We Meet Again

I’m – I’m not the same person that I was five years ago,” she said.

I looked at her. There was the same set of dark brown eyes; her beautifully shaped jawline which was perhaps even more distinct now; same slender arms, one of which still had the silver quartz watch her mom gifted her; and a rather dull colour choice of clothes. She would seem the same to anyone who’d known her before.

Yet I could see some differences. Her eye sockets were a shade heavier than her cheeks, and her once restless, trusting gaze was now steely and fiery. Her hair, which she liked long, was shorter than usual. Once jet black and thick, her hair seemed a little thinned and betrayed a couple of white strands. Her knuckles looked bonier than before, and her skin whiter than before, which made me worry about she skipping her iron supplements. Her poise had changed, it portrayed strength which overshadowed her previously held mild joviality. It was as if she was constantly on her toes.

If she was a cinnamon roll then, she definitely looked like she had left it in the past.

When I had met her initially, I knew straight away that I was going to immortalize her. I knew that my pen would jot her down and prepare a sketch of her in the only way it knew – with my words. If I wasn’t lucky, I would have to do with only a fleeting glance as inspiration. However, I was lucky. Very, very lucky.

Which may or may not have been a blessing.

You see, the moment I saw her, she birthed a range of verses and poetry within me. I knew that this woman was going to be the fodder of my pieces. I knew that she would make me get up from my bed at three in the morning because my heart had just shown me an imagery of her which I just had to write then and there. The catch was, what emotions would weave themselves into the writing. She could be the panache of requited love, or she could be the spiritlessness of love unanswered. The more I knew her the more I could craft, but the more I got of her the more direction our story would get. And then the direction would control the quill. I could imagine me and her entwined in a hug, but that hug could be of union or of farewell. And depending on how things panned out in reality, the subsequent piece would either make the reader giddy in the stomach or heavy in the eyes.

But here we were, years after the hug of farewell. During that time we had been subjected to the phenomenon of change, along with the responsibility of moving on.

Initially, it was just the change in the habit of each other. The first few days were the worst, when every small thing echoed her presence. Her scent was everywhere, her influence engraved on my days. As the days passed her essence slowly diffused, but never really went away. Her absence led to a decrease in her influence, and I learnt to do things for myself again. As the weeks passed by she turned into a reminder of the past I had. This was the buffer zone, wherein I felt I had moved on – only to see her picture on social media and drop back into her. I ended up checking her profile for hours, investigating every face in her pictures to overstating and trying to read between the lines of her posts – until I finally checked myself. Then, as soon as I abolished her out of my days, she barraged into my nights – again. She popped up in one too many dreams, which would ruin mornings and the subsquent days. And then, months later, when I finally started ‘living’ without her, I thought I was through. Until I finally met her again.

The changes in my situation led to many changes in me – I stopped being dependent on the small things she brought into my life. I began doing things on my own, engrossing myself and engulfing her out. I spoke to people with greater cautiousness, which at times helped me out as it passed off as respect. I did not prod around, minded my own business, but never allowed someone to encroach. I was definitely not available. I grew up, I matured. I learnt pain, and learnt how to deal with it. I began to download older songs whose lyrics began to make more and more sense to me day by day. Soon, my playlist was only mine – it no longer was something universally praised. I became a better listner, probably because I feared talking more would make me let things out which should not be out. I became an empathizer from a sympathizer. I learnt how to defocus from a trigger. Soon, I started giving out advice at 2 AM calls instead of asking for it.

The day I would meet her again was the day I feared the most. The prospect of facing her again and telling her, probably untruthfully, that I had moved on from her was horrendous. What would she think? That I didn’t love her enough at all? Or that my love is fickle and easily washed off? Another thing which scared me even more was if she had moved on? What if she refused to acknowledge me? Or worse, even refuse to recognise me? What if, she was still something to me, but I was nothing to her? What if, she has moved on so well that she’s found somebody else?

They say you have to face your worst fears. And that’s what I did when we met again, by chance.

I could see some changes in her which were similar to mine. I saw some changes which were not, and I wished to ask her about them. And then I realised I don’t have the right anymore. Nor do I have the permission, else she’d have asked me about the way I’ve changed. Instead we talked about the good times, and then after we were done we looked into each other’s eyes. I did not back away, but she looked away exasperated. I realised I’d made her uncomfortable, and we awkwardly sat in silence. But there was one question that was nagging me ever since I had met her again, and I willed for her to look at me again. Reluctantly, she obliged, and the fact that we still possesed that telepathic connection made it worse – and gave me half of my answer. Nevertheless, I implored the question with my eyes, and this time, she stared right back, as tears formed into her eyes, which said without voice, “Not yet.

I hope, for the sake of us both, that the “Not yet” doesn’t change to “Probably never.

