Dear Grandmaby Elie Najjar
I’m not sure if Paradise Postal Service is still working in this country. The last few letters I wrote you were not delivered. I saw the priest using them to clean the church windows last Saturday. But I still think it’s worth a try. I miss you Nanny.
Remember Rocco, the salesman with his red Volkswagen, who used to visit your alley every Tuesday to sell perfumes that smell like fresh bread, brooms that attracted dust like magnet and shirts that change color like a chameleon’s skin? He fell asleep while driving and fell into the river. Aunt Helena was there during the accident and swears that for 17 minutes the whole river smelled like cheap whiskey. The villagers used the Church’s bell rope and pulled him out of the water. Sadly Rocco lost his legendary car and most of his magical inventions. He’s planning on starting a new business that uses ropes tied to Sunflowers to efficiently dry newly washed clothes.
Grandfather sends his salutations. Since you’ve gone, he’s been sleeping on the veranda, although he keeps complaining about the feral cat that mistook his fake teeth for a bone and ran away with it and the outer Iron Gate that stubbornly keeps squeaking although he oiled it ten times. When I asked him why he isn’t sleeping in your bedroom, he told me that he doesn’t have the heart to sleep in the bed without you yet.
Your friend Marie has fought with the Eucharistic minster again. He left hurriedly with the collection plate during the Offertory before she could break a ten-pound note. When she confronted him after the Mass, he denied the whole incidence.
My father still can’t comprehend that he is an orphan now. Yesterday when I asked him for money to go to the cinema he impulsively screamed: “why don’t you go ask your Grandma?”
If you could know how much I miss you Nanny. Sometimes I try to picture you melting into your leather sofa with two needles dancing on the rhythm of your wrists, the yarn balls rolling in the wicker basket near the coal fire. How many scarves did you think we needed gran? How many hats, gloves, socks and sweaters? Where could you find all this strength and patience? Like a saint’s hand on a rosary, your fingers turned repeatedly, knitting yarn threads, and knitting our lives together. Your scarves still keep me warm on stormy winter nights gran, they hug my neck, covering my skin and heart altogether. Where is you black purse now Nana? The purse where we’d find anything we wanted; bonbons, tissues, money, gum, aspirin, bobby pins, Band-Aids, tiny sandwiches, pencils, religious icons and love; lots and lots of love. Where could you fit all that love Gran? How big was your purse? How wide was your heart?
Your Little Prince
November 16, 1998
Elie Najjar is an orthopedic surgeon from Lebanon, the land of cedars. He has lived in Lebanon and England and is now based in France. He learned to write by following in the footsteps of the magical realism masters of Latin America, the mystics of Lebanon and the giant romanticists of Europe. He has published several poems in international magazines and is now writing his first book.