Morality

Covid may have put a damper on socialising but its been my much needed break from society, at large. Am I ready to be integrated? Hell no! Hm, one was always on the fringes, in any case. Unfortunately, the mind may be stabilising ( I think) but the body is erratic. Diastolic levels have been up for almost a month now, so they suggest I should go about relaxing and meeting people, of course sleeping and loosing weight as well but let’s just put that on the back burner, for now.

Spent yesterday, gallivanting through the different sectors of Gurugram, catching up with the people I hardly get to meet. I don’t know how relaxing human interactions are for me though they’re entertaining, once is a while. Especially when one is looking for an answer.

For the past two years, as I’ve taken a fine tooth comb and ran it through my existence, many a buried feelings have resurfaced and they make it difficult for me to sometimes even breathe. In one moment flashes of burnt clothes, then a heartbreak here and there, occasionally love… death constantly looms in the background and suddenly appears like a flash card, moving at the speed of light. Highly dramatic, I must say…interesting to experience this level of a loss of control, where the hands quiver and you’re anxious to the point of uselessness. Interesting as long as it doesn’t become the death of me. Heart attack ain’t the way I intend leaving…sinking or swimming? I have no clue, this is a different roller coaster ride.

Anyhow, to keep one relatively sane, when one gets overwhelmed with all of the intrinsic unravelling, then there are extrinsic questions that one looks up, to distract oneself with. For example, why are women so terrible to each other? The psychological view turns out to be much more interesting than the sociological one. Which is- men and women both are equally aggressive. We are by no means more peaceful. Men as we all know are physically more aggressive, which makes it far more obvious. The experts say, that all this gossiping , backbiting , gathering of support and what do they call it, damaging of reputations is actually our genders way of expressing that aggression towards one another. So it truly ain’t no different than two men brawling in the street, this is just much more tactful. Makes sense. Now, one knows why one appears overly confrontational to most people, especially women because we’ve been taught to tango around issues, not catch them by the horns and ask what the fuck? Oh, plus, good girls don’t say fuck off, they make calls, to people to plead their case. So, claims JP but apparently Jp and I can sometimes seem a bit misogynistic.

The other view, which is from a sociology 101, textbook is worth a read, as well. The understanding of why women, agree with the patriarchal values that run through their ecosystems. I kept wondering why literally every woman I know, was so against the stand that I took, which was, ‘ No I will not give up my right over my mum’s share because she did not want that and you can’t force me because I don’t have a penis!’ Some day, when I’ll be a kick ass woman, it may sound like a good story but it was hell to go through! For this reason, till date I have to listen to, ‘ she is eloping…she’s sold of her mum’s jewellery and given it to some man ( try taking something from me, then you’ll figure out, just how easy that is) ..she’s doing this that and the other…her father is starving’ lah, lah and blah, blah, blah. Trust me, many a times, I have looked at the roof and gone, ‘ oh! God please save me from these women!’ to which the reply has been, ‘suck it up, that’s what you pay for your privileges!’

But the 11th standard textbook has a better answer. The experts say, this is the only option that seems available to most because women are afraid of exactly this, that one was put through- Breaking of societal/ familial ties, seeming overly aggressive, being accused of being greedy and even loosing face infront of their husbands and in laws ( thankfully, one didn’t have to worry about that). So, apparently all women harbour resentment against being treated unfairly or unequally, yet they feel as if the only way to maintain kinship, is by agreeing and perpetuating the system that fails them. Thank the Lord, youngsters are being exposed to texts like this.

The other thing that’s being gnawing at me, is this middle class morality! The answer to which has been perfectly laid out to me by my male friends. At almost forty three now, one’s love life has always been under the microscope, since it’s more eventful than society permits women to have. But in my head, I could always do whatever I wanted and one came from a household where everyone was very open. So, sex seemed just what it is- a biological need. No fuss, no fancying it up and making it sacred. Henceforth, one is always bewildered by women’s curiosity about who is entering and what is coming out of another woman’s body. Men seem to be so much clearer about this. Love is- what you feel for someone. Sex is a biological need and marriage is a social contract. They don’t seem to intertwine all of it unnecessarily. I know people who love someone, so much that they can’t get their minds off those people yet they don’t marry them or meddle or mess with the other person’s life. I know men who have sex outside marriage and there is absolutely zilch love involved in that process and I know many a men and women who have sacrificed love for societal acceptance-marriage to a spouse who will be accepted by the family.

I know one thinks like a man and definitely acts like one but one always wonders how did a gender, that can bear children and period cramps, that is glorious, beautiful, destructive and vindictive beyond measure, how does society still manage to retain ownership of its mind, its vagina and its freedom? Sorry, mine ain’t up for grabs!

Silver Spoon

Do they not see that the spoon only looks silver but it’s actually wooden?

Do they not see that the golden spoon in her mouth is laced with slow poison, only she can taste?

Do they miss the cut on the side of the lip of the woman sitting in the fancy car that she tries to hide, unsuccessfully? Have her fancy clothes managed to hide away all her bruises?

Do the drenched silk sheets soak all her tears?

Do the terrors of lonely, unloved days, violence, abuse nor forced penetrations reflect in the vacant eyes of women covered in fineries?

Does the night not leave traces on our faces…do the glittering diamonds make our pain invisible?

Love

‘ Tu mujhse khafaa he to zamane ke liye aa. Ranjhish hi sahi, dil dukhane ke liye aa!’

‘Are you lonely these days? The songs you share on FB, give the impression you’re sad!’ asks my friend. ‘ Nope, I don’t feel lonely. I have books, music and the moon to keep me company.’

‘ Eventually, you’ll need someone to hang around, who’ll show up when you need him‘ they say. ‘ My male friends are there to hang out with, I can speak to them whenever I want plus I don’t need to meet anyone more than once a week.’ There are plenty of reasons apparently to look for love-loneliness ( if only) procreation ( don’t need any other person like myself prancing around the world), companionship ( that’s a laugh, check out Tinder, there are a dime a dozen married people on it) and sex ( technology is quite good at fulfilling all my needs). In all the glorification of matrimony and henceforth love, no one conveniently mentions convenience.

All relationships are based on convenience, that’s an indisputable fact. We need someone to talk to, whose around to split responsibilities with, who is there when we want to go out…I don’t know how much of it is habitual, practicality, acquisition and how much of it is a matter of the heart. As for love- Love ends in tragedy in any case- either through separation, death or marriage.

I love the idea of love, don’t get me wrong. The high of the first year, I wish I could remain on that forever. Plus, we are khandani aashiqs. There were three elopements in my mum’s generation and some of my brothers have done the kind of things for their women, books are written about.

As for me, before I became obsessed with the younger ones, some of the men I went out with have done some of the most romantic things for me. The relationships failed because come on, it ain’t easy to have with one a neurotic, self indulgent person who does exactly as she pleases. After my mum’s death a friend who thought he had fallen for me came to the house and had a chat with my dad. My father was so disappointed, the next day he said to me, ‘ your mama’s told me they would shoot me if I entered Jammu, they actually had guns and they had the temperament to do that. What kind of cowards do you find?’ I don’t know about him, since one wasn’t interested but my failed relationships have taught me- Cowardly women, afraid of love tend to attract cowardly men, incapable of action.

But having said that I too would have loved to be the hero of my own love story just like my mum, haaii, but that never happened. I too want my daughter to someday, tell a prospect-‘ meri ma ne nasaya si mere pyoon ni, defiance is ingrained in the blood. We don’t wait to be rescued from the tower, we ride on the horse and get our men ourselves!’ But alas! it ain’t meant to be.

As the number of Covid cases come down and I’m asked to rethink dating, it seems like a highly risky task. Earlier I would check out the moves and think to myself, ‘ that’s to get into my pants. Now, I just go, yup, that’s to get a job or a house.’ One’s especially, afraid now that one has also gone and written about the BPD on a public platform. With the number of swindling instances and divorce cases, where women get accused of suffering mental illnesses so that the man can get away with anything, some jackass could take me for a real ride. Plus prenuptial agreements are null and void as under the Hindu law, marriage isn’t considered a contract! ‘There are many a men who are falsely accused of demanding dowry. By this logic, everyone would live as hermits and no one would trust anyone!’ they say. Touché.

