The Witching Hour

First I heard of the witching hour, I was ten. That’s a lie. I don’t know how old I was. But I like having an exact time when I talk about important events because I like to think they were monumental enough for me to remember every little detail. Truth is, I never can. I’m sure I was somewhere around ten, but I could also just as well have been twelve. It was definitely after I turned nine.

It was while reading The BFG–which, for those of you who don’t know, is a book by Roald Dahl (a fantastic book, might I add), that I fell in love with those words. The witching hour. Magic and sorcery at its peak.

I fell in love with a lot of things in the books of Roald Dahl. The BFG’s dream-filled jars, the narrator’s white mice from ‘The Witches’, the centipede from ‘James and the Giant Peach’, every single word of every single chapter of ‘Boy’, but the witching hour was, by far, my favourite. Of course, the term wasn’t coined by Dahl but he was the one who introduced me to it.

In the sixth grade, for a creative writing competition, I wrote about an imp and a shoebox and a couple of kids. Heavily influenced by the works of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, and Ruskin Bond. I won third place. Or second? One of those. It was while reading the stories written by my friends (devastated jilted lovers, vengeful enemies, moral enigmas) that I realized perhaps I was a little too old to be writing about magical boxes and shoebox theft. I decided I would write something a little more age-appropriate, something a little more rooted in reality.

Six years later, I still write about magical boxes and shoebox theft–among other things.

I don’t know where this is going.

It was initially just a few sentences on my appreciation of ‘the witching hour’ but that led to other memories.

Now every time I stay up past midnight I imagine dark magic to be at work whenever I hear a dog howl, or a windchime chime, or a cat hiss. Strangely enough, I have very noisy neighbours who seem to come alive as the sun sets and drum up quite the ruckus all night long.

Maybe there’s witchcraft at work here.

The kids never seem to sleep either, you can hear all sorts of shouts every now and then. And a number of cats hissing is also unusual. Do cats generally fight a lot? Is the witching hour real? The place does feel different at night, but maybe that’s just me. There’s something about being awake while everybody else isn’t. I’ve always loved that feeling. I was an early riser as a kid, and it always felt different to lie in bed and feel  the sun come up.

It’s a strangely satisfying feeling.  As if your entire existence is validated simply because you managed to be up before the sun.

Anyway, my A Levels are in less than a month. I’m not sure how maths is going to turn out. I painted a little.

 

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Unravel

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The fan whirred overhead, swirling the mass of hot and humid air around the room, doing little to dispel the beads of perspiration slowly sliding down the foreheads of the room’s occupants.

A thread came undone off the hem of a skirt and the periodic winding and unwinding of the thread around the little finger of its anxious owner grabbed the attention of her two year old son. He flexed his palm in the general direction of his mother, hoping to catch her eye, but her gaze remained unwavering. Her eyes looked to the future, hoping to stare it down; to intimidate it in all its shadowy bleakness; she slowly steeled herself for the signing of the papers. The clock ticked.

One, two.

She could get a job again. She always wanted to work anyway, and this was a wonderful silver lining. Silver lining? Was this a dark cloud, then? But hadn’t she longed for this very thing? Freedom?

But Freedom can mean different things; freedom to and freedom from.

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A Cliche Shaped Hole In The Universe

It’s a little thing that sets it off.

A tiny ripple setting off a tidal wave;

wave after wave after wave of hate.

 

But see the thing is, you have to stop. At some point, you have to stop and be kind because no one else will. So, at an early age you learn to do without. You learn to do without the words of encouragement or support when you can’t ask for them but need it most;  to do without their seals of approval because sometimes they don’t get it—they won’t get it—and it’s not their fault, or yours—some things are just unfortunate like that; to do without the need to talk it out or let it out,

the need for a presence.

And eventually you stop needing those things. Maybe that makes you seem insolent to others; cold, unfeeling.  But it took you a lot of time to deal with the disappointment of not having those things when you mustered up enough of you to feebly ask for them; it took you a lot of time to learn not to need those things, so it’s okay. It’s not their fault, you know that so you don’t blame them or resent them for it. They can’t help the way you turned out.

You learn to be enough for yourself, to be your own support system, to have a mini-you bouncing around in your head doing headstands and shaking pom-poms to lure you into a sense of stability and confidence. You become your own person, and you’re okay.

More than okay.

But like I said, tiny things set it off and out pours the hate. All the chips and cracks  widening into gaping chasms full of loathing. So, so much loathing its pathetic. And you sit in your pool of pathetic  and breathe in the fog and choke and gag, all the while the loathing gathering in momentum. And then it slams into you, the gigantic blob of inky dark exploding all over the walls, seeping into your fractures and settling in deep. And you hit yourself and slap and kick and punch, trying to get it out, but only succeeding in bruising yourself. You stop to take a breath.

And then you think hey, maybe you deserve it. You’re such a cliché.

So you drill in deeper into your bones,  create new chips and cracks and scratches that widen as the hate grows, the inky ball of dark getting bigger and bigger and heavier and inkier; hovering, waiting for the right time, the most devastating time to slam into you again.

