3 min read

Let me tell you a few things that I have learnt today. 

I am struggling to make sense of these events that arrive in waves, while I am being sucked backwards into a firstness that belongs to the likes of a natal home, an abject apology, death, or a blank page – each of which resists premeditation. 

By now I have let myself be swept away by doubt, beckoning me to approach language with small but steadfast steps, expecting reward. 

But all of a sudden, I am running from it. 

My limbs reach for some touch, but language being inherently vengeful dissuades the body from belonging.

So, I long. 

The neighbour knows there is nothing more obscene than love not returned; to be in eternal debt to my own longing. 

The neighbour eavesdrops on me until I become them. 

And yet I am so lonely at this hour that my gestures without words will only deem me mad. I get scared when they speak of madness, coded with metaphors, drifting loosely like spectral passers-by – it’s a party outside my room but do I dare look up?

So, I turn to my name: all-encompassing, unsparing, abiding.

Your name has no meaning. Nothing; I surrender to it. Its syllables are tethered to empty time as I hum it in all randomness until I flounder and fall; my head burrowing into concrete. 

Where is it, this home? I don’t bleed but I think I see you. 

There is desire for things I don’t deserve; desire that I already render unwarranted because I’m afraid I’m too much; an inch more than what is bearable, but less than what is enough. In this moment I shift toward objects that are legitimate not (only) in their relation to the world, but in and of themselves. But I realize that they grow into immense sizes, gigantic for a standardly sized person, thick with all the touch I relay to them. They grow with my touch, naked and clothed in nightly bruises and daily bathos, making them old, on the verge of decay, but in dual ways. Some disintegrate, like solid things, say an airplane, into small pieces that can be traced along the coordinates of space. Others degenerate, like solid things, suppose a ceramic face in a stone house, borne through the trails of time. But in each case, my desire invites ruination. 


I would be comfortable if I could say I love by all means. But I don’t, and so begins my discomfort.


I am trying to write my self (off). Ostensibly innocent, my well-meaning, reparatory hands want to reclaim a volume of my past from the shadows of a muted present continuous, albeit a fugitive tense, no anchorage, like the ship that leaves voluntarily, so will come back only when it’s not ready, resembling all untimely liaisons. 

My mind wanders off to a deserted place that I have tended to for years now, casting the dregs of nothingness to a gaping void, and must I admit, it is like being pregnant, only in spirit, for the body falls asleep under the feather weight of the unborn. Or is it the blanket? 

Sleep expands when it is a verb. Sleep deprives when it is a noun. Either way, it is another word for the distance between irreconcilable things. 


It is an illness; this concealment, an obsession, being pregnant.


When I was a child, I waited for mornings. Mornings, unlike normal days, began ceremonially, dispelling thieves, cats and dogs from view, and ushering in gluttonous children, who drooled over freshly served food. The centre of the world was the table, where worries dispersed and hunger renewed. There was a lot of talk, of how to be good, but never about how to save ourselves. It didn’t matter, because we were all together, young in between wars, only two feet apart, knowing that however unpleasant the day, morning would come again and again. 


I have many complaints and all of them point to the cold. So, I drink copious amounts of tea in winter and prepare to write about it to the government. But as soon as I gulp down the hot liquid, my resentment takes a back seat. I end up writing a letter to my friend, inquiring about her life, the new job, and her parents. 

A letter, after all, appeases both the sender and the receiver with confession. 


Waking up with my back facing the western sky, I am in the shade, already predisposed to reject the course of God, so heavily breathing down my neck that I toss and roil, shedding bleak imprints on the bed. 

Once I stared at the sun fixedly and almost turned blind. Since then, all my days begin with a violence abetted by my averted gaze; a total shutdown as I lie there bereft of memory, of life enacted by remembrance. This forgetting, as I’m thrown into the gallows of a bottomless clean slate, propels me to start over. Everyday I’m reborn into a cycle of yet again but not yet; but there are people to whom I’m answerable, I imagine. Now they accuse me of frugality. 


Many years later, when I will have little to withhold, I shall leave my bearing and my body, that I have carried through the transitions of the moon at the tideline. This is when the sea breaks form to commence the end. With that, the city will retreat into its belly and we will obliterate us. 


Let me explain.

Ishika Ball, a Kolkata-based aspiring writer, dabbles in experimental poetry and prose alike. With a background in English Literature from Presidency University, her interests include representation of female desire, belongingness, hybridity, memory, liminality, the self and the other, and much more, dissected and explored through the apertures of language (and the subsequent slippage). Besides completing her postgraduate degree, she has worked as a content writer for 145 East, a fashion label and digital agency, and was a research assistant at Art Fervour, an online magazine, focusing primarily on visual and performing arts.

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