Tuesday, 28 April 2015

To You~ Mr Ok TaecYeon

(Back-Story: A second letter to a student in Manila, Phillipines. This one is special because it’s strange and eerie- like all beautiful things tend to be. Miss October 22nd, as she insisted on being called, is in love with Ok TaecYeon, a Korean singer and superstar.
She described to me in a long letter, how she felt and why even though no one understood, it wasn’t a crush, an obsession or her being star struck. It was love. Actual, true, real love and I got it, didn’t I? She asked.
I got it as much as you can ever get a stranger’s affinity to their object of affection, you nod and smile at the bits where you recognize things you've felt, everything else remains strange and eerie- which is to say what I said before- it’s beautiful )

To You
Mr Ok TaecYeon,

There’s nothing stranger than the people we choose to love. Ask your friends; they will always have an opinion on how you can do better/different or sometimes not at all. To me that’s how loving you for so long has felt on the outside--strange, comical, sometimes absurd and often a conspiracy by my hormones. But at its core, it’s a quiet, living, breathing thing. One that I own completely and hold close to my chest during windy, too quiet nights.

The other complex and frustrating thing is trying to explain why you fell in love with someone. Especially if you’ve fallen in love with a 26 year old South Korean superstar, rapper, singer, dancer and entrepreneur. Especially if he gets more than a hundred letters a day, mostly by girls confessing their love to him. It’s complex and frustrating then, navigating words like ‘crush’ , ‘starstruck’, ‘fangirl’ and ‘just 22’.

But I should start at the very beginning, which ironically was an end for me. In 2012, I found out that the boy I had loved for five long years had been cheating on me with my best friend. A fact straightforward enough to fit into one simple sentence but so complex that it singed the barely 20 year old world I had built, into bitter, grey ash.
In a desperate, tired attempt to cheer me up, my friend insisted I watch Korean dramas to distract myself. So I picked one where you were acting with Soo Hyun and nothing’s been the same since.

Over the next seamless days and nights, as I watched all the episodes, I fell simply and completely in love with you. Obviously, I headed to Google to get to know you better.
Perhaps I was hoping that you’d turn out to be a serial killer or a jailbird star so I could roll my better knowing 22 year old eyes at your Wiki page, move on and go to sleep. But you were an Honours Society member at Bedford High, a Math, Spanish and Chess club member, admitted to med school in the US but stayed back to become a trainee at an entertainment company in Korea. 

You had kind eyes, killer dance moves and a smile which made my heart dissolve into my bloodstream and take up permanent position near my stomach. Inside my stomach, my heart rented a trampoline and used it to make me giddy every time I saw you on different kpop music videos.

There’s an old Goo Goo Dolls love song lyric which goes:

I’ll be your crying shoulder
I’ll be love’s suicide
I’ll be better when I’m older,
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life.

The word 'fan' has been stretched into funny balloon animal shapes for so long that it's lost it's original meaning. It means nothing more than observing, supporting, loving another life. Often there's a lot of clapping and hooting involved.

I know I’ve loved you hard and fierce and strong because loving you made me want to excel. It made me work harder, even though I had lost my dream of becoming a cardiologist. I became stronger even as your love heat-softened my bitterness inside. I did well in academics and found a place on the Dean’s list. I was happier now and not constantly fractured and rubbing my hands over a scabbed, internal wound and heartache.

Only the giddiness of new love is a fix-it cream to the battle scars of old relationships gone terribly wrong.

Somewhere around then, you and your band decided to tour my country. Never before had I been more acutely aware of the importance and urgency of money (9000 php with extra for airfare because I lived in the province). This is a good time to tell you about the role irony plays in my life. 
I suffer from tachycardia (a medical condition where your heart rate medically exceeds the normal heart rate). 
Learning that my dad would help me out with the tickets and I would finally see you did not help my condition at all.
Neither did buying VIP tickets to the concert and standing near the front.
Neither did the fact that when you and your band came towards the standing arena and handed out stuffed toys, you threw one in my direction, and because my limbs and mind seemed to be on strike on the day, I couldn’t even pick it up.

Somewhere today there is a Japanese girl who has a toy which belongs to me.

 Between my thesis submission and duty breaks I’d found the time to sow you a pillow with a message, thankfully my limbs coordinated long enough for me to throw that onto the stage. You picked it up, and a guard pointed me out to you, and you smiled the slowest, softest smile that made the air around me feel like warm, sticky caramel. 

Everyday life spun back into focus, sharper and faster than I wanted it to. But I held hands and danced with it, so quick on my feet that you’d be proud. 

I won international awards for my thesis project, presented it in front of an audience and decided to sit and excel the Nursing Board Exams (the most difficult exams in my country). On July 27, I passed and placed in the Top 20.
I flew to Hong Kong to see you, and stood with fans at the airport where you saw me and said hi. 

Hi! Hi! It became my favourite word for the next few months. I'd take my time saying it to people I met. Hi!

Which brings me to today, and this letter. You must receive thousands of these, but this is my act of bravery and needing you to understand that I'm not just starstruck. That I may have been a school girl and on first name basis with the butterflies in my stomach, but I have loved deeply and silently.
You may, like some of my friends, assume that this is an infatuation.

But here’s what I know:

I know that loving you made me heal from a fracture which seemed to be tattooed onto my heart.
You made me want to be a superhero.
I may love again and soon, but loving you made me happier.

And isn’t that what everyone is striving for, anyway?

Your Biggest Fan,
Miss October 22nd.

(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 )

                                  (Image of the Korea Festival. From the Internet)

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