Out There

*

*

*

*

Caves, caves!

Listen to this echo

And agree with me.

Out there is better, after all.

*

Caves, caves,

Hold the air still and

Remind me I must walk

With dignity, pride.

*

Out there, people with blinders,

People without — all look.

I must wear my pride.

And have a good reason for it.

*

Caves, caves,

When I leave you, leave me with a note

Etched in a stone out of you

“Live to live, not to survive”.

*

*

*

*

I am back from the hospital where my mother is recovering from an angioplasty. I am afraid for her. I am afraid for my father, who is as irresponsible towards his physical health as my mother. I fear. 
When I am older, and in my now, I want to make sure I give myself and my loved ones no reason to fear for my body’s vitality. Or my mind’s. When I am out of this cave that engulfs me with its cool indifference, I want to give — to myself, to my loved ones.  

Self-Help for Dummies

Trouble troubles without prejudice. Since no one is spared, I suppose all appreciate a helping hand and a warm smile. You will perhaps not see whether their troubled times are deep or fanciful, desperate or indulgent. My experience shows that when you least expect kindness to bring you back kindness, it does so with such surprising matter-of-factness, that you wonder why you hadn’t tried venturing on that path those countless other times. Kindness heals both ways, always.

Having said that, I am ready to confess that I need help from myself — that would be a win-win situation, would it not? I be kind to myself, and get kindness right back to me in return. This reminds me of an important lesson my mother tried to teach me. She still does try, but is now experienced enough to not waste her breath on it. She used to tell the little Priya that if she respected her clothes and took care of them, they would provide her respect in return; if her books and notebooks got respect, they’d furnish her with the same and more. Loving advice. But slipped right off of little Priya’s well-shampooed — sometimes very well-oiled — hair. As I prepare myself for producing my own set of memorable advices dished out unsought to my little girl when she is old enough to understand beyond “don’t poke your eye, dunderhead”,  I am at loggerheads with the little Priya, who never grew up.

Recently, during a conversation with my father, I secretly revealed to him that I know what ails me. Feeling of inadequacy is a well researched term, and it sounds gravely frivolous enough to my ears. My father, however, gave a very sage response, saying that abundant thought seems to have gone in to come up with such a conclusion, which goes to show that most of my work is already done. All I need to do now is to stop feeling inadequate. Easy for him to say, easy for me to go right back to that last stash of Diwali laddoos. The poor feeling, however, continues to languish — ready to slither out, suddenly serpent-like, and entwine my poor ego until it can no longer breathe.

And that’s what they call a vicious circle.

The idea of walking your own walk without anyone helping you is fast looking absurd and impractical. Maybe those self-help books and videos and guru-talks do the world some good, after all. Maybe it is time to make another confession and say you can’t take another step towards your goal without someone to tell you there is a path ahead, dunderhead.

Or, maybe, you just remember to be kind to yourself, and the rest will follow.

 

h

The Cup’s Full.

A couple of years back, I wrote a set of Etherees to express my feelings about death in old age and death in young age. Almost a year later, I wrote another set, a part of which is about the elderly seeking appreciation as (they think) they come closer to their end. A little over a year later, I am set to write another couple of Etherees on something that has been playing on my mind for some time. It is the impatience with which the young treat the elderly. As you grow older, you become less adept mentally and physically. Almost like a child in reverse. As I struggle with my expectations from my parents, whom I still see from the eyes of the little girl who thought her parents could accomplish everything, I am beginning to see how I might be a little too demanding.

Note: The first Etheree from the point of view of the one growing old, and the second from the one not yet in that stage when they count time.

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*

*

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cropped-dsc_0109.jpg

Get

Going,

Old bones ‘n’ limbs!

The youth calls out.

Unforgiving youth.

Scraps ‘f unwritten paper,

Rudderless with this imp breeze

They call inevitable season

Stack’d in neat piles after years ‘f habit.

Fie, there’s a mutinous bit askew. But shh!

*

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*

*

*

Try to remember time is a circle.

That every step you take fills it.

I like your tread — undemanding.

Just walk with me, hold hands tight.

You see strange qualms approach?

You taught me calm, love.

By example.

Forget it.

I’ll wait.

