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She Wouldn’t Ask You for It

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Sunset behind Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC, December 25, 2016 

Dear 2017,

Back in 2003 when she had first moved to DC, she often got lost in the city she now calls home. After living in the city for two years, she had become a different person. She had a map of the city and the metro lines in her mind. Along with this ability, she also developed a sense of annoyance. People who stood on the wrong side of the escalator, people who read the map upside down and people who blocked her way on the platform while she was running to catch a metro to get to a meeting were her least favorite people. How easily did she forget that she too had once been one of those who stood on the wrong side and made someone miss their train by blocking their way. But thirteen years of living in the same city that kept welcoming new people was enough of a reminder of who she was when she was just starting.

She had been a resident of DC for thirteen years now. Though she had stopped complaining about the excruciatingly humid summers by now, she still didn’t go running in the evenings like most of her colleagues. Heat and humidity made her sick. The days between mid November and Late January were different though. When the air got a little chilly, she liked to run.

It has been a little more than a month since she started running this year. Things have been a little different for the past few years. She stops for rest frequently. There are days when she spends more time on the benches around the city than she spends running. She had been an athlete in college but her heart is telling a different story now.

You can tell she is no longer the easily annoyed woman she was in 2005. When she sits on those benches to catch her breath, she often makes conversation with tourists. She also volunteers to take their pictures. Today was one of those days. She listened to her heart and decided to sit for a little longer. She was looking across the Tidal Basin, watching the sun set behind Jefferson Memorial. She looked up at the bare branches of the tree that had been full of pink and white flowers this past spring. Because she had not run for long today, her hands were cold; they were almost numb.  

Her heart was slowly giving up. Running had always made her feel warm and she had long forgotten that stone cold thing within her. But now that it was asking her to slow down, every bit of her was getting cold and numb.

Yet another year is coming to an end, and as in the past thirteen years my wish for her is still the same. Now that her heart is asking her to slow down, she needs warmth even more. I would hate to see her cold both inside and out. 2017, I cannot ask you to undo what age has done to her, I know you are here to make it worse, but would you be kind to bring some warmth to her?

Best,

Aarbee

P.S.: Please note that heat makes her sick, but she would accept warmth.

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Months Later- Reminiscence of Fall II

It has been 21 months since they met. Neither of them have spoken to each other after their goodbyes on that fall afternoon. She didn’t have a reason to call him- he had given her a broken leaf. He didn’t have a reason to reach out- she had dropped the leaf right in front of him and said, “Sometimes, it’s enough to be moved from where we first fall.”

When he had recounted his story to me, unlike most days, I did not have a lot to say. I said, “That’s a nice line- I could use it on this new script I am writing.”

He stayed for dinner and he had lightened up by the time he left.

It was out of character for my brother to compare people with broken leaves and to tell her that the broken ones also needed to be picked up. It was out of character for him to even give her that leaf in the first place. This probably was why I laughed it off, but I could not disagree that he had made a point. I also could not disagree that she had a point.

I went back to my work, and for a while considered the idea of using her words. It had been a while since I had last used a conversation that I had overheard. The idea was quite tempting but I decided not to.

It’s people like me that words have their power over, and to be honest I don’t mind them exercising their power on me because once I know what they mean, I feel equally powerful. 21 months later, while my brother has forgotten all about her, the words of a woman I never met are still with me.

I don’t think of my brother’s words that often. Perhaps, because they were very much similar to something I would have said. It’s her words that make me uncomfortable. Dropping the leaf she had said, “Sometimes, it’s enough to be moved from where you first fall.” Like my brother, she was not just talking about leaves. I wonder if her simile was a little flawed or there is a missing piece that completes this comparison. And I have so much more to say today than I had 21 month ago.

If she thinks that it is enough that we just move the broken ones from where they first fall, I want to ask her what she thinks is the job of that chilly autumn wind. It seems to me that these winds do a  much better job by carrying them farther away from the place of their fall than a person ever would.

Who would be that to a person, what the wind is to the leaf?

Would there even be a difference between the wind that blows you far far away and something that picks you up and drops you off two inches from your place of fall?

Is there something more special about being picked up and dropped off than being carried by the wind with the rest even if it means you will be dropped not that far from your fall?

