23rd May 2021 | Dear Anand

May 23rd 2021

Dear Anand,

I never thought it’d be possible back then that a single day would pass without you in it. But lately you’ve been fading even from the fine crevices you still used to lingered in. The smell of you on pillows next to mine is faint almost gone. The way you arranged my 20 pairs of shoes near the doorway is disarrayed again and I can’t recall the order you had set them in. I’ve stopped restocking the coffee you drink because it’s too expensive to keep throwing out.

On days when life’s battles were one too many, I’d often go out and sit in some random cafe to breathe and there I’d find you sitting on a table on the other side of the terrace smiling. Your eyes, the kindest I know, saying this too shall pass. I can no longer feel that warmth, that comfort of your eyes around me in cafes, Anand.

Back then I’d spent many an afternoon observing your eyes while you worked at your bench. I know you thought I was mesmerised by your eyes like everyone else but it was actually the deep crinkles around your eyes that fascinated me. I often wanted to reach over and gently caress those lines smooth, to coax out the pain hidden in those folds, to slowly kiss in the same kindness your eyes have for everyone around with you.

There was a time, Anand, when your eyes on me was all that mattered. Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote a nazm in 1943 “..teri aankhon ke siwaa duniyaa mein rakhkhaa kya hai?” (For what is the worth of this world but the sight of your eyes?) but lately I haven’t thought much about your eyes.

Yesterday 4,205 people died in India from Covid-19 because the country’s government were too busy trying to retain their power. 66 children were bombed to death in Gaza as rest of the world just watched and more than 8,000 people right now are trying to swim across from Morocco to Spain because a death on the way is much better than a life staying where they were. A military coup in Myanmar and mass kidnapping hundreds of school girls in Nigeria are just things we’ve gotten used to.

Parts of earth are soaked in blood, some overflowed with tears and many covered in ash. And for those parts where everything is ‘normal’ our governments have filled us with so much fear of the ‘outside’ that we’re convinced they are keeping us ‘safe’ in a bubble.

I wonder what Ganesh, Jesus and Allah are wearing on their feet lately – to keep them clean while they walk the earth? They still do come down here, na?

I never thought back then that any other grief apart from ours would ever matter and an existence without each other possible. But lately I’m being pulled into a world that no longer has you in it. In which I must now live. You are still part of the very fabric of my being, Anand but as Faiz wrote “Ab bhi dilkash hai tera husn, magar kya keeje? Aur bhi dukh hai zamaane mein muhabbat ke siwaa.” (Your beauty still allures, but what can I do? There are sorrows in this world, far beyond the pleasures of love). It scares me that one day very, very soon I will have to delicately wrap us in layers and layers of mul dyed in saffron & laced with marigold petals and store us away…

One day, Anand, if we both live through this and run into each other in the lavender fields of Provence, I hope we both can rewrite the last line of Faiz’s nazm “Mujh se pehli si muhabbat mere mehboob na maang” (so my love, do not ask from me the love we shared before). I hope you will ask and if you do ask, I really hope I can still love you the same then.

Love,
Shyamni.

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