Wind-up toys

Today my neighbor visited me with her three year old nephew. He seemed a bit cranky and began throwing tantrums as soon as we got them seated. Being a “not-so child friendly” adult, I looked at my mom to help me out with the kid. She tried interacting with him, but he just became more cranky, so my mom suggested that he can play with toys. His eyes lit up with the word “toys” and he slowly turned his face from his aunt’s shoulder and looked towards us.

I stared back at my mom clueless, because in our house of four adults, we had no toys to entertain a child. She shooed me to go and find something that resembled a toy to keep the little one calm. I went scavenging my room and found a few of my old button eyed stuffed toys which my mom preserved from my childhood. The sad memory filled condition of it, made me realize it’s not an ideal for a child throwing tantrums. Within a few minutes, I finally found a toy! I mean for me it was a treasured piece, a photography prop, but for any three year old, it was definitely a toy.

It was an auto. My wind-up, green and yellow auto. I rushed back into the hall and placed my dusty little auto in front of him. I ran back to get a cloth to clean off the dust and re-present it back to him, thinking that, that would make it more appealing. But I definitely did not win his heart with the ‘old -not-quite-amusing’ toy. With defeated sighs I began to pull the auto back and let go.

The way that auto rushed to hit the wall in full speed, resembled my past week. A week which went by in a blink of an eye. Yet each day of it felt like an eternity that had no possible end. Surprisingly the whole month before it, I had no events to share, no exciting memory to remember, absolutely nothing that made my brain exhilarate. And in just a week, I felt as if half the year had gone by already.

So in just a week – I graduated online with an Honours degree, I discovered that I am demisexual, I got selected for an internship after being rejected almost everywhere, I lost the crush I had on a guy, I changed the layout of my room, I noticed my stray pets reached their sexual maturity, I reactivated my social media accounts despite having no confidence to share anything socially, I even got the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine!

As I sit on my bed writing this now, I feel wound-up. I’m just trying to process half of what has happened. I don’t think my tiny little brain can completely comprehend so many changes that occurred within a span of seven days.

Maybe in the pandemic I too was dust covered and deserted in a corner, I just needed to be pulled back and let go to have arrived this far.

The daily theft

Taking a huge grey bag on one shoulder
With a map on one hand – a traveler’s folder
Stepped into the same old metro
Watching the same old metallic handrails
Shift to and fro, to and fro, until its visible no more
As the people fill in the empty spaces left
Sharing the same breath, we watch the daily theft
Of time slipping out of our hands
As the metro transports us to our foreign lands.

Written on 26th October 2019.

By the small jasmine tree around the corner..

Peace is what surrounds me,
Not to mention the constant chirping of a million birds,
And the rustling of newly green spring leaves.

A journey seems to be ahead,
One that is absent of this peace.
Yet the empowering solitude makes my soul freeze the present.
A place so visited by lovers and friends,
Now revisited for soulful amends.

Is it the peace of the grave that majestically stands before me?
Or is it the peace from within, as I crush the sorrows that once tormented me.

I ponder with the sweet smelling jasmine flowers above me, embracing this little corner.

Love letters during a pandemic – 10

Dear Quin,

I’m writing to you because I’m so so happy! I loved the Winnie the Pooh quote that you wrote on your last letter – ” We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. Even longer,’ Pooh answered.

As I had written in the last letter that I had planned to meet my friends after ages, I finally got to meet them today. It was so beautifully different like we anticipated and I can’t wait to for us to meet and spend a whole day together like that! Hoping that you get a break from your internship soon, so we can go to our favorite Cafe and later explore the cool hidden spots in this city on a hot summer day.

Today I just wanted to write to you not about the reunion with my friends but actually about my parents. It’s a weird thought but it had been on my mind the whole day. As I stepped out to meet my friends, I kept wondering what my mom would have been doing. I was worrying if she would forget to drink our afternoon extra lime ice-tea that I made for her. I was worrying if Dad could climb up a ladder safely would fix the wifi since it wasn’t working in the morning. I was even wondering if my stray dogs were resting in the cool space of our parking lot without suffering much under the hot sun. I oddly missed my everyday people and our routine things. Actually I felt more like a parent getting back to work right after their kid’s birth.

