empty head {3 min read}

It has been a rough couple of days. My brain feels like a tangled web of nerves. Pulsating, and throbbing while I try to unravel the sure from the unsure. It seemed very crystal clear till a few weeks ago, then the muddling started which I ignored and blamed it on my insecure and occasionally paranoid frame of mind. Focus was gung ho, and I was on a roll with many other parts of my life, meditation was working wonders as much as cycling, writing, cooking and a few other projects I’d taken on.

Life was humming along, not with autobahn perfection and speed, but just fine along the country roads with the window down and some breeze in my air. 60 mph would sum it up fine.

Then stuff happened.

It’s like I hit a bad crater on the country road, and realized I was out of gas, with no gas station in sight, and there was no cell phone service on a  dying phone and I was just told that the place I was thinking I was going to had shut down, and I am not allowed access there anymore.

It’s been rough and will be rough for a while till I figure out my next route, and figure out a destination that *I* want to go, and with whom or if I need to hike it alone, and if so how accepting I would be of it.

But, life goes on.

Companionship on such routes is over rated. My karma is talking to me, and I resign with slumped shoulders and a headache that pops a vein on my temple every now and then, and make dinner for another family too, and do what we all do. Go on with our day

I pick up munchkin from her class and we drive back home.

She usually likes to talk and i am not much of a talker, but I humor her every now and then. She was silent today, till halfway. She then reached out and started messing with my hair. I smile and move away.

She snaps “I am sooo bored!”

As I veer into our community, I exclaim “You were busy till now, we almost home!”

“But am bored! You don’t talk at all!”

We shouldn’t be talking all the time. It’s good to listen and be with our thoughts. They tell us stuff when we are silent.”

I reason with her and we smile at each other, she still petulant, and yearning to kick a fuss. Which she does.

“But mommy! I don’t have any thoughts! My head is empty. No thoughts. Nope, nothing. See, I knock, and it’s empty. Am listening to silence!” 

I smile and wish for her head to stay empty for a long time to come.

Coz once it starts to fill in, it’s a deluge. Much like our closets. Like the attic. Like the garage. Lots of junk that can hide the occasional rare gem that we forget to hold closer to our hearts.

 

 

crack this you sleuths

It’s a usual work day. I come down, and start the toaster, think briefly on what to make lunch for the girls, and realize the older daughter needed a bigger lunch coz she is staying late at school. Tell myself it’s okay to give them a sandwich as they had pasta yesterday. Start off my coffee in the microwave which I shall drink till it gets cold and insipid, but that’s normal.

Zephie comes to me, so I pet her, hug her for a bit, and then let her out. I take out the green chutney for the sandwich, a tomato, and leftover pizza slice. I place the pizza slice on palate and shove it in the microwave. Get the bread out, slice tomato thin, make the sandwiches and wrap them one after another in foil.

This lunch packing is a ritual. Something Ive been doing for many many years. Two lunch bags for 6 years or so, then 3 for the last 6 years or so, and now back to 2. It’s a routine. I sometimes sleep-pack through it. It’s a set number.

  • A main lunch – sandwich, pasta etc. (sometimes two)
  • Drink (from outside which usually the husband brings in)
  • Yogurt, Fruit, cookies/chips

It’s not something I fail at or forget one, it’s at least 4-5 different things that go into the punchbag. They all sit in neat little piles spaced separately coz each one’s varies slightly, and I don’t want to mess it up for the hungry ones. They come down and they pack, or I pack depending on where the lunch bag is. Ive been doing this for years now. It isn’t new.

I am not dreaming any of the packing up.

Today was no different. I finish sandwiches. Take out grapes, coz the daughter complained of too many apples, so I wash them in a colander, leave them to dry out a bit. Husband comes down and I ask him to bring in drinks. He has only one chocolate milk and one Capri sun, and I tell him to give the chocolate milk to the daughter and the juice pack to Munchkin. (they like it that way) He does, and he goes out to get the paper, Zephie follows him, and I am back to sipping my coffee and waiting for the pizza to toast, which I scroll on the twitter timeline. I smile at the ruckus I created with my midnight Bhel posting on instagram and go back to removing the hot pizza onto a foil. I pack the grapes in ziploc bags.

