Turning To Caffeine

I get that warm gushy, mushy feeling
as the last of the coffee swirls in my mouth,
crashing against the pink walls
it is controlled in, all the juices
from the body, blending perfectly
with the milk, and coffee, and water
and sugar from the pantry below the rooms.

I nestle comfortable in my chair,
my spine jutting with ease with the
Styrofoam under the red, cheap cloth
my knee perched up, ankle left loose
on the steel hand rest of the chair;
my ponytail playing chase with the
the slight air that the fan sends in my way.

Arms across the chest, my eyelids flutter,
just as they do when I feel droopy, the head
reminding me of the paper that I have due
and my heart, of the feather-like mattress
that crushes under me each night; as the eyes
shut close, the world starts to breathe and stops
as the smell of coffee warms my nostrils, yet again.

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Nights At Uni.

The night was still young,
when the world started to stir;
Drowsy heads emerge
from under the cold blanket
called life, for life.
Groups flock to the courts
and to libraries and to
canopies and to the grounds,
celebrating the cool night
under the burning embers
in the distant sky. The trees
sway to the music
of the wind and grass
awaits the naked feet
caress it passionately.
The chirping of the crickets
is a lullaby to each and every
still deep in the slumber
and music to the others.
The turf inhales and exhales
with each breath everyone
takes and the gentle,
feel good movement
brings everyone alive
and makes everyone laugh
as life begins, begins, begins. 

Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti

Read this for reference before continuing.

Sixteen years later, a full fledged, voluptuous, long dark haired girl lies on a bedsheet on the floor of her room, next to the two mattresses, both of which are depressed with mountainous solids, covered in bedsheets and flanked by multiple pillows on either side- her parents.

The room is bathed in a gentle red hue and the air conditioner’s low, constant hum creates a drowsy, comfortable atmosphere. A guitar is in one corner of the room, against the wall, behind which the red lights twinkle lazily. The opposite wall is covered entirely with scraps of paper, some printed, some written on- by crayons, pencils, pens, markers, so much that the blue paint of the wall is hardly visible; things that may make no sense to someone who doesn’t look close enough. Each bit of paper contains thoughts.

It was something that the two sisters started earlier in the year. They put their thoughts on scraps of paper and struck them to the wall. Song lyrics, some random poems, lists, words, quotes, essays in the newspapers they liked, some important deadlines, written in bold; it was their mind on the wall. It contained candid snaps of their lives. There are times when each one of us wishes to read other people’s minds. The sisters’ minds were on this wall, right here.

In the background, from a small speaker, in a low, smooth voice, sings Jagjit Singh her father’s and her favorite shayari- Woh Kagaz Ki Kashti.

“It is an experience,” she had urged her parents who were both in their beds in the adjoining rooms when she had asked them to accompany her to her bedroom. “I want to give you The Experience.”

The Experience referred to something that she had, well, experienced just that evening. She’ll lose the lights and light up the red ones, she’ll set the temperature to an optimum, she’ll envelope her body up to her shoulders in a bedsheet, arms beside the body and play this song from the speaker. She’ll close her  eyes and let the song wash her over. She’ll inhale each beat, she’ll exhale each note, she’ll feel the music unravelling her, she’ll feel the words crawl up her skin. She’ll conjure images in her head, as each combination of words will make sense, second after she has registered them. She’ll let each chatoyant of every word that left his voice, enter her being and imprint permanently in her mind. Sometimes she will open her eyes and look at the shadows that the red lights will make in the room, and the music and the light will complement each other perfectly. She will think of songs that may make her feel the same way that she is feeling now. Her mind will produce a blank slate. That is when she will feel weightless.

Her parents were in the same position, eyes closed. She can feel the music weigh her eyes, and she knows that she’d be asleep soon. She pops her eyes open and looks at her parents’ resting bodies. And suddenly, she feels guilty.

In twenty three days, she would be leaving for college. For four years. For the first time, she’ll be away from them- away that she will never see them daily, away that she will not hassle with her mother over the quality of the food, away that she will not hug her father and kiss him goodnight, away that will not curse her sister for not having set the beds, away that her parents will not barge in on her before dawn and catch her on the phone. She felt guilty for leaving them with nothing after eighteen years of love and effort they put in for raising her; she felt guilty for leaving them empty handed. She felt guilty for having discovered The Experience so late that she won’t be able to compose a playlist of songs suitable for it. She felt guilty for receiving all the time. She felt guilty for taking so much from them. She felt guilty for having thought that she’d enjoy hostels, when the truth is that her heart would always be there, in this house, in this moment, when she is guilty and they are weightless.

