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

 

letters of an apathetic man

Some time last year, in a foggy vision where the part of my brain that distinguishes an hour from a minute was dizzy. In times like that you forget; what is time but a man made illusion? Aren’t the thoughts floating in space of the mind more dominant than anything else, such as time? Some time in October, my awakenings happen in October, simultaneously with times I forget to shave my beard. I was dining home on my one-man table, few inches away from my wooden floor where candles flicker, oh how they seemed like the only thing able to lose control and sway amid the breeze, unlike my body of matter that seems to be too submissive to gravity.

I keep the window half open, somewhere in the corner of my mind I am afraid that the scent of flowers in my decayed garden would think I am welcoming, or would falsely believe I can be a home to anything. The river of love does not flow through those who deny it. And those who deny it, forget -most of the time- that they are half water. 

Some time in October, I knew it should have been her in front of me, not the ghost of her idea nor her silhouette dancing with the flickering candlelight. 

It should have been her, but I have the habit of destroying beautiful things, and I know that women fall for the idea that they are the ugly reflection they see in me when their hearts are open for my words and their eyes see a false potential of myself. If those women would close their eyes, try to see me in a different kind of eye, a third one or something as such, they wouldn’t like what they see; I’ve adapted to the idea of resembling the uncomfortable void. 

And those women, they usually end up walking away from me because flowers don’t blossom without water. 

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

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

The Secret Glade

On the path that she was randomly and aimlessly taking down the green hills and in between the blue and white hyacinths there was a river. She stood there in the middle of the glade which was located somewhere she was not familiar with, her eyes tried to encompass everything as she gasped; the kind of gasp that is only heard before such splendid beauty that even the thoughts in your mind would stop to admire. And somewhere in the middle of all the colors, there were the pinks of dawn, so rich in color it almost stained her white dress.

On her skin were patches, they were not visible to the eyes but they were deeply, disturbingly felt, like poison. She held her hair as if a ponytail and swayed her left foot on the surface of the river

“What was that making the river so luminous, so alive?” She did not understand, as the sun was not visible yet. Nothing was flowing along with the river, there absolute silence besides her breath and the waterfall.

The water was a bit cold, but not cold enough to make her think twice about testing the waters further. She kneeled down to clutch the bottom of her dress in both of her hands so she would dip her legs fully inside. And as she did, the patch on her upper right leg detached from her skin and immediately dissolved into nothing in the water, and a tingling feeling of relief ran through her veins. Without thinking twice, she dipped both of her legs and drenched her body in water, and it was as if the water kept reducing the weight of something she carried for long. She looked up at the sky and thought she must have spent at least six hours here, but could the same thing that was making the river glow, make time as weightless as a feather?

She opened her eyes and it was 3 a.m and something was different; there wasn’t a hint of a patch left on her skin.

But where is the river? And where is the secret glade ?

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

Nabokov’s Letters to Vera

Vera, was the wife of one of my favorite writers to ever exist; Vladimir Nabokov. She was also his editor, assistant and secretary, as well as a source of inspiration of many of his literary works. With Vera by his side supporting his work, Nabokov published 18 novels between 1926 and 1974 (both in Russian and English).

In July of 1923, a little more than two months after they met, Vladimir writes to Véra:

I won’t hide it: I’m so unused to being — well, understood, perhaps, — so unused to it, that in the very first minutes of our meeting I thought: this is a joke… But then… And there are things that are hard to talk about — you’ll rub off their marvelous pollen at the touch of a word… You are lovely…

[…]

Yes, I need you, my fairy-tale. Because you are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought — and about how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds.

[…]

See you soon my strange joy, my tender night.

In November, he wrote:

How can I explain to you, my happiness, my golden wonderful happiness, how much I am all yours — with all my memories, poems, outbursts, inner whirlwinds? Or explain that I cannot write a word without hearing how you will pronounce it — and can’t recall a single trifle I’ve lived through without regret — so sharp! — that we haven’t lived through it together — whether it’s the most, the most personal, intransmissible — or only some sunset or other at the bend of a road — you see what I mean, my happiness?

And I know: I can’t tell you anything in words — and when I do on the phone then it comes out completely wrong. Because with you one needs to talk wonderfully, the way we talk with people long gone… in terms of purity and lightness and spiritual precision… You can be bruised by an ugly diminutive — because you are so absolutely resonant — like seawater, my lovely.

I swear — and the inkblot has nothing to do with it — I swear by all that’s dear to me, all I believe in — I swear that I have never loved before as I love you, — with such tenderness — to the point of tears — and with such a sense of radiance.

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Vladimir’s letter to Véra from November 8, 1923

Most of all I want you to be happy, and it seems to me that I could give you that happiness — a sunny, simple happiness — and not an altogether common one…

I am ready to give you all of my blood, if I had to — it’s hard to explain — sounds flat — but that’s how it is. here, I’ll tell you — with my love I could have filled ten centuries of fire, songs, and valor — ten whole centuries, enormous and winged, — full of knights riding up blazing hills — and legends about giants — and fierce Troys — and orange sails — and pirates — and poets. And this is not literature since if you reread carefully you will see that the knights have turned out to be fat.

I simply want to tell you that somehow I can’t imagine life without you…

I love you, I want you, I need you unbearably… Your eyes — which shine so wonder-struck when, with your head thrown back, you tell something funny — your eyes, your voice, lips, your shoulders — so light, sunny…

You came into my life — not as one comes to visit … but as one comes to a kingdom where all the rivers have been waiting for your reflection, all the roads, for your steps.

In a letter from December 30 to Vera, he writes:

I love you very much. Love you in a bad way (don’t be angry, my happiness). Love you in a good way. Love your teeth…

I love you, my sun, my life, I love your eyes — closed — all the little tails of your thoughts, your stretchy vowels, your whole soul from head to heels.

Vera and Vladimir Nabokov, 1968 (photographer: Philippe Halsman) via: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

Vera and Vladimir Nabokov, 1968 (photographer: Philippe Halsman) via: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Véra_Nabokov

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/04/the-legend-of-vera-nabokov-why-writers-pine-for-a-do-it-all-spouse/359747/

http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN