That Scalding Satisfaction

 

Steam rises off the bucket of water I’ve collected this evening; like most evenings. Even though the cold water runs into it, there is enough of the cloud to rise and fog my red glasses.

I gather up my soap, shampoo, and conditioner. I don’t take in my towel. I will come out for that. In the dim yellow light, I pull the full bucket to rest in front of me. Some of the water spills over. Splashing my feet. I wince. The water is scalding. I dip my hand in, let it sink to the bottom of the bucket. Deep inside. My hands can take it. They’re used to harsher things. The cold air caresses my back coaxing the goose bumps on my skin to rise higher. They stand at attention, anticipation rippling through my flesh.

I pick up my blue mug. Dip the plastic into the water. The first wave burns. Searing into my skin as it cascades down the broad expanse of my back. A thousand tiny fires lit and extinguished at the same time as the water travels between my breasts, right down to my toes where it splashes, merging into the bathroom floor. My skin prickles. It is unsure if it wants to remain in the cold or if it wants another painful wave. But it has no choice. The painful wave is what it gets. The heat of the water soothes the strange aches in my body. My shoulder that was aching all day, it’s like the heat pulls away at whatever is in there causing the dull incessant pain. It strips away at the grease and the grime of the day like a strong breeze, banishing a cloud. The mirror is fogged thanks to the heat on its otherwise cool surface.

Raw and pink. Tender, softened down by the water’s harsh training. My skin feels alive…

The Hoarder in Us All


Hoarding. Verb. Accumulate and hide or store away.
Hoard. Noun. A large amount of something valuable that is kept hidden. (Miriam- Webster) 

Compulsive Hoarding. Also known as Hoarding Disorder. A pattern of behaviour that is characterised by excessive acquisition and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment. (Wikipedia) 

In almost every person you know there is a hoarder. Apart from a miniscule number of people the act of hoarding is something every person does do whether it’s unknowingly or knowingly. This piece explored a college environment to see what the average person is like in terms of collecting and keeping things. 

Many people do hoard. From the time that I have been able to understand things around me I have learnt this. My grandfather was a hoarder. He kept everything he came across that he thought could be more useful. After his death, when my grandmother was cleaning out his almirah she found things inside that were both useless– to us– as well as strange. We found a large stack of 2 Rupee notes. There must have been over a 100 of them in there. For many it’s all about nostalgia. Tresa says “I hoard the things I find memories in.” There’s no specific for her. “It can be a pencil to a keychain.” She tells me while sitting in our noisy canteen.  For Ashwin hoarding means something similar. “Probably things from my childhood.” He says after thinking a moment.

Kritika is a guitar string hoarder. She says, “At times it does (annoy me), because it occupies stupid space in my cupboard, but other than that, it’s completely fine.” She goes on to say that if anyone tells her to stop her habit she wouldn’t care and would go on doing what she does.

Sometimes the act of hoarding might just signify a person’s determination and perseverance. As Amala tells me softly, “They have a lot of patience. If they are interested they will keep things” 

Hoarding doesn’t seem to have annoyed people that do hoard things. On the contrary they have regretted throwing away things. Things they wished they hadn’t. Ashwin confirms my theory but refrains from telling me what it is he has thrown away. Kritika on the other hand reminisces with a slight grimace as she recalls painful times, “Books. Not really thrown but sold.” Sharon who says she doesn’t hoard at all sympathises with the hoarder. “It’s too addictive. When they start they don’t stop” Sharon says that since her friends are hoarders, she feels left out sometimes. She wishes that she wasn’t a person who would throw everything away. “My first boyfriends gift” She says, wishing she still had it.

However, she would not like to spend her life with a hoarder. “I would try to change the guy!” She exclaims after vehemently saying a series of ‘no’s like she doesn’t even want to think about it. Similarly, Amala says, “Maybe he’ll change his mind…” looking horrified at the prospect of having to live with a hoarder.

 Tresa says she would be disturbed if she had to live with a hoarder. “After a point, if the stuff gets too much I would get irritated.” Ashwin comes to the defence of his hoarder saying, “Messy places are okay!” He justifies saying he does it too. But for Kritika it all comes down to the basics. “It’s depends on the kind of person he or she may be.” She says. And in the end, that’s what it all boils down to.

