Milk Gone Sour

Here’s a confession. Never in my life have I spent a rupee on a book by Rupi Kaur. But here’s another. I have spent my evening turning pages one after another in bookstores, feeling (some) of her words kissing my wounds; its therapeutic in the true sense. She’s not a great poet, take it from me. Personally, I am not fond of the kind of poetry she does but I have a problem with the hate she is subjected to. I have a problem with the judgments passed on an art form to get the contempt of their own selves out on the internet.

Rupi Kaur, 24, is a poetess who has footed herself in the market and with success. In the book charts that she sits on the top of or be it the time she threw packed shows off her book tour one after another giving all chances of envy to any millennial who has not been living under a rock. In the generation of hyperbole that we live in, we speak in extremes, millions hate this, I love this. Where are the moderates, tell me? Some reasons, maybe?

On her lies the blames like, her writing is petty, it represents the ‘brown sad girl’ in the wrong light, it’s too trivial to strike a chord. But HEY, it millions. To millions of people who connected with her two liners on love, loss, abuse, immigration, and sexuality. She is not one of those poets who will stand against the tides of time, agreed. She is not one of those poets who will be remembered by her prose, agreed. She has zero novelty factor, agreed. The standards set by the ‘society’ of poetry will fail her. But she does not have to live by it. She brings something different to the table. She dresses in Dior and designer attires and does not use punctuation. She writes about the life she has had and in the age of social media and raging opinions we live in, where opening up to your mother is difficult but sharing the same with strangers on the internet seems okay. Who is really to blame, then?

She has the same things to speak that poets do but she does it in her ‘everyday’, ’easy to consume’, ’straight out of the oven’ manner. Something of her own and it has the power(visibly), to open up people, to relate. So, what’s wrong? Isn’t that the whole point of any kind of literature, to be a conversation, In the words of the novelist, Neil Gaiman.

When asked in an interview to PBS in January, that her poems are criticized to be more therapeutic than ‘real’, she said, “No, not really… And it’s because I never really intended to get into the literary world. This is actually not for you. This is for that, like, 17-year-old brown woman in Brampton who is not even thinking about that space, who is just trying to live, survive, get through her day”.

One day when a few friends of mine were chatting over chai. One of my female friends said,” Do you think Rupi Kaur makes any sense, her poems I mean, Is that even a poem? It infuriates me when such people and such talent gets so much attention and popularity”. And I will be honest about my reaction at that moment, I agreed with her and said,” yeah, those are mere Instagram captions, and yet so much success for it”. After a minute, I felt it was very hypocritical of me to say because I actually have spent time reading her stuff and relating to it. It felt good at that moment, reading. I communicated the same. But that hasn’t left me yet. And the backslash which she has been receiving over the internet just adds to it.

I know freedom of speech and free will exist. Also, the copious time you spend on the .internet ‘being busy’ to be tapping alphabets day in and day out. But you need to understand the subjectivity of an art form and Individuality of an artist. A person who is sitting on the shore making notes of the waves will make notes from the place she’s sitting and what all she can she. She won’t go back and front, swim and run and scale the whole measure before jotting down what she ‘feels’ like. What is a prose without the personality of the poet, after al? Virginia Woolf is a good example of the same, her personality came across in her writings.

When British poet Rebecca Watts commented on the success of young women such as Hollie McNish and Rupi Kaur. She says “the new poets are products of a cult of personality”. Let’s not do everything for the sake of having an opinion. Narrowing your hate for a subject to a person is not fair.

This article might sound like I am defending Rupi Kaur but I am not, she does not need it. But, honestly, let her have her cake.

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An Eye for Love

It’s funny how they say

love is blind

How you don’t have an idea

of what you are putting

your heart and your head into

and are more likely to settle for someone average

someone below your leverage.

Or maybe someone way ahead

and beyond.

At Least that’s not how it began for me

I mean, I had my eyes wide open

As I walked in love with you.

