strong too long

red was the colour of your day
the undertones in your speech and the words that you said.
wet were the eyes that looked for an answer
biting hard on lips that tasted saltwater.
deep was the frown etched on your forehead
as you battled the pounding of your incessant ache.
quiet you were, as you sat in your place
while your soul exploded in your silenced day.

*

Dear little marionette,

Why were you so angry today? I watched you closely, as you sat huddled over in a corner, as if cradling your hurt. I reached out but your walls were too high. Did you hear me call your name?

No one knew what you were going through. No one, because… you didn’t utter a sound. Only your computer screen saw the real you, because each time someone asked you a question, you slipped behind a mask before turning around with the brightest, loveliest of smiles. It was terribly, achingly convincing.

You weren’t always such an actor.

Remember the time you were three, and life was too confusing to understand? You vented your frustrations with wild abandon, only to find yourself locked in a cupboard. They couldn’t handle you, so they put you behind doors where they didn’t need to deal with the tantrums. Is that why you now put yourself behind such thick walls? Is this your form of protection?

I would’ve admired your strength today, if you weren’t cutting yourself in the process.

But I’m glad you managed to gather enough sense to send a message out to a friend, asking for help. You didn’t need answers then… you just needed someone who would understand. Someone who wouldn’t judge you, but cared enough to let you be yourself. Those few minutes helped and when you stood up to meet your next appointment, you did it with such cheer, I nearly believed you were better.

Until I saw you between the moments.

You walked with the stride of a weary man, your face loosened into a frown.

And oh! How the tears fell when you thought no one was looking… but I was. And when you weren’t looking, I gathered the little saltwater droplets into my bottle. Every little tear that caressed your face before it hit the table, I found precious, I couldn’t let them dry up into nothingness. Because what you went through today, wasn’t nothing to me. No, it meant everything.

That was why I delayed you back in the office till everyone had left. I needed some time with you. Alone. Now weren’t you surprised when I turned up?

What are you doing here?‘ you hissed at me. ‘How dare you turn up?

I need you to understand…‘ I began. But you turned away.

I wanted to understand! I asked, but there were no answers. I cried but there was no comfort. I raged but there was no release. You’re too late.‘ You said, and I felt your pain.

I am never late’. I answered. ‘I was there before the pain entered. I was there in the cupboard with you, in the darkness, years ago. I was there alone, before you began to understand loneliness. I was abandoned before you were born. I am never late.’

You didn’t reply. But I saw you begin to cry again.
And this time, when I came over to sit by your side, you let me.
I entered your pain then as yours began to dissolve.

‘I know you don’t understand but is it enough if I do? Will you let me be the one to shoulder all that you’re going through?’ I asked you.

You reached out to hold my hand.

Will the day come when you realize how precious that one movement of yours meant to me? I don’t know… but I loved you all the more, when you were weak.

Because it was then that you allowed me to be your strength.

I will always be here. And I will never, ever, leave you.

With love,
The Dream Maker

*

JD Salinger once wrote, ‘She wasn’t doing anything I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together…’

I’ve been trying to be strong for too long. And the harder I try, the weaker I grow. I used to think that if I didn’t hold the universe together, no one else would, for me. So I held tighter to the strings, pulling things with just the right amount of tautness, careful not to disrupt the orbit of every demand, every responsibility, every role… until I couldn’t anymore.

But while the day was a tormenting one… at least, I have found a semblance of peace in the break down. Maybe my universe will fall apart, and maybe it won’t. But at least, I’m not alone.

[To Smiley: may you find your peace too, in being completely, entirely, unable to do everything. It is a beautiful letdown, when we can finally fall apart. And one day… we’ll have our wide open spaces.]

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state of wonder

Woke up, washed the night away.
Made food disappear, painted my face.
Smelt the rain, rode on wheels
Pulled strings together, just like I did before.
Is there something wonderful, every single day?

*

The less we see the world around us, the faster the day passes by. I only noticed this phenomenon today as I tried to fill in my personal time sheet for last week. It scared me that I simply could not remember what I did a mere four days before.