Shh, love.

cropped-dsc_0109.jpg*

*

*

It Is Here that I Am

Doors open

With a creak so gentle,

It makes my heart sing

At the possibility of a draught

I’ve been waiting for.

The heavy, laden breeze

Sings its own tune.

Filled with aromas of a meal

I’d rather not have,

It sits on my porch, waiting

For my hunger.

And then, it rains.

Each huge drop weighs down

Those floating bits of food

I wouldn’t eat.

It is fresh again.

*

*

Legs crossed and waving at unknown fears,

I sit, and wait.

Wait for the birds to build that nest above.

It could take another day.

It might take a few more,

But I wait.

*

*

The hair’s all combed.

The nails all cleaned.

My toe-rings glimmer at the sight of a late sun.

About time!

The breeze is fresh with new roses,

The nest all built.

Legs uncrossed, sitting in a lotus.

It is here that I am.

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Promise.

Take

This gift.

Look, it lives.

Roll it over.

See, it tends our fount.

Wake up! Your love, my love

Lives through us, in spite of us.

~

Our garden’s whispering rushed pleas.

The wind becomes more mischievous, too.

With time, they’ll cover our picture frame.

~

Be me, and see yourself as I see you.

feet

Of Holding on to Threads

Last monsoon, one of the hanging plants in my garden fell down after the twine that hung it let go of the final wisps that held together its strength. I tied it back with a rope fashioned out of an old cotton sari. It worked famously until yesterday, when, in the midst of torrential rains, the threads let go. When I found them in the morning, the hanger was hanging in thin air, and the well-fired terracotta pot was on the ground, unbroken. The plant was uprooted, but breathing.  My daughter in my arms, I picked up the plant, put it in a periwinkle bed close-by, kicked the pot up, pulled the hanger’s hook out of the nail, threw it in a corner, and moved on to feed the carp in the lily pool. Besides giving you information about just how I run my garden, I suppose I am telling you that this letting go business is holding me to ransom.

Some months back, I found it convenient to post a photograph of a bunch of frangipani looking towards a grey sun, and title it “Let go”. Back then, I thought what I knew what it meant. Today, I am not very sure. What do I let go of? How? Is it the pretty feathers of expectations or the shiny sands of time? If yes, what do I do but to hold on to expectations from a relationship in which there is love and care and understanding? Are these not in reciprocation? Or am I meant to be a peculiar sage with little knowledge, but lofty ideals? How do I not think of the passing time and wonder if tomorrow will bring tomorrow, or, even if it does, will it bring the same promise?

What do you think of when you hear or think of these two words — Let go? Do they mean anything, or do they join a boxful of random things one gets to hear these days and nods at, but doesn’t really understand?

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Note: The pretty pictures above are some of the imagery I found when I looked for “Let go” on the internet.

Be Restless? It has it’s benefits.

To be able to create, you need to rest after a period of being restless and awfully idiotic. I have been restless (and awfully idiotic) for quite some time, and have ‘created’ some forgettable written ‘things’. While I wait for the period of rest to rain on me, I want to maintain a feeling of being creative. Since I am afraid it’ll all be, yes, forgettable, I’ll just copy and paste from the book I published recently (which, incidentally, has sold more than 10 copies! Hardly forgettable, eh? WooHoo!)

butterfly

Eleven Etherees for you. Eleven emotions.

——————————————————————-

Happiness

Still
Very deep.
Up it comes,
And twinkles bright.
Swishes and courses,
Curls around every wisp
In me. Bells tinkle, tink, tink.
Now deeper and yet all around,
It wafts round me, the gentle old friend.
Oh, this delightful light, it becomes me.

*

*

*

Anger

Breaks,
Buries
My weak soul.
I fall, and fall.
Reach hells I knew not.
Flames claim me, mere tinder.
‘Twas not called to cause hurt,
But it has. Here, there and everywhere.
Those worried looks, these trembling sinews;
Fires ablaze, poisons stew. Where is life, pray?

*

*

*

Love

Fill
My cup,
“Twill twice over.
Rush life in me.
It does, too. And more.
Skies and Earth merge afar,
Days flow into nights close here.
All’s the same, yet wonderfully new.
Picks me up and sends me adrift, reined.
Drops me. Only to prop me again. Reined. Filled.