Her parents were perfect. How can she ever have thought of leaving them, how could she have fought with them for something as stupid as a mobile phone? How could she have ever thought of living alone, embracing adulthood, when she still needed her mother to tell the doctor what was wrong whenever they visited one, for her? How could have she ever thought of doing laundry when she didn’t know how to operate a washing machine?

How could, how would she leave them? 

She looks at them. She wishes, suddenly, to be two once again, when her father came from the office, straight towards her for a hearty kiss, and her mother bathed her in a small bucket in the kitchen. She wishes to be two again, because she knows she’d have sixteen more years before she’d have to leave them.

Getting up from the floor, she goes and lies down between her parents, who are, both, fast asleep by now. She cuddle with her father, his arms around her. She extends her hands towards her mother, who holds them both between her own, warm palms, as Jagjit Singh sings in the background, “Voh kagaz ki kashti, voh baarish ka paani…”

*

Sorry for the long absence. Please check the Facebook page for details. You can follow TWPM on Instagram @theakankshavarma where I post lots, and regularly. Also follow at Twitter under @axavarma. Enjoy!

Thank You, School.

Tu Shaheen hai parwaaz hai kaam tera;
Tere saamne aasman aur bhee hain
– Iqbal

“You are a falcon. Soaring high is your nature. There are skies yet for you to conquer.”

January 30, 2016. School’s over. Forever. Twelve years in a place that I sometimes hated, sometimes loved, despised, desired, longed for, a place that became my second home over the years is no longer my own, and all I wish, contrary to what I’ve been wishing the past twelve years, is that it doesn’t end, not now, not forever.

My school has given me knowledge, it has given me strength and support. It has taught me to trust and to believe in the goodness of people. It has taught me to think beyond myself and in the power of relationships not bound by blood. It has taught me all that I know and will be the foundation of all that I will ever know. But most of all, it has taught me about me, about myself, my identity, my strengths and weaknesses. I have found myself and there is probably no one else, albeit my parents, who I can credit this to.

My school is not the best school in the world. It is not the worst school in the world. It doesn’t have the best teachers, the best students, the best infrastructure, but my school has what no other will. It has my childhood- all the dropped food, spoilt skirts, torn papers, table art, my blood, my name, my tears, my laughter, every inch of me that once existed there- in the classrooms I’ve been in, in the tiny scribbling on the walls and the desks and the corridors and the school ground and the auditorium and the swimming pool and the basketball court and the canteen and the middle and junior block and beside the hostels and the bookshop and the uniform shop and the library and the computer and physics and chemistry labs and in the reception and maybe memories of my favourite teacher and my favorite junior and somehow, somehow, that is enough for me to feel like the luckiest student in the world- to have had the privilege of studying in the best school in the world. I can say with pride that I am a Apeejayite forever.

Perhaps yesterday was the last time I’d ever be there, perhaps it is the beginning of reminiscence and nostalgia that I would feel when I talk about my school and when I would bring my children to be here, but the memories of the times spent here, the bonds made, the teachers who cared for us like our mothers, will stay with me forever, till my last breath.

In the course of twelve years, I made some amazing friends, some who aren’t friends anymore, some with whom I’ve grown closer, some who have been there since forever, some who left midway, trusting me to cherish the memories- Anahita, Anusha, Simran, Riti, Sakshi, Aideed, Naru, Ekam, Rishabh, Arushi, Akriti, Preetika, Kriti, Ishika, Mansi, Aayush, Garima, Pragya, Mahima, Nitya, Ananya, Shreshth, Mayank, Kritika, Ishmeet, Rahul, Aayushi, Preetha, Kareen, Falguni, Dhruvi, Deepika, Raksha -to name some of them, and some amazing teachers, to whom I’m indebted to- Anju Ma’am, Bipasha Ma’am, Surabhi Ma’am, Rukmini Ma’am, Manjari Ma’am, Kumkum Ma’am, Alka Ma’am, Ashu Ma’am, Salila Ma’am, Varun Sir, Kanchan Ma’am, Lubna Ma’am, Susmita Ma’am, Meenakshi Ma’am, Ruby Ma’am- to name a few who have moulded me, comforted me, understood me, and loved me.

But as they say, every end brings a new beginning. This was just one chapter in my life, a pretty prolonged one at that, but it will always be with me. This is curtain drawn on a part of my life, a piece of heart left behind. And it will be there. And it will be here. And for the moment, that is enough.

“Besides, what makes any highschool special? That’s where it all happened for the first time, the pain, the heartache, the happiness.”