The Ego- The Selfishness and the Selflessness

“No creator was prompted by a desire to serve his brothers, for his brothers rejected the gift he offered and that gift destroyed the slothful routine of their lives. His truth was his only motive. His own truth, and his own work to achieve it in his own way. A symphony, a book, an engine, a philosophy, an airplane or a building-that was his goal and his life. Not those who heard, read operated, believed, flew or inhabited the thing he had created. The creation, not its users. The creation, not the benefits others derived from it. The creation which gave form to his truth. He held his truth above all things and against all men.”                                                                       -Howard Roark, the Fountainhead

Much less known than its widely-circulated, widely-accepted and much-publicized twin, the virtue of selfishness as propagated by Ayn Rand is a way of life containing many adaptable components . I am not a ruthless advocate of objectivism, nor a ruthless advocate of what being its opposite could represent: any of socialistic, collective or even democratic intentions. I merely need to state explicitly the importance of being an individual.  Free from moral policing, from social pressure, peer pressure or from the inner contaminations of institutions, none of which are free from flaws.

In four personalities of four fictional characters she immortalized in The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand concentrated on four distinct ways of living: the life of the second-hander, the life of the “humanitarian”, the life of the man who could have been and that of the man who is her idea of an ideal human being; one who knows no compromise, no substitute for hard-work and no price at which to sell himself.

The life of the second-hander is, by far, the life chosen by the weakest of human beings: to rise on the mercy of others, to rise with the tide, to rise with the consent of every human being present. A second-hander reads a book and ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaaahs’ with his fellow men, his exclamations echoing from face to face and soul to soul like two mirrors opposite one another producing the same image over and over, says Ayn Rand. The second-hander does what he is asked to because others want it; he compromises at every point for a career goal that never really drew him, he does whatever he can to make others respect him, he contributes to the society, to humanitarian causes, to poverty and social welfare whether he wants to or not. What he wants in return is for people to hail him, admire him and make him famous. He wins people over; they whisper about him, applaud him and will support him for as long as he is a public figure or a puppet in their hands. His own happiness becomes secondary; in short he lives like a second hander.

The humanitarian is an advocate of each cause, he needs nothing for himself. He says he is for, by and of the people and he wants nothing but to eradicate poverty, corruption, diseases, pollution, environmental degradation, crime, fraud. The list goes on and on. Perhaps in his own way, unless it is his calling and his craving, a humanitarian gathers powers. People consult him and he draws them through a web of words so kind, so unassuming that they begin to live through him and he is a parasite because he longs for their support, his only voice is through them. He realizes what he is giving up for what he is getting: unlike the second-hander he is well-aware of his position and job. He encourages councils and discourages individuality: ‘You are much less than what you believe yourself to be’, his voice booms. ‘You are petty, petty in the face of this cosmos, a mere tiny speck beating for a nanosecond on the timeline of existence, you know nothing. You who are so busy exploring yourself, trying to understand your own concerns with no thoughts to spare for your suffering neighbor, be uplifted towards Him. Face Him in all humility, bow before He who is God, understand what those around you require and devote yourself to mankind. Devote yourself to the good of every human on this planet and think of the good that we can collectively do’. But if everyone is immersed in representing one another, who indeed is ultimately being represented? Who is finally reaping the benefits of an effort in the name of all of humanity?

The man who could have been is the man who sees a human being for what he really is but does not think he has the power to stand up to them all, he is fooling himself and himself alone: he may earn the heart, the pity of one and all but the emotion of pity is sickening, it is deadening and may every human be spared from feeling true, real pity for anyone, least of all for their own selves for a man worthy of real pity is a man whose case is truly and entirely lost.

A human mind belongs to the human alone. The primary aim of the man who exists thus for himself, is the fulfillment of his own destiny, unguided and unshaped by those who care for him, and unaffected by those who scorn him. That man walks upright, two limbs on the floor pushing him up against the force of gravity and two limbs swinging casually by his side, his head held high above the ground is a fact, a revelation of what he really and truly is to be. A compromise does not become a true compromise until the person making it gives up a part of himself to a cause that is not his and against a vision that was his first and only love. What we call ‘growth’ is losing a bit of ourselves to a compromise that will raise us in the eyes of those around us but will lead to a fall in our own eyes. This fall is unseen and unfelt by anyone but us and is thus unaccounted for to anyone but our own soul which loses a moment with each second it spends doubting the need of its heart.

