October 19, 2016

Shooting star

Romancing with the moon
Albeit afraid of the night,
Reigning in his magic
She'd always twinkle bright

But alas! She had no 'forever'
Her love was brought to end
And when the world got down to question
There was nothing to defend

That day her glory ended
And the skies-they mocked her plight
She burnt out all her passion
And went missing-out of sight

Breaking into smithereens
With a ferocity intense
She sparked up like fire
Until it all made perfect sense

Reduced to rock and lava
Compelled to leave the sky
Transforming into a meteorite
She bid her final goodbye.

October 14, 2016

S for 'Stray thoughts'

There is something about mornings. My life, thoughts, feelings make so much sense then. The first rays of the sun falling on my face through an open window are almost cathartic.
As a matter of fact, some of the best decisions of my life have been made early morning. That's when the patina of confusion that has been forming over my thoughts begins to dissipate, and the light comes shining through.
Perhaps this also has much to do with the fact that this is the only time I can enjoy some solitude and complete me-time, with not much disturbing my chain of thoughts, except, ironically, more thoughts calling fire from all corners of my brain.
However, this break of dawn just after the twilight zone is as imperstive as is poetic. As crucial as is romantic. As introspective as is depressing (sometimes). I wouldn't call it insomnia, that, to me, has a negative ring to it. I'd rather call it a state of prolonged wakefulness that my internal clock has got attuned to over time and habit.

Late nights and early mornings, I sometimes wonder how I manage with so little sleep. I'm sure, on some deeper invisible level, it must be taking a toll on my health and life (with sleep hours being nowhere near the much needed 5-8, I can't exmuch much, can I?). But life is not over until it's over, right? So until then, let me put in some extra hours to write some poetry, enjoy some music, get swept away in good literature, and think about the colossal mess my universe is in.

But as the hours tick by and the sun gets brighter, life reminds me that I need to get back on track. This kind of derailment is not helping. I feel my morning clarity slowly disappear, acquiring murky shades of confusion, guilt, and regret once again. The day has its ways of befuddling me with its nuances.

Ever heard the riddle of the snake who attempting to reach the village well that climbed up three steps everyday and slipped back two? (Or something like that) . I have faint memories of hearing it as a child. Could never fathom the answer then mainly because it was a complex mathematical problem for a kid my age, and also because the thought of a snake climbing stairs would amuse me and I'd burst into giggles.
But thinking about it, I'm still not sure how many days it would take him to reach that well. But I empathise with him now. Maybe the whole riddle was just a metaphor for existential crisis. Maybe the entire point was not to focus on the question but rather to try and understand how the snake might be feeling. Or maybe I just cracked a really sad joke and realised you might not even be laughing.

Yeah, that's the story for now...

Until we meet again,

S for 'Stray thoughts' is the nineteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

August 14, 2016

Review: The story of a suicide

When I first saw the video trailer of the novel, a chill ran down my spine. For the uninitiated, the trailer is an eerie depiction of a frenzied youngster trying to end his life. The voice in his head rolling  out as whispers in the backdrop makes it even more grim and scary, and is an apt representation of the inner turmoil a lot of young adults experience. The camera then freezes on a disturbing image of an almost dead goldfish struggling outside its bowl, helplessly flapping its fins. This is followed by a sequence of haunting frames that include a silent scream by a perturbed youth kicking and crashing stuff in his room, a calm ripple of water, flickering lights, softer tones, only to culminate with violent images of the youngster self flagellating and considering various methods to end his troubled life. The stoned expression on his face is one of depression and confusion, of pain and frustration, of helplessness and despair. And finally, he succumbs. There is a suicide.

This trailer was a depiction of a brutal reality staring stark naked at me. For a moment, I was stunned by the bold approach. For a very long time, depression, in our country, was a hushed up affair---a social stigma people did not want to acknowledge or talk about. It is only recently that things are changing---we are slowly becoming increasingly aware of this monster called depression;  the more aware we are, the more we'd be able to help ourselves and others around us. Celebrity actress Deepika Padukone recently came out in the open about her long affair with depression. Television actress Pratyusha Banerjee's tragic death was allegedly a suicide. Robin Williams, Whitney Houston, Tony Scott, Amy Winehouse are a few names who left the world before their time was due, leaving a hole in the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. 