*

*

*

Grief

“Bend,”
It says.
I obey.
Breaks into,
Then, it stays. Rigid.
I play its tiring game.
Seeking, buckling, pining, too.
Heart feels empty, mind so broken.
It’s tapping the loud, loud hollowness
With such indefatigability.

*

*

*

Hate

Pluck
Sorry
Harmony.
It makes me do
This, and much, much more.
Rides on my ignorance,
Gallops me to deserts grey.
Such inconsequentiality.
Desolate plains, troughs and mounds meet me
As I trample this ground shivering ‘neath.

*

*

*

Hope

Light
Glimmers,
Though ‘tis dark.
Colours brighten,
Even as fog fades all.
I laugh as if sky’s blue,
And so, I become the light.
Dips me in sweet liqueur, it does.
Oh, what fun! Trouble’s all gone now,
I can be again, live again! Onward!

*

*

*

Fear

Nail
Pushed in.
Deepest yet.
But it bleeds not,
No blood’s left in me.
It’s taken hold, this claw.
It pinches, pierces deep, deep.
World’s awash with this stickered smell;
Bloodlessness, such tiresome bloodlessness.
Nothing in me, I lean on falsity.

*

*

*

Wonder

Spin!
I spin,
Whoosh, float, sail
Through marvellous fluff.
Eyes mirror the light
I sense gushing in me.
So many questions, such a lure.
I marvel, gaze at things hidden,
It’s lent me knowing eyes, this journey.
All’s bright, I see so well of a sudden.

*

*

*

Sadness

Raise
Buildings
From wasted
Dreams, and live there.
How heavy is their weight!
Those departed, heavy dreams.
I see healthy trees from windows,
But the panes are built of tough stone.
To break them is painful, really. Such pain.
‘Haps I’ll stay in here, and ‘twill go? The pain?

*

*

*

Contentment

Give
Heartbeats
To safekeep
On rooted tree.
It’s a beginning.
And another new end.
Sense still earth, yet know ‘tis not.
I can fly yet dive, fish treasures.
Seek what? All that is here is out there.
Bells? There’s no tolling. The heart beats it all.

*

*

*

Selfishness*

Tripped
My jaunt
With baubles,
Compelled my Me.
Ere I begin jaunts,
I choose the best transport.
Mirrors here, there; I see Me.
Give me love, give me more and more.
Build me a palanquin, all mine. Mine!
‘Tis not just my joy, but yours, too, I want.

*Yes, I know it’s not strictly an emotion. But I am using my artistic license. So there.

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There

Play

Being

You now, do.

Windows open,

Closed doors say, “Come, do.”

But just sit there, and breathe.

In, and out. Out, then in. Life.

Talk to the breeze hugging your skin.

Listen to Time travelling for you.

Rejoice! Relax. Be very you. Now. Here.

jh

___________________________________________________________

I could claim credit for the title, but I can’t, even though I might have thought of it. Alas, Osho thought of it before me.

No Fun at All

I miss writing stories here. I am originally a story-writer, you see. But lack of a steady thought process, and dedicated time makes it difficult to write one to my liking. And then there is the confusion of whether or not to accept instructions. The instructions say, a story must have a character, a conflict, a resolution. A plot. I’ve found it increasingly difficult to find a reasonable via-way between my belief that a story needn’t have a plot, and these instructions. So, in all of this confusion — which is quite a normal thing for me, by the way — I’ve decided to try out a vignette today. I didn’t know it existed until 5 minutes ago, when I searched for types of short stories through Google. I am, however, breaking rules here as well, and not writing anything to do with theatre or poetry.  And, even before I publish it, I am half-sure I’ll want to take it off and throw it in the garbage bin. But I won’t, because these writing times are few and far between, and I want to keep their fruits.

No Fun at All

The dusty glass sarcophagus showed fingerprints of silly people, who touched it in spite of the earnest warnings by the museum. Like everything else in the building, the unnamed, lost old Egyptian inside the glass case was without a guard. She stood there, staring at her reflection on the sullied surface. Her own face was pockmarked with the fingerprints of countless people she never would know. Her glasses reflected more of the post-death charade lying in front of her. It hadn’t been easy getting used to the glasses she had recently begun wearing, and when she looked at their reflection now, she felt a sudden urge to take them out and throw them away; they didn’t help her see. She couldn’t see what she wanted to.