If you’re working where others want you to, marrying the ‘right person’ as others see it, walking towards the benefit of mankind with a knot inside your stomach weighing you down and pulling you back, then you know it’s wrong for you even though nobody else does. But that then is all that matters: we are not machines; we are alive with thought and senses. Why must we be obliged to accept defeat and why must we succumb to the Power of an Unseen force? That is not being close to God.

God takes one true form: the voice beneath the whispers of our heart that tells us what we truly are. The voice will never tell you you are worthless, the deepest echo inside us always tells us we can move on and that we know better than those around us about what we want and deserve. And to not act accordingly is the greatest sin. It is equivalent to slaying yourself by clipping the wings of the dreams that deserve at least one, if not innumerable, chances to raise its head towards the glorious sun. Ayn Rand may not call this voice God but I do because it is the purest, noblest of everything else we perceive, that truest fibre of goodness within us.

The man as man should be is independent and his own opinions are the golden rules he guides his life by. He cannot share his spirit: he can love only those who truly deserve it and do only that which is truly his calling.

Thus the truest beholder of purity and sincere, untainted love and understanding is an individuals heart- an individual’s construction of life when he is loving for himself, wanting and creating for a truth that is his alone.

A Little Drop of Magic

Having been fortunate enough to witness the Harry Potter phenomenon, I often found myself wondering as i grew: Is there more to it than meets the eye of a teenager fan? The answer is yes.

Beyond the realms of magic and fantasy, where J.K. Rowling has somewhat blurred the line between muggle and wizard, there is a common force that naturally binds her world and our reality: yes as Lord Voldemort would rightly scorn (and at one point in the presence of Dumbledore, Harry was tempted to say “Big deal!”) the force is love.Love between Harry and Ron and Hermione which strenghtens throughout the series has made the trio an example of true non-blood friendship. They stick by him throughout, tolerating even his sometimes irritating snapping at them because Harry grows frustrated when people refuse to see him for what he is or to believe him for what he has done. Perhaps closer home, a large audience could empathise with him. Love between a student and a pupil as became evident when Dumbledore and Harry stuck by one another be it in believing Harry innocent when he was being blamed for the Chamber of Secrets or when people refused to believe that Lord Voldemort had returned or when Harry was summoned for a Ministry hearing. When the Minister of Magic told Harry, “You are Dumbledore’s man through and through”, he retorted a resounding yes. Love between Harry and his godfather Sirius Black, a fugitive from Askaban and yet Harry’s best friend for two years until he died. And finally, the love Severus Snape had for Lily Potter that made him defy everything and changed him beyond measure thereby sealing Dumbledore’s sometimes seemingly far-fetched claim that love is all powerful.

Surely, I thought as i read the HP books, other people must have drawn the parallels: the racism between non-magical and magical people for one. Bellatrix Lestrange, one of Voldemort’s greatest supporters is jeered at by him and his other Death Eaters because her pure-blooded cousin Dora Tonks marries the werewolf Lupin. She reassures her master that she has nothing to do with Tonks family anymore. Racial discrimination, anyone? When Voldemort takes over the Ministry, he starts up a very Hitler-like regime. He makes it compulsory for all in Britain to attend Hogwarts after undergoing a screening which would enable him to separate the pure-bloods from the muggle-borns. Rings a bell?

Hermione Granger has to endure constant jeers from those who pride their pure blood: the term they employ is “Mudblood” and untouchability is a common practice against them. To justify torturing them, they are later blamed of ‘stealing’ magic.

So honestly, the only way to fight such injustice is the binding power of love: it was in the name of love that Harry survived when he was one and in the name of love that he is able to defend each and every person on his side in the final battle of Hogwarts. Love, which Lord Voldemort and his likes in our world ignore, love which Harry and Dumbledore and their likes in our world embrace because it is in itself, a far more effective little drop of magic.

WINGS- A Story

I looked into his dark eyes, the way the light of the sun was creating shades of gold and dark brown in his hair, the way his hand was laid on his chest, still and unmoving. I examined his face carefully, inches away from him.