I am living with one such crater in my heart. A friend of mine ended his life from over dosage a couple of years back. We never saw it coming, until it did its final victory dance in front of us. There was no suicide note, no final goodbye message, no parting words. We'd had a conversation a few days before it happened. Most of us were aware of his troubled state of mind. He was tired of the unreasonable demands that society made from him. But we had no idea it would lead him to take such a drastic step. His influential family, however, eventually dismissed his death as a case of accidental poisoning. We watched helplessly. Even in death, our friend was supposed to conform to their wishes. All his life, he lived as they wanted. But it was never enough. They wanted to ensure even his death wouldn't prove to be an embarrassment. 

Since then, the topic of suicide has always been awkward for me to discuss. Swept by his nebulous memories, I often wonder how things would have been had it gone differently, had his parents been more accepting of his choices, had society not been so demeaning. That one incident made me realize how we shouldn’t take anyone for granted. Although suicide is a topic that is normally brushed under the carpet, it might just be lurking around the corner.  
Cut to present day. The trailer made me wonder how difficult his last moments must have been like, what his frame of mind might have been, and more importantly, what we could have done to help him? I needed to put these thoughts at rest. Besides, the promotional song by Vedanth Bharatwaj and the befitting illustrations by Ghana only added to my intrigue. It was almost 11.30 in the night that I started reading it here

'The story of a suicide' is a simple yet powerful story that gets complicated. It revolves around the lives of four characters; Sam, Mani, Charu, and Hari who come in contact with each other at KIT Bangalore.
All of them are a portrayal of relatively calm and balanced exteriors, but each of them is facing an internal struggle, fighting the demons of their past....until one incident changes everything. One hate post on a social network sets the ball rolling. The four grapple with their identity, heart break, sexuality, and betrayal. Just as they try to come to terms with their own conscience and society, there is a diabolical twist. The plot thickens and an innocent lover becomes a victim once again.

