The Weight.

She caught a bout of depression, and her body wasted away with it.

“You’ve become SO skinny,” a friend, who hadn’t seen her in a month said. “I didn’t know you had weight to lose to begin with, what the fuck. Are you OKAY??”

“Yes, jesus, yes.”

“Are you SURE?”

She looked at herself in the mirror that evening, and she saw what her friend saw. Her face, that had finally begun to blossom when she met him, over wine and high-carb snacks, had wilted again.

She stuffed her face with mac and cheese, and beer, rice and potatoes that week. Anything to make those cheeks come back, to bring that glow back. Where was the face she’d grown to dislike less?

She checked her weight that weekend, and she’d LOST an extra kilogram.

“I have been through what you’ve been through, except with gaining weight,” her therapist told her.

“I’ve been through what you’ve been through, except with gaining weight, and I grew to accept it and cherish it as another part of myself,” another friend texted her.

She added protein shakes to her breakfast routine, she checked her weight again that weekend. Her weight stayed the same. She took off her jacket. Her weight dropped by .8 kg.

“I want to lose three kgs before my wedding,” a glowing bride-to-be said, and she looked at the girl’s glowing, fucking radiant face in astonishment.

“GIVE me those three kgs,” she cried.

When people ignored her, or it seemed like they were making fun of her, she felt like the skinny seventh grader she’d been all over again – just there, that sweet, skinny, harmless girl, hardly a force to be reckoned with or bothered about.

“TAKE my four kgs,” another woman, on keto for the past month, said in a fit of despair over the phone to her. “For godssake it’s not that hard to gain weight, just eat a lot of cake.”

She stocked up her fridge with almond pudding and a birthday cake. Her weight stayed the same, except her dislike for shoveling food into her mouth was increasing by the day. Which amazed her, she used to love food.

“I feel like if I were a little thinner, I’d be okay, you know?” another girl, a girl she idolized, said to her. “I just feel like I’d be happier as it’s been a goal for so long.”

She left her phone behind at work one weekend. The buzz of plans, faces, texts, camera on portrait mode paused – for two days that felt like eternity.

Her brain breathed. Her body rested. She did not hyperfocus on hitting 2000 calories, on making it to every meal. She cooked turmeric and chick peas pasta with cheese, alfredo sauce, walnuts and honey. She did not think about a text from him that she’d never get, or view her life through his lens, or any one else’s lens. She wrote. She read. She deep-conditioned her hair.

She breathed. Her mind and body felt massaged.

She skipped dessert. She forgot to swear. She slept like a baby.

She just was. And everything felt okay.

 

 

Let’s talk about the anxt

I have been a worrier for as long as I can remember. I have squirmed my way around public speaking, dreaded every minor possibility of failure and adopted the identity of a sad, avoidant girl.

I do not remember when it started, but it was around the time when I realized I had to be a certain way, and accomplish certain things to level up in life. And in the process, realized I hated having to fall flat on my face, watch my world grow pixelated and start over. I simply did not have the social skills to walk it off like a champ. I’d just look less cool walking the same way I always did: slumped, small, not wanting to wake up the neighbors.

So I anticipated challenges before they manifested themselves, saw conflict and displeasure in people’s faces a nanosecond before they articulated it, and whenever I could get away with it, delegated, postponed or avoided any task that involved direct communication.

But that did not, in any way, ease the lump in my throat, or the burn in my stomach every time I was at a decisional crossroad or in front of a human being that was outside my comfort zone. Anxiety was like this orange ghost that zoomed into my life whenever it got the chance, to ensure that I never ever reached my potential.

I never got used to living in anxiety, but weirdly enough, over time, an odd kind of familiarity did set in.

I still fucking hated the anxiety, and was envious of people who did not second guess every element in their lives, but I also had no choice but to get to know anxiety better. After so many one-on-ones, it was inevitable.

And over time, I realized:

  • While too much anxiety caused me to curl up into a ball and not do anything, anxiety did not always intend to hurt. In fact, it made me better. It allowed me to zoom in on the details, double-fact-check and in general, give people accurate rather than half-assed information.
  • I am a very complacent individual, and it took that anxious I-am-going-to-lose-it-the-world-is-going-to-fall-apart rush for me to sometimes, give pressing problems the attention and priority they needed. It would, surprisingly make me sit down, take deep breaths, tell myself that no, I was not going to fuck this up before giving my full, undivided (basically, no social-media in the side) attention to every piece of that puzzle before I miraculously arrived at a solution, did what had to be done and experienced that sweet a-ha moment.
  • That bittersweet anxious sensation would push me to prepare for, research-to-death and conquer every possible caveat that underlay whatever I was freaking out about. Catastrophizing, in a way, prevented the actual catastrophe from happening. Even if shit did hit the fan, since I’d already pictured and dreaded the catastrophe a billion times before, it simply was not as impressive in real life. I could jump right into problem-solving mode.

