Monday, December 28, 2015

Moments


I’m a big believer of moments. I believe they happen for a reason and I believe certain moments deserve or demand to be lived differently from others.

Some moments are to be spent with and around people. Sometimes you just need that one person who will look for you in a crowd, not because they are alone and seeking company but because they know you need them. Sometimes you need that person who will talk to you, even though you have no words to offer to them, the kind of people who will wait until you are ready to speak. Sometimes you need people who love you, even if you don’t or can’t love them, people you love even if they don’t or can’t love you, people who find happiness in your smiles and laughter or whose smiles and laughter give you reasons to be happy. Some moments demand to be spent with other people, a reminder that you aren’t alone in this world.

There are moments, however, when you need to be alone but not completely alone. You need a book that will take you to places you can never go yourself. A book that will give you characters to love and live through. Or it could be a song. A song that is yours, not shared with anyone else. You know all the words and it’s a song that knows you. It’s the arm around your shoulder that lets you know the world will be still soon. Or the kiss on your forehead that lets you know everything will be alright. It could be a film too. A film you’ve watched so many times you know all the words, the lines. You know the film like it was a memory that you lived through. Sometimes you need to be alone but not completely alone. Some moments demand this.

But then… there are moments when you have to be absolutely alone. When you can’t have other people telling you how to feel or what to do or what to think of. You need to lose your way in your thoughts and not have to translate them to words. You need to be given time to focus on yourself. At such moments, you need repetitive tasks. Tasks that don’t require much effort or thought. Like looking at the night sky or birds hopping from branch to branch. Like cleaning dishes or closing your eyes and following the random shapes and colors that hide behind your eyelids. During such moments, you need songs you don’t know, songs that won’t interrupt your thoughts or remind you of people, incidents and memories. Songs that are strangers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What does it mean to say 'I do'?

At nearly-22, the last thing I need in my life is marriage. Hell! I can't even maintain a friendship with a male for a couple of months. How the hell will I maintain a relationship or marriage? And yet, other people my age don't seem to be sharing similar beliefs. Oh, they are jumping straight into marriage and it sure is scary. So many of my friends are getting engaged or married and I'm freaking out. They are saying 'I do' while I'm still single, crying over fictional characters and binge-eating. It isn't fair, but how can I stop comparing my life with the lives of my batchmates? We grew up together. Shouldn't we be all single, crying over fictional characters and binge-eating?

So people are getting married... people in their early-20s are getting married and I scoff at the idea. I keep saying things like, 'who in their right mind gets married at this age?' and thankfully my parents agree. But all these weddings make me wonder... what exactly is marriage? I mean, what are these people agreeing to?

I used to think that marriage was stability and security. But then... marriage is no longer an 'until death do us part' deal. So what is marriage, then?

Recently, Amma was in this shop buying vegetables. I was standing outside, being of no help, as usual. While I waited for Amma, two young couples came to that same shop to buy vegetables. Now this was a shop in our town and not a grocery store or supermarket. Anyway, everyone had a basket to put the vegetables they wanted in. Both couples seemed a bit lost. Yet, they talked among themselves and decided what vegetables were needed. They decided on how much to buy. All the while I stood outside the store wondering when I'll ever be able to know how much of which vegetables we need at home.

And isn't this what marriage is? Not just buying vegetables but maintaining a house? I know without doubt that I'm not ready for that. I can't plan menus or go grocery shopping on my own or keep an entire house clean. I can't wake up before others and make tea and breakfast and open the windows and plan lunch and wash clothes and clean the house. I can't take care of myself, let alone take care of a house and another person or two. And I sure as hell can't do any of this even if I find a man who will share the chores and not think that it's not a man's job.

Marriage isn't just getting married to the love of your life. Marriage isn't a beautiful wedding. Marriage isn't waking up to the person you love. Marriage is so much more than that. Marriage is responsibility and duties and obligations. Marriage isn't something you sign your way into just because you love someone.

So how do these people do it? How are these young people managing such adult lives?

My biggest fear isn't, however, for my batchmates' lives. If they want to get married, who am I to tell them not to? How can I tell them it's a bad idea? My fear is that we don't understand or know what exactly marriage is.

And this can cause us a lot of trouble. I mean, you are agreeing to this lifelong contract with someone but you don't even fully know what terms and conditions you have agreed to. And more and more people are excusing adultery and they accept that a loveless marriage is reason enough to cheat on your spouse and it's terrifying that people with such beliefs are getting married.