Have you ever noticed how two people can react differently in similar situations? We can never judge the reaction of one person on the basis of another. Each one of us is different, not just in our outlook but also in the way we are wired emotionally. Batman and Joker are the best examples to explain this theory. Both faced situations of adversity, both battled with an ugly past. But look how they turned out developing juxtaposed personalities! Fiction is never that far from reality. We all have a Batman or Joker deep inside us. Sometimes they make an appearance. Often times they don't until it is too late. Sriram Aiyer has dragged these matters into the forefront---where they should rightfully stand, looking at society in the eye, questioning it for its double standards and hypocrisies.
Having worked as a resident in Psychiatry, I have had the chance to explore various sides of the human personality and deal with varied facets of the human psyche. And I think the novel has beautifully captured the conflicting plight of vulnerable men and women searching for an anchor to depend upon.
Having been witness to similar situations, I could relate to each of these characters and their conflicting state of mind. There is a bit of us in each of these characters, in their everyday struggle with society, addictions, love, popularity, and themselves. Below I have drawn some instances in the story that show us how similar situations can elicit different reactions in different people.  It just goes to prove that you can either let the problem take control or you can take control of the problem.
  • Heart break/ Rejection: This theme forms the main crux of the novel and is dealt in a very realistic and embittering way. Youngsters when heart-broken/rejected often react in one of the two ways; revenge (like Sam who wants to make Charu pay the price for dumping and shaming him) that often results in disastrous consequences, or depression (like Mani who tries to end his life at the beginning of the story because he feels he cannot fit in.) The former is the reason behind so many rapes, kidnapping, acid attacks, cyber crimes occurring in our country, while the latter is responsible for the suicides committed in college campuses, hostels etc.
  • Technology and our vulnerability towards it. In today's age and time, being present at parties, weddings and other social events is not as important as being active on social media. Sam's obsessive compulsive Twitter addiction is evident of that. Also Charu's tendency to post intimate details of her life on FaceBook is also a streak not unfamiliar among us, techno-savvy netizens. Her mood getting instantly pepped up on seeing likes and comments is something we all have experienced. So again, there are two ways technology can be employed. 1)  Good use—eg. The 'tiger preservation' Youtube video uploaded by nature activists and animal rights can be viewed by all those wanting to fight for the cause. 2) Misuse---eg. Geeky Sam misusing the Trojan virus to invade into Charu's phone and publicize her intimate moments, which subsequently becomes the cause of the suicide (Somewhat proving the ‘Butterfly Effect’ theory right.) Besides, the influence that technology has on our mood and life is intimidating. How many times have you checked your phone while reading this post? Switched to FaceBook or Twitter to see who has 'liked' your photo? Our moods nowadays depend largely on the number of likes and comments we get on social networks. We see a hut burning. Instead of finding a pail of water to douse the fire, we'd first Instagram the picture. The last times there was an earthquake, everyone made sure they updated their status before rushing out of the building. Charu and Sam are addicted to social networks too, and like most of us, depend on reader's reactions to be happy or proud of their achievements. 
  • Mani and Hari, both, have had a traumatic childhood. While Mani is haunted by the physical abuse from his father, Hari has had to deal with sexual abuse by a maternal uncle. This has caused both their personalities to become shrivelled and withdrawn. Although Mani is relatively more open in talking about his struggles. Hari is more sensitive and is still not able to cope with the pressure of relationships. His plea for help during childhood was ignored, a fact which reinforces his belief that nobody would understand him and his choices. Come to think of it, don't we all feel that way at times? Often we do not bother explaining ourselves to even those we love most, out of fear that we will not be understood. We give up a little too early. Hari's character left me feeling sad. It also made me think about Article 377 and the Government's rabid response against decriminalizing homosexuality. I strongly believe that love has no limits or boundaries. Who are we to impose rules on the LGBT community? Who are we to say what is right and wrong, normal and abnormal? No form of consensual love needs to follow pre-fixed rules. Love makes its own rules. Love rules.
  • Stereotypical response/herd mentality---There are several instances where the stereotype of Indian mentality has been scoffed at by deliberate representation. The author has not just made his protagonists rebel against the stereotype with the brilliantly executed ‘Caezer meets Draupadi’ act, Charu's 'Vagina and penis' post etc but has also done a fine job by representing societal hypocrisy through the demeaning and caustic remarks of the students gossiping and commenting on social networks. Our orthodox Indian society finds it very difficult to accept change. Had we not made a brouhaha about a whole lot of things, we'd be having more people coming out of the closet. We'd have less cases of divorce, suicide, depression. But no! We want to live in a 'normal' world, no? However fucked up that might be...
  • The novel is generously peppered with psychedelic dreams, each representing the subject’s state of mind. Whether it is Mr Narender's 'dance of death' dream about his son, or Charu's dream of Sam prising her heart out, or Hari's dream of 'free falling', each one has a secret connotation. It made me want to go back and read Sigmund Freud's interpretation of dreams (the consciousness, the preconscious, and the unconscious) Delving into the unconscious is not just a brilliant method in psychoanalysis, but also works as an amazing literary tool, subtly guiding the reader's mind in the required direction.
  • Another important influencing factor among the youth of today is 'peer pressure'. Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. But sometimes it is our friends that stab us in the back. So blind we are to their deceit, that even if they punch us in the face, we'd believe there has to be a very good reason behind it. Lucky are those who choose the right kind of friends, for they enter your mind without consent and leave a part of them behind even when they go. Aditya is a terrible influence on Sam. It is his constant goading that sows the seed of vendetta (in Sam's mind) against Charu. It is in his confidence that Sam misuses his knowledge and intelligence for obnoxious purposes. On the one hand, Charu's camaraderie with Hari and Mani is an excellent example of unconditional friendship, while on the other, Aditya is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  That just goes to show how friends can be--they can either ruin you or turn you into gold. 
  • Bullying should be criminalized. An unkind word can not only mar the fragile ego, but is also responsible for the most irreversible consequences on a person's personality. It can cause permanent bruising to the sensitive soul. A senseless act of ragging, eve teasing, mocking someone with a harsh nickname; all these might not seem like a big deal but can eventually drive a person to hate the world, and still worse, himself. Hari's colleagues are sensitive to the torture endured by the poached tiger, but they fail to understand the trauma that Hari is undergoing. They are ruthless in their comments, mocking in their tone, and insulting in their demeanour. They do not once stop to think the kind of pressure he'd be facing, the fear of being labelled queer, the pain of living with a childhood secret that nobody would believe, a sexual identity that not many would understand, and the terrible betrayal of trust by the one person who did. In a way it was his classmates, his family, the society, who are  responsible for his plight. And then again, it is ironical how realization always comes a little too late. 
Having said all the above, I also know that roadblocks are an inevitable part of life. But we can take a detour around it. We can work our way around the stressors, adopt the 'Batman' approach instead of the 'Joker' attitude. The journey is not going to be smooth. Growing up is a colossal mess that goes on forever. We might need to fight for what we believe in, stand up for our rights. Bending but not allowing ourselves to break, we must keep reminding ourselves that we are strong. Life is a learning process and one has got to keep making notes. Sometimes, we encounter the same situation twice. That is when the notes come handy. They make up that one thing no school can ever teach you---Experience

