road to nowhere

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When I am on the road, on foot with sore soles or on vehicles, slouched against seats; viewing proud, towering skyscrapers; hearing a cacophony of impatient sighs and traffic noise and snippets of conversations all dull and warm and deep, is when I feel alive the most.

There’s a certain feeling of purpose within each distance covered that even the most mundane of errands feels like a quest. Being around the presence of other people grounds you to the fundamentals of nature and society: here we are, in a chaotic world, trying our hardest to systemize and organize what little we can. Realizations that, as a whole, seem to whisper to me, goading me on: You are here. You are here. You are here.

No human being was ever created to settle. From the very beginning of civilization, we stay where we have what we need and where we may be needed. Over time, resources deplete or needs are modified and changed and we wander farther. One step out and there’s the feeling of liberation – our homes are far from being prisons, depending on an individual’s perspectives, but just one step out, and another, then another, until we are further out from our comfort zones of built routines around the basic necessities of human survival and there is freedom in where I can go and what I can do and who I’d stumble upon. I am awake, and life is no longer waiting to happen or merely happening upon me. I’m making it happen. I’m making the choices. I am hopeless when the slightest and smallest of things slip from my fingers, reminding me I am not in charge of fate – there is nothing you can do – but then, I’m reminded I can, however futile, take charge of my own.

I have the promise of purpose somewhere.

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Calypso

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If there should be something that you must remember,
it is this: you are one of the many lovers
sinking their toes into the smooth sand of this isle.
I don’t say this in order to dull the fire
that we have stoked to flames, caressing the heavens –
but to confess and to stand witness to these piles of ashes.
soon you will leave, like the rest of your brethren,
to fulfill one of the Olympians’ worst curses:
inevitable love, the promise of loneliness;
my island a mere rest stop to your epic quests;
when you venture to the seas, gone the 0
(of us, of me) will be. you are a kind guest,

so please: keep your distance. let your sweet, sweet words fester,
on your tongue with your wistful desires- forever.

Photo credit: Tim Lane (British, b. Cheltenham, England, based Bristol, South West, England) – Sophia  Drawings: Graphite, Pencils, Paint on Paper

A Heart in Diaspora

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I have come to know only two seasons, like the soil that bore me to fruit:
one, of suffocating warmth and heat; and two, of vengeful tears of angels from the heavens I magine to exist.

It is possible for the mind to wander,  but for the body to stay
in one place; exploring kaleidoscopic realms unreachable by human sensibility, living in various fantasies – and I wonder,
then, if our hearts are the same.

For I have loved you with the caress of the breeze of spring; for I fell into an unknown world as easily as the fall of leaves from trees;
for it could only be winter that followed when we both froze at the first taste of the burning cold
our love could hold; for we stood on thin ice, cracks creeping and spreading and taunting by our feet, until, locked in each other’s eyes we move to the ground we must burrow under,
to find warmth together; stoking
a gentle fire for two.

for I have loved you through summer,
when the flowers bloomed once more.
and I must say i will love you over and over,
as the seasons change and i fall and freeze and bloom and my heart will remain
here in a foreign land i only know of not through sight,
nor smell,
nor touch – but of closed eyes and steady heartbeats.

Summer Syndrome

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Paris, and the fantasies of moonlit strolls, nibbling on bread outside of a dreamy cafe, feet tapping against cobblestones. Paris, with its streets covered in filth and the nights taunting crime. The Paris syndrome, where psychiatric breakdowns are caused by the reveal of the shocking reality of the dream city, is something I mull over. I thought about it, hair tied up in a bun, my eyes squinting at the odd juxtaposition of the brightness of the sun enough to blind me and the threat of rain just a few miles over. 

Summer entails mornings where you wake up with a parched throat and hair sticking to the back of your neck; your body sticky with sweat. It’s also the season of travelling, bodies bared glowing sunkissed, sipping from entire coconut fruits and taking endless video loops of your feet barely in the sea. It’s flowers in long, flowing hair and love found during beach bonfires that disappears as soon as the rain starts pouring. It’s the days where the slightest breeze feels like a blessing and being under the sun at the strike of noon a curse. It’s when the children run free on the streets and plastic cups filled to the brim with milk and ice are spotted on every street corner; it’s when the days seem longer, as if God willed the hours to go past twenty-four. It is these things, and so much more, but it is never the frightening amount of gray clouds that start to obscure the distant roofs of homes from your view. Yet the latter is what I first cast my eyes that afternoon, barefooted and groggy from siesta, on what was reported to be the first day of summer. 

Umaambon!” a child screamed, and three more snickered as if the announcement emboldened them as they ran across the street. I gazed down at a puddle underneath the shade of a store, holding an ice cream cone, and when the first drops of rain in turn made ripples I ducked my head further in defeat. I headed for home. It is not in nature to keep promises they never made. It is always in a frenzy; always brash, and how foolish of us to think it will the act the way we expect to because we said so.

Summer is freedom, and warmth, and happiness – yet the raindrops beat on the roofs loudly, like a vengeful lover, demanding that you remember her; like that small detail you chose to overlook but never do, your own eyes betraying you. It is the rattling reality check to the delusion; the lure of summer; the impossible fantasy. You do know that it is fleeting. Storms and frosted windows and floods drowning many last breaths as the bed takes on the shape of your body, eyes burnt blind from all of the screens’ glare are more common; less enticing, but you’ll choose to look at the neon lights reflected off puddles of rainwater and the lullabies of drizzles at night.

You’re a glutton for romance. 

Anchors Away

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a ship sailing out to explore oceans
uncharted will have crashing,
disruptive waves, apocalyptic; premonitions
beginning of endings in foreboding.
my love, you will get through this in the same way you learn to sleep through thunderstorms and rough journeys,
awakening to welcome the next day’s
gift of warm sunlight, clear skies, and smooth seas,
starry nights and views that are of a dream:
with knowledge that it will pass eventually –
with all hope redeemed.

Behind the Words

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As a child, I was preoccupied with the idea of “discovered” writing. I had been writing in diaries ever since I was six, and growing up, I was fascinated with the idea of a stranger reading it. The fascination turned into writing diary entries addressed to the reader, and every time I started on a fresh, new notebook, I’d write: “To you, dear reader, this is my mark in the world.”

It was nothing but some fancy sentiment for a nine-year-old then. Now, I think it was the beginning of awakening to what had pulled me to write in the first place.

I see initials carved into a tree with a heart locking it in. It’s not a testament of love, but a testament of fear: at the fact that the only thing constant in the world is change, that what and who you hold precious now will, inevitably, become obsolete.

Even in graffiti, even by children holding crayon and coal and chalk, inscribing ways of life and names on walls, and myself, feverishly writing miniscule details in journal entries, addressing the reader over and over; in love letters, where, as a romantic touch, I write that memories may fade but ink never will: there is an acknowledgement of the universal, centuries-old fear of demise and disintegration; of feeling like a mere spark in a bonfire; a speck in the world.

In whatever way, we write to cope, to commemorate, to prove: this is us. We exist. Let us tell you our stories. Let us carve our names into your skin.