Favorite/first photo

We had a bunch of virtual social activities in the orientation week of my summer internship. There were 55 of us summer interns, and one of the activities was sharing a favorite picture or a memory. I cannot say I enjoyed all the games we played, particularly If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you want to be?, which seems like it would be a fun game during Covid, but it was one of my bad days so the only place I could think of was home. (It was my fourth month alone in my apartment so…)

I landed in Atlanta on August 5, 2019. I was to stay temporarily in a senior’s apartment not far from where I live now, before moving in here. Another Gatech-bound student and I got off at the building, my network wasn’t working and he wasn’t able to get through to his friend to let us inside. So we waited on the pavement with all our luggage for somebody to show up and open the gate for us. That’s when I clicked my first picture in Atlanta, which is what I shared in the Photo-share activity.

Waiting outside with 50kg of luggage on my first day in a foreign country with no phone network is not something I’m familiar with, but the frame before me (apart from being obviously clean and well-maintained) was hot, humid and green, just like my home. This photo was a moment of taking it all in, realizing that Atlanta might not be too unfamiliar territory after all.

(While sharing with everyone, I mentioned for context that I was from Kerala, the “tropics” where it’s humid and full of trees, so this scene felt a lot like home, even while being away from home.)

Trees and beautiful skies – Atlanta

 It rained later that day and I had a beautiful view from the room I was staying in. Shruthy wasn’t arriving until two days later, and I wasn’t jet-lagged so I just sat in the room watching the sunset and vehicles go by.

I hadn’t met the senior whose room I stayed in, but I saw her books and her desk, a couple of framed photos. And I hadn’t imagined a lot about this place (Atlanta or college) before coming here either, so it was just a lot of observing and taking in, than Aah’s or Ooh’s.

Ikea was right across the road (behind those trees) and I could see inside the building at 2am, past the scant traffic. I saw people climbing stairs in those hours, and for a while I simply sat on my bed and watched somebody sitting at his desk, like I expected something to happen, but nothing did. It was a great view to Ikea as well and I probably would’ve spent a lot of time just looking at it had we continued to live there, the way I watch the trees here. 

Even while it wasn’t my favorite of plans, this country and a lot of people here have been extremely kind to me in the time I’ve been here. I’ve got to witness chaos – good and bad – especially in the last few months. Some days I marvel that it’s happening right before me, that I get to learn, witness and be a part of it, while some days the history overwhelms and exhausts me. But maybe that’s the way it should be. And I do love that it’s hot, humid and green here.

View from the roomEvening showers, sunset and tech trolley hub

Hello, My Name is Ugly. No, you don’t have to call me Beautiful.

So save the sugarcoated BS for another day, another soul And I’ll take your compliment with a smile
Give me some credit for being ‘strong’ – I’ve lived with this for a while.


Do not be fooled when they tell you
You’re ‘something but and beautiful’-
You’re fat, strong and beautiful
You’re skinny, enduring and beautiful
It just means you aren’t good-looking
It means they’re happy to not be switching lives.

I’ll let that sink in.

I’ve been called something
With a side of beautiful, for far too long
“For your soul” they said
But they haven’t even heard my story yet.

You know what I’d like to hear?
What they really mean.
So tell me I look ugly
Tell me I’m not the fairest nor prettiest
Nor anywhere close to being lovely
And I would thank you for not being nice
It’s not an insult to me, nor do I find it impolite.

Tell me I don’t fit into any of the
Boxes you’ve created
It’s alright
For a box with my name on it isn’t to have your signature
But mine.

So save the sugarcoated BS for another day,
Another ‘soul’
And I’ll take your compliment with a smile.
Give me some credit for being ‘strong’ –
I’ve lived with this for a while.
Ugly is aesthetic and I can deal with that
Know that I too am happy not exchanging lives.

And I maybe inspiring, I maybe wise, I maybe all that YOU claim I am
But please do not call me beautiful just yet.

I haven’t even shared with you my story yet.

Pretty could be anybody

Let’s wax our arms and bleach our face, thread those brows and pluck those strays. Let’s curl what’s straight and iron what’s not, indulge in lasers and whatever else is hot. Let’s paint the lips and double-stroke the eyes, see us in the mirror and shriek in delight.

It’s why most settle for the trick – beauty doesn’t come so easy, pretty could be anybody.


Trust me, you’re alive :)

These have been a couple of long days, long weeks, long months. The much-awaited weekend’s coming. The plan is to snuggle into that nice cosy couch and lie there all day as the warmth of home wraps you in and lulls you to sleep.

