Dear Sombath…from Nico Bakker

Dear Sombath,

I am not sure you know the writer Eduardo Galeano. I do think you would appreciate him. If you haven’t read anything by him, I do hope someday you ‘ll get the opportunity to read Galeano. One of my favourite books is his Book of Embraces. As Galeano says, writing is a way of embracing other people, so I am writing you.

One of the chapters in the mentioned book is called Celebration of Mistrust that goes like this:

On the first day of classes, the professor brought out an enormous flask.

“It’s full of perfume,” he told Miguel Brun and the rest of the students. “I want to measure how perceptive each one of you is. Raise your hand as soon as you perceive the scent.”

And he removed the stopper. Moments later two hands were in the air. Some five, ten, thirty—all hands were raised.

“May I open the window, professor?” a young woman asked, dizzy from the overpowering fragrance. Several voices echoed her request. The air, thick with the aroma of perfume, had quickly become unbearable for everyone.

Then the professor had the students examine the flask, one by one. It was full of water.

The way I know you Sombath, I am sure that if you would had been in that classroom you would not have raised your hand, and you would probably have found a way making your classmates aware that there was no perfume in that bottle, even before the teacher had the students examine it closely.

I miss you and I do think your country needs you, especially since there is so much water being presented as perfume. Our world is a worse place without you.

I wish that your courage and your wry sense of humour do not abandon you, but most of all I wish that you come back to your loved ones soon.

Nico Bakker