Love.

Love.

It’s such a heavy word. It is good and it is bad. It holds so much power over who we are, how we live and everything we become.

Love.

Sometimes I think it’s a cliché in a word. Overrated just a tad bit. Adds an unnecessary twist to basic everyday things.

Love.

Versions of it can be found in every corner. You can feel it, you can share it, you can buy it. It is a new perspective for every person – rarely the same in two. This one’s mine.

Love.

I found it in a broken home. In food we ate, movies we watched, late night beach drives with her friends and family. In how the world felt when I would lie on her lap, her hands on my hair. She felt it too. She always knew and she always will. Simple but consistent. Through arguments and rebellious teens. Through crazy good and insanely bad. We knew.

In the way he stocked up my favourite food when I visited Singapore. Washed the curtains, changed the bedspreads, carefully keeping my dust allergies at bay. The way he woke me up at 9am with a gentle knock and soothing words. I never startled, never panicked out of slumber. The way he taught me how to really drive two hours before my license test. His pride knowing I’m doing everything we planned for my future. His smile when I said I won’t change my last name. A daddy’s daughter can remain one with a partner, with a husband, with a life for myself. He doesn’t feel it from me. He doesn’t know by instinct the way he guides me, in my head, every step of the way. He can’t process the impact he has. His affection, guidance and protection have every minute of my life.

How she knows me better than I know myself. Her hatred to physical affection but eye-rolled hugs. Three years younger and a decade wiser. Her smart quips that she thinks tease but make me happy. It means things are okay. It means she’s not mad for the third thing I did or said wrong that day. It is the lunch she packed when I woke up late for work. The way she listened when I complained about the same thing yet again. The small words of appreciation that make me feel recognized. Her presence around me, giving me a piece of home.

Love.

It’s abundant for her. It’s complicated for him. It’s streamlined for her. It’s them for me.

Love.

I found it in a sister unrelated by blood. Harsh words when the dating was too much. Hugs when the world was tough. She was my guardian angel, my best friend and my family in one person. An inspiration in many moments. Her calm, her sanity and her patience. Nothing quite like it. I felt it in the times she trusted me with her life. I knew it when I could cry about mine to her. I don’t cry to friends. But she was always more.

Love.

Not very traditional. A myth not to be prioritized. Life requires more things than just that. Responsibility, towards duty, towards family, towards society. A career, a plan. More things mattered in the long run. A sustainable future is so much bigger.

Love.

It had a type. A mould that you needed to fit into. A person that you absolutely must be. Kind, calm, patient. Skinny, fair, attractive. Not too much make up but made up. Kitchen skills don’t hurt. A shyness around the bedroom and topics of sex. Don’t know what you want but don’t be an idiot. A job is great but family first. Duty to the future and wellbeing of the partner and the babies yet to be conceived.

Love.

Synonymous with change. Obsessed with being found. In a person. Preferably of the opposite sex. Ideally with a job. Perhaps a bit of faith and religion. We can include a few things from my list too – Taller than me, smart, well-spoken, career-obsessed, an equal partner, well-travelled, independent of me, a partner I share a life with, no decision-making authority about my life. An unreal list for an unsuitable person. It’s not about what I wanted. Not about what he wanted. It was a parent’s list. Mine. His. Maybe theirs?

Love.

Adapting, adjusting, understanding. Silent, submissive, sweet. Smiles at everyone, never has an opinion, never argues. Does not dare raise her voice, takes care of their son and creates a home that’s acceptable. To them. To theirs. To everyone else.

Beliefs that adapt to theirs, lifestyle that modifies to their plans and parents that become them.
Child over career. Bounce back culture. Partner Husband over everything else. The perfect wife for their perfect son.

A list from the parents. That’s all that matters.

Love.

It hit me like a train without a break. For the first time, I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could be fat, I could be rebellious, I could be anxious. It didn’t matter. The things about me I was criticized for became things he admired. My smarts, my passions, my job.

He supports, encourages, motivates. The person of my list and then some. A perfect partner for a ‘perfect’ me.

