Another Three Days.

Three days: a series of disparate thoughts.

***

Thursday afternoon. The sun was high up in the sky. A long day. Lunch time. A bowl of spicy ramen and a cup of hot green tea. The restaurant was empty. The phone was switched off.

Salty broth, tender meat, spice that reached the back of my throat, and stayed.

There was space to taste food.

Friday evening. Golden light in the house, soft music in the background. A conversation with mother,  an outpouring of woes. Sometimes, our roles get reversed, but friday, friday was a day to be the seeking daughter.

A reminder – there’s no need to be strong all the time. Growth is in the breakdown, and the rebuilding.

Saturday morning by the sea. Two fishermen, a tiny rocky pier, fishing lines standing erect, the sound of waves, constant, relentless, always determined. I chose a spot between them; we continued in our silence. They were waiting for their catch, I was waiting for the elusive inner quiet.

We were all meditating, in our own ways.

Saturday mid-morning: two hibiscus in full, full bloom. Look at us, they say, delight in our beauty. It is your right.

Yes, yes. It is my right.

Taken in Singapore.

Processed with VSCOcam with c2 preset

WE live in a world

Some mornings, I wake up angry. 

***

WE live in a world where it is all just I and ME and I again
and the WE and the US disappears into someplace
where good things and happy things go to die.

WE live in a world where it is all just I and ME and I again
and the mothers and fathers are left alone in care homes
and grandmothers are chased out of their beds by granddaughters
and sisters get beaten up by sisters and all that is left is
no family and how I want MY life to be better, who cares what happens to US.

WE live in a world where it is all just I and ME and I again
and people shove past pregnant women on buses to get to the empty seat
and it’s okay to spend tens and hundreds and thousands on bags but not on people
and I want MY friends to be there for ME but I don’t have the energy to deal with YOUR problems.

WE live in a world where it is all just I and ME and I again
and the central narrative of MY life is encompassed only by MY singular existence in the world
nevermind the fact that the earth and the sun and the sea work tirelessly to give YOU life
nevermind the fact that nature’s very existence is to give and hardly to take
nevermind the fact that the universe exists as a system that is beyond, completely beyond YOU
nevermind the fact that YOU are just one life out of many billions
nevermind the fact that when YOU leave it is all over, except for the love YOU leave behind in others
nevermind, nevermind, nevermind, nevermind,
right?

Wrong.

On words and colours.

Sunday musings on colours and words. 

***

Sunday morning.

A giant mug of tea, and Anna Akhmatova for company. Her Requiem is an unlikely read for any morning, but when words find you, it is difficult to tear yourself away from them. Crucifixion reads chillingly, pale, icy blue, detailing the agony of Mary as she watches her son in unbelievable physical and mental agony:

“But where the Mother stood – no one would look there,
None dared to glance at her, so silent and alone.”

The color of Ahkhmatova’s words are the same shade of iciness that I remember encountering in Colm Toibin’s The Testament of Mary:

“Dreams belong to each of us alone, just as pain does.”

Words remind us that what we feel has been felt before.
Words remind us that they too, have colours.

***

A conversation recently,on people and character.

“Watch how a man treats the blind spots in his life – you know, his everyday people; old friends, parents, the security guard at his apartment complex, the bus drivers. That tells you a lot about the person. Forget about a man trying to impress the woman he loves; focus on the man living his life and see who he is.”

Yesterday, while reading Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda:

“If you really want to judge the character of a man, look not at his great performances. Every fool may become a hero at one time or another. Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man.”

Same words, both coloured a bright sunshine yellow, cutting diamonds, palatable bites of truth, not always easy to digest, but illuminating.

Words remind us that what we feel has been felt before.
Words remind us that they too, have colours.

***

“How are you?”
“Not too well, today. You know how it is. Some days are easier, some days, not quite.”
“Yes, yes. God, and art.”
“You know me well; God and art, indeed.”

I remember, two years ago, reading Sonali Deraniyagala’s Wave. To this day, no other book has given a greater perspective on the tragedy that is grief, and the painful struggle to pull oneself out of said grief. I don’t know if I can read it again. I know that when I do, my perspective towards life will be altered again.

“And as the wind gusted against those windows, I saw how, in an instant, I lost my shelter. This truth had hardly escaped me until then, far from it, but the clarity of that moment was overwhelming. And I am still shaking.”

Several days ago, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking:

“A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty.”

These words are coloured like the night sky, dark, darker, darkest, but therein lies the purity of the emotion – there is no other place left to go but away from the superlative dark. This too, I am reminded, is hope, the choice of moving away to a place that could be better.

Words remind us that what we feel has been felt before.
Words remind us that they too, have colours.

Three Days.

Barthes, Junot Diaz,  home-cured ham, Vietnamese drip coffee, and a heart overflowing with love. 

***

Three days ago: I finally mustered the courage to read Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her a few days ago. My soul woman recommended the book to me – “He speaks your life language, read him,” she said. So I did. I finished his book in a day.