I think this pandemic has made me emotionally dependent on my family to such an extend that it seems a bit too unhealthy. Don’t you think?

My parents seem to be growing old each day and it’s so scary that I can’t do anything to stop that. Moreover their bodies seem to be worn out after Covid. I remember you told me something very similar about how by the time we realize our parents are old, it seems a bit too late to enjoy them in their good health/ lively selves. I don’t think it’s too late for me, atleast I hope so. Oh and by the way my dad’s turning 60 next month! I’ll send you the link for the zoom birthday celebrations since we can’t actually celebrate it in the old school briyani and mutton curry style.

Sending you lots of love,

– Serrena

Would this key free me?

Would this key free me?

I feel like I have the right key
To open the door, step out and see
See the world that’s out there
Without the everyday sexism and everything’s fair

I try to unlock the doors that seem to trap me
At this moment I realize it’s the wrong key
I change my tone, my choices, my behavior, Being ‘perfect’ in every manner
Little by little shaping a new key to this door
But its never enough, they still demand more

The white and red walls, painted of patriarchy
Form cracks when you act a bit ‘bitch-y’
My new key doesn’t unlock this door either
This system will never be beneath her

These cracks on the walls are plastered with misogyny
Burying deep down the possibility of a key,
Along with the ability to shatter the glass ceiling and break free.

Love letters during a pandemic – 9

Dear Randall,

How have you been? Sorry I couldn’t talk or write to you the other day, I’ve been swamped with my finals preparation. I feel so anxious most of the days and I feel bad that I don’t let you know anything about it. I’ll try to be more vocal about how I feel, or atleast express my emotions through these letters.

More than worrying about my exams or how this final semester would be deciding my future, I feel nervous thinking about meeting my friends and all my loved ones after the exams. It’s such a weird thought, but I can’t help it.

Call it social anxiety, but I just have a constant worry that meeting my loved ones after nine months would be soo ‘different’. I can’t think of another word to describe this. Despite talking over the phone or writing these long letters each week, I still feel that we all would have nothing in common when we meet in person. Or we would have “awkward” pauses in our conversations. I especially worry when I think of us going on a date, I mean I’ve been dreaming of us meeting since forever. Yet I wonder if our hands would fit perfectly with each other like it used to. Or if hugging you would be different after all these months.

I try to calm my overthinking self by saying that yes it would be different, yet beautiful. We all would have changed physically, and I’ve observed how emotionally we’ve all matured over the lockdown. I mean that’s what I anticipate, to meet this new, grown up versions of us and to celebrate the end of a lockdown together.

Now I’ll get back to studying, and I have to admit that writing this down makes me a lot better. Also can’t wait to meet the beautifully different version of you without worrying or feeling anxious about it.

With lots of love,


Size 6

size 6

Back to school shopping was the most fun filled shopping I ever did as a kid. Right as the summer vacation came to an end, we got these amazing sale deals on school bags, lunch baskets, water bottles, stationary and almost every school item. Ahh selecting the coolest bag was a pressure test on it’s own you know! Apart from this, each academic year my parents would get me new school shoes to wear. These shinny buckled shoes would last exactly for that year alone. They would be worn and torn out by the last day of that grade.

When I was in my tenth grade due to a change in my school uniform, I had to buy a different type of shoe which weren’t the usual buckled ones. These shoes were called “gola shoes” and felt like hardcore rocks that tied down my feet. While trying it on, I asked the sales person to give me a feminine version of the shoe, and he said “it’s this alone, the only version, it’s unisex!” Studying in a school where the skirt length had to be below your knee, and your socks up to your calf muscles, my soul died at this sentence. I mean now even those buckled ballerina shoes that was a miniature form of expressing my sexuality been replaced by unisex ( which looked a lot masculine) shoes.

But these shoes were created in such a way that no matter which playground you rolled and played, or if you walked, splashed and ran on the rain flooded streets, or even if it wasn’t polished throughout the year, they would remain exactly the same! I remember how not a single thread was out of place after a whole year of using these shoes. So my parents decided not to get me new ones for the next year.

