Waxwings tweet every 23 September in the cheerful country.
19 July 1990
This is my first time writing to you. I find much joy in my fresh life in Turnpike Lane. In fact, I’ve found I’m awfully compatible with this place. In every walk, I want to savor the smells and scenery. I think I’m in love.
21 July 1990
Dear blank canvas,
I’m excited! Today, I got enrolled at Turnpike Lane Grammar School. I’d been dreaming about getting enrolled forever. I am grateful to have passed my eleven-plus. But it also felt strange, as I got separated from many of my friends. Though, my family is very supportive. I understand now: Not everyone always stays. I’m glad to know Raj and Ibrahim and Chris are all well, and I talk to them often. I send them emails, though mom writes them for me. If only we could stay together. How I wish we hadn’t moved!
30 July 1990
Dear thoughts warehouse,
Grammar school isn’t all sunshine and snowflakes. As the only brown kid in my class, I get bullied verbally. Though I don’t mind them, I don’t want this to spread in our culture. Yes, it is my culture now as much as it is theirs. I pray that they understand this.
Anyway, I’m sorry I didn’t write to you for a while. I’ve been busy, you see… I’ve had to do two assignments already! Ugh. My friends copy my assignments, but Ms. Shirtliff can tell. They don’t know, though. They think they’re being sneaky. One day, Ms. Shirtliff will stop keeping this a secret between us. I guess life isn’t all too bad.
11 August 1990
How have you been? I’ve missed you, friend. I got caught up in my studies again. I also got caught: My mom found out what I was doing. She said that it’s not okay to let them copy my assignments. I don’t think they’ll listen to her, but I understand. I’ll tell them about it. If it’s hurting them in the long run, I won’t do it.
21 August 1990
There is this girl at school. She asked for my notes. I don’t mind giving them to her. If only she would ask me face-to-face. I think she is beautiful. I would give her my notes without a doubt.
I’ve started reading books outside of my curriculum (Don’t tell mom). I’ve finished two already. I hope this won’t adversely affect my studies. And I pray I won’t get adorably plump!
23 August 1990
Dear partner in crime,
I’m running out of nicknames for you. However, the girl from school is not running out of nicknames for me. I feel lucky and blessed. But we are yet to meet.
I’m noticing things I didn’t before. There are those around me who live miserly lives; what have they done wrong? I don’t think we should deprive any children of food, especially while we feed ours till bloated. I’ve heard this unfamiliar term being thrown around: “volunteering”. I wonder…
29 August 1990
Dear best friend,
I made contact! Jenny and I volunteered at the soup kitchen. I didn’t know cooking was this hard. We make a wonderful team. She laughs at my odd jokes; though she tries to conceal it, making for the cutest smile in the world. I’m lucky to have Jenny as a friend. I pray to accompany her always.
I’m falling behind in studies. That’s not good, but I’ll make up for it. I pray I do.
5 September 1990
Dear trustworthy friend,
It has been nearly a week. I haven’t talked to her in a while, online or offline. I fear something terrible has gone down. I’m afraid to tell anyone else. I’ll go to her house; she told me the address one day at the soup kitchen. And then again at school (I’m not good at remembering). I could just call her, though. Let’s see…
17 September 1990
Dear greatest friend,
I have terrible news: She and I argued. I started it. But if you saw what I have seen, you would too.
Three distinct bruises covered her innocent face. One on her forehead, and two on each cheek. When I sneaked in through the window, I found her crying in a corner. When I asked her, she told me everything. She told me how her uncle treated her when nobody was home. That old pig! I knew something was wrong. Then, she stiffened up and laid down hard and fast rules. She said we couldn’t tell anyone; it would be all right. I had seen one too many a documentary on domestic violence. I couldn’t just stand there and do nothing. When I walked outside to get the telephone and call 999, she felt betrayed. She locked herself in. But I knew this was for her own good.
I stayed there till help arrived. First, there were police. Next, her parents arrived. She held them so tight. Finally, I felt a sense of relief. Realizing that my delay must worry my mother sick, I returned home; but not before giving her a peck on the cheek.
23 September 1990
I’m officially out of nicknames. But I think I have found someone special. You needn’t be jealous of her. We just share secrets, and I never tell her anything before telling you, first.
Today is her birthday, and we had a marvellous time. So I feel I should disclose this to you: My father is no more. He passed away from lung cancer. He was a chain smoker. He wasn’t a drunkard or criminal; but he seldom came to see us. Whenever he came, I would feel a sense of completeness. He would bring the cheesiest chocolates at the store and had the worst clothing taste (my mother would say). But we loved him, as he cared for us. Even from afar. When I got the news last week, I shared it with her before you. I’m sorry, friend, but you are limitless. She, in her limited world, needs to know.. You have no arms or legs, and so can’t walk. Contrarily, she feels pain, and it takes time to heal that. You’re good with that stuff.
Anyway, limitless friend, I also disclose that I don’t get bullied at school anymore. Since I learned to phone to police, I just told them to fix my problem. The next day, 3 blazing sirens lit up the school parking lot. The bullies were running for their lives, and I think I saw her smiling. She would always shame the bullies. I’m glad nobody needs to hurt anyone else anymore.
23 September 2001
We have come far. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Guess what, we’re tying the knot. Both families are content with the arrangement. Life seems like an oddly pleasant illusion. I am so grateful for all our triumphs and woes together.
I’ve made it as I promised. I see things that don’t exist to anyone else. I see the shine in her eyes and her metaphysical infinity. Today, I marry her. And as I hold her hand at the alter, or gently remove her veil, I want you to recall my words: I want our children to flourish in a world rich in compassion, love and care. I want to foster in them the same strengths that saved me where many couldn’t bear the cruelty of the wild. I want the universe to endow them with wisdom, courage, temperance, justice, humanity, and transcendence. I want my children to spread only that that will give and not take; for, the Sustainer has heard my prayers and blessed me with all I could ever desire.
I free you into the hands of nature now, and hope you will thrive as a record of a past so delightful, I couldn’t imagine a better one. Finally, I pray that every year on 23rd September, Waxwings tweet in the very corner bookstore where I got you, and that evergreen terrace around the back light up, starting a chain reaction of happiness in Turnpike Lane.
Stay timeless, old friend. We still volunteer at the soup kitchen every weekend. This is not goodbye; for, you will always be my infinity. We shall meet every 23 September.