Recently, a friend asked me how I had learned a random hack that I’d showed her. As I explained to her about the time when I “got anxious” because I had to get something done and couldn’t because I did not know said hack and therefore, had to look it up, I found myself talking about it rather nostalgically and fondly. This AMAZED me but also made me realize that over time, while my world remained pixelated, anxiety, the orange-neighborhood-ghost, had leveled up from enemy to frenemy.

Anxiety and Me

Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

Skin deep

She ran her fingers over the tiny prickle on her forehead – a frickin’ pimple in the beginning of December. Winter was her favorite time of the year. All of those snuggly jackets and unapproachable boots – she could pull them off. The bulk made her look healthier, unlike the summer skirts that betrayed her carrot stick legs. But clearly, winter was not without its warts.

She finger-combed her hair as she hunched forward, trudging past the zillions and zillions of people making their way from one metro-stop to the next. She hated the way her bangs fell flat, and then curled so frightfully near the ends. She stared at the Asian girl in blue sweatpants who walked past her, the girl’s pin straight hair parting so effortlessly. “How did it feel to have wonderfully approachable hair like that?” she wondered.

She tried pulling her hair behind, but of course that exposed the scar near the beginning of her hairline. She let it fall back down her shoulders. Her hair was greasy from hairspray,and terribly layered. She felt like Professor Snape.

Her lips tugged downwards as someone bumped against her, muttering “Sorry.”

She nodded vaguely, her bangs still covering her face. How did the blonde woman in front of her have such bouncy, salon-style hair? How did people manage to style their own hair? Did they wake up every morning just to make their bangs fluffy and wonderfully soft? She had tried styling her hair. It made it greasier and wavier in all the wrong places. She pulled her hair back again, her fingers clasping it into a ponytail. She pulled it to one side, letting it hang down one shoulder, as she reached Platform 6A.

She tried to picture how she looked right at that moment, with her hair like that. Oh lord, it would be like that Instagram picture of hers from a year back. She was with her best friend Eric, his face as radiant as his sunny disposition. She, on the other hand, had one side full of hair and the other side of well… air. it looked awkward and unnatural. She untagged herself from the picture, but when she did stumble into it on Eric’s page – she always winced.

She continued finger-combing the front section of her hair, as a text from her ex-boyfriend popped up on her phone. It was an even more obnoxious reply to her obnoxious text. She caught her reflection on her phone screen, as her screen faded to black. The corners of the tiny hairs that blended with her bangs were curling up again. She pressed it flat. They curled up again. She pressed it flat, tucking the piece of hair under her bangs.

Her train finally arrived and she thought, I can’t wait to get back home, shower, grab a bite to eat and then study. I can’t study with my hair like this – no.

*

He was making his way to his stop when he bumped into something solid.

“Sorry,” he said reflexively- and caught sight of the woman as she blended with the crowd.

Only she didn’t quite – blend with the crowd.

She was slightly hunched, but walking at a remarkable pace. Her hair – there was so much of it! It was neither straight nor curly – it tumbled down her back in mesmerizing waves. He hadn’t seen hair like that before!

As he reached his station, he saw her again. She was peering into her phone – but her profile betrayed elegant, sharp features. She turned around and he met her eyes – but she was looking past him. She hadn’t really met his gaze, she was lost in thought.

He wished she would’ve met his gaze – those were eyes that had the potential to sparkle and light up the lives around it. She looked wistful. There was a genuineness about her that was absent in the vacant glee of the lipsticked woman on his other side, who was squealing “How ARE you, Carol! You look FABULOUS!”.

As the train droned in and she disappeared into the crowd – he caught the last glimpse of those untamed, beautiful, beautiful locks that her fingers wouldn’t let go of.

He wished she’d smiled at him when their eyes had met. He would’ve made some inane comment about the subway service. And over the course of that conversation, he’d have told her, quite tactlessly, how distractingly beautiful she was.

*

finding herself.