He looked back at me, smiling to reveal his set of perfect teeth. He was playing havoc inside of me and he didn’t even know.

‘What is it?’ he asked good-humoredly. He was more at peace today than ever. Was it because, for the first time in our rebellious relationship, we were far away from the prying eyes of people we knew? Or was it because he had made a decision?

I shook my head and lowered my gaze, embarrassed. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched his hand as it hesitated before he wound it around my waist, pulling me towards him; gently but with resolve.

‘Tell me’ he breathed through my hair, still at ease.

I sighed and bit my lip. ‘I don’t want to go away from here’, I finally admitted, trying hard not to choke.

‘Why?’ he wondered aloud, more to himself than me. He was too relaxed.

“It’s just that’ I put my hand on his and tried to turn around in his arms to face him, to see his expressions while I spoke. I wanted him to see the urgency in my movements. I wanted him to see the uncertainties in my eyes and the way I was trembling from anticipation as well as fear. ‘Just that I need to be here with you’

I drew in. He still hadn’t let go so I couldn’t see his expression. I waited patiently for his reaction. Would I hear what I longed to hear?

‘Don’t go Beth,’ I wanted him to say. ‘Stay here with me’ I wanted him to be broken at the prospect of saying goodbye to me.

One word from him, one look and I would agree to let go of all the bleak things my future was offering and replace it with him alone. The dread that being in a hostel, having to share a room with some horrid girl and having to be disciplined was inducing would fade away in an instant if only he took an unconditional oath to be with me forever. Forever was a big word.

I was so unused to what was coming. I had grown up here, in this carefree, playful town with boys flanking either side of me. My short auburn hair would fly in the sun as I would run my steps light and noiseless on the grassy field. I would be a gazelle, I had decided when I was little and I would spend my life here, running and tasting the bare, cold wind on my face. My skin was forever tanned. Being indoors would drain me; take the color off my face. I was meant to be around boys. It was only natural.

‘What time does your train leave tomorrow?’ he finally spoke, breaking into the reverie I had drifted off to in his arms.

I sighed rather pointedly. ‘Around nine, I think’ I replied, my lips pursed. ‘I’m not sure, I didn’t really ask.’

Something in my voice hinted that I had accepted defeat and he finally let go of his grip around me. I turned slowly; I wanted to look into his eyes. They were deeply sympathetic; I wasn’t sure if I saw pity in them. Or was it love? I could never be sure with him.

Cory was different from the other guys I had grown up with. Maybe that was why when at fifteen, the guys around me first started noticing girls, I became lonely. They would hang out after school with the girls from uptown who wore pretty dresses and giggled unnecessarily. I would scowl at their retreating backs and cycle away in the opposite direction. Or I would go swimming.

Then when it would grow dark and cold, the girls would go home and the guys would return to me. We would be ten again, racing, wrestling and fighting. Until at school the next morning, the girls would be back, batting their eyelashes and smiling coyly through their long tresses. I always saw them as a different entity from myself: ‘the girls’. They got on my nerves.

I found Cory when I was sixteen. He was grave and intense, unlike the boys I was used to. He would sit under the shade of a tree with a book, watching the birds fly across the deep blue sky or the lilies sway in the evening breeze, contemplating at the complexities of life. Cory could not be prone to maddening bouts of teenage infatuations. Cory could only love from his heart. He was incapable of deceiving anyone, including himself.

He could swim across our pool in a heartbeat, his arms sinking and rising smoothly through the ripples. It was as if water parted respectfully to let him through.

And he enthralled me. He was the guy of my dreams.

I stared back at him now, waiting for him to respond. I could see him thinking carefully; he’d want to frame his sentence in a way that wouldn’t make me start crying. Crying made him uncomfortable.

‘I’ll meet you at the station a little before nine’ he said solemnly. He reached out with one hand and tucked a strand of my flyaway hair behind my ear. My heart ached silently.

‘Can you possibly not be earlier than that?’ I implored desperately.

He shook his head. ‘There is something I need to tell you,’ he whispered delicately. ‘But I want it to be perfectly timed.’

