Voice

Sometimes, it happens.

Your voice, you see, it disappears. No warning, no explanation.

Vanished. Absent. Lost.

I say ‘you’ when I should be saying ‘I’. I know this. I know futility. I know I am really asking: if I tell this story differently, will I bring my voice back?

No, I suppose. (I am nothing if not pragmatic.)

I, then.

Well, sometime, it happened- to me- sometime last year- after June.

A portrait: birthdays in June, a voice in my throat, swollen, a jewel.

I sing on my birthday.

A portrait: laughter high and free, song breathing through candlelight and cake, a voice shaping into my lips and I don’t know what to do with my hands and so I sing. In my mouth, the word ‘you’ changes to ‘me’ and the line: happy birthday to me is so ridiculous, we burst out laughing instead.

This is how it was. This is how we were.

There are questions here, of course.

When, you ask? When. Wait. (I will say ‘give me a moment’ and we can pretend that we are in control and time is yours to give and mine to take.) Give me a moment.

June. After June. Here is a something solid. Concrete. A mark, crossed out on some map, do not forget, this will not pass. I latch onto this, the way thirst latches onto water. June.

Has it been a year now?

A year. Twelve months. Three sixty five (six? no, five) days.

Time is a funny thing, you see. What was, was. What was, was, like it has been forever.

I remember this birthday and in a flash, all birthdays before this blur at the edges and become one.

The past, a single staircase spiraling out behind you. The past, in singular only. Like starlight. Like starlight, it flickers away when our eyes land straight, so we can only think of the past obliquely, in our dreams, in our subconscious, surfacing like lost stories from the ether. We were never built to think in time.

So a year then? Futility.

My heart tells me I have been voiceless forever and yesterday.

Forever and yesterday, the end feels so far behind, I imagine I am yet to cross it.

And what is immortality if not a distortion of time?

There. I am immortal. Say it out loud, and let it hang itself against the doors, the silverware, the desk, like cobwebs, I am immortal. (Isn’t this what you wanted?)

#

Gone. Gone.

There’s the word.

I like the word ‘lost’ better: to declare something lost implies it can be found. But no. My voice went, is gone, like an hour. You do not lose the hour, it simply goes on, it passes, it passes away, and it leaves you behind. You do not lose the hours, they lose you. And an hour passed cannot be found.

I am stoic.

I recite these facts as if they are not attached to me. As if we are simply brushing against each other the way the stars brush against the Earth every so often.  

I replace pronouns when you are not looking (see what I have done?) so I can pretend I am not the subject of this case.

I am an illness pinned by its name. Caged. Desperate. I dissociate: I say ‘sad’ instead of ‘depressed’, ‘lost control’ instead of ‘breakdown’.

We invented these words for this. So we can pretend we are alright, that we are not cracking at the seams, tearing apart the way the skin at the edge of your lips would rip if you force your mouth open too wide (and wouldn’t that be a terrible way to die?).

How, you asked?

Oh, are we still talking about my voice now?

So we are.

Here is your how: the night was boneless and my last words were not stay or don’t leave, but please and then: I’m sorry and the stars trembled in a distance as if they were not solid at all but liquid gold, dripping onto my skin, but not burning, no, never burning, because this is only a reconstruction and didn’t you know that?

I must apologize; I do not have a how. Or a when or a where or, have mercy, a why.

In fact, I do not have a story at all. I do not have a voice, and for all I know, I might have never had a voice.

Yes, this is right.

I might have never had a voice.

In my mouth, the word ‘I’ changes to ‘you’ and I write this knowing that I do not exist, that I am a fabrication of my own mind, but does my mind even exist if I do not?, there- I have dissociated again, and my mind and I are just stars that kiss this Earth every so once in a time.

#

Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

#

p.s. In June 2019, I will be moving to a new web address. I’m shifting to a personal domain and I’m so excited for you to see it! Buying my domain is giving me so much more freedom for new features, design, and I can’t wait for you to get started there.

