Titled: Letters to Everyone, and Myself

It started when I was nine. A blank paper was so irritating to me, something needed to be done. And when I stared at it long enough, it would speak to me. It would tell me to write. And I, submissively, felt hungry for writing. That was when I started to express my interest in vocabulary. My English teacher used to tell me I was excellent in spelling.

I never got myself to do it, though. I never got myself to write.

Or maybe it started some time before that, I don’t know. My memory seems to attach my childhood to the age of nine. Before that is vague. I am sure about one thing, though, that I started writing letters earlier than that.

Also, I started talking to God from an early age. I kept that as a secret, but I’ve glided from there.

The irritation magnified when I turned twelve. But I remember one night something whispered, “write.” Everything in my body responded to that, and my pen felt friendly between my fingers. I started with simple, unsophisticated words. But it was everything.

I used to shred the papers after writing because it felt like a secret to me. Until, one day, I confronted myself and documented 3 significant nights;

The first one, 9th of October, 2004: based on absolutely nothing, I was anticipating a disaster.

The second, 10th of October, 2004 how the storm arrived, and it was my father’s sudden death.

The third, 11th of October, the aftermath of destruction inside, utter silence; where did all the noise go?

I’ve shredded those papers a while ago too, the detailed remains of my memory, because the brain has the power to erase what no longer serves you. And I wanted to let go.

The same notebook of secrets of mine was titled “Letters to Myself,” at the age of 17 after 5 years of plain “Letters.”

Then word by word, I was growing up and expanding vertically, and horizontally. I started publishing here and there. With a push from the people I love, and myself, I’ve summoned the courage to write about sunsets and love. I finally started to understand  and admire what I saw in the mirror.

At the age of 24, I still write letters to myself, and the people I love. I also understand that the blankness of papers in its sublimity is nothing like people. You can’t write them the way you want. You can’t change them. They come, in their complex creation; a combination of a past you know nothing about, and a result of insecurities and fragilities caused by that past. They are already written, volume after volume. Rarely do they come with illustrative explanations.

It’s either you love them the way they are, or leave. You can’t write people like poetry.

 

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Artwork: Light From the Beginning of Time, by Kenny Callicutt

 

Be•ing

I’ve talked to God More than I’ve talked to people 

and found that 

he talks back to me

Through strangers telling me their stories

Through this constant presence inside of me that picks me up when I’m on my knees

And through my never ending seasons

Especially when I forget how flowers have the ability to blossom in spring 

How do you explain the effect of the mote of dust that I am, in size, that ripples outwards, ever so beautifully?

It is not funny that you say you are “so OCD”

It is not funny that you say you are “so OCD” when you rush to adjust the tilted table cloth and your friends laugh about it. It is not funny because you don’t know what it’s like for a slight tilt to remind me of how ugly my crooked smile is. And nothing can change this truth.

It is not funny that you say you are “so OCD” when you rinse your cup twice, because when I do that, it’s far deeper than just the cup’s condition; I do that to be less harsh in judgment with myself because mistakes find a way to disturb my peace.

When you over-organize your room and think you might be OCD, it’s nothing like my reality; when I try to tidy up the maximum amount of things in my house to contrast the mess of emotions I feel inside. And I’d do that again and again until something inside feels right. I keep polishing my mirrors to silence the breaking of the glass inside. And what frustrates me the most is that it works sometimes for a while, right before the other rising of the screams inside.

It is not a joke because you don’t know what it’s like to pray countless times a day with the thought that God doesn’t love me because I feel that I am a bad person, and nothing can fix that. It is not funny when you joke about you having a sharp eye for the flaws of everything and your friends say that you might be OCD, and they laugh.

You don’t know what it’s like to see the needy eyes of my baby boy yet, and I’d avoid touching him because I can’t shake the thought of how filthy he might be. You don’t know what it’s like to keep such a secret, to try to contain my urges so that my husband wouldn’t think I’m crazy. It is not a joke.

It hurts to see that everything around me reminds me of how ugly I feel, how imperfect I am.

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

*inspired from a very intimate conversation I had with a friend who told me to write about things from her perspective.

Untamed

It was 4:30 in the morning, and things like that always happen in 4:30 in the morning. It was one of the many nights that she felt like an alien in her body because somewhere beneath her skin, the only home she knew was him. At nights, she would get tired of the mask she’s wearing and just allow herself to be as vulnerable as she is, and she would cry. How is it, then, that his absence can be this painful, this heart-breaking? She’d wonder how her heart can bear all this pain.

