Safe Space 

Alternatively titled: A Guide to Giving Good Hugs

I draw you closer, silently urging you to use the stretch of skin between my neck and shoulder as your next hideout from the rest of the world. As you subconsciously comply to my unvoiced suggestion, I will my collarbones to dull their edges for an evening, beg my body to be nothing but an expanse of softness and warmth that I can drape around you like a comforting blanket in the biting cold. I fear that my sharp edges stop you from seeking refuge within the confines of my embrace. I try making up for the shortcomings of my body by holding you with a tightness that one comes to associate with safety, security, strength. I wrap my arms around you, as far as they can go, and let my index fingers find each other somewhere behind you, near the small of your back. I press a kiss to your shoulder, tuck a whisper into the folds of your neck.

‘It’s okay, I’ve got you.’

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Decided to post an older piece while swamped with exams, since I really felt like putting something up. Still working on something new!

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Photograph credits: Sahaj Mamgain (specialisrevelios.wordpress.com)

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Feeling Good

It’s a new dawn

It’s a new day

It’s a new life

For me

And I’m feeling good

~ Nina Simone, Feeling Good


I don’t have excessively high hopes from 2018.
I didn’t wake up the morning of January 1st expecting all my problems to have disappeared; and they hadn’t. The unfinished conversations of the previous day continued to swirl in my mind- and yep, the glaring pimple on my forehead was intact, not to mention my syllabus, still woefully incomplete. The new year is just what it claims to be- a new year. There is no restart button or renewal subscription, just another set of 365 days.
This is why no part of me resonates with the phrase ‘New Year, New Me’…because I’m not new at all. I’m the same person I was on the 31st of December 2017, since I haven’t tried changing at all from then till now. However, the me from that day wasn’t the same as the one who cried her heart out on the first of that month; because she had resolved to change.


I no longer hold much faith in new year resolutions. January 1st is nothing but an arbitrary date, an inane excuse we use to smooth over the chasms of our unfulfilled goals from the past year.  It doesn’t hold any extra possibilities or hope.

It’s a good thing, then, that I attach so much meaning to every single ordinary day. At 12 a.m. yesterday I wished my family a happy new year, but on 12 a.m. most other days, I wish myself (and often others as well) a happy new day.

So no; I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, because my resolutions are created daily. Some time in January this year, I resolved to write. Every time over the course of the year I learned something about myself that I didn’t like, I resolved to change it. When I learned that jumping in my room to a pop song at 2 am is the best cure for a case of unstoppable tears, I resolved to do that. On the 1st of December, I resolved to start a blog- and on the 15th, I did.
This morning, I resolved to write this post; so here I am.


2017 was, without a doubt, a year worth remembering. My diary will regale you with tales of all the low points, but my photo gallery sings songs of some of the finest moments of my life. It’s easy to focus on the positives and negatives; I’ll do neither. The events of the past year are of no interest to somebody who knows nothing of my life. What I’ve learned, however- that’s what I’d like everybody to know.


I litter my surroundings with messages addressed to a version of me in the future. Sometimes I read the little reminders on the post-its on my cupboard 5 times in the same day; other times, I come across a piece of sage (albeit unsolicited) advice buried within an old notebook that I haven’t seen in years. This tendency grew throughout 2017, so I have 10 scraps of thoughts from these various sources that succinctly sum up what I’ve learned this past year.

i) Motivation is self-created.
This is something that came up in my first post as well, and is a concept that I’ve explored thoroughly over the past year. Perhaps the biggest and most important revelation that I’ve had has been this: you can’t sit around staring at your hands, waiting for passion and motivation to knock at your door.
Motivation is self-created; but once you get started, it’s often self-sustaining.

ii) Sometimes, words aren’t enough, and that’s okay.
I’m the kind of person who tries fixing situations and sorting out problems by immediately talking or writing about it. My go-to method for cheering somebody up is a cute, positive note or message; it may not fix things, but you can never go wrong with a little extra happiness. What I learnt this year, however, was that while such gestures may help make people feel loved, sometimes words just don’t do the trick. Also, not everything can be solved by talking things out, so having patience and giving things time are both equally important. Neither of the two comes easily to me, but I’ve done better over the past few months.

iii) Even pseudo-positivity is better than negativity.
Negativity is like a dead weight that settles within me, sinks to the bottom of my chest and creates a rift in the equilibrium of my being. Negativity is a spiral, a hurricane; terrifyingly destructive and pulls everything into it. It seeks me out, but I avoid it at all costs, because a touch of negativity is enough to taint my vision, to add a swirl of darkness to my thoughts. Being an overthinker means that a lot of my negativity is self-created. It also means that the best way to counter it is by churning positivity- and if at times it may be a tad fake, I’d still take that over the alternative any day.

