This happened. This really happened. I saw my entire life flash before my eyes today. It’s been happening for a few days now. And it’s getting more and more intense by the day. So intense that I don’t know anymore how to tell what’s real and what’s imagined. Is this an ancient memory being handed over to me by beings from beyond? Is this a fanciful dream? Am I living a daydream? Am I deluding myself? Or is this a grand narrative – perhaps not very grand but a narrative, nonetheless – that’s unfurling before my eyes.
And yet, it’s grand. It’s beyond my understanding, beyond my control. It’s a pre-written script and I have been handed my part to play.
And I will read this script, and I will play this part. I will make the very mistakes I know I will make. I could avoid them, but I won’t. I could alter this script a bit. Could I? Maybe. But I won’t. I will play along. I will take my time. I will waste precious time. Life is short. And yet, I will waste all this time, knowing that I will eventually go to you one day – and only you – and I will come to you.
I have known it all along. From the very first day I saw you. Even I didn’t know then that I had known it all along. The soul has memory. And today it’s as clear as day. We are all actors, automatons, behaving according to a pre-written script. You too had known it all along, though you wouldn’t let yourself admit it. Ah, the way you attempted defiance, knowing that you too will surrender to all this.
That attraction from day one. You didn’t even know I existed then. As for me, I never imagined you would turn out to be one of my most significant people. But today I have been handed the complete script to read, and I know how it ends. Don’t worry, it won’t be bad. But it’s bittersweet, and it gets sad, and it gets more bittersweet towards the end. We will cry, both of us, at the end of this bittersweet film. But it’s okay. It’s beautiful, in fact. The best stories, the most memorable ones, the ones that stay with you till the end are the ones that make you cry. Make them cry in the end, says the writer of the script. And they will love it. They will weep, and they will be glad it happened this way. Let these puny actors play their predestined parts and let them be their own audience.
But let’s not talk of tears for now. There is yet time before we part. I want to think of your laugh. Your utterly crazy, whacky laughter. Who laughs like that, I thought to myself when I heard it first. And I wanted to hold you and kiss you at that very instant. Did you even know I was listening to you laugh, and going mad inside with love? And I know I will narrate this to you one day. And I know I will make stupid jokes later. And I know you will laugh at my stupid jokes. And I know I will hear that laugh of yours and love you even more. And you will too.
And now that I have written this down I feel a bit better. I’m certainly not weeping anymore. Maybe it wasn’t really a grand narrative being handed to me to read. How could I be so mistaken? This was all my imagination. Or was it? It’s not a pre-written script if I have stopped to think of what’s next. It’s cathartic, though. There’s awe and terror in realising that we puny humans believe we are acting according to our own plans. But surely, this is automatic writing. Someone else is showing me what happens next, and I am just translating it, putting it down literally in words. For you to read one day in my waning death-bed presence.
And I don’t want to write anymore. I don’t want to know what happens next either. Even though I already know. It is a grand manipulation indeed. We are the butt of a stupid joke, though we may pretend to ourselves that it’s a grand narrative. I look at a picture of yours. And I look at it repeatedly. This one, without manipulation. Of course, that’s impossible. Everything is manipulation, but sometimes you do glimpse truth peeping out from beneath it all. And there you are, standing alone. You are not posing. You are probably not even aware you are being photographed. And even if you knew, you couldn’t care less. You look groggy. Your hair is a mess. Did you just wake up? You look stoned! And I will tell this to you one day. And you will say, out of all my pictures, this was the one you liked? Yes, I will say. Because you were so yourself. That sweet, childlike vulnerability. There wasn’t any staging, any orchestrating, any manipulating. I saw truth in it.
And now that I have written this down as well, I am convinced that, surely, I have been hallucinating. But then I know it’s not all a dream, even though it is. It will begin with me gifting you a book. Someone else’s personal narrative. You will look a little surprised at this gift. I really admire the writer of this book, I will say. You have never even heard of him. If there’s anyone who should read this book, it’s you. Truth be told, I haven’t finished reading it myself yet. I don’t know how it ends. But then, I do, because the writer wrote the end right at the beginning. And that’s life. And much later I will recall to you: I was sitting with this old woman, who happens to be a friend of yours. And I began thinking aloud to myself, almost unaware that I am supposed to be in conversation with her, and I say that I will gift this book to you. Oh yes, you should, she said. And I was suddenly aware that someone was listening to me. He will really like it. You should.
And soon after that I see you, an artist too, a writer, a narrator, another manipulator of narrative, at work. Everything was ho-hum until then, and suddenly you sprang to life. As if you stopped thinking consciously about creating art, you listened to your own inner voice, and just then, seamlessly, like a higher power was writing through you, you began creating. And I stood there, transfixed, knowing that this was the real thing. Now you were speaking the truth, even though you didn’t know it yourself. You thought you were fashioning it, orchestrating this, fabricating everything, but the truth was peeping out. And then you just turned to me and smiled. Why is he suddenly smiling at me, I thought, only to realize that I had been smiling all along myself. Standing and smiling stupidly to myself while looking at you, because I had seen you being yourself, doing your real thing, telling your truth, being the great artist that you are. And I will tell this too to you one day.
Or maybe I am still hallucinating. I am living in a dream, in a memory, it’s all imagined, really. I didn’t know what to write at all, and then suddenly all this began pouring out. I am conscious that I am constructing it. And yet, I’m not.
I can now only seek out the goddess. I will go to her shrine. And I know I will weep. I need you to help me, I will tell her. Restore my sanity, please. And she will respond to my entreaty by putting me on this very path that leads to you, and away from you. How cruel of her. How compassionate of her. We will cry in the end. And we will thank her for it. Oh, goddess!
Post Script: I wrote this letter of sorts a year ago for RIC’s Kali issue. It was so personal I could only submit it anonymously. But it was still too personal, and so truthful it hurt, and so I ended up requesting Saudamini to not carry this piece at all.
A year later, after real life has reared its ugly, or simply pragmatic, face and made it abundantly clear that this wasn’t going to be the narrative that would unfurl after all, I feel alright about seeing this letter published, as a document of the rush of feelings in my mind.
A month after I wrote this last year, I suddenly recalled something about him like a flash – a thunderbolt piece of reality, a jolt of truth, and not my imagination – a memory to which I had strangely developed amnesia. This was a shock of a fact. As this memory entered my mind, burning all else to cinders, it seemed as if I had been deliberately tricked into forgetting it. I let havoc rain on him, on myself, on my family, and everyone who came within my fury’s ambit. Now that this apparent love, for lack of a better word, does not seem to be anywhere close to fruition, it consoles me to read this and remind myself that I too am capable of being tender and loving and not always a wrathful harridan. It also reminds me that the devil is lurking in all of us. I saw the devil in him and responded in kind by turning into an unbridled, raging fiend myself.
However, this letter is still dedicated to my goddess, Linga Bhairavi, another form of Kali. Who seems to have shunned me for now, who throws me out of her temple when I try to enter the sanctum sanctorum. So I ask the goddess why she let me loose on the wrong path in the first place, thrown like a magnet towards someone with such anarchic madness, which would let loose the devil in me too? Why did you, Devi, fierce and compassionate Mother?
All photos taken at Tibetan Colony, New Delhi.
Divya Sachar is a Delhi based writer and filmmaker.