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Along the way, we pick up little things.

Like what is the best time to sit by the sea so that you can catch the last dripping colours of a setting sun;

Like the best way to carry a kitten so that you feel all of her soft fluffiness against your skin;

Like how long nights can be without your lover’s voice;

Like the exact number of times you can listen to a song on loop before you get tired of it;

Like how good the first drag of a cigarette feels after a long time without it;

Like the way your lover likes to be kissed – long, deep, wet; 

Like the best bookstore in your tiny town where you always, always find a steal, even when you’re not looking;

Like how the stars look in a night sky when there are no lights;

Like the sound of your mother crying when she is sick, happy, tired; 

Like the feel of him inside you, around you, with you;

Like the exact angle you lie on a park bench on a sunny day so that you can feel the cool breeze and the warm sun on your face while you doze; 

Like the feel of the summer’s best hibiscus bloom against your fingertip;

Like the taste of melted cheese and salty fries on your tongue;

Like the smell of fresh, clean sheets after a long day at work. 

Along the way, we pick up little things.

These little things, they make up this big thing called life.

 

 

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! 

 

 

 

 

All it takes is that one moment to either swing you up stream, or down stream.

As I was writing this, I also understood that all that I write, and read, and search for in life, is a feeling of connectedness with another living being to be assured that no, no, I am not alone, and to assure that, no, no, you are not alone.

And I wanted you to know this. Right here, right now. 

***
An open letter to You:
All of us go through such things don’t we? 

This intense high of being one with the world, being part of this big happy family called humanity, of being in love, of being loved, where the sun is beaming somewhere in your chest, the sky is a bright azure blue and when you listen closely enough, the birds are chirping in the distance.

Then, there is the gut clenching low, when the train breaks down at night, and you can’t get a cab, there is a creeping pain in your lower back and no one has texted or called you in hours, so you feel cold and alone, and then, your iPod decides to unearth that one playlist that you gifted the love of your life years ago (why do you still have this, you wonder) and the waves of pain start. It seems like it was just yesterday that you were on your knees, wailing for an end to the kind of emotional agony that you didn’t think you could possibly feel.

There are the days when you need friends and no one is around. There are the days when there are too many friends and all you want is some peace and quiet so you can listen to the new song that was dropped several days ago. There are days when you are so happy that there is no reason to think that you could ever feel like shit again (“Negativity? That stuff is a myth!”). There are days when you are so goddamn miserable that other people’s happiness sits like a dull weight between your ribs, not because you wish them harm, but because you yearn for a sliver of what they have.

There are days when all your body parts work and you are on top of the blessed world, young, full of energy, vitality and strength. Nobody can stop you with that fire in your veins, you think. You are ready to question every injustice, fight every battle against humanity, give your hundred and twenty nine percent for all your endeavors and function in superlatives. Then come the days when the alarm goes off at 5.30 in the morning and you think of the long day that stretches ahead of you, and the people you have to put up with, and for a split second, the thought crosses your mind that you should skip work, or even better, head back to sleep and hopefully not wake up for a long time, and you wonder when the world managed to get the better of you. Your bones feel like lead, your breast hurts again (“Oh god, is the cancer coming back?!?!” or it might just be your heart reacting to a dream you thought had forgotten) and your skin feels too hot for your soul.

There are days when you know you’ve crossed the line and left the past behind, and there are days when you realise you are caught in the quicksand of memories and choking on the debris of nostalgia. There are days you will be thankful for those who hold your hand in your present, and there are days when you are weeping as you stand left behind after having handed your heart on a platter to someone who didn’t look back.

God, there are days, and then there are days.

These are days that your mother, your father’s aunt, your sister, your husband of thirty four years, your best friend, your teacher, your boss and your non-friend have gone through, just like you have, just like you had, and just like you will, though perhaps, they might be a little more silent or a little louder than you are when it passes them by.
What I mean to say is, there are good days, and there are bad days, and both will happen, and you will survive, even if you don’t think you will. I just wanted you to know that I’ve gone through them, just like you’ve gone through them, and you’re not alone.
That’s all.

An excerpt from my travel diary in Nongsapura, Batam, Indonesia. 

***

Picture taken in Nongsapura, Batam, Indonesia, April 2014.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

It was hot. It was so hot that no one dared to venture out towards the shoreline. Naturally, this was also the perfect time to explore the beach, and to find a place to languish. We were on holiday after all.

It was too hot to sit by the sea. The heat was stifling, sitting heavily on our sunscreened backs and foreheads and knees. We needed to find another place to sit, and meditate. After all, that was what this whole impromptu let’s-leave-for-the-weekend sojourn was for. To find some space to clear the clutter that was in our lives. Clutter that we’d accumulated in the 9 months that we’d been back home (a full trimester – a whole baby is formed during 9 months, and all we’d managed to create was a mess).

I spied a pier in the distance and convinced her to walk to the edge of it. Carpe the fuck out of diem and all of that.

It was a lonely pier. The tide was low (“You do realise we need to leave when the water starts rising, right?…. “Yeah, yeah, let’s just sit down..”), we were surrounded by blue, blue, blue except for the stretch of rocks we were sitting on, and it was quiet, waves lapping gently by our legs. Salty sea breeze, hot sun on our backs.

Deep breath. Yes, space.

It was a late morning of heavy conversation and heavier silence. Not uncomfortable, just heavy, contemplative, deliberative, a little like the heat, sitting strongly all around us.

“It’s easy, isn’t it? To fall into the safety net of mediocrity and to think that’s the pinnacle of our lives?”

“Yes, terribly easy, when you’re surrounded by a paradigm that takes pride in blending in, in conforming. That’s what we’re told, aren’t we. Don’t speak too loud, don’t dress too different, don’t talk back, don’t raise your voice. Be yourself, but don’t stand out too much, all right?”

She shakes her head. I laugh drily.

“No wonder we had such a hard time when we were younger.”

“Oh yes, the world isn’t very kind to young girls who are different.”

“Maybe that’s what this is all about, then.”

“This?”

“Yeah, this. This whole moving away and coming back and finding your skin too small and your heart too big. Maybe that’s what it’s all about. To step away from that damn wall we find ourselves plastered against, to paint it neon pink, red, cyan, whatever, and to be an example. To tell the little girls inside of us, around us, that they don’t have to worry about being freaky any longer.”

She laughs.

“Are you trying to save the world again?”

“No, I think I’m just trying to start by saving parts of myself.”

“A good place to start, if anything…”

We grow silent. The tide continues to rise around us.

Cesare Pavese’s Mediterranean drifts through my mind as the thoughts quieten.

“…Just

to sit there and listen to life and think

that the sea

was there, beneath the sun still fresh

from sleep…”

 

Yesterday,

I stared at the skies and wondered why the sun never came out.

Looked to flowers for comfort, caught a picture of myself smiling.

Made good food, felt better about the weather, fed my best friend.

Went for a long run; the calories couldn’t pile up, and the memories hadn’t left.

Stood under a hot shower, thanked god for heating, and nice soap.

 

Today,

Painted my nails a bright purple, the sky was still dark.

Needed more color, so had an orange.

Took off my red bra, and placed it on a blue chair.

Crawled under golden sheets and wrote in my black book.

Fell asleep to rainbow sounds.

 

Tomorrow,

Don’t know what tomorrow would bring.