White fire

The island hidden like a treasure, are we lost, do we want to be found? 

Stranded or grounded, never came up.

It just went with the flow. The pull that could have been avoided; but wasn’t.

The skill of one, the unwittingly being drawn of the other. The fun for one, the distraction for the other and the roles kept being swapped each day, from moment to next.

Now frowning, now funny.

She holds him tentative, not sure of herself. Too much in the moment to react; for fear of stepping out of the sensation to give it objectivity!

Did she follow the lead or was it more like floating just below the surface, enclosed by the sea and sunshine together.

She holds him tight, sure of his emptiness and hers. Too out of the moment to react; for fear of getting sucked in and loose objectivity!

Oh baby, you have a beautiful neck and am drunk just by a single lick… and Oh baby, I could do it again… taste your smile, magic in and out your shivers whole night or two… make you obsessed and burn myself … am cruel and so are you..

My heart is full and scarce… and I could be yours…

And swish away… in a blink of an eye and glide away like water fairy…

Copyright©Neerja Yadav

jadoo tha shayad, jadoo hi hoga...

This dream was not a product of sleep, neither the REM

A mouthful of love like couplets
Condense on your levitated sighs

Dark tone in white blanket
Furred spindles of trust
 
In the natural mechanics of the encapsulated heart
Strung by ambivalence of the flesh
And sealed by greetings of the Ination

The half shivering smile of upturned lips
Screaming instinct, 
Shushed by spurts of control thoughts

Am I just an after thought or cloud of thought bubbles
The seconds of such speculation trickle away
The hours of hesitation ran the time marathon...

It is now Midnight inside my Mind
The magic's moment

Shifting the lines of  sorcery
Slow gallop of stallion seduction 

It's a leisurely fever. Endless, clandestine, taboo.

He simply just, shuffled alphabets
and made a master stroke on the unfinished painting

Copyright©Neerja Yadav

"i was the hell that you needed, love..."

Once there was a girl. She made her words dance. Like Carroll’s Alice in the words wonderland. She wrote to know herself. She wrote to fall in love. She wrote because she fell in love. And she wrote because of all the little secrets, even the messy dirty ones.

The words spoke to her, their cadence and the silence between like a secret between her and them. They made love. An ardor that never felt wanting.

It’s so beautiful, just being alive, that I catch myself, tears wet on my face. Heartbreak is a luxury, single parents, cannot afford.

The whole time I kept thinking, “I can tide over this, lemme just write something … ‘am stolid enough by now…” But there weren’t words and so instead I noticed seams. Mine and everywhere else!

Now, imagine a frame by frame edit of breaking glass. Imagine a bullet gliding through, a blood less shot and then just a single red drop. Imagine.

I am the messenger and am the news. The prognosis is touch and go. Really, isn’t it always that. A brush with elegance, a brush with brutality.

Isn’t it always like that? We engrossed in the ordinariness of our beating hearts, our daily altercations and infractions and forget. We grow impatient at stoplights; we throw our hands in the air when someone claims our parking spot; maybe we yell fuck you, or whisper it beneath our breath.

When our kids dawdle we say, hurry up, won’t you? 

When we want to be close, we say can you just leave me alone?  

We are all fragile and failing and fallible bare foot. In a free-fall!

It’s like being in Stephanie Meyer novel or Vampire Diaries, only without the glamour and glory

Whatever I’ve become, whatever comes tomorrow, however fragmented the pieces look now, I know this… even today.  Am grateful!  

You know, when that bullet just dives through the glass.  It’s beautiful! Bilal Tanweer does the best job of describing the beauty this destruction is, really!

In the dark, past midnight, past 3 am, past memories, past the self-inflicted pain, past the promise to self; I hear the first bird chips; they feel like guiding stars.  

There once was a girl. She wrote. And, I want to tell her how much more she’ll have to write when her story isn’t solely hers, and there is everything to lose. When her heart isn’t her anymore, but is out of her body, pink in her kid’s flushed cheeks, or red hot in her lover’s careless words. 