My heart lifted. I knew now. I could read it in his sparkling eyes as he studied my face approvingly. He loved me beyond reason, perhaps as much as I loved him. We were only seventeen but we had known each other for so long now. Never alone, never far from the searching gazes of the people who couldn’t understand true love and despised us for being so wrapped up in our own cocoon. But we had known each other perfectly, passionately.

‘If you ask, I will leave everything and run away with you’ I blurted unthinkingly. I turned crimson as soon as I uttered the dialogue but he only smiled in reply.

‘I don’t like the way they judge us’ I added tentatively.

“Who?’ he demanded, amused at my sudden outburst.

‘My parents, your father’ I muttered. I was hardly audible now but he caught each word quite easily.

‘It’s the difference in perspective’ he mused.

‘What?’ I asked my eyes wide with interest. He smiled mysteriously again.

‘It’s the way we think that differs’ he shrugged and then lapsed into silence.

‘What do you mean Cory?’ I insisted, unable to let go. His observations intrigued me. He was more mature than he ought to be.

‘Adults see the world more rationally than we do’ he explained, by way of expanding. ‘TO them things are not as strong and fresh, or vivid and extreme as they are to us.’

‘To me’ I corrected, feeling he was as ancient as the tree under which we sat, its branches knotted in indefinite wisdom around us.

‘To you’ he agreed.

We were silent again. I looked ahead of me now. We were in a little clearing we had discovered a few days ago. Wild flowers interrupted the smooth, almost velvet grass around us. There was no one for miles around us. I was sure of that.

‘We’ve never been this alone’ I reflected.

‘No’ he said. ‘Take it all in’

I smiled at him, wanting to touch him. But I refrained. We had never sat so close before. I noticed duly that his eyes were larger and darker than I had ever noticed. Enigmatic, somehow. The closeness didn’t bother either of us. It was only a more visible extension of our wired souls.

‘We should go’ he whispered suddenly, almost reluctantly. It seemed to ache within our hearts to break the screaming silence around us.

I uncurled slowly and got up. He was already on his feet, brushing the dried leaves and blades of grass off his sweater and jeans.

I looked around me one last time; not knowing when I would return. I would have vacations, I knew, but they seemed so far away.

He reached out for my hand and led me to the other edge. We walked in silence through the dark trees for a while until the thicket thinned suddenly and gave way to a concrete road. Our cycles were safely parked under the shade of a tree.

He let go of my hand as we mounted and began to cycle down the winding country road. He began to hum a song; one of his favourites. I was too overwhelmed to sing along and so I cycled in silence, trying not to think as I fought back my tears.

After a ten minute walk through the forested path, we approached the first houses. Soon enough, all trace of the dark woods disappeared and we were at the crossroads. We stopped.

Cory was dismounting so I quickly followed suit. He approached me and I was surprised to note that his fists were clenched; his eyes reflected the sadness I felt in my heart.

He kept distance for we were in close view of the houses of acquaintances. Some people were taking evening walks, others sat on their porches under the fading twilight, enjoying the pleasant weather. I was the only one who wouldn’t be here tomorrow.

Cory stared at me wordlessly and I stared back, goodbye stuck in my throat. The seconds dragged by and we stood still, torn by the turn our lives were taking. I was so sure that any minute now, the pain would get unbearable and my boyfriend would say, ‘let’s run away.’

I knew we could. I knew where we would go. And nobody would find us. If only he would want to, as bad as I did.

‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ Cory finally whispered instead. I nodded, unable to respond. We could see I was about to cry. He looked at me thoughtfully, probably wondering if it was best to stay or leave.

‘Stay’ my heart yelled but he turned and mounted his cycle. Then he was gone.

By the time I reached home, it was dark already. Mother was cooking in the kitchen, preparing a turkey as a farewell gesture, since I wouldn’t be home for Christmas.

I slammed some doors so my parents would know I was home. Father sat on the living room couch, reading.

I went straight up to my room, without bothering to communicate. My packed bags were already lined up on one side. I was leaving a few things behind; my favourite quilt, my coffee mug and most of my letters. That hurt but I didn’t need to think about it.

I changed silently. There was nothing I wanted to do in here; nowhere I could look without pain- the most intense and penetrating pain- driving like a hot knife through me. Everything was telling a story. The walls, plastered with photos of soccer teams and my favourite bands were screaming in disapproval at my insolence.