I remember making notes in my head

of the side glances you stole

and all the stories the sidewalks heard

as we walked the distance

from pole to pole.

As if i were trying to capture the beauty of butterfly in a snap

while i still had time to play with it.

as the distance separated

we found different hands

to caress and comfort us

I cannot help

But go back to those memories

on nights too lonely

or the happy ones, surprisingly.

Now with a distance of a thousand miles in my head

and a few meters in my memory

I fall in love, again

and again and again.

It’s not you anymore.

Just a piece of memory left with a hopeless romantic.

I fear it is slipping off my hands and it will go eventually.

But in my silent moments

I am allowing myself

to fall in love like a blind person would.

with a faded concept of time

smudged sense of purpose

Just for my own sake

And lost gamble against time.

Now with the failure of sight

my ways to find you will differ.

I won’t be able to add new pages to the story of ours

but in my mind, maybe

Maybe I will revisit the memories

every time I pass by the eastern express highway

and hear the  ramblings of ours

admist the bustle of traffic

as we inch closer from opposite ends

cursing the traffic to be a little kind.

I would revisit the sound of our crappy boss

as she scolded us in turns

only to hear the chuckles that followed

in her absence.

I would revisit the after taste of filter coffee in my mouth

which infused with the ice tea of yours

Most of all,

I will revisit the smell of rain

in the humid august of Bombay

and ask every piece of fauna on the road

every passerby and the onlooker

and the moon which dripped gold that nigh

to give back the notes they made

of two lovers

who returned to their goodbyes, never.

Mirror Mirror

Mirror Mirror on the wall

Here’s a story you haven’t heard at all

I suggest you should stop looking at me

Or maybe should I

for it has started to hurt a lot more

and I have more than one incidence

to cite your failure of reflecting

an image

and tell me everything I am not.

I remember the night when I stood in front of you

sliding my sleeves in my sap green dress

to get ready for my date for the night.

As I tried to hold in my nervousness and excitement

in the small stretch of my lips which I brushed of wine red

you did not tell me how well it suited me

or if the dark color works in the contrast of my bright complexion of the body

you pointed at the color left in the crevices of my lips

you made me take a hard look at myself

so I could point one,

at least one imperfection

in the submission of my hair

length of my dress

the chubby in my cheeks

the hairs which were sticking out from one end of my undone eyebrows

simply anything to kick me out of my mood.

And now I burp on the feast made by my own flaws fed by you.

But should you really be blamed for the shame I subjected to my own self?

Maybe not

as you stood on a polished surface and a few marks

I meant you more like fiction when you were only a piece of glass with an opaque side

Like a plane of fiction that I let you be

you only reminded me of what I was choosing to forget

You were only playing a postman to a letter with no destination

Between a surface and a human body what must only have been literal trade

I set you free with the bunch of keys to my inhibitions.

And now I am to be blamed.

So mirror mirror on the wall,

It is me who needs to learn standing tall

As you await yet another fall.

Goodbye Winter

As she took a pause to think about something I asked, my wavered attention followed the trail of my curious eyes. And it was only then when I observed that the fan was on and it still feels comfortable. The cold is finally leaving and summer is around the corner.

This is the time of the month of the year when the winter is almost gone leaving behind the occasional breeze in the evening and chill in the early morning. I still am able to open my eyes comfortably at eight in the morning without having to layer my face with a blanket to block the blaring light. Not that the alarm lets me sleep an extra lazy minute. It’s that weather when the warm sweaters are replaced by my light shrugs and the colors have slowly started to make it’s way back to my wardrobe. My staying indoors plans which included eating at a restaurant,reading a book under the blanket or sleeping in late have been replaced with playing badminton and taking long walks and discovering new places around college. Regardless, the color of the leaves is changing as there are more on the floor for me to notice. The yellow and brown of the trees have started to fight for my attention from the blue in the skies. The season is changing.

