Dear unknown

I don’t know your name. I have a vague recollection of it, though I have no idea how I would ever have known it, so may just as easily have imagined it. Perhaps it does not matter, except that it means I have no hope of ever actually reaching out and finding you.  

What accounts for the timing of this missive? For that, we can blame a sleepless night on Thursday, in which my multitude of sins stacked up before my eyes, and I cursed myself all night long, whispering istighfars. As so often, you were there amidst the complainants, still blaming me after all these years. In truth, this letter is the culmination of 25 years of regret.

I know I owe you a sincere apology. I was extremely immature in those days, inarticulate, excessively shy and completely out of my depth. You may recall that I considered myself a writer back then. I had penned a (very bad) novel before arriving at university and then over the course of my first year began to rewrite it, as my worldview began to broaden.

I believe that in that process I upset you, because there was a character that perhaps resembled you. That is the source of immense regret for me. However, the truth was, I was inspired by you, and was trying to give a rather wooden character redeeming features. In an earlier draft, that character was quite simply ‘bad’, but by then I was starting to see the world from their point of view. Yes, for I was beginning to move away from seeing people as one-dimensional beings, as good or bad, seeing them instead as complex and complicated. 

Unfortunately, by that time, I was cutting myself off from everyone I once knew and becoming a recluse, so there would never be any running commentary to put any of that in context. I suppose everything I did then would be framed by my pathetic and idiotic behaviour in my first year of university. No doubt extracts of that second draft made their way to you via the reading club. Yes, and the rest is history.

I knew when you came back from your year studying Arabic abroad that you detested me through and through for all of that. I always wanted to apologise then — and tell you that you had unknowingly had a role in guiding me to Islam. However, I never mustered the courage to do so, and so I have carried these regrets with me ever since, always hoping our paths would somehow cross again.

I made dua on Thursday night that Allah enable me to make amends somehow. However, I have no idea how I will ever be able to. I don’t know what became of you after my departure from university. I know I vanished too, disappearing into another world, far removed from all that went before.

But if by chance you ever happen to stumble upon this letter, please accept my heartfelt apologies for my behaviour back then, if I upset you with my foolishness. 

Alhamdulilah, I have been Muslim now for over 23 years. You can take some credit for that, though you will never know why. I am less manic these days, and less of a prick (I hope). I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, wayward wanderer that I am.

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