I've been tardy with writing lately. I blame it on the fact that I'm almost perfectly happy. Anger, resentment, sorrow, heartbreak inspires me to write. It's cathartic.
But this time around something so wonderfully beautiful presented itself that I was moved to write (and very nearly to tears).
We live in an India, nay a world, that is fraught with sexism and subjugation and abuse. It's enough for me to feel the need to carry around a placard apologising on behalf of my sex. But every now and then a glimmer of absolute joy shines through from the most unexpected of places and is brighter still, because of the pitch black that surrounds it.
There's a young man who works in our office doing odd jobs, cleaning, making tea, gopher duties etc. He's educated to a degree, probably somewhere around middle school. He's smart and kind, and generally loved around the office. He is arguably my favorite person in my small startup of a company and we spend some time everyday just talking and shooting the breeze.
Born and raised in a village in Bihar he's had a very conservative upbringing his family still operates on an extremely patriarchal system.
This morning he came up to me and wanted help to look for recent school teacher opening's that the Department of Education has announced on their website.
I asked him about who the candidate was and he told me it was his wife. She has an MA and a two year diploma in education. She'd only finished high school when they got married. Her parents weren't too sold on the idea of educating girls beyond high school. But she wanted to study so he's spent the last 6 years borrowing money from the office using up his savings to help her though a BA, and MA and the diploma course in education. And to top it all he has regrets that he didn't have enough money to help her get a Bachelors degree in education so she had to settle for the diploma course instead. He also told me on the sly that he had to hide it from his family who live in the village as well and they think he makes a lot less money than he actually does because a considerable chunk goes into his wife's education.
He works from 9-6 goes home and helps with the kid and the cooking and cleaning so his wife would have time to study.
My friend, you're a better man than most men out there. I hereby dub thee The Knight. You have more than earned it.
I lit a thin green candle, to make you jealous of me.
But the room just filled up with mosquitoes,
they heard that my body was free.
Then I took the dust of a long sleepless night
and I put it in your little shoe.
And then I confess that I tortured the dress
that you wore for the world to look through.
I showed my heart to the doctor: he said I just have to quit.
Then he wrote himself a prescription,
and your name was mentioned in it!
Then he locked himself in a library shelf
with the details of our honeymoon,
and I hear from the nurse that he's gotten much worse
and his practice is all in a ruin.
I heard of a saint who had loved you,
so I studied all night in his school.
He taught that the duty of lovers
is to tarnish the golden rule.
And just when I was sure that his teachings were pure
he drowned himself in the pool.
His body is gone but back here on the lawn
his spirit continues to drool.
An Eskimo showed me a movie
he'd recently taken of you:
the poor man could hardly stop shivering,
his lips and his fingers were blue.
I suppose that he froze when the wind took your clothes
and I guess he just never got warm.
But you stand there so nice, in your blizzard of ice,
oh please let me come into the storm.
I know we haven't seen each other, or even talked, in a long time but I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I want you to know that I miss you.
Not like "I regret what happened" or even "I want to see you again", just "I miss you" Period
Its strange to think someone I used to know so well is now a total stranger, that I sometimes go entire days without thinking of you even a little. Most of the times I let myself forget, because its easier. But then I find something.
An old letter, or a picture you drew, slipped in the pages of a book I haven't read in years.. and the full weight of what was lost comes crashing down on me.
But this isn't regret. We had reasons for ending it. And those reasons are as valid as ever.
But back at the start, we didn't need reasons for anything. It all just happened. We didn't have common interests or similar goals. We didn't even really get along that well. But we didn't need a reason to fall in love. We just did.
The reasons came at the end, and everything that's happened since then has been all about reasons.
And that's good. It means that one day I might find somebody I wont have to say goodbye to. But part of me just misses loving someone, and knowing they love you back, that's all.
I guess what I'm saying is, I hope things are great with you. I hope everything's good. I hope you find a love that is everything ours couldn't be. And I hope I find that too.
But a small part of me hopes that you still remember what it was like before all the reasons.
And that you miss me. too.
