Pis-sing All Over Brussels

Recently, I’d been to Brussels. It’s the first time I’ve traveled alone and also the first country I’ve been to without my parents. The plan was to catch a bus at dawn, explore the city all day and catch a bus back at night. Before I’d left, I checked out all the tourist attractions and more. But one thing every website and everybody else told me to visit was the beloved statue of Mannekin Pis. I’d seen pictures of it before and knew it was pretty famous so I did decide to pay it a visit.

After getting off at the Gare du Nord Station, I took a metro to get to the Grand Place. This is perhaps the prettiest place I’ve been to and this was also the same place where I found a friend in an Albanian girl who was around my age. We decided to walk around together, checking off most of the tourist attractions. And this was how, we began looking for the Mannekin Pis statue. I can’t believe we walked an extra 2 km to suddenly turn into a street corner and exclaim “Oh!” because the statue really just is on a street corner and in perhaps the most non-descriptive way possible. It’s supremely tiny and nothing like I’d imagined it to be. But a tourist attraction is after all, a place for dozens of people to take pictures. I took some too, after dodging some woman who attempted to pose for a picture in such a way that it seemed like the little boy was peeing into her mouth. I don’t know what kind of person she was or what she’s into but if you ask me, I really don’t think it’s the perfect picture for framing and hanging on your family wall.

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My Albanian friend told me a version of the history of the strange thing. Turns out, during the invasion of the city, some little boy decided to pee on explosives. He ended up defusing them and also saved some lives. So they decided to commemorate this beautiful act in the form of that strange statue. And it’s funny because it didn’t just end there. ‘Mannekin Pis’ very literally translates to ‘little peeing man’ in Flemish. And to think that there are waffle stores and even a restaurant back in Amsterdam with the same name that’s actually famous for its fritjes!

From what I’ve seen and read, this is an integral part of the city and for the Brusselaars, a nostalgic piece. If you decide to look up the history of this thing, you’d learn that there have been times when people thought it was funny to steal the statue and riots broke out. I don’t claim to understand this obsession but they regularly dress up the statue, according to the season and various festivals that deem it important enough for clothes. I saw the naked version and I’m confused about what would’ve been a more pleasing sight.

You’d think my rant would end here and I really hoped it would’ve too. But there are more peeing statues in Brussels. Google suggested them to me under ‘Nearby Attractions’ and sadly, I wasn’t attracted enough to actually pay these a visit. But an attempt at gender equality was also made by carving another bronze statue called Jeannike Pis. This one shows the little boy’s sister who was placed on the other side of Grand Place. I’m not sure why she was also carved out to be peeing but she is, just like her little peeing brother. But in all probability, this probably ensued a sibling feud and she hated him for all of eternity.

And finally, we have Zinneke who successfully completes the Holy Trinity of peeing statues – a dog peeing against a pole on a street. I couldn’t find too much on the relevance of this statue or why some poor artist’s lifework was to make a peeing dog statue but apparently, this one was made purely as a joke. It’s also a common sight to see tourists mocking the pose of the dog and taking pictures. At this rate, I think you could actually point to real people peeing and tourists would still take pictures. #peeing

But here you have it – the Holy Trinity. Thankfully, my rant ends here. But what I learnt from my short trip is that the Belgians are famous for their delicious waffles, their expensive chocolate boutiques, their exquisite lace work, their fine glasses and finally, their strange obsession with peeing statues!

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Hearing the Dhak, All the Way From Amsterdam

I’ve always wanted to write a post about Pujo and just how much it means to me but I’ve never gotten around to it. But this year, things are rather different and somehow I’m more driven. Growing up outside Bengal has meant visiting Pujos in various places where it obviously isn’t the main festival. I’ll leave the American Pujos aside because I don’t remember too much of it but I’ve lived in Bangalore for fourteen odd years and Pujos in Bangalore are what I’ve come to love (and miss).

Perhaps the only thing I love more than the actual festivities is the heartwarming feeling of “Pujo Aaschhe” (“Pujo is coming/Pujo is near”) I’ve grown up waking up at 4 am every year on Mahalaya because no matter where they are in the world, my parents would never miss it. And by far, this is my most favorite experience every year – just watching the sky slowly turn lighter while listening to Mahishashur Mardini by Birendra Krishna Bhadra and feeling goosebumps as I remember the tale of Durga Maa starting her journey from the Himalayas and coming to us is a surreal experience in itself. Funnily enough, I heard it this year too – alone and very far away from home but nonetheless, it still gave me the same feeling as it does every year. Perhaps, the skies here aren’t so different after all.

