Was it always so? Did I always need a little space of my own, my solitary abode I could retreat to every now and then? Or is this need for solitude a new awakening within me, one sprung from the same desire that makes me stitch words together?
I remember a cardboard box from my girlhood days. It perhaps came with a refrigerator, or maybe a computer when they were built massive. Or was it not a T.V. carton?
I can’t tell exactly how it came into my possession. But I was more excited about the box itself than the valuable item it was made for. I asked my parents if I could keep it. (My mother still calls me a collector of all things useless.)
For a whole summer, I called the cardboard box home. In the afternoons, I would carry it outdoors and lock myself away for hours. I remember asking papa to carve a door in its frame (I wasn’t allowed to use paper-cutters then). I also made a latch of sorts with bits of cardboard so as to keep intruders at bay.
How noisy this silence
that tramples on my soul
with leaden footsteps.
It laughs at me for choosing
a cold and darkening room
where neither warmth nor light
of the world outside enter.
How this silence beats
in my ear like a drum.
Should you become digital
While I rot in this human cloak,
Should you travel the world
Through giant computer networks
While I make great efforts to rise
From bed to kitchen to garden to desk,
Should you meet every being in the world
In a mere matter of minutes
While I from one weekend to next
Wait for our grandchild to visit,
Should you tell me your digital world
Far exceeds mine in beauty and tech
While I still love and live in this
Refusing to press that glorious button,
Should you go on living and living
While I battle for breath and die,
Oh how tragic it would be then
To hear the sound of the afterlife
To meet gods and devils and angels
And all our ancestors and friends,
To taste the sweet fruit of eternity
And at last the posthumous bliss
And all and all and all and all
And all and more without you.
When I was younger, I used to believe that Romania was the most beautiful place on earth. And why? Because someone I liked very much then, and still do but in some ways altered, lived there.
How young was I then? Not too young—seventeen, or eighteen, or nineteen, or all. I would only have to read his words to see the place where he lived unfold before my eyes. And it would appear almost unearthly to me.
He would write of moonlit bridges where someone might be waiting, of russet parks with lovers walking hand in hand, of deserted benches sprinkled with dewdrops, of snowflakes melting on lips. He would write of young love and heartaches and of things I was yet to understand or experience myself.
“Ah, but how beautiful is his world, how very beautiful and exquisite,” I would think.
It’s true that sometimes distance makes things look finer than what they really are. But not in this case, no.
The elements on a writer’s work table are chosen with great care, perhaps to keep the divine inspiration flowing on days the ink-pot runs dry. And though I may still have a long way to go before I can call myself a writer in the true sense of the word, the teakwood table on which I write has become my place of worship, and the few elements atop it, my deities of inspiration.
There’s a decade-old watercolour painting I call Void; a brass Eiffel Tower with LEDs which was a gift; a notebook for thoughts and memories; a green-and-white-leafed plant named Swann, stolen off Proust’s character from In Search of Lost Time; a graphite sketch of an ex-muse whose dark, melancholy eyes no longer are spears aimed at my chest (but serves a nostalgic purpose); a mirror carefully positioned to reflect my fingers as I handwrite or type; a vintage table lamp; figurine of a girl carrying a book in one hand and fixing her hat with the other; a carved tin box containing scrolls, billets-doux, tiny perfumes, a ring, a wilted rose, and a pocket diary that belonged to someone else; my rose gold laptop on which I’m currently typing; and an empty photo frame.
Now, about the photo frame, you see, Read more