I’m sitting in the backseat of a stranger’s car. I look at the reflection of my face on my phone screen. My irises cant find themselves in the ocean of tears that the walls of my kohled eyes are holding. I realise who I became. In a wind of a turn , my hair smells like another lifetime , a summer, I ate tangerine and wore cotton kurtis and my hair tied and soothed into a loose braid by my grandmother . I wonder if he noticed the change in air, did he know I was kind before I had my claws , I was gentle and soft before my eyes dug deeper into my skull? In the next turn, my head resting on the window , eyes in the sky , I realise who I did not become . Alone in the backseat of the car , the leather sticking to my skin trying to sooth my lonely mad. My skin is tearing at the seams for the mistress I was, for the tragedy I kept dressing myself in.
The city begged me to love it a little lesser. Maybe go home less lonelier . Him looking at the mirror at the reflection to meet my heartache . I’m feeling glamorous, I feel the city licking my feet. I snarl , I growl, throw my hair back in glory of being alone. I lay down on my back , my legs out the window and my lips start humming a song that could’ve been mistaken for a cry for forgiveness and he’s falling in love with the thickness of the poetry of this hot summer night. I ask him to drive me home. what I really meant is to drive me out, away from this city, away from my mother who breaks her chest every time I come home with a bruise on my heart and from my father who can tell I smell like too many sins. Drive me straight into a tree, a burning building a falling bridge. Drive me into thinking I’m most beautiful when I’m lonely, a lone wolf howling for forgiveness at the moon for the dark it carries.
Today, our tragic youth is the face our mothers make when you don’t move your ass from the couch you’ve been sitting on for hours holding your not so smart phone, feeling like you’re part of something large and infinite. It feels like freedom mostly, because the masks you wear, the personality and life you just created with a bunch of pictures you tried too hard to perfect makes you feel like anything is possible and you can be anyone you want to be. But in all this openness and imposed rawness of it all is a sense of loss and the tragedy of love that’s not kind or true . We are sitting on the edges, our feet dangling and laughing with death in our minds, hoping sooner the better because the living is tiring us. I’m crossing a busy road with looking no left or right but to a screen that said |”I hope you’re okay”, to a screen that shows six missed calls from my mother but none from my father and I’m convinced it’s reason enough to carry my heart unprotected on a busy road. I’m walking the streets like I owe earth an apology, that I need to run to finish line and prove my worth and hoping that is “finding myself” and in that I’ll find happiness. So? we figure out we like poetry, you find your soul mate, you find clarity in the face of a child you taught, you see meaning in discovering places or human bodies , but does that make difference? Do you love yourself better? Did you stop taking those pills? Did you look both ways while crossing that busy road?
Our generation is taught to treat every emotional need as a disorder. And we are treating a poison that never stung. Most mornings I watch myself slip into sedation of the obsession we have of running till our lungs are bleeding, till our hearts are aching of a grief that is bigger than us, bigger than life. We have mothers and fathers that worry and are ready to hold us, but we are convinced they do not understand, we are convinced we cannot be fixed. We are so caught trying to lift our heads in the heaviness of a shame without a sin, we forget to take the hand that try to help. Our youth is spend believing if our hearts aren’t heavy, unless our eyes brim with water and lashes grow dark , you wouldn’t find happiness. And we’ve chosen a fight of numbness, we’re fighting feelings and emotions with pills and alcohol and mostly our bare fists. We are the people we talked about over cigarettes and pending college work “Did you hear what happened to that kid down the street?” ” Did you hear what happened to that girl?” We are pills for teeth, line-breaks for scars, overripe, peeling fruits for hearts.We are sitting homeless on the corner of our own faith, palms outstretched, lips bruised and begging for change.
If you don’t know yet babygirl, run. I know you’ve crushed your wings and your knees are broken from the trembling but please run. I know , marigold flowers are sighing in their last breath before they’re pressed in a heavy novel, there’s a firefly somewhere trapped in a glass jar and its light is fading out, and there’re spiders whose homes are destroyed in the name of wrong place to be. There’s no time to save them. No, there’s a war coming , do not go for the belongings, do not go for the souls who forgot to love you, do not go for the pictures of your childhood, do not go for the dolls they handed to you and said ‘here be like this , pretty, pliable, glass eyed, to be played with.’ And do not go for the razors they put in your tiny palms , the colours they dipped you in , pink yellow ‘softer colours please for my babygirl’, do not go for the guilt to want things bigger than what they’d planned, do not go for the apology poems you wrote for the world, do not, please do not go for the safety of a man. But take your voice, take your soft and gentle, take the tender of your freckled, scarred and bruised warm skin, take your stretched and worn out heart, take your spine, take the poetry of your angry and crazy, take the strong and steady of your spine, take the wild of your imagination, take your language and words, take the lover and the mother within you , take the goddamn razors if you wish but most of all, when you run take the “No”. There’s a war but there’s fear in the gut of the unfair world because they know. When you’re running, you will know. The moon is your ally. Beneath her you run, for no man can hold you down. you travel with the wind. you hold the fruits in your hands and no, nobody can touch. you pierce the wild beasts and tame with your innocence. The stars cram themselves in your eyes and the moon lends you her light. They can’t help but watch and you can’t help but run. The dust in the stars is the same as the one in your flesh. air of the butterflies, of the hummingbirds, of the soaring eagles and the bickering vultures is the same as the one hiding in your lungs. The water of the Pacific, of the Mediterranean, the water of the devil’s triangle all live inside you. The blood of the earth, the steady thumping underneath your feet, live inside of you. Stop, honey, turn around and look at the world you put on fire.
