That ache.

Have you ever felt physically a pain so strong that your chest seems tight, the muscles inside knotted and a powerful gnawing against your lungs?

They told me it’s anxiety but I always felt that I feel too much.

I’ve suffered from the fragility of mind and soul but I grew up to be outspoken. I hated looking at those curled up lips and watery eyes, when I looked at myself in the mirror. In response to words of terrible meanings, I would cry. I would be so angry, that I want to cry. I couldn’t understand why my mind didn’t communicate anger onto my nerves, that a punch would involuntary go flying right into someone’s face. That wasn’t me.

I felt deeply. A flaw of nature and character so strong, that it brought me to my knees often. It is the bane of my existence. I felt too deeply. I was always affected, by everyone. By things around me. I was affected by people’s laughter, touched by their sorrows, soothed by their victories and disconcerted by their pain. I was always too deeply connected.

What is wrong in these two scenarios?

There’s a lion. You expect the lion to attack you. You’re in his territory, you’re flirting with the angel of death. And he comes and licks you. That is what is wrong.
There is a cat. She despises the dog because he gets all the attention and of course more food. She steals his food every night once he’s asleep. You expect the cat to not feel ashamed. She does. That is what is wrong.
There is a thief who steals because he’s the man of the house with no income. He steals because he has to. He’s got you under the knife, you expect him to slice you. He doesn’t. That’s what is wrong.

I think to feel deeply is wrong. I should walk away, feeling guiltless like it didn’t matter to me.
I should be able to look at people’s suffering and feel better about myself. I should be able to sleep, after hurting someone. That is what is wrong.

I felt too deeply. There was an ache on the right side of my lung that felt real. That is what is wrong.

– Just Panda Thoughts


Dear Convenient Arrangement

Such honesty and confession; she talks a fine argument! Lovely piece by Dipalie!

Mashed Potatoes

Couple black and white

It’s not the same, we could pretend all night, playing charades of being lovers in the moment. Sometimes intoxicated and sometimes, regrettably not. But I’ll never make you feel the way she can, she who can kiss away the frowns on your forehead and unclench your stubborn fingers. She who can melt into you like wax in flame and ice in rum, who can leave without leaving a trace and still leave your soul as hollow as a pitted walnut shell.

And nor are you he. He who can walk into a room and change the very air it contains. Who can make my guts clench into a tight pleasant knot with nothing more than a half hug, he who makes me want to crumble into a heap of peanut brittle in warm chocolate, whose hands on a discarded earring feel like a warm patient caress down my bare back…

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And then there was FLAB.

I had the perfect hour glass body as a 16 year old. I used to fit into all the good looking clothes, and stayed self obsessed for about 3 years of my life. To think back and remember with perfect clarity the number and types of portfolio shots I took of myself, amazes me now. I never hid a single defect – for I thought, I had none. I’d have many but in my head, I had none. I had long beautiful hair, a fuller looking smile, perfect skin and I would be beaming with confidence. I walked the halls of my school thinking, I was the prettiest girl in the crowd. I cared less and less about what people thought of me, with each passing day till I hit 2nd year of college.

There was this coming of age moment, I had to face. I was a 20 something with a boyfriend who said I looked ugly because I had put on some serious flab on my stomach. I was also a 20 something who people wouldn’t dare ridicule otherwise because I do have one hell of a mouth on my pretty pretty face. But somewhere, that 1 boys rejection injected a sense of hysteria. A hysteria that slowly and rapidly grew into a bombastic paranoia which I subconsciously suppressed with the outward nonchalance. I’d wear a pair of shorts and a loose t – shirt to class, or a really loose kurta. I’d pretty up my face only with Kajal. I cared less and less for how I looked – to show it didn’t matter what people thought of me. I tried to strangle out of my urge for acceptance by rejecting it, all together. By denying its existence.

I didn’t know how tainted my thoughts had been or how hurt my little ego was, till I was unemployed. I realised all of the trauma, smudged black when I had to face my fears in real time. I think a dam burst within. It broke and the bottled up words, echoes of past rejection came flowing out. I saw myself in the mirror. I am plump, I have chubby cheeks, big eyes, I wear glasses and at 23 I still have tiny pimples coming up once in a while. I have a scarred face and tummy that needs a tuck. I am also very lazy and I don’t want to jog. I do dress well when I want to, and I look at the clothes on that skinny Zara model with utmost lust that sees a body type far beyond my grasp. I still have that tiny crisis once in a while because I was used to being called superlatives of the good kind; I’d never thought in my wildest dreams as a kid I’d be plump/fat. But then there was flab and all the haze around my tiny little superficial head cleared one year at a time. I accept my eyes for the squinty sometimers they are; I see I fit well in Large sized clothes and look good, I accept my hair has been cut short and I must make do, I accept that when I smile my eyes get wrinkly, I accept the complete apple shaped body I have.

I look into my own eyes in a mirror and I can look at myself – I am good the way I am, not just good looking now I think I’m cute, chubby. I feel like I am a soul, and a body. But for a very long time I defined myself in the feminine categories the world has created. At the same time I also realised, these categories are so limited. I am fat, and beautiful, chubby with skinny calves, I have pimples but soft skin, I have short unruly but sometimes silky hair. My eyes are big but they squint too. I have neck wrinkles, my hair doesn’t look nice all the time. I think when I look for one word categories for all of this, I see that the linguistic binaries finally do fail. If I were to define all of this in either “Fat/Skinny” I cannot. You might, for your language may barricade your thoughts too.

