| blood (masculine noun) | /sæŋ/
While I was in Prague, I visited the Kafka Museum and marveled at a 100-page letter Kafka had written–but never sent–to his father, someone who remained an oppressive figure throughout Kafka’s life and work. Some people may ogle at this lengthy handwritten letter and think, What a waste that he never sent it!
But I identify with Kafka. His feelings toward his father mirror my own toward another family member. I can imagine how cathartic it must have been to purge himself, even temporarily, of the fears and insecurities that followed him into adulthood. To be able to address this threatening and omnipotent figure without fear of repercussion. And sometimes we don’t need a response. We don’t need someone to validate our experiences, to argue and dismiss the feelings we know we felt. Kafka wrote, “The effect you had on me was the effect you could not help having. But you should stop considering it some particular malice on my part that I succumbed to that effect.” Our pain does not render us flawed or feeble. And the fact that you’re my family does not excuse you from any wrongdoing.
If I could write you a letter, I’d explain that you misinterpreted my words and intentions. I’d say that you were too quick to dismiss how I felt, telling me that, during the darkest crisis of my life, I was “stupid” and that any attempt to address your complete deference during that period is my way of “playing the victim.” Maybe I’d tell you how your scathing remarks make me feel less than human, how they have caused me significant pain and grief. Maybe I’d tell you how I cried in Paris, after you belittled one of the most important things I had ever done. I was happy and proud, and you eviscerated me. Maybe I would tell you that your apathy frightens me. Maybe I would include a poem I wrote for you. Maybe.
But I know that I would close that letter by saying that any advice I ever gave you was never indicative of a superior wisdom or intelligence. It was simply my attempt to save you. If I could protect you from grief, heartbreak, disappointment, and shame, I would. I tried.
Should I too write a letter I’ll never send?