I go to the freezer and I get a Gogurt out for munchkin, place it next to her pile.

Two of each. Two cookies in wrap. Two grape bags. Two yogurts. Two sandwiches.

Her backpack is right on the chair, so I pull her lunch bag out from the front compartment. Zippered. The bag feels heavy and I frown. She hasn’t eaten her apple, and a small piece of her sandwich from yesterday is still wrapped in foil. Carefully, she brings it back home. I place the apple down, and trash the foil and place the dirty spoon in the sink. I start packing her bag, since I had it open anyway. Husband is across and he starts to get his cereal and lays his newspaper out. The girls are still upstairs.
I wipe the inside if the lunch bag out, and with a clean empty bag, I start packing. I place the sandwich in the pouch. The yogurt stands on the side, the grapes go in, and the cookies and the apple goes in too. Telling myself that I must remind her to eat it during recess so she isn’t too hungry when she comes home.

I need to use the restroom. Finally. So I do.

I come out and munchkin has her lunch bag in her hand and she and the husband look at me and ask if she can buy lunch? I say, Ive gone over this enough times, Just tell me the night before, coz then I wouldn’t pack your lunch? Also, you didn’t eat your apple, can you please rem to eat your apple at recess?

She looks blankly at me, and says, but you didn’t pack my lunch.

Huh?

What do u mean? I packed your lunch.

She and her dad stare at me like I lost it. No.. There is nothing in here, see? Except cookies.

Incredulous! See, daughter’s lunch is right here, I packed all of yours! Yes, that’s the cookies I packed! Orange one for halloween!

I look at them pointedly and ask if they are pulling a prank on me. Did you just empty it off thinking its old lunch. With munchkin, it’s possible. I dart to the kitchen trash. I see what I threw out, old sandwich wrapper, and yesterday’s yogurt boxes – nothing else. So I *did* empty her lunch bag. Husband is now concerned. He brought in the juice pack, so thank God, he decides to start searching with me coz now his juice pack has walked away. He starts looking at the laundry room’s trash. Then the pantry. The refrigerator. I look and look again in her back pack. Just books,  few folders. Its as clean as a whistle. the couch is on the other side. The deck door is closed. We even peek outside coz the daughter who has now walked into this panic, starts to joke. Maybe someone is sitting outside and eating away her lunch! haha.

I stare at her.

It’s baffling us. Where the hell did most of the lunch go? I know I packed it. I didn’t dream it up?

More searching. More blame game. More doubt. But within a few minutes we all come to the conclusion that none of us are playing a prank on each other, and that I did pack her lunch, at least made it, and then packed it and placed it into her backpack. Zippered it down too.

These are physical things. They don’t just disappear.

Husband asks me to get cracking and make lunch coz now we have just 15 minutes before the bus. The daughter packs her lunch nd they both eat cereal as we continue this craziness of repeatedly checking the same places again and again. A cold fear grips me. Husband also asks me if I dreamt it all. Did I have a senior moment. I am not even angry. I ask him what happened to his juice box and he calms down.

Life must go on. The dog needs to be walked. He starts moving.

I pack lunch again, with a worried look on my face. I tweet about a ghost in the house. Daughter assures me that it will be alright and she runs off, as she has to fill gas and then go to school. Munchkin is looking at me concerned. I shake out of it for her sakes, and talk about school and brush her hair and ask her to wear more layers. Its cold outside.

Zephie couldn’t have reached up. The deck door was closed. I packed it. I know the husband wouldn’t do this, not in the morning anyway. The girls were not down. Munchkin would never empty out her lunch bag. Who would open her back pack, take out the lunch bag, take out almost all of it, and then place it back in the back pack and zip it down? 

So what happened to the sandwich, apple, grapes in a ziploc, and yogurt and a capri sun juice pack?

Cold fear in my heart. I am a logical person. I don’t believe in ghosts. I believe everything has a scientific logical reason. I cannot find an answer. i tweet. People reply simply. I had earlier lost 2 cutting boards. No one knows where they went. One just doesn’t lose lunch bags’ contents.