The real ordeal of new clothes, planning out multiple outfits for each day and going to pandals starts on the 6th day usually – Shoshthi. The usual structure of the pandals are – one separate area for the idol, a stage for all the cultural performances and a huge area for the food stalls. Bengalis being bengalis usually end up at the food stalls with their kurtas stretching over their pot bellies to get a quick chicken roll before they can actually pay the idol a visit. But Pujo isn’t a holy affair entirely, it’s more of a 5-day fair that gives you renewed energy for the rest of the year. And once you’re at the pandal, you’re bound to meet people you know and what usually ensues is endless adda and obviously, a lot more food. Somewhere in between, you’ll probably even decide to catch a glimpse of the cultural performance for the night which could be anything from a serious classical singer to a bengali rock band, a play or even a dance performance.

Thankfully, my parents have always been very social and we have a lot of family friends that are practically like family. I’ve grown up with their kids and in turn, they’ve become the siblings that I never had. While growing up, Pujo meant spending more time with them late into the night while our parents were still having adda which never really ended, no matter how hard they tried. Aunts and Uncles used to literally push money into our hands and encourage us to go eat another biriyani or maybe another scoop of nolen gurer (jaggery) ice cream. But over the years, we’ve all grown up and we’re all in different places now so I don’t get to see my childhood friends as often as I’d like to but the memories of all those Pujo nights are amazing.

Another spectacular factor are the pandals themselves. In Bengal, each pandal has a particular theme which could be absolutely anything at all. I’ve seen themes ranging from ‘Antarctic expedition’ to ‘Jamini Ray’ and to a very special pandal someone built this year which is entirely in braille. They built the blind-friendly idol in such a way so that people could touch the idol of Maa’s face. And there are competitions that are held between all the pandals to decide who made the most creative pandal of all. However, this is a little rare in Bangalore but for the past couple of years, Jayamahal has really attempted to make themed pujos.

On one of the nights, someone will usually come up with a plan to go “pandal hopping” and then there’s an envoy of cars going in the same direction or even a rented bus. It literally is what it sounds like and is practically the same as club hopping but in some way, a lot more special because it can only be done once a year. In Kolkata, people stay out all night on the streets but in Bangalore, we usually get back by 3 am and possibly leave by 8 or 9 am again the following morning.

Growing up, “Ashtamir anjali” (offering flowers to Maa on the 8th day) is a must, followed by vegetarian bhog (or prasad). Perhaps this is the only part of the entire puja ritual that most people take as seriously and on this day, most of the Moms and Aunts and other similar-minded religious people eat only vegetarian food. But for the rest, vegetarian bhog is only for lunch. When evening comes, they’ll hit the stalls again – possibly for kosha mangsho (mutton curry) this time. This year, believe it or not, I have no time for Pujo (thanks to assignments and exams) but I’ve set aside half a day to visit a Pujo in Amstelveen with some friends.

On the 10th day (Dasami), everyone is really sad since it’s the last day. I usually stay home that day because the idea of the idol being taken away to a nearby lake and Maa leaving us until next year makes me really sad. But this is the day of sindoor khela which a lot of you might know about if you’ve watched the final scene of Kahaani.

I’ve grown up outside Bengal all my life – first, it was the US and then Bangalore and currently, Amsterdam. I’m known as a “probashi bangali” which refers to any Bengali living outside the state and sometimes, this term even serves as an excuse for most to not know about their own culture. My parents, on the other hand, are as bangali as it gets. I think you could send them to the moon and they’d still listen to Rabindra sangeet and possibly walk all over the place in search of some fish. Needless to say that as a result, I’m fiercely Bong and I’m proud of my culture.

The logic is simple – learn everything about the culture you were born into and then if you want to, it’s completely okay to adopt another culture as your own. But to not know about what you were given at birth is rather shameful, in my opinion. But anyway, that’s me possibly under the influence of my Bengali-spewing-out-of-every-pore parents. But here’s to Pujo and everything it makes me feel – the warmth, the hopefulness and the excitement. As I sit here in a silent orderly city, my heart aches for those Pujo nights from when we were kids (and perhaps, a mutton roll from Nizams).

I Miss Bangalore Traffic

I’ve been in Amsterdam for nearly half a month now and I suppose I’m finally beginning to settle in a bit. The city is absolutely beautiful, perhaps a little better than I’d imagined. There’s art in every corner, the people are very friendly and I’m doing the course that was my first choice. Life is working out pretty well, on the grand scale of things but on some days, out of the blue, I find myself missing home.

