What Writing Feels Like

Ink pours out first

Turning your skin a black 

That only you can see.

And the words that swirl out

End up accidently etched

In the deep recesses of your inward life.

They spread malignantly

With soft tenterhooks,

Silent like the memories that have come

With their pitch forks to 

Tear you apart,

Until

You’re reaching out to them

With all that you’ve got 

To bring them all back inside 

Where they belong.

But now, they’ve seen the light

They’ve created stains. 

And all your reaching is doing is

Prying open your ribcage till you’ve

Moved into light,

Finding yourself in guilty harmony 

With them.
~Ritika

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Memoirs of an Introvert

My mind wanders. Sometimes it wanders too far along the way and I forget to call it back. I become so enveloped in stories, people and events that I feel them physically.

When it is 3 a.m. and they are wishing that their mind had potholes so it would be easier to forget everything that they had ever messed up; when it is 3 a.m. and keeping themselves from spilling their lives before others is the last thing on their minds, I want to say out loud everything I wrote and shoved into wine bottles and threw out of the window. I want to say how I wished we could paint happiness over mistakes and drain sadness from tears. How suffocated I felt inside this brown paper bag relationship that I shared with words- one of us has asthmatic breathing and its never them. I want to say that I’m not a season and that I won’t change; all I need is trust. I want to say that I had all the parts that they needed to fix what was broken inside of them. I want to say that in the silent moments, between stillness and time, I felt everything that I had been holding back. I wanted to say that I wished they would notice the sweet destruction rooted in my bones; the kind that could set the world on fire with flames so vibrant that they seldom fade from the ground. I want to say that I wished they would notice the half smile hidden under the thick collars of my knit sweater.

Except, I don’t say it.

~Ritika

How to Mend Your Heart

It is hard not to see them in thunderstorms; the lightening that plays tag across the sky, and the clouds that tower overhead – soft, luxurious and ominous.
But listen to your favourite song; not the one that they played on their car stereo on repeat. Oh no, not that. Listen to that song which you played in the shower, staging a mock performance in front of the foggy mirror in your bathroom. Absorb every lyric, every chord, every second. Learn how the drums kick in at the perfect spot, how the vocals are smooth and easy, how the music lights you up from inside.
It is hard not to hear them in the cicadas on still, summer nights, when the air hangs heavy with words that drip with sweat and honey.
But, write. Write, then read, maybe erase. None like the words they meticulously crafted that cut into your skin, like the knives that remain in a block of anticipation. After months of not writing at all, write until words are pouring out of you; until all that you’ve been feeling since the dead of winter is finally rising to the surface.
It is hard not to taste them; salt delivered reprieve and the tangy barbecue smoke; like lips burning from spice and tongue wasted on impatience.
But put on the red lipstick, wear that suede jacket. Even if the reflection in the mirror is a reminder of what they liked you best in, let that reflection be a reiteration of what you feel best in despite their absence.
Then one day while walking along those same lanes, you’ll walk past them and their eyes will shoot up automatically at the whiff of your perfume. Their deep brown eyes will follow your every move, forehead crinkling up with confusion when you don’t look their way. You’ll barely notice them but, my god, will they notice you.
For the first time in months it will be their heart that feels hollow instead of yours.
~Ritika

A Revolution

Hi, I am..(Damn, don’t you ever exercise?)

Wait, what? How does…

(Stop eating like the pig you are.)

But…

(What is it going to take you to realise that nobody wants you here?)

I just…

(And are those scars on your wrists?)

Wait…

(It’s a shame. You can’t even kill yourself right.)

I…

(Ugly.)

You…

(Fat.)

Wait…

(An unfortunate waste of space.)
Hi, my name is “Broken”. Broken by the words said by people who felt they were better than me just because the pointer on my scale tipped to the other side”.

My name is “Tired”. Tired of fixing it, but throwing up after every meal took its toll on me.

