I Knew

When do you know it’s love?

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I used to think I’d instantly recognize love in a crowd

I was wrong.

The first time I set my eyes on love, I got defensive.

I almost thought it was an intruder, only set on plundering the best bits of me.

I shut my windows and fortified my walls.

I held myself back. I told myself I had to “tread cautiously.”

But all love wanted, was to make me laugh and see me gleam.

Love wanted to stay awake late nights to talk politics and world peace.

I didn’t understand love.

I couldn’t comprehend why it would see the worst in me and still stay.

Love didn’t try to strip me naked of my emotions and pull the no-strings-attached move.

And I couldn’t, for the life of me understand why!

For the first time, love stayed after promising it would.

For the first time, love held me as I cried and listened to what I had to say instead of just ‘hearing.’

In all its Glory, love laid itself bare and exposed it’s vulnerability.

For the very first time, love looked at my scars and wasn’t intimidated by the past that lay behind them.

I thought the movies had it all figured out- how love ought to behave.

Turns out, love doesn’t confine within the squares of definition.

Love didn’t look like anything or anyone I thought it would resemble.

Now that I think of it, I certainly didn’t fall in love as they say;

I grew into it- one day at a time, until the day I knew we were meant to be.

Someone For Everyone

Why each of us needs friends.

Third grade can be a difficult phase. Especially for kids like me who found making friends to be a daunting task.

I grew up in a building full of old people, having to spend most of my time indoors reading books or watching the television. And being the only child of a working couple didn’t help either.

Moreover, I studied in a convent school where clans of Catholic kids who were friends since kindergarten refused to include ‘outsiders’ (like me) to be a part of their group. To top it all, I was an introvert.

Hey, I wasn’t shy alright! I attempted to mingle with my classmates and thrust myself into one clan or the other; but once I realized that none of the third graders I’d spoken to had read Alice in wonderland or the secret seven, I didn’t know how else to make conversation.

I couldn’t care less about what to wear for the annual Christmas party in school like the others did and I was always the last one in class to know of the latest piece of gossip.

I could never understand why everyone hated writing essays in the literature class and why most of my classmates preferred sitting on the last benches.

You’d think I was one of the toppers or the teachers’ pet, but I wasn’t one of those either. I was stuck somewhere in the middle trying to make sense of the world in my own pace.

Well, this continued through most of my school life and even though I’d managed to make friends, they weren’t really “Friends.”

As I grew older I wondered if this is how things would always be. Me trying to make superficial conversations with acquaintances, passing them off as friends. With no one to trust my secrets with, without being judged. With no one to talk about things that really mattered to me.

I had learnt to be my own source of happiness for so long that somewhere along the line I began to think that I didn’t really need friends.

Boy! I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. The right people were yet to find their way into my life. And one day I finally chanced upon them.

But they didn’t resemble anything I thought my friends would look like.

They didn’t like the books that I did. They liked to party. They loved to dress up (I hated to!). They believed in sharing emotions (which I thought was absurd back then). They were loud and obnoxious. And I thought they had a terrible sense in music. However, we came to befriend each other’s oddities and fall in love with our differences.

I didn’t know how much I needed them until I met them. And today, if I could go back in time and talk to my school girl self, this is what I’d say:

Dear Little Girl,

Someday, you will find people who would understand exactly what you’re trying to say. They will know what shade of blue you’re imagining while you speak of a blue ribbon. They will know how much you feel for the children affected by the war in Syria or how much you worry about climate change.

They will know your likes and dislikes.They will know that you’d never want to watch horror movies at night and that Salman Khan movies are a big no-no!

They will always be honest with you. They will tell you, you look like shit in the dress you’re wearing or that you’re looking great with the new haircut. They will argue with you and tell you you’re wrong when you are. But they will stand by you when they know you’re right and the whole world thinks you’re not.

They will pay attention to the details. They will notice and appreciate things about you, most people won’t. They will know that you’re hiding something from them without you having to say a word.

They will protect you from the glare of the world. They will know about your deepest darkest secrets and take them to their grave. They will know of your worst fears and help you overcome them. They will hold you when you cry and let you douse their shoulders with tears. They will listen patiently when you rant your heart out and lighten your burdens.

At the same time they will also help you stand on your own feet and make sure that you’re strong enough to curve the problems life throws at you. They will push you to do better and grow each day. They will point out your flaws and help you mend them.