It’s the little things, really. Things that I never thought I’d miss. For example, everyone follows traffic rules here and it’s very orderly and non-chaotic. Sometimes, there are wars of niceness that ensue between a driver and a pedestrian and I swear coming from India, it gets rather awkward sometimes. But while the roads are nicely paved and clean, they’re also mostly empty except for perhaps at Amsterdam Centraal which is essentially full of life. I live a few kilometers away from Centraal, in a much quieter University neighborhood and it gets too quiet sometimes. And in times like those, believe it or not, I actually miss Bangalore traffic. God, I yearn for the busy, unruly and incredibly annoying traffic jams which I’ve spent so much of my life cursing at. And to be very honest, never have I ever expected to feel this way about something as awful as Bangalore traffic.

It’s great to be in an international environment, honestly. In the past couple of days, I’ve had lunch with Germans, attempted learning Dutch with a Hungarian, learnt about the different islands in the Philippines and also become very well-versed about Romanian cuisine. It’s amazing, the things you can learn and the way your perspective can change just by talking to someone from outside your own culture. But sometimes, I miss having a friend scream out “macha” and make plans about “putting a scene”. I even find myself occasionally visiting Indian grocery stores (which are incredibly overpriced, for the record) just to see some familiar brands and read labels in languages that I actually understand.

And of course, there are my wonderful friends who check up on me every now and then and people who I know that just mean well. I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve ever done for me and for just being there for me all the time. And besides that, there are all the places we used to hang out in. I met someone from Bangalore the other day and when he mentioned Blossoms, my face lit up. There are so many bookstores in Amsterdam but none of them are Blossoms and how could I ever explain this to someone else? And for all my Christite buddies, I might actually even miss Avon and this is coming from someone who didn’t even like the place much.

Lastly and perhaps the part that consumes my mind most of the time – I miss the nicest people I’ve ever known and the people I owe everything to. I miss coming home to the smell of Ma’s cooking and being able to hug her right after I woke up every morning. And my best friend in the whole world – I miss Baba. I still tear up a bit when I think about how I didn’t want to stop hugging him at the airport the night I left. But technology is great, Baba still gets to make faces at me and Ma still gets to worry about my dark circles, all over video call.

So there was my rambling for tonight – about missing home and everything and everyone that gave me something to miss and yearn for. So for the next few months, I’ll find new experiences to indulge in and more Indian groceries to visit. But on the whole, life is great. Things are working out and I only hope for a better future.

Freedom in Colours

She was trembling as she stepped out of the room, half her face and her head covered by her sari. No more than seventeen years of age, she was getting married to a man her parents had chosen for her. He was six years her senior, she was told and he was a teacher at the local school. She had never seen him before but she managed to sneak peeks of him while the rituals were still going on. Scared and intimidated for the most part, the wedding rituals finally came to an end and she was married.

Married life suited her well. She quickly settled down in her new life, tending to the house and doting on her loving husband. They developed a good bond, it was almost as if they were made for each other even though the marriage had been arranged. While she cooked his favorite meals, he surprised her with simple gifts. He shared the household responsibilities with her, never ashamed to wash a cloth which even his own mother thought to be a “woman’s job”. They worked together, looking after each other when either was sick and never failing to enjoy a cup of tea together in the mornings before he left for work. They had small fights, as all couples do but they never lasted longer than a few hours. Together, they built a wonderful life full of smiles and laughter and each new day in their lives brought in another opportunity to create happier memories.

The mornings were the best time of the day, for either of them. Sometimes they sat in silence, content in each other’s presence and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere that surrounds most mornings. Occasionally, he’d read the newspaper out loud for her to hear an interesting piece of news. She liked watching him read and when he took little breaks from reading to sip his tea, he’d smile at her. Soon after he’d leave, promising to be back as early as possible. She’d watch his retreating figure from the door and mutter a small prayer for him.

They’d been together for over five years when the news came and till date, she doesn’t remember anything about the day. It was as though her mind had been wiped clean to accompany the huge void that had been created in her heart. She had walked to the cold ghats in a trance, hadn’t reacted when they broke the red and white bangles that had been given to her during her wedding or when they wiped her forehead clean of the red sindoor. She had accepted her fate mutely but a part of her had died along with her late husband. She hadn’t cried, she hadn’t wailed or lamented loudly as most new widows do. She was quiet, kept to herself and it was as though she wasn’t herself anymore. She was still flesh and blood but her mind had changed, she was caught somewhere between life and death – the worst place to be.

