ways of seeing.

There is something about it. Isn’t there something about everything though?

When you start performing magic, right at the very start, not only are you nervous but you are looking at your hands. This somewhat defeats the purpose. The interaction in magic is not with your hands, but with those to whom you present. But the eyes of the beginner are on the method, not on the interaction. This is the price you pay for a lack of experience and practice. You haven’t paid your dues, so you’re subject to have your sight on the method.

Once you’ve put in the work and practice, you’re able to free your eyes. This moment is magic on its own. You’re not just caught up in your own actions but are able to engage in the interactions. This elevates the entire experience.

A few months ago in tabla class, I started to look around on a more regular basis. I find myself no longer fixated on my hands. I don’t need to double check my every move. This is an awesome feeling on its own. However, it turns super awesome when you are playing with someone and you are able to make eye contact with your partner(s). It is something I enjoy while watching a performance, seeing the musicians see each other. To recognise the presence of your partner, to say, “I am here with you and in sync,” is a beautiful thing. It is a moment I would not have imagined myself to be in. There is both a subtle and elaborate joy in this.

It makes me wonder. Who would I be if I didn’t try? I am not quite there yet, but would I not be robbing myself of all these moments? What does it mean to continually defer desire to a time unknown? It is so easy to fall into that trap. It saddens me that I did not start sooner. I let desire linger for so long, the reasons for which aren’t even clear to me. What was I protecting? Who knows?

Another moment struck me a few weeks ago. I was practicing material from class and of a sudden I felt like playing something. I wanted to play a feeling. bas, baithe yuheen, ek khayaal aaya. So I played it. It was simple, nothing complex. Maybe 10 or 15 seconds long. Just a few simple bols (notes). It felt good, so I recorded it. Yes, my timing is still off. As I said, I am not quite there yet. It will be yet a whiles. But there was something about it. I grew up listening to Jagjit Singh’s ghazals and somewhere in there would be a tabla solo. I remember, time and again, being awed by this instrument. Here I was hearing myself play it, and it felt like just maybe I could have the potential to play something like those solos one day. Maybe. What is so cool is that a line was drawn. From what had felt impossible to a potential of possibility. A line that can only be drawn through trying. Through a practice that expands your being of your mind beyond its own thoughts. There is both a subtle and elaborate joy in this.

So here I am, at the edge of something that seemed – not too long ago – unimaginable. I am flirting with yet another way of seeing.


ek baat pe bas yunheen teri yaad aayi.
teri bhi nahin, bas teri yaad ki yaad aayi.
us baat ki yaad aayi, un alfaz ki yaad aayi.
bas yunheen, teri yaad ki yaad aayi.


It is the fool that jumps without having considered the landing.

Last year was largely focused on the knee rehab. I probably re-injured it about 4 times through out the year. But near the end I thought I was there. Or at least I was very close to being there.

Except that now I cannot run. Or climb. The two things I so desperately want to do. I cannot ping nor pong, as it were. At least not in the same way as before. Not with any shred of confidence.

A month ago or so, I went for a lunch run with my friends at work. One friend noticed that I was recovering well, and I went on about how the knee was feeling the best it had been since I had first injured it way back when. And it was. We ran one of our normal lunch routes. It felt great. I felt great.

A little too great, perhaps. The snow was melting leaving puddles puddling all over the place. I came across one such puddle and decided that I should jump. Now, please… let me explain. There are puddles and then there are puddles. This was a sizeable puddle. This puddle, the one I so fearlessly jumped over, was an adult-sized puddle. I made the landing without a hitch. It felt great. I felt great. The run continued until the next adult-sized puddle appeared. At thing point my better judgement ought to have kicked in. I should have been happy with just the one jump. The one jump should have been enough. But what words can you use convince a fool? I leapt.

There are only two outcomes of a jump. Either you land or you break. I broke.

I felt my knee loosen. I felt bone press against bone where bone and bone ought not meet. I felt my knee buckle. A sprain doesn’t always immediately manifest. It’s the aftermath that doesn’t add up. I knew this was it, though. This was going to take me back to the start. I looked and one of my friends and told her that I wasn’t going to be able to train for the triathlon anymore. She cried a little. We finished the run.

It’s the silliest of things. The more you trust it, the more likely it is to break you. That’s just how these rivers flow. It leaves you a bit shaken though. Knee-wise I’m back to where I was a year ago, and damn-fuck-as-hell I’m not thrilled about it.

Oh, but what is there to do?
What is there to do but to sulk.
What is there to do but to try again.
Re-rehab. And so I will.

I so desperately want to run again.
You need a fool to run fool’s errands.
Here I am.

It was to please the Lord, they said.
It’s just that the Lord gets off
on the oddest of things.

I reach for the moon because it is the closest thing to the heavens that we have.

I love the sense of how drops of water in my beard turn to ice in the mornings.

Either I’m not getting enough sleep or my watch is broken.

When the weather lady said it would be mostly sunny, she neglected to mention exactly how dark it would get.


I am so intensely bored of myself. I am tired of talking about me me me.

Tell me your thoughts, mine are so boring.

My thoughts are not unique to me, it is likely that you’ve had them before.