Truth is, I could say anything and write anything to convince myself but I’m a freaking coward. The stone has gathered too much moss and the rolling that it did earlier, was so unnecessary not regrettable but avoidable that the effort required to clean up and start again, seems so damn enormous. Maybe, no one seems worth the effort or maybe I’m just waiting to find my moonshot. The one impossible love, I could risk everything for!

Piece of my heart

Dear Love,

Years pass by…everything changes but nothing really does. Though, each time I find you slipping away from my memory, I touch my chin and there you are, going ‘chi chi’ as if I’m a toddler needing to be amused.

I hardly pass by the cremation ground these days. …I’m not supposed to (docs orders, to let all four of you go). You of course are the hardest to stop clinging to, of all those who occupy my heart. The one person I loved without the fear of loosing, who looked at me as if I was the queen of it all, my confidant and most importantly the bridge between me and the rest of the world. How well you navigated through this world- calmly and always detached from the drama around us! ‘Why do you care? Just stop reacting. Iss jungli suar ke gusse ko control kar!’ By the way calling someone a wild boar, is highly disrespectful! You would be amazed at the way I would spiral out of control and I was confused by your ability to sleep through it all.

I miss you more than usual these days. When I’m sad I want to see you pretty face but when I’m saner or happier, I want to see it more. The shrink said to me the other day, ‘ you’re making progress…you want to bring someone to meet me, so we can plan, the days when you struggle?’ ‘ The only person who would have understood is dead and the rest are trying to convince me this is bullshit. So no thanks!’ Remember the last year of your life, you got help from M. We were both a little frailer than most, I guess.

I was sitting in a cafe, in Kashmir a few weeks ago. As I looked out of the window at the Dal, sipping my coffee in this quaint place, I recalled how your friend SG, would pull your leg. ‘Diya at forty will be reading a book and sipping coffee by herself in Ladakh and Dusty will call her, ‘ Diyu my kids are troubling me, come and scold them!’ and she’ll rush back!’ Forty two love, all alone, sipping coffee by herself but you’re not there to fight for. These day, one fights for oneself though. It took them a while to figure out, this one is programmed a little different. ‘ This is bad for your mental well being. Do it so you can sleep well…do it for this that and the other.’ Then they said ‘babies’ and I said bring it on. I wish I could make a few like you but considering my luck and our genes, I shouldn’t take that chance. Imagine, if they turn out to be like me, freaking horror show…no…no..no!

Over lunch a couple of weeks ago, a friend was talking about how men are and I said the men in our house weren’t dominating. ‘ Maybe your brother was a little docile because you’re like this. He must have been giving you space to be yourself!’, I guess, he was trying to make sense of my aggression. ‘ I wasn’t always like this!’ is all I could say. You weren’t there to tell him how I was or how we were as kids, growing up the way we did. Totally different and yet connected, almost completing one another. You -more in touch with your feminine side, mostly in the company of women, peaceful, practical and level headed. Me-with my high testosterone levels, in love with high speeds, chase and drama, perpetually getting into trouble with the parents, hating the whole world and it’s mother other than you (and whichever man I was involved with at the time). Now, when I look back, not only was I fiercely protective but almost territorial about you. Sometimes, I wonder, is loosing you to death more painful or would loosing you to life have been more difficult for me?

Myths Regarding Mental Health

youtube.com/watch

Though we have someone like Deepika Padukone, trying to create awareness about mental health, the stigma around it is terrible. I saw an interview where she admitted, ‘ I was on set, working and no one knew what was going on!’ I’ve had people, try to convince a person (me) who has innumerable cut marks on the body, whose stomach has been pumped for overdosing on pills twice before she even hit eighteen and who goes days at a time, not getting out of bed and still struggles with masochistic tendencies that ‘psychologists’ are just trying to swindle my money and that’s how the ‘spiritually inclined take advantage of weak people such as myself’ and ‘other people have bigger problems but they don’t succumb’. Oh yeah, this is a classic, ‘ if you remain busy, you won’t have the time to think negative thoughts’ and ‘this is what happens when you’re an atheist!’. Please watch this. Don’t send it to the ignorant souls surrounding you because your well being is probably not on their mind. But do seek help.

After struggling for decades with my condition, mostly denying it in order to remain ‘sane’, it’s only now that I realize, accepting is the best way to deal with it. One’s benefitted a great deal from therapy over the past six months…the only reason I don’t write about it or share anything about it anymore is due to the terrible push back, scrutiny and criticism, my seeking help has gotten me from ( most of my) friends and family, who read about it on this platform. I hope you have support and even if you don’t there are loads of strangers out there who will help you…as long as you’re willing to help yourself. Godspeed.

Love

So one’s been cooped in my office in the factory since Saturday. Sick as a dog…the test results were negative but sick nevertheless, with fever, a headache and a soar throat. Started shivering during the night shift and didn’t go home. Since one is the only person I know off, whose only taken a single shot, I’m told one needs to be extra careful. Of course, these days one always keeps medicines around, so recovering steadily.

Like the way, one is perpetually turned on since one’s hit forty ( hormones I guess), same way one seems to be perpetually high on the idea of love these days. Mere dimaag mein jo blockbuster film chalti he na, Sallu bhai’s 300 crore film would look like a SatyaJit Ray in comparison. Why do you think I’m so bored by the rest of the world? I’m like, not enough drama…go away dude. I’ll entertain myself! Just kidding. Come on man, bear with me. I could wake up a few people I know at half one and go, ‘what’s upppp?’ but I should start growing up a little. Teeny, tiny bit, let’s not overshoot.

Kahan the hum? Hai ishq! Kashmir ki jab bhi hava lagti he, my mind starts floating on cloud nine, not that it ever walks on the surface of this earth…in the realm of reality. But somehow it stays in lah lah land longer. Then Satte pe satta plays on the tele and Ali Bachchan is serenading Hema Malini with ‘Dilbar mere!’ and all the teenage romantic cells in my body get charged. Hai, I always want to be him in the film, i’ve never imagined myself as the babe whose being serenaded. What is this bakvas crap, women are told, ‘ be with someone who loves you more than you love him!’ Wow, so that when they stop loving you, everything is over? Be with someone you love more, then most of how it shapes up is your decision. My mum loved my Dad more than he could have ever loved her, someday, my babies will say, ‘ mum got on a tempo and got dad! Not the other way around!’ The way I tell people, ‘my mum made my father elope…she was all of four feet six inches but she was the alpha.’

So much for inna, meena, deeka, alpha, beta, theta…I’m not drunk! Sick and a little homesick, I guess….I miss Kashmir….always but a little more tonight….

Happy New Year

The year of learnings passed by and somehow miraculously by God’s grace and the support of a few friends and loads of strangers, one managed to survive. One seems to have lost a lot but as the year ended one realized, one had gained as much. One learned lovely lessons about self love, care and worth and one gained a perspective that was beyond just one own’s self interest. One has much to learn about oneself and the world but by oneself, when you’re in the deep end you have two choices- sink or swim. Turns out I ain’t ready to sink, just about yet.

Of course the various therapies helped, in some way or the other but more than that Kashmir grounds one more than anything else. If you are an indulgent, depressive, privileged brat like myself one trip to Kashmir, gives you a reality check. Fatak se thapad and one’s dragged out of the hole one tends to fall into. Then of course, Jordan Peterson has also slapped the melancholy straight out of me. So, one’s rearing to go! Looking forward to what this year will bring.

One of the wisest lessons one learnt was when you feel like shit, try to make someone else feel better and that works like magic. That’s what made New Year’s Eve such a memorable night. Met a few people during the week but didn’t think, I wanted to be around anyone in particular on the last night of the year. Since, the workers at the factory are away from their families ( and almost as alone as I sometimes imagine myself to be) I thought I would throw a party for them, so I cooked them a meal. They were thrilled and how. The photographs they all kept clicking and the dancing on the street to Bhojpuri songs I will always remember but the most memorable part about the night was this-

This young lad lives close to the factory. For reasons one doesn’t want to disclose, people are rather nasty to him. He and I are now buddies, so I invited him, too. I think when he turned up in his red sweater and told me, that’s he’s informed his mum that he’s going for a party, till kingdom comes I think I’ll remember that look on his face. Ahh, that made New Year’s Eve-priceless! Shared a drink with Bhaskarji, chatted with a few friends and was off to bed.

