This is my second letter to you, in a series of many more to come, God willing. But this time, I write to you with a very heavy heart. Not sad, just a heavy heart. If I understand you right, you endorse words as a therapy for setting ease to all aches. Isn't that precisely what you demonstrated yesterday? You did, and I trust you, each day a little more. So words, aah, not that they are easy to find. But I will try. For you, for all who make you, and for myself. By the way, did you hear, they called you a 'healer' from behind foggy eyes yesterday? You're too grand to register it sometimes, I thought I will tell you once.
|Aastha's art and Aaqib's artistry|
They then called you magical. It did not seem enough. So they simply began calling you magic. You know I agree with them, and you know what I think about you. I think you are crazy. You are doing crazy stuff which my mortal experiences put in doubt. How, no tell me, how can you have an entire gamut of people come together from distant corners of human diversity and share details of love and life which are feared, which are locked, and which are seldom retrieved from those painful musty corners? Do you believe what happened? I have to, you see, because I was present there, and was listening and absorbing and hugging and absorbing a bit more. Please don't laugh at me when I tell you this, but I think, I have absorbed a fragment of each heart which beats for you. I honestly, genuinely feel so. And carrying those many hearts in my heart, it makes me heavy. It makes me float for a while, too, but it leaves me full, and pleasant, and heavy, all at once.
|As I said, literally and figuratively, leaning on each other.|
Tell me, do you know magic? You have to, you are just too mean and too smart to give it away. Or you're just secretive, in a nice way. You keep your magic under wraps, you make me nervous before each meet, you put my excitement to test, but you do it so I may never have any idea what kind of spells your wand will cast on those many hearts looking at you in innocent anticipation. Oh, you playful thing. You make it rain too, which pushes me to assure others while I am shivering with panic deep within. But now I know - you did it to take us to the place where we began. And of course, you take us there to help us realise how far we have come in how little time. We did dwell on it - from a cosy group of nine, we became a cosier group of some forty odd people, all taken together. So cosy in fact, that the warmth drew in people from other tables, stopped some more in their paths to other destinations. Was it because our coffee smelt better than their coffee? Okay, now I am being crazy. It was our mad laughter, our visible happiness, our lovely verses and then, this unmistakable love and trust we shared. That invited them. That invited everyone. That is also what keeps us together. Trust, before love.
It was another of those days when people cried, and I again, could not. I never cried in your midst, did you notice? You know why? Because I was taught to carry hearts with care. I was also taught to care for emotions laid bare. And there, in that gathering spreading out person by person on the floor, all veils had been voluntarily abandoned, as I looked around in absolute disbelief. Only pure and honest expressions came out, some via exquisite pens, some via gleaming eyes. You did this. I do not even understand what you are made of, or how did you become a living, breathing entity, but I do know you did this. You don't just know magic. You are magic.
|That is what my last letter to you looked like - In Your Nascent Days|
There is this little girl among us, who called you a gift. The best she has gotten in her life. You crazy PACH, I hope you realize you are just two months old, and here are your admirers, calling you a gift and a blessing in the same breath. I am sorry, I should not call them admirers. If I call you a living, breathing entity, it is they who infuse life and breaths in you. They are a part of you. They lean on each other, they lean on you. It is positively insane the way you make them come up with pristine thoughts, gem-like words and majestic verses. You took us on a journey from Agha Shahid Ali, to squirrels and suicides, to schizophrenic delusions, pausing for sometime at Eliot too - all the while perched high on the wings of love, being flapped gently by that demure, yet vivacious girl. You taught us of hope and hopelessness, of love and its silences, of strangers exchanging mute glances, of inhibitions and their overcoming, of bantering in love, of break-ups and break-up humour, and of poetry and its essence. Pardon my extra-liberal usage of the word 'love' in these musings, but, excuse me, is it really my fault?!
|Aastha di's creativity - oh, she gave life to the Panda!|
Mist. In my eyes. Has to be, right? You are crazy, PACH. I maintain. Last time I spoke to you publicly (for personally, I seldom stop chattering away with you), I was apprehensive about you losing the innocence with which you were born. Today, I have to tell you, that if it were possible in the world to gain in innocence with time, you have accomplished that impossible feat with grace. You're growing, alright, but you're still the toddler whose chuckles give life to the despairing. People are exposing their softest sides, flowing with you in gay abandon, and while you might get used to all this unbelievable attachment, I will still look at you with goofy disbelief.
You wash away my cynicism, you filter me off all the bad energies I acquire on the way to meet you, and leave me nascent and beaming to face a new week. Trust me when I say this, I feel a little newer after each tryst with you. It is akin to how finding love makes you feel new. This, you already know - finding you was like finding love, in more ways than one.
You're poetry. You're stories. You're trust. You're love. You're magic. You're enough.
Talking about you is not, but then, there are tales still waiting to be woven into the regal velvet of your fabric. I will wait for the tapestry to develop a little more before I get down to describing it again.
You're now called PACH and more.
All this, still, in your nascent days.
All this, in your inimitable magical ways.
PS - I now have one. Aditya Mani Jha, our master storyteller, left me a message which touched me beyond imaginations. He sent us blessings, exquisitely worded. And while reading it, all I could think of was the person where it all began - Anup. However much PACH grows and branches out, it will remain on the first page of our fact book that he gave birth to this idea which is has now acquired a life of its own. Each day PACH makes me happy, I never forget to thank him for it all. I call him the superboss, as do many now, and he is the nicest one could ask for. A genius poet, an outstanding human being, he merits an entire, lengthy post, but that, later. For now, I just want to thank him for being bored in life, because in that boredom lay the seeds of PACH, and of a grand vision for poets and poetry. PACH looks up to him, as do all those who are a part of it.
Oh, and for PACH to be this crazy, Anup has to be crazier, which he conveniently is.