Dear Chester

Dear Chester,

You hanged yourself today, but the rigor mortis seems to have set in our collective limbs. It is you who died, but we are all numb.

It was the most confusing time of my life when I was first handed audio cassettes of Meteora and Hybrid Theory. I didn’t quite fit in at 17; I sought my place in a new world and didn’t find one. Then, you came on the music player and spat out Somewhere I Belong. That day, I found my first college friend, one who taught me that I owed zero fucks to the world.

Linkin Park was perhaps as big a Western music influence on my life as Michael Jackson had once been. But MJ couldn’t do what you did. Whenever I was hurting, whenever I was caught in the undertow and needed to scream my head off, you screamed for me. The college bully suddenly knew I wouldn’t be ignored; every time I took one step closer to the edge of sanity, you took one with me; and I realized it was okay to have a voice at the back of my head, a face underneath my skin. My quest for an identity, the urge to rebel, to chase my dreams – had all found an indomitable voice. A voice that thundered through the windows while I stayed shut inside the house. I wonder what, or whom, you turned to when the chaos got to you. You repeatedly rescued us with your songs. I’m sorry we couldn’t rescue you.

It’s a little baffling that only in your end do I get to know you so much better. You, Chester Bennington the man, and not the lead singer of Linkin Park the band. Your interviews now pop up on my timeline; your history of battling depression, childhood abuse, and addiction reveals itself. I check out your latest posts on Instagram and find them tainted with your death. Your words, photographs, videos… everything has been stained the color of suicide. Your lyrics have acquired a whole new meaning; your screams are now soaked in pain. Now, every time we listen to one of your songs, we lose you all over again.

There are a few who are calling you names, fans who think it was selfish of you to kill yourself. Not everyone understands despair, Chester. Not everyone is acquainted with the kind of sorrow that plagues the mind and renders every success and joy meaningless. Thousands of people, including I, wanted to be you all these years while you were shedding your own skin with each song. I don’t blame you for leaving, but I wish we could’ve given you at least one reason good enough to not reach for that rope. I hope you finally find yourself somewhere you belong.

All that you leave behind – your songs, your grunts, your gut-wrenching angst – all of it will continue to echo through thousands of lives and lead confused young minds to peace. Knowing that we aren’t alone in our despair is sometimes just enough to hold on. I wish you too could’ve had that solace. I wish you could witness the grief that clouds the world of rock today. And I hope you know that, in the end, it does matter. In the end, you matter.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Still screaming along,
The boy who doesn’t fit in

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Paris, mon amour

So here I am

Leaving you behind –

The train lifts its skirt and runs

Before I can change my mind –

Wondering who,

If anyone, can ever conquer

This memory of you.

 

I’d stay and save

Myself the mediocrity.

If you’d let me have

You for eternity.

But you’re a fickle lover,

O Paris, mon amour,

Let’s not linger

On this goodbye.

My time is up! Au revoir!

 

The canals in the new town

Reflect my parting blues;

In a concert of cities

Who would want to follow you?

O Paris, mon amour,

Let’s not fake niceties now.

It’s not me. It is You.

 

You invited me over

For a drink or two;

Before night fell, I was in love,

You had had your someone new.

Your streets are full of lovers gone mad

Artists, they call them,

Victims of cobbled-street voodoo.

O Paris, mon amour,

Let me go

Before I’m a prisoner, too.

 

No corner cafe will ever smell the same

The streets won’t sing again

Church bells will never promise

The stunning spell of Notre Dame.

What have you done?

O Paris, ma chérie,

My heart is now a homeless refugee,

My soul is yours to claim.

 

I’ll be back another night

For one more forbidden affair

Between my pen and your rues.

Until then,

O Paris, mon amour,

Grant me this final farewell kiss,

Bid me a fond adieu.

 

 

Longing

cast-away

Rain drapes everything
In a veil of wistful longing,
A yearning for something lost
Many moons ago,

About the same time
Solitude became more
Pleasing than company,
Silence, a friend, and conversation, a woe.

There’s nothing quite as soothing then
As a song on love and its follies,
Windows rolled down, the years fleeting
Amid arrows of melancholy,

Falling.
“I’ll have a cup of tea,
Please. Brewed to a burn-
The skin of lovers put out to sea.”

~Sumeet

Singalila

The rhododendron trail has a roof

Clad in hues

Of departing autumn:

Orange of the maple leaf,

Ever so elegant in its fall;

Green of the magnolia,

Eager to blush at the faintest whispers

Of spring;

The barren have long shed their green

Revealing my winter blues –

An endless playground for wings.

Death is the end, only

If you think it so;

Just ask the tiny oak nut that rebels, 

Plummets, 

And breaches the silence

Of an infinite jungle on tiptoes.

