The Unsent Letter

30 Day Writing Challenge

Dear Double D,

This is draft 478. The rest of the edits are locked somewhere in the far recesses of my mind. Probably. I can’t tell anymore. There’s a new feeling that drowns out everything else in my head and my heart now. I am happy.

The other day when you texted me about your new life – your new job, your fitness routine, your kids – I was genuinely happy for you. I did think that you were trying too hard to validate yourself but I decided to stop being judgemental. I was 2 parts shocked and 1/2 parts amused to learn that you named your kids what you said we should name ours. Your child’s favourite bedtime story is the one about me kidnapping a goat? I wouldn’t know what to make of that even if I tried. So I let it go. I like when you sound happy. I’ve never really wanted anything for you but the true joy of living. Everyone deserves it, right? This is not a lesson I learnt from you. But that doesn’t mean our relationship didn’t teach me anything.

When we would meet in secret, the wine tasted better, the night smelt better, our stolen kisses were more delicious. There used to be a thrill that comes from doing something no one else was aware of, like we were creating our own world. I was young and naive and believed in magic. You’d be pleased to hear that the love of magic is still there. The excitement of creating things together, even if it’s castles on passing clouds, it is alive within me. I have to thank you for showing me that love, like anything of beauty, shouldn’t be hidden. If it is, we’re juggling fake trinkets that look like love but aren’t really.

Because it was “our little secret”, there was no one I could talk to about it. Princess Pea knew, but then she has a great instinct about me. You wrote poems for me and played the piano on nights when I needed to calm down. You are and have always been gifted. You know how to speak to the heart and yet I learnt that as all consuming as love is, your friends and family are there for you and want to share in your life. Isolating them, as easy as it is, is a decision you will regret. I wouldn’t have learnt this if it weren’t for you.

I was never really angry that there was another woman. Or was I the other woman? We never really had that talk. You cut off all ties when it got too much for you. I never bothered trying. By then, you had taught me what it is to be strong and self respecting. I was confused for a few weeks and then instead of waiting and waiting, I started running. I started writing. I backpacked across Europe. Is there such a thing as reverse heartbreak? Maybe it’s just you who has this effect on people. When you called and said “Don’t go”, I realised you had genuinely loved me. I’m sorry you didn’t like that I moved on. It’s been over 7 years and when your best friend still teases me about how I made up the whole relationship in my head, I smile. I feel sorry for him. It’s not easy to live in deception. Not when you are someone’s best.

The “other” tried to talk to me when she found out that you married without her knowledge. You were still dating her and I never really got the chance to thank you for letting go of me so early into our wild affair. We did things that I heard you tell the youth from our church was not something “the Lord” approved of. I learnt that I never wanted there to be a day where I had to face up to my own double standards. The trick was to be true to yourself.  It was how things were with you that helped me realise what I wanted to do out of life and how I wanted my relationships to be. You’ve helped me in ways that I hadn’t suspected I needed. But oh did I need it.

I know my friends say I’m crazy for not hating you and for still thinking of you fondly. But I just can’t bring myself to be consummed with a feeling of self pity. I suppose I learnt then that life happens, people make mistakes, they hurt you. I learnt the best lesson of all from you – how to fully let go.

xx

_________________________

Draft 479

Dear Double D,

Thank you.

Love,

A.

Goodbye 2012.

Goodbye 2012.

Can’t wait to get up to all sorts of mischief in 2013

The other side of goodbye

Either I only truly get attached to people who stay or … well, what else can it be?  Like a web, I’ve built a solid foundation from which I jump from place to place knowing that even when I fall, I can drag myself back because of that strand that binds me to my architectural masterpiece.

This, this is home. A place that you carry with you when you go looking for adventure in strange lands, a place where you can make friendships with people you never would have otherwise interacted with. A place in your being that reminds you that you can go where you may because when you come back, things will always be the same. People will be here. Waiting.

I’m not always here – on this side of a goodbye. The last two times I was, it was a blur of pain and tears and some dark place I never wanted to visit again. There’s no Doctor to rescue you in his blue machine. There are no smiling faces of children in exotic lands that’ll carry you through it. Just you and the them size hole throbbing inside you since they left. That and the urge to set fire to the airport and the harbour and the front door – just so that there is no place left for anyone to say goodbye.

 

