Friday, March 16, 2018

What Matters The Most

So I find out today that one of my best friends has cirrhosis of the liver. We haven't really kept in touch and honestly, are any of these petty fights or slights worth it?

Yesterday I humbled myself abjectly and apologised to Sheba for hurting his feelings (he had stopped talking to me and was manifesting his hurt and outrage by alternately avoiding me and puking his guts out) and I was sorry, so sorry.

I think at some point you figure out what and who matters the most.

There are those that you love, companions along the way, and you reprioritise and refocus.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

I Don't Know Why

There is a certain nervousness that starts moving in your blood, when you haven't moved enough. You become suspicious, paranoid, you pounce on words that have no meaning, no intention behind them.

This is me.

I sat in Coffee Bean having my dinner and reading my book and a strange man followed me out of there and tried to strike up a conversation. He looked harmless and I felt vaguely sorry for him but any attempt to answer his question and cut short the conversation led to another question, another attempt to prolong this pointless conversation...and suddenly I felt weary.

My body recoiled. I don't like people who steal my energy. It is unbecoming.

So I cut short the conversation abruptly, since he hadn't allowed me to do it politely, with my body half turned away to flee...he hadn't respected my time or space and I had no choice. I realised that Malaysians don't like confrontation and we don't like being rude when strangers accost us in shopping centres to ask what book we are reading. Even if there is something vaguely suspicious about these strangers. Even if they carry blue canvas bags and sit in Coffee Bean without buying anything. Even if they say that my newspaper is way too expensive and we should distribute it for free. Even if they get on every last nerve. Even if their eyes are desperate and they want to talk and they want to talk.

So I cut short the conversation and turned to leave. His face fell, it shut like a parasol and I felt sorry but I wanted to be away, not there chatting in the middle of a shopping centre with an uninteresting stranger who sought desperately to be interesting, who pinioned me to the ground, demanded my time.

You can't have my time.

You can't have my time unless I choose to give it to you.

And I don't choose.

Not anymore.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Written On The Body

I need to use my body more, because when I don' messes with my mind. My blood congeals and I start holding my breath, my thoughts stagger in the same familiar loops...and I weep, I weep.

I walked far today - I walked and walked and I would have walked some more, but a light shower, like a blessing, a benediction started - and I didn't know if it would get heavy, if I would be soaked. There were not so many people around today and I wondered at that. It was dark (the street lamps were not lit) and I wondered at that. I had no idea that it was so late.

But there were cats out, and every so often I stooped down and placed a handful of biscuits on the ground where they could get at them once I had passed on (they are shy, they do not know me, they do not trust me). I fed many cats. Or maybe they were the same cats, over and over. I do not know.

I listened to Bernard in his last soliloquy and then the book ended and so I started it again. I tried to share the book with Tommy, gave him my own copy, the copy that I loved, went home and typed out Jeanette Winterson's long essay on The Waves for him...and it had the opposite effect that it had on me. When I read Winterson's essay, I wanted to dive back into the book that I had rejected as so much unnecessary nonsense. I persevered and it opened itself up to me, its hidden beauty which had actually been there, in plain sight, but I had not the eyes to see.

I wonder at that. How much beauty is hidden from me because I refuse to see? I see what is glaring and brash and obvious. I see it and although I should have more wit, I fall for it.

I fall for it.

I brush away my feelings and I need to stop doing that. Walking helps me put things in perspective. It helps me think about things, sort through strands.

Being sedentary - I guess our bodies were not built to be sedentary. Ivana told me that once. She said, our bodies haven't evolved to suit this sedentary lifestyle and that is why - we grow sick and swollen, and that is why we lead such unfulfilled lives. Running on a machine in the gym does not feels...industrial.

I want to be as natural as possible.

But I don't know how.

So I stagger about, stop breathing, feel my mind congeal into something hard, unlovely.

I write because I try to make sense of the world.

But the world remains impervious and unexplained.

My mind has tried to save me and it hasn't succeeded.

My heart simply leads me astray as often as it can.

Maybe I should be looking to the body for salvation.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Figment Of My Imagination

I think I know but I have no idea. This is what writers do. We make stuff up. It's all in our heads. Most of our conversations are imaginary. We don't know. So we imagine.

And because you are a figment of my imagination, I felt free to make stuff up.

But then, you read it and were offended, maybe hurt?

I'm sorry. I didn't mean to. I was just trying to make sense of it to myself.

And in some alternate reality, where we are still friends, where you still talk to me, where you care about me, there I am, apologising to you.

Friday, March 02, 2018


We talk with the outsides of words, skimming the surface. not saying what we really feel. At one time it was enough. It was enough to hear your voice, to listen to how you formed the words, to imagine the cadences underneath, the things unsaid.

Your smile was enough.

And now your smile has disappeared.

Your words have disappeared.

