To Benedict Cumberbatch
What troublesome times we live, when the world is suddenly in utter chaos and xenophobia is rising everywhere? Where Orwell’s 1984 has suddenly become relevant again? One recalls the opening verses of TS Eliot’s Wasteland:
April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
What should one do to remain positive and hopeful in these times but write a letter to someone who they admire from afar.
You are termed as the internet’s boyfriend and loved by millions around the world. Many have even written fan-fictions about you and you may have recieved strange (pun intended) gifts. But I am going to write a simple open letter in the hopes that it reaches you and maybe one rainy afternoon we have a poetry session where you read my poems and give me constructive criticism regarding them.
But where are my manners, I should start from the beginning. My first introduction to you was not Sherlock. I wasn’t even aware of the BBC adaptation of the famous detective by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was one summer night when I wanted to listen to Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale rather than reread it.
I opened up Youtube and searched for various readings of the poem. I stumbled across a video and hit the play button and the voice of the reader struck a chord with me. He read the verses exactly as I read them and this stirred in me emotions I didn’t think were in me before. The rhythm was melancholic and earthly. You read the poem as one who, while lost in his passionate reverie, begins to doubt his own senses. I doubt mine too and always ask the same question Keats did in Nightingale:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?
I felt transported to a time when things were simpler and machines had not replaced humans; the tranquil air was enough to be majestic for an individuals bildungsroman.
Think of it in terms of how tea is brewed. You boil water and add the tea leaves into it. As soon as they make contact with the boiling water, their colour changes from a dull golden to dark brown or black depending on how strong you want your tea to be.
Whatever the case maybe, this prompted me to search for you but something came up which led me to procrastinate. It wasn’t until when a certain Scandal in Belgravia was up for an Emmy in outstanding directing in a miniseries or a dramatic special that I realised that the person in the episode seemed familiar. I went into my memory palace and found the answer. It was the same person who had read Keat’s poem and I was gobsmacked!
I immediately went online and searched for said episode’s and found out you were the titular character of the show adapted from Doyle’s series. I felt a buffoon for not writing to you when I had the chance; as if I was Jon Snow and knew absolutely nothing of substance. This was my introduction to Sherlock and to your star power (if you pardon me for saying it).
I must be a madwoman rambling nonsense by now and this won’t even be read by you but when one is inspired to write about an inspiration, they should write bravely.
Nevertheless, I followed your career after that. I may not have seen all your work but the performances I have reaffirmed my theories about why everyone sings your laurels. Your protrayal of each character is distinct yet similar. Like each flavour of tea is different from the other but every flavour is intrinsically linked to one another because it brings to us buried memories and nostalgic moments in time.
I seem to recall that I started writing a fiction series on how – in an alternative universe – I would have met you but left it midway. In it I wrote of travelling to Islamabad (Pakistan’s capital city) with my father in order to get the necessary documentation for travelling to Britain. This was sometime in October of 2014. In December of that year, I did travel to Islamabad, but by father would not return to Karachi. He was dead and I was shattered to find that my work of fiction, had been an omen of what was to come. My life imitated my art. What had I done? But Death is a friend we should gladly meet with open arms when our job on earth is done. But mine isn’t as I have much to do before sleeping eternally.
I wrote an open letter to people who discouraged me last year. I will share with you one important passage from the letter:
Thank you for saying I will never be a writer or and was foolish for being a professional dreamer, because art is stupid and dreaming is not ambitious. I was always an artist and I was born with dreams which were to be explored. Dreams are achievable. Hear Martin Luther King Jr’s dream on equal rights for people of colour in the early 1900s. His dream led to Barack Obama’s journey to the White House.
I hope that my dream of you reading this letter turns to reality and I may finally believe in dreams and hoping in art. There is much I want to say to you about history and literature but time is a tyrant. Therefore, I end this letter with one of my poems and with the thought that this brings a smile to you face.
I drift into a lyrical ballad
A song out of time.
Neither at sea,
Where I could drown
Nor the sky,
Where my wings could tame
I drift into a lyrical ballad
Dreaming of the restless air,
Which could guide me
P.S. I make killer coffee. You want double espresso or a cappuccino?