~ Sumeet

The closer you get…

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Fireflies

“Should we go outside?”

“But it’s snowing out there, hon. We’ll freeze!”

“Yeah, but it feels more Christmas-y outside.”

“What? How?”

“The fairy lights. They glow like fireflies, like a portal to another world. ”

“Sigh. Poets! Okay, but you better hope I don’t catch a cold in this alternate reality.”

Most lessons from school have been completely forgotten, but some tidbits persist. Some inexplicably random memories floating weightlessly in a crevice of the mind. Like a short story in Hindi class (or was it Gujarati?) that taught us to counter evil acts with kindness, repeatedly if necessary. Like a Sanskrit adage that translated to “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The latter rang true in my life every now and then, the first time perhaps when I became college roommates with my best friend from school. I’ve come to realize now that proximity, too, has the same effect.

Have you ever noticed how fairy lights look magical from a café’s window – almost as if the spirit of Christmas itself has manifested as a bunch of fireflies. But the moment you go outside, to have a seat under the dim lighting that promised to cast a gentle holiday glow on the soul, they lose their sheen. You start to notice little details – the one or two erratic bulbs that flicker, the flimsy wire that holds them together – invisible from across a window but now, up close, louder than the lights themselves, the potted roots of the miniature tree they entwine and its stunted fate. It’s almost as if the flaws magnify, like this café wasn’t even a good idea. Unless…

Ah! Look at those cheesecakes inside. They look soft as clouds, and the chocolate fountain sprouts ecstasy in reckless abandon! Besides, the old woman wearing the hat at the far end looks like a witch right out of Hogwarts…

“Can we go inside, love? Near the cakes? They look like they were delivered from heaven’s own little patisserie!”

“This is exactly why we don’t do date nights.”

Where Forevers Begin

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I seem to have lost my words;

They left in the middle of the night-

The day I forgot to swallow my blues,

A mouthful of addiction, memories on flight.

 

I seem to have lost my blues;

They left on a train of thought

While I was willfully drowning

In a fight I had never fought:

 

The light of your caramel mornings

Seeping into a world forgot.

 

~ Sumeet Keswani

Silk

What are we
But waves abandoned
On a silken shore,
Feverish in our attempts
To find home.

What is love
But this pristine
Silence
Between vowels frothing
At the lips of nameless lands.

I found mine in you-
The belonging of a nomad
To a castle of sand.

~ Sumeet

Lingering

Cafe

 

Come
Sit with me
Feast on my soul,
All its trap doors,
Creaky wooden floors,
Almirahs of lust,
The attic and its ghost,
Sealed windows –
Stained by the rain
Of yesteryear.
A forgotten pain
Lingering.
I’m here. I’m here.
I will always be
Here.


~ Sumeet Keswani

Falling stars

Time

The Stars come falling today,
Humming songs of infinite dark
To a tune of despair,
Lighting up the Sky,
Even if only
In splinters.

“They become Stars,”
Said Mumma of the dead,
Burned to the bone, a lifetime up in smoke.
So she waits –
All of nine –
On blades of green, supine,
Clutching a scarf, half-knit,
And Ted the fearless, cotton canine.

Dusk drowns on the horizon,
Storms are kept at bay;
Night will get a smiling welcome today.
It brings promise, after all,
Of grandma’s twinkling new face.

The Stars come falling today,
Humming songs of infinite dark
To a tune of despair,
Lighting up the sky,
Where Amma now stays.

“Make a wish. It’ll come true,”
Said she, the lover of 19,
By the swaying Ocean and the still Moon.
Laughter stirs his evening Sky –
For love doesn’t heed Meteors,
Nor do goodbyes.

“How could we forget?” “Why did we part?”
“When did forever end?” “When did it start?”
No wishes, just questions today
Greet the cosmic scars.
Light bleeds from where one breaks,
Even if only
For a moment.

The Stars come falling today,
Humming songs of infinite dark
To a tune of despair.
Sing along, the sad and the broken,
For every night faces an inevitable end;
Dawn awaits its turn
‘Round the next bend.

And Now I Let Go

Indulging in some blackout poetry

Indulging in some blackout poetry

And now I forget
Your words to my meanings,
The relish of your language on my tongue,
Mine on yours.

And now I erase
Prose tucked away in the closet,
Rain-kissed pavements I preserved of (y)our town,
Songs of an autumn long gone.

And now i unlearn
What it means to love a poet,
A magician of allegories misspelled,
Written to enchant.

And now I trust
No one but myself
To tell a love story from a plot spin.
One’s forever is another’s whim.

And now I try
To un-love you.
If only I knew;
If only, I were you.

– Sumeet Keswani