The first time a strange man groped me, it was in the afternoon. It was a busy street. There were about twenty people watching. There were about twenty people who stood still and didn’t blink an eye when it happened.

The first time a strange man touched my breast, it was through three layers of sweaters and I was barely an A cup. There was little to grab onto but he seemed delighted anyway. It was a few seconds before I could stagger back and quickly walk away.

The first time a strange man ran his hand over my body, I was angry and humiliated and scared. I went back home and washed my body for hours, I tried to scrub the skin off my bones but I learned to live with it. And my soul, though bruised, remained intact.

You, on the other hand, never even touched me. You never ran your hands over my undeveloped, pre-adolescent body to abuse me. You never stood in front of me in the middle of a busy road in the afternoon sun.

You simply looked at me. And it’s funny how no strange man with his eager, groping hands can touch me in any way that could compare to what you did. To how your look raped my soul.

To All the Fucked Up Definitions of “Cool”

My first year of college, I made a friend who knew almost everybody in our handkerchief-sized campus. And while we sat at Stoners’ Spot, he sketched out the hierarchy of the popular for me.

In a nutshell, popularity in our college, if not our whole university, is “borrowed” and based off a complicated web of associations. Nobody cares about how smart you are, how talented you are or how funny you are if you aren’t already in the “In” circle – if you don’t already recite the daily, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ to the “coolest” people in campus. And there’s no way for you to be considered “cool” by every single other student of this “In” circle doesn’t publicly validate you.

Okay, sure. You need to be social for people to see how awesome you are. But since when did being cool become an exclusive commodity that you can only acquire if you know the so-called popular people in college? And why the fuck are we this obsessed with the idea of extroversion being the superior personality type?

My university thrives on its reputation of “encouraging” extracurricular activities and non-academic talents. And even though admission is based upon a ridiculously high academic performance, students are regularly called out for being ‘nerds’ if they attend too many classes. You’re very, very far from “cool” if you actually care about your grades. Or if you don’t study last moment like every other student. Do you even have a life if you’re not part of the dance, music or drama society?

College life is supposed to be about exploring your capabilities, right? It’s about discovering who you wanna be? Wrong. Based off everything I’ve seen, it’s about being boxed into the same old categories and spending way too much time figuring out how to become the top dog. It’s about pretending to care about things just for the sake of caring about something because you’re so goddamn afraid of wasting time doing nothing in your three years of undergrad. It’s about the very real, very unvoiced horror of wondering whether who you really are might not fit in with the rest of the world and then scrambling to imitate others so you’d be seen.

And that’s how the world works in general. You can keep telling yourself that you’ll be more true to yourself when you graduate, that it’s all just about surviving college but you’re lying. You don’t need to find a box to fit into, you already know that. You already know that you are cool. And no self-proclaimed “cool” person you meet at Stoners’ Spot can help you find a place on any shit-show hierarchy in college.

There is no hierarchy. We’re all just a bunch of child adults kicking around, trying to be heard. And as long as you don’t make your voice extra sugary or extra deep, as long as you just say it like you really, really want to, you’re cool.

But You Need To Earn Money

It’s true, I spent all my savings on food and books last semester. I was on a happy binge and I told myself it was to improve my mental health. Well, my mental health is still broken and now, so are my finances. And I just remembered that that’s why I needed an internship this summer. To gain experience in content writing as well as earn some cash to support my healthy/unhealthy lifestyle next semester.

But well, I ain’t got no internship and I ain’t got no cash.

What I do have, however, is that tiny voice inside my head telling me that writing a novel this summer is not gonna help me achieve anything at all. I’d probably have wasted a lot of time and sacrificed all of that mental energy that I could have put into developing a rocking CV, just for one lousy book that would probably end up in some publishing intern’s trashcan some day.

There is no career in novel writing, they say. And you need a way to pay the bills. There isn’t a way for me to not pay them or to not have those bills in the first place. It’s life. And there isn’t a way for my writing to start paying bills right in the beginning of everything. Especially for a slow writer like me, only 700 words into this first book I’m trying to write and already questioning it all.

Balance. Work during the day, write at night. A strategy. But just the way one person can only function after a minimum eight hours of sleep and another can be energetic after just four hours, I cannot write like that. The only way I can write is in a semi-dark room, absorbed in the poetry and music of a thousand words for hours and hours on end. I need that hermitage – days on end spent leisurely strolling through the streets of my make-believe world. Unless I have touched every nook and cranny of every house on that street, I cannot begin to write. Unless I am the words and the words are me, I cannot begin to write.

It feels like the biggest gamble of my small, uneventful life to commit to novel writing for two whole months and do nothing else. No running after the same-old, same-old of the big, scary world out there. No preparing for the future.

It’s just me and my story right now. And I gotta say, I don’t think I’ve felt this happy since eighth grade.

