Hair. Grows longer each week after consistently repeating the hair-shampoo-serum cycle for months now. Makes me happy until random aunty says, “ayyo mole mudi okke poyallo”. Yes aunty, olle sandoshavumpoyi.
Tummy. Started sticking out the first month. Didn’t care. Grew bigger the second month. Still no care. Third month started with vigorous workout and strict diet but gave up midway. Tummy grew bigger each day, and along with it 63892 other flabs that I didn’t ask for.
Cheeks and Boobs. Can’t complain about these two you know? You’ll see!
Dark circles. Puffy eyes and dark circles. 4 months of fucked up sleep cycle and screentime, followed by 4 months of more screentime plus stress, all of it is stored in the bags under my eyes. I’m a hoarder you know?
Anxiety and overthinking. Haha. Ok. We’re not gonna talk about it yet.
Acceptance. Am I a fat bish with thin hair and eye bags that are darker than this country’s future? Yes. Do aunty’s find it funny to remind me of my thinning hair? Yes they do. Do I care. Hell yeah. Did I not make a mention of my overthinking? But can I also make the best out of this mess that I am? I guess. Here’s some proof.
The Lady in the lake walks up to Dani and tells her how she doesn’t have a face because has been forgotten and has been sleeping, waking, walking for too long. As she says this, she enters Dani’s body chanting “its you, its me, its us.” Dani turns around and her face is now that of Bent Neck Lady who haunted Nell forever until death.
My dreams are often very intense. Last week, one afternoon I dreamt of a Hill House x Bly Manor crossover. Victoria Pedretti who plays both, Danielle from Bly Manor and Nell from Hill House switches from Dani to Nell’s Bent Neck Lady giving me a sleep paralysis which lasted longer than it should.
Hill House has left me with random shivers at night and sleep paralysis during the afternoons. It’s about staring into the darkness of the room and creating images out of shadows. It’s being afraid to open my eyes and seeing a woman with bent neck hanging on top of me, or a woman in white night-dress, drenched from top to bottom, staring at me with her incomplete face, erased with time.
Although the grotesque images from Hill House and Bly Manor flashes through my mind from time to time freezing my body, it isn’t just the ghosts that scare me. It’s attachments, detachments, abandonment, love that wins, love that fails, loneliness and denial. It is also consistency. Which I for one lack the most. Consistent like Viola who sleeps, wakes, walks every single day and night; taking anyone with her who stands in the way while she walks to her marital bed and back to the lake each night. She doesn’t stop. She gradually forgets why she walks up to that room each night expecting to see her little girl, but she won’t stop. Stubbornness taken over as a habit.
I don’t know how is it that I find this horror beautiful despite being scary enough to not let me sleep at night. Momentary chills followed by heat flashes all over my skin, from my feet to neck and all the way up to my forehead.
But, as Flora says, “You must stay in your bed and you must sleep the whole night.”
It’s an irony. It’s an irony how Aubergine has been my safe word this week, even though I hate that vegetable. When David Rose described how the robber at his store was wearing an aubergine coloured sweatshirt, in his own sassy tone, I picked up that word, and since then, it has been my safe word. Safe word to ground myself each time I felt anxiety spiraling through me.
Aubergine when I wanted to scream at someone. Anyone. To let out the negative energy. Aubergine when there’s pins and needles in my head. Aubergine when my feet cries inside the tight new shoes as I walk aggressively each evening.
Aubergine when I feel the fat in my body rolled up into flabs that restrict me from thinking of anything but a thin body. Aubergine when the blisters on my toes hurt, reminding me how shapeless my feet are, and how I have to struggle putting on those tight new shoes each day.
Aubergine when I can’t smile through pain like the stickers Anj sends.
Aubergine as I type each word into this block, hungry, for dinner, for peace, for calm. Aubergine each time someone comments on how my scalp shines through the thin layer of hair, Aubergine each time it gets too much to bear.
Aubergine when crying for thirty minutes and more didn’t help, Aubergine when head pounds really hard post crying. Aubergine each time I can’t draw like before. Aubergine at the thought of messing up another dish, when cooking was my sole comfort on harsh days.
Aubergine when I can’t find a new distraction. Aubergine when I run out of words to write.