I revisited the words, over and over. Dreamt of faces I thought I’d forgotten. Remembered smells on streets that my heart recognized before my brain did.

You ask everybody you know: How long does it usually take to get over it?

There are many formulas. One year for every year you dated. Two years for every year you dated. It’s just a matter of will power: The day you decide it’s over, it’s over. You never get over it.” 

You never get over it. And yet, you do. You learn how to wake up again, and brush your teeth. You learn how to put on some lipstick, and wear a smile, and this time, it reaches your eyes. You learn how to run, not to loosen the knot in your chest, but to strengthen the beat of your heart.

You never get over it. And yet, you do.

Sometimes, the names, and the memories, and the places, and the kisses start to blur. You mix the dates up. You mix the feelings up. Everything that is sepia-coloured becomes one long tale that you write about on Saturday nights, in your bed, with a cup of hot tea by your bedside.

You never get over it. And yet, you do.

“This is what I know: people’s hopes go on forever.” 

Two days ago: I’ve been reading Barthes. I’ve written about Barthes before, and just like they did then, his words remind and re-educate.

“The psychotic lives in the terror of breakdown – the clinical fear of breakdown is the fear of a breakdown which has already been experienced.”

A frantic text message reads: “I’ve told myself I cannot, must not live in fear. I will not go back now.”

Barthes has hit the proverbial nail on its head. We fear what we’ve already experienced – we fear the pain of what has been done, not because we believe (somewhere deep down inside) that we could possibly survive it again, but because we fear that possibly, this time, this time, we will succumb.

In essence, we are fearing a construct of the past, not the reality of the present.

“Whereupon I know what the present, that difficult tense, is: a pure portion of anxiety.”

I can only see one message repeating itself: Stay away from old patterns and habits.

This morning: Home-cured bacon, Vietnamese drip coffee, and light, light everywhere.

Another text message (but I first heard this in a testimonial a year ago): “He shuts doors that need to be shut, and I am thankful.”

A friend of ten years and his never ending love. A friend of seven years and her never ending patience. A friend of four years and his never ending wisdom. A friend of one year and her never ending optimism.

I write to him: “I’m blessed.”

Barthes words float through my fingers: “What love lays bare in me is energy. Everything I do has a meaning (hence, I can live, without whining), but this meaning is an ineffable finality: it is merely the meaning of my strength.”

I’ve lived a lifetime of emotions in three days.

 

 

The Excuse of Being Busy.

Being busy is a choice. Letting life slip through your fingers every time you say you’re busy, is also, a choice. 

Choose well.

A note to self, more than anything else. 

***

“You need to write more,” she tells me.

I nod. Yes, yes, of course.

I’d been thinking the same thing, usually at that moment before I fell asleep after a grueling day. It has been a recurring thought.

(But, but, I think to myself, how does one wake sleeping words?)

It has unsettled me, this dark silence.

Words have been my companions through the best and worst moments in my life. Words have brought me friends from all over the world, and words have helped me to heal from the pain of losing friends. Words were there when cancer was, words were there when cancer sort of left (it never really does, let’s face it). Words were there to remind me of the person that I wanted to be, words were there to remind me of the beautiful people whom I never wanted to forget.

(The Word, has always been and will always be there)

And now, all of a sudden, nothing but this dark, deep silence.

It has happened before. I know it will happen again.

“How do you think I can become a better writer?” I remember asking the best lover once.

“Live better. The words will come, you’ll write better.” He told me. He’s not much of a texter, this one. And yet, with those poignant words, he reminded me of something I’ve held at the forefront of my life, ever since.

The truth is, I haven’t been living well. I haven’t been all here. Hell, I haven’t been all anywhere. Days have blurred into late nights, and instant deadlines, and the constant busyness of something which amounts to something which eventually amounts to nothing.

(It’s no surprise then, that the words have sunk to the bottom of the pit, waiting for life to ignite them.)

I had not known my mother was ill until two days later, when she told me over breakfast. We live in the same house. She hadn’t seen me for most of the week.

Thank goodness she understands. Thank goodness she forgives me each time.

The truth is, it shouldn’t be this way.

Being busy, like everything else in life, is a choice. Sometimes, it is a choice we are forced to make. Regardless, it is a choice. Being busy without really “gaining” anything, is also a choice. Most times, a choice we make because it makes us feel “useful”, “productive”, gives us a sense of “worth”. After some time, this “being busy” way of living becomes an excuse. An excuse to make ourselves feel better, an excuse for a life that is spiraling out of control, and perhaps, an excuse for not stopping and facing the barest and most stripped down versions of ourselves.

There is a time and place for everything, including being busy.

There is a time and place for everything, including (and especially) rest.

More than you, and you, and you out there, this is a reminder I’m writing to myself.

P.S: Learning to stop is not a sin, it is a necessity. 

P.P.S: To write well, one must live well. Start living!