Source

This is for you, Rami

He was the first person to ever tell me I was full of shit, not as an insult but as an observation. I was in the habit of using my words to get away with everything – of convincing people I was okay and that life was great. He saw right through me and I hated him for it. I thought he was a pretentious old man with nothing better to do with his time. I hated that he hosted me in Mumbai because I had always wanted to explore the place. I hated how he took me to a book store and then for some batata vada by Juhu beach. I hated the goddamn penthouse view of from his living room. I hated that he knew I was escaping a broken relationship. I hated his knowing smile when I listened to a song about heartbreak that reminded me of the one who was no longer mine. I couldn’t stand that he knew … he just … knew.
————
R – What do you want to do with your life?
A – I want to be a war correspondent – I want to be there where the action is.
R – Who are you?
A – What sort of stupid question is that?
————-
Years later when he came visiting, he told me how he didn’t want to be buried because he was claustrophic, he’d prefer the electric cremator. I giggled for the first time with him. This is exactly how I’d like it too – a cremation and a kickass wake. I was older and less angry. He had the same old kind eyes, he whistled the same songs, and he spoke of love. He told me that there was nothing more terrible than experiencing the most beautiful feeling in the world and then being condemned by people you loved. He told me that if ever I got kicked out of home for falling in love, he’d provide me the shelter and support I needed. He was a hindu man who fell in love with a catholic woman at a time when he could’ve been killed for it. But he persevered and she said yes. They remained happily married till the day she died.
————–
R – What do you want to do with your life?
A – I want to be a writer eventually. I want people to read by books and go “Oh.”
R – Who are you?
A – Why do you keep asking me that question?
R – I find that it is more effective than the “how are you” question to which you are only just going to say good, okay, well and a slew of other abstract words I don’t care for. But who you are at moments change – and the answer to that question will tell me how your heart is doing and how you’ve grown.
A – Oh.
R – Who are you?
A – I … I don’t know.
————-
He knew me from when I was little. He was my dad’s professor at TISS where he caused a lot of controversy for refusal to get in step with policies he didn’t believe in. He refused to be called Sir or Professor – he thought that it was hard enough to learn without the added terror of a self-righteous teacher. His students called him Suncle (Sir+Uncle). He pushed me to call him by his childhood name, Rami. He was my story-teller – he knew how much I craved for them. And always stories of war and travel – my two favorite categories. And when I was low, he’d hug me and sing me a song sung to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.
————
R – What do you want to do with your life?
A – I want to travel – Latin America sounds wonderful. But I learnt in georgaphy class today how lovely Canada looks in Autumn. And then, there’s Africa but you know more about that than me (He lived in Nigeria for a while)
R – Who are you?
A – I’m a restless soul looking for a place to call my own
———-
We would shuttle between Mumbai and Bangalore to see each other. He would do the sweetest things. Out of the blue he’d send me a book or a quote that would arrive just when I needed it. And somehow, he’d always be home with a box of chocolates for Valentines day. When I came back from my Europe trip, he was there with a twinkle in his eye and a tootless grin. He became my teacher on an intensive course on applied social research with 15 other students. He gave a moving speech on how the social sector approach needed to move from charity to transformation and suddenly I knew the joy that came from being his student. While answering numerous questions, telling us stories from his field work, sitting silent sipping a drink after class, he would look at me from across the room and smile – that smile that would light up the world. He became my sunshine. My only sunshine. Later that month, we wrote a book together.
——–
R – What do you what to do with your life?
A – I want to work in the social sector. Make a lasting difference. I want to change lives and bring smiles on the faces of children.
R – Who are you?
A – I’m a driven and happy woman waiting to be let out into the world. The universe is not going to realise this till it’s too late but I’m going to re-arrange the furniture.
R – You notice this is the first time you’re happy with and proud of being female?
A – Oh.
———
The last present he gave me was this

The last words he said to me was this

“Glad that you are getting what you want but as usual wondering ‘now what? and so what’. It is so reassuring to feel that my Anju is still the same young Anju. Can’t wait to see you soon, you can pour me my whisky and I will make you Tomato soup as always. Till then, keep happy and review what you are upto and want to become. I am with you. Love as ever, Rami”

———
R – What do you want to do with your life?
A – I’m confused. I tried the social sector and I tried writing. And I’m lost
R – It’s the first time you sound dejected and without a plan. This is as it should be. You never learn if there are no more challenges to overcome.
A – But aren’t you supposed to know by now, stick to a career, find someone good and marry them?
R – I’m 82. I’m still clueless. But isn’t that what makes life exciting?
A – Life Sucks.
R – Not so long as you are around.
A – Oh Rami. When will I see you again?
R – Chin up. And smile.

And then he burst into his favorite song
——–
A smile is quite a funny thing,
It wrinkles up your face,
And when it’s gone you never find
Its secret hiding place.

But far more wonderful it is,
To see what smiles can do.
You smile at me, I smile at you,
And so one smile makes two.

I smile at someone, since you smile,
And then that one smiles back,
And that one smiles until, in truth,
You fail in keeping track.

And since a smile can do great good,
By cheering hearts of care.
Let’s smile and not forget the fact
That smiles go everywhere.
———-
I learnt he passed away this morning, a ticket to Mumbai for next week still on the computer.

Rest in Peace Suncle Rami. I will always remember you.

You.

I miss having a boy to call my friend.

I blame you.

If you hadn’t captured my imagination like you promised you would, perhaps on lonely nights such as these, I would just curl up, read a book and fall asleep. But my hair itches for your fingers to run through them. My ears miss your mouth singing it messages of how everything would be okay. My eyes yearn for the twinkle that would light up in the corner of its dark recesses. My nose longs for the musky scent of you. My mouth misses the little gurgles that escaped it every so often when you tripped on purpose. My hands ache for what once it held close.

I blame you.