A Letter To Simone II

Porto,

Portugal

Friday 20th August

Dearest Simone,

Your latest letter breathes joy into my very frame.  Yes, yes, I am always too formal in my correspondence!  Still I am here, I have managed to escape the landlocked country of the Switz and I now face the great open Atlantic, I am coming Simone, I am coming!  I can almost hear the gentle lapping of the waves against the great southern continent that holds you, my dear friend, in its gentle and comfortable embrace.  I am safe here on the southern tip of the European continent, no one knows I am here and the country is morose and still, but it is safe and stable.  The language is the same as your host country so I will be well prepared to converse and drop into the background on the journey over.

My very bones feel rejuvenated here in Porto, as the morning sun cascades down the terracotta tiles of a thousand roofs.  We are safe, we are safe!  My European plain sensibilities are becoming swamped by the Hispanic love of life and of relaxation.  I feel that although we will always carry the guilt of the free, of the survivors, we may try yet again to live in this beautiful world.  In all honesty Simone I am surprised I feel this way but it is because of our escape and of the dangers that we have survived that I feel this way.  We must answer the boot of our oppressor with the scream of our freedom.

Yes, you know I am always reading!  I have managed to find a few different novels but nothing of serious importance, just some light novels and novellas that keep me going.  I am finding deep inspiration in the architecture and geography of this city, in watching the swaying hips of the beautiful women and the light steps of the children inevitably trailing in their wake.  Although the great spirit of this country is asleep at the moment, under this monotonous leader, I have no doubt it will wake up and bring great vitality to a united and friendly Europe.

But of course that may be some time off yet.

Ah yes my love life, you know Simone that I rarely talk of such passions openly.  But what can I say, this country is infecting the very marrow of my bones and I have indeed been meeting up with a few of the local ladies for dates.  Do not misread that though!  I keep my distance and act with discretion, but with my local cafes often being graced with my presence I have come to meet several women for short dates, nothing more than fanciful dalliances really.  My heart does flutter however whenever I have the opportunity to meet Roberta though.  I’ll haven’t the time or space to write about here though as this is just a short letter before I sail to Recife, my next letter will be full of details though!

As I said there have been no more poisonous letters and I am positive that we are now safe to continue on with our lives, to make them worthwhile once more.  I’m sending a small package with this letter, including a book of poetry which I will think you will love.  The Atlantic crossing will take some time but each morning I will wake and think of you.

Yours faithfully and with all of my love,

Sasha C.

Letter 1Letter 2

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A Letter To Sasha

Recife

Brasil

Monday 14th July

Sasha,

You are always too formal!  I have your crinkled and yellowed letter by my side as I write to you now, though it has took some time to arrive to me here on the sunny coast of Recife (I think Brasilian mail is slow).  I trust that you are safe, whatever devil wrote that letter will surely be thrown from your trail once you moved.  In truth I have to believe that you are safe, you are my link, possibly my last link to what we once had in the old world.  But I will not speak like that because we are strong, we have always been strong!  Remember when we were children and we used to rings around Joseph in the school yard, how his little cheeks became red with the effort of his exertion as he tried to catch us whilst we floated on the air, always beating him.  We were always the fastest in the school races as well.

Do you believe that whoever sent you the letter also knew about me?

Recife life is good, I am liking it here although it is very different from the home country.  The coast and the countryside are beautiful (a lush verdant green contrasting with the colonial town facade), the sea is sparkling and the living is good.  I should say though that this city is not without it’s own problems of course.  There is a large population here, full of migrants and manual laborers from the surrounding countryside, and whilst there is a strong regional and local identity it would not do to compare it to the cities in the south!  I know you think it is odd my coming here, after all this is country that is directly opposite to ours in ideology and views, one that has harboured those that seek to banish, isolate and, ultimately, flay us off the face of this earth, but in truth Sasha it is also a vibrant mix of people, of identities and cultures.  I can, with a good tan and some local knowledge, slip into the crowds here and form myself a new skin; I am born anew.

