Please Don’t Read This

Written by Suchita Senthil kumar
Art by Noah Black


i.

Please don’t read this because I don’t know what these words are. I don’t know whom these words belong to. 

For the few seconds it takes them to travel from my brain to my fingers—a process that takes nine-thousandths of a second—they are mine. Doesn’t that mean each letter I type belongs to each one of those nine thousands of one second? These thoughts, I don’t know where they’re coming from. But I’ll have you know, they’re not mine.

And since you’ve been reading this, these words are yours too. When you read this, what do you see? The loops of the Os, the straight lines of the T and Hs, and swirls of the Ss. Do you see behind white screen and black letters a writer who has forgotten how to write? 

ii.

You see her in her room at 01:38 AM on a Friday, typing words that don’t belong to her on a Google Document, which also doesn’t belong to her. Here you have two questions. One, why is she so fixated on owning things? And two, does she often refer to herself in the third person?

The answer to the latter: yes.

You see her sitting at a table draped with curtains for a tablecloth. A glass bottle with a money plant sits atop her desk amidst headphones, charger wires and the laptop she keeps staring at. A single branch stretches towards the ceiling, a futile attempt to reach the sun.

You see her raising her hands to the skies, faith in every God she has ever heard the name of. She does not realise light cannot pass through cement. She does not realise surrendering cannot occur until she loses first.

iii.

Please don’t read this because the more you read this, the less it remains mine. But if these words weren’t meant to be mine to begin with, what good does it serve for me to own them? If they were mine, whatever that is supposed to mean, wouldn’t these words stay within me? 

They wouldn’t ring in my ears, an awful sound of wavelengths mismatched and discordant frequencies. They wouldn’t congest my trachea waiting to erupt from my lungs. If they weren’t mine, they wouldn’t have left their grotesque dryness on my fingertips as they begin to appear on the laptop screen.

When the writer learns to surrender, the words belong to the reader.

Your eyes skim through these words, capturing words from the next line even though you haven’t reached there yet. They say only morals, characters and the stories stay back with readers, but what happens to the words? Now they’re just black lines and strokes against a white screen. But if words could transcend into a tangible form, what would you do with them?

You could drop them into glass bottles to place over your studying table. You could string them with red wool and hang them from the nails on your walls. You could tuck them in between the folds of your clothes, in the darkness beneath your eyes and drink them from your palms. 

iv.

You have a silent voice in your head. 

You hear it every time you’re reading a story. The scientists call it subvocalization but you think it’s not poetic enough for a phenomenon so glorious as that. Bold words sound different from italics which both sound different from words underlined. Each voice has a different cadence but they all sound like you in silence.

Sometimes, you hear another voice in a silence so different from yours: please remember what I’ve written, please remember me.