My thoughts won’t let me sleep.

Play hide and seek with me, the favourite game of every child.

Teach me how to find not with the eyes but the heart.

There is a warmth lingering in this stillness that I am in want for.

Stay, please stay in gentle patience until my fingertips align themselves with yours.

Lean in, whisper goodnight to the flecks of light outside.

Know that home lies in the crook of my collarbone.

Don’t forget how angry injustice makes you feel. It’s terrible how crimes need to be judged by severity, when wrongs against humanity are the scum of the earth.

A woman’s sense of pride is scorned, when one speaks of indecent glances. Women are pages in the catalogue, perused and felt up to the corners. Eyes are made to travel, don’t go feeling special or personally targeted.

We are bodies made of stardust, and some take more in the name of entitlement. A skirt too short, a figure too svelte, it must be her fault that hands desire to lean in for an impolite touch.

Girls are indecisive, they say, girls know not what they want. Others take their voices and speak in false mellifluous promises. It’s easy to know what they need, turn their loud no-s into secret yes-s. Catch one alone, in a crowd if there is a sense of daring.

In this world, the voice of a female falls on deaf ears. The wrongness committed has become a norm and there is no need to raise a fuss, unless the case strikes as strange or unexpected. Late nights and teenager years are too ordinary to be given a second thought.

Yet it remains unjust, that in an era of spaceships and underwater kingdoms half the population have to be afraid simply for being a woman. Things shift in time, be it gold dust or night constellations, and so I will continue to hope for better tomorrows for the sake of the future generation.

This one, this I write for the one who’ll never find this.

This one, it’s for you, for the senior who held the door wide open and smiled for me.

Almost three years ago, around this time, you expressed the said deed. I’m not sure why, but I think of you as of late. What makes it remarkable is the fact that I no longer remember anything of your physical self.

It must be, that your smile made me feel warm in my heart, touched at the genuine kindness of a stranger. Even as I slipped past the glass doors, a part of me had been left behind. I wondered what you were doing back then, to linger close when you had no business to attend in the same area. Were you waiting for someone? Perhaps.

And all I know is this: that I said only a pity exchange of thanks. How would I have known that months down the road, I would have yearned to say more? What words should I have offered?

I see you, two or three more times. Close enough to hear your laugh, a melody that transforms the air, carefree and explicit, according to that of my ghostly memory. A ghost that is deader than memory, silly as it is. Yet I never catch your name. Timid child that I am, I have not the ability to gravitate into your sphere of influence.

The last time, surely, is that by the examination hall. While we differed in our education level, the hall was sufficiently spacious to occupy differing papers. You walked in, jacket dark and shoes white, or so I’ve chosen to believe. My memory, it has waned and I’m forced to make up something to hold on to.

While you eventually turned out to be someone I didn’t expect you to be, in the midst of my ambivalence I knew that you were always someone I searched for in the bustling crowd.

Where are you now?

It’s an incredible shame, that you could walk into my life by chance one day and I would not recognise who you are. I will hold on to the you I knew, of whom I’ve spun a story more than one in my attempt to wrap loose ends.

(In this timeline of bytes and hex codes, I have made you immortal.)

He is found in the midst of chaos and split silver. Cracked mirrors and loose shrapnel.

I can’t take it anymore, he mumbles brokenly.

Do you know, do you truly know what it’s like to be unseen? Alone in a crowd, or to face a reflection that will not see you in the eyes?

I am in a mental museum, full of the dead and the past, and I’m here beyond opening hours, trapped in a space that won’t let me go. Even if there are others here, they exist past the velvet rope that I cannot cross.

And in spite of it all, I am the joke, for I find myself like air — I’m afraid that I may disappear if someone does touch me.

If no one thinks of you at all, he painfully asks, do you truly exist?

The shadows breathe across the ruined floor.

People don’t remember the moon until it hides behind the clouds, she whispers softly. But I’ll have you know, that I always have been looking for the moon. You do to me what the moon does to the tide;

You draw me in.

(And even on days when I don’t see you, I know you’re there.)

Listen.

When you ask him if he’s crying and he says it’s just dust in his eyes, believe him.

If you see marks echoed in their palms and their fists remain clenched, don’t pry their fingers open.

When you stand next to her inching closer and find the nimble shadow slipping away, stay.

If you suggest to witness the day end together and he escapes the watch of a sun drowning, let him go.

When you catch sight of the brittle leaves of autumn falling around her like a halo and she disagrees, don’t insist.

Listen, I say. For a time will come when all will change.

You’ll be trusted to wipe the dust from strained eyes, and the hand will loosen enough with a crawl childlike to hold yours. You’ll be gently astonished at the shadow that draws near, and there will be a company of two braving the nightfall. The face that once paled at the sight of death will regain its colour.

Listen, because too many people do the talking and are deaf to the voices that only the biggest of hearts will notice. There will be a time for speaking, but for now, listen.

P/S: And while they change, so will you. Move along even as you press your ear to the ground, for it is rude to stop and stare.

I’m not used to saying this aloud. I have a tendency to clam up and say nothing for a while. Sometimes, I find myself watching from a glass coffin, so forgive me if you try to reach in and return empty.

I’m not used to an unwavering command of attention. Too many times when I finally formulate the words I want to speak, it’s an empty street.

I’m not used to the fact that a pair of feet remain by me, even when I have a tendency to stutter, or hide nervousness in the intricate folds of an origami crane.

I’m not used to the idea that a person would wait in unbroken silence just so that I can whisper a single passing remark, catch ephemeral laughter in the fleeting wind.

I’m not used to making this confession, but I must admit that there is a permafrost in my heart that hurts, that I fear letting it thaw. To be warm is unusual and unusual is the unknowable. Both extremes scare me, the warm and the cold, let alone braving along this spectrum.

I’m not used to considering that I might choose to change, not only for you, but for myself. Yet one day I’ll lift my chin. Take a full account of the world above with confidence. And if you’re still here, be pleasantly and timely warned that this is uncharted territory—

I’ll look at you in the eyes.

In case of emergency, break glass.

What is an emergency?

Standing next to the great big window obscured with condensation.

Large crowd, clammy hands, a bus full of people.

Clarity of sight wheezing in and out. Churning of the wheels, churning of the stomach.

Bodies that sway with the movement of the vehicle. Collision of human flesh.

The increased throbbing in the head.

A wailing child. The indignant parent.

Stampede of the feet.

Broken glass. Blaring car horns and hurried brakes.

Every eye on me.

Now why, did you do that? is what the bus driver asks angrily.

Take a deep breath. Blood on the floor.

In case of emergency, I say in a hushed tone, break glass.

Let go

Of the maps we’ve charted

Of the borders and distinctions we’ve drawn

Of the assumptions we’ve relied on

Of the pain clenched in our fists

Of the hate we’ve sworn to

 

Instead, let’s go

Add colour and music to the shadows

Catch the moon with a silver net

Dance in the snowfall

Fall in sync with a stranger

Hop on a random bus in the city

Love people like a clumsy penguin

Paint a smile

See stars just as they are, no need to frame them into constellations

 

Let go

Of these compartmentalised boxes

And welcome

Blank spaces