A Year That Was

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I wrapped up my 2018 on an emotional note. I am struggling with the resurfacing of suppressed emotions. I’m grieving a loss eight months after it happened. Or maybe, it’s just the feeling of such an overwhelming year coming to an end. But I’ve been emotional and always two minutes from tears.

This year has been all over the place. When I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. When I thought it couldn’t get better, it did. Sometimes, I can’t believe it all happened in 365 days. But it was filled with lessons for a lifetime.

I started my year with a job offer. The people around me looked excited, but I knew it wasn’t the right one. I knew there was something better waiting for me. I still took it. I traveled 3000 miles for it. I sat in a hotel room with my mother who was there to help me settle in and I knew in my gut I wasn’t supposed to be there. I cried, sobbed and came back home like a kid on the first day of kindergarten. With that, I learnt to trust my instincts and tune out other voices because I was right.

But making that choice meant living off of my father’s money again. I know a lot of people who don’t mind this part. But I do. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY do. My need to live on my money is high. And so I sank. Deeper and deeper into depression. The kind I haven’t known before. The kind where I volunteered to get help against the wishes of the ones near and dear to me. I was prescribed medication. Yet, on a dull afternoon, I picked up a pencil and started to draw anything that made sense. When I finally put the pencil down, a weight had lifted off of me. I was free. I can’t express why. I can’t tell you how. But it was like my emotions had poured itself out and a light had found me. With that, I learnt the importance of art for my mental wellbeing.

And I thought to myself, Well, the worst is behind me. Life sat in a corner and laughed knowingly.

For the first time in my life, I learnt loss. I learnt how to know and love someone and have them be taken away. I learnt pain like nobody can ever teach you. I watched as the light went out from my fur baby’s eyes. The young one. The sweet one. The one I didn’t fear losing because I had another four years older. And I never understood how to process that pain. I never truly felt that loss wash over me. I find myself unable to say her name without breaking inside today. The therapist tells me it’s because I didn’t grieve. But I don’t know how to. I’m so used to not letting myself feel this pain, I don’t know how to just let it take over. This year, I learnt to love and lose, never to see again. I learnt the importance of grieving as I continue to struggle today.

They said she took the evil away. That worse things needed to happen but she took it so we could have it better. I don’t find myself enjoying the better when someone adds that spin to it. Because if I had to be at home depressed out of my mind to still have her with me, I’d do it in a heartbeat. And that is how I learnt that I’m not going to be the hard-ass, heartless and cold entrepreneur that I hoped to be. Because I can’t walk over people I love to get what I want. I need the ones I love around me, always.

A few weeks after my fur baby passed away, I landed the job I knew I would get. The one that feels like a dream.

And so began the better part of the year. We adopted a stray dog. I identified my real friends. I announced my second book. I wrote the first draft of the second book. I ticked off two new countries on my list. I met global leaders, I shook hands with people I hope to one day be and most importantly, I found myself surrounded by women doing all the things the world I came from told me was absolutely impossible. I found myself inspired everyday and after endless months of not knowing why I’m here, I found my reason again. I found the need to move forward. And for the first time in a long time, I found hope.

My job makes me travel. And in October, I went to Paris. I saw the Eiffel Tower in shivering cold! It was magical. I remember standing there with four women who were way high up on the food chain at work laughing with me and teasing me. It was… perfect. Life laughed again. I spent two weeks in France unable to really experience my surrounding, faking laughter and fighting tears. Wanting to leave, knowing I should stay. I can’t ever explain what happened. But those two weeks taught me – I’m stronger than I think I am.

Because now I know. I know how tangible happiness is. How fleeting perfection is. And no, I won’t hide. I won’t be afraid to take bold and bright steps forward. But I’m going to be prepared. I have the ability to say, “I’ll make my plans, you do your worst. I’ll find my way again. I promise.” That was the biggest lesson 2018 taught me.

We all slip and fall. A number change in the date doesn’t change that. Sometimes, we fall harder than ever before. It doesn’t matter as long as you find the courage to rise again.

In 2018, I learnt the meaning of the words, “This too shall pass.” Because the good and the bad, they pass. And every morning is a fresh start. Every minute is a new one. Ride the waves as they come but be prepared to fall off the board. You’re the only one who can get back on it again.

