Half and Half 

It shall always play out this way – you will meet someone new and they will fill your heart with joy, with hope, with butterflies.

You will be given new books, new music, and new stories to savour. You will relish each, slowly, chewing till the taste fills your being.

You will stay up nights, thinking. You will spend days, longing. You will smile more. You will shine a little more. The birds will sing. Violins will play.

Change, however, is eternal, and thus the wheels of change will move yet again –things will start falling apart. You will try to put them in place; frantically. You will race against time, you will push and pull – all in vain.

The atheist in you will pray; the numbness inside you will weep; emotions you didn’t know you had will surface. You will curse the day it all began.

You will find closure, though – of course, you will. They all do. It will heal. You will let it go. One day you will wake up and the emptiness won’t be the first thing that you feel. It will begin to get better.

And then, one day, as it rains and you travel with the wind blowing in your hair, a familiar song will play on shuffle.

A familiar song – one that came to be half-forgotten. Half savoured. Half-sung. A song that will sing of a time long gone. A time that was only half yours.

Loving An Emotionally Unavailable Person

Disclaimer: It sucks

Visualise yourself on a beach. Breathe in; slowly, deeply. Feel the sunlight on your skin; warm, tingly. Feel the cool wind in your hair; damp, sweet. Feel the peace inside your soul; fulfilling, whole. At a distant, you see a wave. Violent and gorgeous, it makes its way towards the shore. It washes over your bare feet, enough to overwhelm you, and then fill you with longing. You want it to stay, but it withdraws. Before you know it, the wave is a part of the sea again –the only traces of it ever being there are your damp feet and the washed sand.

That is what it feels like to love an emotionally unavailable person.

They will wash over you and catch you unguarded with their charm and eccentric aloofness. You will want them to stay, very much, at that. Before you know it, however, they will withdraw and join the sea, leaving you alone, damp and dry.

Loving an emotionally unavailable person is brutal, painful, and devastating. You will keep running and chasing endlessly. You will go over the top and do everything in your capacity to win over them. You will go on and on, hoping, wishing, that one day they will stop, turn back, look at you, and give in.

Spoiler: They most probably won’t!

If you have ever loved an emotionally unavailable person, you would know. They will keep you on the string –close, but not too close, far, but never too far. Usually charming, and good lord mostly seductive, they will sweep you off your feet and steal your heart. You will spend nights trying to replay events in your head but you will never figure out what it was about them.

Guess what? It is their unavailability itself that draws you towards them.

You will also be either told early on, or you will notice for yourself, that this person is… broken. They are distant and sceptical. They want you, but they don’t. They will always maintain a safe distance –close enough for you to long for them, far enough for them to remain inside their shell.

Remember the wave I told you about? The gorgeous, violent wave, that overwhelms and then withdraws? Makes better sense now, doesn’t it? Just like the wave, they will also come back in intervals –coming and going, but never leaving or staying.

It will feel like a game.

Loving an emotionally unavailable person will keep you frustrated –guessing, weighing, and constantly shuffling. You will introspect and look in the mirror. There will be days that you will need them but not have them. You will look at yourself and wonder if there is something wrong with you. Here you are, laying out your soul on a platter for somebody who doesn’t seem to melt. Surely, there must be something wrong with you.

Reassurance: It’s not you.

It’s them –trust them when they say that. They are hurt, broken, and reeling from a time that has scarred them for a long while, or perhaps just for now. In fact, perhaps they aren’t hurt at all –there is a good chance that they simply do not want to commit, no matter what the reason. That is the problem, right there; they do not want to commit.

You can bare your soul and put all your love on a platter and it would not matter one bit if the other person does not want it.

You will continue loving them nevertheless. They are mysterious and broken. Sometimes they will let down their guards and let you touch their insecurities and feel their vulnerability. Before you know it, they will withdraw again. This will drive you crazy and make you want to help them.

It will hurt you, seeing them in so much pain. You want to alleviate the pain –you want to fix them. You want to wrap your arms around their pain and cup their loneliness. You want to take care of them and fiercely protect them. You want to, of course, you do.

You will also hope that maybe, just maybe if you are able to fix them, they will love you back. This charming person will turn around melodramatically, look at you, and kiss you hard. They will thank you and remember you as somebody that fixed them and gave them a new life altogether. Perhaps you will go down as their saviour –an indelible mark that all future lovers of theirs will see, envy, and try to erase.

