theparadoxwhowrites

Deb

whatever it is you are seeking, chances are, it is running away.

it is midnight in paris
a couple walks past the eiffel
talking about a love unfamiliar

jordan,
in the empty lanes of prague,
goes about searching
for a missing heer,

and a history professor in london
gives up on his past
over the grave of a love untouched.

for a moment brief,
i wake up, startled,
to your voice
and turn around in my bed;

the other side is empty.

it is midnight in paris a couple walks past the eiffel talking about a love unfamiliar jordan, in the empty lanes of prague, goes about searching for a missing heer, and a history professor in london gives up on his past over the grave of a love untouched. for a moment brief, i wake up, startled, to your voice and turn around in my bed; the other side is empty. - 14 days ago

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“...and just like that, our world became uninhabitable,” greg finished his speech, to a round of applause.

it’d been twenty-five years since humans had to leave the earth behind. we now lived in an advanced space station - CO2135 - with the hope that someday we’d get to a planet not hostile enough to kill us.
.
“shall we?” he says, getting down from the podium.

_

on our way back, greg takes a detour to pick up a flower for greta. they still made flowers somehow, though in very limited capacity.

back home, greta was delighted to have her first flower in weeks.
.
“dee?” she said. that’s how she addressed me. “i had a question”
.
“yes?”
.
“promise you won’t get angry”
.
“you know i won’t”
.
“so our teacher was telling us about how humans got here because they couldn’t stop fighting...” she stopped mid-sentence, still gauging if she was doing the right thing.
.
“that is true, why’d i have a problem with that?”
.
“but she said the fighting hasn’t stopped. is that true?”
.
was she part of the resistance? i had to be careful here.
.
“what did i tell you about having different opinions?”
.
“that they must exist for the society to progress”
.
“yes, and sometimes people with different opinions end up fighting. it’s not ideal, but necessary”
.
she didn’t seem convinced, so i decided to go back a little further.
.
“greta, do you know it was illegal for a man to love another man back in the day?”
.
“so gee wouldn’t have been able to love you then?”
.
i chuckle. “no, but it wouldn’t have been right to do so, according to the existing rules”
.
“so what happened?”
.
“people pushed back. and we were born off the resistance”
.
greg puts a hand on my shoulders. “shall i put her to sleep? you must be tired”
.
“only if your daughter is convinced her father is not a bad man”
.
greta sits up, crossing her hands and stares at me.

_

two hours later, we are at an emergency meeting.
.
“are you sure about this?” harman shakes his head, “the protests would grow”
.
“but resistance must die”

“...and just like that, our world became uninhabitable,” greg finished his speech, to a round of applause. it’d been twenty-five years since humans had to leave the earth behind. we now lived in an advanced space station - CO2135 - with the hope that someday we’d get to a planet not hostile enough to kill us. . “shall we?” he says, getting down from the podium. _ on our way back, greg takes a detour to pick up a flower for greta. they still made flowers somehow, though in very limited capacity. back home, greta was delighted to have her first flower in weeks. . “dee?” she said. that’s how she addressed me. “i had a question” . “yes?” . “promise you won’t get angry” . “you know i won’t” . “so our teacher was telling us about how humans got here because they couldn’t stop fighting...” she stopped mid-sentence, still gauging if she was doing the right thing. . “that is true, why’d i have a problem with that?” . “but she said the fighting hasn’t stopped. is that true?” . was she part of the resistance? i had to be careful here. . “what did i tell you about having different opinions?” . “that they must exist for the society to progress” . “yes, and sometimes people with different opinions end up fighting. it’s not ideal, but necessary” . she didn’t seem convinced, so i decided to go back a little further. . “greta, do you know it was illegal for a man to love another man back in the day?” . “so gee wouldn’t have been able to love you then?” . i chuckle. “no, but it wouldn’t have been right to do so, according to the existing rules” . “so what happened?” . “people pushed back. and we were born off the resistance” . greg puts a hand on my shoulders. “shall i put her to sleep? you must be tired” . “only if your daughter is convinced her father is not a bad man” . greta sits up, crossing her hands and stares at me. _ two hours later, we are at an emergency meeting. . “are you sure about this?” harman shakes his head, “the protests would grow” . “but resistance must die” - 29 days ago

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“it rained here today,” she says.
.
following a few minutes of our usual silence, meera tells me she wants to talk when she’s back.
.
“but we already are”
.
i can hear her smile from a few thousand miles away. “you know what i mean.”
.
and i guess i did. i just didn’t know if i wanted to talk about it. so i keep quiet.
.
“deb?”
.
“...”
.
“would you?”
.
“kya?”
.
there’s that silence again. sometimes i wonder if the things we don’t talk about, pretending to know what the other doesn’t say, were always the same.
.
“are you scared, meera?”
.
“a little,” she laughs, “but it’s okay”
.
“is it?”
.
“you wouldn’t want to know, i promise”
.
maybe we didn’t need to be talking about the same things.
.
“come soon,” i say.
.
“...”
.
“it hasn’t rained here in a while”

