By Ahmed Latif
In truth I do not claim this story, nor do I claim the life of which it speaks. I claim nothing not even my name, I have left that for the trees and the wind to forget. This story that I do not own, I tell because of the haunting austerity of its truth and the dust it collects, placed on a shelf by life.
He sat down at his desk, a pen with superfluous ink in hand, staring at the paper the earth gifted him. He smiled then he cried then he began writing; slowly but sturdily the ink washed over the page and solidified in positions denoted by destiny and drugged by language. He wrote of things I do not know or even understand, but by heart I recognized them to be true. He wrote of such marvels and with such ease. His pen possessed by ink and he by language; they wrote together possessively. He wrote such that the ink danced along the surface of the paper before it allowed its soul to be absorbed and it became like a memory to the paper, tattooed and transient. He wrote softly but with more elegance than delicateness and more harshness than brutishness. He wrote so magnanimously, magnetically, and so magically that his words were no longer his.
He wrote words that would make songbirds blush. He wrote words that would make the moon fall in love with the stars, but only for a night. He wrote words that would make a heart pump tears. He wrote words that would set time free from the oppressiveness of forgetfulness. He wrote words that would remind a butterfly of its life as a caterpillar and in the cocoon. He wrote words that would implant childish glee in a gravedigger. He wrote and his words wrote their own accords and treatises and confessions and meditations.
That is how he lived; he spent his entire life at that desk, with that pen, and those words. He stopped only for sleep, sustenance, and the stipulations of his body. He wrote until the breath became vague and the heart did not oblige the vogue. He wrote until life scurried away from him. He had woven an honest tapestry depicting human gallantry and callousness. When he finished writing, he too was finished. He had poured his ever-flowing soul into the words that now reside on that paper.
His heart, time, and life were now suspended in ink stains on dead trees. His words would now emancipate the dreams of the dead and the unborn. His words would now amalgamate eras erected by time and cities situated by society. His words now belonged to our collective imagination. His words now annexed by audiences with their usurping intentions. His words would now delight and haunt; delight those with acrimonious crevices in their soul and haunt those who do not heed sanctimonious caveats from their heart. His words now confined to memory, meditation, and meaningful discourse, while he is now confined to the ending earth and the earthy endlessness. I scoured his words for a glimpse of my mirrored soul, for spilled ink or droplets of tears, and for everything endearing, redeeming, and damning. I only found that he never signed his name.