What Exactly Do You Feel?

My friends once innocently asked me, what exactly do you feel when you have this ‘anxiety’ of yours?
“Have you ever seen a truck at the other end of the road when you’re at this end, and it is no where near you but you do not cross, worried that it might kill you? And then you stand there waiting for it to leave and when it does…. it’s already too late because it brought with it another swarm of vehicles and now you have to stand here for 20 more minutes before you can finally cross the road?
That’s how I feel with my entire life. Tears start trickling down my cheek and my nose and my lips at this failure of mine. Small failure, if you may.”

“Have you ever experienced a practice test that has absolutely nothing to do with your final grade, and you see everybody chilling about it and you chill for 5 mins to watch a video your favourite spoken word poet just uploaded, 3 days before the test?
Those 5 minutes give me all of the emotions you can ever imagine, I cry, I feel guilty, I get anxious, I declare myself a failure at life.”

“Have you ever waited an eternity for a reply to a message you sent 2 seconds ago? Within this time period have you run every conversation, every fight, every little mistake as a flashback in your mind? Have you heard a whisper “this friendship is dead”?
That’s how I feel after every short talk that we have, after every missed call, every unread text, every unanswered e-mail.”

“Every assignment that’s not even due until the next week, or the week after that, every competition that I have been selected for but don’t feel good enough for, every hypothetical story and every whatsapp message that I haven’t even opened reminds me I’m a huge failure, I’m not worthy of where I am, I do not deserve the people who love me and life will never be perfect for me.”

With all of this in my head, to their amusement, I only said “I feel scared.”

Love Letter to Patriarchy.

As a collaboration between Women’s Development Cell, Miranda House and Breakthrough India, a series of love letters was written to our beloved, ‘Patriarchy’.

I’m honored that my letter was posted on their website. 

Dear Patriarchy,

I’m good with words, but not words of love. I have never before written something romantic. However, I have been asked to send you a ‘love letter’ today, so I’m going to try.

Share this letter with a few people.

Share this letter with all of my guy friends who thought it was okay to ask me if I am ‘on my period’ every time something they said offended me.

Share this letter with all the elders who told me “well done on getting a good college, but you need to be careful of all those boys out there in the campus.” I really thought I shouldn’t be questioned on what I’m wearing because honestly, I just grabbed the first thing I could put my hands on at 7 in the morning.

Share this letter with all those random boys who thought it was okay to look at me up and down and scrutinise me in and out and then whistle.

Share this letter with all those people in the ‘fair and lovely’ ad who gave the young, innocent me unrealistic expectations about beauty.

Share this letter with all those who thought labelling someone a ‘lesbian’ or calling someone ‘gay’ is an insult.

Share this letter with the conditioned girl in me who felt inferior every time her best friend got asked out and she wasn’t, because you taught her that that is the measure to her prettiness.

Finally, share this letter with all those people who told me I’m too fat every time I wanted to wear a dress or a saree, and that only slim girls should wear that stuff.

Thank you, patriarchy. You taught me a lot more than I thought you could given that you’re something that should have been non-existent!

Every other human in the world.

Link to the post : https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10155028124542510&id=163127752509

Quiet in the Heart. 

I recited this poem at a Slam Poetry Competition where I won the Second Prize. The theme for the Slam was “Refuge”
This is what I said :

Hi. She (the MC) already told you, I’m Shireen. I, uh, write.

Sometimes, there’s so much noise around us, in our surroundings, that we stay silent inside. While there should be a lot sound inside of us, we are unable to make it. That is what my poem is about.
It is titled, Quiet in the Heart.


Standing in the quiet,

The quiet only in my mind.

In the midst of the hustle-bustle 

Of a city, I once called mine.


Approaching me, I see an external storm

A storm I’m unwilling and unable to grow

Inside of me, internally,

Of stories I’m unable to tell, of tears unable to show.


I am now leaving

Leaving the house I finally owned

My car, my cat, my job

Trying to forget the life I had so slowly honed.


They term it — ‘war’

War that took no time to kill the human in me

And now I’m happily flirting with the grim reaper

Walking towards what I nicknamed the ‘hanging tree’


Yet, it’s all silent inside the heart

A heart I once called my own

But what do I possess now

Everything I held close is now unknown.


I do not know if I’m poet enough

Enough to word out my emotions

In a rhyming whirlpool of words

If I am ready to make you feel my burns.


Are my burns even painful

Painful as yours?

For your subjective pain,

Is much beyond my imagination, of course.


We are together, or so I want to believe 

Beliefs, although I have lost,

I hold on to this one

You and I are still together, but at what cost?