“it rained here today,” she says. . following a few minutes of our usual silence, meera tells me she wants to talk when she’s back. . “but we already are” . i can hear her smile from a few thousand miles away. “you know what i mean.” . and i guess i did. i just didn’t know if i wanted to talk about it. so i keep quiet. . “deb?” . “...” . “would you?” . “kya?” . there’s that silence again. sometimes i wonder if the things we don’t talk about, pretending to know what the other doesn’t say, were always the same. . “are you scared, meera?” . “a little,” she laughs, “but it’s okay” . “is it?” . “you wouldn’t want to know, i promise” . maybe we didn’t need to be talking about the same things. . “come soon,” i say. . “...” . “it hasn’t rained here in a while” - 1 month ago

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hasan is arriving in a while. everything about this relationship feels right. except, nothing is. natasha is waiting for me to come home. someone else waiting for hasan. and yet, we are both here, hiding to be who we are. even if it is for a few hours.

our relationship goes back to the time when we lived in adjacent chawls. when the city still had space for us. maybe it still does as long as we are behind the boundaries. boundaries they decided for us.

i am staring at the black curtains of the room, in this apartment that still feels like the dream we bought together. a dream that sometimes feels like something we’d rather not seen.

my eyes are suddenly covered with two cold palms. marlboro, hasan and his muse.
.
“i didn’t realize it’d been raining,” i say, pulling his arms around my shoulders.
.
“too busy thinking about me?”
.
his grip is now tighter, his breaths more controlled. my head arching back to rest on his torso. even as i struggle with the stillness of his hands on my skin, hasan quietly slips in a few kisses on my face. our lips meeting after what feels like the first time we were caught together. in a near empty theatre when another couple had found two teenage boys doing the unspeakable.

hasan is laughing. and i am, too.
.
“do you remember?” i ask, relaxing back into his embrace.
.
“appa put a burning cigarette on your back,” hasan’s fingers now on the scar that came with our first introduction to intimacy.
.
“buddhu, do you remember what date it is?”
.
“no?”
.
“mohsina will be disappointed if you forget your anniversary again”
.
he looks dazed. confused, even. i pull him closer, now only a few hours before we are back to being friends.

when we are done, hasan looks at me and asks, “if they ever wrote about us, you know, somehow in the future, what would they talk about?”
.
“maybe they would talk about courage? maybe even about infidelity?”
.
“but would they talk about love?”

hasan is arriving in a while. everything about this relationship feels right. except, nothing is. natasha is waiting for me to come home. someone else waiting for hasan. and yet, we are both here, hiding to be who we are. even if it is for a few hours. our relationship goes back to the time when we lived in adjacent chawls. when the city still had space for us. maybe it still does as long as we are behind the boundaries. boundaries they decided for us. i am staring at the black curtains of the room, in this apartment that still feels like the dream we bought together. a dream that sometimes feels like something we’d rather not seen. my eyes are suddenly covered with two cold palms. marlboro, hasan and his muse. . “i didn’t realize it’d been raining,” i say, pulling his arms around my shoulders. . “too busy thinking about me?” . his grip is now tighter, his breaths more controlled. my head arching back to rest on his torso. even as i struggle with the stillness of his hands on my skin, hasan quietly slips in a few kisses on my face. our lips meeting after what feels like the first time we were caught together. in a near empty theatre when another couple had found two teenage boys doing the unspeakable. hasan is laughing. and i am, too. . “do you remember?” i ask, relaxing back into his embrace. . “appa put a burning cigarette on your back,” hasan’s fingers now on the scar that came with our first introduction to intimacy. . “buddhu, do you remember what date it is?” . “no?” . “mohsina will be disappointed if you forget your anniversary again” . he looks dazed. confused, even. i pull him closer, now only a few hours before we are back to being friends. when we are done, hasan looks at me and asks, “if they ever wrote about us, you know, somehow in the future, what would they talk about?” . “maybe they would talk about courage? maybe even about infidelity?” . “but would they talk about love?” - 1 month ago

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'been two years
since the first bombing
and the shroud of mercy descended;

as promised,

mother no longer
puts the blindfold over her eyes,
the bullets have taken care of that

and father,
back from being lost
now rejoices his freedom to talk endlessly
for the larynx's been surgically removed.

