How to waste time and other useful lessons



Here’s a list to make myself feel less guilty about waking up very early to do nothing. It’s the Proust Questionnaire –

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Starting the day early

What is your most marked characteristic?
Laughing without intending to

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Saying haha to self-pity

What is your greatest fear?
That my grandmother will lose her memory

What historical figure do you most identify with?
Mickey Mouse

Which living person do you most admire?
Dominique Bretodeau

Who are your heroes in real life?
The women I met at the Dalit Women’s Conference.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Capacity for wasting time

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Capacity for wasting other people’s time

What is your favorite journey?
Science to Arts

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Which word or phrases do you most overuse?
Savarna fuckers, Brahmin bhurjis.

What is your greatest regret?
That for the longest time, I didn’t like myself

What is your current state of mind?

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
Make them Buddhists

What is your most treasured possession?
On most days, the ability to shit well

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Wanting bad things to happen to other people

Where would you like to live?
In an old and crumbling Portuguese home in Goa

What is your favorite occupation?
Popping bubble wrap

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Ability to laugh at men

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Ability to laugh at themselves

What are your favorite names?
Goldie and Dimpy

What is your motto?
Write like a Motherfucker

You and I

I cannot think straight. I can only think in circles and patterns. It begins with an image, a color, a word, a smell and the next thing I know I am weaving or reweaving an old memory, sometimes faking a memory or foretelling it, to heighten the experience of self pity.

There aren’t too many ways to describe a mug of coffee sitting on your table.

It is coffee. It is in a mug. It is on the table. It is either hot or cold. You are either preparing to write or postponing it.

Your phone blinks.

Draw the curtains down, close the door, sit on your bed. The coffee mug is still the same. Repeated images of an overused coffee mug.

The cursor blinks.

You feel useless so you bang your net book shut and watch Gilmore Girls. You try to pick an episode that has Rory either writing or reading. Hopeless attempt. You are angry with her, She studies, she reads, she eats, she drinks coffee but she doesn’t write like write write. You really close your net book now and decide tomorrow will be a better day.

You are riding. And on the road are words. ‘You’ circled multiple times. You are using way too many ‘yous’ in your posts, an ‘i’ looks hurt and is going to disappear. A pothole is overlooked. The vehicle rams itself against it and you wake up feeling demotivated and bruised.

Over due

Nothing like a can of red bull sitting quietly on your table to make you wonder why you take life and phone calls seriously.

I feel combed.

Too many truths I don’t want to see

Too many lies I am trying not to speak

Too many desires I am scared to show

Too many voices I am scared to listen to

Too many glasses I want filled

Too many memories I cannot shake off.

I’m sorry. Long day.

Beyond a point, which is a post twelve something on the clock, the energy to create fake ids on social media dies. Give it more time and the reason why you need these fake ids also begin to die. 

I have never seen a white owl. But I am told they are beautiful, like snowmen.

Neruda said there’s nothing sadder in the world than a train standing in the rain. 

The stomach grumbles, a dog barks, the remote doesn’t comply

My grandfather’s hat sits alone in a cupboard that is opened everyday

He wore it with a safari suit

He didn’t understand why the is pronounced ‘the’ and not thee

Some days my uterus likes to pretend that it is falling down, into gravity.

I don’t want to get married

I wish I were drunk now so this would make sense

But I am not.

I like September. 

Is that water? 

Nothing here

I gruelingly remember my undergraduate years at Jain College. Blow after blow, bully after bully, fight after fight.  A lot of my time was invested in either escaping said bullies or trying to confront them in my head, making speeches. I made terrible friends, wasted all my time in a college that was as aimless as its students. I didn’t know what I wanted from my career. Too much time was spent worrying about potential love failure. Too much more time was wasted in romance that didn’t blossom when it had to.

