Life in Covid Days | Writer’s Edition

sign out of everything

Friday, 3 July 2020

I am quite nervous as I type because I’m scared I may have forgotten how to write – you know that feeling when words flow out of your mouth like water falls off a cliff, when you cannot distinguish the different droplets, it looks like silk draped across a beautiful curve – I am worried that I may have lost that mouth, the cliff, and the curve. Even when I look too closely, the droplets aren’t switching to slow-motion. It’s creakingly overwhelming.

I don’t know, am I trying too hard to write, right now? What was my process of writing like? I think I used to start with what I could hear in the background, and right now, I can hear Krishna Das singing in his most glorious voice, but all I can keep my focus on the click-ity clack of my keyboard keys. My AC and fan – awful bass players, I must mention. But it is too hot for me to choose silence over humidity. Perhaps because most times I sense heat – it reminds me of you. It’s funny how you keep telling me to stay at room temperature, literally, and figuratively – I don’t really know how you find that comforting – I don’t.

Oh look, I have come this far, typing, feeling without feeling, slightly stoned but more-so-comfortable and I don’t know how my sentences took me to you. Love has been so comforting on most days past half-decade than not, so to imagine myself as someone with a broken heart feels like I never had my heart broken before. Isn’t that strange though?

Somethings you think you’d never get over and in no time, you have no recollection of those memories. Burnt lungs have healed, and they would continue to heal and you can’t help but grow older, can you stop a river from longing for its ocean but that deluded river, so unaware that she is the source of love she seeks, thinks it would find at the deep beds of sea – river doesn’t know she is the sea, too. So, how do you differentiate a mad love from a heartbroken existence? Aren’t they both so aching? Painstaking, too.

Anyway, we were talking about writing.

So the next thing I do, after I have established everything I am hearing, I observe the touch. Okay, let’s see – my cold feet, and my colder toes remind me of my Himachal afternoons. No matter how many layers of socks I wore and regardless of innumerable hours spent in front of a heater – they were stubbornly cold. My abdomen hurts, doctor thinks it’s my appendix; psychoanalysis believes it’s my unresolved emotions. My calf muscles pressed against the pillow and my palms on the metal surface as I type. I am practising, warming up to when I feel at home with words. They are behaving like a distant acquaintance – how rude.

Even though most writers say that it is great to talk about all 5 senses when you write, I often wrap my head around feelings quite a lot. I don’t completely fathom, how or why though. I mean, my skin feels touch, my ears sense sound, I taste with my tongue and smell with my nose, with my eyes I see –

but what is it that makes me feel? Why is it so easy for the words to come and hug me suddenly as I begin to mention how I feel? So weird, I swear.

I am too afraid to say it loud but lately, it has been hard to feel my feelings in its entirety. I have been quite dismissive, like an ostrich hiding away from reality. But the reality won’t cease to exist, am I right? Okay, start again – what is it that I used to do to feel my feelings?

I think I know.

Let me try and recall.

Oh no, wait, I think this life in corona desensitised me to feel too much. It’s supposed to be a good thing, is it? I am not sure.


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Resurfacing emotions during national lockdown | Covid 19

Resurfacing emotions during national lockdown | Covid 19 | Stuti Ashok Gupta

I have been thinking of how 2020 is such a ghost year but its really not – it is a period full of self-reflections if you allow yourself to just be. It has taken me quite a few years to understand the importance of silence. How silence heals way more than words can some times. At the same time, I feel that the art of doing nothing is so underrated in this world, at this time, when we have been conditioned to capitalise every minute of the hour – when what we really end up doing in dwell in endless despair and guilt that we are not doing enough, we are not being productive enough, we are not good enough because we don’t have skills and talents to show off on social media platforms, or that we can’t indulge in hobbies like others.

However, have you ever wondered –

what do the monks or saints do with most of their time? They sit with eyes closed and just be. What do the scientists do most of their day? They sit with their quests at hand, and dig in deeper. What do the creators or artists do? Spend hours thinking and ruminating, have long dialogues within their mind. Most of their outcomes is a result of diving deeper into their minds.

Personally, it’s always been a huge struggle to do that. I am a do-er and so obsessively focused on action and doing that not doing enough leaves me feeling disengaged, bored and just uncomfortable. I am struck with guilt when I am not being productive, when I am not working on something, when I am not “doing” something. Train care moving example.

So these Covid lockdown has been an exceptionally-rare time for me, and for a lot of you too I presuming, because when there’s so little to do – and there’s hardly any guilt too and even if there is – I am, somehow, at this stage when I am sitting with all my repressed thoughts and suppressed emotions – and my mind is telling me – now there’s no reason for you to run away, there’s no outing you can distract yourself from, there’s so little “to do” and engage in an action that you are finally here with me.

