WomanOnetwoandthree

An elderly woman forgot the unlock code to her lock hanging on her gym locker earlier today. WomanOne.

A women’s locker room in a private club during almost-office-hours in the morning is a mirage of boobies big and small and hanging and firm and dripping and dry and scarred and yellow and black and white. At nearly 70, this lady walked around naked in front of huge mirrors set up for these club members to eradicate their insecurities with their bellies big and small and hanging and firm and dripping and dry and scarred and yellow and black and white. She paced east and west, sparking zero interest. There used to be a time when she was the only person of interest. She used to be a performing- dancer, these streets lined with Broadway musicals were painfully familiar to her, like the back of her head. After pacing a good ten minutes, she confessed to one gym personnel, a touch shy to fit to the stereotype of being almost seventy and now forgetting to remember. That same one gym personnel came with a massive chipper (cannot find a better word to explain that tool) to break her lock so WomanOne could now dress herself. I caught her laughing with a blow-drying lady; number unidentified; as the one gym personnel left the room with the lock now dangling. “Just stay in the bed from here on, girl,” WomanOne and woman unidentified laughed together. Her laughter brought the entire space’s attention to her and the brief encounter with the mirror at that same point of time took her back to being the dancer. In the 70s.

There is a lot of talk of the 70s in this locker room. About how aerobics was so new and  everybody was coming to New York to audition for these dances that are now funded to be exhibited at museums of modern arts around the globe and how Jeff was that stunning dreamy Lord of a human being; the B-roll A.D. for these covert projects; who ended up sleeping with all girls who came for the auditions. These women, dancers once, on these same streets where much younger girls now play their roles in the musicals they once lived; looking at the reflection of themselves in the mirror holding all their words that they have to tell the twenty-something next to them, dabbing kilos of makeup blue and pink and salmon and red and muddy, to feel a little more secure. womantwo. This is a twenty something, a first generation immigrant raised in a country in South Asia nobody can pronounce properly. She thinks of her grandmother some afternoons in her cubicle after writing notes for C-suite meetings dominated by the majority. Mostly, the opportunity to educate for them is after a handshake, “Where are you from?” Her grandmother is probably the only living person in the family who can pronounce the name of their country with perfection. She has just joined corporate America, overcoming all the legalities that they have created to bar her stellar GPA and leading experiences to create a glass ceiling only she and her HR know, because she is from over the seas, because she does not have the green, because she has boobies-big and small and hanging and firm and dripping and dry and scarred and yellow and black and white. This private club with a sunroof deck Olympic size swimming pool is an irony of the lots, nobody is happy here. The ones who have now spent 40% of their salaries to get this membership are stuck in a whirlpool of buyers remorse. The ones who have spent 8% of their salaries want to be in places that cost 40% of their salaries. womantwo catches me staring at her unconsciously and shoots me a look. She feels judged for dabbing so much layers on her face. I want to tell her it is okay to, but decide otherwise. To all the strangers in the world, we are deaf and dumb and blind. I moisturize my face- spf 15, dab some lipstick and sprint out of this women’s locker room. Lipstick.

This is not the same locker room. I have come to one of the rooftop screenings of a summer series we try to attend every year. I am pulling my off-shoulder-salmon-blouse and dabbing some lipstick in a jiffy. This mere touch-up is second nature for us women. I catch an older lady with a cast on her left ankle staring at me. womanthree smiles, I blush. Dabbing lipstick in public is a private act we should pay no attention to. I have now been caught trying to be perfect, wanting to be perfect. How embarrassing.

“You look fantastic.” womanthree stuns me, oh so she can speak.

“Thank you.” I knit some words from the air, how weird it is to realize that we are in fact able to exchange words with strangers. I fix my lipstick, she is next in line. Check eyes, check lips, check teeth, covertly.

“As is.” womanthree is still talking?

I shoot her a puzzled expression.

“I meant as is, Miss. You look fantastic as is. With or without that lipstick.”

I breathe a heavy sigh as a response to her beautiful remark and we both laugh. I see those wrinkles on my face.

I left home when I was 20. Faint wrinkles are forming around my loudly laughing mouth and now I have eyebags because, occupational hazard. My mother has deeper wrinkles in order to retain her sea of wisdom. Ma’ cannot see me every day. I cannot see Ma’ every day. We make do with sometimes filtered other times pixel-lated versions of ourselves and laugh about things. Neither of us talk too much about aging. As if our insecurities are silenced when we do not talk about them. How long will it take to admit that the noise is the loudest inside of ourselves?

 

June 9th 2017. 8.20 PM: A girl heads to fix her lipstick. New School New York for Rooftop Films, Non-Fiction screening. Photograph from my instagram archive, part of a documenting series.

R E S E T

Try as I might, I cannot remember my father’s face wishing me a happy birthday. Calling my name. Singing to me.

I feel guilty accepting to be happy on this day. all the deaths from the earthquake on this day are all over my face. What breaks me the most are the people of the dead. For the people of the dead, there is never any healing. First there are too many memories. Then there are too few memories. I once had asked K, “So, do you like anything at all? What would drive you in life, if at all?” “Statistics.” He had said.

Death like statistics. Birth like statistics. Memories like statistics. Everything is dust.

I say I do not care for birthdays or death-days but truth is, both of them ride my anxiety and drive my panic. Here is the documentation of day three hundred sixty five, after the nine-to-five.

