Loss.

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The fact or process of losing something or someone.

Mislaying.

Misplacing.

Forgetting.

Overlooking. 

Loss can be emotional.

But also materialistic. 

It can be consequential. 

But also trivial.

More often than not, it’s undesired. 

We hardly come across people who want to lose something. 

People who’re ready to let go of a thing or a person. 

People who have disposable possessions. 

Come to think of it, do we have anything in our life that we are ready to lose. 

This is exactly what Aria was thinking walking home from class. It was just another Thursday. The leaves were the perfect shade of yellow with a tint of green, like a pinch of life in something lifeless. The traffic was as loud as it always is. The street was as busy as it always is. The street dog – Athena – was as excited to see Aria as she always was, wagging her tail, in a perfectly rhythmic motion, almost hypnotising.

She’d always buy a packet of biscuits for Athena and give them to her as they walked, it was like the faster her tail wagged, the better Aria felt. 

She reached to the end of the street,with Athena following her along the way to enter the kernel of chaos – home. 

As she climbed the stairs, she could hear her grandmother’s cards shuffling, the plastic clapping as it touched another, like a familiar ache in her ear. Walking into the living room, her sister came in running, constantly yapping about something or the other, and as she didn’t pay attention, her sister yelled out of ignorance and stormed back into the room. 

About an hour later, Aria’s mother came in from work. Giving her a glass of warm water and boiling some for her evening tea, she tried making conversation with her. 

For a woman who works for over 10 hours a day and comes home to a mother-in-law who’s addicted to gambling,a younger daughter who’d constantly look for attention and an elder daughter who was ignorant and self involved , Aria’s mother was in the perfect state – always tired and emotional and helpless. 

Maybe it was the lack of support, the responsibility or the work pressure. Or the constant living for other people that she needed some time for herself in the evening. 

Aria never expected her mother to be nice to her when she was back home. 

She’d shut herself in her room with tea and light dinner and watch mindless television. And snub all conversation with anyone. 

She’d often call her mother to ask about her health, sometimes her sister to vent off. 

Aria always thought she had the backbone of a jellyfish. The kind of jellyfish Aria could never afford to lose.

Her father,on the other hand hadn’t come home sober before 2 am in the past 7 years that Aria could recall. A few bad investment decisions and borderline alcoholism aside, he always tried to be a good father. 

Overbearing and protective when it came to Aria going out at night. 

Over the top affectionate when anyone in the family dared to confront him about his mistakes. 

Frivolous with a pinch of bad parenting. 

He’d often go on a guilt trip about his ignorance towards the family, or all the bad business decisions he’d made when he was a few drinks down. And somehow manage to turn these conversations around how Aria is incapable of success in her life. 

He’d always tell her she was inadequate, with a new synonym every night. 

And like self depreciating pleasure, Aria would cry to the same words every time.

This is how it always was. 

Her grandmother always used to say it could’ve been worse. “ atleast he isn’t violent “ she’d say , and nobody could comprehend how that was a feasible excuse to her ears. 

With a lack of a better expression, he was making life tough for everyone in the house. 

He didn’t respect his mother enough. 

He didn’t support his wife enough. 

He didn’t stand by his daughters enough. 

He was just- not enough. 

And it wasn’t even like he was trying too hard-or at all. Maybe he was a better person in his head. Maybe that’s how he slept at night. Maybe he was living with the lack of respect and dignity which lead to incoherent decisions that eventually build up the rubble that was his life. 

Aria always thought of a life without him. And it always looked better. 

Less baggage. Less worry. Less drama. 

She’d never thought it out loud, but losing him sounded like a way to a better,wholesome,easy life. 

She spent that night thinking about this. Her father didn’t come home , like he’d often skip the trip back if he was too tired. And that gave her a quiet sleepless night. And more time to think. 

By 5 am she was convinced that she didn’t need him. Nor did her mom. 

With 2 hours to spare, she fell asleep to a blank dream with a tranquil mind – a break from the rampage of pandemonic hustle her brain always was. 

When she got up that morning, brushed her teeth, cleaned herself, had breakfast and picked up half a packet of biscuits left from yesterday, ready to meet Athena on her walk to class like a morning ritual, the wind felt a little different. 

There was an eerie,uncanny chill to it. 

Aria walked to the gate, waiting for Athena to turn up with the smiling hungry face and the rhythmic wagging of her hard black tail, there was no one there. 

