What have I learned in my life so far?

Like many people I have never been comfortable writing or sharing my life experiences to a larger crowd. The concept of keeping a journal (Yes! I am old fashioned) or having a blog has a daunting effect on me. Hence I never keep them. So I have never written what I feel directly, I may have talked about it with some people as discreetly as possible. These people are those who I am absolutely comfortable with, few friends who have supported me in every phase of my scary little adventures and have been there to see it or listen to it. And as I like to keep my real life as separated as I can from my social media presence (I hardly post anything btw); I may never broadcast or share the events that are shaping my real life to a much larger audience. Its not really a thing I believe in anymore. Perhaps someday when I will be someone important for what I do or who I become; I may write a fancy book or do a talk telling how things played out for me. Until then I will be as offline as I can be, but something happened last November.

As I was turning 26; I realised something strange. I figured I am nearing half-life of the average human life expectancy limit. As geeky as it may sound; I looked in the mirror and thought I am at a certain age now. Wait! If you are older than me then you might be thinking what this young man is talking about; he has to get to the tougher part yet and he hasn’t seen the other side of 26; you might even have a large list of not so useful stuff that may have happened in your life. A big promotion, a massive wedding, twins or even multiple pilgrimage to the holy sites of your belief system. I will get there some other time, remember I turned 26 last November. Lets not worry about it for a while.

And more importantly; if you are younger than me then you must be thinking what weird stuff I am about to talk about; did I grow horns on my 26th birthday or was I chosen by the Green Lantern Corps. Or simply is it that bad. You see; its never about the number. 26 is an even number, a two digit number; there is nothing special about it. It mostly about that moment of realisation; if you are smarter than the average fifth grader; you will have that moment much quicker in life. Its important that you have that moment. 26 or no 26. So whats that golden moment of realisation. I like that phrase but its getting mundane now since I used it twice already in this section. The question that hit me hard was “What have I learned in my life so far?”

The question was a trick-phrase my mind threw at me. It was the paraphrased title of one of my favourite books “Things I have learned in my life so far” by Stefan Sagmeister and its a fantastic book; I recommend every creative to read it. The book is not about what I am about to tell you but the statement had me thinking about my own experiences.

So I asked myself at 26 years of age; “What have I learned in my life so far?”. I thought for a moment; that moment stretched to a few hours as I scribbled every thought I had on the page of the fancy yellow notebook with cappuccino stains on its cover (I guess its not fancy anymore). I jotted down everything that I could. Every statement derived from some experience I had in travel, a memory, an affair, a painting or a glimpse. It was tricky to track back my every learning experience. I kept on writing.

And it turned out to be a weird mix of both intentional or unintentional things I have learned in my life about myself as a person. They dictate who I am now. They may not apply to anyone else (or they may) but they are a result of several hundred hours of experiences I had from the most mundane daily things to the ethereal moments I have lived.

So here is what I have learned in my life so far, not in any particular order. Some of them are written as statements while others may sound like advices but they are clearly my advices to myself. Enjoy!

1. School children and school buildings make me very happy.

2. Being kind is far more important than being rich.

3. Morality has nothing to do with religion.

4. Evil spirits exist; they are trapped inside human bodies and roam around us.

5. Balconies with washed laundry, a random glimpse of someones house excites me. I like to observe lifestyles.

6. Social norms are manmade; followed blindly by people who never question it logically.

7. Depression is real; its okay to cry randomly.

8. Everyone is right; until they are uncomfortable with what they believe in.

9. People will forget you and the things you have done for them. You must forget them too and move on.

At one point in life ; they will benefit from it once again and it will trigger back the thought of you.

10. Gyms and people with fitness goals freak me out.

11. The smell of baby powder is the most annoying fragrance. Even babies shouldn’t use it.

12. Take care of anyone who is sick. Accompany them for their tests, bring them meds. Tell them to take care of themselves. Remind them to eat properly.

