Timeline.

Thirteen and half years old me wanted to travel around the world and write. She wanted to be a single mother by the time she was 30, she didn’t care if she ended up being alone. She wanted to fix the climate change. She wanted to stop global warming and prevent the earth from being destroyed by humans. She wanted to know what happiness felt like.

Sixteen and half years old me wanted to preserve the endangered wildlife, the tigers and the lions, the snow leopards and the elephants. She wanted to go to Africa and learn about chimpanzees and lions. She wanted to go to Siberia to look at the birds during summer. She dreamed of having adventures of a lifetime.

Nineteen and half years old me got her first heartbreak by an almost best friend who ghosted her when she was far away from home, sick. By that time, she’d wanted to save the world – prevent wars and abdicate hunger. She wanted to be a wanderer, roaming around aimlessly at times. She’d started doubting if happiness even existed.

Twenty two and half years old me realized she was afraid of being alone and single. That when she was alone, she almost gave up because she was not ready to adult yet. She also decided that motherhood is not for her. She didn’t want her children to know the pain of losing a mother. “The more people you know, the more pain you get” became her philosophy. So, she shut herself off and pushed people away only to realize her solitude acts as venom. She thought that happiness isn’t worth it at all.

Twenty five and half years old me wants to travel the world again. And write. And learn. And experience it all over again. She wants to be a mother, and isn’t scared about being  single. She is ready to be a single mother before she crosses thirty three; because, otherwise, complications. She is finally sorted in her life. She has friends who stood with her when she completely fell apart. She knows what she wants to do in her life (i.e, travel and write and be a museum curator if possible) and how to do it (hello master’s degree!). She, for the first time in life, has Plan B if Plan A fails. She is in love and still heartbroken but she knows that at the end of the day, she will be okay. She is finally happy.

Thirteen and half years old me is kinda proud of twenty five and half years old me. Because sooner or later, I will have done everything I’ve wanted to do as a kid. Maybe, I might do them less frequently than I’d hoped and wished for but I will still be reading, writing, traveling and growing. Because I will not have given up on my dreams. Because I will find happiness. And that is enough and will be enough. For now. For always.

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Kathmandu knows me too well.

Kathmandu doesn’t flinch
when I openly flirt with Patan and Pokhara.
He doesn’t show any sign of envy or anger,
he pretends not to notice.
But when the night comes
and the cities are fast asleep,
Kathmandu slides into my bed and hugs me tightly.

“When I closed my door for you,
I didn’t want you to go and open your heart
to the next city you meet,”
he says,
“Instead,
I wanted you to explore the world,
experience new thing,
meet New York,
have a summer fling with San Francisco,
date Rome
have a one night stand with Istanbul
and possibly settle down with London.”

Before I could protest,
he kissed me softly,
making me change my mind.
Kathmandu knows me too well.
Kathmandu knows me too well.

Mothers know best.

Mother always used to tell me, “Be careful who you choose to love.” I used to shrug her off, as if it’s a choice. Love for me, always happened just like that. You can’t choose who you fall for, you don’t get to decide who your heart wants.

But you see, mothers are always right. Right now, I think what she meant was not to be careful who I fell in love with, but who I decided to stay with. Because staying in love, in a relationship, in a place is always a choice. You can’t choose who you’ll fall in love with, but you can always decide whether you want to stay or move on.

So now I tell myself, be careful who you stay in love with; don’t let a weak soul destroy your strong heart.

Her.

“Who are you waiting for?” she asks.

I take a good look at her face. Her dark brown hair is tied up in a bun, but not in the way you usually see those young girls of her age do it. Her tied bun looked more like maa’s hair tied into a bun. There are a few strands frizzy and dried, flying off as if they are naked wires, searching for plugs. I laugh remembering how mother always complained that she looked like a grandmother from behind when she tied her bun like that. She must be looking like one even now. My eyes fall on her forehead. It is covered with tiny indistinct spots, almost invisible if you aren’t concentrating hard enough. There are dark bags hanging  below her eyes because she had lost sleep for a couple of weeks. Although a sleep lover, she’d been refusing to sleep for some unknown reasons to both of us. Her nose is sunburned and a little tanned than the rest of her skin. There are light speckles and scars in her face. Sometimes, I feel like if I looked hard enough I could find more furrows. But right now, she looks tired and worried. Even as she looks straight back at me, I somehow feel that she is looking beyond me, searching for answers, seeking escape, looking for a way out. She is tired and worried.

“You,” I finally say with a sigh. “It’s time for you to come home.”
Because I’ve realized that even the girl in the mirror needs a reminder of the love you have for her. Especially during time like this.

Conversations I will never have.

“When do you miss her the most?” he asked.

I looked away wondering how to give an answer to that. An answer that wouldn’t make me sad. An answer that wouldn’t make me realize, if I haven’t realized it already that I miss her. Outside, dust had settled down with the downpour of the afternoon. The sun was subtly setting, the hint of orange was slowly spreading in the cloud. It still felt like February although it was almost April. It still pinched my heart when I thought of her although it was almost a year since she was gone.

I tried to articulate an answer. But there was a lump in my throat and I had to fight the tears trying to roll out of my eyes. I took a deep breath and cleared my throat before opening my mouth and closing again. I didn’t dare to look at him.

“When I…” I said, trying to find my voice, raising it louder with each word. “… when I come back home and there’s no one asking me what happened to me that day. When I cannot sleep because my feet are ice-cold and freezing. When I am on my laptop on a Saturday afternoon, and no one calls me for a nap. When no one remembers that I hate kerau, any kind of peas and when people complain that I am still wearing four layers of clothes because I am that kind of person who always carries an extra layer because I feel cold easily. When I don’t know who to call first to say I will be late which I don’t want to at times because I will have to explain ‘why’. But I would have come back home to tell her everything anyway.”

I sighed, realizing I still didn’t have the confidence to look at his face. But the silence was deafening. I could sense that he was still waiting for me to say something more, so I asked, slowly looking at his face, “What about you? When do you miss her the most?”

And now it was his turn to look away.