But on the downside, all those of you who’ve subscribed to my blog here WILL NOT be notified of new posts anymore. I’d hate for you to miss out just because I’ve shifted domains, but WordPress doesn’t offer anything to straighten this out.

So to make sure that the change is as seamless as possible, I’d be so grateful if you’d enter your email ID below so we can stay in touch. You can opt-out any time, no hard feelings. I hate spam and I’ll only be reaching out every two weeks or so for blog updates, I promise.

Thank you so much for all your support.

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100 Comments Add yours

  1. Louise’s Book Bag says:

    Wow, very interesting read! I just loved the imagery. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Louise!<3

      Like

  2. hmaxwell217 says:

    Reblogged this on Letting the crazy out, so the calm can move in(poetry and other things) and commented:
    She is amazing. Please make sure you read and find her later on another non word press.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for this. So glad to hear the words resonated<3

      Like

  3. hmaxwell217 says:

    You make me think. I wonder is that lost soul really there? Please do not answer. I like to think the tortured words of yours are not from a deep black river. You will never be able to swim and catch your breath nor stay above water. Please learn to swim, perhaps I can offer you a life preserver. Great poem

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Tom Burton says:

    Beautifully written! Great job 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tom!<3

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Emily Faith says:

    So emotional, moving…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Emily.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. pvcann says:

    Yes, the awakening that something has changed and then something returns, though not the same.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Love this, Paul<3

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Alex Perez says:

    When a stoic speaks..

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jonah says:

    Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll wait to read this through once or twice more before commenting on anything more than the theme — although my initial impression is the poem works, and on more than one level.

    Just a quick observation. There seems to be a growing consensus among psychologists who specialize in studying the self that we are not a single self. The notion we are is being described as an illusion. Apparently Whitman got it right when he said, “I contain multitudes”.

    But if there’s any truth to that, then what is it that decides what voice we speak in? Me, I’m going with the notion that we chose our voice according to who we perceive or imagine is our audience. At least, that would be my first guess.

    Just my two cents.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. “There seems to be a growing consensus among psychologists who specialize in studying the self that we are not a single self. The notion we are is being described as an illusion. ”
      This reminds me of something another reader was saying, that the soul was just energy, so it shifted into the forms that were suitable for each situation we find ourselves in.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. I believe I can see what that reader is getting at.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Cratermaker says:

    “We were never built to think in time.” Lovely line!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Sid says:

    Words flied away. 💙💙💙Awesome 😍😍. Also, Happy birthday incase if it really is your birthday 😅😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Sid.<3

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Sid says:

      My pleasure 🙏🙏🙏💙

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for this! Reminds me of a question on using your voice in writing through the first, second and third person. Also your first few lines reminds me of Olutimehin’s Mothers and Men which shows the futility of trying when your voice isn’t heard or its word’s authority are ignored.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for mentioning “Mothers and Men”, Adaeze! I took it as a recommendation and read it yesterday. Extraordinary piece.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m so happy you did. I plan on writing my review on the blog. I’ve been reflecting on it . It’s a piece that one needs to sip in and let simmer before ingesting. It unlocked some parts of me two days after I read. Thank you for reading it, OhTimehin writes beautiful just as she is a fierce activist.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. And now I’m going to look for it. This has been a good evening. Paul, I think you’re right about choosing a voice for the audience. I think that’s how we lose it. Am constantly struggling with that. It’s what I like about your work that I’ve read, the voice has got tired of wondering whose listening and settles on saying the words because the words need to be said. Hemingway always said honesty is the most difficult thing to be in writing. Thanks to all of you who are here to read, write and share.

      Liked by 3 people

    4. Okay, I need this book.

      Like

    5. Hi Suburban Leaves! Thank you for the compliments! Very much appreciated. “Shy writers die.” — That’s a direct quote of our mutual friend, Shreya Vikram. I think it pretty much sums up the key importance honesty plays in good writing — and never seems to play in politics. 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    6. I’m looking forward to your review, Adaeze! Thanks for the heads up!