The old and tired pedestal fan next to the ugly grey wall turned its head every now and then towards her. Tucking a few stray hair behind her ears, she moved on, unaware that she was doing it. That she was. That things were. She just kept moving on.

It was a Sunday, there were more people than this narrow gallery of a mansion turned into a museum could hold on a sultry May afternoon. Sweating uncharacteristically, she didn’t care that she had left behind her party of friends, and that they must be missing her. The buzz of empty air blocked out everything perfectly. Perhaps this is what she needed today. Dainty porcelain things on glass shelves looked at her from behind surprisingly clean glass walls. She smiled, perhaps remembering something pleasant.

It must have been a while in front of the porcelain things, because when she looked around, she realised that all those, who were strolling around with her seemed to have gone ahead. It must have been long enough for everyone to leave. The gallery was about to meet a huge hall, which would lead her outside to the sprawling lawns. Walking uncharacteristically slowly, she knew she had to find everyone else now. They must be somewhere. Waiting for her. She walked on, slow, straight, unfaltering. But the heart was pounding inside her chest, and it shouted for air. She needed to breathe. Deep, and slow. She needed to stop. She needed. She needed to know her son was not dead. But not all needs are met.

*

Idea for this little piece: About year after my brother died, we took some of my very young cousins to a museum. My mother got ‘lost’ for  a couple of hours inside the huge place. We waited outside, wondering where she was. There were no mobile phones then. We found each other on the central lawn outside. There must have been some system to find lost people — some announcement system — but I don’t remember using it. To this day, I wonder what she must have been thinking. Or not.

Chain Links Chain

Light

Falls down,

Yellow blanket cover.

Green leaves rise up.

Bliss.

*

Bliss

Could last.

Or, it could

Let me breathe new.

Kindness.

*

Kindness

Isn’t needed

When you must

Look at me so.

Waste.

*

Waste

Your words

On me and

My alarmed, surprised mind.

Go.

*

Go

And fly.

Or stay here.

Choose me, do. Please.

Sacrifice.

*

Sacrifice

Is nonsense.

A tool unkind.

Why give with greed?

Pah.

*

Pah!

There goes

Our dratted chutzpah.

Bring it back now.

Party!

*

Party

Animals sing.

And dance, too.

See them pluck bacchanalia.

Ignorance.

*

Ignorance

Was your

Erring gift then.

Ignorance it is now.

Ennui.

*

Ennui.

Say it.

Again, and again.

And then laugh loud.

Release.

*

*

*

From Flickr - fa73
From Flickr – fa73

Without meaning to, I wrote exactly 10 Elfchen. I like this form of poetry for many reasons — it was designed to teach a language, its simplicity, its depth, its brevity, its wordiness. This is a chain of Elfchen I learnt to make from a German site on poetry. There is an ongoing Elfchen chain open to all (who can write in German), where you pick up from the last word and make one poem and submit. Nice, na?

Note: To know more about Elfchen, visit an old post of mine. Or, if you are a seeker of new places, visit this very interesting post here.

Be well, stay well.

Nonsense

Mind

Your head.

It might shake

At the sight strange.

Big egos lugging us,

Showing TV to snare.

And us skipping tea we made.

Shake your head all you want, dear you.

The war’s on in here, you’re invited.

Just tweet me when you’re ready, I’ll tweet back.

image0052.jpg

Note: This form of poetry is called Etheree, and it moves me like no other form, I’ve realised. If you’d like to know what it is about, visit here.

Rush

The chocolate’s thick, the cream heavy.

The breeze tastes of summer and embraces.

I’d go to water my jasmine, if there’d be guts in my belly.

For now, I dangle here in my mind, until it this rush replaces.

Rush, rush, rush.

Things go get whirled in a slush.

Where’s the time to breathe?

Who to sit with while I the claws sheathe?

Alarms ring, bells sing. We could walk yonder though our hearts sting.

For now, though, I let our hearts beat heavy with rush.

