A Disease Called Fascination

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Illustration by www.bitesizedsanity.com

My spoon scrapes up shards of blue stained glass, the exact shade of my melancholy, only slightly watered down. Your knuckles make that sound again, echo around my ribcage and reverberate in my head; I love you. You seem to be the kind of man drawn towards objects of fascination, after all, you have affixed your eyes on me. You swallow a teaspoon of this fascination every day, feeding your delusions till they branch out into acts of desperation, till you think you need me to even continue living.

Alright, I think to myself. I let you climb inside my mouth, slide down my throat and cling to my lungs. My ribcage made you feel safe, so close to my beating heart. My teeth crunch glass, drowning out the sound of your desperate appeals to be heard. They don’t go down easy, but that’s what you get for letting the paranoias of your mind feed you. Was that a scream I heard? Sounds of scampering, feet shuffling urgently, as if to flee. You grumble about the sharp pieces of glass, your feet are cut and bloody. I cannot stop, I am ravenous. I spoon more into my mouth, even beads of a confusing colour, all mixed in. Is this what anxiety looks like? When the streams of thoughts have lost direction and come to seek each other, like moths drawn to light? Thoughts of different colours, from the bluest of blues to the murkiest browns, spun around and around in a complicated jumble.

My throat is dry, I wash it all down with water, one easy swallow. Help, you scream; I am drowning, you say. You beat against my insides and plea for your freedom. But darling, I never imprisoned you. You were always a prisoner of your own fairy-tale. When you said you loved me, you meant when I was at my best. You loved me when I put up a string of Christmas lights around my rib-cage, when they glowed warmth, enveloping you in a womb-like safety. Two fingers down my throat, out you come, awash in relief. You run away, almost expecting me to hold you back, perhaps a little let down when I don’t. Maybe you know better now, you watch me from afar. You don’t wish to drown, merely to stay afloat in your fascination of me. I wish you were wiser, I wish you rather knew how to swim.

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The Softness of Words

A spoonful of honey and holy basil,

it’s good for your throat, my mom would say

maybe those years of gulping it down

sticky sweet, trickling down my throat

softened my words at last

blunted the sharpness of my weapons.

 

Last year, I stuffed my words

into a dark and dank trunk

they grew mouldy and coughed up blood

I am so very ashamed to tell you

I seemed to have always peeked inside the trunk

When I had nothing soft to say.

 

I let them rise up to my throat

and roll onto my tongue

balancing their heavy weight at the tip of my tongue

I tried, I promise you I did, to taste its shape

But my bitterness stretched its arms in its sleepy slumber

and knocked my desperate words at your feet.

 

You didn’t hear them, you heard nothing

you let silence overstay its welcome

grow wild in a valley of its own

walk barefoot there if you caan

you will find a basketfull of my words

growing lush alongside wildflowers and ferns.

 

Months have churned in the great belly of time

now I count my words like change

a teaspoon of honey and holy basil

and a tablespoon of honesty

a dash of kindness and a sprinkle of softness

words sticky sweet, clinging to your ears, collecting in your tongue.

 

-Shiuli

Book Blogging Fail

Hellu! I have been away from blogging about my books and I have realised that as much as I love reading and talking about books, I always fall short on time to actually write about them and have therefore decided to limit my reviews and opinions on books to Instagram. So, if you would like to continue reading my book reviews, please follow me on Instagram. I am @ _tempestia. I am going to limit my blogging to only poetry and prose and the occasional travel posts. Okay, thank you for wasting your few precious seconds of time. Adios.

Book 18 of 2018- Warm Bodies by Issac Marion

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Warm Bodies is about R and Julie. R has a crisis, well he is a zombie so that only comes with the trade. R has no memory, no pulse and cannot recall his own name. R is also different from his fellow zombies. He eats people, but does not particularly enjoy it. He refers riding up and down the airport escalator and listening to Sinatra in his spare time.

Then suddenly, everything changes. Everything changes because of Julie, a living breathing girl he couldn’t get himself to kill and so brought back with him to the zombie lair. With Julie as his reluctant guest and then almost a friend, things begin to change. R feels himself changing. He feels none of his zombie instincts to kill and eat kicking in, instead he feels protective about her.

However, their unlikely friendship starts to stir and change things. What does the world reeking with the stench of the undead hold for these two? Will they change the world or bring upon more trouble upon themselves?

I cannot believe I am saying this, but I really enjoyed Warm Bodies. I never thought a zombie romance would interest me. I don’t even like zombies! The entire concept of zombies thoroughly creeps me out. The very idea of a human lacking its humanity is enough for me to cringe. Warm Bodies has been written well, you could probably finish this in 2 days. The story moves fast and I didn’t find myself losing interest midway at all. I especially like the idea of telling the story through the zombie’s perspective, since that’s not something I have ever come across in all the zombie fandom era.

Rating- 3.5/5.

Oh! Calcutta

The first time I went to Calcutta, I must have been 6 or 7 years old. You would think I wouldn’t remember much about the trip but I do. My father tells me I have an elephant’s memory. To a child though, Calcutta was just a holiday. What does a child understand about exploring roots or your own culture?

My family moved from Delhi to Bombay when I was 11 years old. I didn’t give Calcutta a second thought till I was at least 18. Since neither of my parents are from Calcutta and we are what we call ‘Probashi Bengalis’, meaning Bengalis who live outside of Calcutta, I grew up in a different setting. I didn’t grow up with a lot of Bengali friends, and from my observations, none of my Probashi Bengali friends liked interacting with each other in Bengali. Evidently, I didn’t pay much attention to what it means to be a Bengali. Over the years, I have endured a lot of taunts from other Bengalis on social media about how I am less of a Bengali because I don’t listen to Bengali music or muddle up Bengali words and mix up Hindi and English seamlessly into my mother tongue. Something I assure you annoys me immensely. Since when did identifying or belonging to a culture become a competition?

