Sunday, 23 July 2017

To You ~ Boy From Yesterday

(I hadn't written a #ToYou letter in so long because everything I was getting was a ticky-tack version of the same, until this one. Anyone who knows me or has spent an afternoon with me knows that I’m fascinated with love, most with its undulating shape which hold more questions than answers.

 I got this sad-funny email from a client who wants to be called N. “Is it still love, if it’s over? I met my ex-boyfriend, someone I had deeply loved and been engaged to, for dinner after three years. I want to write a love letter to that night, to him that night and to everything that hangs in space unanswered. I want you then to hand-write it and post this letter to my address, because it’s really a love letter from me to me”.

How could I say no?)

To You
Boy From Yesterday,

This is so strange.
This is so strange.
This is so strange.

I tell myself while walking up the stairs to the first floor of this restaurant we’re getting dinner at.

This feels like home.

I tell myself the first time we break into a laugh, five minutes in.

Time has a special muscle of relativity when mapped against someone we used to love, it feels like years are wrapped up and preserved in familiar smells. You smell the same. I don’t know this from confirmation today (we only awkwardly hugged) but I do. You smell the same.

You’re married now. Your face is different, small wrinkles have set up tenements beside each eye but you sip your drink the same way- the first sip always the largest. I don’t remember the particulars of what we talked about. 
Did I tell you enough how good it was to see you?

I knew you when you were 26 and I was 23. We find those kids in each other’s sentences twenty minutes in.
Have we ordered enough food?
Have we ordered any food?
We’re never going to run out of things to say.

You tell me about work and ask me about mine. I answer in rapid, heat-filled sentences rushing against one another eager to get out and meet you. You tell me you have to leave before midnight, I don’t ask why. You’re giving me advice about marriage, about my love life and you’re still smiling the same way you used to. Why are you so nervous?
I have thought about you when things were right. Did you think of me when things went wrong?

I realize if I reach over and hold you, I can time travel and be 23 again. 

I don’t. 
I want to tell you that I will always love you in a way I've stopped trying to explain or define now. I know you’re married and happy and I wish nothing but grand happiness for you. That I will love other people too, differently but as fiercely, and I’m neither sad nor lonely.

But between friendship and affairs is a broken down castle where our kind of love lives. It stays alive despite the years, the violence of storms and the ever changing of the two people who gave birth to it.

It holds in its towers the bad songs these two loved, the ways they fought and broke one another, how holding each other felt like a coming back to life, how they knew when they were together and now when they’re apart that despite its brokenness they’d held in their palms the kind of love everyone else is always searching for and how walking away was a scribble of a circle than a straight line leading out.

The night feels different tonight, there’s definite magic in the air. Everything I want to say to you is laced with a question- why/when. Old wounds and things we never understood hang in the shadows. Baiting us, willing us. I’m surprised to see them there, it’s been years. You’re looking surprised to see them here too, I think. So I stick to basics.

Yes, I’ve worked out.
Have you?
Do I look different?
I’m happy, I think I’m falling in love with someone new.
It’s so good to see you.

I don’t know how we said goodbye. I tell you we should have dinner once every year. 
“For closure”.
You laugh, “There’s no such thing as closure, kid.”
I don’t know when I will see you again.

Is it still love if it’s over? Is that dinner even allowed? Will that break the rules of adult positions of play we have assumed? Will that hurt the new people we love and hold close today?

Once a year, let’s meet to take a walk back to our castle, dust some old shelves, put some books and music in order and leave.
And there it will stand braving storms, watching over us and waiting for us to return.

All my love,

(This picture is mine, taken this May during a road trip across Scotland. This picture is on loan for this letter :) )

(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 love letter can go with real names, back stories, as many pictures as you like, aliases and even super powers.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion. Give me a shout at: or on my Instagram account @hyperbolemuch)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Words, Strange & Otherwise. Part- V

I haven't written here in a long, long time. Somehow along the way #StoriesFromUrdu consumed every other writing. Today felt like a day for other people's words. Words I've collected, scribbled over, highlighted and held far too close for a while. 
These words will mean completely different things to you than they did to me. They may sting or caress, remind you of people you met in 2009 or those you're yet to meet.
Here's the game like last time: Take a life-question, think of a number between 1-20 and read the sentence against it. That's your answer which sometimes leads to questions you haven't asked yet.

I've added a link to each so you can buy the books if you like what you read. Many of these are from recent books I've read but there's also Ahmed Faraz, loved too long and understood too late, Margaret Mitchell and Rilke.

Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 are here. 


