The Beauty of the Mess: Letter #1

(This is an epistolary fictional story-series)

Dear E.

It is very unlikely that this letter will ever find you. Besides the rare possibility of me getting over my vanity and finding the courage to send this to you, there is the glaring hiatus in our correspondence, of 2 years 4 months and 26 days to be precise, that dampens my hope. Then there is also the question of you using your old post box that forbids me from thinking otherwise. Or if you even live in the same city. Or country for that matter. There are a million reasons why this letter shouldn’t find you.

But life is a long shot. Life has never made sense to me, so I’ve given up trusting in reason or signs of any kind. I’m not the believer that I was once upon a time when you used to write to me. And even if the ink and paper from my hands lies in a rusted metal box for most of eternity, the paper yellowing, the ink fading off into the air like my words and emotions, I will find a sense of calm in it. It will satisfy me that I tried to renew our friendship before I grew old and died. I tried to fix things when the world around me fell apart.

I’ll come straight to where we left off. And in all honesty, I was as angry as I’ve ever been in my life. I waited for seven hours on that rusted black bench in the far left corner of the Rose Park in your precious city, where I was supposed to meet you. You had so eloquently described it in your letters to me as your favourite place in the world, or to quote you, “the world you knew”. I wonder if that has changed in the past two years, if you’ve traveled to the far away mystical lands you always adored and admired.

You’d said that the dilapidated park bench gave you hope in hopelessness whenever you sat there eavesdropping into people’s lives, forgetting about the dilemmas of your own. You used to call it “the beauty of the mess” that life was putting you through. I tried doing the same while waiting for you to show up, while imagining you in your contemplating colours: wondering, worrying, waning. It upset me even more, because it made it extremely hard for me to hate you. And I hated you for what you did to me. Loathed you. Detested you. I was disgusted by you.

The beauty of your city was dust to me. It was smoke and ashes and garbage. And I swore, as I sat there rotting away on a rotting park bench in a rotten city, to never write to you again. I swore to cut you off and forget you like you forgot me. I felt stupid for not asking for your address or phone number, or even your real name for that matter, before flying halfway across the country to meet you, a stranger I had never seen or spoken to in my life, except through letters written to a post box.

But here I am breaking my oath to myself, falling into the path of vulnerability again, for you to hurt me all over again.

In all that hurt and pain, I took another decision that I shouldn’t have, that I probably wouldn’t have had you showed up that fateful day. I can’t help but laugh at my sheer daftness; at the fact how my life would be completely different than it is now had I let the fire of hate and hurt burn down to ashes rather than adding more wood to it. I wouldn’t have been a broken man sitting in a lone cabin in the middle of an abandoned sea shore putting ink to paper in this flickering tangerine light. I don’t even have a phone or television here. It’s just me, my pain and a few empty canvases I plan to paint my pain on for my impending project.

Let us let go of what happened. You didn’t show up two years ago; I’ve accepted that now and all that has happened since then. But throughout all of it, through the anger and the impulsive decisions, the fleeting illusionary happiness and the everlasting agony, I’ve missed talking to you. I’ve missed looking at the world through your eyes. I’ve missed your metaphors and poetry. I’ve missed you.

I’m not asking for an explanation. I’m not even expecting a response. But if my words find you by a twist of fate, know that no matter what I’m thankful to have known you in this lifetime. I’m thankful to have stumbled across your pen name on that god awful pen-friends website. I’m glad I decided to write to you. I am glad you decided to write back to me.

Your friendly neighbourhood

Achilles

Ps: I hope you’ve read the Iliad by now.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2016. All rights reserved.

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A Tribute to all the Friendships that didn’t work out

Reaching the closing chapters of a novel makes you reminisce and analyze all that you’ve gone through, which in my case is quite involuntary. For now that the bedlam has subsided, I can honestly look at all that has happened and truly try to find meaning in the circus that was these last five years. So, this post is going to be me attempting to unveil the design of the cosmos.

