4th April 2021 | Dear Anand

4th April 2021

Dear Anand,

There is a little chill in the air these days.

It’s Easter Sunday. I’ve managed to find one lone open coffee shop after gym today. I’m sitting outside writing to you while leaves in all shades of golden, orange, brown rustle past my ankles down the street in the soft breeze this morning.

Javed Akhtar Sahib would describe this as “Peele Patto Ka Masuam [Aaa] Chuka Hai. Zameen Mein Har Taraf Rang Hi Rang Hain.” (Season of the yellow leaves is here. On the ground, there’s colours everywhere.)

And just like every other sufi, lover, poet across the eons who’ve written letters to someone of faraway, I have now also managed to write to you about the weather.

Why is it that the little precious space we get in our blank sheets, we end up filling it with inane things like the change of seasons? Is it because it’s been too long and we can’t find no more words?

The streets this morning are uncannily quiet. For once, the seasons are getting to speak; put on a display and the few of us outside this morning are getting to listen. Apart from the two or three times in a year, non-stop hustle and bustle of this city often outshines the seasons and so often they pass through without us noticing. But today it’s one of those days when this city has gone away. Tomorrow when they all come back, autumn would well and truly be here.

Javed Sahib further penned the change of season as “Yehin Sab Kuchh Tha Jab Hum Tum Mile The, Wohin Sab Kuchh Hai, Lekin Tum Nahin Ho.” (the weather was just like this when we had met, today everything is just the way it was then, then when we had met. Except today you’re not here.)

The empty streets this morning reminds me of those gulliyas (alleyways) we once roamed in around the world with our hair matted in local red dust, eyes caked in wonder, mouths stained with each other, and the only sound roaring in our ears in the middle of a crowded Andalusian market was our syncing heartbeats.

I think the change of season reminds us of the time passing us by. It reminds us of the hollow days and long months. The extra grey in our hair and slight creak in our bones. Perhaps that’s why we take it to our pen to write about the weather. To remind each other of the time we’re letting slip by.

The seasons remind you of the little things. Just like how autumn creeps up on you one day suddenly in the middle of April. I wonder if little things have changed about you that no one else has noticed? Do you still only drink that one brand of coffee? How are your hands – what new stories have folded themselves in the creases of your knuckles? If I hugged you, will I still fit perfectly under your chin? What if your shoulders have shrunk – will you be able to fold me completely into your chest?

It has been many seasons now, Anand.

Some days when I’m rushing from one meeting to another, my chest creaks a little. It begs me to stop. Just so my chest can remember what it felt like to be crushed against yours. Some days, in the middle of a meeting when I’m resolving twenty different ongoing issues; each more urgent than the other, I have to press my hand over my chest because I’m afraid it might crack into a sob so loud that everyone will hear.

My coffee has arrived. Another gust of the breeze shakes out another shower of yellow leaves from the jacaranda tree across the street and I watch them all blowing down the road. Soon that tree will be empty.

I know, Anand. You still occasionally hear me when you pass by a bunch of white roses. Some afternoons I slip into your half biscuit and sometimes when you get caught in unannounced rains, my feet covered in sand flashes in front of you.

I feel it would have been a similar cool autumn morning somewhere in Punjab when Amrita Pritam would’ve penned “Main Tenu Fer Milangi” (I will meet you again). Her words “Kithe? Kis trah? Pata nahi” (where? how? I don’t know) might have been written in the season of yellow leaves too, who’ve since then carried her words across the centuries. To whisper again and again, and to bring comfort and hope to letter writers when they first begin to pen about the weather.

I know not how and where but main tenu fer milangi, Anand.

Love,
Shyamni.

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