13. Stop talking when everyone’s talking.

14. At least once in your half-life, love someone to a point of madness.

15. Help others by being in shadows, not all superheroes land in broad daylight wearing capes (or cowls at night)

16. At least once a year; pay for someones school books, tuition fee or medicines. Help someone save.

17. Being intellectual has no effect on people brought up in mediocre mindsets.

18. Stop answering questions that everyones asking. Stop asking questions that everyones answering.

19. Being creative can backfire any day.

20. People do all kinds of weird stuff daily; let them act as if they don’t.

21. Share your skills with others. Educate someone. It may change a life. Yours or theirs.

22. Separate yourself from anyone who disrespects your craft. You will soon be closer to the ones who do.

23. Attach memories to objects and places. Hold onto that last spray of cologne you wore that day. Revisit that cafe you had that date. Revisit each memory, cry over them and then live with them happily ever after.

24. Share your belongings to the man or woman you love the most. You will be surprised by the results.

25. It is easy to lose weight. Those who are struggling haven’t found the secret yet.

26. If you play by the rules; prepare to be ridiculed. You will soon win.

27. Never ruin someones selfie. Never.

28. Never break a queue. Park the cart back after grocery shopping. Put things back in the correct aisle if you decide not to buy it later.

29. Read food labels and medicine leaflets. You should know whats going inside your body.

30. Avoid eye contact with women who you think are cautious about it.

31. Sharing a smile with special children makes me happy.

32. Use loads of post its, make lists. Stick to the list.

33. Always keep some new clothes. Always.

34. Let your beloved pick your outfits every once in a while. It will remind you of him/her every time you are in it.

35. Pray for animals who you see or know are injured, abandoned or lost.

36. Medicines fix the symptoms, the mind fixes everything else.

37. Write long emails to the person you love about your feelings for them. Go over them few times, make additions in them with dates and timings. Let those emails sit in the drafts for a while. Eventually you will either send them or delete them.

38. Be in a love story you want the world to see in a movie or read in a book.

39. Saving money has a therapeutic effect on me.

40. People measure success by the car you drive or the mansion you live in and the lavish lifestyle you project all over the internet. Disappoint such people.

41. Share a chocolate only if you really love someone. Else you must eat the whole thing yourself.

42. Give food to people before you eat.

43. Discussing movies, tv series, computer games and comics is absolutely pointless and a waste of time. It wouldn’t change or improve what the creators made it like. Likability is a personal matter and no single person is capable of judging a piece of art made by experts. So its pointless. Keep your opinions in your head.

44. Ignore them, Ignore them, Ignore them. Nuke them.

45. Talking about taboos make people uncomfortable in the society. Do it more often. Break the taboo of not talking about the taboos.

46. If they think you are an atheist, do not make the effort to make them believe otherwise.

47. Talk to yourself. Play out those fictional scenarios. It will help you make them real.

48. Interview yourself every few months.

49. Accents are cool. Learn as many as you can. No matter how corny or cheesy you may sound.

50. Mention your teachers by name. Always. No matter how many people know them. They shaped you. You owe them.

51. Stalking sometimes can be helpful. It will exactly show you where you didn’t end up.

52. Feeding birds bring blessings. Tried and tested.

That was long. Wasn’t it? Is this all I have learned in my life. Perhaps not. I may have not included many things that I am aware of and many I may have picked up and never noticed but practiced. Someday sometime, a few years later I might re-write or extend this list. For now; I leave you with a thought of me, a perception and may be an image. I try every day to be better, I fail mostly like a human but somedays I succeed like today. I picked up the courage to share this and cross the last item from my list of the day.

Love

Sn

Thanks for reading and do good.

Watch Me!

Isn’t it odd that in your life you experience thousands of memories, they pass by and you remember nothing of them, not a single detail about them and yet there are those events that happen on the spur of moment yet you remember them as vividly as they just took place in front of your eyes. They say Ignorance is bliss. For such moments frozen in time; the mind renders every detail intensely and descriptively as it paints the passing aura of emotions & words spoken onto the blank canvas that sits on an easel in the corner of your mind. Until you realise, deep inside, that such a portrait of pain and landscape of pleasure exist somewhere in your head; you come to know not only of their existence but of their exhilarating exhibition and daunting applause they receive every time you see them & recall them. These expressions eventually haunt your mind as the diptych of pain & pleasure hangs side by side somewhere on a bright wall inside your head, waiting for you to appreciate them.

