How hard could it be to find a stupid bottle of sleeping pills?
Pretty darn hard, as I was discovering that night, rummaging through the messy store-cupboard.
I’d always thought that the saying ‘Couldn’t live in peace; could I at least die in peace?’ was too clichéd for words but heck if I wasn’t finding out the truth of it the hard way.
Ah, there it was—finally—wait, what was that?
A little blue envelope drifted out of the junk and fell to the floor. Why did it look so familiar? I bent down and picked it up, fingers trembling a little.
I eased out the page inside, the bold heading nudging buried memories.
“Dear Siya,” it began. My heart suddenly slowed down, not trying to make its violent way out of my chest anymore. I knew what was coming next.
“Hello there, you grown-up person, you! At least I expect you’ve grown up. You don’t sleep with mum any longer, do you? Ah well, it’s all right if you do. She’s rather cozy, I know. I do hope you haven’t lost that insane streak we have. Tuck it tightly into your heart and feed it every day; it’s going to be what keeps you going, bud.”
A tear rolled down my cheek, catching on my smile. I didn’t even remember the last time that streak had paid a visit. Life was all about the shades of grey now, instead of the glorious Technicolor my 13-year old self was so used to.
“Anyway, so our English teacher (you remember Ms. Singh, right?) was telling us all about time capsules today, and so I thought, why not put my brilliant writing skills to some use and send my 18-year-old self a little piece of me?
How are you, ghonchu? Still losing everything you own and finding something funny about every tiny thing life throws at you? Still fumbling on your laces every three minutes because you’re too darn lazy to tie them? Still crying over fictional characters and drowning your sorrows in cheese balls? Still exchanging souls and stories with those twits you call your friends every afternoon with the usual supply of coke? Oh, and please don’t tell me that best friend of mine is still obstinately by your side?”
My brain couldn’t decide between crying and laughing and had settled on a weird snort-sniffle routine by then. God, I was just so silly back then. And so deliriously happy. I could almost picture myself snuggled up on the couch, tongue sticking out, favourite black pen scribbling away fervently, pouring out the beautiful fragments of my life onto paper. And there I was now, trying to put myself to eternal sleep, tired of the very same life, albeit with a few changes. Yes, my life wasn’t the same anymore. Or was it simply me who had changed?
“Okay, so let’s get to the point, then. I’m just going to quickly list out 7 things that made me smile today and you’d better smile at them, too, missie. Here goes-
1) Waking up because a ray of sun rudely poked my face and realizing I still had 8 minutes to sleep and then drifting off under the toasty, warm blanket, smiling like a loon, floating in that heavenly limbo between dawn and morning.
2) The curly-haired girl who hopped onto the bus, clinging to her mother’s dupatta and burst into giggles when I winked at her.
3) Farida tickling me all throughout Maths, and stunning ma’am with perfect answers every time she came to yell at us, while I disguised my laughter with hasty coughing fits.
4) The smoking hot vada-pav that burned my tongue at Recess but warmed me right down to my toes.
5) The bunch of mogras that plopped onto my head as I was jogging through the park and the great-smelling ring I made out of them.
6) Mumma’s face when I gave the ring to her. (and the extra rasgulla I got at dinner.)
7) Imagining that an adult me is going to be reading these very words and feeling jealous of how amazing she was as a brand-new teenager.”
The letter was getting more smudged by the second as my tears rained freely, heavy with salt and nostalgia. I tried to pinpoint the exact moment in these five years when I’d taken off my rosy glasses and shoved on the darkest pair I could find, but try as I might, I failed. When had I transformed from the girl who made everyone laugh to this girl who had almost forgotten her own? And why? I still had the same family, the same idiot friends, a fantastic college and a healthy body. Only thing I was missing was that stubbornly fierce fire in my heart that used to emanate its warmth from every pore of mine and burn everyone around me with the intensity of its love. Somewhere along the years, it had sputtered, coughed, tried to keep going, and then gone out without a bang. Funnily enough, I hadn’t noticed.
“All right, I have things to do, places to go, people to see. Ah, no point in lying to myself; you know I’m just going to re-watch the last season of Friends. Again.
I’m guessing you’re in our dream college by now, studying like a boss and writing like a bigger boss. Even if you aren’t, I do hope you’re laughing seven times a day; no more and no less. That’s the perfect formula for an amazing life and you damn well make sure we’re living one. I’m not going through all this groundwork just to end up being a grumpy adult, watching the news every day and going to boring utensil exhibitions.
The world is a heartbreakingly beautiful place, duckie, and even though it’s going to break your heart a few times, you’re strong enough to dust off the pieces and stick them together again, a little differently each time. I know you are, I know we are. So ignite that spark in your eyes, grab your notepad and pen and go out. And don’t come back until you’ve written a letter to the 25-year-old you which is at least half as good as this one. Au revoir, moi.
P.S: Does Baba still snore?
P.P.S: Has any boy managed to win you over yet? Pfft, who am I kidding.
P.P.P.S: Is Jon Snow still alive?”
I looked at the letter for a few minutes, letting the volcano of emotions explode all over my shaking body. To think that I’d almost given up on this world when it was clearly never going to give up on me this easy. Sending Ms. Singh a silent thank-you, wherever she was, I folded up the letter and tucked it into my shirt, right next to my heart. It was beating steadily now, relieved that it wasn’t going to have to stop any time soon.
As I crawled into bed between my parents, both of them draped a sleepy hand around me at the same time. A slow beam crept onto my face as I felt the beginnings of a spark light up deep inside.