(But to be beautiful, you must be able to endure pain.)
Hi, my name is not “Fat” or “Pig”. My name is “Scarred”. Scarred by the rhythmic brush of the nail file against my skin, until I could no longer see nightmares of myself drowning in images of photoshopped girls.

(It was just for attention.)
Hi, my name is “Ashamed”. Ashamed of having believed that self-love was a war that I couldn’t have won.

(No one…)
Until now.

(Just stop..)
Hi my name is “Human”. Just like you.
Loving yourself is a revolution. But so is accepting yourself on the days when disdain replaces the trust, and repulsion replaces the love. Love yourself not because you should, or because it’s a task or a means to prove your feminism. Love yourself because even on days when you don’t, you survived.
~Ritika

Unspoken

“What are you afraid of?”
A question that is a half-hearted attempt to keep the almost dying conversation going, but elicits emotions so raw, and undoes essential parts of your self. It reminds you of the broken promises, sick twists of fate, gargled words that you wish you had said then.
I’m afraid of moving on, mostly because I haven’t had to before. How do I pack eighteen years of my life and tote them away? I already have three suitcases packed with clothes, picture frames and basically anything and everything that will remind me of home. How does it make sense to leave behind friends who have made it easier for me to come into my own? Friends with whom I’ve fought only to realise later that our bond was not something tangible which would snap to never be sealed with the duct tape of a corny joke.
I’m afraid of the collars that chafe my neck when I clear my throat to say something in protest. Every time I undo a button I only come to terms with how little plastic circles can be symbolic of a rebellion. Societal expectations are becoming modern corsets and I’m afraid of how they’re shrinking waists and squeezing minds with the power of suggestion and unattainable perfection.
I’m afraid that I shall leave the world, only having scratched the very surface of my potential. I might fall to the floor, stop breathing and be buried in a secluded corner of a Midwestern graveyard before getting every thought in my chaotic mind on paper. I may not be able to put each one who has impacted me on paper; I’ll go away with half-formed, missing persons in my chest. People who I didn’t  get a chance to know better, who are etched in my faint memory as fingerprints on bathroom faucets, strands of hair on the carpet and stains on the table where they forgot to use coasters.
But those subjects are far too heavy for meaningless small talk.
So I’ll be polite and just stick to “Heights”.

~Ritika

A Faded Year

It has been a year now. I have something to tell you, for it has been eating me; something that the irrelevant last pages of the unsent letters have been screaming I’m words of black and white.
Since you’ve been gone, I have tried to find you in the lights of the city skyline and the howling of the tornado sirens. I have tried to live carefully, cautiously, thoughtfully. I tiptoe across the floor because the creaks of the floorboard spell catastrophe more profoundly than the radio silence you left me in. I have guilt tripped my way into putting away my pen and my better sense of judgement. Driven by my passion for memories, I flipped through every page of the album from that night – the night of dancing, storytelling and long walks; the night that ended prematurely with a drastic fall. Longing for evidence to disprove my insanity, I have only come up short.
Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. And here I am, scribbling the time with you in the margins of my life. I am sorry, the ticking hands escaped me. Now I see you, shoulders tensing at your sight, realising that flowers are the heaviest when placed on a grave.

~Ritika

History

There is a lot of history on these

streets. We are the debris of the same

disaster – I am the creation, and you

are the process of reconstruction.

Darling, you paint yourself a better

picture – watercolour skies instead 

of brooding storms. And yet

they say you look like me – the same

dark eyes, nose bridge and the

gentle smile. We make a 

really good team, we do. We are

the same gunshot in the dead

of the night – you are the trigger, I 

am the safety lock. I wish I could do more

to make you feel better,

today. I wish I could show 

you how the sun breaking through

the curtains will chase your 

demons away. It is hard to not see 

your parents in yourself. But smash

every mirror you come

across. You were given 50% of 

me to make it on your own. Do it.
~Ritika

P.S : For those who were unable to figure it out, this is a poor recreation of the advice my father gave me 🙂

