A Letter

I have a lot of things I wanted to tell my younger self, things I wish she knew then. But more than that, I have a lot of things I want you to hear. Because as much as I’d like to go back in time and whisper the words of wisdom to her, so she’d know better, I know I cannot. And I shouldn’t, because if anything was different about myself a few years ago, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have learnt all that I have. If my words were to travel in time and be of help to anyone, I know it would be you. So hear me out, wiser one.

I hope that you’re doing okay, that you’re doing much better than I’m wishing and planning for you to do right now. It would be too far-fetched to assume which life goals you attained and which ones were swept away with tides of time, so I’m not going to hover over that. I don’t know if you’re single, with someone, married, living alone, with parents, or with friends, but whichever the case it is, I hope you’re happy, with yourself. I wish you have people around you who make you laugh really hard, enough to bring tears to your eyes and ache your belly. I hope you’re doing your parents proud, and they’re still a huge part of your life, and that your brother is still a constant source of inspiration and love. If nothing else remained consistent, I wish at least all this did.

I know you remember when this was written, probably seems like ages ago, in another world. I was sipping my tea, typing on that noisy keyboard like a maniac – and typing on it always gave me a sense of peace, I imagined I was writing on a typewriter. But most of all, writing, was what made me feel truly content. Do you still do it? I hope you do, and I hope that you’re so much better at it than I am. It’s something I never want you to give up. I know how hard it is for you to sometimes open up about things that really deeply affect you, and writing has always been the air, in those times, when your heart was suffocating silently. It used to solidify the moments of happiness and joy, express the love your heart could barely contain. I want you to remember how that felt. I want you to keep writing, for yourself, if nothing else.

Are you still curious? About anything and everything? Do you still look at people and places with wonder? Are there at least a dozen things that you plan on learning in the immediate future? I hope there are. Do you remember all those hours and days that you spent, at times, planning things? The countless this-and-that you learnt just out of pure curiosity. Let’s be honest, you weren’t a master at any of them, but you learnt – and you kept learning no matter what! I trust you still do that. Did you finish learning German? Wie geht’s? Kannst du das verstehen? Eller det här? I hope that didn’t sound like gibberish to you or that you didn’t have to open Google Translate to understand it. I’d like to believe you still love learning about the world, all the overwhelmingly large number of cultures it has, the staggering amount of places there are to see. And I hope you’re still figuring out a way to explore them all, making lists and itineraries just in case.

And hey, I hope you’re still a fool in love, trusting, forgiving, forgetting – just as you’ve always been. This might not sound like a great advice – and it probably isn’t – but I don’t think there is any other way I’d like it to be. It’s who you are. You love too much, and too soon. Always have. I hope you always will, because eventually the world may run out of people who don’t see that it isn’t a weakness, but there will always be those special humans, who’ll love you for this quality. Just the way they do now. I want you to think back and remember all the beautiful souls you’ve encountered along the way, even the ones who haven’t stayed. The warmth and peace they made you feel. It was for the person you were, without any alterations. Never be ashamed of loving, there is probably nothing more wonderful in the world than being able to give love. I want you to stay the same, no matter what you have to face.

If I’m to predict the kind of things that you probably had to go through, on the basis of what I’ve faced till date, I won’t sound so optimistic, to be honest. But I’m not going to take back anything that I’ve said. I only trust that you’ve grown even stronger than ever before, that every heartbreak or fall, made you want to be better all the more; that you had the support of your family and friends, through every thing, that you knew their importance and told them so at every chance you got. I hope you didn’t lose your faith in goodness, or your empathy for the people around you, or the love you felt for animals. There might be a tonne of things I hope you changed about yourself like, a tad bit of reduction in your procrastination skills, or your inexplicable inability to enjoy waking up early in the morning, or getting a leash on that monstrous impatience you’ve been raising for years; but there are a few traits I wish you never have to tweak.

I don’t have to list out the incidents or name people, who’ve changed you for the better, means aside – I know you keep all the memories stacked and organized chronologically in your mind, so there’s no need for a reminder. But once in a while, we fail to see what’s right in front of our eyes. We might have the solution to a problem, dancing in front of us, and we could still be absolutely oblivious to it. It is in those moments, when it’s of paramount importance that we make sure to know that we’ve got all the help we need, right inside us. The motivation to keep going, the strength to get back up, all the support – it’s all within you. We learn by example, we see the mistakes others have made and keep in mind not to repeat them, to not be in the spot they’ve landed themselves in. Look back – never be afraid to do that – and learn from yourself. What better example could you find anywhere else? Nobody understands you the way you do, then how could somebody else possibly help you better than the way you can?