When I was a kid
I used to think that pork chops and karate chops
Were the same thing
I thought they were both pork chops
And because my grandmother thought it was cute
And because they were my favourite
She let me keep doing it
Not really a big deal
Before I realized fat kids are not designed to climb trees
I fell out of a tree
And bruised the right side of my body
I didn’t want to tell my grandmother about it
Because I was afraid I’d get in trouble
For playing somewhere that I shouldn’t have been
A few days later the gym teacher noticed the bruise
And I got sent to the principal’s office
From there I was sent to another small room
With a really nice lady
Who asked me all kinds of questions
About my life at home
I saw no reason to lie
As far as I was concerned
Life was pretty good
I told her, “Whenever I’m sad
My grandmother gives me karate chops”
This led to a full scale investigation
And I was removed from the house for three days
Until they finally decided to ask how I got the bruises
News of this silly little story quickly spread through the school
And I earned my first nickname
To this day
I hate pork chops
I’m not the only kid
Who grew up this way
Surrounded by people who used to say
That rhyme about sticks and stones
As if broken bones
Hurt more than the names we got called
And we got called them all
So we grew up believing no one
Would ever fall in love with us
That we’d be lonely forever
That we’d never meet someone
To make us feel like the sun
Was something they built for us
In their tool shed
So broken heart strings bled the blues
As we tried to empty ourselves
So we would feel nothing
Don’t tell me that hurts less than a broken bone
That an ingrown life
Is something surgeons can cut away
That there’s no way for it to metastasize
She was eight years old
Our first day of grade three
When she got called ugly
We both got moved to the back of the class
So we would stop get bombarded by spit balls
But the school halls were a battleground
Where we found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched day
We used to stay inside for recess
Because outside was worse
Outside we’d have to rehearse running away
Or learn to stay still like statues giving no clues that we were there
In grade five they taped a sign to her desk
That read beware of dog
To this day
Despite a loving husband
She doesn’t think she’s beautiful
Because of a birthmark
That takes up a little less than half of her face
Kids used to say she looks like a wrong answer
That someone tried to erase
But couldn’t quite get the job done
And they’ll never understand
That she’s raising two kids
Whose definition of beauty
Begins with the word mom
Because they see her heart
Before they see her skin
That she’s only ever always been amazing
Was a broken branch
Grafted onto a different family tree
But not because his parents opted for a different destiny
He was three when he became a mixed drink
Of one part left alone
And two parts tragedy
Started therapy in 8th grade
Had a personality made up of tests and pills
Lived like the uphills were mountains
And the downhills were cliffs
Four fifths suicidal
A tidal wave of anti depressants
And an adolescence of being called popper
One part because of the pills
And ninety nine parts because of the cruelty
He tried to kill himself in grade ten
When a kid who still had his mom and dad
Had the audacity to tell him “get over it” as if depression
Is something that can be remedied
By any of the contents found in a first aid kit
To this day
He is a stick of TNT lit from both ends
Could describe to you in detail the way the sky bends
In the moments before it’s about to fall
And despite an army of friends
Who all call him an inspiration
He remains a conversation piece between people
Who can’t understand
Sometimes becoming drug free
Has less to do with addiction
And more to do with sanity
We weren’t the only kids who grew up this way
To this day
Kids are still being called names
The classics were
Seems like each school has an arsenal of names
Getting updated every year
And if a kid breaks in a school
And no one around chooses to hear
Do they make a sound?
Are they just the background noise
Of a soundtrack stuck on repeat
When people say things like
Kids can be cruel?
Every school was a big top circus tent
And the pecking order went
From acrobats to lion tamers
From clowns to carnies
All of these were miles ahead of who we were
We were freaks
Lobster claw boys and bearded ladies
Juggling depression and loneliness playing solitaire spin the bottle
Trying to kiss the wounded parts of ourselves and heal
But at night
While the others slept
We kept walking the tightrope
It was practice
Some of us fell
But I want to tell them
That all of this shit
Is just debris
Leftover when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought
We used to be
And if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself
Get a better mirror
Look a little closer
Stare a little longer
Because there’s something inside you
That made you keep trying
Despite everyone who told you to quit
You built a cast around your broken heart
And signed it yourself
You signed it
“They were wrong”
Because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a clique
Maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything
Maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth
To show and tell but never told
Because how can you hold your ground
If everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it
You have to believe that they were wrong
They have to be wrong
Why else would we still be here?
We grew up learning to cheer on the underdog
Because we see ourselves in them
We stem from a root planted in the belief
That we are not what we were called
We are not abandoned cars stalled out and
Sitting empty on a highway
And if in some way we are
We only got out to walk and get gas
We are graduating members from the class of
Fuck off we made it
Not the faded echoes of voices crying out
Names will never hurt me
But our lives will only ever always
Continue to be
A balancing act
That has less to do with pain
And more to do with beauty.