Love Letter


I remember on Sex and the City how Carrie Bradshaw was a big reader of the love-letters of ‘great’ men; I was inspired by this notion at the time. I looked up some of the letters, Beethoven’s specifically and was, well, disappointed. Not that I am a ‘great’ man (no one other than me seems to think so, anyway,) but I have always felt that this letter was one of my better efforts.

It’s strange to think that all my writing, all that work, can boil down to one single effort, much like a sprinter’s entire training life can be boiled down to that sub-ten seconds he’s tearing along that hundred meter track. But I guess that’s the thing; ordinary lives find their extraordinary moments for that finite stretch of seconds, or words, or moments.

So here’s mine. The girl is long gone; I’m certainly the better for it. But I remember being transfixed by a sorrow so great it could only be described as grief, and here are the thousand-odd words I wrote in the hope of transfiguring it into something more than a squalid agony.       


Hampi, India

Dear J-,

I write to you from the rooftop café of the Suresh hotel in Hampi, which is world-famous as a city of temples. I spent 7 hours cruising the countryside today, wandering in and out of them. The landscape is pretty arid, and there are giant boulders everywhere, some stacked two or three stones high.

It’s as if the Gods were playing marbles with raw boulders thousands of years ago, got distracted and never came back to finish their game. There are only two temples you have to pay to go into. One is the old elephant stable, which looks like a long, freestanding stone corridor, with a whole lot of pot lids sitting on the roof. The other is a palace of some kind, Victory Palace, which has a 32-letter Hindi name I can’t pronounce.

In one of the buildings surrounding Victory Palace stands a temple that houses two incarnations of the wife of Vishnu. On the way in, I passed the only plant life growing inside the palace perimeter; a frangipani tree that wound its knotty self up and out from the stones.

My guide wanted to show me a frangipani flower and couldn’t find any on the bough; it so happened that a single one was lying on the stones at my feet, intact. I picked it up and scented it and for some reason, it reminded me of you. I didn’t want the flower to be crushed by careless feet, or withered by the sun. So I carried it in my hand.

Inside the temple stood an incarnation of the wife of Vishnu. She reminded me of you because she was tall, lithe and graceful. So I reached up high and set the flower in her lap. I left shortly after, and on my way out the gate, saw my guide.

I asked him what the name of the Goddess was and he was good enough to take me back, stopping to point out a few carvings on the sides of other buildings. A large school group was bustling through the palace compound. I found my nerves tightening; I was hoping that the flower would still be in her lap when we returned. The closer we got the sharper my apprehension…

..and the sweeter my relief to find it, and her, undisturbed. Her name was Jaya.

For some reason, you are always with me. Sometimes I am angry with you, sometimes I speak insistently to you. But always you are with me. And I wish these were my words, and I hope some day to say something (or write something) to you that is as lasting and timeless and graceful and unassailable.

Today, however, I am sending you this poem, again by e.e. cummings, who wrote the poem I gave you on your birthday almost 2 years ago.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in

my heart) i am never without it (anywhere

i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done

by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear

no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for you are my world, my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

 -e.e. cummings

I believe you will read this poem and hear these words as echoes of my own. I have said all these things to you, many times. Today, I sat reading this poem in the internet café and like a lance it opened all these amorphous, coagulant feelings that have been ghosting around inside me since we parted. I held my face as still as I might and a tear swelled and gathered in my right eye and I had to turn my head so no one would see.

I think of us at all kinds of places and doing all kinds of things together and I remember these feelings, and these sentiments. My heart is right now broken, all the way across; the whole virgin tract of it, as if it were the unblemished heart of a child. The miracle you performed was not to recast it, but remake it, as if it was wholly new.

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart), my love.

I am sorry I have refused to speak to you, or intimated as much. You said that there has been too much damage now between us, but with this I do not agree. There is no damage. My feelings for you have not changed. Today, in fact, every day, there is a perfect extension of passion that reaches out of me, into the ether of your absence as rays of light and warmth reach away from the sun.

I feel that our dynamic is badly disrupted. I feel that unless we both want to make it work and shoulder the burden equally, it won’t work. And by contacting you prematurely, I will be making it worse by doing too much. I have a feeling, however, that this is not the end for us.

I want you to know I haven’t slept with anyone else and don’t want to, because I am holding on to you. I am waiting; writing to you, extending these feelings to you, my truest light and my most certain warmth.

And until then, I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart), my love.


2 Responses to “Love Letter”

  1. Julie Hock Says:

    this is beautiful writing and emotionally very moving.

  2. That is fantastic writing…well she was your muse if nothing else! Wendy

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