Dadu (Grandfather)

In Bengali, your mothers father is called ‘Dadu’ and mother – ‘Dida’. In a similar manner, your fathers father is called ‘Thakurda’ and mother ‘Thakuma’. However, for reasons unknown to me, my brother and I never used Thakuma or Thakurda. We always called my dad’s parents Dida and Dadu and my moms were Nani and Dumpa. 

Dadu was a most intriguing person. The man was a genius with a hatred for wastage. He was a retired engineer. Retired long before I or my brother were born. But his eagerness to fix things never left. He often restored the toys that we broke, telling us not to throw anything away but to use it. He’d probably make us use everything till they’d be nothing but dust. One time, after Diwali and Kali Pujo, Dadu told us he wants the burnt out remains of our sparklers. Obediently we made sure we collected the white hot metal sticks and presented them all to him. He was very pleased. He took them all and when we asked him what he wanted to do with them he’d look at us and say, “Dekhbe!” But we never did get to see because Dadu said the sticks were too short for what he was making. He never threw them away though.

The first pair of torn jeans, or rather, distressed jeans I ever had – sent all the way from Canada to me by my uncle – had some miniscule holes in the knee areas and a few rips. When I wore them and went to Dadu to show them off, he looked at me very concerned and told me, “Diye dao, ami shelai kore di.” (Give them to me, I’ll stitch them.) I was scandalised and had to quickly explain, “Na Dadu, eta ajkaal style!” (No Dadu, this is the style nowadays!) Dadu always made a face when I wore those jeans.

When I was much younger and had no school to go to, I would often eat breakfast with Dadu. He would eat cheera with milk and sometimes a banana. Whenever he ate the banana, he would wash it, peel it, and then with utmost care cut the fruit into pieces against the sharp edge of his stainless steel bowl. Then he’d take his spoon and scoop some of the cheera and milk onto it and eat, as well as feed me. Whenever he’d scoop up a banana piece as well, he’d tell me, “Eta-te byang aache.” (This one has a frog.) For some reason, this would tickle me greatly and I looked forward to the scoops with banana. I’d tell him, “Byang dao! Byang dao!” (Give me the frog!) Once all the ‘frogs’ were finished, Dadu had a hard time keeping me there to finish eating my meal. Dadu would hate too much dal on his plate when we ate. He would scold my grandmother if she put too much saying it was like his plate was a pond. He also managed to get me to eat my fish which I absolutely detested. He’d give me the tastiest bits and showed me this bone that looked like a duck.

In the evenings, Dadu would occasionally have puffed rice – moori – mixed with just a few drops of mustard oil Sometimes I’d sit with him and Dida and watch television while having some moori myself. The Bengali serials would play and we’d sit around the T.V. munching… Dadu also taught me to make little balls of my rice and curry to get me to eat it faster, it didn’t work but I now know how to make the Solar System with my food.

Dadu had his serious side. He was an intelligent man – the coveted engineer. He had already started balding by the time he asked for my grandmother’s hand. Dida told me once that he’d seen her in the balcony of her house with her long hair open and had fallen for her then. Dadu often looked grumpy. His mouth would be a perpetual frown but he wasn’t disgruntled. He just had that face. When he would lie on the bed on his stomach, clad in his white, cotton pyjama bottoms, reading his newspaper, my brother and I would scramble onto his back to play. We’d pretend he was a car and his raised feet and legs were a steering wheel and gear. Dadu would read the Bengali version of The Statesman while we did. Once I didn’t go to school, so Dadu and I got together and decided to have a picnic – in the bedroom of our house… We got biscuits and some other stuff like ‘jhuri-bhaja’ and of course, moori. Suddenly we realised that we had no water with us, so I told Dadu, “Darao.” (wait) and went to get water for us. Upon returning I saw Dadu, standing on the bed – his head nearly touching the fan. He looked at my confused face and said, “Darate bolli je!” (You asked me to stand) (Darao means both wait and stand in Bengali.) This was his rarely seen, less serious side.

Dadu was from Sylhet originally. During the partition his family moved from Bangladesh to India. I don’t know much about it, but we lost our ancestral home during the move – according to Dida it was a beautiful house.

