This is a challenge I was inspired to go forth with by The-Emo-Wolverine. Through it I shall battle the very persistent writer’s block of mine by scribbling down an open letter every week to a person of my choice, who could be a friend, a foe, a public fictional or historical figure and on the list goes. I won’t write down their names and sometimes I may refer to them by their characteristics. You can guess who they are, if you want.
I got to know you better in the past week more than when you were alive, 16 years ago. I weaved my way through letters, photographs, job resumes and electricity bills. In the end I came to the conclusion that I belonged to you more than I belong to your daughter. The realization hit me sharply and suddenly as ocean waves crash against the rocky cliffs of Hawk’s Bay; bringing immense joy and nostalgia at the same time.
Reading letters forbidden to the eyes of a stranger, I realized how blessed you were. It made me, a solitary soul, yearn for another person who would address me as, ‘mere pyaarey jaani.’ Who would be sick with worry for me when I’m away and take any injury to himself as a disaster happening to his beloved. I laugh when they show me first draft letters which they had to refine before mailing them to you. They claim that you were a Grammar Nazi at heart, reprimanding every grammatical mistake even when you were thousand of miles away. I can empathize with you. I know what an ordeal that is.
They tell me you had an uncanny obsession with words. There were random phrases on bits and pieces of paper. Your job resumes were a work of art themselves. I was allowed to save only one of them, the rest were torn and thrown away in trash. I’ve been carrying your legacy since the day I got my first book. I’ve been writing ceaselessly just for the sake of my sanity.
Sometimes I wonder how things would have been if you were alive right now. How would you have reacted to my prodigal and outspoken nature, my spontaneous behaviour and defiance. I like to believe that you would have understood what it felt to live in a patriarchal society. I like to believe that you would’ve encouraged me to rant around about everything that disgusted and frustrated me. I like to believe that you would have taught me more of this world than my parents alone. I picture us going out, touring the country and taking everything in, with our love for learning flourishing behind. I picture you firmly standing behind me when the whole world was bent on destroying your granddaughter with false accusations. This is what has kept me on my two feet. Knowing that once upon a time, a soul travelled in the sub-continent from places to places, bearing hunger and loneliness for the sake of education and then later for his family. The knowledge that someone who understood how I felt, once existed. It is enthralling at its best. It’s relieving.
I have a tendency to write letters when it is too late. And this is one of those many, many letters. Does one feel anything in the other world, when he is missed by his loved ones? Do you feel a tug on your heart? Will you visit me, even if that’s only in my dreams, if I yearn for you hard enough?
Much love, Kashaf.