(4/6) The Firebranders

Patience.

That was the first thing I learnt when I waited half hour for him to show up for my interview.

Patience.

It’s what I saw when he told me to come back to work when I know I should have been fired.

Patience.

It’s what they all embraced while I created havoc.

But never once was I stopped.

In a world where degrees were a necessity, Arvind hired me for my ability. Never once were my squashed dreams a hiccup. It was always what I could do and couldn’t do. And if I couldn’t do something, he was right there, willing to teach.

I walked in on a bunch of guys that acted like a stranger had crashed their secret club. I actually had to complain to the boss that they wouldn’t talk to me. Not even to get work done! I was hoping he would talk to them in private. But you see, that was never Arvind’s style. In he walked, to the middle of our space, and announced out loud, “Shame, you guys. A girl has to complain that you won’t talk to her. What are you all doing?”

I bet sometimes he wished he hadn’t done that. Because that became the beginning of one of the best years of my life.

There weren’t that many of us. It gave us the ability to get to know each other.
The Philosopher (Hey Raj!)
The Married Man (Girish Thaatha)
The Patient Yogi (*coughs*Arun*coughs*)
The Brat (Mannoooj)
The Boss Man (He hates being called that)
The Fun Traveler (She doesn’t mind being called that)
And how can I ever forget… The Intern (Meri Shaaaamil)

Shamil was the only other girl in the gang. She also was the first person to talk to me besides the boss. We’re almost the same age. She laughed at all my jokes. She flicked me every time I swore. We got along brilliantly.

The two of us began to work our way into the secret club. With post-its about smoking, tsk-ing about nothing and laughing over everything, the wall was finally broken and the boys remain friendly until today for which Sham and I take full credit. You’re welcome newbies.

Amidst our achievements I found out that my boss wasn’t actually my boss. Arvind told me she’ll come to office at some point during the week. I expected a stuck-up and bossy human to come dictate my life. The person who walked in was anything but. She is chaotic fun redefined. “Poornima! Nice to meet you! You’ll come to my reception no?” I’d only met her ten seconds ago.

Karishma. She is your dream boss. She is my dream boss. She doesn’t care if you show up at noon. She doesn’t care if you’re working at night and wasting all day. She doesn’t care if you take a trip in the middle of the week. You can be in Antarctica, drinking with Panda bears, she won’t say a thing. “Just get the work done and have the client approve.” It was the best! 

She is downright the most chilled out boss you’ll ever meet. She’ll even be your therapist if you’re struggling with something. Her reception is also where the ice was finally broken and the team became a team

I learnt social media at this company. I learnt how good I am with ppts at this company. I learnt how to get work done at this company. And most importantly, I learnt how not to judge a book by its cover here.

The shared office space meant more people – Bushu, Laaloo and Tanya. All the people I first looked at thinking, “I bet they’re snooty af.” All the people I call with problems and gossip today. I haven’t bought something they don’t have a picture of so far. There’s not much about my life they don’t know. I can’t imagine a world where they’re not on my last ten whatsapped. The number of coffee breaks we’d take just for the heck of it. Their boss hated it so much.

Mine would join us. Both of them. That was the best part about my year. My bosses never acted completely like bosses. I’d get yelled at, obviously. But if we walked out of that meeting, they didn’t carry that fight with them. It was one of the first things Arvind told me at my interview. “We’ll argue. We’ll fight. But that’s not personal. Work is work. You can’t take it against the person in this company.” And that’s how it was. Always. Like a big gang of friends.

When I curled up sobbing about a boy, when I couldn’t finish a particular work because I wasn’t feeling upto it, when I felt sick, when I needed to go on a date, when I needed to vent – Oh my God! The number of times I needed to vent! – when I needed a punching bag, when I acted childish, when I demanded things I couldn’t afford, when I started things others couldn’t be bothered with – Nothing scared them. Nothing made them go, “Absolutely not!” I got them to play Charlie Charlie, a game that invites the demon, and they did!

And when I told them I’m leaving them in a hurry because I get to go back to study and couldn’t do much hand holding to the next guy, they smiled instead of complain. That’s why this place is so amazing.

I still go to the office. More often than most people do. I miss faces like Deepika, Tharini, Ramya Akka, Duggu and Reshma when I walk in. But they’re replaced with faces I got to know towards the end of my time there like Renuga and Vinoth. It always feels comfortable.

I still call my bosses to chit chat. When I find things that make sense to me, I always pass it their way.

I got to keep so much from my time with them. The golisoda bottle, the tiny despicable me character, the secret Santa presents, the insane birthday memories. The best of all? The friends. Sharath, Akku, Manoj, Raj and the entire lot.

The first time I saw High School Musical, I wanted to be Gabriella somewhere. I got to be her at Firebrand Labs. I got to be me at Firebrand Labs.

To finish it off the HSM way,
Once a Firebrander, ALWAYS a Firebrander.

