”We named you Amal with a long vowel because the short vowel means just one hope, one wish,” my father had once said.
“You’re so much more than that. We put all of our hopes into you. Amal, with the long vowel, means hopes, dreams, lots of them.”
Inspired by this dialogue from Susan Abulhawa’s masterpiece Mornings in Jenin, – a book whose words will remain engraved in my memory for eternity – I’ve decided to write this letter to my future self.
Dear future self,
I write this to you hoping you find solace in my letter. I write this to you hoping you are able to seek refuge in my words from this world’s deficiencies. I write this to you hoping to dismantle intertwined thoughts that nestle the corners of your mind. I write this to you carrying not one single hope, but many. I write this to you with a long vowel of hope.
This Wednesday I woke up with a dull emptiness filling my chest. Sleep had already escaped my eyelids, so I stared blankly at what stood in front of me. A hazy cloud emanated from within. In an attempt to distract myself from this episode of despair at midnight, I first liberated myself from the imprisoning position. Then, I started circulating my room, scrolling through my Instagram feed, examining the spines of books, vigorously opening drawers in search of a source of distraction.
I eventually stumbled upon my journal. Remember that black journal I purchased the summer of 2017 out of the sole purpose of entertainment? As I flipped through the pages, it seemed to me that the weight on my chest had lifted. A sense of tranquility and ease bestowed upon me as I revisited memories documented in my journal. The feelings of bliss and fullness that accompanied my visit were like opening an unexpected gift:
rejoicing. That is why I would like you to experience this yourself, I want to grant you this opportunity once again.
A distinctive factor that stood out as I scanned the pages of my journal is how it’s written with a fervency that is so characteristic of my writing. Our writing. An indication that no matter what the circumstance, I’ve always found myself through writing. The poetic solitude blank pages offer is reassuring, and the thrill of pouring my thoughts on journal after journal reminds me of the sheer pulchritude of existence.
If you still have this journal, I would like you to read it. Watch how your way of thinking gently constructs itself into a mind that blooms with ripe thoughts. Notice how your words have managed to manifest themselves, enabling you to grow into the person you are today. Words don’t just fade as you read them but they spontaneously surface into the centre of your consciousness. What happens is that you inadvertently engrave them into your mind. They ultimately unveil themselves when the time comes for you to pour them onto paper. This is simply how our mind works.
If this is a hard time for you, allow me to advise you.
Remember to breathe. Remind yourself of your presence, for you are more than an object occupying space within the perimeter of time. I would like you to rise before the sun and watch as it awakens a tired earth from its slumber. It’s okay to yield to the urge of being present. Try to disconnect. Devote yourself to God. Pray. Console yourself with the presence of books and words. Surround yourself with people you love. Pick up the fragments of your scattered thoughts. Then, I want you to write and write and write until paper has no room to hold your words. Take pleasure in writing run-ons. Write endless sentences with no periods no commas no colons because your words carry strength that no punctuation mark can delimit. Remember that your presence anchors the ground to place, your words are a manifesto of your existence.
The letter you are holding is a shift in time, where distance dissolves, two dimensions are knitted together and two generations merge into one; an unanimous notion of recovery. I write this to you with hope, a long vowel of hope.
Shayma is a 15-year-old high school student based in the United Arab Emirates. She finds the concepts of the universe and writing very fascinating as she aspires to major in astrophysics with a creative writing minor. She is also passionate about human rights and activism, and hopes to be involved in humanitarian work in the future. Shayma is also a staff writer at Unootha.