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. 

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.

Time.

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Time.

A point is in a single dimension.

A drawing on a sheet of paper is in two.

A real life object is in 3 dimensions.

The ‘ adventure corner ‘ of a local shopping mall with moving seats & water sprays with surround sound music is apparently in 4,5,6 dimensions .

But what is time.

Is it just a mere concept created by humans to track the progression of events throughout their existence?

Is it a non dimensional concept that can’t be materialised?

Maybe it is .

Maybe it’s not.

Time is what tells us how far we’ve come in life, to have achieved something significant or wasted the entirety of our existence is another debate, but it makes us aware of ‘progress’.

More than that, time is the wrinkles you start noticing under your eyes when you smile in front of a mirror.

Time is the clothes you have to give away because the sleeves are too short & the shoulders too narrow.

Time is the changing faces in your birthday album every year.

Time is the name flashing on your phone screen at 2 am that brings a smile to your face in 2012 and making you roll your eyes in 2014.

Time is change.

Sitting with my grandmother in the balcony , watching her travel back in time with anecdotes, i saw time.

As figurative as it was, though.

Growing up with working parents & a mildly alcoholic father , I was raised by my grandmother.

If you call her leaving me home with the maid while she gambles my parent’s hard earned money in multiple games of 21 cards ‘ raising ‘ me .

I like to think she was there to tuck me in for my afternoon nap & peel apples for my evening snack to make myself feel better.

My desperate longing for a lounging care taker aside, my grandmother was my confidant.

And I was hers.

” I’m not saying there is no god , just that I don’t believe in the idea of conveniently blaming all your bad luck & crediting all your good luck to something you don’t even know is real “ She said,with an indifferent expression.

We often talked about whether god exists or not. She had always taught me to stay away from the concept of luck,fate,chance and even faith.

“ Maybe people just need to believe in something that gives them peace. Have faith in something for tranquility and the social conventions lead them to the god their parents pray to na,dadi. “ I said.

I wouldn’t call myself an atheist, because i didn’t know enough to believing that god doesn’t exist. But i was against giving millions of rupees to temples and spending time with gurus and thanking god for your achievements you have worked hard for and blaming god for bad luck when you did nothing to make it better.

“ There is no god, Aria. That is all i know. “ she said. “ Why do you always keep saying that,dadi ? “ I finally asked.

She turned towards me, keeping the plate of peas she was peeling aside and said “ I will tell you why god doesn’t exist. I will tell you why going to temples is worthless. I will tell you why praying to different idols at 5 am is pointless. I will tell you why there is no ‘supreme power looking after us’ . “ I stared back into her teary gleaming eyes and listened carefully .

“ When i was 14, my parents used to move around the country because of my father’s job. I was the oldest sibling with one younger sister and two younger brothers and i had always been closer to my grandmother and the only one of us four who wanted to study and do something in my life, and that’s when i shifted to New Delhi to live with my grandparents and finish school and college in the city. My grandparents were very religious people, as most of the elderly are in our community, and they used to take me to the temple every morning before school and spend their whole day there until it was dinner time,while i used to stay in school and then go to a friend’s house afterwards. “

“ One day, entering the temple at the same time we always did, i tripped and my chappals broke, and i bent over to pick them up and throw them away while my grandparents walked inside. When i threw the chappals in the bin and was walking towards the room in the temple with the idols of different gods, a tall man was walking towards me, walking out after praying, with a red dot on his head and red-mustard thread loosely tied on his left hand. He was walking with a smirk and looked like any other 30-something average indian man.

There was nothing unusual about him.

Until i noticed he was actually walking towards me and not just exiting the temple.

Before i could comprehend what was happening, he was a few centimetres away from me, mumbling something like ‘ looking pretty today ‘ in hindi. And as i turned to the left to walk away from him, he pulled my left arm to pull me towards him and strangled my breasts, cupping them in the most disgusting way.

And before i could even get my vocal chords to coordinate a scream, he briskly walked out of the temple and i lost my centre of gravity to awkwardly fall on the floor.

When i lifted my head to get up, i saw everyone staring at me, the guy who collects the shoes at the entrance, the security guard in a dirty blue uniform, two pandits in yellow drapes walking around, and i realised how no one stopped the man. No one thought they should run to catch the man. No one even came to me to ask if i’m alright. “

“ And then i realised how i was on the floor, just a few meters away from the entrance of the hall with all the idols dressed up in the brightest red coloured drapes.

I realised how i was sobbing in disgust, and embarrassment, and helplessness, with all the gods watching me.

I realised how i was alone in a temple , the ‘holiest’ place i was taught there was. “ she continued, turning away from me.

“ If the power of god was strong enough to hold the faith and belief of billions of people all over the world. If the supreme power was actually looking over us, would that man really do what he did.

That man prayed to his god.

He was in the holy place where all the faith rested.

We were at the place everyone came to find their ‘peace’.

And that is when i lost faith in anything related to the universally respected three letter word…god.

The word lost it’s power for me. It’s been 62 years since this incident and i haven’t visited a temple since. Neither have I felt the need to. I’m as peaceful as i can be, i’m satisfied, and tranquil, and happy. And that is all you need to know. “ she finished as she picked up the plate of peas to start peeling them again.

I didn’t know how to react to whatever she has just said, i didn’t know if it was appropriate to hug her, but i clutched her arms and pulled her towards me to hug her anyway. And then we never talked about any god ever again.

