I’m a list of things I can’t check off

There are so many things to do away with, so many habits I keep close. Every year I draw them closer to my heart, joining them to the very identity which this mind is so narcissistically smitten by.  I would absolutely not want to be who I am now, 20 years from now. That feels like a regular 20 something’s thought. 

Problems of failure, self doubt, emotional instability, turmoil, existential crisis. The usual. What makes me want to talk about my feelings, then? I cannot say somethings I can write.
I’m 24 years old, I cannot comprehend my own character, my feelings and mostly I feel like an ambiguity. Unsure of how I speak, unknown of what I appear to you. I feel unethical in most of my words when I say things out loud. Even some thoughts seem repulsive.

I seek emotional satisfaction in places where it isn’t mine to take. I want to belong to people, to places out of my reach. Aggressively seeking non-attachment, yet wanting to belong is a paradox I cannot seem to step out of. Is it a mid-mid-life crisis? They tell me, all people my age feel things I feel. How is that a relief? There are more in pain, more in doubt, more than the self-serving I in this paragraph.

To each, his own. Applies to crisis as well. I understood that I’m a stresser. I perpetually feed of stress, it’s an intake of aggressively trying to fix things out of my reach. Sleep, food, poop – three things I can put aside when stress kicks in. Sorry, about the disturbing details but such is life. I also happen to eat panic for lunch on days. My body gives up, the mind is mostly in fumes. It’s like waking up from a night of being under anesthesia. The mind is fuzzy, decision making screws up and memory gives up. I do succumb to this manner of living because, it helps me forget. Moving on is a function of the relief I get when I stop hitting myself with the hammer called stress.

While every love story is bogus, every stress story is too. But if I’m losing some kilos over it, I suppose stress works. It’s a mode of camouflaged dysfunctionality, I must enter into. How I may come out of it, is a battle for another day. I do seek your sweet sweet sayings, the way you calm me down, how you’d like me to not cry now – I do seek you. But you’re a mirror image of the desires that I projected unto you, in the absence of a real emotional connect.
You are also a sum of the nothingness that drove me to the choice of channelising loneliness, the need for support into a relationship. I feed off the masochistic urge to choose things that are logically painful. Why then, blame another of choices I made? I am masochistic, to the degree of leaving pins along the way to step on when the time is right.

Currently, I’ll just collect the pins as I go, without stepping on them. Never too late, to realise that your habits are not fatefully yours.

Anxious little heart, be quiet!

Will I be able to drive back home?
Am I worth his love?
Are they talking about me?
I don’t think I can survive a 12 hour flight. 

The questions of everyday life: will I be able to make this work?
While it sounds like a perfectly everyday question, it is not the case if you’re an anxious wonder. Living with anxiety is like fighting the devil from within. The moment an idea takes over your mind, and starts to grow arms – legs – feet – hands – eyes and then a brain of its’ own, you are impregnated with paranoia for a few minutes. In some cases, the minutes turn into hours of pushing this mighty beast that’s sitting on your chest off that mountain of certitude.

Sometimes I’m in a lift – it is a routine exercise. You get on board, you press that button and the lift goes up. Upon reading a few reports of horrible and disgusting deaths in lifts, you tend to recollect the exact same association and merge it with your mortal fears. I do this, quite frequently.

The adrenaline on certain occasions can be strong enough to make you feel dips in your temperature, pains in your chest and often the gnawing feeling of something terrible on the cards. There are many such petty fears; of course petty by your standards. My vision is not microscopic when it comes to your flaws and your fantasies but it sure is microscopic when it zooms into my world of fears. And there are many!

Living with an anxious soul is like being on a treadmill beyond your capacity to run. When the body maxes out on its’ limits, your mind goes into the overdrive thought cycle which wouldn’t let you sleep. I account several sleepless nights to the thought of losing someone when they are not going anywhere. I may fervently detest flying because I feel every jerk in the plane’s response to the clouds, my body responds to the little dips and sways of the monster vehicle.

I’m terrified whether I come of as a friendly person or if I’ve offended the stranger I didn’t smile at, maybe I hurt someone by taking away that last bite of food off the table. I’m taken aback by the inability to voice a few feelings that only articulate themselves as the sound of gasps for more air. The best way to understand anxiety is to recollect the first time you were going to attend school – that is it. Another simpler way to put this would be – imagine you are sitting in for an interview with a panel of 15 people. They are grilling you with questions and you are finding words to match the pace of their arguments and suddenly, in midst of this chaotic flight you realise you want to fart.

That’s anxiety for me. A constant battle in my mind. The german shepherd who wants to bite the head off my sanity, wouldn’t agree to go by days tame. He would bark ideas so frightful that I cannot deny the existence of some. The self-worth dilemmas, that he poops all over and the constant investigation of banal conversations he pees over. This anxious four-legged creature resides in me and for once, I don’t hate it entirely. I’ve come to love it because sometimes the fear of the details can save you a penny or two. The investigation of banal conversations can offer depth. For mere philosophical ideas may have taken birth in someone’s anxious break down. Who knew if A Room Of One’s Own was prepared from the insights of precipitations from a sleepless night.