Before her shoulders curl and her back curves on her bed craving the warmth of a baby in a mother’s womb, something in that space in her room dropped the word “no” in such a firm, wordless manner. It’s as if that presence was an old man with the most warming, welcoming eyes that would contain her broken pieces with just a glance that says “I understand your pain.” And it’s as if this man told her that she shouldn’t cry, and that there is a fine line between being expressive and being a victim; while the first is human and the second is a crime. So that presence of “no” echoed all the way to her ribs as her heart pumped it to her blood.

Her pillow soaked in tears, something contained all that she is and helped her go back to sleep.

It was 8 in the morning, she woke up, got ready for her day and tied up a ponytail. She wore red lipstick, because days like these only begin with a red lipstick, and she looked at herself in the mirror and smiled; she liked what she saw, because she knew things would never be the same again.

The rain on her pillow dried, and the clouds swallowed themselves and disappeared. Somewhere in her heart the sun was shining again and she couldn’t explain how fast the seasons can change inside a human body.

She looked at herself one last time before she leaves her room, and realized that this presence, this still awareness has always been there and it has always protected her, she just forgets to listen sometimes.

She placed her hand on her heart and said: “Here is home, no one can take this away from me”

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

Destino

“Destino” Spanish for Destiny, is a short film released in 2003 by The Walt disney Company.

Its production began in 1945 and was only completed after 58 years. The project is a collaboration between Walk Disney and Salvador Dali, and features music writer by Armando Dominguez. It was storyboarded by Disney’s studio artist John Hench and Salvador Dali.

The project, then, ceased due to Disney’s financial crisis during the time of World War II.

After that, in In 1999, Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney, while working on Fantasia 2000, unearthed the dormant project and decided to bring it back to life. Disney Studios France, the company’s small Parisian production department, was brought on board to complete the project. The short was produced by Baker Bloodworth and directed by French animator Dominique Monféry in his first directorial role. A team of approximately 25 animators deciphered Dalí and Hench’s cryptic storyboards (with a little help from the journals of Dalí’s wife Gala Dalí and guidance from Hench himself), and finished Destino’s production. The end result is mostly traditional animation, including Hench’s original footage, but it also contains some computer animation.

Destiny tells the love story of Chronos and his love for a mortal woman named Dahlia…

Via: Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

Serendipity Part 1

It was a cold and rainy night when it all started and I was by the window listening to the music composed by the journey of raindrops from the sky to the ground, and I needed a sign of love, not necessarily romantic love but just pure love. That which colors the horizon and watches over the trees.

“Where is it?” I wondered to myself, it was a question I frequently asked but still could not grasp the answer. One thought lead to another as the rain orchestrated my heartbeats as I curled up and fell into the world I created; my dreams.

My friend invited me over for breakfast the next day and I have the habit of taking all the time I need to get ready when I wake up, so I knew that when she told me to come at 7 a.m she really meant to say she wants to see me at 10 a.m. It was a weekend so I wasn’t worried about being punctual.

I wore my boots and sat on a chair, doing absolutely nothing while my thoughts wandered. “Coffee” I realised, that’s what I needed. So that was a motive for me to rush to her.

I took my time walking, steady steps, clear mind.

We were already on our way to a coffee shop that was a 10-minute walk from her house. I ordered black coffee. There is something heartwarming about bitter coffee that I could not put into words.

“My research is due after three days and I’m not half done.”  she said

“I’ll help you work on it as soon as we get back, don’t worry, the whole world can change in three days, the entire world!”

As I was getting ready for my speech to make her feel better and not panic so I won’t panic as a result, I saw a girl walk by the cafe’s window who looked so much like my classmate in fifth grade, so I ran out to say hi but she seemed to be in a rush. The reason I wanted to greet her was her unforgettable kindness towards everyone around her as a child, she was the kind of child who was obviously showered with love which made her, therefore, reflect it. She was heading to the left side of the cafe. As I was walking behind her before calling her name, a man in a black beautifully-tailored suit stopped me and gave me a cookie in a transparent bag with a post it on it saying “you are loved.” He looked me in the eyes for about three seconds after handing it to me, smiled and continued giving out those cookies.

I held it in my hands as I was looking at the yellow post it in the middle of people walking by, I laughed. “Timing,” I thought, “It’s amazing how things work around it”

I ate the tiny cookie and walked back to the cafe as I kept the note in my pocket.

You know what they say? Just ask a question and let it vibrate around the world without expecting an answer, and all the events that surround you will work their way to give you an answer, as long as you open your heart.

So where is love? And how does it surround me?

The moon soothing the night and the nocturnal souls below it, without expecting anything back, seemed to answer me…

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN