07 December 2014

My twin is 70 years old, how old is yours?

Twins. This is a favourite word in the Dictionary of Love.  Some prefer ‘soul mate’ to ‘twin’.  It’s all about being two bodies but one heart, one mind, one way of thinking and being and feeling and loving.  For a while at least.  No, don’t call me a cynic.  There is no such thing as seamless twinning.  We are ‘one’ but only for a while, the length of ‘while’ varying from couple of couple based on a number of factors the enumeration of which is not my purpose here.

I think everyone has a twin.  Indeed everyone shares ‘one-ness’ with many, from time to time, depending on different context and at the confluence of different moment-streams.  There are moments when you look up and find someone looking at you, when gaze is stopped by gaze, and you know, instantly, that there’s perfect understanding, agreement, approval and appreciation of word or action.  There are moments when hearts converge, when thoughts coincide and words are spoken together without rehearsal.  You don’t say or think ‘whisper’ but there is a heart-gladdening that prompts smile. 

So we have ‘today-twins’, ‘this-moment-twins’ and can talk about twins who were and twins who perhaps might be and even talk about twins who stay longer than expected and twins who left all too soon. 

The problem is that we human beings are such solitary creatures who find it so hard to live with ourselves that it is a hundred thousand times harder to live with someone else.  We wish, often, that there’s someone who understands us.  We wish we had a twin. 

Unfortunately, very few have biological twins and those other twins I spoke about above are fickle creatures. Twinning by circumstance is such a transient phenomenon that we often recognize it after the fact.  This is not a bad thing, for no one can claim that life is about being understood and related twin-moments.  As far as coincidences go, twinning-overlaps are quaint, they make us tingle in strange ways and even entertain notions of worthiness that are so different and rewarding than title-conferring, salary hikes and position-advancement.  They are rare. 

All love stories have somewhere in them magical moments that are twin-made or twin-making.  Twinning, however, is not a phenomenon that occurs in that magical land called Love.  There is, for example, the story of Mansur Al Hallaj, who, while being stoned for the crime of blaspheme, danced and sang out the truth of his convictions, ‘Ana al Haq, Ana al Haq, Ana al Haq’ (I am God).  Stone after stone after stone rained on him. There must have been blood.  He had laughed. Until someone tossed a rose.  A hundred stones. One rose.  A hundred who did not understand. One twin.  Sublime.  A moment for pause. Tear. It was the twinning moment that stopped song, tripped dancer and erased smile; the moment of shared blaspheme, the ultimate praise of and inhabiting of divinity in a holy complicity and immortal union.    

The moment we identify with someone, some thing, some moment, we find a twin, a twinning.  Our twins therefore do not necessarily share age and cradle, they don’t necessarily wear the same clothes or walk together hand in hand.  Some twin moments are sublime, like the one related above. Some are not.  Like the one below.

I received a letter.  I have never met Shirani Pinto. She lives in Panadura. She tells me that she reads this column everyday.  She referred to an article that appeared on October 28, 2010 (‘On heart-unbuckling’): ‘[it] touched me so deeply that I had to thank in writing for churning my emotions on this wonderful theme of love.’  I have never met her but I feel she would have felt ‘twin’ in those words.  That should be enough, but what twinned her more in my imagination was the following:

‘I look forward to your day’s writing just the way I used to read the back page (sports) of the Daily News first throughout my 50 years of newspaper reading.’  That’s how I read newspapers. That’s the only way I know how to read newspapers. It was the sports page that contained anything that I could relate to as a child.

She continued: ‘I am 70 years [and] very much into reading since 12, mostly what touches me are way-out thoughts of unsung people.’ I write not to sing the unsung but to express my amazement at the music embedded in human lives.      

Shirani Pinto, 70 years old, resident of Panadura, wishes my heart and wrist more strength.  She writes. Pen and paper ‘writes’, I must mention.  She gave me a twin moment.  She is my twin of today.  No one was throwing stones and I am no Mansur, but this was a rose that came my way.  I feel blessed. 

*This was first published in the Daily News, December 2010. 

Malinda Seneviratne is the Editor-in-Chief of 'The Nation and can be reached at msenevira@gmail.com