How To Spend Summer Break Productively

It’s been kind of a slow and kind of a disappointing summer for me so far. While I’d hoped to have started on a journey of self-discovery and career growth through an amazing internship by now, I’m sitting at home, about to click Play on yet another been-there, seen-that web series for the sole purpose of crossing it off my Watchlist and allowing myself to feel like I’m not completely wasting the last two-month vacation I’ll probably ever get to enjoy for the rest of my life. Third year of college about to begin and to my horror, I have next to nothing to show for it.

This is not how I imagined my life would be like at twenty.

Yeah, yeah. I can hear the chuckles and imagine the smiles and the mental reiteration of, “Who ever does?” and I agree, who ever does imagine their life the way it actually turns out? But get this, eleven year old me? She had HUGE plans. And twenty year old me? She hasn’t even STARTED on these plans and I’m beginning to get a teensy bit worried that I never will.

Also, the twenty-first century’s obsession with ‘productivity’ is really stressing me out. Do I always have to be on the go all the time? Am I the one taking this too chill or has everyone else just forgotten to live for a while? What’s so wrong with spending the summer focussing on having a great time instead of slaving at an internship to add another line in my CV? Or is there, perhaps, a magical middle ground?

Turns out my stressed-out, wanting-to-chill-out ass is sort of a low-key genius. She found the mystical middle ground. She came up with a brilliant idea – all by herself, may I add – to embark on a beautiful trip of writing a novel to cheat her way out of choosing between a good time and slavery. Writing is therapeutic for me and at the same time, it gives me a sense of achievement. Voila! Problem solved.

Or not. I forgot I’ve had writer’s block for nearly two years now but this summer, I’m gonna fight it tooth and nail. My first novel deserves all the effort. Any tips?

Also, would it be totally, off-the-rack presumptuous of me to think that you guys would actually like to hear how I get along with my experience of trying to write an actual book, all of my own, for the very first time?




it’s funny how it’s the little things that remind me of it. like the chill of the August rain pitter-pattering on my naked feet at the doorstep. like the taste of strawberry cream on the tip of my tongue. like the little spots of red, yellow and green in the darkness as i close my eyes against the sunlight.

it’s funny how the memories resurface out of nowhere. like an uninvited black cloud suddenly overshadowing a bright day. like an inescapable reality casting a darkness upon every soul that toils under it. so unlike the calm shade of a cheerful, happy reminiscence. so unlike the happy nostalgia of a gentle, radiant day

it’s funny how some words stay with us forever. and every song we ever hear is like an echo. an echo of those same old syllables we fail to forget. a long lost prophecy foretelling our destructive destiny. like a happy high note melting into a melancholic low lullaby.

it’s funny how before and after works. how easy it seems to conjure up dead realities and yet how impossible it seems to ever be able to touch them again. how easy it is to remember and how impossible to forget. how easy it is to wish it wasn’t real and how impossible to realise how real it really is.




You know those things that have no beginning or end? That you imagine to be an intricately threaded yet chaotic web of destinies and fates surrounding the universe, your universe? Those things that appear to be nothing and everything, all at the same time?

That’s how I look at you and me.

Was there ever any love between us? Here? In my head? In another world? Because sometimes when I think about you, waves upon waves of a warm feeling washes over me. Like an overwhelming sea grasping my arms with reckless abandon and then soothing my frenzied skin with it’s surprisingly gentle touch, lapping over my fingers and toes, filling my pores with all the calm of the ocean. But then, just a moment later, the water recedes and you fall away with it, leaving just as unexpectedly as you’d swept into my life, like a mirage I struggle to hold onto, running my lost fingers through the wet, disorienting sand. It sticks to me, that sand, and refuses to let go. It numbs my fingers and reminds me of the absence of your calming ripples. And just when I give up hope of ever meeting with you again, you swell forth and drown me under a tsunami of feelings.

And yet I question if it’s really love. Or ever was.

How can I say I fell in love, when I never really met you? When I knew you long before I knew myself? When I can never pinpoint a day, an hour, a second in my life and yours when I fell for you?

This warmth in my heart, rising up in my chest and bursting out of my heart, it’s always been there. A lifelong companion to my uneven breath. Not a ‘falling in love’, absolutely not. That’s supposed to be much more, isn’t it? That’s supposed to begin somewhere. On some long, laughter-filled summer night, under our blanket of silly stories; in a hot cup of coffee, shared, like in a classic teen movie; in a song danced to in the rain, drenched in new sensations and unspoken confessions; that’s how we’re supposed to fall in love.

But we never did.

Then why do I circle back to you every time, like a frustrated traveller who’s lost his way? Why does the warmth never leave my veins, no matter how far behind you leave me? Why do my hands always search for yours in a dark room? Why do I still long for the waves?

You know those things that have no beginning and no end?

That’s you and I. And our ceaseless story of unlove and waves.

