|This is just a sample love letter, not the one I refer in this post...|
Thank God there is love, thank God there are women in love, thank God there are women who are in love with me, thank God there are women who are in love with me and are old fashioned, thank God there are women who are in love with me and are old fashioned enough to believe in old style love letters written on pieces of paper and thank God even more for making at least one such woman who is in love and with me and is old fashioned enough to believe in love and in expressing her love through old style love letter written on high grain solid bond stationary and that one day she indeed put her heart and thoughts upon such sheets of papers and sent it my way across a distance of a million mile; because if she wasn’t and hadn’t then I would not be here today writing this post.
I always knew technology could not be all that good, so even if I do use emails, FB, twitter, sms, Viber, Whatspp (albeit sparingly) I haven’t let go of my pen and paper. As I meandered through life, I chanced upon one such woman who hadn’t given up on her pen and paper either. In due course of time, as we both had suspected, love blossomed and then she sent me an exquisite letter, not so much about love, but about her discovering a new life since she found me. The pages were slightly bumpy as it always is with exotic handmade high grain paper, her hand writing rather indecipherable as letters merged and parted at unknown places and angles. But the sentiments expressed were clear enough and I kept the letter as a symbol of the mysterious feeling, which everyone knows and experiences but do not know the cause therein.
All of you know that mountains are my true home and I make my annual pilgrimage in the midst of harsh winters when no one is up there. This year, just after the New Year, I made one such pilgrimage; and perhaps an even more extreme one since I carried neither a sleeping bag nor a tent, deciding to find and stay in caves, beneath boulders, or inside caverns and if nothing else then in snow caves or beneath the open sky. In retrospect I realize I am completely out of my mind, but at the time it all seemed a fine and sane idea. So I left home much lighter than usual, much against my mother’s protestations, since the winter had been unusually oppressive this year, and headed up the familiar slopes buried now beneath snows of unprecedented proportion. As I climbed up and down ridges, crossing high passes or pinnacles, all alone but with my real family and friends, far from anywhere, counting the stars at night or battling snow blizzards in the day, I was happy as chipmunk with cherry.
In particular I remember a day when I started climbing around 3 am in the morning and even after 7 hours of plodding had barely gained 200 m vertically and 3 km horizontally; so deep and precarious was the snow conditions; I had already been buried by several powder avalanches. Even fools must give up eventually, so I did and returned. But the next morning, instead of turning around, decided to head up higher using another adjacent mountain path.
That day was perhaps the worst of all. It had snowed the entire night and the morning though looking straight out of a fairy tale, held the silent foreboding that we all know so well. Death was in the air. But I had to move. Shortly, as I climbed higher and deeper through the waist deep snow, a ferocious blizzard started that raged through the day, without letting up even for a minute. I had to wrap my buff tightly around my head, leaving only a slit for my eyes, and bury myself as deep as I could inside my shell; even then the beating I took was brutal to the point of breaking up my will. Nevertheless, with almost zero visibility, and no options but to keep moving, I continued; eventually losing my way completely (I didn’t know I could still do that), by evening I reached an abandoned shepherds hut, whose roof had caved in with the snow and there was no place to sit or lie down. So I looked for a cave as these huts normally have where they keep their herd in summers; and I stumbled into one.
I was shivering, freezing, and slipping into hypothermia more rapidly than I thought I would. My entire body was wet, all my clothes were wet, and I had very little food. The cave was soaking and full of snow and spindrift. I scoured to find some wood and few pieces of leaves but everything was way too wet and soggy to build fire. And I knew if I couldn’t make fire in the next couple of minutes, I would just freeze to death. I searched through the hut, but again found nothing even remotely dry. My matchboxes were wet too, though not beyond recovery. I started blow drying them, losing even more body core heat in the process.
I am considered to be an extreme outdoor survival expert and I can build fire out of almost nothing but that day I was in a situation that is rarely possible; I simply had no means of building a fire. The snow continued unabated outside, it was nearly 15 deg below zero. My heart beat in frenzy, my limbs shivered like dry grass in tempest and I desperately looked for the first thing that you need to build a fire – dry burning material. I knew I could light at least few of the matchsticks using deflection technique but also knew that they would fizzle out in no time and there was no way I could light up any of the soaking cold wood pieces. I contemplated burning my clothes or socks or the nylon buff, but ruled out as inadequate. If I lost my few match sticks then all would surely be lost. Death is my constant companion and a true friend and that day it sat right with me, holding my hands, beckoning me to follow him. The only way I could avoid mortality was if I just continued to climb all night; which may or may not kill me at the end. Situation was not only desperate but completely hopeless; or nearly so. And like I always say, no matter what you do in life, do it for love; do it for someone you love even if that person doesn’t know that or doesn’t approve of what you do; but your reason to do something should only be love.
This woman not only loved me but approved of what I loved and loved what I did, even if she would never do it and one fine morning from her home far away she had sent that love to me wrapped in a letter consisting of two large pages. And I was carrying this letter deep inside the pocket of my base layer, right next to my skin over all these days and had completely forgotten its existence in due course of the day. As I sat huddled, hugging my body like a foetus, I suddenly felt something brushing my skin and almost screamed in joy as I remembered the letter. I withdrew it and read it through teary eyes, since even on such a day, from such a distance, I could feel her love and warmth, care and tenderness, holding me in an embrace within which I could happily give up living this life. It was warm and dry and inflammable.
Quickly I cleared snow from the cave floor, dug a stone pit with my Swiss knife, carefully placed the wet twigs copy book style, and after reading the words one final time, struck my first match and put it to the pages of this letter, which I had torn into thin strips. It caught fire immediately, I slowly fed this into the pit and then continued feeding succeeding strips, drying the woods in the process; eventually building and retaining a fire for most of the night.
The letter burnt and smouldered and died into ashes leaving me alive. I mourned for the loss but rejoiced love since it was only love that had saved me. And I thanked my stars and this woman who still believed that true love needed personal touch and fragrance and feeling and warmth that no amount of technology or electronic means can convey.
The next morning was bright and blue, cheery and gay and I crossed over into the next valley and the passes and the peak finally reaching my village. From where all I had to do was descend further into the green world of the living. I looked back at the snow covered mountains behind; much beyond where, somewhere in some cave that I would never find again, lay the remains of a love letter that no one would read ever again. It’s a blessing to be loved and a priceless gift to be loved thus.
Therefore my friends if you truly love someone, write them a letter on a piece of paper, and write more than one sheet, even if you have to fill up the space with repetitive assertion of your feelings. Use a high quality high grain handmade paper, even if they cost a bit, since you never know when your loved one might need that paper to save his or her life.
An hour’s indulgence from you could prove to be a life-saver for the one who means the life to you.
P.S. And I know you are reading this right now; and I know you would write to me again and again letters on papers and perhaps a longer one so they can burn longer and offer me life and warmth when nothing else would work; and all I can say is 'thank you for loving me and thank you for sending the letters'. I know who you are and you know who I am. Keep writing, keep loving; I will always love you my beloved letter writer.