There are times in our lives, when we feel so lost, it’s difficult to listen to anyone. It becomes tough to even make sense of your own thoughts. This, is for those occasions. To remind you, of all that you’ve been through, of all you’ve survived, all that you’ve overcome. To remind you to stay the way you are, the way you were, regarding the things that matter the most. That, if there is anything, that can get you through the rough patches, it is your very own heart and mind. They don’t necessarily always think the same way, but remember how they’ve always agreed on things that are best for you. Trust them and trust yourself, always. I know I do.

With Love,
A younger you.

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Are we unlovable?

Is it just me or does the title sound similar to a question we’ve probably asked ourselves a thousand times already? I know I have (I just did last week). But thankfully, my brain is at its smartest yet, and stopped that tenacious worm of doubt before it could bury itself in my mind. I’m not unlovable. Far from it. But before I explain the claim I just made, I want you to believe, with all of your heart, just until you finish reading this, that you’re not unlovable either. Just till you get to the end.

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The insecurity that I can’t be loved had plagued my mind for a couple of years, and I cannot even begin to tell you how incredibly stupid and obtuse I was to think that, even for a second. Had I forgotten my family, my friends, my pet, and most importantly – myself? It may sound vile and vain, but I absolutely love myself. Despite all the flaws, the idiosyncrasies I have, I don’t think there is anything unlovable about myself. And that’s alright, I’m fine with being a narcissist, it’s infinitely better than wallowing in self-pity and self-doubt. At the end of the day, even if I have no-one to tell me that it’s going to be alright and that they’re there for me, I have myself. I will always have myself.

The word unlovable is such an incontrovertible word – unlovable: you just cannot be loved. Do you really believe that? You shouldn’t. Every person deserves to be loved. Like I said, if by no one else, then at least by yourself. And if you can’t bring yourself to love you, think of the reasons why. Before analyzing the hundred reasons because of which some other person might not have loved you, you need to understand why you cannot love yourself. Change that. Become a better person. Not for anyone else, but yourself, so that you can be proudly in love with you. Once you do that, rationalizing the relationships that have gone south won’t be a synonym for self-doubt.

Now let’s face the real problem here. We’re not sad because we’re unlovable. We’re sad because our love wasn’t reciprocated by someone we loved. Does that make us unlovable? You go into a store and try on a few dresses. All the ones that you liked somehow don’t look good on you at all. Does that mean you sulk around thinking you’ll never be able to wear anything good at all? They were just a few dresses! There will be more, but you won’t be able to judge any of them rationally, if at all, unless you believe that you aren’t at fault here. If you’re trying fit into clothes that are too small, will that get you anywhere? Instead of feeling dejected and worthless, why not try to find clothes that are your fit? Understand yourself. Recognize what you need, not just what you want. It’s all part of loving yourself.

I cannot stress enough on how you don’t really need to depend on somebody else’s feelings towards you, to be happy. Why chain yourself like that? Why be a slave to someone else’s emotions? We spend most of our lives loving others, trying to make them love us, please them, even at the cost of our own wishes. And when it’s all said and done, you feel empty. You know why? Because you forgot to love the one person, who will, without a sliver of doubt, always be there for you. The very person you see in the mirror everyday. When my love for myself is more than enough for me, I will never, ever, feel empty. I won’t need somebody else’s love to tell me that I’m worth it, because I know I am.

I said in the beginning, that you had to believe in something just till the end of the post, even if you thought you cannot. So now that we’re at the end, you can either go back to questioning every action you make, and complain about all the bad hands you’ve been dealt with when it comes to love, or you can give yourself the love you deserve. All we really want is someone who loves us, despite everything – all the sad parts, the not so fun parts, the ugly parts, the quirky parts. Isn’t that what we look for all our lives? Someone to love us completely, sincerely. We are capable of it, I know we are. Do the honors then.

Ex animo,
Dodo

Are we living?