at the dinner table,
their laughter satiates my hunger;

baba's sign language
reaching ma in broken braille
all in a celebratory hurrah.

there have been plenty more since;
more bombings, more mercy

but you know what they say about first times?

picture: first they killed my father (2017)

'been two years since the first bombing and the shroud of mercy descended; as promised, mother no longer puts the blindfold over her eyes, the bullets have taken care of that and father, back from being lost now rejoices his freedom to talk endlessly for the larynx's been surgically removed. at the dinner table, their laughter satiates my hunger; baba's sign language reaching ma in broken braille all in a celebratory hurrah. there have been plenty more since; more bombings, more mercy but you know what they say about first times? picture: first they killed my father (2017) - 2 months ago

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for the rest of our lives, we may not live again. this moment, i mean. we may never find this moment of unbridled, uninhibited feelings ever again. we have arrived. on top of what seems like the end of the world; for you, for me, for all that exists of us. you are laughing. and i? i'm staring at you, my senses having somehow blacked out all noises up here except for the high-pitched frequency of joy. of you.

you and i are on top of the tallest hill the stranger guided us to. the skies are watching over us. the light, somewhere close behind.

if i died at this place, right now, would they let me stay buried up here, under the mist-covered grass?

your face is so full of hope, meera. that it makes me believe this is somehow going to make up for all the years we wouldn’t be spending together.

you reach out with your glove-covered palms and come closer to where i am sitting. your arms around me, my face resting on your shoulders. staring at the clouds that don’t seem to mind the proximity between us. passing through us almost, oblivious of this tendency to love.

one of them looks like a leaf, you tell me.

like the one you asked me to keep? it is inside the notebook that holds a few things i want to leave you with. things i hope you choose to remember on a tuesday afternoon when it rains. i hope it does, you know. rain, i mean.

you look at your watch and ask if i want to leave. the sun probably won’t be out anytime soon, you say.

it already is, i want to tell you.
.
“in a while, meera,” i say, “in a while.”

for the rest of our lives, we may not live again. this moment, i mean. we may never find this moment of unbridled, uninhibited feelings ever again. we have arrived. on top of what seems like the end of the world; for you, for me, for all that exists of us. you are laughing. and i? i'm staring at you, my senses having somehow blacked out all noises up here except for the high-pitched frequency of joy. of you. you and i are on top of the tallest hill the stranger guided us to. the skies are watching over us. the light, somewhere close behind. if i died at this place, right now, would they let me stay buried up here, under the mist-covered grass? your face is so full of hope, meera. that it makes me believe this is somehow going to make up for all the years we wouldn’t be spending together. you reach out with your glove-covered palms and come closer to where i am sitting. your arms around me, my face resting on your shoulders. staring at the clouds that don’t seem to mind the proximity between us. passing through us almost, oblivious of this tendency to love. one of them looks like a leaf, you tell me. like the one you asked me to keep? it is inside the notebook that holds a few things i want to leave you with. things i hope you choose to remember on a tuesday afternoon when it rains. i hope it does, you know. rain, i mean. you look at your watch and ask if i want to leave. the sun probably won’t be out anytime soon, you say. it already is, i want to tell you. . “in a while, meera,” i say, “in a while.” - 2 months ago

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“people talk about the right one so much and yet end up with the wrong ones all their life”
.
“aren’t you being too harsh on people, meera?”
.
“...”
.
“i mean, it’s all about asking for love” she lowers herself to sleep on my lap.
.
“but what if there wasn’t a right one - for you, for me, for any of us?”
.
“you don’t think there is a right one somewhere for you?”
.
“i don’t”
.
“i think you do” i say, caressing the strands of hair falling over her face
.
“maybe when i was younger”
.
“...”
.
“failed relationships, some personal and some not, they make you stop believing”
.
“if you did, you know...find the right one, would you stay?”
.
“i guess i will”
.
“why?”
.
“doesn’t hurt to be love, be loved and not fail at it for once”

“people talk about the right one so much and yet end up with the wrong ones all their life” . “aren’t you being too harsh on people, meera?” . “...” . “i mean, it’s all about asking for love” she lowers herself to sleep on my lap. . “but what if there wasn’t a right one - for you, for me, for any of us?” . “you don’t think there is a right one somewhere for you?” . “i don’t” . “i think you do” i say, caressing the strands of hair falling over her face . “maybe when i was younger” . “...” . “failed relationships, some personal and some not, they make you stop believing” . “if you did, you know...find the right one, would you stay?” . “i guess i will” . “why?” . “doesn’t hurt to be love, be loved and not fail at it for once” - 3 months ago

