i used to be a dreamer
a doer, thinker, wanter
sometimes if i was having a good day
maybe even desirer
however, like everyone else, there will come a day in my life when i will be forced to
between a few things
six-year-old me was fascinated by space
and the universe
and probably a little scared at the sci-fi storyteller's promise that at night the aliens would abduct me
of course, the storyteller and i
were usually the same person
i would choose to read scary books
and watch scary scenes
from scary movies
i remember watching one where a bearded man killed an old, gray-haired woman with a knife
while her grandchild waited outside
i also remember running up the stairs and shutting my door and reading some book
for peace of mind
right now, peace of mind is quite elusive
perhaps this is the course of things, and i should not complain
perhaps this was what had been fated
i no longer find myself surrounded by true fiction
the fantastical lands authors speak of that were supposed to give me hope
end up wounding me instead
because i am stuck and i cannot live there
because i am stuck and i cannot live here.
where do i go?
the paths i do not take will lie as burdens upon my shoulders
the stars will laugh and will scorn me as i trudge along the lonely roads
that are not quite laid with perfection, years ago,
i chose one path
t'was one of the easier ones
one where i chose not to fight for what i did believe in - at least not as much as the others did.
one where i was - as is the common phrase - a law-abiding citizen.
but these were different laws, more fluid, and dynamic.
no permanent harm would come to me if i chose to break them
of course, as you may have guessed, i never broke them anyway
i figured the price i would have to pay for
not breaking the mold
would be a very small one indeed.
turns out all of us want to break molds, and cast new ones in their place.
and if we become famous, by some insidious circumstance,
they will make molds shaped like us.
and they will force their children, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren,
and not-so-great-grandchildren (these they will outline to the entire world)
to break and bend and crush and somehow fit themselves inside
the two-dimensional box i am sure i will turn out to be;
if the boxes of all the people in the entire world were to be placed
side by side, mine would be quite plain:
either everyone would stop by, or no-one would -
a tragedy of life.
a few boxes will be funky, halos stuck onto them with Superglue
flowers sprayed with perfume ("what flowers are these?" "why do you care, they all smell the same anyway,") thumb-tacked into the cardboard
gift-wrapped with sticky wallpapers of nebulae and solar coronae that aren't really as colourful as they seem but the kids don't know that, do they? oozing fakeness; the kids don't know that, either.
neither do the grown-ups. maybe they wished for boxes just like these when they were younger.
maybe they never thought about creating their own boxes.
"when i was small, i was a plain box. nobody liked me. i can't seem to find any plain boxes here;
they're all special. so, you must be special too."
"if you're not special, they won't look at your box, dear."
'How To Make Your Box Special' would be the most watched show on television
school activities would be centred on how to build a great (great!) box.
"first cut the cardboard. make sure you switch the laser off later, so you don't hurt yourself."
"give us money, we'll make your box shine! we'll sprinkle glitter all around yours...and everyone else's, but you won't know until we're done!"
- i chose one path.
it is dry, uneventful, and uninspiring. storm-clouds do gather, but no rain falls.
once in a while, i do get a drizzle, though.
drizzles are on the good days.
on the bad days, even the moonlight burns me.
but on the worst days, there is no moon, only darkness
all-consuming, suffocating, no stars and comets are seen.
tonight i can see the moon, though. is this some sort of omen?
at daybreak i will set out on the new path
to see what i can salvage; is changing sides even possible, this late into
the battle against my own self? but it will do me no good to think about these questions;
i shall sleep.
wake up! a new dawn has come. the sun looks more orange, today - more forgiving, perhaps.
i trudge along -
this road branches into two - on one there is sunlight strong enough to melt my skin
on another, it is raining, and the sun is hidden behind the white and gray clouds. i pick the second one. strangely refreshing, although i am still alone.
wildflowers grow here, and the grass is tall enough for me to hide in it,
not that i want to.
i am probably done hiding behind things i tell myself i cannot change.
the rain will erode my walls
the rain will reduce all our boxes to wet cardboard
the rain will set me free.
~ vruta gupte, may 2017.