Warm Love, Bitter Truth and Cold Desolation

So I went home after a long time. I bid Hyderabad a happy goodbye and boarded the bus to my hometown. I had so many plans, so many things I wanted to do. “Dulhaniya Dilwale Le Jayenge” was playing on the TV. I love that movie. It maybe old school, but something about the movie brings out the romantic in me. The bus stopped at a highway restaurant at about 9 pm for dinner. I was eating roti and paneer butter masala with my dad, who was accompanying me on this trip (my mom has this crazy idea that someone might do something to me if I travel alone) at the restaurant when my dad got a call. It was bad news. My forty six year old uncle had just died of renal failure.

In my twenty two years, I haven’t had to deal with a loved one’s death at any point. Granted, I wasn’t very close to my uncle. We had exchanged a few words at family gatherings and that is it. But I was very close to my aunt and she had just lost her husband. Also, the fact that someone whom I had seen just a few months back is now dead made me feel lost and unsure about my own life. It wasn’t a full-blown existential crisis, but it was close.

The day I arrived at my home, we packed our bags and left for Tirunelveli. The mood at my aunt’s house was depressing. Me, being the selfish bitch that I am, couldn’t handle all the crying. I wanted to leave and then, come back when everything was better. But I stayed. I had to. I consoled my aunt as best as I could. After a day with the mourning family, we came back home.

My uncle had just died, but I was determined to make the most of my visit. I dragged my mom to restaurants and malls and street shops. Thankfully, my dad had some work to attend to, so he had left town for a couple of days. If he had been with us, he would have brought our spirits down to rock bottom.

I spent a lot of money and didn’t feel guilty spending it. I had delicious home cooked meals. I spent hours talking to my mom. It was wonderful. My mom who had been miserable living alone with my dad seemed to like having me around. Then, my dad came back.

My dad has this power to make everyone around him wish they were somewhere else. I had been so happy to come home, but when I started to spend time with him, I wanted nothing more than to take the next bus back to Hyderabad. I am not quite sure if I completely hate my dad, but I hate at least 99.9% of him. He is loud, obnoxious and rude. He picks fights with everyone. He is controlling. He is paranoid. He treats his family like shit. He is a top-class asshole.

A few days later, I left for Hyderabad. I felt sad and guilty about leaving my mom with my dad again (for some reason, he doesn’t treat her so badly when I am around). But I couldn’t stay in that house any longer. It was depressing.

It had been a weird trip filled with death and heartache and love. On the way back to Hyderabad, I kept thinking about what I took away from this whole experience. But the truth is – nothing. I still feel like the same person. I haven’t been enlightened. I have one less person in my life and I still can’t stop thinking about how much I hate my dad. I still can’t stop trying to isolate myself from others. I am a lost cause.

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Getting Reacquainted

Before yesterday, I hadn’t read a romance novel in three years. That’s a big deal because I used to be crazy about romance books, especially when I was a teenager. I used to read everything from PG-13 YA books to R-rated bodice rippers. I even gave the erotic stuff a try, but decided that they were not for me. Like porn movies, these books had a sex scene in almost every page and the plot was ridiculous and exaggerated. But still, they fell under romance and so I read them.

But slowly something was happening. Romance books were losing their lustre in my mind. Maybe it was because nothing much was happening in the romance department in my own life. Maybe it was because I realized how stupid most romantic books were. I started to hate romance books. I hated their formulaic plots and their cliched tropes and their misogynistic portrayal of women. Mostly I hated that reading romance books didn’t make my pulse race anymore. I hated that they didn’t make me hug a pillow and sigh dreamily anymore.

So, I gave up romance books and moved to other genres – fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, horror etc. Basically everything under the sun except romance. Sometimes a pleasant memory of me enjoying a romance book would pass my mind and feeling nostalgic, I would carefully pick out a romance book that had earned great reviews and start reading. But ultimately, they all let me down. I decided I was too ruined for romance.

Then, I came across a list of feminist romance novels on the internet. The term itself seemed like an oxymoron. How can a romance novel be feminist? It was like saying that a porn movie was a piece of cinematic art. But piqued, I downloaded a few of the books from the list onto my Kindle and started to read.

The first book I read was a novella called “Ember” by Bettie Sharpe. I have to say the book totally pulled the rug from beneath me. It was unexpected and absolutely enjoyable. I finished it in three hours and started with the next book from the list – “The Governess Affair” by Courtney Milan. At first glance, “The Governess Affair” seemed like a normal Victorian romance novel about uptight lords and ladies. But it is so much more than that. I haven’t finished it yet, but I can tell you this: I have thoroughly enjoyed the book so far.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve completely crossed over to the dark side… er, the I-Love-Romance side. I have both of my feet firmly planted on each side. Maybe the reason I hated romance books was because I was reading the wrong ones. Maybe the right ones needed a little effort on my part to be found.

On a totally unrelated note, Gerard Way’s debut solo album “Hesitant Alien” totally rocks and if you haven’t listened to it yet, you should get out from under that rock and listen to it. It’s a really fun record, I promise!