Winters have always been a good time for me. I am not all for it, the cold and layering of clothes really get to me. But it is around this time interesting stories happen to me, if I were to focus a little on old days I would tell you about exciting internships and my days of travel.  Except for this time, my winter was different. Unlike other winters I did not go out anywhere and stayed back in college for the winter break. I thought it would be a good idea to break the pattern of sorts but on the contrary, it got a little sad and boring. Or maybe just different.

I spent my days reading, writing, playing violin occasionally, taking walks by myself and meeting people once in a while. But mostly I spent it indoors in the close confines of my room which was otherwise shared by three people. I thought I would really enjoy space and bombardment of privacy and time to my self but when it came I did not know what to do with it and desperately wanted my roommates to come back and college to start again. I was during this time that I started sketching (something I don’t know), writing poems( something I am bad at), attending events( I wouldn’t have otherwise), watching movies( something I would only do for the love of people) and observing ( read staring) people at the bus stop, college mess, road, gardens, simply anywhere. I was into anything and everything like a bibliophile in a bookstore with a credit card. Slowly the realization dawned on me that all those time I said I like my own company and with time to myself I would only do so much was false. I wanted to run away from things with no clarity in my head as to run into something in particular.

Slowly as the days passed and I got little if not very comfortable with my own company I learned a few things about myself in the occasional company of midnight tea and something to scribble on. Strangers whom I used to see on a daily basis became familiar. Strangeness became familiar. If not clarity the fight in me against the thing I want versus the things I truly desire got easier. Basically, what I thought would turn out to be a bummer turned out to be quite a winter to remember.

This foggy season which was unusually cold unlike other winters made a few things clear to me. Sometimes the pause in the course is necessary to stop and look around where it is actually leading. If the mountain you were desperately trying to climb is really the one you want to die on.

The good part is like other winters this winter too gave me a story to remember, if not the most exciting one but a slow and everlasting one which is going to stay with me for as many summers and winters bask in and endure…

 

Freedom?

Of what use is this freedom in which you comfortably warm your backs as the hands of clocks steal time away, one tick at a time

Of what use is this freedom which is independent of a goal to achieve or a burning dream to realize

Of what use is this freedom in the empty hours of which you struggle making plans but find absolutely nothing suitable enough to fill in the long stretched gaping hours

Of what use is this freedom in which you doubt your decision to go somewhere and wishing you were better off somewhere else with someone else

Tell me, what is the use of this freedom which spoils you for choices and then puts you in  a place where you have a finger pointing at you for lost time, opportunities and battles?

If there is, tell me.

I would compensate it with the best price.

Don’t Call Yourself A Writer.

 

This ain’t a blog post. It’s a rant. it’s something I would want to scream to the world, given the highest pedestal and the loudest microphone.

In my not-so-humble opinion, I hate people who go around telling other people that they write. And add “writer” to their Instagram and Tinder bio. I mean you will be given your share of attention anyway if you jump high enough with consistent efforts, put pictures of perfect coffee which taste shit and put “XX-PRO” filter to a perfect night you want others to believe you had provided you attach the right hashtags.  Please don’t use the word writer like it were a running slang. Please don’t call yourself a writer.

Guilty?

Guilty of being wanting to taken seriously as a person who has had heartbreaks and hard feelings to add some weight to your non-existential personality?

Coming from a reluctant writer herself, who lives in the frustration of not being able to put the thought into words and words into thoughts sometimes and wanting to punch the alphabets late night when sleep kicks in but so does inspiration! Look, I don’t blame you.