iv) Stability is not stagnation.
We have a tendency to associate monotony with stagnation. If you have a routine, a fixed, stable way of doing things, you may feel as though you’re not progressing at all; and yet, isn’t stability what most people seek in life? To have a stable job, a family to come home to, to be able to know with certainty that you are loved and cherished- that’s stability, and it’s a far cry from stagnation.

v) Say what you mean and mean what you say; but don’t be mean.
A lot of people tell me that I’m diplomatic, or that I choose my words with a little too much care. They’re not wrong. Maybe I’m excessively sensitive to the impact that words may have, but I’m aware of the way even single sentences hold the ability to pierce my heart. People’s words stay with me, they swim around in my mind for days. Sometimes they settle, but always resurface when I’m at my lowest. So this past year, I started making an active effort to pick words that wouldn’t hurt the other.
Also; I don’t hesitate before expressing myself. I gently place my ego to the side, lower my barriers to about midway, and offer my heart to the person before me. Sometimes, it gets a little lost on its way back, but I’d rather it go out and learn more about the world than stay sheltered within the confines of my ego.


vi) Do not let any aspect of your life revolve around anybody else.
This is perhaps the most straightforward of the ten. I have a tendency to associate certain things with certain people, and that works out wonderfully for as long as the two are in tandem. If one falls behind, though, I’m the one it affects- so I resolved to make myself the centre of all my tiny universes, and to keep others in my orbit, as close as possible.

vii) An anchor must learn to sink before it can hold a ship steady.
I actually read this on Shamir Reuben’s instagram, and it stayed with me for days until I finally wrote it down. What does it mean? Are you the anchor or the ship? However you may interpret it is up to you; the fact remains that everything in life has to happen at its own pace. You can’t jump the gun and hope to achieve something beyond your current capability and capacity, but that in no way implies that you won’t be able to in the future.

viii) Self-care and self-love aren’t the same as doing whatever it takes to make yourself feel okay- that’s selfishness.
We often tend to do and expect things that are extremely self-centred, all in the name of taking care of our own mental health. Admittedly, it is justified to expect help and sacrifices from loved ones in order to sustain one’s peace of mind, but to what extent? Just because the option exists, it doesn’t mean that it should always be availed. Take care of yourself in the best way you know how, but don’t expect everybody else to willingly fetch the moon for you; because maybe they will, but then you’ll be so accustomed to that you won’t be able to function without it.

ix) Be the version of yourself that you’d be happy to read about.
This works in two ways. When I re-read things from my past (chats, diaries, letters) I often cringe, and that’s okay, because our teenage years are meant for growth and awkward phases are unavoidable (when will mine end??!). What irks me, though, is that I tend to be disappointed by the kind of person I was or my attitude towards many things in life. I have changed, now; but there’s always scope for improvement, and so my aim remains to be the person I’d find remnants of and be proud of.
Also- if you were in a novel, would you be your own favourite character? If not, let that be the goal.

x) It’s okay to have expectations, but only if you’re capable of meeting them yourself in case others don’t.
We give everybody bits of ourselves. We invest love and time, and we don’t do it for returns, but when the time comes, we do tend to expect reciprocity. As justified as that is, what if this expectation isn’t met? Can you fill the gap on your own? If not, then either lower your expectations or heighten your capabilities; because at the end of the day, you will care about yourself the most.

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All things said and done, I had a good year. It was a year of a lot of introspection that culminated in personal growth. I achieved some long term goals, finally managed to set a couple of new ones, and gained perspective on the perceived enormity of my problems. I loved wholly, with an intensity that is unparalleled. I had a good year, and that’s a matter of my own perspective, so I’m looking forward to 2018 being just as memorable.

Happy new year! 

Metamorphosis 

In my eyes, metamorphosis is the process of a caterpillar finally becoming what it was meant to be all along.

The door swung shut behind her as she stepped into the bar’s dingy restroom, the otherwise stubborn grime of the tiles swiftly making its mark on the soles of her sneakers. The sound of the lock clicking into place reverberated with intense clarity in the tiny space. Her mouth twisted into a rueful smirk at the finality of the sound, of it all. Having shot a disdainful glance at the filthy counter, she lay out a napkin and placed her tiny handbag upon it. The precision of her movements was mirrored in the beat her foot tapped out on the tiles- 12 1 12 123– matching the song that was blaring on the other side of the door, somewhere far away. From within her bag, she drew out a pair of scissors. If her hands shook, her eyes did not register the movement, for they were trained on her reflection in the mirror. She watched as a hand pushed her fringe away from her forehead, as it began snipping away at the curls that once framed her face. A flash of a memory, flickering like the single lightbulb hanging above her head. “My daughter is so pretty, she’ll grow into such a gorgeous lady”

Auburn curls littered the floor, nestled among the tattered newspapers that covered the stains beneath the sink. 