It almost feels like a dream. That moment when you were here, right next to me, your soft hairy arm over mine, pulling it away each time I try to pluck your arm-hair.
Your beard, curves outward right underneath your lip, and otherwise perfectly trimmed, tickling against my skin. Your moustache, with hues of brown here and there, covering your upper lip almost completely, leaving a little gap for it to peek at mine.
Your ears, they’re the perfect size. Perfect enough for you to think they look like monkey ears, perfect enough for me to comfortably move my fingers along the lobe when you’re talking.
Your eyes! How could I forget your eyes? Your big beautiful eyes! With those lush curly eyelashes lurking on the edges, almost pulling your eyelids down, half closed. Opens up each time you get excited to tell me something.
It almost feels like a dream, listening to you whisper words of comfort behind my ears, your warm breath against my neck. With a peck or two in between.
It almost feels like a dream, lying next to you, curled up in your warmth and longing for time to stop right there.
When I publicly posted a question on what people think about toxic relationships and friendships, the number of replies I got regarding the same made me sad, when it was supposed to help me get a perspective in the first place. Let alone the fact that I related my experiences with most of what others told me, there were a variety of answers and that simply meant the different kinds of toxic behavior these people had come across. Most importantly, it gave me a reality check on some of the toxic traits that I possessed. I’m sure that anyone reading this will realize how this is a repetition of what we’ve been reading and listening to all the time. But, I have to do this for me at least.
Since there is no better way than laying down my points without making it sound like I am the only victim here, I’m going to give you a number of pointers to identify a toxic relationship/friendship :
Forced Consent When you know you don’t agree to do something that the person you are dating wants you to do, be it accepting gifts, spending money on you or getting into a physical activity, but you have to say YES for their sake, you should know that it is nothing but a forced consent. If it doesn’t take you more than a second to say NO to something, and unless you choose to change your mind without having persuaded to, then you’re not actually agreeing to do whatever your partner wants you to agree to. Sometime you choose to give in to what your partner wants when the relationship is new and you don’t want to disappoint them. But remember, FORCED CONSENT is the first among many signs of a toxic relationship. Learn to say NO before it is too late. http://quozio.com/quote/77753d3d#!t=1005
Ignorance, Non responsiveness, Undermine your problems When you feel choked from all that you’ve been carrying within yourself because whenever you tried to open up with your partner, they either ignored you or were not responsive enough to what you wish to share with them. Being self occupied and busy is understandable, but it is not impossible to make time for your loved ones if they need you badly. Very often they may undermine your problems and make it look like what they are dealing with is much greater than what you have to deal with. Individual struggles are common but invalidating one person’s struggle just because your problems feel bigger than theirs is TOXIC. Remember, if one person is drowning in a pool and another one in a sea, it doesn’t really make a difference at the end. https://narcopathicabuse.tumblr.com/
Gaslighting The definition of Gaslighting is as follows :- “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes including low self-esteem. “ This is often adopted when your partner wants to get out of the relationship, but in order to make it look like it’s your fault that the relationship fell apart, they manipulate you into questioning your own sanity. Blaming you for your mental health and making almost everything look like your fault. It may not always be used to end the relationship, but also as an escape reason when they mess things up. You may end up feeling like you are walking on eggshells when you’re with them and try your best to restrict yourself and your feelings for the uncertainty in your partner’s reaction. Remember, your mental health should be your priority and anyone who fails to help you through your mental struggles and instead blames it on you is not worth your time or energy. https://stopemotionalabuse.net/articles/what-is-gaslighting-and-5-tips-to-deal-with-it
Physical Abuse The first and the only time I had to face physical abuse was three years ago. It was the only time it happened, but it still is no excuse to how mad that person was at me. Very often, I’ve seen people tolerating being beaten up, scratched or bitten by their partner in various circumstances. It makes me feel uncomfortable how one person thinks they have the privilege to physically harm another person in the name of love! This topic is a very sensitive one. I know how hard it is to put it into words because of the trauma it left in me. It gets worse when your abuser openly denies that they tried to harm you. Over and over again. There is no excuse to tolerating physical abuse. Report it. The sooner the better. https://littlebirdflies.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/lets-talk-abuse/
Lack of Privacy , Trust Issues “ It’s basically like an adult supervision on an adult” If you are an adult and are capable of making your own decisions in life, you absolutely DO NOT need another adult supervising you or wanting to know anything and everything about your life. If you choose to set a password for your mobile phone, and if you don’t wish to share it with anyone, your partner cannot demand you to share your password with them. Nor can they go through your personal chats, photographs or emails against your will just because they don’t trust you. If the person doesn’t trust you with your friends (be it same or opposite gender, depending on your sexuality) and finds ways to keep you from them, do not discard this kind of behavior by convincing yourself that them being jealous is cute! The right person will make sure you never feel detached from your close friends and will communicate with you in a healthy manner if at all they feel insecure.
