Postcards With Love

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Dear darling

I hope you turn this postcard over after it has sat on the lip of your door for a few days. Give this a chance. If you are here, and before you go, I must say I love and miss you more than I can bear. I keep imagining what you must look like now. I have a photo of you as a baby that I wear in my locket, and I look at it often, picturing those big round brown eyes on an older face, with a lady’s nose. I know you must smile beautifully. Are you tall? I think so.

I don’t want to take much time, you must have so much keeping you occupied. I just wanted to send you an old recipe I have kept safe. My mother made blinis for us every Saturday morning, and we ate them very happily in the sun. They are a big favourite among children, your kids would like them. It goes very well with cream, or salmon, if you like fish. I think you do.

That was all really. Maybe you could call someday. Or visit. They allow us to meet visitors every Wednesday between four and five in the evening. Don’t worry, I will not ask you to write back. But know that you I remember you everyday. If you ever do make blinis, I hope you find pieces of my love in them.

Mama

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I am sorry I forgot to fix your record player

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You liked listening to him sing, didn’t you? I try imagining his strong bass voice, a younger charm in his grey eyes. I think I see why you loved him so. I see you sitting by his side, an old record playing in some corner of the room. He put some ice in his scotch, you smiled and rest your head on the leather-backed chair. Everything smells like a brown memory from an album I saw as a young child, I do not remember much of it, the spaces I miss, I fill with my own imaginations. This is only part-reality.

Yet I see it all confounded in your soft glance as you look at me and smile. I see this history, a life you have lived and I can only dream piece by piece, slipping across your smooth olive skin, unwrinkled, warm. I have come home after ages it seems, although it has only been a few months. You embrace me so completely I do not feel your weight against mine. You gently caress my hair, notice how it has grown long, tie it for me neatly, smile so brightly that only then I realise what being home, safe and loved, feels like. Lying by your side later that evening, I look around the room as you sleep. So very little and so much is here, photographs of all your grandchildren. Dried leaves and flowers pasted inside a photo-frame. A rosary and a pair of woollen socks. I look then at a lighter patch, a dust-rimmed square where something had long sat. The emptiness on the mahogany desk, suddenly reminded me of your broken record player.

Some weeks before I left, I took your charming possession from you, promising to get it repaired. You did not ask me about it when I returned the next week and the one after that, telling me only, repeatedly, to take good care of myself when I am so far away, to eat well, and stay covered in the cold. My thoughts rush back to where I left it last, perhaps it rusts somewhere in my room, in the dark, forgotten and lost. Perhaps it is still singing the last song you played on it, like an echo from a voice you had loved and lived by. I didn’t say anything when you woke up, and spent the night talking to you deeply. Forgive me now, for all the evenings I stole your music from you, and with it, the keepsake of your years. The music you missed would have missed you too, it would filled the quiet with something whole and familiar. Perhaps, you would have hummed when Kishore sang along an accordion. Perhaps their words would have fallen like snowy kisses on your pillow, songs could have woven together the memories and silvering leaves you have stored on your desk. Can I promise again to return your music to you? Perhaps you could play your favourite records for me once more before I have to leave, and I will carry their songs brownly in my heart as I grow old.

What Comes This Morning

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Rain falls like broken pieces of a long silver thread. Reminds me of the silk you wove around your fingers, wounded your hands in until your knuckles were dressed in cages. Cages made of little malleable rings that can be broken with whispers. This rain sits like a clue on my window when I wake up in the morning and brush the curtains aside, like words from a language I cannot speak but love the sound of, like your German. It sounds like the music from an old English fairytale, the kind you would read to a young girl before she went to bed if you lived in the 1300s. This rain is from another time, a ghost that came knocking last night. It is gone now, but has left traces, like footprints lingering in snow, in its passing. When I wake up, I first see its specks of silver on the glass, and then, the ground outside, untouched. The sky has ruffled its grey coat, worn it inside-out, no threads waver from its confettied stitches. But now the memory of rain saddens me deeply, for I have missed the morning’s song, a beautiful bedtime story, all your words rolled beautifully into one, morgen, liebe, plötzlich.