Please do not say that I am betraying our homeland identity though.  We both know what it is like carrying around our secrets and hidden pasts (that heavy depressing weight) but we have to be careful, we always have to be careful.  In my heart I believe that this is the last place that I’ll be found in or hunted down in- I am living in the open, eating fresh fish and fruit and drinking the vitalising local drinks.  I feel free here Sasha!  More free than I have felt for so many years.  It is as if I can feel my wings spreading that little bit more each day, as if the very horizon widens that little bit more every morning.  I am even taking educational classes, learning the local language slowly but surely and helping to sell goods at a small local market.  I know it is nothing compared to our previous lives but I am slowly earning to live again.  I pray that you too are doing the same.  In fact I know you are, we could not be so close and not know one another’s thoughts, even with an ocean between our physical bodies.

I wake up on the cool mornings, with the air laced with the salt of the sea spray, the sun’s rays casting shadows on my walls and the calls of the street echoing in my room, and I give thanks that I wake up in this lovely place.  There is history here too, although not classical it is every bit as intriguing as anything Rome or Athens produced, and so recent too.  Did you know that the indigenous peoples raised their own republic here in the north not so long ago?  That they repelled the central government so many times that the main rebel city grew and prospered for decades?  In resistance there is hope.  We know this, we live this.  To be alive is to be against the laws of the very known universe, but to be alive means that we must push ourselves even when we think that we can no longer function as humans.  We must, we have to, or else our lives would be in vain.

Forgive me, I know you know this.  And do not joke, your bones are almost younger than mine!  I will see you yet in Brasil and we shall dance together in the street.  I know that you have to stay in Europe; I miss it every waking hour of my life but I need to be away from it.  I cannot yet go back, too fresh is the wound upon my body and being physically back would surely open re-open those wounds.  I fear that is something I could not recover from quickly, if I ever could.  No, I have a horrible feeling that it could be fatal.  No, I need to Stay away, I need that deep blue gap between between me and the land we once knew.

Tell me, my dear, what news of your love life?  What news of your latest historical fix?  I miss your knowledgeable ways, the pointing out of nicked buildings and little cultured asides on some-such street feature.  Are you reading at the moment?  I find that I have to, that before I go to bed on a night I must pick up a European classic and read a few pages or even just flick through some favourite passages of a few novels.  I need to remind myself that evil has not permeated every facet of European life, that it has not indelibly marked the pleasure of our country or another.  Maybe it is stupid, or daft, but I feel it is necessary.

Do not forget Sasha that we are all sons and daughters of some one.  We have our history, our culture, our people, running through our own veins right now, even as you read these very words remember that we are free.  Whilst we live so do they.  Do not give up hope, and do not give in to despair.  Fly while (and when) you can but soon we will be settled once again.  Keep that hope in your heart and enjoy your historical tours as I am sure only you can!

With deepest love for you my brother, my family.

Simone

Letter 1Letter 3

A Letter To Simone

Vieille Ville,

Geneva.

Thursday 26th May

Dear Simone,

Thank you for your latest letter Simone, it is much appreciated and much needed at this moment in my life.  It means the world to hear from such a dear friend.  I was extremely interested to hear of your tales and adventures in Brazil – it is a country I have yearned to visit for some years now, although I doubt my old bones will now make it across the cold Atlantic.  Maybe I will finally join you in the twilight years of my life?  We shall see old friend, we shall see!  In the meantime I find myself in Geneva, of all places.  It is nice here, warm in the summer sun.  Great chess boards too, where you often find yourself playing against old crooked masters.

At this moment I’m sitting in Vieille Ville, sure it is a tourist trap, but I am anonymous enough drinking my coffee in peace in this rich historic environment.  (You know as well as I do that I need history, not just coffee, to keep me going).  As a pleasant extra I am served by waitresses that have truly taken in the beauty of the landscape – they have must have gulped it down so candescent is their splendour and bosoms!  Enough of my chatter, let us get down to business and the reason why I write to you now.

Yesterday I received a letter from a person that neither I nor you know, yet they knew me intimately.  Although I have only been in Geneva a few weeks (and what glorious peaceful weeks they have been!) this person knew of my history and of our connection.   We both know what it is like to live but not to be alive, to merely survive, of constantly having to check who is behind you.  I do not want to do that again, I will not.  We are brother and sister me and you, not a family by shared blood but by shared experiences.  I know I can trust you and that is why I write to you now in deepest confidence.