Wrecking Ball

I would not start by describing the calm I was sitting in before it started, because if I do, I will go too deeply in the details of the poem that was to be, but that is not anymore.
I will start from when I saw the sudden, swift movement of you, coming closer and closer; I will start from the shivering and the chills down my spine.
I will start from the felicity I could experience as the beginnings of your being fell on me; I will start from the smell that at first instilled in me nostalgia, like that of raindrops on mud, but then I realised I don’t like that smell. Not if it remains for so long.
I will start from the heavy wind that blew me off my feet; I will start from the electrifying feeling I had when you thundered into my life for the first time.
It was much similar to how, he too, came in, like a wrecking ball, trying to break my wall, that I built so carefully. I felt it shatter again.
It was a different reality now, unhappily happy, pleasantly dreadful, weirdly normal. It was what goes on inside of me all the time, but yet is sudden, un-looked for, abrupt, quick, hurried. 
It was a different poem then, because that calm was the calm before the unanticipated storm that you were, came in so gracefully and wrecked havoc without so much as a whisper in my ear.

Prince Charming.

You weren’t a prince charming

In a shining armour

You weren’t the guy I dreamt of
You were not my happy ever after

And yet
I fell in love with you
With your imperfections
And your flaws
That I was blinded to
And every word you wrote on paper
Seemed to be dripping with truth

I thought
That you thought
That I am pretty
That I am beautiful
And in that moment
Nobody was prettier than I

I felt gorgeous
Because you said so

You said I do not need make up
And I believed you
Because you weren’t the prince charming I had read of
The prince charming I had dreamt of
But you were, after all, my prince charming

I was your darling you said
And the first boy to ever say
“I love you” to me
And those teenage fantasies
And all the romantic stories
Seemed to be true in those moments

For I was in love with you
And you said you were in love with me too
But you were in your teenage years like me
And as you put it now
Your “pea sized brain” and “raging hormones”
Knew nothing better

I couldn’t feel us drifting apart
Not now
Not in the future
We were meant to be

We were like those romantic movies
Crazy in love
Perfect and ideal
We were the authors’ favourite stories
We were inseparable
We were ridiculous
And childish

And when you wrote that one poem that I fell in love with
The poem I got extremely excited about
The poem you pointed out her name in

I knew in that moment
That the prince charming in my books and movies would come some day
And I just have to wait a little longer
I just have to be a lot more patient…

Cold November.

I sit here

At mid night

In cold November

Wrapped in my blanket

And a cup of chai in my hand

Chai that I never drank

But am addicted to, for the past month


About life in general

Listening to the

Tip tap, tip tap, tip tap

Of the water leaking from the shower

My brother did not properly put off


About the altogether different life

That I have today

And the life that I had

Few months ago.

I was studying late night

A year ago

I am studying late night

A year later

I had life changing exams then

But zero anxiety

And today I am scared and fearful

Of results that never mattered to me before.

My brother twists and turns in his dreams

I look at him and smile

And miss myself being in his place

A few years ago

Having 99 problems

And school being all of them.

Today, I have 9999 problems

And school isn’t one.

I wonder why

These little things bother me so much

Why the hatred of friends and breaking of hearts

Don’t seem like problems anymore

And things that I never really cared about

Hit me hard

I wanted to grow up

But I swear I was never told

That I would have to bear with me

A different me

A lonely me

A scared me

That I would have to bear with another person

Who claims to be me

But I’m afraid

Is not who I was

A few months ago…

Crazy In Love.

I was out of town past few days attending a typical “Great Indian Wedding” with its many colours and even more beauty. Weddings are always fun, and the ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ destination wedding concept has made them ever more exciting!

I was one of the many guests observing the brilliant rituals that our ceremonies have, and on the Sangeet night I couldn’t help but feel the enchanting love that the couple shared. 9 years and the spark is new as ever, as the two are now set to live their lives together, forever. It made me fall in love with the idea of love.

Love is such a weird word, isn’t it? Some call it eternal, some, complicated and still others seem to think it as messy. 

But why do we always expect love to be something right out of a novel or a movie? Why does it have to be a ROMEO-AND-JULIET, FAULT-IN-OUR-STARS tragedy, ending with the Jack leaving the Rose alone? Why does it have to be all about sacrifice and altruism?

Love is beautiful, love is kind, but above it all, love is crazy. Love is a serious mental disease, if I daresay! It’s a fiery passion and it’s a serene virtue.

Love is about giving your all to each other, being the best that the other can have. Love is about the Happy-Ever-Afters of the various Cinderellas and Monicas, and the Prince Charmings and Chandlers. Love is happiness.

Love is about being best of friends, of being the Rahul to the Anjali.

The couple was so vibrant and crazy in love, that the thought of getting married seemed to get them both so excited, you could see the happiness in their eyes. You could see it in their happy dances, you could see it in their laughters and their hugs and their nervous awkwardness. The two of them made the Happy-Ever-Afters seem a truism.

I couldn’t help but smile and hoot every time the couple did something rather cute (which was extremely often)! Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs., to the Mike and Phoebe, and the Ron and Hermione of real life!