Love.

He gets me. My quirks and my rambles. Every word I speak, every emotion I feel. He gets me. Who I am, where I come from and everywhere I want to be.

I am a better me and I can’t remember how I got here. But this is how it should be. Empowering, enabling and enticing. Pulling you through life, only stopping when you need to. Letting you catch your breath while taking it away.

Love.

Happy, glowing and content. Accepted, appreciated and adored. Away from the lies they told about problems he doesn’t see.

A magical place. A life of the past irrelevant amidst the laughter and all-knowing glances.
A moment, maybe moving, maybe here forever. But you feel it. In cups of coffee and lingering goodbyes. Excited travel and lazy evenings. You will be everything you were meant to be. But better.

Love.

The way they curl up right next to me, eyes staring, mind relaxed. I never feel alone. They think we rescued them, but really they rescued me.

Love.

The way I feel when I write. In the strokes of paint across a canvas. For me, for my emotions, for my satisfaction. The moments between work and home. The perfect book that makes me cry. The perfect song to the tune of my world. In silence and loudness. Excitement and disappointment. The overplanning, long lists and never ending piles of colours.

Love.

In the middle of a work day when inspiration strikes. I type as I listen to songs from the 90s. The dogs right next to me. My mother texting me. I see him through the corner of my eyes.

Love.

Dear Chennai Super Kings

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We have a problem. A real one. People think the ones sitting at home, wanting to watch the match and hoping the match goes on don’t get it. But we do.

There are people in my state who spent their year’s earning on new crops. The money will go to waste if they can’t harvest it and while the banks may give hundreds of crores to someone who can leave the country, our farmers can’t get bank loans as easily. So they need the water. And they need it NOW.

But problems like these are the reason why we elect our government. You have to understand that the government now ruling my state wasn’t elected by us. The woman we elected has passed away and the current party is incapable of handling a situation even though the warning signs showed up three days ahead.

What so many have forgotten is, those elected or unelected officials sitting in ruling positions aren’t named Dhoni, Bravo, Billings or Jadeja. You are cricket players. You play for our country. You stay away from your family, or even worse, have them travel the world with you while you represent us. And during the IPL season, you come closer to home because you represent US. My city. My home. We have waited two years to see you back in the yellow jerseys. You did not deserve to be treated that way.

I can tell you a hundred other ways they could’ve handled this. They could’ve even showed up at the stadium with banners that held their protests while still cheering you on. They could’ve peacefully protested while letting you get on the bus and go to Chepauk with pride that CSK is back! As a marketer, I can think of a lot of things that they could’ve done instead.

But as a human being, I’m sorry.

I say ‘they’ because I hope you know, the man who threw a shoe at Jadeja doesn’t represent who this city is.

The people who tried to run behind your bus aren’t who we Chennai-ites are.

We’re warm. We welcome everyone from anywhere with open arms to create their homes here. We’re the city that rolls up their pants and says, “Let’s make our home liveable again,” when disaster strikes. We’re loving to a fault.

And I’m sure you know this, but I hope the 10th of April hasn’t taken away the memories we, you and my city, have created together for years. Thank you for still winning that match and not letting the hooligans get to you.

The people who rallied against you don’t represent us. I can tell you who they represent but what’s the point?!

I don’t know how you feel about the matches being moved to Pune. I feel bittersweet. You deserved a better homecoming. I’m sorry we couldn’t give it to you. I’m happy they can’t use you for their political gains anymore.

I hope you still want to come back next year. I hope when you think of us, you think of the ones who got so excited for you to be back. The ones with IPL schedules written in yellow stuck to the back of their closet doors. The ones who showed up to that stadium, knowing they could be hit at any given moment because they wanted to show you their support.

I hope, when you think of us, you remember the Chennai that loves you.

Because we do.

<3

I WROTE A BOOK!

Yep! You read that right.

I turned 25 on September 22 and as a present to myself, after 5+ years of effort and procrastination, I’ve finally published my book!