Thinking that she must be asleep- because in the past 8 years Athena had never been late to pick Aria up – she walked to the little kennel the colony kids made for Athena and her babies out of marble pieces and tattered pieces of cloth, only to find it empty. 

She stepped out of the colony to walk towards her class, hoping to meet Athena on the way. 

A couple of steps ahead, a lump of black mass camouflaged into the grey of the cement of the road, with red spots surrounding it like a highlighting circle. 

Wishing that wasn’t what she thought, Aria stepped closer to see the tail she’d always seen wagging – still and cold on the ground. 

The face she’d always seen smiling – shut and lump, and eyes with a glow of welcoming happiness – darker than what she assumed death looked like in it’s physical form, devoid of emotion and life. 

She fell to her knees as her jeans scrubbed through the blood spots around the body. 

Tears down her eyes, she could physically feel her heart sinking. 

Aria sat there for what seemed like forever. Until she could gather up the courage to bury Athena and send her off with the respect she deserved. 

While the colony guard helped her dig through an empty dusty ground a few miles from where she lived, she thought about loss. 

How she wasn’t ready for loss. Of any kind. 

How her convincing herself of losing her father being alright was utter bullshit. 

How no matter how strong and independent she though she was – she wasn’t and will never be brave enough for loss. 

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Is there something odd about odd numbers?

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Note : This is like an aftermath to a post my friend Abhinav Kukreja wrote ( the post is here ->  http://abhinavkukreja96.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/there-is-something-odd-about-odd-numbers-2/ ) i won’t call it a sequal, because it’s not half as good as the post he’s written. Also, the protagonist is different, the writing style is very different and i don’t know why i wrote it. Read his post before this to understand it tho. Also read the rest of his blog. Okay shameless promotion over now.

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The whole family was gathered in the living room, with distant mourning & precedented expression of loss, everyone looked like the walls to me – white & omnipresent .

I decided to walk away from that and entered a bedroom the kids were in. They always do that to the kids , put them all in a different room to play & watch tv. Why bring them in the first place.

My despise of the freshly born aside, one of them was fidgeting with a book- a diary, of sorts.

It was a record journal of the year 2001, my grandma wasn’t the only one who kept them despite the dates , then, I thought to myself.

I flipped through a few pages & they were all filled – with journal entries. I took the book to another room & scanned through it shamelessly.

A few grabbed my attention more than the others.

” January  20th , 8:48 pm

Got married yesterday. She has beautiful eyes.

They’re as disturbed as beautiful though.

I love her disturbed eyes. “

This made me smile. I continued reading.

” January 24th , 8:48 pm

My bed’s split into two.

Nothing in my room is the same.

She’s changing everything.

I love the change. “

Confused, I scanned through further.

” February 2nd , 8:48 pm

Two toothbrushes. Two eggs for breakfast. Two chapatis with veggies split into two bowls. Two bean bags.

I observe a pattern. Or maybe I’m going crazy.

I’m oddly crazy for her . “

By this point, my mother had called me twice and the kids in the room were switching through cartoon channels, which was oddly disturbing.

” March 12th, 8:48 pm

Her nocturnal ritual was annoying at first.

I’ve grown accustomed to it.

I’ve grown accustomed to her. “

There weren’t entries for a couple of months, except one.

” April 4th, 8:48 pm

There is something odd about odd numbers. “

And as i flipped through, the number of entries increased. I didn’t know if that was a good thing.

” June 26th, 8:48 pm

Her medication’s not as efficient as it used to be. Or she can’t get any better.

Or she doesn’t want to get better.

Note to self – buy ONE egg on your way home. “

” June 28th, 8:48 pm

Loving her isn’t easy. It’s incredibly hard to be specific.

I love her idiosyncrasies. “

” June 29th, 8:48 pm. ” 

The date and time were scribbled and crossed out over and over again. I knew what happened that day. Everybody did.

I also know it destroyed him. Loving Natasha destroyed him. And he was like a compact bottle of reactants waiting to self destruct. She was nothing less than a catalyst.

The entries after this one weren’t exactly journal entries as much as haphazard doodles. There were pages with numbers all over them. Even numbers. Written and scratched out repeatedly. If I didn’t know him any better, I’d call him crazy.

Amidst all the doodles, I saw another entry.

