That one day I would have my revenge. I would win and she would lose.

***

Nineteen years later,

“Are you even aware of how gorgeous you look when you throw a simple smile on your face? It almost lights up the room,” my cousin cheerfully said.

“That smile of yours, it is contagious, and makes it impossible for me to be angry with you,” my boyfriend grudgingly said.

“A custom-word ring for yourself? Peace? You can get the word ‘peace’, but how about ‘smile’ instead, it defines you more aptly,” my coworker casually said.

“Are we at risk? You aren’t yourself today, you’re not smiling. That worries me,” my Project Lead speculatively said.

“You have a beautiful smile, never lose that,” my friend lovingly said.

Just like that, after all these years, I let go, unconsciously.

Winning or losing didn’t matter anymore.

– Children listen. With their ears and etch on their minds.

Five Elements – Fire

He asked me to log into Yahoo Messenger.

He ordered me to turn on my webcam.

My heart fluttered with ecstasy. I hadn’t seen him for two days.

 

His face was pale, as always.

He picked them up one after another and showed them to me.

The dark blue denim jeans.

The grey and white shirt.

The wine red tie.

The dusky brown wallet.

The woven black bracelet.

They had been carefully collected over the past two years, the tangible evidence of my undying love for him.

 

Oh yes, and the journal too.

My journal. To him. That told the story of us from the day it had all begun.

 

And then, silently, he set them on fire.

With the really sleek, rose gold cigarette lighter.

The lighter that demanded from me, my dinner for two months before I could afford to lay my hands on it.

 

How was it possible that all the salt water brimming in my eyes was incapable of dousing the fire?

As I continued to watch the evidence slowly melt away, I couldn’t necessarily tell the exact color of that brightness.

 

Strangely enough, he hadn’t laid a single finger on me.

Simply yet.

On his balcony floor lay my heart.

And my soul.

In a pile of ashes.

Without a point of resurrection.

Five Elements – Wind

She stood by the parapet wall.

Dark clouds descended and cold air ascended.

Chill breeze brushed her hair away from her face.

She gracefully placed the Gold Flake Kings in her mouth and tried to light up a match.

The wind around her blew out the little fire.

Neither had she been a customary inhaler of this morbid smoke.

Nor was this her initial choice.

 

**

Her mind floated weightlessly into the past.

Propelled by a flurry of memories.

Willing to reach stagnation only when the outline of his image intensified.

The picture of him inhaling and exhaling toxic grey air.

Her dearest memory of him was the deep sense of melting perfection she experienced when her lips met his for the first time.

Soft and intense, so infused with nicotine.

Choicelessly she swayed from aversion to appreciating its flawlessness.

She no longer wanted to taint her lips with any other type of kiss.

 

**

Now all she had was his brand.

She had turned from passive to active.

The taste of nicotine in her mouth.

The smell of smoke in the air around her was her only streak of connection with him.

It lead her to believe they still belonged like a song in the wind.

Even if it was for one fleeting, unrealistic moment.

Dodging the misty air, she struck the match again and cupped her palms to light her obsession rolled in brown and white paper.

As her lungs got a shot of the polluted air, a whimpered cough escaped from them.

Hopelessly they looked at their neighbor, her heart and inquired,

“Why do you do this to us? Isn’t it easier to simply let go?”

 

Her heart whispered,

“Oh, how could you two possibly fathom. To love fairly and incessantly is all you know. Left lung and right lung, you were born together.

Raised together.

Fell in love.

And became soulmates.

What do you know about loss?

My loss.

The permanent loss of the only heart I effortlessly connected with.”

Her lungs drowned in another gust loaded with tobacco.

Inching towards their doom.

Her heart reached elation and looked at them.

“Lucky bastards, even in their death, they go hand.”

Then. Now. Beyond.

THEN-
With every beginning I wished for the end,
How could eight hours seem like eternal.
Across me, you sat, just shy of a brawl,
I could tell we made each other’s skin crawl.

New, lost, and defeated I felt, as if I were stuck in an abyss,
How strangely my loneliness had meticulously creeped from red to swings.
And yet, I reminded myself that I left the old and chose the new to serve a specific purpose,
So I tugged along grudgingly with no remorse.

Anger, jealousy, and greed are a few innate emotions,
Hatred strangely surpassed and triumphed them all.
I realized, what was worse than your abhorrence,
Was the way you looked right through me like I was transparent glass, with pure nonchalance.

One unexplained, bitter-sweet gloomy winter morning, for me your eyes searched,
In tolerance they waited and watched. Until upon you, my eyes, I laid,
Your unflinching gaze conveyed volumes, and yet, no words were said.
But confusingly enough, when your lips parted,
I didn’t hear much but spontaneous disdain.
It made me cross,
That your looks and lips reeked of contradiction, playing a game of such brutal polarity.

NOW-
You tap that corner in the deepest, darkest of places,
The one that I convinced myself I was too broken to embrace.
If perception could be a pure, simple language,
Would you converse with me thus forever, from your eyes to mine, through this secret passive passage.

To be impressed and go weak in my knees,
To sway me until I fall head over heels.
All you had to do was sprinkle some intelligence and some arrogance,
Some observance and some perseverance.

How have you jolted awake the teenager in me?
Was it this wonderfully sweet to be sixteen?
Every dawn I hope we chance upon one another,
For that to materialize, several cups of terrible espresso I choose to endure.

My heart has been shattered in the past and played plenty a musical chair,
But to slyly be seated next to you is about what I care.
As you sincerely slice that engineered piece in solid works,
I want to compel you to peel my intricate layers and delve into the farthest corners of my mind, or maybe simply and freely plunge in and fathom my spirit.

When you often travel into the blue skies and across oceans,
So far away from me, remotely above the clouds.
I question, I demand, I struggle,
How is this possible, for us to be divided by land and yet be so united in space?

BEYOND-
Hate is a strong word, you told me,
You have me pondering what hurts more though.
To hate or to love,
Somehow whichever one I pick lingers of an un-numbing ache.

If I am prejudice, will you be my pride?
If I am the half blood princess, will you be my muggle prince, and hopefully this time around, we will be staring at the same tide?

If you dipped a finger into your ivory white skin and then touched my desert brown, will that mixture feel like the color of love?
If your belief in the cross and mine in the primordial tone engulfed one another just as one wave embraces the other, will that comfort sound like love?
If the east and the west turn into momentary mirror reflections of each other, as they birth and devour the sun incessantly, will that serenity look like love?
If your intense and dark bourbon like bitterness dampens my spicy chai like zesty temperament, will that saccharine fragrance smell like love?
If your perfect red lips met and kissed my dusky, bruised soul once, just once, will that fieriness taste like love?

Will this kind of love that completely engulfs my five senses be called perfectly, wholesome, pure love?

Is it possible then,
That with every end I wish for this beginning,
And eternal can seem like eight hours.