I’m a crier.
I mean I own a weak-ass heart that feels too much.
It’s funny because I didn’t quite cry for a long time, although I was sad for the longest time. Then came this study leave before sixth semester exams in college when I cried 24×7.
Like after a breakup you look at your face in the washbasin mirror but realize it’s already wet all over with tears.
Like you don’t cry for two decades, and then you do.
And you can’t stop.
So one evening after my second last exam I cried to someone, and although I didn’t think it was possible, this time I cried it out.
Well, most of it. Which is when I started crying for all the right (you decide) reasons.
For those of us that feel too strongly, crying just happens to be the easiest release in a world where we’re a minority. It isn’t reserved just for when I’m really sad or really happy, it’s for everything overwhelming in between.
At how time conned us, and didn’t let me meet my parents’ magnificent younger selves.
As most 70/80s songs play, I can see my father contesting elections in engineering college (to lose, of course) in black & white, while my mother (in color, cos she has described the shades of her college saris to me) is studying her ass off in medical college hostel. Achan vehemently yells SFI slogans in CET while Amma scoffs at party members in MCH, and they both listen and tap their feet to the same songs, but I never got to see or hear any of it.
Neither know at the time they’d marry each other. Or that they’d have 3 kids who’ll listen to them humming these songs (with a much much lower tempo) some 15 years later on moonlit nights at engineering college quarters, sleeping on their shoulders and laps and chests. So I was upset when I finally heard the originals of Aayiram Padasarangal Kilungi – “that’s NOT how you sing it, those are not even the lyrics, this record is all SO wrong”.
Because that’s not how Achan sang it to us.
Some days I wonder at how beautiful the world looks during sunrise and wish I could broadcast it across people’s minds in a network so we can feel one another (okay Amal I know that sounds wrong on many levels).
Or how we could both be looking at it and I could be thinking of you right now, and you could be thinking of me, but we’d never know.
And the sunrise could be a Kathak performance or a ghazal recital, or two lines of a brilliant poem or a song or an instrument, the beauty of how its boundlessness dissolves us into one, for as brief and fleeting a moment it be.
Like listening to Vijay Yesudas’ Malare and remembering that’s the closest I can listen to his father’s voice sing it, and how we weren’t lucky enough to belong to the generation whose lives can be traced along Yesudas’ songs.
Or those dusty college windows with sunlight streaming into classrooms and how there was never such a romance as Premam to enjoy all of that on evenings after classes, how I never had the appetite for those back then either.
Of how we were (I mean I was) ugly and sweaty and sick dressers in school (and college, pfft) and how the people and the happiness was innocently believed to be ‘a trial version of what’s to follow’ yet the trial was the best there ever came.
That there was this magical duet of If I Lose Myself we practised during monsoon 2015, when the song could hardly be heard over the patter on chetan’s studio roof, that we never took a video of, that the world never got to see, that’ll die in team memories.
Or of how we cycled through the college forests at Madras at 4am on borrowed bicycles after placing a wrist watch on loan, stopping under orange streetlamps for breaths and shouting across roads, turning in zigzags as trucks passed us by, not knowing it would be our only time.
Of how often I deserved to lose so many from my life yet how they always stayed. And stayed.
Of longing to have known certain people just a little bit more, and to have hung onto certain chapters of our lives just a little bit longer.
How life is short and life is unfair and life is cruel and yet how it comes back together to us every time. And just how much we endure in those hopes. Alone.
Of the stories we hear delivered, and how there remains so much more untold.
Of how no poetry is more beautiful than the conversations we leave unexplored.
And at the end of the day, how we all deserve more.
So much more.
I know most of this is worth smiling over. But you can only smile so much.
And then you can only cry.