Servaas once compared his love for Siena with the wind.
“You can’t see it, but you can feel it. When we were happy, it felt like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day; but when we were angry at each other, it felt like a storm. The danger – in any relationship, I guess – is when the wind dies down and there’s…nothing.”
Sammie wasn’t interested in things meteorological at the time – he was caught up in the whirlwind of Becky’s allure…
My dearest Becky,
How I loved our conversation tonight. I’ve never known anybody who loved books as much as I do – but now I do. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I admire that.
But this is not what I want to write about. Alfred de Musset wrote a letter to Amantine Aurore Dudevant in 1833, and he said the following:
I have something stupid and ridiculous to tell
you.I am foolishly writing to you instead of having told you this, I do not know why, when returning from that walk.
Tonight I shall be annoyed at having done so.You
will laugh in my face, will take me for a maker of
phrases in all my relations with you hitherto.You will show me the door and you will think I am lying.
I am in love with you.I have been thus since the
first day I called on you.
There, I have said it! even if I used another man’s words, but they still hold true. Poor Alfred! He was as lost as I am now. How will you receive this? How will you react? What will dear Rachel think?
But, I must confess and be honest with you: I have fallen in love with somebody I wish to make happy. I want to see you – the real you, the Becky I know – to be happy. I promise I’ll do anything, anything, to reach that goal.
Sweet, sweet Sammie
I am hesitant to take up my pen tonight, for my heart is full and my mind tries to tell me to trust this unknown and even uncomfortable instinct that has taken hold of me.
To start with, I’d like to remind you of Beethoven, yes, old Ludwig himself, who penned these words:
Though still in bed, my thoughts go out to you, my Immortal Beloved, now and then joyfully, then sadly, waiting to learn whether or not fate will hear us …
You know, of course, that his Immortal Beloved remains a mystery to this day; but still his words retain a sadness, an uncertainty, which I believe is the only constant when it comes to Love.
I so like the way you compose your letters – it says much about the man the hand belongs to. While I do not for one second doubt your sincerity, I have to confess that I am unsure of mine. You see, after a lifetime of anger (even rage) directed at men, I find it difficult to abandon caution and completely trust.
Be patient with me, dearest Sammie, and let us follow the path fate has decreed for us. Maybe, in time, I shall be able to surrender completely – but not now.
Yours in brutal honesty
Of course I understand. Part of what I’ve promised myself (and you, by extension) is that I want to see the wounds of the past heal up so you can be free again. I shall never cease my efforts to reach this goal.
However, I find solace in the words of Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, later known (as you are well aware of, I’m sure) as Pablo Neruda, the Chilean poet, to the woman he loved. Like you, he had a very unhappy relationship with his father.
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
He also wrote:
“Someday, somewhere – anywhere, unfailingly, you’ll find yourself, and that, and only that, can be the happiest or bitterest hour of your life.”
I lay no claim to your love, Becky; I’m only being as brutally honest as you were in your letter. By the way, that’s the way I prefer us to be: honesty and nothing else.
So, dearest, allow me to take your hand as we wander into the unknown. If we arrive at the destination together, I’ll be the happiest man alive. But first and foremost: you must find yourself. May it be the moment that defines your life.
In the weeks that followed, they kept to the routine of enjoying supper – and each other’s company – once a week. Letters were exchanged daily and read over and over. The discussions on books and authors later included other matters, such as what their future plans were: Sammie’s studies, and her desire to become a published author. Rachel, Rebecca’s mother, seemed quite happy to allow them to spend more and more time together.
“Rebecca has changed completely,” she once told Sammie. “Suddenly she is more confident, even radiant, since you’ve started visiting her. I’m so glad.”
And Sammie beamed, thinking life didn’t get any better than that, and sent her flowers.
Just a short note to get you up to speed…
I’m so happy! Mr Hurwitz asked me to accompany him to a conference at Sun City! It’s a huge compliment for a lowly secretary, but he maintains he cannot do without my services… We’re staying in The Palace, and I hear it is out of this world!
Anyway, we’re leaving tomorrow morning early. so I won’t be there at supper later on.
I’ll miss you,
Sammie had dinner with Rachel that night, but it was a rather subdued affair, with the two of them not entirely at ease. Rachel seemed suddenly more reluctant – more quiet – than usual as Sammie tried to get her involved in a chat about Fyodor Dostoyevsky and his novel, The Idiot.
“That poor man, Myshkin, finally found out that a sanatorium is safer than the civilisation everybody sought. And, as you will recall, he loved Aglaya, who eventually married somebody who turned out to be a complete fraud. I feel pity for him: Myshkin really cared, and for that he was locked up for the rest of his life. Maybe he was the only sane person in an insane world?”
Rachel didn’t respond, staring at her empty plate. Sammie wanted to ask her what was wrong, wanted to help, but little did he know that like with the unfortunate Myshkin, some things were beyond his grasp already.
And speaks softly to me,
I see life in rosy hues.
He tells me words of love,
Words of every day,
And in them I become something.
He has entered my heart,
A part of happiness
Whereof I understand the reason.
It’s he for me and I for him, throughout life,
He has told me, he has sworn to me, for life.