Goodreads Week #IDontRemember

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  1. Where Not To Have a Miscarriage — Short Story by KATHRYN BOCKINO
  2. Dust and Other Poems (Ghazals) — by  SHAHNAZ BASHIR
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Last Night’s Wind Brought A Familiar Fragrance

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I live in a small basement flat towards the edge of the building, so that my room’s windows give me an open view of the mountains that the building overlooks. My room’s door to the outside opens to a wall whose top end joins with the ground floor. As I went outside from my room’s door to look at the hotel lights, at the top of the mountain ahead of me, that shimmer in a distant dream, I smelt of a nostalgic fragrance — a body odour.

To know me, is to know that I’m a very forgetful person. Google keep and Google Allo reminders are akin to life savers for me. But there I was standing with my chin up, letting the cool monsoon breeze play with me, suddenly aware of this fragrance, and that too nothing other but a body odour. I even asked myself in the initial moments, out of disbelief — How do you know its body odour? I couldn’t answer, but I knew it was that.

I closed my eyes and I saw a familiar face of a now dead person — Malvika Khurana, the first love of my life (1st grade — 5th grade). Slightly plagued teeth, thick lips such that the saliva would often find ways to stick while the lips parted, like pizza cheese struggles. Shoulder length hair, mouth never stopping speaking. Unusually big brown eyes, cold skin whenever one’d touch. She used to threaten so perfectly, it left I was with a troop leader – I felt like following her all the time. My favourite time with her used to be Saturday end of the day hourly activity periods, where she would take my sweaty hand, not minding the wet, and we’d rush to the activity room together. My most jealous times used to be when my classmates would pair her up with Suryansh.

I do not know how I remember her exact body odour, a mix of sweat + the innate body fragrance (I like how bodies smell). I stood there, wind present still, bringing this odd fragrance after all these years, like it was yesterday that I left our school to join a new one in 6th grade. It’s been 7 years since she died in a car accident, it’s been 15 years since I last saw her. I do not know why the wind would bring me a fragrance so familiar, memory so fresh that I’d question my mind’s sanity. I think, among the dreamy lights that were on the top of the mountain, I myself went into a dream for a while, or perhaps time traveled a certain way which is yet to be explored by science fiction writers. I could taste her fragrance on my tongue.

My mother called me inside for dinner, I sighed. Only if I could have been with her a little longer. Would that have made a difference?

The Nights Where I Gave Up Sobriety

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This is a very difficult and ironic post. A few days back I wrote a blog post that I was so proud of, I wanted to give myself all the hugs and kisses that I possibly could. I’ve been a porn addict for as long as I can remember from 7th grade, from the time internet came along. First it was the pictures, then as the bits per second started increasing from the local internet service providers, thanks (really?) to the technology advancements of silicon chips, optical fibres and memory hardware, it was video, streaming, steaming hot (really?) videos of naked women grinding over naked dudes, as though the women were their slaves or something.

On one of my sobriety streaks (I didn’t really keep a count, because I was afraid to also unintentionally then keep a count of how many times I’d failed), I was interested to see the background stories of female porn stars. So I started reading and watching documentaries. At the end of it all, I was perplexed, because while many of the porn stars tried to tell how searingly consuming this industry is, and how hopeless this business is in terms of actual human growth, some of the porn stars were the complete opposite — they enjoyed their work, wrote best selling books about their lives! When statistics come out from popular porn websites and search engine giants, telling the world that the majority of the internet traffic searches for porn, I’m not shocked, I’ve never been shocked, because for a long time, I’ve had been one of those persons. I never told anybody this, but the reason I requested a laptop while I was studying in Kota, taking prep classes for IIT JEE, was mainly for this purpose. I was consumed by it to the point where my conscience would fight with the part of my mind that was addicted. The addicted part always won, and went away for a while, leaving my conscience seething, so much so that I’d be upset with what I’d done for a long time — not able to study, not able to do anything really. Just fingers massaging the forehead a little too tensely, almost grappling. No word jumping out of my mouth for the lack of them, not being able to express or answer what have I done, why do I do this?

The night before yesterday, it resurfaced. I found myself home alone, and there was this innate unexplained desire to just open a porn site, and masturbate. I did, and then I spent the rest of my day angry at myself and irritated, to the point that it triggered a chain reaction — because I didn’t feel like doing anything because of wanting to be accompanied with my conscience for as long as possible, I felt more irritated, because being with the conscience was extremely painful. Being with that part of the mind which told me  — What have you done again? felt like scrunching my nails off the wall, just to be able to not be bothered about it for a while. But without it, without my conscience, I’d return to the same old vicious cycle where I would want to be accompanied by the painful conscience. It was and is an endless cycle.