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i stare at the silhouette of stephen, as he cleans the tables for the umpteenth time. we have been waiting for our first customer since eight in the morning. ever since those bastard americans came here and built their godforsaken dine-ins around denverville, my restaurant has taken a hit. we used to serve the most famous tacos in town back in the day when pops was still alive.

for now, it’s just me and stephen. i do not know how i would survive without him. especially after kevin’s death. people say our food has gone downhill. that daughter martha wasn’t ready to take over.

the bell chimes. a customer! stephen is quick to get to the billing counter while i prepare the stove.
.

it’s been a while since i saw stephen. he doesn’t go away too often. actually he never leaves the restaurant. he isn’t in the back.

i go to check the restroom when i hear some noises. the door, left ajar. stephen...fucking the customer against the wall.
.

i didn’t mean for this to happen. why would he make me do this? i am staring at their bodies, both lying flat on the white marble floor. the girl was probably passing by to the city. disposing off her car wouldn’t be too difficult. but these bodies.
.

it’s been three weeks since the incident. the restaurant’s glory is back. there are customers standing in line, waiting for my burgers. people say they haven’t had such food for years.

i agree. they haven’t had human flesh since kevin.

i stare at the silhouette of stephen, as he cleans the tables for the umpteenth time. we have been waiting for our first customer since eight in the morning. ever since those bastard americans came here and built their godforsaken dine-ins around denverville, my restaurant has taken a hit. we used to serve the most famous tacos in town back in the day when pops was still alive. for now, it’s just me and stephen. i do not know how i would survive without him. especially after kevin’s death. people say our food has gone downhill. that daughter martha wasn’t ready to take over. the bell chimes. a customer! stephen is quick to get to the billing counter while i prepare the stove. . it’s been a while since i saw stephen. he doesn’t go away too often. actually he never leaves the restaurant. he isn’t in the back. i go to check the restroom when i hear some noises. the door, left ajar. stephen...fucking the customer against the wall. . i didn’t mean for this to happen. why would he make me do this? i am staring at their bodies, both lying flat on the white marble floor. the girl was probably passing by to the city. disposing off her car wouldn’t be too difficult. but these bodies. . it’s been three weeks since the incident. the restaurant’s glory is back. there are customers standing in line, waiting for my burgers. people say they haven’t had such food for years. i agree. they haven’t had human flesh since kevin. - 3 months ago

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“there is so little to think about when we are together”
.
i smile. meera and i have spent a year together. we don’t know if this is how it’s going to stay. but for now, this feels like everything we have wanted. i love how her eyes travel from place to place in a room she is so familiar with, looking for the little changes that she can scribble about in her journal. she says she’d leave it for me to read when she dies. maybe she wants this to stay too.

struggling over a bunch of polaroids from her last trip, she tells me that i don’t tell her things. that she is the only one with a backstory in this relationship. i tell her that i don’t really have stories to tell about myself.
.
“what about your parents? would they like me?”
.
“aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves?”
.
with mock anger on her face, she goes back to her struggle with the stolen memories.
.
“i never really understood their relationship, you know?”
.
“sorry?”
.
“i don’t remember the last time i saw either of them doing something that felt like love”
.
meera sits with her head facing down for a moment and then comes closer to me with the album that was half empty still.
.
“you know what i would really want if we stayed together?”
.
“that i make breakfast everyday?”
.
laughing, she tells me this story of her parents eloping when they were nineteen.
.
“i don't think we'd need to elope”
.
“to keep our hearts close,” she says
.
“what?”
.
“i hope we never forget to hold each other close when the days are distant and the nights cold”

“there is so little to think about when we are together” . i smile. meera and i have spent a year together. we don’t know if this is how it’s going to stay. but for now, this feels like everything we have wanted. i love how her eyes travel from place to place in a room she is so familiar with, looking for the little changes that she can scribble about in her journal. she says she’d leave it for me to read when she dies. maybe she wants this to stay too. struggling over a bunch of polaroids from her last trip, she tells me that i don’t tell her things. that she is the only one with a backstory in this relationship. i tell her that i don’t really have stories to tell about myself. . “what about your parents? would they like me?” . “aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves?” . with mock anger on her face, she goes back to her struggle with the stolen memories. . “i never really understood their relationship, you know?” . “sorry?” . “i don’t remember the last time i saw either of them doing something that felt like love” . meera sits with her head facing down for a moment and then comes closer to me with the album that was half empty still. . “you know what i would really want if we stayed together?” . “that i make breakfast everyday?” . laughing, she tells me this story of her parents eloping when they were nineteen. . “i don't think we'd need to elope” . “to keep our hearts close,” she says . “what?” . “i hope we never forget to hold each other close when the days are distant and the nights cold” - 3 months ago