‘Am I a rebel?’ I wondered suddenly. ‘Was I fighting too hard?’

I remembered the things my parents had said to me and fury rose like a large monster within me.

No, I was hard. I was fighting for my freedom. I had the freedom to be with a guy. I had the freedom to want to be a swimmer. I didn’t want to be caged within the confines of an institution intent on changing me into a lady of the world.

Cory always said, ‘Society drives us to do the acceptable and we do it, often unthinkingly. To do anything else is to protest. It is to declare war and the world will despise us until we start to despise ourselves. Very few have the strength to continue having strength in themselves.’

He cited Einstein as an example. And Da Vinci, always Da Vinci.

The drifting aroma of roasted turkey lured me to the kitchen despite myself. Suddenly I found myself silently laying the table. Soon, father joined us. Wordlessly, the delicious pre-Christmas feast was before my eyes and we began to tuck in.

Finally, my father enquired, ‘Are your bags all packed?’

I nodded.

‘You will be home in February’ he mused by way of compensation.

I nodded again.

‘We will miss you’ my mother piqued, with sudden warmth.

I wiped my plate clean quickly, not wanting to break down in front of them. I left the table awkwardly and no one said, ‘its bad manners’.

Once in the safety if my room, I switched off the light and buried myself under my pillow.

I dressed quickly the next morning, eager to get to the station. I knew Cory would be there with his own bags; his utter misery had been so visible. Hadn’t he said, ‘It not important to do what the world believes is right. However irrational or illogical, we must follow our hearts even if we are isolated’?

But we weren’t isolated. We had each other.

I barely paid attention to details as we breakfasted. My parents made small talk in continuation with last night and I nodded some more. I was too taxed, too flushed to bother about goodbyes. I was too less of a girl.

As my dad began to load the car with my bags, my mother came out and stood next to me. She squeezed my arm and placed a brown package in my hand.

‘Something homemade for you’ she responded in answer to my searching gaze. ‘I will email you quite frequently dear. Will you reply?’

Her voice was so loving, so forgiving that I smiled and nodded.

She was reassured. She could see I wasn’t going to weep. I had already dried up whatever tears I had gathered last night, I had no more to spare.

My anticipation was on fever pitch when we entered the station. Father busied himself finding my coach and a porter for the luggage but my eyes scrutinized the dimensions of the nearly empty station.

Finally, as the clock struck nine, I saw him. He looked calm, his hair arranged perfectly like a crown of gold on his head. His eyes were sparkling as ever, unperturbed. But my heart fell like snow. There was no luggage on him. Nothing to indicate that he was coming along. Instead, he held a bouquet of wild flowers from our secret place, in his hands.

He stopped when he reached me. My heart had already sunk to my shoes. I could feel my father’s disapproving glances bounce off my back now.

‘I went back to get you these’ he smiled and held out the flowers.

I took them without uttering a single word.

‘You look lovely’ he said sincerely, warmly. Almost apologetically.

I stared at the flowers exquisitely tied together with a satin ribbon. Cory had just given me the perfect goodbye gift ever; a piece of my raw heart from the most beautiful place on earth. A tribute to our unexplained love. I could see clearer now. And I was baffled.

‘You said-’ I looked up suddenly, eyes wide with shock and understanding but he held out a finger to silence me.

‘Listen to me first’ he drew in a long breath and looked straight into my eyes.

‘This is hard for me too. Harder than I thought. Harder than it should be, seeing my understanding of the adult world. Somewhere beneath me, I am a teenager too.’

His voice was filled with hatred now. I could see he loathed himself for being a teenager. He had a weakness, despite his wisdom.

‘We run too much’ I told him. I didn’t mean it in the physical context anymore. I couldn’t see why he wanted to be like the adults he often reprimanded. Why was he in such a hurry to grow up? When he knew how lovely and beautiful it was to be what we were, why did he fight it?

‘I know’ he whispered. ‘I’m running too.’

I nodded. Now I understood completely. And I was numb.

‘Beth’ he said, taking my hand in his while father finally turned the other way to give us some privacy despite himself. ‘I love you. And knowing me, you understand how much I mean it. But I must break up with you.’