Their eyes flickered downwards to glance at the past, then back at their reflection. Their smirk grew.
Memories now played like a movie reel that’s out of whack, distorted- little snippets of different videos spliced together to form a story that never made sense. “Why don’t you act like a girl?” “Stop dressing like a boy.”- their body lost in the confines of a dress, their breasts seeming foreign unless bound together, their mother finding their tape and crying crying until the tears were running down their face instead, their mother telling them to come back here right now I’m warning you I’m going to countdown from 10, 9, 8-
7
The sound of the countdown grew louder as they realized it was not just in their head, but outside those walls.
6
they ran their hands over their shorn curls, breath catching a little at a sight that had previously figured only in dreams.
5
eyes steady, hands steady, heart trembling. Foot still tapping tapping, spelling out a beat that meant nothing atop a newspaper with words that meant nothing.
4
“19 year old girl missing. Curly auburn hair. Last seen-” no. Those words meant nothing.
3
He placed the scissors in his bag.
2
Folded up the napkin, neatly- the precision of his movements mirrored in the beat of his heart. Hand on the door handle –
1
The door swung shut behind him as he stepped out of the bar’s dingy restroom, finally free of the tiny, suffocating space.
~
All around him, cheers erupted, echoes of happy new year bouncing off the walls. His smirk was back, just like hers- but that was all they had in common. He no longer had to be somebody he wasn’t.
New year, real me.

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[I do not mean to imply that transition is merely the matter of a haircut; it was simply a symbol to represent giving up one of the more quintessentially feminine aspects of being. I apologize if I’ve depicted anything in a manner that may be construed as offensive, or is inaccurate.]


Photograph credits: Sahaj Mamgain 



Free Falling

I’ve never done this before. I’ve never written something solely for a public platform without being pushed towards it. While I’m grateful for every push that I’ve received over the course of my 17 years, almost 11 of which I’ve spent turning thoughts into words by pressing pen to paper, I am starting to realize that there’s a certain exhilaration in being your own motivator. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m so late to the blog world (?); or maybe that’s just an excuse. I’ll tell you all about it- let’s start from the start.

The first question, however, is this- why do I have to tell you my reasons? Maybe none of you even wondered why I suddenly chose to start this blog. I bet at least half of you (assuming enough people are reading this that halving is possible) think it’s a sham, a big fat lie that’ll make for a beautiful college application.
Regardless of your thoughts (or lack thereof), I have an inherent need to constantly give disclaimers for my thoughts and actions. I am so afraid of being judged that I thoroughly judge myself and figure out all the possible faults that others could find; then I turn my back on myself and proceed to shamelessly provide justifications to a group of strangers who probably couldn’t care less.
Tl; dr? It’s an unhealthy practice, and I’m working on it- but for now, allow me to tell you what made this blog finally come to life.

I’m good at writing! At least, that’s what I’ve been told all my life, ever since I was 6 and won a prize for my very inquisitive poetry questioning the reality of the universe, aptly titled “I Wonder Why”. Clearly, my genius shone through right from the start. Every poem I wrote was appreciated, so in turn I weaved poetry about everything. Mother’s Day and we forgot to buy a gift? No problem, mom loves my poems. Finished my exam early and can’t leave? Let’s wax poetic about a lion and its pride on the back of the question paper. Have a cold? Feel jittery? Every problem had a solution…and a couple of terribly framed stanzas to lighten the intensity of my emotions.

You might ask (yes, you! The friend/family member reading this out of the goodness of your heart) where all this talent went. Practice makes perfect, right? So where’s your recently published book of poetry, Svasti? What happened?
First of all, oh my god who just asks that kind of stuff, obviously this is a really sensitive subject, man. Secondly, the truth is, I don’t know. Of course, one part of it is that I truly lacked the poetic way of thinking that translates into beautiful, flowing free verse. Metaphors elude me; flowery language is of no use in my unskilled hands. So either I wasn’t meant for poetry, or poetry wasn’t meant for me- but as for when this realization struck, I genuinely have no clue. It’s funny how some of the most prominent turning points in our lives pass without much hue and cry. The Svasti who once dreamed of writing and creating magic was suddenly too afraid of her own words. The pen I once wielded with all the confidence in the world, now shook in the loose grip of my trembling fingers, as I struggled to form sentences that I could be proud of. Maybe it was the world that got to me; or maybe it was myself. Either way, I became conscious, too conscious, and lost the motivation to write, for I didn’t see the point of putting effort into something that gave such a disappointing end product.

Fast forward to MUNs, and trying my hand at writing in a new context. At the start of this post, I mentioned having been pushed to write, and while I received innumerable such pushes, the one that got me into writing at MUNs was among the most important. I went from writing for myself in my journal to suddenly seeing my words in print. I found that I’m not half-bad at writing articles, and good feedback gave me the motivation I needed to keep at it.