Picture this: It’s midnight and there’s an almost empty beach, there’s a lit cigarette between your fingers which you won’t smoke because it makes you cough but you’ll hold it anyways because it gives you something to hold on to. You’re looking at the silent sea and wondering how to stop looking at distant things and how to stop shaking at the memories. You’re wondering how to forget how he looks in certain lights or the shape of his mouth when he says “love”. It’s past midnight and you break your heart a little being careless and reckless and hoping in all this chaos you feel more than just empty.
Picture this: It’s 4 A.M and your blurry eyes are not forgiving enough to find your mother’s number from your phone. You wait for her to pick up wearing your heart like a bruise, a pain everybody sees but nobody cares about. “Mama” you’ll say, your voice cracking as your heart decides to come undone. You sob with one hand over your mouth and the other holding the phone away. “I forgot to tell you to pick up my mail tomorrow” You forget to tell her to pick up the shattered pieces of trust from the floor of your insanity. You forget to tell her you are trying . You forget her heart contracts with every beat of yours and the last time you called she could hear the tremble in your voice and she sat in her room and cried until she was dry because the imprint of her kisses on your baby fingers are still shadows on your skin ,you can’t see them yet but she can and those touches are still the only reason that you still find light in the darkest of hours. You might try to push her away but she damn near killed herself trying to push you into the world that you’re so tenaciously trying to belong to and not once did she regret it.
Picture this: You’re on the bus and a stranger is sitting next to you and his hands are touching the side of your thighs and you realize your tongue became glass and you cannot speak without breaking it and when you do ,you silently cry knowing nobody is listening, knowing there is not enough courage left in you to fight. You feel the entire ocean pressing up against your chest .You close your eyes and imagine you’re in your father’s car, his favourite song is playing and he’s humming to it , you’re smiling.
Picture this: Your knees are weak and and you don’t know how to love with your hands. He’s holding you but but not in the way you’ve ever known it. Hold like you’re drowning, hold like you’re buried, hold until your arms are trembling from the strength of it.You’re both talking a language that neither of you can understand. But it sounds like ‘please’ or it sounds like ‘I’ve missed you’ But this is more than your fingers or your mouth. This is the five seconds that it takes him to peel your self-conscious away from your body. This is five minutes of holding your face and saying ” I love you”. This is really meaning it. This is thanking God for your hands and their ability to feel. You think maybe the dip of his sternum is forgiveness and you’re wondering if the boy you’re kissing tastes salt in your mouth because your heart is crying over the sadness it cannot endure and the life it cannot understand.
Picture this: Not a single siren rings in this war.
It’s 4:38 am and I’m sitting on the stairs to my hostel room. The darkness is unkind and the cold is seeping and I can feel both my body and soul freezing. I’m thinking of the glow of a burning cigarette that was once too big to be held in my hands, I’m thinking of my father’s brother who lost his life to that glow that turn everything to ashes. I’m remembering the water in my mouth, I’m remembering the left over of samosas my mother had made I’m remembering the orange light upon the revolving plate and I’m remembering my eyes ticking the numbers down on the microwave and I’m remembering what home tasted like. My parents never turned their bed lamp off at night , until I was ten because I was convinced if I look away from the light of my parents moving and existing across the hall , they’d have me, the monsters and I’m remembering how for a long time, that warm light that crept through their door helped me sleep in the darkness . I close my eyes and I’m seeing the changing lights of our television under my eyelids, I’m seeing my father, my sister on his chest and I’m feeling my mother’s leg intertwined with mine and I’m tasting popcorn and butter and salt . My father is driving and the streetlights are playing hide and seek and I’m remembering my father asking if the kids slept I’m remembering him taking a peek at the back and I’m pretending sleeping beauty I’m remembering him smile and his eyes melting like butter in that moving light I’m remembering my father as a happy man. I’m smiling at the memory of 2000 ft above ground and marveling at the city I love, glittering like gold. I’m remembering flickering lights, I’m remembering nights with too much colour and not too much of clarity. I’m remembering the music that won’t stop and the hope that won’t return. I’m remembering mistakes and I’m remembering tears and I’m remembering ache but I’m remembering a phone that flashed a message that read “are you okay?”.I’m thinking of the depth of the moonlight. I’m thinking of stars and the universe and everything that shines out of darkness. I’m remembering a boy and his love and the light in his heart and I’m remembering everything out of reach and unfathomable. I’m remembering warm evenings and hushed whispers , tip toeing feet and beautiful sunsets. It’s 5:00 am . It’s another sunrise and sunlight feels too much like yearning for the light that can be only seen in the darkness.