I don’t get much time nowadays to just sit down and write for fun but when I saw this Writing Challenge on the Bangalore Writers Workshop community website, it was just the prompt I needed to get back into the fiction-writing groove. So hope you enjoy it!
WRITING CHALLENGE: Write a letter in the voice of the ‘other’.
Used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about.
That which is distinct from, different from, or opposite to something or oneself.
View or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.
I’m standing near the chai shop, trying to light a cigarette in the pelting rain, the huddle of girls under the bus stand catch my eye. They’re from the college nearby. I know that because the one holding the umbrella is a student in my class. They haven’t spotted me yet because they’re too busy trying not to get wet. As for me, the cigarette is lit but all I can think about is what they’re wearing.
It all started when I was five years old and I was the only male, flitting about from room to room, as the ladies in my family got dressed for some maternal cousin’s wedding. I had no clue who the cousin was or how we were related but it was going to be a grand wedding. My mother and her cousins, aunts, nieces and my grandmother were all decked in their finest jewellery and the best silk sarees because the groom was from a wealthy family and my family had to show we were nothing less. All my other cousins (the ones who were my age) were playing outside as the men were sneaking a few sips of alcohol and a few drags of nicotine before they all had to depart for the wedding hall. I wasn’t interested in playing or spying on the uncles. I was mesmerized by the colours and sights around me. The deep greens, rich blues, startling reds and soft yellows of the saris that sashayed around me, the scent of their perfume filling my head and I wanted time to freeze, thus fixing myself in this wonderful moment. Yes, I suppose that’s when it all started.
The kids at school would make fun of me, did you know that? No, I never told anyone. Plus you were years ahead of me so why would you have even cared about what a bunch of teenagers were doing ‘in the name of fun’? God knows why I’m writing this to you also, it’s not like I’m going to send you the letter. I can’t because you left me and went away years ago and never looked back. I’ve never forgiven you for that but somehow I still feel you’re the only person in my life who I can talk to about this before it all ends. Sometimes I imagine what you would be doing right now. Probably in a big house with three kids and a wonderful husband. I would have been a good husband to you. I was almost a husband to you.
But we’re not talking about you and me right now. That’s not the point of this letter. The point was to try and recall why clothes held such a fascination for me, to try and rediscover that passion that I had, figuring out the perfect way a dress should fall on someone’s shoulders or the perfect combination of fabric and colour. But I reckon the passion died out in the same way your love did for me. One week, we were hot and heavy and the next, cold and stagnant. Can love really flicker out like that? A love that was so passionate that sometimes others would blush looking at how intense we would simply look into each other’s eyes. A love that when it died out, I couldn’t bear to do anything associated with you and so I got a job as a French teacher in a college. Ha! Me, teaching French. Me, teaching!
Well, the cigarette is over and so is this letter. Technically it is an email to you that I will never send, but then again, an email is just an electronic letter. I truly hope you’re doing well and happy and safe. And I hope you are thinking the same for me.