My shoe size was a six when I entered eleventh grade with these one year old shoes. It was only during the winters where the thick woollen socks made it difficult to fit my feet into them, that I realized that my feet grew a size. The next year I had planned to ask my parents to get me new shoes since it was getting uncomfortable to sit with my feet stuffed into a rock for seven hours straight.

Unfortunately my parents were going through a financial crunch that year, as my brother fell ill and was hospitalized. I felt guilty to ask for something that I would wear for a year, only to throw it out in the next. Since it was my final year, I knew that I wouldn’t be wearing these school shoes anywhere else. So I decided not to ask them to get me new shoes. Slowly as days went by, it so happened that these size six gola shoes became comfortable, wearable.

Later as the year came to an end with the shopping for my graduation sari, my mom suggested that I should get new stiletto’s. After trying a million glittery shoes, my heart was set on these beautiful pastel kitten heels. Before the shoe box reached the billing counter I flipped it over to check the size. It was a size six!

The whole year of wearing my rock gola shoes, my feet size had been bound to remain a size six for the rest of my life.

The pastel kitten heels on the day of my school graduation

Sit with* me before I cry

Sit with* me before I cry,

* read as – away from

Squished on the metro seat, I wait for my stop to arrive
Native folk songs dominate my playlist, avoiding the perverted eyes that meet
Listening to the words of the song, I crave to do more than just survive
To strive, maybe smile and to correct my wrongs

The metro seat turns colder and colder
As people get down now not brushing each other’s shoulder
It feels a lot easier to let down those tears,
Now that no one’s around to question my fears

My stop’s near, I need to run faster from those perverts who leer
I realize no one awaits my arrival home, it’ll be cold and empty like a tomb
The song on my ears sway the handle bars to its beat
Unconsciously I’m up on my feet, ending my journey on this metro seat.

Love letters during a pandemic – 8

Dear Siddharth,

I know that this letter coming from me would be a surprise to you. Even I don’t understand the purpose of trying to connect with you after all so long. But I write because I believe that it’ll help us (or at least me) in someway or the other.

Before I write about other things, I want to ask how are you today? Or how have you been since we last spoke? I really hope that this letter doesn’t throw you off on your productive day. As I write keeping in mind the promise you made by crossing your heart, that I would still be your number one priority.

Life during this prolonged pandemic is a lot different from what I imagined it to be. I have a lot of dreams due to my irregular sleeping patterns. I remember how jealous you were about my perfect sleep schedule. Now I understand why. But recently you came in one of my dreams and that is the reason why I decided I should write to you.

I wish I had a better excuse to write or reach out to you after two years. But I have nothing apart from this precious dream. As psychologist Sigmund Freud  wrote how dreams reveal our unconsciously repressed conflicts or wishes. My dream of you might be more of a repressed wish that I have held in my heart for so long.

In my dream- I’m sitting outside a movie theater hall, waiting for my sister who goes to buy the extra munchies that we need for a movie. It’s set in a pre-COVID world, as no one around me wore masks and well, the movie theaters were open with full capacity. I notice how a movie ends and all the people exit through a door before me. As the crowd moves away I noticed you walking out with your friend laughing. I immediately stand and just stare at you, my pink cheeks make feel hot and sweaty. You just walk past me and notice me just as you would notice a stranger. Our eyes meet barely for a second as you continue to walk away.

The ease on your face along with your wholesome laughter stuck with me. I remember how in that dream you know nothing about me or about us. And sometimes I wish it had been like that. I wish either both of us or atleast one of us could forget our end or even start of our beautiful journey. I woke up with joy, since its for the first time in two years that I got to see you. I describe what I felt as joy because I was extremely grateful to see you so happy, living a normal life and enjoying it.

After that dream I broke a promise I made to my hurting self that I would not go through your online profile. Yet I did. And I’m not going to lie, online stalking wasn’t the same as it was when I saw you in a dream that felt so real. Maybe my unconscious mind still has all of our beautiful memories stored up and maybe it’s pushing me to check on you or maybe you might be reading this and wondering why I have turned to be this eccentric woman.

I don’t know, I’m sorry for writing this. I just wish we could talk, have a normal conversation someday. There are a million things that I want to tell you, a million things to ask you. But maybe you wouldn’t be interested in any of this and I understand. All I wish is for you to be just as happy as you were in my dream.

With love,

– Serrena

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