[TRIGGER WARNING: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. A close friend decides to reflect on the past decade in this last letter of the ‘All The Things I Could Never Say’ series. I could not think of a more bittersweet way to end it. The writer has a talent for juxtaposing the trauma of everyday life with the trauma of the pandemic. She calls herself a master procrastinator but thinks it’s a point of pride because she will absolutely not be rushed into anything. So in her free-spirited, unhurried and introspective way, she takes a look back at the years 2010 to 2020 and brings this project to a close]
An amazing person asked me if I wanted to write a letter as a cathartic process, and to relive
the love for writing and receiving letters. I was elated at this opportunity, hoping that I would
find some closure to certain people, events and feelings. As I sat down to think of whom I wanted to
address the letter to, I recalled my most painful relationships – all the regrets and
heartaches. I wanted to write to my father, my exes, or friends who I have had a falling out
with. But the more I thought about it, the more overwhelmed I became. I just could not seem
to convince myself to write – it felt forced. Yet I knew I wanted to write a letter. So, I have
decided to write this letter to whoever wishes to receive it.
The past decade has been so colourful for me – it has been a couple of difficult years. But if I
break it down, it has been a sum total of good days, bad days, and everything in between. Surprisingly though, when I think back to all the years of my life preceding this last decade, there is a calm that envelops me. I feel at peace with those experiences – as if those experiences have served their purpose.
Maybe that’s how life is supposed to be?
I have wallowed in despair for all the awful things that I have been through, but now I am
bored. I have been itching to change this narrative of my life. When I used to talk about my life
story, I was not the protagonist in it – I was collateral damage. And that is so messed up. So my
endeavour with this letter is to bring me closure from the decade that has been – I want to feel
the same calm when I look back at these years as well.
I have lost many significant people to this decade – Best friends have become acquaintances,
partners have become Instagram friends who wish each other well on their respective
birthdays, and filial relationships have become a set of strangers with baggage that cannot coexist in the same physical space.
My relationship with my father has been the overarching sentiment of this decade. And trust
me, I have written him several letters (looking for a resolution) – some expressing what a horrid
human he has been, some letting him know that I believe he will change for the “better”, and
some reiterating that I love him and I miss him.
Watching your father hit your mother one fine day is something one tries not to normalise.
Especially since the world tries to pass it off as a repercussion of something the woman has
done, or an angry mistake; but rarely as a crime. Watching your father flirt with other women,
and then gaslighting your mother, branding her as a jealous wife, accusing her of infidelity, can potentially mess up your headspace. Staying up all night fearing for your mother’s life, and overhearing your
father threaten her with rape makes you wonder why marriage is “marketed” as the most
important aspiration for a woman to have. Hearing your father calling you a prostitute in a
degrading manner (I do not think calling me a prostitute/sex worker is degrading),
asking you to sleep with your mother’s boyfriends; and then telling you how much he cares about your life and career is confusing to say the least.
This decade has been about all this and more. But it was also during this decade that we
transformed the feeling of helplessness, thoughts of committing suicide, and succumbing to
our destinies. We knew there was something better for us if we just decided to be brave. We
continue to be brave even today, believing that there is something better for us. Hope is powerful – its powers are heavily underestimated.
2020 has amplified all our feelings, and forced us to be reflective. I reflected on my disdain
for the world, and for myself. The constant guilt of not doing enough – for being privy to so
much hate, and responding with hate. I feel drained with the emotional labour that I have
provided – it angers me just how gendered that process is. In an economy where social
reproduction is not accounted for as labour, providing emotional labour feels like walking on
a tightrope, infinite feet high, without ever taking a break. My major realisation this year has
been that I have a choice to provide my emotional labour only to the people I share a symbiotic
relationship with. Acknowledging that some relationships are unequal, and therefore I should
be guilt free when I choose to walk out of it has been like releasing my breath after ages.
I choose to not address my letters to my most painful relationship(s) because I am refraining
from doing any more emotional labour for these people.
I am taking a break – I take a quick look at the photographs in front of me. I spend some time
looking at the faces in these photographs intently; thinking of why I decided to suspend them
over my study. I wonder why I let these photographs occupy space in my room. I am able see
my team – people I did not want to lose to the previous decade. My team, my supporting cast- they are holding the two ends of the tightrope, cheering me on and telling me that we have
I think all of us are walking on tightropes, and we do not really have the option to
get down from it.
Maybe that is how life is supposed to be?
Maybe each of us is trying to keep the balance, and we can only hope that we will be supported
when we need it. Some days I am the protagonist of my story, some days I am the supporting
character in theirs.
I think I know now why I could not write to my “hostile has been(s)”. I think I am on the verge
of healing. Looking back at the last decade with the eyes of gratitude for all those who held
me up when I wanted to give up makes me feel like the protagonist of my story – the phoenix
rising out of the ashes (again and again and again).
To my most painful relationships, the antagonists of my story: Thank you for the bittersweet
relationship, thank you for all the lessons you have taught me, thank you for pushing me to love
myself harder, thank you for helping me correct my course which eventually led me to my
team. I apologise for the hurt I may have caused you. I sincerely hope that playing the role
of an antagonist in your lives helped you to love yourself harder, find your team,
and find closure.
I forgive you for the abuse even though some of you have never apologised.
And with that I give myself closure.