The little joys in life come unannounced and unexpectedly. You might find yourself being transported back to a time when laughter came from within, not as just a reaction; when the wind howling in your ears as you speeded on a bicycle was enough, and you didn’t need loud music beats to pump your heart faster. I experienced such exhilaration one morning recently, when I went cycling with my friends. It was a spontaneous plan (one that I was very late to) and I hadn’t given it much thought, it’d just felt like something that would be fun. But it was so much more than that.


I felt like a kid again. My 13 year old self who absolutely loved riding her bicycle everyday. I’d go round and around on the streets near my house till my legs gave out. And as I rode a bike after almost a decade (you really never forget how to ride a bicycle), I realized how I’d given up something I’d enjoyed doing so much. Then came the thought of all the other activities I’ve stopped pursuing, just simply because life happened. That was the only reason I could come up with at the time. But if I wasn’t really doing anything I truly enjoyed anymore, life really wasn’t happening at all was it? I wasn’t really living.

Over the years I’ve found myself complaining multiple times about how I’m not really doing something that I like or love. I would list a dozen reasons to blame for that if you’d ask me. But at the end of the day it all comes down to a single fact – I chose not to. It’s always a choice. I chose not to ride bicycles anymore. I chose not to draw anymore. I chose not to learn that language I’d really wanted to learn. I chose to do something else over these. And one day, I might not have the choice anymore; one day I might not have the privilege of time. All I would have, would be regrets.

I don’t want that for myself. I’m sure you wouldn’t want it for yourself either. So do what you enjoy, do what makes you happy. Life may or may not be short, but it’s too precious a gift to waste either way. No matter how annoying the acronym ‘YOLO’ may sound, that does not undermine the truth and depth of the fact that you truly do live only once. So sing, dance, play that game, join the drama club, learn that music instrument you’ve always wanted to, start swimming again, pick up that bicycle collecting dust and catching rust in your backyard and go out for a ride, because life, is made of these little joys, let’s make the most of it.

Ex animo,
Dodo

A Lost Piece

If I had to think of one single event or incident that changed me in a monumental way, I’d probably not get much further than “Uh” or “Um”. Life so far has been a series of lessons and I’ve been in a constant state of evolution, just like every other human being, I’m sure. There have been numerous people who’ve changed me, for worse sometimes, but mostly for the better; I’ve finally reached a point where I’m happy being who I am, without needing reassurances or approval from others. Accepting myself and most importantly, loving myself was taught to me, funnily enough, not by any wise adult, but a wee child.

People who know me closely are all familiar with him, no matter whether they’ve met him or not. In fact, it’s been almost 7 years since I saw him myself, so that says a lot. But there are times when I’m home, I catch myself expecting him to peep into my room and walk away (he always did that to annoy me). He was with us for three years – three beautiful, unforgettable years. I still remember the night he went away, the clueless idiot was so happy to get out of the house, he didn’t even realize he was never going to come back to us.

Imagine yourself in a cozy house, full of warm lights, happy vibes in every corner. And now suddenly, the lights start to go off, one by one. Each room by room. The chill starts to set in, the warm cozy feeling starts to fade. That’s how it felt, after he left. I didn’t speak a word to anyone that day, even till I went to bed. Silence had wrapped itself around me like a cold blanket. I thought I’d cry or miss him terribly, but for as long as I lay awake that night, I didn’t shed a single tear. All I felt was a frigid numbness. It was hard to believe that he won’t be there when I woke up the next morning, or won’t be ecstatic to see me when I got back home from school. It was simply hard to imagine life without that tiny monster.

You know when you’re told that you only realize what you have when you don’t have it any longer, they aren’t really that far off the mark. I’m not saying I didn’t value him when he was there, I truly did. But the void, the sharp pain I always felt in my chest when I thought of him, when I still think of him, registered his importance all over again.

I remember the day he was brought home, such a tiny baby, whining and whimpering. I’d never held something so delicate in my arms before. I spent the whole night, holding him, stroking his head, whispering and shushing. Little did I know, my life had already begun changing right then. I still think about that night, when he was sleeping calmly in my arms, sighing and huffing in between, taking those adorable snores – I was mesmerized. It was the first time, I felt like I was comforting someone, that I could comfort someone. I had someone to take care of, to look after, I wasn’t the baby of the house anymore; I was a grown-up now. I think we all know, when we were fourteen that meant the world.