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have you ever had this feeling? to sneak out before another chore comes calling. another day turning into another night and before you know it, it’s over. that’s how it felt sometimes. staring at meera, who would be gazing at the sky and the stars.

she and i had fumbled upon this ritual only recently, of going out there somewhere, stargazing. she said we hadn’t made enough memories for her to remember me with. and so here we were, in the middle of nowhere, two people in love, one dying and another waiting.
.
“why’d they lie?” she says.
.
“about what?”
.
“how the moonlight makes your face glow in the dark?”
.
she is trying to break this silence, make us forget things that weren’t really in our control anymore. we go back to staring at those stars she so hoped could keep me alive a little while longer.

meera is humming now. a billy joel song from the 70s that she keeps asking me to listen.
.
“what if we could stay here?”
.
“in the middle of nowhere?”
.
“stuck in this moment, right here”
.
“deb”
.
“...”
.
“it's okay”
.
and just like that, i hold meera close and begin to cry.

have you ever had this feeling? to sneak out before another chore comes calling. another day turning into another night and before you know it, it’s over. that’s how it felt sometimes. staring at meera, who would be gazing at the sky and the stars. she and i had fumbled upon this ritual only recently, of going out there somewhere, stargazing. she said we hadn’t made enough memories for her to remember me with. and so here we were, in the middle of nowhere, two people in love, one dying and another waiting. . “why’d they lie?” she says. . “about what?” . “how the moonlight makes your face glow in the dark?” . she is trying to break this silence, make us forget things that weren’t really in our control anymore. we go back to staring at those stars she so hoped could keep me alive a little while longer. meera is humming now. a billy joel song from the 70s that she keeps asking me to listen. . “what if we could stay here?” . “in the middle of nowhere?” . “stuck in this moment, right here” . “deb” . “...” . “it's okay” . and just like that, i hold meera close and begin to cry. - 3 months ago

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a couple of days ago, while watching the lunchbox, i looked at my cousin sleeping beside me. i kept staring at his face for a little while and wondered where we would be, ten years from then and whether we would still be calling each other every time we would have something to share.

i have never really been vocal about what certain people mean to me. and honestly, sometimes, i wish i could. but it does not seem to make any sense – telling people about their importance and making them stay.

telling people about what you could do for them; it takes away from the innocence of a relationship. a bond such as love can never be about what you give and what you take. sometimes, you just need to give, and give until your hands are empty because unless you do, how do you convince your heart that they mean the world to you?

before leaving, he and i sat down on the terrace to talk about music. the topic of discussion turned from our favorite songs to the days when we would bathe together naked, and how i would probably forget him and everybody else after i moved to madras. i thought about telling him that he would forever be my little brother and that i could never date a girl without telling him about her first.

but i said none of that. he asked me to keep in touch and i said that i wouldn’t.

the air was brimming with laughter. [repost]

a couple of days ago, while watching the lunchbox, i looked at my cousin sleeping beside me. i kept staring at his face for a little while and wondered where we would be, ten years from then and whether we would still be calling each other every time we would have something to share. i have never really been vocal about what certain people mean to me. and honestly, sometimes, i wish i could. but it does not seem to make any sense – telling people about their importance and making them stay. telling people about what you could do for them; it takes away from the innocence of a relationship. a bond such as love can never be about what you give and what you take. sometimes, you just need to give, and give until your hands are empty because unless you do, how do you convince your heart that they mean the world to you? before leaving, he and i sat down on the terrace to talk about music. the topic of discussion turned from our favorite songs to the days when we would bathe together naked, and how i would probably forget him and everybody else after i moved to madras. i thought about telling him that he would forever be my little brother and that i could never date a girl without telling him about her first. but i said none of that. he asked me to keep in touch and i said that i wouldn’t. the air was brimming with laughter. [repost] - 4 months ago

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this is our time. minutes after midnight, hours before the dawn.

on the terrace, talking in whispers still, our shadows buried somewhere in the dark.
.
“you don’t need to look so worried all the time,” he says.

i am laughing. the idea of him dying has slowly grown on us. maybe it won’t be so terrifying after all.
.
“deb?”
.
“i know”
.
the nights seem so comforting with him around. his fingers tapping the air, playing a song.
.
“do you hear it?”
.
“...”
.
“us, dancing, swaying, moving to this quietness of being”
.
we belong here. him and i. and perhaps also this love.
.
“if it wasn’t for my fear of losing you, do you think we’d be here?”
.
“does it matter?”