The content of the letter was vicious, bloody, a real slap in the face of a warning.  I could make out a couple of sentences warning of retaliation for being what we are, for having the nerve to run when we did.  I am not sure, though, that the writer knew of our story in all of it’s grisly detail, just that we had escaped, ran across that fateful line that separated us from them.

When I close my eyes, when I try to sleep, just when I think I am at my most peaceful sitting by the lake, the scene is shattered irrevocably.  I see them still, caged like beasts whilst we ran for our lives, flying over torn up fields of green.  We both know that there was no chance of rescuing any of the others but that did not make the decision to leave any easier.  When I wake in the morning tears still stain my pillows, such is my desolation that I weep in my sleep.  I only hope that you, sister, fare better then me in such circumstances.  Indeed, in our way, we have swapped the turmoil in our souls for the beauty of landscapes that we each now inhabit.  As deep as we try to drink in the beauty of the world, we know of the deepest darkest recesses of the human mind that haunt us wherever we shall go.

But let me come back to the letter.  It was hand delivered to the door of my apartment in Geneva around the time the normal post came.  This realisation, that whoever dropped it off knew where I was living, came to me like a slap in the face.  It was as if I had been pulled from a deep peaceful coma and plunged into an ice bath.  Perhaps for too long had I been lulled into a false sense of security by the facade of history in the city.  Either way I knew I had to act quickly.

The letter did not state any direct actions that the writer would take but it did not need to – after all the very fact that they knew where I lived was a threat enough was it not?  I decided to pack my bag that instant, leaving the apartment within the hour.  I am hiding in plain sight at the moment but later I shall catch the train and escape this city altogether.  I do not feel safe here any more.  I knew of course that it was risky to stay here, but I will not abandon them, at least not until I know it is too late.

You know I cannot seem to escape Europe itself.  My roots are too deeply embedded in the landscape, my history present in the wind, the soil drenched in my blood.  I cannot leave here, nor will I.  As much as I would love to sit by your side on the white beaches of Rio I cannot.  Please have that extra drink for me and raise your glass when you do.  Think of me, but think of others left behind.  Only in our mind are we truly free.

So this letter is just a warning sister, please be on your guard as I am now on mine.

In this letter I have included a safe location for you to write to me.  For now I will deposit this letter at the railway station and ask an aide to post it later on today to make the 5pm post.

Please reply when it is safe, when you are able.

Yours sincerely,

Sasha C.

Letter 2 – Letter 3

The Grey Zone

Make no mistake, Guantanamo Bay is a stain on the sullen face of democracy.  For 11 years a  joint British and Saudi Arabian citizen has been held at this American base without being charged.  Despite the protestations of the British government, a lack of critical evidence and numerous protests, Shaker Aamer remains locked up in Guantanamo Bay, deprived of his basic human rights and subject to degrading torture.

Despite the hope of President Obama calling for the closure of the prison, based on Cuban ground, the prison is still operational, still torturing and still being run in defiance of basic human rights.  Amnesty International has repeated called the prison a ‘human rights scandal‘, The International Committee of the Red Cross found repeated detainee abuses when it inspected the camp in 2004, and Human Rights Watch has stated that ‘(the US) has refused to apply the Genevea Conventions to prisoners of war from Afghanistan, and has misused the designation of ‘illegal combatant’ to apply to criminal suspects on U.S. soil” in a 2003 report.

The world is currently in turmoil, thousands are dying in a vicious and bloody war in Syria, protests are on-going in Turkey, Brazil has had numerous large scale demonstrations de-crying the state for its lack of improving social issues, and Greece is under the boot of austerity, with the rise of the Golden Dawn party becoming a worry for Greece’s citizens and Europe.  It is time for a strong moral and ethical backbone.  Guantanamo Bay exists to facilitate the prisoners of war carried out in the wake of the horrific 9/11 terrorist attack in the US.  I believe that prisoners should be treated fairly and equally, that they should face legal justice where guilt is in evidence.  I do not believe torture and the de-basing of human rights is the correct, moral or ethical approach.

Shaker Aamer is currently on hunger strike, as are many of his fellow prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who protest their ill treatment, torture and abuse.

When you dehumanise the enemy, you dehumanise yourself.