The Elements of Universe

1/7

You sit curled up in the abyss of pain,
with your knees folded up against your chin;
you see within yourself nothing, but a void
sweat and blood trace your skin.

When did you last… pause… breathe?
Stay still, darling there are things you must believe
Listen, as I speak.

2/7

You remind me of the mountains;

your bone, your marrow, built with rock and stone;
your spirit, like the mountains; strong, bold;
you are fashioned to fiercely protect everything
that you envelop in your fold;

you are courage.

3/7

Within you I see seas and oceans;

your existence is indispensable to life;
your formless spirit, ever adaptive; lingers;
you are water; the strength that holds ships up
not water; fragile, that slips through fingers;

you are eternal.

4/7

Inside you there is fire;

your eyes burn slow; warm, passionate,
your spirit is ever-glowing, relentless, awake;
you cease existence; you ease existence;
you create and destroy; mend and break;

you are ethereal.

5/7

You contract and expand like air;

you are the slow rise and fall of a breathing chest;
your spirit sings of freedom, and wings
you are motion, commotion, peace, jest;
your presence omnipresent; your absence exscinds;

you are life.

6/7

You are seamless, like the sky;

your spirit is the warrior that watches over the world;
you are made up of stars that guide the night
you are fiercely wild, and fiercely calm;
you house both, eternal darkness and light;

you are incessant.

7/7

You have been created
with the elements of the universe;
the universe has been created
with elements of you.

 

This is a seven-part poem that I wrote earlier this year. When I wrote it, I did not have a lot in mind — it was just another piece of poetry that I had scribbled down on a piece of paper during a boring lecture at college.

It was not until I was faced with a great challenge this year that I realised the importance of this poem — the challenge of self-love.

Most of us have in life, at different points and for different reasons, internalised the notion that we are unlovable. Self-love is an alien concept — it is an idea that was never taught to us. The society with all its institutions has always demanded relentless productivity. It teaches us to be hard on ourselves — to push ourselves even when we are collapsing. Any form of self-love is seen as counterproductive and detrimental; it is seen as an irregularity that needs to be cured.

Amidst this madness, it becomes difficult to be able to look into the mirror and appreciate the tired, flawed face that looks back at us. It is difficult to allow people to love us — much easier to believe that everyone is out there to harm us. We stop allowing ourselves to be loved because we stop viewing ourselves as worthy of love.

We forget that we are not only a product of happiness and optimism, but also death and sorrow. Our darkness is as important a part of us as our light is — it needs to be embraced and loved, not fought and brushed aside. The only way to get up is to acknowledge that we fell down.

Although this poem did not have meaning during that lecture, it has meaning now — it is a message, a reminder, that we are a mixture of so many things, and none of them define us, even when all of them do. We may be tiny and insignificant, but we are here, and within us, a lot to be found and loved.

I hope you read this and are reminded of everything that you are capable of — most of all, love and being loved.

 

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Me Too?

In October 2017, “Me Too” spread as a trending hashtag on social media to denounce sexual harassment and assault. Millions of people came forward with their experiences using this hashtag, highlighting the banality, commonality, and extent of sexual assault.

How do you gather the courage
to say “me too”
when you are constantly asked;
“but did you?”
“are you sure?”
“maybe you imagined it?”

How do you gather the courage
to say “me too”
when you are told consistently
that it is not just you —
“it happens to everyone”
“learn to deal with it”

How do you gather the courage
to say “me too”
and say,
“I don’t want your pity or apology”
“I don’t want you to fix me”
in the same breath?

How do you gather the courage
to say “me too”
after a lifetime of gaslighting yourself;
“it is all in my head”
“it didn’t happen…
surely not?”

How do you gather the courage
to say “me too”
when words are nothing
but a rearrangement of the alphabet,
a sequence of phonetics,
that offer no closure?

How do you gather the courage
to say “me too”
and do you, unlike me,
still have that courage,
when you sit alone,
all by yourself?

How do you, if at all,
gather the courage to say
“me too!”
when your memory
no longer remembers —
only the body does?

When Anxiety Banters With Me

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

It does not tie me up — instead, it seeps in slowly from the pores of my skin and mixes with my blood, warming every inch of my being. It softens my bones and heats my flesh; quickens my breath and lowers my reflexes.

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

Those nights I think of U, where U is the variable for all those pretty eyed boys that I gave my heart to. I close my eyes and focus on U until I can recreate the exact smell that hung between us that summer. Other times I stare into the dark abyss and try to recreate faces too. I then sigh.

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

I try to focus on one thing, failing to focus on any. My cluttered head spills out thoughts on my pillow, staining it with all shades of blue. I feel insecurity dripping down my back like one long thread of sweat. I toss, turn, and wallow in nostalgia. I longingly look at my ceiling, hoping to see stars, thinking of all the bridges that I have burnt.

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

Some have said that I should try and fight it — that if I try hard enough, I will be able to defeat it. On most nights, however, I let it tease me. I invite it for midnight tea and offer it cookies. I let it consume me and break me apart in the desperate hope of feeling something, anything. I use it to escape the numbness in my soul.

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

On those nights, I banter with anxiety.

3 A.M.

The clock ticks loudly,

the window is dark;

and all noon chaos,

has ceased to bark.

Rolling, tossing, turning,

I sigh at my ceiling;

already counted sheep,

now deciphering feelings.

The fireflies are fearless,

all nocturnals awake;

the moon keeps shining,

for autumn’s sake.

Some dreamily snoring,

others drowned in love;

all these loud thoughts,

angels guard from above.

Inevitably, I am too a part,

of this magical possibility;

hoping, waiting, for miracles,

to transcend my reality.

A Woman’s Sexuality

A woman should discover womanhood through her dazzling sexuality —

she should feel power and strength in the phenomenal woman that she is.

Her sexuality and self-awareness must empower her;

a woman should be self-aware of her womanhood.

However, in my world,

a woman is made aware of her womanhood.

Right from her birth, until her death,

with every step, and every breath,

she is time and again reminded of her womanhood.

Her sexuality is condemned,
her liberation is mocked,
her freedom is nabbed.

She is made aware of her womanhood.

When she wants to embrace her desires,
she is reprimanded.
When she submits to the flow of society,
she is subjugated.
Her costumes, manners, and gestures are regulated —

she’s made aware of her womanhood.

They tell her how she is the reason of her troubles;
she must fully dress and slowly whisper.
She must comb her hair and like pink.
And if she’s a feminist,
they tell her it’s a bad thing.

She’s made aware of her womanhood.

She must cook, clean,
and remember her moral duties.
All her life she must strive
to be pretty.

If she gives in, she’s slutty;
if she doesn’t, she’s bitchy.
If she shaves, she’s a wannabe.
If she doesn’t, she’s a rebel.

She’s made aware of her womanhood.

Oh, only if these morons knew that
containing a fire doesn’t end it;
it’s fire, it’ll spread.
You can douse it,
but never kill it.

And if you play too much with it,
it burns down everything
that comes in its way.