A dreamer’s letter to a friend

Ujjwal Gyawali 10 September, 2021

A work of fiction…
Inspired by Dostoevsky’s White Nights

Year: 1843
Place: St. Petersburg, Russia

Dear friend,
I hope this letter finds you in good health. I am writing to you because as you know I have no one else to write to.

I have tried keeping a journal with your advice to cope with my insomnia. Although, it’s not a journal; a sort of confession really. I call it “sentiment vomiting”. I wonder why this thought never occurred to me when I seemed to have tried everything in the last six months.
How I perform this act of purge, for allow me, dear friend, it’s a sort of let out, is I settle down in my corner in the evening and I write down thoughts that trouble me, thoughts that might keep me awake during the night. Once done, I read them to myself two or three times depending on how much they trouble me and I write over them. It is in a way how I destroy the evidence so no one else deciphers it. I then move onto things that I am grateful for, good things that have happened to me recently and I read them and let them be.

I have been sleeping like a baby ever since. Do you believe it? And it hasn’t even been that long that I started “vomiting”. Although I still struggle some nights i.e. the severity of my thoughts, some still manage to creep into my frail mind, I am very pleased with the results. I am grateful for one thing in particular that has happened to me recently that I wish to tell you. That is the very reason I have settled down to write this letter.

I am delighted to tell you that I have rediscovered my faith. Yes! Yes !! rediscovered it. Oh, it’s all so merry now. It happened last week that I fell in love.
It’s a wonder, dear friend, what love does to a man, how it changes him in a way that he could have never even imagined. Oh, I tell you friend to fall in love is the greatest joy in life. It makes him do all sorts of things, you know, all good things, he finds new hope, gets rid of his old bad habits, finds everything bright and cheerful what was to him dark and dismal before. He even prays to God, prays to God !! although he had always been skeptical of this idea of God.

These have been the most wonderful 7 days of my whole life. But sadly, it all came to an abrupt end. It so happened that all this hope had been for nothing. I discovered that of whom I speak to you so cheerfully has already been betrothed to someone else. Yes, it is so my dear friend. It has been two days since and I haven’t been able to not regret knowing it. In a way, I headed my own destruction. It was I who discovered this bitter truth on my own. I haven’t even asked her if it’s really so if it’s really too late and I doubt I ever will. Any attempt I make will only be a reaffirmation to my knowing and only add to my despair.

Dear miss,
I don’t know whether it was a stroke of fate, a blind shot in the dark or do you actually sense that I was hiding something when you asked me in your last letter if I had anything to say to you. Yes, I do have a lot to tell you but I fear if it’s too late. Are you able to understand what I mean by “If it’s too late”? You know the sort of things that usually happen in the books with an unhappy ending.
I know I shouldn’t be telling you any of this, for it will bring no good but it has been troubling me lately and I am being selfish. I know I will certainly regret not telling you. A voice within me has been crying out to me lately that the clock is ticking which meant there was still some hope that it was not too late at all. That is why I had introduced myself to you in the first place.
Although we have formally known each other for just a little more than a week, why do I feel like I have known you for ages? Is it only me? Do you also feel the same way or am I just too much influenced by stupid books? I don’t know.
Please forgive me. I know it’s all too much to take in and inappropriate but I assure you my intentions are not. I wish we had met sooner. I can understand if you wouldn’t want to write to me. We can pretend this never happened. I hope to not lose you as a friend.
Your friend,

I managed to scribble into a paper this morning gathering all the courage I could. And tore it up into pieces.

Why is it that when finally something good is happening to someone, life has to show its true colors and play some nasty little trick? When I say I have no one else to talk to, I mean it in the strictest sense. I speak to no one. My family is a bit worried about me lately. I believe they think I am possessed. This is what my life has come to.

I don’t even know what I want anymore. Is it all right to have no wishes? What would I ask for, if someday I stumble over an ancient lamp which happened to shelter a genie who cries out to me then..

AT LAST! Esteemed Master, you have released me from the ancient lamp! What are your three wishes?

What would I ask for then? What are three wishes to a man? Nothing but torment. For it is certain that the man will regret soon after his final wish is fulfilled. I think I would want to dismiss him at once. Yes! Yes!! that’s what I would wish for. I would wish that he cease to exist and stop tormenting men.

I spend most of my time in the past, reflecting upon myself. I don’t know where it all went wrong. How life turned out this way and I wonder where it’s going. What is to become of me? I sometimes believe life will turn me into a poet or a writer. Do you know what the greatest philosopher of our time says about poets? He says:

“A poet is an unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but
whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music.”

How very wonderful and sad at the same time. If I turned out as a writer, do you know what I would write about? I would write books on all the bad things that can happen to a man. All the pessimism the world has ever seen condensed into a multitude of volumes. And burn them.

But it was all before. Now I am a changed man. Now I would write about all the good things in life. All that is merry and cheerful which is everything. I would compose songs of joy and blissful poems. I would make copies of them with my own hands for I hardly believe anyone would want to publish them given the sort of fate I am entitled to.

When I say this I know you are startled. I don’t blame you, my friend. In all this cruel joke life has played upon me I have found something I don’t want to lose ever again. I like to believe it’s all good, all has happened as it ought to have happened. I have changed myself in a way I did not think I was capable of. And I don’t want to go back to my past self. I don’t want to live without faith. It’s difficult to live without one. In a way, God has helped me with this stupid joke and prepared me for a greater cause. I am back to my senses now. Something great came out of all this that I cannot explain because, to be honest, I haven’t fully understood it myself. I have yet to learn to laugh at these jokes.

I will end my letter with this dream that I had last night…

I am passing through a tunnel with a burning candle in my hand, and the only thing that worries me is that the candle will run out before I reach the end of the tunnel. The only thing I know is I cannot turn back since I can now no longer see the beginning nor the end, however, an inner voice in a soothing fashion whispers to me that the end is not far away. I also cannot make haste for the candle will blow out. One step at a time, this is how it must be. And, one step at a time, this is how it will be.

Your humble friend,