The Madness of Mrs. Woolf
There are voices in our heads, telling us what to do, and where to go and what to wear. There is a little Zainab inside of me whom I come to when I am hurting and when I know I have left her defenseless and bare.
The voices quarrel and the most bitter wins.
What has brought me here and how does one get out?
In the middle of the voices is the voice that pushes to dream of space. Openness. White-washed walls which I have chosen. A bed I will make. Or not. A bed. A space of a bed. A window. And curtains.
And yet I cannot go beyond past the first few pages of her book. Mrs. Woolf. Who wanted a room of her own.
Perhaps I take this lack of a room as an excuse to bury myself behind all that might seem so vital which has come to feel so loose, like trying to catch the grain – it isn't even a grain – of dust that bothered your eye.
And yet I yearn to catch it. To follow it. To hide my smallness behind it and to make it bigger and bigger so that it can cover me whole.
I have been running to keep up with the dust I think. Running without knowing that I am racing myself so as to not notice my lack of walls. White-washed walls I have chosen.
I can't go beyond the first few pages of the book.
Mrs. Woolf believed in moments of being, I remind myself.
Where do we be? When? How do we be?
Somehow everything Professor Malak spoke of doesn't add up now. My sense of certainty has faltered and I not angry at that. Just watching mesmerized at myself and how I change. At how watching Malak has changed me. It had changed me then and it comes to me now as I try to read Mrs. Woolf's littlest book which I bought not too long after Malak left.
"Yes," she said laying down her brush in extreme fatigue. "I have had my vision."
I remember this line. A line that comes out with an exhalation of finishing the book. Of resting assured that Mrs. Ramsey has had her vision. Of hoping to have a similarly artistic and perfect vision: a moment of being.
Malak did not say that moments of being could perhaps not be so beautiful. But beautifully painful. And painfully beautiful. They are not the same.
At times I feel that these past months leading to years have been a long moment of being in the making. And now I am basking in the heat of it all and I am too fatigued to even gather up things in my arm and find a room of my own to start opening up folded papers and wrapped up clues and bottled up strings of myself which I had shelved away, not knowing what they have caused.
I hear their voices at night, at dawn, after dawn, before and after the call to prayer and I think of Mrs. Woolf.
Am I mad? Do you think I am mad? I am not mad.
This madness that has become a shame and yet has become a word, an accusation which is said at such ease.
I have feared it in you, and you have feared it in me and I find that funny.
We all hear the voices, our voices, fighting over us, and I always let the bitterest voice win.
But when Malak spoke of moments of being, she spoke not of the voices that bring it about. That the most beautiful voice will drown your bitter voice and tell you that you can see what it is and that you know and that this, just this knowing, is ease.
She spoke of Mrs. Woolf.
Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf. Mrs. Woolf.
Whose voices did Mrs. Woolf hear? Not just her own. I know that. She wrote that. Besides the moments of being which she probably so wanted to have, she heard the voices of the others.
As I hear their voices I know I am not mad. They are outside of me. They are voices that belong to people discussing breakfast and the weather. And I awake to them and sleep leaves and what remains is the desire to lock myself up inside my head and hear my own voices that think a million thoughts, never pretty ones of me, but a million thoughts of how I lack many things including of room of my own.
That is not the room you wanted Mrs. Woolf. You wanted a room for your moment. A room to write. I do not write. I dreamt last night of losing the breath inside me that fuels up my fingers to write. Perhaps you wanted a room in your head without the other voices which did not belong to people.
Last night I thought of you, Mrs. Woolf. And I thought of Malak. I thought of death. To die without a moment so beautifully painful of – not shedding skin, no, that is not what I mean, - but rather to crack open a part of you so that you can crawl out and look at you and love you. To crack like this transparent nail polish that breaks on your nails and opens a window to see your own skin and your own color.
I think of you Mrs. Woolf and perhaps I have abused your dreams of being in thinking that they are so beautifully drawn, I expect that was out of a desire to push pain away. I try to push pain away and I know that it is fear that is swallowing me up. Or that has swallowed me up. I know now its tricks and should not allow it. I know.
I do not want to run, Mrs. Woolf. To race the speck of dust.
That is what it is. Speck.
I am bigger than it. I have known that it cannot take me and I no longer want it to.
I want to rest in my exhaustion. Knowing that when I finish the littlest book I will come to know what I know now rests inside me.
I am exhausted.
I am tired.
I am tired of wearing myself out.
I want to settle into my many rooms and rest.
I want to lay down this pen raised in apprehension. In questioning. Fear. Judgment. Memory.
I want to lay down my pen, in this messy, beautiful uncertainty.
I want to remember that moment.
To lose its perfection.
To tell you…