To My Beloveds
(You know who you are)

Kirthana B. Raj

© Copyright 2021 by Kirthana B. Raj

Sketch of Keats by Severn.

I havenít written anything remotely good in the past year and this was not the piece I intended to begin with, see I have all these messy webs of stories, poems, essays about pandemic, about all the new people I got to shake hands with, the new things I got to learn, the social media and hundreds of others but this is important because this is all I keep thinking about (so we write what we must, not what we want). 

This is whatís been on my mind (while Iím at home reading or when I take a walk by the lake): the beloveds we find, the chosen and accidental angels, humans and otherwise.

A couple of years ago teacher H in school handed me a flashcard with a single sentence on it: Notice what lights you up.
This was to be our guiding principle to list down a couple of things that lit us upÖ.my list as a 12 year old was very simple it was puppies, books,chocolates, drawing, skies and chickenÖwell, I wouldnít alter this list my 12-year self made except I would like to add something really important, whatís lighting me up now is friendlove, beloveds through whom I have found home and in whom I find home. It feels wrong to not have written about them sooner. 

I do not know how it happens, who, what,where makes it happen, but somewhere we find each other and find we can say things to each other that we would only say to ourselves, and trust...that we will be loved despite-that we will love ourselves despite. You can work your way to this feeling, love can guide you there, but itís a special magic when its instant, a trust instantly affirmed and wrung with certainty. It just exists, it does and it stays as long as the two of you keep wanting to see ďhomeĒ in each other. 

When I go to around the lake some mornings, I soon forgive the thoughts I intended to explore on my bike ride, and find my attention caught in the love between ripples and light, wind and wheel,feet and me. 

There are all these boats stacked up at one part of the lake, it reminds me of them and this is The truth I wish I shall never forget: our beloveds are rafts that show us how to survive, and why its necessary to. When I see them wade through life I know I can Ė and must. It is friends who got me through the last storm of my life.

When you are caught up in dark ďwoodsĒ you have to run and finish the course of it. this metaphorical Ďwoodsí where your feet shepherd you into when youíre lost, a darkness where staying lost is the only way you can rid scripts of grief and pain. What you find and on the other side, I donít know but I suspect it has to do with grace and love, and though these questions have to be walked alone, your beloveds make the course of it a little less scary , and most importantly it gives you hope. 

But itís not always a voice or an amulet that helps its Sís sloppy morning kisses;itís Dís hugs where I heal, itís Vís phone calls where I donít have to use actual words at all ; itís Mís presence that letís me be wholly myself; itís Pís random lecture on anything and everything that silences my brain; itís Nís random piece of poetry and Dís memes; itís K sending me sky pictures from different timezone and then there are also times when D & V are there to tell me Iím messing up when I need it, and M will spontaneously go anywhere with me, and A plays different songs just to clear my air of sadness and D clicks random pictures of me to convince me that Iím beautiful and I give in(sometimes), Iím now convinced What loves us is invested in our self-transformation, painful as it might be and that sometimes it takes others love to learn to love ourselves. 

This piece is in gratitude to all the beloveds who have been my light- Iím here because of you. I needed you. One of the necessary spells I have learnt in the woods is how to give love a home in writing, press it upon the memory of the world and lift away the current of what cynics will claim of it Ė YES love saves, Yes we lose people and homes and are rendered lost by them also, but we must never forget this, I must not forget this,love is what sees you through. I have known it and lived it and sit here changed by it. If I believe in myself or my art it is because of the sisters and friends and lovers and skies and storms and dogs that have loved me; the ones who love me and the ones who let me love-

John Keats, an English poet died in the arms of his best friend Joseph Severn when he was twenty-five. Keats had TB, it was unlikely he would live, but doctors recommended the Italian sun, something about the light. Although he was no more than an acquaintance at the time, Severn went with him and lived with him even though the disease was considered contagious. In the monthís leading up to Keatsí death, Severn nursed him and managed his affairs, and also drew him. Severn was an artist. The photograph above shows the last portrait of Keats. Under it Severn has written, Ď28 Janry 3oíclock mng. Drawn to keep me awake Ė a deadly sweat was on him all this night.í

Few weeks before his death Keats said,

ďSevern, I can see under your quiet look-immense twisting and contending you donít know what you are reading Ė you are induring for me more than Iíd have you Ė O! That my last hour was come -Ē

Keatsí last hour came in Feb 1821.Severn was pissed when the Italian authorities burnt all the contents of Keatsís room,because thatís what the law ordered for TB patients.

He oversaw his friendís burial, he fought for the writing on Keatsí tombstone. He knew he said Ė that heíd always be known as Keatsí friend before he was known for his art, but he did not mind this at all, he did not mind this at all because he loved Keats.
If you ever visit the Non Protestant and Catholic Cemetery in Rome, look for John Keats grave, and youíll be surprised to what you find beside him: the tomb of Joseph Severn, laid to rest at the age of 86,fifty-eight years.

Severn never left Rome, never returned to England. He continued drawing and painting in Italy. In between the two tombstones is a third: Severnís son who died as an infant in 1871, he chose to bury his son there.
And I thought, but in the last days what could Romeís light have done for the dying poet. If anything it must have been the light of his friend.

Iím a student teacher pursuing my education degree From REGIONAL Institute of Education ,Mysore,India.

I currently write for my blog on medium (click here) and its mostly for people in my little social circle and friends
Iím 20 something  who is learning things  , taking notes as I go by every day and since Iím a problematic protagonist of problematic  world  I spend most of my time reading, writing in order to keep sane in this maniacal world.

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