There was a time I used to write letters. I would write one a day, sometimes, more. I would write with anything I could find; pens and pencils, with crayons, eye liner pencils, chalk, charcoal, markers, permanent and impermanent. It didn’t matter. It was a time when love seemed temporal, words eternal. Perhaps not much has changed. Now I find that love does indeed, die. If it were not to do so, I’d doubt its authenticity. What lives forever? Nothing. Who wants to live forever anyway? Love is a verb; a living thing. It changes, it moves. It breathes and bleeds like you do, like me. And when the lover who holds the heartstrings for even the briefest time you are together leaves, love leaves too. Just like that. Just like guests leaving a party. The lover leaves. Love leaves. It sounds tragic; but it’s not. Parties end. Doors close. Lights need to be switched off.
There was a time I used to write letters. But then, the electronic age had come upon us. We emailed. We texted. We instant messaged and we continued to lament the decline of the telegram, the aerogramme, the letters, the post cards. The love letters. Nobody wrote them anymore. But I did. And my lovers found me quaint and odd, perhaps even strange.
Why did I write when no one really cared? I understood only much later that you cannot write for someone; not honestly, anyway. You can write only for yourself. For your heart, and all it churns out of you like milk to cream to butter. It churns inside you, forcing you to recreate the experience. Record it, note it down. For what? I don’t know; maybe posterity? Who cares if you loved, loss, longed, died? Nobody. But the writer cares and the reader has an insatiable inquisitiveness that will make them read in spite of themselves.
I wrote then for the reasons that I write now – it is all I know how to do. If I could paint, I would do that. If I were good in the kitchen, I’d make you a meal over which I’d slave for hours. If I could stitch, I would build you a quilt that lasted a lifetime, adding lengths to it as the years went by, just as my love grew in widths and yards. I would make it, undo it, add to it, change patches, repatch the worn down bits. I could do this for you. Because this is the nature of my love. It does not stay still. It is a child forever, yet growing, still a child. Can you understand that? I cannot. A love that is like a growing child that never grows up. Like that infinite quilt of love. A love that contains the thread of the beginning but is inclusive and takes with it, in its journey, the moments of today, the memories of yesterday, the hopes of tomorrow.
You are learning how to be a builder, a designer of shelters. Homes and workplaces. people will cook in the kitchens you make. They will sit together as families in the living rooms you design. They will sleep and make love in the rooms you create. You are becoming a maker of places where people return to at the end of each day. You are growing up to be a maker of homes. This is your gift to the world. And in some minute way, your gift to me. For you- my builder of homes – are also becoming my home. You are the space beside me on my bed, you are the seat opposite me at the dinner table. You are the warmth beside me on the bench in the garden, you are the the dent in the couch on my left watching movies at night.
You are becoming the living thing called love.