December

7:30 in the morning, her eyes open gently to the warmth of the sun. The morning rays brighten up her room. Z turns over to reach for her phone. She had a message from someone. It was T. He had replied to her message from last night, when out of frustration, Z had finally managed to send him a text. It was a stupid text, covered nonchalantly to sound smart. It was just a way for her to find out what he had been up to. Reading his reply, she started to type, asking a follow up question to continue the conversation. She wanted to know what had happened in that past week that he hadn’t sent her a message. She asks him, “how has your week been so far?”, knowing she will get more details. He responded quickly to “really busy, will be this way until I leave for the holidays”. This reply was an end of a chapter for Z. A calm spread through her mind and body, relieving her of all the anxieties. She was allowed to move on now, even though no one had stopped her before.

Throughout the day, this feeling had stayed with her, she was smiling, focusing on her work. Her distractions had gone away. But it was the next day that she realized how little she had mattered in T’s life. After T had texted her about him leaving for the holidays, Z realized that she was not going to see him for at least two months, which meant never. This was due to the lack of communication that had swept over them in the past three weeks, which had been killing Z. For her, communication was key to any relationship and once that lagged, there was not much that could save it. She had tried to keep in contact but within three weeks she saw a transformation in her “relationship” with T; it had gone from knowing everything that happened each day to not knowing anything for days. Even the enthusiasm in the communication was gone. This frustration had finally ended that Friday morning. But Saturday was when she started wondering, “What is the value of us in someone’s life, do we even matter?” Here she was thinking about T, and how he hadn’t even bothered to reply back to her text about her plans for the holidays. He had asked her about it to be polite, but he really hadn’t cared of what the answer was. This made Z question about her value to him. Was this the end of this? These endless and unanswerable questions were keeping her mind occupied.

Being a philosophical person, she knew that there are people in her life that valued her, and she valued them, but her mind kept wandering to people that she met as acquaintances and for short periods of time. What value did she bring to them? Does she have any significance? Knowing Z, she also knew that she had significance in other people’s life, but it might not be crucial enough to matter, depending on the person. But that wasn’t the answer she was looking for. She wanted to find her value, and how her short-term relationships were related to them. Her history was strengthening these questions, and her curiosity was being a companion.

Sitting on her bed, her lamp shining a light on her face, she kept wondering, hoping the answers would come. But she also knew that this is a tale that is going to last a lifetime, since there are going to be many more people and many more chapters. This quest for value is going to be an endless cycle where some people will value her more and some less but that is what is about, isn’t it?!

 

  • H

August

It is the second day of Aug, where did July go, Z does not know. Clenching a warm tea mug in her hand and keeping it close to her chest, she is trying to breathe. For some reason, since she woke up this morning, she has been feeling uneasy. Knowing the power of the chai on her, she makes it to soothe herself. Sitting on her bed, everything else is quiet except the murmur of the AC.

Still trying to breathe normally, she picks up her latest reading, All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This book, Z picked up in an interesting way. Last month, she was summoned for Jury Duty and since the court is on Canal St, she would walk home every single day to explore the city she loves most. Walking in her heels, she chooses a different route most days. In her second week of coming home from court, she decides to go shopping for her family since her mom’s birthday was coming and she felt generous to shop for everyone. Not knowing which streets are ahead but knowing only the direction towards home, Z turns on Prince St. from Lafayette St. Reading the word “books”, she crosses the street and goes inside the store. Unknowingly she ends up at a famous bookstore that she has been meaning to visit since a few years back, McNally Jackson in SoHo. This feels like home to her. She goes towards the architecture section, browsing through books by Rem Koolhaus and Renzo Piano, when she finds a photo journal on Seoul. Z wants to travel everywhere but Seoul from South Korea is one of the top cities in her bucket list. She picks up the book and is perusing it when she looks up to the sound of the door and she feels the faint breeze touch her skin.

Z looks up to find a famous Bollywood actor, Aditya Roy Kapur, walk in. Her eyes open a little wider but she quickly gets them back to normal, but in that moment, she and the actor make eye contact. Z has a feeling that he noticed her reaction and he knew that she knows him. Z isn’t a fan girl type of a person, she has her celebrity crushes but she isn’t the one running after them to take selfies. She resumes to act like nothing happened and the actor walks to a different section of books with a friend. Z can hear his voice; his Indian accent is distinguishable to her from across the room.

Immediately texting one of her best friend, D, to let her know that she saw one of her favorite actor; D suggests everything that Z does not want to do: take a selfie with him and tell him she loves his movies.

Ignoring the idea, Z continues to explore the bookstore to find books from countries like Italy, France, Russia, etc. Z was in love. Moving to the basement level, she is drawn towards the psychoanalytic section when the actor comes and stands right next to her and they again have an eye contact but this time for a longer period. Z felt like she should talk to him about something but before she could say anything, his friend calls him and so Z taking back the idea, goes to another area.

Standing on one of the landings of the stairs, Z finds the book, All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. There is a golden circle on the cover stating that it was a Pulitzer Prize winning novel; Z’s eyes gleam to that phrase. Wanting to explore different writing styles and read a powerful novel she turns the book around to find out what the book was about. Based in Paris and Germany during the era just before WWII, the story revolves around the lives of two children from different countries and how they meet against all odds after losing so many that they love.

