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NaPoWriMo TTT x PoemsIndia : Explore the emotional Journey of Adulting

By Elizabeth Lennie
By Elizabeth Lennie

Backup for Bad Times by Vama Gor

It begins with you setting up your own alarms

Dreading that if you miss it,

There is no one to blame but you.

Your clothes don’t come crisp and ironed

You hunt for an iron and then an ironing board

saving yourself from burning your fingers.

The fridge isn’t a safe haven for cravings

But a house for half-eaten meals

Stale milk and rotting vegetables

You wish you had a car

And then that you never had one

Just had someone to drive you till the ice cream parlour

School seemed so much better

You dealt with the satan called Mathematics

But you at least laughed wildly…

Only if mother was around

Running after you with her rolling pin

You would kill for that right now.

I know.

And just like that

In dreams & broken realities

We enter the threshold of adulthood

Waving childhood goodbye

Preserving the little child in you

As a backup for bad times.

Adulting doesn’t come with a manuscript by Utkarsh Kumar

As you lie down on

your filthy bedsheet

after your thirty-fifth birthday

you realize

adulting doesn't come

with a manuscript.

that there are still questions

left unanswered

jobs that drain out every

drop of blood left untouched

pending bills inside your

first shelf you open every morning

left unseen

and your mind unequipped.

that the brainstorming session

you walked out halfway because

your mind failed to register

even a tiny bit of information

will not be the last thing

you will reluctantly break out of

that there will be more chances

of escapism

from the boundaries you chose

for there at your home

your mother needs your

help like a baby now

and though

the interminable guilt of your

failures will kill you

a part of you would still be alive



tending to her.

that most of the bedtime stories

you every night demanded

as a child

make absolutely no sense now

that their exotic worlds

unlike yours

never worked on rigid rules

and they don't teach you

this in schools

that by the time your childhood

flashed by

under the ever-changing sky

you fell into this beautiful trap too

that adults have every path sorted

is true.

that your parents are not


but society's restless hostages

and they don't speak about this

until you're fit and warm

inside your colleges.


you learn yourself.

you learn that not having

successful decisions about everything

is a little disheartening but

as normal as it can be

that your father was fascinated

by the thought of living a

perfectly happy life so even though

the traces of his bruises

were visible

he didn't let you see through them

that now you won't find

your lamentable blue toothbrush

already replaced with a new one

having stickers from your

favourite cartoons

so you resistingly

crawl out of your bed

to buy a new blue one

that when your mother

sits with you for the morning tea

wrapped in her favourite shawl

you gifted her from your first earnings

she is not yearning for tea but you

because there are incalculable

vulnerable parts inside her

and she wants you to know

that a fragile part of your heart

never grew up

never has to grow up

because it hoards all

the nursery rhymes

the childhood times

and the fairy tales that you now

watch with your daughter

with needed trigger warnings

and you know all that

momentarily happiness

keeps you sane.

and those romantic movies

you imagined yourself in

with your first love

kissing you loudly behind the doors

while it snowed outside

now stay as reminiscences

for your first love taught you love

not by loving but by leaving

while the second one

stayed back with you

and every day teaches you

what family is

so you realise today

that love and heartbreak

are a part of life.

and maybe everything is

because this time when you ran into

your best friend who slept

with your first lover

you don't push yourself away

but hug them while

they tell you about their experiences

so slowly you cut through your fences

and ask them to meet again

because this time when you

found your father cursing some

new technology

you don't feel ashamed


you help him

because this time when your

mother asked for a chocolate bar

you brought her two

like she used to

because now when you want to cry

you don't hide rather

you curl up in your lover's lap

and realise that

adulting doesn't come

with a manuscript.

you still walk out of those

ridiculous brainstorming sessions

and you read out your

favourite story to your daughter

you teach your father how

to open up and dance like he never did

your ex-best friend calls you to invite you

to their wedding

and you don't hesitate to accept it

because somewhere

when you grew up you suppressed

all your useless flames

for your mother told you

that it's wrong to take anything

with yourself in death.

and then you get to know

during your tour

that your mother

has lost her will to live

so you come back home

and celebrate her birthday because

she always forgets it after all

at night when she tells you

to take her favourite shawl

away from her

you laugh and kiss her cheeks

without realising

what she wanted to tell

and leave.

she wanted to tell that the next morning

when you sit for your morning tea

please, only make one cup.

The Journey of Adulting by Khatija Khan

the journey of adulting is not

a one-day affair.

it is rather a roller coaster ride

into a million zigzagging moments every day.

you will not master adulting

when you turn eighteen

or with a right to vote any political party.

but while you learn to use jaggery

when you run short of sugar

and boil milk before your mother

without letting it spill.

you will have Sundays

when you wake up before the sun,

when peace will sit on your lap

and squirrels will guide you to their

secrets spots.

you will also have Mondays when you

miss the college bus

and your hair will be full of chaos

resembling a tailor bird's nest.

your eyes will be kohl smeared,

full of tears on the lamest jokes sometimes

and sometimes, you will cry all alone,

without a voice.

the journey of adulting is neither

composed of Earnshaw's theorems

nor based on Fayol's principles.

it is neither rigid nor full of flexibility.

it will constitute the difference

between bolts and screwdrivers

and the art of holding the torch

at the perfect angle

for your father while he

bandaids electric wires.

you will turn sad young boys

into happy poetry sometimes

and sometimes you will breakdown

and go silent like an old film cassette.

you will give your heart

to complete strangers

and even side-eye your closest relatives.

you will try to fit yourself

within people's good books.

but then one night, the stars

will forget to shine

and you will realize you are the moon.

the journey of adulting is smooth.

your lover will win your heart.

your best friend will call you the best.

your favourite cousin will ignore

everyone else just to gossip with you.

you presence will be awaited at

reunions of your schoolmates

until darkness eats all the colour

and you are replaced by some other human.

the journey of adulting is also harsh

your mother might lose her eyesight

your father might lose his teeth

your kindergarten teacher might lose

her memory to no more remember you.

you would lose races, competitions,

exams, friends and lovers

until you find out that when you

cannot save the world

saving yourself is enough.

because you are the only home to your life.

you soul belongs in your ribs

just like mountain peaks belong to the sky.

I am a book of life by Shivaani Dushyanth

I have lived in the rusted coconut of

a jarring afternoon collecting the giggles

Of forlorn tongues, as a stainless steel

Vessel is stumbled inside a kitchen upstairs.

In the midst of yellow badam-halwas

Sliding inside my mouth like an obedient

3 year old, violet sunsets would willingly

Hold the crows so that the tall trees

Would lend them branches for nests.

The still-in-construction streets are a

Mausoleums of dead shopkeepers and

Owner changed business malls,

Claustrophobic marriage halls and

redolent flower stalls, three or four

Stationery shops which were the lifeline

For second-standard kids like me,

Plazas holding the banner of a lollipop

That children could seldom ignore,

A mall devouring the neighbourhood people

At 250 rupees per hour, traffic signals which

Were synonyms to eye-blinking games for

Our small group of kids and the grand sweets,

Dress shops, and footwear stores that were

Embedded in my eyes like apple seeds.

Evening's rules were abided like the constitution

To play police-robber in the broken lifts

That foreshadowed our hearts now,

Parks painted in the mere sweat of apartment

Kids living in a bubble of hope that was

Bursted as the football dented a BMW car.

For my body is a museum of childhood artifacts

Which my adulthood visits every Sunday,

Because the walls of laughter were set

Ablaze with smiles hanging on my lips,

Friends slowly left the evening shadows

And I could see mine alone, and

Somewhere in between shifting houses, I grew up

To be a product of almond icecreams and

One sweet tooth.

The fingernails are still bitten in lazy classrooms,

My hair is still pulled by them in early mornings,

But I have learnt to color the strands

And trim my nails, prioritise my playtime

As a game of survival.