Now that a big load is off my chest, I feel lighter and I hope this helps someone out there too. I may not have covered all the points, but again, talk to your close ones if you feel like there’s something wrong with the people in your life or the way they treat you. Try your best not to bottle up everything because honestly, when the jar breaks it’s going to hurt you more than anything.
Credits : To all those who helped me look at various perspectives. To all those who helped me with these points. To all those who decided to open up and to all those who were there to listen when my voice needed to be heard ❤
I don’t exactly remember who suggested that I should do this, but since I don’t really have anything else to do nowadays, I was reminded of this suggestion that was put across to me some time back by a friend. Pardon me for the extra information that I tend to put up before beginning on what I planned to write. I have tried writing about my love life several times, all of it ending up like a cheesecake. Sweet, smooth and cheesy. This is yet another attempt and this time I am looking forward to writing about the real stuff. It doesn’t mean whatever I have written earlier is unreal, it’s just that my boyfriend is sometimes too good to be true. Here you go… a little sugar for the cheesecake I will probably end up baking by the end of this essay.
We started off as friends five years ago. Both of us went through a phase of confusion after a year and a half into our friendship. Soon, at the end of two years of being friends, on March 11, 2017, we stayed up all night talking and falling asleep on each other’s arms. When we woke up after a few hours, the sun was brighter, the wind was colder and our hearts were warmer. And that’s how we knew we had to be more than just friends who hid their feelings for each other behind notebooks and stolen glances.
Talking for hours sitting at random bus stops, a hot cup of chai and kachori in the evenings and walking around in Bangalore was what brought us closer as each day passed by.
After almost two years into the relationship, it was time for us to start a new phase. The scariest one. Long-Distance Relationship. To make it sound less scary, I started calling it “International Love” (my way of coping with emotionally challenging things). I sent him off to Canada with a heavy heart and he left India with a heavier heart, but we promised to not end whatever we have merely because of this physical distance that came in between us.
Bangalore wasn’t the same for me after he left.
Soon, maybe after a month or two, people started asking me how we are managing the LDR. Some asked me why we never considered a “break”. I didn’t exactly know what answers were expected from me, but I always replied with, “we’re okay”. Honestly, being in different time zones with twelve and a half hours difference in time, finding time to talk to each other was a task for both of us. In the beginning, we lost track of our sleep cycle because it was important to share each and everything at the end of each one’s day. Our ‘inevitable couple fights’ drained all our energy because making up had to be more than just texting or phone call. Gradually, as we became accustomed to the distance in terms of communicating, it became harder when one of us badly needed a hug at the least. It started feeling like something was taken away from us. Amidst all of it, what kept us strong was the hope of being together again one day.
Eleven months. After eleven months, he planned a visit to Bangalore, where it all started. This was like a bonus we earned for all those heart-wrenching times. On the day of his arrival, as I waited for him at the airport excited and happy, I felt my heart skip a beat. No, not because I saw him but because of the thought of being back at the same place fifteen days later to send him off again. It didn’t feel good. Not all ‘heart-skipping-a-beat’ is a good feeling. And when we were back at the airport, this time to bid farewell, we could feel our hearts shattering into pieces that night. You may think that goodbyes become easier with time, we too expected it to be easier this time, but only to lose the glee on our faces after seeing each other walking away in different directions to go back to our realities. In those fifteen days, we were in our own world. It was magical. But magic fades away when the clock strikes midnight.
A few days after he left, we were celebrating our three year anniversary. March 11, 2020. We bought ourselves dinner, had a nice meal and thanked God for giving us what we have.