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Dear P,

Do you remember that Friday? Your anger had made my tears run down like acid on my dry cheeks. I had freshly bathed, soaped and sponged my face, left my skin unmossed and vulnerable, sat in your wait by the window. You walked in the door and I looked at you, beaming. But you refused to love me. You looked at me with an utter disgust in your eyes. There was something between us that felt…soaked, parched; but not thirsty, never thirsty.

In some ways the rift between us did not want to be soothed. It did not want to become a garden; it did not desire to be filled with rain. A wilting rose, which had been new to our orchard only few days ago, happy to be blossoming, joyous to have met the world, had been withered by the lack of compassion and attention offered to it. A forever smiling face too will succumb one day when all who look at it shun it. So my heart wilted, withered, succumbed when you did not touch it, see it, call it your own.

Don’t get me wrong, dear loved. You did not cause me hurt intentionally, or harm me with purpose. Your words were not rude, only sharp. Your touch was never harsh, only calculated. Your love was never inferior, but it was never meant for me.

You might find it difficult, even strange, to comprehend how I gathered so much from one loveless glance. You might prematurely blame it on my overthinking, presumptuous self, but I hope you will move beyond it once you see the truth in it, a truth you had felt and I had come to know. I find my only solace in that glance. It teaches me to seek love everyday in people, it moves me to attach myself to persons who admire me and want my time, it teaches me to find spaces out of the reach of those who censure me for things that come naturally to me.

I have opened my own ballroom and am teaching young girls to dance. I tell them to manoeuvre their body to impress no one, but only to feel a happiness that is truly theirs. Last month I met a young man as I was walking home from the market, a florist. His name is Jo, and he calls me many endearing names. I am doing well for myself and am happy, and maybe even in love.

I hope you too will meet a young girl soon, walking down some solemn street in your mismatched shoes. And perhaps she would laugh at them, and point them out.

I think you will love her greatly.

Yours,

Irene 

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The History of You

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She wore tens of layers in winters. None of them bigger than the ones they superseded. Each the same size, crafted for her round, pink body. They fit over each other like missing pieces of  jigsaw. They made so much sense together.

The white collar peeking from below the red sweater that slept within the sea-coloured coat and the  cream scarf of snow. Each bit a clue to a treasure map I had spent my entire life searching.

A Boat, Me; A Boat, This Year

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As the world moved into a new year,

Fireworks filled the air like air fills the sky.

She gazed at clouds as they were consumed by sparks of hope;

Their light reflected eagerly in her experienced eyes,

And she breathed deeply, stored with her past –

She was a boat beating against the harsh sea,

Ready to be stormed into havoc by the cyclonically happy future.

~

A very happy 2016, dear reader.

Thank you for the inspiration you have lent me throughout this past year as I penned my convoluted thoughts and weaved feeble stories out of them in my sporadic attempts to light a spark with ideas, and warm the heart with words.  At the onset of this new day, I wish and pray that each one of you has an amazing year ahead, one where you can dream without constraint, and, more importantly, one where you can work with unfailing hope to fulfill them.

May you continue to read, write, dream, and inspire. Happy New Year.

The Beginning of a Smile

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And I saw the faintest hint of a smile curl around her lips as she pursed them close and let happiness do a little dance in the bright celestial light in her eyes. Believe me, I saw the beginning of a smile on her face, and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

The turquoise painted edges of her long, beautiful eyelashes glittered under the spotlight like the rarest sea diamonds. The white strokes on the other end looked like the exquisite trademarks of an artist. She stood there, as the curtains closed and the sparkling spotlight withdrew, looking like the most beautifully completed painting. In front of her the crowd broke into a storm of applause, for she had indeed touched them with her brilliance.