And dream about that summer and those embraces.

rushing-may-lead-to-a-broken-heart_7-reasons-you-should-not-rush-into-a-relationship
Image: teestalktime.com

Marijuana and Me

When I was but a fledgling blog writer, I wrote a post telling people a little about myself, in which it found a mention that I like looking at fish swim. That fishes are my marijuana. Having never experienced the effects of the latter, I can use the word loosely, and feel happily cool about my choice of relaxation and a hallucinogen. I have no choice but to feel happily cool at this moment, because if I don’t, I won’t, since there are innumerable reasons for me to feel unhappily grumpy. One of them being that the parrot fish couple in our aquarium has lost not one, not two, but all of their 15,000 eggs. Another could be that I am shooting away this diaryesque post here instead of either translating a file, or cooking, or sitting with my mum or brushing my hair (it is 3 days overdue from my got-very-lucky weekly brushing). I am doing so, because I feel at the end of my tether.

Mothers are meant to be over-worked either in the body, or llll-./0mind, or both. I am one of the trillion exceptions. I am over-worked in my body, mind and soul. The only way out of it, it seemed this morning, was to indulge in a little, mindless marijuana of writing to you, reader. I feel my limbs relaxing already. It could be the very-sweet ginger tea, but I don’t care, as long as I am not only sipping it, but also the looking at these words form on my screen, releasing a little of this pent up frustration, this indescribable feeling of inability.

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One of the parrots from my aquarium. Thought I’d introduce.

Inability. I can see your mind race with ideas to swiftly type down comments or mails about how it cannot be defined as inability. I know it isn’t. But it is my definition. Anything I do that is less than what I can is my inability. And since I can improve the quality of my routine existence, there is much more to do. I feel so overwhelmingly inadequate on the days there is a freelance work to send. Even when things are functioning as well as they can under the circumstance, I perish all chances of relaxing and go on to batter everyone and everything in my way to panic and rushedness, including my old, very-missed calm. Consequently, my work suffers, the people around me suffer, my little baby doesn’t suffer, but she could’ve had better. My inability to be as efficient as I was earlier is only a small part of this confused agitation. Another aspect is that even as I am struggling with the daily demands on my time, energy, love and understanding, I want to sit down and write. I imagine myself sitting somewhere quiet, and writing, and feeling every bit of this darned tension getting released from my body. But it doesn’t happen. Largely because during Bela’s waking hours I am either with her, or translating, or cooking or carrying out hopelessly insufficient measures to bring some order to my shabby home, thinking all the while that all I want is to go to my daughter, while my mother or my husband take care of her. And during her sleeping hours, I am doing the same, except taking that chance to take a nap, too. Where does the time to write come?

It came this way today, when I gave up everything and just began writing, forgetting everything, including the endless list of drafts in my Dashboard. I am back again after 3 hours. Bela woke up,  I spent some time with her, all the while fretting that I had to deliver professionally rendered work, delivered (hopefully) professionally rendered work, ate (hallelujah!), saw Bela doing her Bela things while my mother was actually participating in them, prayed that Bela went to sleep, and after she’s gone to sleep, I am back here, typing garble.

Since I am a new mother, I am not sure this happens to every one of us, but I suspect it does in one way or the other. But we look so cheerful and happy and in-control. It might be because of our Mini Me babies, reflecting a lot or a little of us. That can be relaxing, too. Very relaxing. When I look at my baby’s face lighting up soon as she sees me, nothing else matters — not writing, not money, not a pee-visit. I suppose there isn’t anything to complain about except my state of mind.

And that’s where the churning cogwheels stop and take a deep breath, and say, “Oh yeah!”

The job of a mindful mind is to let the heart relax enough to allow it (the mind) to feel. There is bound to be an imbalance somewhere in this very tricky and ill-conceived situation. Funnily, unlike other ill-conceived inventions, this one doesn’t come with an antidote. At least not a universal one. All you can do is to keep fretting and yelling and doing what-finally-makes-you-bang-the-door-shut until the sound of that bang makes your mind find your heart’s marijuana.

*

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Note: The blue letters in the middle are what Bela wants to say to you. I suspect she meant something like, “Hey, you!” And they are in blue, because it is her favourite colour.
 
 

Breaking Heddles

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When two people come together to start a family, they do so because the years of training has taught them to honour the social vehicle that carries forth the seed of permanence of accepted values and the heddle that facilitates the warping and wefting of its fabric. What if they come together to just be, because they just are what they are together? What if what they change with time? Does their personal fabric change? Society has made more or less a foolproof system of carrying on the interdependence and dependence, thereby ensuring its perpetuation. What if two, and then two more, and then many more, break that perpetuation and make new rules? What if there is no heddle to guide the weft through the warp, only intuition and your very own fingers of respect?

