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The Readme Files




If you know enough about the show House, you probably know where that title comes from. I recently watched the House finale, and while I was slightly disappointed in the moderately dramatic ending, this post is not about the episode. Following the night that I finished the series, my grandmother, my last living grandparent, died. While I’ve always thought long and hard about Death every time I’ve been confronted with it, this time I thought a little more. So this post is about what they say in the episode’s title, that Everybody Dies.



Death is a very uncomfortable topic for most of us, and unless you’re amazingly gifted in interpersonal relationships, we don’t particularly know how to deal with death, or with someone who’s lost someone. Sure, we have enough tact to offer condolences, but what does it really mean to do that? If you didn’t know the person who died, why do you feel sorry? In all probability, you don’t even know what the deceased meant to the person you’re consoling. Sometimes, the person could be hurting on a level where your words just won’t, and don’t reach, and therefore it doesn’t even matter if you’re around. Loss is an intimate thing. When you lose someone you were close to, your immediate response is to curl up into a ball and wonder why you didn’t have more time with the person, how it was that you forgot while they were living that they wouldn’t forever. It’s a time when someone saying they’re sorry for you loss falls flat, because all you can think of then is that everybody you know, including yourself, is going to die someday. That someday, someone will say those words to someone you’re close to.



Death is everywhere. Everywhere you look, people are dying in some way or the other. Train wrecks, shootings, bombings, natural disasters, you name it. A death toll on a news channel is nothing but a number to anyone who’s not related to the people that that number includes. Then why do we pretend to feel sorry for them? Why is it so sad that someone, in some corner of the world, stopped living? Everybody dies, so how does it matter how they do? No death is painless, so that can’t be the reason. I mean, I’ve never experienced it, but I have to assume that anything that, quite literally, knocks the breath out of you, can’t be pleasant. Maybe sometimes it’s because the people who died, died what they call an untimely death. Well, that doesn’t matter either, because you have no idea how their life was going to turn out, had they lived. They had to die someday, it’s just that they died earlier than the average human life expectancy. Their parents, friends, relatives, have all right to be sad because they got less time with them, but what right do we, as spectators, have, to feel sorry and say it shouldn’t have happened? Death is sad, because it signifies end, but it is in no way a spectacular enough phenomenon for us to be flabbergasted about every time we face it. We know it happens, and that should be it. I’m not saying we shouldn’t feel sad, I’m saying why treat it like it’s something that you thought was unimaginable, making it a topic of all our conversations, and all our thoughts. They stopped living, you didn’t. So what?



Sometimes I think it’s guilt. Maybe we feel guilty over the fact that someone died, and we didn’t. They don’t get the worldly things we still do. They are gone, and you are not, yet. Something like Survivor’s guilt maybe, just in a different situation, on a much smaller scale. You could feel it even if you simply heard about it over the news. It could be guilt over surviving, or it could be guilt over the fact that someone died and you feel a sense of relief that it wasn’t you in that place, in their place. So you compensate by feeling bad about it, condemning it if it was a terrorist act, trying to help if it was a calamity, or merely putting on solemn expression and saying you’re sorry if it was someone related to someone you know. We’ll never stop making Death out to be a taboo topic, because most of us don’t realize that when someone dying really hurts, it knocks out the breath out of you too for a second, enough to keep you alive, but leaving some part of you dead all the same. If you talk about it one minute and forget about it ten days, or a month later, you’re kidding yourself into believing that you are an empathetic person. The things you really feel, you don’t talk about. You let it claw on you from the inside and live with it, till you become something that will claw on someone else for the rest of their life. Everybody dies, but only a few people matter enough to us to say we wish they hadn’t, and really mean it. Anything else, everything else, is a lie.

Almost Pretty

She was never a pretty girl. She wasn’t ugly either, no. She was always, almost pretty. She was the friend in the background of all group photos, not exactly hard on the eyes, but never the center of attraction either. Her time with her friends was spent trying to avoid the obvious contrast in her smile and theirs; the former a shy, controlled thing that hid her irregular teeth and the slight double chin, and the latter, a dazzling display of pearly whites, that made their impossibly beautiful, carved faces come even more alive. No, she was never the pretty one, and unlike so many girls who “bloom” when they grow up, she never quite made it into the “pretty” category.