Life changed in shuttle corks flying across

The tenses but the players on both sides remained the same,

Invaders holding college applications are

In my food now and I wish to starve,

Stipends are added in my tea and I spill

It by mistake every day,

The forlorn idea of loneliness holds my

Umbrella on normal days and it's pitch black,

It's over my head all day, recklessness

Peeks by the window and my alarm clock

Scares it away, the badam-halwas

Are on a long vacation for it has borrowed

My summer holidays and left me with

Deadlines in the office, responsibility

Is spelt in newspapers as headlines,

Finances are waiting near my dinner table

But I befriend the pillow the same night.

The birthday cakes with potato chips

Have been replaced with carb diets,

And birthday cards with reception


Mundane Disney channel watching days are shuttered inside

The hall of my previous house because

Memories live in past tense,

And the future is now a recurring guest,

But I am too tired to mind its presence

Because parts of me are sleeping inside

The jigsaw Puzzle of childhood that is in search

Of a missing piece lurking behind my

Reluctant heart because lending

It means my youth is

Complete and over, that's not the desire.

Instead, I scatter the puzzle and

write myself in the ink of nostalgia,

For I am a book of life that has a

New page added every hour,

The old ones remain blue,

And the happy hours torn to rubble

As the jigsaw is started anew.

Untitled Memos to Self by Prashanti Chunduri

The world tells you

you’re an adult

by measuring your growth

by birthdays instead of

how often and loudly you’ve laughed,

how many souvenirs

your adventures have reaped,

how much you’ve grieved,

how hard you’re living.

Instead, between one moment

and the next,

your grubby, young face

littered with dandelion scars,

is now told that

constellations made from acne

spots are simply unacceptable.

You’re now allowed to vote

for those who could so easily

trample on the dreams

you haven’t even birthed yet,

who might tell you

how to love and whom to love,

who will make you

pay for the air

that sinks, leaden,

into your lungs.

You stain your lips

with wine in a juice box,

buy bitterness

before life gifts it to you herself,

and you convince yourself

the adulting is simply

another way to

explain away

the haze of surviving,

like a wine glass shaped

like a ceramic milk mug

and vice versa.

It will take years

before you rediscover

that mango juice straight from the source,

raw, sour-sweet, warm,

trickling down your scabbed wrist

is worth more than

sparkling champagne

bearing the fancy label of adulthood

for the price of your

too-tender stomach lining

that is still used to your

mother’s hands.

(There is a certain satisfaction

in the analogy

that adulting, like alcohol, often

gifts you amnesia instead of armour.)

Adulthood will dare to sharpen

your still-rounded edges,

cut facets into your skin,

in the guise that

something like you,

too soft, too squishy,

with downy feathers in your rib cage,

marshmallows for a soul,

will not be able to

keep pace with the world

(that is choking on itself.)

You grow from

a soft, pink, pliable

mound of clay

into a cracked, creaky, calloused

shingle that sometimes

feel, and is stretched too thin

over skin that retains memories

of its days in the sun.

But twisted trees

reach the skies too,

their skeletal visage will

last through the harshest winters.

So, if you’ve grown up too fast,

worn boxing gloves to protect

your sunflower hands,

smeared yourself

with an inch-thick layer of sunscreen

before the sunshine had a chance

to flirt with your pores

and turn them into golden freckles,

if you’ve cared about

numbers and charts only

when you’re on the weighing machine

rather than wonder at Fibonacci’s Ratio

in pinecones and sea shells,

if you’ve built a tombstone for

the ugly duckling before

it could moult into an endangered species…

If you have become an adult

before the world could

take you by your hand into

a candy shop and let you feast

to your heart’s content,

just remember that

chocolate tastes just as sweet, old,

and flowers look just as beautiful, pressed.

What is adulting anyway if not a poem written haphazardly by Antara Vashistha

Cauliflower has become my mortal enemy,

spinning my spatula around,

I breakdance away from


sizzling golden

in a frying pan that is older than me.

Every day is a war

in the kitchen, the room, in my words,

this world,

and I am always losing,

Out of place

for all those cookie-cutter molds I once made for myself.