She Hoops!

The evening was promising to turn into a starry night. Aster knew nothing of it, however. She wanted to practice hoop dancing she had learnt from the Periwinkle Princess in the morning. Round and round she went, and round and round went her hoop around her. Jumpy was looking at her as he played the flute. He was a little tired; he had been playing since the morning, after all. But, unaware, Aster went on, round and round. The grass beneath her was looking a little less green, but it didn’t complain because Aster was such a darling. And she wasn’t going to hoop dance forever, was she?

Was she?

When Jumpy managed to get her attention, he showed her the clear water they had collected from around Squishy’s pond.

“A little sip to keep you going?” Jumpy showed her the water. Aster shook her head first while twirling the hoop around her right arm, but then she thought something and decided to take a break anyway.

“Isn’t this fun, Jumpy?!” She breathed her words out.

“It must be. And exciting, too,” he said, wise as always.

“It sure is! Do you want to learn it?”

“I could, but my wings would get in the way. And I think it is a little exhausting, too.”

“Exhausting? I wouldn’t know. All I see is the fun and the fun of it.”

“So, it isn’t exhausting?” asked he, picking up his flute and looking at it with intense affection.

“It might be. But isn’t fun important?”

“Of course, of course. But what fun is fun if you are too busy dancing for it?”

“But it is the dancing that is fun, Jumpy!” pouted Aster.

“I haven’t seen you smiling that fun smile ever once since your second dance, my friend.”

The night had waded in. Stars shone, and Aster lay down on the grass, sighing.

“I am exhausted, yes I am,” she said.

Jumpy said to her, “Then rest, little star. And dance tomorrow as long as you remember fun.”

——————-

Note to the reader: I came to know that my previous post had somehow managed to escape my Dashboard without the express permission to accept comments. I apologise, but do not take the blame. I have corrected the mistake, anyway. So, if you read Panic, and wondered why the comments were disabled, wonder no more. I have enabled them, and shall make sure I do so with every new post.
Have fun today! But not too much!

Panic

It isn’t a joke, even when you haven’t even touched the graveness of a real disorder. Panic, the emotion, toys around with every part of your body without your permission, and mostly without you ever knowing what hit you. The silly thing is that it normally afflicts you when you deserve to be happy and carefree. It enters your system because you are so happy, you do not want the feeling to end. That it might end, the possibility, makes you realise you can, after all, lose grip and begin to imagine the worst.

And then let it go downhill from there.

To be able to get over the feeling of the ground being ripped off from under your feet even as the blue sky is falling on your head is, as you can imagine, a difficult task. But to let it become a habit and then live either as if the calamity is bound to happen, or wear safety harnesses on firm ground and under clear blue, un-falling sky would be hilarious. And tiresome. So, what do you do?

Continue reading Panic

The Profundity of Heights, and Depths

As a child, and then as a teenager, and later as a twenty-something, I would occasionally put my head inside our aquarium, and look at the fishes swimming, trying to feel the water in which they swam. I looked at the aquascaping  we had lovingly arranged, trying to visualise how life for the flora and fauna was in the aquarium, and must be in the rivers their brothers swam in. It was a beautiful experience, irregardless of the lurking thoughts of foolishness and impropriety. I’ve had aquariums most of my life, and continue to do so, but I no longer put my head in the water. I do, sometimes, pretend I am swimming with the fish. That is a safer way to let your imagination and sensory celebration run amok without being labeled a mutilator of propriety. At any rate, I didn’t attend a finishing school, so propriety doesn’t bother me much.

But depths move me. Unlike heights.

Continue reading The Profundity of Heights, and Depths

Thank You!

Thank you for being around, reader.

Bela’s sleeping, and I am here, translating. Or should be translating. When I habitually hit the Random Post button on my blog here, it took me for the umpteenth time to Weather Me Well, an Etheree I wrote a while back, claiming to want to get back to being people-happy. I am people-happy. A blog with no interaction is not me. But a blog — two blogs — with responsibilities is something I am not sure I can manage very well.

Continue reading Thank You!