I sit on the soft grass, the Oak tree behind me providing shelter from the raging sun. My fingers trace the bark behind me, my toes burying into the dirt. I can't help but wonder, Oak trees live for hundreds of years. This one has probably seen just as many humans sit under its boughs. This is when I wrote my first letter. Dear Ms.Forgotton, It's the 1840's. You've got curls pinned to the back of your head that keep getting caught in the bark. Chesnut hair, tired eyes, and a threadbare dress. You look like something out of a Christmas Carol. But more than that, you look human. I want to know what your favourite perfumes are. I want to see the hairstyles you dream of wearing, but were too lazy to pin up. Did your hands get sore from setting hair rollers, like mine do? Even though we're years apart, how different can we be? I'd give anything to speak to you, girl to girl. In another life, maybe we could have been friends. I feel a certain twang in my chest as I watch tears come to your eyes. They're fiery, defiant. The look of someone who has something to prove, but nobody gives you the chance, right? For what it's worth, I'm sorry. It's hard to be a woman, no matter what time you're in. I hope you were happy in the end though. I burn it that night. I don't know why, but I feel like it might find it's way back to her. In some way. The next letter I write on a secluded beach. Dear Sir Forgotton, It's the middle of the night, 1775. I'm watching you pace the sands, running your hands through your haggard hair. Little do you know, I'd be here one day, sitting against the very rocks that you now plop onto. You're stressed right now about your store and taxes. There is a book in your satchel, Thomas Paine. I bet you'd be surprised to know it's in a museum now. Our historians obsessed over your signature on the inside cover. I think you and I would have gotten along well. I own a small business too, just like yours. And let me tell you Sir, it doesn't get any easier in the future. You seem like a friendly man. I want to offer you some tea and chocolate, sit on the sand and lament about life with you. We may be decades apart, but how different can we be? We're both human, after all. After writing to him, I burnt his letter too. I couldn't stop thinking about whether he'd went home and heated coffee, or milk. Whether he'd stayed awake all night, or slept fitfully. I wondered what he did for his birthday, since mine was later that week. Then, I wrote my most recent letter. Dear Mrs.Forgotton, I'm your great-great-granddaughter. I don't know much about who you are. Only that you came from India. And you never went home. I think of you as I pull on my deep blue sari. It's my favourite one. As I wait for my mother to finish getting ready for your other great-great-grandaughter's wedding, I pick up a book to read. Then I remember you couldn't do that. I remember you couldn't read or write. That you spoke a different language entirely. My name is still Indian, Grandma. But our family only speaks English now. I wonder what you'd make of it. The world was wicked to you. I can't dream up your happy ending. I don't know where you died, or what your name was. I don't even know where you're buried. I wonder if you had pin straight hair like my father. Or wavy locks like my sister. Did you pin it up in braids like me? Was your favourite fruit mango? What songs did you hum under your breath while you worked? Did you like stories? It's strange to think that the same moon you looked up at, I did too. I don't think we're that different, though the centuries divide us so. I can't explain what it is to be human. That's something I'll leave to the scientists. But in my opinion, to be human is to want to be remembered. From the beginning of time, humans have dug their fingernails into everything since stone scribbles. Dresses in museums were tried on by girls who wanted to look pretty in it. Books were read and marked to say ‘This was mine. When you read it, remember the hands that held it before you.' We have walls with scratches, engraved jewelry boxes, embroidered jackets. All from humans who made their mark on something. Even if it was small, it was something. We idolise these things, put them in glass cases. Because we know that we want that, too. The sand and the grass may not remember us, but we remember eachother. Immortalization in the form of history. And even those, like my grandmother, who didn't leave anything tangible, gave us something anyway.
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