this is our time. minutes after midnight, hours before the dawn. on the terrace, talking in whispers still, our shadows buried somewhere in the dark. . “you don’t need to look so worried all the time,” he says. i am laughing. the idea of him dying has slowly grown on us. maybe it won’t be so terrifying after all. . “deb?” . “i know” . the nights seem so comforting with him around. his fingers tapping the air, playing a song. . “do you hear it?” . “...” . “us, dancing, swaying, moving to this quietness of being” . we belong here. him and i. and perhaps also this love. . “if it wasn’t for my fear of losing you, do you think we’d be here?” . “does it matter?” - 5 months ago

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“when it’s lost, where does it go?”
.
“...”
.
“all this love, when people lose it, where does it go?”
.
“do you think this..love between us will leave too?”
.
“not everything i ask is about us”
.
meera, always the questioning kind. she is reading me a page from her favourite short, our backs against each other, each looking at two ends of this room that would soon be empty. we are moving to a different city.

every letter, being traced by her fingers as she reads them out loud, is carefully floating somewhere my attention is not. i am busy noticing the details of this house that has seen us go through so much together. the first time meera had the courage to say that she wanted to live with me. our first monsoon spent washing mud off each other’s shoes on sundays and mondays spent trying to wake each other up for tea.
.
now that we are leaving, it feels like the end of the beginning.
.
“you are thinking about it again, aren’t you?” asks meera, her face now over my shoulders.
.
“it’s just..”
.
“scary?”
.
“yeah, i mean, we are moving together but this place has so many things”
.
“memories,” she corrects me, and recalls some of her favorites at this house. the very first day we moved in together and how we ended up finding an old notebook in one of the cupboards. a bunch of half-written letters to an unknown somebody by another unknown somebody.

in a way, i think that’s what becomes of our stories. forgotten memories, half-written letters, lucky to be found when someone isn’t looking. perhaps even making it to another story in an entirely different form.

meera taps on my shoulder. she has a bare notebook in her hand.
.
“shall we?”
.
“become stories for a stranger?”
.
smiling, i wrap my arms around her.
.
“it doesn’t, meera”
.
“what?”
.
“this love, when it’s lost, why does it need to go anywhere?”

“when it’s lost, where does it go?” . “...” . “all this love, when people lose it, where does it go?” . “do you think this..love between us will leave too?” . “not everything i ask is about us” . meera, always the questioning kind. she is reading me a page from her favourite short, our backs against each other, each looking at two ends of this room that would soon be empty. we are moving to a different city. every letter, being traced by her fingers as she reads them out loud, is carefully floating somewhere my attention is not. i am busy noticing the details of this house that has seen us go through so much together. the first time meera had the courage to say that she wanted to live with me. our first monsoon spent washing mud off each other’s shoes on sundays and mondays spent trying to wake each other up for tea. . now that we are leaving, it feels like the end of the beginning. . “you are thinking about it again, aren’t you?” asks meera, her face now over my shoulders. . “it’s just..” . “scary?” . “yeah, i mean, we are moving together but this place has so many things” . “memories,” she corrects me, and recalls some of her favorites at this house. the very first day we moved in together and how we ended up finding an old notebook in one of the cupboards. a bunch of half-written letters to an unknown somebody by another unknown somebody. in a way, i think that’s what becomes of our stories. forgotten memories, half-written letters, lucky to be found when someone isn’t looking. perhaps even making it to another story in an entirely different form. meera taps on my shoulder. she has a bare notebook in her hand. . “shall we?” . “become stories for a stranger?” . smiling, i wrap my arms around her. . “it doesn’t, meera” . “what?” . “this love, when it’s lost, why does it need to go anywhere?” - 5 months ago

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“They are lying to all of us!” Sarah was convinced she could make us escape this facility.
.
“Aren’t the crazies supposed to say such things?” says Martha from the other end of the court.

We met at the basketball court every morning at nine after the guards were done playing. Apart from me, there are praveen and greta as part of the squad.
.
“Whatever it is, if it helps us be together and make babies, we are in!” Praveen says, while Greta looks on with a grin. They are mad for each other. Made and mad, didn’t really matter in here.
.
“Think about it this way - do any of you remember when you went crazy?” There goes Sarah again.

I’ll be honest, my earliest memory was waking up as a kid inside this place and seeing the doctor. Over the years, the doctors had changed.
.
“Hell if I knew,” says Martha, “but now that you say it..”
.
“Yes, Martha. Tell me you don’t sense something fishy”
.
“What about you, Praveen?”
.
“I-I smell gasoline at odd hours, though there’s really nothin’ around here” he says and goes back to staring at Greta.
.
“Guys, we need a plan,” says Sarah, and calls us into a huddle. “When they let us out for lunch, we cross the warden’s room”
.
Martha pips in, “are you suggesting what I think you are suggesting woman?”
.
And so we decided to make it to the warden and prove this was all a big conspiracy.

