Contrary to Popular Belief

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No, I don’t want mind-reading powers. Who do I look like- Edward Cullen?

Do I want to hear all the random nonsense people think, without pause, every minute of the day? Do I want to fall in love with someone with all the vibrant personality of a pile of rocks, just because I can’t ‘hear’ them? Do I want a sickeningly happy ending to my story?

The answer to all of the above is a resounding No.

I mean, think about the life poor Edward has. He has to be aware that he’s the least interesting person in the Cullen/Hale outfit (personally, I rank Jasper first, but that’s just me); he’s the only one without a girlfriend for centuries- testament to his uninteresting personality (I know there’s that whole thing about Tanya ‘making a play’ for him, and him being not interested, but it’s not like we have anyone else’s word for it)- he’s done a lot of reading, so he’s probably aware that he’s the least compelling romantic hero ever (and whatever Bella thinks, she is not Cathy Earnshaw and he is not Heathcliff. In any way); he has to (and I genuinely sympathise with him here) listen to the mindtracks of over a hundred adolescent students, agonising over gossip and he-said-she-said and homework submissions all day, every day. He gets the girlfriend who is about as interesting as a bowl of cereal, and fits the profile of the damsel-in-distress to a T. He has all the emo issues going- angsting over how he could kill his girlfriend like that (pity he was so careful), or how he’s a monster and he can’t make her into one (like she needed the help, playing ol’ Jake like she did), all the ‘living forever, never changing, never growing old’ stuff.

And to end, he gets the soppily happy ending. Everything going good, vampires can’t have kids but he can (and I’m not even going into the biological details of that one)- but that one’s more of Bella’s thing. But yeah, he gets Bella. FOREVER. How he puts up with her is not given- maybe he doesn’t. Hopefully. But I’m of the opinion that Edward lost his personality with his humanity (in the sense, when he turned into a vampire), so maybe he did. Who knows?

So no, I do not want to read people’s minds endlessly/turn into Edward Cullen. At least give me an ‘off’ switch. Like Aro.

Muahahahahaha.

Viva La Video. Not.

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My father has these old videos of me, taken when I was in the fifth and sixth grades. So embarrassing. I hate watching old videos of myself. At least, with merely recordings, there’s some chance of saying “Umm, no, that’s not me, nope, no way”, especially since my voice sounds very different on record.

But with videos? There’s never any denying that that wild-haired, oddly-dressed shrimp doing the weird crap that prompted my dad to take the video in the first place is, in fact, me. Oh, I’m sure I thought it was cool and swag and awesome at the time, but after as little as a year, the only true adjective I can use to describe those videos is: cringe-worthy. ‘Embarrassing’ is far too mild a term.

I was a wild kid; according to certain people, I’m no different now. I beg to differ; but the point is, I was sometimes very taken with a certain dance step, or mannerism, or phrase, or behavioural pattern that seemed to be the coolest thing since sliced bread. You see, I was at that stage when to be ‘cool’ and to be recognised as such was the be-all and end-all of my life. Like Shah Rukh Khan and his ‘C-Gang’ (‘Cool Gang, folks, and it was only in school!). So I was often caught on camera- sometimes most willingly- doing things that now make me want to fling the offending recording into the depths of Mount Doom and thereby unmake it.

(No, nothing like that, don’t be sick. Mind out of the gutter, if you please)

So, to conclude, do not follow me around with a recorder.

Paintbox

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I can’t paint. I really, really can’t.

But when I shut my eyes, I always see a screen of black. It starts like that, just soft black, like fabric. Then it bleeds into red; or rather, red bleeds onto the black until there’s nothing but red. And then there’s purple. There’s always a lot of purple. There are yellows, greens, and dark blue (the blue’s always dark, I don;t know why), but I remember the purple most clearly, because when I open my eyes, streaks of purple hover for a second, before dissipating into… well, whatever’s I’m looking at.

So I guess, the colours of my mind and mood would begin from purple.

There’s a tone of red to my thoughts, though. No, it’s not anger. It’s a lot of maroon and pink, but from time to time, my feelings have a strong tone of crimson to them. I think they do now, although it’s fading, like more water’s been mixed in. It’s love. Or rather, romance. I’ve fallen in love perhaps thrice, so usually it’s just a lot of pink. Shifting emotions. Crushes. Sometimes nothing at all in that range. And sometimes a deep, deep crimson that colours everything else and makes my world look like hell.

