He is a metaphor.

“What was he like?” She asked me.

“Whenever I think of him, I think of the day I spent with him last winter. That day has become one of my favorite metaphors. Christmas was still far away but the spirit was catching up with all of us already. The streets were covered in snow and the people of my neighborhood absolutely loved walking around holding hands and wearing coats that felt heavier than the load of responsibilities on their shoulders.

Chang – the kind of guy who would always choose such a day for a date – took me to a cabin beside a lake where his best friend used to live. Fei was an eighty-year-old shoe-maker who was famously known for her stories. When Chang was ten, his mother had to leave the city urgently and he stayed over at Fei’s place, listening to stories all night about birds that carried messages and hunters that befriended animals. That’s how they became friends.

Our date was nothing fancy. We spent the day talking to Fei and eating dumplings that she made. She shared Chang’s favorite story with me: Fei and her first trip to Tokyo. Fei’s parents had died when she was very young. They were on a trip from Harbin – where they lived – to America. Their plane, however, crashed in Tokyo and since then, Fei had always wanted to visit the city. She was in Tokyo for a month because she felt the warmth of her parents every time she walked through the streets of the city. Tokyo felt exactly like the last time she had hugged her parents.

Chang and I stayed till nine with Fei. I heard her talk about her memories and scars all day but when I walked back home that night with Chang, I felt like I knew him better. I knew the kind of movies he would like and a hug from him would feel like to my winter soul. That’s how you get to know people after all – by their choices and favorite stories. And that is how they become metaphors.”

My therapist smiled, wrote something on a notepad, and moved onto the next question. “What’s one city you’ve always wanted to visit?”


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A letter for home.

Delhi is a city in India, and so yes, this letter is to a city. I hope you like this!


To Delhi,

Whenever somebody asks me about the best relationship I have been in or the place I refer to as home or just the city I get nostalgic for, I take your name. I often ask myself this: were you The One?

I was twelve when I shifted to India from Dubai. Now anyone who has seen you knows you are not the love-at-first-sight kind. It takes time and maybe even ages to fall in love with you. A month before I shifted, I came to you with my father to find an apartment, a school and maybe a reason to not leave Dubai. You gave us five. Overwhelming traffic, impolite people and horns so loud that I didn’t feel like listening to music for two days. But it is said that when you love someone, one reason to stay is enough. You gave us a beautiful society to stay in.

Just like any other heartbroken dude you might have come across, I lamented for Dubai for weeks. I spoke non-stop about the best things about the place I used to live in as a child. You would have grinned so hard if you possibly could. I remember very vividly that our affair started on my first day in an Indian school. Three girls walked up to me, shared my chips, and spoke to me for hours. I fell in love with you because of them.

Ever since that first day, you introduced me to pretty women and novels and parties. But here are the two things you gave me that I will forever be grateful for: my first heartbreak and poetry. I met the girl that would later promise me homemade cookies and personal stories and completely leave me in awe of her. I wrote poems with grammatical mistakes but a lot of love and short stories with tons of feelings just for this girl and that made me happy. She was way out of my league but exactly everything I would want. You have me things that made me ‘me’. How could I not call you home?

Delhi, I know I broke up with you abruptly and I miss you too, but I guess we weren’t meant to be. You’re still my home, though.

Write back to me someday?

Yours,
A homesick me.


Instagram handle: @myspirals
Previous post: Two best friends and a strange story.
Related post: To all the #METOOs

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Two best friends and a strange story.

Two best friends and a strange story.

Hell and Heaven were best friends.
Their favorite thing to do together
was talking about poetry
about how some poets can rhyme and still talk
and how some poets don’t like talking.
Hell would often point out
that poetry is like counting the stars Continue reading Two best friends and a strange story.

To all the #METOOs

To all the #METOOs,

In autumn 2017, the world shuddered as a hashtag (me too) spread across hundreds of walls burning thousands of ignorant beliefs in its wake. The world realized that things were not okay. Whispers became loud stories and you accepted openly the things you have had to go through because of humans that went rogue. For most men, it is next to impossible to understand the pain you go through every time you have to talk about that one or many times you felt an unwanted hand on your skin.

The first girl I fell in love with shared her story with me once. It was a winter night and we had just started getting to know each other when I noticed some stories etched onto her wrist in red ink with pens that looked like knives. She was really young when it happened and I remember I was silent for quite some time when she told me everything.

A few years before that, my sister told me about the time she had to go through it. I had to sit while my mom shared her story too. And another close friend of mine told the story of how she was six when it happened. My phone lit up like a Christmas tree with a string of ‘me too’ staring me in the face. All these wonderful women I have been with in my life still stand tall, straight and with battle scars that look a lot like tattoos.

I can’t do much except promise you to never be that man you loathe. Also maybe, I can make a character out of him and kill him in my book for you. You let me know, okay?

Consent has become a foreign language and I am so sorry that you are suffering because of it. I am sorry some men didn’t let you become the Khaleesi that you were meant to be. I wish you didn’t have to stop talking just because you were in the presence of an important ‘influence’. Honestly, fuck them.

Stand tall, stand real and stand the way you want. I am with you. Always.

Yours,
Utsav Raj


Instagram handle: @myspirals
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