But see the thing is, you have to stop. At some point, you have to stop and be kind because no one else will. You are enough. This is your skin and your bones and your blood coursing through your veins.

And then you prop up mini-you again, and pluck out all the knives you stabbed through her heart and dust off the glass pieces from the bottle you smashed into her skull; you wipe off the blood and the tears and the hate.  You apologize and she smiles and you’re okay.

More than okay.

Delightful!—she yells out while cart-wheeling inside your head.

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Yours Truly,

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I Swear I Am

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It was purely by chance.

It’s how all these stories start, don’t they? By chance?

I’d like to say that I had always known. That I’d always seen the hollow space inside him and knew I didn’t fit in there or come anywhere even close to it. I want to say I saw this coming and was prepared.

I didn’t. And I wasn’t.

Every time he looked over or held my hand, I believed it. All of it in all its sappy, sickening glory; the flowers, the candles, the late night pizza, the seemingly random declarations of affection; the fears and the doubts and the vulnerabilities. I was fiercely in love and believed him to be the same.

It’s funny, isn’t it? How I always claim to be so over the big dramatic speeches and sentimental inner monologues? It’s funny—

I’m laughing.

It was by chance. An old photograph fell out—like old photographs are wont to do—out of his jacket…or wallet? The finer points of that evening escape me.

I picked it up. And in the laugh lines I saw who he used to be. In the soft hair falling gently past her shoulders I saw the things he thought he would be and the unfailing optimism he held at twenty one. In the curve of her jaw I saw what he never thought he’d lose. I know what you’re thinking, it was a photograph of a girl, he was nowhere in the picture. But I know him.

I felt like I was intruding somehow; snooping into the life of this strange girl whose private moment lay forever captured in ink, the evidence of her radiant laugh cherished and loved and safe guarded…in my house.

And yet I was the intruder because that girl in that moment had revealed far too much of herself and it wasn’t meant to be etched into eternity in the form of glossy paper. I was trespassing and I quickly put it down on the bed, blank side facing up.

I looked up at him then. He looked sorry, he truly did. He took a step forward, his mouth opening ever so slightly, knowing he had to say something but clueless as to exactly what–and there, right there, the tiniest hint of relief.

And with that he fell to the floor, dead.

Or he would have, if it was possible for someone to die instantaneously of the force by which all my hatred poured out–silent and confused–but raging. Hatred made all the more destructive despite its quiet nature, pure hatred born of love.

I was fiercely in love and believed him to be the same. With me.

It’s funny, I’m laughing, do you see?

Haha.

Yours Truly,

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Of Anniversaries and Acceptance. Not.

Well tomorrow marks a year. I wrote about it the day I found out all those months ago and put it up here but took it down a few days later. Writing was processing and I hadn’t processed it yet—still haven’t but whatever—and so it didn’t seem right leaving it up here.

A woman I know died. Tomorrow would make it exactly a year since she did. At the time I had my boards (this year’s due to start on Monday) and so I wasn’t told about it. I was told she was sick and when I insisted I wanted to visit her at the hospital they said I can after my boards got over. A month and a half later I’m asking papa to hurry up and pulling my mum out the door when she said it.

‘She’s no more.’ Three words. Not the ones people dream of hearing.

She was my mother’s best friend so I had no right being angry at mum. This was hard for her too, but I was. I didn’t like the fact that I had been kept in the dark, that I had no chance to say goodbye or even go to the funeral. I had been blindsided and I had to pretend everything was okay because we were going to her house that day for dinner. I wasn’t allowed to back out so I had to sit at dinner and pretend that seeing her decorated photo on the wall didn’t affect me; that I didn’t want to yell in frustration and tear the garland of flowers off of the frame. But I did it. I got through it.

I forget she’s dead sometimes. Does that make me horrible? I just forget about her death. I often go days without thinking about it. I just don’t understand it. I know it happened; I know how it happened (it was quick and peaceful and painless, thank God) but I just don’t understand how it happened.  How does someone just…?

I don’t remember the last time I saw her. I’m not a sentimental person so I don’t treasure everyday moments or live my days like they might be my last. So I don’t remember the last time I spoke to her. She loved shopping; I hated it so I would turn down my mother’s invitations. I wouldn’t go over to their house much in the last few months because there was always some exam, some test, some stupid project. So it’s entirely possible I hadn’t spoken to her in weeks.

I remember the food she used to make me. We would go at night and her dog would bark and I would say hi to it even though I was scared out of my wits and I would go in and watch tv or play with my sister. I also remember her coming in on Saturdays and bringing whatever she made for us and then sprawling on the bed waiting for my mother to hurry up and dress so they can go to the office. I remember the passionate retelling of stories as I sat in the backseat while mum and her talked and talked and talked. She would repeat “maine bola”(“I said”) over and over again in one sentence when worked up (“I said he was an idiot, I said. He should have made it on time, I said, I said it was his fault, I said”) It was amusing.