I had foreseen it, of course but I gasped anyway. The word, in flesh and bone, broke me. Tears rushed up to my eyes but I stayed composed, my face expressionless.

‘You said to chase dreams by the end of their tails’ I muttered.

He nodded. ‘That is exactly what I intend to do.’

‘Am I not your dream?’ my eyes were beseeching, questioning. I felt pathetic.

He shook his head. ‘Only a weakness’ he mouthed. He knew it would be the last straw.

And it was. There was nothing more to do or say. I turned without goodbye and stomped off towards my father.

Father had guessed as much. He took my tiny hand into his large one and led me to my coach. The train whistle blew.

‘You’ll be okay’ he stated. He knew I would.

I didn’t respond but I didn’t pout either.

‘You know, you hurt me’ he continued.

I tried to roll my eyes but the effort was overwhelming. I sighed.

‘I know father. I’m sorry’ it seemed so easy to see.

Father smiled suddenly and his scarred face lit up. ‘You need not to say sorry’ he said seriously. ‘You only needed to find yourself. Now you can explore.’

I nodded. I understood but could not grasp the implications.

The whistle blew again. ‘I love you’ my dad reminded me.

‘I love you too’ I whispered softly as I stepped onto the footboard.

The train began to move. Father waved. I waved back.

Behind him, I could still see Cory standing exactly where I had left him, his hands casually tucked into his pockets.

A sudden leaping desire overtook my heightening sense of loss.

‘Goodbye Cory’ I yelled, as loudly as I could. ‘Thank you for everything.’

The words reached him a fraction of a second after I uttered them and a smile lit up his intense face, growing all over him. Despite myself, my soul leapt and as the train sped away from the home where my heart was, Cory’s beautiful eyes stayed with me, telling me to fight and fly. Because that was the only way for me to become more than I wanted to.

My Blossoms

Half submerged in the muddy swamp

Curling open slowly

Delicate bearers of still-soft beliefs

Growing softly towards the ethereal sunlight

Trying to unravel sphinx-like realities

Yet bestowed upon by a thousand gifts

While the hand of the Lord blesses them gently

And the morning dew slowly kisses

Surrounded by all that is muted, faded;

Yet rich and vibrant

Living in an illusory landscape

Yet opening up to truth

Half-naked, exposed

My blossoms still grow

They expand into the external world

Encompass all that is putrid

And letting sweet smells waft

Taking torture and decay to the pyre

My blossoms still bloom in the fresh air

My Soul Sister

I have a soul sister. Big deal, you say. Most people form karmic connections in their lifetimes, connections that seemingly defy time and space and all such notions of relationships that society presents us with. The thing is my soul sister and I are separated by some five decades of life and death.

I was eleven when I first started diary writing. It was meant to be; me and a diary. I remember writing about a recipe I invented and the pretend games my best friend and I would play in either her room or mine. That was 2003. Then one day, only a few weeks after I first started my own journal, my mother gave to me an old book that she possessed: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

She was thirteen and I was eleven. Then suddenly, she became an adult and I hadn’t even become a teenager and she was helping me dive, headfirst, into emotions and suffering that I could not even begin to understand.

I was in modern, urban, middle class India and she in war-torn Amsterdam, fighting, fighting every day. What thoughts did I first have when I read her descriptions and realized, with horror that such evil could exist?

My diary became a shadow of hers. I built a world for myself which was not so close to the reality that surrounded me. And I grew. I thought. I cried with her. And never, in all those years did I feel that she was dead. That she had died decades before I was even born and that I had never met her, heard her voice, and seen her never mattered to me. She was my best friend and I would cling to her.

Her experience with Peter was innocent love, locked up in a warehouse and forced into a perpetual duel for food, space and the few comforts they could afford in such close confines, Anne found peace and quiet in the only place she possibly could: Peter’s heart. They defied the adults who were too stressed out to understand the battles these teenagers fought. It was Anne’s first and last love not because she chose it that way but because she had no time. I could understand her; I felt the lovely warmth bubbling inside her and me when she was in Peter. It was so wrong and yet so right for them to sit in the attic and talk, to watch the birds fly across the sky as also the fighter planes; symbolic of a world gone wrong.

