As a new chapter began on a partly chilly October night,
With a friend by my side,
I embarked on a journey,
Thought to myself that I’ve finally taken flight.
This year I am to do something new,
From a bird’s eye view,
I am to scour through the land,
Sometimes finding shelter, other times the lack of.
Dusty roads and thirsty throats
Are to be my constant companions
There are girls and women living with them all their lives,
With nothing short of being champions.
At battling against social norms and injustice,
They raise their voices unabashedly,
And when they cannot, they ask for help
I still don’t know how (they do it).
This month passed me by, as I passed by,
Silhouettes of trees, riding buses that are my carriages,
Drifting in and out of sleep, the yellow light came flooding
Through see-through curtains.
Upon reaching the capital every time
During early light of the day,
It seems to me life has been sucked out of the city,
All that is left now is decay.
I wander around lanes, jostling against masked souls,
Getting lost in my thoughts and more lost in the crowds
I reach meetings, slurp coffee that comes out of machines,
What a ridiculous thing, not at all time-consuming!
My phone would ring and buzz and spring,
Out of my hand, as if it has a mind of its own.
I drop notepads, scratch my ears and adjust the glasses
My colleagues would exclaim I’m ‘cute’ and go on laughing…
Sitting in front of laptops, typing out words
And dragging images from one corner to the other,
Next thing I know I’m aging,
Nights to the ‘nocturnal me’ seem longer.
I am here one day,
In the city of love, during the day
Twelve hours later, at a roadside Dhaba,
I’m speaking to my Baba,
Letting him know that his daughter is eating
More than just sev tamatar and breadpakoda,
That she is being extra wary, always extra wary,
Even with an empty heart and a full bladder.
Her body behaves like an obedient child,
Just as she was taught that
There are no ghosts lurking in the dark,
Save for which we make for ourselves…
Lungs expand more freely beside lakes,
And shrink while stepping out of the metro
As I am often moving during the dark, I get to capture,
Hidden figures that when the light appears, mostly hide.
My co-passengers shut the window,
Cover themselves up in shawls,
I jump out of my seat, walk up and down the aisle
And take snippets of LED bulbs that remind me of home.
(around this time I realize I have lost rhythm)
There are charging points installed in these carriages,
A dim night light that helps me read
It’s exactly like a room, only mobile, I think
What great ways of being comfortable!
Home is where, where is Titash?
Watching the same marble factories,
Same toll booths leave me behind
Deadlines, I wonder, when can I write?
Sky rises dumbfound me,
‘development’ they call it
Astonishingly this country
Is hell-bent on it.
Self-reflection is key, I say to my peers
When it comes to practice,
I am hardly there, fulfilling
(there is no way I am getting the rhythm back now)
That the sun rise when I’m about to reach
From one place to the other
With the mouth dry, lips parched
And half-open in wonder …
What is my takeaway from the first month,
Is it knowing what to eat,
What to buy,
What to get done, plan ahead?
Is it to know that
Some of us do not know
And one cannot just learn by listening,
There is also learning by doing?
It is alright to not be able to excel in many things
Multitasker I’ll be, but perhaps not a juggler
This year is for learning, not impact, I know this
But to follow through is what’s most challenging.
Girls get abducted, raped,
Throw me such facts,
I’ll write pages and pages on that.
Give me a list of ingredients
To collect from a local shop, I’ll fail
Passbook of a bank that needs to be updated,
I’m not sure it’s even registered in my database.
My brain is wired to be weird,
That is one thing I know for sure
The rest only time will tell,
I’ll pour out what I am capable of.
Till then, I’ll talk of the nights that keep me so busy,
That steal sleep and dreams from me
The discomfort of commute, the backaches,
It’s all worth it.
For I’m no more that girl who skips hard work,
I rose from there, crossed a hurdle and moved forward
The cities still remain distant to me,
I haven’t found a place yet.
A dear friend had once said,
The true essence of being a traveler
Can be understood only from
Being with oneself.