Letters to a stranger


To whomever is reading this letter,

This year may seem harder than usual, but believe me when I say you’re already successful, even before this term begins. I think a majority of people won’t be particularly fond of this year, and that is not their fault. After all, this year has been filled with unpleasant news every month. But this is a letter from me to you with a very long warm hug, just to give you some hope and to say that I am so very proud of you! Even though your path has become uncertain and twisted, I know you fought your battles and stood up strong with more courage than ever, even if you don’t believe so. This letter is about completely giving you credit for the amazing, amazing person you are, with the purest heart and the most loving nature. Being surrounded with the most heartbreaking form of atrocities, you managed to pull yourself together and provide support and hope to your friends and family. Your parents are so proud of you. You can brighten everyone’s day with that radiant smile of yours. You’re like a cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows on a cold dreadful snowy night. I know things will always work out for you because you make sure to do everything in your power to get what you want, and that will be so helpful in the coming months when you feel low or left out. You never hesitate to take the extra step (or the last slice of pizza) and to me, it just reflects how giving and caring you are. Osho once said, “This too shall pass.” I know times are tough and it feels insane not knowing how this year, your year, will turn out. But I can assure you the rest of this year, your year, is going to be full of hope, adventures, new friends, and just a little bit of studies! I want you to remember you’re not alone. I will be with you every step of the way because you are worth it. Whatever you choose to put your heart and soul into is worth it. Taking time out for yourself is worth it. You need to know that there are so many people in the world who love you deeply, and I am one of them. Always remember that when you feel low, when you’re about to give up, or just when you need a pick-me-up. I have faith in you, I hope you can have faith in yourself.

The person you need me to be.

You are the most important. I hope you believe in that. When the dust settles down, I hope you stand tall.

Dear Stranger,

Hi there! The last few months have got me dwelling on random thoughts that have given me a fresh perspective to things –a thought process that I still have trouble describing. Still, I suppose I do know one thing for sure. All of us have a tendency to anticipate, to find comfort amidst the unknown, calm within the chaos, to sometimes plan, re-plan and modify opportunities. These choices that lay ahead of us ease us into the upcoming and sadly inevitable ‘change.’ Take for example 2020—a new decade, a time for many students to graduate, many to venture into the ‘real’ world, many to step out of their comfort-zones in a quest to fulfill their passion. A time for new places to be added to the wishlist, new items to be added to the bucket list. However, a couple months in, it was more than clear that hopes were going to be shattered, rays of light were going to go unnoticed, and nightmares were going to turn into reality. One of which included being constrained to stay within four walls—a last resort for the social beings we are. 

As you’re reading this, you may relate to at least one thing I’ve listed above. The rollercoaster you had to unwittingly get on without even having fastened your seatbelt properly must be running through your mind. We may not know each other, but I know this ride seems long and you’re unsure of it ever coming to a halt. I know that instead of making the most of this enthralling roller coaster ride, you’re busy overthinking it. I want you to know you’re not alone. That such is life—a series of highs and lows, a questionable and sometimes unfair concoction of the supposed good and evil.

And the best thing you can do is think of it one day at a time. Focus on this moment and be fully present. Only then will you enjoy the beauty around you, feel the love of those who care for you, who are silently thinking about you and praying for your well-being. Feel the adrenaline rush on your way up, the sinking feeling in your stomach on the way down, the knot on the loops. I can assure you when you look back at the path you’ve covered, you will be proud of yourself.

Sometimes you may feel alone, but that’s okay—it will help you appreciate the people who have stuck by you and strengthen your relationships. I know you might doubt this sometimes, but you are amazing. You do matter. And it’s all going to be the best of what it can be, really really soon. For now, the sun may be setting over the horizon, but remember that when it rises again tomorrow, it will bring you a fresh chance to fulfil your dreams—hold on to that sense of hope. The stars will shine on you, and you will find your light grow astronomically. Someday, you will marvel at it too.

You do you.

A fellow hopeful human.

You’re not alone.

To You,

I’d read a while back about survivor’s guilt. A feeling usually felt by people who feel guilty for surviving a traumatic event when others did not. Every time I read a headline about things going wrong in the world, I feel a subdued sense of guilt for being directly unaffected by it. For narrowly missing so many disasters. For not being able to understand the plight of all those affected, but pretending to imagine being able to. But what follows that guilt is an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the things I’ve overlooked and taken for granted. Gratitude for the privilege I have. When I talk to most people about this, they are quick to defend the things I deem a privilege—a stable roof above my head, fresh air, a world-class education, supportive parents, friends I trust. I know that a lot of people think of this as the default setting, a given in most cases. But at times, this gratefulness also brings along a sense of wonder and amazement for the little things in life, that if I sit down to list, to a lot. We’ve been taught there’s strength in numbers, there’s power in many. So tell me, won’t the many small things that make you happy add up to something more that can make you feel grateful?

In a war, doesn’t winning the smaller battles ultimately lead to victory? Then why isn’t it easier to count the battles we survived? Lion King has this beautiful, beautiful line, “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” Do you remember your last battle, and how getting through it seemed almost too difficult? You almost believed it would never end, but it did, didn’t it? You learnt from it; it made you stronger. Each sunrise sees you stronger than the previous day’s sunset; you got through the night. Why believe you won’t again?

When I was a little girl, my grandpa used to extend two clenched palms and asked me to pick one. One of them had candy, the other one was empty. If I chose the empty one, he’d laugh and close my eyes, and when I’d open them, there was only one palm to pick. Just like that, I’d get another chance. If I chose the other one, I’d get the candy. Either way, I’d end up happy with a sweet taste in my mouth. I like to think life could be that simple. You get second chances. You need to vehemently believe with all your heart. You need to persevere.

As the leaves turn to red and orange, and the days get shorter and colder, find the little things that make you feel alive. When you step out of the house and see a white cloud of escaping breath, stop and notice it. It’s proof that you’re alive. Proof that your body and heart is warm. Proof that not everything in that moment is cold. If seeing is believing, believe it when you see the air go up towards the sky. The warmth is inside you, you don’t have to go looking for it anywhere. In your universe, you are the sun, you don’t need anyone else’s light to shine. Everyone needs you to survive. You are the most important. I hope you believe in that. When the dust settles down, I hope you stand tall.

Someone who believes.

I have faith in you, I hope you can find faith in yourself.


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