The day I took my first step
I think I was most afraid about
Falling face down and breaking my nose.
(No. I don’t remember it, I just assumed it.)
But what made me take
The second step and the third and the fourth
Was the cheer!
It sounded like a charade of happy music
Being played exclusively for me.
The Claps ; the wohoos ;
The Yes- yes; the ajaa – ajaa.
And hence I took
The first 7 steps of my life.
And fell right into my mother’s arms.
That day, I experienced stardom.
I was asked to smile, repeat what I did.
Paparazzi surrounded the 11 month old baby
Who sat there
Saliva dripping down her toothless grin.
My cousin sister was
7 days older than me yet;
I took the first step.
And not just one, but seven huge steps.
That was the first time
I realised the importance of validation.
2 years passed.
I tried to smile the same smile.
Well formed teeth poking out, saliva dripping.
I was given a look,
The look you give when you smell
Fish being cooked in olive oil.
I was told to keep my smile dry.
That’s when I realised not everything I do would give me
I was dull when it came to potty training.
Mom tried everything.
Colourful potty seats
With Mowgli and Chhota Bheem
Smiling and encouraging me
To do it right.
It didn’t work.
She tried to show me moving pictures on a small screen
That apparently should have made
Her life easy.
By then, I’d almost recognised the importance of validation.
And I craved it too.
But no amount of spites or action
Could control my sphincter’s relaxation
And the oozing out of the brown
At the worst of the times.
I think I finally got a candy when
I was almost four.
I learnt one more thing.
Validation tastes like candy floss.
First day at school was the usual.
Every kid brawled through the window
Looking at their teary eyed mothers.
I was the kid who usually didn’t dwell into the how and the why of things.
I was the least curious.
I didn’t care.
Like the drivers of Ahmedabad
Who gleefully drive on
Red – yellow – green ;
None of it matters.
What matters is the man in the white uniform.
I cried too.
Like how when you don’t understand a pun
But still laugh to fit in.
Then I realised! Oh.
The lady in saare, supposedly called a teacher according to Cartoon Network
Was distributing chocolates to every kid that smiled.
I immediately gained my composure
And stood there, with a magnificent grin.
That day I realised,
Validation also meant a free Kaccha Mango Bite.
A piece of paper
Was thrust right at my face.
I was supposed to learn,
Say it, Every day
Over and over again.
It was my gospel, my Shlok, my Quran
That had to repeated till
I either understood it
Or just knew it by heart.
If I chant it out loud
In front of a mic with hundred pair of eyes
Staring at me
Like we stare at the rainbow in this city ;
An infrequent guest
With wide eyes and even wider brows
Voice modulation done right
I would win.
And I won.
That day I realised,
A piece of fancy paper with my name on it
Called the ‘certificate’ is what
Validation looks like.
Then began the clutter and clamour
Of things and arms and thoughts and activities.
It became a never ending abyss.
Music Harmonium Chess Squash
Dance Quiz Debate ;
I was insatiable!
You see, they all did this to me.
They somehow successfully fed,
In the depths of my being
Will make you successful.
Will help you survive.
Should be the motto of your life.
Will let you die in peace.
Was a far fetched notion
In a world ensued in chaos.
Tak tak tak.
Even in sleep,
My dreams strived to make me
Seeking some form of recognition.
Like the plant that needs sunlight,
Validation was my raw material for photosynthesis.
Just like how summer arrives gradually after the spring
And one does not realise
Till it’s half way there,
Or like how one half of the ice cream
Drips down the cone
Because you were taking care of the other half,
Searching for validation everywhere my eyes could see,
Became a natural phenomenon.
My validation turned into
The number of likes
My Facebook profile picture had.
Crossed 200 – ‘Umm, okay’.
Crossed 300- ‘This is good’.
Crossed 400 – ‘That’s definitely my favourite dress’.
Crossed 500 – Ego and self appreciation
Would go on a hibernation for a while.
They have had enough!
Traveling didn’t just involve
Exploring, living and breathing the place,
Or carrying home
One or at max two Fuji films.
It involved taking pictures with the same frame
Taken a thousand times
To find the perfect one
To be shown
For more validation.
It involved showing the world
For 24 hours, my paradise and
Checking if the views have
Reached my mark.
Getting more hearts
And a couple of more hashtags
To show the world that
This is the
(Because I need more validation).
And just like that,
Validation became numerical.
The two digits ; beginning with NINE
Ending with probably a FIVE or more
Which ended with a slash and two circles.
Percentage – a word twelfth standard
Students are too familiar with
Was all anyone cared, for a while.
The spine erect posture
My parents took to
When the neighbours asked
‘The Number’ or
The new phone I received
Owing to the days of erect spine, sans stoop
I had rewarded them with,
Was the my new definition of Validation.
A couple more.
My validation now, looked like me walking
In a pair of stilettos
To hide my mediocre height
Because the world needed me to be taller.
Genes failed me.
But I shall not let
Such mere errors scorn me.
I didn’t care if they
Killed every one of the ten toes that my feet possessed.
Validation, that day became painful.
My validation was
Unattainability was not even an option.
The magazines, the matinees
The malls, the moms.
They all expected it.
I needed the ‘beach body’ validation
To satisfy my social media validation.
Months went by ;to no avail.
The chest and the torso and the butt
Had their own equation going on.
One of them ended up being too small or too large!
That day, validation became a realisation.
I am no Scarlett Johansson.
Marriage and the usual shenanigans
Came into picture.
The Manish Malhotra lehenga
The Bridal Photo shoot
The five day rasam riwaaz in grandeur
The honeymoon in Greece; passed in a jiffy.
Every step taken with one purpose –
Seeking to please.
Please the eyes that saw the affair,
Please the eyes involved in the affair,
Please the eyes who demanded the affair.
Please the photographer
Who would be uploading it all
To make it to the ‘WeddingSutra’.
All of it came down to one fight
A fight ignited by the absence of fuel.
The fuel named Validation.
That day, I realised
Validation also meant heart breaks.
Validation was definitely woodoo!
It changed forms, evolved
Like an animagus.
A chain reaction set up
Right within me that
Denied to cease till it’s consumed
All of me
And all of you.
It asked me to want more.
I wanted more.
If only, I had stopped.
When I was eleven months old.
If only I’d fallen face down,
Broken my nose.
If only I was never given
The candy floss.
Today, I need Validation for survival.
It’s almost as precious
As my breath.
My poetry is like
Adhrak and pudine waali chai.
I brew the words with water
Add the perfect amount of
Lactose and a tinge of sugar
Simmered to perfection;
Poured into the best of the ceramic
Served, enjoy ma’am.
I don’t want my cup to be forgotten
In the corner,
Layer of cream shrouding the top.
Standing here, doing spoken word poetry
Keep going with that.
I’ll keep performing.
Walking down the street.
Smiling at an acquaintance.
Well, I don’t know him anymore!
The need for validation
Has made me like plastic.
The need for validation
Has made me plastic.
The need for validation
I AM PLASTIC.