Men. Pah.



I was just explaining to Mawii how I've sunk to a very, very low place the past few weeks - maybe months. From tomorrow things are going to change. How? Here's how:

1. I will go running every day, not sporadically, but regularly, faithfully, and - er - tirelessly. This will release endorphins into my blood stream and make me a happy, cheerful individual. It will also mean that I'll be able to parade around beaches in my sexy red swimming costume without sucking my tummy in.

2. I will stop smoking up before I go to sleep at night. I'll rely on the exercise to make me sleepy, not weed. I don't smoke up during the day, or with people, so that's alright. But the night thing has to go too.

3. Reading's increased, but needs to increase more. Apart from college work - which I will do sincerely and punctually - I will read at least three non college related books per week.

4. I'm going to stop saying nasty (although hilariously funny, seriously) things about people as well. And make an effort to talk to people I don't know instead of staring through them as if they're invisible.

5. I will be neater. An organised environment makes for an organised mind or something similar and ridiculous. So. I will a) make my bed every morning, b) not leave ashtrays scattered around on the floor, c) not leave empty water bottles and juice boxes scattered on the floor, d) not leave dirty laundry scattered on the floor, d) do my laundry twice a week, e) dust my room.

6. I AM GOING TO STOP SMOKING. Eventually. For now, I will reduce it. Starting tomorrow, I'm not going to let myself have more than five cigarettes and I will gradually reduce them from there. I've bought a pipe, and I will keep it in my mouth constantly and suck on it and thereby satisfy my oral fixation (oh, Freud) without slowly killing myself at the same time.

Okay, I think that's about it.

I don't expect all this to miraculously happen overnight, but starting tomorrow (tomorrow is such a convenient concept, but I'm serious) I will follow these guidelines. It should be easier now that I've actually written them out.

Oh yeaaaaaah. I love overhauling my soul. 


The past two days have quite possibly been the worst this year has thrown at me.

However, I will not let existential crises, uncertainties about the future, emotional turmoil, landslides, filled buses, agonising heat, and lost contact lenses deter me.

A conscious decision to not sulk (much).

I impress myself sometimes, I really do. 


The Potato Eaters

The little girl with her back to you.

She's heard the call of something that has transformed her forever. Did it start after she took the plunge, after she discovered delights and complexities she didn't think could ever exist? Or was it something that, unknown to her, controlled her movements, propelling her across broken roads and fields of ash?

It ripples through her, forming balls of cast iron in her stomach, causing her eyes to dart frantically in every direction conceivable except the direction she most wants to turn her face towards. It does something to her mouth, her words, her voice - they become alien to her, they rise out of her body, and slip into one of those impossibly bright, impossibly fast, impossibly loud, probably empty cars that have not yet been invented rolling contentedly up concrete slopes: blank, focused, blank. It does something to her movements: she becomes tense, tense to the point of tightness, yet she can never be still. Hands have to move, legs have to move, hips have to move, even fingers...anything, just anything, because stillness seems incongruous.

Why doesn't she take the final step - a step that would plunge her into a world unknown, unsought, undreamt?  Perhaps she knows that she will find pain and pleasure beyond her imagination there, but never fulfilment. Apparently there comes a time in everyone's life when they know what they want: fear, ambition, morals, none of these can distort it. That has not happened to her yet and there is nothing she can do, she feels, except wait.

A rough wooden table, candlelight, work, banality, ordinariness, goldfish in the bowl syndrome, love, security, contentment, family.

No, she is not ready to leave the painting, because of a whisper: a whisper quieter, softer, and (she hopes) stronger than the call. The hint of a promise, the promise being nothing more than a fleeting and unextraordinary moment imprisoned by eternity, having escaped those gentle and persuasive hands of time


I don't know if you remember this, but right up to the time you were eight years old, you'd welcome the mornings. I don't mean that as a sort of phrase, as a sort of sentence just to highlight that you were cheerful and enthusiastic. No, you'd actually welcome them.