1. "The summer talked itself away."
~ Dylan Thomas

2.  “I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves - we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other's destiny.” 
~Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays

3. "Why should i feel lonely? Is not our planet in the MilkyWay?"
~ Thoreau

4. " You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how."
~ Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the wind

5. “Memories are microscopic. Tiny particles that swarm together and apart. Little people, Edison called them. Entities. He had a theory about where they came from and that theory was outer space."

 ~ Jenny O'fill, Dept of Speculation

6. “Each time you happen to me all over again.” 
~ Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

(Preface from my favourite Junot Diaz's book, "This is how you lose her".)

7. “I missed her so much that I wanted to build a hundred-foot memorial to her with my bare hands. I wanted to see her sitting in a vast stone chair in Hyde Park, enjoying her view. Everybody passing could comprehend how much I miss her. How physical my missing is. I miss her so much it is a vast golden prince, a concert hall, a thousand trees, a lake, nine thousand buses, a million cars, twenty million birds and more. The whole city is my missing her.
~ Max Porter, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

8. “Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.” 
- Rilke, Letters to a young poet

9.  Ranjish hi sahi, dil hi dukhaane ke leeye aa,
   Aa phir sey mujhe chhod ke jaane ke leeye aa.

~ Ahmed Faraz (Mehdi Hassan has sung this beautiful ghazal). A rough translation:
Even if it's grief, come back to cause my heart pain,
Come back, if only to leave once again

10. “For to wish to forget how much you loved someone- and then, to actually forget- can feel, at times, like the slaughter of a beautiful bird who chose, by nothing short of grace, to make a habitat of your heart. I have heard that this paint can be converted, as it were, by accepting “the fundamental impermanence of all things.” This acceptance bewilders me: sometimes it seems an act of will; at others, of surrender. Often I feel myself to be rocking between them (seasickness).”
~ Maggie Nelson, Bluets.

11. “I wish we could spend July by the sea, browning ourselves and feeling water-weighted hair flow behind us from a dive. I wish our gravest concerns were the summer gnats. I wish we were hungry for hot dogs and dopes, and it would be nice to smell the starch of summer linens and the faint odor of talc in blistering summer bath houses ... We could lie in long citoneuse beams of the five o'clock sun on the plage at Juan-les-Pins and hear the sound of the drum and piano being scooped out to sea by the waves.”
~ Zelda Fitzgerald, Dear Scott Dearest Zelda

12. “Just think how many thoughts a blanket smothers while one lies alone in bed, and how many unhappy dreams it keeps warm.”
~ Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories

13. She was 3/4 perfection and 1/4 broken glass.” 
 ~ Jonathan Carroll

14. "When she shall die,
Take her and cut her out in little stars,
And she will make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with the night
And pay no worship to the garish sun."

~ Shakespeare

15.  “Here’s a word. Bereavement. Or, Bereaved. Bereft. It’s from the Old English bereafian, meaning ‘to deprive of, take away, seize, rob’. Robbed. Seized. It happens to everyone. But you feel it alone. Shocking loss isn’t to be shared, no matter how hard you try.”
~ Helen Macdonald, H Is for Hawk

16. "Some people change. Kids you knew at school became investment bankers of bankruptcy specialists (failed). They fatten and they bald and somewhere you get the sense that they must have devoured the child they once were, eaten themselves bit by bit, mouthful by mouthful, until nothing is left of the smart, optimistic dreamer you knew when you were young."
~ Neil Gaiman, The View from the cheap seats

17. “If there is no love in the world, we will make a new world, and we will give it walls, and we will furnish it with soft, red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweller's felt so that we should never hear it. Love me, because love doesn't exist, and I have tried everything that does.”
~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

18. “She remembered reading somewhere that even after people died, their hair and nails kept growing. Like starlight, traveling through the universe long after the stars themselves had died. Like cities. Fizzy, effervescent, simulating the illusion of life while the planet they had plundered died around them.

She thought of the city at night, of cities at night. Discarded constellations of old stars, fallen from the sky, rearranged on earth in patterns and pathways and towers.”
~ Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

19. “Dolphins, I learned from J. Worden of the Harvard Child Bereavement Study at Massachusetts General Hospital, had been observed refusing to eat after the death of a mate. Geese had been observed reacting to such a death by flying and calling, searching until they themselves became disoriented and lost.”
~ Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

20. "This life is not the first time you and I have experienced each other. We have been here before, but we have not learned, from past experiences, that much of life defies explanation and control, that life always offers a second chance and that the world existed before us and will continue to exist after us."
~ Devdutt Patnaik, My Gita