She danced like a swan, Mavis. The most beautiful, graceful and elegant swan. Her skin was the warm colour of dusk, difficult to discern even on the most vivid palette; its hue flowed symmetrically from her neck to her toes like smooth caramel. As she turned succinctly to the song, it seemed as if she was yet another melodious note in the music. She danced with rhythm and freedom in the most non-contradictory fashion; she was her stage, and the stage was hers. It was as if a pink feather had befriended the wind, and had agreed to dance her first dance with him – Mavis was a joyous bird in the sky, who had captured my pale heart with her spirit.

In her dance, people saw art. She indeed had a gift, and she knew how to portray it. But as she moved effortlessly on the grand stage, the spotlight fit on her like her own shadow, I saw her pain, as I saw every day when she sat in quiet moments and glimpsed at the sky. The crowd which awed and gasped around me was only aware of the many meanings and feelings she projected with the melody; but it was only I who knew that she was also a reflection of the tornado of emotions within her – she was the expression of her own pain and wretchedness – the most beautiful fire birthed by bruised stones.

As she danced on that stage she would often curl within her own soul and unfurl herself like a dazzling magic trick. She would wind and unwind like a rope, and rise and fall like a wave in the sea. As she twirled into the fancy circles of complex musicality, eagle-like posture and ingeniously immaculate, she would often shred away the cobwebs of tragedy which her heart housed. In her breathless revolutions she would become unmindful of her pain and she would dare to become a person who hadn’t seen the dark machinations of fate. It was as if her dance allowed her to dive deep into the dark rum of life, and let go.

And when she paused to breathe, culminating her art with the most perfect movement, preparing to bow, she raised her head a little high and looked across the blinding lights at the sea of people which looked back at her, some with tears in eyes and clasped hands, just about to break into a thunderous applause. And just before she bowed  she would let the moment seize her and purse her lips together allowing a small grin to curl on the damp shore of her lips, and happiness would vehemently  dance within her glittering eyes, and I swear in that moment I can spot, the beginning of a smile.

And it happens but rarely in life that some beginnings are so beautiful that you wish to stay stuck in them forever and never see the journey they were meant to start.

The Allegory of Space

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Few would understand the allegory of a blank page in a person’s life. It is difficult to contemplate its significance in this galaxy of fast paced ideas, where thoughts transpire into actions with the snap of a finger. In this process, from the renaissance of an idea to its accomplishment, the blank paper lingers like an abandoned feather in the gusty wind – oscillating through time and cosmos, to remind us how the inception of every idea is utter, plain fallow  space.

Like smudged finger impressions on a sheet of glass, ideas are the colour that paint a blank sheet. The first alphabet of a bestseller, the first stroke of brush of a masterpiece – an artist would know historic masterworks have taken birth on this very blank sheet of paper. This blank sheet of paper has seen everything from an art’s creation to its final breath of completion. It has witnessed its exalt and kept its craft alive to be relived by posterities to come. It has seen the darkness that falls on the creator’s face when – a comma, a palate shade – a question of artful choice keeps them awake, and it has experienced first-hand the joy of recognizing a good idea.

It is in the limitless freedom it offers that there hides a serine beauty and an uncapped capacity to do wonders. This blank sheet of paper has traced every step, each correction and every revamp of things that went from good to great.

It has seen history take shape. Like the unmoving pearl in the depth of sea, it has rested inside age-old ballot boxes to dictate political and humanitarian fortune. It is the backbone of a map of treasure, of every national paper hiding secrets, of each tarot card that takes life, and the lottery ticket that changes it.

In all of eternity, beneath the masterworks of Mona Lisa and Hamlet, underlies a subtle sheet of paper – the modest creator of magic. The weatherproof tool of an innovator, this sheet of paper, has taught people how easy it is to rewrite both history and coming fate. It has become the torch that gleams and reiterates across land and sea of how the impoverished poor and spectacular rich meet on the same door to incept craft. This sheet is not just paper, but another design in the syntax of art, which resonates how everyone is at par, which holds you by the shoulder and whispers boldly in your ear how creating art is an equal act, how it has not bent with ages, and not melted with stereotype, and how it has remained level, no matter how lopsided or biased the world around it became.

