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to achichi

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Dear Achichi,

I am writing you a letter because I know you will never read it. I know you will never read anything I have written. Because poetry is nonsense. Poetry is for the romantic, the dreamer. Poetry is for those who, as you say, have no goddamn common sense.

You hate poetry because you are stronger than poetry. You are sensible. Poetry doesn’t wrap around your soul, suffocate you, or give you breath. Poetry knows nothing.

I am writing to you because I need to. Every time I see you, you talk incessantly. You talk desperately. You talk as if you are scared that if you stop, everyone will forget you. Yet you leave many things unsaid. I have asked you questions. I have interrogated my father. I have swallowed all of your photo albums and scrutinized every expression on your face. And I know that young girl is very different from my Achichi. She is a separate person, one that life has not yet tortured. One that was maybe like me. I can only dream, because you will never tell me.

You hate empathy. Empathy is for the weak. You must be strong. You must survive.

But everyone must empathize with you. They must know you. They must remember you. You cannot disappear. You cling to everyone. You cling to them by pushing them away. You are vicious because you are vulnerable. You attack my mother because she stole your son. You attack because everything is running away from you. It’s falling apart, collapsing on you.

When your husband died, you didn’t break. You were fifty, my father sixteen. Your sons had to go to college, and you found a way. You left your homeland and worked. How you loved America, the dream that she promised. You would read to me that book, God Bless America. I would sit on your lap and you would sing it with me, line by line, enunciating every word with pride. You cherished America. When your American reality didn’t measure up to your American dream, you didn’t break.

What were your dreams? Were you passionate about something, anything? I know you were funny. My father tells me you could make everyone laugh.

You were a teacher. You taught in the Maldives and sent the money to your family. You were alone. I wonder if you were lonely. I wonder if you loved.

Do you blame yourself for his death? I hate your brother, and when he gets drunk and angry he tells you it’s your fault. And you scream.

My father has told me every detail. He was sleeping, and he woke up to your screams. Your husband had a heart attack. My father carried him downstairs, put his body in the backseat, and drove to the hospital.

But he knew his father was dead. He told me.

I wonder what you were thinking, in that car.

Achichi, I have never seen you cry. My father tells me you cried at the funeral. You haven't really cried since. Because crying is for the poets. You are not a poet. You are not a pawn. You are a warrior.

I’m sorry. It was never your fault.

Achichi, don’t you know that you are loved? Don’t you know that everyone cares? Don’t you know that while everything is crumbling, you are still the center? That will never change.

Dear Achichi,

I love you. I don’t know if you know that.


Editor(s): Chris F., Amelia P.

Photo Credits: Unsplash


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