Memories

What are you right now?

But, Memories. A pot full of memories.

Like the wind carries the aroma of the daffodils,

You carry the aroma of all the places you have been.

That little scar on your knee

that tells the story of the time you fell down the stairs.

Rainy days and the smell of petrichor

that remind you of little puddles and paper boats.

The smell of old books,

that reminds you of grandfather’s books.

The song in the cafe,

that reminds you of your first crush.

Those flowery short

that remind you of summer evenings at the beach.

That smell of cigarettes

that remind you of his kiss.

That sun flower wall paper that popped on your screen,

reminds you of the ones you you saw when you were sixteen.

The smell of the strangers perfume in the elevator

reminds you of the kind your dad used to wear.

The way you braid your daughter’s hair,

reminds you of the way your mother tied yours.

The stranger on the train

reminds you of your childhood best friend’s face.

The old song that plays on Spotify

reminds you of the ringtone on your first phone.

You are a sum of all your memories

Each stimulus, triggering your mind

Playing with your heart’s strings, of the days you left behind.

I dream

I dream,

I dream of the smooth sand beneath my feet

Of the cotton like clouds

Of green mountains

Of the sound of waves

Of the smell of fresh baked bread

Of old dusty library books

Of sunsets with icy drinks

Of sunrises with hot tea

Of wooden floorboards creaking

Of anywhere.

Anywhere but here.

I long to be anywhere, but here.

In the prison of my mind.

I dream,

Of all the dreams I left behind.

© Sneha Pathak

If Walls Could Talk

If the walls could talk,

They would weep for our lost ability

to say something of value.

They would talk amongst each other,

They would compare us to our great grandmother.

How they missed her stories,

The smell of fresh pies made with berries.

Now the walls reek of takeout food and messy lives.

They would turn back and look at their archives.

They would confess, that they don’t listen anymore

Why bother?

They would talk of good old days,

Where words were said because there was something to say

Whereas now, something needs to be said, so words are said.

Silences used to be golden

And now, even trivial nonsense is not held in.

They would reminisce about the times

People would sit within their shade

They would weep, share a laugh, discuss

Indulge in emotions that weren’t so superfluous.

They would talk of books, art, movies, politics, and life.

Even, have a quarrel or two, maybe even strife.

Now, the walls don’t have ears anymore

For they are sick of our meaningless blabber

Of shallow discussions, gossip, and chatter.

Our laughs are no longer real,

We no longer speak what we really feel.

Our emotions no longer interest them,

For they have witnessed our

short-lived romances, and meaningless drama.

But this generation, that is “Too cool to care”

Is busy polishing the outside, all glitter, and flair.

So now as we stay locked in our houses,

The walls hoped for more depth and real emotion

What a preposterous notion!

For we stick glued to our screens,

The walls stifle their inner screams.

For we aren’t stuck in them,

They are stuck with us.

© Sneha Pathak [Rights Reserved]

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Short Story Analysis

In this article, I will discuss some of my thoughts and musings about “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerlad.

The story follows the journey of Benjamin Button, who has an uncommon life. He is born as a man of seventy years and continues aging backward as time passes by.  Right from the day of his birth, he is condemned, not just by the Doctor and nurses at the hospital where he was born, but also his very own father, Roger Buttons.

You want to blame Roger Buttons for his indifference and apathy to his son’s plight, but you don’t for you see a man so caught up in a life where his very pride depends on how the world perceives him. His social status, his image in society, and his family’s reputation all lead him to live in a delusion that his newborn baby, in fact, is a seventy-year-old stooping man with a beard and sparse silver hair.

We see Roger living a lie and forcing Benjamin to do child-like things like drink milk, play with a rattle and go to kindergarten, because he “ought to be doing it” by societal norms. However, we see Benjamin tries to fit in to please his father, as is understood from the following lines, but he fails miserably initially.

“He even managed, quite accidentally, to break a kitchen window with a stone from a sling shot, a feat which secretly delighted his father. Thereafter Benjamin contrived to break something every day, but he did these things only because they were expected of him, and because he was by nature obliging”

Without going into further discussing the plot, I believe that the story is about non-conformity and societal pressure and perception. Benjamin is a victim of his curious aging process. We see that he is often misunderstood, ridiculed, and isolated because of things that are outside his control.  Despite having the talent and inclination to learn, he is turned down by prominent institutions, simply because he doesn’t look the part of a young student. Oddly, when he enrolls when is younger, he was left out of the football team because of appearing to fragile and young.

The story is a reflection of how anyone who stands out and doesn’t conform to societal norms is an anomaly and ostracized in one way or another. Even, by their loved ones. We see how lonely life must be for Benjamin. First subjected to anger from his father for not being a normal baby, ridiculed in college by the other students, mocked by society for marrying a younger woman and later when he grew younger than her, for marrying an older woman and lastly by his very own son.

