Violent Flower.

This poem was written as part of an exercise to explore how a single piece can have different interpretations for different people.

She had never seen a rainbow,
Except in his moods.
They oscillated from deep dark crimson,
To lighter shades of maroon.
A mind scramble of a person,
Sometimes whirlwind.
Perhaps a violent flower,
The one that imprisons.
But the boundaries suffocate,
And the door was left open on the way out.

Bursting The Bubble About Taylor Swift Songs.

Here is the thing. I love Taylor Swift. I do. With all my heart and soul and everything. And I’ve done that thing we all fans do when we try to figure out who her songs are about. We read between the lines. We analyse her songs like they are Shakespearean literature. We match timelines of the men she has dated, her interviews, his interviews, what color eyes he has, the kind of relationship/break up they had and other details which may give us a clue as to who the mystery man is. We pay attention to the song title (as in case of Dear John and Style), any hospital injuries she/her boyfriend might have had (Out Of The Woods), the countries he has traveled to (Come Back..Be Here) and sometimes merely the liner notes (Enchanted).

From Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’ photo shoot

But sometimes I wonder if we over-analyse them and take everything on face value. I’m sure she must have taken some kind of dramatic license and exaggerated some facts or stated some untrue things. I know that she believes her songs are like her journal entries, but when the entire world is listening to your journal entries, you can’t be completely honest, can you? And for the sake of making a song a little more exciting than it is, she may have tweaked lines so they sound lyrically better or so more people may be able to relate to it.

As someone who also writes stuff inspired by true events, I take some dramatic licenses too. I know what the real story is and the person it was written about, but my audience doesn’t. So I make some changes here and there, so it is understood better. I still believe that it is based upon the person it was originally written about, but not every sentence in it is necessarily a fact.

We cannot bear to believe that her songs have even an ounce of fiction. As a dedicated fan, I realize what a bubble burst it is, to even consider this possibility. But maybe we should. She is a commercial writer, after all.

When You Need A Muse.

“Why write about anything else when there’s love and heartbreak?” – Wise words I once heard in a conversation with fellow writers.

There is nothing else more clichéd but beautifully fulfilling than writing about love and heartbreak. It’s personal, it oozes brutal truth and it is relatable for the audience. More often than not, it’s also a way to process feelings and situations.

This makes me wonder if we writers fall in love just to be inspired to write, to turn the plain, imperfect creatures of our fancy into Romeos and Juliets and to romanticize the whole experience. We dance over the words, ending each sentence with a semi-colon because there’s always room for more. There is always another metaphor for the way they make us feel and holding on to that sensation is important – it drives our art. We thrive in their love, pain, chase, agony, beauty and bleeding.

So, what do you do when you have a writing block? Do you force yourself to fall in love, merely to acquire a muse?

Stop Romanticizing Depression.

It’s NOT okay to not be okay.

We’re in an age where depression is extremely romanticized. Being happy and satisfied with life is no longer “in,” because depression is the new black. We’re in a culture where self-harm is idolized, suicide is the only way to end pain and mental conditions are supposed to be attractive. But just because so many celebrities are in depression, does not mean it’s cool.

At times, mere sadness is equated with depression. Depression is not sadness; it is profound sadness (along with a few other symptoms.) This is why it is not all right to be messed up. And it definitely should not be used as a way to gain sympathy.

Instead of embracing beauty in sadness, we need to find romance in empowerment. Victimization should not be a coping mechanism.

To clear out some myths, here are the facts. Depression does not imply that someone is crazy. Depression is a mood disorder. Mood disorders are usually treated by psychologists, not psychiatrists. (These are different professions.) And couch therapy (as shown in most movies and TV series) is not the only therapy employed to treat depression.

So, yes, it can be treated. If you are someone or know someone who is experiencing symptoms related to depression, please seek professional help. It’s all right if you don’t know its cause and if nobody else gets it. Your mental well-being should be your priority.

Depression does not have to be a battle you fight on your own. It does not have to be the way of your life. It does not have to be your identity.

Imperfect Photographs.

I was going through some old photographs of my family the other day. I could broadly classify these photographs into two categories – the ones where we were smiling with all thirty-two, looking right at the camera and the ones where we didn’t care if someone was clicking our picture, we were just being crazy.

I realized that we waste so much time and energy in trying to click the perfect photograph. The perfect pose, the perfect smile, the perfect hair or the perfect pout. In the moment, these pictures look – you guessed it right – perfect. But a few years down the line, when you’re going through these pictures, you’re going to reach out for the ones where your eyes are closed or your smile looked awkward or you were wearing your embarrassing PJs.

