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From The Afterglow

Verses, Tales, Thoughts

By Varsha Panikar

Not everything is meant for keeps.

There are things I notice, and things I don’t notice enough. Perhaps, I do not notice the specific day the trees begin to droop and grow old with winter, or how people walking in groups align their footsteps, though I notice mine, or the personality of a child by the way they laugh, a fleeting glimpse into a world yet untamed.


The things one learns about life are not always meant for keeps, like the collage of absurdities, presented to you as norms and certainties that govern our polite society; like tidy categories, or gender binaries, or a patchwork of contradictions like me; or something simple like the hint of an old bruise, or the wild splash of soap in your eyes; like children who learn too early about death and sexual intentions, and are not yours to teach; or how some stains are impossible to remove. Like the nights and days of clutching to my bed because I couldn’t face the world or myself; or how for a moment as fleeting as the firefly’s glow, she looked at me differently because she was just as lost as me.


Or like the powerful manifestations that can arise from conversations, or how one can shovel the pain and numbness, day after day, to clear the driveways of one’s brain, just so one can make it another day; or the way you can move the shine in your eyes to a certain spot to hide your disarray of thoughts; or the way my friends do not know I can hear the sadness in their voice when they say things are fine, when they are not; or the way she doesn’t have to smile for me to know she is happy, but took a tear from her eyes to know I once broke her heart; or like the escalation in my late mother’s voice, when she was alive, when she’d realise that I am on the other end of the line, and I would feel complete.


So what do you do? You turn around, walk away and keep your balance. Some things are just not meant for keeps, because they will rot inside you and make you regurgitate the poison.


Some things I embrace, some things I throw out to the pigeons and lost souls who search for meaning, and some things, I let take me to heights I never knew I could reach.



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