Open letter to my son
We did not need to know them for them to be our friends.
Benjamin Duval is a film producer in Paris. He wrote the following open letter to his one-month-old son on Facebook following the Paris attacks. The post has been shared widely and has been the subject of several articles in the French media. His letter is translated here from the original French.
Gustave, mon tout tout tout p’ti bonhomme.
My very very very little man. You were born on the 17th of October, 2015 at 10:47. If you had been a girl, your mother would have liked to name you “Charlie.” She was determined. The blame lay with a group of degenerate extremist at war against liberty, who had spilled too much blood on that name, today, sadly famous.
This weekend, you did not understand the meaning of the tears in your parents eyes, so you looked at us attentively and we could read surprise in your eyes. You stayed calm, surpisingly calm. As if you understood what is at stake in these sad days. And then we held you in our arms, much too often and much too hard.
Nous nous sommes enivrés de cette odeur de vie dans ton souffle.
We got drunk on the smell of life in your breath. During that weekend, you were a lighthouse, the only beacon of light in the tumultuous sea of our fright. We were beaten by the waves, and you allowed us not to stay afloat.
“Fluctuat nec mergitur!”
“Tossed but not sunk!” (The motto of Paris.)
Yes, you know,
♪♪“la la la lala lala, c’était pas d’la litteratur’ … des copains d’abord”♪♪
“We’re not exactly literature…best mates first of all.” I sing that to you, my two hands in your shit while you pee on me. This Friday the 13th, many friends died my love. We did not need to know them for them to be our friends. They were all friends because they placed their elbows on the tops of bars, they spoke of hook ups or love, liked music, got drunk on alcohol or debating. They died because they had friends they wanted to meet up with. Because everything that is worth being lived, must be lived with friends. Friends first…
Gustave, my love, today I want to tell you how beautiful your mother is. She is beaming, attractive and sensual and her eyes smile to the world. But what makes her even more beautiful is that she is free. Free to build herself, to think, to affirm herself, to scream, to vote, to leave me. She is free to break my balls if she feels like it.
My child, you will often hear mommy and daddy fighting. Because they have the right to. Because your mother is not obligated to agree with your dad. Just because of that, the bad guys on Friday would have loved to take your mommy and daddy away from you. Even you could have been with us at the wrong terrace at the wrong moment. Fanaticism could have broken your so very short life, because mommy and daddy were drinking a beer with friends, talking nonsense.
Today your (very) young parents are trying to breath again. Your daddy is wondering what is this world that you will grow up in. Your daddy is tired Gus, already tired. Tired, at 35, from listening to those overly proud tight-ass conservatives déclinistes spew their frustrations. Tired of being fed that false concept of social fracture, of being told that love and living together are not the only important things in this world.
But as I look at you, I regain hope. Because thanks to you, these fatalistic ideologues will never win. If these barbarians bring me to my knees, they will not stop you from raising yourself on your two short legs in a few months.
Ils ne pourront jamais vaincre notre modèle, nous sommes bien trop surentrainés à boire, rire, baiser, débattre, s’aider, chanter, jouir…
My Gus, today they speak of war. These hardliners have started a war against epicureans and humanists. They fired on the free people of cafe terraces and concerts. And by doing so, they made your parents into soldiers and they raised an army of friends. They will never be able to vanquish our way of life, we are overly trained to drink, laugh, fuck, debate, help each other, sing, enjoy ourselves…
And I will make a solider out of you. I will teach you to love women (or men), to think, to be tolerant, to be a Republican (un republican), a humanist, and to drink much much too much. I will wake up every day of my life, to make you love this life, and make of you what they fear — a sensitive and intelligent man. I will build arms for you with the red iron of our values. I will be your light, the light whose rays will drown out the shadow of darkness that will try to raise itself behind your shoulder.
My child, I will make of you a writer. Not a novelist, but someone who will redefine the French story, redefine camaraderie and use your pen to write of love. I will teach you to kiss those you love, to forgive, to discover the joy of a vintage wine, the importance of solidarity and of sharing. You will be nicely silly and modestly useful.
Tomorrow, we will celebrate your one month birthday my darling. And with your mother we will light a candle. The light will be the light of your future and of the memory of all those who left us Friday night…a glass in hand. I hope that you will laugh well, drink well, and be aroused well.
Sois libre mon fils...Tu seras ma fierté, un combattant, un resistant.
Be free my son, fight against amalgams and accept differences. And let us be crazy, be earnest. I know that they will try and tell you that to be earnest is unfashionable, well, fuck ’em my little man. You will be my pride, a fighter, un resistant.