I don’t know where to begin, and I have not written this letter to you with a definitive intent. It is a conversation, and I think I may have just found the thread.
Well, my head has found the light…
Many years ago, when I had endured a loving beating by my mother, when I had broken her favourite vase; knocked it off the table with a sharp thud into its leg with my tricycle, somehow, the light had fallen out of my head. I can’t seem to remember just where I had dropped it, and I had run out of the house into the balcony, in the Sunday morning sunlight, and my eyes had flowed out of me, golden drops of my innocence, glistening, falling, sliding, dripping down to my chin and disappearing in between my fingers.
I remember I had forgotten all the tenderness of her love, in those ten minutes in the hot Sun. It felt like my little skin had turned opaque to the rays of luminous. I heard her call out to me, longingly from the kitchen after a few moments, and her voice went past me like I wasn’t even there. My heart was still, for so long, it seemed like forever, till I felt her arms come from behind me and lift me up like a doll, my arms hung by the sides as if I had died. She held my head to her soft shoulder and let me bury my face in her hair. It smelled of her sweet smelling shampoo, and all the cooking she was in the middle of. I loved that smell. One of my favourite things to do was to smell things. I loved smelling shoe polish, foods, spices, oils, ointments, creams, medicines, syrups, cigarettes, shampoos, toothpaste, and the like.
She sat down on the floor, holding me still in her lap, and wiped my eyes, letting out tears of her own with her softest smile. I could see she was hiding something behind her, with her left hand. My eyes looked into hers questioningly, and soon I had begun to mischievously try and take it away. Eventually, she gave it to me.
It was a book. It smelled like sweet wood, and the scent filled up my small lungs, it felt heady, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I kept staring at it for a long time, while still sitting in her arms. The pages inside, felt fragile and had this nice warm yellow colour to them. It instantly became my favourite colour. On some pages a corner was missing, on some, the edge was withering; hardbound in thick sheets, but old and becoming frail. The cover said, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE By Maurice Sendak.
She said, “This is what you should be playing with if you want to be fast and strong.”
Minutes later I found myself alone in the room, sitting in a corner beside the cupboard, drowning in the sea of the book. I became all things, and above all things I became still, like I was the cupboard itself or part of it. I began to fill my new found shelves with words, poems and stories, and books; more books and more.
Every day, I would either be a rare animal of some sort, or the bird with the largest wingspan, or an ancient rock monolith, or the rivers, or a hill or a storm, or an asteroid tumbling through the vastness of outer space, or an old tree. Always searching for the light, I lost when I was a child, till many years later. As time passed, I wanted to be many things; even today, I wish to be many things alive and inanimate.
Recently, on an otherwise uneventful morning, I woke up in a beaker, fluid and bubbling chaotic; I had lost all form. The Sun dried up the darkness of dawn and I was in a Petri dish, amorphous and unmoving, but my colours were changing, from violet to a cerulean blue, to an orange to a strong yellow to a deep but radiant red; spontaneously, I was going through a chemical reaction. My heart was beating in agonal heaves and my skin was covered in dewy precipitate, my eyes were closed. My whole body was vibrating, like an earthquake yet I was unstirring. Beeping about in my mind; was a radio station of memories, and thoughts, changing stations with feelings.
I opened my eyes to what seemed like an announcement and reached for the cellular phone buzzing under my pillow. I saw my mother’s name flicker on the screen and my earthquake quickly came to a halt, and my world became still, in a haze; curtains dancing in slow motion, a dove in flight, moved from the wardrobe to the light of the open window.
When I blinked, I was on my little bed, in my blue pajamas, rubbing my eyes reaching out for her early in the winter morning; I had to get ready for school. I spoke to her unknowingly, in the smallest voice I could have made at my age, and she wished me a good morning, and said she thought of me for no apparent reason, and that a reason was not necessary, and that she loved me.
Several minutes later, I climbed off my bed and sat on the floor, reaching under it to pull out a chest. When I opened it, my hands knew where to find what I was looking for, and my fingers trembled as I held firmly but gently, the book that had started it all. I leaned against the wardrobe and began reading.
I was gone. I fell into the sea of the book again. At once, I became all things I always wanted to be, all things alive and inanimate and above in the shining Sunday Sun, my head found the light I have been looking for, for so many years. It feels like, I have traveled the entire Universe around and come back to my mother’s arms, to collect the tears she had given me, and her gift; the gift of books, and then I was shining.
I want to show you my light and illuminate your heart with it, for therein lies the warmth I seek. That little rock inside of you needs to melt and I have made up my mind about making you lose it to me. Lose your heart to me.
I want to spend a lifetime leaned into you, and you leaning into me, and when the time is right, we will shine together, as one and I will have become the most beautiful of all things, I will have become you. Let us do this.
This is all I ask of you.
Siddharth Pathak | 30th October 2013