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So much of woman talk is body talk. We spend an incredible amount of time dissecting our bodies, and then dissecting the bodies of other women we see. This is not always a malicious act; most times, it is a non-passionate, objective commentary of what we find attractive in each other.

There is something intimate in the way in which women prepare their bodies. The care they take towards putting their best faces forward; the time they take to pick what suits them best. Some of my favourite memories of my mother, especially as a young child, was watching her dress for an event, brushing her hair away from her face, clipping her earrings on. She never spent too much time, but what time she did spend, was spent wisely, carefully, tenderly.

I learnt young, that body talk, in essence, is politic talk. We spend so much time talking about our bodies because it is by which we are first and foremost, assessed. It is by which, (and this is a sorry fact, but it is what it is) how we assess ourselves. Eventually, if we are among the fortunate few, we begin to understand that our bodies become our first books, pages and pages in which we write our stories, carry our experiences that we have shared with our sisters, our mothers and our lovers. Our bodies will be what draw these women and men to, and away from us.

***

I once remember a lover staring at me in the afternoon light, in the early days of our coming together. He stared at me, as if he had never before seen a woman, and I remember the wonderment in his eyes, and the reverence in his fingers. It may have been the magic of light that hasn’t settled (as afternoon light is wont to do), or it may have been the tender feelings that softly oscillated between love and lust during those early days, but I remember looking at him looking at me, and thinking to myself I could have asked anything of him, anything, then, and he would have said yes.

I did not ask him anything that day, or for days afterwards. And when I did ask him, finally, the most important question of all, it was too late.

By then, my body, like my heart, had started withdrawing.

The sweetest thing about two people becoming one, is when their lives find common spaces to embrace, overlap, then softly settle into a new rhythm.

Like when paints mix together, different colours, each striking and special on their own, and then the inevitable joining, the newness, the softness.

It is in the simplest things, the everyday. Little habits exchanged. Things you never cared about before (never knew about, even) have enormous importance in your life now. It is strange at first, and then you get used to it, and one day, you wake up and you couldn’t remember caring about anything else.

Inside jokes take a life of their own because there will always be something else to say to make it just a little bit funnier. Intonations become different. Languages meet first, then skin. Sometimes, it is the other way around. Each time, the joining is sharp, tangy, and there is a pinprick of recognition.

You are home.

I’m convinced (especially as I grow older) that the real beginning is the middle.

Not that I am anywhere close to the middle of anything – I have neither lived long enough, nor done anything long enough to truly understand the tedium of moving towards the middle.

As time passes, though, I suppose I experience more and more, the middle of things.

The middle of a book, the middle of a song, the middle of the week (Wednesdays, days of part hope and part despair, depending on which side of the bed you wake up that morning), the middle of a relationship (no one, hardly anybody talks about the middle of any relationship, maybe because one does not want to think of the end of it, but….do you have to know the end, to understand the middle?), and so on and so forth.

***
Today, in the middle of a walk – the sweet smell of a particular brand of soap used to wash clothes.

The last time I had encountered this smell was in a lover’s home; he had passed me his T-shirt to wear for the night, and as someone deeply inspired by smells, I had pressed my nose into the sweet-smelling garment and taken a deep, deep breath.

When I told him how wonderful his shirt smelt, he looked at me in surprise, and told me that it was the first time anyone had ever told him that. 

Later that morning, when I left his place, I buried my face in his chest and took a deep, deep breath, trying to memorise the feel of his arms around me, and the feeling of being surrounded by all that warmth and the beautiful smell of clean clothes. 

I didn’t know then, that I was trying hard to capture something to survive a loss.

That time, it was not the middle. It was almost the end of things. 

***

The smell disappeared into the morning air, and I continued walking, still, still, somewhere in the middle of things.

*Likely to be applicable for the next 10, 20, 50 years*

***

  1. Health is your greatest wealth. Health is your greatest wealth. Health is your greatest wealth. (Repeat this to yourself 29 times, and then another 10 times for good measure).
  2. There is nothing quite as liberating as the first full breath of fresh air that you will draw deep into your lungs after days of struggling with swollen sinuses. Don’t let your sinuses swell like that again. Oxygen is life. Literally.
  3. When you wake up every morning, have a glass of water. It helps you deal with hunger pangs, and mood pangs, and is mildly meditative. It will set the tone for you for the rest of your day, because you’ve already started your day doing something good for your body.
  4. After day 3 of no-exercising, and the alarm goes, and you think you’re too tired and you can get to your workout tomorrow, because tomorrow will come anyway, NO. Get your butt out of that bed, into your workout gear, and out of that door. You will not regret it. Even if it’s a half-hearted attempt, you will not regret it.
  5. Greed and gluttony will do you no good. When your body tells you that it has had enough food, listen to it. You will regret that extra whatever-it-is-that-you-took 15 minutes after you’ve consumed it. Save yourself while you can.
  6. Don’t stop reading. Read everything, and read widely. Even when you’re writing, try to read. Find new things to read. Deviate from what you usually read. You will only be better off for it.
  7. Write a few words every day. Even when you think you have nothing to say, open up the Notes tab on your iPhone and write about what you see around you. Exercise your writing muscles every single day no matter how difficult it is to write something because one day, it will stop being so hard, and it will get easier.
  8. Write to someone you love at least once a month – pen to paper, hand to heart, at your desk with music for your company. You don’t even have to send the letter if you don’t want to, but write to someone you love. Often, the words you share with your loved ones are the words you would also need to hear for yourself.
  9. Never underestimate the power of a good haircut, good colour, and a good outfit. Even when you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck, at least wear one item that gives you some form of pleasure. You will feel that much better about dealing with the world. (P.S: Don’t postpone getting a haircut for too long – it messes with your mind)
  10. You really don’t need to deal with unnecessary, toxic drama. You don’t even need to process it – not yours, not anybody else’s. Delete.
  11. Water the plants and feed the animals every single day. You need them more than they need you.
  12. Get some sunlight often. There is something about being alive in sunlight that no amount of books/tv/art can give you.
  13. Speaking of TV, learn to savour the process of watching and learning about TV. There is a lot to explore, and not everything is worth bulldozing through. Slowly. Savour. The. Process.
  14. Celebrate your victories and analyse your failures equally. You have won in some ways, and lost in others. Both deserve equal attention, and play an equal part in moulding you.
  15. Write lists whenever you feel tired/confused/overwhelmed/etc because they help you to make sense (and even if they don’t make sense, they give you a false sense of assurance that you are doing something to organise chaos and sometimes, that is all you need).
  16. It is okay to cry. Just don’t spend all your time crying cos there’s a lot to do, a lot to see, and a life to live.

In the bus: a little Indian girl and her father are sitting across from each other. The child is tired, her little feet dangling in the air, red velcro sandals swinging gently as she slips into slumber.

Her father watches her as she nods off a little more violently, her little body lurching with sleep.

He tries to wake her up. Her eyes open blurrily for a second, she nods without processing what her father says and falls back asleep again.

This time her father scoops her up into his arms, holding her close as she curls into him and continues sleeping.

I have no doubt that one day, this little girl will grow up to see a similar scene in a bus and smile, remembering her father. Just like how this grown up girl, who’s witnessing this scene, smiles.

And she will furiously type into her phone to capture this memory, before life shifts it into a corner of her brain where she will forget.

It is this safety that we seek in love. The safety of letting our guard down, and trusting that the person/people we love, will hold onto us when we are barely able to hold onto ourselves.

Sometimes love really is as simple as that.