Because here's the thing. When you get married and you invite a bazillion people to your wedding, it can easily be the best day of your life. In fact, you can get married without a fancy wedding, and it can still be the best day of your life. Yet, when you realize that, while you love each other, you aren't meant to be husband and wife, and you go your own separate ways, then you are no longer just two people in this world. Your kids are affected, your parents and families and your friends are affected. You can't and you shouldn't take marriage lightly. It's so much more binding than that. It's so much more than a simple signature or grand wedding.

So don't say I do just because you love someone. Don't say I do just because your parents think it's high time you got married. Even if your culture or religion says that you need to be married by a certain age, you shouldn't be tying the knot until you are ready. Don't say I do because it's your duty or because society expects you to. Don't say I do for the wrong reasons.

There are enough and more right reasons to say I do and even if it takes time, you need to wait for those reasons.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The last message

While I'm not proud of it, I certainly don't even try to do anything about my inability to reply to messages. I always find some excuse and beyond a few hours/days of feeling guilty, I don't even care about the messages I don't reply to. Last night, I came across a Tumblr that was all about last messages and they were heartbreaking. Some were goodbye messages, but most weren't. They were simply messages that unexpectedly became last messages. Sometimes the conversation didn't continue because of death and other times because... It just never did.

And going through the posts I realized how any of the messages in my inbox could be a last message and it's sad that they can be. It's even sadder that they will end up being a last message simply because I just didn't make an effort to reply to them.


For the past few years, I made new year resolutions that I sealed in an envelope and only read at the end of the year. I never opened the ones I wrote for 2014. That envelope, covered in dust, remains unopened, unread. Each year's resolutions included 'make new friends and lose none.'

I don't have a lot of friends. I mean, I don't have a lot of friends I actually talk to. It's just that I can't maintain conversations and they exhaust me. I get along with very few. But worse than my inability to make friends is my inability to maintain friendships. I've let just too many people go, and most of the time, they left because I told them to, for no reason or fault of theirs. I just get overwhelmed sometimes and there's no way to get around that feeling other than by losing a friend or someone I care for.

So every year, I promise myself to make an effort and not let go of people. But each year, I break that promise. Each year, I think, 'this year, I will make sure no one goes from being someone I talk to everyday to someone I never talk to.' Each year, I end up losing more and more friends. And I think it was just meant to be but... I don't want any of those messages to be a last message. I don't want to lose someone just because none of us made an effort to just click send.

So I hope that 2016 will be different and that even if I don't make any new friends, that I won't lose the people that are part of my life. I know I can't always expect the other person to make the effort, but if I do fail to keep this promise, just know that I really didn't want your message to be the last between us. And that sometimes, even when, and especially when, I tell you to leave, I still do need you and care for you.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Days like today

If you know me or have read any of these posts (this or this) or any other rants about social situations, you'll know that I don't handle social situations or socializing that well. I'm more than happy to stand against a wall and hope that, in a miraculous turn of events, god sends me an invisibility cloak.

I'm shy, awkward and scared of talking to people. Don't get me wrong. Regardless of what I say, I do love and appreciate it when people make an effort to talk with me but there aren't that many people I can talk with. It's just the way I am and I really wish more people would accept this and understand that talking or being friendly takes a lot of effort for me.

My inability to make friends or conversation means I spend a lot of time alone. It's not that I don't have a lot of friends. I have enough and more friends but not all of them are people I can talk to. There's also the case that these are people I mostly speak to online. I rarely meet them and even if I do, I usually spend more time alone than with people.

Since my recently unemployed status, I've been spending a lot of time alone. At home, it's just me and Jayawathi and she rarely disturbs me. Johnny meows every now and then but that's about it. I'm online most of the time but I rarely talk with people.


While this is a rare occurrence, the notification terrifies me. As crushing loneliness is, I like being alone. I'm not good at talking to people and so I prefer silence. And this isn't because I don't like people. I love people. I just don't know how to talk to people and believe me when I say that the struggle is real. It's not fun to want to say something but be unable to say it because your system refuses to speak. It's not fun when people ask you to join in the fun, take pictures or just talk with them when you can't because you just can't and not because you are tired or sad or not in the mood.

While I don't go there often, I love Cup Cafe with all my heart. This isn't because I like the food or drinks or the people there. I love them, but that's not why I keep going there. Cup Cafe is my escape from the world. Whenever I need to escape from people, I just go there and the place makes me appreciate aloneness.

You see, society seems to think being alone isn't a good thing. Asking for a table for one isn't something we can all do. It's as if being alone in public means you have failed as a person and yet, there's nothing better than being alone. When you are alone, you don't need to pretend or have your guard up. It's just you and nothing or no one else matters.