Hoping for her life to be like the ugly duckling’s story, she’d search the mirror, and when that failed her, other people’s eyes. When walking down the street, she kept an eye out for any gaze that might be directed her way; which usually was the lecherous one feasting on the female anatomy. She looked for the kind of stare she’d seen in movies, the kind of stare that made you feel beautiful, the kind that Society has taught us a girl should get to be termed “beautiful”. She wasn’t pretty, no, she wasn’t, as Hosseini would say, “a spill-er of tea cups”, but she was interesting enough to look at. She wasn’t the perfect girl, with hair cascading down like a waterfall, eyes that made people stop in their tracks with one glance, and a full, inviting mouth, but she still had her moments.

Her eyes weren’t the metaphorical lakes of blue, they weren’t the kind that her guy would want to drown in, but all that searching for admiration made her eyes look dreamy, like she was forever lost in her own world, an Alice in a wonderland of her own making. The imperfect smile she’d spent her life obsessing over, was at least a genuine sign of happiness when it did appear, unlike the plastic ones in the magazines and on her friends’ faces, people society deemed beautiful. She didn’t turn heads when she walked by, but engaged the few that did happen to look. Forever clamoring after perfectly sculpted bodies in the magazines, she never saw the expanse of flawless skin she’d been blessed with. Or maybe she didn’t because the world doesn’t. The world works on extremes you see, it understands black and white, conveniently ignoring the gray. The world knows pretty and the world knows ugly, it knows the skinny and it knows the fat. It does not know the average. It does not know the girl that’s almost pretty.

The ugly one gets the “great personality” and commendation for her many talents, and the pretty one, of course, is worshipped wherever she goes. The average one is the one who fights to fit in. When she realizes that she can’t be pretty after all, she prays to be ugly, so at least she could have the personality. She’s stuck in the middle ground, with a face that some like, and a personality that some others do. There’s no passion for the almost pretty, no extreme, because really, society does not recognize almost pretty, it does not have time to. Society does not have time to stop and notice the soulful eyes, the soft hair, and the happy smile. It doesn’t have time for what could be great. 

Even the idealists among us, the ones who claim to look beyond appearances, who claim to notice and love people for who they are, are some time or the other dazzled by the seductive thing that is beauty. We are easily influenced, however much we pretend to be above it. Sure, literature reveres the dreamy, soulful eyes that speak volumes, and the bright, happy smiles, and society worships that literature, that heroine, but in the real world, unless those eyes are gorgeous, almond shaped blue/green wonders, long lashed and lovely, and the smile a thing of perfection, they are as good as non-existent. We have idealistic views of beauty, and the almost pretty has no option but to try to achieve them, because really, what choice does she have? Because being ugly by choice takes a kind of courage she doesn’t have, and having been almost pretty her entire life, she knows what it’s like, being pretty. Because the numerous glossy magazines, books, movies and songs have taught her that pretty is perfect, and pretty is divine, and pretty is worshipped  Because it’s the pretty girl that finds the love that she wants, and because even a tragedy in the life of a pretty girl is beautiful, noticeable. Because society is never kind to the almost pretty, constantly reminding her of what she could be, revered and worshipped,  and what she really is, invisible. Most of all though, she realizes, that everything she’s been brought up to believe about beauty, that everyone is beautiful, and that it’s what inside is what matters, is all a big lie, and that her life, the almost beautiful one, can only be average, almost meaningful, as long as she’s almost pretty.




Beginnings. Lovely, aren’t they? There’s promise, hope, prospects of things you’ve never experienced before. Endings, of course, are just as beautiful, according to me. There’s finality, peace, and knowledge when you’re at the end. However, because I’m starting something here that I’ve never done before, we’ll stick to beginnings, and if I stay on this thing long enough maybe we’ll get to endings some day, too.

