Series - Letters to No One

Prologue – Letters to No one

To the one who will be;

I have been thinking about writing this to you for quite some time. I may or may not have found you. Perhaps, you are the one who brushed past me in a hurry today morning at the train station or the one whom I cursed under my breath for stomping on my foot by mistake. You may also be the one sitting across the table to me in the library, getting intimidated and repelled by the ‘F’ word while I happily read my Virginia Woolf. I could go on and on.

But, whoever you are, wherever you are, this letter is only for you, and let me tell you beforehand that it is deeply personal, so you might have to prepare yourself a little to be able to endure it. This is to introduce you to the version of me that I’m slightly scared to show, but at the same time very eager to; the side of me that I want you to know and yet want to keep hidden from you; that side of me I know you will find difficult to handle, yet I’m letting myself bare, with a flickering hope in my heart that you would be able to contain me.

The first time we meet, I will be a bundle of nerves – sweating, stammering, and giggling. Small talk is not my cup of tea, so half the time I will not know what to say to you. It will be short and somewhat awkward. However, on subsequent such meetings, I will be calmer and things will become easier. I will open up about myself and want to know more about you – about your likes and dislikes, about your family, your childhood. I would want to embrace you completely – from your physical being to your deepest thoughts and emotions, your vulnerabilities and your strengths. At times, I will meet you in my favourite café and read to you from something I wrote; at others, I will sit in silence and read to myself. But, know, that in those moments, your presence – that I could just stretch my hand out and touch you – is what would matter to me the most. Sometimes, when we would talk about the most profound things in life, I will wrap a strand of your hair on my finger simply to annoy you and sometimes I will run my fingers through your hair to let you know that I will be there for you, now and forever.

A few years hence, into the future, when the skies pour, I will throw a blanket around us and sip my tea without a care in the world; but, on some days, I will also demand of you a dance in the rain and drag you out of the house despite your repeated refusals; then, again, on certain others, I will sit in the balcony all by myself and write my way to glory. Sometimes, when you would return all tired from work, I will cook us a hearty meal, light the candles and pour out some wine; and at other times, I will bury my face in your chest, listen only to the beating of your heart and cry myself to sleep for no reason at all.

I will be bold and brave and strong, but I will also be very very volatile and vulnerable, and nobody but you will know of it; my secrets will hopefully be safe with you. From my deepest feelings to my wildest fantasies, I will narrate it all to you with equal passion. But, on some days, I will only sit next to you, rest my head on your shoulder and absorb the beautiful silence. To me, our love will be like the sea, at times wild and tumultuous and at times, peaceful and calm.

There, I have translated almost every feeling that I possibly could, into words and yet, there are so many others that have my heart bursting – the writer in me fails them. And, for all those, I make a promise to you, that I will love you till the end of time!

poetry

The Last Wish

The cold bath in the morning triggered nothing;

I did not shiver, I did not cry,

Perhaps, I did not even blink.

They walked me to the doorstep of the end,

Where I would be silenced forever;

Those were moments of mindfulness, as I walked;

I could feel the icy floor pierce the soles of my feet – chained and heavy.

My hair was pulled back so tightly that it hurt,

For the last time, however,

And, thereafter, the last wish.

My last wish, was then, to feel my hair fall on my back

And my mother’s fingers through them,

Her stories, her songs, her laughter;

I wanted to walk through the dark corridors of my temples

And amuse myself with the dust patterns in the sunlight

While my lungs filled up with the scent of tattered pages.

I wanted to sit under the night lamp in my old room,

Delve into the creased yellow pages of history

And listen to the midnight radio.

My last wish was to rekindle the revolutions

Quelled under green stacks of sin,

Massacred by the rifles of power.

I wanted to ease the agony of my sisters

Whose silent tears tilled my parched motherland;

My brothers whose blood and sweat filled our stomachs – my last wish was to fill theirs.

A sudden bout of sickness surged through my veins;

My bruises burned;

Then came the black cloth and my mind blackened along.

I could feel the first touch of rope against my neck;

Revolutionary slogans, subdued shrieks, unfulfilled wishes,

All knotted up inside my throat

Like a volcano at the hem of eruption.

At that moment, I thought I heard my mother,

As she sang to me and tried to lull me into sleep;

It was disturbingly peaceful.

And, then, the noose tightened!

Opinion

In Need of Intolerance

I usually refrain from making comments on social media about current issues, social, economic or political. More often than not, I feel quite strongly about things, but call me a coward if you will, I mostly keep my opinions to myself and occasionally indulge in vehement verbal arguments over tea with friends and foes alike. But, this time, I simply could not keep completely mum.

So, after the horrendous events that have been happening in India over the past few months, there is now a movement where people will march to prove that they are proud of this country, basically ranting and chanting the ever-so-patriotic “Mera Bharat Mahan.” To see this being pioneered by an actor I have admired so deeply is disheartening, to say the least. When I first came across the hash tags (#MarchForIndia and #IndiaIsTolerant) doing the rounds on Twitter, I assumed that its purpose was to express solidarity with the protesters. Ignorant? Yes, very! The purpose of this certain “March for India Movement”, as I understand it has driven me into unadulterated fury.

‪#‎IndiaIsTolerant‬, for sure;  and let us see how and why;

Let’s begin with the Delhi gang rape case. The “juvenile” rapist will walk a free man, after all, officially washing down the drain our candle light marches, social media outbursts, opinion polls, our debates and discussions and endless protests. We are steadily heading towards a future that comes with a precautionary warning – “No Country for Women.” Then, a B-grade film actor is scraped out of the bottom of the vessel of nominees to head the nation’s premier film institute, as a reward for his devotion to our saffron masters. Protesting students are arrested and victims are turned into perpetrators. Right to Education. Sure. Next, we have our meat eating habits define not only our religion but our very existence, so much so that a man is lynched on the pretext of beef consumption. But now that it has been proved that the poor man had stored not-so-holy mutton at home, what could those innocent flag-bearers of religion possibly do? To err is human, of course. Murder is almost child’s play now. Make an anti-government remark, disapprove of the its policies, identify as a leftist and on top of that if you happen to have written a book or made a film, or worse still, have been a respectable academician all your life, the very dedicated “sewaks” who have taken upon themselves the noble task of purifying this nation shall make sure you are exterminated from the face of the universe. Last, but not the least, send Shah Rukh Khan to Pakistan.

Have we not “tolerated” this climate of disgust and intolerance for way too long? #IndiaIsTolerant; certainly.

In wake of all this, interestingly enough, all that our honourable leaders can think of is what the world perceives of this great country. Obviously the award-returning pseudo-intellectual protest manufacturers are defaming the nation, they say. What their scarcely exercised brains don’t tell them is that the world is not blind. The protesters, be it authors, film makers, artistes, engineers, doctors or chartered accountants, are not really looking to pull off an attention-grabbing, career-revamping publicity gimmick. Neither are they Modi haters or Sonia lovers. They are essentially sane humans fighting to preserve humanity. They really are the patriots who want to save this country from becoming a cow-worshipping, intellectually crippled, veritable living hell. Today, India needs to be intolerant. Very very intolerant.

Fiction

That Time of the Year

That time of the year was approaching; that time ‘The Romantics’ describe as melancholy; that time when they hope that spring would not be far behind; the time that is supposed to be dry and dead. She wondered why she could never agree to it. As much as she would recite with utmost passion – “A thing of beauty is a joy forever” – in an almost baritone or rejoice at Wordsworth’s bliss as a host of golden daffodils flashes upon his inward eye, her love, as deep as it was, could not free itself of a slight disapprobation.

She strolled along the curved path, strewn with dry leaves. A myriad hues of orange, red, ochre yellow mingling so beautifully as if that is exactly how they were meant to exist – hand in hand – walking together like the dearest of friends, or better still, like family, she thought. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon. She perhaps even hummed a tune or two – Nelson Eddy or Ella Fitzgerald? Or, maybe The Carpenters! She settled on John Denver;

“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy…..la la la…….hmmm….hmmm…sunshine on the waters looks so lovely…..la la la la la…..hmm..hmm..hmm….”

Children played in the park and old couples walked, slowly, steadily, their wrinkles never for a moment fraying their indomitable spirit and tender love; some others sat reading by the lake. She observed them all – a Jane Eyre, there, sitting under the chestnut tree, brimming with wisdom and foresight; there swiftly walking down that lane, an exuberant Elizabeth Bennet read and re-read a creased parchment by her Darcy, perhaps. And, over there on that bench, a boy threw pebbles into the lake, all the while observing the ripples ever so carefully, the faint plopping sound bringing a smile to his lips. Ripples, those beautifully synchronized concentric patterns in water – if music could be seen, it would probably look like that.

She strolled further along, amusing herself with the crackling of dry leaves under her feet. Suddenly, her gaze settled on a bare tree. The trunk held out its naked branches that glowed in the afternoon sun. Was it the season of fall, when trees shed their leaves, or was it the season of hope when they would let go of all things old and await a fresh start? She perched herself on a rock underneath the beautiful tree and smiled. Resting her head on the tree trunk, she closed her eyes and as her senses drifted away from a dream like world to a world of dreams, she thought she heard someone strum the guitar; Simon and Garfunkel; she hummed along a line or two;

“I threw a pebble in a brook

And watched the ripples run away

And they never made a sound

And the leaves that are green turned to brown,

And they wither with the wind

And they crumble in your hand”

La la la la la….hmm…hmmmm…..hmmmmm…..

And then, she felt a soft white flake on her nose. Looking up, she saw the tree glistening in the crystal moonlight, her arms laden in snow, looking just like a gorgeous young bride. This is perhaps what Cynthia must have looked like, she thought. This is perhaps how Endymion fell in love!

Scraps

Blue

The fragile boat could barely stand the tumult of the sea;
As ferocious waves washed over it, the ink drowned first, its colour spreading to unfathomable depths.

Feet soaked firmly in sand and eyes capturing every detail, a voice echoed across the blue expanse;
“The deepest secrets of my heart now lie in yours.”

poetry

Great, Greater, Greatest

On a fine summer day,
Great came to claim,
The Greatest ever name.
And, tiny little beings,
Greatly awestruck,
Granted Great the claim
To the most treasured name;
And somewhere in a corner
Of this big round world,
Good wept in utter shame!

On another fine summer day,
Greater came to claim,
The Greatest ever name.
And, tiny little beings,
Greater than greatly awestruck,
Granted Greater the claim
To the most treasured name;
And somewhere in a corner
Of this big round world,
Great wept in utter shame!

Then, one fine summer day,
Greatest came;
And, tiny little beings,
Struck with the Greatest awe,
Offered Greatest the claim
To the most treasured name;
But, Greatest laughed and laughed,
Then, with a shy smile remarked,
“Hasn’t Greatest always been my name?”
And, in different corners
Of this big round world,
Many little beings hung their heads in shame!