To You, Thank You

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You. Yes, you. The one with dimples so cute, I knew I was a goner before it even began.

You. The one who made me laugh silly on dark days, I could feel my heart swoon all over again.

You. The one whose voice turned my world upside down. The one who made me realize I’d never felt this way before. The one who had me fall in love like I didn’t know was possible.

Thank you.

Thank you for constantly keeping me on the edge.

I was the girl you wanted to talk to. But never those three words.

I was the girl you wanted to kiss. But not the one you wanted to hold.

I was the girl you drunk dialled at midnight. And the girl you pretended to not know when the sun shined.

Thank You.

Thank you for not nodding your head when I cried my heart out.

You see, it would have been so easy. If you’d said yes. Your life would have been easy. Because I would have done everything I could to make sure it was. I would have stood by you during your pitfalls. Your tears  made me cry. Your laughter brought me joy. You were the centre of my universe. You always would have been.

And I would have been so lost in my love for you that I would have never noticed. I would have never noticed that anger you often can’t control. I would have never noticed the way you knowingly speak hurtful words. I would have never noticed that opinion you had of me when I wasn’t around. I would have never noticed the way I’d given it all up for nothing in return.

And when I did, it would have been worse.

Thank you.

I know you don’t get it. You think this is a hate letter. You think I’m sore and angry. But here’s what you never noticed about me.

I’m not that girl.

I don’t spread rumors about the boy who broke my heart. I don’t make snarky remarks just because he does. I don’t bitch about the one I love.

And I will always love.

It won’t be as overpowering as it once was. I’ll move on. With someone who makes me smile by just existing. And I’ll live a life filled with love and chaos with him. But ten years from now, if you decide to make me your one phone call, I swear I’ll come bail you out.

Because, contrary to what you so strongly believe, love isn’t an on and off switch. You don’t just fall out of love and go on like those emotions never existed. It’s always there. In the bottom of your heart. Buried under a lot of hurt and broken pieces. And I have learnt to live with that. I have learnt to dust off those extra shards of glass and pull my chin up. I have learnt to wipe my tears and make myself smile. I have learnt to love but know when to hold back. And I learnt all that without you. I learnt all that because of you.

And that’s exactly why I deserve better.

So Thank You.

For letting me have the ability to find someone who’ll love me for me. For giving me the time and the space to know who I was in your eyes. For forcing me into knowing how to take care of myself when everything within me is falling apart.

You.

I promise, someday, when I’m sitting on a patio surrounded by my grandkids, I’ll tell them about the guy who showed me what love feels like. And I’ll have a small smile as I remember the first time I found myself wanting to lose myself to that voice. To that laughter. To you.

And that’s who you’ll always be. A far away memory. Because sitting with me and correcting me as I spoke about our story will be the man I once longed for you to be.

Hence, my love,

Thank you.

For not saying “I love you too.”

To The Girl In Her Mid-20’s

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Photography – Ravi Roshan

 

You’ve spent so many years looking forward to this phase of your life. And it always looked so cool. So glamorous. So filled with love and laughter.

Yet here you are. With knowledge that it’s anything but.

It’s messy buns and messier lives. It’s baggy shirts and overflowing laundry bags. It’s a lot of work and never enough money. It’s freedom with responsibilities. And life is no longer what it seemed.

Different people are doing different things.

Your best friend’s getting married. Your old classmate is killing it with success. Your ex is happy in love. Your old mate is drowning in drugs. Different people are doing different things. But not you. You’re just existing. You’re getting through everyday a little better than the last. But then you have days where you can’t get up at all.

You spend your Friday evenings holed up in a corner because you’re too responsible to drink your night away. Too control freakish to lose yourself to someone else’s tunes. But somehow, this isn’t enough. This life you’re living doesn’t feel complete. Loneliness wraps around you like a blanket you love and you wonder where you went wrong. Why you became different to everyone else.

“Did I do too much too soon? Did I not do enough? Was there a reason why it was never me? Is this going to be the rest of my life? Alone? Unsuccessful? Filled with dreams that never come true?”

And your hands reach out to your phone. One text. One call. To that someone who might make you feel pretty. Who might make you feel important. And your need takes over.

The need to feel accepted. To feel appreciated. To feel adored. To feel loved.

And it is so strong, you forget your sanity for a few minutes of flattery. You lessen your worth for dishonest words. The hurt in your heart, camouflaged. If only for a few seconds.

But it’s never enough. And when you wake up, it’s worse. The hammering of your heart so loud in your ears. A memory of last night frustratingly haunting. Yet another mistake. Yet again.

You scream hateful words to yourself. When will I ever learn? You go over those messages. Those conversations. How you fell right back into a ditch when you knew better. Just for a moment, you wish you weren’t yourself.

And in that moment, read these words:

Breathe. It’s not so bad. You think I don’t understand. But I do. Because I’m there, too. I’ve made that call. I’ve texted that wrong person. I’ve woken up with regrets. I still do. I’ve felt the need to be held. I’ve felt that silent green monster towards a friend in love.
Yes, we all make those mistakes. And we all think nobody else does. But they do.