She keeps running. My mother, she won’t stop. Day after day for fifty years she has been running without looking back or stopping anywhere. Maybe she has, I wouldn’t know. She would never let anyone know if she had to stop, take a breath, have a breakdown, get up again, wipe off the sweat from her forehead, and start running again. Isn’t that how most mothers are? At times I wonder if there was a training session for all expecting mothers; where they are taught these rules of what to do and what not to do as a mother. As funny as it may seem, it’s true how all mothers have the same response to their kids when they mess things up. Don’t you agree? This is why I wonder if mothers came with an instruction manual.
My mother is 50 but she looks 40. 70% of her coworkers don’t believe that she has a 23-year-old daughter. I myself being the 23-year-old daughter can’t believe she has a 23-year-old daughter who has developed 90% of her characteristics from her mother.
“You all have no idea how hard I work every day.”
Yes, we do. I do. But to get this acknowledgment of her hard work across her is out of the question. My family does not express emotions well. We don’t know how to say ‘Thank You’ to each other or say ‘Sorry’. We don’t explicitly tell each other we love them. All of these unsaid emotions are conveyed through actions. But, the problem with conveying things in this manner is that a lot of these “actions” remain unnoticed and unseen. Whenever I am home and my mother has to go to work, I make a checklist and tick off each chore as I complete them before she returns from the hospital. To my horrid luck, I end up missing out on at least two things that were important but never crossed my mind. As much as I hate seeing her do household work after her shift at the hospital, she is also adamant about finishing everything before she could take some rest. There are times when I have to snatch the dirty clothes put to wash from her hands because there is no other way of easing the load off her back.
There are so many things in this world that she wants but restricts herself from. Not because she can’t afford them, because she can easily afford all the luxury a woman wants. She brought me up in a way that I don’t ask for anything beyond necessity. If I need a new lipstick, I can save up enough money from my allowance and buy one, but there’s no way she is giving me extra money for just a lipstick. She doesn’t compromise on leisure. But not at the cost of work and studies. There is a balance in things that she successfully manages to take forward with her in life but I failed miserably at it.
She always has home remedies to every single body-related trouble I face on more or less a daily basis. Be it a pimple scar or bloated tummy. Natural turmeric is her go-to item for most of these problems. It can heal scars, lighten the skin, increase immunity, and whatnot. She also loves trying out new recipes and since these days she has to work 12 hours a day, our chat is filled with her sending me YouTube cooking videos.
Mother’s day has become confusing in our house. When I was small, I’d make her cute little cards, pluck flowers from outside, place them inside the card and hand it to her. This was a ritual until suddenly I stopped making cards during my “rebelhood”. Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and it was again very awkward the whole day because I wanted to make her a card once again but I just couldn’t. I wanted to cook her something nice, but my migraine didn’t allow me to. The next day, she asked me and my brother what we did for her on Mother’s day because she was obviously disappointed in us. She saw my cousin put up WhatsApp status with her mother, but nothing from me. Guilty. For the longest time, my epic come back to such questions would be, “Do you wish me on Daughter’s Day?” But thinking of it now, I don’t need to be wished on Daughter’s Day. That’s not the reason why I stepped back from showing her gratitude. I developed certain mannerisms during the said “rebelhood” and one of them was hesitating to express my feelings. For some reason, for me wishing people over a text or phone is easier than wishing them in person and for the same reason, it was very easy for me to wish her “Happy Nurses Day” over call while she was at work than saying “Happy Mother’s Day” in person.
She and I have this weird quirk where we see her mother and my dad’s parents, i.e. my grandparents in our dream right around the time of each one’s death remembrance. It may sound like sorcery but it is true. Sometimes we have these dreams at the same time and we love freaking my brother out with the details. Whenever she talks about her mother, I can feel that she misses Ammachiamma a lot. She keeps telling us how Ammachiamma used to take 2 out of her 9 children turn by turn every Sunday to have porotta and sambar after Mass because taking all 9 of them at the same time was not affordable at that time. Mummy would eagerly wait for her turn because that one Sunday was a like getaway from household work and the usual boiled kappa and chammandi. Those 9 children were not pampered a lot. They had to be self-sufficient and take care of each other. Some of them were married off and some of them left their homes and went in search of better jobs to support their parents financially.