At exactly 12 noon the next day, we were inside. Martha had the warden by the throat with us, somehow having got past all the guards.
.
“Push that knife into his eye, I know nothing’s going to happen” Sarah had a murderous look on her face.

Martha, her hands trembling, did exactly what was asked of her. Something clicked inside of me.

5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15..nothing happened. He was dead and everyone in the room began to panic. The police came in a while later. The crazies had just been...crazies after all.

Back inside my cell a few hours later, now with extra security, I press the tip of my left ear. “Get me out of here, the subjects are getting better. And start working on simulation 21,968.”

“They are lying to all of us!” Sarah was convinced she could make us escape this facility. . “Aren’t the crazies supposed to say such things?” says Martha from the other end of the court. We met at the basketball court every morning at nine after the guards were done playing. Apart from me, there are praveen and greta as part of the squad. . “Whatever it is, if it helps us be together and make babies, we are in!” Praveen says, while Greta looks on with a grin. They are mad for each other. Made and mad, didn’t really matter in here. . “Think about it this way - do any of you remember when you went crazy?” There goes Sarah again. I’ll be honest, my earliest memory was waking up as a kid inside this place and seeing the doctor. Over the years, the doctors had changed. . “Hell if I knew,” says Martha, “but now that you say it..” . “Yes, Martha. Tell me you don’t sense something fishy” . “What about you, Praveen?” . “I-I smell gasoline at odd hours, though there’s really nothin’ around here” he says and goes back to staring at Greta. . “Guys, we need a plan,” says Sarah, and calls us into a huddle. “When they let us out for lunch, we cross the warden’s room” . Martha pips in, “are you suggesting what I think you are suggesting woman?” . And so we decided to make it to the warden and prove this was all a big conspiracy. At exactly 12 noon the next day, we were inside. Martha had the warden by the throat with us, somehow having got past all the guards. . “Push that knife into his eye, I know nothing’s going to happen” Sarah had a murderous look on her face. Martha, her hands trembling, did exactly what was asked of her. Something clicked inside of me. 5 minutes. 10 minutes. 15..nothing happened. He was dead and everyone in the room began to panic. The police came in a while later. The crazies had just been...crazies after all. Back inside my cell a few hours later, now with extra security, I press the tip of my left ear. “Get me out of here, the subjects are getting better. And start working on simulation 21,968.” - 5 months ago

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“people aren’t always looking to be saved, you know”
.
“i know”
.
“and you can’t save someone with love alone”
.
nodding my head, i wait for meera to go on. like she does every time we are under the night sky, talking about everything but the stars. her talking, me listening and a lot of agreeing to disagreeing. for what it's worth, she doesn’t tell me much when we are indoors. too busy clicking photos of me writing, some blurred and some not, perhaps for days i don't smell familiar.
.
“do you think you could save me?”
.
“we’ve been over this, meera. that’s not how it works”
.
as if almost in anticipation of my answer, she has laid herself back against the grass, staring at something she doesn't want me to see.
.
“meera?”
.
she isn’t listening.
.
“why can’t love save us?”
.
“maybe it was never supposed to”
.
“come closer,” she says, and puts an arm around my waist and rests herself on my lap.
.
“how terrible must it be to love, hoping to be saved”
.
“love isn’t all selfless like you think it is”
.
“but it sure ain't selfish”

“people aren’t always looking to be saved, you know” . “i know” . “and you can’t save someone with love alone” . nodding my head, i wait for meera to go on. like she does every time we are under the night sky, talking about everything but the stars. her talking, me listening and a lot of agreeing to disagreeing. for what it's worth, she doesn’t tell me much when we are indoors. too busy clicking photos of me writing, some blurred and some not, perhaps for days i don't smell familiar. . “do you think you could save me?” . “we’ve been over this, meera. that’s not how it works” . as if almost in anticipation of my answer, she has laid herself back against the grass, staring at something she doesn't want me to see. . “meera?” . she isn’t listening. . “why can’t love save us?” . “maybe it was never supposed to” . “come closer,” she says, and puts an arm around my waist and rests herself on my lap. . “how terrible must it be to love, hoping to be saved” . “love isn’t all selfless like you think it is” . “but it sure ain't selfish” - 5 months ago

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The professor must not know. He wouldn’t approve. Couple of fifteen minute breaks is all I have to get rid of the body. I had slightly different plans, but I’d need to improvise. Serial killer 101.

10.15. He’s been staring at me from the other end of the room since the class began. This shouldn’t be too difficult. His face is just about to fall off the table when Miss Kathie screams. “Farhan!” For the rest of the class, I am more careful. Two more hours, I remind myself.

