I’m Still Around.

It’s been a little over a month since my last blog-post, and the reasons for this hiatus are multi-fold (is that even a word?)

Since my return to Bangalore, I’ve been struggling to keep balance of the chaos that has taken over my life again. To think I had actually missed it during the dull, rather monotonous course of my summer vacation, huh? I would give anything to go back to sleeping all day and binge-watching animes now that the stress of senior year has kicked in.

The first couple weeks of college had me busy right off the bat with the start of CIMA classes (this super fancy but tough management accounting course I’m doing). My return to early morning lectures at 6:30 coupled with unhealthy sleeping habits of only four to five hours wasn’t missed at all. Coupled with my determination to keep working on my novel on the side, the constant sleepiness and struggle of juggling everything is proving to be quite difficult.

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My first two Sundays back were spent shuttling to an exam center twenty kilometers away from my house. And in Bangalore traffic, that translates to a day-long journey. Today is the first real Sunday I’ve had off since uni started up again and I’ve spent 99.99% of it doing absolutely nothing.

It’s liberating really – having the looming responsibility of all these tasks over my head but choosing to take the high road and be utterly useless (ha). I’m sure my wise decision to procrastinate will come back and bite me in the ass later, but that’s a story for another day.

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This post is to tell you all that I am very much alive. I can’t make any promises on how regularly I’ll be able to post on the blog as I’m still trying to figure out a working schedule that’ll keep all the aspects of my life in check – studies, family and social ties and of course, my writing. With the former taking up most of it, it’s going to be a challenge. Nevertheless, I shall try to commit to weekly blog posts. I am yet to complete my travel diaries to Munnar so that shall be my first priority!

So, until next time!

Beatrice

 

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Winds of Change

On my twentieth birthday, I had a realization.

Reflecting on the past two decades of my life, I’ve accomplished a lot I should be proud of. I survived a school life spread apart five different countries, received academic awards and merit for all my hard work, aced my A-levels and I’m currently conquering my way through a triple-degree that’s not as pretty as it sounds.

With one year left of university, I should happily proclaim the achievements under my belt. I’m a Distinction holder with a pretty good GPA, and an Associate of the Insurance Institute of India.I have a Diploma in Management Accounting under CIMA and I wrote a research paper in first year. I’m one of the founding members of my department magazine...yada yada yada. 

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My parents have a huge smile on their face when they speak of me and that’s possibly the one thing that makes me happy – that I’ve made them proud. But none of these achievements give me the pride I should have for myself. I know just how much blood, sweat and tears I put in and yet in the place of pride and joy, I feel a cold numbness. Because all these accomplishments have been on the academic front, for which I had to put my personal aspirations on the back-burner.

I don’t know at what point my academic achievements stopped meaning something to me. I hated being defined by a number. Studying and consuming knowledge in the field of accounting and business no longer gave me the excitement it used to. Despite the sudden monotony my life took on, I didn’t let it bring down my momentum. I worked unfeeling, like a machine, and continued to deliver as I always do. All the while, I couldn’t shake off the overwhelming sadness of not being able to feel happy about the fruits of my own labour. On the outside, it was all smiles and rainbows. My mind, however, had transformed into a hellscape.

Over the past year especially, my mental health took a turn for the worse – my anxiety acted up, insomnia got worse and all of it reflected on my physical health. I barely slept and at the wrong times, ate either too much or too little or nothing at all. Nothing interested me anymore. Each morning, I just wanted to stay in bed because there was nothing motivating me to stand on my own two feet.

I had several personal goals I had hoped to achieve by the summer of 2017. To have my next book released through a publishing house and to have completed the first draft of a new series. To have an active blog and Youtube channel, and to have learned to play the guitar so I could make more of my own compositions and possibly some music covers.

On my twentieth birthday, I realized how much I missed it all. How much I missed feeling something – the excitement and nervousness. How much I missed actually enjoying the work I put into my goals, as an artist and as a student. How much I missed seizing the opportunities I’d had to do something real. I resented how much time I had devoted to certain things, certain people – commitments that did more harm than good and devotion I could have put to better use for my own dreams.

I realized I need to stop and just breathe. I need to decide what is worth my time, who is worth sparing my overly sentimental heart on and stick to my goals. I need to stop living for others and learn to live for myself.

I need to change.

I’m only twenty years old and I still have a long path ahead of me. I will stumble and fall as I have over the past year and I do not need to justify my failures, nor should I rationalise the meaning of my hard work to anyone as long as I know what it means to me. I will  prove to myself that my dreams can come true.