      Liked by 1 person

    7. Mothers and Men was stunning, Adaeze. Thank you for the recommendation.

      Like

    8. You are welcome Gem🧡

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Shirobanryu says:

    Hi.
    Lost.?. Or
    not to find. Trying In deed.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. leelah saachi says:

    You are sharing that voice that every writer has. It is there with every poem i write – I am equally certain it is speaking truth each time it opens its automatic rant. It is my belief that we keep it alive as long as we feed it – we feed it with either believing it is true ( which is bollocks) OR when we resist it. Just recognize it as a main thingy from the mind, trying to make us safe from being attacked and criticized) but completely empty.

    When something is not “good” I might just feel it as a twinge in the stomack – a friendly pointer to edit a little – THAT voice makes the poem better 🙂
    I so believe in your writervoice♥

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Your remarks strike me as informed and insightful, Leelah. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I love this, Leelah. Thank you for taking the time to read and share this here. Your presence means so much to me. ❤

      Like

  15. theone says:

    You never dissapoint. It’s always a joy to read your pieces.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Stephen. Glad you enjoyed it! 🖤

      Like

  16. Ben Montgomery says:

    You’re a great writet. Very relatable.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Ben.<3

      Like

    2. Ben Montgomery says:

      I misspelled writer lol. You’re welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I do love stoicism 🙂 — Great work

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Chris.

      Like

  18. Huma Mahmood says:

    You are such a talented being, never stop writing for your words make me and others feel at home!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for this.<3

      Like

  19. A. Perveen says:

    Writing, like life, dreams and everything essential, is such a curious act. In so far that both, technically, are – should be – verbs for they are only discovered in the act itself. And thus, like all such acts, they require more than just diligence and patience. They require, need, feed on both, the light and quiet, the loud and the void palpating inside. Why else would sometimes your old words – old voice – feel hollow, where as the present silence remains fulfilled?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This was so beautiful and so true. Your eloquence makes me jealous.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. A. Perveen says:

      I just had a fangirl moment because of your comment! For you to say this – someone whose voice I dearly dearly admire – is the highest praise ever! Thank you!

      Liked by 2 people

  20. ltlionheart says:

    A great post! Excruciating, but truthful. Some wonderful comments from your readers. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Delighted to hear you enjoyed it!<3

      Liked by 1 person

  21. This stream of consciousness peels away at every layer of pretentious sinew, until all that pulses is an void of gurgling blood. Your post has shown intricate vulnerablity that has in turn exposed the darkness we all try to shackle. We stand mute, amazed, voiceless. I have to pause and breathe every few seconds because reading your lines, somehow manages to make me naked yet somehow powerful at the same time. Keep bleeding words.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. And yet, again, I’ve found a comment that makes me so unbearably jealous of its eloquence, my heart tugs my hand to the delete button so I can pretend you don’t exist.
      But thank you. Thank you anyway. ❤

      Liked by 4 people

  22. Loved this piece. Good work! Especially the line “What was, was, like it has been forever.”
    would like to keep up with your work. I’m at mike.scallan28@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mike. This means so much to me, more than you could ever know. And yes, I’d be honored if you shared this with your students. Good luck! (Also, I’ve added you to the list. You should be getting a welcome email pretty soon, or it might be caught in spam. Just a heads up!)

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wonderful, thank you. Look forward to reading more of your work. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Mike, the link you’ve entered in your bio for your site seems to be wrong: https://michaelscallan.wordpress.com/
      Unless this too is your page?

      Like

    4. Thanks for that, I’ll check it out. I started a website years ago with weebly, maybe that’s it? But thanks for the feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. P.s. I teach secondary school English and would like to share this poem with my students.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. So this morning for an hour or two, I have been wondering what it is about you that is so strikingly extraordinary? That’s a stupid question of course — it risks trivializing you. But I don’t steer my mind so much as I merely observe it.