Around this time last year, I started writing a little bit for an online magazine called The ‘Zine. I started by writing short pieces for their Instagram, and also wrote two articles for their website. Needless to say, I was on top of the world. It felt like a reunion with an old friend, a reconciliation with words that no longer fled the second I tentatively beckoned them over. I was writing regularly, I was loving my own work, and I was receiving feedback and praise from people I looked up to. I genuinely thought I’d finally found my calling, that I’d figured out how to be one with my words.

I was wrong. In my excitement, I had forgotten to take into account my own lack of dedication that surfaces in the absence of passion. That’s the truth- writing has never been a passion, merely a hobby, something I’m good at but not driven by. So with a short lull in writing for The ‘Zine because of exams, I lost my momentum, and without the usual push, I wasn’t able to regain it. Writing these words now is devastating, because there are tiny voices in my head constantly berating my stupidity. The truth is, I’ve always had it easy! Not everybody’s lucky enough to get these pushes, this encouragement, the kinds of opportunities that I’ve been showered with, right from day one. I grew too accustomed to doing what was easy, to giving up when I was too afraid to follow through on my promises. I told myself, ‘I can and will do this. I’ll text her today and ask for a chance to write something. Then I’ll write it and she’ll give me another prompt. I’ll make it a daily thing, I’ll get used to it and then I won’t feel like I lack passion.’
Yet, when the time came, I backed away from the challenge, head hung in shame. I procrastinated for hours on end, weaving dreams of the following day from the threads of hope that glistened in the light of the day. In the night, I slept. Rinse and repeat.

My expectations from myself have always been sky-high, and my opinion far too low. Their inability to be congruent leaves me torn between wanting to be the best version of myself and being unwilling to do anything. Call me lazy- because I do. I don’t shy away from the truth; I just wish self-awareness always translated into self-improvement.

All these are stories of the past. I continued my MUNing, but whenever I served as an Editor, I felt like a farce, a sham. I kept waiting for somebody to see through my facade, to question me- “You’re a writer? What have you written?”
I was swirling in a spiral of shame and disappointment, 24/7, and didn’t have the motivation to pull myself out. My friends would ask me- “Hey, do you still write? What happened to that ‘Zine thing?” and I’d slink away to take refuge in the shadows of my ego, swiftly triggering all my defence mechanisms. Every application I filled, I mentioned my achievements in the fields of ‘creative writing’ and let my tears silently berate me for my half-truths. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

I wrote tiny poems for birthday letters and reveled in the appreciation that it fetched me. I told myself that it was okay, and that perhaps I was never meant to write more than enough to put smiles on my friends’ faces. I told myself that I lacked passion, and what use is talent in the absence of passion? So I resigned myself to a life wherein my words would be limited to my journal, letters, and the occasional attempt at an article.

What of this, then, you must be wondering? Why this sudden blog post? Well, my reasons are two-fold (which means this post isn’t quite done yet, but please stay, I’ll give you chocolates if you read till the end).

First- I always wanted to start a blog. When I initially learned what a blog was, I figured it was the best place to store my words. Why didn’t I, then? Maybe it was because I wanted to arrive at that conclusion on my own, and not because a well-wisher suggested it. Or perhaps because I’m (as previously established) quite lazy. Or, maybe (and probably) it’s both of these reasons, combined with the fact that suddenly, everybody around me was coming out with blogs of their own and their words were at a level that I could only dream of. I know, I know, practice makes perfect; but I was too scared to even try. So I didn’t. I convinced myself that blogging had become a fad, anyway, so it wasn’t something I was interested in. That didn’t change my inner desire to create a blog of my own- reason number one as to why you’re reading this today.

What’s most important, though, and perhaps truly motivational for you if your thoughts match mine in any way at all, is reason number two, which was also an epiphany- passion isn’t for everybody. In fact, passion is overrated. You can’t just sit around staring at your hands, waiting for something to show up that you’re truly passionate about. If you’re good at something and it interests you even a little, don’t use a lack of passion as an excuse to avoid hard work. I know this seems like a simple fact of life, and not something that should’ve taken me years to realize, but it’s easier said than done. I’m finally trying to stop talking and start doing something, anything.

This blog was not created on a whim. It’s the product of years of over thinking, tear-stained pillowcases and trembling fingers. This is me trying to overcome the parts of me that pull me down. Of course, they’re not entirely gone. Even now, the thought of actually putting this out there for the world (or at least a miniscule fraction of it) to see, is one that literally makes a shiver travel down my spine. As much as I desire strength and confidence, it’s difficult to procure from thin air. The irony of the situation is that the more I write, the more confident I get. All I need is that one push to get me started. This is it. I’m pushing myself- let’s hope my words will catch my fall.