But Benjamin doesn’t give up. As an old man, he enjoys the company of his grandfather. As a middle-aged man, he works hard at his father’s business and helps it prosper. As he grows younger, he enjoys life by socializing, learning dancing, attending social events, joining the military, and becoming a decorated hero in a war. He also fulfills his dream of studying at Harvard. We even see him enjoying life as an adolescent boy playing with his grandson. As he grows younger, we see him losing loved ones, for they all hold him in contempt for circumstances beyond his control. They accuse him of being different and treat him harshly for it. Even his wife, who once loved him despite his old age, resents him for growing younger and eventually leaves him.

Even his accomplishments, in business, in war, and even with his family, are soon forgotten. All that is judged is his appearance.

Finally, as a baby, we see how he forgets all his life in a flash and finally, passes away. The evening representing the dusk of his life, albeit as a baby.

“The past—the wild charge at the head of his men up San Juan Hill; the first years of his marriage when he worked late into the summer dusk down in the busy city for young Hildegarde whom he loved; the days before that when he sat smoking far into the night in the gloomy old Button house on Monroe Street with his grandfather—all these had faded like unsubstantial dreams from his mind as though they had never been.”

We see that not just for Benjamin, but even for a normal human, in the evening of life, all that remains are memories, and soon even those fade away. Benjamin was shunned away as an old man born during his childhood and kissed by society as a baby during his old age. Whereas, in our society, the old are often forgotten and shunned as we all embrace the beauty and vitality of youth.

Thee last lines of the story are particularly heartbreaking and Fitzgerlad ends it on a melancholy note. Benjamin’s real story goes unnoticed and garners no sympathy by anyone. Much like how most people live their life, living a lie, for society, yet are soon forgotten upon their death.

” Through the noons and nights he breathed and over him there were soft mumblings and murmurings that he scarcely heard, and faintly differentiated smells, and light and darkness. Then it was all dark, and his white crib and the dim faces that moved above him, and the warm sweet aroma of the milk, faded out altogether from his mind.”

PS – Here is a link to the story for those who want to read it.

If you love me, why am I crying?

If you love me,

Why do I have tears in my eyes?

You said I was a delicate flower, in need of love and care

Why then, could you not find a few kind words to spare?

You said I was like a child, innocent and kind

Why then, did you leave these dark scars behind?

You said you would care for my bruised and broken heart,

Why then with upon your arrival, I saw my smile depart?

You said I was your angel, your second chance at life

Why then, in your words were curses and jabs so rife?

You said you would make me forget the past and the pain,

Why then, did you spend each morning, quarreling in vain?

You said to me, for me you would give up your life if you must,

Why then, in your eyes, I saw no trust?

You said you wanted me to reach high and touch the stars,

Why then, before my every battle, you were the one waging wars?

You said, without me, you would rather die,

Why then, our relationship was founded on a lie?

You said for us to meet, the stars had to conspire

Why then, have you ignored all of my heart’s desire?

You said you would give me the whole world and more,

I should have seen through your beautiful lies,

Because if you loved me, why are there always tears in my eyes?

 

 

© Sneha Pathak [Rights Reserved]

A small light

Slowly, she walks along the bank of the river Ganga

Her bare feet feel the damp path beneath

Her dupatta flowing in the wind, free, like her spirit

Her hair tied tightly in a bun, quite neat.

In the huge crowd that gathers around the banks each evening

For prayers, hymns, and solidarity to be portrayed through their singing.

She walks briskly, ignorant of her surrounding and view

For like them, she comes there each evening too.

Not for the hymns, rituals or to feel closer to God

But to light one single Diya

A symbol, for her

A symbol, a metaphor, a device, if you will

To let go, of all that happened in the day

All the stress, arguments, troubles and dismay

All the little things, that used to keep her up at night

Now, she just lets them burn and float away with the tiny light.

She watches as the Diya, floats farther and farther away,

She sits on the steps of the river and begins to pray.

A prayer for those, that have trouble fighting the darkness,

A prayer for those, who long for just an embrace.

For those, that find the world too much to take,

For those, who have been the victim of friends and lovers fake.

She prays for them, to hang on a little while longer,

She prays, for the diya, to make them a little stronger.

For a single act of kindness, can change someone’s life,

She knows, because she had once given up, when troubles were rife.

She had come to the river, ready to let the water swallow her whole,

When she found a little girl, lighting a diya, despite the wind,

She heard the girl whisper to the Gods, a prayer for her parents’ souls.