To begin with, why the name Read Me files, you might ask (or not, you know, whatever, I’m still going to tell). Why choose a name that represents something so mundane, oft-ignored, so common, for something that I obviously want to be special? Why not go with something creative and painfully original like thoughtless-rambling-musing something? Mostly because I, sort of, take pride in being an evolved species that is capable of making sense and expressing it properly. To quote some random guy on Twitter (if you’re reading this by any chance, I’m sorry, I don’t remember your name, but all credit to you) “So many blogs have random in their title, you’d think humans are incapable of patterned thought”. While I have absolutely no idea as to how to describe what I’m going to write, I definitely know it’s not gong to be rambling. These are all things that I’ve thought of, or more accurately, that have bugged me at 4 A.M. in the morning while I begged my brain to STFU and let me sleep. Some, okay, a lot of it, is inspired. You know how it is, you read something exceptionally mind-blowing, you think of something else related to it, and before you know it, there’s a full-blown nuclear fission reaction going off in your head. And no, that’s not rambling; it’s called chain of thoughts. These are usually ideas that I use to try to make sense of the crazy, crazy world we live in. Much like a Read Me file gives you insight into the other files in the directory, these thoughts help me understand the world, and more importantly, people, better. Read Me files are ignored most of the time, and so could be the case with what I write. Does that mean I’ll stop writing? Hell No. Does that mean I’ll go listen to some ear drum-blasting Metal and throw stones in the nearest water body I can find (as seen in N number of movies)? Hell Yeah.

This is a beginning. This could end with me falling on my face, rejected and defeated (cue: Metal). This could also turn into the best thing I’ve ever done. I could get all philosophical here and say it doesn’t matter if I fall and I’ll get back up and try again and shit, but come on, we’re all adults here (the kids these days are on the porn sites) and the reality is that when you face rejection, it hurts. Even if it’s something you don’t care all that much about, failing hurts. All of us deny it, but really, one of the only things we really want is admiration and acceptance. The degree to which we want it might differ, and the extent to which we’d go to get them might too, but we still want it alright. Any one who says they don’t feel this way, just hasn’t faced rejection badly enough, or hasn’t realized it yet. This is what makes these beautiful, hopeful beginnings such freakin’ nightmares sometimes. All of you reading this will probably say this is a pessimistic approach, but it is just a fact really. Beginnings are scary, because you don’t now if people will like what you’re doing. You feel it every day, in the big and small decisions you make. Will this dish turn out the way I want it to? What if I’m choosing the wrong career? Should I start watching this TV series? What if this relationship fails? We’ve all felt the dread of starting something new. You should not let it affect you, go on with it anyway, if you really want to. Yeah, that’s an example of what I’d say if this were a fairy tale, except it’s not. The reality is, what you read on a random blog won’t magically change your thinking. If you’re dreading something, grow up and decide what you want to do about it. I can’t tell you to face your fears and shit, but I can sure tell you that if you’re smart enough to read a blog in your spare time, you’re smart enough to deal with your issues. Everyone is smart, everyone is capable of thinking and planning, thanks to this little thing called evolution (yeah, I’m a fan, big surprise). It’s just that, society has made sissies out of all us, laying so much emphasis on the dreamy version of life, that we seem to have forgotten what cold, calculated logic we’re capable of. We seem to have forgotten how easily we can resolve the most irrational of our fears without emo talk. There’s pretty much anything we can convince ourselves of, and so, a beginning is scary, sure, but it can be beautiful too. It’s your perspective that colors it either way. Make it a beginning that will lead to a beautiful end, or make it one that will lead to a bad one, or don’t begin at all. It comes down to your choice. Say what you will about beginnings, choices should never, ever have to be scary. Choices make us, and I think it’s liberating to have that luxury. If you agree, well, then, here’s to us, and here’s to our beginnings. If you don’t, I guess you might be better off with the thoughtless-rambling-musing guy.