Here are a few hacks I learned from experience.  
  • Heart break and rejection are never permanent. True love is the one that helps you grow up, and be a better person. Your relationship might not last forever. But be happy if you learned something from it. Yes, sure it hurts. But cry a river, build a bridge and get over it. Distract yourself with a hobby. Write, sing, bake. Do what makes you happy. Remember that ten years down the line, the guy/girl who dumped you won't even matter. Fifteen years ahead, you might not even remember the names of the colleagues and friends who mocked you. Anger and misery are just not worth your time.
  • Don't let social media decide whether you are 'like'able or not. It's a photoshopped reality out there. The stud you seem to be chatting with might be a serial killer in search of his next victim. The woman with the big boobs that you are so enamored by might be a seventy year old male with a sagging beer belly, laughing at your expense. Do not become slave to technology. Treat social media for what it actually is…just a virtual way to keep in touch. Do not depend on anyone (especially those who know zilch about your life and situation) to give you the right advice. 140 characters or a FaceBook meme cannot explain your life. The 'Likes', 'Shares' and 'ReTweets' do not translate as those who care. Go take a long walk. Smell the coffee. Meet your friends. Bond with family. Communicating with them is going to help. 
  • Childhood abuse is a horrendous experience and the perpetrators are depraved criminals who deserve to be punished. Most cases of childhood abuse and sexual harassment are hushed down out of fear from embarrassment. Teenage girls are groped in public buses, adolescent boys are sodomized, and none of this is ever reported. Our children need to be made aware about this issue. They should feel comfortable enough talking about it to parents. They should be taught to distinguish a 'wrong' touch. Nobody (be it relative, uncle or friend) should be outside the radar of caution. Also just because someone loves differently than you, does not mean there is anything unnatural or abnormal about it. Love is the purest of all emotions. Be empathetic with those different from you. Don't be quick to judge. We have no clue what battle they are fighting. They might be victims of deep seated trauma they are themselves trying to come to terms with. 
  •  Never let someone influence you so much that you merely become a puppet in their hands. Think with a calm mind. Do let any emotion, love, anger, jealousy, or hatred get the better of you. Never make a decision when you are angry. If you do, you are definitely going to regret it later. Surround yourself by sensible and optimistic people, whose strength of character will send of positive vibes your way. Stay away from fine-weather friends. They are like those mythical creatures who will vanish at the first sign of danger. Do not trust anyone with your secrets unless you know that it is safe with them.  

  • Last but not the least, always remember that every problem has a solution. You just have to focus in the right direction. Communication, courage, and consistency will provide answers to most of life's problems. Reach out. Ask your trusted ones for help. Look yourself in the mirror. See how far you have come. Drive away all negative vibes from your mind. Have a power nap. And wake up feeling refreshed. If you ever find yourself in a scary place, unable to decide whether you can handle it or not, just remind yourself that you can. Majority of suicides occur because there was no one or nothing that could distract them off that final moment. Control the urge. If you succeed in triumphing over that moment, know that life has won. You have won!

Another fact I found particularly impressive about ‘The story of a suicide’ is the sensitivity with which the project is dealt. Every chapter is accompanied with life hacks on how to handle situations in times of personal crises, be it relationships, education, jobs, sexuality, bullying or abuse. You can also listen to the audio book by clicking the play button on the upper right corner. 'The story of a suicide' is a powerful story of love, passion, betrayal, and revenge that aims to reach out to young people and help them understand and cope with life in a more effective manner. And that is the need of the hour.
I finished reading the book in one shot. It is engaging and emotional and makes up for a very promising (and needless to mention, noble) project. My only grouse is that it entered the scene a couple of years too late. Had it been in circulation back then, it might have made a difference.  I might not have lost my friend.
I can only hope this book manages to reach out to all those who need it most!

The above review is written as part of IndiChange, as a tribute to the wonderful project by Sriram Ayer and NalandaWayFoundation in collaboration with Indiblogger.

If you like what you read, you can vote for the post here

August 08, 2016


His eyes talk of stories untold,
Relegated memories-dark and cold...

Storms faced and battles fought
Facades revealed and lessons taught
Truths confessed and lies forbidden
Goodbyes that often left him guilt-ridden
Pain harsh and unaccounted.
Hurdles met and those surmounted
Bridges burnt, and roads once traveled
Love affairs left half unraveled.

Threatened by tears they cannot hold,
His eyes talk of stories untold...

