As you know, I’ll be leaving you soon. As you may also guess, I’ll miss you a lot. But what you may not know, and what I must tell you now, is how much I love you.
Sure, we did get off on the wrong foot. I mean, I was with you for the money; and you were with me for the labor, and that’s always mulch for foolish expectations. But that was only the first week, wasn’t it? That was before we got to know each other; before you found out that beneath this hard, arrogant surface was a girl who could do anything for the promise of creative writing. And beyond your cold, exploitative demeanor, I saw how earnest you were in giving me a chance.
Do you remember how you helped me build a parallel world? You were the first to introduce me to all these concepts and theories and this iceberg of knowledge that I didn’t know existed. You showed me the magic and the madness of pedagogy – of how the mind works, of why and how people learn. You know, when you’d try and involve me in this mire of processes and routines, I used to slip away and read all those books that would transport me to the time when I was in school – when I was learning something for the very first time. It’s delicious, isn’t it? That raging frustration of not understanding something and later, the ecstasy of having, finally, ‘got it!’
You were so patient with me. I remember all those meetings with the technical and management teams. They were so sharp – so prepared with facts and figures and neat numbers to prove to me why I was wrong. And what would I do? Just sit stubbornly like a diva in incandescent spotlight and shake my head, ‘No. Not possible.’ You taught me to respond to people, not react to their opinions. All it takes is to provide a reason – with a hard gridded excel sheet or a swirl of the blue marker. I’m now using a green marker, by the way; much prettier.
Okay, I know this is probably going to upset you a little bit; but I may as well be honest. At one time, I did think that I was too good for you. After all, I was vibrant and gurgling with fresh ideas; and you were a staid wasteland. Ours was a situation of a pearl before swine. But then…
You had this quiet strength..something that plants have. They just grow. They don’t whistle or shout or call attention to their height or foliage. They just grow. And that’s what you did. You grew. You allowed me my prejudices and high-handedness; yet one day, as I walked in, I felt your vigor and verve and got stunned into silence. Now, you had projects that called for the sharpest faculties of the best writers – the mediocre mode wouldn’t do. We had to create and ideate and translate and relate and…there was so much.
I remember, that time when I just couldn’t write that storyboard. It was 2 a.m. and I felt hapless. S.M. and I went to Powai lake and sat around, looking at the glassy water and sepulchral trees and thought. We talked of the great books we hadn’t read or the trivia about opium and Britishers and some Malaysian sex survey. Then he pulled out the cigar his fiancé had gifted him and in that thin film of cellophane, we both visualized our first screen. We came back and wrote our story.
When I was done with that storyboard at around 5 a.m., I took a printout and sat on a park bench to read it. I read it 7 times, aloud and silently, slowly and fast. Nobody but you and I know what went into writing that piece – no-one else. That was one of the many quiet moments we shared – when only the two of us would celebrate and applaud each other. Me, the gifted writer; you, my winning muse.
And I so valiantly defended it when the client wanted to change the script. I had never before felt so slighted in my life. I mean, I was disagreeable to the point of mutiny. I remember how exasperated my project manager and my editor were. They left me alone to talk to the client. They were so past caring. But I wasn’t. It was self-preservation. It was my story. And at midnight, I slowly walked the client through every line that I’d scripted – telling him why nothing else would do. And I’m sure he didn’t accept my unwieldy, amateur attempts of negotiating. He simply gave in. There’s nothing more persistent than dogged earnestness, is there?
But we were so happy! There was no-one else to share our victory. But so what, right? I remember mailing myself a short: ‘We won’ mail. I remember sitting on the steps with a stolen can of vanilla coke and sipping it in glorious joy. I never thought I’d be able to pull it off; and when I did, you were there.
I’m sure you remember how ‘together’ we were. Just us. My colleagues were fabulous; but it was for you that I went days without sleep, for who I forsake weekends, for who I suffered the taunts, ‘Get a life!’. We were this couple that shuffles shyly on the empty dance floor after the party’s ended. We were the freaks on the fringe, the sad clowns. We had so much in common. We were both misunderstood and given up on. No-one would fight for us – but we did it for each other.
And then, one day, you turned away. It’s not as if you weren’t nice or good or polite. But you were distant. You just weren’t ‘into me’ anymore. There were too many people. Writing was so…crowded. Why did it get that way? We were doing fine, weren’t we? Then one day, I excitedly fleshed out my idea but you wanted it discussed. Didn’t you trust me? We started writing according to some populist barometer. It hurt. I hurt very very badly.
I have sat before my flickering monitors in disgust looking at the ravage that ‘writing collectively’ can do. Yet, I did it for you. I hope you realize that. Because that’s what you do when you love. You accommodate. You sway to another rhythm even if it means tripping up. You bloom for another spring even when you’re kissing the frost.
You had pushed yourself for me. I could do the same for you.
But that day, when I came in and you expected me to write an agenda on how I proposed to ‘enhance my ideas’, I had to leave. I hope you understand. I never stopped loving you, not even when you made this infernally cruel demand. But you expected me to believe that this was as good as it gets. And this was impossible.
I just realized that I couldn’t love you like that anymore. I would love you if I tried, but of what use is the love that has lost its wanton innocence?
That was that.
And this, remember always (for as long as ‘always’ means to you.):
You were all I needed. You showed me what I could do; you told me what I couldn’t. You were my whim, and my whip. You were my window, and my mirror. You were my wounds and my strength. You were the scar I wore proudly into the world. You were the lump in my throat and the smile in my eyes.
You were mine, you were me.
But now, I must leave you because I am tired. I must leave you because being happy shouldn’t be such an uphill task. Because Woody Allen said, ‘the heart wants what it wants’ and I finally see through the flippancy of that quote.
I let you go not for the certainty of something better; simply the possibility of something else.
With the love that two outsiders had for each other,
Employee Code: E******7