When you were woken up, those were the days when it was the polished cello voices that woke you, and not the harsh shriek of metal tick tocks, you'd let your pursed up little mouth relax and the corners would turn up and sometimes, a flash of impossibly perfect white teeth would be revealed, and then - only then - would you open your eyes, and look first at the face of the person with the cello in her throat, and then outside the window. If it was sunny, you were happy. If it rained, you were happier. But you were happiest when the sky outside was low and still and calm, and the trees below were whispering secrets to each other, and hundreds of winds blew, carrying carefully, in the palms of their hands, the smell of rain.

It was that kind of day one Sunday in July. You pretend not to remember it, but you do.

You remember waking up to your perfect morning and running downstairs after a hasty breakfast and you remember, sharper than anything else, the sight of a door on the second floor, open, which was odd for nine thirty in the morning, with shoes lying carelessly around it. You remember thinking that it was odd, because you'd been through that door hundreds of times before, and it had never done anything so unusual.

You remember him coming down the steps and feeling a sharp stab of jealousy because he seemed more concerned about her than the swim that you'd so carefully planned, and you remember looking at him with a sort of sadness in the pit of your stomach, because he was going to leave very soon and your eight year old world didn't yet know how to exist without him.

The sun came out while he spoke to you - harsh, blinding, ruthless. And then you heard it, from him, and you really shouldn't have been able to comprehend it all at once, because if you heard it now you know you wouldn't be able to. But children can be very wise, they say, and you realised that it was possible to feel and not feel at the same time. Never had knowledge come to you so swiftly, and twelve years later, it still hasn't left you. Pain really can take over the body, it can slice its way down mercilessly, hacking out paths for itself: in your limbs, your chest, your back, your stomach, your fingers, your face, your throat. You feel it, you can actually feel it, taking over you, but the more it spreads, the more paralysed you get, and I can understand why.

You went swimming that afternoon anyway.

The night that followed was hard, with a different kind of pain. This pain was even harsher, it was more brutal, more forceful, it didn't let you hide. But it also gave you relief, it set you free, and by that, I mean that it didn't stop you from breathing like the other kind did - it pounded away at you until you just had to swallow great gulps of air, along with salt water.

It's funny though. I've only just realised it.

You went swimming that afternoon as if nothing had happened. It's a pattern that has repeated itself more than once, and one that you're not finished with yet.

And your favourite kind of days are still the windy, rain scented ones.

Do you still welcome mornings?

I'm not quite sure, but I think you try.


Scene from the metro.

The ladies compartment in the metro is crowded as usual. Bodies pressed close together and sweat trickling down faces despite the air conditioning. The floor can't be seen under all the brightly painted toenails.

An old lady pushes her way through and a young girl leaps up to give her a seat. The lady sits down with a sigh of relief and a grateful glance. She closes her eyes for a few minutes. At the next stop, a harried young mother enters with a little girl. The child is small and thin and her eyes are very big and very dark in her pale little face. She's standing at the old lady's knee - and she is lost amongst the crowd, standing no higher than anyone's waist.

The old lady smiles at the girl and beckons.

"Come and sit on my lap," she says.

The girl shrinks back a little, scared. A small hand clutches the end of her mother's sari tightly.

"Come here, my child," says the old woman, still smiling. She looks up at the young mother and you can make out some sort of kinship in the exchange of their gazes. A sense that they both know what the other is experiencing, a sense that in this crowded compartment filled with strangers, they, sort of,  just a little, know what the other is thinking.

The girl has lost interest in the old woman. She's looking up at all the faces hovering above her. Most aren't looking at her, they're talking to other people, or looking down at their phones and ipods. A few smile down at her. There's something incredibly endearing about the child.

Slowly she inches closer to the old lady and soon, she's standing at her knee. The old lady doesn't say anything. The girl looks up at her and, in return, gets a wink. The eyes widen. Another wink. A little giggle, so unexpected, it surprises even the giggler.

The little girl gets off with her mother a few stops later, carried away in the current of the crowd that surges around her, engulfing her.

And the old lady closes her eyes again, clenching and unclenching the hand that the little girl had, at some point, slipped her own hand into, confidingly, trustingly - as the train gallops on, down its usual route.