The imperfect photographs will be the only perfect ones.

Closure Rained On Me.

There was a smell of fresh water laced with dust in the air. We sat in the café listening to raindrops hitting the plastic roof, the glass wall and the uneven road outside. Sometimes the wind blew strongly, spraying water over our faces.

“We should have sat inside,” I say as I wipe the icy water from my glasses for the third time.

Mohit laughs again and I wonder if I have developed a sense of humor since I last saw him or if he is just being polite. In any case, I wanted to make him laugh again – but I could not think of any more self-deprecating jokes. So I stare at the faint light between the clouds instead. Only an hour ago, we were going to watch the sun set. But bluish grey clouds darkly coated the sky now with a pink hue of color scattered across them. We were stranded.

Someone starts playing loud music again. Mohit and I turn to look at each other at the same time.  I’m unsure of how to react, so I keep a neutral expression on my face as always, with my lips slightly parted and one of my eyebrows rising up on its own. He breaks our stare contest with a smile. In response, I smile my awkward smile – my lips curling but not reaching my eyes. They were playing our song.

I have always had a weird body temperature but today everybody else was visibly feeling chilly too. I considered folding my arms to feel warmer but someone once told me that it is a sign of disinterest. I did not want him to think I was disinterested. I had decided to wear my favorite shorts – I needed them to comfort me as this man sat here. My Oreo coffee was very comforting too – almost, just almost distracting me from this heartbreak of a person.

A few plants were growing near the café with colorful flowers. Their pots were flooded now, reminding me of our relationship – once beautiful and now almost dead. I like to tell myself “almost dead” and not “entirely dead” because the possibility of us getting back together is so irrationally high. Unfortunately though, between us he is the more rational one.

We are sitting on the first floor and I can see the road under us starting to flood. I draw doodles on my coffee cup. I cannot drink it anymore because it is too cold. But ordering hot coffee is never an option; I always end up burning my tongue. I don’t want to make a fool of myself in front of Mohit. Not anymore.

“I haven’t heard this song in a while,” he says, “Have you?” I can just tell that his eyes are itching to wink. But we both know what he means minus the wink too.

“Yes, I have,” I decide to be honest. I have always believed there is something about his fresh, delicious perfume that makes me want to be honest. So I try taking in the smell of the cheese sandwich on the other table or the earthy aroma of the rain instead. I cannot afford to let him know that it is the all I’ve been listening to in the last three months.

“I’m sorry, Jinal,” he says.

“It’s all right. I didn’t get an umbrella either. We’ll just wait till..”

“Not for that,” he sighs. I wonder why he never loses his temper with me around. “For breaking up with you.” His eyes probe into mine.

I don’t answer. Sometimes I don’t answer when I have something brutally frank to say.

“Why did you?” I ask instead.

He tells me. He is cruel about it. This is cruelty, all in the name of being honest. But I got my closure.  It made letting go easy.

Just Yesterday and Today.

I could swear just yesterday I was
Jumping on inflatable bouncy castles
Today I’m jumping on overflowing suitcases
Which refuse to close.

I could swear just yesterday my mom was
Marking my height on her bedroom wall
Today she is marking all the things in my list
I haven’t packed yet.

I could swear just yesterday my father found
His phone exchanged with my toy phone
Today he won’t buy a new one without my advice
And I’m inheriting his old phone.

I could swear just yesterday my brother was
Tickling me while someone took a picture
Today that memory is framed in a photograph
Between my new college clothes.

I could swear just yesterday I had to
Wake up to my mother shaking me
Today my eyes adjust to the morning
With the help of phone alarms.

I could swear just yesterday I dreaded
Teachers who gave too much homework
Today I’m writing greeting cards to them
Saying I’m pursuing a career in their subject.

I could swear just yesterday I couldn’t
Wait to borrow my mother’s make-up
Today I know that there are more important things
Than perfectly applied winged eyeliner.

I could swear just yesterday I was
Learning how to make paper planes
Today I’m a paper plane myself
Flying everywhere but home.

What It’s Like To Be A Muse.

He will remember little things like the way you shove your phone in the back pocket of your denims, or how the wind caused disturbances the night he read Macbeth for you over the phone. Only through his songs will you learn that he cheated to win that game of chess and that when you blush, you smile that sheepish smile. You’ll feel his eyes on you, noticing and absorbing every part of you, only to bleed it all on paper later.

