I try hard to be present in the moment but I can’t. Despite my body being present in the here and now my mind is too busy studying myself. I am too self aware. I am talking. Words are coming out of my mouth. Coherent sentences are being formed about topics I am interested in, issues that I am passionate about, books that I have read, opinions that I hold but I am too concerned with how I will be heard. When I’m listening I am too concerned with how I appear when I am listening. When I write my thoughts I am too concerned when how I will be read. When I read my words I immediately cringe because I feel that my feelings are unjustified, my thoughts are scattered, lacking flow, depth and sincerity. When I post my work online I have to fight the urge to take it down because I doubt that I am in the position to write for I think my life is dull and I am gauche. Despite experiencing love, being educated, having a family, travelling to a few places I feel that I still lack the authority to write about it, express it, be someone that others can turn to on the topic. My 30 years of experience I feel isn’t enough. It cannot begin to count yet therefore I should not write because I do not know the topic well enough I hear myself saying. Any compliment about work that I have produced meets me with unease and discomfort, these kind words of praise on twitter are not meant for me. I am just waiting until someone discovers the truth about me and exposes me as a fraud. So I beat them to it. I don’t give them a chance to criticize me, I leave writing up to those who I think do it best. And I read their work. Support them and let them succeed in the realm that I want a take up space in. In a realm that I know in my heart that I can own, I do not make myself known. When I am eating, I am aware that I am eating. I can feel the food in my mouth but I can’t taste it on my tongue because I am concentrated on not spilling it in my lap. When I’m laughing I know that I am laughing and am concerned with how I look when I am laughing. In the midst of all this self doubt I am limiting myself. Letting myself simmer in mild neurosis and I am self aware of that too. I just want to be like how everyone else appears to me and I am aware that I want to be like how everyone appears to me.
Others appear to own themselves, the environment they are in and the space they take up. They’re the captain who not only looks perfect in the uniform they wear but can also fly the plane. All of this is ironic because as I speak about appearance I know that I am an appearance to all those that appear to me, those that I want to be like. But I can’t. I am deeply flawed and can’t entertain the thought that others that appear to me are also deeply flawed beneath their beautiful polished surface. I may look like a captain to them but if they put me in the pilots seat I would not know how to fly the plane whereas they look like the captain and they know how to fly that plane! So I assume. And I am going to leave flying the plane to others because I cannot see myself anything like those sort of people that appear around me.
I need to break out. I have to break out. I have began to realize that everyone is only as they seem to be and they only appear to to me as such because I have created them to be such in my head at my expense. Each time I give up and let others succeed I am preserving the difference between me and them, the insecure self portrait that I have painted of myself and the secure portraits that others have sold to me. Having been too caught up in myself I took a step back and realized that those who I admire are just as deeply puzzled at life, take massive shits that stink up the bathroom, have doubts, insecurities, regrets and sometimes take the shirt they threw into the hamper out, iron it and wear it. I let myself turn my insecurities into internalized proofs thereby validating the pictures that others have created of me. It is now up to me to take this self-awareness that I gave the power to control me, limit me, make me dizzy with doubt to do the polar opposite.
Mera Engrezi munda (my English boy) made me realize it. My phone rang. It rnever rings. It was 9:30 in the evening. I picked up. “Kiran” he said. He said my name exactly how it’s not pronounced. Anglicized because of his tongue’s inability to hit certain parts of his mouth that are required to pronounce it correctly. My ears didn’t mind though it had been five years. He had called me many times before today felt different. “How are you?” he asked. This simple question felt nice. “Are you busy?” I had a feeling as to why he was calling so I decided to prolong our conversation. “Yes,” I said wanting to explain in detail how preoccupied I was. “What are you doing?” he wanted to know. “I’m just heating water for my green tea. Just finished my shower and now I am getting ready for bed.” “Oh” he said. “That’s okay, let’s go out.” “But I just got home. I’m toasty I’m not going back out there into the cold” I replied but what I really wanted was for him to draw me out, to convince me to meet him. I wanted him to almost beg to be with me. “So? I’ll pick you up in 5 minutes?” “You always have terrible timing you know?” It was the truth. I wanted him but I was exhausted. I’ll admit that I was deeply pleased that he fancied to see me. “Come on Kiran, tonight it’ll be about you” he said. “But I’m going to catch a cold and I have an early start tomorrow morning.” “This is spontaneous” he defended “You won’t catch a cold, I have the heat on.” “Okay fine I’ll see you in a bit” I said unable to resist him. “Wait! Kiran” he stopped just as I was going to hang up the phone. “What?” I wanted to know. “What are you going to wear?” he asked curiously. I rolled my eyes completely aware that he could not see my reaction “something incredibly difficult for you to take off” I challenged him. My heart began to race as I imaged him trying to unbutton, unzip, untie what I was wearing almost as if he were attempting to remove a straight jacket to get to me.
I put down the phone and opened my closet door wondering what I should wear. Too lazy and too comfortable to put any thought into this decision I changed out of my pyjamas and back into my work clothes. Messed up my hair a little and tied it back. I dabbed a little bit of colour on my lips with my fingers, it was raspberry pink and checked my reflection in the mirror. I liked what I saw so I put my glasses on, wrapped a scarf around my neck and put on my winter jacket and boots and mittens. This better be worth it I thought to myself, I knew it would be but I had just had it with this long winter and the heavy winter attire that went along with it. My phone rang, “I’m here” he said. Exactly on time. When I stepped out into the minus degree weather the cold hit my warm face face, I felt flash frozen. “Fuck” I thought. I walked to his car and got in, I waited before saying anything. “Hello” he said and smiled. He drove off and leaned over and kissed the side of my head right before his car turned the bend. He knows exactly what to do and it felt nice.
When we reached our destination he turned over and looked at me. “Hi” I said looking up at him as if this was the first time I was seeing him tonight. He gave me a slight smile. “So?” I said tilting my head to the side, resting my hand on my head and my elbow on his shoulder while biting my lower lip. I waited for some kind of conversation to develop between us. “What’s up?” I could sense that he knew I was teasing him. I continued trying to take up some time. He wasn’t having this. He pulled me in close and kissed me. For a moment like all of our moments, our platonic friendship was suspended. He kissed me slowly. My eyes shut. I wasn’t thinking. I began sinking. It was intoxicating. My hands naturally wrapped around him. I touched his lips, they were soft and I wondered how they would feel everywhere. “How do I smell?” I asked him (I know, I have this really bad tendency to talk when most people wouldn’t), knowing the answer to my own question. “You always smell good” he said without putting any effort into his sentence and kissed me some more. It’s like he read my thoughts and moved himself to parts of my body that I forgot even existed in this bitter cold. His hands felt warm under my clothes. He slowly began to explore me tugging and pulling my underwear. “Oye” I snapped as I unlocked my lips with his and hit his upper arm, “that’s expensive underwear buddy!” “Sorry” he replied as he tried again gently. “I want it off” he demanded. He wasn’t going to get me this easily. I resisted, partially because I like a good challenge and also because I enjoy a little sadism. I took his hands off me, clasped them with mine and threw them over his head. He leaned in towards me and began to bite determined to leave his mark. I resisted some more, he played harder. “I like the way you look naked” he said. His remark caught me completely off guard and made me self conscious. “Thank you” I replied. At that point I lost my strength and desire to play. Our hands fell to my sides. “You know, you’re my first” he said. “Your first what?” I asked. He looked at me. He made me realize that I’m Indian.