“Long time ago” is a dangerous neighborhood.
All its season are holograms of perfect world,
the illusions of rain and snow and sun,
the illusion of hearts still beating under the non-existent skin.
The technician of this a weary magic
lives beside the empty park in the middle of my heart.
He knows the perfect days to make me cry, to make me see.
He invents new people, new details.
Sometime these are fake stand-ins for the what he has lost
in his war against me, all that I intend to forget.
Sometime they are what I failed to realize,
people I didn’t get to love.
Most days I can’t tell the difference
between the words I have forgotten
and the ones I will never hear
has post offices with stamps of words I no longer mean
stuck on its wall.
There cars and houses and roads and rivers
owned by people who will never die.
They all gather on my birthday
in the cemetery of one grave.
They sit on the endless green grass with their picnic baskets,
with the kids I will never have, with the pets I will never keep
and look into the eyes that will never look at me.
They smile knowing something I will never know.
I have seen snails and snakes
from a distance of two feet.
They were scary and I was scared.
Even when they vanished, I remained scared.
I remained scared
of everything that stood two feet away from me,
asking me, “Now what?”,
“Is it now, that you run and not look back?”
I have seen friendship
from the distance of words
I could never type.
I sent them new year,
friendship day, diwali,
doomsday celebration greetings
but I never sent them my heart.
They too figured with time
that they could live without me,
without this heart of mine
they have only heard about.
When I see them smile for me
across the street
that we both won’t cross
I wonder if I should smile back
and extend this period of pain, this pretense
or should I see through them,
to set them free
or should I walk closer, to fill their heart
with the horrid images of the real me,
to let them see the dying me,
to let them see the things they can’t do anything about.
Would they love me for real if I did that
or would they look me from the distance of two feet
as I ask “Now what?”
“Is it now, that you run and not look back?”
to get our high
from the powdered dust of dreams,
from digging desperately, getting closer to the voice
of the demons we buried just yesterday,
breaking nails and curfews to
save the skins we can’t live without.
at making a home,
choosing colors for our ceilings,
choosing the sides we will sleep on,
choosing not to be the ones we have always been.
Another chance, another precious child to be broken,
another angel dress to be painted red
waiting for our hands, for our tasteless kiss.
Choosing everything that leads us to lives
that couldn’t possibly have been ours,
couldn’t have been so wrong.
I know we are the only ones
who can give each other chances.
Chances – that we are so fond of.
But do we need to call it love?
Though we have tried and tried
and have run out of things that can be fixed.
Do we have to call this happiness
just because we have been told we must?
Do we have to ruin every word, every feeling
that we have not felt yet,
just because we fear we may never feel them otherwise.
In her loudest, happiest voice
she told me about
one of her near-death loves,
how she wished her skin
would stop keeping her alive.
She laughed at how we both
always find something awfully painful or ugly in common,
how we should probably never call each other
just to remind each other of the spite
that lives in our blood.
I moved her lackluster glass of
fake green mojito by an inch towards her
and looked past her
at the couple who sat closest to the sky.
The wind that touched them called out to me again,
reminded me about my trembling legs
and my heart that didn’t want to give up yesterday.
I told her about the fall – my bad decision,
my backing out again at the last minute-
another really bad decision.
I told her someone needs to lock me up
before I take any more decision
as I showed her my new skinned knee
and told her in detail about
all parts of me that were filled with pain even now
only because of that one moment
in which I wanted to live more than anything.
She walked towards the the railing
decorated with hearts that won’t light
and found herself a seat, placing her elbow
carefully away from the mess that
the ones in love left behind.
She waited for me to follow her as I always do.
I stood behind her and felt a fear
very similar to mine swimming in her mind.
I wanted to tell her, it will get better.
but I couldn’t. I wanted to believe in this,
in this hope for better;
if not for me, at least for her.