It happened to be one of those regular days for him; as for him regular was lingering all day doing his crazy experiments, fiddling around stuff others thought as boring and dull, he thought of it as engaging and intriguing until he received a text message from her. Informing him of her presence nearby as she approaches this man, he who in his own world was somewhat a self-proclaimed genius in works, denying contact with so called peers and more dangerously named ‘friends’ replied with a positive note of attention to this woman that he admired more than many while describing in few words where he was and what he was up to; thinking she will spend her afternoon, wearing green chiffon dress and those huge goggles on her head, waiting for him in the noisy cheap cafe nearby filled with unthoughtful people; blabbering, arguing and deciding their utmost important matters of life, death and life after death over lunch table in a restaurant that had three menu items per day and the most tasteless tea in history. Her plan was not to wait for him to finish his work, although she did stopped at the cafe.

He thought of the place as distasteful as the tea it served but he loved his borrowed silence in the lab where he worked. After his reply to that text he continued to work in his direction without realising that she came not to wait for his majesty’s arrival but her plan was to reach him without waiting no matter how busy he was or tried to show through his brief yet, decent texts.

She wasn’t here for long but out of his stubbornness and dedication to his craft, she waited for a few long minutes in that cafe and then she took out her phone again and wrote a commandment that she is coming over to his fortress of solitude. He didn’t argue as he was too busy to write his next explainable excuse of being not with her and she was too close already.

The door knocked, he took off his Sennheiser headphones and walked across the room, opened a huge gate and went towards the main door which opened into the small tight soundless passage that was leading to his lab. He looked through the two way mirror and saw her standing with designer sunglasses over her head. He gulped whatever unspoken words he had in his mouth and opened the wooden door and there she was standing with questions in her eyes and gloss over her sleek lips.

She had a porcelain skin, clear as sunlight. Her wide forehead, motif eyes and light brown hair were a lovely blend. Her hands and feet were immensely delicate looking as if a sculptor carved them out of white marble throughout his whole life. She wore a lovely perfume that day, a nice citrus blend perhaps.

He invited her to enter and she did instantly while asking her first question of the day. ‘What are you up to?’ To which he began to reply as she marched into his space to see if he’s been doing what he is telling or if there is another angle or guest to this story. His intentions were always cleaner than his image among his friends but she still managed to have a good look around till she was satisfied at least for the fact that how ignorant he has become over time; he is not a liar; not at least to her; as of now. His descriptive answer of what he was up to was least important to her at the moment as she had her own plan for him or perhaps with him.

She posed unsatisfied as she heard his little harmless excuses of not spending much time with her and not giving her enough importance lately. As he finished speaking; he had this expression of confusion and remorse for his undoing until those expressions shifted to surprise as she came near him and almost cornered him in this dark silent place. He never expected to be cornered by this woman. He felt odd but that was her plan for him. Odd. She came closer to him, his heartbeat doubled till her eyes met his and her lips were an inch away from his mouth. She uttered words that he didn’t hear; he couldn’t drift his mind from the charm of this woman to the benign words she spoke. Her breath mingled with his. Inhaling her thoughts, exhaling his own. Trapped behind door that anyone could open any moment. Their bodies begin to respond to this intimacy. Mouths dried, thoughts flowing, streams of emotions rushing into every vein, into every part of their bodies.

The fleeting moment became intense as it passed till he uttered ‘What are we doing?’. She looked closely with dilated pupils and replied as politely as she could to this unrelenting question. ‘Don’t you know?’ She said. He wasn’t thinking clear as he asked this question, all this happened so insistently for him that his mind couldn’t process this sweetest of moment they both shared in a long until he ruined it entirely by being bluntly dumb, unemotional and somewhat of a jerk. The cocktail of chemicals his brain released into his blood while she came close to this sociopath made him insane enough to ask a gorgeous woman her reason for being close and for loving him for being who or what he was.

With his question, the bond broke and their souls separated. His mistake was he asked, hers was she didn’t tell. Both looked in the eyes and felt how meaningful this moment could have been, she never explained her thoughts to him, what went through her mind; nobody knows. And He always tried to cover up with his version with blatant excuses. She turned around while he moved from the corner and she left the room in silence while he stood there listening to the reverberations of her breath trying hard to remember what she whispered in that intense moment till he caught her echo in silence and he recalled that she uttered ‘Watch Me!’.

Sunkissed

Sunkissed! When golden rays of the morning sun strike your face; the yellow-orange aura
almost blinds you but at the very moment the happiness that fills your heart ignites a
lifelong spark. The warmth, the subtle singe of the sun rays lift the floating emotions of the
night to a new high.