Maybe there is something more in the very action of being lifted than in being blown away. Maybe, the difference between being blown away and being picked up is the same as the difference between moving away and moving on. Moving away, you are blown by the wind with the rest, moving on is something fighting gravity for you and giving you a place to start again.
One might still consider this a flawed comparison as moving on is personal and nothing else is lifting you up as in the case of the leaf. But what if I say that in the act of moving on you are creating something entirely new that is lifting you up and fighting the force that constantly pulls you back to where you started. Would it work then?img_2601

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Her Baggage on a Carousel

I am not surprised to see her baggage back on the carousel. I know it’s hers. It’s one of our frequents. I find it very strange that the baggage never looks old or dirty. It makes me wonder if she even carries anything in it. But, every time she lifts it from the belt and puts it on the cart, she struggles. It must be heavy. 

Usually, she puts the baggage on a cart and walks away pushing it. As she approaches the door at the end of the hallway, it opens revealing to me the world outside of it. I promise myself to stay focused and not get distracted by the crowd outside the door so that I can see where she goes. But, the crowd is so overwhelming that I lose her every time. Just before the door closes again, I see people embracing and I hope she’s embracing someone too.

The carousel is pretty empty now. It’s just her baggage and one more that has been going in rounds for an hour. I wonder where she must be. I hope she didn’t forget about her baggage! Few minutes pass by and to my relief I see her walking towards it. She gets to the carousel and as always struggles with the fifty pound bag as she tries to lift it. However, this time she does not struggle for long. She leaves it on the carousel and walks towards the door. The door opens but there is no crowd outside of it. Everyone has left. She keeps walking ahead. The door closes. 

I walk towards the baggage on the carousel. I try to lift it. It is very heavy. I wonder how they even let her check that in! I want to take responsibility of the baggage but I cannot. I cannot even go outside of that door. If only I could have been on the other side of the door every time she walked out, today would have been different. 

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Online – 349 days ago

Online – 349 days ago

By this time Saera had tried every password she had ever used for any site, and yet had not been able to login. She could have easily reset the password, but in doing so she would be admitting to herself that she had completely forgotten her password, and would then have to unwillingly deal with the fact that she was imperfect. 

She needed to get back on the site to read conversations she had with Dhyani. Dhyani had been her best friend since middle school. She died in an avalanche on Everest which followed the earthquake last year. 

Saera had been devastated by her death. Her worst nightmare had become a reality. After Saera had moved to the city, Dhyani had gone on seven expeditions, all of which had been successful. Every time Dhyani went on a mountaineering expedition, Saera would consider the idea that she may never see her again. Even so, when the avalanche buried Dhyani, Saera could not come to terms with the fact that she would never be able to speak with her again. 

Saera had stopped using the site since that day. The only contact she had on the site was Dhyani. After her death, Saera did not see a point in logging back in, and eventually forgot her password. 

When her desire to read her conversation with Dhyani had overpowered her need to maintain a perfect image of herself in her own eyes, she resorted to resetting her password. When she was finally able to read the conversation, she spent three hours getting to the top of the plethora of messages they had sent to each other and spent the next seven hours reading their conversations. She did not remember the context to so many of them and wished she had been able to ask Dhyani if she remembered. 

After she was done reading, she noticed that next to Dhyani’s display picture, it said “Online 349 days ago”. She clicked on the picture and immediately it opened up. It was Dhyani at the top of a snow clad mountain with nothing but snow around her and sky above her. The caption read, “There isn’t a peak to every mountain, there isn’t anything that is perfect.” 

Saera turned off her screen and thought how different she was from her best friend. She who conquered sublime mountains thought perfection to not exist and she who got disappointed in last autumn for not having a peak, worked everyday to make herself perfect, at least in her own eyes.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Through Pink, Black and White

Pink Black and White

Like almost every girl child of her age, when she was five, her favorite color was pink. She liked pink dresses for her dolls, looked for pink pencil cases when her father said he would buy her one and had matching pink water bottle and lunchbox. In her color pencil set, pink was always the shortest one.

I saw her after five years today. She had grown up beautifully. She was fifteen when I left. I do not remember what her favorite color was then but I do recall her fascination for pink as a five year old.

It was around eight in the morning when I reached her place. She answered the door with a smile as lovely as her mother’s. I could tell she was genuinely happy to see me. She asked if I wanted coffee. I said yes. She went into the kitchen to brew a cup for me. I followed her there and sat on one of the two chairs at her breakfast table. The table had what looked like an unfinished greeting card and two color pencils- a red one and an orange one. Both were pretty much of the same length.