Just like anyone else, I’ve lost and found and lost so many people in my life, the major part of which occurred these past five years. And as I sit and make a mental list of all these doomed friendships in my head in alphabetical order, I can’t bring myself to regret any of these relationships. Would I have been happier had I found the people I’m friends with at the moment earlier on in my life? Duh. But the thing is that I wouldn’t have been the same person that I am now without all those cogs in the wheel, and thus, wouldn’t have the same relationship with my friends that I have now. It was necessary to have been through it all.

Another thing that I’ve realized is that there isn’t a single former compadre that I’ve not had moments with, those beautiful moments that defined the friendship and some of which, still bring a smile to my face. It was amazing to have been close to such a different array of people, as they came into my life and walked away, for now I have a sharper insight into people. I would like to believe that I’ve learnt something good from all of them, imbibed traits of their character that attracted me in the first place. Moreover, I’ve learnt a lot about my own self having been through it all: what ticks me off, what makes me happy, what I look for in another person, how I judge people, how I let other people’s judgments affect me, what I like in a person, what I don’t like in a person, what not to say to a person, what never to say to a person, and the list is endless.

It’s like what they portrayed in the last episode of Cheese in the Trap: you have to keep dealing with the same types of people throughout the phases of your life. People are going to use you,  break you, step all over you, hit you in your gut at your weakest point and blame you for all of the shit, for the world is not an easy place to live in. You have to adapt. And that is what I’ve drawn from the last five years.

Almost all of these friends turned strangers are persona non grata in my life, but I’m thankful to all of them for everything. There are always as many sides to a story as the number of eyes affixed on it, and mine is just one of the numerous. All the people who fall under this category will have their own tales of woe against me, which in most cases will be valid, but at the end the prognosis would be the same: it didn’t work. These stories will always be lessons in the dark that will remind me of who I was and who I want to be.

It’s Spring (A Rant)

My google homepage no more has my blog as a shortcut and that pained me. I guess that serves me right for being too distracted by the hills and the mountains outside my window rather than my own life. So, this is me being distracted by my own life for a change.

This is going to be one of those posts that is utterly personal,(hence) deeply metaphorical and, to put it into perspective, kind of rant-y. It goes without saying that this is probably going to be a mess, and this might very well lie in my blog folder for months and months, before I decide to publish it. However, I want this post to be raw and actually communicate how and what I’m feeling at the moment. Most of all, I want to press this leaf in my diary, so as to never forget who I was and how I became my future self.

I’m at a close at my life, the end of an era, an act in a Shakespearean play of sorts to be honest. And… I do not know how I feel about it. One moment I’m drenched in pre-nostalgia, groping at every moment to stop it from flowing, or at least slow it down.  The next I’m glad that it’s finally over. I’ve swum the English Channel and I can finally catch my breath, wash off the algae and treat my wounds. So, there lies the conundrum. The only thing I pray for in that respect is that I regret nothing. I wish I miss nothing. I’ve lived in the past for too long, and it is not a good place to be in. It nearly destroyed me.

This place nearly destroyed me too. But I guess it was necessary to become the person I am today, and I for a fact am very happy with that person. I have highs and lows, but I do not feel that I’m constantly frayed in a war zone. Yes, I have my battles, but I think my armor is stronger and my reflexes are sharper than before. And that has made me comfortable, to an extent, about going to war now and then. I know how to deal with it, how to deal with my darkness. My knight in the shining armor turned out to be me myself, and that is exactly what I needed.

Moments like today, I miss Yale like crazy. It was not a cake walk to be honest, and there were times when I sat on the wooden floor staring at the fireplace in my dorm wondering whether I had done the right thing, but that all faded away with time and my summer turned out to be crazy-beautiful, rather than being the perfect-beautiful I had expected it to be. And it was what I needed. I’m doing all I can to get back there, because that is what I want.

The dirge of the dying year has lead to the advent of a new dawn. Winter has ended.

It’s Spring.

 

The Cosmic Summer

Caress my fragile fingers into yours

As I let gravity embrace me as I fall into you,

beyond the realm of bruise bandages and remedial cures.

You are the black hole gulping every shred of my clarity

and I cannot but help give into you,

 

and fall

and dissolve into nothingness.