So much more…


Copyright © Neerja Yadav

Some forgotten Snow and Some captured Sunshine

There once was a girl...

The winter inside me just stayed and stayed. A congregation of small white hills on the curbside of the being.  

Beautiful snow quickly turning into frozen rain and sleet, my own glacial record keeping of the things I  lost: A fairy dust pendant, a few books, my  sense of permanence, the feeling of home. 

The cold just lasted. Now anxiety, now restlessness; an abysmal resignation or hyperventilating panic.

In retrospect the universe was probably conspiring. In the moment it felt like everything skittered right up against the edge. Things happened slowly, then all of a sudden.

It felt like, how it feels when you almost hit the oncoming truck, but swerve just before and drive away, your heart still beating hard.

Sometime, if and when I picked my head above the sinking. I watched spring, unfolding everywhere. Instagram, Facebook, even Twitter seemed less cynical.

Then just like that a feeling of having outgrown my own circumference; the comfort zone of quiet and by-myself. 

Uneven footing, this. 

A flirtation with change. The idea of getting up and about out into the world  – the un-cyber one.  What-ifs showing up in my constant thoughts; the resolve to socialize and not be a recluse, if not my own… then for Nirvaan’s sake.

Tentative steps - from work from home to regular office. Took thought, took agonizing over daycare or babysitter details. Then as if all things converged and it just happened. I stepped out. And I fell in love. And realized how much I missed the professional tempo. 

Someone once said, if you think you can’t… just pretend! Sooner it becomes true! Pretend happiness and you are happy! Laws of intent and attraction!

So, I began with the pretense of being the extrovert go-getter, antithesis of let-me-be-with-my-work.

Began… five years ago. 

There once was a girl a scared wilting wallflower…

Began with getting to know my neighbors of several years, whose names too eluded me. Began by taking him out for a stroll. Began by reconnecting with school friends, because whatever happens after school and your adult self… they know the essence of you! Took impulsive flights! And impulsive phone calls.

And, soon it was bloom time. I had a bit of spring in my corner.  Or something. Something like that. Sort of. Minus the hundred thousand anxious moments. Minus all the things beyond my control. Minus the agonizing first few stages and moments. And misses and falls. 

Now of course, I forget it all. Forget the way it felt. 

Tenuous. Scared. Just the baby and me. 

And, me with zero idea of what the game was, let alone play. We hunched against the cold. 

I forget, because today there is sun, sun, and sun; yes it does get hot sometimes.

After the first few falls, a shift happened. I stopped being gawky and grew up and slipped into a more fluid state. I made new friends, lost some old ones. Spring cleaned the network graph. And slowly and simply became the journey.

Now, my love birds are chirping and flirting. And the air is warm enough finally to sit in sundresses, grinning. 

And, I close my eyes to see the red of the sun, red veins of life blood behind my eyelids.

Basking.


Copyright©Neerja Yadav

My living loving Cinquain

You turned 5 with panache’. An opening limerick of the rest of your life

Five for the Fighting. Five for the Fun.

Eighteen days before, on a Saturday, we began the countdown. And, in that surprisingly different way of thinking you have, you said “Mamma lets count everyone’s birthday!” and there you were sitting with a notebook and a pen, sketching stuff, a time machine, a giant beanstalk…, all things you believe in. The magic of imagination – a reality! Counting everyone’s in drawings in your own way.

You are handful… in more ways than one! Even when you are sitting quietly, I know you are hyper-actively weaving your yarns and I know, am in for another one of those bed time stories… that’s correct, you tell Me, bedtime stories and you are way better than I can ever hope to be! 

We rub noses and I catch myself staring at you, disbelieving… the wonder you are!

The days have a staccato feel: dominos tumbling one after the other in a rapid-action blur. They come they go in an instant. I keep thinking, wait, didn’t I just turn 34? How am I 36? How did two years possibly pass? Let alone 5! My baby is 5 and not a baby at all.

You are as oblivious to your birthday as you are to so many other everyday things. And, at the same time you are like a barometer/thermometer of sensitivities… you catch on to even the slightest difference in the mood of the room, in me… if my overcrowded thoughts don’t let me rest, when I lie down with you to tuck you in; you become restless… even if you are very sleepy!

You are in turn very loving, showering kisses, smothering hugs and grouchy. You don’t take being denied easily… And, I kinda ignore when you are like that. 

The things are still your friends, if you say good night to mummy, you say good night to your toys and the house too... finishing my "love you" with "so much"... without fail, our little ritual.

You like numbers, better than alphabets. You are sort of bordering on cognitive genius with all your memory and recall and visual and nuanced understanding of stories.

Everything is still a wonder.  And, you actually give me scripts and even my dialogues when telling me about something … “you should tell aunty at the day care that ‘my baby needs to eat an apple’…“ Perfectly mimicking the characters that are to be in the scene!! 

When we talk about people and family, you include everyone – yes everyone, you have ever been fond of!!
Your conversations are peppered with “Oh dear!”, “Sweetie” “Abracadabra” “Butterfly camera time machine!” (your own invention)

You get upset, you love, you throw tantrum, you talk, you play, you dance, you laugh… all with the same passion, same gusto… absolute immersion!

Even with all this high energy and volume, you have this remarkable capacity for delayed gratification, as though you really understand what the moment offers. How it’s here to delight you only for now, and then it’s gone for good.

Now, time for Cakes to be cut. Candles to be blown! Time to celebrate the end of babyhood and beginning of glorious and messy years! 


My Love... Be what you are!  Passionate. Nerdy. Loving. Happy!
 


Love Mumma!


Copyright©Neerja Yadav

A suicide is a murder, ye!

The dispel charm doesn't work
Defaulted dark was thick enough
Its zero or infinity...
The maths lost its clarity
The kill shot was never seen
Ricochet too was clean
Hyperbole of parabola
Or, not even adequate
Reify the pain, Go on!
Have lived this rhetoric, a bit too long

Copyright © Neerja Yadav

Stories

i know I’ve been quiet here.

it seems all of summer and the monsoons alternated between being filled with sun-drenched hopefulness and raining-on-my-hope-parade deluge.

there were days where time bookended between morning and evening was like treacle and then days when it supersonics into oblivion

retrospection, introspection and enough of all kinds of inspection... just less of recording... for posterity, for sanity even

and then all of a sudden paced days make their appearance and i look forward to simple routines and rhythms... and just like that its fall

and my baby is a seasoned kindergartner, his body suddenly that of a little boy’s, lean-muscled and strong. him. a willful little being.

the days just blur and the nights just descend without the preamble of evenings, bedtimes thwarted and Saturdays being lolled about in bed, in making a mess of comforters and pillows, in jumping up and down and in kissing and tickling.

am grateful. am incredulous. am just basking in the pure love of everyday.

 
Most days, the minute I lie down, post all the toddler stories and in-bed shenanigans, post all the last minute bathroom visits and water bottles and checking for monsters, post all of my own idiosyncratic rituals... when i lie down... the words rise up... right when i neither have my notebook or iPad or the laptop even phone is a distance away... right when there are no means of catching them... like fireflies they flutter aglow... their blinking... my personal Disney fairytale... and i slide in sleep... only to surface up to blurry wakefulness to see the stories play out, projected on my conscious, the fantastic nightmares or bizzare or the unseen faces and unknown, unthought of scenarios of doom and gloom... before launching into a court room kinda debate for and against my own sanity and paranoia

Death. Mayhem. Injustice. And me amidst it all. A silent spectator. Sometimes highly troubled. Other times just watching. Looking for signs of feelings, all these feelings must bring in. The dissection of meta-feelings, the deconstruction of mind function of a sleeping being. 

