Omne

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You’re a boy with stars
In the palms of your hands,
A man with a storm in your eyes
That the lids can barely close over-
When you sleep, I imagine
That it must be like trying to tie down a tornado
With a lock of hair.

You leave dust-storms behind you
With every step,
Raise a whirlwind
With every breath;

I understand better
Why planets move the way they do,
Why stars sometimes, just sometimes
Come down to the ground,
Kiss the earth, and dart away again;
Why flowers bloom and die, it’s not something
To cry about; why time flows and stops
(It does, I swear it does) and runs on again
Too slow and far too fast;
Why things happen the way they do;

All in that little universe that you’ve got
Spinning away in your soul.

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Madwoman

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On my last night in school, I went down to the basketball court and lay on my back at the very centre. The stars were very clear. It was summer, a warm night, and with the heat in the air, the chill of the concrete, and the clear so clear stars, it was a curious ten minutes. Ten minutes of heavy breathing, and the idea of a self that rises from the core into forever.

I saw a half-naked man lying at the centre of a golchakkar (roundabout) near the Ministry of External Affairs. It was a makeshift golchakkar, just orange traffic cones placed in a circle at the crossing. It was around a quarter to six in the evening.

He was just lying there, playing with a water bottle. I don’t remember if there was water in the bottle or not; he was just moving it up and down right above his face. I wondered what he could see in the bottle that we couldn’t have, the people who sped by him ensconced in cars, sparing him glances. Some are amused, some are flummoxed, some are innocently disgusted, but they are glances only, thrown like spare change that we don’t want to be caught giving.

I bleed into becoming that man. I remember. My clothes disappear, as do my breasts, and I gaze up into a rapidly dimming winter sky. I’m still me, whoever that may be. I remember. Flat on my back, no water bottle in sight. I’m looking for stars and clear black sky; I can hear cars, and although I’m aware of the people, speeding by and throwing me glances, they don’t really seem human, and their thrown alms of attention float to the road like the down feathers pigeons shed.

There’s a water bottle now though, so I suppose I must seem like that man to the faceless me that speeds by in one of the cars. Half-naked, and here’s a water  bottle. I move it to and fro in my hands, peering in.

It’s clear, and it sparkles. It moves around, sloshes around, and it looks like starlight that’s been forced into a canister, except that I can tell what it is. Stars made liquid, the sun and moon melted, a universe that’s folded in on itself and chosen this particular water bottle to drip into. A condensed swirl of perhaps a million galaxies and light-years of space, all sloshing around in here, pooled at the bottom of a madman’s water bottle. For who else would have eyes to see a universe, but the utterly mad?

I bleed back into mind, I see my breasts rising again like newborn mountains; once more, I’m girl and woman, with the remnants of sanity lying around my mind like so much construction waste dotting the landscape of school. Under my back is a mattress- no concrete or tar- and a ceiling stares blindly back rather than take my rising self like stars would.

I’m sane, you see, just a little closer to it than I’ve been all night, and it’s almost morning now.

In Your Mind’s Eye

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But imagine this

A girl sitting on a swing at the close of day. Her hair is falling into her face, and she stops every thirty seconds to brush it out of the way. It’s too short to tie, and too long to stay out of the way.

The swing is outside the house, between the front door and the gate. Her legs are crossed under her, a book is nestled among the skirt-folds in her lap, and she is quiet and not really herself anymore.

It’s silly to sit out here when the light is fading so fast, but a few minutes of peace are rare and treasured in this home, and she snatches them when she can. Calvino is a wonderful guide, and when he takes her by the hand and guides her around Diomira, she is so, so lost and whole and in love.

But imagine this

Emily is quiet, not because she has little to say (one day the world hears it, all of it, and recoils and applauds in a single motion, but she is too dead to know), but because she has much to think about. Gondal is in peril, she fears, and if she does not think, Branwell will swoop in and take over, and that will be the end of Gondal as they know it. So she thinks and plots, and if her Julius must sometimes lower himself to base methods, even sheer cruelty, she understands. He loves Gondal; she does too, and so she understands how far love might make even the good and the great fall.

All the time, the moors of Yorkshire are visible through the open window. Pigeons, wild ducks, turkeys, moor-cocks, lapwings- Emily can hear them, or see them wheeling overhead. There’s a single stray lapwing feather on the window-sill. Aunt Branwell musn’t see it, or Charlotte will hear from her and Emily can’t abide that. She takes the feather and hides it in her pocket.

A lapwing feather. Bonny bird, she thinks. She hears the wind whistle on the moor. Emily shuts the window slowly against the cold draught, and thinks.

But imagine

imagine it, though

Tell me what you see.

Far More Than Our Abilities

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It’s been a month, perhaps, and the feeling has dulled somewhat, like a previously-salted wound that’s finally scabbed over. But poke and prod, the way I’m doing right now, and salted blood bubbles up, trickles over and burns red and briny trails down skin.

When did I start dancing? Twelve, thirteen years ago? When did it become this important? When did I stop dancing for others, when did it become more than class and timings and marks, when did it become mine, mine, and practice and give-and-take and rehearsals?

When did it become subject to choice? When did the rest of my life get up and demand one of us, you have to choose one!
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And I feel like this.

Like a little girl in a rushing train with window bars too big for her, like a little girl staring at beautiful things that she would have liked. Like a little girl whose choices have been made for her.
But I am the young woman who has made her choices, and “not-a-dancer” is who she is.

 

She Is

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Eyes like glass, eyes like the wind.

The words chase each other, never quite catching up, tearing through the walls and flimsy compartments in her brain. They’re everywhere; she sees them blow in on a sigh of hot wind through barred windows; they float, glittering mica flecks and more poisonous, in her water bottles. They bubble up at the back of her throat, blocking her breath so that her vision flickers white and grey and specks of black, blocking her breath so that she can hardly breathe for shortness of breath and pain and words and she loves them when they come at the right time but this is too much and she can’t keep up and why can’t they just leave her alone?

It’s like she sees everything as a construction of the words that her own mind seems to be made up of. She’s more than the words she writes, I’m more than my words, I’m more than a set of letters strung together to make sense, I’m more than the things I say.

She loves writing. Fingers flying across the keyboard, black Sheaffer ink traced and pressed across white sheet, ink-smeared fingers and black under the nails, she loves writing, yes, she does. But she dances and she plays, she laughs and she sings horribly off-key, she talks and she runs and fights and cries, cries, cries; she lives and loves, and she is not just words across paper and cross-outs and people who don’t exist.

So when words try to define her, when they overwhelm her, when they tell her we are all that you are, she turns her head away, ignores them, makes them go away at least for a while, instead of taking them in and fashioning something beautiful out of them, as she should.

Is it cowardice, she wonders?

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.