There were times I have felt so wretched and wronged. . I would cry when people would not listen to me or when they would make fun of me. I would cry if I did badly in a test or if I could not watch a particular movie. I would cry about so many things, like we all do as children when we do not get what we think we deserve. But my soul sister held on to me.

‘Look at me’, she would say. ‘Can’t you see how I long for the things that you so easily accept as a part of your life, your inalienable rights? I long to just be able to walk freely down a street, so this Star of David I wear on my chest would not get me into a concentration camp. I long to run and feel the wind ruffle through my hair, to scream until my lungs are on fire. I long to be able to travel and write, and meet my friends again. I long to go to school and understand how I have changed and how we are all so much more different. I long for the war to be over, so we, who were wronged without cause, can be free and happy and just human again. For once, I want the word JEW stuck to my name to mean nothing more than just something that was never in my control. I want me and everyone around me to live, to breathe.’

And I would shut up. What need would I have to cry when I was all this and she had nothing? Yet she hoped, yet she dreamed. She fought and she believed. She taught me to have faith in that divine power and I have always known, deep inside of me, that even though she died and everything was so unfair, she still believed until the very last. And ever since then, when she first taught me how God exists, even when humans are warring, even when there is no light in the end of the tunnel, I have believed in Him and I have known that pain and suffering are not signs of His absence, rather they are subtle hints that He exists. I know that when Margot died and when Anne was dying and had lost everything, her last thoughts were not of revenge or anger or hatred. She did not say, ‘Curse the Nazis for all of this’.

Instead I know she thought of her mother and father, of her friends and sister, of all she lost and underwent, of all she wished for but could not get and she thought, ‘How happy I am to finally be free. I am going away from all this misery.’

I have never met my soul sister. I know her through her and what better way can there be? I don’t care how others feel about her; there are so many who are touched and moved by her story, and so many others I know who go, ‘You are crazy’ when they praise Hitler for disciplining Germany and I refuse, point blank, to believe that he was human. Indeed, I ask, what was Hitler? How can anyone ever consider the brutal, mass murder of an entire faith? What sort of belief would induce anyone to kill, kill so sadistically and for such ridiculous reasons?

But Anne Frank is, and will be my personal friend, mine only, not to be shared. I don’t care if she never even knew me. There was a time I went about pretending I was her. There is no way to know where she went from there. She was definitely not extraordinary by birth and in death; her soul was like any one of the million others that Hitler killed. But in her lifetime, her circumstances turned her into the voice of an entire generation that had had its laughter stolen from it. In that context, she outshone and stood out. So I cannot really be Anne Frank in another birth. Or I can. I won’t deny the possibility but I won’t think of it as a glorious something. But there is a force that binds us for sure, two teenagers in different time zones, in different periods with such different lifestyles.  What is wonderful is the power of love that lies underneath all the layers. I cannot deny it and neither would she. She is happy; she has got to be happy that she has done so much for so many of us.

And if I could go back in time like I have so often imagined myself do, I would go and hold her frail hands when she was crying. I wouldn’t bring her back to 2009 with me, what will she even do here? But when we will be there together, even if I have nothing to say to her, even if there will be nothing I could do for her, we will sit in silence and admire life and the way it moves. I will watch her and I will think of her as God’s very own messenger, my special little friend. Within her soul, I will continue to see an angel. For what else could she have been, so ethereal, so goddamn wonderful?

There is less in common between us now. I have grown, I am almost an adult. I am assertive, I have dreams and I am living in 2009 unlike when I was fifteen and lived in 1945. This loss of innocence is sad. She never got to outgrow it completely. She was pristine. She was so much more than just another teenager. She saw too much too early.

I see her photograph in the cover page of my copy of her diary. It is probably the most widely circulated Anne Frank photograph. She is smiling, her eyes twinkling innocently, unaffected by the world around, which is just beginning to fall apart. I can see the dreams in her dark eyes. Her locks curl playfully around her neck. There is life in her still; life and joy and hope. She has so much to look forward to, so much to do, and so much to learn! Her entire life lies ahead of her and she is a flirt, she is a writer, a dreamer, a rebel and so much more. And I cry silently. It never mattered.