A lot of books and articles on writing emphasize consistency. “You must write every day,” they say. And I understand the reason for this advice. Whenever you are learning (sometimes even when you’re not learning) you have to do a lot of something to become good at it. You have to wade through the crap moments. Your callouses don’t just build over night, you have to keep the process going. You have to write everyday.

Unfortunately, this has never worked for me. My mind wanders, or it is distracted. Pick whichever. Of course, I have the luxury to wander. I do not write for a living. This is probably a good thing since I’m rather fond of living. But if I level myself against this advice of consistency, this rush to finish what I had started, then it is also depressing. If consistency is my aim, then I’m consistently setting myself up for failure.

What works better for a person of my disposition is perhaps the notion of continuance. The thought that I don’t have to do this on a schedule. I don’t have to rush to the finish line. I have not failed. My work awaits me when I am ready to return to it. From there, I can simply continue where I left off. I can afford this to myself in whatever it is that I do, apart from writing, too.

There is a trick here, though. That sometimes continuance turns into consistency. If you keep coming back, if the time between the breaks shortens then it doesn’t feel like some rigid consistency. It feels like a flowing motion, something natural. And if the mindset isn’t about consistency, then you allow yourself to do something else. To take longer breaks when needed.

The even more important thing about continuance is that you allow yourself to return. Because breaking the pattern isn’t failure, it’s just another opportunity to continue later. So you keep returning, and maybe it takes you longer to finish than the next person. But, god dammit, you finish! You set the pace and you let yourself be carried by the flow. It will take you years, just keep coming back and you will get to the end.


even after all these years –
if i asked you – you couldn’t
tell me the colour of my eyes.

that is far too long a time
to have known someone and yet
not have known them at all.


The sights seem to pass me by somehow.
And only way I can ever see
is by letting go of the looking glass.

You are the maker. You are the mover.

an honest mistake – jonarno lawson

Who hasn’t huddled under
a closed wing for warmth,
forgetting for a moment
that wings were made for flying?

– JonArno Lawson


Appa was a rock. I have no idea how he was able to maintain composure. But he did. He maintained it from the moment he heard the news to the moment we were called in to identify Rohan’s body. He maintained it moving forward, too. Appa was a rock, he would not be broken.

Rohan was the sweetest boy, and he was growing up to be an amazing man. His nineteen year old body lay there in front of us and I felt weak in the knees. Last I saw him he was so full of life and energy. Seeing his lifeless body brought me to the floor and I wept with Amma. Nothing made sense. You hear people saying life is precious, and there is no better exemplification of that than seeing the lifeless body of a loved one. “Yes, this is Rohan,” Appa told the medical examiner. Amma and I were in no condition to talk. We were praying that somehow none of this was real. That somehow we would find ourselves at home and find Rohan walking through the door to join us for dinner. I could not eat for days.

The days seemed so slow. I could feel every minute that passed by and it felt like each minute hung around for just a little longer. Each hour for some longer more. I could only think of Rohan with all this extended time. Any other motion or action I did happened in my own periphery. I lost all focus. Appa, on the other hand, seemed calm. I saw him reading the paper in the morning. What does the news matter now, I wondered. The losses of the world were nothing compared to the loss of Rohan’s smile.

Appa took on most of the responsibility for arranging the funeral. The casket, the flowers, and all the decor were at Appa’s direction. I helped where I could, but only in periphery. How did Appa maintain his focus? How could he continue to function? To me the world seemed shaken to its core. How could he walk with such calm and stability?

I could barely sleep the night before the funeral. The morning was worse. We awake each day and it’s the knowledge of the next steps that affects our mindset. Some say the ritual of a funeral helps with closure, others say that it just adds pain. Those are the steps that lay ahead for me. It’s the oddest thing, preparing for a funeral. I just wanted to walk in as I was the day before. But I went through all the actions just the same. I showered, dried my hair, applied make up, and picked out a dress. All with hollow motion. My mind could only focus on Rohan’s absence. I stared at the dress for the longest time before putting it on.

“Seema, you are so strong,” people would say. I was so broken on the inside that I could no longer make sense of what strength meant. Was it appearance or emotion? Is there a difference between displaying strength and having it? Perhaps it was relative? People were comparing me to Amma who would only stop crying when it interfered with her breathing. I’m not sure which of one us was really stronger. I envied Appa’s calm demeanor as he greeted the guests.

Letting go is the hardest thing. But what of someone who is already gone? What of someone who can never return? Why is that so hard?

The viewing continued. Amma sat beside the casket, still crying. I had taken over greeting the guests for Appa. I didn’t want to stray too far from Rohan. I wanted to see him smile just one last time. I greeted friends and acquaintances, people I had not spoken to in years. It was both overwhelming and reassuring to see so many people. It was reassuring to know that Rohan mattered to so many.

I heard yelling from the other room. I wondered if some of Rohan’s friends were causing a ruckus. Or maybe some auntie had said or heard something offensive. The yelling continued and I ran to see for myself. It was Appa. Appa was up in arms about something.

“Who the hell brought these balloons?” Appa yelled. “Why are there fucking balloons at my son’s funeral?”

I approached him slowly. “Appa?” I said, holding his hands and looking into his eyes.

His hands were trembling. His face red. His breath exhausted. “Appa?” I repeated.

I felt weak in the knees again. Appa and I fell to the floor.

We wept, with some odd strength.

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