A post arrived this afternoon. I rarely receive unexpected mail so a smile opened the door to the postwoman. Strangely, it wasn’t addressed to me. Playful as always, rain had smudged the sender’s name to an unrecognisable blur. What he had done to the mailing address was worse. Only the phone number remained. It’s what I like to call elemental drama; for no particular reason. Postwoman, a hopeful new entrant to the field, who was still committed to the sanctity of snail mail reaching its destination, argued for the cause citing the evidence of the salvaged phone number, which clearly someone had gotten wrong.
Needless to say, I was willing to be cajoled into accepting it; I could barely stay still while I signed for it; I was thrilled to bits. My jobless mind had already filled a worksheet with possibilities, rationales, elaborate narratives and more. Aside: In small-town homes like mine, bombs arriving by mail aren’t even considered a threat. Who would want to kill You?-being the logic.
I felt a far away tinge of sadness or guilt, I couldn’t fathom which, for the beloved whose eyes should have been the only ones beholding the contents inside. Nevertheless, as outwitting fate wasn’t my hobby, I closed my eyes, breathed in the pleasantly stale travelled smell of mail, imagined myself to be that beloved and opened the package. Oh, and I remembered to shut Reason out of my head the minute he began with his taunts of how I knew it was a gift to a beloved! Pah, live a little!
Inside, written in illegible scribble was a proclamation of love; a whole book of it. Signed in someone’s endearment, it was the most amazing gift anyone in love could receive. It was an offering of love from someone, I imagine, to whom words did not come easy. Someone to whom the earnestness of his ‘I LOVE YOU’s didn’t fade with use. Someone, who therefore didn’t understand the concept of mixing it up for variety.
For him, his inability to write creatively was just a technicality. He wanted to write her something and he had decided to woo her with sheer hard work. The book contained Neruda poems copied by hand. It was a labour of love and my heart soared at the affection, though usurped, of this thoughtful lover.
His handwritten book was an immense work of poetry where the poetry was in the gesture than in the words. I guess he did manage some ‘creative’ writing afterall. It was the humble submission of someone who knew he couldn’t top Neruda when he says,
“love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep”
And he didn’t see why he should try.
From the new curves of the altered ‘r’s, the intentionally dotted ‘i’s, loops closed as an afterthought and many such inflections, the effort to make it legible lay thick on the paper with exhaustion. I know he re-read it for all the missed words, thumbing the corners where I now hold.
Ecstasy is silent in accepting from a lover, poems as a gift of wordless poetry. Not ‘a’ lover; he is my lover, for who else could have chosen ten of my favourite poems?