The father was sleeping so. he missed out on the fun. ‘ Happy new year Dad! I hope you spend some time with your child this year!’ I teased him this morning. ‘My child is a 42 year old woman not a six year old girl, who needs my time.’ Some things don’t change however many years pass by so I’m guessing we’ll continue to pull each other’s leg this year, as well.

One came to the factory to spend the weekend, at work but stepped out for an hour to celebrate the 1st day of the year, with the one person who entertains me the most- moi. A lovely meal at Swagat where a man sung- ‘iss shahar mein kiss se mile? Humse to chuti mehfale!’ made me think- one rarely is part of the mehfil but one has a good time, nevertheless.

Here’s hoping one continues to make the most of any situation, continues to enjoy one’s own company and becomes grateful for the people who are there. Not just the friends but the domestic help, who yells into the phone when I’m travelling- ‘ Davayee khai he ke nahin?’ and the worker, who makes me a cup of tea whenever he sees me weeping in a corner or the little boy who keeps waiting for me to show up and grins at me the way my brother would, eyes all lit up. There’s much to be thankful for. My Dad says, ‘ people are just trying to isolate us by gossiping about us incessantly!’ but I always tell him, ‘ people can ostracise you, they can try to bully you ( and fail) they can call up everyone you know, each and every person but no one can isolate you. That one does to one self because realistically there are a billion people, you can connect with, so that ain’t happening.’

Here’s to new connections, kinship and hope. This year is going to be ammmmmaaaaaziiing!

Gratitude

Sometime during the year, someone asked me what am I grateful for and one was pissed off and angsty, so of course one had the choicest things to say. Ya, ya, I know, one is a royal pain in the butt but relatively honest, you have to grant me that. So if I’m angry every fibre of my being- from my hair to my toe will scream that it’s pissed and it wouldn’t care if it makes me look bad, it is what it is. Pretending to be pleasant and nice ain’t my trip in life! But having said that Jannat-e- Kashmir meri jaan, has a calming effect on the raging bull, so one’s ending the year, on a happy note. Here’s what I’m thankful for-

1) For my Amma- In retrospect it’s so much easier to forget pain and just remember the good stuff. Death and distance do tend to glorify people a bit but as I struggled with my mind this year, one got to re-examine my mum’s life almost as much as my own and however she lacked as a mum she was a class apart as a human being. I’ll always be grateful for having had the privilege to witness the life of someone, who was so different-depressive and joyous, loving and violent, doing exactly what she pleased yet never being indifferent. Truly, a character worth knowing.

2) To these crazy ships- I think it was somewhere around May, when one started to question everything. Existential angst came to hit me with a bang. Everybody kept telling me to find someone and somehow married people look so out of love to me, that nothing inspired me to tie that noose around my neck. Somehow, the cynical me, chanced upon Jikook and Larry Stylinson and yes, I know I’m not a sixteen year old girl but there’s something so enticing about forbidden love, that one was hooked and how. My daily dose of watching videos of closeted gay couples and a little bit of thinking about Shabnam Hashmi and Gauhar Raza, has kind of rekindled my life long romance with the idea of love. Not that one is looking, far from it but it’s nice to not growl at the idea of it, at least. Don’t you think all great love stories are essentially about fighting against ‘them’-family, society, world, injustice, whatever gives you an adrenaline rush? Or maybe like they ask , ‘Is it separation or is it marriage that’s worse for love?’ The jury’s out on that one nevertheless we are starting to love the idea of love, again.

3) The wonderful insights- One’s bumped into many people this year who helped me more than they’ll know. Their valuable insights about-life, femininity, grief, strength, rights, love, even about me as an individual helped me a great deal and one is truly grateful.

4) Realizations- One is apparently, very self critical, so very rarely can anyone tell me something terrible about myself that I don’t actually know. But two things really stood out- someone told me I was being very touchy about anyone calling me a photographer and that was on point.Months passed by and I couldn’t shoot, so I was being highly sensitive about it. One thought one would never be able to shoot again, so that comment really made me work on the problem. The second comment came from my father. He was explaining something about the business to me, about always having a backup plan and in the midst of this serious discussion he smiled and said, ‘you know everything about it! Since your teenage years, you’ve always kept a back up plan!’ Honestly, it was terrible and yet so true. I always thought, I was the queen of the rebound because I was just commitment phobic but shit I’m more cowardly than I ever admitted to myself. When I look back at all my relationships, I realize, I always expected them to fail. Going in, my subconscious strategy was, this is going to end sooner or later, what will I do next? If ever there’s a next time, I have to think it’s going last.

5) Friends- The one’s who miraculously, have had my back the past two years. To go against the tide and have someone’s back when no one is by their side requires real spine. Respect! It hasn’t been easy, in fact like they say ‘ the best part about the worst time of your life is that you get to see the true colours of everyone around you.’ Wow, what a revelation it has been! For helping me hold on to my sanity, for showing up, for the scoldings , the coaxing and the fussing, thank you mere gine chune, chindi chor, dosto you all know who you are! Tum jaise ——ka sahara he dosto!

6) The detractors- For all those whose lives are so uninteresting that they spend so much time discussing mine, plotting, recording, trying to hack my phone, trying to link my articles to porn sites, thank you. Iss kaneez ko itni importance, wah! It’s made me realize, I’m truly blessed to have so many things to occupy my brain, tongue and time with. It’s a privilege one’s truly starting to feel chuffed.

7) Karma and the Lord- Karma has been quite kind to me and Khudda ke to hum entertainment channel hai hi! Barring the times I’m bloody pissed with him, he keeps me good company on solitary nights.

So on this X’mas day, this is my gratitude list. Since one’s always a bad girl of course Santa, didn’t come down the chimney but in my old age I’ll try, to be good, just to see what the damn fuss is all about! He might pay me a visit then.

Another one

Dear Love,

Time passes like it does and before you start to think that just because I don’t pass by the cremation ground, everyday, I’m beginning to forget you…it ain’t so. You’re in my blood, up in the sky, even in the mirror…sometimes. But I can’t pass by that place, everyday now, it gets to me. For sometime, I need a break from death.

I was told recently, by someone who practices reflexology that my body still carries the trauma of loosing you. Who can really tell, what kind of trauma we all carry? But one does, curse you everyday, asshole! Since the cuteness quotient in this house has been reduced to zilch, after mum, it’s quite the haunted house, now. Ironic, you were the muh mangi dua and one was the ansuni faryaad…the one that can’t be his…I’m still told every few days and you’re gone and one is still here. Well, we all need our villains, I’m making you mine. Okay?

Your childhood friend Rohan came over with his mum, to meet us. Unfortunately, neither of us were home. Very considerate of him, the last time Dad met him was at your cremation. Goodwill, they say carries beyond death. Sometimes, it makes sad, though. You were wonderful, God knows only our mum and Jimin could compete with your cuteness but our mom was even warmer. It’s heartbreaking when women aren’t spared, even when they’re gone.

Our really sweet relatives, were here from Hyderabad and very patiently, Uncle was trying to give me some life lessons about running the unit, about marriage and how I’m not thinking about my future. He was so concerned and sweet, I was really touched. Not once did he mention, quitting the business or going away, in fact he kept saying, ‘you can bring someone well educated, home!’. I liked him so much, that Dad kept telling me, ‘you’re doing naatak infront of him!’ Well, he never did figure out about our mum and I, that we reciprocated and multiplied whatever we were given.