Even to his last few days, Dadu was a very sharp minded man. In the hospital too, he once alerted a nurse to the fact that there was a bubble in his saline. He then proceeded to tell her, she should tap it so it’d go to the top and not enter his bloodstream. It was finally heart problems that took the man from us. I didn’t cry much when he passed. I think I didn’t really know how to react to having someone so close being taken from me for the first time. I don’t eat cheera and milk anymore. Fish and I are enemies once again. And Dadu, I miss him.

Chicken Curry

White and floaty, Chicken Curry was born on an unknown date but adopted into our family on the sunny afternoon of 19th August 2016. Chicken Curry got his name when a girl whacked his rubber, helium-filled body into another girl’s bowl of the canteen chicken curry. There was no doubt that Chicken Curry would be named after the delicious spicy liquid that dripped slowly off it. Chicken Curry was given to me by a girl who’s had two. One blue and one white. She let me have the white one.

Everyone was envious of me. Everyone wanted Chicken Curry. They tried to take Chicken Curry away from me in various ways. Some hit Chicken Curry. Some tried to poke him. I had left Chicken Curry tied to my chair, when I came back to see him he had disappeared. A villain held him in his hands instead and claimed Chicken Curry was his. He pulled the string away from me and said Ann gave it to him.

I was so angry! I had to defend my Chicken Curry. I screamed at him and grabbed Chicken Curry away and pulled his string back to the chair that he was previously tied to. The villain stared at me angrily. He stole occasional glances at Chicken Curry with a fire in his eyes, I saw it. I inspected Chicken Curry. Some fiend had drawn on him. Two faces. They had also cleverly wiped of the remnants of the drying Chicken Curry from him. Defaced. I kept an eye on the villain. Sitting opposite him I was able to observe his every move. Very soon he left; seeing I wasn’t going to give up on my Chicken Curry soon. I breathed a sigh of relief. Chicken Curry was safe… For now…

The villain returns. First thing he looks at: Chicken curry…

​The Scientific Use of Violence

For the longest time the use of violence has been not only aided by scientific means but also justified. Science has been the one fact that will not be questioned and is followed thoroughly throughout the time that we have lived ever since the proper study of the subject was started. The cold hard facts which is offered by people of science is often too cold to get near and much too hard to break. At the most we can chip it slightly but break it completely… Never. 
During the holocaust the German Nazis were able to kill so many human beings. Not just the Jews, but anyone he thought was “inferior”. He would justify his violent acts in the name of science saying these people were in some way the rejects of society that by some godforsaken so-called scientific research proved. It is a strange part of human behaviour that somehow compels us to listen to those we think are in power. Perhaps the way we are raised is at fault. The way we are told, all over the world in unison, that we should listen to our elders. It is still a mystery exactly how Hitler got to be able to control such large masses when he wasn’t really an imposing figure if you saw him on the road someday, alone, sans entourage. 

The holocaust is however merely one needle in this haystack of scientific violence. Modern day sees so much more of it but somehow I think we as a race have numbed ourselves to the feeling that this could or is wrong in any way. And while we might know it is wrong the intensity of it doesn’t hit us quite right and we are able to brush it off completely even. Political lines divide us, colour of body makes us discriminate, heck, even sexual orientation is made to be either acceptable or not. We can’t handle people loving each other but can handle hate? Why? Because it is scientifically justified? Well that doesn’t change the fact that no one cares that psychologists all over the world have proved that homosexuality is not a disease. It doesn’t matter to people that the ridiculousness of the statement “black people are inferior- because science!” has been exposed. No. People still hate. They still discriminate. 

Science is not to blame. It is human nature. Where we once had humanity we shield ourselves in impenetrable scientific armour. Human beings need to stop. We are not the best. If anything we are the worst. We kill, destroy, screw up everything that we touch. In movies where aliens come to our planet we show them persecuting our race. We are scared of extra-terrestrial life because we are afraid that they will do to us exactly what we do to the planet and the beings living with us. It’s a bit like witchcraft. Magic can be right or wrong- but depending on how it is used. 

Thus, science and violence go hand in hand sometimes. And each time it does, another voice is silenced… 

I am 

​I am a wave, gentle and calm; yet I can turn rough and menacing. 

