My blues have come back again,
But, this time, when I try and breathe out of the sweaty summer beehive of worries sitting on my heart,
I feel a wind help me ease out of this violent mesh of stings –
A wind that smells of sprinklers on a dusty football field,
Of dust and sunlight shaken out of a curtain before opening the windows to another day,
Of coffee, in little Styrofoam cups, the milk a little too rich,
hidden, like forbidden treasure, on the last bench before a particularly boring lecture.
‘The wind beneath my wings,’ as one of our professors had told us of his college days.
I am stronger now –
If time-travelling post-boxes were real,
then this is how I would have started the letter that the eighteen-year-old me would have received
from this pretty, red-and-black, sturdy post-box that stands on the pavement,
just where the road makes a curve from the back-gate, before continuing towards Park Street –
Dear eighteen-year-old me,
I am a better, more fulfilled version of myself now.
Remember how you thought you were a glimmering heap of shattered glass,
slipping through fingers,
making little, invisible scars everywhere?
you are a full-grown vase now –
You can collect the rain in your heart without exploding into splinters.
Remember how you thought
dandelions had no place to grow on the parched crevices of your skin?
you create tufts and petals of dreams every time you breathe now.
And what algorithm did they use to put you together?
How did they place you, line after line, in perfect translation?
What was I thinking when I let myself… run?
I was not.
I was sitting on the edge of the football field –
You know, before they mowed the grass off every year mid-January –
And I was talking about dogs.
I was talking about dogs,
And I was talking about love.
I was talking about a Netflix series on American politics,
And I was talking about faith, food and finals.
I was talking about what to wear on the second night of Xavotsav;
I was talking about solidarity,
And I was talking about solidarity through relatable posts shared on Facebook;
And I was talking about how the boys from a certain department never looked in my direction.
I was talking about myself,
in a language that didn’t seem to be my native,
but it is the language that I now think in.
The dance of the verbs that are still stuck to my feet,
The silences in between conversation, the spaces between laughter,
The late afternoon walks towards the Metro station which brought the final full stop to the day;
From half-sure confessions to guitar-strings strumming the surest that we could be of ourselves,
my synonyms for bliss were limitless.
Decades from now,
I wouldn’t be surprised if I sustained this vernacular of happiness on my tongue,
The same way, for three years, that it had sustained me.
Dear eighteen-year-old me, I am stronger now.
And I am still that girl who quotes Simon and Garfunkel to save others,
Who comes to morning lectures fifteen minutes early, just in case,
Who loses her mind every time she misses her curfew;
Yet I am that girl
Who can look her mirror reflection in the eyes and say,
“But that is all right.”
I am twenty-one now,
borrowing ink from the horizon to write my epilogue as a college graduate;
Another day has disappeared behind the gulmohars,
As I sat pondering this.
I remember thinking,
Perhaps on the last day of class when we all decided to stay back as late as possible –
How our shadows lengthened every time, when,
With the sunset on our backs,
We walked out of these gates.