It’s sweet, all of them think, there’s some Kashmiri boy I’m going to marry and probably I need a nudge in that direction. That’s hilarious. Wild horses, will have to drag me down that path. As for Kashmiri boys, they’re cute and most of them display spine but other than the one who got tattooed on my body, a long, long time ago…I doubt anyone else is making a way into my heart. I’m told about time, I let the past go, with all its losses before it renders me useless. You, mum, him and of course the one I clung to for dear life, just a little so that I can see what is in front of me. Well, in front of me, there are are men who look at me and see your father’s stuff. So invariably directorship, job, moving into this house, are spun in nicely into the conversation, when I meet someone, new. I ain’t falling for that, what do I do? Some of them are funny, though. I went on a trip, recently and as usual I spent more time around the men. So, one night I’m weeping in bed and outside I hear one guy tell another, ‘ I was so good, I was talking to her…I even played with a dog and gave him biscuits but I got nothing!’ I know I should be offended but I thought it was hilarious. I missed you so much that night because only you and I could be amused by this honest declaration.

So, the future doesn’t look very promising but it is what is. There’s too much to take care of right now to worry about love. In any case, between the unrequited and the familial one, all corners, someone complained seem to be occupied. Will make some space I’ve promised myself. Let’s see, if I manage to.

How does it get better?

After a long time I caught up with the girls, today. The conversation drifted from this, that, to the other and somehow landed on depression. A friend was feeling a little low, so it steered to the taboo topic and I shared with them, that I’d been taking help for a while, now. ‘ Do these sessions help?’, they asked. That is a highly debatable topic.

So I’m thinking about this, sitting on my couch in the factory- Did all of it help? Nope. Was some of it a waste of money? Yes! Was it a waste of time? Not at all and time dearies, is what one considers most precious ( now you know why stingy me, spends such little of it with other people). One’s flirtatious by nature, so one doesn’t mind the quest. But if you’re looking for sure shot, quick fixes then don’t go down the path, that I did. The quickest and most effective way, they say is medication, which I hope to God, I don’t have to take in this lifetime. But considering how things are, menopause is going be the decider. The things that helped me to pull myself out of sheer helplessness and the worst kind of suicidal thoughts, I’d had in a long time was self analysis and the most rotten things I could say to myself.

1) Affirmations-Ironic as that may sound, my overthinking, self critical brain is supposed to be my biggest problem but SB needs to give SC an ass whopping, so that worked for me. When I was younger I would actually hurt myself (don’t try it). But as a grown up- ‘I’m so peaceful…so good, lad lad di dah!’ all those affirmations don’t work on me. Criticism….works like magic. But try them, affirmations work on most people most of the times. You’ll find enough- Day Meditations and Night Meditations on YouTube, Calm or any Music App for that matter. Louis Hay is the queen of it all!

2) Meditate- Breathing in, breathing out, when you’re agitated may work on some people but my brain gets damn pissed. So I’ll be sitting with my eyes closed and ‘ what is this?’ plays on my mind on a loop. Try meditating, it helps most people. Nature has a calming effect on me, especially water bodies, tend to suck out bucket loads of my angst. I think, the most profound effect, any kind of meditation other than the Sufi whirl has had on me, was a mediation session that was conducted in Rishikesh. I released more pain sitting on a rock, weeping, than in any counselling session.

3) Know your madness- Depression is the most loosely used word these days. There are various kinds of mood and mental disorders. So, if you don’t feel like yourself, talk to an expert because trust me most human beings are not only ignorant and ill informed, they’re also judgemental as hell. The classic signs, loosing weight, sadness etc are easy to diagnose but there are many different symptoms, so the opposite like gaining weight, severe agitation, disturbed sleep and fatigue, go undetected. Plus postpartum depression, bipolar, borderline, anxiety, trauma, schizophrenia can’t be diagnosed by a lay person. In my case, thankfully, my mum was correctly diagnosed after much trial and error. So, the doctors knew the history plus it’s easier for me to catch myself slipping, it’s manageable because I saw my mum. My diagnosis, too has been a rollercoaster from Trauma to Boderline Personality to Bipolar because it takes a while to narrow it down. Meds for most of these and even Epilepsy are the same.. so it varies between shrink to shrink. Trust me your neighbourhood aunty, doesn’t know you better than you know yourself. If you don’t watch yourself, one day they’ll say you’re feigning it…after a few years they’ll give you shocks and I’m terrified of that shit. You don’t want to end up like Kanye or like my mum, in a psychiatric ward for that matter.

4) Surround yourself with life affirming individuals- This is the key. There’s a very interesting quote, by Freud, to the effect- ‘before you diagnose yourself with depression, make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes!’ I agree. Most people, most of the times are afraid to live their lives according to their own rules. So they tend to follow everything that society, religion, and their parents have dumped on them. Most people are like Mary’s little lamb. If you’re one of those, surround yourself with like minded people they’ll do wonders for your self esteem. But if you’re not, find your crazies. A handful are good enough, to get you through the madness of this existence without loosing your shit. My male friends have held on to my sanity, for me the past two years by showing up, to cheer me up or just for a quick drive, even a quick pep talk. So, find your people. The wisest thing someone said to me recently about feeling torn between two things- ‘ Think that photography is your passion and the factory is your work and security. You’ll be able to do justice to both!’

5) Be inspired- Books are more inspiring than people for me. But in reality, there are everyday heroes all around us. A few weeks ago, I went through my friend list on Fb and found more than a few hundred women, just from my own list whose stories are incredible. I sat and went through a few timeliness and was awe struck by their grit and awesomeness- artists, intellectuals, journalists, activists, models, mothers and businesswomen, just kicking ass. What struck a chord, was someone who lost both her parents, at an early age, is a director of more than ten private limited firms and successfully manages not only her father’s travel business but also her own beauty business. So, everything is doable. As the saying goes- If you want to travel, don’t take the advice of someone who hasn’t left their house.

6) Follow a religion- Coming from me, it sounds rather hypocritical but religion has some great benefits. Confession I think is good for the soul, meeting for a Sunday mass can give you a sense of community, doing wazoo five times a day can calm your mind, it’s also great for your skin. Then namaz of course is a great form of exercise akin to yoga. Seva is the easiest way to feel better about your self and your life by being useful to someone else. Sitting in a temple activates the chakras and ringing the bells can remove negative thoughts. I think one of the reasons so many of us struggle emotionally is because we don’t follow a path, that guides us in our times of trouble. I don’t follow a particular path but one tends to use many of these methods and tries to find answers from various sources. If you follow a particular religion and can dismiss anything that seems outdated from it and follow the things that are relevant, more can be found in those books than anywhere else.

7) Let Jordan Patterson give you an ass whopping- So, one of the most controversial figures on the Internet, hated by feminists or anyone who isn’t right wing, is someone who has ironically helped me, loads. I like tough love….it works on me. I don’t agree with his views on monogamy and he does come across as intolerant and conservative at times but a lot of what he writes and says, helps. My biggest takeaway, has been- ‘ always be the most useful person in the room!’ and ‘take on more responsibility’. I like anyone who doesn’t ask you to shirk you responsibilities towards others or towards yourself. It’s harder but doable.

8) Create- Make some music, create a piece of art or redo a house. I tried all, other than photography, which seems to be the most effected whenever I struggle, emotionally. The rest helped. Give it a shot. It may not turn out to be a Van Gogh but we ain’t ready to cut off anything just about yet. Find solace in the fact, that most people with mental illness, who refuse to take medication are in fact artists.

Snap out of it

‘Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.’

It’s strange how patterns reappear in a person’s life. It’s the Universe’s way of telling you to sort yourself out. Some may look at them as punishments and others as do overs. I think the Universe…Karma…God (whatever you call the trip you’re on) are quite gracious with chances. One’s always believed- Tu nahi to koi aur sahi, koi aur nahi to koi aur sahi. You can either have the mentality of scarcity or of abundance. One has to choose, at some point to either follow the trodden path, be afraid that if one screws up, everything will come to an end or to say ‘well, back to drawing board…let’s begin again!’

