14th December 2020 | Dear Anand

14th December 2020

Dear Anand

I’m traveling for work at the moment.

Today I had breakfast at a place overlooking a busy intersection of the city I’m staying in. The light rail, the bicycle track, the drive lanes all in perfect crisscross synergy taking commuters to their destinations. The morning light weaving through the buildings frequently getting caught on shinny surfaces; the bell of a bicycle, the rear view mirror of a car, the tray of a concrete truck – glimmering in the crisp summer air. As if they all spoke to each other. The buildings, the cars, the roads, the sun in a language only they could understand. On how to intricately keep functioning without colliding with the other.

With my pancakes order this morning came a largish small jug of maple syrup and some fruits & berries. And half a passionfruit. The passionfruit reminded me of my dad. He loves passionfruit. He buys them by the heaps and cuts them all up on a plate and slowly slurps them one by one with a spoon. He does sometimes offer half (only 1 half) to anyone around but usually nobody takes up on the offer. I won’t be going to his home for Christmas this year so I guess rest of the family would be spared from our mid-morning Christmas day squabble. Usually it’s about how I’ve gotten into his carton of beer.

Growing up I always thought my family was relatively cultured but it was only when I saw the horror on the face of a visiting relative once when they heard my father speak, did I realise our household was as bogan as they got in Fiji. No other joke makes us all laugh as hard as when told in our uncouth slang which everyone in the family now speaks in, making it even harder for outsiders to understand us. But we all hardly speak to each other these days in our bogan. We’ve become civil, polite. We speak in “I’m wells” and “how’s the weather” now.

Christmas time is not as merry as the commercials and the shop sales tend to make us believe it is. Every year for every one person looking forward to going home for Christmas, I usually know 3 who dread being with their family during the holidays.

Mothers, fathers, stepparents, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons, uncles, nieces, grandparents, who no longer know how to talk to each other, who no longer understand the people they share their DNA coding with, who no longer know what to do with their empty spaces they all helped each other clear out.

Anand, how is it that we sometimes don’t know how to talk to the very people who taught us how to speak? Taught us the nuances of our language, the inflections of our voices, the meaning of our words?

I sat staring at the half cut passionfruit on my plate for a bit too long this morning. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to eat it or not. I finally scoped it out and slurped my spoon. The sharp tartness of the pulp drew tears. I then remembered my father sprinkles sugar all over his plate full of passionfruit before he eats them. I couldn’t find any sugar on my table so poured some of the leftover maple syrup. The next spoonful made the corners of mouth quiver a little.

I went on to work. It’s evening now and I’m back in own bed. I still haven’t found the words all day to say it out loud to myself that I miss him.

On days like today, I wish you and I talked more often.

Love,
Shyamni.

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