I still can't wrap my head around the fact that after all these years, I somehow mustered up the courage to write this letter to you. I've never been the best at expressing my innermost feelings, and you know it. Yet, here I am, trying to put those feelings into words which I had buried deep inside my mind. Yesterday, I was going through my old photo albums and your face popped up. Memories rushed to me and hit me like waves. It felt like I was drowning in the ocean of our memories and yet, somehow I managed to stay afloat. How? Because you held my hand! Tight, and strong and never letting go! It was when I saw the plethora of our pictures that I realized, how much I missed those golden days when I would get back from school and rush straight into your waiting arms. How you would narrate the same stories to me with different plot twists, every time I demanded a bedtime story and how we would spend hours talking pointlessly. Yes baba, I remember it all. I know for a fact, that when you held me for the first time in your arms, you had your eyes wet with moisture and the first sentence you said was, "She is the first girl in our family after 38 years." Papa and Mom did give me vivid details. They told me how you would never let any soul raise their voice on me, even mom. I remember them telling me how I would spend hours with you, playing cards, teaching you new stuff or just ranting about my day. After your demise, when I got to read your diary which you carried everywhere, I noticed, almost every entry had my mention! That time I didn't realize the depth of your love for me, but now I do. And there isn't anything in the world which I wouldn't give to spend at least 10 minutes with you. Since you left me at a very tender age, there are a lot of things I wish I could tell you. I want to tell you how my teacher praised me for being active in the class. I want to make a complain of Mom cause she scolded me for not eating my vegetables today. I want to tell you about my first crush who broke my heart. All of it! And not just that, I also want you here with me. So bad... I want you to see me grow into a self dependent woman and praise me for my independent nature. I want you to see me graduate. I solemnly wish you were here to take me to my favorite park whenever I am feeling down and push me on the swings until I am laughing my heart out. But Alas, someone rightly said, 'The world is not a wish granting factory.' There are so many times when I wish I could hug you tight! I wish I could still come to you when mum cooked bottle guard and you would convince her to give me my favorite pickle. Talking about food, you know, I still love to eat that Garlic Chutney which we so fondly gobbled up every chance we got, no matter the amount of scolding we had to endure later. When you left me, I was too young to understand how messed up things actually were. I didn't realize that all the time which I spent with you, will now just be a part of my treasure box of memories. Bitter with the pain of losing you and sweet with the amount of fun we had. Yet, I could never relive them... No combination of 26 letter will even come close to expressing what I feel for you. You were an important element of my childhood. Even if our memories are a little hazy, blurry, and tainted with my childhood amnesia, I will always cherish them and keep them close to my heart. Every night when I look at the sky and whisper a shy good night, it's actually you I am talking to. Every time I pray to God and my wishes are fulfilled, I know it was you pulling some strings and convincing God to help your little angel. After all, your love for me knew no boundaries, right? You are even willing to negotiate with God, just to see me happy. And you know what baba? I won't cry! Why should I? When I know that you are right beside me right now. Caught ya! You're laughing at me as I struggle to pour my feelings onto this piece of paper. Now, you're smiling gently because I caught you red handed. See, I know you so well, don't I? I am your little princess, I will always know you inside out. However, you know a funny thing? I don't even remember the last time we talked or the last memory I had with you. Probably because at that time, I didn't know it was going to be the last... Had I known it was the last time I would ever get to see you, I would've hugged you a little tighter and held onto you a little longer. I know you are reading this letter baba. I just want you to know that I love you and I miss you. I know you are always watching over me from your comfy seat in heaven, and that's some sort of relief. I know I am not the brightest crayon in the packet, I have made mistakes. But I swear, I am working on correcting them. I hope I grow up to be the grand daughter you wanted me to be. I want you to be proud of me. That's enough for me! This is not goodbye Baba. It's just farewell, until we meet again... In a better place... Your Grand Daughter Shreya
