The study room was humid and warm. I might have once said unpleasantly so, but by the fifth week of living in Kerala, the warm blanket enveloping you at all times felt comforting and familiar – almost necessary. I would argue that this embodied my whole experience of India; an uncomfortable yet comforting paradox. I sat cross-legged on the ridiculously hard bed, something again that I had grown to appreciate.

I was reading ‘The Slap,’ an Australian drama novel. I was enjoying it – however far removed I was from a suburban setting. Maybe it reminded me a bit of home.

I would be leaving for my flight back later this evening.
My grandma was creating as much commotion as humanly possible, horribly distracting for somebody reading – but I knew that this was her way of dealing with today. She pottered around with remarkable speed for an eighty-four year old woman, wiping and re-wiping counters, dusting and re-dusting shelves, rearranging desk objects before putting them back – all the time murmuring angrily to herself in a language I only barely understood. I didn’t have to though, her pain was clear. Even if we did share language, what could I say? We were flying thousands of miles away, it would be years before she saw us again.

Her son, her granddaughter.

Her family.

I snapped my book shut, stood quietly and walked towards her. She was rearranging papers on the study desk, that I knew she could not read. I put my hands on her arms and gently turned her to face me. She fell silent and seemed shocked. Demonstrativeness in this part of the world, is not normal.

Ignoring this, I wrapped my arms around her and gave her a hug, which I hoped could explain all the things where language failed. For a moment, she was too surprised to move.

Then her body moved in, to be cradled by mine.

I felt her shaking and my shirt become wet.

We stood silently, holding each other for a long time.

Eventually, she broke free, hurriedly wiped her tears and walked away – resuming her murmuring and cleaning.



His body creaked and groaned, alongside his vocals.

He was used to the dull, constant ache, at this point. Countless broken bones from poor life choices, will do that to you. He coughed once. Then proceeded to cough his lungs out. He mustered up phlegm and spat on the grey pavement. Black. Again, normal now. And that’s what years of drugs will do to you, kids.

It wasn’t really worth it, ay. Most of the muso cunts he’d known had OD’d on some drug or the other. He’d never been in his right mind to start, let alone keep, a proper girlfriend. He’d fucked tons of girls, don’t get me wrong. But after a while, they all started to look the same. Organic masses, that you could stick your cock in. Even keeping that up became harder over the years.

There was that one girl, though. Linda. Blonde messy hair, with black streaks and offensively bright red lipstick. She’d probably be the one, if any, that got away. She wanted ‘commitment.’

He kicked a rock. Was cooked nine outta ten days back then.

He checked his phone. The band was killing it at that time though, touring the country.

Checked his phone again. He was honest at the time, he’d said, ‘sorry love, we’re just not gonna happen. It’s definitely not you though.’

And she’d just cried, after that.

People are too fucking sensitive, in this life.