The routine was standard as the rules were strict. In the day and age she belonged to, widows weren’t allowed to be happy. Her long hair had been chopped into a rough bob around her neck and she was stripped of all her jewelry and fine silks. When it came to food, she had to give up many things. She was to wake up each morning before anyone else, bathe and dress in white, go to the neighboring meadows to collect flowers and come back to perform a puja. This would be her life, everyday until she breathed her last. She hadn’t complained, this was the routine and everybody knew it. Rebelling against it was unheard of in the society she belonged to and so she awoke each morning and as she stepped out into the mild darkness to collect colorful flowers that were still wet with dew, she felt nothing at all. Being a widow was oppressive, she was stripped of everything and filled with a certain ache that she carried around all the time. With death, came freedom and having to mourn for the dead this way, the living soon wished for death.

The previous day had been Dol, the mighty festival of colors and a festival she and her late husband particularly enjoyed together. They would invite their friends and relatives over, he would buy the best sweets and the celebrations would last for hours. To her, it seemed that each year was better than the last. Until this year, when she shut all the windows and doors and had stayed home all day. This was the first time she had allowed herself to cry as hard as she did, missing her husband so terribly and wishing he was there by her side again – laughing and holding her hand. She hadn’t eaten all day and by evening, her eyes were extremely red and puffy. She collapsed into an exhausted heap pretty early and awoke the following morning to return to her standard routine which had become so monotonous that it was exhausting.

Generally, she had still liked her mornings. The air was relatively cool and felt nice against her damp skin and her thoughts were mostly peaceful. But this particular morning, she was weighed down by her thoughts and the awful ache that seemed to consume her. Her eyes were still puffy and it seemed that she could cry at a second’s notice. She hated this life and she missed what she had. Dejected, she collected the flowers and went back home with slow steady steps. After having completed her prayers, she noticed the stains on her sari. They were of various shades – all kinds of green and red and sometimes even a little blue here and there. She blamed herself for not having been careful enough, after all the previous day had been Dol and she ought to have known better. She immediately changed into another white sari so that she could wash the one with colors. But no matter how hard she scrubbed or what kind of soap she used, the stains wouldn’t go. Cursing everyone for using bad quality colors to play Dol, she eventually gave up scrubbing.

The following morning, she wore a clean sari and this time, she moved extra carefully to ensure that she touched nothing at all, in case there were still some colors left here and there. But when she came back home, there were colorful stains again! She proceeded to scrub at it again and nothing, the stains refused to go. She was rather annoyed by now, how many white saris did she have to sacrifice this way? And were the neighborhood kids playing some kind of prank on her?

However, this continued for days and it felt strange to her – what was causing these stains and why wouldn’t they go? And by now, she had no clean white saris left. After about a month, she had finally given up and had stopped questioning the entire matter. She mutely accepted this as her fate as well.

She wore the colorful saris even though awful comments were passed about her and even though the local women had begun to socially boycott her. They called her names but mostly, they thought she was “selfish” and “ungrateful” for not respecting her late husband as all women ought to do. The comments had bothered her initially but with each passing day, a new color appeared on the saris she wore and they brought a certain amount of peace within her soul. She began to eagerly look forward to her mornings, a time when she could be lost in this trance-like state with nothing but the silence and a strange spirit that seemed to seize her and fill her with happiness. It was as though this spirit accompanied her each morning as she left her house, lamenting with her and trying very desperately to make her feel better. The void in her began to heal with this unseen force of nature. She didn’t understand it but that didn’t bother her. It made her happy, it made her whole again.

The neighbors thought she’d gone mad but who were they to understand anything so magical? Perhaps she really was caught between life and death and perhaps it wasn’t the worst place to be anymore because in that state of being half-alive and half-dead, she had found freedom in colors.

Dol – a festival very similar to Holi, celebrated in Bengal

The Sound of Ma

When Baba came home one day to tell us that Didi and I were going to Calcutta to visit Mama, I was elated. We had never been there before and from what Khokon, our next door neighbor, had told us at playtime, it was a big city with trams and double-decker buses everywhere. He painted the city out so well for us that I frequently caught myself daydreaming about visiting Calcutta. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait. The only downside was that Ma would not be accompanying us. This made me sad for a little while but I hugged her and told her I’d be back very soon. Besides, I couldn’t imagine being away from Bera for too long. I loved our little mudhouse on the banks of the Talat river and the mango trees Didi and I would often climb. I loved everything about our small village but I also wanted to see Calcutta so badly.

