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.

Thoughts and feelings.

This little bit from Diane really got me. I hope that someday everyone  who's flipping over the nothing actually finds something. : BoJackHorseman
Forewarning: You should probably read this in Will Arnett’s voice because it reads like a Bojack monologue. Preferably read as an eulogy, or a speech at the end of a drug addled bender.

What are thoughts? I know there is probably some scientific explanation behind the origin of these little bubbles that surface all the time in the sea of shit that is my brain, but honestly, what are they? Are they the whole truth? Do they decide who you are or what you’re going to be? Because I have a lot of them and honestly, some of them don’t belong to me. They come and go as they please- leaving me helpless. Are people suppose to run and hide? Are they supposed to take shelter from the phantasma of their own thoughts, of these little worlds they build within themselves- threatening to collapse at the slightest provocation?

We spend so much of our lives wanted to be noticed that we trade in authenticity for whataboutery. We say the right things, do the right things and even attempt to think the right things, just to feel like we belong. From a very young age, I have conditioned myself to be likeable. So much so that even my thoughts are performative now. I try and break away once in a while- especially when the echoes of “success” and “excellence” get too much to bear. How did we turn into these automated robots, agents of capitalism, harbingers of inauthenticity? How is that, after fighting for years to have the freedom to be myself-I barely know who I am?

I am almost always oscillating between two schools of thought. The glib nihilism is so, so deep set that I spend a good 70% of my time looking down my nose at optimists. But it gets tiring. At the end of the day, even cynics need a reason to persist. So I spend the rest of my time, trying to be an optimist, and failing miserably. Which brings me back the question I started with- who is in charge of these thoughts and feelings? Are they original, or are they borrowed from whoever I was socialising with in my formative years? Are they lifted from books and cinema- which were honestly the only companions I had for most of my life? Are they reactions to the unfortunate mumbo jumbo I call life? Are they a culmination of 21 unremarkable years, an unrecognisable face, and an entirely ordinary life?

I think what I’m most afraid of is having to live out the rest of my life not knowing – just jumping from brick to brick in my own sad rendition of Super Mario. What are these thoughts and feelings? Who do they belong to? Should I reach out and touch them or should I simply focus on co existing- reminding myself that there is still much to do?

-Adrija Dutta, 25.06.21.

Self Assured Adult Woman.

I remember walking down the aisles of clothing stores, peering haplessly at the “Women’s” section, wondering when I would come of age. When would I be able to traipse into these stores, shop for a dress a la Blair Waldorf, and pay with a magical little card that is somehow always, unfailingly linked to an account with enough money to buy a small island? Nothing seemed more appealing than simply growing up- finally becoming a woman so fiercely independent that I would want for nothing.

In hind sight, that might have been bit of an overkill.

At the ripe old age of 21, I sleep in my childhood bedroom, dress like Huckleberry Finn and get really absurd haircuts at regular intervals to maintain some semblance of sanity. My nail paint is perennially chipped and my under eye bags are getting embarrassingly close to my chin. I can drive, make meals, budget, do my own laundry but BARELY. On most days I feel like a flesh spaceship drifting in the ether of this Universe- with very little purpose other than waiting for the sequel to Call Me By Your Name. An excellent example of my unwomanliness is the fact that I haven’t had my brows done in 6 months. Every morning I look in the mirror and feel ready to audition for a live action remake of The Croods. And boy oh boy, do I cry. I bawl like a baby approximately 4 times a week. Yes. I’m deeply apologetic about this and hope Simone De Beauvoir isn’t listening.

Appearances aside, my behavior isn’t exactly an accurate representation of The Divine Feminine. I am far from sultry or brave or whatever ideal it is that the patriarchy has been perpetrating. I make glaring and appalling mistakes and more often than not act extremely boorishly (alcohol may or may not be involved). But of late I’ve realized that I am woman enough. Womanhood isn’t a prize or badge that has to be earned. I was bestowed with this honor when I was born- by sheer luck and a wee bit of science. It is a gift more than anything else, not a cross I have to carry, not an image I have to uphold and least of all, a responsibility. All the people that I was looking to for approval, dying to have them sign my Declaration Of Womanhood, are perhaps struggling as well. Maybe they’re holding onto these norms that cripple them and claiming they enjoy crawling more than walking.

As I sit here on my bed in my mismatched pyjamas, I feel as womanly as ever. I have grown into someone I would look up to as a child, and that makes me so happy. I am able to care, to love and walk into a room full of people and take up space. Being a woman has allowed me into this circle of insanely cool humans. This club of ours isn’t exclusive- anybody who feels like a woman is more than welcome. I cherish these people and I am very vocal about it. I stand on the shoulders of hundreds of women who have paved the way, and I stand beside hundreds of others just like me- an amalgamation of histories so diverse yet so alike.

To anybody reading this- there are no rules. No guidelines. No obligations. Welcome to the club 🙂

Yours truly,

Adrija.

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/)