I am the sea; on most nights I am quiet. But some nights I am a storm. 

I am the sun, burning fierce and I am also the moon, being credited for borrowed light. 

I am a being, both cold and warm. 
I am a raindrop: single entity, among the multitude of droplets that fall with me

I am a winter sky, cloudy, cold, dull, yet comforting shading the harshness of the sun  

I am the banyan tree standing proud but falling to my knees begging for mercy at the hands of an axe.

This is me I am the only one
I am the eye of the tornado; place of calm amidst the chaos around.  

I am a breeze softly caressing the things I touch, though a gale when in times of need

I am a person a human being, with a kaleidoscope of emotions.

I am a girl with nothing but a wish to be free

A Hair Raising topic

 

 

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This is the ocean. Layer over layer, it hides so many secrets. The little curling ponytail is in reality a big gigantic wave. Much like the Great Wave Off Kanagawa. You can see the various currents. All conflicting. Rushing into one another like the rushed and hurried traffic of Bangalore. The wind blows and the waters dance gently making it hard to get a clear picture. It’s like it’s mocking me. Trying to see how well I’ll do in its game. Toward the bottom edge a rock (ear) juts out of the water. When it is stormy this gets almost covered by the waves; swallowed whole by the ocean only to be spat out again when the tide is low. There is a trickle of water from the main ocean body that is like a sneaky little river flowing into it. A band hold some of it in place. It is of human creation. Constricting. Choking.

The model for this photo is Mark.

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Flaming red and flowing down. This is the dry forest. So dry it is tempting the blaze.  A small but bright spark just waits for the opportune moment. Waiting and watching. Knowing that it will be time for it to live soon. Soon it will wreak havoc upon the unsuspecting life forms of the place. It leaves a dark past from the root. Dark and unforgiving. It is the Death that all Life fears. It is nearing the multitude of flowers. The garden will soon be dark and ashy. The innocent pink petals that escape the tongues will wilt slowly without their mother-ship. They will be left alone and will die that way. There is no hope in this place. Not for it. But then, many generations later this forest will grow again. Flowers will bloom again. It shall become the place of dreams it once was.

The model for this photo is Anushka.

 

 

 

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Do you see this waterfall? In a constant state of motion that it blurs? It is a long, long way down. A hint of a smile, water jumping from one place to another. It washes down, covering up the sturdy cliffs behind. It also doesn’t like to stay in one place. Sometimes it goes out of its boundaries. Rebellious and untamed. But mostly it sways down its well-worn path. The waters are warm and soft. They will not hurt your skin. Only, lightly kiss it inviting you to come see it’s wonders. If you listen carefully you can hear it speak to you. Swaying with the breeze and movements. Each individual drop (strand) with a life of its own, looking for acknowledgement for its individuality but we all know that they look best when all of them are put together; forming this gigantic force to be reckoned with. It is here that so many secrets hide. Wouldn’t you like to find out?

The model for this photo is Shreya.

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The desert is bare, with very little vegetation. Millions of grains of sand congregate and truly show strength in numbers. Vast stretches of land with little to almost no sources of water. The desert makes travelers weary. Fatigue and thirst is all that grows here. At night time the desert is cold and harsh. In the day it is hot and dry- and still harsh. But sometimes at the edge of the desert there will be an oasis waiting. You can see it in the distance. Blue water reflects the sunlight off its surface. But sometimes it is the desert playing tricks on your eyes. Making you see the illusion of water where it actually does not exist. It is not a friendly atmosphere to most. However, a few select creatures gather and thrive here. Some are very dangerous. While some can be docile and exploited. The desert also hides secrets sometimes. Buried under all that sand it is a most gorgeous treasure chest.

The model for this photo is Prithvi.

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Row standing after row; this is a tea garden. The bushes have been trimmed and controlled. Kept growing lush and beautiful at the same time. Between the rows are the pathways for the collectors to pick the desired leaves. The texture is soft and speaks for centuries of tradition. This garden knows the stories of its ancestors. This garden is a culture that is passed down through the ages. It is mild and timid like the tea it grows yet rich in its flavour. In the early time of morning this is what rises you while it is picked in that very time of day. In the night it is smooth and soothing. You must be gentle while handling it. It has taken a lot of attention and looking after to have got it to this stage of its life. Caring hands have raised the plant from its start till the time that you see it.

