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So much of woman talk is body talk. We spend an incredible amount of time dissecting our bodies, and then dissecting the bodies of other women we see. This is not always a malicious act; most times, it is a non-passionate, objective commentary of what we find attractive in each other.

There is something intimate in the way in which women prepare their bodies. The care they take towards putting their best faces forward; the time they take to pick what suits them best. Some of my favourite memories of my mother, especially as a young child, was watching her dress for an event, brushing her hair away from her face, clipping her earrings on. She never spent too much time, but what time she did spend, was spent wisely, carefully, tenderly.

I learnt young, that body talk, in essence, is politic talk. We spend so much time talking about our bodies because it is by which we are first and foremost, assessed. It is by which, (and this is a sorry fact, but it is what it is) how we assess ourselves. Eventually, if we are among the fortunate few, we begin to understand that our bodies become our first books, pages and pages in which we write our stories, carry our experiences that we have shared with our sisters, our mothers and our lovers. Our bodies will be what draw these women and men to, and away from us.

***

I once remember a lover staring at me in the afternoon light, in the early days of our coming together. He stared at me, as if he had never before seen a woman, and I remember the wonderment in his eyes, and the reverence in his fingers. It may have been the magic of light that hasn’t settled (as afternoon light is wont to do), or it may have been the tender feelings that softly oscillated between love and lust during those early days, but I remember looking at him looking at me, and thinking to myself I could have asked anything of him, anything, then, and he would have said yes.

I did not ask him anything that day, or for days afterwards. And when I did ask him, finally, the most important question of all, it was too late.

By then, my body, like my heart, had started withdrawing.

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.

 

 

A memory trigger.

***

Relief, as the music begins, weaving its way through tightly knotted ventricles,

lightly, lightly, the heart is released,

as light as the lavender drifting between the narrow walls of this –

A reminder of days long gone. Cold days, days we hunkered beneath thick quilts, a candle burning into the early evening, the sky dark, darker than black,

again, the same lavender drifting between narrow walls of this –

History always repeats itself. We remain, the characters,

indefinitely changed by the slow-moving hands of time –

Moments of lightness, then, moments that came and went, but the best, and sometimes, the hardest moments came as the sky turned dark, darker than black,

and just like that, a memory trigger –

Of warm hands, of the comforting smell of cigarette smoke, of music that made me catch my breath once, twice, of warmer hearts, of a single burning lamp,

of persons who existed just so, just then, and then,

History always repeats itself. We remain, the characters,

who leave time behind, and move on, on, on.

I want to write about many things I have seen this year.

***

The first time I saw the river Ganges, placid, calm, cool, until she claimed a life, and my toe ring. Mud so soft, so caked, so easily spread over skin just a shade lighter, submerging, coming up for air, cool water, strong undercurrents, knowing, knowing, that one slip is enough to lose it all. (Or to gain it all)

The sight of a lake so big, it was a sea, or so they said. A lake-that-is-a-sea that glittered and seduced, where heat rose, and salt remained collected on the undersides, the undersides of the lake/sea-belly, the undersides of my eyes, the undersides; that one afternoon where I sat and wrote and watched the lake glitter and remembered with so much gratitude that life is here, present, for taking, for giving, for living (but oh how easily we forget all of this)

The sight of that man, the one who broke my heart because my foolish heart thought it could save him. The sight of that man, the one who I couldn’t remain with, because my not-so-foolish heart knew it couldn’t save him. The sight, both times, the joy, the homecoming, the sweetness, then, the inevitable, the goodbye, no see-you-laters this time.

The sight of the clouds rolling in, so softly, so slowly, as the drizzle, so fine, so gossamer fine, landed on tired skin, the moment so perfect in its quiet, in its arrival, in its grandeur that was without assumed fanfare, the sight, oh, the sight.

The sight of my mother, just arisen from the shores of death’s calling, the relief, the sight but the relief, the sight of my mother, drips attached, unconscious, arising again, from the distant shores of pain, the worry, the sight incomparable to the worry, the sight of my mother, one I take for granted on days where mundanity overwhelms, but, the sight.

The sight of these words forming on white, once, twice, but not, the first, the sight of words that were formed years ago, remembering, recognising, knowing, you are not alone, the sight of words on gadgets, on paper, on papyrus, on scripts, scriptures, the sight of words that sooth, the sight of words that satiate, the sight of words that fire, that anger, the sight of words, a friend, a reminder, but mostly, mostly, a return, a homecoming.

How do you feel when you write, he asks me. 

I tell him that it is a form of meditation for me. To sit in a space, with myself, to bring to the now things that have been promptly brushed aside, swept away, buried deep under the needs of the daily. I tell him it is my best way of expressing.

When was the last time you wrote, he asks me.

I tell him, not that long ago. He asks me again, more quietly this time.

I tell him, longer than it should have been. 

That afternoon, I sit with a cup of banana and oatmeal parfait, and a cup of unsweetened cappuccino, an orange notebook with blue pages, and a forest green pen, and write to myself about all the things that are and aren’t. 

I pen the conversation that happened earlier in the day, carefully, onto crisp blue. 

I think about how I am more partial to orange now, so partial that when I look at the sky dipped in citrusy glory, there is a budding in my heart that I have learnt to recognise as gratitude over the years. 

I stare at the forest green in between my fingers, and think of all the trees I have seen this year, all the rolling hills, all the beauty that is so generously given, day in and day out, beauty that I take for granted because of my 9-5, because of all my material comforts, because, because, because.

I stare at the the scrawl of words on that crisp blue, and look at the way my voice appears in this world, and remember, with gratitude, that I have a heart, and that it both rejoices and bleeds, and does its job well so that the other parts of my body can move with ease, can feel with ease.

It is only in the evening, that I realise, that he had not just been asking about how I feel when I wrote; he had been asking me how I felt when I truly lived with myself. 

The sun disappears into inky black, leaving orange whirlpools in the sky. There is a budding in my heart.