You can blame me for finding meaning in this dog fight; I would just call it another anxious case of existential epiphanies.

– Just Panda Thoughts

Upon understanding solitude.

Sometimes in quiet whispers to yourself, in midst of chaos and smudged desire you are left feeling warm. Not warm, of the kind when the sun shines. The warmth of how solitary and quiet your mind feels. There’s a rush in being surrounded by a cacophony of voices; like when you hear their stories, see their searching eyes hoping to connect and make sense of what you say. The anticipation of crossing that bridge of judgement and being accepted. The silent ‘yeah dude’ or an itsy bitsy smirk. We all wish for words that resonate a sense of knowing and familiarity, yet the search for something new and different leads us onto a confusing roller-coaster ride of emotive instability.

Here I was thinking of the little sigh of yours, when you heard none of mine.

Such is life; you hear people and pick a few, and out of those few you pick one or two. There’s someone always you need, at an arms reach to bounce a few stupid ideas, or to bum the last few drags of a dying cold cigarette, someone to nod when you complacently rant. It doesn’t have to be one person for everyone. It’s not an idea of the platonic souls coming together. Complexity here lies, not in the lack of ‘one’ but in the abundance – and then comes the railroads that never meet.

I’m often pestered by the look on the face of those squirrels so smug – in pairs, comfortable. They’ve found someone to bounce their stupid ideas of and they look highly amused at the look in my eyes. It’s the way jealousy betrays you to the innocent observer. It conveys to them the emptiness of your soul – hoping to latch on at the first grasp, at the first touch.

The whimper of my wishes turned down, is also someone’s wish fulfilled. There is an order to all things human. I often defying that order seem hapless and close to befriending solitude. It’s a shell to retreat into or out of. It is warm and familiar. It can replace the knowing look of your eyes I couldn’t hold long enough. That’s the ruse I’d pick for today.

– Just Panda Thoughts

I f

Don’t tell them.

I always imagine that the unconscious mind is like an ocean. Coral reefs and the works. There are many known, many unknown species living in there. I always imagine thoughts to be fishes. Some that live close to the ocean bed, some come up to catch the sunlight in their swan dives. There are fishes who like the silence near the ocean bed because let’s just face it – it is least populated. These fishes like the sunken ships and the seaweed that lets them hide till it is time to get out. They can decide the time they wish to take a peek.

All my unconscious thoughts are these little fishes. They like to stay away from the consciousness of real, practical and boring details of life. Too banal, right?
My repressed thoughts are pleasing. They often surface during the day or sometimes on a rainy night, when I’m so quiet that I can hear the pulse along my neck throb. Mostly, it is when I dream that these fishes come to taste the shallow waters. They feel safe suddenly. That’s when the happy unwinding dreams transform me into a human log. I am just there. I’ve let my mind wander off so far that it feels comfortable never coming back. Mornings thus are always difficult. Inadvertently late, I always am!

Dreams are where I’ve fallen in love with so many selves. I could be anybody there. I don’t want to be someone famous; just many different versions of my own self. When you have a personality that never took form, you feel like jello. I am jello, for all intents and purposes of this discussion. My mould mostly demands social conformity but my heart betrays the cause of society. My shrewd tongue makes me talk to much. But dreams!
What a miraculous place of being and becoming. Imagine a grassland where every square inch of grass was made of a wish you’ve hidden, where every animal is a version of your personality you wanted to materialise, where the sun rose to actually make you feel bright and suddenly the emotional intensity you naturally feel is acceptable. Dreams are so consuming! I dream of falling of cliffs, buildings, being run over by buses. I also dream of hotels without doors, old abandon caves, dead bodies and plane crashes. It is not knowing what I’ll dream tonight that makes me want to close my eyes quicker.

Mostly I dream because the moment between falling asleep and deep sleep is this black blur. Silence suddenly takes over and you race through a few hours, almost hallucinating unimaginable ideas that are so beautiful and fleeting. In my dreams I can turn around and leave people without any guilt; I could be jobless and I don’t owe anything to anyone. In my dreams I could be a unicorn? Fuck that. In my dreams my body, mind and soul aren’t bound by social ties, customs, bonds and more. In my dreams I’m retelling tales battered to hide in a corner, I’m recreating imagery that partially washes up against my shore once in a while. Why do I keep going back to the ocean? There is no better place to be than the ocean bed. I can scream my heart out and not be heard. It is my peaceful place.
Dreams are fascinating because when I’m asleep for those few hours I do not belong to anyone – I am no one’s daughter, no one’s sister, no one’s girlfriend. I may not even be me. Tonight I could be the lady who has a big typewriter. I’ll never know, till I am her.

There is one more thing about dreams. When you get so hurt that you can’t take it, you can wake up. When you get hurt that the pain is too much, you can wake up. I love dreams because you’ll never know what I dream about and I’ll never be able to recreate them in words.

– Just Panda Thoughts

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.