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A crime mystery set in a fictional town, 3 hours away from San Francisco, Claire is the result of sleepless nights and endless hours of editing!

You can get it on your Kindle or on paperback!

Amazon.com Kindle: goo.gl/GvEzRk

Amazon.com Paperback: goo.gl/t1ggr6

Amazon.in Kindle: goo.gl/2VcJeE

Amazon.in Paperback: goo.gl/kuZGpY

Thank you all so much for your never ending support. Your support through likes, comments, shares and just your time to read has motivated me for so long. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the book!

Do post a picture with your copy on instagram and tag me! – instagram.com/loudthoughtsvo

#Claire #WhoKilledClaire

(3/6) The Brother

From “What nonsense are you wearing? Go put on something decent,” to “If you’re getting a registered marriage, call me. I’ll come sign witness,” he’s been all possible types of a brother to me.

We fight, of course. OH MY GOD, WE FIGHT. I have an ego because it’s passed down to me in my genes (thanks, Dad) and he has one because… well, he’s the older brother. He obviously has one. And the two clash. ALL THE TIME. He’s made promises about cutting ties with me “forever.” It’s never happened. *knocks on wood*

That’s him though. It’s so easy to look at him from the outside and go, “He screams or yells so much.” Yet, if you know him, you’ll know it’s anything but.

If I have a problem, if my mother has a problem, if my sister has a problem, if we’re unsure about what to do in a situation, if there’s drama in the family, if we need to gossip, if we need to bitch, if we want to go on vacation, if we want to plan a pilgrimage, if we want to figure out how a movie is or how a restaurant is – we only have to call.

It doesn’t matter what time it is or what shit he’s dealing with while we interrupt him with the silliest of things, he’ll still deal with it like he always does.

I still remember when we officially crossed that bridge where I no longer had to pretend to be a child. He always knew it but to establish it as a fact…

“Poornima, look.” I looked up to a flash going off. “Just wait till I show your mother this.”

I was terrified for the first hour. He could tell mom. He is older. He does tell her a lot of things honestly. I should be worried.

Yeah. It’s been two years. He’s got pictures of me with glasses, of me with other people’s beer (I swear to God, I hate beer. It wasn’t mine.) and in bars / pubs. We’ve sat in a car in the middle of a cold war between us and he picked up my farewell party video claiming, “I’m going to show it to her.” He hasn’t. I don’t think he ever will. It’s just him being a stereotypical brother.

But that’s the thing! I’ve grown up with a sister that acts exactly like a sister. We fight and two days later, we’re shopping for clothes where she hates my style and I hate hers. We don’t dictate, we don’t playfully punch the other’s arm, we don’t pull hair from the seat behind, we don’t throw empty threats. Those aren’t things sisters do. Those are things a brother does to his sister. Like he does to me.

It always makes me smile when I realise, while I thought I only grew up with my younger sister, I’ve also grown up with an older brother who acts EXACTLY like an older brother.

And when you push away that playfulness and look at the big picture, he’s also helped me out like an older brother. With things as little as getting a scratch guard for my phone to first day first show Rajinikanth movie tickets. Two minutes after he teases me about my jet lag or broken aircon or sudden fever, he’ll come up with solutions to fix it – Always willing to help.

But the biggest one was the phone call that said, “A friend’s company is looking for a writer. You won’t lose anything by applying. Just send him your resume today,” followed by all the reminders until I finally sent it.

I got that job. It turned my world upside down. The internships were great but that job was what finally got me back on my feet. I learnt what I can do in life because of that job. So many people so important to me are here in my life today because of that job.

And in the two and half years since he made that call, I’ve never heard him mention how he helped get me that opportunity. The one time I tried to mention it, he said, “I got you the introduction. You got yourself the job.” But isn’t that the most difficult thing to get today? An introduction?

So I’ll say it, maybe never to your face because I’ll cry and you’ll say I’m putting scene and walk off and my mom will cry and you know… the usual? But I’ll say it here.