I think the latter, is more fun, no? It’s a life long adventure. ‘ Subject is prone to dealing with things through hit and trial method’ says the psychological profiling! Well, just read a synopsis of subject’s life and know there are more misses than hits but it has been one helluva ride. One got a great kick on my butt, recently or like my friend’s say, ‘someone pricked your ego and we’ve been waiting for that to happen, for months, so that you’ll snap out of this depressive mind frame’. Someone, I’ve known for almost three decades, called up around a month ago and said all kinds of stuff to me but the best thing he did for me, was he uttered these words. ‘ You’re having such a hard time, I think in a couple of years, you must move out of Delhi!’ In that moment, I didn’t think much of it. I just went, ‘ya, ya, we’re thinking about taking up a place in Goa.’ I’ve always wanted a getaway home, but Kashmir is an impossibility now. It’s too unsafe. So, one should be looking at getting a place in Kochi or Goa, at some point, in time.

Of course, as I get to know, how I get to know things, I did get to know what the intentions were. But it made me think- if at the lowest ebb of your life, the people you have surrounded yourself with, your entire life, ask you to run, there’s something off there. So, you got to take a fine tooth comb and run it through your existence and figure shit out. Now, a lot of people who’ve known me a long time, also say the exact opposite of what they want me to do ( my fault, I’m like a rebellious child: one usually does the exact opposite of what I’m told) so then again I need to re-examine my behaviour. Now, if I take the words on face value, that means I’ve surrounded myself with people who can’t face crap and so they are giving me advice based on what they would do! Which means I got to re-examine my choices in life. Irrespective, of what it may be, intense self reflection is obviously required.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an eternal escapist! You should see me, when I come face to face with a man who likes me and wants to commit. I’ll run in every possible direction. But at some point you got to catch the bull by the horns. At some point you got to let your past mistakes make you wiser and not bitter. Months of therapy and almost two years of being stuck in my head, didn’t help me as much as, those kind or not so kind words did. Rebuild baby…rise!

An Ode To A Love That Shouldn’t Have Been

Let’s pretend this is a monologue akin to the many you and I have indulged in, where I would speak/write and get no response. It’s not a complaint, you get what you give and many who knew me before you, would accuse me of the same kind of non reactiveness that can drive another person nuts.

‘ I’ll get over it when the fat lady sings!’, I kept telling myself. I didn’t know, it would take so long and I hear it’s going to happen, soon. Somebody popped on my friend’s suggestion on FB and I figured from the common friends: that’s who it is! She seems sweet- like you and tailor made, to adjust to the family. After all these years, this seems to be the best time to really let you go. I’ve held on to you- clung to you for dear life, ever since I met you. Not just during all those years, when we knew each other but up until, now. Was I hoping you would come back? Na, I knew that was an impossibility. Did I want you to? Not as a man in my life- I’m going to end up with someone who looks at me like I’m a Christmas tree and I loved you too much, for me to fake a friendship. Can’t be friends with exes you carry residual love for, that’s just asking for trouble. So, I didn’t know why I wasn’t letting you go!

Up until, I trekked up to a water fall, with someone who knew you and we ended up having a chat about how wonderful you are! It turns out to be guilt. Yup, I hate to admit it, love yes, but more guilt. You would assume, that it’s because of how it ended but it’s not, because for that I have to feel guilty about a love that saved me from drowning…it’s for the way it started. The beginning they say determines the end. In our case it was just as terrible!

The onus of the disaster, that was unfortunately your first real relationship, will always be on me. They say, ‘Talli do hathon se bajti he!’ Na, when you’re in a relationship with a child and I don’t mean in terms of age ( well you were twenty and I was twenty five) but in terms of mindset, sheltered upbringing and barely any real exposure to women, the responsibility of not getting into it, is on you. But you were just so raw and cute, like a rugged version of Diljit Dosanjh right out of a pind. ‘ Tujse naraz nahi zindagi, heran hu mein?’ would play on mind, sometimes when I would look at you. Innocent and how! We were so different and yet you were so perfect, that inspite of my gut instinct telling me to run in the opposite direction, I just couldn’t.

How much Dustu, tried to explain to me, that I was just replacing him with you, like my maternal instincts have always been off the chart and I needed someone to mother. But I didn’t and you already had too many maternal figures. It’s not like all my options weren’t open at that time…it’s not like you were the most handsome man I ever laid eyes on. You weren’t the smartest or the richest either, like people have accused me. In fact, I would have had to adjust to your lifestyle, when I met you. But you were the kindest man I’d met and you were as nice to people who had less as you were to people who had more. That’s priceless. You didn’t smoke, you didn’t drink, you prayed and loved everyone. Plus, I’d always had a thing for mumma’s boys. They say, we look for what we aren’t in a partner and that’s what you were, the exact opposite- nice, kind, stable and most importantly came with a loving family. The black sheep had finally found the chunga munda, with ironically fair skin ( you know how obsessed my family is with it).

I ofcourse never got the same approval ratings from yours but I never have ( other than twice)…that’s on me, not on them. Plus, after loosing Dustu and especially after loosing Mum, I can understand their fear. My Dad, is as paranoid about someone enticing me for the wrong reasons. Did it all make me feel really insecure and undesired? Yes! Did the fact that it was never really a ‘let’s meet my friends’ or ‘this is my partner’ or lack of pubic display, make me really uneasy and unsure? Yes! Did the lack of intimacy, make it worse? Yes! Did the pressure after Dustu get to me? Yes! Is that an excuse? No.

I should have walked out and I did try. Right after the Singapore trip, I did call it quits. But it seems it was never really off the table. Not completely and totally. So it was complicated and screwed up and I should have been stronger and wiser. But I wasn’t! I was desperate, you were my last chance at redemption, it seems. The bad girl found the good boy and had a happy ending. But she couldn’t because her happy ending was supposed to be by herself!

My regret comes from corrupting you. You were a nice boy, who did the right things and thought the right way when I met you and I saw you transform into a man I couldn’t recognise. I wish it would have been for the better. My instability, I always feel rubbed off on you, while we were together. You couldn’t make me like you but I did make you a little like myself. That’s why I regret it. I regret I met you, not because of what it did to my life. My life would have ended this way, in any case. It’s what it did to yours! The one good thing is that through it all, I was brutally honest! You couldn’t stand to hear the things I had to say and I couldn’t take the things you hid! I did very dramatically, curse you for it, the last time I stormed out of your house, ‘ I know, you know and God knows what you did! It doesn’t matter what the world says…we’ll see how it goes!’ When I heard how things ended for you, I felt bad I said that. When I saw you last…you seemed to be the ghost of the boy, I once knew. That boy who hit me on my forehead to show affection, laughed uncontrollably, had to be held back by four men during a fight and listened to loud Punjabi music, the boy I looked at and thought, ‘ those are the best genes for my babies’….I will always love that boy but he no longer, exists. He grew up to be someone else. But the rest of you…I’m letting go off. I hope somewhere in the future , a few decades down the line…we can be friends. May new love bring you luck, a sense of direction, stability, the ability to take a stand and make you the best version of yourself. Love and light…now and forever.

P.S- you’ll probably not see this for years to come. But someday, when we’ll be old and grey, we’ll be sharing a drink and reading this. You surrounded by your family and I’ll probably be with a few cats.

Soul Searching

After months of therapy, one realized that the only way to get over one’s antisocial ways, is to take the plunge and just jump into the pot. Excuse my language ( or not) that’s what most public gatherings feel like to moi, as if I’m being thrown into a pot of boiling oil, nothing about it will leave one unscarred.

But turns out I was wrong. I head out on a journey will thirty eight people…some of them I knew but to one, everyone seems like a stranger, these days. Was it smooth sailing…not really, it never is…even as a child I kept to oneself. With age, that hasn’t changed very much, plus, I understand the world as little as it seems to understand me, I guess. My mask is all pokey and right there in everyone’s faces to see, their masks…don’t exist. My brutal honesty seems too harsh and their best foot forward, makes me highly suspicious of most people. So, one does tend to stand out like a sore thumb.

