A letter written to the brother of the ‘convicted’ writer! –


When Dostoyevsky’s death sentence was commuted to four years in prison and he was sent to the frozen steppes of Siberia, he wrote a letter to his brother expressing his feelings and intensity. Interprets. He only wanted permission to write during his imprisonment and that was his greatest wish.

Dear brother!
I’m not depressed at all. I didn’t even let grief get to me. Life is life everywhere, it is what is inside us and not what is outside.

There will be many more people with me. Living as a common man among the people, always living like this and not caring about suffering…. This is life. This is the real purpose of life. I have understood this very well. This idea is embedded in my flesh and blood and it is based on absolute truth.

The head, which created thoughts and ideas, the head, which made its nest in the heights of art and which was aware of and used to the highest needs of the soul. That head, now separated from my glory.

There remain the faint impressions of these imaginations, which I have not yet been able to transfer to the page of paper. These thoughts will surely cause mental torment, but it is a fact that in my heart there is still that blood and flesh that can love, can suffer, can also desire, and after all, this is life.

If someone has a grudge in his heart about me, I have quarreled with someone or I have left a bad impression on someone’s heart, then meet him and beg him to forgive me on my behalf. I don’t have a grain of salt in my heart.

This is what I wish at this time to be hugged by one of my friends. It gives satisfaction to the heart.

I thought that the news of my death would kill you, but now you need not worry, I am alive and will live until we meet again.

Turning to the past, I see that a lot of wasted time has been wasted. Most of the days are spent in dreams, wrongdoings and idle pursuits. I have acted against my conscience many times. Believe me, my heart cries blood.

Life is bliss, life is joy. Every moment that has been wasted should have been a happy life. Now that I am changing my life, I feel that my soul is entering a new mold. But is it true that my hands will continue to crave the pen? I think after four years I will be lucky to hold a pen.

I wish! May I be allowed to write only. How many thoughts, how many ideas that I had created, will be destroyed, these sparks of my mind will either be extinguished or dissolve into a fiery poison in my veins.

(Translator: Saadat Hasan Manto)



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