 

All I ask in return for my vulnerability,

for the key you hold that unlocks the obscurest parts of me

is that you take my hand and walk across the Bow Bridge

while lovers share a kiss

in a boat that rows beneath us.

 

I will lead you the meadow and lie with you among the blades of the grass

imbibing the serenity of the sapphire sky and the thistled leaves on bows and plants,

nestled together spend a quiet minute or two listening to the songs on my ipod.

 

Or I might take you to past the conservatory to the Bethesda Fountain

and ask a stranger to take a picture of us as we wrap our bodies together.

 

Or I might walk with you to the Belvedere Castle through the Shakespeare Garden.

Under the wooden arch, tucked away in the corner you might hear someone playing the violin;

you will laugh and tell me how this reminds you of a night many moons ago in Rome

and I will try to curb the pang of jealousy raging through me at the people in your life before me you called home.

 

I will pull you across the exceptionally narrow spiral stairs of the Castle

forbidding but one person at a time to pass through,

to give you a reason to rest your hand on the small of my back in the close quarters’ hassle.

 

Once atop of the highest tower, I will hear you sigh as you take in the breath taking view of Central Park in the Summer

 

and let you take my hand as you tell me bandages won’t work on you too now.

Whispers of December

First of all, I owe an apology to one and all who were following my “23 Poems Before I Turn 23” Challenge. But then again having a blog that is more of a quaint boutique rather than a Tiffany Store on the most expensive street in the world has its own perks. This blog is my bitch and I can do as I please.

I still do apologize for the unannounced hiatus and, most ardently, for not keeping my word. I had intended to blog about at least 23 poems before I could turn the age that is represented by two of my least favourite numbers, but alas, life got in the way and I horribly failed. But what I do intend and what I will do to make up for my laziness is turn the challenge a resolution for my 23rd year. I will finish the challenge while I’m of this age.

And if anybody ever reads this hollow voice into the void, I will be happy to talk about any poem of your choice. It could even be your own poem. So suggestions are most welcome!

To synopsize what has been going on in my life of recent would be fairly represented by a single sonorous word: finals *gong*. The fact that another phase of my life is at its close isn’t as comforting a thought as I had thought it would be. I guess what they say about forbidden love is true: it will end in tragedy. (Yes, I made that up *gong*.) I’m falling for a place I have loathed for a better part of my mortal life and instead of rainbows and butterflies, it is turning out to be rather difficult and would leave me broken in the end; I can prophesize that.

To continue ranting about my life, I think I’m still hung up on everything that has happened to me over the summer. I think I’ve lived through the entire chapter a hundred times over in my mind, going over the conversations over and over again. I know now how Cinderella felt after the clock had struck midnight.

I keep reliving it all, in my dreams and in my daydreams, and the problem with it is that I’ve romanticized it into this perfect godly sojourn, which it never was. It was full of mess and struggle, of moments of self doubt and frustration, and that is the reason why I loved it. I got to fight a war with my demons and defeat them. My deepest fear is that I’m going to turn it into something unreal and fictional. The words, the touches, the feelings. I want to remember everything unsullied.

Maybe December is a month for introspection, for whispers of the bygone year flowing in the wind weaving its way to the crypt at dusk. Or maybe I’ve just lost it.

*gong*

23 Poems Before I Turn 23 Challenge: A Song from the Suds

Poem number 4

A Song from the Suds by Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott is among the queens of queens and I dote on her. She is one of the authors who have permanently been on my reading list and I do hope I can someday strike her name off that never ending Neverland of a parchment. I have grown up watching the Little Women anime and the 1949 adaptation has been a favourite. Although I must admit that I’ve quite forgotten the specifics of the tale since I last saw the movie 6 years ago or so. This challenge has reminded me of my teen love and I will surely fall back into its arms as soon as I get the opportunity to sweep away the mundane dust of life (which is pretty much the theme of my next poem).

The Poem:

Queen of my tub, I merrily sing,
While the white foam raises high,
And sturdily wash, and rinse, and wring,
And fasten the clothes to dry;
Then out in the free fresh air they swing,
Under the sunny sky.

I wish we could wash from our hearts and our souls
The stains of the week away,
And let water and air by their magic make
Ourselves as pure as they;
Then on the earth there would be indeed
A glorious washing day!