Anger isn’t red. It isn’t even like a burn. It’s usually ice-blue paint on a canvas, cold, but it’s edged with orange. There’s a layer of black on it. I keep it under wraps, because I don’t like my anger. It’s cold and ugly and hurtful. Sometimes it pushes the black aside, and leaps up, the orange edges scalding the first person it touches, and then freezing everything else. The freezing hurts worse. I don’t like anything cold but fridge-water and ice cream. I don’t like being angry, because my anger colours my mind an ugly blue-orange combination that blots out everything else and leaves my world cold, hurt and unhappy.

Smiles are white. Not because of teeth. They’re not yellow, because smiles are like sunlight and everyone knows that sunlight is white light. Sunlight does good things. It makes things grow- pink and red and green and golden and yellow and happy and laugh-  and it makes things sweat, and thinga are alive and well and breathing because of the sun. I like smiling. I don’t like my teeth, or my skin, or my hair, but  I like my smile. It makes me feel happy, and white and nice and warm and brown. Smiles and laughter are white and brown and a little bit of everything. Every mood, every colour, every shade of the paints mixed and mingled in my mind.

And my hands are stained, and I look at the page, and I sigh, because I really can’t paint.

Fearless; no, I’m not copying Taylor Swift here.

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If I were completely free of fear, my life would be one hell of a roller-coaster, and the ‘puking-guts-out’ stage at the end would be pretty damn spectacular.

The first thing I can think of that I would do (feel free to draw character-related conclusions here) would be to mouth off. A lot. Like, remove all my brain-to-mouth filters and just GO. Tell all my relatives (and my family is pretty huge) exactly what’s running through my brain; opinions, reactions and consequences be damned. And probably get reviled, ostracised and possibly disinherited in the process; but oooooh, that feeling!!! The one you get after a really good massage, only this time, in the mind. Sounds pretty awesome.

No fear. I can imagine telling certain people exactly what I think of them. What would I not give to really not care about ‘social status’ (I swear that someone quoted them to me once with the kind of emphasis on the words that I would out on “Harry Potter, dude!!”)? It would mean being me, the real me, not held back by rules or codes or irritating self-consciousness. It could be pure, simple freedom.

But I doubt it would be, though. Because no fear means that no restraints. It means no rules. It means full-on, hardcore, unmitigated recklessness. The kind that makes you run across the road when there’s a 100% chance of dying, just to see if you can cheat fate. And the laws of Newton. And the traffic police. No telling which one’s worse.

No fear would mean cycling super-close to a cliff-edge. It would mean saying “fuck this, what do I care” for the completely unnecessary things that I don’t even want to do. No fear would put me on a high, and then on an ego trip, and then on my deathbed.

I happen to like living, thank you very much.

So for the sake of living, I’ll take the fear. I’ll live with the irritating self-consciousness and the rules and regulations, the norms and codes and laws and the everyone else is doing it, if I can live. I’ll live with the slight shame of conformity, if I can live. I’ll live with the conformity, and try to break out from it every second, managing by degrees, never quite getting there, but trying all the same.

Because you can only do it by being alive.

The Sound of Music

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A friend of mine once called me tone-deaf. I like to think he’s wrong (for heaven’s sake, he was asking me to identify the difference between two adjacent notes on the guitar; pardon me if I don’t have your super-alien-guitar-ears!), but the fact remains that I have absolutely no talent with musical instruments.

I’ve tried a few: guitar, drums (abandoned in favour of jazz dance classes), casio, a few desultory strokes of a violin. All quickly abandoned, all things that I sometimes feel… if I’d just practised more, tried a little harder… all maybes and what-ifs and could-have-beens that I really prefer not to think about.

But one instrument stands out, and it’s one I’ve never laid a hand on. It’s the instrument that rests so innocently, yet so grandly, on a chest of drawers off our dining room.

My mother’s veena.

My mother learns. She’s a beginner. She’s on the basics, and lately she hasn’t had much time to attend class and practise. But I remember the months when she did. Everyone has a lullaby, conscious or not, and mine has become the notes my mother played, patient and tender and ever approaching purity, into the hours past midnight as all three of us slept soundly.

I love the veena because when my mother plays it, when she drops her eyes to it, there’s a love and reverence and a tiny bit of awe that seeps into the air from her eyes. There’s contentment, and forgetfulness, and when she plays the basic notes over and over and over again, I see her losing herself. I see her at peace with herself.

I love the veena, even having never laid a hand on it, because it makes my mother happy.