Friday, May 28, 2010

Forgiveness, forgiveness, even if, even if...

Sometimes anger blurs your vision and stains backwards, colouring memories.

Now as the smoke clears, I remember that the child was lean. And that he had lost too much weight for a two-year old. And maybe he wasn't being greedy when he kept stuffing his face full of biscuits and murukku.

Maybe he was just hungry.

And because his hunger opened up gorges inside her, tore at her soft belly with fingernails of steel she was forced to beg:

Please, our phone line has been cut off, we don't have money to pay the bills, the milk has almost run out, my son is hungry...

No one likes to beg. Especially a person who's hitherto been mistress of her own fate. But things change when you're a stranger in a strange land with no job and a husband who has become distant and angry.

There is no bond here to secure lasting love or compassion. Most people look at her with contempt and turn away. If not to begin with, then eventually.

And when one door is slammed in her face, she knocks at another. And another. And another. Any number of doors.

There is no shame in begging so her son doesn't go hungry. So her son doesn't lose any more weight. If anything were to happen to him... but no, she will not think about that now.

Hate melts and forgiveness creeps in furtively like a dog through the links of a broken fence. My broken fence.

I'm guess what I'm trying to say is...

I'm letting it go.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Beginning of the End (The Sequel)

There comes a time when your friends seem like strangers...not because you have ceased to love them, but because you don't really remember who they are and how you once were together.

So you step carefully, try to be polite and hope no one will notice. Oh, you may do some weird things like get off Facebook just cos suddenly, even if you've been really really careful about add-ons, it seems full of strangers.

So there you are, making it through the day, pushing through traffic until you feel your blood vessels will explode from sheer fury and impotence and suddenly you think...

I need to get out of here. Wonder if there are any jobs in Langkawi. Wonder if I could work half a day and hang out at the beach the other half.

I hate KL. I hate it so much I want to ram into the cars in front of me and scream till I pass out.

I need to get away.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I have just finished my Emily Dickinson book, some poems, some letters. Mary bought it for me last year - it was part of my birthday present - there were many, many books in that lot, all good, and most of which, I'm sorry to say, I've taken my time to come to, while I read the old books over and over again. Books, to me, are friends. Some of them become good friends. Some of them, it takes time to make friends with.

I'm into my fourth reading of The Waves. It took me a long time to make friends with that one, and to slow down sufficiently to let its beauty wash all over me.

But that's not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about Emily. Not her poems, but her letters. It's hard to believe she was a recluse, reading her letters. They were so loving and affectionate and even when in the deepest affliction (like the deaths of her father and mother) she still found time to write to those who had expressed their love and sympathy and nothing she said ever seemed cliched. It was always fresh.

And I think of the cards we send now, with prepackaged sentiments, or the trite emotions we express (you could probably get them off a Cyrano-type website for every occasion). But even the Hallmark sentiments or Cyrano letters are better than what we usually offer in such cases. Maybe a Facebook comment on a status update. Most times, not even that.

Funny thing is, the more connected we have supposedly become (what with the social networking sites, the God Almighty mobile phone, to say nothing of email) the further apart we have drifted. I felt more real emotion in any one of Emily's letters, whimsical, brilliant, sweet - than in a dozen prepackaged sentiments...but you will say, she was a genius, of course she could write like that.

She didn't know she was a genius. She was just a very plain, reclusive woman, unsung for the most part, loved by those who knew her, who wrote from the heart. And who took the time to write from the heart.

So maybe, with all our avenues for instant communication, we lack the time, (or maybe the wherewithal) to form a single coherent thought. To put thought into a letter, or a card, to write out an address (or even know the address in the first place, who cares about addresses these days), walk to the nearest post office, affix a stamp on the envelope and post it.

The rhythms of life have changed. The currents of our heart have changed.

So there is no peace, no peace anywhere. Just the stormy drums, the discordant blare of the traffic, the boom boom boom of regress and the dissolving into a million fragments.

I want to live with herbs and flowers, and die, when I die, whole.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Emily's Letters

Dear Mary,

When the best is gone, I know that other things are not of consequence. The heart wants what it wants, or else it does not care...

Not to see what we love is very terrible, and talking doesn't ease it, and nothing does but just itself. The eyes and hair we chose are all there - to us. Isn't this so, Mary?


Monday, May 10, 2010

Time Does Not

They say "time assuages," -
Time never did assuage;
An actual suffering strengthens,
As sinews do, with age.

Time is a test of trouble,
But not a remedy,
If such it prove, it prove too
There was no malady.

Emily Dickinson

Sunday, May 09, 2010

This Moment, Perfection

This moment,
would be
to you play
Norwegian wood,
Closing my eyes
and drifting off
to sleep
in my own bed.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Chocolate and Adam

Today I went on eBay and bought three books by Natalie Goldberg - Banana Rose, Long Quiet Highway and Living Colour. I love her writing so much, it's so alive and present, that I wanted to binge.

Some people (including Natalie) binge on chocolate.

I binge on books.

Especially books you cannot get here. Hopefully it will arrive in the post in due course without any delays because of ash clouds and volcanoes and stroppy weather.

Today, as I sat at Starbucks and sipped my hot chocolate, licking the whipped cream off the top, I thought, chocolate makes me feel loved. So do some books. Like Martha Becks's Expecting Adam. It's such a weird, friendly book, that when I'm reading it (preferably with a cup of hot chocolate by me) I feel like a good friend is embracing me. I feel warm and tingly inside.

Maybe sometimes, you don't need to have someone across the table from you smiling in amusement and reaching out to touch you.

Maybe sometimes all you need is a glass of chocolate and a good book.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Under Drifts Of Sand

Destiny means nothing.
You could lose the one you love
Misplace them
like a set of keys
and never quite find them again.

I was determined, so determined, the little will, the Big Will, fused together for once.

I was a raven.


Nevermore, I breathed.


Yet, every day, every day you are here, more present than the glass of water I hold in my hand, sweating little droplets of condensation, more present than the hum of the car beneath my feet as I force my way onto the roundabout shoving past cars that will not give way, because that's the way you do it, if you drive here.

You're here as I write. You're here as I speak. You're here as I inhale. You're here as I weep. You're trailing down my cheeks, salt tears from some eternal fount. You hurt my eyes. You catch in my breath. You're stuck in my chest.

And I ache.

I ache.

I keep aching.

I have misplaced you. I can't find you again. You're always at the edge of my consciousness, and when I turn around, you disappear.

I've forgotten that I left you behind. In fact, maybe it was you who left. And I've been looking for you for so long now.

But you're lost.

You're lost.

You're not there anymore.

You're lost.

Like me.

Knowing She Would

I once had a girl
or should I say
she once had me...

Sometimes my body is so heavy with sleep that I sink down on the bed and disappear for a while. No words, no sounds penetrate the thick mist...and it aches, a pleasant ache and it's so wonderful, this ache being assuaged, finally...after a long drive into Kajang, a long meandering interview that went nowhere (I don't really know, will have to sift through the recording to find out if he did in fact manage to say something interesting in the whole 90 minutes) and a long drive back in the fading twilight pushing through traffic-clogged streets.

To come home to tea (why is tea always so comforting) and hazelnut chocolate cookies and then, to sleep, sleep, sleep, perchance to dream. I did dream, I think. Auntie Leela was there. Soft spoken and sweet, she's now dead. Two small children, a law practice and breast cancer. A strident mother-in-law, who never quite took to her.

Words, words, words...and her little daughter running to hide under a table as they removed the body from the house. Words, words, words.

Auntie Ann says, painful. Auntie Ann says, one of these days I'll have to talk to her about it. Holding all her pain in her little body. Fending off her loud grandmother and weeping at night, when nobody's listening, for her soft-spoken mother.

I nodded, not having seen the girl. I hadn't spoken to Auntie Leela in years. I hadn't known she was sick. And when she died, it was final. A fullstop. There is nothing quite so final as death. There was no I'm sorry, there was no goodbye. Just two small children, holding their father's hands, looking lost, looking forlorn.

Nothing would ever be the same again, of course. Everyone else falls into routine, everyone else forgets, everyone else expects you to forget, to get over it, to move on.

You never do. (If you accept this, you'll get a lot further than if you expect to)

And then I came up for air. Awake. And wondered what to do. There was much. Maybe I would start with all the stuff the concessionaires had provided. Words. Words. Words. Technical words that couldn't be sexy if they put on a leotard and draped themselves around a pole, slick with sweat.





and when I awoke
I was alone
whispered a fool
so I lit a fire
isn't it good
Norwegian wood....


Furyouhin, I thought of you today. It was intense and disturbing... I hadn't thought of you for so long now. I wondered where you were and why you never let anyone help you or send anything...why you were so ashamed of your life and what you had become.

I thought of you and wanted to talk to you so bad...which is funny cos we've never talked. I've disengaged from the people around me, the people who actually fill my life and overflow out into the sides....and I want to talk to you.

Furyouhin, I know you google your name and you may stumble across this...if you're there...please say hi. Please be OK. Please be alive.


At night, the bears come out. At night, the shadows deepen into dark. At night, all the dreams I comfort myself with during the day, disappear. At night I can no longer pretend.

At night, I don't want to.

I received a call today from someone I didn't particularly want to speak to. Not that I hate him. He's not substantial enough to hate. It was just irritation that after I took all that trouble to change my number, these pests can get a hold of it.

No problem.

Should I change it again?

I switched it off instead. And kept it off.

Then I showered, dabbed on some make-up and went grocery shopping. Well, I stopped at this nice wine bar first, had a glass of sweet sweet Moscatel (maybe a little too sweet), and read my book. Then wrote a little. The place wasn't crowded but the few tables that were occupied were overflowing. Colleagues having their after work drinks. Happy hours. You know the type.

Then I picked myself up off the bar stool to go get the groceries. Shopping is always therapeutic, especially when you try to decide which chocolate chip cookie would best serve. And whether to get that bar of fruit and nut chocolate. (When in doubt, always say yes to chocolate)

And then, clutching my three overflowing plastic bags I emerged outside. It was raining. From what I could see of the wet pavement, it had obviously been raining steadily for some time. I like steady rain. Especially when I'm lying in bed with no place to go, listening to that musical drip on the awning.

But when I've parked the car some distance away it's a different matter. No help for it. I would have to run. So I did, getting drenched in the process. You gotta love that tropical rain.

And came home to make a fish curry and watch Black Adder. And then as I sat at the computer playing (and losing) endless games of Spider Solitaire, this feeling started to grow. I checked the time. Yes, it was after midnight. That witching hour when the sadness grows too big for my body and bleeds out into the corners of the room.

Black Adder notwithstanding.

Tomorrow I have an interview. I will be forced to put on my game face, ask questions, pretend to listen (I won't, I'll leave it to the digital recorder to do all the listening for me), pretend to care.

Ah me, but I don't.

I think I'll keep my phone off for now.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Please Don't Let It Be True

Today, death started whispering to me. Soon, it said, soon I will be coming... and I started to weep, for it was not me death was coming for.

That would have been easy, there is little in my life I would care to take; and if death told me early enough, I would burn everything. And then I would lie down to be consumed.

Leave nothing.

Not even the shells, bones and silence.

But no, it was not me death was coming for. I listened carefully, I heard, but I didn't want to understand.

Please, I said, no, please, take me instead, nobody loves me, not really, it would be OK if you took me... I occupy space and maybe in a little box I would occupy less space, or even better, melt me down to essentials and toss me in the air... and I'd not take up any more space than the light in your eyes, the snowflake on your shoulder, the dust on this book.

It whispered. And I said, no, no, no... please take me instead.

You see, when I was little there was a sense of destiny. I was born for a reason. I was sure. I was here. I was present.

But somewhere along the way, I drifted off the path and landed up tangled in the underbrush. And I tore my clothes and scratched my face and got tired of struggling and sat down to rest awhile.

But then I watched life pass silently by, this ridiculous parade, this circus, this pageant, of which I was no longer a part. And slowly I disentangled myself. And slowly they forgot me. And I, them. (Your face, I seem to remember the lines, the shadows...but it resolves itself into emptiness... don't mind me, just for a minute there, I thought we'd met, but don't worry, I forget, I always forget)

There was my heart
A peeled orange
Dribbling juice
down my front.

Unsightly, you said.
Do something about it,
They said.
Orange stains
all over your cuffs.

So I stopped breathing,
Covered it in clingwrap,
and grew a skin,
tough as a scab.

It is possible to stop feeling.

It is.

And still, death whispered.

And down on my knees.

I begged. Please.

Please don't let it be true.

Silence and Tears

They knew not I knew thee
Who knew thee too well
Long long shall I rue thee
Too deeply to tell...

On a whim, I google his name to see what comes up, this old flame who's been in the news. I flick through the articles, the blog entries, the whole apparatus of his notoriety, and shudder.

I guess he was always weird. I just never realised how weird. When something is not quite quite, when the music is sweet but discordant, take note. It will play itself out sooner or later. And you can either brace yourself or plug your ears and run for cover.

The seeds were already there. But then, he was a no-account and it didn't matter how loud he shouted. Nobody heard cos nobody listened cos nobody cared.

But now....

I read an article he wrote recently and feel the weight of negativity settle gently on my shoulders like an shawl of sackcloth. It itches. It's uncomfortable. I fidget and squirm. I throw it off.

He's not a prophet. He's not God. He just thinks he is.

Sighing, I sip my brew of the day and bite into my apple doughnut with the creamy centre and dream of Corica apple strudel. And listen to Michael Buble's Crazy Love yet again.

I've broken my heart so many times I stopped keeping track...

And suddenly I wish I was still talking to our one mutual friend so I could ask her, have you heard about ...and she would say yes...and we would both sigh and let the silence grow between us, encompassing all complications, half truths, hard edges, broken glass, coffee grounds, rotten vegetables.

We wouldn't have to say much. There is nothing to say.

And if I should meet thee
after long years
how should I greet thee?
With silence...

And tears.


You know how some days you can feel stressed and like you're not getting anywhere and anything anyone says, no matter how seemingly innocuous, gets on your nerves?

This is one of those days.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Writing My Way Out

Writing is amazing. It gets you through things you never thought you could get through. When you're not writing, and just feeling and wondering if this excess of feeling is going to tail off, politely, it never does.

But then you write, and you sob through the words, and keep writing...and somehow, you come out on the other side. Not quite the same, but then who wants to be the same? Stagnation by any other name is still boring.

There are a thousand ways to fall apart...

I'd prefer to fall apart with a pen in my hand and some paper to scribble on.

Later for you.