All of this before the neon blue of digi clock says: 5:00 AM

My dad has been unwell for the longest time now.... last month... there were times I was on the verge of being certain that he would probably not be with us... to the edge and back... time and again... it was like each day... the graph wasn't looking very healthy constant... spikes all over...

and unbidden the memories... of him being this tallest person, a giant of a man, and me on his lap, in his arms... sleeping and when i wake up, i see the ground beneath moving and realise that he has been walking home with me asleep... my first memory of height and motion...

him being angry on some or other mess we kids had made. him being goofy with mom, him with this deep deep laughter and booming voice, him talking to us especially me as equals while discussing the fine points of mythology or politics or philosophy... i had a brush with Charvaak before i picked up Enid Blyton..

happy him, sad him, angry him, elated... dad! that word contains all of our broken and blessed childhood... a majority stakeholder of the people we (my siblings and me) now are

most days happen now in a rush of hours, and the stories only happen after: between sleep and waking. They happen in that slender gap between now and unconscious; in that groove where memory opens up wide, and the past hurries out dancing as it does.

i haven't found it in me to tame these stories yet, they are too big, too overwhelming

these are the stories that ride in on the edges of the hours, like leaves caught in the forever whirl of a river

Copyright @ Neerja Yadav

mosaic of me



Ma left this morning, and while she stays over.. its almost always my teenages revisit – the angst, the bile, the ridicule and inexplicable resentment… it  is when she leaves;  the absence is acute.

How could you be nostalgic about things you have never had? The cozy yellow warmth of the family evening? The huddled up winter afternoons of banter and chatter? A general familial bonhomie?

Those run of the mill naïve things of human social existence? The absence of it all? The acuteness amplified to the degree of pulling you in a black hole?

Its afternoons like this, when even the skies perhaps get muddled up and do a trapeze from the summer solstice point - the wind almost autumn laced; that his being at school too is like a dredging up nostalgia.  

As if his infant, toddler, teenage and adult selves have converged in one; stand there stroking my 60 year old hair – “Ma, it is all fine!”

How a certain distant car sound, someone’s kitchen at work, birdsongs – all medley into the montage of those fragmented, pebbled moments of long time, even life time’s ago!  I sit quietly and reach into the old forgotten jacket pockets…. Feel the shards of all the assortments … not always my own.   

Some of them (okay fine, most of them) are the ones… when on just an afternoon like this…I quietly tucked myself up in invisibility cloak … being an audience to someone else’s drama/moments/cheer/grief; an outsider – yearning to be part of those stories.

And just like that, my pockets began filling up, now the shards still sharp, some blunt… but all of them still there. A good memory is a blessing; they said? Yea right, you don’t know half of it.

Sometimes I think I can smell my long lost lives, perhaps am a part of Narnia or Neverland? How about Hogwarts? I just have to close my eyes and see the wild wind swept long curls, braving the cold and happy(?) as a clam in one of those mansions in the pages of faerie magazine. As real as me here and now; sometimes more!

Empty feelings magnetize to an old couch and slowly, meditatively I sink into self. Narcissa really!

I have always had dreams which have this sense of fantastic, other worldliness about them; the sky, the places, even the people and upon waking whatever it were about, feel close all day. Touch of it seeping into the bones with almost improbable sense of intimacy.

There is always a story building up somewhere inside, the idea, the plot-line, like pitter-patter, sometimes a sentence too, maybe a dialog – a book waiting, bidding its time.

The trick is to collect them all and construct something. The challenge is to show up on the pages

Outside the window, day turns to dusk …

Copyright © Neerja Yadav

Love - you can do nothing about!



In my mind I always imagine, the words – that’s what I do, when I experience, I imagine how the world can be distilled into words, how the moments can be memorialized into mismatched metaphors, my mind jotting down side notes, sometimes a whole paragraph. Sometimes just a bunch of mental Polaroid shots.