And when I have nothing, those empty words, those soufflé, meringue words, are not enough.

Wrestling Angels

I go for a walk today and do only half the required steps. Who requires it? I don't know. I listen to Bernard talk, then Neville, then Louis, then Rhoda, Susan and Jinny. I listen to each cadence and until my steps start to flag. And then I make for home because I am tired, because this walking in circles is pointless.

And whenever you interrupt their words, my thoughts, I walk faster, trying to work you out of my system. I try to walk through that slight ache that tugs at my chest. I know when I come home, having tired myself out, I will find no word from you, nothing.

This silence.

I think you will be here tomorrow, I am almost sure, but you were supposed to be there yesterday, and you weren't.

You called and cancelled. You said, no, next week instead.

Nothing compels you. You will not be compelled. You will come and go as you please. You find any sort of clinging distasteful.

And I have uninstalled Skype from my phone because I was tired of checking for a message that never came. I needed to stop.

And there is so much work now, so much. I have created it for myself because I need the distraction. I need to think of something else, someone else.

But there is no one.

I listen to Neville obsess about Percival and for the first time, I understand him. I understand how he loves Percival for leaving his letters scattered about unanswered, among his guns and dogs. I understand how he loves Percival for agreeing to meet him under a clock in London and then not showing up. For not understanding Catullus and yet understanding him, better than Louis who would understand the words perfectly.

You can love someone because they are perfect and remote and unattainable. Because they are ephemeral and disappear just as you are about to turn around. You can love them because you can only catch sight of them from the corner of your eye. You love them because they are fleeting and insubstantial, the substance of dreams and daydreams.

And even though love is too strong a word, too final, too finite, too all-encompassing, you attach that word to their face, their form, and it feels right.

Maybe tomorrow you will cease to remember, this obsession will pass.

But for today, you love them and you love them anyway.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Your Fragrance, Your Dust

Because I lost you I search for you in the oddest places; under rocks, behind doors, under sheets laid flat. I search for you longingly, desperately, and sometimes I forget what I'm searching for and the search takes over.

I look for any trace, ANY trace of you and when I find it, some dust you left behind, some salt you scattered in your wake, I pause and I breathe it in, I savour it, I run it through my fingers, so precious, so wonderful.

Your dust. Your salt.

I know that all this is strange and sad and crazy.

But to me, they are traces of joy.

My heart beats quicker and I feel my eyes blaze and shine forth.

You have withdrawn now and I can no longer see you. You have receded into the horizon and there is only the faint fragrance that you've left behind.

It lingers in the air.

I breathe it in, exhale and fall back, relax and sleep.

Monday, February 26, 2018

The Little Girl In A White Dress

She was a little girl, rather tall, quiet, well-behaved in a white dress. She had on socks and shoes, the kind I wore when I was small. Mum dressed her the way she dressed me.

Mum was looking after her. Mum had taken her to church and oh, such a church. Words were written in the sky rather than projected on a wall and the Mass, the was always beginning and never quite begun.

And she sat there, this little girl, this nameless little girl, so sad, so quiet, so well-behaved, she sat there, making no sound. Contained in herself.

I knew she was loved.

That much I knew.

That's all I saw. 

And then I woke up and remembered that Mum was no more. 

And I wondered who the little girl was. In my dream it seemed obvious but when I woke up, less so.

Let Her Cry

The tears, they were a long time coming. But now they're here. It's OK. Just let her cry. She needs this. This release. This slow giving up. This acknowledgement that there's nothing there now. Maybe there was nothing there to begin with.

Just another illusion, delusion, that falls like delicate blown glass to the rough canteen floor and shatters there...ignored, to be swept up with the rest of the gunk later.

Just let her cry.

Empty and Sad

TimTam is blind in one eye and it breaks my heart. The person who was supposed to come to see him didn't call, didn't come. And I don't care about that. But I do wonder how to get these four cats, getting along with each other. They don't have to love each other. Just be amicable. They each find their own little niches in my tiny apartment and it is hard when one whole room has to be shut off to the other three and one of them has to be confined to a single room. I wish he didn't. I wish I could let all of them mingle. But he's full of rage and when he attacks, he hurts.

Is that what I'm like?

I don't think so. But I'm not sure.

This weekend I wrote five letters using a quill I had bought from Dove Cottage (think Wordsworth, Grasmere, the Lake District) and Indian ink that Wan Yee had given me last Christmas. The thing about Indian ink is that it dries to a goo-like substance.

(Oh dear, Tim Tam has pooped and there's  a pong in my room. I think I am going to have to pause this and go clean it up). Also, open a window and air out the room.

Done and done.

Life is a series of things on a to-do list. You move forward. You do one thing, You tick it off. You tick if off. And you tick it off again.

And time moves on. It just moves on.

And all you are at the end of the day is tired.

And sad.

And empty again.