Having said that, this was the best place to be a sore thumb. The spiritually inclined, may be as corrupted as us lesser mortals but some are more accepting of people’s flaws. Some of them tend to take us lost souls, under their wings and connect with us on a deeper level, others not so much. But if you don’t throw yourself into the mix, you do miss out on experiences and learnings that are essential to one’s healing and growth. One’s wept more than one has in the past year. A lovely soul, conducted a water meditation and so much of one’s pent up emotions just came to the surface. For a change SC, who remains well hidden, came out to play. So a few people actually told me that, ‘I’m so nice’. Nice, is the last adjective anyone would use to describe me. Eccentric, stubborn as an ox, moody, bitchy, flirtatious, muhfat, badtameez, yes, nice…absolutely not! Then I figured it’s the CJM, thing. Anyone whose been educated in a convent school, will say thank you, sorry, will reach out to help…it’s our natural instinct, it’s like we are on auto pilot mode. It’s the Convent upbringing, like CJMites discuss, which has been drilled into us by the nuns. Nice people on the other hand, will do stuff they don’t want to do and they’ll be polite. One’s anything but. To get a yes out of me, for anything is seriously tough. I didn’t shoot the entire trip, even if people asked me to, I couldn’t. I’m blocked. I was there for something else and I got lots of that. Met a couple of people, who were so generous with their time and healing, that it really helped me.

On the other hand, barring the healing I had a good time, too. One has always had more male friends, I work with more men, teach more men, hang around them, sit like them and think a lot like them. They say, every man has a feminine side and each woman has a masculine side. Mere andar ek chichora 14 saal ka ladka he, jo kabhi bada nahi ho sakta aur mere andar ki aurat sou rahee he. One avoids drinking too much these days because one tends to get very emotional. Alcoholism in any case runs in the family and one’s emotionally fraught. But this was a ‘safe space’, so one drank and smoked, a bit, chilled out…met some people I absolutely adored, instinctively. I met someone, who reminded me of my Dad…totally bindaas, flirtatious and opinionated. A much older friend of mine, would very sweetly hold onto my hand, whenever I met him, at this bookstore and tell me how, men never really grow up. Then I saw men of all ages, under one roof and realised that neither they nor I will ever grow up!

The older women too, were precious. They were a bit concerned about my smoking, which I thought was really sweet….koi hakk jamata he tokne ka, to iss ka matlab he unko farak padta he aap ka. In an indifferent world, concern is a precious gift. I don’t smoke infront of my Dad, though he knows that I do…I didn’t want to infront of them, either. Some consider it hypocrisy, I don’t. A gentle soul also made me realize, how little I’ve been touched in the past year. I think the first night when we were talking, he just touched my arm, I kept backing off. I was so afraid, that if someone held onto me long enough, I would burst into tears.

By the end of the trip, people were sitting on my lap…forget touching, I was hugging. God, it’s been a while! But the real reason, I think God, made me go on this trip was because I needed to see mothers and daughters together and cry to sleep every night. I was supposed to get up each morning and somehow drag myself into a room full of people, when all I wanted to do was crawl under a freaking rock. I was supposed to bump into people who somehow knew my ex and have them discuss what went wrong with other people. The assumption being what went wrong was an older man! Wrong guess! I was supposed to realize that ‘if you found the perfect man and you fucked it up, you realize you’re just bad at relationships! So why waste anytime on them.’ As soon as I said that to a stranger, while we were trekking up to a waterfall, it occurred to me that, maybe I need imperfect and flawed like myself and not a nice, ideal man!

I realized I may know myself very well, in fact they say one’s- ‘too aware and forthcoming of one’s flaws’ but one’s not very accepting of them. I learnt that I got to stop apologising for my privileges. One can’t go through life, underplaying it to make other people comfortable or to feel safer, around them. I saw the best of human nature- besides the fun and frolic, kindness- people I barely spoke to through out the trip, looking out for me, as my blood pressure fluctuated and I felt sick on the bus and making sure I was well taken care off…making sure I wasn’t left behind. This trip, has kept my Dad on the edge. He’s seen me go through so many boys in my teenage years without blinking an eyelid, but after mum and last year’s disaster, he’s suddenly very worried, some man will entice me, into marriage as if I’m an eighteen year girl. Well, I prefer technology for now. Hassle free, no complications, good at getting the job done and someday, I’ll find my Mr Right, who will be a robot!

Therapy

Since one has been absolutely unwilling to shoot, transforming Amma’s floor has been one’s favourite pastime. Now, that it’s almost done, will have to figure out another distraction.

1st Shot

‘ It’s better to carry a book and not read it than not carry one at all’
Waiting after their second shots, while one just got one’s first one.

So, I joined the herd and took a jab, totally unconvinced about the entire thing. Since I had Covid…my body was protecting me. But one needs the certificate, so here we are, doing something the body should have learnt to fight on it’s own.

Your daughter

Amma,

Everyday since you’ve passed, I have wondered how could you have survived your life, any other way? ‘ You know why you yell, I’m not my mum at people because you are scared that a part of you is!’, they say. Ya, ya..who do you think SC is like? My child ego state is like you, that’s why I keep it nicely tucked away but apparently not well enough.

Dad hates it! It infuriates him no less, that people say the worst things about me and I still don’t turn them down if they ask me for something. ‘ Just like your mother!’ he said to me last evening as he kept recounting what some women say about me and what they did to you! Misogynistic, much? Yup but in your story as well as mine, men were nicer to us, always. Well, I’m nice until someone makes me furious, then I wouldn’t give a person a thing or a single penny…I’m as vindictive as him but don’t have such a great memory. With time I let it go…I feel too intensely, otherwise it would consume me. How much you hated our tongues!

I tell the ones who are helping me though, ‘ you expect me to get along and not be so ‘self protective’ yet most people show me there’s very little to trust! Everything is a matter of convenience, they think I’m too rigid and I think they are too flexible. Their opinions and their stances, depending on whose going to butter their bread and nothing that withholds the test of time. I respect a true hater, someone who really goes after me passionately, they have my admiration.’ Remember, when I was around twelve, I was part of this group and a particular girl from that group would be nice to me, when she would meet but truly hated my guts? Even at that age, I was confused by this behaviour, ‘ why are you talking to me? I don’t like you and you don’t like me so why are we doing this?’ Of course we didn’t speak for a few years after that and eventually when we grew up, became close. To her credit, she said ‘ you know I don’t like you either!’ Respect! I appreciate spine. You of course were very disappointed in me…you genuinely liked people and I on the other hand am amazed at a social construct that will demonize the person, who says exactly what they feel ( unless it’s nice, ofcourse) and appreciates and applauds conniving!

You think any amount of therapy is going to make me less anti social? I really doubt it! Am I going to miraculously wake up one day and appreciate the utter waste of time, energy and resources, in faking niceness? No! Am I going to understand why I’m supposed to be your sister and not have your back? You remember how much Dustu’s girlfriends hated me? I had no problem with it, I made my choice and it was him. I always made that choice, consciously, so much so that I argued with friend’s parents who tried to diss them infront of me. I choose the side I am on, until for some reason I decide it isn’t a side I am going to remain on…give a piece of mind ( or two) and move on! The Wall, is like that, very different from me, in any and every other way but this. I ain’t going to win any popularity contest. That’s for sure and no one will turn up for my funeral, I’ll die alone in my old age but so did you! Inspite of how lovely you were. So, I have to find a good reason to learn to bite my tongue and play nice because fear of social ostracism, loneliness, rotting in my basement alone or hell, ain’t working! What could it be? Maturity, I guess!

Secrets and disclaimers

Ranbhir Kapoor said on the Kapil Sharma show, ‘ there are no secrets. You will tell your best friend something and they too will confide in their best friend and so on and so forth. Ultimately everyone will know the secret!’ He didn’t mention that eventually someone will mention something to the person who is being spoken about, too.

Gossip is something one has been surrounded by as much as drama. After all, one had a rebel for a mother and one turned out to be a lot more rebellious than her. Nuttier and more experimental, too! There are no free rides darling, if you ain’t going to abide by the rules of the society you got to pay the price for it. If you are a woman that is. Not only will it have an ill effect on your personal life but apparently your ‘brand value’, as well.

If you have a third leg and money though, you could be a liar, thief, an adulterer, a stalker, a fifty year old man cheating on his wife with a twenty year old woman, a rapist, a tax evader, a sex addict, a woman basher, an alcoholic, you could be driving over people sleeping on the pavement, be a murderer, a prisoner and nothing will spoil that reputation and brand name of yours.