” June 31st, 8:40 pm

One of the possible side effects of Valproate is fatal liver failure. The advised dosage is about 50mg a day. 200mg had a fatal effect on a patient in 16 minutes. 400mg should work in 8 minutes. “

The only thing I could think of was how stupid he was.

How he was stupid enough to fall in love with her.

How stupid he was to keep loving her despite her constant vagary.

Clenching the journal, I walked towards my car, and drove to the courtyard. I was the last one to reach.

Right there, about 20 meters away from me, were two huge piles of wooden logs.

I guess there was something odd about odd numbers.

Nostalgia.

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I heard my laptop go pop with an IM that said ” send me one of those speaking stickers ,they get me everytime ” .
And I did, with a message of my own.
” I miss this ” .
We often used to IM on MSN before they shut it down , for nostalgia’s sake. Took us back to the ‘ honeymoon’ phase .

As much as I didn’t want to admit, like every other relationship out there , ours had run it’s course too, but we were catching up to it, which kept it alive.
We often looked for ways to reminisce old dates , movie nights , even arguments to distract us from the now.
I realise that digging into the past to make the present bearable isn’t the right way to live , but what’s a life lived without a few wrongs.

I remember how I used to google complicated synonyms to impress her with my vocabulary . And how I used to talk about wordly topics only because she always did . That didn’t quite change because eventually I just talked about her ,which was as wordlyas ever , because she was – the least to say – my world.

She didn’t do relationships like my older girlfriends or my friends’ girlfriends did.
She didn’t sugarcoat anything, neither did she refrain from talking about awkward & uncomfortable things with me.
Which made me feel lucky in a way, unless she started talking about her menstrual cycle or blatantly started telling me about how she wanted to eat a sausage while maintaining eye contact with a good looking guy she saw in a restaurant.
She also didn’t pay attention.
She never gave anything a second thought.
She was also very pretentiously damaged, to say the least – but she was my pretentious bundle of beautiful damage – She’d often say stuff like
” I’m too busy pre-consciously running in a race , speeding to reach the day I die,Hun. And so is everyone else. There’s nothing worth second guessing around here . ”
And there never came a time when she didn’t catch me off guard.
But eventually I caught upto her, as far as I could , atleast.

I’d like to believe she was as impressive as I thought she was. But then I put more thought into it, and figured I probably just had Aria goggles on. The goggles which put Aria before everyone else, the goggles which made every annoying thing about her seem impressive.

But she just made everything better for me, and I wasn’t going to deny that.

Man scientifically may not have invented a way to go back in time yet, but anecdotes are nothing but a literary form of a time capsule.
There are times when you can’t get enough of something or someone in the past. And then there are times you want to forget and have no memory of.

The month of June in 2013 was the latter.

For a summer I spent every hour of every day with her , I would’ve never thought there will be a time I wouldn’t want to be reminded of it.

A summer when I didn’t know it would be her last .

I would call those 70 days rather beguile.
For I can’t think of a better summer , neither can I think of a worse one.

I can still play the whole incident in my head

It was 3:43 am when I received the call. Like always, she didn’t start the call with a conventional greeting. What is the point of all the Hi’s and Helloes when you know I’m calling to talk to you, why give into inexplicable social conformities when you’ll do just fine without them, she’d say.
” as cliché as this will sound when you narrate it to everyone, this nocturnal & slightly abrasive phone call is to tell you that I love you. I love your mainstream ideas for a date. I love how absurdly expressive you are. And I love how you love me. ”
And she hung up.
I was too drunk in love at that moment to realise how unlike Aria that gesture was.
Or maybe for once I wanted to believe she was thinking about me and that was nothing but a late night love binge.
But my heart knew better.

After 12 minutes of swimming in my puddle of all things sappy,at 3:55 I decided to call back.
She didn’t pick up.
4:02 am – 18 missed calls and desperate voice mails later , my phone flashed an unknown number.
4:38 am – I pushed through the emergency room doors, looking for something I knew I wouldn’t find.
4:50 am – I lifted my head up from her torso and my eyes found the clock, blurred with tears . Her body was cold and stiff, puddled in blood that should’ve been running through her veins.
Her brother rushed into the room behind me and I stepped back.
My head hurt and my every inch of my face was wet and salty. I didn’t cry very often- I actually didn’t cry at all – but I’d just lost the only person who mattered.

I snapped out of that to realise I was crying again. The past year had been one night after the other , with me replaying the incident in my head . I knew it was pathetic, it made me pathetic. and that was the kind of nostalgia I hated.