Ruminating ‘Raazi’



It is rare for a film that begins with dramatic, patriotic dialogue to end on a realistic note that truly questions war instead of glorifying it. Raazi accomplishes not just this commendable feat but also chooses to do so by portraying raw, personal turmoil instead of gruesome, action-packed violence.

The focus of the film initially appears to be on an individual’s duty to his/her country and the honour embedded in this duty. But slowly and gradually, the story unravels the ethical dilemma of the conflict of war:

Is the fight for peace really worth it when the very process to achieve it causes the complete opposite; when, to protect the majority, a few individuals are subjected to the very worst of trauma and suffering?

Yuval Noah Harari, in his book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, explains the concept of imagined realities which Raazi very poignantly yet subtly portrays. Imagined realities are ‘common myths that exist only in people’s collective imagination’. A ‘nation‘ is an imagined reality – a notion based on invisible, manmade borders – and so is ‘family‘ – nothing more than an alliance of humans who share some DNA and consequently, some resources. It’s a gross oversimplication without the emotional context, isn’t it?

Emotion is where things start to get complicated and that is exactly what Raazi expertly uses to paint a picture of the conflict between nation and family – a conflict of imagined realities. To whom does Sehmat truly owe her loyalty – her motherland or her husband’s family? Her father’s legacy of honour or her own conscience?

A terrible moral dilemma, all in the name of patriotism, transforms a young, innocent girl into committing murders and becoming an agent in the death and grief of others, including her own in-laws, some of whom were simply innocent bystanders. Their suffering is a screaming testimony of the harshest truth: every person is a victim in war. The enemy is not a monster – just someone with a different viewpoint who suffers equally. There is no real winner.

Raazi‘s message is the irony of war – that the very structures that are supposed to provide us with peace, security and efficiency tear apart our lives to ensure their own survival. Sehmat’s screams of anguish are the voice of every war victim’s question: What was it really worth?

Growing Up



I want to be five years old again. Back when colours were just colours and not reminders of people I once used to know. When happiness came in tiny, brightly-coloured packets of shiny candy and wasn’t accompanied with bitter memories that turned my tongue sour. When love was the toys I shared with my friends and not an elusive firefly I could never catch, glowing dimmer and dimmer the closer I got to it.

I want to be eight years old again. Back when games were just games, innocent fun to pass a lazy summer day and this deadly hide-and-seek life now plays with me was still in the future, far away. When my fingers were still learning to grip my pen with ease and not ripping apart notebooks filled with words from a past me. When songs were sung in high, exulted notes and not a voice near breaking for the fifth time today.

I want to be fifteen years old again. Back when breathing was something I did without a thought and didn’t have to think twice about laughing too hard. When a door was just a door with exciting adventures behind it and not a door with monsters lurking in the corners beside it. When life was a road I was yearning to walk, my eyes blissfully oblivious of the weeds that grew further down the path.

I don’t want to be twenty years old yet. I still have to call the people I think of when my eyes catch a certain shade of yellow. I still have to thank everyone who bought me candy when I was eleven. I still need to chase that firefly and seek the future. I still have to tape together the ripped notebooks, still need to try singing that song again because I’m positive, this time I can do it. I still need to catch my breath just so I can laugh some more. Still have to try the knob of every door. And when I’m done with all of that, I still need to put on a new pair of shoes and dance my way through all those weeds that lurk down the paths I choose.




It’s a vicious cycle. This endless cycle of disappointment.

You say words I never expected you to, words that sting like a mother. Then I defy you in those open acts of rebellion that are the shining feature of my personality. Stubborn. Irrational. Self-destructive.

It makes you glare at me, my defiance. I can feel the heat of your anger rolling off your skin. Your compulsive need to tame me making your hands itch. I can see your fingers twitching. I can feel the red spots in your vision.

And that is when your hand rises. The end of the power struggle. Your victory over me. Brute strength always wins this battle. Especially when I am right.

You are in control. And you leave no opportunity to remind me of that.

But that is not where the story ends. Because the wounds you inflict on me are the signs of your real failure. Your failure as a man. They are the evidence of how wrong you are.

One day, I shall parade them. One day, when you’ve ruined me enough for nakedness to not bother me anymore, I will parade them. One day, you’ll feel my shame. One day, you’ll see disappointment and hate in their eyes too, like I saw in yours.

My bruises might be hidden for now, protecting you awhile, but one day, the bloody gashes inside my head will give me the ink to write out your doom.



Image Credit: https://agnes-cecile.deviantart.com/art/are-scars-on-body-217843735



It slithers

Inside my brain –

Creeping around,

Inside out,

Making it’s way

Between all

The dead,

All the decay.

It crawls

Through the labyrinth,

Suckling on

The dirt,

Feasting on all

The grime,

The dust

Of my sins.

It slinks

Amongst the ruins,

Trailing around

My pain,

Goading me on,

Mocking me

For my filthy,

Uncouth offence.