The only thing that defines me is a lack of self; at least, the self that one could see. Whatever the analogy du jour was- be it a changeling, a shapeshifter, an actor or a bearer of many masks – it was an element of pretence. Like a façade, one only sees the front- the “face” of its building but never what lurks behind it. Like a business that springs from money laundering, the unconscious mind is kept away from such things, maintaining an air of naivety and innocence, appeasing its patrons and onlookers. On occasion, the mask slips, the walls show cracks, string snaps, but it doesn’t take too long for such mistakes to be mended.

Chehara Vitaran

Letting You Go

I thought I would suffer, that my heart would be anguished with the loss of you. Or worse, maybe it would stop beating altogether.

Maybe without you, I would simply cease to exist.

I thought I would become adrift, for you had been the anchor I had formed my identity upon, the compass I had relied on for my direction. I thought without you I would become lost, disoriented.

I had expected to taste salty tears as they fell upon lips that once spoke so fondly of you; that my head would lay on my pillow damp with tears for as many nights as the moon continued to kiss the stars.

But one day, I just knew.

I hadn’t expected such a feeling of relief as I cut the ropes that once shackled me to you. One instant of tremendous clarity. One instant, where I finally knew.

I no longer needed you.

I no longer needed your opinion of me, your affirmation, your approval.

I no longer needed your judgments, your criticisms, your condemnations.

I no longer needed your expectations I could never meet; your hoops too high to jump through, your goal posts that shifted with every changing breeze.

I no longer needed your blame, your excuses, your justifications.

I no longer needed your pseudo love, fraught with conditions and attached with strings.

I thought I needed you. I didn’t.

I thought it would be hard to let you go. It wasn’t.

I thought I would miss you. I don’t.

For in one instant my heart was awakened to the truth of who I am.

I am more than the lies you made believe about myself. I am more than the look of failure in your eyes when I fell short of your demands. I am more than how worthless you made me feel. I am more than the ways you tried to break me.

I am a warrior, sculpted by the hands of creation, fashioned into being by the very hands that created the oceans and the stars and the mountains and air.

I am strong, I am brave, I am wise. I am gentle of spirit with the heart of a lioness.

I am creative, passionate, sensitive, and kind. I am of open heart and an open mind. I am powerful, generous, thoughtful, daring, empathetic, raw, complex, courageous, understanding, forgiving.

I am everything you are not.

I will no longer carry the shame you made me suffer under the weight of.

That shame belongs to you….

Ashmita

Dear stranger,

I don’t know you— perhaps we have only crossed paths once. But I feel like I have known you for aeons. For centuries. Could you be the girl painting the Aurora Borealis in the ward? Or the girl who had scars snaking down her porcelain arms? Maybe you were the man who lent me an umbrella when I was caught in the rain. Perhaps, your beautiful stanzas, your poems blew me away, captivated me, but you left, and I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. It’s strange and ironic, since I haven’t really met you yet— but I miss you already.

Regards,

Another random stranger

Bella

First love

To me, writing is like marriage between paper and words. It’s a form of holy matrimony between my thoughts and my writing. Sometimes, I find it tedious and painful. But it makes me think: what made me fall for my wife in the first place- was it the cheerful demeanour, care and concern? Or her enchanting beautiful eyes? It is not easy to resurrect what has died and come to pass. There are times where I want to give up when I get a writer’s block. But when I discover what draws me to poetry in the first place, that glimmer, that flicker of inspiration, I now have found my calling. It makes me trudge on no matter how difficult it is, how frustrating or time consuming it is. When I make that masterpiece—poetry done and baked to perfection in the oven – it is all mine. The pinnacle of my essence, baring my entire soul and entire being to the world. It is the apex of the meaning of my life.

Kay

The art of war

In this aristocratic, nebulous world where power reigns supreme, we are like cogs in a wheel, like workers in a factory, we are the proletariats, and they are the bourgeoisie. They constantly shoot arrows and bullets at us, and you don’t want to get caught in the line of fire. If you only knew how I barely made it alive, boy, you wouldn’t judge a day in my life.

Keira

Eye of the storm: Mind’s eye

You told me you loved me. Then, you told me you hated me. You saw that I could do no wrong, and you put me on a pedestal. Your impression of me was soon broken, shattered into smithereens. You told me I was a liar,a manipulator, that I spun you round my little finger and made you giddy and confused. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In your eyes, I was the devil and angel all at once. Your fury knew no boundaries. Your calls- endless, and accusatory. These are machinations of your mind in the eye of the storm. Soon, your warped and amnesiac mind denied all allegations as if nothing happened. We were back to friends again, plain and simple. You were the Jekyll-Hyde of my life—the emotional roller coaster that spun me around and threw me off. My seat didn’t have any buckles in the first place, and there was no brake.

Sarah

My secret hideout

I always dreamt of a secret hideout, an attic which I can comfortably curl up with a book on my lap. It would be in a secret nook and cranny, where I seek shelter and refuge from the obstacles I face. It would be my haven, my sanctuary, where I could lay bare all my problems. The walls would be painted yellow, and it would be a mix of a library and a health centre. As I get engrossed in the book I am reading, I know that I can be transported into an alternate reality, a fantasy world.