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” - Winston Churchill. Since I was twelve a horse was a large portion of my life. I found release and freedom from the world through her. But, I never understood this quote until I realized horses gave me wings. My aunt told me that kittens were at their barn. We were going to check on them and then go to the movies. My blonde headed self was so focused on small fluffy kittens, I walked past a horse and her massive body standing in the corner. I kept walking distracted with kittens on my brain. I find myself hearing something, “crunch, crunch, crunch.” I turned around, and I was disappointed at not finding what my mind was so looking for. Then seeing a large butt with a knotty tail I think cows are not kittens. Yes. I know, a dreadful miscalculation. Then, I realised it was her. Her, a horse, THE horse I saw two weeks prior. She was still matted with feces and her bones were visible. It was her though! I had whispered, “ I will get you, I promise.” My pleading prays at the dinner table had worked. I asked God, but it's was my parent's conscious I softened. Mischievous maybe, but it worked! After giving everyone a hug and saying thank you, I began to brush her. I named her, “Ladybug”. Her coat grew and her bones filled out. However, Ladybug suffered from separation anxiety and nervous behavior. I think, she most needed was love. Ladybug wasn't easy to train. I often had to walk back to the barn from where I had been thrown off. She'd get injured. I tried hard not to get hurt myself. The outside of a horse will teach you that you can gain submission of a thousand pound animal through force, but never trust. So I took her away from people who thought to win her was to wear down her spirit and control her. I stubbornly searched for a solution. After 3 years, I found Carrie Vinski a women, who when you meet her you automatically underestimate her, which is a bad move I found. Carrie Vinski is a woman with a spirit so fierce and kind she has a whirlwind of inspiration always surrounds her. She opened my eyes to a new understanding. She taught me to be still while Ladybug stormed. Carrie taught me to speak the equine language. On the inside I stayed calm when it seemed like all hell was about to break loss. She steadied my hands and showed me how to love better. Carrie valued the horse's selflessness. She left the horse training world for that reason. Ladybug and I began to move forward for the first time. We managed a few shows, better riding practices, and began relaxing together. I learned not to demand so much from a creature whose spirit was broken. I listened and showed kindness instead of demanding my way. Horse are complicated and mysterious giants. Everyday you discover more from them. She gave me wings as I rode her across seas of grass. Air was flying past as I was afloat in the atmosphere. The sound of her proud snorting filled my ears. The thunder drum beating of her hooves feasted on the ground underneath me as we took off. That feeling sank deep into my bones as every muscles flexed and worked. As one she carry us across fields, rivers, and forests always on our way to nowhere. A horse run with power, strength and grace. To be carried by such a creature is a honor. In the show ring you feel the most intimate connection. The response in a single small command to turn, hold back and to go. The grace and enchanting movement in the dressage ring answers all questions of the true beauty of connection between two beings. Horses dance with passion and run with fire in there blood. They are war machines of old because of there benevolent power. While the story of Ladybug and I was finally pushing toward a positive light, as so often happens not all stories end with happiness. I found her limping and with a gaping wound to her hoof and a large loss of blood. I had to let her go. It was the honest thing to do, but saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I've ever done. I regret walking away afraid to watch the light go out from her eyes. I heard her drop laying on the floor in wailing agony. I felt my heart break. Yet, I walked out and held her head gently as she breathed her last. I said, “ I'm proud to have called you mine. I told her she did a good job. Thank you, Ladybug.” She passed away with the sound of cars passing in the distance. I finally understood Winston Churchill. Ladybug was never about self gain. She humbled my prideful spirit and quenched a part of my soul hadn't known was parched. The freedom and discipline she taught me is irreplaceable. The horses body reminds men that there is rare power far greater than we know. Joy can be found even in the most troubling of things and love to be gained from earnest pursuit. Ladybug taught me gentleness. All horses have the power of enchantment over men. They are the wingless that fly with wings that only heaven may know of. Horses tame men.