In conclusion, to quote a few lines from Victor E. Frankl’s inspiring book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”

I am going to punch life’s lights out.
Bring it on!

if you could see

if you could see me bleed
you’d see the colour of broken dreams
seeping through open wounds
thick and gushing, the darkness blooms

what’s left inside me
is but a shallow stream
of muddled emotions
coming apart at the seam

and if i try to fight it
the erosion of my spirit
i fool myself into thinking
that dreaming is believing

if you could see my heart
you’d see there’s not much left to tear apart
but a single vein that thrums, it fights
splitting open to a new façade.

You Are A Celebration.

Growing up, my mom used to ask me this one question all the time. “What do you want to be in the future, darling?” “A singer! An actress!” I’d exclaim, as a child. She would ask me the same question a couple days later, when I came back home with muddy shoes and dirty clothes, and I’d answer, “I want to save the plants! Can I be an environmental scientist?” She’d smile and nod. Time and again, the infamous question popped up with a variety of answers from my side.

I want to be a writer, momma. A basketball player. A teacher to impart wisdom! A business woman to showcase my leadership. A nanny because children are adorable! An activist for change. 

My answers were never set in stone, and every day, I wished to be something different. To try new things and to live a million possibilities in one lifetime. Yet, every time I voiced a different dream, my mother never shut me down. She’d pat my head in a sign of affection and promise me that I could be anything and everything I want to be, if only I put in passion and hard work.

Growing up, I never realized just how much that question means. But now I do, and I start to wonder if my mom was ever asked the same question and shown the beauty of possibilities. If she was ever given a promise to be anything she wanted to be or have the freedom to choose it for herself.

My mother is a housewife. I say this to the people who ask, and to the people who don’t, because I am proud of her. The reception to this varies from shrugs to the passing, ignorant comment of, ‘ah…so she doesn’t work or have a job?’

Yes. Yes, she does. She creates a space where I feel like I belong. She gives me nourishment to survive, both in body and spirit. Her unconditional love is a gift beyond anything any job could ever give. She sacrificed her dreams, put them on the back-burner, to promise me my own. And in exchange? She asks for nothing, but my own happiness.

You’re right. That isn’t a job. She is a Miracle.

It’s beyond anything that can be restricted to three little letters. My mother is a blessing. All mothers are. All women are. My mother is my best friend, my sister and my role model but mothers aren’t the only women worth celebrating today.

Women who balance their lives working 12-hour shifts and coming back home to their children and husband, to work again and to share their love deserve to be appreciated too.

Women, who brave the scorn of society and go out to fulfill their own dreams by deciding not to get married are not to be judged for not ‘playing their role’ by sticking to motherhood. They’re fulfilling the purpose they set out to do.

Women who defend their countries in war-ridden nations and female activists that fight for a cause with their words and actions…they fight with their every breath to secure the future of the children in the generations to come.

Sacrifice in the form of being a housewife is a gift, yes. But so is every other dream. Because today isn’t just about the mothers in the world but the fighters, the business women, the leaders, the activists, the teachers, the women

We are all warriors in our own right.
We are all cause for celebration.

So, go!

Celebrate yourself!

Celebrate who you are, and what you do because no one, no where can achieve your dreams better than you do.

 

Don’t.

I’m sick.

I’m sick of people thinking they know me when they don’t.
I’m sick of caring about what these ignorant fools say when that’s all their words really are: ignorant.

Don’t think you know all of me when you see the coals of my eyes glitter like falsified gems. Don’t think you can define me by the numbers that attach themselves to my self-worth. Don’t think you can pass the final verdict on my disposition as the Big Bad Bitch.

And if you do, don’t think I care.

Because I’ve learnt not to waste my time on people like you who think what they see is what they get.

I’ve learnt to be free.

Inspired by DailyPost
(although funnily enough, I wrote this exactly an hour before the prompt was out – ’twas meant to be!)

Frostbite for the Soul

“It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.” – Lemony Snicket, Horseradish


I’m three days away from saying goodbye to my parents, and only five away from my first day of university. Excited? I should be. A bundle of nerves? I very much am. 

By this point, I was hoping I’d be feeling a lot more upbeat about the adventure that lies ahead. It’s right around the corner. Three years spent away from home, in a huge city with a lot of amazing prospects that I am yet to discover. My overly dreamy and imaginative mind jumps places with the idea(s) of what 2015-18 would be like in the story that is my life. I’m determined to get this double-degree, yes, but apart from the professional side of it – there’s so much more that could happen! I could befriend a prodigy and take over the world through our shared intellect! Or I could stop someone else from taking over the world and transform myself into a super-heroine in the eyes of the public. Okay, okay. None of that is going to happen. In a realistic sense, the possibilities are…that I might meet my future husband! *le gasp* And get another book released, this time through a publishing house! 

My mind prances and dances around the possibilities of all these wonderful, crazy things happening but then, my emotions just step in. It feels like it just grabs me by the ankle as I’m in the middle of leaping through the air like a beautiful, and utterly graceful gazelle and then-


You get the idea. 