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parks are the most beautiful when it is raining.

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imperfect lenses and wasted films. ninety five percent of living.

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seven thirty-ish. a memorial. prayers. deaths.

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with bridges came/went the _______

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your father always said “youarebeautiful.”

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the best friend told you about the storm predictions so you headed straight for the water.

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new york city craving attention.

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failed self portraits.

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neighbor’s fire escape and bad lighting and wannabe photographer mood in the middle of the winnnnnnddddd.

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april twenty fifth two thousand and seventeen.

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write some questions to yourself to see if you have answered them a few years from now. why the fake rings? vanity?

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au-revoir, twenty-five. you have lived every day completely. you have given your all.

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even when you forget,

 

 

Dear everything that I have yet to lose, I welcome you with arms wide open.

Happy birthday to me.

au revoir,

R E S E T.

My home will always be a place where

my people feel welcome and are fed and feel warm. A place where my people will sing and remember their happiest moments at.

Astoria, New York. April, 2017.

 

 

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7-ish: Still weaving innocent dreaming.

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8-ish: Throwing some sass.

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8-ish: Photographer friend brings the dusty ukulele from my bedroom.

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8-ish: Shy writer friend starts playing beautiful music.

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9-ish: Warm, beautiful music and amateur out of focus photographs that I still think are beautiful.

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9-ish: Bestie comes back home from a Mets Game to music and warmth and post-fried eggs over steamed white rice. Yes, I made them eat that.

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10-ish: Still hiding, my shy talented writer wonderful wonderful friend.

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11-ish: We go to get Murakami food because, New York City.

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11-ish: Still have things to talk about, fifteen years later.

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12-ish: We chase the moon.

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12.30-ish: Because, this is our neighborhood deli we only make appearances in after 12.30.

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1-ish: Back to our two overweight suitcases full of stories we came to the big city with.

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2-ish: How 9-5 shall be the death of all of us.

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2-ish, from 8-ish: How I for the first time manage to get a good angle photograph of my very very shy, talented, storyteller.

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2-ish: Photographer gets photographed while doing his part-time musician thing.

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2-ish: Shy.

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3-ish: Mood.

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Warm evenings start like this. Warm evenings end like this.

First ever (of many) collaboration piece in this blog. All photographs by the amazing Sworup Ranjit. Zero post production (am I right, S?)

DISGUST

“love him now.” says the mother says the uncle says the eldest aunt says the the youngest aunt says the middle aunt says the aging grandmother says the eldest aunt says the uncle says the youngest aunt says the middle aunt says the aging grandmother says the mother

dear father,

 

 

 

 

forthosetrees

there used to be a world for you and me and there were fields of green which used to turn white in winter but in this land and in this water i loved the green and i loved the gray and i loved the sometimes blue too i loved so much and felt it in my heart i did not ever even know that i was ever going to be capable of so much loving i had love in my heart i had love in my tummy i had love in my cheeks i felt the love in even my veins there were words only in my head there was no need for talking either we slept under the stars and we slept under the fog and we slept under the rain we felt the earth over our bodies we felt the sky under our selves it was magic they said it was reality we said it is foolish they said it is wise we said it will hurt you they said it makes us jumpy we said there was laughter and hay and sun and more rain there were breezes that took our names there were trees in green that taught us fulfillment and taught us how to whistle tunes that their dead uncles had taught them we spent noons napping beneath them and evenings listening to their stories in winter they would lose their green and were unable to whistle anymore the trees turned gray and could only howl we have been cursed those trees would cry but still even when they were gray we never left them when their green left them we stayed back lying still we spent noons telling them the stories our dead uncles had told us and in the evenings we sang them the tunes that they had taught us in summer we fell in love together all head first all face first all eyes shut i have seen that this living has hurt you so much darling but being human is the worst kind of a curse

the trees always had warned us

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there are words in your head that will never take shape physical of course some words in your head you will chew up with all the unhealthy food that you gulp down in the few minutes you can spare for yourself every day at noon these words are rage these words are rebellion these words are confusion these words are silent pleas for help these words are pleas for the world to understand you these words are chunks of prose that plead the society on your behalf do not make me do things i am not sure of yet i have never been that person  stop telling me who to love who to see who to talk to who to reject stop telling me who to imagine my family with who to respond to and who to smile to stop

stop fucking up my zen

S T O P.

 

Farewell(s)

How strange is it to do it over and over and over again. Farewell I mean.

So many. So soon. So early.

 

Death like life. Death in life. Death with life.

Almost feels like this entire lifetime has been given to one to spend in mourning. Grief comes in so many different forms, you think you do not have enough time to finish grieving for all the people you know. Yet, you spend years grieving for people who will never know you. How insincere of you. Part-time grieving for everybody you will never know.

How much confusion does it take for anybody to decide to suffocate herself? To poison herself? To drown herself?

Sadness comes in so many forms. Grief seems eternal. Confusion is consistent.

The sun is out. Perhaps, one should take a walk in the chilly weather that New York is right now, in the congested sneezing situation that one is in right now.

 

Walks make it better. You feel like disappearing forever sometimes, pretty normal in the chaos that commercial living has become. But when you feel like disappearing, take a walk. To the ones who are allowed to walk around, walks make it better.