The Luz Monologues by Raina Ng

Prescript, postscript:

I first discovered the concept of Luz while reading David Grossman’s essay, Confronting The Beast. He wrote:

In the Jewish tradition, there is a legend, or a belief, that every person has a small bone in his body called the luz, located at the tip of the spine, which enfolds the essence of a person’s soul. This bone cannot be destroyed. Even if the entire human body is shattered, crushed or burned, the luz bone does not perish. It stores a person’s spark of uniqueness, the core of his selfhood. According to the belief, this bone will be the source of man’s resurrection.

Once in a while, I ask people close to me what they believe their luz is, and I have heard many varied answers. Several writers, and artists in general, have told me that their luz is creativity, the passion to create and the urge to produce. Religious people, believers, have often said that their luz is the divine spark they feel inside. One friend answered, after much thought: parenthood, fatherhood. And another friend immediately replied that her luz was her longing for the things and people she missed. A woman who was roughly 90 at the time talked about the love of her life, a man who committed suicide over 60 years ago: he was her luz.”

I decided to explore the idea of Luz but I am not attempting to answer what Luz is through these dialogues, rather, I want to explore what it may be for the different ones. As these characters discover what it is that cannot be taken away from them we see through them that the essence of who they are may be, ironically, in somebody else.

30.3.1997 | Valerie (30) & John (42) | Lying on the bed in the bedroom.

Valerie: John, you know that old man on the train earlier — he had sad eyes didn’t he?

John: Mmm…

Valerie: I think he was in his last leg making the most of all the time he had left. Maybe his partner just died, and he was going to the places that they had always wanted to go but never did. He reminded me of Chrisopher Plummer in Beginners.

John: A little, yeah.

Valerie: Maybe he had a rough life love-wise; maybe he was gay but only came round to living true to that part of himself in the last decade of his life.

John: Uh-huh.

Valerie: Maybe he just lost his high school sweetheart?

John: Maybe.

Valerie: And he had never learnt to live without her until her death?

John: Don’t know.

Valerie: Or he was sad because he just never found love?

John: Never found love?

Valerie: Yes, maybe he was too busy, or he just never found love, and his heart has become too rusty because he never used it, only chose to waste it, and over the years it has been wrapped around by layers of hardness — crusty, sclerosised.

John: Sclerosised, huh, really?

Valerie: Yeah, he suffered from sclerosis of the heart. But then when the doctors told him he had but five months, it hit him that while he had everything in the world, he had not love.

John: You think in such clichés.

Valerie: Well, maybe he was just busy looking for other things he thought could be life’s purpose. Maybe he was just busy looking for himself, or for life, or whatever it is that he felt was the essence of him. But then he scoffed at love — maybe he thought it to be a FAIRY TALE, huh, John? And he lost his one true chance at being truly happy because he was too cowardly to choose love.


12.06.2002 | Valerie (35), John (47) & Amanda (5) | Seated on the floor underneath a ceiling fan scribbling in her journal while speaking aloud.

Valerie: World, are you listening to me? You will never win. I shall look deep into whatever it is that is your eye and say it straight to you; no matter how you tell me again and again I shall not relent. No way. I will never allow you to bend me into that sort of hardness. I will refuse with all I am the call to be selfish, to fear, to fail. I am imperfect, I know, and I do not love well, but you have no right to take away my ability to try my very best. So in your face I shall shout a loud NO! Selfishness, look at me, I want to spit in your face. You have no right to rob from me. I shall choose to love despite what you teach me, what you tell me. And despite all my imperfections, I shall try with everything I am to stand up, to remain pliable, to think with all my might for the others despite it all, and to stand up so I can hold on to the ability to love well. That is the very essence of me.


30.08.2012 | Valerie (45), John (57) & Amanda (15) | At a cafe.

John: Amanda?

Amanda: Dad?

John: [nodding] Yes, yes, hello. Have a seat. Would you like a hot chocolate or something?

Amanda: Yes, sure.

John: [to the waitress] Can we have a hot chocolate for this one?

Amanda: So, where have you been?

John: [nervous laugh] You’re not one for small talk, I suppose. Well, I’ve been around, I suppose.

Amanda: Yes? Around here, or around around?

John: Around here, and around around.

Amanda: Ok. Why?

John: Why don’t I ask you the questions? How are you?

Amanda: Well, would you want me to lie or tell the truth?

John: I suppose, the truth.

Amanda: Good choice, daddy. Well, mum just died, and I am not liking you very much for now but that is only because you haven’t been around. But who knows, if you do stick around then maybe I’d like you, and life may get better?