As much as I deny liking anything stereotypically girly, I love flowers. The first time I took home flowers, one of the van ladies asked me if it was from someone special. When I told her that I bought them for our house, she was quite surprised. Turns out, flowers need to be received and not bought for oneself. I can't deny that even I make jokes saying, "I can't believe the only way I get flowers is if I buy them," or "I'm so forever-alone that I have to buy myself flowers."

But why can't I buy myself flowers? What's wrong with that? Why are we so afraid of taking part in anything that suggests or implies we are alone? Why are we so afraid of loneliness and being alone?

A week or two ago, I was alone at a cafe and I was just glad that there was no one to talk to me. It wasn't that I didn't want to be interrupted but I just needed to be by myself. After that, I had to meet a friend and I walked towards Vihara Maha Devi Park and everyone else was with someone. They were with friends, spouses, children, parents or lovers. Everyone had someone and I didn't but it didn't matter. I was glad I didn't have anyone with me because sometimes, you need to distance yourself from people.

And you need to accept that not everyone can be with other people. Some of us struggle to maintain relationships and we can't always be there for people. We struggle to talk to people and we prefer being alone. There's nothing wrong with this and there's no shame in being alone.


But then there are days like today or last Wednesday, when I enjoy being with people. On Wednesday, I laughed and talked with people I had met just a few weeks ago. I talked with people I love being with. I spent time with people that are, sometimes, the reason I await the beginning of another day.

And today.
Today was great. I was alone for the first half of it. I was alone in the sense that I was surrounded by people but I seemed to be invisible. No one knew me and no one spoke to me. I was happy being a person that no one saw or cared about. It made me feel insignificant but it also made me realize how life isn't all about the people you know or talk to. Whenever people boast about how many friends they have or how many follow them on Twitter or how many relationships they've had, I rarely feel envious. I mostly want to tell them that none of that matters as much as how much they've enjoyed life, with or without company.

And I'm beginning to appreciate life in a new and perhaps, better way. I'm beginning to love the little things in life; silly jokes and silence and long walks. I'm beginning to notice the small gestures and the shared smiles and moments. Life is better when you forget the world and just live and be yourself.

And today.
Today, I met with friends. It wasn't planned as such. I don't know about the others, but I sure didn't wake up this morning knowing or even, hoping I'll have such a wonderful day. You see, I've been drowning in an ocean of uncertainty. While I mayn't admit it, I've been so afraid that maybe I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I've been so scared and life has been nothing like it was before...
But today, we went back to those days when we could just laugh and laugh for no reason. We laughed at the lamest jokes and we laughed until our tummies ached. We made jokes and teased each other and we were happy.

And the best thing about today was that no one cared if we were a bit lost in life. No one asked us about our plans and when we would take the next step when it came to work or studies or life in general. No one made us think of any of the bad days. None of that mattered. All that mattered was that we were there, together, and we had the best time ever.


And as much as I love being alone and as used to loneliness as I am, today, I was thankful for friendships that matter and happiness that comes with no strings attached.

Maybe today or Wednesday or any other day I've thought was great or amazing won't be enough to keep me afloat in this world. They won't keep away the down days. I will still struggle with unhappiness, an inability to talk or make friends or even smile, sometimes. I will continue to drown in uncertainty and I will continue to be scared about the future.

But for now, days like today are enough. And for now, the people I love are enough to make me want to make the most of life. And this is important. It's important to have something, whether it's happiness or relationships or music, that is enough. And I'm glad today existed. I'm glad Wednesday existed. I'm glad that the people I know and love exist because without them... well, without them, I wouldn't have tummy aches after laughing too much. I wouldn't have tears in my eyes after laughing at the lamest and silliest jokes. I wouldn't have a reason to smile at the most random (and often, inconvenient) times.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November


It’s the last day of November, which means that tomorrow will be the beginning of the last month of 2015. It’s been an interesting year but an all about 2015 post will be better at the end of the year. Today, it will be all about November.



This month, I left my job and spent the month at home. I didn’t look for another job, which I sort of regret now because not having anything to do is frustrating. But I’m happy I finally decided to leave this place that was always like home to me. It was time and while I still love the place and people, I shouldn’t have been there any longer.

In October, I promised myself that if I wrote 30,000 words of ‘my story’ by the end of 2015, I would take a year off work and focus on my writing. I completed NaNoWriMo, something I didn’t think was at all possible and so I now have a 50,000 word story. It’s nowhere close to completion but I’ve at least taken the first step towards finally writing a story. You see, I love writing and while all these stories keep clouding my mind, all I write are articles, blog posts like this and poems. I struggled with actually writing stories. 50,000 words, for me, is a huge achievement.

On Saturday, I had one of the best nights of my life. I attended the UNAIDS event to commemorate World AIDS Day, my friend and I received certificates of appreciation for our articles and then we met with Amma and Aiya and had amazing dinner. After dropping her, I was in the backseat, Aiya was driving and Amma was riding shotgun. The music was good, the wind was cool and everything was peaceful. I was calm after a long time and I was smiling for no reason. I was so tired and so sleepy but I was happy. There’s nothing more you can ask for in life, is there?

This month I went back to feeling like a teenager, which I won’t go into detail about, but I’m happy to know that I have some emotion left in me. I’ve turned into this grumpy person who is always frowning or making faces or being mean/sarcastic and I needed to know that I can be all ‘sunshine in a jar’ too.

November also taught me that people can’t be trusted and that it doesn’t take a very long time for friends to go from being on your side to turning against you. I learned that people can be vicious and cruel. They may gossip and tell tales and lie, but I also learned that there are really nice people. There are people who will wait with you or listen to your rants or just know when you need cheering up.
I also realized how easy it is to be replaced. I won’t go into detail but it hurts when you realize that you have been replaced before you were ready to let go of a place or person.

I’ve always liked being alone but this month made me appreciate solitude and the peace and quiet that comes with it. In November, I got through Faking It, Awkward and a season of Gossip Girl. I watched YouTube videos, studies for semester finals and still wrote all those words. This was possible because I spent day after day at home, with no one besides Mr Meowing to disturb me.

(In case you are wondering, Mr Meowing, as his name suggests, is a cat and not some random man who lives at home.)

November was also a month of good films and good music. The Colombo International Film Festival was held earlier this month and I couldn’t go for more than three films but they were all amazing. And since I have all this time I home, I also watched quite a few films I like. And I know, I said earlier that I watched Faking It, Awkward and Gossip Girl but please believe me when I say, they were mere distractions from certain things I need a distraction from.

This month, I also realized how important it is to listen. It’s easy to nod your head or hmm haa your way through a conversation. But to listen and be listened to, it’s important. When you don’t listen, you miss out on a lot of things and it’s important to listen.

But I also learned that sometimes, you need to not listen. This isn’t when someone is talking to you but when people don’t have your best interests in mind. Dogs may bark, but you are an even bigger idiot if you bark back.

I also learned the power of friendship and how a simple thing like making Christmas cards for people you haven’t even met can make you feel so much better about this world and life. I learned that sometimes all it takes is a smile or a silly joke to make things alright for you. People can be vicious but friends, friends make life worth living.

Talking about Christmas cards and crafts, this month I sewed a bag. Yes, that’s right. I sewed a bag and I’m incredibly proud of myself. And if I managed to sew a bag, well, then there’s no doubt that pigs can fly.


So there you go. November 2015 as I lived it. It was a month of plenty of ups and downs, but I’m glad I lived through it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The best kind of people

The best kind of people are those who don't care that you have zero pictures with them. They are the people who put their phones away when they are with you and don't check-in at places and tag you in those posts. They are the people who don't care if you didn't wish them for their birthday and understand when you forget something about them or need time and space away from them. They are the people you don't need to introduce to your parents or other friends because they've already heard so much about them. They are the people you have long conversations with but don't necessarily talk to every day. They are the people who are thankful for your existence and those whose existence you are so thankful for.

They are the people you can have late-night conversations with or just walk side by side, in silence. They are the people who don't force you to be someone you aren't. They are the people you can trust to not break your heart or let go of your hand. But they are also the people who don't try to hold your hand because they know you don't want to. They are the people who are there for you, not always, not all the time, but when you need them.

They are the people you can share hilarious jokes with but also rant about the silliest things.



The best kind of people are rare and yet, they do exist and sometimes, we forget how fortunate we are to know such people.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Arrivals and departures

In life, we can't stay stagnated. We need to move on and on. But moving on means leaving something or someone behind. We usually don't realize this until after we have decided to move on. Moving on or moving away doesn't necessarily mean moving away from a person or place. Sure, when you move from Sri Lanka to the US, you leave a place and people behind. When you change your place of work, you leave behind friends and a place you loved like your own home. We move on from states or stages of life too. This is what makes birthdays important. It marks an arrival as well as a departure. When you turn 13, you arrive at this amazingly beautiful, scary, confusing and messy stage of life. But you also depart from childhood.

We don't get to make that many choices in life. Today, I came home in a crowded train and the compartment I was in smelled vaguely of farts. It was stuffy and I would have rather been in a bus, three wheeler or better yet, the staff transport van I had traveled in since the beginning of 2013. Yet, I had no choice. I had to survive the train ride, and I did.