Gossip- not that one doesn’t indulge in it periodically but one has always used it as a means for testing people. Sometimes you got to play the fool, infront of the fools who think they are fooling you. I seem viscous. Oh I am! I keep to myself all the time but you know the sayings about snakes hold true for one.

Self deprecating, not at all! Just a little honest. In a world full of people who tend to make others hear their conversations, to prove their innocence, I’m just a person whose stubborn and has a little spine. It’s very interesting how information moves at the speed of light and people worry so much about having said what they have said. I say a lot of stuff but the only good thing about me is, I own my shit-my past, my mistakes, my words I take full onus of them. They’re on me. The only time I should be forgiven, is when I’m drunk because that stuff really doesn’t suit me and makes me truly sentimental. But otherwise, I don’t mindlessly, aimlessly…blabber. One does it consciously, knowing the repercussions of those words and how they will come back.

Why this extra gyaan? I’ve given so many people an occupation in the past year. First they gossip, then I retaliate…then they gossip some more, and then they drive themselves crazy…trying to figure out whose told me about their viscous words. My goodness, it carries on. So much of people’s time and effort is being wasted on someone as insignificant as myself. So, I thought, why not put the rumours to rest. First of all, no one has ‘told me’ anything in particular. If you spoke about me or if you gossip about anyone at all, infront of someone…you know in your heart, their spines and mouths are like yours otherwise you wouldn’t have done it. You will never bitch about a person infront of anyone who dotes on them. No one dares to do that. They do it knowing the recipient of that information is as receptive. If not they will instantly shut it down. ‘Anyone who helps you to gossip about someone can help someone to gossip about you’ said Israelmore Ayivor. So, the recipient of your mindless blabbers, have repeated your lovely words, not to me, like most people worry (since then oh my God, I might think so badly of them) but to lots of other people and words my dearies spread fast! So, spare them the interrogation and spare me the phone calls. Don’t worry, if you thought they were so loyal, you wouldn’t have called them in the first place and you’re absolutely right!

As for your real cause for concern? If you have such a low opinion of someone to think,’ they are starving their father’ ( yup! He looks it) or ‘not letting her father sell the house’ ( which is absurd, since that will instantly make me rich) or ‘creating communal disharmony’ ( you make the Islamophobic comments and I am creating a problem? Wow), I’m moving to Dubai (well that’s turned into I’m too rigid because everyone’s figured that ain’t happening) and similar bullshit I don’t want to repeat, then why worry about what such a horrible person thinks of you? If I thought these things about someone, God knows I would first give them a piece of my mind and then cut them off from my life, instantly! So, have some principle’s man! Straighten the spine, give me a piece of your mind. Stop calculating whether I’ll be useful to you in the future…go for it…hate me. But I suspect the inability to take a stand about anything, isn’t your only problem. People are also worried about what I’ll do with all the accumulated information I have about them. Well, my opinion of myself is so much more important than any vendetta towards, anyone! So, enjoy, your secrets are mine to keep.

Companionship

Amma,

A picture of you and the love of your life, popped up on Facebook, on what would have been your 43 rd anniversary. The worst, the bad and the good! Kudos, to both of you. Inspite of all the dysfunctionality it was a relatively honest, relationship. I never gave it credit because I bought the facade that other people display to the world. Only to realize much later, that all relationships are full of all sorts of compromises and people have a dozen skeletons in the closet but they keep them, well hidden.

The other day, Dad’s friends came over and of course the discussion steered towards marriage. One propagated companionship as a worthy reason for lifelong imprisonment and the other very subtly tried to explain to me that ‘bringing someone to the house’ for either Dad or me, would be a dangerous idea. Don’t know about your husband but I really wonder, how people assume, that a lifelong commitment phobic, loner, who feels exhausted by other humans ( other than some of my male friends) can ‘bring’ someone into their space. Imagine me in one bedroom with a man…sends a freaking shiver down my spine. The rumour mills, keep churning because the house is falling apart so something or the other has to be repaired and each time that happens, the assumption is that I’m getting married. Chances are —-if there’s a wedding in this house, it’s going to be of the man who spent over four decades with someone, not the one who has never even survived four years, in a committed, you are mine and I am yours kind of relationship!

Though, I do think I should give some sort of a relationship or an ongoing hookup, a shot. I’m getting way too comfortable, by myself and the way I’m going, I’ll invariably become more antisocial, if that’s possible! The trust issues are of course, off the charts. But you know with all these voice recording applications, that have been used on me for the past year and half, where conversations have been recorded, cut short at crucial times, edited to make points, I really have a hard time trusting anyone at all! Also, insulting to my intelligence, which apparently I don’t have much off, but insulting to my ‘sharpness’ nevertheless!

One of my exes asked me a few months ago, how the boys scene is and I said, ‘ replaced you all, with technology but I do miss kissing, sometimes!’ I wasn’t trying to be cocky, it’s the truth but I have to wonder how viable it is to wait for robots, to spend your old age with. That’s my latest plan for companionship! Robot ain’t going to care about relatives, complications, friends, past, the two boys I can’t seem to get over and is probably going to be better than a man at everything! You think, having parents who weren’t hypocrites and having a grandfather who said, ‘the only men who don’t cheat are the ones who can’t’ ( which your sisters will deny since nobody told their children the truth, unlike you) or reading Osho at a young age, has warped me just a little, like men tell me all the time? I doubt it…I suspect, some of us are just born with a couple of loose screws. In my head I’m either Sunny Deol, singing ‘mujhko apni jaan se pyaari he apni aazadi’ or Amitabh Bachchan, wanting to get on a tempo with my brothers, and serenading a man with , ‘Jumma meri jaaneman!’. Haaye, Amma, when will I grow up and stop enjoying the chase? So freaking Alpha one is and to top it one wants a worthy ( Thomas Crown, haan?) companion or opponent! Most people tell me ‘oh, it’s not like that’ and ‘ marriage is about having someone’ and blah, blah ( basically a snooze fest) yet I find relationships are games, not necessarily mind games like chess but games nevertheless. You want to play, with someone who keeps you mentally and physically engaged. My overthinking brain that they want to tame with meds, could do with an engaging distraction but not with anyone cowardly! So, my new plan, is freaking fabulous, I’m telling you! Siyapa, hi khatam!

Living with Bipolar- Dilemma

Got dragged into the principle’s office today. I felt like a naughty kid, who was going to be punished! Kidding. The analyst asked me to meet the psychiatrist, who one had been to initially.

Shrink: After discussing your case we have come to the conclusion that you need medication.

Me : Really? What about my behaviour makes you think so? ( Eyebrows raised, voice deeper, SB’s went into fight mode)

Shrink: Your reports suggest that there is a borderline personality issue, you’re impulsive, antisocial and suffer major depression.

Me: I thought you said that I had PTSD?

Shrink: That is there but these are the main problems. If you don’t want to take the medication then you can take the RTMS ( where a machine mucks around with your brainwaves) . It will help accelerate the treatment.

Me: I’ll think about it!

Shrink: You have to trust the doctor. In such cases we don’t ask the patient, we tell the patient what to do!

Wrong thing to tell a rebellious person. Now, I was really pissed. Cold stare, teeth clenched, voice becomes softer and deeper.

Me- It seems to me that between you and the analyst and inspite of so many sessions no one’s been able to figure out what exactly do I have! You say PTSD and Borderline Personality issues, she says I’m Bipolar ( manic). So what am I going to be treated for? [‘The meds prescribed to me are for Bipolar Disorder’ I want to add but I keep mum]

She tries to deflate my anger, now.

Shrink: In this case we can’t give a definitive answer. Therapy will help but it’s a very slow and time consuming process. Medicines will make you feel better, you’ll see the changes in days.

Me: I am in no rush!

