To You

Image courtesy doxzoo.com

Dear D,

You would be surprised to hear from me. No, you would be puzzled. You would look down to the unfamiliar name at the end of the letter, frown, search your memory and come up with nothing. Who is this from, you would wonder. But, your memory would fail you.

I first saw you in a crowd, that year of the extraordinarily hot summer, wearing blue, your coiffed hair losing strands in the heat. People around me whispered, pointing you out, for obviously, even then you were a head turner. I wondered why and pulled myself away to enter the rectangular, dark room, with the cobbled floor and took a seat next to the wall lined with little jars holding condiments, herbs, pickles.

The lady holding her pans and measuring spoons would appear at just the right time every day to teach us to put together simple ingredients to rustle up a gourmet meal. I was then struggling to master the craft, in fact trying any craft that would help me earn my livelihood and you, on the other hand, looked the pampered daughter of a rich scion.

I did not really want to talk to you, I was content to feel your presence. I thought of your soft flesh as I carved the juicy, soft mangoes to extract the pulp. The slow and precise slicing of vegetables made me aware of your long nails that flashed exotic colours every day. Your nails were sharper than my knives for they could tear apart hearts. I could see you in the milk vessels as the milk formed a thin layer of fat slowly on the surface accentuating the white colour. I smelt you in the fresh herbs that we tore with our hands, not daring to bring the blades near them.

I sat, listening to the teacher’s polite, cultured voice, imagining instead yours, talking to me, asking about me, my life in the dingy, one room with thin walls that could not mute the next door whisperings and the sound of scrambling mice.

The day, I was asked to come up to the cooking platform, I shook inside for even though I was getting good at the stirring and the cooking, the cold surface of the cooking stove made me think of you. For many minutes, I bent my head and concentrated on cooking the perfect sauce. When it was about to be done, I dared look up to steal a glance in your direction. I expected, feared, prayed for an admiring glance but you were busy talking… That felt like a rejection and I froze for long seconds till the sauce boiled over and the sizzle brought me back to what I was doing. Silently, I mopped up the mess, feeling like a failure.

Did you look at me then? Do you remember me now? Do you know that after that day, I stopped coming to the class? I redoubled my efforts at mastering the culinary skills in my one room house. I went on to have a successful career, yes, it would be successful in your eyes, it got me money and recognition. Sometimes, I felt empty but I considered I was making you proud.

I saw you the other day, no, saw your picture in the glossy that was on the shiny table at the dentist’s waiting room. Your eyes looked sad, the corners of your mouth downturned and you seemed to have spilled some wine down the front of your designer gown. People around seemed to be laughing at you, rather than with you. Does beauty fade so fast?

I had to write to you and tell you that I dream of you still. That I am here waiting to make the perfect meal, to feed your appetite.

Yours,
S

To you

image

Dear D,

You would be surprised to hear from me. No, you would be puzzled. You would look down to the unfamiliar name at the end of the letter, frown, search your memory and come up with nothing. Who is this from, you would wonder. But, your memory would bring up nothing.

I first saw you in a crowd, that year of the extraordinarily warm summer, wearing blue, your coiffed hair losing strands in the heat. People around me whispered, pointing you out, for obviously, even then you were a head turner. I wondered why and pulled myself away to enter the rectangular, dark room, with the cobbled floor and took a seat next to the wall lined with little jars holding condiments, herbs, pickles.

The lady holding her pans and measuring spoons would appear at just the right time every day to teach us to put together a lot of ingredients to rustle up a gourmet meal. I was then struggling to master the craft, in fact trying any craft that would help me earn my livelihood and you, on the other hand, looked the pampered daughter of a rich scion.

I did not really want to talk to you, I was content to feel your presence. I thought of your soft flesh as I carved the juicy, soft mangoes to extract the pulp. The slow and precise slicing of vegetables made me aware of your long nails that flashed exotic colours every day. Your nails were sharper than my knives for they could tear apart hearts. I could smell you in the milk vessels as the milk formed a thin layer of fat slowly on the surface accentuating the white colour. I smelt you in the fresh herbs that we tore with our hands, not daring to bring the blades near them.