On top of that and very unintentionally Aum told me the exciting news that arre.co.in had accepted an article titled How My Grandmother Became a Feminist that she had written. She followed that I should send the one I had written about my porn addiction, and how the human society (most of it) today is programmed to feel horny, sexually aroused only to a particular set of humans shown in advertisements and magazines designed to sell because of the very same fact. I got really upset after she suggested that. I didn’t know what to do anymore. I shut down my laptop, shut down the book that I was trying to read, and just kept jumping around, not even able to cry. It was a state very close to an angry soul / spirit but having no body to express the anger with. It’s the most dejected and sad place to be. I couldn’t tell something from the other for a while. It was like I had the body of a primate, but not a mind of it. So I tried to shut down by sleeping. Sleeping when I’ve been distressed or dejected with myself, whether because of low exam scores, or something else, has always worked. It didn’t work that day. All I could do was scrunch my nose up, letting my forehead be a giant ground of tense frowns and ask myself — why why why, repeatedly, while my heels of palms dug deep inside my eyes, scrubbing them endlessly.

Last night, I was alone again. I did it again. My conscience couldn’t take it, I couldn’t take it. I felt I needed to be checked, but there was no one I could tell that to. I’m too embarrassed to tell anybody anything about this. So in the fit of that moment, I did what I thought was the only possible rigorous punishment I could self inflict on myself. As I was trying to failingly distract my mind by a re run of The Shawshank Redemption, I paused the movie and started slapping myself, as hard as I could. I can not tell how, or why, but it felt good to be punished. It felt good that I had something to do which could tell my addicted part of the mind, that it was doomed to be fucked, and that I was to not partake in any of its activities from now on.

I’m alone again today. I remembered having seen a movie ( Thanks For Sharing ) about sex addiction and sex addicts, where people formed groups and shared their addiction dilemma with everybody, in the hope that sharing would help, that experiences exchanged from people who found themselves in the same God forsaken place in the mind would help. Today, I wanted to do it again. I can’t explain what this sudden urge is. I guess it’s called addiction for the exact same reason — it is unreasonable, you can’t explain why you choose to act on it anymore. At one point of time, it is not even the pleasure that one could hope for at the end of it. After that point of time, it’s even more unreasonable, and because it’s inextricable, it fucks up with the mind, with conscience even more than before. I decided to see that movie again today, in the hope that I’ll continue to fight it, by starting over. I’ve started over so many times it feels hopeless. But I can’t not fight. I can’t go back to the night where I have to resort to slapping myself to break this weird feedback loop that my dopamine has trained itself on — to seek pleasure over and over again, not for the sake of the pleasure anymore, but because it has become an addiction, without which my mind could feel not right, that’s the trick that addicted mind deludes/dupes itself into — that somehow if it doesn’t do it, it’s going to keep prolonging until the mind gives in and do it anyway, like the torture technique armies around the world deploy.

I’m writing this to refrain, to pull myself back and not open a porn website, and start masturbating. When I start to masturbate while watching porn, my conscience is pushed away into dungeons far away, and it returns as soon as I’m about to ejaculate, which makes the pleasure seeking addicted mind very weird, in that, at that point of time, I experience both pleasure and the guilt for it. It’s the most mind fucking thing in the world. I do not want to experience it again, ever ever again. I can’t lie to myself anymore.

The most astonishing thing about all of this is, that none of this even exist when I’m in front of women. In fact I loathe it at the back of my mind. That’s the disease, it makes you violate everything that you believe in. It’s all very confusing.  So I’ll stop writing now and resume the movie.

A Night Where I Abandoned Giving Pleasure To My Mind

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I’m on a streak — to meditate everyday and to go running every morning, thanks to my mother’s constant disappointment in me, I decided to give her two less reasons to scold me, which otherwise would have contined — to not wake up in the morning and waste half of the day, to not live up to what I believe in.

Right from the day when I got slapped by my KG class teacher, for singing Tu cheese badi hai mast mast for her in the class without any prompt, without any solicitation, I remember I’ve always fantasized about girls — about spooning with them, cuddling them, kissing them, and when I got to know what sex was (whole different funny story), having stupendous sex with them.

This habit had stayed with me. Until, I started being up at very late hours, and slept only when I couldn’t take wakefulness any longer. Fantasies had no time anymore. But only in the night, for they continued if and when I had time in the morning, in the half wakefulness on the cozy bed and duvets / sheets.

A week ago, it stopped. Because I couldn’t get a line I read in Yoga Vashitha out of my system (it was not like I was trying to, the line is so addictive of sorts, that it killed a habit a lifetime long. Imagine the power!). It was like it became a part of me, and that part of me is trying to live up to something it has learnt anew. The text said —

Moksha or liberation is the total abandonment of all vāsanā or mental conditioning, without the least reserve. Mental conditioning is of two types — the pure and the impure. The impure is the cause of birth; the pure liberates one from birth. The impure is of the nature of nescience and ego-sense; these are the seeds, as it were, for the tree of re-birth. On the other hand, when these seeds are abandoned, the mental conditioning that merely sustains the body, is of a pure nature. Such mental conditioning exists even in those who have been liberated while living: it doesn’t lead to re-birth as it is sustained only by past momentum and not by present motivation.