Caution: Your attempts may all be in vain.

Here is the deal with emotionally unavailable people –you can’t fix them. You want to, but you can’t. They need time to themselves, they need their comfort, and they need their space. They will violently protect themselves from any pain that may eventually befall them. If you have the potential to break into their walls, they will violently keep you out as well –silent treatment, narcissism, abandonment, you name it.

Remember: It’s not their fault either…

The most important thing that I have learnt about emotionally unavailable people is that you have to stop making everything about you. It really is not their fault if that is how they are –they have issues, and there are things you can’t fix. You have to live with that.

You also must stop hoping after a certain point. They will probably never reciprocate what you feel simply because they enjoy the chase. They do not wish to commit, but they long for the affection. They will keep crawling back to you for the endearment and vanish as soon as their tank is filled.

It sucks so much, of course, it does, but it is not their fault. You were drawn to them, remember? You picked this battle in the first place.

Warning: Somebody else may come along and replace you… easily.

You pursue them relentlessly because this chase makes you want to fight. You want to fight and win them over. When they pull away and withdraw themselves, you will think over and over again if it was something that you did, and before you know it, you are chasing them again.

You want to prove that you are the right one; that you can fix them, that you have the ‘X’ factor. You want to stand out from all the other people that they have loved and lost, of course, you do. You want to be the saviour, the rescuer, and so you will chase and pursue.

You will romanticise them before you realise it; they will become perfect inside your head. You will be greatly attracted to that aloofness, that detachment, and that despair. You want the drama, the love, the comfort. You want your investment to give you returns.

Here is something you should know, then –your investment will most probably never get returns. There is a high chance that someone else will come along and melt them and ‘fix’ their unavailability. They will suddenly commit and do all the things you thought they were incapable of doing. Before you know it, the sun has vanished from the beach –there is only a storm now.

Here you should do with some fresh perspective:

An important aspect of loving emotionally unavailable people that we easily miss –it is more about your need to be identified and validated than your love for them. Think about it; why else would you keep running towards somebody that mostly treats you as a vent?

They will keep coming back to feed off your low self-esteem. Their mixed signals will make you so desperate and hopelessly dependent on the hope that maybe they will decide to reciprocate one day. This will make letting go extremely hard. You will keep wishing that they will return to who they were or give you the affection they had once given you in a fit of vulnerability.

Here is the deal, however. That perfect version of them? It only exists in your head.

All you have to do is let go of your expectations and humanise them inside your head. Stop over thinking every little thing they say. Stop trying to find meanings that don’t exist. Stop trying to look for meanings at all.

Just because they are aloof and chose to let their guards around you for a while shouldn’t serve as an achievement for you –don’t live with the false hope that you are unique enough to win over this person. It isn’t that you are not unique; it is only that an emotionally unavailable person is the worst meter to gauge your uniqueness.

Solution: Let Go

Yes, there was a lot of effort that you put in. You spent hours and hours playing the ‘game’, drafting the perfect messages and hanging on to their words. Yes, you laughed at their jokes, pretended to agree with most things that they said, and had intense, emotional conversations. The effort was too much, of course, it was. Here is the reality, though –it was a one-sided effort. They fed off your attention and in all honesty, the reciprocation will perhaps never come. So let go because this person has a lot of baggage and you are not going to be the one to help unpack it.

Stop chasing and pursuing –it is all fun and games in the beginning, but it will become a negative cycle before you even know it. They will come back to you every time they need emotional support and before you know it, you will begin feeling drained. Stop giving and start saying ‘no’. Realise that by saying no you are not hurting them –you do not have to fix everyone and everything.

If there is somebody that constantly makes excuses and withdraws from you, leaving you hanging, alone, and upset, you need to stop feeling responsible for it. Everybody here is a grown up and they need to act like it –be kind, be human, and try and help, but do not, I repeat, DO NOT, become a mere channel, whether physical, emotional, or mental.

Here is the wonderful thing, though;

You can kick back with a good drink and some good food. An emotionally unavailable person is challenging to love, and it is wise to accept that more often than not, you are going to get your heart broken. So realise early on that it is not about you –you are goddamn awesome.

Channelize your affections elsewhere and work on self-love. Before you know it, the storm will pass, and the sun will tingle on your skin again.

Letting In

Letting go is widely spoken of –there are books, movies, speeches, music, and experiences (I have, like most others, touched upon it as well: Learn to Let Go). It is an important part of life and the relationships that we build with others. The process is painful, bittersweet, and at the end of the day, extremely liberating.

