Love Letter to Charmaine Craig

Dear Charmaine,

I go by many names. If you want, call me Felix Krull, Hauptmann Köperick, der gestiefelte Kater, the talented Mr. Ripley, William Abagnale Junior – I am not what I am, but who you want me to be.

We met. But I was never supposed to have been there in the first place, as most places I find myself in. I do not recall what got me there. Probably, it was one of my fairy tales; how I am Germany’s most preeminent writer, the great grandson of Thomas Mann or suchlike. Blueblood not because of aristocracy, but due to the ink that is running through the veins of my lineage, innumerable generation of Promethean, ingenious, yet, suicidal authors.

Or was it because they never doubt the suit? Why, according to you, do I always fly in a three-piece suit, while others prefer to slouch in sloppy tracksuit trousers? No, not merely for the flight attendants, but for the upgrade, which they forgot to give the prince of Utopisthan. You should know, for a man like me there are a few essentials: suits, ties, pocket squares (plenty of them), an handkerchief, zippo, fountain pen, business cards (at least four different ones), charm, a few quotes and poems, which you throw in occasionally with intellectual indifference, and, most importantly, a story that opens doors to castles, the princesses’ chambers within, and the treasure of the fatherly king. I am concurrently fiction and reality, the incarnation of narratives, a novel become flesh. Now, you the author, write me!

Here I am again, the narcissist that I am, writing more about myself than you. I apologize in the name of my lifelong absent father. Let me follow the phenomenological order, in which I got to know you: from the out- to the inside. You are a beauteous in-between, the hyphen between orient-occident, a bazaar full of exotica. There is a confluence of continents on your skin, cultures that meet in your being.

You look like you are in your early thirties, maybe younger, although you are way beyond that. Tempus fugit, they say. Not for you, it seems, time forgot you. Perhaps time was too occupied writing history elsewhere, cutting wrinkles in these all too sorrowful faces, ticking life after life away, or searching for its lost sibling, space. If I did not know better, I would say your mother must have bathed you à la Elizabeth Báthory in virgin’s blood. Your beauty is, indeed, intimidating, especially your calfs, for me, whom they call Andhra-chicken-legs aka Do-not-skip-leg-day. I always tell them: but they can run, fast, long, graciously like Forrest Gump’s. This time I will make them run after you.

Let us go, however, beyond the façade of superficial external beauty. Because you are so much more. Whilst others are nothing but the reflections of their selfies, these constant reassurances of their elusive selves, you are to me – in the sense of Walter Benjamin – a painting painted by the hands of the divine. For you are irreproducible, unique, with an aura that would make a Guru jealous. Your movements are smooth, caressing the air. Despite being who you are, every deed, every look, every gesture of yours is full of modesty, as if you knew that not only great art is the product of a Hemingwayish understatement. Not to mention your intelligence. As part of the research, which I had to do, being the con artist that I am, I started reading your novels. To be fair, I never got very far, since I was too distracted googling your pictures. But I will, surely, I will.

Now, the question is rather, how do I, the king of imposters, con myself into your heart? You seem to like writers, thus, I shall pretend to be a poet, writing you stanzas that you might have heard before, without, hopefully, recalling where. I would take some Goethe here, some Rilke there, a bit of Tagore, even Cummings, and then, like a perhaps hand, caress your heart.

Or, I might pretend to be the lost king of Burma, ready to reclaim my throne, of course, only in order to give the country back to its people and help the Rohingyas. If this is the way to your heart, I will fight – like your family once fought – single-handedly the junta, finish off the job, that the piano playing lady in the jungle was never able to do. I am not sure what story to choose, especially, I am not sure which suit will go along best with which story.

There is so much more I want to tell you, preferably with your head nestled on my chest. In particular, because the only word I ever uttered in your presence was a “hello” that rather stumbled over my lips, instead of graciously jumping from my tongue to your soft ears. Still, at least for me, tempus fugit. And so time has come for me to go out in this world and earn my bread and butter, howsoever relative the term earn might be in my case.

A last time, I close my eyes and see you. There you live on the coast of everlasting sun, on the beach, somewhere in paradise with your children and your husband, who is an accomplished writer just like you. In the meantime, I am tricking my life to the next after party, the next broken heart, the next first class flight, whilst dreaming of an almost normal life like yours.

In love, in utter, and foolish, and incommensurate, and doleful, and everlasting love (and, of course, written with a stolen Mont Blanc),


    1. Dear Christian, your words are too kind. So am I, but we have to catch up again, it has been way too long. Greeting from Delhi.

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