But you know what they say. Life is a jerk.

And before you know it, Life has busted it all – even that little plan to sleep all day. You’re on fast-sinking ground, shrouded in darkness. Lying amidst broken fragments of something fragile yet wild, threatening to drown you. It’s a while before you reach calm and make out shapes in the black. And when you do, you gasp – it’s you. It’s all you, shattered to pieces. You’re in the graveyard of your own life, and they weigh you further down to darker hollows.

Is this a joke? Retribution? What for? You sit on your knees and cry. It’s not like you were actually going to sleep all day. This so-called Life is stupid, okay? The ground seems to appear steady now. Maybe it was punishment for some wrongdoing, either way it’s over now, you think. Everything’s going to go back to normal.

So if it’s all over, why does it hurt so bad? It’s shearing you apart, so why aren’t you dead yet?

Then the pain sets in. It’s too real to ignore now. Somebody, make it stop!

You grope around in the dark for an opening, a door, an escape- it should be there. Every feel of a shard opens up a new gash on your skin. Like an idiot, you hug at the infinite walls that surround you and yell for help. Scoop out handfuls of damp earth from the ground in a desperate attempt to escape. All the while crying like the little lost child you are. You tell yourself hopelessly that a time-turner is going appear any moment now, and you’ll be back in your living room again. Everything’s going to go back to normal.

But nothing happens, your calls for help are the only company you got. With that knowledge, you collapse onto the floor. You lie there for a while with your eyes still wet, thinking about the warm couch in your living room. It’s all gone. The dark, damp and debris are all that remain. You look around- Denial isn’t going to help, this will be your new ‘home’ now.

As if on cue, the cold ground kisses you, and somehow it doesn’t scare anymore. You acquiesce to what is perhaps the only show of affection the place has to offer. You slowly stop crying. You learn to see in the dark. The broken everything doesn’t cut you anymore, and the persistent prickling pain grows to be a part of you. It’s tricky, but you’ll learn when it’s your turn. *

Though your head blasts with a hundred, nay, a million questions, all the likes of “Why me?” you learn to embrace it. Life goes on. People pass you by from another world, smiling. “Everyone has battles”, probably answering that question in your head. Of course everyone does, you smile weakly. The ground kisses you again.

The dark doesn’t make you feel lonely anymore, the damp is as warm as it’ll be now on, and debris that perhaps if pieced together can paint a fraction, if not the whole picture that you once hoped to create. You remember some quote about black and white keys in a piano. You just never thought they could get SO black.

But you know what they say, Life is a jealous ass. Jealous of comfort in agony even. And just like that, Life kicks you out into the (regular) world, once again blinding you.

Though this time, it’s the sun, isn’t it? It has to be. What else could be so warm and bright?

It takes a moment to take it all in. The world is back. THE WORLD IS BACK!

You smile at first. It’s a weird little feeling, smiling like that after such a long time. Then it becomes a beaming grin. In no time, you’re jumping to catch the brilliant rays. You roll on the warm earth and laugh like a crazy old man. You lie on the soft grass and kick your arms and legs about like an ecstatic toddler. And everyone’s staring, everyone’s watching and maybe they all think you’ve lost it – and you know it doesn’t matter.

Because they didn’t see it when you were broken to pieces and plunged into a hole in the ground. They didn’t hear you scream and plead at lifeless walls that only echoed your cries for help. They didn’t see you curl up on the wet floor and hug yourself for warmth. They don’t know about the sleepless nights you spent, begging Life to go back in time, to make everything okay.

It’s not the world that’s come back. It’s you.

Some stories need a prelude to make sense. And some still won’t.

You slowly walk into your apartment. Everything is same in the world, yet you know nothing is from now on. Maybe the same things won’t bring joy to you anymore. Maybe the same people won’t mean company anymore. You have changed, you have grown and that’s okay. That is life.

You find the couch in its peaceful corner still. Blissfully unaware that you’ve been on a tumultuous journey that’s now a part of your past, that you’re spent and exhausted but mostly just happy to be back home.

As much as you’d love to cry your heart out into it, and recount in excruciating detail how you had to crawl your way slowly back up – All that can wait. Right now is time for the much-awaited lullaby and sleep.

And Life is beautiful, right there.



Edit : Somebody told me this article sounded like rap-lyric when read in haste. It is in fact about a time in when I was depressed and low. And perhaps a lot of it sounds cliche (now that I read it after some time, I can look at it objectively), but every line was penned with emotion to my own days.


%d bloggers like this: