I wake at midnight to a storm. Wind rampages, and the city with its silence broken, shivers–wet, lonely. I should close the window but a light rain brushes my face, and stirs happiness within, though it’s a happiness wrapped about with pain.
As the storm approaches, I grow restless. Putting on my running shoes, I rush to the middle of the road. Blue lightning slices the sky. Thunder sounds. I walk into wind that tries to uproot me and blow me away.
Amsterdam is sleeping as I run over roads above canals where waters rush. Then I walk to an old Jewish church that dates back almost a century. The dark brown of solid walls would be a reliable shelter, but I have no desire for cover. I stand on a deserted road with the sky roaring into I open my arms.
Five minutes later, I’m walking to a house even older than the church, but, at two in the morning, it’s locked. Through the glass window on the door, a blue light flashes, and I see the picture of a young girl with bright eyes, staring at me. She’s smiling. Perhaps no one else has ever come to visit at such an hour. Who, but a mad man, like me, would?
I feel a strange connection to the girl, and so I whisper to her. The earth shakes with my words, and the waters of the canal overflow their banks. Wind sounds echo in the thin gong of a medieval church bell. A boat trembles in the water, straining against its anchorage. I step closer to the glass door to look at a picture.
“How are you Anne?” I ask the girl, once taken from the house and never permitted to return. I repeat the question as a blue-white light flashes and her lips move in the picture. But the storm drowns out her words.
Yet her lips whisper from a distant past, from a past that hides within this picture, behind thick glass that holds in the pain.
“I know Anne.” I feel compelled to say this, though I’m not sure why. Comforted by rain, I lie down on a bench across the stream and sleep.
In the morning, though I’m soaked, I wake to the warmth of sunlight, yet I still smell the rain. I walk to the Museumplein and lie on the green grass. In a moment I’m asleep again. And a troubled dream returns. I see myself inside a very old house, where a hinged bookshelf opens to reveal a secret chamber and a teenage girl who sits reading there.
“Anne!” I exclaim.
“I knew you’d find my hideaway,” she responds.
I study her. “May I stay with you today?”
“Which book would you like to read?”
“Something in English, please,” I answer.
“May I read your diary?”
“No, never! No one may read it but me.”
“Anne…. I understand. Then lets read Charles Dickens.”
As I walk to the bookshelf there is a knock at the door.
“Who is it?” Anne asks.
“Who is she? Anne returns with a scowl.
“She’s a friend,” I answer.
“Do you love her?” asks Anne, her beautiful face aglow with sunlight that comes through glass window.
“I don’t know,” I puzzle. “What do you know of love?”
“I hardly lived enough to know love!”
“So how should I answer your question?”
“Just give me back my book!”
“I don’t want too.”
“Agnes is waiting. Come back when you know the answer.”
“When you know what I mean to you, and why you came to me.”
Anne is gone in a flume of white smoke that floats before me in my dream. When I open my eyes, I am lying on the grass, and the church bell sounds eleven–almost lunchtime.
I sit in vague dream-thinking for awhile, then walk to a roadside counter and buy coffee, come back to the same place and sip it, and when I do, my mind is clear with what I need to do.
I browsed my mobile to see the schedule for trains, rush to the hotel, put some clothes in my backpack, walk to the station and catch the metro.
A strange excitement overcomes me as I board the afternoon train to Germany. After what seems like a moment, I pace before the cemetery in Bergen Belsen where Anne Frank and her sister were given a burial.
My hands tremble as I rearrange white flowers that adorn the grave, and I stand with tears in my eyes. “Sleep well , Anne,” I mutter, half wistfully, half incoherently.
I stay at a nearby hotel. And in my sleep, Anne visits again, looking at me with her enigmatic smile. “Thanks for coming.” Her words are haunting, yet spoken with sincerity that transcends time and space.
“I’ve always wanted to see you where you are resting,” I answer.
“I have always wanted to write!” she exclaims.
“Your diary has been published, Anne. It’s become a legend. People all over the world have read it and know about you!”
“Do they like it?”
“Do they love me?”
“I think so.”
Then comes her question again. “And you? Do you love me?”
“Yes, since my childhood I have loved you.”
“I want to write,” she reiterates. “But I can’t anymore.”
I hold my tongue. I don’t know how to answer this girl who lingers in my dreams. In my desire to set her free, I respond, “I’ll write for you! Just guide me. Tell me what to say.”
“Yes, of course.” With commitment, fresh from my mouth, she smiles and disappears as I awake.
As I go to the road for coffee, a little school girl gives me a flower and wishes me good morning before she runs away. She is almost the same age, with the same golden hair, same beautiful face, and something within her, which I can’t explain, compels me to write.
I walk inside a cafe, flower in my pocket and ponder what to write to make Anne Frank live again.
Author Subhadip Majumdar
- Subhadip Majumdar a writer poet from India. He is certified in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. He also edited for a long time a reputed Bengali poetry journal. Wrote a short novel as Tumbleweed writer in Shakespeare and Company, Paris. Two poetry books published and one novel in process of publication.
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