The next few days had passed in a blur; the foremost task at hand being finding a name for him, nothing ever seemed to fit him! We spent a couple of weeks calling him different names, variations of those names, not that it really mattered since he probably didn’t understand us at all. All he did was eat, sleep and leave little gifts for us when we weren’t looking. You would think it would be hard adjusting your life to a new member of the family, but it never felt like he was new, rather he was the missing piece that suddenly made our family complete. I’d never known such happiness in the household. Every face lit up when he was around, everyone wanted to hold him, everyone wanted to play with him. And he reveled in each moment of this. The pampered brat loved the attention.

When something or someone becomes such an integral part of your life, when almost every waking moment is spent fussing over them, thinking of them, looking for them, running after them, trying to feed them, cleaning their mess, scolding them, or just loving them, you never really stop to wonder about a time when they won’t be around anymore. We had a little taste of that when he fell ill a year later. A nearly fatal disease took hold of him, the doctors said, the survival rate is critically low and we should be prepared for the worst. The next two weeks were hellish. We barely slept, waking up every now and then fearing the worst. I’d look into those mesmerizing brown eyes dull with sickness, listen to that labored breathing and my heart would break every time. I’d pray every day to the Gods I never really believed in, to make him well again. And maybe they heard my plea, or maybe my mother’s care had done its magic, but he survived it. The world wasn’t grey anymore, the nights weren’t filled with terror, and the mornings weren’t filled with dread.

There came a point of time, when my mother got confused between my name and his, she’d be meaning to call me, but shout his name. He had taken over our lives, absolutely hijacked very routine we had. Weekends were spent taking him out to play, trying to teach him things that he never bothered to learn. Summers were spent chilling in front of the cooler, lazing around; winters spent, cuddled around the heater, wrapped up in woolens and his special blanket. There wasn’t anything special about those days, nothing eventful ever really happening, but I’d never felt such contentment.

What I miss the most are the quiet moments we had, when I’d call out his name, and he’d come to the door of my room, look at me in a bored way, climb on top of my bed, and just sit there with a long sigh. Or sometimes he would just walk by. As if he knew I didn’t really have any purpose behind calling him. How could a two-year old possibly understand that? But he did. He always did. He’d know when I was upset, he knew when I wanted to be left alone, he knew when I needed him to just stay put and listen. Although it wasn’t all nice and dandy. The hellion decided one day that he had more of a right on Mother than I did, and I never got to spend time with her alone, or even hug her, after that. He always ended up wedging himself between her and myself.

He was a force of nature we had to keep up with, leaving behind exasperated sighs and laughter, but lots of love. Time really flies by when you have that kind of an energy in your life, bouncing from day to day. But it was the child in me who never anticipated an end to this, maybe if I’d been older, I would have been more prepared for what was about to happen.

It had been almost 3 years since the day he arrived, when we got the news of Dad’s transfer. Nothing new, considering we shifted almost every three years because of his transferable job. Sometimes we almost lived out of boxes. So, naturally, we welcomed this news quite normally. Until we found out, our new colony, didn’t allow keeping pets. We tried finding a new place, but everywhere we went we heard the same rule, it was infuriating and terrifying. Where would he go? Why should he have to go? I didn’t want him to go.

Tango, of course, was oblivious to all this turmoil going around the house, we hadn’t even started packing to move, when his doctor came to pick him up. I went around the house, picking up his toys, folding his blanket, packing his bed, looking for his favorite knick and knacks, anything he might need. And there he was in the living room, bouncing ecstatically, at the prospect of an outing. He hated it when I touched his things. It was our little game, I’d pick his favorite ball, it didn’t matter whether he’d not played with it in the last few months, but the moment I picked it up, he come dashing and grab it with his teeth, ferociously fighting for his possession. I found that ball under my bed, while I was looking for his things, I didn’t pack it – I couldn’t. I still have it with me, it oddly smells of him, or maybe that’s just my brain playing tricks on me, and I’m thankful if it is.

I still remember his shrill barks of excitement as I brought out all of his stuff packed in a bag in one hand, and his leash in the other. He couldn’t wait to get out. For a minute I forgot about what was to come, I just looked at him, picked him up and hugged him, as if nothing was wrong, just like I had a million times before, he got agitated, impatient to leave the house. Sometimes I wish he knew, so he’d at least have stayed quiet and let us say a proper goodbye. But that wouldn’t be Tango, he did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. We never got around to training him either, we still suspect he learned everything but just didn’t bother enough to do as told.