No more am I to submit to the need of being called beautiful but I do smile when once in a while someone genuinely not for lust, not for love but warmly suggests I am pretty. Maybe this negotiation will never end really but I can say, I stand confident today without the arrogance of yesterday and somewhat preparing to meet wisdom on the other side of the line.

— Just Panda Thoughts.

1st January – Social Expectation Vs. Reality

Every year, upon hugging a strange bunch of happy people I am pushed into an abyss of serially unexpected thoughts. For most of us, 1st of January means a lot of ‘new’ beginnings. The ‘new’ in the new year is overtly emphasised. Why shouldn’t it be – it’s fed to us and reiterate by every form of communication to make it sanctimoniously new. And then there are the lies of finding meanings and resolutions, the optimistic psychobabble.

I’m sounding pessimistic already, I am sure. A lot of people have judged not to go further than the third line, and some who reach here think why is she now addressing us?! It is because, I genuinely think you must reconsider ‘new’ year reminiscing. What I mean is, are we allowed to think of the shit that hit the fan in 2014 or not? It did wreak havoc in my life, several times over. I confess – I’m not nostalgic, I am currently verging on ‘dafuq’ did they say about ‘new’ year in 2013.

‘It’ll be great’ – they said.
‘it’ll be life-changing’ – they said.

Well, it was a lot of things and it did change my life quite a bit but I think instead of making fake fitness resolutions, social media proclamations that get stuffed below your tweets from the earliest show of weekend cinema, it is definitely high time we rethink a few domesticated notions. For starters, let’s think of how stupid we were the previous year, and try not to go there again. If a year is to pass us, and make us feel older it should to some extend make us wiser too. Don’t you think?

I’m growing older and stupid because of the people flashing ‘forget about the past’ on Facebook. Worse, they make fancy quotational creatives – a blurry sepia christmasy landscape and some calligraphic words slamming unrealistic quotes. I think, I’d like to take a step back and feel like shit; especially and more so about how I wasted 2014 and how many times over did I am an ox ploughing the freaking land.
The year 2014 was quite a storm – it did disrupt me as an individual; I came to distrust many I trusted, I felt ashamed of my actions, I doubted my choices, looked in the mirror to see a complete loser on some occasions, lost a bit of my know-it-all smirk, dumbed down for people, nursed some pride, killed a bit of my ego and then rose to love myself for thinking the way I do. I have come to respect myself, a little more for rising beyond bullshit – identifying where it originates and kicking it to the curb. My self respect climbed a few more floors; pride went through a giant growth spurt. I also succumbed to my weaknesses, admitted how foolish I’d be to step into newer realms and presume to know it instinctually. I also didn’t deny my instincts any fear, feeling or thought. I continued to muster the courage to be vulnerable every step of the way because now when I’m writing this down, detaching myself slowly from the pain – I have indeed, become as strong as I’d set out to be.

So goodbye, 2014. I fucked up and you fucked up!
Hello 2015, I think I am going to take it as it comes, and moreover look for some new mistakes to make.

— Just Panda Thoughts

Always late to the party.

For The Love Of Empty Roads And Hazy Nights

I’ve been used to people staring at me like I’ve done something blasphemous. I had a good run of the mill routine; travel to a nearby market, hang around with a bunch of friends – smoke a little, and share puns and other funny shit. I’ve loved the idea of driving aimlessly, in C.P. at night because it is the most beautiful area to loiter at – especially in the dead of the night. The city looks more beautiful to me at night – everything is new, different almost magical. I’d take my 15 year old dump of a car, throw in some smokes and chips, kidnap a friend and drive around flipping FM stations at night.

What a life it is; when you’re ignorant, you’re also fearless. One night, a friend worriedly blurts out, that I was followed home. I was in a car, safe and unseen but stalked by 2 men on a bike. The idea slapped me across the face. It was that nasty feeling in my gut – suddenly I was reminded of all the times I never checked, or looked back, to see who has been following me. Ignorance was no more a ruse.

I had to face reality. My city wasn’t after all in the true sense ‘mine’. The idea was so terrifying. It now hurts more. I live with overtly protective parents and why wouldn’t they be, I’m in Gurgaon. It is no safer than Delhi. I can’t take my car out at 2 a.m. with my girls and drive through the city like a force of nature. I feel like a hurricane trapped in a tumbler.

Why loiter?

Because the streets were so mysterious to me, so romantic. Different paths were like a micro discovery, new areas felt like continents found. I loiter because I think the idea of a walled house is claustrophobic. For my soul has forever been drunk on the idea of roaming, loitering and traveling.

I want to run on the street at 5 a.m. But I can’t, I fear for my life.

I want to sleep on a bench and stare at the sky. But what will they take me for? I fear, they might call me a whore.

I want to dance like no one is watching in the middle of the market because I feel happy. I can’t, and I won’t. There is always someone watching.

I had to part ways, with the night and the roads. I seek comfort in the thought that someday, we will reclaim the streets and I will be my reckless self again.