Maybe i don’t believe in god because i’ve been raised to not bestow my faith in idols and find my peace in marble floored roofed structures. Maybe the only good thing i’ve known about a temple is the sweet prasad they give you at the end of a chant.

One thing i know for sure is that not believing in god’s supreme power hasn’t changed my grandmother over time. And i’d survive without it anyway.

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.

Wanderlust.

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travel.

that word is as subjective as paradoxically universal it seems, for some to travel doesn’t even cover crossing oceans, for some it’s as far as crossing borders, for the mildly ignorant and juvenile teenagers in this city it means covering a distance of 15 kilometers of the 36 this city is made of , in a car they call their own and visit whatever the seasonal ‘place to be’ is.
Surprisingly, all this doesn’t sound half as bad as i made it to be to the previously mentioned teenagers. And as hypocritical as it sounds, i was well acquainted with some.

She was one of them. Or atleast I thought she was.

When you live in the same city,the same house all your life, you build your own ecosystem. It has people you want to be close to, people who want to be close to you, the family that chose you, the family that you choose, a slight romantic congnizance and the like. You grow up to evolve as a person, but you are limited to your own ecosystem. No matter how ‘out of the box’ you perceive you are, how radical your concepts are, they are – as disappointing as it sounds – the by products of the ecosystem.Some of us outgrow our own safe place by changing cities,meeting new people, trying to change ourselves, some of us are comfortable with whatever we have around us,some of us don’t fit in either of those categories. And she was the latter.

Like a lot of us, she yearned for stability despite being moored, but she also wanted to break down her ecosystem,build small ones everywhere she went – going everywhere she wanted to. She didn’t agree to what Tolkien said ” how sad is that people believe that not all those who wander are lost, for what fun it is to wander if you don’t let yourself be a little lost ” which is ridiculously literal but liberating and she completed it with ” but how scary it is to risk losing yourself in the process “. And like a lot of us, she was a conflicted contradiction.

She didn’t think about how anchored she was, she didn’t think much about anything at all, She also didn’t live in the moment, more like drift through many. Until the day she got an escape she never knew she needed. She traveled across 2 oceans, built a life in another continent, with her past rather clenching on to her like a rugged rope choking her throat being cut with a blunt tool. After 425 days of a soothing pandemonium, she was ready to fit into a new ecosystem.

I’d call it fate if i didn’t know better, but just as she was feeling accustomed to the refurbished walls that now surrounded her, circumstances swayed her across another ocean, where building new walls hurt, because they drifted in closer, and they -for the first time -felt harsh.

As she tried harder to smoothen up to them, this time, while building up an emotional fortress , she was trapped in herself. While evolving in a lucid ecosystem, she lost her wanderlust.

A theory.

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Schrodinger stipulated the cat theory to explain uncertainty. Mayans did the whole world’s going to end thing because everything that is born must die. The old lad on the corner of the street shared his theory about how all pet dogs are increasing and are in almost every house as a part of a master plan to turn the furry barking balls against us to end humanity eventually. Everyone has theories. More than often reality is boring, monotonous and just not as exciting as info media feeds our brain to expect it to be and like we always mould things for our benefit, we come up theories. Conspiracy theories, anthropological theories, random hysterical theories , scientific theories and the like .

Even I had one.
My theory was that , if I think of a scenario or a possibility , the chances of it happening in real life substantially decrease. Maybe I came up with this because I never met my expectations in life . Or I never really got what I wanted.
I was pretty convinced this was legit.
I constantly played a game in my head, if something was to happen, be it a huge birthday party or a date or exam results, I used to think of the worst outcomes and convince myself that now that I had imagined of the worst , only better was to come.

I did this with him too.
I knew about all the skeletons in his closet – all his shady shenanigans .
I imagined the worst kind of man he could be, the worst things he could do , hoping they would never manifest into reality.

Every morning when I used to watch him drink water with breakfast I hoped he gulped in 3 parts poison with 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen .
I never felt guilty about all those thoughts .
Maybe because I’d grown to hate him.
Maybe because he was a sick man.
Maybe because I was tired of the constant threat he posed on me.

I always knew his testosterone ignited a need for a sense of domination, superiority in him. And I had seen virtual proof of him doing unimaginable things to girls .
I still heard their voices in my head whenever I stayed up for longer than I should have.
‘ what are you doing ‘ all of them frantically asked , as if customary, followed by a scream- or a cry.
It was like his sins haunted me every night. I didn’t know how he lived with himself.

What I can’t forget is that one afternoon.
‘ be a good girl and pour me some ‘ he said , looking at the half bottle of antiquity.
I always did what he asked me to, everyone in the house did too.
‘ where is everyone else ‘ he managed to slur with a breath reeking of spirit .
‘ gone out for the day ‘ I said as I got some ice for him.
He generally didn’t drink before it was dark outside , but Sundays are special , aren’t they.
He put his glass down on the table , slamming it down so hard it woke the dog up.
Walking towards me – whatever walking his hind limbs could manage at that moment – he looked right into my eyes, which were always wet and brimmingly teary, I looked back into his only to have death stare back at me. His face showed lust and slur and need but his eyes – nothing. I kept staring until he was close enough for me to only see the black of his iris. He grabbed the corner of my Tshirt which I knew was to rip it apart , I also knew resisting was pointless. As he worked his dirty hands upwards disgust choked me and I let out a scream ” STOP IT , DAD , STOP IT ”
My words were unheard and my body crippled.

He did worse things than the worst I’d imagined him to do .
My theory failed on him.