• B R E A T H E •

Dear Beatrice,

You’re doing the thing again: writing a letter to yourself.

You’ve been doing that a lot this past year: reflecting, asking yourself these big scary questions and finally having some much needed introspection time.

But this letter is doubly special, you see. It’s the start of the New Year and of a new decade. *dramatic pause for that to sink in* And no, we’re not going to be making resolutions in this letter cause we already know how you feel on that matter.

How did you get here, Bea?

2019 was many things and by far the most challenging year of your life but you survived it. It’s like you’ve lived out an entire decade in the span of just one year. That’s how intense it’s been but you fought tooth and nail and you’ve come out of the battle victorious.

2019 was a year of many trials, heartaches and essentially life-changing experiences. You’ve felt ‘stuck’ for a long time now in so many ways; in your career path, in your relationships, with yourself. Like time is slipping away, the whole world is moving forward and leaving you behind.

You need to stop examining your life under such a prejudiced magnifying glass. Do not fret any longer on whether the events of 2019 were for the good or the bad. All things happen for a reason and the one thing you have control over is your attitude, your reactions and how you take life in its stride.

The decade ahead is going to be a life-changing one. You will continue to find yourself as you grow and make choices that will set the foundation for the rest of your journey. You’ve had a rough time and in no way is this an invalidation of your struggles but you should no longer allow the past or the things you cannot control to be an obstacle to you finding happiness.

That happiness you seek? It starts with you.

From the past, present and future Beatrice to the one currently reading this letter at any point in time or space: as you embark upon the grand adventures that life has in store for you, here are some things to keep in mind:

Stop being so hard on yourself.

You need to cut yourself some slack and give yourself more credit. Why are you so forgiving of everyone else but yourself? You think that being hard on yourself brings out the best in you, and it has, but it’s also chipped away, little by little, at your self-esteem and warped your sense of pride.

You don’t own your victories anymore, you just sweep them under the rug and set your sights on a taller mountain to climb when you’ve barely caught your breath from conquering the last one.

Stop. Stop giving unlimited chances to everyone while sparing none for yourself. Show yourself the kindness you reserve for the rest of the world. Believe me when I say: you are far more deserving of it.

Create your own (Bea)utiful.

You’ve taken the road less traveled by. It takes real guts and bravery to choose the path you have and stick to it. And I get it.

It’s hard and very lonely sometimes. You look around and see everyone else going about things a simpler way, having ‘fun’ and enjoying their youth. Never ever give into that thought process. You’re digging yourself a grave there, Bea.

Remember: you have real gumption. You’ve always been ahead of your years and yeah, gaining that maturity so young, so fast came with a price but look at all you’ve gained in the process. Look at the warrior you’ve become.

Creating a meaningful life for yourself and achieving your dreams means challenging not only yourself but the world. People will try to dissuade you when they see you doing something different. You’ve encountered this before and you will again: those who want to take away your special spark. Did you let them? Have you ever?

Surround yourself with positivity.

You’ll soon realize the sacrifices you’ve made by taking the road less traveled by: they’ll get you to exactly where you need to be. What you’ve dreamt of.

And you will no longer fret on giving up simpler pleasures, on trading in the fleeting and short-lived ecstasies for a life of genuine and lasting joy and meaning that you’ve created for yourself.

Celebrate everything.

You are exactly where you’re meant to be right now. Live all your moments, even the tiny ones that seem insignificant because trust me, they’re not.

There might be moments where you feel like you’ve lost yourself and you’re unsure of the things that seemed so unshakeable before. But that’s okay. That’s how life keeps you on your toes.

Believe in yourself and your path, even if it isn’t so clear. Take each day as it comes and don’t project too much onto the future. Give it some space to grow, take shape and unravel from the wonderful mystery that it is on its own.

And while life unravels, delight in every little thing it shows you: the bad and the good.

Let go.

You hold on far too long to the things that hurt you: to the people that don’t deserve your love, to the memories that were of a past you are no longer tied to and to your own self-destructive thoughts that keep you from living in the now.

You live in two worlds and in neither of them do you live for yourself. Stop bleeding yourself dry for the things that are simply not worth it.

And I know what you’ll say. It’s what you always do: you make excuses and keep hoping for a turnaround in the things you can’t control.

“It’s complicated.” “It’s not that simple.”

Except, Beatrice, it really is.

Stop doing everyone else a kindness and do one for yourself: let. fucking. go.

Have the grace to let go of the things, of the people and of the choices that are not meant for you. Not everything that crosses your path will be there forever. People come and go. Some leave lasting magic, others disappointment. Do not hold animosity against anyone but appreciate the experiences they leave you with. Learn from them.