The model was in a hurry and was hesitant to speak much so didn’t tell me her name.

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In Japanese it is called Fukai Mori; Deep Forest. The mightiest of forests, rich in all forms of life. It has so many dimensions to explore, so many places to go. Large sturdy trees, co-exist with smaller ones that take refuge under the cover of the superior. So many rivers flow within the forest. It is one of those places that the trees are alive. They whisper to one another, you can hear it: go stand close by and stay quiet. After a while you shall hear all they have to say. Mystical places always have special protection. Like a great big white cloud to enfold it in and hide it from any prying eyes. Playfully the trees curve and dance to the tune of the wind. Swaying and flying in the force of it, but always grounded enough to come to the original source. These trees work together. So varied and different are their skills that they are an army working together to fend off any weeds. It is a place of calmness and serenity.

The model for this photo is Aakanksha.

Detention

Bangalore is not my home. I was brought to the city for college, just like my brother. But while my brother grew to appreciate the city (not his college) I grew to love my place of study. The course I do isn’t the conventional type that requires me to be by books all the time. I am made to explore so much more than that which is set in paper. Take this blog itself for example… 

College isn’t everyone’s favourite hangout though. I guess in a way that makes me a stranger even in my own place of comfort. But in a way that comforts me. The Department of English is my pseudo home. I’ve even claimed my floor space beside my favourite teachers table. No one else can sit there. 

Now, my class is lazy. Every single one of us are procrastinators. We hate to do work that is assigned to us unless we actually feel the pressure of deadlines pressing into our backs. Because of this our entire class is in detention “for an indefinite period”. I’m the weirdo who actually doesn’t mind. I can, in detention, do the same work that I do back at my PG, and am actually more likely to do it. Apart from doing my laundry of course (there’s a bit of back log there).  Detention feels like working in an organisation. Each person is doing their own work. Some are working together as a class. Some are still slacking off and doing nothing of course or watching a movie. You also have your annoying late comers who blame others for their being late; saying they hadn’t been informed. Or those who were at the smoke lane getting lung cancer. 

All in all, detention is kinda fun for me. I like being in a place with a desk and chair for myself to do my writing. I like sitting beside my friend who might be a creep but is always aesthetically pleasing. I like it. I like detention.

The Adventures of Fatophobe Me : Journey to Self Love

When I first started wearing dresses I remember looking into the mirror. I liked the way I looked. It was nice. But recently, I have to pick my dresses carefully. I know, I know it shouldn’t matter but it does. No matter how much I try to tell myself that it’s not what I am the bulging arms that stick out from under the sleeves need to be hidden. The shaping of the dress must be slimming. I pull out the cloth covering the stomach wishing I had a tummy toner or tucker or whatever it’s called. I used to like my calves. But the thunder thighs above them, not so much. Show off the calves. Wear heels to accentuate them. Make sure the skirt reaches to just above your knee, when you sit down. And when you stand, it should cover them. Your knees are ugly. They look like little faces.

My flabby arms… I hate these so much. You can pinch them and feel the fat bulge up. Fat, fat, fat. Disgust starts to bubble up inside me. There’s your friend in class. I bet she wouldn’t want to hide her arms like this. Even if her arms are thin she has muscles. She’s so pretty. I can’t wear things that show my arms. The flab on them. Nobody should be subjected to the gross floppy view. I remember this meme, where this woman who was standing beside her friend looked like she was naked because, the woman’s arm flab made it look like her body. It was funny. I laughed, others laughed, the internet laughed.  I pull off the dress and wear a top that has sleeves.

There are rings that are so beautiful. Thin bands with coloured gems pushed into them. I can’t wear them. My short stubby fingers barely fit.  The flesh bulges out when I try to push one down reminds me of the story of Anansi the spider man. Sometimes I try to give the illusion of having long fingers by keeping long nails. Long nails break easily but- anything for that illusion. I don’t wear rings but I wear bracelets. I don’t go anywhere without my watch, my rainbow bracelet and my yellow beads. They’re always on my wrist. In a way I feel it is protection. In class 5 or 6 I remember wearing smaller clothes in order to appear thinner. Without realising that it made you look fatter. As I write this I wonder what made body image so important that even at that tender age, I was looking in the mirror and trying to decide how best to hide my flaws. At a time when I should be enjoying my youth I was policing myself on what I should and shouldn’t wear. My roommate shows me her ring collection. I try one on. It doesn’t go all the way down. I use my nails and tug at it to pull it off.