I drop munchkin at the bus stand and crack a joke “Hope hat the sandwich stays and you get to eat it!” She giggles and slides out. I come back and i remember by sister telling me stuff that happened at her friends’ place and she was upset too with a cemetry in her backyard, and so she played Vishnu Sahasranama on a loop. I had smiled back then on beliefs and how they make us strong. I am not smiling now and am instead playing Lalitha and Vishnu on  loop.

I think back to my trip on Monday to Rock Creek Cemetery and wonder.

No, it can’t be. There must be a logical explanation for it. things should and must not disappear just sitting there.

It’s Halloween tomorrow. I must think of a costume for myself. I think i look scared enough without a costume.

Husband hugs me and tells me to move past. It’s okay. I nod. My brain will not let it go, coz my head tells me there should be an explanation for it. I am home alone with Zephie. A part of me wants to step out. There is so much to be done. Today was the day I would get cracking and get things done. I didn’t need this.

Anyone wants to take a crack at this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

please don’t go {fable}

The jet lag was creeping in strong and silent, but she knew she could push it off some more time. She pushed the curtains aside and stood in the shadows. Light from the parking lot falling on her in streaks, swaying with the gentle breeze from the vent, and she peered out into the dark sky.

He came up behind her as she stared into the unknown.

He watched with her.

He knew what she didn’t. It was a knowledge that he carried in his heart, heavy with each labored breath reaching her neck and earlobes. A knowledge that guilted his brain and lightened his soul, at the same time. Hurting one while he pleasured the other, pleasured himself, in a way only he would understand. A masochistic moment hung in space and time as he held her waist and drew her close to him.

They stood there, hoping time would stand still.

He kissed her ears, and whispered into them.

With a pang, and a complete surrender of her own desire and need, she put her hand around his neck and head, and whispered back. Kissing each other with lips barely touching skin, she turned in his lock and held his agonized face, cradling it, wishing to earase his anxiousness away, wanting to convince him with her words, eyes and touch that though she wanted more, she was perfectly happy with his touch, and she yearned for it.

He apologized and she shushed.

She hugged him tight and held on, as he walked her away from the windows.

He wanted her for himself, and she was putty in his hands.

She sighed and kissed him, and allowed herself to be in that moment., Heady, sleepy, sexy and full of love. It was a concoction no drink or drug would be able to replicate. She smiled under his lips, their hands touching and caressing, at times firm, at times soft, and she was on her back. Eyes closed, she sighed and felt his weight next to her. She clung on, still in conversation, like the kisses were just a part of the dialog that they were in, heated, arguing, loving and cajoling and convincing. In turmoil, happiness, glee, in love and in guilt.

Fingers laced and locked. Tight. She hurt in a way that made her wince in happiness.

She craned her neck to take in as much of his lips as she could.

He knew she was high.

She knew he had the power.

He pulled her close, as he lay on his back and closed his eyes. His arm cradling her and holding her face, as she listened to his heart beat a steady tempo. She smiled onto his shirt and chest and sighed. With her arms around his waist, she closed her now very sleepy drunk eyes and savored the moment. He kissed her forehead and eyes still closed they stayed in that embrace.

Till a dog barked. In the distance. In her dream. A slight, faint woof.

She could feel a tug and a shifting, and she held on tighter. Was it skin, was it cloth, or was it just a weave of her dreams? She held on. But she was losing grip, and sleep won.

***

With a start she woke up, cold and alone, with the light on at her bedside. Without stretching her arm, she knew she was alone. She could feel his presence in her heart.

“please don’t go, just a little more time? Please?”

“Just a bit longer? I’ll sleep and you can go?”

“Okay, can you at least come back? Please?”

“I just want to be with you, nothing else. i want to touch you. I want to sleep touching you.”

“I am here only tonight, please be with me?”

“Don’t go? please?”

“I love you, please stay?”

Lines hurtling at her as they rushed in, memories, half drunk, half sleepy, sunk in love and wanting and the need to be loved and wanted. Affection, childishness and warmth, jostling in her words, as she remembered the tones in which she spoke the same words.

With tears soaking her very soft down pillow, she cried loudly. Life was unfair, and the Gods couldn’t care much, and she was hurting, a bittersweet pain that stung sharp at her neck, lips and ears, every place his lips had touched her.

Loneliness was a blessing, when one had to complain about being lonely and being left alone.