She came back to the table with two cups of coffee, a sugar dispenser and a spoon. As I put some sugar into my coffee, I asked her if her favorite colors had changed and were now red and orange. She looked down at the card she had been working on and looked up again with the same smile. She answered that they were not really her favorite colors but that she liked using just two colors in anything she made. She explained how she thought using two colors was just enough. She thought neither of the two colors ever tried to take the attention away from one other. She believed that a third color would take the viewer’s attention away from the two and would divide it into three unequal parts which she thought was unfair. The presence of orange in what she was making was not just doing a job of being the color orange alone but at the same time was also generously sharing the attention it gets with red. It was highlighting the presence of red and so was red drawing attention to the presence of orange. She explained that if there had been a third color, then at least one of the three would not be admired as much as the other two.

We spent the next three hours looking at her art collection and talking about how the past five years had been. Before I left her place at eleven for a lunch meeting, she gave me a tiny clay pot painted black and white. Handing me the clay pot, she said, “You asked me about my favorite colors earlier. They are black and white. Do you want to know why?”

I took the pot from her and said, “Yes, of course.”

She replied, “Because black does not stain easily but white shows even the lightest speck of dirt. Black is tough and white is vulnerable. They are extremely different from one another but they are also the same in that they do not have shades to confuse us. White is my healer and black is my pain reliever. Because these two colors sum up life for me, they are my favorites.”

The tiny pot she gave me for now sits on the bedside table of my hotel room but when I go home, I know where exactly it will sit.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Reminiscence of Fall

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She picked up leaves as they walked
Red, orange, yellow, brown, and all shades of them
She dropped some back to the ground
For their edges were broken…

Before their goodbyes that evening,
He picked one casually and handed it to her-
A crisp Sweet-gum leaf that had turned red
But she was disappointed
For it didn’t have a perfect edge…

She looked at him for explanation
He said, “We’re all like this leaf.
We need to be picked up too.”

She dropped the red broken leaf,
looked up, smiled and said,
“Sometimes it’s enough to be moved from where we first fell.”
And that was their goodbye.

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Happy Being the Moon!

Last Tuesday, the first thing I did in the morning was look out of my window. It was white outside. It had snowed! It was my first snow in all my life! After lunch that day, as I walked back from the dining hall to my room, I looked around and appreciated the snow on the ground. It was beautiful.
Later that day, I found myself looking outside again. Even though it does not snow at my place, the snow reminded me of home. The closest thing to snow we had was sleet back in February 2007. The snow here reminded me of that day and all the other winter days in Kathmandu.
I spent most of my winter days in Kathmandu in my school uniform. The navy blue blazer was my favorite part of the school uniform. Besides getting to wear the blazer, there was one more thing that I could do only in winters- look at the mountains to the North. My dad says that they could see the mountains throughout the year when he was young. But somehow, my generation of people has this luxury only during winters. Most days when the sky was clear, I used to go up to my terrace and look at the mountains. I watched the entire range slowly change colors in the sunset. No matter how long I stayed, it never seemed enough. This feeling was even more intensified last winter as I knew that there was higher possibility of me being in a different country the following winter as college decisions had started coming in.
There was one particular evening last winter, when nature made a very strong impression on me. It was December 17, 2014. I was up on my terrace as usual. I watched the mountains change color. It was bright white at first and slowly turned orange. After a while the sun hid behind the hills on the west and the mountains turned white again-a little less bright this time. On usual days that’s when I went back to my room but that day I decided to stay a little longer. The sun had set, it was getting dark and the mountains weren’t as pretty as they were a few minutes ago. After few minutes, I saw a bright white color at the top of one of the peaks on the northeastern side. It was too bright to be a part of the mountain after sunset. I kept looking at it. It appeared to move. It took me a while to realize that it was the full moon rising in the east. Soon the moon was up on the eastern sky. The mountains looked beautiful under the moonlight.
Right at that moment I was struck by a realization of how easily we look over the beauty of seemingly insignificant things in life. The sun is definitely the one that makes life possible here on earth. There is no doubt that the mountains look the best during sunrise and sunset. But that does not make the beauty of the moonrise and the mountains trying to shine under the moonlight any less.
The Sun undeniably is more important to us but the moon is beautiful too. Not all of us can be the sun for our mountains. Most of the times, we have to be happy being the moon. You never know who is appreciating the mountains trying to shine under the moonlight, like I was that winter evening.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Uncategorized