Sentiments are holding me back from feeling anything but excited right now. And that’s not a bad thing. If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from life so far, it is that it’s okay to be emotional about things. And it’s double-okay to allow yourself to feel them. I have attempted at blocking out ‘feeling’ things, and sometimes even forced myself to feel a certain way. It never worked – at least not in the long term. Reality demands to be lived as much as emotions are meant to be felt. I think that’s where I’m struggling right now.

What’s been in my heart the past couple weeks, which continues to amplify as the days grow numbered, is not just a case of the classic ‘cold feet’. It’s not exactly fear, it’s not exactly nerves. It’s somewhere in between that. Anxiety, maybe? But all that does is make me ask myself why I would feel anxious, now of all times.

I have moved several times in my life. I have gone through this process of saying goodbye to a place and the people in it again…and again…and again. It was tiring almost, but I like to think I’ve become an expert at dealing with leaving one place and starting life in another. And yet – this is the worst time. This uncertainty and the way my heart doesn’t stop to rest but only beats faster, struggling somewhat with each pump – it’s never been like this before.

I’m back in the country I’m naturally inclined to call home. India is where I’m from. It’s where my parents are from, and theirs, and theirs before that. It’s the place I should identify as my home but I never have. And yet, knowing that I’m strapping myself down for a minimum stay of three years, and a maximum of the rest of my life here is supposed to make me feel comforted. I feel the exact opposite as trepidation ceases my heart in its painful, and literally breath-stealing grip. Ironically enough, this is the one time my expertise in this area of life fails me. And I know exactly the reason why.

I’ve never once identified a single country as home. Due to the fact that I was constantly on the move, I would always perceive a particular place as another temporary point of stay, rather than a home. I would prepare myself for the moment when I’d have to pack my bags, say goodbye, and depart, yet again to have the process start over. It was a great big circle of life. And the one thing that stayed all through out the most inconstant, ever-changing life I have is my parents. My family. I didn’t realize the meaning of what ‘home’ truly is until a couple weeks ago.

Home isn’t a physical place. Least, it doesn’t have to be for a third culture kid like myself. Home is Mom. Home is Dad. They’ve always been there for me, through every single moment of my life up to now.

  • They were there to witness my first time off to a funny little nursery school named ‘Tom and Jerry’ in the magical city of Cairo. I had thrashed and wailed and screamed – not wanting to leave their side for one second – not used to being away from them.
  • They were there to see me present my first ever middle-school Science Fair project in Khartoum, and witness the moment I returned home with my chest puffed out as I told them I won first-place.
  • In Sierra Leone, they were there at my O-Level and AS-level graduation ceremonies and watched proudly from afar when I said my opening speech and received my certificates.
  • During my short three months of studying in Madurai, Mom would wake up early in the morning and send me off with encouraging smiles and a lunch box filled with delicious home-cooked food. Dad would be there to welcome me back home after a tiring day in our evening Skype sessions, wanting to know everything about how my day went.
  • And during senior year in England, they were my own personal cheer-leaders – motivating me and telling me I could handle taking up and teaching myself A2 Accounting when I lacked faith in myself as a self-teacher (and were there to celebrate with hugs and kisses when I ended up getting the highest final grade for the course).

And that’s just all the academic stuff. If it weren’t for their support and guidance through the chaotic stages of teenage life (and let me tell you right here and now, it was not pretty), I would not have survived and grown up to be the strong, independent woman I am now.

Dad and I would stay up certain nights till the early hours of the morning, talking about social pressures, love and relationships, religion and God, and our shared dreams of the future. I would sit in the kitchen and watch Mom cook the food of the Gods (honestly, she is talented) while hearing me ramble on about my thoughts on feminism, favorite characters and whatnot. They’ve both been deeply hurt by me during my rebellious times and were there to take me with open arms when I came back to them with a heart full of regret and sorrow. They’ve been there through it all – to wipe away the tears from my first heartbreak to seeing me vow away romance for the rest of my single life. They’ve put up with my sometimes ridiculous optimism and nurtured me out of my toxic pessimism.

This is turning out into something I wanted to avoid: utterly cliche but I’m not going to delete a word because every bit is as true as cheese.

My parents are my home.
And I will be leaving them.

I always longed for a place to identify as where I belong to. A place I can ‘root’ myself in. It’s taken me far too long to realize that I’ve always had it, a moment’s touch away, in the form of two beautiful, selfless beings God gifted me as my mother and father. And it’s my utter blindness and lack of enough appreciation that kept me from realizing this. But I guess that’s how we, as humans, function, right? We never realize the value of something until we are faced with the reality of having to part from it.

That is why this gut-wrenching dread has been filling me up for weeks now. I don’t want to leave them. I don’t want to face a day without their constant presence beside me, physically. I don’t even want to imagine having to come back to a place without the two people I call ‘home’ in it. Because that’s what I’ve had all my life.