The visual and social media we are exposed to, with bursting content, to not be seduced by the idea of being a writer is difficult. Movies and pop songs made it worse. I had been for a long time, I remember as a kid when someone asked me what I wanted to become and I said I want to be a writer. Let me tell you, then, I was only seduced by the idea of it, the thought of being taken so seriously for a thing which was only in my head, to create. To make things up and make people feel, moved me so much. I had already started picturing myself scribbling with a fountain pen on a worn out red diary made from recycled papers as I rested by the beach. I imagined massive book launches with my servants serving people hot chocolate.I imagined all my loved ones being there, and my fans wanting autographs as I subtly do the honor sipping tea and talking about my experiences as if they would give a rat’s ass! (laughs)

But remember, I was a kid then.

And that’s the catch, most people did not grow up from ‘wanting’ to be writers or at least to be validated for their thoughts. Yes, your one-liners and Instagram captions don’t make you a writer.

Fast forward to the time, I grew up. My unmade bed and my people are likely to have varied opinions on that one. But I kinda sorta did and realized, its actually a lot of work and to be honest a very embarrassing profession, if chosen.

So the thing with writing is, It’s difficult. very. Not talking about the rosy times, when words seem to flow through your veins like it’s the most natural thing known to humanity. but the times when you have it clear in your head but you don’t seem to find the right words to emote, the right flow, the encapsulation of a 3D movie in your head to mere words. That transmission is not easy. Sometimes the time your hands, head, and heart to bring something together is the longest, if not the most lucid. I called it an embarrassing profession because I don’t know of a profession which requires you to be as vulnerable as a writer. Your experiences are not yours alone, it is likely to sneak in your writing. Your heartbreaks become your favorite poems. Your struggles become a manuscript for your life. I liked what Stephen King said about writers, “ A writer is a sum of its experiences, go get some’!. The life you live becomes the raw material for your writings. Now that should make it also a very easy profession considering the familiarity, but little do they know.

This year I have promised myself to write more…for the times its the only way I can calm the chaos within. And I fail often, trying to write. Looking at my keyboard and blank screen stretched wide in front some me at some odd hour. But isn’t that a privilege? to fail at something, which you love so much that the major of setbacks won’t stop you from showing up again, the other day, disheveled and bloody, but still, want to write some more. A book, a poem, a sentence, maybe just a few words…

Now that’s what being a writer is all about. That’s the wine to remain drunk too.

Messy Love

If there is one thing I don’t know, for sure.

it’s how to ‘stay’ in love.

For the record, I fall too easily

and often too hard.

And as much embarrassed I am to admit,

too often, with too many.

Not saying I swim in the greatest pool of attractive and interesting men

neither I am taking credit for anything more than I am

But nothing seems worth holding onto

which promises to not hurt in the process or towards the end

Now great loves are supposed to break hearts

Like real hard,

the one’s dark chocolate and good literature fail to fix

If not hearts, at least few phone screen guards, Liquor bottles

and smiles.

Ah, the smiles!

it’s a whole cycle how it tries to return back

to the shine in your eyes

and the pink of your cheeks.

Being the classic romantic and a weak heart that I am,

I would direct the blame to a few things.

Blame it on my upbringing which labeled

dependency as weakness

and concern as a breach of privacy

Blame it on the most beautiful people in my life

who taught me how to love

apologized when necessary

even when the blame was on me

but, made it a point to remind me

How difficult am I to love.

Blame it on my friends

the good ones which left too soon

the close ones who I don’t give any time to.

In fact, blame it on my tryst with men,

who loved me too hard

kissed too well

wrote kind verses and poetry

drew caricatures

and infuse the perfect perfume

to my whole being

unknown to me then

and a part of me now.

And then left me like a barren castle

bloomed with the overgrown garden

Just so I could find my own smell

until interrupted by another.

Just another.

So cut the chase

I don’t wanna blame anyone.

As I whoosh comfortably by my chaotic life,

let’s just say

Maybe men are not supposed to hold onto

just their loves are

independent of their presence

irrespective of their feelings

Just to keep a part with you

of them

or you alone

and so go on your journey

the one you take with you and you alone.

It’s Interrupted

from time to time

but Independent

for the only hands to give the perfect warmth

are the pair you own.