I cried properly once. It was weeks after I had been told. I was emailing a friend and we were talking about some random crap and before I knew it I was blurting it all out and bawling like a pathetic child at 2 am.

My best friend prayed for her even though she’s an atheist. She’s nice like that.

She was here and now she’s not and sometimes I forget. That she’s not. There’s a billboard on the way to school with her picture on it (she was quite prominent in some circles) and it got me thinking about how all these people pass by that group photo never realizing that the lady in green is dead. That the smile they see is long gone and there are no more ‘maine bola’s or poha in yellow tiffins brought in hot on Saturday mornings, no soft, warm body and silky jet black hair (as a child with the unruliest curliest mop there is, I always wanted those tresses), and no forced shopping trips.

I’m a mess. Held together by algorithms and logical reasoning that crumbles at the most inopportune of times in the most spectacular way possible, leaving behind a raw, blistering, pathetic lump that flinches at the slightest movement.

There’s a photo on a wall and fading echoes of a few laughs. Because the rest, as Nabokov said, is rust and stardust.

Yours Truly.

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I Spiral, Therefore I Am.

I wish I could be as eloquent about the whole thing as Sylvia Plath  or Stephen Czochywatshisname but I know that’s not happening so I’m not even going to try.

Instead let’s focus on the happy:

I discovered my sister cheats at scrabble today. When I confronted her about it she threw a word tile at me (her chosen mode of communicating that she was no longer going to spend the afternoon placing plastic pieces on a cardboard square) and huffed away to complain about me with Kid #4 who, in turn, had just had a fight with Kid #3. Both of them spent a very pleasant hour listing the shortcomings of elder siblings while Kid #3 and I continued with whatever it was that we were doing, blissfully unaware of the curses being cast at us.

We just played the Game of LIFE and I may or may not have had a mini breakdown somewhere in there. But we’re going to conveniently move past that to the bey-blade battle Kid #4 and I had. He won. I have never known such shame.

We have also recently acquired a plastic tent-playhouse or whatever it is that its called. It was fun assembling it with the cool pre-rain air blowing in.

I have forgotten the art of making conversation now so I think I’ll just go. I apologize for the pathetic-ness of it all.

Sorryaboutwastingyourtimeokaybye!

Yours Truly,

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Because I Said So and Other Crappy Titles

The tea I’m drinking seems to be all sugar. But I drink it anyway because even though it is sickeningly sweet, it is still hot and this is one of those days and I need a hot beverage. Its soothing—even if the excess sugar leaves too much of an aftertaste. I’m having such horrible mood swings. And I’m too blah. I’m always blah, but not as much as right now.

And I was so happy today. There wasn’t any reason for it, I just was. And now I’m not and I’m sick, but in a not-sick-but-still-sick way. The pre-sickness-sick I call it, where my body is just starting to shut down and my mind is only just getting drowsy. I suppose I’ll be proper sick in 2 days. Such a wimp. Me that is, not you. You’re nice with your enviously good, strong immune system which is destroying all antigens like a boss with its B and T cells.

Slaaaaaaaayyyy

I just gave the ‘because I said so’ reason to my brother. I have a brother, by the way. He’s young—younger. About 4. Why don’t I know his exact age? I swear I normally do. But I don’t right now. Anyway he asked me why he shouldn’t wear his shoes on the bed and I said, “Because I said so.”—the pre-sick-sickyness is messing with my patience and reasoning capabilities. I could’ve told him his shoes are dirty and that it’ll make the bed dirty too, or that it’s common courtesy to take your shoes off at the door. But no. Instead: because I said so.

Everyone is going out to dinner. I’m not. Because I said so. All right, I’m not insolent or inconsiderate enough to say that to my mother. I’m just drained. Drained and tired and PSS-inflicted (PSS: pre-sickness-sick, FYI). Not to mention I have an English assignment to do. I’m missing out on good food, though. And if it weren’t for the PSS, I wouldn’t have minded going and just staying up later to finish the homework, because food. The aunty makes good food and she’s nice and her grandkid is the cutest kid I’ve ever met (after my younger brother and sister, of course). But I’m home. Because I said so.

Am I even making sense? I seem very disjointed to me. I was happy and now PSS. So blah much tired.

I haven’t written a story in ages.  I drank all of my tea

I believe in God. I don’t know why I said that right now. As long as we’re getting to know each other, I figured why not? (Not that I ever leave you any time to say anything about yourself here—and no, not ‘cause this is my blog—turf—I’m like that in real life too. Just jabberjabberjabber)

I’m pukish. I’m such a brat when I’m sick/near-sick.  I’m not used to being sick. I don’t handle it well. My skin’s peeling off of my fingers. Does anyone else feel inadequate when their skin is peeling off? Half-done and faulty? Not in a broad, philosophical sense, but in an everyday sort of way.

I have a hair on my knuckle. A singular strand of hair—tiny, disappears completely some days and comes back when I’m not doing so well to kick me down further—taunting me with the utter ridiculousness of its existence.

Because I said so.

Well, buhbye now,

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