Fatigue has been a part of me, it seems like forever… yet I never allow myself to listen. I’d tell myself— I just need sleep. I need to be out and take Nirvaan out too; and then I’d ignore it entirely and keep right on pushing.

And in keeping with the push, we (my brother and sister) text-ed and decided we want a family vacation. Vacation. On papers! For going back to this place I called family home for most part of childhood is anything but that!

Family, that inexplicable thing that it is. The people that make us, fiber and bone, but also the ones from whom we learn the earliest perceptions of ourselves.

They are the mirror house, some show you small, some really distorted, some bring out an unearthly beauty and some make you look like monsters.

Our lives, witnessed in all its stripped-off-glory and vintage tint.

We try to find our connect and it’s not difficult, conversations happening between the indecision and decision of what to make for dinner; between the meltdowns of one 4 year old, the nap times off kilter; the first next generation at this family home, everyone trying to dote on him; while he tries to find his balance, his space; struggling with dehydration. 

Between waking up and going to sleep in an unfamiliar place, all of us talking at once.  
 
Both my siblings and the both the cousins have their stories. We weave and get woven into the narrative. Not being the audience. But a part of the yarn.

Later, much later, after the dust of storm of a new person becoming a part of this family settles down, after my dad’s failing health has been inventoried and cheering him up is done; and my sister comes back with us to my place; before she leaves again.

The youngest leaving the nest, farthest. It’s just the two of us flipping through channels or folding the laundry or sitting down with tea.

I stay up late, talking with her. She tells me stories, filling in the patchwork of her life that’s being spent away from all of us. We talk.  A couple of sisters; who still argue, have disagreements; she fiercely loving my son, almost as fiercely I love her. We could just well be soul twins

Perhaps, we are.

After I drop her off to the airport for that goodbye, which is harder than it looks.

What I learn from the trip and the visit is to just be there, side by side. To hold my arms open wide. To apologize without the friction of ego. To wash the dishes, and then to wash more when they get added to the sink. To offer my hand to mum and aunt and counsel to cousins and to move like water between the moments. As always.

The whole time I was with family and then alone with her, I could feel both the déjà vu and the surrealism of the stories that we’re living.

The stories that are part of me. The stories that I make a part of.

Copyright © Neerja Yadav

love story that just began...



I pull the curtains close to find the bedroom filled with afternoon light filtered with light blue of the curtains. He snugly sleeps beside me, while I finish the tidbits of work on the notebook. With earphones warmly streaming assorted playlist… 

Mid-work I casually look at him… his warmth and vulnerability radiating… you can almost see the halo bleeding into the light blue… all I want is to dive back under the soft coverlet. Many a afternoons we lie this way, just breathing. 

I’ve been crushing on him for a while, and I can’t help but smile watching him in jeans and checked shirt.
He wakes me up, brews coffee, he cooks exotic stuff, he plays goofy, he loves, he smiles, he just looks at me and I inimitably collapse years and be sixteen and thirty-six at the same time… filling reams of pages with poetry… understated passion

This has been our ritual every morning, every afternoon, every evening… and I know… I did right to vow… this year… no matter what. Be Happy!

Simple things and routines that sustain my core; rituals that soften the edges and simplify the moments and reduce some of the stress I find all too easily creeps in.

Like a treasure hunter, I sift through the trunks of moments of my 2013 self; tracing the plot lines and inner narratives that in the moment never appeared connected, but from the vantage point of a year out, there are evident constellations.

I’ve found notes that, text messages, moments, conversations, stolen kisses, lingering hugs, belly-laugh, random drives and like the brilliantly lit up cities on planet earth from space… they trace the topography of life that began with one day and promises to be a happy one!

Of course, not without the complete blackouts which I know so well! Nevertheless, at least the outlines are shimmering!

Copyright © Neerja Yadav