At eighteen, I am still not so expressive

Nineteen, and I am still only 5'2'',

Twenty with my hair still falling,

Twenty-one and still can't bake,

Twenty-two and I still don't drink,

Twenty-three and I still don't have a license,

Twenty-four and I am disenchanted,

Losing battles I don't remember signing up for,

My time gets measured out in

Missing out and missing people.

I think

Adulting is like a Dentist Visit,

You screamed, cried, and threw tantrums

but none worked, so you're here-

speaking in jargon you don't understand yourself,

losing milk teeth which were once necessities,

waiting for your molars

even as you still mispronounce incisors.

You proudly pronounce how frying potatoes is an exercise in patience,

and no one agrees. So you become the

yellow wallpaper from the corner room,

your skin flaking off, with dwindling dimensions,

You feel feeble to the dazzling light of a feed

announcing patents, scholarships, and new jobs for everyone

But you who are still

making poetic proclamations for potatoes.

Feeling lost and without any Robert Frost to turn to,

I become a Side Character in my very sitcom,

Often my mother asks me to follow her footsteps,

but she broke her foot just last month,

so what does she know.

I no longer fit the same clothes, nor labels-

feeling exhausted watching my life pass me by,

tiptoeing through time wondering if I should go to sleep

or tell my people I miss them

but it is 2 AM

and in this unprecedentedly connected world,

the meaning of the word Connection

has evolved into something

I do not connect with.

There is perhaps some comfort in knowing we are all in similar capsules,

just waiting for our dentist.

So I go back to Shakespeare

and the world becomes a stage

and Adulting a Perennial pretence

of being in charge,

of being your own master-

Even if you burned the

cauliflower in the first go,

and put all your eggs in one basket and they all broke,

even if you have to wash

the dishes and start over,

picking up ingredients from new places and spaces,

and making your own metaphors as you go,

What is adulting anyway

if not a poem,

written haphazardly.

Ten Steps To Live Alone by Nirali Patel

1. you will come face to face with all the love you have for your family when your train is about to leave or the gates are about to close. you will feel that love immensely only when it’s on the verge of leaving. that is your curse.

2. it will take about 4043 km to finally have a room of your own. a room in which you can cry without having to worry about someone walking in on you. but then there will be days when you wish that someone would just walk in and ask you what happened.

3. you will no longer have the luxury of a lap to bury your face into or a shoulder to lean on. your father won’t offer to massage your head. your mother won’t wrap you up in a blanket in the middle of the night. you will have to get up but you will choose to lie in the cold on most days.

4. you probably won’t find love in the last row of your lecture hall. you’ll look for it online and even if you run into it, it will come undone before you pay your rent the next month

5. you will hear about friends getting promotions and exes getting married. one of them will even be having a child and you won’t be able to fall apart because adults don’t. they just don’t.

6. you’ll leave your house at 8 for a job that starts at 8 because you’ll forget that you have to cook and clean and do the laundry and get that cardio done too. and when you’re back, your eyes will fall on that bulb that had to be changed. you will have a breakdown by the door and sleep on an empty stomach.

7. you will soon realise that you will feel hungry, but only when you can afford to be.

8. your mother will call you at 9. Exactly then, the distance will feel way more than just 4043 km. you’ll wonder that night how you lost a home in the process of building one of your own.

9. you will succeed in making your rented house a home after six months. but then it wouldn’t be enough. home, you’ll realise, is not a place or even a person. home is that single feeling that manages to cancel out all the hurt inside of you.

10. you will come home one day after a year or so and find that your mother has put all your books away. your shelf holds vases now. you’ll maybe not find your three-year-old t-shirt at the back of your wardrobe. you’ll walk down the street next to your house but wouldn’t be able to find your way back. you’ll forget directions to your favourite ice cream shop. you’ll find it eventually but won’t like the taste anymore. and when you board the flight to go back, you will be left emptier than before. if it’s possible to lose that last bit of yourself, you will. you will mourn it for exactly 4043 km, and then you won’t.


Featured Poems from TTT x PoemsIndia third weekly prompt "Explore the emotional Journey of Adulting"


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