Along the path of a useful life
Will heart’s-ease ever bloom;
The busy mind has no time to think
Of sorrow, or care, or gloom;
And anxious thoughts may be swept away
As we busily wield a broom.

I am glad a task to me is given
To labor at day by day;
For it brings me health, and strength, and hope,
And I cheerfully learn to say-
“Head, you may think; heart, you may feel;
But hand, you shall work always!”

My Thoughts:

I adore the simplicity of the poem. The words mean what they appear to mean, yet Louisa’s art of writing is pretty evident in the crafting of her sentences: they are short, crisp and lyrical. Her sense of humour is unparalleled and philosophical, if I might call it that. Her thoughtfulness is evident, but it is the clarity of her thoughts and words that I love the most, for clarity is something I strive to achieve in my writing. I have a muddled mind and I am a frazzled human being. And anybody who is not so inspires me and captivates me and enchants me.I am enthralled by this poem.

This is going to be one of the poems I will read to my kids someday, for it is beautiful and funny. Louisa compares a washcloth, out of all the things in the word, to life! And anybody who can pick up such a mundane and common thing and find beauty and grandeur in it is gifted according to me. She reiterates my philosophy of life: make yourself so busy that you have no time to think about the dullness and trauma surrounding life. This is something I’ve been doing ever since I took a lone trip this summer to satiate my wanderlust and realized that I’ve been fooling myself into believing that I’m not a loner. I realized during my sojourn just how beautiful life is when you do not have to depend on anybody else, but march to the beat of your own heart. Relationships are treacherous; they fool you into believing that you cannot survive on your own, when in fact being your own wolf pack is spectacular (and addictive). I’ve become so involved in myself that I barely have the time to think about unnecessary complications (but I still do drown in my misery sometimes, for I too am human).

I guess Louisa has found the answer to Alaska’s question, “How do you escape the labyrinth of suffering?” Dwell on thoughts, be angry and sad and broken, but do not stay idle. Work towards something. Work for something. Goals are one of the things that breathe sensibility into human existence. And all I do to stay sane is keep my eyes on the prize, when every inch of my body wants to stand and stare.

4 down, 19 poems and 24 days to go!

© That Girl in the Fray, 2015. All rights reserved. 

23 Poems Before I Turn 23 Challenge: Soliloquy of the Solipsist

Poem number 2

Soliloquy of the Solipsist by Sylvia Plath

I have been in love with Sylvia Plath ever since I listened to The Bell Jar audio book, right before bedtime everyday for a fortnight. Her words have caressed my soul and there are few with whom I could identify more. It probably wound’t be considered too socially acceptable, or for a matter of fact sane, but I have gone through almost every emotion that has been captivated by Sylvia in The Bell Jar and I cannot put to words how accurate her expressions and metaphors have been. The beauty of the darkness in her life is baffling and awing at the same time.

I stumbled upon this poem recently and was, yet again, baffled by the preciseness of her words. The ideology of the poem is what I have been breathing by for quite some time now.

The Poem:

I?
I walk alone;
The midnight street
Spins itself from under my feet;
When my eyes shut
These dreaming houses all snuff out;
Through a whim of mine
Over gables the moon’s celestial onion
Hangs high.

I
Make houses shrink
And trees diminish
By going far; my look’s leash
Dangles the puppet-people
Who, unaware how they dwindle,
Laugh, kiss, get drunk,
Nor guess that if I choose to blink
They die.

I
When in good humor,
Give grass its green
Blazon sky blue, and endow the sun
With gold;
Yet, in my wintriest moods, I hold
Absolute power
To boycott any color and forbid any flower
To be.

I
Know you appear
Vivid at my side,
Denying you sprang out of my head,
Claiming you feel
Love fiery enough to prove flesh real,
Though it’s quite clear
All you beauty, all your wit, is a gift, my dear,
From me.

