Dear Anne Frank,
Approximately 18 years since I read your story. About 18 years since I have felt my heart go to someone I didn’t even know personally. That’s of course the power of words and stories, but it’s also the power of connections. You build bonds miles across, without factually knowing someone, yet having a deep meaningful relatedness beyond reason. I have read you, over and over again, because, even though the story remains incomplete, its impact is so profound, you have millions flocking to that annex every year.
You and I, we are bonded. As a child, it was a gut-wrenching feeling of being the only one who probably has so many thoughts. Our respective journals being our sounding boards. Today, it’s the unfamiliar foe that has us on our knees, affecting our fundamental ability to breathe.
Today, I fear I find the outside world closing in on me, just like it did for you. The enemy remains elusive and unknown, as it was for you. Beyond logic, you couldn’t place what monstrosity struck your beautiful world and neither can I. I am stuck in a limited territory. Maybe not cramped, the cards dealt still seem like a winning hand as compared to millions. But boundaries outlined for anyone are reason enough for claustrophobia. When walls close on you, it’s no longer the difference of a mansion or a loft, it’s cutting off our wings, and we have no choice in the matter.
“I wander from room to room, climb up and down the stairs and feel like a songbird whose wings have been ripped off and who keeps hurling itself against the bars of its dark cage.” – Anne Frank, The Diary Of A Young Girl
Your enemy was the man. They say mine too apparently. Your strength was your words; my life raft isn’t monosyllabic too. Your hope in humanity, existence is what kept you about for those two years; I hope mine doesn’t wear out soon. Sometimes, I wonder if all those stranded alone in these times will finally know what being a writer means. Being alone with your thoughts is a battle so strong. Death, loneliness, self destruction, you feel those much more strongly when you are your own sounding board.
I cling to your words like a life jacket – “I don’t think of all the misery, but the beauty that remains.” I look at the sky each day, birds that chirp, and smirk at myself for not doing that for years. It’s only on those beach sunsets, gallivanting the world, that you stop and look. But 30 years and I have limited experiences of real life passing me by. I count myself lucky, against those who are out there, risking it everyday. I believe you did too. You upheld gratitude. For the cloudless sky and the sunshine, I do too. It’s a miracle each day my family survives the other great catastrophe after yours.
“It’s twice as hard for us young people to hold on to our opinions at a time when ideals are being shattered and destroyed, when the worst side of human nature predominates, when everyone has come to doubt truth, justice and God.” – Anne Frank, The Diary Of A Young Girl
This letter isn’t to draw out comparisons and similarities. It’s to uphold the ideals that will keep me sane. As long as we have those, we should come on the other side, stronger and hopeful. This downtown disrupting our lives is just a comma in life story that entails all of our characters. It remains a reminder, that amidst all our plans, 200-page binders deciding every breathing moment, there is nothing you can do when it’s all laid out for you.
I am not particularly religious, but I believe in schemes that are bigger than our limited understanding. Maybe the plan laid out for me is not to impact millions, but touch a few. But like you, I believe we all want to be just happy, and this breathing space was needed—to know what really matters.