One way to tell for sure if they’re there to stay, is their ability to prioritise you. Your friends will always be there for you when you need them, no questions asked.

You will have an active role to play in this relationship too. You will be expected to be vulnerably honest, I know that’s scary, but trust me, it’s also liberating. For the first time in life your happiness will depend on others, and happiness will come to you when you least expect it. You will learn to share: things, experiences, success and your failures. You will always have someone to talk to at the end of a hard day.

But remember, for each person who fits this description, there will be ten others who won’t. So sit tight till you find the right ones and be ready to make memories to last for a lifetime. For when they do arrive, you’ll know it in your heart.

Love,

Your 23 year old self.

Cover picture credit- Haranish Mehta.

Story Of An Overthinker In Love

What goes on in the mind of an over-thinker in love

I live my life inside my head. I often want to tell you everything that goes on in it, but can’t seem to find the right words. And even if I did, I won’t possibly know where to begin!

Sometimes I wonder if you’d even understand if I told you. I wonder what you’d think of me. Would you like me more? Would you hate me for it? Would you think of me as strange? See….now I’m overthinking! This is what happens most of the time. I want to tell you one thing, and my mind spirals into something else all-together.

I get distracted very easily. I like to look at the skies while walking. I would almost ALWAYS stop to admire a little puppy or a cat on the road. I would sometimes talk to the old beggar or the kid playing on the footpath. I would look at the vendors in the market and wonder what they do once they return home at night. Oh, and it’s a different ballgame altogether when I’m by the sea.

I like to take in as much of it as I can. The smell of fish, the feel of salt on my skin, the noise of waves crashing, the sticky breeze flowing through my hair, all of it stimulates my being. I can spend hours just being there, feeling it drip in, bit by bit.

But you know what? That’s me even otherwise. I’m hardly a passive bystander in life. I’m actively processing everything that’s going on around me. It might come as a surprise to you, considering how lost I look, but inside me- I’m alive with imagination.

That’s why I like to take my time while I’m outdoors. Actually wait, not just the outdoors. I hate to rush anything. Be it eating a meal, reading a book, talking to you or simply strolling in the park by myself. I like to take things slow. Relishing each and every moment. It’s as though my mind is constantly imprinting each and every detail, trying to make sense out of it all. Continuously weaving a story.

Amidst all this, I’m contemplating life. Sometimes death. In the middle of the night I have dark thoughts of losing people I love in some freak accident. It gets my heart thumping, I wake up all sweaty, trying to catch my breath. Other times, I imagine what would happen if I died. Would it matter to people at all? Would it make you cry for days? I wonder if I have had any impact on the lives of people I’ve met in my lifetime. I wonder if they remember me fondly. Are any of them thinking about me right now? Do they recollect their time spent with me with a smile on their faces? Do I have any haters? I bet I do. All those arguments on Facebook and Whatsapp groups ought to have made me some enemies.

Well I can’t really help it. I have opinions and I feel strongly about them. It’s either yes or a no, there’s no “maybe” in my dictionary. I can be completely detached and not even blink about things or people I don’t care about. I can be distant and cold hearted. I can be cruelly unemotional at times. But mostly I’m brimming with emotions. I’m raging with anger every morning when I read of corrupt politicians, I’m filled with empathy when I find old people shivering in the cold- begging for a meal, I’m amazed to see the stars shine bright through the polluted skies on a tiring monday evening, my eyes tear up when I listen to a song that I like, my heart skips a beat when I think of you.

Talking of you; I think of you every other minute. At times I feel so happy that you exist that I start sobbing. I imagine ways in which I can show you how much I love you. I want to call you right at that moment and tell you that you’re the best thing that’s happened to me. But I know I would be dumbstruck. That’s why I write to you. It helps me align my emotions with my mind. I often picture you smiling at me, or looking at your phone with your eyebrows furrowed as you read a mail from work. Sometimes I picture you gobbling down food or staring into space as your cigarette burns itself out. Other times I imagine you gently caressing my hair as we kiss. I imagine your warm body curled up against mine. I wonder what goes on in your mind when you look at me? I wish I could get inside your head and understand what is it that you love about me. What is it that you hate. What is it that you wish you could change about me. I wonder if you look at me and think about the same things. But sometimes I have this gripping fear of losing all this happiness somehow. What if I disappointed you? What if something terrible happens to you, or me? What if you contract amnesia and forget that I ever existed! Oh God, so many things that could go wrong! Do you know what do I do when that happens? I pray.

Surprised? Well, it’s because now I have so much at hand that I might lose! I pray that I always find my way to you, and you to me. I pray that we rise above our differences and remember what we love about each other when times get tough. I pray that we strive to understand each other. I pray that you’re always happy. I pray that you’re always surrounded by family and loved ones who genuinely care about you. But mostly, I ask the universe/God to help us grow with each other every day. I have only you to thank for all this praying and talking to the universe!

You’d say I worry too much. I’d say, yes, “I worry, I worry”, but that’s just how I am! But it’s not all that bad always. It’s just that my mind just works overtime. Imagining the infinite possibilities of life. Perpetually finding my space in each moment. Finding my purpose in the universal story. Collecting moments & memories from my everyday life in my head. And as an over-thinker I pride myself for it. For if not an over-thinker, I can’t possibly imagine what else I’d be. Or, can I?

How It Felt To Be Bride’s Maid To A Blind Girl

This blog is about my experience at a Blind girl’s wedding. Both emotional & inspirational this story is close to my heart!

Calm and unfazed, Premala sits smiling even as others frantically move about running last minute errands. Premala is getting married today! She says that in her 23 years of life, this is her happiest day.

She pouts & holds, as I line her lips with the deep red shade of lipstick that her guardian selected. Why her guardian you ask? Well, ever since Premala lost her sight when she was 10, her parents kept her at a distance. Too poor to look after a blind child who was also happened to be a girl, her parents dropped her at a school for the visually challenged children & never really intended to look back & take her home again.

I look at her dimpled smile as she chatters with the guests. The way she blushes when someone mentions the name of the groom. And emotions flood my brain.  I’m at loss of words as to how someone who is missing such an important aspect of life is so positive. I am at awe of her nonchalant grace.

She suddenly bursts into a song in Marathi & sings a couple of verses in her beautiful voice. Her voice so confident & clear, stuns everyone in the room.  Her voice managed to silence an entire room of cackling relatives and friends, at a wedding house! And then, she abruptly stops and asks me if her lipstick has smudged because of the singing. The women giggle as they hear her naive questions & tell her not to worry too much about the lipstick, to which she stubbornly replies that she wants another coat of lipstick! “It’s my wedding and I want to look the prettiest in the room.”, she says pouting again.

For some reason Premala had taken an instant liking to me ever since I first met her. Even at her wedding I was her maid-of-honor of sorts.

As I head towards her she asks me what I’m wearing. After all, she wouldn’t want her “didi” (sister) to look under-dressed at her wedding. I tell her I’m wearing a floral dress. I see her face light up! She asks to me come closer so she can feel the dress with her hands to know what a dress feels like, “I’ve never worn one didi, come closer, I want to SEE how your dress looks.” She runs her fingers through the creases of my dress and then looks at me with a smile and says something I will never be able to forget, “You look Beautiful didi.”

That one statement had tears flowing down my cheeks. I told her that she looks beautiful and all the guests were in love with her saree and her radiant smile returned!

This was followed by the wedding ceremony that was held in a church. I bore the bride’s trail. I was by her side until she was finally united with her husband, Sharad Patil who is a visually challenged person himself.

It was so beautiful to see how these two souls found each other. Their blinded vision didn’t stop them from finding love. Just because Premala didn’t see colours didn’t stop her from dreaming of rainbows and chasing behind them. At 23 she has a college degree in biblical studies and aims at reaching out to young girls like her.

If this isn’t inspiring I don’t know what is!

Many of us complain about things that don’t even matter. We are never satisfied and crib about everything that comes our way. Inspite of having the best education, best parents & friends to love us we point out to that one thing that we might NOT have. That one dress that you can’t afford or maybe that bike that your dad refused to buy.

One failed relationship and we give up on life, one test gone bad and we are ready to jump off the 17th floor of a building.

Sometimes all we need to do is look around us and absorb the strength and determination to keep going. Hey, no one said it’s going to be an easy ride. Take Premala for instance, she’s got it the worst way possible. An abandoned blind girl child, who had to fend for herself. But instead of letting all of this hurt and disappointment take a hold over her, she decided to give life a second chance, then a third & a fourth! Until she finally found what she was looking for. Purpose in life & someone to love. And that’s amazing!