Now, you may wonder why I’m so aversive to them? Let me play the Devil’s Advocate. My mother was on those pills and I know what they do. She had to take them because she was violent and suicidal. Having said that, the dosage that was given to her, rendered her almost useless. From a woman who kept a lovely house and took really good care of her kids, she became someone who slept most of the times, continued to be suicidal inspite of the medication and was mostly unhappy. No one looked into the root cause of her problem, they just kept giving her things to suppress her symptoms and her body kept getting addicted to those. What she needed was self love, she needed to get rid of the angst of being rejected by her mother as a child, she needed a loving husband who was there- physically and emotionally and she needed to be surrounded by people who encouraged her to shine rather than be threatened by her awesomeness, not people who would call up friends and family to mock her and make her feel more alienated! She needed to confront her shadow and somehow, come out stronger after suffering terrible losses- a brother she loved ( and related to the most ) and a child ( she adored more than anyone else). She needed someone to convince she was fabulous and when you did, I saw her change. I saw her becoming such a loving mother, in her latter years, that she managed to change the heart and attitude of a child who had resented her, for her tumultuous childhood. In the end those extra pills caused her the most damage and her will and resolve to change, were the only things that made her life better!

So, if that’s not enough, to convince you that these pills are bad, go through the Sushant Singh Rajput Case. Here’s someone who consulted multiple shrinks and was on medication. Inspite of that he committed suicide! So, what is the efficacy of medication? Who the hell knows? I don’t think there’s a sort cut, for solving your problems. A pill isn’t going to stop me from looking at most people and thinking ‘I’d rather be alone, than play these petty games’. Need is going to. If and when I will need to get along with people, due to work, loneliness or procreation, I will have to figure out a way.

The need for a better version of me, Saadiya 4.0, if you will, is there, that’s why I am in therapy because my circumstances are demanding for me to learn how to tackle people without loosing my mind or slam dunking them. I will have to figure out how to work around my inherent trust issues with other humans, especially since my gut instinct is nine times out of ten right. Getting angry about people’s intentions is harmful for my heart and soul. I have to learn to love myself and my body more than giving into my wrath! I have to know, in my heart, have total and complete confidence in myself that I will be able to manage whatever, anyone else or life throws at me because I have repeatedly proven that to myself. I have to be totally and completely obsessed and committed to my own growth and let the naysayers, continue gossiping. They wrote me off at 16, when I had my first episode, since then I have reinvented myself twice, I can do that every freaking decade. But I got to believe that, my validation has to come from Saadiya Kochar, only. Not from a man and most certainly not from the family.

I wish Akash was alive, her sessions helped. This is going to be tougher. I’m reminded of Greg, my photography teacher, who was very insightful maybe because his mother was an analyst. I remember him telling me, ‘you have excessive mental energy that you need to use. Keep yourself very busy, otherwise you’ll drive yourself insane.’ I need a teacher, I know and I know the only thing that can save me from me is photography, not a 10 mg pill, that’s just too easy, for my egoistic self!

Happy Teacher’s Day

As one’s mind goes back and forth, scanning one’s entire existence, for discrepancies- these days, one becomes more acutely aware of what an irreplaceable role one’s teachers have played in getting one through the tough times. Since one’s memory is terrible, one only remembers the one’s who made one feel-safer and saner. My first standard teacher-Mrs Dasgupta, who helped a painfully shy student, to adjust shifting from DPS to CJM.

Sheel Aunty, who not only gave me tuitions but helped me deal with the angst of growing up in a rather irregular environment. For being a parent and guardian angel to me, one will never be able to thank her enough. The parents stopped the tuitions because one not only found strength and hope, in a woman who could barely walk (due to polio) yet provided stability and wings to all the kids who went to her but due to the fact that one kind of thought of her as the parent . ‘You took her away because I loved her!’ one would throw a fit in the teenage years, when no one could control me and they tried with all their might to calm me down.

Till of course Anupam came along and that became the turning point. There’s an experiment that was done by Dr Emoto’s with three jars of rice, water and words. The rice which was thanked and appreciated fermented, the one which was assaulted verbally, was covered in black mould and the one that was ignored turned even darker. Trust me, the experiment works. Whenever the story of one’s life is recalled, an entire chapter is dedicated to a boy who was just six or seven years older, who came in and played teacher and part therapist. Everyday, my father would come back home sozzled, telling me how I would never be anything in life- I was just too dumb and everyday to counter that, he would sit and tell me ‘you can!’. In those few years that he taught me, my life turned around. I did better in school, came first in editing and even got recommended for my first photography job by the iconic Mr O.P Sharma, who taught me photography. Anupam taught me how to be a student, how to trust someone enough to take their advice and gave me key insights into my personality- one competed/flourished well around men and one required a cheerleader to counter the father’s voice in one’s head. I wish my mum had someone who would have done that for her. Those ten thousand ‘you cans’, still continue to motivate me on days when I think I can’t go on and I still remember his fascination for numerology-‘ you’re a number 9 and you’re ruled by Mars -uncontrolled the number is self destructive but learn to control it and you’ll be unstoppable!’

During the same time, I was seeing a boy and though traditionally, I wouldn’t call his father -O.P Sehgal and his sister Shallay- teachers, they taught me a lot about seeing and doing, about creativity and craft and most of all, what loving families look like. Someday, when I grow my babies from my heart, I would want to emulate the love they shower on each other.

Then came the creme da la creme- Greg. The first time, his boss and the head of ICPP, saw my portfolio, he said to me that the teacher who was going to arrive, would like my work and he did so one became student and even assistant, at times. The most sensitive man I’ve met in my life, his gaze could pierce right through anyone. He saw something in everybody, that no one else saw. He was not just a photography teacher to us- he was more like a guru, life coach and co traveller. Every decent image of mine is thanks to him and someday when one ceases to exist, I hope my works reach him.

Last but not the least, Sunil. I think of him as a friend and not so much a mentor because of his openness and friendly nature. We’re about twenty five apart but we have a rollicking time together. He’s introduced me to the LGBTQ community, taught me about using art as a means for activism and has exposed me to his wonderful life.

So, though one doesn’t recall school life one remembers one’s wonderful teachers throughout one’s lifetime. Without them one would have been the worst version of one’s self and that’s why at my lowest I always say, I need a teacher not a therapist. Cheers to them, for making me want to be better, for making me believe that I can fall down seven times and get up eight, for seeing the best in me when everyone saw the worst and most of all for making me believe that I get through it. The ‘chip on my shoulder’, that people find insufferable because that makes one hard to manipulate and control comes from all those who walked into my life and made me believe, I was worthy and I could do whatever I set my mind to!

Games People Play

Had a rather disturbing session with the analyst, today. Starting from the beginning- when that itself isn’t fabulous, the recollection of it can throw a person off balance. I understand the theatrics of the process are what makes the mind aware. After months of running from pillar to post one has started to feel, that this going to take much longer than one suspected. Healing is a rather tedious and painful process.

Of course, they want me to start the medication. Had a heart to heart with the father today, who insisted (surprisingly) that one should at least take one pill. ‘Look up the medication on the net’. The side effects ( which one saw with the mother ultimately) include high blood pressure, insomnia, lightheadedness and a drop in libido and decreased chances of having orgasms. Considering my non existent love life one should be okay with it but after Covid, I’m going on a dating spree to make up for the uneventful past decade. So, thanks but no thanks.

There’s a new thing they’ve come up with. Some alternative method to alter the brain waves. A person who won’t trust a lab technician with her print, what are the chances of that person trusting a machine? Slim. One thankfully got Covid and has antibodies. This is going to sound ignorant but wild horses will have to drag me to get my shot once they wear off because one is absolutely unconvinced about the efficacy. Am I taking too many chances? Yes, not feeling dead before you actually die, is risky!

I have to wonder, if this whole shenanigan is going to help. Do you think we really change or we just keep accumulating layer after layer of borrowed knowledge, bitterness and fear? Every time I look around or at myself, I see that constant pattern playing out, repeatedly. The only thing that definitely makes a person change, more than any deliberate efforts, I find – is money. For better or worse is debatable.

But mostly we become some version of our parents, inspite of the education, exposure and opportunities. The choices we make, the partners we find has so much do with nurture and parental approval. Unfortunately our children too carry our burdens and pay for our sins! But one is a flaky by nature- so these thoughts pop up and I make excuses, each time someone tries to make me recall things one has locked up and put away. This time I got to stay still for a while. I don’t know how to but I got to learn.