Let’s get to know me better, my mind persists.

Jump in, my mind seduces me during 3 am conversations.

Let’s clean up all that hoarded dirt that you don’t need to store inside me, my mind reminds me. And whoop! things start to surface, and resurface – in slow fashion, and yet so fiercely and aggressively. “I don’t know how to respond, I don’t know how to clean this all up, what if it leaves me more damaged than does any good at all” I ask in worry, yawning away as I fight the state of mind juggling amidst – insomnia, sleep deprivation and lucid dreaming.

My mind replied – I don’t know how it works either, but I know that it does help. It hurts when you treat a wound, but if you leave it untreated, it creates infinite knots, becomes septic and the more you procrastinate resolving all these concealed uncomfortable emotions, all the experiences you wish you never had – they imprint on you deeply, become more smoky and difficult to handle as time passes by.

I kind of agree with this, and I also understand this intellectually, but I tiptoed around it for the first two weeks of sitting at home, not being able to sleep, not being able to work, losing motivation and skyrocketing motivation day in and day out like my mind is some kind of stock exchange. How long can you ignore your mind for, after all, especially when it lives inside you, it is a part of you? It’s not a tech device you can switch it off or a phone you can put on airplane mode – it is your mind, always active, even when you fall asleep – it manages to creep in through its vivid visuals of dream.

Into the third week, with severe sleep problems, awfully abused eyes glued to mobile screens, watched plenty of series, binged watched YouTube videos, painted, sang, picked up on a new song to play on ukelele, wrote, danced, exercised, worked, all the inboxes unread – I finally come and sit face to face with the resurfacing emotions. It pops, creates bubbles, causes ripples – everything I say is impacted by it.

My mind is ruminating now. I can’t help but show it some light, now. It is painful, if I were to be honest. One incident that I can document here is coming out about a sexual assault to my friends. It turns out to be something every woman in my life has experienced – men making a move on you when you are fallen asleep, crawling of a hand, first on the waist and then it creeps on different parts of you. “You didn’t say no” and that’s how it was consensual you are told. “You are making it all up” you are shut down. Friends you thought would understand, mostly men, come up questions that shudder your spine: “bro, but did you say a no?” and your voice cracks up while struggling to fight back and say “but I was sleeping, how was I supposed to?” and before you finish a sentence in your explanation that you foolishly hoped you didn’t have to give, they throw another question at you “how can you name it assault?” you hardly can ever win an argument when you have to prove it to men, how emotionally damaging it is. They are entitled, unapologetic, they are shameless.

Self-doubts emerge on the surface, too. Self-blame inevitably comes hand in hand with an experience as haunting as this one. Now I tell my mind, “what good came out of talking about this? I was doing just fine” but my mind is stubborn, it tells me it feels lighter. The weight has been lifted off the chest.

I wonder how if every woman has experienced something like this, a betrayal of trust, a breach of privacy, an act so shameful that we must protect it with every inch of our self-respect – why do we not come out about this? Why do we not speak enough about sexual abuse? Why do we not call out our sexual perpetrators?

  • Maybe because we are conditioned to feeling shameful.
  • Perhaps, we have been raised to be a people-pleaser, polite to even those who do wrong to us.
  • Most of the times, it is someone you know, someone you love, or respect, or share a good friendship with. It takes months to make sense out of it.
  • We hardly have courage to speak about it, and every once in a while that you do, you are buried with a million questions – you know they don’t want to believe you. It was easier to carry on like this. This is looked at something as a disturbance to the normal.
  • Then, of course, you are labelled. Oh, so horrendously labelled, and you don’t see any good in speaking out loud.
  • Those you raise a voice against, they make up their versions of stories – it looks like, I was the one who seduced him, I am the one who wanted it. I asked for it. I didn’t say no and hence there was consent. everything then centres around “why did she take so long before she spoke about it?” and “why didn’t she go talk to him directly?” and all I can tell you is I really don’t understand, what exactly was I supposed to say.

I tell my mind, hope this chaos was worth it. I really hope that this trouble, this painful recollection of a suppressed memory in such minute detail was worth it, even if I can’t tell exactly how.

Everything is temporary, after all, my mind comforts me, as long as you don’t store it inside you and go through with it. Don’t you feel lighter now? Does it really matter if they believe you or not? Even if they don’t agree with YOU that they did wrong, at least you have let them know, and that knowledge would surely shift something in them – eventually leading to lesser victims. IF you let them get away with it, that is the lesson they learn from it. Don’t they?