***

Loosely based on this song sung by Pragathi

 

 

places I don’t go anymore {fable}

Long ago while on the metro, I was seated adjacent to a middle-aged well dressed lady who had a small book open and was scribbling into it at a  steady pace. My curiosity had gotten the better of me and I stared at her without realizing I was.

You see, I love people watching. I love observing their little quirks, what makes them tick and one thing leads to another and am building tragic love stories into their lives or creating grander versions of where they came from and how the world will surprise them tomorrow. They didn’t call me a dreamer for nothing I suppose!

So the lady looked up and out the window, pursed her lips, squinted her eyes into a distance and her brow furrowed. There really was nothing out there to see, but the gray stony walls of the underground tunnel, but she stared into the distance alright. I watched her stare into the distance. Without a warning, she looked at my reflection in the glass window and smiled at me. Instinctively, I smiled back, and averted my eyes. Embarrassed at being caught staring, embarrassed for my own wild dreams for her.

She turned her neck back at me and asked me in a soft simple voice.

“Where are we? I lost track of time.” 

I mumbled the station and glanced up at the map to help me out, coz since I had to get off at the last stop anyway, I was not keeping track myself.

I had no idea why she explained herself but she did. “I write things down of the places I don’t want to go to anymore, and then I staple them down, so I don’t accidentally go there.” 

I nod my head, ike that made perfect sense,. As an adult, at once confused and on the verge of shame as I felt an intruder into her mind-space, and making what I think was a half-baked attempt to look nonchalant. Yet, there was that inquisitive child in me who wanted answers. What did she mean? Places? What places? Like travel? She didn’t look like she was traveling? Except from work, just like the rest of us? What are these places that she doesn’t want to go anymore?

..and without a blink, all of these questions steadily poured out of my wide brown eyes. The one outlier in my body language that I can most likely live without, but cannot. It’s a curse and a blessing depending on the answers I get from the recipients I aim those eyes at. This time it was a blessing, coz she miles again, a knowing smile, with her nose crinkling at the corners where her blue eyes met and drew themselves back into laughing lines, clear crows feet that belied the age that the rest of her assured.

Damn those eyes. They didn’t call them windows to our soul for nothing.

She started speaking, low and clear and drifting in and out of my path, like she was talking to no one in particular.

“There are places that our heart and mind takes us. Places that we don’t always want to go. Happy rolling hills and the meadows and the ferris wheels in the county fair, and the hot tub in our backyard and the family kitchen with the aromas of thanksgiving dinners, and the diaper smells mixed with baby formula during midnights. They are wonderful aren’t they? Pleasant and happy memories and flashes of life that wrote memoirs in our heart. The chapters by which we mark our lives in this journey. They don;t need reminders or jogs for us to bring back to our present and toss them around, play ball with them and then folks them neatly and tuck them away in their proper place, filed away for later references. Those are the places that we always want to go back to.”

I smile and nod at the steadiness with which she recounted them all, like she recited from a  script, a well worn script. One with dog ears and smudged pencil lines, and folded numerous times, going yellow with age.

“Then there are places that I don’t go anymore. You know the kind am taking about.” She paused and looked at me with an eyebrow raised, and a smile that didn’t reach her eyes.

I sigh.

I knew where this conversation was going. I turn back at the window and stare out. Thinking back to the places that I didn’t want to go.

“Tears forming icicles, from harsh barren terrain. Without a living thing in sight. The places with such thick trees that they form a barricade hard to scale through. The kind of place where the only whisper is of the voice in your head that tells you repeatedly that you are alone and that no one will ever find you. Like when you are spinning on the top of that very same ferris wheel and everyone else has disappeared. Those places. I write those down and staple them down.”

“Does it help?”

“Mostly. If I go to the same place twice, I write and then burn the paper. Symbolic, but it helps me. I never go to those places again.”

She shrugs. I look through her holding me down yet failing.

“We are nomads. In our head. Yet, we are also survivors. We have to burn the bridges that we do not want to cross anymore.”

I nod and turn my misty eyes out through the window.

“Try it sometime, I can tell you visit the same dark places a lot.

She whispers into my ear as she gets up and slides off the train and gets lost in the crowd.