Hopefully someday there will be more of Premalas in this world that gives up so easily. A world that fails to see the beauty in the little things. A world that has forgotten to be grateful.

Hopefully, Someday.

Look Closer!

“It’s not always black or white. It’s not always yes or no.

Things are more complicated that they seem.

Words can’t always express how you feel, and sometimes a word makes all the difference in the world. Sometimes tears spell happiness, other times smiles hide pain untold.

Some days the stars look beautiful, other days they remind you of someone you’re trying to forget.

The blazing sun may look like fire, but maybe it’s just a melting candle counting it’s last breaths.

Those innocent looking eyes behind the spectacles might have seen adventures you wouldn’t have even imagined.

That pretty boy with abs like Stallone, might’ve been fighting off demons in daylight.

Maybe that quiet old lady smiles at you because you look like her long lost lover.

Maybe your mom says she’s okay, but is not.

Maybe those straight roads lead to hell, and maybe the alleys hidden in the dark end on the stairway to heaven.

People are not just good or bad. Sometimes, there is a glimmer of love in the most broken hearts. Sometimes, the most radiant laughters hold cries for help.

Things are never as they seem you know.

So, look a little harder, feel a little deeper, hold on a little longer and you will see things for what they are.”

Most times, we just take things at face value. Nowadays we neither have the time nor the patience to scrape beneath the surface. We hear, but we don’t listen. We see but we don’t perceive. We comprehend but we don’t understand.  We sympathize but never empathize. In the hustle of everyday lives we just lose track of the smaller things. The details, the little clues that are probably the most important things in life.

Especially with people. Sometimes we fail to notice what’s right in front of us. That sad smile, that unsure text message, they tell a lot about a person, and most times we ignorantly miss out.

So just sometimes, take the time to genuinely lend your ear to someone’s story and get ready to get stunned by the truth that might be hidden within.

Love Again.

It hurts so much that you don’t know what to do. The pain blinds you. You can barely remember you’re alive. Yet you walk around with a smile stitched on to your lips. Telling people you’re okay, when you’re not. Crying into your pillows when no one can see you. Tearing away scribbled letters, that were never posted. Typing messages on your phone that will never be sent. Swallowing in the anger, the disappointment. Staring into the sky and hating the stars because all they did was remind you of that one person.

The sight of others in love begins to repel you. Oh and love songs are a big no-no! Some days you feel anger for yourself. How couldn’t you see it coming? What you did wrong? Somedays it’s pity. You feel sorry for yourself. You look into the mirror and you can’t bear to look at yourself without tears streaking your cheeks. Then you begin pushing away the dreams. Burying every last bit of emotion, just so you don’t feel that crushing pain again.

Building walls because you don’t ever want to feel vulnerable again. You cross your heart & train your mind to look away if it gets remotely attached to someone! You slowly turn into the demon that you dreaded all along. You push everyone away because you can’t bear the thought of them leaving too. At your lowest days you wish you had someone, but then you say you’re better off alone. Then one day you stop mourning your loss. It stops hurting as much as it did. You don’t cry thinking about it now. Your words aren’t as bitter.

Somewhere along the line, you begin to forget what it felt like. The love, the care. The way your heart beat when your lips met. Those days that turned into nights endlessly with them by your side. You try to remember why you held that anger, but you can’t quite remember.

Then when we least expect it, comes someone who is patient enough to tear down your walls. To look into your eyes and see all your bruises. To hold you when you aren’t strong enough to face the world alone. Someone who tells you stories and makes you believe in magic again. Someone who’s voice makes you smile in the middle of the night. Someone who pushes you to be your best. Someone who tells you that you are beautiful on your worst days. Just like that, you know you were meant to be. Just like that, it’s all okay.

And just like that, one day you look at the sky, and the stars look beautiful once again! 🙂

I Promise To Stay.

To the day your words will complete my thoughts.

The day your thoughts will become OUR dream.

To the day, our hearts would beat together.

To the day your promises would become a reality.

To the day our our skins will melt into each other’s and our days turn to nights endlessly.

To the day your silences speak louder than words.

To the day I discover the pain behind that smile of yours.

To the day your lips spell my happiness.

To the day your demons lose control finally.

To the day you find yourself again with me.

To the day your story becomes mine.

I will be by your side. I will wait patiently. To that day. I promise.