While you sit and do nothin, you are healing. Remember that. 2020 is not a ghost year, 2020 is a year full of opportunity to reset ourselves as an individual on a micro level and reset the way the world works on a macro level.

Thank you for reading, and I truly recommend you give yourself a break from the compulsive activity, sit down and let your mind challenge you, confront you and then finally comfort you.


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Of darkness behind the curtains

I know that the optimist in me
Is not trying anymore.
It’s looking for the sad dull alleys
Of loneliness and seeks no-people place.
Seeks nothingness, seeks a blank space.
“All you have done is use your phone since you woke up”
My mother says
And I cannot explain my struggle to her,
this struggle I go through every morning
to find just the right words,
to write down
About this helplessness
About this emptiness
The reason why I just want to lay down
And do nothing for hours.
Break down in my bathroom
Every morning, when I go for a bath.
Yes mum, all I have done is use my phone
Since I woke up
Not because I’m lazy,
But there is no motivation.
Suddenly I am starting to forget
All the things I wished to achieve
All the dreams I had seen
All the love I wanted to spread
All the examples I thought I’d lead.
Now I just want to lay down in darkness
And look at how the light hides behind the thick
Curtains of my room.

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#LettersToFindMe Series | Brussels, Belgium | Stuti Ashok Gupta

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Dear you, I have seen you the happiest when you’re strolling around the strange lands. That feeling when you meet someone for the first time – again and again and again – I have felt it how you love that feeling when you meet yourself. So when you feel like you are losing yourself in the structures and schedules – you know, all you need to do is, catch a bus, take a flight or simply start walking to explore all that is yet to see. Your answers lie within you, we have already come to that realisation – both you and I – however, in the company of sweet silence, and freedom to be whoever you want to be – your vision becomes clearer, and in the spaces that are way beyond the social expectations – all that you were looking for – suddenly appears in front of you. Take a walk, my darling, just go stroll when you need to hear your mind talk with a better sound quality, okay?

#LettersToFindMe #Belgium #Brussels #StutixEurope #SoloTravel

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Self-Doubts versus Inner Calm

Stuti Ashok Gupta Indian Girl

With almost a week of being sick, and at bed-rest, there are a billion of thoughts crossing my mind – somehow causing a lot of self-doubt in me. Maybe because I’ve spent this week looking at how everyone is having a gala time being a Celebrity or a Youtuber, a Blogger, Instagram Influencer – that I have almost lost myself in the delusions of what a life is worth.

There are two major things that I can segregate my thoughts into:

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Let go

Let go.

Let go

how you let wind pass through your hair,

do you ever complain to it that it messed your hairstyle?

Let go how the shady lanes let shabby cats pass by.

Let go the way you forgive a child who colours outside the lines.

Let go, as though you were only a spectator, clapping from time to time,

moved sometimes by the actors on the stage.

Let go.

Forgiveness is a strength that will win you battles and wars, internal and external.


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Dear God

Dear God | Stuti Ashok Gupta

In the vastness of the ocean
and the way the sky is stretched out
I know you exist.

With languages so many
With races defined and undefined
I know you exist.

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Note to self – Keep Writing

A picture from my solo trip to Mcleodganj, Nov 2015 | Stuti Ashok Gupta

Sundays are not usually eventful for me, but today went quite well. I started my day with seeing my client who comes for therapy in the morning – with electricity not cooperating, we had to switch the place twice in the 47 degrees heat. I couldn’t help but wonder the repercussions of it. Changing the spaces. Can every space feel safe with the same person or does it change? I kept ruminating about how spaces have an important role in a therapeutic relationship or any relationship for that matter.

Settings, certain rooms, light, time, furniture – can they contain you on various occasions?

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what does freedom mean to you?

what does freedom mean to you Stuti Ashok Gupta

Being a girl from a small town, from quite an orthodox family – I still can’t believe that I have been able to travel so much and start a business with three guys I met during my travelling days.

A lot of pain, tears and struggle has gone into it, but it doesn’t end. How much freedom is enough freedom? When do you know that you don’t need to fight for making your own choices?

I am always confused, honestly.

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Summer has got me thinking – how to blog correctly?

Stuti Ashok Gupta

When I was only 16 or 17, I found a space where I could dump my emotions without worrying about anything – it was ‘internet’ and more specifically, my blog.

The first time I found out about and I thought wow, I could speak my heart out and I called my blog – Worlds collide in Words. Perhaps, that name came out a few months of me writing my blog and I saw that this space had more people who came to dump their emotions, too. Words made my world collide with theirs in a fruitful way.

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