Engrossed just by the description on the back, Z doesn’t even realize when the actor walks up the stairs and walks past her. They share another eye contact before he goes to the café and Z to the checkout counter. She was not planning on spending more that day. Her aim when she opened the first door of the store was to just experience the bookstore.

Without realizing that she bought the book, she walks out to the calming breeze and puts on her headphones. The music takes control and her feet start to move, almost in harmony with the beat. She looks inside the glass window to see the actor one last time, but does not find him. Without feeling regret, Z walks towards home.

  • H

June

The sun touches her arm first, then slowly creeps onto her right side of the body. She flinches, and then curls up in a ball and covers her face with the blanket. In about five minutes, her alarm goes off. She tries to turn it off but realizes that it is of her roommate who is in deep sleep. Not knowing what to do and not being able to see how asleep she is, Z just gets up. Its 7 am. This is new to her, she is always the one who is the last to wake up, but recently she has had some thoughts that have kept her at night.

She knows that no one else is awake right now, so instead of getting up to brush, she checks her Instagram (A really bad habit), and then Snapchat (another bad habit). Its not even like she is engaging in the pictures, she is aimlessly scrolling and touching the red heart. But I guess this is normal with most millennials who can enjoy technology. After running out of social media, she decided to get up. Of course no one is up yet, so Z just goes to the bathroom to freshen up and then make chai. This is her addiction, if you can call it that. It is more of the experience that she has with knowing that chai will soothe her and make her problems go away – even for a minute – than drinking it. But you will find her tell everyone, she comes across, about the joys of drinking it.

Having started her morning right (chai), she sits on the couch thinking what she will do today. Ever since college started, 4 years ago, she has had a job doing anything. This summer, however, she doesn’t have one so far because her internship just ended. This makes her feel uneasy, she is someone who loves to run around hopping from subway to subway in her heels and getting things done. Not having a plan for the day is definitely not her thing. After pondering for a good 30 minutes, she decides to check out a museum. The Brooklyn museum has been on top of her list for a few months now, so that is what she ends up choosing. It is still only 8:30 and going to the museum this early isn’t an option so she goes on her bed and continues to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

In one of her recent excursions to mend her beating heart, she picked up Jane Eyre. Z loves to read, and one of the activities she indulges herself in, when she needs mending, is to go to a bookstore. This book, although a classic and loved by many hadn’t reached her hands yet, but had always heard about it. So, when the description said, “It lives as one of the great triumphs of storytelling and a moving and unforgettable portrayal of a woman’s quest for self-respect”, self-respect being the key word here, she immediately bought it. She has bought many books this way, to wander her mind to someplace else.

At 9:30, she hears some footsteps outside her door. Knowing immediately which one of her roommates woke up by the sound. The bathroom door bangs. Getting up then would be futile, so she keeps reading for another 15 minutes before going outside to the living room. By this time, Z had a plan for the day even though it was very preliminary. She likes to explore, so she would probably walk around the area of the museum, she thought.

When she goes outside a few minutes later, she hears the subtle clinks of the pans. Someone was already cooking breakfast. It was probably K. She is the one who is very particular about breakfast. All Z’s other roommates just run out of the door. Z goes inside the kitchen, she stands by the fridge and wonders what she is going to eat. She is the worst when it comes to deciding what to eat. Eggs are her go to most of the time, and today was that time.

Chatting and eating concluded in an hour and Z went to get dressed. This for her is one of the most exciting parts of the day. For her, fashion is about outfits; what top works with what pants or skirts or dress, and then accessorizing. She always wears a choker and a necklace. Black heels are also part of her most outfits. It seemed like a breezy day so she wore her light pink velvet pants with a white crop top and denim jacket. The pants revealed just a little of her ankles making her look elongated with her black heals. She is petite, so she has to make sure that her outfits don’t make her look short. Although on many occasions that doesn’t bother her since her heels are there to give her company.

With her make up done and accessories on, Z officially begins her almost unplanned day. Her heels clicking away and music that blends with her thoughts. As soon as she steps outside her apartment, the mind that she was trying to keep quiet the whole morning, starts screaming, making the city a blur in the background.

– HS

 

Asphyxiate

Asphyxiation of my mind.

I slowly became weary, tired of the same.

I’m tired of the sameness.

I have nothing to show, but everything to hide.

I have spiraled, lost all respect.

Just a passerby, taking a glimpse of myself.

 

Asphyxiation of my soul.

It escaped when I lost control.

The burning desire to breathe.

The earthly desire to feel.

But I’m indifferent.

 

Asphyxiation of my body.

Collar bones, beautiful collar bones.

They are so sharp, sharper than my tongue.

If only I could speak my mind, I wouldn’t need these ribs of steel.

Now they are beginning to rust.

 

Asphyxiation of my heart.

The chambers collapse, and I begin to fade.

If only my ribs of steel and my weary mind could protect my heart.

Then maybe I wouldn’t have flatlined.

– AJ

Mental Health Awareness & Suicide Prevention