My Thoughts:

I feel this poem is somewhat related to existentialism much imbibed by writers like Albert Camus. Plath knows it is she who gives any person or thing the power to be who he/she/it is by seeing it that way. It is her own perception that makes things out to be what they are rather than their own qualities. To interpret it deeply, she feels that she herself is the ultimate truth in the universe and every other human being or thing is just an extension of her vision and mind, rather than having an existence of its own. This is the philosophy that I have been living by recently: it is me who gives anybody the power to hurt me or make me happy or affect me in any way and I have the ultimate control over how I feel or how I want my life to be. I’ve started caring less about other people and more about my own happiness and if that makes me sound shallow, so be it. For it is I who have to deal with the broken pieces at 3 am after I cannot possibly go to sleep because my mind won’t shut up and my eyes won’t stop bleeding. I’m the only one who has ever been there for me through thick and thin and so, I will do what will help me keep myself together when the storm is trying to tear me apart. I have to look out for myself because no one else really cares.

Plath embodies this chain of thought spectacularly. As she walks in her solitude through the street, she realizes that she controls her life and can alter it as she wishes, because she is the only thing that is real. She can turn the road she walks on into nothingness by closing her eyes. She controls how people appear to her, and one decision of her will can kill them all for her, metaphorically. It is only when she is happy that the world’s true colours are visible, and it is completely in her power to turn the world into monotone when sorrows envelope her. The world changes according to what she feels, because she is the only thing in the world that is absolutely real. Her world revolves around her and nothing else matters to her.

Towards the end, Sylvia mentions a lover who believes that his love makes him real to her. But Sylvia slyly retorts that it is her own perception that makes her lover worthy of her love, for she sees him that way. So he too is a figment of her imagination and fancy. This makes me think of Margo from Paper Towns by John Green and her theory that people believe the person they love to be more than that person actually is because of their feelings. Their own perception clouds the truth, of which Sylvia Plath is well aware.

So now I’m left with 21 poems and 34 days.

The 23 Poems Challenge- Poem #1

In the wee hours of 15th November this year, I would have breathed in this world for 23 years. And while the laugh lines around my mouth and the occasional appearance of grey strands do support the very fact, my soul is still puerile. I feel younger than I have before, and I do not mean this in a I-have-discovered-the-cure-to-ageism-kind-of-way, but that the more I see the world, the more I feel that I know nothing and have done nothing worth priding over. There really are miles to go before I breathe, let alone sleep.

I don’t know why but I’ve always found something magical about the number 23. (Maybe because it was Nathan Scott’s jersey number?) So to imbibe this feeling of equal amounts of dread and quintessential enthusiasm, I have decided to read 23 poems before I turn 23 and write about each and every one of them here. A fair warning to all ye who enter, what I write here will be based purely on how I see the world, and not how the world sees the world. I can guarantee there will be plenty who would disagree with my perception, but I in all honesty couldn’t care less how politically incorrect I am. Even the poets of the poems themselves can rise from their graves and chastise me, but I will not accept that my analysis is wrong because that is the very reason I am in utter incandescent love with poetry: the beauty of the words lies totally in the eyes and minds of the beholder.

Poem number 1

How could I even think of poetry without thinking about the man who made me fall in love with words. His words. So, I have decided to begin this sojourn with my beloved poet and my spirit guide incarnate, Pablo Neruda‘s poem I Like For You To Be Still.

The Poem:

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would’ve died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I’m happy;
Happy that it’s not true

My Thoughts:

I’m reading this poem from Pablo Neruda’s book, which is one of my most treasured possessions. The book ‘Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair’ is a beacon in the darkness of my life and it has got me through some rough times. Only the caressed pages of this book know my deepest sorrows and the taste of my tears.

For me, this poem encompasses the sorrow and pain that is felt when the love of your life is going through storm and thunder and all you can do is sit and watch. Pablo, rather than jumping into the fray and interfering in her life, wants to imbibe the peacefulness of her silence. He sees beauty in her struggle and respects her decision to deal with the demons of her life on her own. He respects her independence and accepts this dark shade of her character, which is exactly what I believe love is: it is embracing the bad and the ugly, and not just the pretty hills, the blue skies and the pastures shinning green in the never ending sunshine. The sunshine will end someday and night will fall; it is what you do during the darkness that determines the strength of any relationship, whether romantic or platonic.

