The Island and The Ferry
I’ve been thinking about you for a while now. It started with the realization that 2nd April is near, and then remembering that 30th is your birthday too. I’m writing this letter at 5am, for a reason. I returned from an overnight train journey. People prefer the overnight journey, because it gives them the chance to sleep during the journey. I couldn’t sleep. At all. I wasted away the meaning of the ‘overnight’ journey, just like I wasted away what we had.
I don’t remember everything about our last conversation. It’s very unlike me because I remember. Especially, the things that involve people I care about. I don’t remember our last two conversations because I was drunk on both occasions. I’d convinced myself that I couldn’t talk to T, without lowering my inhibitions, because, I cannot continually ask her to try to be in a relationship with me again and again, and hear her say No again and again.
After almost a year of those conversations, I felt stupid, after writing those lines. It’s hard to understand the desperation, in the retrospect. Really, I’m at loss of words on that.
I remember the last few messages I sent though.
‘You and I are done.’,
‘Don’t contact me ever again, and if i try to contact don’t respond.’
I deleted the conversation before I slept that night.
Every day after that, was superficial. I worked till 4 am, sometimes, skipped sleep. Or I stayed out with strangers drinking. Every time I thought of what I’d said, I avoided thinking about the subject. I cannot take back what I said. I realized tonight that it has been nearly 10 months since we’ve spoken a word. It took me 10 months to write this because I’m a coward.
Every time I thought that I’d sit down and think about what had happened, I’d be shocked that I told you about my feelings on text, and within 10 days bid you Goodbye, on WhatsApp. That’s the most cowardly and immature thing that I’ve ever done. And that’s saying something, because I’ve done a lot of those. Seven years of knowing you; Probably hundreds of hours of conversations, and I declare that you and I are done, on a fucking IM.
There are a million things that I could’ve done the next day. I could’ve called you. I could’ve called you, and we would’ve had one of those long conversations. Even if at the end of those, I might not gotten what I wanted, but at least would’ve said something, instead of writing a stupid message. I didn’t, because, like I said, I avoided thinking about it completely by either drinking, or distracting myself. All these months, I’ve been doing the same.
My way of dealing with problems is by not dealing with them at all.
I was staring into darkness for three hours tonight. And it wasn’t just you I was thinking about. Actually, it didn’t start with you at all. I was thinking about all these years of college. What I was doing in 2010, what I was doing in 2011 and likewise. You kept coming up. In each year. Every year. And then it was 2015 which didn’t have you, and I remembered how I fucked everything up.
I should’ve written this at the beginning, because I don’t deserve patience from you. This is not a ‘patch up’ request. I cannot write that. I’m disgusting. I’m writing this, to have a closure. To say what I should have said on a call, after that last time we chatted.
I’ve always hidden myself behind a screen. I’ve been an impostor all my life. Have you ever seen one of those 1990s movies about the Internet? There are these stereotypical predators who sit behind the screen and type. They say a lot of things, but always from a screen. They don’t mean what they say. And it’s way easier to fake it when you have infinite gap between you and the other person. That’s what I’ve always done. Messages, Facebook messages, and then WhatsApp messages.
I was thinking about a lot of different things. I was thinking about how my life would’ve turned out if I’d waited for the college near our city, and taken the course up there. Technically things would’ve been pretty much the same. But I would’ve been closer to home. The more important ‘if-then’ situation was about you and me. We might have spent plenty of time together. Maybe, if I’d put my ego aside, and made plans to meet you more often, even while I was studying here. After a couple of times you cancelled on the plans, and I stopped discussing plans, I shouldn’t have done that. There were a lot of maybes, and a lot of them had you in them.
It was overwhelming to think of all the ‘could’ve beens’. A carnage of possibilities, year after year, action after action.
The other day, over drinks, someone asked me, who my closest friends were. My first sentence was, ‘there’s this girl whom I know from my school…’ After I said that, I paused for a while. I was about to describe you. I actually went ahead and described you anyway, because it was too late to pull out. There was no one else to describe. It’s a terrifying thought T. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but it’s discomforting when my subconscious and conscious thoughts are out of sync in this magnitude. My greatest regret would be not spending enough meaningful time with you. Text messages were okay, but they were just text messages.
Now that I’ve reached almost the end of the letter, I should tell you why I’m writing this much. Why am I telling you that my greatest regret is that I didn’t spend quality time with you? It doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that I developed feelings for you. That was much later.
You see T, I’ve always been an island. An island, with just the bare necessities for survival. I don’t talk much, because I don’t have much to talk about. I don’t smile much, because I don’t have many things to smile about. Islands are short on resources, you know. They depend on the mainland for their survival. From mainland to the island, there are ferries. Those ferries bring in the things that the island needs. You were one of those ferries. Actually, you were the biggest of the ferries, with the most important of things and with the brightest lights.
A 10-month period is a long time, and I’m happy that you’re happy. You seem happy. Your smiles have somehow become more vibrant. Probably because you’ve lost weight. Yeah, I visit your Facebook profile from time to time, when I feel sad. It makes me sadder to visit your profile, from another profile of mine (because you’d blocked my actual profile), but I do it anyway. The alienation is so much more pronounced when I’ve to log out and log back in to another account just to see you. It’s like having an aching tooth, and to suck on that, just to see how much more painful it can be. You’re in a new city. A much bigger one than the one we grew up in. I know you work hard, and you’ll rise higher.
You see T, I’m a coward, sometimes toxically arrogant and sometimes cripplingly shy. So, when I talk without preparations, what I say can be very irregular. But when I write from behind a screen, after thinking for hours, I write what I mean to say. I don’t expect a re-establishment of contact. I’ve no place in your new life. All I can hope for is, you read this, and maybe understand the incoherence of my thoughts.
I’m emotionally stunted. I don’t spend a lot of time with people. You’re the only one outside my family with whom I spent this much time, but do you see the problem here T? That time was through text messages. So, I really don’t know how to act without a keyboard. As it turns out, I don’t know how to deal with people using a keyboard either. I’ll deal with that sometime later.
That’s it. This letter has too many words, even by my standards. I’m sorry that I disrespected what we had, by ending it on an IM. Every time I’d think of 2nd April, I’ll remember that collage you made for my birthday out of my pics which I didn’t even know existed. And it would break my heart that I ended our friendship with a message, when I was drunk and I didn’t talk with you for 10 months after that. That’s why I write this letter, this is what I should have told you on a phone call; that I know that I didn’t value us. Everyone wants a Time Machine, to back in time. But I’m not sure, if I wouldn’t be writing this letter in every alternate reality.