July 24, 2016

R for 'Red'

There was a time when ‘Red’ was synonymous with love. 

Heart shaped balloons you bought for your sweetheart on her birthday, the touch of vermilion adorning the forehead of a newly wed woman, the ruby ring that he slipped onto your finger when he proposed, the first crayon your child proudly identified at play school, the evening sky with the setting sun, gorgeous patterns of henna on the fair palms of beautiful brides at weddings, the auspicious crimson border of the traditional Kolkata Sari that must constitute the wardrobe of every Bengali woman, Ganesh ji's favorite hibiscus flower--a must have at every Ganesh puja, red bangles that stand out amidst the alternate white ones in the wedding chura, the color of your favorite wine, 'red medicine' or Mercurochrome---a fond memory from every childhood; school sports leading to grazed knees et al, the deep reddish brown of scrumptious Gulab jamuns--a deep fried sweetmeat and renowned Indian dessert, red roses that are quintessential for every 'Valentine's Day' celebration, your bridal sari in rich zardosi silk that is carefully wrapped in butter paper after being laundered and dry-cleaned taking care that the color does not run off, those lip smacking 'Rooh Afza' memories reminiscent of an era gone by.

There was a time when 'Red' was synonymous with love. But not anymore! 

Today, 'Red' has changed meaning. It has become polluted, putrid, rabid. It now reminds us of danger, carnage, blood spilled, lives lost. Everyday, there are headlines screaming of terror attacks, mass shootings, wars, communal conflicts and disharmony. Senseless attacks at Orlando, Dhaka, Nice, Munich, Afghanistan etc, horrific cases of females like Swathi and Qandil being hacked to death, the atrocities committed on Dalits in India, gang rapes, ruthless murders spreading hostility and viciousness with every attack, thus ensuring that the circle never ends.
'Red' no longer possesses that same sweet scent of love, that music of unity, that warmth of nostalgia we once enjoyed. Instead it now reeks of anger, hatred, disgust and disappointment.
Is this temporary insanity making us see the same color differently? Is it a type of contagious madness spreading like the plague, making us take notice what we once ignored and forcing us to ignore what we once cherished? Or is this the first sign of an impending doom---the beginning of the end?
There was a time when 'Red' was synonymous with love. But everything seems different now.
Oh, how do we go back to the 'Red' of old? How do we go back to that 'Red' of gold? 
R for 'Red' is the eighteenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

July 04, 2016

Q for 'Quotes I love'

There are days when I love to google up famous (or at times, not so famous) words of wise people. pearls of wisdom they have left behind for us to delve upon, bask in, appreciate, and benefit from.

Favorite quotes, don't we all have them? Someone says something, and you wonder how it can fit so perfectly, how do they know exactly what you are feeling. There is an invincible truth, a certain sadness, an utter joy you experience all at once. And you realize those words will never leave you...at least not until you can help it.

Below are ten of my favorite quotes (in no particular order of preference).

1) "There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice." ~ F Scott Fitzgerald.

2) "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ " 
 ~~Jack Kerouac

3) "We are as forlorn as children lost in the wood. When you stand in front of me and look at me, what do you know of the griefs that are in me and what do I know of yours? And if I were to cast myself down before you and tell you, what more would you know about me than you know about Hell when someone tells you it is hot and dreadful?” ~~~Franz Kafka

4) "Our lives disconnect and reconnect, we move on, and later we may again touch one another, again bounce away. This is the felt shape of a human life, neither simply linear nor wholly disjunctive nor endlessly bifurcating, but rather this bouncey-castle sequence of bumpings-into and tumblings-apart." ---Salman Rushdie

5)  "Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 6) "I like dead end signs. I think they're kind. They at least have the decency to let you know you're going nowhere." ~ Bugs Bunny

7) "If there's just one piece of advice I can give you, it's this – when there's something you really want, fight for it – don't give up no matter how hopeless it seems. And when you've lost hope...ask yourself in 10 years from now...you're gonna wish you gave it just one more shot. Because the best things in life, they don't come free." ~ Meredith Grey ('Grey's Anatomy')

8) "Without an appreciation for grace and beauty, there's no pleasure in creating things and no pleasure in having them." ~ Calvin ('Calvin and Hobbes')

9) "Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and adventures are the shadow truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes and forgotten." ~ Neil Gaiman

10) "You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." ~ Robin Williams

I could go on endlessly. Choosing quotes is like picking jewels from the treasure chest of the universe. They are never enough. And people keep coming up with wonderfully smart, witty, and intelligent things to say and impress you with.