THANK YOU FOR BEING SUCH A STEREOTYPICAL OLDER BROTHER. LIFE WOULD HAVE BEEN SO DIFFERENT (not the good kind) WITHOUT YOU!

Also, I know you’re not the greatest fan of pictures on public platforms. So here goes.. 😀 (This is why I get into trouble!)

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Dear Beautiful

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Dear beautiful,

How you doing today? If the answer is great, I’m happy for you. If the answer is bad, let’s fix it. Because I’ve had those days too. And I’d have loved the help too.

I didn’t know how to say these words to you. I’m not the best at giving a speech. So I thought I’d write them down and let you read.

I get it. We may look different but we suffer the same. Whether we’re openly emotional or we dump it within ourselves, we feel the same. Whether we fit into that dress or have to have it custom ordered to our size, we love ourselves the same. With a little doubt. A little insecurity. A lot of wishful thinking.

You may not feel like you’re doing the best you can – at work, at home, in a relationship. You feel unsure. You have those moments when you wonder if anyone cares. And when they do, the acceptance is a task, not easy.

You do all these wonderful things that people compliment you for but you don’t see it. It’s not significant. It’s not changing lives or the world. So you sigh in silence as you hope to be someone else. The TV version of a woman who spends her silent nights, wishing the way you do, to be someone else she sees too. But you don’t know that.

Because how can she be that and this? How can you?

There’s a room filled with paper boxes. Each with a label – Strong, career woman. Submissive, housewife. Opinionated, judgemental. Open-minded, troublesome. Rebel, anti-establishment. Goody two shoes, daddy’s daughter. Abusive, vicious. Abused, liar.

You can only fit into one of these. You can’t be stunning and insecure. You can’t be successful and homely. You can’t have a career and a family. You can’t. You Can’t. YOU CAN’T.

Stop. Stop listening to those voices. Stop letting yourself believe them. Stop underestimating who you can be.

And never stop.

In a world that focuses so much on labelling who you are and what you do, never stop being your authentic self.

Around people who tell you your choice is a mistake, never stop taking chances.

When the ones you love try to hold you back in the name of care, never stop breaking free.

And that dream? The one that you shrug about as nothing but an unrealistic wish when deep within you want it more than anything you could imagine? Never stop chasing it.

This world isn’t a kind place to us. Yes, it’s harsher to some more than others. But that doesn’t make it better. For you to get where he has, you’ll work twice as hard and be overlooked twice as much. Don’t let that keep you down.

Don’t compare who you are to who she is.

She might get ahead of you faster than you got to where you are. Don’t hate her. There are enough people in this world to tear us down. Let it not be ourselves. We need each other today more than ever before. We need each other to fight for ourselves and the ones beside us. The ones who can scream and the ones who succumb. The ones who laugh and the ones who cry.

You may count yourself insignificant in a fight to prove ourselves important. But are you sure? Imagine if we all thought that. Who’d be left? Your voice and your fight matters. You matter. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

So go be that woman.

The one who chooses based on emotion.

The one who dreams beyond reason.

The one who hiccups when she laughs.

The one whose hair tangles with the wind.

The one who can seldom get a candid picture right.

We all have insecurities. We’re all unsure where life leads. We all date that stupid guy. We all fall in love and break our hearts.

Never let someone else’s perspective of who you are affect what you know about yourself. There’s no winning with the ones who are waiting with words that poke and hurt. So take yourself out of their game.

Be outspoken and shy. Be loud and socially awkward. Have an amazing career and a loving family.

It’s not impossible. You’ve seen it. You know it. You just have to believe it.

So go on. Spread those invisible wings and do what you’ve always wanted to do.

If you fly too close to the sun, we’re right here with a lot of cold wind.

With silent wishes and loud compliments,

Me.

Someday

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We’re at that point now. I don’t know where my life’s headed. You don’t know where yours seems to be going either. It’s not a cross road. It’s fuzzy vision. What’s two steps in front of me cannot be seen. It’s scary. I feel my heart begin to race. I turn to my right. Guess what I see?

Someday.

It’s not a place. It’s not a moment. It’s a face. It’s a person.