Baba looked slightly serious while Ma hurriedly packed all our essentials into one steel trunk. We would be off that following morning and Baba would drop us at Mama’s house. That night, I barely slept because I was too excited. I was awake to see the first morning light and soon, Ma woke us up. While we dressed and as Ma plaited our hair, Didi and I could not stop grinning. Before we knew it, it was time to go.

At our doorstep, Ma stood covering her head with her sari. She teared up as she hugged us tightly before we left. We hugged her back quickly and turned to leave. As we got to the fence in front of our house, she called us back to hug us again. This time, she was weeping. I didn’t understand why she was so sad about us leaving or why she was so reluctant to let us go, I kept reassuring her that we’d be back before she knew it. Baba stood at a distance, patiently waiting and looking rather grim.

We arrived at Howrah Station, a huge station that had so many people, I was rather intimidated. Baba held both our hands firmly as we chased after our coolie and mixed into the crowd. Once we were in the taxi, we were excited to look out. And Khokon was right, there were trams and double-decker buses everywhere! Soon enough, we arrived at Mama’s house who welcomed us with open arms. Baba left soon after a cup of tea, he hugged us both briefly and with a quick nod, he left.

I’m over eighty years old today and I never saw Ma again. I saw Baba once, at Howrah for a brief five minutes and that’s the last I saw him. I don’t know what happened to our little mudhouse during the Partition. I’ve heard many stories, some too awful to even imagine and I definitely don’t have the courage to visit Bera to see the after-effects. But after all this time, I finally understand Ma’s tears and sometimes, I can even hear the sound of her weeping and her sari-clad figure at our doorstep.

After All This Time

Last December, my parents and I toured Rajasthan. We stayed in about eight hotels in just ten days, covering a distance of at least 2000 km by road. In the end, needless to say, we were exhausted but it was most definitely worth the entire effort. Rajasthan, has become one of my favorite states in the country with its rich culture which is different in every single city of the state and obviously, the smell of history in every nook and corner. It’s all just so colourful and beautiful.

If you drive westward from Jaisalmer, towards Sam and closer to the heart of the Thar, you’ll come across a small and completely abandoned village named Kuldhara. My Dad and I particularly have a fascination for paranormal stories and we jump at the chance of hearing more of them. Kuldhara, we knew, was famous for its tales of the supernatural among other things. After my mum suggested it, we decided we definitely had to pay a visit to this supposedly haunted village. Our assigned driver seemed slightly hesitant at first but finally agreed.

Driving around in Rajasthan, especially the west, means miles and miles of sand and dry shrubs all around. The view doesn’t change too much and you definitely wouldn’t miss a lot if you took a nap. We arrived at Kuldhara possibly around 1 or 2 pm. It was incredibly bright and hot, with the sun pricking through even our thick jeans. Our driver parked a little away and we walked the rest of the way, hastily wrapping our heads with scarves to protect ourselves from the harsh sunlight.

Kuldhara, is an entirely ruined village. What we could see all around us were burnt bricks and a semblance of what looked like small huts and temples. It was exceptionally quiet. It makes sense, in a way, a ruined and abandoned village in the middle of the desert shouldn’t exactly be expected to be noisy or anything of the sort. But being city folks, we weren’t too comfortable with this kind of silence. The three of us walked around aimlessly for a while, I suppose we were expecting something but we didn’t know what to exactly expect. Another soul wasn’t in sight and I suppose that’s what added to the uneasy feeling we had. Soon enough, I took out my new DSLR and started taking pictures from all possible angles (inserted a couple of them below)

Walking around the ruins
Top-view of the ruins
Ruins

We walked around for quite a while, occasionally entering some of the remaining rooms while being painfully aware of the heat. From a distance, we could see a man sitting outside one of the less ruined structures. Slightly excited, the three of us walked towards it and found an incredibly disheveled man with unkempt hair sitting outside on a few bricks, smoking a beedi. Thankfully, he spoke in Hindi, a language we could all understand. We were intrigued and obviously asked him why he lived in the middle of nowhere, amidst a supposedly haunted village. The man took a while to answer, he took a last puff of his beedi, put it out on the ground and looked us dead in the eye and asked us if we could handle the truth.

