University Of Bradford students share
creative expression during the lockdown

Samar Shahdad

“Do you remember me as much as I remember you ?”

Samar Shahdad

More than ever, I remember you. Not that I have ever forgotten you, or little thought about you. Not that my memory is improved , or I am growing an obsession with you again! I remember you, because it is May, and you are not coming back to me with a notebook as a souvenir from “the house of Pessoa,” to hand it to me whilst whispering “eu te amo” into my ear. You are not coming back to me with “Irish Whiskey Fudge” in your suitcase, to feed me the sweetness of forgetfulness with your fingers.

Love, no matter how wishful cannot reverse the calendar, make planes take off , and land them at the airport; for me to feel “home” again in the instant  of touching the dust on your shirt, for me to learn my mother tongue in the silence of your gaze….. For me to be granted “the  citizenship of the world”  within the borders of your body.

Love, no matter how fierce , cannot  shorten the “two-meter distance,” for me to hold you so tight that I can  hear the breaking sound of my bones. Love, no matter how clever, cannot trick fate, make the impossible, possible.

I remember you, because love is the only “face” whose features encourage me to turn my face to the other side, in a time  when everywhere that I look , death is in my face. I remember you because I need the murmur of your brook-like voice, to save me from  the voice of newsreaders, reporters……and the siren of ambulances.

I remember you, because I need a reassurance that we had a life when we switched on the radio to listen to “live music,” and news was of less importance ; that we had days when morning was more about “how strong should coffee be,” than “ how weak we’ve become?!”That we lived nights by which bad days ended, with the confidence in the coming of a “better day.” Back then life consisted of the yesterdays, a today and tomorrows. Now in the absence of the present, and of the fearing of the future, one can only take refuge in the past,

I remember you, because for weeks I have gone to sleep in a bed that we used to share, fearing that the “invisible” may have crept into it. I need to remember the width of your chest, so I can trust the pillow with my head. I need to remember the firmness of your flesh against mine, the sharpness of the edge of your sides against my fingers, so I can let sleep enter my eyes.

I remember you because remembering is the only way to fight a reality which cannot go with our dreams. It is the way of  going  back to the places in the lockdown; to the “ Page“ bar in Hebden  Bridge , to the “ Salts Mill “ in Saltaire,…… to the “ Old School Room “ in Haworth. Remembering is the only way to get on trains that miss passengers, visiting restaurants that long for  diners…… it is walking into pubs sobered up by the sight of empty glasses .

Remembering  is the way to move forward, when all the clocks in the world are stood still; it is the way to  the circular bench at the back of “J. B. Priestley Library,” to the “ Leeds airport,”…… and to your open arms behind closed doors.

I remember you because it is my way of keeping my heart in shape, to not let the flame of desire go out,  to keep my memory trimmed so the sad part does not grow.

I have not written to you for months. I have wiped my bedroom of your cologne, my house of your pictures, my desk of your letters. But to fight this circular despair, I need to remember the angle of your mouth every time it smiled. To fight this grave darkness, I need to remember the sparkle of your eyes, every time they caught me.

I remember you because it is my way of saying that “I lived, and I loved.” It is my way of saying that “I waited for someone at busy train stations” that yet to learn longing. That I unfolded the beauty of the “Lake District” in someone’s eyes before the restriction on journeys to beauty spots. That I danced my love away at “Casa Colombiana” before the closure of the clubs. That I let in my lungs the air you breathed in before my face got to  know surgical masks. That my letters reached another continent,  without this fear that harm reaches your fingers before your eyes read of my love.

Do you remember me as much as I remember you ? I am sitting by the window, watching the sunset from the corner of my room. “ I recall the wind, the lilacs, the gray, the perfume, the song, and the wind, but I don’t recall what the angel said.” *


* The Galloping Hour: French Poems by Alejandra Pizarnik (Author), Patricio Ferrari (Translator), Forrest Gander (Translator) p.501

The piece was originally written in English but published in Spanish here as part of a project in response to the impacts of the worldwide  lockdown caused by Covid 19.

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