This week, we take you on a journey into the thoughts of a trapped mind, where reflection and heartache go hand in hand. Karima Kanji’s short fiction piece ‘The Letter’ captures the morose musings of an ageing narrator stuck in a nursing centre—and in thoughts of days long gone.
I’m writing a letter to myself in a room I share with another patient in Lakewood’s Nursing Centre. My room is quaint. The wilted potted plants, the stark bare window sill, the view of the ravine from my bed and the soft, melancholic hum of the highway are comforts to me. Destiny is fixed, fixed like the position of your heart, our heart that is slowly dying. Fate cannot be altered by a secret letter to a part of yourself from the past, the you that has already existed, but still longs to exist. Exist.
Regret. A strong word to associate with life, but all life bears regret, all life bears suffering; sweet, silent, soulful suffering. During the day, usually after my bath, or after I’ve eaten my breakfast of fluffy scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast I feel futility trickling into my soul, into my bones and into the very depths of my being. Pieces of my past have gone missing, have vanished and all I have left to remember are moments, mere moments, but even these are diminishing from my mind. The memory of my childhood is fading. What I miss most is my mother with her sad, puffy eyes and my father bending over his work. One day they will be dead and you will still be alive.
There will be a point in your life where you will lose love. A girl will give you her heart and you will destroy it.
Destroyer of love.
We have a dreamy little piece of fiction for you this week from Ethiopian-born writer Sophie Jama.
‘Soul Child’ is a metaphorical imagining of a child’s internal process when facing a traumatising experience. “It is a way to show how the wise and resilient soul of a child can wisely detect how to survive during times of difficulty,” says Jama, whose own experiences living apart from her parents as a child give her a unique insight into coping with separation and loss. The result is a series of lovely images haunted by oncoming tragedy.
I was five when my soul left. I was not surprised. I let it go, for safekeeping. It was destiny. We forget that as children, we already know the answers to life’s deepest questions. That is why at five I knew that something was coming. Something big. What it was, I did not know. But I needed to protect my beautiful soul.
My soul existed as a colour. It was shapeless. But it had a light that looked like a glimmering moon. It flowed like a waterfall and yet it sat still like a mountain. Unmoved and unfazed by changing seasons. It was a wise soul. I sat near the water as I prepared for the ritual of letting my soul go. I whispered gently to her and promised that I would let my adult-self know how to recognize her. It would be difficult. But I would guide her. She slipped off my fingertips and into the water. I gave her a gentle nudge and watched her float away, farther and farther into the moonlight. I paused and closed my eyes. I was trying to capture the picture in my head. I opened my eyes and with sadness I saw her white light sparkle in the water. She drifted towards the moon until I could not tell where my soul ended and the moon began.
I sat for a moment longer and drank in the gentle dusk. The sun had almost fully gone down. Night was approaching but I was not scared. I relished the quiet. The only sound was the gently swaying waves and sound of a cooling breeze. I welcomed the night. Even as a child, I knew solitude was a time for the soul. A time when the stillness of the night quieted our mind such that answers came easily. Finally, I walked away from the edge of the water without looking back. She was better off now. I had to get back home before anyone noticed I had gone.
Beautifully mournful, ‘Soul Child’ speaks to everyone’s need to protect themselves from the traumatic experiences life hands us.
Stop by next week for a change of pace: our end-of-summer reading list!