Twenty One’s Twenty One: Excerpts from my Journal
- The bulb below the bougainvillea tree lights up perfectly during the dusk. I wear Aama’s light blue, flowery kurta and step into the twenty fourth year of my life. I don’t exactly know how.
- I turned twenty-three last year during a lockdown. I turned twenty-four this year amidst another lockdown. It’s all a little hazy; I almost can’t remember a big chunk of time in between the two lockdowns. In this chaos, could it be that it is easy to forget about the life I had before this? As if nothing existed before.
- But also, so much that did exist before is fading, hopes turning into ruins, realities turning into memories. Lack of oxygen cylinders. R losing her grandfather. H Mama’s dropping oxygen level. D sir going to the hospital for his anxiety attack. C losing her father. Friends losing family. Family losing friends. Two hundred and twenty-nine deaths.
- I ask myself if I owe any responsibility towards the lost lives. But instead of mourning for them all, I decide to watch Aama take care of her plants. Aama takes the mud out from the pot, loosens them and plants the flowers. The pink and blue sky glistens. In this lockdown, everything is so timeless. I can’t figure out if I am fourteen or twenty-four.
- At midnight C texts me, “I don’t want my mother to die too, I don’t want to be left without parents.”
- While having roti for dinner, Abbu grieves for his friend and I grieve for my friend’s father.
- Today, Hajurama pours some gund in the black karai to make me some Chaku. She heats the gund and stirs it over and over. She adds some ghyu and milk, then cooks it again for longer. When it turns into a thick paste, Aama spreads some ghyu in a big kishti and pours the thick paste all over. A nice batch of chaakus.
- While staying in becomes the new normal and this house is becoming my only world, nothing around me is shrinking. I find depth in everything around me. Like the guitar on the chair. The coriander leaves in the bucket. My rainbow scrunchy. Kaya painting Hajurama’s vase. How was I taking all of these for granted? Elements around which a thousand poems can be written.
- Kaya tells me stories about our neighborhood. The aunty who never comes out of her house. A guy who used to be a drug addict and now wears his pants way below his waist line. A brawl in the kirana pasal close by. I don’t know any of those stories; maybe because I haven’t been around for a long time. Or maybe because I don’t take interest in them anymore. Maybe I find the elements in my own life much more interesting and engaging now.
- I love monsoon days. It makes me want to be thirteen and want a thirteen year old boy to fall in love with me.
- Today when I was walking on the terrace during dusk, with the earphones plugged in, I was thinking about that Mansi who wrote postcards, carefully selected words, took time to pick the stamps, and sent them across the oceans. As a nineteen year old, twenty year old and twenty one year old. You REALLY believed in them, didn’t you?
- When Mahim finally got his passport from the CDO office today, I felt a little quiver. I stared at the green color of the crisp new passport. A reminder that I need to get mine soon too. Apply for a visa. And leave.
- All these moments, all these weeks, these months, this entire year and still my thirst for staying in Nepal hasn’t been quenched. While trying to get a chord right on the guitar, I realize I won’t be ready to leave this place even a year later, or in two years or three. I mutter. This place makes me feel complete. Home is a wholesome feeling. How should one ever want to leave?
- The last week in Biratnagar always feels weird, I never know how to make the most of it. Is there a trick?
- Kaya does this thing where she finds old photographs of everyone and shows it to them. But I always avoid them; I avoid looking at old photos. Old memories. I think this defense mechanism started when I went to America and got homesick. I couldn’t afford to look at pictures of home and miss them. I don’t like the concept of time. I don’t like aging. I don’t like that I have no control on these fleeting moments.
- Kaya divides Hajurama’s hair in two halves then uses two scrunchies , one by one to tie them. After she finishes doing the hair, she shows it to all of us. We all laugh. Me. Aama. Hajurama. Women of different age-groups; from different generations all together. Hajurama seems embarrassed as if making two ponies like a schoolgirl at her age was wrong. At seventy four.
- I will never forget today, when S was eating her veg momo complaining about it’s taste and confronting her lover at the same time. L-o-v-e-r. When she was mad, frustrated, confused, not sure what this other guy wanted. Isn’t it unfair that one person suffers more than the other?That somebody walks away from your life just so easily and you henceforth remain afraid to look at romance the same way. Like I said before, heartbreaks slowly take away your courage. your next attempt will always be less courageous than your earlier one. And , those who find their forever, their lover/ admirer/partner, in their first attempt have no right to question the other group of people. Anyway, I hope S smokes the weed she has at home, I hope she lets it all out and moves on. Because her l-o-v-e-r left her to eat momos all by herself and didn’t bother coming by even after she confronted him. MEN!! I don’t want her to continue feeling this way for years. Because some of them just don’t deserve our affection. They’ll never understand how often those moments shall be recalled. That we will spend a random rainy Thursday afternoon thinking about the bitter experience. Or a Friday evening. Or a Monday morning. We’ll be reminded of that distress everytime someone talks to us about romance or asks us to narrate our heartbreak story.
Some people will always be villains in my story. Call me petty, I dare you.
- Uncertainties grapple me. I don’t know where I am heading, what I am becoming, what tomorrow has for me. All I know is that it has started to hit me. 29th August, 2021. The day I entered this city again. One more time, dragging two suitcases with my weak arms, panting heavily at the train station. I broke one of the suitcases and one of my fingernails. I placed the ukulele and the three mandarins that P gave me before leaving Harrisburg on the window sill.
I repeat, I will never feel complete in this country, but my writing will. And here’s to everything that I’ll write in this room.
- Today I am mad at New York for not giving the warmth my soul has been seeking for.
And a moon shaped balloon.
- Sometimes the silence breaks in and I feel like I don’t know how to write poems. It’s like I am trying to take a nap but a part of my brain keeps on reminding me I am not home. I can’t just walk into the kitchen and ask Aama for the almost cooked daal in a bowl made of stainless steel. While walking around I had told H that it’s not yet time to miss home because it’s just been a week that I’m here. But is there a time frame? Has there ever been one?
- Went out on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which is today. And tomorrow’s Friday. I don’t know whose life I am living and what is going on. All I know is that two glasses of wine on Monday, two on Tuesday and two on Wednesday felt good. Coming back in the subway a little tipsy and humming da-da-da-da from I’m Gonna Be was fun. Last night I slept at 4 because I needed to process certain things somebody told me. I don’t know why me, why now, why here. But stories come to me, always. Sometimes I feel like God made me so that I can listen to people when they need to be heard.
So that I can gather stories and narrate my own someday.