Maybe we have differently aged, contrastingly matured souls now. Maybe we were in love but incompatible then, and we may be more compatible now as much in love, but probably not meant to be.

I pray, this is a case of “Not yet” over “Probably never.

Whatever it is, but we respect each other’s changes and take certain responsibility for it – to the extent that when she said, “I’m – I’m not the same person that I was five years ago,

I replied, “I hope so,” and smiled.

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Yours Truly; You.

Dear Future Me;

I hope, first of all, that this letter finds you. Secondly, I hope it finds you well.

There are many theories of how a future self can help a younger self, but knowing me so far I can tell you that you, from the future, wouldn’t change a thing or give me any word of advice. That’s because you’re still me, and I firmly wouldn’t go back to any of my even younger selves. I wouldn’t change a thing – no righting a wrong, no advice to aid in protection, and no reliving old good happiness – as I deeply understand that I am what I am because of what I’ve seen, done and learnt.¬† And since I – and we – are thus so self aware that we know what we have been through is what shaped us, you wouldn’t send me a letter even if you could.

So then, now comes the part where I talk to you about why I’d like to tell you some things.

I cannot hope to be a teacher to you here, as by simple mathematics you have more years in you, which includes more experiences and lessons than I in my current state can finitely hold. I do, however, distinctly hope that within these words I can be a reminder to you about the things I remember now but are maybe forgotten as I approach your age. These things are small things, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t significant enough.

Picking up on that note, I want you to remind you of the lesson you learnt while on a walk back home one fine evening when you were struck by the idea of a letter you could write. The idea struck you, but for months at long you couldn’t work out a way to formulate it into reality, so you let it be. The subconscious (a thing which fails me today, hope you have it figured out better) however, didn’t let it go, and sat on it for a good two years until one fine night it hatched into a piece of detailed inspiration; and you sat down to write it then; which eventually turned out into what you’re reading now.

You must remind yourself constantly that ideas need refining, and they mature and evolve at their own rate at times.

You must also recall the realisation you had that night; that even if you had the refined idea on the footpath during the walk, you wouldn’t have been able to pen it down the way you did two years later. You accepted the fact that back then you had just begun writing, and the idea you had required much more sophisticated skills than the ones in your arsenal. Within the next two years our growth of skill was precocious – as defined by the use of precocious – and thus you managed to jot the idea down to the justice it deserved. Maybe you, as a reader now can say that you can do a better job, and thus by making you realise that I have done my job today.

You must remind yourself that skills improve with practice and time, and some projects and achievements require different levels of the same skill set.

Throughout my life so far, I have been a terrible starter. Part of me hopes you’ve rectified that in the span between my today and your today. Part of me thinks it’s something that we just are, a klutz who just starts slow. If in case it is the latter, I want to remind you of how you always manage to grow into the role eventually, and douse the fires of people questioning you. People questioned us before and after our +2, and while it took a different amount of time for both cases of growth, we eventually ended up getting respect, admiration, and most importantly, credit. We learnt from where we were, and picked ourselves up to raise our heads high.

You must remind yourself that a slow start can always be the backbone of progress, that a man’s development may be gradual or rapid; but it should be positive and upwards.

Decision making is a part and parcel of life, and you know that as much as I do, probably even more. So if you’re facing pain due to a wrong decision or fearing pain due to it, I want to remind you of all the wrong decisions you’ve made. I want you to recall all the setbacks you think they’ve given, including the regrets, losses and, pain. Think about how they were insurmountable then, impossible to escape from. Think about how you had almost forgotten them before I asked you to reminisce about them. And I want you to then see where you are right now.

You must remind your heart that life keeps on going; anyhow, anyway, anytime, anywhere.

You must remember our first love. Not because of the cliched notions of first love but because I am so much of myself because of it, I am sure you’re much more thanks to it. Turns out, our first love was our greatest teacher which inflicted a great punishment – but that punishment reaped lessons. I want you to remember the sweetness of it, the pleasant nothingness of it. I want you to recall the passionate, irresponsible, and irrelevant happiness it caused. After that, I want you to remember succinctly why you let go the idea of love. Both, you and I know we did love after that, but we focused on being something worthwhile. We realised that a knight in a shining armour has neither his mettle nor metal tested. Yet, we needed love and it got to us from people we never thought would, and from places we never even thought twice about. Recall and reassure that belief in you that love has its way.

Keep reminding yourself that love will find you when you most need it, and it will heal you where you most need it.

It has always been our story – to seek redemption or esteem via the batons of acceptance and tolerance. So far, I seem to have failed to grasp those batons properly. Acceptance has led to a spike in my ignorance, and since I do not like ignorance, I opt for tolerance. And tolerance tests my patience. While I am currently swinging between the two, it is an imperative need for me to find a middle ground, which I hope you’ve achieved. If not, you continue to struggle to this day. I want you to remember the struggles in all accumulation, as someday it will bear the fruit of a result.

