A Letter to my Best Friend

Dear Best Friend

Happiest 24th birthday to you, you wondrous human being.

I wish you the sun, the moon and the stars, but only the bright and good parts without the shade. I pray you find all that you desire in life, all that you dream and all that you deserve, for you do deserve to be the happiest creature on the planet. You have a beautiful soul and I have been utterly blessed to know you. What would I have ever done without you?

I promised a handwritten letter to you, something I will fulfill in the near future, but this isn’t it. This is in response to your previous request that I write about you, and so here this goes.

As a person, you are someone people read books about. There are a billion contours to your soul, with such depths that you yourself haven’t fathom them as of yet. While you have your quirks about you, what overshadows everything is that you sincerely and truly never want to harm anyone or anything.

Well, at least when you’re sober.

Kidding. Don’t kill me for that.

I mean it when I say you have a brilliant soul. You do not compete with anyone and are so utterly at ease with being yourself that it has inspired me to try and imbibe that quality. Nothing really threatens you and that is a very rare human trait, dear friend. That is a part of your charm and the reason why people love to have you around them.

And talking about people, you are so good with them! I have never seen you caught in an awkward moment with anyone. You are so good with getting along with everyone and mingling even with people you’ve never met before. I cannot recall even one moment when you’ve been out of your element. No wonder everyone who meets you falls in love with you, platonic or otherwise.

So, in all honesty, you can’t really blame it all on the tons of guys who think you’re Aphrodite. *insert wink here*

You are beautiful, inside and out. It is something you should take pride in and remember in moments you doubt yourself. You are smart and intelligent. My favourite part about that quality of yours is how reason flows through your every thought, although it may not always be correct, or politically correct. (Don’t kill me for that either.) That is why I love sparring with you on most occasions. You are my favourite debate buddy. We’ll be passionately arguing about our different point of views at one point like mortal enemies and then sharing a joke the next. I rarely get a chance to do that with anyone else.

As a friend, you are honest, caring and loving to the core. I think you’ve let me drag you to places you didn’t want to go more than you’ve let anyone else do. You’ve saved me numerous times, whether it meant coming to pick me up when I didn’t have my car (even if that meant disturbing your slumber/siesta/ I don’t even have a name for the time you are asleep) or helping me realize my blunders and getting over my misgivings. You’re a treasure. There are times when there’s no one in the world I feel like talking to other than you, because you understand me in a way rarely anyone does. You never judge me. You’re never jealous. You rarely take offence. I know my secrets are always safe with you. Thank you for being my safe haven in the stormy times of my life. You’re the sunshine in the rainy day.

My wish for you is that you truly understand who you are, because as I always tell you, you’ve barely just scratched the surface. You are kind to strangers, courteous to everyone you meet and righteous in all your dealings. I cannot tell you how rare that is. I’ve never met anyone quite like you. And I know these elements will magnify as you grow into your true self.

I wish you find the success that you deserve more than anyone. And then even more success. Because you’re a great person.

I wish you find beauty and peace in your days. That you find shelter when it’s too sunny or too cold.

I pray you find the love you desire, the love you deserve, and then some more.

I pray I always have you to share my life with, to grow up with.

I pray every wish every desire of yours comes true, to the truest degree possible, sooner than you expect. I wish it turns out to be even more amazing than you ever thought it could be.

I cannot wait for the day both of us are done with the war we’re fighting right now in our lives; for the day we’re sitting by the beach sipping margaritas (well, you sipping one and me most probably eating a margherita), while reminiscing about the old days and being completely enthralled by the present and the future.

All the love in the world

Your Best Friend

Postscript: Do not forget, I’ve got dibs on being godmother to your first born. I am completely willing to wrestle any contenders.

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

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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: Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond

Poem number 3

Somewhere I Have Never Travelled, Gladly Beyond by E. E. Cummings

This is pretty much the first poem by the great E.E. Cummings that I have read, *dramatic pause* because fate never really intertwined. I’ve been a fan of Mr. Cummings (using his last name because I’m not well acquainted with him) ever since the good old One Tree Hill days, with Lucas Scott beginning the narration with quotes by him. He has been on my reading list since forever, so I grabbed the first opportunity I got and read him (which was today). (I’ll be using too many bracket comments in this post because this is Mr. Cummings’ poetry style.)

The Poem:

somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look will easily unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

My Thoughts:

I had to look for the poem on two different poetry sites because I thought the lack of capitalization in the poem was due to some technical glitch, but as it turns out, that is how it has been written by mr. cummings (yes, I did that on purpose). I feel that gives the poem a little casualness, as does the title which is in fact, incomplete in its meaning if you read the first line of the poem. Or maybe it intends to describe the protagonist as being someone who is not too comfortable falling in love with someone, not too happy with the vulnerability and proximity. I never thought something so poetically licensed could be so beautiful.

His sheer brilliance resonates with every syllable in the poem. (Yes, it is a love poem. As my group leader from the Yale Writer’s Conference would say, all of this points towards my genre writing.) But calling this work of art a love poem would prejudice the readers against it. It is more of a paradox rather than a metaphor for a romantic relationship. (It is a bundle of contradictions. Yes, I used that phrase yet again in my blog post.)

The complexity of the poem is immense and I know my bare reading don’t even scratch the surface, but I feel this piece is a saga of the excitement and fear of getting into a new relationship. Every little mundane thing his lover does fascinates him, and now that she is near him, he is filled with the inherent fear that he will do something that would ruin their relationship (which i cannot touch because they are too near *sigh*).

He pretends to be stoic in her presence for the fear of being hurt but she unravels him and sees what is hidden inside the walls he has built. (And Mr. Cummings says so with utter beauty and sensuality- touching skilfully,mysteriously *sigh* *sigh* *swoon*.) This poem could very well be read with the coyness of ‘To His Coy Mistress‘ by Andrew Marvel (*raises eyebrows* *whistles*).

He acknowledges the fact that as soon as he realizes he is getting close to his lover, he shuts her out for the fear of being left bare in the winter snow. He is afraid of being left heartbroken. But he also realizes that nothing in this world compares to her beauty and he gives up everything, every fear, every breath. He surrenders to her completely.

He wonders if she too is afraid of getting to close to him. Towards the end, he talks about the intricate ways she has of reaching the most fragile and well hidden parts of him. I think she pays attention to the littlest of things and affects him in a way that brings out his true self, which is what I believe love to be: having no fear of showing your true self because you know you would be accepted, cherished, loved and protected no matter what. (not even the rain,has such small hands is one of the most beautiful lines I have ever ever read *dreamy sigh*)

20 poems, 33 days till my nameday!

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.