I sat, listening to the teacher’s polite, cultured voice, imagining instead yours, talking to me, asking about me, my life in the dingy, one room with thin walls that could not mute the next door whisperings and the sound of scrambling mice.

The day, I was asked to come up to the cooking platform, I shook inside for even though I was getting good at the stirring and the cooking, the cold surface of the cooking stove made me think of you. For many minutes, I bent my head and concentrated on cooking the perfect sauce. When it was about to be done, I dared look up to steal a glance in your direction. I expected, feared, prayed for an admiring glance but you were busy talking… That felt like a rejection and I froze for long seconds till the sauce boiled over and the sizzle brought me back to what I was doing. Silently, I mopped up the mess, feeling like a failure.

Did you look at me then? Do you remember me now? Do you know that after that day, I stopped coming to the class? I redoubled my efforts at mastering the culinary skills in my one room house. I went on to have a successful career, yes, it would be successful in your eyes, it got me money and recognition. Sometimes, I felt empty but I considered I was making you proud.

I had to write to you and tell you that I dream still of you. That I am here still waiting to make the perfect meal, to feed your appetite.

Yours,
S

Dear Me

For my Writing 101 assignment, I picked up my daughter’s book-“The Nancy Drew Notebooks” by Carolyn Keene. The word “Post Office” grabbed me by the throat on page 29. I used my memories associated with it to write a letter to myself.

Dear Me,

I do not mean this as an expression as in “Dear Me! I simply forgot the pie in the oven!” but as a term of endearment for my much younger self.
As I look down the memory lane, I feel in awe of myself, of the things I did and the friends I made. So, let me take a breath and start again. “Dear Kitty..”. Oh? I slipped up! But, this phrase has been in my subconscious ever since I turned 14. That was when I read “The Diary of Anne Frank”. She wrote it cooped up in an attic, hiding from the Nazis, when she was 14. I read it when I was 14, amongst writing, to others. I was struck by how she personified her diary, addressing it by the name Kitty. She started each new entry with “Dear Kitty”.

So, instead of Dear Me or Dear Kitty, let it be Dear Sona. I start again (and here I seem to find my voice).

Dear Sona,

I read about a post office today and so many memories came flooding in. Of stamps, writing paper, envelopes and letter boxes.

I remember you being a prolific letter writer. I remember how you chose stamps first. And then the writing paper. Wherever you went, you scouted the area for good stationery shops and went to look for fancy writing paper. There was a time when you had a particular love for rice paper and you bought so many of them in Goa and Nepal.

All that done, you would sit down to cover the sheets with small, spidery words evenly spaced. You would scrawl on, sheet after sheet.

A new place, a new house, and you would go in search of letter boxes nearest to you, so that your lifeline could be kept alive.

The visit of the post man would be a joyous affair and the sight of letters and cards strewing the driveway sent you into ecstasy.

You wrote to everybody you knew. Friends, cousins, aunts and uncles. Letters to the editor of the newspaper, letters to the magazines, letters to pen-pals. The most important thing in your life was the blue inland letter and covering every inch of that was considered a feat.

There were many people you meant to write to always because you could not bear to be separated from them, so that you could always be in their lives, even when distance separated you. You pledged to be best friends forever.

Today, I just want to say a few words about this. I want to tell you to keep writing. Keep the communication open. Keep your friends close. Your friends know all bits of you. They would stand by you. They would guide you in times of doubt. They would be your pillars of strength when time wears you down. Keep them close, hold them tight.

If you neglect them now, you would feel lonely and weighed down by guilt for deserting them, for not expressing gratitude and for not being around for them when they needed you.

Lots of love to you. Stay in touch.

Sona

Insane with Grief (only 50)

The letter lay half buried in snow.

Mother, it said, I wish you would forgive me now for marrying Ron. I want to bring little Daniel so that he knows his grandma. Mother, are you really in the old age home, ranting, tearing hair and calling my name?