I would love to spend 2016 traveling and discovering the wonders of the world. And yet, I have exams which I do need to pass. I can choose to let them go and go back to university in 2017 but how practical was this? Would it be wise to delay my degree? It wouldn't, so the dream to travel will have to be put on hold. Just for a while, until I can make that choice.

But once in a while, you do get to make a choice and you need to make the most of it. Today, on the way home, I thought of the most recent choice I made. Some people pushed me to make that decision two years ago. I wanted to make it a year ago but for various reasons, I changed my mind. Today, I knew I was leaving a state of life.

It's not just about being employed or unemployed, single or married, educated or not. It's also about being happy or sad, excited or bored, interested or not. We don't always get to choose how we feel, but sometimes we do.

Today, I'm oddly calm, even as I realize what I'm leaving behind. I'm leaving behind a lot, but I'm also moving towards a lot. Sometimes, we don't make the best choices but we need to make them in life. We need to grow and in order to grow, we need to take chances. I'm ready to trust in fate and let the universe take control for a while.

Maybe I'll end up in a deep pit and I'll have to ask help to get out of it. Or maybe... Well, let's see how it goes instead of making assumptions.

These past few days, I've been struggling to write. I would start a post and then abandon it because it was going nowhere. Or rather, because I couldn't tie the strings together and end those posts. Three years of journalism isn't much, but it made me believe that beginnings and endings are important. Articles need a great start and a great end. The rest matters too but the rest is easier to write than the beginning and end. Now I realize that with posts like this, there can't be a grand conclusion. And there need not be. I can't end by telling you that good choices lead to great things. I'm just beginning to make these choices. I don't know what's in store for me. May be the grand conclusion this post deserves is yet to be realized by me.

Maybe a future version of me will read this post and know just how it should end. But for now, I'm happy to leave it as it is.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Past-me saw the rainbow in the sky...


Love.

2009-me thought it would be a good idea to maintain a diary and also a public blog. The latter was ruthlessly deleted this year but the diaries are still in a box, waiting to embarrass me someday. I loved reading old posts on my blog, only on bad days of course. They reminded me that... life is life. You just have to deal with it. The diaries, they taught me something else. They told me a little secret about love.

It’s easy to love. It’s easy to be loved. But it’s not easy to accept that the person you love doesn’t love you or that you don’t love the person who loves you. If you have experience the latter, you would know how bad it is. Unrequited love is bad when you are the one doing all the loving and it’s worse when you are the one who isn’t returning it. You feel like something inside you is dead. You feel like you committed a crime but someone else is being punished for it.

This post, however, isn’t about unrequited love or how awful love makes you feel. It’s about love. In my life.


I’m skeptical about love, or rather, I’m skeptical about romance. When someone is being nice to me and this turns to flirting, I run. I get away from that person as soon as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to meet someone and spend our own infinity together but as soon as the red light changes to orange and I know green is next, I run. And when I don’t run, it gets worse. I go from loving someone to hating them. I feel this anger in me and I throw it their way and I slam a door in their face.

I don’t know if I do this because I’m afraid of love or because I’m afraid of loving someone.
Anyway, I didn’t always distance myself from love. In 2009, I threw that word around like no man’s business. I used the L-word in nearly every entry. I wrote pages and pages about loving people. And I remember how I used to tell these people I love them. I meant it too.

Now, just six years later, I rarely tell people I love them. And the reason is that, as harsh as it sounds, I don’t love that many people. I love my parents, some of my family members, a few dead people, lots of authors, YouTubers and fictional characters and a handful of friends. So as far as saying ‘I love you’ to people goes, there’re not many options or opportunities, really.

The funny thing is, I’m not sad. I’m not heartbroken that I have no one to love. I’m kind of glad. I’m glad that I loved enough people to last the rest of my youth. And I’m also glad I was this bubbly, sunny, talkative, loving person at some point.

You look back and you think you have to learn from all the mistakes you made. Sure, I cringe at the thought of the way I spelt words and the people I liked back then. Yet, I’m glad I was that person. But I’m also happy that person is part of the past because the people I know now and the people I love now wouldn’t like that person. And more importantly, I wouldn’t like being that person.

2009-me sure has a lot to teach present-me but present-me isn’t ready to correct my mistakes. Maybe five years from now, I’ll stop being this pessimistic girl who doesn’t see the rainbow in the sky but sees the crow who may shit on her head. I have hope that I’ll get there someday... soon. But until then, maybe love and rainbows and unicorns just aren’t meant for me.