I Like Him, I Like Him Not

So, there’s this guy in my office. I kinda, sorta like him. I think he likes me too. The only problem is that I think he likes me more than I like him. This is a problem I often face. I like guys, but not so much that they’re all I think about.

At first, I thought this guy, S, and I wouldn’t mesh. He seemed too conservative, too “South Indian”. But then today, we bonded over our mutual love of a particular TV show. We talked about our opinion on Hindu – Muslim weddings. After today, he seems a bit more compatible with me. But only a bit, mind you.

So, here’s my dilemma. Should I encourage him when he flirts with me, or should I nip this in the bud? Should I flirt back just because we like the same things, or should I act more friendly, less flirty with him? Or am I overthinking this whole thing? Should I just go with the flow?

S doesn’t make my head spin, so I can’t really like him that much, can I? Or maybe this is what crushes feel like once you’re an adult? Maybe they are not as intense as teenage crushes. Maybe the kinda love you read about in books and watch in movies – the kind which makes the blood boil in your veins, which makes your heart pump frantically, which is all consuming and passionate – only exists in books and movies. Or am I confusing lust with love?

I wish there was a way to tell if this is the real deal.

Nothingness

Sometimes I feel like I’m floating aimless in a sea, not interested in the who’s and what’s around me. All that I’m aware of are me and my thoughts. Sometimes there isn’t even that. I stare blankly into space and there is not a single thought going through my mind. It’s like I’m being pulled into a vacuum and my thoughts are in limbo, not fully formed, impossible to decipher. Sometimes I think there is something wrong with me. No, I know there is something wrong with me. Normal people have thoughts, opinions, interests, emotions. Normal people care.

I used to be one of those normal people. I wanted to be a writer. I dreamed of changing the world with my words. I dreamed of finding love. I had an opinion on anything and everything. I cared. Now? Not so much. I probably wouldn’t give two shits if a car accident or something took my life right now. I’ve become lazy, uninspired, complacent. I can’t find inspiration in anything. I don’t yearn for love anymore. I am content with solitude and I am only twenty two!

When I do interact with people, it’s superficial. I don’t – I can’t open up. There is a wall around me no one seems to be able to break down. Not that I want anyone to. They would find nothing good in there.

I’m constantly trying to put some distance in between myself and my family – the only people who have, I believe, ever loved me. And that’s probably only because we’re family.

I don’t understand me. Is this a phase I’m going through? If this is an existential crisis that I am going through, then I have been going through it for the past six years.

All I know is that I am discontent. I want more. But I don’t know what I want. Even though my life is anything but empty, all I see, hear and feel is nothingness.

Relationships are not for me

I’m starting to think I don’t have a single romantic bone in my body. I mean, I’m a girl, for God’s sake! I’m supposed to be graceful and gentle and loving and kind and patient, aren’t I? I’m supposed to get excited about the prospect of marriage, right? I’m supposed to be over the moon about having kids and raising them, right?

Oh, but I am not.

The idea of me having children is repulsive to me. I mean, I can’t even take care of myself. How can I be expected to take care of some other life? I’ll probably be a shitty parent. And I don’t want to be a shitty parent. Cause I have a shitty parent and I know how much it sucks growing up with one.

And don’t even get me started on boys. It’s been so fucking long since I’ve had a crush – at least three years I think. And when a guy does express some sort of interest in me, I run away. The thought of committing myself to a relationship scares me. Because I know I’m fickle. I know I change my mind faster than I change my nail color.

See, I’m no great and terrible beauty. But I can be considered cute in a petite sorta way. And guys seem to like petite-and-cute. Maybe they think petite-and-cute is harmless. Maybe they think petite-and-cute equals sweet-and-naive. I don’t know. I don’t pretend to understand guys. The truth is I am neither sweet nor naive. I care about no one but me. I am a cruel, selfish bitch.

For example, there is this incredibly sweet guy, let’s call him Sam, in my office who seems to like me. And although I don’t return the sentiment, I flirt with him. I know it is bitchy of me and I know I’ll never like him that way, but I still can’t help myself. I want him to like me that way. I’m fake-flirty not just with Sam, but with every guy who seems to be interested in me. I want every guy to want me, so I lead them on.

But.

There is another guy at my office, Sean. Ever since I met him, I’ve been having thoughts about giving this whole relationship thing a go. He is sweet, cute and seems like a good guy. But I don’t want to end up hurting him. I don’t want to toy with him while my interest lasts and then throw him away.

I wouldn’t say I have a crush on Sean. The word ‘crush’ brings to my mind the time I felt giddy and light-headed because that guy with the cute smile passed me in the hallway in my school. I don’t feel giddy when I’m around Sean. It’s been a while since I’ve felt giddy around anyone.

I’m intrigued by Sean. I wonder if I will start acting like a normal girl I get into a relationship with Sean. Because Sean seems like perfect boyfriend material. He is Cameron from 10 Things I Hate About You. He is Pete from Win A Date With Tad Hamilton. He is Cal from Crazy, Stupid Love. He is Tom Hansen from 500 Days of Summer.

Which is exactly why I should tread lightly. He is the archetypal nice guy and I don’t want to break his heart like Summer broke Tom’s.