From inside his claimed house

“Back in the 13th century, Kuldhara was the center of activity for the Paliwal Brahmins, a sacred sect even among the high castes. The land was ruled by Salim Singh, Diwan of Jaisalmer who was infamous for his debauchery and cruel tax-collection methods. On a particular visit to Kuldhara, the Diwan set his eyes on the daughter of the village chief. He immediately asked for her hand in marriage but was refused as a Paliwal Brahmin’s daughter could not marry a Kshatriya. Enraged, the Diwan vowed to have her anyway and promised to be back within a fortnight to take her away and if they refused, he would levy heavy taxes on them. He left the villagers in a state of confusion and fear. For thirteen days, they brainstormed and discussed how to get out of this fix while keeping their ideals upright. On the 13th night, the entire village disappeared. No one saw them leaving and no one knew where they went but overnight, every single person of the village had disappeared. When the Diwan came the following morning with his men, he was furious and demanded for a search. But no man could find any of the Paliwalis again.”

The man had us hanging onto every word of his and when he paused, we looked at him expectantly. This story wasn’t entirely new to us, we’d Googled it before arriving there but the man was a good storyteller and listening to it from someone who lived there certainly brought about a different kind of effect. My Dad finally interjected into the long pause and asked, “But what does this have to do with you?”

This time, the man smiled. But his smile made me uneasier, it just didn’t seem like a normal smile or a normal thing.

“The Paliwali chief’s daughter was exceptionally beautiful but what people admired about her the most were her strong ideals and sense of morality. She listened to every word of her father’s, regularly gave offerings to the Gods at the temples and in every way, she was a perfect daughter. If her father had asked her to marry the Diwan, she would’ve done it, even if it made her unhappy. But seeing her father in so much distress and all the villagers in a state of terror, it dawned upon her that she was the root to all their problems. So on the 13th night, when everybody was preparing to flee, she hung herself from the ceiling in the main temple. And you see, that’s why I can’t leave.”, he said and smiled again.

We were distracted by a small voice saying “Papa, papa…” and we watched as a small girl of about four or five years came running to the man and sat on his lap. He looked at her lovingly and stroked her hair and turned to us to tell us that this was his daughter. Her features were striking and left us a little surprised. She looked frail for her age but she had a huge smile and I noticed a strange mark around her neck.

She looked at us and gleefully said, “They’re all coming back.”

Dear Diary, I’ve Missed You

It’s been a very very long time since I’ve actually written something and this post is just going to be about my musings on how terribly unfortunate that is.

Writing has always comforted me. Things I could never say to anyone, I used to spill on pages as a blurry hybrid of emotions and words. I started writing my first diary when I was nine and although it doesn’t contain anything more than a daily account of my life (in rather atrocious handwriting, if I might add), it was still something. I had the idea after my mum decided to buy me a really cute Disney diary which came with a tiny lock on the side. I was determined to make it my “secret property”, perhaps the only thing any average 9-year-old can claim her own with full confidence and proceeded to fill the pages with entries which started with “Dear Diary,” and continued to give a full account of when I woke up, what I ate, what I did at school and so on and so forth.

Thankfully, the habit of writing stuck on but eventually, my diary become a place for me to vent all kinds of emotions rather than just daily accounts. It’s amusing to read why I had a fight with my best friend in 7th grade or why I thought my math teacher was an “evil woman who practises black magic” or why I was so concerned about losing two marks on a test (as a college student, I scoff at my own past self now). They even contain detailed accounts of what I thought about certain people, including myself. I guess everyone goes through a low self-esteem phase and there are pages of me wondering about what I’m good at or perhaps why I’m not good at a certain thing. Almost a decade later, I’m glad I’m past that and that I can be at a lot more peace with myself. But what I’d like to point out is that writing has always helped.

The past year, however, has been unfortunate. Not in terms of anything else besides the fact that I haven’t really been writing much. It’s been an eventful year, with all kinds of ups and downs and I may or may not have spent too much time worrying about getting into a good uni and/or burying my face in various physics books. I stopped doing most creative things and after all this time, I’d like to go back to it. I’d like to start thinking about story plots more often and observe a passing stranger on the metro to get ideas for a character again.

It’s truly amazing when you think about it. All you need is one piece of paper and a pen and you can write absolutely anything at all – thoughts in your head, things that exist, things that don’t or might exist and anything, anything at all. I miss the ability to think so freely and to conjure all kinds of warped and strange ideas and to put them down on paper. I miss the satisfaction of writing a story or a poem. But most of all, I miss the magic of writing, of pouring out thoughts and emotions. So here’s to a promise I’m making to myself – to write more and to free my mind all over again.

Sumedha Biswas

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