Lately, however, I have been thinking about how beautiful, bittersweet, and tumultuous, letting in can be.

Here you are, enclosed in your space, with walls that you have built with bricks made of your fears. You exist within the walls to guard yourself against the pain that eventual letting go brings –to avoid the letting go, we build a wall that keeps us from letting in. It is our own safe space that is set to our comforts, expectations, and intensity. It is a space that has no surprises –everything is, at least on the face of it, under control.

People, however, are like rays of the sun; they creep in through cracks before we know it. It doesn’t take much, either. All it often takes is a smile, a gesture, or some kindness. Before you know it, your wall is cracked, your fears are realised, and your life spins out of the false sense of control that you had instilled.

As far as I am concerned, I resist. I frantically run around, trying to place the bricks back into their places. I try mending those cracks by pushing people away or shutting myself further. I run, I scream, and just throw my arms up in frustration. It is, after all, quite frustrating –letting in is not easy.

It is also often inevitable, this letting in. Some people just make it through before you know it. You stop resisting after a point –you fall into routines. There are patterns, jokes, secrets, and unloading of baggage. Nights are painted with secrets and days brim of laughter.

When we let someone in, it reflects in our lives. We have new ideas and new thoughts. We are exposed to new versions and a new world. We pick up their words, their styles, their thoughts. We find new things to laugh about, new stories to ponder upon. There is new music, new movies, and new books. There are new places and fresh experiences. There is shyness, comfort, and gradual treading. There is fear, insecurity, and curiosity, all laced with a weird sense of happiness. There is the birth of something new –something that has not existed before. You discover a new part of yourself.

This doesn’t really have to be romantic either. This is simply what letting in feels like –it is a new day, each filled with adventure, new thoughts, and immense self-growth.

It is not easy to do, not at all. It is also, for most bit, inevitable that at some point this letting in will transform into letting go. Change, after all, will always be the course of nature. What is important, however, is to wake up each day with a smile to remind yourself that at this very moment, something amazing is happening to you. Remember that you are creating new memories, new stories, and for all you know, new relationships.

Sure, it might hurt later –when you hear those songs again, or those jokes, or references, or perhaps simply their name. There may be triggers, tears, and something inside you may break. There is a risk, there always is.

What should keep you going, nevertheless, is that all of this adds up to what life really is. Each experience, each letting in, and each letting go, eventually becomes a part of the big book called Life. When you are older and in a different phase, you are going to look back at these little moments and know that these are what made you who you are.

Whoever we let in, big or small, influential or not, romantic or platonic, they change us. They become a part of us. Wherever you go after that –whether together or apart –you will carry a piece of them with you. They will be a part of you and you, of them.

To think of it, maybe letting in isn’t so bad.

Violence Against Women: Public and Private Spaces

November 25 is the International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women. Did you know that over 848 women are harassed/ raped every day in India?

A total of 3,37,922 cases of crime against women were reported in 2014, 9.2% more than 2013. These are only reported cases. In a study conducted by International Centre for Research on Women, 65% of males believed women should tolerate violence to keep the family together.

In India, crimes against women include, but are not limited to, dowry deaths, honour killings, female infanticide/ foeticide, rape, and trafficking.

The problem with violence against women is not only that this violence is physical, but that this violence seeps into all areas of life. Because of the stigma that very much exists around divorced women, most women end up staying married for the “children” and the “family”.

This violence does not exist in a physical form alone: there is emotional and mental abuse as well. Women are often denied land rights, rights towards their children, and adequate sanitation facilities. There is an education gap as well. This violence is not limited to rural areas alone: Delhi reports thrice the amount of sexual crimes against women than the national average.

While it’s still common for violence inflicted by spouse/ family to be reported, violence inflicted by boyfriends et al goes unreported. Urban, modern relationships, tend to haunt women more than we realize. This abuse is sexual, moral, mental, financial, and emotional. It is not uncommon for young women to have partners that restrict their dressing style, communication, and whereabouts.

Do you that 41% of Indian women face violence before the age of 19? That is more than 4 women in 10.

Now let me introduce you to statistics that are the reality of most women in the country.

How do women eliminate/prevent chances of violence? Mostly by confining themselves to safe places & compromising access to public spaces. More than 82% women in India have apparently taken steps to protect themselves against harassment. Measures included avoiding parks and poorly lit areas, changing travel routes routinely, carrying weapons, and carrying protective devices (pepper spray etc), among others.