So please, don’t hate yourself. And don’t stop. Don’t stop loving with all you have. Don’t stop wishing on every shooting star. Don’t stop dreaming of fairytales and being as amazing as Malala Yousafzai. You might not always get there, but don’t stop.

You have so much left to do. You have a world filled with life waiting to happen. You have books to be read. Steps to be taken. Places to see. People to meet. You haven’t lived half your life yet. There’s so much ahead. And in ten years, when you look back, you’ll wish you were here again.

So don’t waste it wallowing in your own sadness. Don’t lose yourself to your self-pity and non-existent boundaries. Use everyday. And I don’t mean spend thousands of dollars and visit the North Pole. I know how you’re struggling to make ends meet.

Do the simple things. Stop procrastinating. Take a walk with nature. Go to the gym. Read your favorite book for the millionth time. Watch a movie. Write your novel. Sketch until you’re better than the best. Eat like you’re dying tomorrow. And most importantly, make mistakes. Your heart will heal. But today will never be back again. Don’t live with “Could-have-been’s.” Take chances.

And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember – It’s okay to be alone.

There is time to let your life revolve around someone else. But today, let it revolve around you.

Not because you can’t find someone. Not because you can’t be loved.

But because you deserve to wake up with a smile. You deserve to live life. To make memories so wild, you’ll be the coolest grandparent they’ve ever known.

Breathe. It’s only your mid-20’s.

You’re going to be alright.

 

 

 

The Woman I Admire The Most | A Dedication

In our everyday lives, we are often upset by little things. A little downfall makes us lose all hope and faith. A failure leads to depression. But then there’s Her. Someone who has every reason to pull her hair out and scream at the world. But instead chooses to look at the world in the most positive way one can imagine. She finds joy in the smallest of things. When the world gives her a curve ball, she rises above it and says “Bring it on!” Through her life I’ve learnt that every problem has a solution. You just have to put your brain to work a little.

In the most difficult of times, she finds a reason to throw her head back and laugh. She is the woman every man dreams of marrying someday. Yet her own husband has no idea what she’s worth. But that doesn’t stop her from loving him. She stands by him no matter what. When he falls, she’s there to catch him, to help him up and give him all the energy he needs to rise again. They’ve been through three divorce attempts. I say attempts because every time they get close to one, something stops it. She calls it fate. I call it her love for him.

So many of us talk about how our life has been full of struggles and difficulty. She lost both her parents in the same year. She was only 14 then. Growing up in an over dramatic family with 7 siblings, she found joy in her closest sister. She found a reason to laugh when the rest of the world would have cringed and sunk.

She’s absolutely beautiful. Her laugh infectious. You can be so angry about something and her smile will melt your heart and make you want to smile with her. She’s the kind of person that will never say “No.” She’ll love you when you’re at your best. She’ll love you more at your worst. If you tell her about her incredibly amazing heart, she’ll shake her head no. Not because she’s modest or humble. But because she’s clueless.

Sure, everyone has flaws. So does she. Her flaws being – she can never be disappointed with something. She can never say “I wanted to go to that place, but I couldn’t.” She’ll never argue with you because she’ll always value your relationship and you as a person more than anything in this world. You can betray her and she’ll still give you a second chance. Sometimes, even a third or a fourth. She can handle anything with a smile.

I’ve heard so many people talk about the saying “Be happy with what you get.” I’ve always wondered how many people in this world can actually live like that. Then I saw her. She lives like that. She can be homeless and she’ll find happiness in it. Someone who believes in the small moments rather than the big things. She has the innocence of a child. Everyone she meets is her best friend. If she ever tells you that she thinks of you as family, consider yourself the luckiest being on the planet because life does not get better than being loved by her.

When she loves, there are no bounds. She’s the one with the heart twice the size of the Universe. She’s the one who will be there for anyone who needs her. She’s the one who puts every ounce of energy she’s got into every one of her friendships and relationships. She’s the one that will always look at the one good deed you do instead of the million bad ones. She’s the one that will believe in you when no one else does. She’s the one that will always have a smile for you on a gloomy day. She’s the one that giggles like a child and cooks like a genius. She’s the one that can do anything she puts her mind to. She’s the one that will never depend on you to make her mood better. She’s the one that blows my mind with the amount of strength she finds in herself. She’s the one that picked me up on the day I was born and said to herself, “This is my daughter and I will love, cherish and protect her till the end of my life and maybe even after,” and has lived by those words.

If twenty years from now, I can be half the woman you are, finding a reason to laugh everyday, having the strength to fight not just your own but everyone’s battles for them and having the heart the size of the Universe but never realizing what an incredible human being you are, I would consider myself a blessed person, dear Mother.

Thank you for all that you do to make my life better everyday.