Sunshine! That’s what he used to call her. Her smile had the same effect on him. The wide
curve of her face used to irradiate the darkest corners of his persona. There was unusually
positive vibe about her. Some called it her frisky nature but there was more to it that he
could feel.

Years ago they crashed into each other at a design class; it wasn’t by accident. He was
unusually odd & she was liveliest in the studio. Both exactly the opposites. Somewhere in
the span; stretched over a few years & thousands of heartbeats; they both knew that they
share a beautiful yet unexplainable bond. Cloaked in friendship, painted in excuses; they
both knew how valuable possession they share. An unnamed connection, an entity build over
perplexed emotions & concealed thoughts. Their untitled bond never fails; instead with time
it has matured into something unexplainably beautiful.

He was a masterful illusionist of thoughts; she was a phoenix in disguise. Both failed &
tormented in previous lives; yet both survived; away from one another, only to reunite. She
admired his lexical tricks; he loved her vibrant persona. Every time they meet, their
conversations went deeper than spoken words. Their dialogues constructed a lyrical
narrative. A narrative that stretches over lengths that no script could hold or no ink could
construe.

S.N.Hussain – 10th, May, 2016

Will she be my muse?

And she combed her gold streaked hair with her long sleek fingers, having sharp nails brilliantly painted in red. A cool breeze blew from the East diffusing the fragrance of her cologne over my face. I gasped & closed my eyes to feel aromatized wind! I quivered back to life when the driver of the bus we were travelling in applied the breaks and we stopped on the red light. I immediately looked for my pencil case & sketchpad. I wanted to draw this artistic gesture of her hand. As soon as I was ready to scratch a line on paper; the traffic signal turned green and instantly we both were moving again, in the same yet very different directions.

It was a fine evening of early fall. The interplay of headlights over clear charming face continued as we roamed, wandered in the metropolis together on different seats of the same bus. I could still see & feel the freshness on her face even after a tiring day of study and work, she refused to feel exhausted. With eyes as sharp as a feline & her lips as gentle as tulip; she continued to wait for a text message every few minutes. In every little while her mobile phone rang in her lap and she would pick it up gently & begin to reply. Occasional smiles on her face hinted that she was indeed having a lovely conversion.

In my own thoughts of chalk and charcoal, I was still making my mind if I were to paint this woman in my life. Will I depict her in oils on canvas or aquarelle on paper. How will I be able to justly portray the beauty of this captivating woman in my work; who perfectly matches her every accessory with her outfit. She was distinct, noticeable. Her skin tone was careful blend of naples yellow with hints of venetian red; just near the cheeks. Her every move had a subtle mystery. Her luminous brown eyes were sharp as a tack; set on her phone; her mind was plunged deep into the silent conversation she was having with someone on text. Gently, she fixed her long flowy georgette shirt which covered her body till her knees and below. With a gentle touch of her hand; she carefully touched & fixed the silk flower on her hairband that held her golden brown hair from falling over her broad sculpted forehead.

Another traffic signal came along the way & we were at a standstill again. She turned her head to the left & started to talk to someone who I never saw but this change in directionh gave me a good chance to observe, embrace & caress the curvature of her jaw line with my eyes. It instantly reminded me of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Her face was smooth, finely rounded, clear and utterly beautiful!

This was my moment. This was my time to hold the horses of my vivid imagination & act on it by walking to this ethereal beauty and ask her one question in the most innocent way. I walked over & asked “My lady! Will you be my muse?”

S.N.Hussain (Originally written on 26th, October, 2011)

Necessary Medication

These meds are not for the physical pain but for the emotional one. The one that comes from the names they call me with, statements they tore me with, questions they cut me with & smiles they hurt me with. The pills are for the trauma that goes on every day, trauma that takes a new form every hour; sometimes an isolation, sometimes an ache. Mostly tears and occasionally blood.

S.N.Hussain (Originally written on 2nd, August, 2014, 4 am in the morning, first rain of the season)

A war with her God

He loved a woman, she died in a war

A war with herself, A war with her God

She called him an atheist, she called him a liar

Said he was a man of unholy desire

She went on a journey, to kill what was odd

She fought in a battle, A battle with her God

And hid her body in the feathers of the dark

Covered her face in the blemish of her God

He loved a woman, she lied in a war

A war with herself, A war with her God

2009 | S.N. Hussain