This is more than just your regular ‘oh, yeah, she’s leaving off to college and is dealing with parting from family but she’ll get the hang of it soon’ thing. Because my dad is my best-friend and my mom is my sister. They are pieces of my soul and pieces I am afraid to part from physically out of fear that something impure might take its place.

Okay, that just got a whole lot deeper but I’m basically saying I’m afraid that when I screw life up, or when life screws me up (which I am very sure will happen), I won’t be able to face it without them. I know I have to – that’s part of growing up. Becoming an adult. All that shizz. I just don’t want to do that.

I want to be the little baby girl who clung onto her Dad and Mom’s legs like a vine when they dropped her off at her first day at the nursery. In my 18 years of life, I proudly call myself a young woman right now. An ‘adult’. But in truth…I can still identify to the girl I was then. The girl I still am.  Because right now – I really want to scream out, “Amma! Appa! Don’t leave me!” again.

No offense to my two future roommates – girls, we might end up becoming great friends and have bucket loads of fun but you do not come close to my parents at all and never, ever will. They are, and always will be, the one place I call home.

Mom, Dad, you probably won’t see or read this for a while because we’re having crazy days right now and still have a lot to deal with over the next few weeks (and months). But this is my open love letter to the both of you. Yup, it’s all over the Internet and I really should have said these things to your face but what can I say? I am a blubbering idiot when it comes to expressing how I feel verbally. This, on the other hand, is a somewhat organized mess of what my brain is thinking, and heart is feeling.

I initially wanted to title this post ‘My Very Cold Feet’ but that doesn’t come at all close to how I feel. This is way past cold feet. This is down-right frostbite of the soul. But I’m hoping that I’ll warm up to the life that unfolds over the next three years. And just maybe, I might find something else to call home too.

Here’s to hoping it happens!

My Progress On The Reading Challenge

It’s been a while since I posted a book review on this blog, or gave you guys an update as to how my 2015 Reading Challenge is going so far. And the reason why that section of the blog has been absent for a while is because…well… [hangs head in shame] I haven’t made much progress at all.

I tried, I really did. But then, I got sucked into the merciless abyss of ‘distractions’ which involved binge-watching animes, watching re-runs of some of my favorite shows, singing along at the top of my lungs to karaokes, and napping. Lots of napping.

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I know, I know. I did wrong, so you can stop shaking your head at the screen.

I think one of the major reasons why I’m not as excited about reading books as I used to be is the fact that I have to read them off my computer screen. Since I’m not going to school at the moment and live in a country which doesn’t have a public library with the kind of books I would like to read, it means I can only read these books on my computer. Which is great! Hail technology, the internet and the fact that I have a decent laptop for a reading device. But there is one huge drawback to reading novels like this:

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It takes a lot of energy to sit in front of my laptop and continuously read line after line after line of text. This is also why I’ll never get a Kindle device (well, maybe not never but it’s at the bottom of my list). Paperbacks rule. Real books are meant to be held and read while curled up on a nice sofa. I used to collect bookmarks as a kid and have several but never got the chance to use them for years now. It’s not much fun poking a flat screen with a thin bookmark and hoping it would magically go through. That is the one major reason why I don’t read as much nowadays. It hurts my eyes and frustrates my brain.

That’s why I’ve been engaging my time doing other things – some of which have sparked my creativity. Believe it or not, I get a lot of inspiration for my stories from animes. So I may not be spending my time productively as I could but I’m still not wasting it away either. At the moment, I’m watching an anime called Tokyo Ghoul which is a paranormal thriller/horror. I’ve never had the guts at attempting to write in that genre but I might after this as the anime and its story line is stirring up some ideas of my own.

Plus, I’ve also been doing lots of reading of stories on writing community websites like Protagonize and Wattpad. Although they don’t count as books that I can add to my reading challenge for the year on Goodreads, if they did, I’d be far ahead by now. If only…

The good news is I won’t be stuck in this situation for much longer. Once I head back to India and start university in June, the first thing I’ll do is find a wonderful public library, become a member and start checking out a heck-load of books. Finding the time to read them will be another issue in itself, but I think for the first couple days, I’ll just spread them around my bed and lie down amidst the company of the beautiful works of literature. I might also sniff a few (is it just me or do books smell beyond amazing?)

Until that moment arrives however, I’m going to get back to reading – slowly but surely. I managed to dig around a few unpacked boxes and found my hard copy of The Kite Runner. Maybe that’ll get me a little pumped about reading again.

In any case, I am terribly sorry for not updating this blog with more book reviews as I had been doing before, but here’s to hoping I get back on track very soon!

P.S. It’s my birthday today. So if any of you want to bite my head off or scold me for being an unworthy and uncommitted reader, I’m going to pull out the birthday card.