I’m not sure how many of you realize the implication of this: most women can’t access public spaces freely and fearlessly.

Threats to the safety of women are directly related to patriarchal mindsets that manifest itself on streets, at the workplace, and at homes.

This violence has been taken to the next level with unrestricted access to technology: cyber-bullying and harassment. It is very common for women to receive death threats/ rape threats/ verbal abuses online. Extremely common. I couldn’t find elaborate stats on cyber crimes against women because there exist humongous amounts of legal loopholes in the said area.

Nevertheless, in a private research conducted by Cyber Victims, 60 female respondents of 73 total had experienced bad incidents online. 85% received abusive, obscene, dirty messages from known/ unknown senders. 16.7% had received repeated emails from stalkers. 75% of the respondents had received sexually teasing remarks on their social networking profiles. 50% had cloned profiles on the internet.

The biggest problem with urban violence against women is the lack of safe spaces. Most young women don’t have anybody to confide in. Their cries are usually met with victim blaming/ slut shaming. If a young woman is raped by her own boyfriend, it is almost never seen as rape.

What should we do to eliminate violence against women? What should we do in order to provide greater security/ safe spaces?

The first and the foremost step is to begin standing up for each other and against each other, irrespective of class/ gender/ caste. A cry on violence against women can’t be met with “men are victims too”. Of course, they are, but how does that solve violence against women?

It is important to become vigilant. Please be human & look out for women around you. Help your friends break out of abusive relationships. As parents, for the love of God, create safe spaces. TALK to your children. Let them have the confidence that you are with them, no matter what. If you see a woman getting abused in the family, don’t look away.

Stand up, goddamnit. Stand up against emotional, mental, physical abuse. If you are aware of women that face violence, please intervene and help. This is not “ghar ka maamla“. No. If we don’t help, who will? When you are in public, please don’t overlook the man that jeers/ drools at you. Stare right back into his eyes until he looks away.

The solution is not to “ignore” and “get home safely”. The only solution is to fight and to fight together. IDEVAW should be an opportunity to realize, acknowledge, and take action. Help create safety nets and support systems.

Let’s come together and help in returning to women the public and private spaces that they have forfeited because of the fear that exists around them.

The Struggle Called College

This morning I woke up with a brand new realisation; college tends to mess us up in more ways than we actually realise.

So much had been said about college; there would be fun, and friends, and love, and tremendous self discovery. All movies, TV shows, older friends, and books had romanticised the idea of college and the life that it offers. But now that I have spent a reasonable amount of time doing college, I am surprised that nobody warned me about screwed up sleep cycles, food disorders, and emotional trauma.

I spent my freshman year believing that I was perhaps the only one going through this. As time passed, I began to realise how common this really is. College is suicidal. It is a roller coaster ride that only goes up.

You enter a phase where you struggle hard to figure out who you are, but at the same time, externally you’re supposed to look composed and like you’ve got your shit together. You have to worry about grades, assignments, and attendance. You have to burn yourself in order to keep up with being a good student. You need to manage self care, your GPA, and your relationships.

I am surprised that nobody warned me that college is about you losing people; to death, to circumstances, and to other people. Why is that nobody spoke about the break downs, letting go, and lying awake at 4 AM staring into mental abysses. College is low key scary that way.

I have come to realise that it is a rite of passage where you don’t have the protection that school provided and the stability that future will entail. You are a fish trying to find its way in the sea. You are on your own, trying to mould what will mould you.

It is about staying alive and staying sane.

Don’t Give Up (Please)

At lunch time on August 10, I was treating a few friends. We ate our favourite dishes and chatted away happily; occasionally gossiping and majorly laughing. I had no idea, not even in my wildest imaginations, that at that very moment, some kilometres away, a friend of ours, one who we were discussing over noodles and dal makhani, was contemplating suicide.

Only if we had known.

His death was unfortunate, the news shocking, and the feeling unbelievable. He was the happiest, most joyful person we knew. Who knew that that grin was a facade and that those eyes were, in reality, battling depression.

Depression.

It’s a horrible pit, depression. You often find yourself lying on your floor at three in the morning, with dry eyes and a heavy head. You cry for help, often in vain. You scream, shout, and then give up. Some cut themselves, some run-away, some fight it, and some… Some escape it.

