to all those i haven’t written to in a long, long time:
there comes a time in every person’s life when it seems like there is nothing left to say. everything feels tired and old, rehashed, redone, painted over and presented as new. every thought it seems has occurred before. every idea it seems has made its appearance before. and outwardly everything is fine, everything keeps moving, but inside, your mind is like a derailed train going off its tracks. the entertainment is mindless, the drugs and alcohol are mere suppressants. there is no inspiration anymore, but deeper, there is no will anymore.
it feels endless, this melancholy, this sloth. it reminds me of murakami and falling into a well, a hidden well, while walking in an orchard (or was it a clearing in a forest?). but this well is familiar to me. it is one from which i have drawn water countless number of times. it has fed and watered me. only now, the well is dry and i have fallen in it. the bottom is hard and rocky, the sides slippery and smooth and there is no light except for that full-moon circle when i look up.
at times like these, a person of sufficient will is able to haul themselves out. they grasp the rim of the well and pull themselves up and out. sweating and heavy breathing, dirty and grime-coated, they emerge victorious. but then there are those like me, who choose to stay down. that brief of circle of light that appears when the sun is high is enough to go on. we don’t dare make the climb, for what if we fall and shatter every bone in our body. what if we emerge from the well only to find that nothing remains out there, that everything has been irradiated and devastated, that all is barren and nothing fertile. that circle of light is our sustenance, it is what keeps us going. but it is never enough to attract, to persuade, to fill us with the heat we need as warm-blooded animals. it is only enough to promote a kind of lethargy, a slow-witted sickness, a damning of the self, a return to Plato’s cave and its shadows. we who are content with shadows and a circle of light. we who wish to never see again. we who will grow blind and white like moles. we who will claw at ourselves, drawing blood from our arms and chests, only to realise that even the blood is not enough, even the pain is not enough.
to all of you, i hope you know who each of you are.
to you who taught me what it means to survive: there is no bigger gift you could;ve given me than what you already have. it is the gift of perseverance and stoicism. it is the gift of living when all else dies. it is what camus means when he argues for suicide only to say “but the point is to live.” because the point is to live, it is not to escape. the evidence is in the effort and your evidence is strongest of all. you express that which cannot ever be expressed: the will to live and in living, not let the absurd, the banal, the hateful and the painful intercede. you create patterns more beautiful than any spider or any snowflake. they are patterns of the mind and they find expression in your poems, strung together with heartstring and tears. when we took one walk, and it was a sufficiently long walk, i felt emboldened. when walking beside you, i wanted to say just how much you have grown to mean to me, in such a short amount of time. you have taken care of me and my writing. you believed in me when there was absolutely no reason that you should’ve. maybe its because you saw something in me that was similar to something in you. with me, what i write is all there is, but with you, there is so much in between each word you write down and outside of every full-stop, every comma that you leave hanging, there are worlds.
to you who taught me true expression: everything you did, you made yourself an example of. there were ideas you believed in but they weren’t simply abstract and lodged inside your mind, you were always actively attempting to locate it in yourself. you gave yourself enough so that you yourself became an expression. an expression beyond ideals, beyond stratified systems that the education you so loathed taught us to internalise. you who had courage to rebel, to stand aside and say enough, you who chose not to work within the system like i did. i knew what it was but i exploited it because it was easier to do. but only you said enough and you were shamed for it. you saw it was wrong and you took the much harder road: that of being true to all that school tried to kill in you. you who i think of each time i hear a certain voice, singing certain songs: “betty said she prayed today, for the sky to blow away, or maybe stay, she wasn’t sure.”
to you who writes under a pseudonym: sometimes you pretend that the name under which you write is mere form, an irony in a post-modern world where everything means something else and nothing really means anything. but you give yourself away, in your concerns and your habits and even your complaints. you might feel discomfort where you are, might feel like this place is no place for someone like you and yet, when you write, it is with a yearning for that very place to become something better. you write fervently, scolding and haranguing, cajoling and complaining, it is that which tells us who you are and what you wish.i wish i could do that, i wish i could care so much, and pretend so little. once you were afraid. there were bottles of pepsi (or was it 7up) and choila in a dark, dank patan bhatti and you said you were afraid and i attempted to persuade you to not be. be fearless, because there will always be people who dislike you, who hate you, you wish nothing but harm upon you. and that’s something to be afraid of. for all my posturing that day, let me say now that i am afraid too. but of slightly different things. i am afraid of the well and how its going to dry up. i am afraid of writing for ever and no one ever noticing. i am afraid of everyone and everything.
