I was a teenager. I don’t remember the exact age. We used to go to Saudi every summer. This was nice at first, because we were returning to where we once lived. A homecoming of sorts. But as time passed I didn’t like it because it kept me from developing friendships during those summer months.
When in Saudi, family would come visit us. On and off we’d have uncles, aunts and cousins in the apartment. Some would live in the same city, some even in the neighbourhood. But others would come from afar. Two of my uncles were doctors and they lived in remote parts of the country. That’s where their hospitals were.
One of the doctor uncles had come to visit with his family. My cousins were in the range of 5-9 years old. One of them had his hair combed super proper. I was amused at how someone so small and young was so invested in the precision of their hair. Specially given how imprecise I was about such things.
So to tease my little cousin, I ruffled up his hair as we were playing. He got flustered, ran away and combed his back into place. I hid the comb and ruffled up his hair again. He got upset, of course, and was able to find another comb. I was increasing curious what his recourse would be if he wasn’t able to comb his hair into perfect alignment. I hid the second comb and ruffled up his hair again.
Unable to find another comb, he started crying. I had not expected this outcome. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. I felt so cruel in that moment. I returned the combs to him but he kept crying.
It’s interesting how curiosity without consideration can turn into cruelty.
Anyway, I’m bald now.
I guess I will note down stray memories as they find me.
I remember being in Hyderabad as a child. We would go every year. Most years to attend a wedding. My mom has nine brothers. If all of them got married each year, that’d be nine years. This wasn’t the case, but a lot of our visits were related to an uncle getting married.
We were in a car. I don’t remember where we were going, nor where we had left. This was the children’s car. Full of my cousins.
We were passing by this Hindu man riding his bicycle. One of my cousins stuck his head out and yelled, “anna, tyre puncture!” in a Telgu accent (anna means brother). There was no tire puncture. It was a prank. The man started to worry and look at the tires on his cycle. Noticing that everything was fine, he yelled back some angry words. I don’t remember what he said.
I do remember being very upset about this. We were on the road. What if this man had lost control of his cycle being worried about the tire? I felt like it could have caused some real harm. I wondered why my cousin would do such a thing. Maybe we had seen a similar prank in a movie and he was trying it out on the road.
I didn’t have the courage to bring it up with my cousin.
I am a perennial coward. Looking back, I am shocked at how I mustered up the courage to say and do some of the things I’ve said and done.
I wonder for the future, how much of my courage will be musterable.
What’s the point of being here still only to be still?
I find myself chasing memories. As if playing hide and seek. I am always the seeker. I don’t get to hide.
I imagine these memories floating around in my head like some amorphous nebula. Most of it is a blur, speeding by as I try and pluck something into stillness.
Actively trying to remember works sometimes. It seems like more and more a struggle as time passes. Sometimes I’m left with just memories of memories. I remember having remembered it, but I can’t reach it now. Is it gone forever?
Other times some adjacent memories will return with no warning. I was reaching for something else and now I have this one. I wonder what to do with it. Once I let it go now I wonder if it’ll ever return. I wonder how true it is. Maybe I’ve revised it over time to be something more suitable to who I am now.
Right now, for no particular reason, I’m trying to remember two names. Friends from high school who I haven’t seen since. I remember some vague specifics, but not their names.
One friend was a tall brown boy. He was legally-blind. We’d hangout on and off during lunch breaks and we were in the computer council. This one time I had sprained my ankle playing basketball in gym class. I remember him helping me from the gym to… I don’t remember where. My hand around his shoulder as I was hopped on my good leg. As we passed by the library I remember some kids telling me how silly I looked hopping on one leg. They told me to use the sprained ankle but not put too much weight on it. I remember all this some how – bit and pieces – but I don’t remember his name.
The other friend was a goth-ish white girl. We were just in one or two classes together. English was one of them. We had developed nicknames for each other. We would yell them to each other whenever we saw each other in the hallways. We continued to do this long after we were in classes together. I remember her hair and that nonchalance in the way she walked. But I don’t remember her name, nor the nicknames we had.
Did they even have names? Were we even friends? Did this even happen?
Perhaps I could look them up in a year book. Just that I never bought a year book.
What would I even do with their names?
I haven’t written much. It’s been a long time.
I used to carry this tiny notepad where I’d jot down thoughts as they appeared. I would make sure never to be far from this notepad. Who knows when a thought may strike and wilt all at once? Leaving just enough time for me to capture it.
There’s many reasons to write (or not write, I suppose). Motivations, muses and moments all count. Sometimes you have them all, but don’t want to write.
Back in 2015, returning from a work trip, I stopped at the waterfront. And started to weep with a friend. For clarity’s sake, I wept and the friend watched/listened. He made a comment about how I could turn that sadness into writing, as if there were a correlation. Maybe there is. But we’ve all written during sadness and joy. I did write quite a bit back then. Most of it was horseshit.
Ultimately, I love the turns of phrases. How one word welcomes the next. You can image a word clearing the way for another, whispering “we need to stick together,” as the next one arrives. Like words tying themselves together and to a tree at a climate protest. Making themselves known. Making their cause known.
My muse now is the passage of time. There is no legacy to leave behind. I hope to be forgotten in a flash (or two, maybe three). So there’s only the moments we make and share, in the moment we make and share them.
Anyway, I’ve started to take notes again. Some vague inspiration has struck and I’m trying to give it shape. The thoughts used to come more or less completed before. I’ve been out of practice. I just get patches now. Hopefully this is just warming up.
There’s a lot of work to be done.
I’m not trying to be humble, it’s a defect.
nazar nahin lagti, nazranay lagjate hain.
baat nahin banti, afsanay banjate hain.
Seems like I only come by here in the oddities. The down moments.
I’ve been largely away or silent on social media the last many years. Since after the knee surgery anyway. That was in 2016.
I’ve been away before as well. Disabling accounts on and off. For whatever reason I didn’t consider the media going away. I thought that the flow would still be there once I returned.
That’s not how this works. The world changes with or without you. When it changes without you the way back only gets farther.
I logged into facebook recently. To see what people were up to. To see the flow of things. It’s a ghost town. Not sure if people have moved on to other places or if they have just moved on.
It saddened me. I’m sure all the folks are fine. It saddened me for me. I thought perhaps I could get reconnected in some way. Peek back on updates of old friends. When Google decided to discontinue gchat I lost touch with many folks I had otherwise kept in touch with regularly. Yes, I am a bad friend and there are others ways to stay in touch. But the power of the medium gives me pause.
I mostly just look at Instagram stories now. I respond in positive emojis like an old uncle giving people encouragement. I wonder how long it will be before these connections wither.
They say that 90% of everything is bullshit.
Imagine my dismay to discover that bullshit is only 90% bullshit.