Wednesday, 25 March 2015

To You~From The Girl Who Didn't Look Away

(Back-Story: This is the second To You letter to make its way outside India. This request came from a 23 year old girl currently living in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Over more than 10 email exchanges and I still struggled to understand how she's sustained and lived with a love for five years, having met her partner only three times. It made me wonder about the ease with which we slip in and out of love and dating, here where we so easily can.
I think about the countless couples out on dates staring into their smartphones, completely unaware if the colour of the sky matches their lover's trousers.)


To You,
My North Star


Sometimes remembering takes you back to beginnings. Sometimes it takes both your arms by their wrists and spins you around in circles so fast that you're dizzy, giddy and on the ground laughing and then crying.

I first started re-living our story when I began emailing a stranger in New Delhi, asking if she could write to you on our 5th anniversary this month. I considered doing it myself but I didn’t know where to start. So I let remembering and her questions lead the way.


An email questionnaire was promptly filled out, spelling out neatly in Helvetica facts and truths of our time together. It was only when she replied incredulously, asking me more questions, that I realized how very few around the world crash into love, in the slightly odd manner, that we did. 

I paused before I told her that we had only met thrice in these last five years. 
The first time I was wearing a complete niqaab and all my fears, exhilaration, doubt and manically beating heart in the soft crevices of my mouth. I can paint that day into nature like detail and describe in hundreds of haikus, the ink-dipped blue sky outside which matched conspiratorially the colour of the blue jeans and black kurta that you wore. 
Do people who meet multiple times a week, drink in as if parched, every seam of what their lover wears?


Her email reply took a while coming this time. Was she trying to remember maybe, what she wore the first time she met someone special? 

I ignored her next question and wrote back instead, to tell her about that one time you dreamt of me in a black abaya with splashes of maroon on its edges.
I bought one identical to your description the following week and wore it the next two times we managed to see each other. Times when I couldn’t say a single word to you, but you let me win at air hockey anyway. Times when I first noticed the dark mole on your chin and lush, thick, black eyelashes which were hooded curtains to a gaze I can still feel upon my skin. 

Memories are strange devices. I’ve seen you three times but your face, how you walk, your light, sparse beard is branded somewhere on the inside of my forehead. All I need to do is close my eyes.


That’s what I did, my love, closed my eyes and saw you again and again.


I think she had trouble moving beyond the wonder of how little we had actually met. She wanted to know if it was tough not dating how most other people in the world do. This time my reply was instant. 

I’m not sure how people in the rest of the world do it. Yes, they’re lucky they get to watch movies and experience daily life with people they love without being married to them, but not having any of it made me realise how little I needed those things. 

Yes, love can be constructed around dates and seeing each other, around living together and being married but it can equally and as strongly be constructed around a voice, a sigh and a constant presence. Around picking up and reading books together, in different places but at the same time. 
It can be built around growing up together but mostly it can be planted inside faith. Isn't that what love is and has been through time – an extension of faith? Faith in a feeling. Faith in your heart. And faith in someone, who a few years ago was a stranger. If seeing and hanging out with the person you loved, was the only marker of its presence then Sufi saints would never be able to dance in such geometric, careless abandon for a God they never met over coffee.


And that made me think of faith. How it can be cement-strong and turn wafer thin within moments. How sometimes longing can smear your day with a metallic aftertaste that nothing gets rid of easily. I think back then, to the days when you were studying in England, surrounded by girls you could meet easily, everyday. That in an upside down turn of events, it was around that time when my faith in you was unshakeable. How now that we're in the same city, minutes away, almost nothing or a turn of a mood can make me question so much.


I’m anchored in you, my love, the way people are anchored in dreams, addictions, careers and endless chases. You make me safe in a world full of bombings and senselessness. Of the three times we met, I remember the time it was your birthday, “Just keep looking at me, everything is fine.” you told me.

Till today I’m not sure if it would have been fine had I looked away. Would people have noticed? Would I have broken the trust of my family? Would that have caused the collapse of everything? Even armies couldn’t have wrenched my gaze away from your face that day. 
We saw each other for 182 seconds. That was the first instance I hated time. The second was when we didn’t speak for four months. It's when I learnt that sometimes you can miss someone so sharply it can cut your skin into such intricate patterns that you might as well be mounted on a wall and live out your life as a beautiful carpet.


Why did I want to write this letter, my email stranger asked me. 

To tell you how much I love you, to tell you how long, how hard and how endlessly I’ve waited. To tell you that Time isn't a loyal pet. You could feed it everyday with hopes, dreams, grand plans and schemes. Take it for regular walks to keep it fit and around a schedule. Until one day, from under your feet Time will fitfully change and mutate into an untameable beast and that day all your hopes, dreams and wild plans will seem nothing more than wishful thinking. On days like that, seconds of Time will stretch on like the summer afternoon sun across the sandy desert and all you can do is look up, breathe, wait and believe. 
I want this letter to tell you how much I’ve believed in you, in your work when times were tough, in the velvet calm of your voice which has soothed and caressed my worried, panicked forehead because your hands can't just yet. How much I believe in us even when the days are sums of endless aches. And to tell you that if there is magic in the world.


It is in this. 

It is in this.

Yours,
The girl who didn’t look away



(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten/typed on a typewriter and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: kakulgautam@gmail.com )



           (Picture Credit: From my friend and ace photographer @kloseframe on 
Instagram. 
This is a writer themed bar, appropriately called Dull Boy as most of these writers turn out to be)


2 comments:

  1. Kakul, you are love.

    How can you feel someone so closely, and even write about them?

    You have written it in a way I never could - a trip down the memory lane, and realizing why it has been so strong.

    Thank you, Kakul

    To you,
    The girl who has magic in her words and an empathetic soul

    ReplyDelete
  2. If your man is pushing you away and acting distant

    Or if the guy you’re after isn’t giving you the time of day...

    Then it’s time to pull out all the stops.

    Because 99% of the time, there is only 1 thing you can say to a standoffish guy that will grab him by the heartstrings-

    And get his blood pumping at just the thought of you.

    Insert subject line here and link it to: <=========> Your ex won’t be able to resist?

    Once you say this to him, or even send this simple phrase in a text message...

    It will flip his world upside down and you will suddenly find him chasing you-

    And even begging to be with you.

    Here’s what I’m talking about: <=========> Is your man hiding something? He may need your help?

    Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete