I no longer know how to address you, so am leaving it blank, although this is a letter.
By the time you receive this, I will have left the country. Where I am going is not relevant- not any more. No matter where I go though, you’ll go with me. And I’ll stay with you… whether you acknowledge my presence or not. Again, even that doesn’t matter- not now.
Why, you ask. I’ll tell you why… so help me God. Just in a moment though. There is something else I need to tell you first. Something I hope will remain untainted by the time this missive ends… something which will remain unspoiled until the end of time.
I love you.
When you read those words, picture me smiling. I can never pronounce those words- even in the silence of my soul- and not feel the irresistible pull of joy surging in my veins.
I love you.
I told you one day, for me to love you is like a law of nature. It isn’t something I can negotiate with… it is an imperative that must be unquestioningly obeyed. You know, better than anyone else, how hard I tried disobeying the injunction. You also know how futile the attempt was. What you perhaps refuse to see is that once I accepted the imperative, there has never been a doubt in my mind. My love for you has made a home for itself in all there is of me… mind, heart and soul. And it will stay.
Now for the reason why.
It is because I love you.
I know you have a certain style. I don’t mean style as in outward appearance… but more in the sense of the style of the man you are- inside. You do things in a certain way. You like things done in a certain way. Your ways are your style. I love your style and never want you to change it. It suits you… it IS you. I couldn’t tolerate anyone messing with it… least of all me.
Had I met you when I was unformed, I would have made your style my own. Then there would have been no need to write this letter.
But I didn’t meet you then, I met you now. Unfortunately for us both, I came readymade with a style of my own. Although we match in essentials, there are many issues in which our styles don’t match. There were just two options for me in this situation. Either I adapt myself to be congruent with what you are, or I stay away from you. Naturally, the second is no option at all.
I decided to go with the first… to adapt… not as a favor to you… but as a gift to myself. With all the truth there is in my soul, I want to tell you this- I tried… I really did. I hope you will believe it.
It shames me to say it, but I failed. I feel as if I betrayed you, let you down. That thought, that realization is like an acid in my soul. It eats away at me… and always will.
Ego… stubbornness… sheer pig-headed willfulness…? No, please. Don’t ascribe such shallow motives to me… you belittle my love for you. In the space where my love for you lives, there is no room for such narrowness. I have no ego… no will. I have nothing to assert and everything to yield. No, that is not the reason.
Do you know how to make Frog Soup…? No, I am not digressing. Bear with me for a moment please.
To make frog soup, you need a live frog. The procedure is to boil a live frog to death.
There are two ways in which you can do it. You can boil water and throw the frog in. Unfortunately, this procedure is very dicey. The frog- with as lively an instinct for self preservation as the rest of us- jumps promptly out… no matter how adroit you are with the lid. Result: No frog soup.
The other process gives better results. You take cold water and put the frog in. You then place the pot on slow fire. The temperature of the water will rise slowly. The frog will adapt to the slow rise in temperature. He won’t notice the change. By the time he is in a position to realize what’s happening, it will be too late and he will have boiled to death. Result: Frog Soup.
There are many conclusions one can draw from this story… even for the human realm. The ability to adapt is a given to all living beings. We adapt too… degree by imperceptible degree. We hardly notice the change, but one day if we look back upon ourselves, we realize the road we have travelled, the heights we have risen to, to stature we have attained.
I have used this story to demonstrate the concept of positive change. I have used it to explain Kaizen. Here though, I am not using it in that sense.
When I look back, I see what I was. And I see what I have become… change by imperceptible change. I don’t recognize myself. This is not what I am… was. This is certainly not what I want to be.
I am a transparent woman. There are no hidden things, no closed rooms, no secret passages in me. What there is, is out there, in the open. I am incapable of subterfuge. I cannot hide things. I know it sounds very bad… because I seem to be implying that you expect me to hide things. That is not what I mean. Let me explain what I DO mean.
There are parts of me you don’t like to deal with. They make you uncomfortable… they conflict with your style. Ideally, you would have wished they did not exist. To tell you the truth, I have wished it too. I have tried to wipe them out… but it didn’t work.
As a concession and a generous attempt at adaptation… you decided to divide me into sections. You now want me to present to you only the parts you are comfortable with… and keep the rest out of your sight. It was the least I could do, given that I was not able to erase those parts. It was generous of you… I know it was.
I genuinely thought I would be able to do it. At least that much, I told myself furiously. I WILL do at least this much. You will never see the parts of me that bring a moment of concern to your heart… or the faintest shadow of pensive thought to your brow. But I had forgotten to take my own style into reckoning.
I cannot hide. The paradox is, I can hide from others, who don’t need me to… and who don’t matter to me. I cannot hide from you. You talked about sharing a life. I could not understand how a life shared in sections could be called a shared life. Neither understand, nor convince myself that it was.
I used the word betray a short while ago. I feel as if I have betrayed you… by not being able to do what you wanted.
The option was to betray myself. I would have done that too… happily… and never regretted it. Then I realized that betraying who I was was much worse than betraying you.
If I betrayed who I am, I would lose the right to say I love you… because I would have betrayed the right to say ‘I’. I couldn’t do that to you… to us. I respect you too much… I love you too much. To have betrayed my own soul would have placed in intolerable burden on yours. It would have multiplied my sin many-fold… and made you a party to it. I WILL NOT do it.
And so, I’ll take the second option- which was never an option- but is now all I have.
I leave you in your care… and in God’s care. Its funny you know. I never asked myself if you loved me or not. It never occurred to me to ask… to wonder… to question. I know you will bounce back. I know you will be able to deal with it. If getting angry with me helps… go ahead and do it. We have to use whatever means come to hand don’t we…? We are survivors… both of us.
Just shrug your shoulders and say, “Oh, looks like there is no frog soup for dinner tonight.”
Vive La St. Valentine…! 🙂