It is often said that it’s the mind that binds and the heart that frees.
But what if the heart’s a coward little thing that loves to creep instead of fly? And the mind, once a bright, curious center sprinkled with the light to learn, is now a reservoir of all things dreary and dull.
There’s a footpath somewhere between the ribs and the spine that’s rumored to be the birthplace of longing. And right below it, skied by its rusty, cemented underbelly, lives a giant ogre with the face of a sweet old man.
His voice is saccharine.
His words are poison.
My dearest love, he murmurs lovingly, you will never amount to anything.
Your dreams are irrelevant, and your voice, oh, what to say of it. At best, a cheap reflection of your collective influences and at worst, an unsatisfactory imitation.
You are meant for the mundane, my darling. Just let go. Stop striving so hard. It’s fruitless, baseless.
Selfish with a capital S and a snake-y, hissing h. Selfish because your life’s not your own to think about. Your time’s not your own to spend away. And your stories are most definitely not yours to be told because they are inadequate.
It’s this last recollection that bites. Binds.
Inadequate is more than just a word.
It’s the feeling of falling down a ditch that yanks you out of a dream, tossing you awake at 3:45 AM in a vain attempt to search for stars in a city full of lights.
It’s the weight of the backpack that curves your spine, a wayward flyer sticky with samosa oil cuddling your heel as you waddle across a pedestrian crossing.
That nagging old man’s voice at the back of your head that often rings like a shout? That’s also its reflection. So soft it never wavers. So pale it never break.
It’s the sticky bulk of rejection and bitter chocolate hugging to your molars. And the clingy guilt of reassurances you need but are too weak to ask.
It’s the cold winter breeze that slithers between your toes. And the damp residue of sweat that collects under your bra.
It’s icy fingertips and stale pizza, dying plants and a crying cat. It’s bright lipstick and chewed-on nails, worn-down heels and a broken tap.
It’s a mass too heavy to float and it’s drowning me.
Author Note: Sometimes you write stuff for yourself that proves to be true even months later… This prose piece is something I wrote for an online magazine submission some months ago. It’s weird to realize that all of this still stands true for how I often feel.
Salām! I’m Perveen [She/Her], a South-Asian Muslim POC. I’m an introvert who daydreams about love-myths, monsters, and magic during my day job and occasionally binge-watch period dramas at night. Most of my time is spent reading, writing & talking to the cats in my backyard.