The 20/20 Experience.

I’ve been carrying around this feeling- in the pit of my stomach, the base of my neck, in the little crevices under my eyes. It is achy and wet and a pulsating mess of emotions- a slimeball of ugly, if you will. The worst colour imaginable and the most awkward texture- wrinkly, corrugated, rough to touch. This feeling is endless, like a sea. Relentless, like a storm. It persists even at my happiest.

It’s only recently that I realised that this feeling isn’t even a feeling. It’s this year taking shape within my mind. It is the realisation that the world is crumbling as I lay in bed, as I eat my eggs, as I give my dog a goodnight kiss- all too snug in my cocoon of comfort. 

That being said, this year has been an absolute emotional behemoth. Two months in, I had to move back home from college. I went through an excruciatingly painful break up in the midst of isolation that left me immobile. I spent weeks marinating in my little love puddle- playing songs tainted with loss, sobbing like a petulant child and just being a general pain in the neck for my family and friends. I learned the hard way that when people show you who they really are, you must believe them. If you fall in love with potential, with the thought of someone, then the relationship is yours and yours only. It’s not a two way street, it’s a rocky downhill path at best. 

Apart from that, I was also plucked from the mellow mundaneness of my life in Bangalore and dropped back in my childhood bedroom with a resounding thud. This unprecedented move has been tumultuous, to say the least. To have my wings clipped (by which I mean my bi weekly drinking plans have been nipped in the bud by my brown parents) at the cusp of womanhood like this, what a shame. 

The recurring theme of this godforsaken year has been the loud voices in my head. Definitely more Donnie Darko, not at all Harley Quinn. I wasn’t prepared to face my insecurities, my fears and everything grey in my life absolutely head on. There wasn’t enough cheap rum, menthol cigarettes and loud laughter of my girlfriends to drown out the incessant drumming noises of negativity in my head. As much as I’d like to say I made it through- I didn’t. I am, at best, in the middle of the tunnel. The eerie glow of my future looms large and the memory of sunnier days are behind me- I am smack in the middle. In the dark, but unafraid. 

To have finished one whole academic year in my bedroom, seems so bizarre. I didn’t think I had it in me, but as it turns out I do. If things improve, I might even leave home to pursue my Master’s. Funny how something that was a given, an obvious choice, seems like a pipe dream now. 

When I think of the bigger picture and of course, the reason behind it all – the phenomenon I swore I wouldn’t name in this piece – I am overwhelmed with gratitude. 

I could have had it much worse. My heart goes out to those in pain- there will be better days. My deepest condolences to anyone who’s lost anyone. I have known loss, and it wasn’t pretty. 

Thank you to those who left me alone when I needed them the most and a bigger thank you to those who walked in, sat at my table, and decided to stay for dinner. You warm my heart.

Love,

Adrija.

P.S.: Pardon my French, but f*ck Zoom.

MMXX

Unprecedented. A word that echoed loud and clear in all our homes. In our offices spaces, in our dorms, in our classrooms. A word that appeared repeatedly, in different fonts, in emails, on newspapers, on WhatsApp messages. A word that shaped and defined this past year. A word that means “never having happened before” and a word that is, unanimously, the word of the year. 

Sitting at my desk in front of my laptop (like I have all year) writing this, I realise that by the time you will be reading this, the year will be nearly over. Whatever happened this year may not be over because that’s not how disease outbreaks work, but at least we will have a fresh start. 

I have come to realise, albeit rather late, that we will perhaps never go back to what used to be. Public gatherings will always scare us. We will act funny when we walk into a conference room to attend a real meeting, in formal clothes. We will make sure we hug our grandmas and grandpas with caution, and we will be more considerate and compassionate towards our doctors and nurses and teachers, the delivery person and the Uber driver and the cashier. Everything that we will become will also be unprecedented. 

I graduated from university this year, but I didn’t get to say goodbye to the people who had been family for three years. I started studying my dream subject at one of the best universities in the world, but I didn’t get to properly meet the people who would be my family for the next year. I moved to the magical city that is London, but I got lost in it, so so lost.  I forged a relationship with the most beautiful person in the world, but we’ve been in each other’s physical presence only 48 days out of 234. One of my best friends packed up his bags and went home when the pandemic began and I don’t know when I will see him again. There was someone else, earlier this year, I was getting used to but he left me more hurt than I’ve ever known (I’m happy now).  I laughed all night long but I also cried all night long. 

I also learnt what it means to be human and how important touch is, as each morning, the graphs climbed higher and higher. I learnt how cruel and unjust we’ve turned our society, discriminating humans against…humans. I learnt how essential it is to be kind over being clever. I learnt how nearly irreparable this planet has become, and stepped up my game in doing my part to change that. I learnt the importance of science and of knowledge and how pivotal it has been in bringing us where we are today. I have learnt how difficult our teachers have it sometimes, and I experienced a newfound love for everyone who has ever taught me in the past. I learnt how easy it is to communicate with other people, no matter where we are in the world and what we’re doing and how we’ve reached pinnacles of innovation but aren’t done yet. I listened, learnt and understood. 