So go right ahead. Feel free and add to the list. Embellish my world with your favorite words. I am waiting! :)

Q for 'Quotes I love' is the seventeenth post in the 'A-Z Series' of posts, a chain of scribbles by me on topics starting with each alphabet of the English language. Read back and forth for the other posts, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts on the subject.

June 22, 2016

My happy place

I have always been a gypsy. My family tells me, as a kid, I'd find it difficult to sit still. They'd try to tempt me with chocolates and toys. But no amount of bribing or coddling would ensure my immobility (unless I was asleep of course, the only time my family could catch some much deserved rest).
So there I was, a curious little brat, stopping in the middle of the street to watch couples fight, peeping over tables at restaurants and solemnly pointing out to food stuck in between teeth of the diners, peering at kids my age get excited over toy trucks and doll houses, and keeping my folks on their toes with my suspicious silence and sneaky disappearances.
Nothing could hold my attention from wavering for long though. I'd soon want to move on to some other thrill. Perhaps it was a keen sense of learning, an unquenchable thirst of adventure that propelled me forward, or perhaps I was just born that way, a curious cat searching for new possibilities in everything she saw and in everyone she met.

Growing up didn't help much either. Of course, I had my share of fun like all other children my age. But I was still distracted. The constant search for something else...something more...something different was on. There were days I wanted to slip away from the harsh wrath of reality into a cushy zone that could truly make me happy. A private space that would give me the comfort of home, and yet satiate my hunger for adventure, rejuvenate my spirit, and set the world in magical motion. Some place I'd leave with the silent promise of returning as soon as possible, and wait and want to go back again.

In hindsight, perhaps the quest for such a thrilling adventure land would have started and ended in my overactive imagination if it wasn't for my older sibling. It was she who got my interest piqued, and much to my chagrin, proved to be my 'Pole star' guiding me into the 'Narnia' of my imaginings, a wonderland that actually existed outside my dreams and made me instantly fall in love with it.

My happy place was right there---in my very own house. How exciting, I thought. It had a special login system. I could enter it from literally anywhere in the world. I felt like a happy snail, content in carrying it's home on its back. My 'happy place', full of surprises, would be furnished differently every time. The moment I entered, I'd be subjected to beautiful revelations, scintillating surprises, and needless to mention, oodles of adventure waiting for me.

I would never tire out here. My intrigue and interest would soar with every visit, and I'd come back for more every single time, just like I'd imagined. This was exactly the kind of happiness that I'd imagined, and I'd finally found a place that warranted it for keeps.

Since there, I've always been visiting. I spend hours at a stretch there. Sometimes, the entire day. At times, the whole night. The interior keeps changing, but that gives me the opportunity to live a million lives. Perhaps that is the secret---the provision of a chance to break off from the drudgery of a mundane reality and experience life in another persons shoes, if only for a while.
As a child, I loved eating alphabet soup. I remember sieving the noodle-letters and eating them first. The enthusiasm for the vegetable broth would eventually fade, and I'd try to find reasons to skip finishing my dinner. But during that brief period of strain-sieve-swallow, I'd be happily lost in the jumble of words formed from the alphabets in my soup.

Years later, words still brings me the same kind of joy I'd experience as a child. As the popular maxim goes, 'Old habits die hard'. I open my bag and fish out my current read. A small voice from between the pages beckons me, causing my heart to flutter and fly.

It's time for the snail to disappear into its cocoon. It's time for me to slink into my happy place.

A temporary panacea

Shopping malls are mystical places
With retail stores and coffee houses
Convincing people they are prettier than they look
And less lonelier than they feel.

There's a map giving directions
For the already misdirected
Loaded with shopping bags
And a light(er) wallet,
Victims of mirrors that lie
Making all seem beautiful
Inside illusive designer stores.
Come home, and
The spell is broken,
You want your money back.
But alas! There's a no-return policy
You had been warned!

You stumble upon a friend from work,
Talk a while, grab a bite
Behind glass facades with 'mermaid' logos
Over ice-cold coffee and sizzling-hot company;
A hole in your pocket,
Although chemistry worth a million bucks,
Both of which are here to stay
While the adrenaline lasts.
Until next morning,
When back at work,
You see her laugh
With another man.
The spell is broken,
You want your heart back.
But alas! There's a no-return policy
You had been warned!

Shopping malls are mystical places
With retail stores and coffee houses
Convincing people they are prettier than they look
And less lonelier than they feel.