Awakened to the fact that my moments were well and truly buried in the grave, I began watching and living in the now, purposefully noting people’s mannerisms, the words they said, food we ate, the chair I sat on… and the oddest thing happened. I grew happier. People are such funny creatures…

What would it be like if I were to live in a perpetual state of wonder? I asked myself. Will the world become a colour-filled playground for my fantasies? Will I find myself exchanging distrust and cynicism for belief?

I’m not sure if there’s a point to this exercise, but I’m going to try. I’ll find one thing each day to be mesmerized with and hopefully, be able to document it here. There’s nothing to lose. After all… if nothing changes, I’m already familiar with this life I know as mine.

*

Interestingly, I chanced upon this post by Seth Godin, that also talked about wonder (and anger).

What caused you wonder today?

hating & loving. me.

I hate it when I lose it.

I hate it when I behave in the precise manner I dislike being treated.

I end up hating myself.

*

Today, I lost it – straddled between managing the schedule (we were one hour behind time) and cramming in as much cues and lyrics as I could into my puny mind, before the start of the event. I didn’t think I was actually stressed out but I was. When the furor of the rush died down, sometime before the event began, I walked over to Scooter Girl.

‘Hey, I’m really sorry for responding to you that way,’ I said. ‘It was inappropriate of me.’

She shook her head and murmured, ‘It’s okay.’ But I knew deep inside, it wasn’t.

I felt like a huge, deep sigh. I’d hurt someone with my emotional outburst. I’ve got to make amends somehow…

*

Why do we treat people the same way we dislike being treated, when we’re pushed in a corner? It’s really a case of the things I want to do, I don’t. And the things I don’t want to do, I do. What a massive conflicting state. I see some people around me who are constantly wrapped in love. They do wonderful, little things that touch lives and always seem to able to reach out to those who pass by, if only to bring a little sparkle into their mundane day.

I want that.

I want to sprinkle a little stardust into the lives of the people around me so that when they walk away, they’re shining.

Tormenting myself just as the day ends won’t help matters though. Tomorrow is a clean slate, one upon which I’ll write a new story. I’ll try.

*

‘I don’t like me,’ I complained to the Dream Maker.

‘When you look at yourself under such microscopic lenses, who do you see?’ He asked.

‘I see a girl who tries… but is always falling short,’ I said.

‘Do you see Me?’ He cupped my face in His hands.

‘You?’ I shook my head, but I knew where He was going with this.

‘You no longer exist, I do. Can you see Me in you?’ He pressed on.

‘Well… sometimes, I forget…’

‘All things old have passed away, I’ve made you new. All that you are, is now wrapped up in all that I am. Who am I?’ He smiled.

‘You’re everything I want to be,’ I began.

‘Ah, but you already are that person,’ He interrupted me. ‘You only forget. When you stop seeing Me, you’ll only see all that you are. But that’s a shadow of things that have passed.’

*

I think I’ll buy Scooter Girl a peanut butter chocolate bar. I heard that’s her favourite.

medication

‘Did I tell you that I was admitted to the mental hospital twice?’ Jay said to me, twisting a tissue between her fingers. ‘The first time I was admitted, it came after a spending spree. Apparently, I had taken all my credit cards and bought so many items I maxed out all my cards but when I returned home to my husband, I couldn’t remember what I’d bought. I had nothing in my hands. They say I gave the items to random strangers on the street.’

‘What’s wrong? What did the doctors say?’ I tried my best to keep my face from showing any outward shock. She looked so empty, devoid of all the cheer I once knew her to have in vast amounts.

‘They say I am bipolar and when I’m happy, I go berserk spending loads of money. And when I get depressed, I hide from the world because I think someone is out there, coming after me.’ Jay looked at me and smiled wistfully, ‘I can’t remember how it feels to be unafraid.’

‘Why did you enter the hospital again?’ I reached out to hold her hand, ignoring the shredded tissue on the table between us.

‘I had been on prescribed medication for months and was feeling good. Stable. So I thought maybe, I was fully recovered and so stopped taking the medication. Not a good idea. The wild mood swings hit me again and when I began crying in class in the middle of teaching a lesson, they put me back into the hospital again.’