All of that being said, 2020 has tested our grit, our patience and our ability to be affectionate. It has thrown obstacle after obstacle at us, and so, having made it till December is an achievement in itself. And my thoughts and prayers for those who didn’t. 

Here’s hoping 2021 changes that, and brings with it something new (but maybe not SO unprecedented). 

Cheers, 

Ushashi x

worry

They always tell you to stop

and enjoy the little things, like it’s possible to stop

in life, like it’s possible to pause all the chaos around you.

You are here, you are now, and

in a quick second you’re not, so how do you stop?

You worry about enjoying too much,

for the fear of not enjoying enough.

You worry about cosy moments where the most beautiful things unfold,

for the uncertainty of it happening again.

You worry about making new friends and opening up,

for the fear of the little time you have left with them.

You worry about every second you didn’t spend doing something worthwhile,

for each of those seconds was a second wasted.

You worry about loving without boundaries and shamelessly,

for the fear of it disintegrating before your eyes.

And you worry about catching your train,

about the money in your bank account, about your exam,

about the person who does not love you back,

and you worry, on and on and on,

without time or reason;

So how do you stop and breathe and appreciate

the little things?

 

~Ushashi

monstrous & magnificent

On my flight back from Dubrovnik,

I looked out into the night sky, trying to

make out the line between ocean and land

and instead, fell into a reverie,

marveling at the enormity of the things we’re surrounded by.

 

At

How infinite the universe is,

ever-expanding and stretching invisible boundaries;

phenomena and numbers that constantly

eclipse our faint existence.

 

At

How limitless the oceans are,

ebullient life at unfathomable depths;

calm and catastrophic at the same time,

in all its million shades of blue.

 

At

How diverse the human population is,

7 billion faces  and 4 new every second;

that one day our paths will entangle with

someone special hidden in this multitude.

 

At

How incalculable the number of cells in our body are

each of them a robust machine,

crucial in our strife

to human and to exist.

 

At

How many roads and rail-lines there are,

spread across unknown lands,

connecting people we know nothing of

and kindred spirits we know everything about.

 

And at how,

the universe and the ocean

and humans and roads and cells

have nothing in common with each other

and yet, are united by their colossal magnitude.

 

image-4.jpg

 

~ Ushashi

 

Photo by: Haseeb Ahmed (https://www.instagram.com/homesick____alien/)

 

sunflower saturdays

To the green-eyed, blonde-haired surfer boy downtown,

I wish I could tell you how beautiful you are. Most of what I would tell you would be lost in translation but if, in this lifetime I got to tell you the things that come rushing to my heart every time I see you, this is what I would tell you:

There’s a glitter in your eyes that blinds me when you brush past me.

Your dirty golden curls that’s been growing out remind me of a movie where you would be the prince who’s too good for this world.

You radiate like the sun finds its home inside your lean figure.

You have a smile that makes me smile for days; you have a smile that, alongside your rose-red cheeks make me want to look at you for days – take in your pure beauty like it powers my soul.

You look and feel like you’re brimming with youth and happiness like you’ve never known what it is like to be sad.

I could count the times I’ve met you on my fingers and yet you never cease to occupy a little corner of my otherwise crammed head.

I cannot calculate the chances of us meeting again and of you remembering me, of you smiling at me like my smile lights up your day too.

There are too many people in this world than we can fathom and you and I are too distant for my passing feelings to matter but –

I just wanted to let you know that you’re like a sunflower that I want to pluck and keep, but also a sunflower I want to watch grow even more beautiful.

car crashes

car crashes are strange things;

before you call me an absolute nutter,

just listen me out – i promise it’ll make sense.

car crashes are inflicting death upon yourself

but unbeknownst to you and entirely unwanted.

It’s not a heart attack you had no idea would come your way,

or cancer slowly gnawing away and you preparing for impending doom,

or stepping off a ledge atop the glistening city, because you want to.

No, it’s being tangled in a mechanic mess

that you didn’t want to be in.

There’s no predicting it, except perhaps in the last 30 seconds,

where your entire life – light, laughter, failure, success, a chaotic madness  –

is flashing before you, and you can do nothing anymore

except for maybe, steer in panic,

hug your partner

or protect your daughter.

You’re suddenly living life by the second

staring at Death in his eyes, helpless

and you know you’re going to combust into flames

along with the petroleum, the gas and the shards of glass,

like your life meant nothing;

but you could also brace yourself,

crumple into your foetal position

or push the brake right on time and continue,

like you didn’t just see Death pass by in a split second.

Nevertheless,

through penning these gory thoughts, I realised that

car crashes are like the epitome of how uncertain life could possibly be.

 

~Ushashi Basu