Being in love can be very exhausting. At 16, the exhaustion seemed weightless.  Also, I was too young to notice that I was exhausted. All my decisions were based on him.  Where we would eat, where we would go for the vacation, where we would make out next, which movie to watch, what lies should I tell at home, what excuses aren’t already taken. Not far behind was also the lurking, overwhelming sense of whether or not all of this was worth it.

I hate to admit, but maybe falling in love at 16 wasn’t really an achievement as I hoped it would be. I must be the bigger person here and also say that mother was probably right. I can never be so sure about this because back then, this wasn’t a house that encouraged a career in the humanities. Marriage proposals from men two decades older than me were considered and pursued with much enthusiasm just because I was anyway a B.A English student.

But my misdirected rage against them was no excuse for having exploited 3 prime years of my life, chasing nothing, but they didn’t seem like nothings then. They were what caused me dark circles – prolonged wait and hope for calls that never came, for text messages that were never returned, for love that remained unrequited long after I was his, and he, mine.

I don’t know how we’ve made it this far; maybe because for a good seven years of my life I gave it all of myself.  With every promise, every wound, every funny story, every fight, every touch. I did write now and then but they were all a bunch of things I could never tell him out loud. Like how much I hurt because of the sudden intense moments of love I often felt.

It doesn’t hurt now because the pain is all too familiar. The love remains and so do struggles of memory and hurt and fear.  I pass by that college every day on my way to work. On bad days, I cringe when I pass by those demon gates, on better days I laugh and feel secretly relieved about the disconnection I have managed with the college and its people.

It’s not as if I have outgrown the girl I was behind those gates. I still run after love in more or less the same ways. Except that my capacity for exhaustion seems to have plummeted down to obscene levels.

N – Nothing

She hated waking up early. But in 2 minutes, she would wake and be fully up and not go back to sleep.

Because there were no happy thoughts to think about anymore, no dreams she wanted to continue while being partially asleep. No big arms, even imaginary ones, to keep her warm. This was it. She had to wake up and move on. Yesterday when he told her that there’s no big a wound that time cannot heal, she wanted to punch him. She knew that in 2 years it wouldn’t matter that she was dumped. But she had to wait to get to those 2 years. She had to wait for bigger and better problems to keep her mind off this and him. She had to wait to be dumped again by a new man to get her mind off this one.

What is it about the smallness of people, their hands, their bodies that seek protection from big ones? What is it about those big arms that you bury your face and your whole fucking soul in? Why is it so hard to let go of them? What is it about those hands that cup your body into a ball and hold you tight to their chest? Why does this leave you more vulnerable than anything?

She pushed away her warm, blue rug and lay in bed trying to let the cold in. It was a cold, cold morning and still dark outside. It was in these few moments that she would decide if she wanted to move on or pull the warmth back on and continue wallowing.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be 2 years, if she could just stop craving for warmth and bigness, she could move on now. This instant.

The Diwan gave a short, deafening screech as she tore her body from the mush warmth of a dozen heaters on the coldest morning ever recorded. Her body was heavy with disapproval and anger. She kicked her bag out of the way and slammed the bathroom door shut. She let out a soft scream when she touched the icy cold water and then she tortured her face with a full blast of that diseased water. She hadn’t cried yet and this was her way of attacking that big lump in her throat that had appeared last evening and was persistently making itself known ever since.

She shuddered with every splash of water that she threw on her face with a force that was hitherto unknown to her.

As she pulled her cycle out at 6.00 AM in the morning without scarf or gloves, she discovered a new physical discomfort and gladly accepted it. It was a great substitute to that threatening lump of ball in her throat. She cycled for half an hour before stopping at the market place which was a whole new world at this hour. It was busy, noisy and smelled like fresh carrots everywhere.

She smiled and looked over the coconut trees to find another ball, only bigger and an orange so red, it hurt her eyes. She shrugged and cycled on. The lump was gone. It would be back in a couple of hours and make rude reappearances in known spaces, in traffic signals, in lonely dark corners of theaters, in sand, in bed, in showers and in conversations but she was OK for now.