Yesterday I read a story by Tove Jansson called Correspondence. It was a series of letters from a Japanese girl to the author. The letters expressed in very simple English the girl’s appreciation of the author’s work and the yearning to meet her in person.
We can’t read the author’s replies but we can guess what she says. One of the letters contains these words:
“It’s a beautitful thought, to meet a writer only in her books. I’m learning all the time.”
I really enjoyed reading this story, which only took three or four minutes. I sat for much longer thinking about it and all that it implied.
Ten days ago I was contacted by a Chinese woman and she has been writing to me (in English) nearly every day since then. This morning I read again through all the emails I received and they form a complete and very moving story. The final instalment in this story came today. I read it hastily before I came to work and haven’t yet had time to reply.
I will wait until I get home and my mind is free from the distractions of work.
One of my colleagues is teasing me about something. Another one just told him “He’s reading poetry.”
I’m not reading poetry. I’m re-reading Tove Jansson’s story Correspondence.
Moving as this story is, I think the letters I received from my Chinese friend are much more so. Placed one after another and with no editing at all, they really are poetry.
But I suppose this is the kind of poetry no-one else must ever see.
It is a great privilege to be the recipient of such correspondence. I think this is what I will tell my friend tonight when I have time.