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Along with the daily feature articles from our columnists, read works from our past contributors in the categories of prose, poetry and visual art, alongside interviews and other musings.


The Awkward Middle by Adritanaya Tiwari

Updated: Feb 1

Photograph by @jseigar


The other day, I was at a field trip, nothing spectacular, just some forty college students, breezing through rural India on four wheels, looking out the window, happy to have broken the monotony of student life, singing Bollywood songs for fun, talking like their life depended on it, the usual.

And there I was, not being as enthusiastic as all the others were, slightly upset that I didn't get the seat right at the front of the bus - the one with the best view of the canopies, the farms, the people, their humble homes. I was sitting with a friend; another friend was sitting where I wanted to, not paying much attention to the very view I longed for. I wanted to go up there and ask her to switch seats with me, so I got up and right on cue my anxiety decided to make an entrance, flipped her hair in my face and like the toxic friend I never asked for, made simple things seem to be some kind of monstrous fest of what could go wrong, as always.

And so I sat back down, praying nobody saw me hovering over my seat in two minds about what I'm supposed to do, making small talk, talking about the breeze, the weather, what we're doing for lunch or dinner or breakfast the next day or for the weekend, how can we actually survive the weekend on two hundred bucks that is if we've not spent it all before, just trying-to-adult-adult stuff.

Then someone commented on the exceptional amount of 'fun' we were having, and it was moments like these when I felt completely out of place as if I'm living in a different dimension altogether.

Nice people will call me different, but smart people know it's just another polite way of calling me weird. And I am weird, the intensity of which keeps increasing for reasons beyond my comprehension.

And maybe it had to do with the fact that I spent time in my head enough to make it a hobby, which may have something to do with my good old friend, anxiety. In fact, I spent so much time lost in my own thoughts it was a miracle I was an extrovert with some form of social life that didn't involve buses, peers, and fun in its rawest of forms, so raw it honestly did not even qualify as fun, but then again, I am a part of the weird lot, which I assume would be a mere 5-7% of the normal population.

That day the fateful session of 'the perks of being an over-thinker' started with the musical styling of spice girls in my head which unfortunately continued to play in the background for longer than it should have, no matter how the conversation went in my head. (I'll tell you what I want what I really really want)

The color of the sky, to that blue top I wore a few weeks ago, to when and where and why I wore it. (So tell me what I want, what I really really want)

To the fact that I was in the company of people then and now, who do not give me any sense of belonging, (I wanna, I wanna)

To the fact that any effort, I put in to reciprocate their company ends up in the small talk, awkward smiles, and a serious difficulty to keep up with conversations I have no idea about or interest in. ( I wanna really really really wanna..)

To " Why am I so weird?" (..zig a zig ah)

I'm surrounded by people who can talk about an episode of a celeb talk show from 5 years ago and what they would do if they were in an Indian Daily soap opera situation which is only exciting if you like over-the-top heavy outfits that compete well with a load of my generation's trauma and the previous ones too and random unnecessary dramatic music with close-ups. (If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends)

But god forbid, I bring up the Nayyirah Waheed poem I came across the previous day and completely lost my mind over, right before this bunch of 22-year-olds decides to play an intriguing game of "Replace a word in every Hindi TV show we know with Fart." (Make it last forever, friendship never ends)

Long story short, I'll be completely ignored or given a look that says "What?" on good days or "We're in the middle of an important conversation." on the not-so-good ones. (If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give. Taking is too easy, but that's the way it is.)

If I bring this difference up, I'd be a snob, if I don't, I might die a little inside because my mind needs more than who wore what, to where, or who is dating who, or how nice the weird remixed version of that classic AR Rahman song is. (Slam your body down and wind it all around)

My mind, despite the anxiety, requires deep conversations as a Staple food, it doesn't even have to be intellectual, just something, anything beneath the superficial layer of mankind. (Slam your body down and zig a zig ah...)

Over time I have found like-minded people, people who will talk about the shortcomings of Voldemort and the beauty of every frame in Call me by your name, the brilliance of Macbeth or Schrodinger's Cat jokes. (If you wanna be my lover)

People from my generation that understand the difference between cinema and movies, between literature and whatever it is that people are reading these days, between journalism and tabloids.

Sometimes, I think, I should stop and listen, try to adjust, fit in, but their knowledge about whatever they are talking about far surpasses mine, and I would gladly learn more to keep up with them if I like them enough, but, I will never understand them fully, as they would never understand me.

And so I'm stuck in, the awkward middle. A twenty-something, extrovert with no idea how and why people her age are the way they are, I'm too busy sipping my hot chocolate, wondering if I'll ever be able to replicate the Starry Night to perfection, whilst googling Bermuda triangle theories and pretending to be involved in an intriguing conversation with a friend about how sad it is that she couldn't attend a celebrity wedding because sadly, they don't know she exists.

Might just pat her on the back and say 'Ah, such is life.' Let's see if that helps.


Adritanaya Tiwari is a dental student from India who has been published in Nightingale, Sparrow Magazine and Live Wire. She spends her time making strange analogies and calming her artsy alter-ego to focus on never-ending syllabus. She can be found on Instagram and Twitter as: @adrillusioned.

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