MonthMay 2010

It’s on the tip of my tongue, or somewhere in the general vicinity.

she loves me not

Dear Pavithri,

I hope all is good and well with you.

This letter is not to inform you that I love you. I do love you, but that is not what this letter is intended to inform you.

It has been a while since we last communicated and maybe you can blame my shyness or perhaps my utter laziness for that. After your last letter, a few years ago, I lay one night in bed thinking about you. I was wondering whether there was some chance that you also loved me. I mean, I never did tell you – excluding that sentence above – and I never did ask. It occurred to me to find a rose, or some type of flower that we find a lovelorn hero or heroine pluck petals off while sitting at a curb on some roadside. It sounds silly, but I wanted to count down “she loves me” and “she loves me not”s until there were no petals left. At least that is how I think it works.

Instead of a flower I used my pillow. It was full of feathers. I pulled out one feather, “she loves me”. And then another, “she loves me not”. So I went until there were no feathers left in the pillow cover. A feather mound had formed on the floor. The last feather was a “she loves me not”. There is still another pillow to go, I thought to myself at that moment. The feather mound grew and the last feather of the second pillow was also a “she loves me not”. Depressed, I went to the store to get more pillows. Oddly enough, it had never occurred to me that I could simply put the feathers back into the pillow cover.

I repeated the “she loves me” and “she loves me not”s with five more pillows. I thought the odds would be good enough with five pillows. It turned out that such was not the case. Each and every one of those pillows ended up with you not loving me. It was at that moment I realized that I could put the feathers back into the pillow covers. I found myself with seven pillows. Five pillows too many. You remember that ashram shala, the one Gupta-ji often volunteered at? I gave them the extra pillows. Every so often, very often, I still counted down “loves me” and “loves me not”s. You know, given the amount of feathers I counted, the odds of not ending up with you loving me is one in millions! And yet still, you loved me not.

I was fed up. I could barely sleep during the nights and it did not get any better during the days. I thought about seeing a psychiatrist but I figured it would be much cheaper to switch to foam pillows. I gave the remaining feather pillows to the ashram shala.

While I could no longer do any count downs, I still could not sleep well at night. So what to do, I thought one night – weeks after switching to the foam pillows. I started to tear out little bits of foam from within the pillow cover. With one bit “she loves me” and “she loves me not” with the other. And so bits of foam were now scattered over my floor. I tried to keep the bits all equally sized as possible, that was the best way of not cheating. Even with my honest attempts I always ended up with “she loves me not”. Depressed again, I put the bits back into the pillow covers and kept repeating the process. Einstein would say that I was insane, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. But mathematically the odds of you loving me were actually increasing. It was only a matter of time.

In the following days I started to realize that I was sleeping much better than before. I wondered and wondered what change could have caused this. All the last bits of foam were still “she loves me not”s. Then it struck me, it was the bits of foam in the pillow cover that gave me a good night’s sleep. As an entire piece the foam was not as comfortable. But once you turned the foam into bits sized like the ones I had, the pillow was extremely comfortable. So if nothing at least I had started to sleep well.

After a few months of resting very well during the nights I thought that perhaps I could start to sell pillows with foam bits. I had no previous experience in this business but I thought, “why not give it a shot?” What did I have to lose, no?

So I registered a business, got in touch with some factories and started to get these pillows made. Business was slow at first, but eventually it picked up. Most of the local bedding stores were ordering my pillows. I was making a good sum of money, so within a few months I left my day job. About a year or so into the whole thing I was considering branching out into different parts of the country. Business was good, but, you know, who talks about pillows?

I had started to talk to distributors across the country but the talks were very preliminary. Just over a cup of chai and some biscuits. Still, I was extremely excited. Knowing that other people were also sleeping well at night made my sleep even better. As I said earlier, what do I know about business? In all that rush and excitement, I had overlooked to actually own the rights to the “bits of foam pillow” idea. So what happened was that the largest bedding company in the country, the one with distribution channels all setup had started to make the foam bit pillows and already sell them! Imagine my shock when I saw these pillows in a store during a business trip.

Eventually even the local stores stopped ordering these pillows from me. I simply could not compete. So I had to close down the business. It broke my heart, but I can still sleep decently well on my pillow. Though some nights are harder than others. An idea is just an idea after all, much for the taking by anyone.

I am out of a job nowadays. I am reluctant to get into any type bedding business, of course. But also I have not been in practice with the skills of my previous day job for a while now. So I expect it will be a while until I secure something. That is how it goes, I suppose. It just happened to have happened. Though I cannot really complain, I made a tidy sum of money with just the pillows.

You had asked me in the last letter about what was going on with me. So this letter is actually to inform you of that.

Do tell me, what is going on with you?

Love,
Siddharth

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