And I knew she had nothing to say now
because her throat was also crowded by the words
she doesn’t believe. We are painfully alike
even in our search for hope, even when we are searching it
for each other.
i remember your hands and their warmth
like i remember
the versions of me
that were easier to live with (or so i think).
the colors, their unnatural brightness,
the scent of acetone always lingering
on the tips of your fingertips,
always hiding a sad rainbow (just my type).
always a star that you forgot to rub and break,
shined on your skin.
under my lips, they shined brighter than my world.
i swam to them as they stood in a world of darkness
in the shapes of you and me.
it is so odd
that in my constantly breaking and building and growing
brain and its images and meaning-
everything about you meant love.
i loved your flower hairpins and fake bullets
and the magazines of the the people you would rather be
and the window you glanced out of when didn’t want to look at me
and your back against mine.
it is odd
that i could love you so
even when i didn’t know why?
now that we both are standing lost
at this market to sell our heart.
now when you are just a silent mural,
i feel like pretending to miss you.
in fact, that is the only thing i do.
every day, i write something
that could make a better monster of you.
every night, i get better at shedding fake tears.
our love looks like a lost cause even now,
but it looks more beautiful
since there is nothing real about it anymore.
“it is all fiction”, i tell them.
“i am a liar”, i shout.
but they love me anyway.
they love me the way you should have,
you could have, it was the easiest thing to do.
there were so many easy things,
things that will never be easy again.
since, i have chosen the most ridiculous way to live
and the most difficult the way to die,
the only non-pathetic way to die in our love.
i crawl into another embrace,
scratch the surface of my fake love
to find something true.
is this what they call hope?
it must be.
the coffee turns cold as my story ends.
again i am wearing a skin i have stolen.
the one breathing beside me
has a knack for sad stories recited by happy girls,
of being a knight to one he doesn’t have to save.
i love drowning the world in sadness
(the only way i can take anyone’s breath away)
i love leaving loose ends,
leaving people behind-
i call it the fear of being left behind.
i have a list of similar innocent motivation
for every mess i make, for the mess i have become.
when he leaves
i throw away the coffee he never drinks.
i get over my urge to be seen for what i am.
i dip my fingers into another color
that he might like, or at least remember.
As they casually made a remark
about my incompetence,
I found I hated them more than I should.
Even if all their words were true,
even though I was lacking.
I wanted them to speak well of me.
Not only speak well of me
but to think well of me.
I never realized
that they loved everything I pretended to be
and mocked everything I truly was.
I thought they would
see past the ugliness of my words
and understand how much I struggled to be myself.
Did I want too much?
As they leave for the day, I smile.
Try my best to be the fake that they love so much,
try my best to never be myself.
As they leave,
as my heart tries not to break,
I ask myself,
How long can I love someone
who never saw anything in me worth loving?
“Yes, I do have plans for my future my dear aunt.”
I say, after I see her put her cup down and look at me
with sympathy and resentment.
“How can we not worry.
It is your future we are talking about.”
Actually, I never had these conversation,
at least not with my aunt.
I never had such an aunt to bother me.
But there are relatives and other faces
that I am hiding under the name of a non-existent aunt.
Sometimes it is me who is hiding under that name instead.
I am handed down spare maps
that I am supposed to study and follow.
Mark my route and choose someone
who could help me get up in the morning
even if it out of hatred.
I am sure it will be hatred
because I have seen no one one who has sorted their life
to wake up feeling that they have done it right.
My bitterness might make me seem like
a remainder of uneasy and uncomfortable families,
but it is not so.
There are just too many non-existent aunts in our house
who thinks we could have done better, chosen better,
if only we could get our act together
and stopped acting like the world owes us some kind of happiness.
This constant re-evaluation of life
and its result coming out as failure every time
makes everything we live with
and everyone we choose as a mistake.
What is this “better” that doesn’t let us live?
The morning drips from the hands of clock.
Soon there will arise a sky that tries its best not to look empty.
Soon people will walk about the streets
forgetting the sun that they had been waiting for,
forgetting the night they struggled to survive.
I almost collide with a person like that, like me,
who try their best
that their forgetfulness seems as genuine as possible
and rely on their faith that no one will be unkind enough
to give voice to what they see and know.
The longer I live, the aversion
I once had for all fakeness
is replaced with some kind of pity.