Thursday, November 27, 2008

What Happens When This Too Passes

It doesn't feel like time is passing. It feels like I am behind plate glass watching it pass for other people, as I withdraw from this life, as I cease to be a participant, as I diminish into an observer.

I read voraciously now, maybe because reading is passive, it does not require a response to another person. Yes, other people. I don't want to deal with other people.

This is not normal behaviour, Jennifer...

I am aware of that. I could ask what normal is, and who defines the parameters, but I will spare you the cliches. (Haha, spare you the cliches, when every thought is no more than a cliche, hahahaha indeed!)

So maybe I have been losing my mind, my spirit, my centre of joy, my ability to interact with other humans and be part of the swirling, heaving masses, life in all its pathetic and heartbreaking guises. So maybe...

I no longer recognise the person in the mirror.

I have taken leave of my senses.

They wished me luck as they waved me goodbye.

I can't think of anything more dreary than eternal life.

Friday, November 21, 2008


I am starting to miss my friends. I am starting to miss the shopping centres in KL which must be all festooned for Christmas by now. I am starting to miss waking up at a decent hour in which to live.

I am reading the Emily of New Moon series.

Before this I was reading Anne of Green Gables.

Oh what is to be done?

I tired of Virginia Woolf and reading books that I had to chew and digest and understand only partly.

I realise now how difficult it is to write "paragons" and not end up hating them yourself. Paragons don't exist. They are barely human.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This Wall Between Us

I didn't mean to withdraw from the world, it just happened. I lie snug, wrapped in blankets in JB awake all night, falling asleep at sunrise with Mum standing at the foot of the stairs and hollering at me to come and have my breakfast or lunch or any food so I don't get gastric.

Her voice filters through as I turn over and burrow deeper into the bed, and settle myself to drop off again. No, I'm not ready to wake up yet.

She calls me in between her important phone calls to Aunty Baby, Aunty Shirley, Halimah Hassan - with whom (depending on the person) she discusses politics, the soap operas, the latest round of funerals, illnesses, me....

Mum: Jenny cannot sleep at nightlar.

Aunty Baby: Why don't you give her fruity yoghurt at night? Then she will drop off...

Mum: Poor Intan. That mother-in-law of her's is too much.

Aunty Shirley: Yalar. How can she take away the child? I mean, Intan is the mother after all.

(It has come to this - I actually know the plot of Intan. Could be worse. I could know the plot of Marina)

Usually she gives up when the soaps begin. And then I stumble down and have a cup of tepid coffee and maybe a nutella sandwich or maybe lunch if it smells tempting enough.

And I don't really mean to be a stranger, I don't. It's just that when the phone rings, I'm usually asleep. Or else I stare at it, this strange creature, singing to me and I feel a repulsion. I cringe. I move away.

You see, there is a wall of water between me and the rest of the world. It is a few miles thick and I'm quite comfortable sitting at this end and not braving the flood.

Tonight, for the first time since I got here, I went out. Drove. To the petrol station down the road. And then to Pelangi Plaza. Parked the car. Forced myself out. Walked up the two stories from the parking to the shopping centre. It was empty and ghostly.

I couldn't even understand the large poster ads.

I mean come on, Let them eat wake!?

And my footsteps dragged all five floors up to Popular bookstore to get some stationery. I figured, if I was going to be cut off from the world, I may as well do something useful, like Morning Pages.

Instead I recoiled at the legal pads I had intended to buy. I picked one or two up idly to look at them but couldn't bring myself to go any further. There was nothing wrong with them. I just couldn't bring myself to buy them.

So I made my way out of there...and arrived home to find Mums had made ayam masak merah and her (very tasty) version of a salad. I ate enough to want more. Chubs (who had gone for the first session of the kids' carolling practice) came back at about 10and had his fill, going for seconds and enjoying each mouthful with a peculiar relish.

We watched Monk in accompaniment.

And then, it was time for Intan.

And then, Mums went up to sleep.

And here I am, still awake, but maybe tonight I'll sleep early cos I promised Mum I'd make a cake tomorrow.

Chubs says we are so bad for him.

Looks like I'm spending my birthday here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Either I am a hypocondhriac or there is something really wrong with me. My heart hurts. I mean, like literally. Every once so often it pulls. Hard. Today I woke up with a blinding headache that lasted the whole day (until Chubs came back with some Panadol). All the sleep in the world didn't make a dent in the pain.