He will know the exact color of your eyes and the story behind the ring you always wear, for these will fascinate him. Only he can decode all your facial expressions and only he knows all your little games. He knows how you like shadow puppets and double infinity signs. You will be flattered by his knowledge of you. You will start to inspire him, become his driving force, while he becomes yours.

When you gift him a Polaroid, you’ll find a poem about it two days later. You’ll click pictures and caption it with his lyrics. When you dance to his songs while teaching him how to Salsa, he’ll write another song about it. He’ll show you how thankful he is through his words and you’ll be thankful because he considers you worthy enough to be written about.

He won’t always tell you how he feels, for his self-expression is almost non-existent in person. But greeting cards, long emails and blog posts about you will be a norm. You will stop trying to figure him out; you’ll stop offering pennies for his thoughts. All you need to know about him lies imprinted for the world to read.

Every fight you have, will inspire his work. You’ll get mad at him and throw around cuss words you don’t know the meaning of, a detail his protagonist will later possess. He will write about how you steal his chocolates, how you always borrow and misplace his books and how you make him wait every time before giving in. They will all be his words and you’ll never get a chance to justify yourself.

Your name will be hidden somewhere in the acknowledgements of his books. People will know you, without really knowing you – through his eyes. His words will become their judgment. You will feel violated, because you did not wish to acquire the kind of fame he has.

And maybe one day you’ll learn how to write. Your lyrics will become the captions and then he’ll know what it’s like to be a muse.

Dear 30 Year Old Me,

This is 17 year old Janvi writing to you, typing furiously on her laptop, hoping that by the time you’re 30, you have better gizmos and you’re not technologically-challenged. I’m half-hoping you’re reading this on some cool gadget while sitting on a cloud – Preferably one that’s shaped like a chocolate.

The reason I decided to write was because I thought you should know what a lost, confused teenager you have been. I know that the last thing you want to read right now is some 17 year old ranting about how nothing is perfect in her life and how it is the end of the world and you’re probably shaking your head in annoyance, just about now. But, hear me out.

I’m not writing to vent out about the tragic state of things in my life. I’m just writing to remind you of me – hoping that you’ve changed a lot since the awkward, nerdy teenager and yet, in essence, you’re the same person. I hope you still love writing and you haven’t given up on your blog. Are you still writing occasional journal entries? I know that being three decades old isn’t exactly a child’s play and that it doesn’t give you enough time. But I hope that it hasn’t stopped you from shelling out a rant or a love poem.

Speaking of which, I hope you still believe in love and “the one” and destiny and all that. I’m assuming that life has probably given you many moments when you’ve wanted to give up. But, please, I hope you haven’t – for a romantic 17 year old’s sake. I also hope that you’ve found more people to love, and you’ve realized how the definition of love changes with age. I’m sure love at 30 isn’t the same as love at 17, or is it? I’m sure loving a man is different from loving a pubescent boy. And I know that boys break hearts – I hope that men at least do it gracefully.

I hope that even after celebrating 30 birthdays, you haven’t stopped loving them and waiting for them impatiently. Do you still plan your birthday party six months in advance? Because that’s authentic, teenage Janvi. I wish that you’re still a chocoholic – 17 year old Janvi is nothing, if not a chocoholic. And I hope that you’ve learnt how to make chocolate at home, at least by now.

I hope that you’ve made mistakes in life – lots of them. But I also hope that you don’t regret any one of them. I hope that each one of them has taught you something meaningful – especially the mistakes you made when you were 17.

I hope you miss who you were at 17. I hope you’re glad you’re not 17 anymore.

With love, respect and memories,
17 year old you.

I Want To Tell You I Miss You, But I Can’t.

I want to tell you I miss you, but I can’t because I never appreciated the truth when you said you wanted to leave me. How can I expect you to appreciate the truth about me missing you?

I want to tell you I miss you, but I can’t, because the words, “I miss you,” sound too flamboyant.

I want to tell you I miss you, but I have this sinking feeling in my stomach every time I say it out loud. It’s like my body doesn’t want me to accept it, even when I’m alone.

I want to tell you I miss you, but I can’t, because I don’t want you to be obliged to say you miss me too. I don’t want you to be untrue.

I want to tell you I miss you, but I can’t, because missing you is like a child stealing candy. The pleasure lies in the secrecy.

I want to tell you I miss you, but I can’t, because I’m scared; you might stop giving me reasons to miss you.