It will be okay. At the end of the day, you’ve always been standing on your own two feet.

All you are guaranteed is yourself, never forget this.

L I V E

Life is this great, big, beautiful unknown.

You will realize, time and time again, the vulnerabilities you’ve felt in your darkness is not weakness at all in the light of a new day. Reading this letter won’t cut it. You’ll have to live the pain, live the joys, live all the little hurts that make you real.

I see you, Beatrice. Peering into the darkness and uncertainties of the path ahead of you, sporting a grin. You try to hide that your hands are shaking as you fidget to try and turn on the flashlight for illumination, for just a little clue into what you’re walking into. Here’s what I want you to do.

You take that flashlight, turn right around, face the blinding light from the past 22 years that you’ve already lived and throw it as hard as you can. Throw it into the face of certainty, throw it into the chapters of your life that are already done.

Now, turn back, take a deep, steady breath, face your future and start walking.

You don’t need that flashlight, Beatrice.

You are the light.

i am Home.

. hiraeth . 
a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the yearning, the grief for the lost places of your past

@milkyway_tv ✨ ✨ ✨ 📷@8thdamon @jelenapiplica851 ♥️ • • • ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨

On a rare star-studded night, I entertained a conversation with a companion that weaved its way between topics of varying degrees of sensitivity. Music hummed in the background as we discussed matters of the heart and my words conjured memories of a past that I believed had faded but demanded to be unearthed once more.

The dull throb of alcohol pounding through my veins induced me into a gentle, trance-like state as we spoke about the purpose of life and finding one’s calling. We talked about the beauty of travel and exploring new places, chuckling over the irony of how throwing ourselves in foreign environments is what helps us makes sense of who we are the most. And he asked me, the baltering nomad, the one question I found I’d attached to the mystery of my identity: ‘what is home to you?’

I don’t know whether I could attribute the moment of enlightenment that followed to my ins-and-outs of momentary consciousness, or perhaps to the soulful strums of a guitar reverberating from the speakers, unlocking rooms that I’d once believed were vacant and uninhabited inside my chest. 

I told him then, with more clarity than I knew I’d ever had for a concept that had haunted me all my life, that ‘home’ to me was not a place but a feeling. How I attached my existence and different fibers of my being to moments, to people, to experiences that, when I’m living in that very time, consume me but then escape, leaving me desolate and reaching for a semblance of home. 

I belong and exist everywhere  and nowhere, all at the same time. Home is fleeting, scattered and stretched over a span of years where I feel I did not wholly exist, spare for those moments in which I was simply everything. Those seconds, though fleeting, held an entire universe of depth to my wandering soul. Seconds that once lived, were lost, and locked away in memory to be nothing more than that: just a memory.

I told him my arms grew tired and my heart drained from constantly reaching for those infinitesimal infinities – so now, I rest, wrapping them around this empty vassal of a body that is both, hopeful and longing to be filled again, and at once, utterly broken in her isolation.

I don’t know how much of that translated into words he could make sense of but that night, I had divulged a part of me that I hadn’t known existed to a trusted friend. 

I didn’t know that night, that in my life’s quest for a home, for that temporary feeling of belonging, I had denied myself the understanding of what was truly being built. The grand masterpiece of my hiraeth that I seek to find is not the end in itself but the journey that continues to unravel through the fragile fabrics of time and space. When these small, meaningful moments, sprinkled across various points of time, come together collectively, it creates the home I’ve been blindly chasing all my life.

Recently, my hiraeth is being fulfilled in ways I never imagined it could; in moments that last longer than a heartbeat which embed themselves in memories I refuse to lock away but cherish, even while I’m living them. Suddenly, everything I felt I’d ever lost is coming back and everything I never knew I’d needed is right here. 

My arms are no longer tired from reaching because my fingers have finally found another’s to lock onto, the tiny perfect spaces between our skin interlacing to fit together somehow amidst this puzzle we call life. My heart is no longer drained but filled to the brim with a sense of beauty and completion. 

By the very fingers that stretched into the ether, in desperation for a home that would fill me, I reach into myself – my heart, my mind and my soul. And I realize –

My hiraeth led me to this wondrous, miraculous soul but I know that he is not the answer nor my purpose. 

I am.

