12th June 2022
I hope these letters still find you. This month will have been 3 years since I first began writing to you. How are you? Are you looking after you for me?
I wonder though who of me you still remember and who of you you still remain?
I’m back on the island this week. It’s past one in the morning and I’m nowhere near halfway through this report due in the next 23 hours.
It is the beginning of the winter months here. I’ve left one half of the main door open tonight. Outside everything is awash in pearly light. It must be close to a full moon. The air heavy with sweet, heady scent of a flowering dracaena fragrans plant (corn plant) nearby. “Lucky Plants” my mother calls them.
Moonbeams, so bright, are trying to break into this dark living room through every gap it can find. Rows and rows of thin, fat, thick, narrow, grande moonbeams streaking across the brown-tiled floor. The last occupiers of this place thought these checkered brown tiles ugly. They remind me of that old villa we stayed in the outskirts of Panjim once. They remind me of its brown roof tiles, yellow walls, white arches, blue doors and green dinner plates; its old Portuguese courtyard in the back, the wooden swing on which we both fit; our sunburned brown feet. And Malika-e-Ghazal’s husky tones flowing throughout the house into the Goan fields.
I didn’t think possible once but I can no longer resonate with the woman on that swing. These days I am so engrossed in wheels and towers that I don’t think much about the woman I am becoming. Hashmi Saheb in the early 70’s wrote “…waqt ki qaid mein zindagi hai, magar…” (…life is trapped in the prison of time, but…). So here I am moving along as waqt swirls me forward.
And you, have you moved on from the you I knew? Did you find all that you were seeking?
I don’t yearn for those days anymore. Maybe I’ve just accepted that there is no going back now. Perhaps I just don’t look for answers anymore. After a long time, on this checkered brown floor glistening with moonlight, I’ve caught a glimpse of the old me sitting on the floor. I don’t want her to fade away just yet so I won’t ask her any questions tonight; whether she’s happy, where exactly did I take the wrong turn…
I just want to sit with her. I know you are fading too, Anand, but come sit with me tonight.
“waqt ki qaid mein zindagi hai, magar (life is trapped in the prison of time, but)
chand ghadiyaan yehi hain jo azaad hain.” (these are the few moments that are free.)
Did you know that Lucky Plants take a long time to flower? They bloom after some 5 years. Sometimes they take up to 10 years only to bloom for a short while, usually towards the end of winter. They offer no signs of change or significance, they just one day flower into the headiest of scents in your garden. Perhaps we are like corn plants, Anand?
The old us on the wooden swing would have laughed till one of us fell over! Tonight I’m too tired to even crack a smile. The blinking cursor on my computer screen prompting of more graver things. But after a long time, I’ve thought of that me. Sit for little bit longer, Anand, so I can remind me of me, perhaps you of you…
“aaj jaane ki zid na karo (tonight, don’t insist on leaving)
yoon hi pehloo mein baithe raho (keep on sitting close to me like you are)
aaj jaane ki zid na karo.” (tonight, don’t insist on leaving.)
…as Khanum’s enchanting voice blends with the cool, scented moonbeams around us tonight.