Sometimes there are these smartass people who think they know everything about your life and your health and want to tell you to fit their ideas of what is fit and beautiful. An idea that is propagated by the people who think that they own your body and can tell you what to do with it. Strangers you haven’t met before look at you and tell you to lay off the cakes and sweets. Strangers typing away at their keyboards calling people fat bitches and using the term in a derogatory manner. That is what our human race is doing. Making people fat phobic. Fatophobia is strongly rooted in the ways of our century. All those comments on the picture you thought was nice. All those snide remarks behind your back. I close the door. Shut my laptop. Open my book and start reading.

I did for a while stop caring. Or so I thought. Unconsciously I would pull my tee out from between the rolls on my stomach. It’s something I’ve done for so long. You look at me carefully you’ll never see me show my fat, even if it’s through the cloth. Large clothes were my thing. My signature style. When my dad asked me what kind of clothes I wanted for Durga Pujo I told him, “Whatever, just get me the largest size.” He finally asked me if I wanted a tent or something. I happily agreed to that. Why not a tent? All the better to hide the stuff I wanted to hide

Is it okay to hate your body? To refrain from wearing the clothes you’d like to because you’re afraid to show that you have adipose tissue. I now have a side of my head shaved into an undercut. I used to wish I had long hair. I still do sometimes but the looks I get for my hair are so much better than the ones didn’t get when my hair was at its longest. I’m not okay with myself. I hate my face on some days. I wish I looked different. If you look into a mirror and don’t like what you see you can find out first-hand what it’s like to be me. Day after day wishing that I was different. I know that it’s not the way to be. I know it’s not what I’m worth, but the thing is that in the end that fact isn’t something that I truly believe in. I doubt myself; my thinking. I’m not trying to say that I’m the only person who feels like this. I am not.

Taking the Plunge (Trigger Warning)

 

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to stand in a high place and get that strong urge to just jump? The feeling is strange. In some ways I sympathise with the moth that is attracted to the flame of a candle. Surely it must understand that getting too close to the fire will burn it. But it chooses to ignore the nagging voice in its head and take the plunge.

“Take the plunge… Jump…. Go… It’s not like you matter anyway… No one’s going to miss you…” The whispers in my head are incessant. It doesn’t matter if I know it’s wrong. Its constant encouragement is quite nice. But suddenly the thought of my best friend comes to my head. I put my foot down. Walk away from the edge. “It’s not true.” I say to myself. “She will miss you. She cares….”

One day I considered it. I was texting my two best friends then. It was her and Esth. They pleaded with me to stop. I looked at the ground. So close yet so far away. I imagined my head split open on the concrete. The blood running out of my skull in rivulets of red only to pool into a red sticky halo around my head. The old lady across from that building would see me. She was always polite to me. You know, the neighbourly polite… She would see me. When she’d come out to see why the security guard was shouting. They’d hurry to call my parents… The dogs who loved me would watch from afar, smelling their favourite person but not being allowed to go and see her. They would be confused I suppose. But they would smell the blood wouldn’t they? Would they know? Would the understand?  I put my foot down. Walk away from the edge. “It’s not gonna work.” I say to myself. “It’s not gonna be of any use.

“What’s the worst that I can say? Things are better if I stay. So long and goodnight, so long and goodnight…” My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way sang into my ear. His voice calms me down. It stops me from doing stupid things like climbing up to the terrace and jumping. He teaches me that it’s okay to be a little messed up. Because it’s beautiful… It’s okay to not be okay. It’s alright to not want to talk to people. It’s alright to not be perfect. He wasn’t perfect. The rest of the band had problems. But it does get better. He tells me this. His words somehow resonate with me. I put my foot down. Walk away from the edge. The song changes. “I am not afraid to keep on living. I am not afraid to walk this world alone.”