April Alchemy: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar

Voilà! Here is the very first monthly missive from The Dream Pedlar's desk. Permit yourself to be delighted!

April Alchemy: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar
'Hearts in the Wind' by The Dream Pedlar

Dear Dreamer!

How wonderful it is to be able to send to you the very first newsletter from The Dream Pedlar's desk!

Writing to you in this format feels way more personal and engaging to me than, say, writing and posting a blog on the website and hoping it would catch your eye as you scroll through the Internet, for work or for pleasure, a myriad other matters demanding your attention at the same time.

So thank you for letting me take up the occasional space in your mailbox. For what am I without you? What are words without a reader? A dream without a dreamer? A story without an enraptured listener?

Now that you are here, grab a cuppa if you please (you don't have to tell what you spike your drink with when no one's looking), and read on!

After I sent out a new book into the world earlier this month, I sat down to watch Bridgerton. I found Season 2 to be just as exciting and enchanting as Season 1, especially with Simone Ashley's smoking presence on the screen as she portrayed the very strong and admirably independent character of Kathani (Kate) Sharma, a performance that has completely changed how I see myself in the mirror.

the impact and importance of representation
How the casting of Simone Ashley in Season 2 of Bridgerton erased decades of cultural conditioning for me

For days after watching Bridgerton, I continued to devour articles on the series, not wanting the enchantment of it to end. Until I came across this one, Beyond Bridgerton: what Regency romance was really like, and learnt that finding a romantic suitor in the Regency era was just as fraught with difficulties and platitudes as it is now. People back then were just as prone to engage in 'ghosting' and 'playing the field' as they are now. And with early 19th-century dental care being what it was – essentially non-existent – the ballrooms were probably filled with toothless viscounts and dukes. That burst my bubble and I was content to come back fully to the real world, happy for having watched such an entertaining series but no longer hankering to go back in time to any era other than the now.

But that very familiar sensation of hiraeth – that deep longing for a home in the past, that nostalgia that has seeped into my soul, that homesickness that sits lodged in the very hole it carved out of my heart aeons ago – stayed with me for much of this month as life happened and paved the way for some of my loved ones to leave for other lands.

a season of endings
People are leaving. Sometimes it is the longing for a land they once lived in and loved. Sometimes death takes them away. Every departure brings a fresh wave of grief.

This deep longing for the home of my past has often made me question the choices we make in the name of growth and progress. The journeys we make to distant lands. The search for someone new to love as we drift away from old loves. The seeking of new people to connect with, new activities to engage in, as what and whom we once knew and held on to for comfort and shelter suddenly feel strange and stifling.

Intellectually, we now know that what we seek on the outside is something that we alone can offer to our ailing hearts, even if not with any semblance of constancy. Sure enough, we meet wonderful people on this journey, events happen that feel nothing short of miracles, but they all come with that inevitable transitoriness that marks every life on earth. Like waves on the ocean.

Sometimes we sit on the shore, watching the waves rise and fall. Sometimes we find it in ourselves to leap into the water and allow ourselves the pleasure of meeting the waves in an exhilarating mid-crash. And yet, at other times, we find that we too can be the ocean, surprisingly so, savouring life and its rhythms and every being in it without wanting them to go one way or the other, the waves now a distant perturbance without the power to ruffle our hearts. Until the next colossal wave comes and drags us along with it, and we find ourselves on the shore or riding the wave or becoming the ocean once again.

I recently came across a poem – Singularity by Marie Howe – which describes with breathtaking beauty this longing for connection and a yearning for an absolute dissolution of the boundaries (not always geological) and differences that keep us apart from the rest of the world.

(Click on the box below if you'd like to indulge in Howe's mesmerizing words right away.)

SINGULARITY‌ ‌by Marie Howe

(after Stephen Hawking)

Do you too sometimes want to wake up to the singularity
we once were?

so compact nobody
needed a bed, or food or money —

nobody hiding in the school bathroom
or home alone

pulling open the drawer
where the pills are kept.

For every atom belonging to me as good
belongs to you. Remember?

There was no Nature. No them.

No tests to determine if the elephant
grieves her calf

or if the coral reef feels pain. Trashed
oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;

would that we could wake up to what we were
when we were ocean

and before that

to when earth was sky, and animal was energy, and rock was
liquid and stars were space

and space was not at all — nothing

before we came to believe humans were so important
before this awful loneliness.

Can molecules remember it?
what once was? before anything happened?

Can our molecules remember?

No I, no We, no one, no was.
No verb. No noun yet.
But only a tiny tiny tiny tiny dot brimming with

is is is is is

All. Everything. Home.

Tales for Dreamers

The Price of Wonder

If the gift of ceaseless wonder was yours for the taking, what would you cede in return?

An almost 8-km long path winds its way through many of the residential suburbs of the city I'm lucky to call home. About a block away from my home, a strip of asphalt concrete, narrower than a lane but wider than a sidewalk, unfurls under the vast sky. Flanked on both sides by large swathes of lawn, which are meticulously mowed and prettied by the city, it is a haven for walkers, joggers, and cyclists.

This has been one of my favourite places to head out for a walk ever since we moved to Burlington four years ago. But when the pandemic hit in early 2020, more than two years ago now (wow!), I very quickly grew bored of walking down the same trail and its very similar offshoots over and over again.

Out of that desperation for something new and different came this tale 'The Price of Wonder'. I hope you love it!

tales for dreamers: the price of wonder
If the gift of ceaseless wonder was yours for the taking, what would you cede in return?

A Book You May Love

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

I picked up this book not knowing what to expect. It started out poignant enough to grab my heart. But a few passages in, it made me laugh out loud. And before I knew it, I was swinging like a pendulum between moments of pathos and moments of outrageous humour.

A comedy as well as a drama, a mystery as well as a deep-dive into what it means to be human with all our foibles and our anxieties, this book was an absolute delight to read. It warmed my heart and soothed my soul in more ways than I thought a book could possibly do.

books you may love: Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
A comedy. A drama. A mystery. And equally, a meditation on what it means to be a human simply trying to do their best.

That's all for this month! Putting together this note for you has given me much joy. I hope reading it filled you too with wonder and delight.

I will write to you again in May. If you have read my latest book, The Benevolent Goddess, a surprise awaits you in next month's newsletter.

Until then, here's to more dreams coming true!

~ Anitha