I can't even think about the next step.

I don't know what to do.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


See thing is, I'm velcro.

And I've always been velcro.

It can be such a little thing, a trifle, a mere nothing. But it twinges. And then I start to make associations.

And so it goes.

And so it grows.

Until my belly is churning so badly if it were milk it would turn to butter.

And then war breaks out - there is screaming and insults and words so full of anger and hurt they burn right through my scalp.

If uttered in real life, they could kill.

If uttered in real life, everyone would know exactly how hateful I actually am.

And sometimes, I vomit them out before I can stop myself - whisky-flavoured bile, green pus, brimstone, crushed glass, rotten vegetables, rusty nails - it keeps pouring. And pouring.

How much vitriol can one body contain?

And then I turn it off. Freeze up. Absolute zero. (That's O degrees Kelvin, not Celsius, not Farenheit).

Now you have received the full measure of my hate you no longer exist. I command you to die. Never mind, even if you don't, I will act as if you did.

It's funny to think that I spent nearly four decades, perfecting the technique. And that I thought this was normal. That to hate was normal. That to be interminably angry and cut people off, one by one, for the rest of my life, was somehow good.

Honourable even. Strong. Impenetrable. Fortress-like.

Har fucking har!

I don't know what happened to me when I fell sick this time around. I was comatose for most of the week. I relinquished among other things, my handphone, my will to live, my food, my friends, my stupid crushes, my need for something to happen to change all this around so I would be happy. I felt someone kicking me in the belly over and over again and I curled into a foetus and tried not to breathe.

It was dauntless.

It was unrelenting.

I wished I were dead.

I guess I had been digging myself deeper into the prison all this while and expecting a miracle - someone somewhere somehow would come along and rescue me. From me. Though how they were supposed to do that, God only knows.

Before I left Geneva, my friend Beatrix asked me to pick five cards. The first would denote the major problem in my life. The fourth would indicate the solution. The fifth, the way to the solution.

My problem? Living in the moment. I was too caught up in the past and the future to be in the present. Big deal. I'd heard that before. And frankly, I didn't know what to do about it. How do you change your hardwiring?

The solution? Rebirth.

Oh wow - that's great, that's really clear, that is. Rebirth. Die and be born again. Yeah, that would be a synch.

The way to the solution? Meditation. I didn't meditate. Instead, I fell sick. Much quicker and more effective.

So I died.

But I came back to life.

And things had changed. I couldn't find it in me to stay angry. Maybe there was no fight left in me. Something was missing, but whatever it was, I didn't want it back.

I wrote to tell Beatrix about it.

She said, illness as initiation, how interesting. And then she signed off to go on a five-day surprise birthday holiday with her husband.

And I thought, illness as initiation? Well why ever not? Nothing else had worked. For those like me, a mass of infected wounds under layers and layers of scab, nothing would, I guess.

I was velcro.

But I think I'm turning into teflon.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Some Part Of Me Has Died

I'm in another time-out from the world. Things are really ugly out there and I figure if I bury my face under the pillow for long enough the rest of the world will eventually fade away. Especially the ugly bits, the bits I don't want to see, hear, feel, touch, taste, smell.

When I was in the throes of illness, I felt someone kicking me in the solar plexus over and over again. I felt my insides contract and I couldn't breathe. And I gave up fighting the feeling.

It coursed through me.

It kept coursing.

I let it course.

Spent, I lay on the unwelcoming pillow and allowed my thoughts to erase themselves. Someone had taken a blowtorch to all those memories. I felt each one die under the blaze, the concentrated fury. Of what, I don't know.

I was at Shalom on Friday. I saw Carl. I have hated Carl for more than a decade. I avoided him like the plague. Slipped out of the reach of his hands.

He bit a friend. She stepped in between when he was coming for me. After that I stopped talking to him. Taking his calls:

Jennifer doesn't work here anymore. Please don't call this number.

And Friday, I just chatted with him, like the intervening 15 years hadn't happened. We talked about the bite. Or rather we mentioned it in passing. He told me what had happened with him. I told him I was freelancing. And it was all so... devoid of drama.

I felt nothing. No animosity. No hatred. No judgement. No... get away from me, you bastard!

And I wondered, has there really been a shift? Are all those grudges finally petering out? Will I really live in the moment?

Some part of me is letting go.

Some part of me is dying.

Some part of me has died.