I have been depressed too; I think everyone has. What sucks the most about depression is the insensitivity and nonchalance that the society harbours. “It will be all right.” “Don’t think too much about it.” “It’s no big deal.” “Why are you even depressed? There are children dying in Syria”.

It is horrifying, to say the least, how people deal with depressed people. They are ignored, often left to themselves. At times, it is assumed that they are strong enough to face their challenges. Other times, like with our friend, the depression is never noticed by anyone.

I really don’t know the point of this blog post. All I know is that I feel terrible and shaken. It is chilling that someone, who was loved so dearly, had moments where he felt so alone. Haven’t all of us failed him collectively? Haven’t all of us failed in telling him that he is loved, and cared for, and special, and amazing, and everything but a failure.

This is a plea to everyone out there –shut your phone and close your Facebook tabs. Go out and look people in the eyes. Hold their hands, hug them, and talk to them. Don’t fall for their emojis on WhatsApp and don’t buy their “I am fine”. Don’t opt the path that is convenient for you. Do the harder thing –tell people you love them. Tell them they matter and tell them they are awesome. Spend time with your loved ones and kiss them goodnight. Talk to each other and find out about each other. Ask people how their day was. Be there to wipe each other’s tears and be compassionate enough to understand their battles. Pain cannot be measured; no pain is greater than the other. A child being killed in Syria is as bad as someone breaking up a relationship that lasted three years. Pain is the only thing that unites us and it is important that we be there for each other.

For everyone out there who is having a hard time –you are amazing. You are unique and you are beautiful. You have a smile that is heart-warming and you are not a failure. You are loved and adored. You may not feel that way, but it’s true. Your parents love you so much albeit they may have a different way to show it. There is always light at the end of the tunnel; you just got to wait to see it. Keep going, because the world needs you. You’re here for a purpose. All obstacles are nothing but stepping stones. The Otherside awaits you –you have to wait for it too.

I know life becomes crappy and I know that often we feel that this is the end –but it’s not. The bad time passes too, no matter how bad it seems. I never thought I’ll get over a bad relationship, or lost friends, or failure, or losing loved ones, or disappointment. But you know what? I did. Everyone does. You will too.

Please keep going and don’t give up.

Reach out to each other and talk. We’re all in the same boat –all united by pain, fear, and hope.

I wish our friend knew this too.

Marks Don’t Matter

This piece of news is the first thing I read in the morning and I cannot stress enough on how much it disturbed me.

 

May 13, 2016; Hindustan Times

 

A girl studying in Class XI suicides because she fails a Chemistry Exam twice.

Was it really worth it to end your life because of an exam that bears no consequences on your future? Was it really worth it to put your parents through unimaginable pain only because of an exam that will change nothing in your life? Was it even remotely, even for one second, worth it?

It wasn’t. It will never be.
This is a message to all students out there –IT DOESN’T MATTER.

As invaluable as education is, and as important a degree and a good life are, IT DOESN’T MATTER. There are things greater, and bigger, than the three hours you spend trying to score marks out of 100. What matters is how much you learnt. What matters is how much of a better person you became after a certain lecture. What matters is the amount of hard-work you put in.

RESULTS DO NOT DEFINE THE PERSON YOU ARE.

Results only define you on a scale set as a standard by some members of the society. MARKS DO NOT DEFINE YOU.

You do not get good colleges or good jobs based ONLY on your academic performance. Please take this from someone who scored two perfect 100s in her board examinations –IT DID NOT MATTER.

This is also an earnest request to all teachers and parents everywhere in all corners of the world –TELL THE STUDENTS THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER. I am extremely grateful to my parents and my teachers who gave me the space to grow and learn through my failures and setbacks. This is the kind of atmosphere we need for all students everywhere. Students need to be told the truth –YOUR MARKS DO NOT MATTER AS MUCH AS YOU THINK THEY DO. They do hold a lot of importance, but for the love of God, you cannot end your life over an exam that will create a very little difference in the long run.

Please focus on learning and growing, and exams will become cakewalks. Please choose subjects according to your ABILITY and not the society. Science is not better than Humanities and Commerce is not a ‘second option’. Do what you love and excel in it. Make learning interactive and fun, and you will realise that marks DON’T MATTER.

My prayers are with this young student who could have grown up to become an invaluable member of the society. My condolences are with her parents who must be going through ineffable misery.
What only matters is your happiness… Marks do not matter.