I am home.

| y o u |

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

e.e. cummings

listen

too often we find ourselves treading a path
one that puts us in the same place as everyone else in this
broken, mess of a world

and when we try to break the mould, we find ourselves falling back into this
cycle
that humanity has built to justify the means to an end
that society thinks is right

i don’t, and (maybe) you don’t either
and that’s perfectly okay. to not be like the rest of them
rather than be a face in this plastic mass of orphaned identities
choose to be you

so don’t let yourself be corrupted and shaped into what they want you to become
be what you were born to be

wherever that may take you.

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2k18: An Atypical New Year’s

I woke up this morning to a buzzing somewhere near my ear. It went on for a couple seconds then paused before returning with a persistence that forced me to crack an eye open only to wince immediately. My phone screen lit up the darkness of the room and the top corner of the screen read 7:15 a.m. It was too early. But of course the concept of ‘too early’ is lost on New Year’s Day, the first day of the year where several souls promise to start fresh, bright and early. However, this does not apply to me – the queen of procrastination. I simply shut off my phone, rolled over and went back to a blissful sleep.

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Me, pretty much. (Not my work though but you should check out Cassandra Calin’s comics here if you haven’t already seen her work!)

My Instagram and Facebook feed were flooded with updates of people partying their way into the New Year. It was nice seeing everyone having fun but for the remainder of the night, I shut off my phone and lay in bed, binge-watching Gintama and sneaking in some midnight snacks, all the while selectively ignoring the loud shouts and celebratory fireworks from the streets.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against New Year’s and the whole idea of ending one chapter and starting another with a blank page waiting to be filled. Some people dig that and I respect their opinions. But personally, I’ve grown out of the phase of New Year festivities and making resolutions. And here’s why.

New Year’s often goes hand in hand with starting another 365 days of your life with a blank slate. I’m all in for that but time and time again, I’ve seen friends and people around me misinterpret the idea of a ‘new beginning’ and in the place of fresh starts, create ‘new excuses’ to run away from their problems. Heck, I’ve done it myself.

Yes. It is a new year and yes, it is an opportunity. But yesterday’s demons aren’t going to vanish overnight and rather than try to get rid of them or forget them all together, why not try to find new ways to handle them instead?

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Leave behind the past in a healthy manner, the things that don’t make you happy. Leave behind the negativity, the things that aren’t worth your time, the relationships that have taken more of you away than given you what you deserve. Leave behind the doubts, the hate, the jealousy. Throw out all the bad and in its place, make space for a renewed sense of hope.

Yet never forget the person you are today is because of all those experiences.  Wear ’em like armor and march forward into the future, shouldering the memories of what has already passed but carrying the confidence of someone ready to face just about anything  life can throw their way.

As for resolutions, I think they’re utter hogwash. You can yell at me but nothing you say will change my mind. Why wait an entire year to make a change in your life when you could start any day? Anyone committed to actually making a difference in their life would start pronto. Yes, January 1st is the symbolic start of a new chapter but the journey of change doesn’t follow the same calendar. It has its own clock: your clock. 

People get so pumped up about their New Year’s resolutions and it’s all fun and good for a while before it fizzes out after a week or two, a month at the most, the reasons often being: ‘life happened’ or ‘who am I kidding? I set the bar too high!’

‘Resolution’…the word carries weight. Let’s not make it lose it’s meaning. It shouldn’t just be a temporary, 24-hour buzz that simmers away with the mind-numbing effect of the alcohol from the New Year’s party-bash. It should be a fire, fueled by determination, that burns through the entire 365 days of the next year. And for the people that actually set resolutions and follow them through, kudos to you.

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In a nutshell, I believe that I don’t have to wait an entire year for a new beginning. Every single day is a new beginning and anyone who wants to really change something about their life would see it as such. My yearly resolution is usually “become a better version of yourself”. To improve. But this year, I’ve decided to scrap that one off too.

I want to have 365 New Year’s celebrations packed into 2018. I want to soldier through the hardships and win the tough battles. But I also want to lose from time to time so I don’t forget what it means to pick myself off the ground and learn to fight again. I will remember the thorns of the past year but not let it scare me from healing, if only to have my heart bleed once more. Every single day will be a new beginning and I simply wish to live each one.

So let’s all raise our glasses (or in my case, mug of hot cocoa) to the year that’s ended; here’s to all the tears of both joy and sadness, to the nights we’ll never forget, to the companions that have stuck by our side and to the ones that may have strayed. Here’s to the dreams we conquered and the ones we didn’t, to the madness we created; to the stolen kisses, the broken hearts and to the people that we’ve become. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 31st of December or the 18th of April.

Yesterday’s ending will always be today’s beginning – but the journey and how we decide to get there lays in our hands.

Start it right.

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!

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!