I spent my last week of 2018 in Dubai. With people I love, doing things I enjoy. I created, I worked, I toured and of course, I fell more in love with life again.

2019 will change many things for me. Personally and professionally. For better or for worse. I’m going to tell myself what I hope you’ll tell yourself, too, when life gets the better of you – Keep moving. Life doesn’t stagnate, you shouldn’t either.

Have a fantastic 2019! Happy New Year from me and mine to you and yours!!

With lots of love, bright smiles and bear hugs,

Me

In memory of Mika (2016 – 2018)
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Mika

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“You haven’t blogged in a while. Don’t you want to write something?” So I opened a new document and stared at it. The only movement in the room was the blinking cursor. It’s been a while since I wrote anything. Not because I haven’t had ideas. But because nothing feels right. The first blog I write after April 16th had to be about her. It couldn’t be about anything else. But how do I write about her?

How do I put words to paper without crashing – body, mind, heart and soul? How do I ever communicate with words what it’s like to lose someone unexpectedly? To lose someone for the first time? To lose her?

Do you know how fragile our lives are? Her life was ten times worse. But nobody told me. I was so focused on him. “He’s older. He’s fat. He’s never been extremely healthy. I have to be prepared to lose him someday. It made so much sense. She was younger. She was active. She had always been a lot healthier. How could I have known? How could I have been prepared? It was a skin infection. He’s had thousands of them. He’s been okay. She should as well, right? No one told me she wouldn’t be. Because that was just the beginning of one week of pain. Physically, for her. Emotionally, for me. 

I still remember the 15th like it was yesterday. I went home from the vet but I just couldn’t stay away. How could I sit there and eat? And sleep? And watch TV when my little one was struggling to live? So I went back. I held her. I kissed her over and over again. I told her I understand she has to do what she has to do. But then the 16th morning happened.

I kept calling the vet, “Is she okay?” They responded that she’s sleeping. At about 10am, I felt this pang. I went crying to my Dad, “Let’s not put her to sleep. She’ll live. She’ll come back.” It was this rush of a feeling. I sobbed to my Mom, “She’s going to be back here. She’s ours. She can’t go away from us.” My mom tried to calm me down. She made me sit down. The phone rang. “Her temperature shot up. We tried. But she couldn’t make it.” I just went very silent. I told them in my calmest voice, “I’ll have Mom call you back in 5 minutes.” I put the phone down on the bed and screamed.

Have you ever lost someone? For the first time? That was my first time. And since the moment we knew that she probably wouldn’t make it, I knew I’d be the one to get that call. I knew it would be me who told my family. But I didn’t really tell them. I couldn’t. How could you say words that are synonymous with, “The girl we loved is now gone”?

We went and said our goodbyes. The vet clinic vibrated with my mother’s cries. When you live in a dysfunctional family where saying, “I love you,” is the most awkward thing they can imagine, a furry baby’s love means the world. That little girl was my mother’s world. 

It’s taken me three months to acknowledge the fact that she’s gone. Three months to write this post without tearing my skin out because that would be less painful. But my heart is still broken. I wonder at times if she can still hear me. If she came still see me. If she knows that when I lie down at night, I wonder if she’s sleeping just like I’m about to. I wonder if I should go find her and check on her one last time. This world will never be the same. She came to us in a cardboard box, wrapped in old newspapers. I looked at her and said, “She’s a Mika. This is our Mika.” And that’s who she’ll always be. Our Mika.

I walked out of that clinic completely devastated. Never wanting to step back there again. I held my mother’s hand and told her, “She’ll give you a sign. She may be gone but she’ll always be around. You’ll know it when you feel it. I promise.” I had my doubts about that promise but I had hope and faith in her love for my mother. We went home and I headed out because there was a lot of difference between being home and knowing she’s at the vet compared to being home and knowing she’ll never walk back into that house again.

I struggled to sip tea and prepare for an interview for the job I now hold because all I really wanted to do was sob my heart out. My mom had gone to visit her friend. She called. I picked up with fear because I knew she was fragile. Her first words were, “Mika has come back!” 

You could imagine my confusion for I held her breathless body four hours earlier. Mom was at her friend’s house, crying. A friend’s house that we’ve visited a million times since I was, maybe, 12 years old. I’m 25 now. You can imagine. We’ve always parked at the same place. She always comes to our car. We always sit in the car and talk. But of all days, on April 16th 2018, the day we lost our baby girl, a bunch of school boys ran up to my mother and handed her a rescued baby boy. 

I’ll give you a little background. The doctors sat us down when Mika was sick and told us to never adopt pugs again. Because their many health complications are painful for the pet and the parent. Mika had Pug Encephalitis. A disease that mostly affects pugs under the age of 3 and is almost always fatal. We told him how we’d talked about it. How our third baby was going to be an Indian Mongrel. And this time, we’d get a boy. So we’d have two boys and a girl. The perfect family.

There, in mom’s hands, on the day we lost Mika, was an Indian mongrel furry boy. And what’s more astonishing? He jumped into her arms and nestled into her shoulders like Mika used to. It was a sign. It was meant to be. We named him Subramani, a.k.a., Subbu.

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There have been a lot of difficulties in our process to keeping him. From a father who wasn’t ready for another furry member to the reality of adopting another pet with an existing 5-year-old boy who was extremely emotionally attached to Mika, we had the odds lined up against us. So we tried to give him up for adoption. But every time he went away, something brought him back to us. He is ours. It was meant to be.

He’s not Mika. They’re extremely similar. But he’s not her. She can’t be replaced. She was the sassiest dog I’ve ever known. She could be a real bitch sometimes, too. But she was who she was… Small body, loud personality and a giant heart. Our lives will go on. I’ll have more furry babies in my life. But I’ll never forget the tiny puppy that wouldn’t stop licking me for as long as I live. No-one can ever replace her. Nobody will ever be my Mika. 

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Her First

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It’s been about ten months since I first saw her. Right after the floods, my father brought her into our lives. That tiny face that brings joy to me and makes my first question my love for him.

I woke up this morning to a post on Facebook. Kerala offers gold coins to the civic authorities that kill the maximum number of stray dogs. I had a moment of “WHAT?!”

I wasn’t as furious as I was confused. They claimed the reason was because the street dogs are biting too many people. I recalled a moment a stray dog would refuse to come near me. She was afraid. Someone from my world had hurt her before. But I waited. I fed her everyday. Now all I have to do is whistle, and she’ll come running to me, tail wagging, face happy. I imagined a world where if I’d just killed her instead of feeding her and adoring her with patience. It wasn’t one I could process because even if she hadn’t come around, I couldn’t ever do that to another living being.

That’s the key word. LIVING being. She’s not an old broken radio. She’s not a plastic bottle that’s no use anymore. She’s not rotten food you can’t eat for sure. She’s a LIVING being. Like you. Like me. When you’re hurt and upset, you yell at people, don’t you? If you say No, it’s a lie and we both know it. Tell me, should I kill you for shouting at me? “Because that’s just hurtful”?

Remember those fathers that get angry and spank their children once or more? Should we kill them?

When you do something annoying and your girlfriend playfully slaps you on your arm only to realise she’s stronger than she thinks she is? Should we kill her?

If hurting someone leads to our death, why can’t we kill everyone?

Oh I get it. It spreads rabies and diseases! Like your mother who developed fever and walked around the house knowing it might spread to you and the rest of the family. Sounds mean and rude, I know. But that’s how ridiculous it all sounds.

If each person adopts one stray dog, we wouldn’t have to kill them. Not just because there’d be none left but because maybe you’ll realise how no human being (Not even your own parent or child) can love you like that furry little thing can.

I came home for Diwali. I was forced on the floor and showered with love by my two babies. I’d been wondering if that ticket was worth it. Those five minutes ensured it was.

I read an article about two girls who nailed a dog to the wall and posted pictures about it on social media. Is this an achievement? “I KILLED SOMEONE” is not a thing of pride. It is a disgrace. It is offensive. It is shameful to the human race.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or needs help as much as you do.

I looked at her today. She doesn’t know it’s her first birthday. She was curled up with wide eyes staring at me. I couldn’t imagine someone hurting her. I couldn’t imagine someone willingly putting her through pain.

I would be on my bed 8,000 miles away and feel a movement. I’d have to remind myself it’s not them. It’s wind. And I’d wipe away a tear. My friends would tease me when I tell them how much I miss my dogs. They’d laugh about how I didn’t mention family members. But that’s the truth. That’s what unfiltered, undying love does to you. The kind you only receive from these four-legged, puppy eyed babies.