John: Mmm. Am not the kind to stick around, and I am not sure if I want to change.

Amanda: Well then, I have got a funeral to prepare for; if you feel it’s like “you” to turn up, then do. Otherwise, it was nice to meet you and to know you do exist. Oh, and thanks for the hot chocolate.


31.08.2012 | Valerie (45),  John (57) & Amanda {15} | Seated on a wooden pew inside an emptying church hall.

John: [lets out a nervous laugh] Well, well, well, Val, you were right – you got here first. You know it is probably too late to tell you but I love you. I loved you, I kept on loving you, and I still do. Yes, you were right on that count too. You were. You know though I never quite understood a lot of the things you said. Well, not entirely. But that old man with sad eyes you were talking about, that was me, wasn’t it? The cowardly fool who never quite got love. I spent many years afraid, drove past your house again and again, but I never knocked. You, you were quite somebody though, I have to say — so brave. What do I do now, huh? What do I do now? [sighs] And my, we have quite a daughter don’t we? Quite the daughter we have there.


31.08.2012 | Valerie (45),  John (57) & Amanda (15) | Outside the church.

Amanda: Dad? Can I come live with you?

John: Sure. [sighs]

Amanda: Ok, thanks.

John: Ok, let’s go get your stuff then.

Amanda: Now? Right now? Ok.

John: So how was mum?

Amanda: She was good. Good till the end.

John: Good.

Amanda: [tearing] It’s raining. When I was five I took to crying each time it rained in the mornings. It just pained me that the sun was not the first thing I saw when I woke up, you know?

John: Uh-huh.

Amanda: And mum would come into my bed and hug me and tell me it was ok. But I think mum, she just thought it silly after it became quite a habit and she finally said to me, get up Amanda, this crying thing is nonsense. Just because the sun isn’t shining does not mean it has disappeared; it will turn up again when it’s ready. We have the rain because we need it, she said. The rain, it washes everything away so we can start all over again, brand new. The rain cleans the skies so the sun can shine even brighter when it comes back. Since then I have taken to liking rainy days a whole lot more.

John: [Whispers] Valerie, oh dear Valerie.


01.01.2022 | John (67), Amanda (25), Bruce (30) & Emily (1) | At the airport waiting area on the phone.

Amanda: Hello? Hello, daddy? Yes, daddy, we are at the airport, we will be there soon alright, so wait up because it is not time, not yet, not until I have given you a proper kiss goodbye, you hear me? You owe me so you gotta put up with all that pain for now and just wait. [laughs] Yes, daddy you owe me, and you have to make up for all that time you were not around, remember? By the way, dad…you have spent most of my teenage years waiting for me – I know. I remember the first time I went out with Bruce and I came home quite late. I saw you sitting there on your armchair silently smoking your pipe. And the many times I told you I would be home for dinner but only turned up hours later and you would nonchalantly say it was ok? I knew you waited, and waited. Dad, I have to go, we are boarding. I love you.


01.01.2022 | John (67), Amanda (25), Bruce (30) & Emily (1) | At the hospital.

Amanda: Hello, daddy.

John: [grunts] Hello, finally!

Amanda: [laughs] Yes, I knew you’d wait for me.

John: Wasn’t waiting, don’t flatter yourself.

Amanda: [laughs] Sure, daddy. [Hugs him]

John: [grunts]

Amanda: [whispers] Now I can tell you that even though I never heard you say it, I know you love me. In your own way. Mum always told me that whether you knew it or not, we knew you loved us.

John: Oh, did she now?

Amanda: [laughs] Yeah. So thank you for everything, and for choosing me.

John: Welcome. Listen, because I will only say this once.

Amanda: Yes?

John: Look into my eyes, it’s easier for me to tell you that way.

Amanda: [laughing] Ok, dad, got it. And I think mom and you, I won’t ever be absent of you two, you two are something that nothing can ever take away from me. Ever.

John: [smiles] We are your luz.

Amanda: [nods] And maybe that is what families are, and that is what Bruce and Emily and myself will find more and more of in each other?

John: Yes, love, my darling Amanda.


05.01.2022 | John (67), Amanda (25), Bruce (30) & Emily (1) | At the hospital.

John: Oh, dear Valerie.

Valerie: Luz, huh, John? Luz.

John: Uh-huh, and yes, you are right, I do.

Valerie: I know — come on now, let’s go.

John: Yes, let’s.

Valerie: Finally.

John: [takes her hand] Uh-huh.

Exit. Sound of chatter and laughter. End.

Featured image by Jehan Aziz.


Raina Ng is curious about Luz, and all the things that make us human.

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