In its ordinary stature it has reminded men and women of everyday life that making beginnings does not cost much. It has become, almost unknowingly, the emblem of start, of creation, and of invention. This blank sheet of paper has inspired a heart to confess love; it has faithfully held the doctor’s hand when he scribbled the death certificate.

It is on a blank sheet of paper that I scribble my love for it because it all begins here, on an untrodden path.

How I Went To Sleep

As a kid, no one used to read me bed time stories, except for the ones about ghosts, instantly cooked by my Aunt, to make my eyes startle and feed me an extra piece of bread by the treason of her storytelling, and the ones which never met an end for I would fall asleep less than half way through them, muttered by Dad long before I was five. This was for two reasons basically. One, that I developed  a love for reading very quickly and second, clichéd as it is, like any other kid, I liked watching the colourful illustrations which came along with stories in books unlike in those narrated.

After having read sets of Disney books that came in coloured cartooned packets  about princesses, beasts, ducks, peas, elves, apples and wicked witches (and houses made of candy and sweet!), I came across my first real novel. My Dad brought me a not so fat, not so very thin, blue coloured book home one day on his way back from work. This, made up for all his inconsistent sleepy storytelling in the past, and was the best thing that ever happened to me. “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl came to me like a miracle. It is still, almost eleven years later, the finest I have ever read. No wonder why it is one popular book.

What beats a good story about the greatest chocolate factory (which churns chocolate with a waterfall), and the hard luck of one poor, famished but content boy who finds a golden ticket to tour it? Roald Dahl has held my hand through the longest period of my childhood. In times when no one else had fine stories to speak of, became repetitive and got tired with my pestering, Roald Dahl, became my best friend, and toured me through the most mystical of worlds, and never failed to serve me the best of tales. He took me from stories of evil witches (Did you know they are bald?), of balcony love with a tortoise as a mediator, of giant peaches and grasshoppers, about the book nerd with superpowers, the finest hunting father and his adventures with his son, stories of a painting company that uses a giraffe as ladder, and a lot many more, to a big brown book with stories about prostitutes, mystery filled extra marital affairs and witchy landladies. He practically helped me grow.

Today, I have read each and every book written by that fine old man. He created magic with his yellow pencils behind that tiny yellow door of his white hut (Yes, I am a maniac). What more, his fan club newsletters are the only ones I regularly read. And even though age has set me quite apart from his storylines, my soul strives to stay adjunct with his tales, and refuses to forgo the beauty of the books. And even though I have become more of a Dan Brown, Suzanne Collins, J.K Rowling, Chetan Bhagat, Deborah Levy reading person, I am a Dahl reader at heart. My reader self will always belittle the idea that I have outgrown the time when I could enthrall these books. I trust them more than anything I ever will. I will laugh the same, and dream only as much as I did then when I turn their pages today , but until I do they have taken a quiet place in my book stack, but their coloured spines, have still a higher degree of grace than any other book does for me.

To squeeze in one little thing- Roald Dahl books have a peculiar smell of old paper, which readers like me have a certain nose for. These are books you can read, smell and live (and eat if you can). These are not the conformist childhood favourites, or epitomic bedtime stories or first reads for that matter, but one who has read them knows that their loveliness is way beyond these petty tags.

The title of this article is somewhat unfitting, for my love for Roald Dahl’s books never really put me sleep, it rather kept me awake. Making me turn page over page, chapter by chapter, from one detail to the other, unto the path to discover true pure literal lyrical magic. There is no appropriate way to close word on my article today, for words cannot appreciate a man who went beyond them just enough. But probably how Roald Dahl would put it, his world of marvel is indeed the most dory hunky and glorimptious you can find and if you haven’ ventured it yet, then you are one frothbungling!

On that note, I pick up one book which I haven’t read since a long time, and I ruffle its pages against the flash light by my bed. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory read the first page. I turn to the first chapter…to sweet sleep.