It’s been seven years since we saw him tugging on his leash eagerly, almost dragging his doctor behind him. He didn’t turn around once, and it was good in a way I guess, I don’t think we could have kept our composure if he had whined or didn’t wish to leave. We called the doctor the next morning, asking if he was fine, and he said he was enjoying himself quite a lot when he got there, playing with the other dogs. Trouble began when the night rolled around. He wanted to come back home then. He was outside, with the other dogs, and kept whining the whole night. I think I lost a part of me that day. I still have nightmares sometimes, where everything is dark, and Tango is in a corner, whining, and I can’t go to him, I can’t call out to him, and he just keeps crying. And there’s nothing I can do.

My mother says she’s kept a dozen dogs till date but none had ever been as willful or troublesome as him, and none had been as close to her heart either. He’d been more than just a dog to me, more like my baby brother. We’d never needed a language to understand each other, never needed any words. I don’t think any kind of love is as strong. We grow up, we change, our needs change, but their love, is always constant, unconditional, invaluable. I look for him in every dog I encounter now, I try to give his share of love to every dog I see. If I make them happy, if I love them, then I’m making Tango happy and giving him my love, wherever he is. He will always be in my heart, guarding my happiness, reminding me of all the good there is in life.

Ex animo,
Dodo

Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit


Ex nihilo nihil fit
Out of nothing, comes nothing
Excuses surpass efforts, every time.
Believing to be entitled to a good life,
We want, want, and want some more;
But we can’t reap what we haven’t sown.

Sitting back and wishing for change,
Cursing the others, filled with outrage,
Where are the mirrors when you need them,
A hundred different masks have replaced them,
No one really is what they are anymore,
Forgetting what we are truly living for.

Hiding behind the dim-lit, smart objects,
A virtual world where you’re somebody else,
Laughter and lectures extinct on dinner tables,
Childhood memories or just mere fables?
Do we even know who we’re sitting next to?
Confined in invisible walls, we can’t see through.

Where’s the human touch, the empathy that we felt,
Reduced to 140 letters, or a snap with hashes unmeant,
So many thoughts, just let loose in the tangled web,
So lost, not even knowing it; tears of the soul ebb.
Everything done, to put on display, a showcase,
Fighting a different war, the supreme human race.

When will we wake, from this moral slumber,
Unlock the vault hidden so deep down under,
Feel the blood, not chemicals, in our veins,
Raw potential – rotting and left to waste,
Empty shells of what we were once,
Annihilation, by more than bullets and guns.

But I cannot give up, not while I breathe,
I’m sowing the seeds of hope and faith in me,
We weren’t born to fade, or wither quietly,
I’ll become the change that I want to see,
We can be better, be who we’re meant to be,
I’m sowing the seeds of hope and faith in thee.

Ex Animo,
Dodo

Ad Meliora

Life sometimes feels like a string of unfinished entities – stories, hobbies, jobs, dreams, blogs, et cetera. We tend to begin things in the spur of the moment, propelled by the thrill of starting something new, without much thought about how we will fare once the adrenaline subsides. If the number of unsuccessful attempts at kicking-off a blog was something to boast of, I’d have added another bullet to the achievements section (which then would sum up to a grand total of 4 bullets, mind you) in my CV. This might just be another attempt, but I’m not willing to let myself believe that, because if I did, I’d have given up even before trying to stay committed to this. I have a notion, that, everything in life happens just when it is supposed to, even if it feels otherwise. Although, no matter how many tries it takes for you to get what you want done right, always believe that this attempt, right now, will be the one.

In case you’re wondering what novelties I shall be bringing to your screens and minds that has not already been said and re-said on the almighty internet, the answer is nothing. I’m not here to kindle new fires, or campaign new movements. I’m here for us to look inside ourselves and realize what we already know, deep down. I’m here, so that we can rediscover the human in us, bit by bit. It’s an experiment I’ve been conducting on myself for the last few months, and I’ll be sharing the findings with you, in the hope that what I learn about myself might be of some help to you too. If that intrigues you, then by all means, stick around.

Ex animo,
Dodo