‘Why did you stop taking the medication? I take vitamins every day… it’s just routine,’ I tried my best to empathize with her but honestly, I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of her struggle.

‘As long as I’m taking the medication…’ Jay took a deep breath to still her shaky voice, ‘I can’t have children. I’ve been married for three years now and all I dream of is holding a baby in my arms, and I can’t. I hate the fact that I’m dependent on medication to keep me normal,’ she gave me a sardonic smile.

‘Do you have any idea what it’s like to practice being normal?’ Jay leaned forward and stared at me, ‘I need to force myself out of my house to take a walk around the neighbourhood. Every person I meet is like the enemy, and to overcome this fear, I get out, walk for a bit and run home. I do this every day, while I wait to fully recover from this madness.’

She sat back and sipped her tea. Cocking her head to one side, she smiled.

‘I’m better now so don’t worry. I just need to wait for the day I’m fully recovered… the day when I can be stable without ever needing those damn pills. Maybe then, I can start living life again.’

*

How different am I from Jay?

Every single day, there are certain things I need that help me get through the day feeling, well… normal. I start my mornings with a hunger as I open my box filled with letters from the Dream Maker. Reading them and spending some time listening to Him talk takes me into the happy zone.

Recently though, I’ve been careless with my time and negligent with my ‘medication’. While I can’t understand my change in attitude, I see its effects on my emotions – they swing wildly from anger, depression, hurt to apathy.

‘Just pick up the letters and read them,’ I chide myself as I stare at the box of letters. Oddly, I put it down and walk away, only to face a day battling shadows that I don’t need to fight.

It’s plain dumb, stupid really.

*

‘Though I have a broken heart
I’m too busy to be heartbroken
There’s a lot of things that need to be done
Lord I have a broken heart

Though I have a broken dream
I’m too busy to be dreaming of you
There’s a lot of things that I gotta do
Lord I have a broken dream

I’ve been told that this will heal, given time…

– Spiritualized

‘Are you angry with me?’ His quiet voice startles me a little. I didn’t even notice Him coming to sit by my side, that was how consumed I was with my internal battles.

‘Angry? No…’ I shake my head.

‘Don’t lie to me, I can see right through you,’ He replies with a tinge of sadness.

‘I’m not angry, well, at least I don’t think it’s with you,’ I sigh. ‘I’m just tired…’

‘I saw a tear fall while you were asleep,’ He put His arm around me, ‘And I know why.’

‘Can you be faithful when I am faithless? Loving when I am hateful?’ I said, trying to keep the edginess from my voice, ‘Can you see me beautiful when I turn ugly? Will you make it all work out when I wonder if I’m doing all I can to destroy it?’

I was hoping to push Him away with my extremities and at the same time, longing for Him to prove that nothing will change the way He was holding me in His arms.

‘If you will let go of all that’s in your hands, and let me hold you in mine, I will change your world,’ He says with an urgency I haven’t heard before. ‘Look at me.’

I lift my bowed head and turn to look at Him.

‘That’s faith. All you need is to know and understand that I am the Dream Maker – the Maker and fulfillment of every desire in you. I made you, how can I do anything but love you? I see into you and whatever you choose to dress yourself in, dirty yourself with, doesn’t matter to me. I am looking into your heart.’

He opens His hands and spreads mine in His.

‘My hands are bigger than yours. You can try to work destruction, either purposefully or carelessly but My hands will always be bigger than yours. The world I can create from your mess will be far more astounding than any crap you give me. Can’t you see it? I am passionate about you.’

He takes the box of letters and places them in my hands.

‘How you feel on your journey – pain or joy – will be dependent on what you choose to fill your mind with. It doesn’t change its outcome. I’ve already written your story. And it’s good. One of the best, really…’ He smiles as He leans over, kisses my forehead and stands up.

‘I made my choice to believe in you. Now you choose what you want to believe.’

*

After He walked away, I sat there holding the box and bowed my head. Then very tentatively, I opened it, took out the first letter and began reading.