My Daily Explosions

The smell of rain. The feeling of a cold metal glass against my lips. That letter I wrote years ago. The sound of that song from that TV show.

The color of your eyes. The distinct smell of her dubatta. The taste of home. The cold air against my cheeks. The hand that let go.

The call of the jalebi vendor. The blur of flying dust specs. The familiar walk to school. The sun singeing my skin.

Looking back and finding him gone. Searching for Mama’s eyes. The braid I could not do. The crisp sound of the Jummah azan.

The are just some of the sensations that explode within me.

These are just some of the memories that define my life.

via Daily Prompt: Detonate

A Language Klutz

Learning a new language makes you wonder if you are allowed to keep a cat as a pet when it starts raining cats and dogs. 

It requires you to break apart the good old Subject-Verb-Object and put that Verb at the very end of the now Latin sentence.

And sometimes drop the Object before the Subject… and other times to misplace the Subject altogether because, after all, it’s understood, understood?

Learning a new language requires you to learn a new title for each of your uncles to distinguish them as matrimonial or patrimonial and then by age relation to your father. Or sometimes it makes you wonder why everyone calls every uncle just “uncle”.

It requires you to learn that the proper way is not “She do” but “She does”. Not “They does” but “They do”. Even though the “they” is the plural and you thought it is the plurals that go with the s’s.

And after you finally memorize that “I” goes with “do”, you are told that you must say “did” if you have already done it.

Oh and just because you done it, does not make “I done it” proper.

More importantly, it does not matter if after all your hard work, your grammar is flawless if you think “The dishes are bad” is a proper way to talk about the food that you serve on those dishes. Even if you have grown up saying “Mom I love the dish you made tonight” your entire life.

Even if you have grown up saying “Mom I love the dish you made tonight” your entire life.

Learning a new language requires you to learn the difference between think and think. Think. Is not think. Still don’t get it? Well… I guess we understand you when you say “think” instead of “think” so its okay.

Learning a new language requires you to be a certain kind of clumsy. It requires you to fall, to blush, to get back up and keep walking. Or sometimes just… sit down.

You see, learning a language does not just require you to be clumsy. It requires you to embrace that clumsiness. It requires you to talk to people even when you can see the confusion on their faces. It requires you to translate things literally and be embarrassed… or to have an accent and worry about not being understood.

Learning a new language requires you to know it’s not always easy because learning a language does not just equate to having to learn the vocabulary or the grammar but also a culture, a way of thinking, a way of life.  

Learning a new language requires patience. Because it’s okay to be clumsy. 

High-functioning Anxiety

I recently watched a video about high-functioning anxiety and it really resonated with me. It taught me what high functioning anxiety looks like. High functioning anxiety looks like achievement. It looks like normal.  It looks like calm. And to me, that is what makes it so dangerous.

People often have an image of someone closing themselves off or being unable to smile whenever they think of anxiety or depression. But mental disorders do not have to look like that. It scares me to think of the number of people who live their lives with battling thoughts every day. The number of people who keep telling themselves that they are okay because they can get up every day and make it out. The number of people who are scared of “faking it”. The number of people who are battling over every single decision just to make sure they don’t mess up. It scares me.

I will not self-diagnose myself… but I will say that I know what it feels like to constantly try to make the right decision. To try to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good sister, a good person… and believing you are not one when the smallest thing goes wrong. I know what it looks like to be careful at every single minute of your life… yet to pretend that you are the most carefree person out there and smile. I know what it feels like to dance in the rain and feeling joy… and knowing that a small part of the joy comes from the knowledge that no one will be able to see your tears if they accidentally escaped your eye ducts.

I lost myself somewhere in the battle between careful and carefree. But I find myself every day so it’s okay.

Just please be aware that a smile can hide a million things and always be kind to each other and yourselves.

The Changing Shades of Pink

I am darn sure those flowers were pink, no matter how many times Google images brings up the images of dark red flowers when faced with my search “pomegranate flowers”. I remember the trees towering over me in my youth. I remember trying to climb them to get the fruit. I never succeeded.

My childhood was filled with many hot days and hours and hours of running after my siblings under the shade of our ever growing pomegranate trees. Those pomegranate trees are gone now. My grandfather got rid of them the day after my dad left for the US and we left to go live with our grandma. They required too much care that no one could provide them.

I do not know if they would have been able to survive had we left them there and I guess I never will. All I know is that part of the sweet emotion that runs through me when I hear the word “nostalgia” is the sweet yet tangy taste of the pomegranate seeds from our trees.
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Nostalgia is trying to climb up those trees and reach the fruit hanging from the limbs and never being able to make it.

Nostalgia is catching the pomegranates as our father threw them to us from the top of the trees that we could never reach.

Nostalgia is racing with my siblings to see who could get the most pomegranates.

Nostalgia is bringing the pomegranates back to the kitchen, where our mother sat, criss-cross apple sauce style, and peeled away at the pomegranates because our fingers were not quite strong enough to peel the thick skin just yet.

Nostalgia is spinning under the trees that now bore pink flowers instead of the red fruit and trying to catch the petals that came down despite the defiance of the wind.

Nostalgia is elusive, just like the colors of our pomegranates.

Unity

The prompt “together” reminded me of a story I had been told as a young girl. The story that has stayed with me since today. A story which had implications I hadn’t thought about.. A story of a lumberjack and his five sons.

There lived a lumberjack who was extremely old and knew he was to die. He had five sons who never got along. He wished to teach them a valuable lesson so he told them each to go and get two sticks.

Being obedient sons and knowing their father would not live long, all the sons went and got two sticks. The father then asked each son to break one of the sticks that they had gathered into two halves. Each son easily broke one of his sticks.

Then the father asked them to hand the remaining sticks over and tied these sticks with a string. He handed the bundle of sticks to his oldest son and asked him to break it. He tried as hard as he could but could not break the bundle of sticks. The father asked the bundle to be passed onto the second oldest and asked him to do the same. He, too, could not break the bundle.

The bundle of sticks made its way from son to son but none of the sons could break the sticks. After the last had tried and failed, the father smiled and asked the sons if it was easier to break a stick at a time or five together. The sons answered one at a time and the father said, “There is power in unity”.

The sons lived as one even after the father’s death.

This story is one of my favourites to this day because I truly believe in the power of unity. I had once been made to question the validity of unity when in freshman year of high school, I learned that Mussolini’s symbol of fascism was the fasces: a bundle of sticks tied together to  depict the strength of unity. I don’t remember if I laughed or choked. I think it was some mix of those.

It is fascinating to see the two depictions of the very same concept. I am not one to say that one is right and the other is wrong. I just know that to me, there is power in unity. There is beauty in unity. But just because something is part of a whole does not mean it is not whole itself.