Paradise and Prison

*The letter incoming*

Have you ever been kissed by the Sun? Not the glaring, blinding kind that takes your breath away. I’m talking about the kind that slinks on you, creeps over you, growing on you with welcome warmth. That’s the one.

I wake up every morning to that kiss. Humbled by the leaves of the tree right outside my room, slightly handicapped by the steel bars of the window, the sun rays yet break through. Prickling my cheek gently, cajoling me out of my sleep. Like a gentle giant, it takes over my morning. Inevitably, as you can imagine, it makes me break into a wide smile.

How long has it been since you woke up with a smile in the morning?

I know it is letter-writing etiquette to start with greetings and salutations, in letters written in any language in any part of the world. Even this part of the world.

“Neevachata kusalama,

Nenu ichata kusalame”

Haha, don’t bother. That’s a line from a song in the local language. I’ve picked up bits of pieces of it. Anyway the song’s about a guy asking his lover, the girl, to write a letter imagining he himself had written it to her. Isn’t than an idea?

I can almost sense you glowering at this. My old boy, you have never been a romantic, have you? The lines of the song inquire if “you” are well and reassure that “I’m” doing great, absolutely great.

This place where I write from. The day I stepped out of the shadows and into the Sun, I knew this was where I would spend the rest of my days. Your bland, uninspired head would not guess what this place is. You need a bit of romance to even think of this place.

Imagine large fishing nets silhouetted against the rising Sun, hurled over the sea by bare chested fishermen. Imagine rowdy urchins playing marbles at the sea shore watched over by twilight. Imagine me, perched atop a large colonial red brick wall overseeing a feisty football game, sipping local beer. Knock Out, it’s called. Haha, it does stay true to its name.

To see the grimy football being tossed into the sky, outlined against the dusk, rippling dust over the players’ heads and outstretched legs. On evenings when the Sun decides to overstay its visit a little bit longer, I catch sight of the football trace a trajectory bisecting the expanse of the orange Sun.

That is how beautiful my hide-out is.

I’m in paradise. I wish for no contact with my previous world. But I wanted very badly to let you know how “Kusalam” I really am. You may or may not hear from me again. If I find the time and the urge to take a break from my bliss and entertain you, I probably will. Until then. The glorious Sun, the sand and the ocean bid you farewell. You may write back to me, at paradise. Haha.

*The letter back*

I was not looking forward to hearing from you. I don’t know what to write. You talk of the Sun, which I haven’t seen in days. My ocean is the half a bucket of water I’m given every day to clean my arse with. And sand? My pockmarked floor has enough to graze and crack my feet with.

I live in a box. An oblong box. It could very well be my coffin, the shape it comes in. I have no window to speak of. Spiders crawl over my cheeks. Those are the kisses I get, you filthy bastard.

We were in it together, weren’t we? You got away man, you got away, you piece of filth. And with my share of the money too. But to feed off of my plight? To rub it in? Sure, I’m no romantic. You’re the one in paradise. How can I be the romantic soul?

One day, one fine day, I’ll see you. You will occupy the berth next to me. And then, and then, you can tell me how the Sun kisses you in prison, you bastard.

Write Club Hyderabad – Letters & Postcards, August 2018.

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