Someday.

In a little world of our own, you’ll come home to me. There’d be no goodbyes. No airport kisses. Just you and I.

Someday.

A bowl of soup and a lot of Netflix. Dala curled up around my feet. His head resting on my ankle. Yours on my shoulder. Our hands intertwined. I’ll squeeze tight every time the wall moves and the mother screams, “Will!” But I won’t be afraid. If the walls were to ever come alive, I know I’ll have you by my side.

Someday.

After dinner that should have been lunch, we’ll go on that walk I was never allowed to. The clock past midnight. Your arms around me, tight. As the curfews of the past seem to float away, the breeze I’d longed for becomes the cherry on my cake.

Someday.

Your work will get to you like never before. My ability to understand walking out the door. That screaming match I’d always feared. You’ll give me hugs instead of papers. That tear rolling down will tell tales of insecurities. Ones I’d never had to speak.

Someday.

We’ll fight over where the tv goes. Why you’re not allowed to keep those ugly clothes. How much space you need and how little you clean. You’ll end them with your crappy jokes. That laughter reaching my eyes like it always does. Remind me again, what were we fighting about?!

Someday.

That house will slowly become a home. Something I’d spent all my life longing for. The future no more a far away dream. It’ll be now. It’ll be here.

Someday.

This fuzz will fade. Our paths so clear, but never meet. Unless you hold my hand and walk into mine. Or I… into yours. Giving up dreams. Shedding family.

Someday.

Our hearts will race. That choice we make, changing everything in its wake.

Someday.

I’ll sit on that patio, overlooking the beach. A glass of chilled wine and Dala at my feet. My children running around with sand in their hair, happy.  The door behind me opens with a little creak.

He’ll walk through the door to put his arms around me.

Someday.

In a faraway land. In a home that we built. We’ll smile at the little ones. The hands holding me, putting my heart finally at ease.

I’ll turn to my right. Guess what I’ll see?

Someday.

From The One Who Lost Control

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I sat there. On the corner of my bed. Clutching my computer. Trying to find something, anything to distract myself from what I knew was happening to me. I went from E! to YouTube, Superwoman to Brad Pitt’s FBI case – if only I could find one thing that takes my mind away from this spiral I knew was around the corner.

But it was too late.

It was too late when I was on that bus, trying to text my boyfriend – my source of happiness. It was too late when I pretended to mull over what bread I want at FairPrice. It was too late when I made dinner like I was completely okay. It was just too late.

And so it happened. One tear drop at a time. A slow shiver that took over my hands and legs. I suddenly couldn’t breathe anymore. My desperation to hold onto anything that was sanity, slowly slipping away from my fingers. The lump in my throat, now a sob. I held onto my hair, willing myself to stop. Begging my emotions to take control of themselves. The pain spread from the back of my head to my chest. I knew I was too far gone to control anymore.

An hour later, I was starving. But I wouldn’t get up. If I get up, everything will fall apart. If I move from here, something will go wrong. I won’t. I can’t. I can’t. I CAN’T!

A fear that wrapped its arms so tightly around me, I felt bound to my bed, unable to move. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t stop sobbing. It wouldn’t stop hurting.

The kind soul that chose me had to calm down an absolute mess of an adult who didn’t know how to stop being afraid of absolutely nothing.

So we talked about my day. “I made coffee. I showered. I went to study group.” One sentence after the other, I stuttered myself better just long enough to go get food.

But then at the kitchen, his call dropped. And so did I. To my knees with fear and tears until it was connected again because, “I’m terrified.”

A part of me so ashamed that this is what my life had come to. That I had to showcase my biggest vulnerability over a video call. That I needed someone else to help me. It didn’t help the tears. It didn’t help my racing heart.

Leave me. Find someone who isn’t on the kitchen floor when you don’t speak for ten seconds. Go away. But don’t. Because I don’t want you, I need you. I need help. Help me. But go be happy. I’m a mess. Go. Just.. don’t go. 

This doesn’t paint a very pretty picture, does it?

