Letters from Etty (i)

Sunday March 9, 1941.  Here goes then.  This is a painful and well-nigh insuperable step for me: yielding up so much that has been suppressed to a blank sheet of lined paper.  The thoughts in my head are sometimes so clear and so sharp and my feelings so deep, but writing them comes hard.  The main difficulty, I think, is a sense of shame.  So many inhibitions, so much fear of letting go, of allowing things to pour out of me, and yet that is what I must do if I am ever to give my life a reasonable and satisfactory purpose.  

It is like the final, liberating scream that always sticks bashfully in your throat when you make love.  Love does indeed suit me to perfection, and yet it remains a mere trifle, set apart from what is truly essential, and deep inside me something is still locked away.  The rest of me is like that too.  I am blessed enough intellectually to be able to fathom most subjects, to express myself clearly on most things; I seem to be a match for most of life's problems, and yet deep down something like a tightly wound ball of twine binds me relentlessly, and at times I am nothing more or less than a miserable, frightened creature, despite the clarity with which I can express myself.


Dear Etty,

Your letter could not have come at a better time.  I read this hurriedly as I am on my way to work but I find myself pausing in between your words and catching my breath at how accurate they describe what I am feeling for a long time now.  Don't you find your own soul such a mystery?  Don't you wonder why you can understand most things and yet not be able to wrap your mind around that tightly wound ball of twine that binds you?  

Your letter made me breathe a little bit today.  Like the company of an old friend that I miss terribly.  I have realized that I rely mostly on these letters now.  On words.  Because they leave you with the longest presence than the company you keep.  Yet how forlorn.  How confusing.  That people around you cannot always be the consolation you seek.  

I hope I can read more of your letters and learn from your own story and maybe later on I won't be so afraid to hear my own voice.


  1. What a great idea--to enter into a dialogue with a voice from the past in this manner. You inspired me to pick up my copy of 'An Interrupted Life' this morning.

  2. I'm looking forward to reading your own dialogues as well. :) Thank you for introducing me to Etty. :)

  3. Letters

    I WRITE TO BELIVE... This line is enough to show the personilty of Man


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