#StopAnd if you have the heart to hurt them knowing they’re in pain and hearing them cry..

I suggest not just checking into a mental asylum, but also request being chained because you’ve reached a new level of emotional and mental instability and may cause hurt to anyone at any moment based on whim without rationality.

Because animal cruelty is not a joke. It is not a show of courage. It is not a trend. It is not fashionable.

If you ever find yourself wanting to hurt an animal, find your local mental health specialist and get help!

#StopMurderingLivingBeings

The best and worst of mankind

I know I don’t really blog on a weekday, but I had to get this out of my system. I saw two kinds of human beings today. I was so happy when my mother and I were at the vegetable market and I saw this man wait for a homeless man to hand him some bread. I thought that was humanity at its best. I was so overjoyed and I actually wanted to share the happiness that day. 

Then on my way back from there, I saw a Hyundai company bus speed past us so fast he almost hit us. We escaped, but falling prey to his stupid driving was an innocent dog’s leg. I am shattered to say the least. I just.. I’m furious and unbelievably heartbroken. I can hear the poor thing’s cries in my head and its blood on the road. And the heartless person that drove away without stopping for a second. 

I was just having a conversation with my mother about how animals could never tell you exactly where they’re hurting if they are and to witness that. I want to find ways to sue that goddamn driver. If he/she woke up late, it’s his/her problem. Driving rash on the roads, not stopping for an innocent being’s life and acting like nothing happened is unacceptable and I’m shocked that this is the kind of person a company like that would trust their employees’ lives with. 

The dog was taken to the hospital with the security guard. I will try and get an update soon but I really think someone should do something about the driver. Really. Playing with an innocent’s life is not acceptable behavior.

Letting go..

Do you ever have a problem with this? Be it a friend, a crush, a boyfriend, an ex, a family member, a pet or even an object? Do you ever sit in a corner and think of a million reasons that convince you to walk away but hold on to the one thing that makes you stay? Do you ever mentally curse yourself for not having the ability to just say “goodbye” and mean it?

Welcome to my world.

It sounds so simple when people say it. “Let go.” All I can think of replying to them is, “Trust me, if I could I would. But I can’t.” Then my best friend asked me “Why not?”

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it ? Why not ?!

Why can the father not let go of his 21-year-old daughter? Why can the mother not let go of her toddler’s hand on the first day of pre-school? Why can you not let go of that little dog/cat you’ve had for ten years now? Why can she not let go of the guy who broke her heart? Why can you not let go of your favorite doll you’ve cuddled with since you were a child?

I don’t have answers for this. I don’t even have a  theory. I like knowing that I have an answer, any answer even if it’s not the right one. But I can’t find one for this question.

Now I have this guy. Or rather, had. Actually, scratch that. Let me rephrase that sentence. There was this guy I fell for. He was the most imperfect human being I have ever met. I can find a million things wrong with him, starting with, he made me cry once a week. I know, what was I thinking?! But somehow I couldn’t let go. I’d tell myself, and him, every other week – “I can’t do this anymore. I have to let go. This is killing me. We can’t talk. We can’t be friends.” He eventually stopped caring about it because he knows, the very next morning, I’d call him and tell him I was being stupid. That we should, of course, keep talking. That I’m totally fine. I wasn’t. I still am not. I actually said the exact same thing to him for the hundredth time last night. I’m struggling now.  All I want to do is to pick up the phone and call him. But why?!

Why is it so difficult to let go? I had a chair when I was a kid. A yellow chair. A yellow plastic chair. It was my favorite place to sit for the first eight years of my life and then one fine day, it broke. I duct-taped it. Painted it black (didn’t really look good). I kept it that way for another 6 years before my mom forced me into throwing it away. I cried and cried for days. Made no sense because I hadn’t used it in 4 years. But I couldn’t let go. It was like kissing my childhood goodbye.

That’s why letting go is difficult. When you look at something or someone, it’s not just that person or just that particular thing. It’s not simply a broken chair. It’s a memory. It’s something that’s been a part of our lives and letting go feels like we’re not just saying goodbye to that object or person but to the memory that comes along with them. To that part of our life. It means accepting change.

And change, as we all know, might be inevitable but is possibly the most difficult thing to deal with.