Give Me Summer

These are the days when you look at someone and it doesn’t matter how close you get physically; you don’t care about intimacy, the grasping hands, the sharp breaths. These are the days when you feel like a real person – thick flesh, sturdy bones. Someone who on other days is a passing cloud, only a temporary state – coming and going at the commands of people who did not love you. Someone who, now, is starting to dance under the moonlight near the dark ocean water. You are dancing with someone, not caring for the world.
Until the music ends. When you look up at the stars and within the blink of an eye, the moment passes and all it left you with was its memory. And yet you will not memorise every freckle on his cheek in your chest; your mouth will not taste of regret; you will not send letters with no return address. Even though his memory lingers in your burnt tongue, it will not ruin the taste of whatever you choose to consume next.
Summer makes you realise that one can love someone for a period of time that isn’t forever.
Now is sufficient. Forever is contingent.
Give me now.
Give me summer.
~Ritika

A Letter to My Sister (for when she turns 18)

Dear … No. No terms of endearment. It is time that you learnt that the world will not greet you like old friends. Sometimes, even you won’t.
Forgive me, I didn’t realise that you were me. I shouldn’t be surprised, for all that you’ve wanted to do since you were a little girl, was to emulate me. And I wouldn’t blame you because, for someone who has been putting up a front, for 27 years, that told you how in control of everything I was, I somehow seemed to be the perfect role model for you at facevalue.
Mum must have told you how life was perfect when I was 18. Sitting shotgun on a road trip with my bestfriends, looking around as the world flashed past in glorious colour outside my window. Clear nights with a warm breeze and an endless span of the night sky with infinite stars to surround me as my mind is filled with a torrent of memories and slow melodies.

I wish she had told you how complicated it all was. Like swallowing rusty nails and crawlin my way towards somethings didn’t even know I actually wanted. I wish I could rewire my brain to not care so much, to stop overthinking, to stop going a million miles an hour, to let me rest. Where they saw skin, I saw bruises. I wish she had told you that I was a friendless Friday evening, a burnt piece of something sweet. My smiles were empty and my chest was only a faint echo of a lost heartbeat.

Forgive me, I didn’t realise you were me.
I wrote imprecise ballads and weaved stars and tornadoes into my words, that’s what you heard from Dad.

I wish you had heard that I wanted to paint galaxies, worlds and storms, but I wasn’t that great with the manifestation of colours. I loved art but I could not create a masterpiece, nearly as alive and enrapturing. I was willing to break myself on the wheel for it. I wish you had heard how skeleton hands never did stop shaking me awake at 4 am. The past sinked into my veins. When 4 am tells you, “You can’t do this anymore,” you believe it. It was a well-rehearsed dream. Chaos and anarchy. Dark clouds and limitless bounds. Rage made my blood, and terror, my bones.

Forgive me, I didn’t realise you were me.
Today I see the stars in your eyes shine particularly bright – like fireworks and fireflies that, despite being vastly different, cause equal wonder when seen up close.

You may be told that you are meant for a clichè novel-esque life. But resist, little girl. There is something bold about being defiant. There is something about having soft petal skin and still showing sharp teeth. You have 27 bones in your hands, all structured beautifully to hold your world down for you. Remember, no one wearing a crown comes in the name of peace.
Now you know the colour, the texture, the softness of my mind; what my veins knot into; what the underside of my restricted, most private thoughts is like. Now, I believe is time to tell you what this inconsistent rambling has been building up to.
Let nothing, ever, stop you from going back to the start, to commence a new journey, to kickoff something that you and I will remember for the remainder of our breaths. Do not let the lazy days in and the feverish nights out faze you. And though the a heart will break as many times as it needs to, you will still find another reason to pull trust from the stars. There is no white knight, no dragon, no tower. If you’re waiting to be rescued, don’t. Become your own hero. And when the night exchanges your blanket with fear, I will pick you up, dust you off and walk with you to the sunrise.

Love,

The one who you wanted to be