Assalamu alaykom everyone,
One thing that I can remember from my childhood are the letters I would write to my friends. We would pass them back and forth in class behind the teacher’s back, give and receive a new one during our passing periods and give each another one to read on the bus going home. This was apart of this created world that we made as friends. There was nothing like a letter to be opened up, a letter to be given with information for nobody’s eyes but the intended person and a letter to be written with a response from the letter you received. This was a secret world between the giver and the receiver. A world of its own.
I guess my younger brother’s childhood wasn’t any different. Today, my mother went into her drawer and pulled out two folded up pieces of notebook paper and handed them to me. They were old, worn and torn in some spots, but readable. I unfolded the pieces of paper in fear of the words to be read. I thought to myself, “What did she read that she wasn’t suppose to read”? As I unfolded the paper, I started to read one of the two letters that she had given me. She told me to read them aloud as if I was under some form of interrogation by the FBI. I swallowed my fear and stuttered over the first few words to only unravel the letter of a lover to its beloved. As I stood in the midst of a letter intended for someone else’s eyes I felt scared. I didn’t want to go on for this was indeed a breach of contract. I knew I wasn’t the beloved of this lover. I was intruding on a love that was most intimate and heart-felt. My mother looked at me with a smirk on her face to only know the ending to such an intimate letter. As I continued to read this personal letter aloud, I found my heart skipping and my eyes watering up. I didn’t know why I felt this way. Was I getting too wrapped up? Was I missing this love? Why isn’t love like this anymore? Where is the sincerity of love at now? Is love now only wrapped up in 140 letters on Twitter or on a Facebook status or inboxed to our beloved?
I continued to read this letter that my brother had wrote to his beloved and wept internally. He opened up the letter with the sentence of “Dear Mom and Dad, I am sorry for leaving home without permission. I really like this girl and I have to do this. I’m not going for alcohol, drugs or sex. I love you so much. I will be back soon. Your son,” and my heart dropped. He wrote out a letter to his parents. This most intimate letter was to his parents. He was writing about an undying love to his parents. What teenager does that? Was he crazy? He knew within the words of his letter that our parents weren’t okay or in agreement with him having a girlfriend…let alone going to see her. However, he took out time to get pen and paper and write his thoughts. He took out time to lay out the things that were on his mind. He didn’t email my parents. He didn’t tweet them. He sat down at a table or on his bed and wrote a letter. Within the letter, I saw his love for our parents. He loved my parents and told them his feelings. He knew he was wrong and would be in trouble, but he was going to let someone know how much he felt about them. I’m not saying it is okay for any person to make irrational decisions, but there was something that got him to the point of having to run off to see some girl and write a letter to his parents about this rendezvous.
In reading my brother’s first letter, my mom unfolded the second letter. I just knew this letter was mine’s. The ink was purple. It was definitely a gel-pen. I just wanted to die. My legs started to shake and my eyes were burning to read quietly before saying the words aloud. She passed me the crumbled paper and told me to read…aloud. As I started to read the letter, I knew this wasn’t a letter I had written. This letter was for my brother. This girl had wrote a letter to her beloved. The letter confessed her undying love to my brother. Sure, at the back of my head I wanted to cry but she was honest. She was unsure of herself and I could see that. She wasn’t really certain in how she wanted to proceed in her thoughts. You could see how she loved my brother, but she wasn’t positive if she wanted to go all out in exposing her vulnerability. However, she exposed herself. She exposed the undying love she had for him and the beauty of not always being sure of how to proceed forward. She scratched out words and added ‘lol’ when she was unsure about statements made. However, she kept going. She was quite fluid in her feelings. She may had been unsure of how my brother would react to her letter, but she was sure that she loved him. Unfortunately, I remember this little love-affair of theirs. I have no comment. It’s just this whole act of writing on letters is just gone. Some people like to rebel against this new system of emailing, texting, inboxing, tweeting, but many have assimilated to this modern communication. This notion of writing intimately to the other is deep, sincere and personal. It truly can be intense depending on the conversation and the person(s) involved.
However, where does that leave us? In writing about these various stories about written letters, what is the point? The point is this…we need to get back the love. It’s very easy to simply text a line to our friends and partners, but is it really deep? Is it the love that we want in our relationships? Is this really a love that reaches deep? Honestly, if anyone knew my brother it is really hard to imagine him sitting down anywhere to write a letter…let alone a long one. However, he did. There was something within him that needed to be placed upon a notebook, on a piece of paper. And he did it. There was something in me that made me and my friends write notes constantly on a daily-basis to only reveal my secret stash of notes in my bedroom and in secret places. There was something that kept us writing. We didn’t care about anyone else. We were only intending to write to the intended recipient. We drew, scratched out, colored and wrote outside of lines and on margins. We would sometimes even fold up the note in funky ways. This was apart of this creative culture/world we had created in our social-circles. It really revealed an artistic way of expressing ourselves and our love, especially in the case of my brother. These letters were unrestricted and open. They exposed ourselves, our thoughts, our uncertainties, and everything else that makes us human. There was a hidden treasure in these letters. They unwrapped a world of our own and we didn’t care. We didn’t fear anything except for the eyes of those in which the letter was not intended for. We carried them in our pockets, in our hands, in our wallets, in our purses, in our backpacks, under our mattresses and any other places in which they could fit. It was our own world. It was us giving each other something most intimate and personal. It was us giving love in a strange, but personal way.
It was us showing each other love. It was us creating something. Making something out of nothing. It was us making the world our own. It was us taking relationships to the next level. It was us letting the world become our own.