Every time I was tempted to fantasize before sleeping (now that I’m sleeping early to get up early), the bold styled line above automatically came all over me and inside me (no pun intended). And I’ve been having the most peaceful sleep I’ve ever had. Breaking old habits through ancient knowledge, when things make more sense, as if we always have had subsets of knowledge, it is liberating already.

When The 🌬️ blows 🎐

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I picked up guitar after a really long time, after half a year. Today the wind blows hard, so much I want to surrender to its wavefronts, stand so still that it feels I’m flying. Sit so still, that my fingers and hands feel missing. Today, there is this light orange shade all around, like the bad crayons during school time — orange would turn out very light, so you’d colour by pressing the crayon candle really hard, before giving up.

Fast blowing winds are like a slap to me — they order me to wake up and slow down. Unlike the breath of a person, this wind doesn’t know how to negotiate for which spaces to touch, the wind has no hole source, it’s created as if by magic, out of nowhere, only if science was not there to explain it.

Don’t you feel so? Things keep getting explained, either by demands of the world, or one’s emotions, or by loose motion like persistence to name things, know them. Know them. Why?…Why? Know them.

The wind’s music, amidst the thunderstorms and the light all around which would make just woken up person confused — what time of the day is it?, shuns everything down — people’s chatter, my mind, the road beneath the landslides somewhere, water pipes blocked because of it, time. Yes time. The winds blows at a time akin to the shedding of the scab over the wound — things are okay, finally, totally, before they are no longer. Before the sun will steam us mid air, before the winds would have no control over their temperature. But what a wind it was, and it will be, ah… the wind that places cherry on top of the mountains, the wind that takes you places, with your feet at a standstill.

Sanjay Uncle’s Ignorant Bald Face

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Song to listen to while reading this — Society by Eddie Vedder

Being unemployed, especially when you are ‘educated’ and living in a society could be a nightmare. Not as much because of the lack of salary, but because of how people start seeing you suddenly — Loser oozing out of their eyes and head bobs and false nods.

Sanjay uncle is father’s old colleague. They used to work together at a different place from where father is now. I had to give father’s left over clothes to him, because Sanjay Uncle was going where he is now — in Shimla. As soon as he saw my face, my grown unkempt beard, my long scrubby hair, he scrunched his nose almost automatically, I can only guess, in disgust.

I only smiled and answered the same question over again, when someone at the back seat of the car Sanjay Uncle was sitting in the front of, asked me —

Beta, what you are you doing these days (which implicitly means, where’s your job at?)

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Where The Leaves 🍃 Shimmered ✨, Waved 👋, Smiled 😊 And Said Hi 🌻

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As always, I was reluctant to go. Mother wanted to get out and go to a different hill town. Last time mother had such outing was last year, when me, my brother and mum went to a 10 day trip to Leh, Ladakh. It’s an awfully long gap to not have a getaway in. I mean, we did keep going to Chandigarh (closest city) to see movies and meet our relatives and eat junk and stuff. But nothing beats the whiff of cold mountain air in tropical June’s summer heat.

Not that it matters to anybody, but it’s fun to see the route, so here it is —

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Caption — I live in Nahan. Jamta is a place which people from Uttrakhand, Delhi and Chandigarh hijack as a place to spend their summer holidays at. Sangrah is the place where we went. The time estimate though is way off the real thing — it was about 3.5 hours. The road is as narrow as one way street + mountains, so mini landslides everywhere.

A perk of being a kid of a seemingly high ranked government official (especially of the one who works in Public Works Department, which has rest houses at every place in the state), accommodation is never a problem. We got a room better than the most 3-4 star hotels, and that too in a small town in Himachal Pradesh, whose population couldn’t be more than 3000 max.

We unloaded, and went for a long walk. Upon reaching the end of the first half of our walk, we saw a flattened cricket pitch, a bunch of people playing enthusiastically. My mother said —

Only if I knew how to play cricket, and only if I wasn’t tired from yesterday’s playing hockey mistake…

We went up to a helipad that was nearby and saw tiny kids playing. Mum couldn’t control it any further. If it wasn’t going to be cricket, it was going to be corner corner, dun dun and race. So it was! While she played, I overlooked at a stretch of the mountains at the far side of the helipad. At the near side of the helipad were those cricket children seen playing from the top. I kept staring at mountain peaks and deodar trees in front of me, like they were having an acoustic concert.

When mum got tired we started our walk back. We kept fooling around singing parody songs. Mum kept showing me how good the photographs were that she was clicking (they weren’t 😛). I kept requesting her to stop talking for a while to enjoy the lovely breeze that was flowing. She wouldn’t shut up because she was happy, which was good. She forced me to take photographs —

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Me forcing a smile, lest I be scolded.

Then over one particular turn, we saw the sun setting. The sun was in front of us, with a complete panorama angle vacant from its sight to our right. To our left were mountains’ ridges. Mum shut up. We both stopped talking and walking, and stood there. Mum’s initial instinct was to keep clicking photographs of the sun, but it would come very bright in the mediocre camera mobile phone. So she stopped and joined in silence together, watching the sun, going down and down and down. The tranquility that it gave us setting down is beyond words. It’s funny, we keep trying to explain which is inexplicable. I think that is something that makes us human — to continue to keep striving for perfection, inching bit by bit, even after knowing  that there is no absolute perfection.

After a while, some thoughts started popping in my head, more like questions — how come a burning star is giving me such peace? Should I not long for more such evenings and instead serve people? Am I selfish? And then such questions faded away again, as a dark orange streak of dying light embellished the clouds. That is when I knew a decent photograph could be taken.

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I looked down, after having looked at the sun for a long time, and saw a man giving manure to his crops, one of them was Pea —

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We started walking again, this time not talking, as the hangover of the setting sun was still grappling. Walking some yards, I looked towards the right and a tree with really short and light green leaves took my attention. I stopped. The now all pervading reddish orange light reflecting from the fluttering leaves, like the leaves were water droplets straight out of a big lake, was so ethereal, I was fixed, couldn’t move as if I was in sleep paralysis, but without any fear or irritation. They were swaying and dancing so effortlessly it felt like it wasn’t the air that was stroking them, but as if they were waving voluntarily. Imagine waving hands in a European football match, or in a Coldplay concert, the leaves were waving and dancing like that.

We came back to the rest house and kept looking at the mountains as if they were going to go extinct soon. For the first time in a long time, I felt like clicking a picture of myself for no reason —

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and then I looked across the horizon to this pink horizontal line made, a silver lining turned upside down —

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We came back to our room, with the intent to still become more intoxicated with even cooler air that swept the valley in the night. That is what I did all night. I sat and stared at the nothingness, and wondered… nothing.

About Being A Morning Person And Working In The Morning

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Day before yesterday I slept tired. That is to say I slept early (though tiredness does not necessarily ensure an early sleep, I did sleep early). I woke up at 7 in the morning without any alarm, without the sun sneaking into my room (curtains were drawn), without mum screaming at me to help her in the kitchen before she took off to school (she is a high school physics teacher, I’m unemployed).

The thing about mornings like yesterday’s is that if you catch what you want to do early, your mind could be so focussed that it wouldn’t even bother coming up with thoughts that would start distracting you. This is the fact why I’m wary of running after getting up early — I get charged up then. Jumping onto a task you are really interested in (for example — I’m hell bent on making this poetry editor) gets you in that zone — your mind is kinda zoned out for all other things (thanks to early morning sleepiness), other than the thing that you are interested in doing / adamant on. So the work gets done.

I got so much work done in a couple of days (even if that meant writing shitty but working code), I was really happy with the attention and focus I could give to something in the morning. The only problem is that to have such mornings, I most surely have to satisfy one condition — sleep happily and wilfully tired. This is very difficult to do.

Today I woke up to my mother knocking at my room’s door, shouting, asking dubiously and telling at the same time, whether she could take her car to the school, because its insurance was due. She had been in a hurry, so she took the car keys, decided that she would take the car despite expired insurance. I had to go running behind her to tell her that the insurance inspection guy’s visit was due in an hour. She panicked and started yelling without any argument, so much so, that she couldn’t listen my pleading that I would drive her to the school in the other car on top of her voice. When I continued the plea multiple times over her shouting, she stopped yelling and asked me to hurry up.

This is the kind of morning that screws up the possible focus that could have been. So I ended up dancing after a long time (which felt good), and watching youtube videos in loop.

New Song And A New Beat To A Perspective

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The new repeat song — The Only Boy Awake. I have to learn the riff of the guitar of this song because it’s so melodious. I think I could have done a better job with the words, but they are okay, we’ll make peace with that.

A NEW BEAT TO A PERSPECTIVE —

Arihant (me) — I don’t get it sometimes, there shouldn’t be a need to convince others at all, but there are these constant societal expectation nags that keep poking you. The first question that anybody would ever really ask is — what are you doing these days, beta?

Satyam —That is perfectly normal. If they don’t ask then that is abnormal! 😃 If they don’t ask would mean that you are either a fool or unquestionably wise. In both the cases that question disappears.

🌋 ☮️