And a few words of prayer for her neighbors’ dog who was ill

Something had changed in her, she stood still.

In this cruel world a little girl, fighting on in the only way she knew how

The world, trying to break her spirit, but she did now bow.

She returned home that night, and made a stern choice,

Whatever happens, she would not give up on life.

Since then, she lights a diya for all souls lost,

For she had found hope when hers was all gone.

© Sneha Pathak

PS – Inspiration for this poem comes from the fact that the nation of India is today going to switch off the lights for 9 minutes and light diyas in our windows as a move of solidarity, to boost morale, in these uncertain times of COVID-19. Attaching a video of the same.

Speak Up

Sweet little thing, precious as a dove

One look at her, and you believed in the Gods above

She smiled not with her lips, but with her soul

Sparkly and gleaming, lighting up dark nights.

But her eyes, something hid in them, somewhere deep inside

They looked like they were tired, like a part of her, had died.

I wondered who hurt her fragile, beautiful heart

Who could have torn her trust apart?

She whispered in a hushed tone, “It was probably my fault”

Every inch of my body and soul, say no in revolt

I think to myself –

You with your kind words and trusting soul can never hurt a fly

This is where your problem lies.

You give them the power, to decide how you feel

When all they do, is take away your joy and zeal.

One of these days, just say it out loud, and you will be born anew

“It wasn’t me afterall. It was you”

False Faith

People stand in front of idols of stone and clay

Their faith breaths life into these, and they begin to pray.

In a similar fashion, I held your stony heart

Kissing it tenderly, hoping for it to jump start.

I whispered my prayers in the form of poetry and song

Pouring every drop of my love, tears, flowed along.

I handed you the pieces of me that were left alive

I hoped you would keep them safe, I was so naive.

For you sipped your drinks, and you held me in an embrace

I could see compassion, sympathy, but not love on your face.

You held up my chin and wiped away my tears,

However, the lack of light in yours confirmed my fears.

For darling, you had pushed me into a well,

Slowly, carefully, craftily you had cast your spell,

And now, when I was stuck, you were saying farewell.

© Sneha Pathak (Rights Reserved)

A doomed romance

Smooth jazz playing the background,

He spins her round and round.

While we sit there, in the candlelight

A classic black dress, and a shirt bright white.

Like characters of a film noir,

We soak in the beautiful soir.

You sip your whiskey neat,

and stare into my eyes,

and enjoy watching my heart skip a beat.

I wonder if this moment here

will we ever be this way again?

So far yet so near.

Far, because your eyes are drunk on liquor

My eyes,  drunk on something stronger

in the dim lights they flicker.

This moment here, you ruin its beauty

with your casual nonchalance,

And I, with my hopes pinned on a doomed romance.

So we celebrate this evening,

with some faux discussions.

My heart now wary, for I know the repercussions.

I fall nonetheless, for the music was intoxicating

as were your eyes and lies.

We watch the city lights and I wonder

if you notice my shy smile

I wonder if you noticed, it was missing for a while.

I wait for you to say the words

that would make my fairy tale come true

But guess you meant it

when you said you never knew how to woo.

As the night comes to an end, the tears flow down my cheeks

I shall dream of this evening for weeks.

But tomorrow, you shall forget my love,

For your eyes, didn’t have the same shine.

Come tomorrow, don’t worry about my broken heart,

My darling, it has endured a lot, it shall presumably be fine.

 

© Sneha Pathak [Rights Reserved]

 

 

 

 

 

The Holiday Choice

The holiday season and all its glory

Every face, every smile, every eye hides a story.

Of tradition and customs over the years,

Spending it with friends, alone or with someone dear.

Some recollect the joy of childhood and all the warm memories

Of lights, freshly baked cookies, and Christmas trees.

A recollection of carols, gifts under trees and the warmth of family

Others, who didn’t have that fortune, treat it as a bittersweet memory.

Some try to write new stories, with a loved one curled up in bed

Or cooking with your beloved.

Of failed attempts at baking that led to a laughter fest

Perhaps, an unexpected visit from a lover from far off,

Aren’t those the best?

Some want the day to be picture-perfect, following tradition

While others, take it as it comes, without any inhibition.

Some bombard social media with the pictures of them having fun

While some have the best time, without even telling anyone.

Some spend it alone, with some takeout, a movie, to get some peace of mind

Just a day to take their minds of the daily hustle and grind.

Whichever way you choose to embrace the day and its glory

All that matters is remember to be Merry!

PS – A small attempt at a holiday poem, very different from what I usually write (my regular readers will know).

The picture in this post is of all the Christmas trees I have seen this week! 🎄

Happy Holidays Everyone! What’s you favt holiday tradition? Comment below!