Who are the Bengalis? 

A quick Wikipedia search tells me that Bengalis are the third largest ethnic group in the world, after Han Chinese and Arabs. If you are familiar with Bengalis, you too might hold some much loved stereotypes about us. For example, if you believe all Bengalis can sing well or are artistically inclined in some manner, I would be more than happy to introduce you to my brother who has absolutely no drop of artistic talent. If you believe all Bengalis are highly intellectual, please acquaint yourself with Mamta Banerjee. Do all of us worship Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray? I have only ever watched two movies by Ray and read two books of Tagore. Granted, I did try to learn Rabindra Sangeet like a good Bengali girl and do know two of his songs by heart. Also, not all of us eat sweets every single day, especially not Rosogolla. I don’t even like Rosogolla! My point is, Bengalis are not the sum equivalent of your generalisations.

Let me acquaint you to a few things I have observed about my own community of people.

  1. Lethargee demands to be a surname– Bengalis are notoriously lazy. A point I want to elaborate upon when I talk more about Calcutta.
  2. We like to sit on our high horse– Elderly Bengalis will miss no chance to tell you how ours is a community more superior and intellectually blessed than the rest. Never-mind that they themselves might not have read a single book in their lives or uttered a single intelligent word in their entire lifetimes.
  3. Look, we are so cultured!– Bengalis will miss no chance in keeping up appearances about being ‘cultured’. If culture is wearing saris and rustic jewellery and a giant-sized bindi, then yes, we are all very cultured.

I know it seems like I do not like Bengalis at all. On the contrary, I revel in being a Bengali. This is why I also believe that I have the licence to critique and question a culture I belong to, in order to understand it better.

Long story short, I have been thirsting to travel to Calcutta since the moment this need to explore my roots hit me. This year in February, I finally flew to the city of joy. Was it everything I had hoped for? Did I find what it was I was looking for? I will blog about how I experienced Calcutta in the new few posts.

Book 17 of 2018- Ghachar Ghochar

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Rating- 4/5

 

I truly hope that 2018 will be a year of reading more of Indian writers, embracing them and falling in love with their writing. Keeping that in mind, I ordered my copy of one of the most spoken about books this year, Ghachar Ghochar. Ghachar Ghochar is a gibberish expression that signifies entanglement. Think about the condition of your earphones after they spend a day in your pockets, that’s Ghachar Ghochar.

Ghachar Ghochar follows a family as they traverse through poverty to riches, and how money changes their lives. A young man spends most of his time in a cafe in Bangalore, hoping for some clever anecdotes from a server he believes has insights into his life and state of mind. The family is poor, but there is enough to feed everyone, just not enough for wants that might arise out of greed. Their fortune changes when their uncle starts a business selling spices, they move out from their cramped home to a bigger dwelling.

There is a line in the book that really resonates- ‘It’s true what they say – it’s not we who control the money, it’s the money that controls us’. In the face of riches, the family is lost. Relationships change as the money comes in, their equation with each other changes. The implications of new money takes hold over the family. This is what ghachar ghochar represents, how money has the power to knot things up so badly, there is no hope for rescue.

I enjoyed the writing, there was warmth and unexpected strength in some characters. The representation of an Indian family did not feel odd, just natural.

 

Almond Blossom

The chatter around us seemed to have multiplied, the music ebbing into a gentle stream. I looked out of our bubble and felt only a hum, reverberating around us but not quite touching us. I was secure, I was happy.

My mind tugged onto a single stream of memory, a thread I had looped around it to help me remember. It’s been a while and I have stopped being surprised by how easily our conversation flows, how I want to tell you everything and not hold anything back. From the most inconsequential event to things of great urgency, they flow like a tide between us, back and forth.

My words spill their letters and, in that moment, you take my hand and intertwine our fingers; the alcohol gently making its way to our bloodstreams. You sit there wearing a lopsided smile, absorbing my words and looking so nonchalant. Like as if this was the most ordinary thing in the world, like as if my heart hadn’t slipped through my ribcage and into the pit of my stomach, like as if affection was a commodity to be shared so easily.

In your defence, you have never viewed affection as a commodity to be sold and bought. I come from a world where love has a price and hearts are broken with the speed of lightning. A world where affection is hoarded, a wasteland of hearts. I have only ever been robbed of my soul, for I am well versed in the art of giving.

If I love you, I will let you have my all. You can move into my heart, strip my body of all its shame and haunt my soul. I have been told to be careful, hearts break easily. But, what else is the purpose of our hearts? The heart is for breaking, for feeling, for loving recklessly. How can the heart grow softer if we never let it break, never allow it to grieve and feel?

But, I am getting side-tracked. You laughed, and now I understand why making someone laugh is such a treasure. I could do this all day, hold your hand and walk you through my world of absurdities. This is a world of my own, my vulnerabilities are alive and breathing. You should know I do not bring people here, not so often anyway.

You are gazing at me like I am the most important thing in the room, I have never seen your eyes drift away from me. We are held together by electricity, buzzing and alive in our hands. We get ready to leave, my hand held firmly in yours. Tugging me along the next adventure at 10’o clock in the night.

It’s a hot night, spring is coming alive in the form of almond blossom trees, their pink petals strewn all over the streets. You kiss me then, and it’s as if I have never been kissed before. It’s a heart thumping, mind reeling, fingers tugging onto skin kind of urgency. Your kisses are always urgent, like as if you are boarding a train to an unnamed city at the crack of dawn, tasting me for the last time.

Through the thumping of my heart, emerges a single delicate thread of whisper- I hope the night sucks us in right this moment, the geometry of our lips intact and our bodies communicating in a language private to them alone.