On New Friends // Letters to October (14)

Dear October,

Before I started my final year of university, I started praying for friends again. What was the worst that could happen, I reasoned.

At some point, I started having plans again. I explored life as I wouldn’t have dared to by myself. I found myself with more hands to support me than in many years. In the meantime, further precarious fixtures in my life fell away. Most had been fading since high school years — unanswered messages on both sides, conversations abandoned midway, as if we had gone out of breath from running around the same track. It was a long time coming. Others went abruptly and loudly, leaving scars that will keep opening before they heal.

Either way, it hurts when ‘is’ becomes ‘was’. And it’s even harder to leave those rotting relationships behind when they keep reappearing, when your guard is down, through threads of social media. Keeping someone around like that, labelling them friend even when the word is empty of meaning, makes it easier to leave a window ajar in case the real thing is ever revived.

It’s easy to scroll through moments of their life and sink deeper into the what ifs. To wonder if they think of the past at all.

Continue reading “On New Friends // Letters to October (14)”

Slightly Spooky Reads // Letters to October (13)

Dear October,

There are many things I like about you. The way the leaves glint copper and bronze in the sun. How there are fewer bugs around. And the countdown to Halloween… to some extent. As fun as the anticipation and festivities are, I’m not so fond of the actually scary parts of Halloween. Anything that remotely looks like it might have a jump scare or a girl with hair dangling across her face and I’m done. (In this context, ‘done’ means my bags are packed and I’ve moved to the other side of the planet.)

So, as today is Friday the 13th, here are some slightly spooky (and some not at all spooky) books for my fellow scaredy cat readers.

1. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

This story is narrated by Katherine ‘Merricat’ Blackwood, who lives with her sister Constance and their uncle. Years ago, the rest of their family was killed in an incident involving arsenic and now, the Blackwoods are something like outcasts in society. Apart from necessary trips to the village, they manage to live in their little bubble until one day, an arrival from a distant relative starts to unravel their peaceful existence.

At the start of this book, you will likely get the sense that something is not quite right. There’s a sense of unease and tension from the very beginning, which only grows until the horrifying climax.

Spooky rating: 4/5 non-spooky ghosts
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Continue reading “Slightly Spooky Reads // Letters to October (13)”

Matilda at 30 // Letters to October (11)

Dear October,

This year, you bring the 30th birthday of a book very close to my heart. Roald Dahl’s Matilda is my favourite — I’ve written about it quite a few times (here’s a letter to the eponymous character and a post on why Roald Dahl is my favourite author). To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the novel’s publication, Puffin has released three special editions in which Quentin Blake imagines what Matilda would be doing as a 30-year-old. He sees her as an astrophysicist, a world traveller or chief executive at the British Library. He also thought up other possible scenarios (see this article by the BBC), and others have been joining him in imagining Matilda at 30 (see this article by The Guardian).

As such a fan of the book, my mind has also been churning with potential ideas since I heard about these special editions. So in today’s letter, let’s you and I imagine what little Matilda Wormwood could grow up to be.

1. Teacher

My strongest belief is that Matilda would want to help other children the way Miss Honey helped her. Before Miss Honey, Matilda didn’t have a real companion who recognised her potential, wanted to help her flourish, and most importantly, loved her. I think Matilda would be likely to return to the classroom, perhaps inheriting some of Miss Honey’s learning techniques. Imagine learning about quantum physics through rhyme.

Continue reading “Matilda at 30 // Letters to October (11)”