OPEN LETTER 

Dear future wife,
I wish I can call you by name. Such a terribly cold and lonely night and I am thinking of you. I wonder if you like to stay up late night or wake up early in the morning. I can’t even guess how you look like, what language you speak and what religion you profess. I wonder if you often think about me and are concerned about your career in the similar way. I wonder if you drink a lot of tea or prefer coffee. Well, I often try to cheat my mind by having hot water like I am doing now while writing this. I had too much of tea today. If you smoke a lot then I must tell you that too much smell of nicotine really puts me off. So never anticipate a kiss from me after smoking. Once I asked a crush of mine if she likes poets or philosophers. And she replied, “Poets”. I read Diwan-e Ghalib to impress her. I actually discovered the book those days and that generated my interest in poetry and other disciplines. I supplied her a lot of poetry. It worked for a while but not after I ran out of comprehensible stuff and she totally lost interest in me. Now i laugh at myself when I think of those days. I don’t want to say much but her car driver was earning more salary than I was. Anyway, I am a grown up man now and I don’t read to please anyone. I read like my life depends on it. And my life now depends on my PhD and the choices I will make in this period. Do you also often think that nobody understands you? And that is not easy to express the way you feel but the same time that helps you to have empathy for others? I have always found kind and intelligent woman extremely attractive and you must be the epitome of those qualities. I admit that I am not so clear about you. If you exist, you will uncondition me from one secretly held perception of mine that every woman I find attractive is attracted towards the other guy, who often seem to me either rich, or popular. I still do not underestimate myself too much. This letter is an example that my idealism is not dead yet. It will not die as long as I am reading good stuff, thinking better thoughts and friends around showering me with their love. I need a lot of improvement and i wish to learn from the qualities of the different people I meet. I try to understand what is likeable or interesting about them. Someone is energetic, someone is generous, someone is so well read, someone is so eloquent and someone is so focused on their work. Nothing is as encouraging as great qualities (that most of the 99 names of God also talks about) are visibly embodied in the people around you. I wish I can I incorporate those qualities in me. I have lot of interesting and secret experiences of mine to share with you as a single man looking for love. I understand money is important, but lusting after fame, money and power is not my style and I am sure yours not too.

Hope to see you in the future,
Rashid
8/9 January 2019

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WOMAN OBSERVED AT BATLA HOUSE*    

She appeared-
as my hope for the colors
of the ghetto’s narrow labyrinthine lane
a noisy dullness-
teeming with men and veiled women
Her white scarf-
green-blue flowers and fringes
draped over her head and shoulder
A jacket-
dark blue
A long skirt-
kaleidoscopic print over pale white
The stalls-
selling clothes, bangles
and other adornments
fluorescent, or incandescent light above them
ensuring their bright appearance
She walked slowly-
observing-
not looking ahead
bending over a little
looking more closely
Her small, deft hands
over bangles
At our closest distance-
I saw the calm grace
of her face
A sudden sparkle
from her nose-pin-
broke my gaze

Colors that reached my eyes-

reflected subtraction
 of the absolute light
Colors she kept behind
to herself-
non-visual
unrevealed-
painted a mystery transfiguring
I was back again
to the dullness
My holey boots-
rambled
in the crowd
over my hesitant shadow
with hands inside my pockets
Inexplicable to my mind-
the afterglow of colors
Sparkle
of her nose-pin-
revealing itself
as my clear moment
with the light.
*Batla House is a Muslim ghetto in Delhi.