To paraphrase Neruda, he rather feeling deserted likes it when the woman he loves is silent and far off because she is dealing with the troubles of her life. Rather being a damsel in distress and wanting Pablo to save her, she is the sort of person to prefers to suffer in silence. He understands her and he understands and accepts this, although it breaks his heart to see her suffer alone. He feels as if his words cannot reach her soul because her eyes seem lost and she is utterly silent and distant.

Neruda feels that if his soul was filled into cups and saucers and the world itself, she will emerge from all those things because she is his soul. He channelizes the beauty of her silence and turns it into a metaphor: she is as silent and beautiful as a butterfly in a dream. I think he refers to a dream because her silence and suffering is temporary and, with time, will be long forgotten. He thinks she is like the word melancholy, sad and beautiful and peaceful all at the same time. (This is how I feel when I think of the word ‘Melancholy’)

What moves my soul is Neruda asking to be silent with her, to be a partner in her suffering rather than plunging into her battle or leaving her in this dark time. He values her bravery so much that he compares her to the stillness of the stars in the darkness. He calls her candid, because rather than pretending that everything is alright with her, she is showing her true self to him. From experience, most people leave when you bare your soul and show your true self to them but Neruda glorifies her struggle. She is a mess and he embraces and accepts that mess.

She grows so silent and distant at one point that Neruda feels that he has lost her forever. Maybe she has left him. Her aloofness and distance makes him feel that she does not exist in this world anymore. But she does come back to him, maybe just by saying a word or smiling at him and all is right in his world again.

This is exactly the kind of love I pray to find, because I identify with the woman Neruda is in love with. I’ve become so used to fighting my battles on my own, mostly without allies, that being a lone warrior is all I know. I would feel cramped and suffocated if someone tried to interfere in my life and my problems. I detest being the damsel in distress. But having someone to stand with you rather than fight for you is the most beautiful expression of love and this poem melts my heart. It takes bravery to deal with the mess of another human soul and Neruda captures that beautifully. To be comfortable in each other’s silence is a sign of true love and that is what I hope for someday.

A Letter to Myself from a Year Ago

Dear Me in September 2014

I know you’ve been through one of the darkest times of your life and that you’ve been working endless days and sleepless nights on a dream, feeling unappreciated, unloved, abandoned and more alone than ever. But know this, I love you for your strength, no matter how staggering you feel it is. And the first piece of advice your future self would give you is this: hold on. It is the key to every thorn and thistle in life. Think of this dark time as a roller coaster that you discover, as soon as it starts moving, is too fast for you, with every turn and spiral attempting to wrench your gut out of your body and making you curse yourself for drinking that damn lemonade right before you got on it. You just have to close your eyes, hold your insides inside you and wait for it to end. And trust me when I tell you this, it will.

After you’re done dealing with this low, you’ll probably be blinded by the high, as is always the case. My advice to you is, enjoy it while it lasts. This high too shalt pass and you will have to embrace the slump that follows, because this is life. It is a saga of highs and lows, of crests and troughs, of rises and falls, and the only time life would be a straight line is when the heart monitor shows that you’re dead. There will be pain, no matter how hard you will try to shield yourself with the iron armour you will cast and no matter how you will swear to never show your fragile soul to those around you. Do that, protect yourself, stand up for yourself, fight for yourself. No one else will do that for you but you yourself. But honey, you can’t let fear keep you from living your life. Your time is limited, slipping through your fingers relentlessly as it always will. Spend it in a way that you have no regrets left when father time does wake up and it is time for Narnia to end.

To dilute the melancholy, let me tell you that with the advent of summer, winter will fall behind and the sun will shine upon you. You will have the best time of your life and meet amazing people as you satisfy your wanderlust and fall in love just too many times with too many things. I don’t want to give away too much, since I’m hoping by some loophole in the space time continuum you are reading this a year ago from today. But I tell you this, your summer will be beautiful. There is nothing else to warn you about or prepare you for when it comes to summer because having gone through it all, I do not think I would change anything one bit. You need this just the way it is going to come to you. If I in all honesty had to advise you regarding this wondrous prospect about to dawn upon you in a few months, I would say take more risks and be brave.