11.20. Farhan has managed to find the seat behind me. I giggle at his silly jokes, some to the point of me wanting to pin him down in the middle of the class and cut his throat. But I must wait. I turn around, wink and go back to reading a page of Eliot. “As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it,” Mr. Nickle goes on.

12.30 We are behind the cafeteria, in the old storeroom. The school has kept intruders away with the rumor that a ghost roams about. Except for the one who is between my legs right now, trying to make sense of what is in front of him, I don't see one. I pull him up, his hands trembling as I put them on my breasts. I pull out the hairpin from my hair, his face too busy doing something weird on my neck, and stab his neck. Once, twice and again till he looks at me with a plea of mercy.

Just as I am about to pull the scissors out, there’s a tap on the door. It’s the professor. He never needed an invitation.
.
“Juliana,” he says, “did I not teach you anything?”
.
He looks at Farhan, lying on the floor, in a pool of his own blood and then at the scissors.
.
“Sloppy, even by your standards. Alright, Exhibit 1516, get up and head to repair”
.
Looking at the surprise on my face, the professor smiles. “You didn’t think we would make you kill an actual human in your first test, did you?”
.
“But he seemed so..”
.
“Real? That’s the point. These androids cost a bomb. Now, clean yourself up and come with me.”
.
“Am I selected?”
.
“You have a lot to learn...but for now, yes. Welcome to the academy of serial killers.”

The professor must not know. He wouldn’t approve. Couple of fifteen minute breaks is all I have to get rid of the body. I had slightly different plans, but I’d need to improvise. Serial killer 101. 10.15. He’s been staring at me from the other end of the room since the class began. This shouldn’t be too difficult. His face is just about to fall off the table when Miss Kathie screams. “Farhan!” For the rest of the class, I am more careful. Two more hours, I remind myself. 11.20. Farhan has managed to find the seat behind me. I giggle at his silly jokes, some to the point of me wanting to pin him down in the middle of the class and cut his throat. But I must wait. I turn around, wink and go back to reading a page of Eliot. “As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it,” Mr. Nickle goes on. 12.30 We are behind the cafeteria, in the old storeroom. The school has kept intruders away with the rumor that a ghost roams about. Except for the one who is between my legs right now, trying to make sense of what is in front of him, I don't see one. I pull him up, his hands trembling as I put them on my breasts. I pull out the hairpin from my hair, his face too busy doing something weird on my neck, and stab his neck. Once, twice and again till he looks at me with a plea of mercy. Just as I am about to pull the scissors out, there’s a tap on the door. It’s the professor. He never needed an invitation. . “Juliana,” he says, “did I not teach you anything?” . He looks at Farhan, lying on the floor, in a pool of his own blood and then at the scissors. . “Sloppy, even by your standards. Alright, Exhibit 1516, get up and head to repair” . Looking at the surprise on my face, the professor smiles. “You didn’t think we would make you kill an actual human in your first test, did you?” . “But he seemed so..” . “Real? That’s the point. These androids cost a bomb. Now, clean yourself up and come with me.” . “Am I selected?” . “You have a lot to learn...but for now, yes. Welcome to the academy of serial killers.” - 5 months ago

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a portrait of your post-its
on the grave of our spring;
the last one
together;

waiting for maybes to
rewind and turn into
little thoughts,
that instead, always,
turn into
an alley behind our 6X6

for us to walk into

and perhaps re-run,
redo and re-live through
the summer
and watch us for a few
seasons more

doing everything you
said we did.

until it is winter again.

what does the snow feel like?

does it feel like love?

a portrait of your post-its on the grave of our spring; the last one together; waiting for maybes to rewind and turn into little thoughts, that instead, always, turn into an alley behind our 6X6 for us to walk into and perhaps re-run, redo and re-live through the summer and watch us for a few seasons more doing everything you said we did. until it is winter again. what does the snow feel like? does it feel like love? - 5 months ago

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a little while longer,
you say,
on days i have to be dead;

your excuses
ranging
from some things gone missing
to some gaps in the wardrobe
made of songs.

there is so much,
but every evening
when the words won't come

with our voices stuck
in the lingering quietness of
awkward eye contact,

somewhere, along this sky,
a shooting star crosses.

you wish i wasn't dead.

i wish you were, too.

a little while longer, you say, on days i have to be dead; your excuses ranging from some things gone missing to some gaps in the wardrobe made of songs. there is so much, but every evening when the words won't come with our voices stuck in the lingering quietness of awkward eye contact, somewhere, along this sky, a shooting star crosses. you wish i wasn't dead. i wish you were, too. - 5 months ago

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