My mother too struggles every day to teach us how to be self-sufficient and not crib about the minor inconvenience we may face. And when we make a fuss out of things, she reminds us of how hard she has to work every day and how difficult it was for her and her siblings who couldn’t enjoy half the privileges we do. Just like every other parent.
This blog post is my way of letting out all the unexpressed love and dedication to the tough parent who deep inside wishes to express herself more than she does but can’t because of reasons unknown to her. She will read this one day when it becomes easier for both of us to talk openly about suppressed emotions and finally hug; where the hug isn’t the usual goodbye hug while leaving home after my vacation.
Last week when I wanted to put my head on my mother’s lap while watching TV, she refused to let me do that. She said it was not clean down there. So to compensate for her refusal, she pulled my feet and kept them on her lap to caress my toes. I was confused. My feet on her lap is fine when she is not “clean” down there but the head is not?? I was quickly taken back to that evening when Hari and I were brainstorming for the right words to include in our paper titled ‘Myth, Women and Nature’.
When I ran up to Hari excited to show her the topics for a paper presentation, we both looked at each other with an “are-you-thinking-what-I’m-thinking” look in our eyes as soon as we saw ‘Myth’ as one of the subtopics among others. My brain gave me ideas within five minutes and I was super impressed with my brain’s functioning after a very long time. Hari, on the other hand, had a handful of stories to tell. We both couldn’t wait to start writing.
The whole experience of writing that paper was like opening a tightly closed jar without letting it fall and shatter. We had to be careful. The aim was to call out things that we’ve been hearing and were taught to be silent about with regard to menstruation. But we were too cautious about sounding “scandalous”. The credits for this ingrained fear goes to patriarchy. I learnt the meaning of patriarchy very late, though I was familiar with the concept much before I came across the term. Somewhat same is with Hari, who has been watching patriarchy function right in front of her for as long as she can remember. We certainly couldn’t bring about a huge change in our homes, and years of helplessness and frustration led us to unlearn a lot of things and that let our thoughts flow into words when we came across the right opportunity.
When we sat down to talk about the myths about periods and personal experiences with these myths, the common grounds on which these myths were based was impurity. When the society treats women differently because of a naturally occurring body cycle, calling them impure, calling their body impure and restricting their day to day activities, taboos and humiliation follow. The problem starts when some of us learnt code words for periods. “Chums”, “Down”, “That time of the month”, “Moon Time” and whatnot. Yes, I had to Google some of these names and my search results included “15 code words for periods that are funny any time of the month” FUNNY. Yes. Funny, that “code words” for periods/ menstruation exist! How did I forget to mention “Mensuration”? (Give yourself a pat on the back if you get it). For those who must be thinking how the part of geometry concerned with ascertaining lengths, areas, and volumes is related to what I’ve been saying all this while, please talk to an 8th or 10th standard kid who did not learn their spellings well. If I had a penny for every time I corrected someone who called menstruation as mensuration or laughed during a math class when the teacher taught the chapter Mensuration, I don’t know, I might have spent all that money on a menstrual cup.
The reasons why I keep having second thoughts about getting myself a menstrual cup is confusing. One of them is because my mother said “No Need”. I did not get into that argument because I knew she wasn’t comfortable telling me why I shouldn’t be using one. (Google what a menstrual cup is and you will definitely figure out why most mothers fear of their daughters using them). They’re obviously the healthier option, but tedious to put on and take off. I guess I’m not ready for all that hard work.
As much as I know that getting your periods on time is a way your body tells you that you are healthy, I hate it. I hate every bit of it. I hate the pain caused by ovulation, followed by the pain in my head (literally and figuratively) during the two weeks of PMS and finally when the day arrives, CRAMPS. If I had to describe my period cramps, I suggest you watch one of those films that show war during medieval times. (I apologize for my poor knowledge of history if I got this wrong). My point is, the first day of periods is like a war inside my uterus. Bloodshed, unending pain and agony. It makes it hard for me to exist for one day. I’d rather pop in some pills and remain dazed for the entire day than put up with all that crap. And if someone dares to bring me their period myths and funny code words while I’m in agony, I might as well sit on them, spread my “impurity” and then maybe binge watch some TV show and snack on whatever I want to, or even put my hand in a pickle jar!