But this is what an anxiety attack is.

24 hours later, I’m still feeling shaky. I’m still struggling to not lose control to it. But it will happen. And I will yet again feel like my world is crushing me as it falls apart when everything is as it was fifteen minutes ago.

I’m lucky, though. I have someone to help me.

Not everyone does. So listen carefully. If your friend / family mentions anxiety, listen carefully. It’s not Want you hear.

It’s a desperate Need.

 

 

 

 

Dear 15-year-old Me

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Dear 15-year-old Me,

Don’t do it.

Don’t trust that boy in a broke-down car. The words he utters are not to melt your heart. It is to melt your pants.

Remember, his friends aren’t your friends. His friends are his friends. They will always be his friends. Don’t tell them secrets he doesn’t know. He will know.

I know your adrenaline’s pumping, but don’t sneak out that door at 2am. It’s not worth the trouble. Enjoy that beauty sleep while you still can. Adult life has a lot of sleepless nights in store for you.

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Don’t give yourself an excuse. Blaming your parents for your actions does not make them any better. You’ll wish you’d listened to yourself in five years’ time.

And even though it feels like it, you’re not in love. You’re seeing stars where there’s glitter. Love doesn’t come in crappy forward texts. It doesn’t bloom the moment his hands are where they shouldn’t be. Love isn’t an excuse to make out. He may tell you otherwise. Don’t let your infatuation cloud your mind.

Your parents aren’t your enemies. They don’t know how to handle this version of you but they’re still right. They’re not ruining your “life experiences.” Don’t alienate them. You’ll kick yourself for it later.

School is important. College matters. Don’t skip classes. If not for the lessons, at least for the memories. When your friends reminisce about them at 20, you’ll feel left out.

Don’t pick a date over dinner with your family. He’s not looking for a relationship. And it’s okay. He marries someone ugly and goes bald in seven years. You’ll be happier this way.

Pick your friends wisely. Don’t forget, the ones who love you will be honest about that skirt being a little too short in the back and his hands being a little too low around your shoulder. Learn the difference.

Your aunts aren’t the greatest. Your extended family isn’t royalty. But, on a bad day with no money, they’ll still be there for you. Don’t show off your unreasonable arrogance to them. They might forgive you. You won’t.

So you’re single. Don’t get a boyfriend because she has one. Having a boyfriend is not a definition of your beauty or desirability. It is not a matter of social status. It is personal. It is emotional. Let it happen in its own time.

Allow yourself a little “loserdom.” It’s okay if your hair isn’t amazing. It’s okay if your grades aren’t the best. It’s okay if you don’t have a squad. So what if she’s the most popular kid in class? It ends. You grow up. You get your own lives. Don’t get caught up in your high school labels. They don’t last very long.

That kid you thought was an asshole? He works for your country. He’s kind and giving. That girl who dated your crush and was the hottest girl in town? She gets pushed into a life she doesn’t like. She’d give anything to have your freedom of choice. Don’t let yourself get swayed by who people are right now. They change.

You will change too.

You’ll be better. You’ll be kinder. You’ll develop a better sense of fashion. (Thank goodness!) You’ll chase your dreams without being afraid. You’ll fall in love. You’ll get your heart broken. And you know what the best part is? You’ll be strong enough to keep going. You won’t stop.

You’ll find friends who love you for you. You’ll date men who treat you well.

There is so much of life that’s waiting to be lived. And don’t scowl or make a sarcastic remark at that. You think you know it all. But you don’t. You don’t know the beautiful views you’ll fall asleep to. Or the books you’ll read. The words you’ll write. The moments you’ll live.

And on your worst day, you will find yourself. You will find all that you are. It will be chaos.

But you’ll know how to accept that.

This life you’re living, it’s nothing like the one you’ll live. Or the one you want.

So stop the crazy. Enjoy your moments. And let yourself be 15. You only have the rest of your life to be an adult.

Be a teenager today.

And listen to your heart when it says, “Don’t do it.”

With all my love and life lessons,

23-year-old You.