to you who flew in from across the sea: there are days when i wish of nothing but to speak with you. there are times when i wish of nothing but to write to you and tell you everything because very few people have listened to me the way you listened. and that is an inherently selfish thing on my part. a desire for you that ultimately satisfies something in me. but that isn’t all there is. there is a manner in which you synthesize all that you take in and make it appear profound. reading you writing about me and things i know is like looking into a strange warped mirror and seeing a reflection of myself that i know is me but i do not recognise. there is that talent, that spark that lets you in, how you worm your way into people’s hearts and make a nest there, how you reappear unexpectedly when i discover something new and exciting and wish to share it with someone. there is a story i wrote because you gave me an idea for it. there are stories i’ve written where there is more of you than you might ever discover. you’re a best friend if those words are ever able to encapsulate what there is between you and i.
to you who was my first real friend: i don’t quite know what passed between us but those were days of youth, when passion and ardor meant much more than morality or friendship. it was a time of being ruled by hormones, a time when we think we know everything only to discover just how flawed and stupid we were. we haven’t really talked in more than five years now and i can’t say that i miss you much. there are times when i think of you and my stomach feels a little empty then, as if it were filled with nothing but air. i think i take a deep breath and release it slowly like a low drawn-out sigh. i doubt you ever do something similar for it was you who chose to be something different. i know it was an active choice on your part, not some happenstance. i know you always dreamt of it. times are different now and i doubt i can ever be friends with you again. i think we both have changed irreparably. we are like two jigsaw pieces that once fit together but left out in the cold, or the heat, or the rain, we have deformed and changed into shapes that don’t fit anymore. it doesn’t sadden me anymore. it simply is. you cannot really expect to hold on to people, its foolish to try to. people are as capricious as the weather. you can’t ever expect anything. this is how it goes. i hear you’re getting married soon. regards to the lady.
to you who was my second real friend: i’ve said i would write to you and i haven’t really. i said i would get you a present and i haven’t really. like most promises, i’ve broken them all. this is my apology. once we were best of friends, we are not anymore. it is sad to say and think about but this is how it is. we have attempted to stay friends and we still are. not the best of friends but good friends, better friends than i deserve to be with you. you have tried much harder than i have because it takes so much effort to simply just try and it is much much easier to just give up. i tried to give up but you wouldn’t really let me. you kept at it and that is what has kept our relationship going for so long. i used to think it was crazy the way you took things in stride, that unwavering optimism, that bright, bulb-like idealism, how much effort must that have taken? i cannot even imagine because i always took the easy route, the one that led to pity, self-deprecation and boredom. little by little, which gave way to misanthropy. you were never like that, i don’t know how you stuck to me. you’ve really shown me that one doesn’t need to be an idiot to be happy. you can be smart and funny and articulate and intelligent and outgoing and still find the time to be happy. maybe you know some grand secret that i don’t or maybe there just isn’t any secret at all. maybe you just are the way you are because that’s how you are.
finally, to you who loves me: there is nothing to say to you in prose anymore. everything that i want to say to you, i already have. there are no words left anymore. all i can rely on now is poetry. my sad stringing of words together that masquerades as poetry. my sad attempt to say what i have always meant but never know quite how to say. when i write for you, i expect you to understand what i mean without me saying it. its an understanding born of reason or logic. it is not the understanding that says x = y. this is an understanding that you feel. you don’t have to explain it to me or even say that you understand, just feel something, maybe something under your skin that feels warm and tingly, maybe something in your eyes that stings and makes you want to tear a little, maybe a lump in your throat, dry and scratchy that takes a lot of effort to swallow, or maybe just a smile, that would be best. you know what i mean when i lie beside you and talk for hours about the things that most frighten me, about things that i am too afraid to mention in daylight. to love is to have faith, to love is to go beyond reason, love really is like faith, Rumi had it right. for someone as disbelieving and cynical as me, love really is the only thing left having faith in. not love for all, not love for humanity, love for you, love of you.