    Anyhow, I was thinking of you this morning, so I came back to reread your poem. It makes so much more sense now — in part because of some of some things a few of the commentators have said. But I don’t think I will ever be quite able to exhaust it. You put so much of your authentic self into your poetry, Shreya, that your poetry becomes a person — and people (even the simplest of us) can never be fully understood and known. We’re always a bit of a mystery to each other — even when we don’t think we are.

    That’s just one thing. Books could be written about your poetry. Which brings me to my goal in life now. To leave a comment on your blog that some future literary critic will see and think, “I should mention that in my book on Shreya’s poetry!” Thus, I will achieve immortality as a footnote in a book on Shreya’s poetry.

    There are far worse ambitions in this world.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You spoil me, Paul.

      Like

  25. Very strong pen.. Wells_clay@yahoo.com Let me know the new site if you wish

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Will add you to the list!<3

      Like

  26. kyleoyier says:

    This is so interesting

    Liked by 1 person

  27. winstonmueller says:

    Super cool page. Excellent content, keep it coming!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. jonicaggiano says:

    So perhaps your words and unheard voice become the stars in the distant but glorious nightly sky. We all look up and grasp at the beauty and the secrets held above. Our words are our inner voice giving way to our love, pain, and emotions that need only words. The silence brings them energy seen and digested even if not said out loud. So beautiful!! Thank you for that connection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What is it about this post that’s eliciting such gorgeous responses? You are a stunning writer. Thank you for this.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. jonicaggiano says:

    When you write such a truly thought provoking and visually stunning piece it makes the poem in us go wow, I have to slow down and put myself in these words. You certainly took me inside your written words. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Shreya, your words had me breathless. Beautifully written! Yes, keep me on the list @ ultramarathonmama@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Will add you to the list! You should be getting a welcome email pretty soon, so watch out for that. If you’re not seeing it, I might be stuck in spam. Thank you for trusting me with your time and space.<3

      Liked by 1 person

  31. mistersoto says:

    Thanks for the follow, love what we do eh?.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Hey Shreya! I just wanted to let you know that I gave you a shout out on my blog for being inspirational with your chosen style of writing and for supporting your community! Thanks for all you do.

    https://wildandfreeliving.net/2019/06/15/five-bloggers-you-should-follow/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mathew. You just made my day.<3

      Liked by 1 person

  33. Not sure why I have anxiety reading it, gives me a lot to ponder about, Never occur to me that I can already achieve immortality by living on my own timeline XD. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thank you for reading!<3

      Liked by 1 person

  34. T.W.Garland says:

    The evocative sense of character is good with an effective engagement with the reader. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, T.W.Garland. ❤

      Like

  35. Shreya, I need to read this a few more times. There is a constellation of poems in this piece. Laure

    atimberedquiet@gmail.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for this, Laure. So glad to hear it resonated.<3
      Will add you to the list! (If you're not seeing a welcome email, I might be caught in spam, so watch out for that.)

      Like

  36. Neat story and photo at the top.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. This was so Captivating. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome

      Liked by 1 person

  38. tostevinwrites says:

    This is gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Anand Bose says:

    This narrative in streams of consciousness shows great mastery, skill and eloquence in the use of language. Anand Bose from Kerala

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Anand. Glad you enjoyed it!<3

      Like

  40. Reblogged this on Multiverse Dream and commented:
    Shreya’s writing really hits home for me. I struggle with identity, depression, etc…, too, but I choose to joke about it while she looks into her soul. Her writing touches my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It means so much to me that the words resonated with you. I hope you find your peace<3

      Like

  41. Well written. Certainly held my attention throughout. Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Loujen. Thrilled to hear you enjoyed it<3

      Like

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