Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.
2.5 years old.
Sitting on the balcony next to the aquarium is my favorite pass time. There is a rocking chair put strategically next to the windows that seem endless to me, and the aquarium is right behind it. I love sitting on that chair, going back and forth and pretending to be in a car that only I can control. I swing my hand back further than usual. My hand goes into the aquarium, breaking it, all the water and fish have fallen out, shards of glass all around, one has gone through my hand. My left hand to be precise. All the blood made me dizzy but I did not cry, the house help called my parents. My mother cradled me while the doctor cleaned up the mess on my hand, placating me with flavored gum. I still have the mark on my left hand, and a phobia of aquariums but that’s about it.
3.5 years old.
It is a weekday, a school morning, both my parents are running around, functioning together like a well-oiled machine, they only want to make sure that I do not miss my school bus. My dad is getting me ready like always, polishing my shoes until they glimmer in the Sun, strapping my watch onto me once again with the hope that I will soon be able to tell left from right. My mother has begun stuffing food down my throat, repeating once again that I must pray before I put my shoes on. I take my spot on my dad’s scooter letting my head fall on his back, excited to get to school, I love school and my morning routine. On one such weekday, I wake up and as per usual jump around the house, clashing against anything that is in my way. I start crying immediately, I never cry, I cried while getting ready for school. The doctor was called, I had crashed my head, upside down, against one of the empty gas cylinders left at some corner at home. I did not know it was a thing, had a swollen head bump for weeks, it was okay and has been okay since.
12 years old.
I think I have always liked spending some time alone in a day, shutting myself in, blocking out all the noise around me with loud music that makes me want to move or do something at least but I do not dance, I cannot and I never have, so I jump, up on the floor, on my bed pretending that it is a trampoline, the world is my trampoline. I loved swinging too-as high as one can get on a single swing & at the highest speed possible. You see, I loved adventures. I fell, hard, on the other part of the ground, separated by a huge water pipe, amidst the high grass surrounding it. I couldn’t move for a very long time and my friends & family couldn’t find me as well(coz the foliage was high and thick). When I regained consciousness, I had to crawl to the water pipe and call for help, with whatever pitch I could manage. I had bruises all over my legs & knees, and thankfully very mildly hurt my head. This one keeps coming back(headache), now and then, reminding me of how ridiculously careless I am, I have always been. But, we good, we good, we great.
17 years old.
I am treading a new phase, a relationship, hoping to find my home in person— because that is what everyone around me seems to be doing, and it is okay I guess. I did not know terms then, I was always a little too unsure, always a little insecure, so I did not flinch when he did things that hurt my emotions, manipulated situations, betrayed me and had the effin guts to call the landline at midnight because I was not picking up his calls. I didn’t want to stay in that relationship but froze and said okay to continue cause he said and I quote, ‘I will tell your dad we’re dating’. Funniest is, I could tell my dad that myself but I chose to stay frightened and I did nothing(That age is naive you see-for every single teen). And even though he threatened, and blackmailed, cheated upon me, clandestinely misinformed common friends about the situation and on the contrary continually kept begging me to stay, I did not see the obvious signs of toxicity. But I woke up one day, and I just wasn’t scared anymore, I couldn’t care anymore, I broke up, I breathed again like I should have at that age, I hung out with my friends again without the paranoia of being harassed with blank calls. I was past the point of fear by then, I have been since, I couldn’t care less.
21 years old.
I am walking back home like always, it helps me clear my head, and its raining goddamnit, the streetlights made the rain shine on me, on everyone else. I am 5 minutes away from my apartment when a man on the street lunged at a house help, seeking power outage to his advantage. I yelled, I should have slapped him but I yelled and the man sprang back in terror, he was not expecting it. The same things I saw again, but less severe, strangers and predators in a crowded street or a shopping mall, or a bar, or even and office parking lot for that matter, their claws hungry and depraved, waiting and lurking in the dark. This one stayed with me, but I cannot stop looking over my shoulder if I am walking alone in the night, in Hyderabad, in Bangalore, wherever. I do not want to let my anxiety debilitate me, I will work on it, I am working on it.
25 years old.
I have been 25 for only a few months now, and I will be 25 for a few more. I do not invest emotionally in people who aren’t sincere with me, I do not care for formalities or pleasantries, or continuing polite appearances to fill voids that do not belong to me. I do not ‘half-ass’ anything, not my work, and last, of all my relationships-with family or friends, I am either there or I am not, and you will be well aware of it. I still want to see the good in people, I do, and I give them a chance, I always have, but I do not lurk around anymore to see if they ever get better, I realized it is not my job to see the world through, it is not on me to make sure everyone feels better, to assure that everyone gets better. You can have my empathy but you cannot have me at your will, to use me to fill the gaps in your conversations and the holes in your lives. My focus is singular, mostly me and the work that I have in hand, and people who I care about, there aren’t too many, you can count them by your fingers, so really, it is easy.
Still 25 years old.
My hands are full, with love, with anger, with misfortune at certain junctures, and ambitions that I live to fulfill, and we will see how it goes, I will keep you posted. Maybe.
I wrote this down to declutter. You see, some coversations have a lasting impression-The idea of penning down this memoir came after one such interesting exchange of perspectives. And I think I am untying knots again, in order and chronologically, so that when I find myself in knots again, it is easier to untie, easier to straighten it all out and begin again.