To end this sermon I’ve been preaching, I just want to tell you that when it comes to pain and heart breaks and happiness and beauty, you have barely scratched the surface. Although I must tell you that the worst is behind you, things ahead are not that easy. You will fall and stumble and pass through the tunnel of darkness numerous times in the coming year. But I promise you there is also laughter and a lot of good books and Korean dramas awaiting you at the end of that tunnel. Your heart will ache. But you have to learn to deal with it, And remember, above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.

All my love

Your future self from September 2015

Twenty Again

For a twenty something puerile wander-lusting simpleton at the precipice of her life juvenile, the theme behind this story would not mean much in theory. But life is never theoretical. The reason I’m well acquainted with this fact is that I’ve mapped out the safest routes in my life on paper, leaned on the safest people to trust theoretically and followed theoretically approved philosophies. But at the end of every turn and every relationship, I’ve found the unexpected; the good and bad in equal have been my comrades.

In other words, to hell with theory. Life is life, unpredictably dark and stormy and blue and tranquil.

I can’t really explain why I relate so much to this Korean drama I’m obsessed with at the moment. It is after all the story of a woman who had to sacrifice her life to raise a child and to be a wife to an ungrateful husband after being bound in wedlock to him due to an unplanned pregnancy. It is a story of a weak soul who was so blinded by love and her commitment to maternal duties that she dropped out of high school, moved to a foreign country, nursed a child at 19 and gave up on her dream of becoming a dancer. (I do not call her weak because she let her maternal instincts sideline her career, but because she endured the taunts of a husband who treated her like garbage. Even after he wanted to divorce her, she was as blind to his flaws as ever.)

But this really isn’t all that this show, that has become a guilty pleasure of mine (for I spent about 3 hours binge watching the last few episodes instead of starting work on a college paper that is due in two days), is about. It’s about this woman going back to college to fulfill her long lost aspirations despite everything in her life standing in her way. The final push that makes this 38 year old join university as a freshman is the sudden discovery that she has only 6 months to live with the onset of pancreatic cancer. So to summarize the very complicated plot (and trust me, I am not doing the last 6 episodes of the show justice), a woman dying of cancer who is in the middle of a divorce joins the university her son has joined and her soon to be ex husband (who has been having an affair with the university’s director’s daughter for the last three years) has been deputed to  and meets (again) the boy who was in (unrequited) love with her in high school.

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The thing I love about Korean Dramas is their ability to encompass within them a plot so deep that I forget my own identity while being lost in it. This show is no different. The boy who loved her in high school, who was left broken when she dropped out and followed a husband he didn’t know of is now the man who vows to give her the life she deserves. His initial anger dissipates as the episodes pass and we realize he is as much in love with this broken woman as he was with the feisty girl who stood up to bullies and befriended underdogs. But rather, it is she who brings out the best in him, while fighting the world and finding the way back to her old self.

But the show is not as dark and mellow as I have made it sound. It is, in fact, comic to the core. It is hilarious to see the web of fated and ill-fated connections and how the different plots of the tale, of the past and the present, all knit a superbly crafted drama.

The thing I love most about this show is the growth of the characters. The woman Ha No Ra and the high school hottie Cha Hyun-Suk (Yes, I am in love with him *dreamy sigh*) change and meander and fall and get up and find a way to one another (though most of that is yet to be seen). I love the way he looks at her when she isn’t looking, the way he is always there making sure that she is happy and that she gets the life he thinks she deserves, now that he knows she is about to die. His soul aches that his soul mate lead a life of misery and is now at the end of her worldly journey. It really makes you think about the things we put off until tomorrow and the words we wait to say until what we think is the right time.

I also love the way Ha No Ra tries to fit into the college crowd, even though it is an entirely different generation. She does find a way to make them realize just how talented she is and it makes my heart melt that she is finally on her way to the greatness she was born with. I also love the university curriculum, culture and campus. It makes me want to quit my life and move to South Korea.

And besides all the deep metamorphic thoughts about living life well and embracing your fears, there are quips like these that make me fall off my bed after I die laughing.

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