Edited by: Prisha Visveswaran
Adulting comes in waves, I have realised.
Hitting with the cruellest tides especially when you need it to be safe waters.
To give you the warmth of the womb. To drown you just enough, for you to remember breathing again.
But it pierces your being, in the slowest way possible.
You will enter your house, after the worst day you have had yet at your new grown up adult job that kills a small piece of your soul everyday and it will suddenly hit you that your parents are getting older.
They take turns to call out to you from the dining room and you raise your chin to catch their softer voice that has suddenly lost all its sternness.
They have started falling sick easily, and they’re growing more tired of the world. They only smile at you now, and reach out for your hand, that is much steadier. Their mild shaking finally stops, and they sigh when your eyes meet theirs.
So naturally, you must be a daughter now. You must tell them it’s all alright, and that you’ve got it. You have to, there is no choice.
Everything is always under control. They just need to pop an OTC pill and they’ll be the picture of health. And this will be true.
Only until they’re asked to avoid their favourite foods because their body can only process so much now. You must be an invincible wall of unwavering faith even though you’re as scared as you were of the dark at 4 years of age. You want them to tell you it’s just the trees. You want to cry and yell and be a menace. And you want to be loved for it anyway.
There’s no monster, Stuti. They’re just trees.
You will wake up tomorrow and find a jam sandwich tiffin box to stuff into your backpack for school. Your only responsibility that day will be colouring within the lines.
But the monsters, they come back, right? They come back as prolonged loneliness that hits you when you least expect it in a grocery line waiting to buy cereal, or when you do important things and take important decisions on a random Tuesday night with no one around you. When you look into the mirror applying your mascara but They come back as complete trust of others in you when you’re crippling under self doubt. they come back as envy of the world and the fear of always being left behind in a race you made up for yourself. They come back as teenage mistakes and beauty standards and scars on your body and stupid heartbreaks. They come back as responsibilities that actually have consequences. They come back as anything but trees, really.
You could be so eloquent and polished in your speech, waiting to use absurdly professional and grown up words as if colloquially, but you will find yourself intentionally held back most times.
Why am I so quiet today? Mom, if I told you, you would worry, won’t you? I don’t like to see the lines on your forehead.
So what use of words that won’t let me scream on the floor of a mall, that I am scared of being lost in a crowd? Why wont you tell me the place to wait if you let go of my hand and I can’t find your brown-shoe clad legs anywhere around me? Ironically, speaking is what gets me by in this world. It is a job of sorts, one I indulge in completely.
But how I wish I could talk like I would 10 years ago. And maybe you wouldn’t freak out.
How I wish those monsters were actually just trees.
How I wish that sternness in their voice comes back.
How I wish.
Drowning would be easier than this sweet, unhurried but consistent pain.
These slow waves, I tell you. They are much, much worse than floods.
And I can’t help but drown.