You must keep on reminding yourself that neither you nor I am the finished product, that we still share some flaws and needs some things to iron out.

So, there you go. I hope you’ve enjoyed a this little flashback as much as I look forward to becoming you. Of course, there in the future you may disagree with what I seem to have staunchly vested on, and if that’s the case, I’d love to stumble upon the idea and see if I can refurbish what I have here.

Before I take your leave, I hope I put a smile on your face.

I remain me,

Yours truly;
You.

The Phoenix’s Pyre

Fire blazed all around, embers and the heat threatening the soles of my feet. Above me I saw layers of crimson, red and maroon; intermingling with painful shades of yellow and orange. Cracks appeared where I was, and lava seeped through. I stood on an island of coal which was rapidly succumbing to the conflagration, greatly diminishing from all sides. Soon I will only have a circle to stand on, which will be the last of my solid footing. Scorching winds threatened to melt off my face, and the hair on my body had already been singed to the skin. Burns were slowly erupting all over the body, as I proficiently managed to breathe from the ashes and coal dust. Inferno it was; full of anguish, pain, and roasting.

It is difficult for me to often accept and apportion my affectionate nihilism and my willingness to sit back with a drink and watch the world burn. Which is as acceptable to many as it is comfortable for me. Nevertheless, there are a few who’d help me mix the drinks. People who have chosen the third side in a dichotomy and the fourth in a trichotomy. People who violently debate with themselves within, but remain unruffled on the surface, with a grin that’s often interpreted as a smirk. People who question every notion of power and authority internally, yet with a nod to the omnipresent evident hypocrisy grab it with both hands. People who know their flaws, but neither do they wear it as armour nor do they let them weaken them – they acknowledge them as what they are, traits which shape them equally as the strengths. People, who do not plan world domination, but neither do they allow any encroachment in their own spheres.

People tend to stay away from us. Not because of what we look like, we look pretty normal, thank you very much. It’s for how we look at life like. It’s easier to accept a strangled sense of abandonment when it is due to your inner outcast, rather than your outer anomaly. For what it’s worth, we dislike having most people around us too, so that suits us. We’ve spiralled into the sea of perceived madness, but we weren’t pushed. We fell on our backs into it, arms outstretched, with closed eyes and a mirthless smile on our face. The question then, is what drove us to the edge.

What drove us? Neither wrongs nor rights. Never good nor bad. We walked past the average choices. We tore open the gates of tendentious righteousness barred via a thick smog of hollow and pretentious morality; guarded by the fragile arms of society’s respect and norms. The most important player, however, came from us ourselves. We thought. We were skeptics – are too, if not more. We thought more than the average brain, and modesty was never our virtue. If you think, you eventually question things and their value to the extent of total futility. Futility of purpose, need, and legitimate-ness. We sought a black cat in a dark room, a cat which was definitely there, until we reached the abyss and it stopped; glared at us and leaped.

Much to Nietzche’s vindication, we looked into the abyss and it returned the favour. We weren’t the only ones there – many were retrieved by ‘counselors’;¬† and many shivered at the abyss.

..We both looked into the abyss, but when it looked back at us, you blinked.”
— Batman, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

Humanity needs cages, mankind needs borders. A sense of belonging isn’t the cause of the border, it is the root of it. But inside the borders, there are voices – voices which whisper and scream, reason and argue about the matters within and out. These voices are in us all, you and me included. They are in the multitude, some louder than the others, while the others are more convincing. We didn’t choose the loudest or the most convincing, as most do, we listened to them all. We gave each voice a platform to stand on it’s own, giving it the required opportunity to justify and make sense. We refused to be the judge, bound by a set of established laws, and instead became the jury – with our own reasoning and logic to feed upon. Which is why we ended up on the edge, we weren’t there as an accident. We were there because we chose to be there.

Maybe we are more enticed towards Lucifer’s Inferno than Christ’s Heaven. Closer, on the periphery, we’ve seen the brochures of both. We refuse the gates of heaven and stay adrift of the volcano of hell. And from above the hell and beneath the heaven, we see the beauty of hell and the darker undertones of heaven, and we smile.

Never belonged then, nor now.

I looked below as lava approached my feet, and I heard a cry. It was more of a screech, coming from something fearless. It wasn’t a cry of fear, it was as natural as a wolf’s howl at full moon. It was the cry of a beast in his habit, habitat and comfort. As I looked up, a majestic bird came into view, with colours of scarlet and gold, a plumage of fire, and a tail of shining amber. It shrieked at me, as I raised my hands. It lifted me up, and carried me away as the last of my old footing succumbed to the inferno. I saw a sea of fire, and as the bird rose up and up, I could see the beauty of an ablaze bottom. I knew that far far above me were the cool winds of heaven, where sweet music played of the lyre, but I knew I belonged only in the phoenix’s pyre.