She was in a tiny little cafe. It was the kind of cafe that looked nondescript from the outside, but had an elegance to it on the inside. She had ordered a slice of chocolate cake that cost twice the amount it weighed and a cup of Earl Grey Tea. She readjusted her scarf, as she opened her little black book.

It was drizzling outside and as she traced the outline of a passing cloud, she felt like a cliché.

Her marriage had ended recently. She had flown to this quaint little town, to ‘find herself’. Only, in the midst of her little adventure, she realised finding herself was getting quite expensive. She couldn’t walk around here, making quirky pseudo-acquaintances who taught her life lessons, unless she got a job. Since she’d been a student all her life, she did not know what that would be like. But it seemed to involve a lot of responsibility, and she’d rather be a cliché than take responsibility.

Contemplating that maybe, she had found herself after all, she’d decided to leave town the next day.

This was her last day here, sitting by the cafe window, pretending to be engrossed in her sketching while her thoughts ran wild.

Her deft strokes brought the page to life, and suddenly she was engrossed. She became the sketch, as her tea grew cold. It overtook her self consciousness, as her head was bent over the page, and she filled in the eyebrows of the woman in her picture. She could feel the uneasiness in her stomach clear up, as her heart soared with every honest detail- and

and her pencil’s lead broke.

Unbreakable

Once upon a time, there lived a girl who thought she was unbreakable. The others, they felt sorry for her.

“She’s delusional,” they said. “Everybody breaks sooner or later. It’s the fact of life. How can she lie to herself?”

“She thinks she’s unbreakable because she’s most broken inside,” said another wise one. “But we can’t tell her. It’ll break her.”

And so they watched her sail through life with her mast held high. Until one day, when a storm raged and chipped her shoulder.

“I knew it!” they said. “See! She’s starting to erode. We need to help her. We need to help her see clearly.”

It started to rain, and her shoulder burned. Tears ran down her cheeks but she was still intact. And then they jogged toward her at the prescribed pace, and decided to tell her, once and for all:

“You’re not unbreakable, sweetie. You never were.”

The sky turned black and the rains, they were torrential. She couldn’t see. She couldn’t breathe. Rocks hit her head, doubling in number with every elongating minute. She was growing numb and slowly, her nerves turned to glass. It rained as it had a countless times before but this time, she could feel it break her. She could feel the delicate and misleadingly gentle clink of broken glass in her shoulder, her kneecaps and in her body.

Her mast was now misspelled and lopsided, her pace slackening as she buckled down at the weight of the voices around her that seemed to have greeted the voices inside. They were now engaged in a conversation and no one was winning. The sun came up again but the clouds remained.

crazy, stupid ****.

His eyes sweep across the room. Her stomach churns, as she looks away- when they are seconds, just seconds away from meeting hers.

And fuck. There is electricity in that almost-gaze.

Time expands and does a back flip as she rushes past the hallway. The bell clangs against the rough, uncouth voices of everyone else. She fills her mind with the clutter she once thought mattered, but her mind is now a sieve.

She doesn’t look back. She doesn’t have to.

 

Crazy, Stupid ****

Anti-Climactic Nonsense

What if

You aren’t my crush?

What if you’re just

Validation?

A product of reciprocity

“I’m obsessed with you

Because you care a tiny bit about me.”

Or better yet, White Noise

To bury myself in

Because the silence, it was deafening.

What if, you’re little more than Preoccupation

Because right now,

I need something

To fill the void

Or better yet, a mindless adrenaline rush

Vague, heady, romanticized

Because you dared to get closer

When the lights turned orange.

What if, you’re just a Filler

A forgettable note

Clogging the empty pages

In between chapters

Or worse, some creepy Idealisation

Of what you actually are.

What if you’re nothing like the you

That lives in my head

And eats my thoughts?

What if your sole function

Is making me feel Wanted?

To fill gaps in conversation,

To have something to do.

What if you aren’t my crush?

Sidelines

A sharp, glassy view

With a soundtrack to die for

I can see everything from here,

My hands poised on the rails-

My voice reluctantly trailing away…

But you can’t see me, no.

Your eyes are trained

To seek the center stage.

But this is where I stand-

Away from the curveballs,

The fights, the gravel,

Away from the scathing commentator-

The torment of heckles, backlashes

From rash, rabid rivals.

This is where I stand-

Safe and sound

There, but never around.

Because I’m too cautious,

Too scared, too weak to be a part of the game

But too invested to stay away.

This is who I am-

A silent, frenzied spectator.