Monday, July 29, 2013

Surving the 3ams

I feel so sad. It's 3am, my darkest time, maybe not just me. So I need you to light a candle and watch while I sleep. Because when I have no strength left, I lean on yours.

And I have no strength left right now.

Monday, July 22, 2013

And the world will be a better place

It's past eight and I'm still at the office. It's been a while since I stayed late. Not so bad, really. I managed to toss off an interlude, which I had intended to write anyway, but which was largely a reaction to an article I read today. An article written, I think, to be deliberately provocative. And like lemmings, we shared it, we commented on it, we flamed the writer.

So what if she deserved it?

We spent a good chunk of the very precious time allotted to us, dumping on someone too dumb to know any better. I mean, if that was the attitude we had taken, that would have been OK. Instead, we got personal. At least, I did.

I feel ashamed now. I really have to get over this whole "subhumanising" people.

Anna told me the writer was eccentric. Like me. At one wedding dinner she apparently told this inoffensive guy who was quietly eating his dinner that the mole on his face was in an unfortunate position and it meant that he wouldn't live to see his grandchildren. Or possibly, his children. In short, that he would die. Soon.

Out of nowhere to a stranger.

Oh dear. Was I like that?

Just Saturday, I told Mark that he would make someone a good wife. Make that, a good trophy wife.

So uncalled for. I will apologise today. Although it was said in fun, and there was a good deal of alcohol thrown into the picture that led to a boisterousness above the usual alcohol-induced boisterousness, that was still...unkind.

And my living quarters have deteriorated into scary proportions. Most times I just run away somewhere, anywhere, so I don't have to face it. And then I return, and slump on the sofa so I can avoid what I have to avoid.

Avoidance is my middle name. That and Denial (which is not a river in Egypt).

Maybe I'm just tired.

Maybe it's because I have no idea what's in store.

Maybe because where I stand right now, the road ahead seems dark and forbidding and I am not sure what tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will bring.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Are you there?

Do you hear me?

Are you seeing what I'm saying?

I think you're seeing what I'm saying.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Easy As Sunday Morning

I finally finished Cheryl Strayed's Torch. I decided that to heck with it,  I'm a gonna at least finish one book. So I did. And while at first I kept consciously comparing the story to what she had revealed in Wild it gradually took on a life of its own.

I didn't love it the way I'd loved Wild (or else I shouldn't have taken so long to read it) but it was good. It didn't kill me to finish it.

Have done almost nothing the entire weekend other than hang on the phone and sleep at odd hours so I think maybe today I'll sleep at a decent time.

The dogs remain unbathed, although that should have been a priority since I found ticks on Arnold (he's here with me resting dreamily on the meditation mat that I never use for its stated purpose) while Elliott is outside,  tied up as a punishment for running away and not coming back when called.

Chubs is here with us as some piping problem dislodged his floor tiles so suddenly that it almost seemed like poltergeist activity and if that were not bad enough,  some guy in a four wheel drive hit his car from behind. Twice.

So he's camping out here for the moment. Uncle Solomon who descended on us unannounced for the weekend left this morning. Yesterday we all had a trip to the bookstore and despite the fact that I still have a ton of unread books, I bought a bunch more. Ivan bought two. The Unkley, one.

We also picked up some pants Chubs had tailored at a suit tailor here. Only half a year late. He was supposed to have picked them up in January. But then life intervened and he forgot all about them. When he tried them on they fitted perfectly and were, if anything,  on the loose side. His recent bout of dengue shaving off a cool 6 kilos.

We looked at possible wedding suits. The style now seems to be more fitted. Chubs thought that September's a good time to start the process. He liked a bright blue silk shirt but not much else.

I was supposed to catch up with some people over the weekend but I didn't. I have spent it completely vegged out.

I am useless without a proper to-do list.

So maybe I'll sit down and write one out now.

Morning meeting tomorrow.

And loads of questions to send out, an interview to finish transcribing and two more stories to write.

And there's the Maybank buka puasa in the heart of the city at rush hour. And maybe Marking after if I feel up to it.

Alone?  Yeah no plans to meet anyone tomorrow and no gang.

Sometimes we must go alone if we are to write letters.

The natural tears seem to be working. Dry eyes are less dry. Which is a very good thing.

Later for you.

Losing Time

Nothing is like I thought it would be. When your mother dies, the pain should be sharp and clear and focussed. It should be ever-present. It should be filled with regret, at the things you did not do, at what she had to suffer, at how long she was alone, in that condition, at the fact that she drove herself to hospital when she was having a heart attack, at the fact that you didn't just move in with her way way before, so you could have done something, helped her...

Instead, it's like my mind has split into a million shards; each separate and distinct from the other. I pick up a book, I put it down. I pile books next to my broken bookshelf, the one she broke, the one I yelled at her for breaking, the one I will never forgive myself for yelling at her for breaking. I wrote this in the letter I put in her coffin.

And then, there was nothing. Her body removed from the house, buried in that plot, piled with stones and flowers.

Her spirit absent in a way that beggars description.

I always thought I would feel her here around me somehow. Someone who was so present could never be this absent.

But was she?

Hadn't she spent all those years dying? Trying desperately to hold on, as she grew weaker and weaker, everything hurting and yet worrying about us, not letting go, praying her "Prayers of Power" for all the things that could go wrong, did go wrong.

And after it all, it was like she had been dead for years.

All those years she spent dying; all those years she had been alive; all those years.

And I just wanted to get away. Selfish, self-contained, not wanting to be around anyone who reminded me of this great big nothingness that had grown up inside me. This great big emptiness that has always been at the centre of me. Except now I touch its edges, I dive into the hollow black.

And I'm dead.

But like her, I pretend to be alive.

Except that I'm not doing such a great job. I keep forgetting stuff. Like to request a photographer for an important interview until it's too late. Like calling a friend to tell her, I made the appointment she was so insistent I make...that I couldn't come with her, but please, this is the address, if you really need to, go yourself, and deal with whatever you have to deal with and tell me afterwards. After I have painfully strung together words, racing against deadline, except that I race like a snail, a tortoise, a worm...thoughts scattered as the spawn of Satan, without agency, without urgency, without interest.

I keep losing time.

I look around and it's an hour later.

And then two hours.

And then three.

I shrug helplessly and go on contemplating the dust stacked in corners, the absurd mess I live in the midst off.

I need to gather, to arrange, to focus. And I will. Tomorrow. Maybe. Write a to-do list. Forget what I was going to say midway. Let the notebook fall from my hand. Send out the questions I was supposed to send out last week, or the week before. Maybe. To whom? I've forgotten.

Pick up that darn book again. Maybe today I'll finish it instead of picking up another one and another and another because my mind floats outside my body and my eyes, my dry eyes refuse to focus on anything.

And God, the sky is empty and my mother is gone and you?

And God, I wish I could come home to me again. I can't go home to home again because when she left, my home blew up, shattered, and most days I don't remember this, and most days I don't cry, and most days I'm not even sad.

And most days I feel nothing...and maybe that's preferable to the dark that hasn't penetrated any of the layers I've sewn up around me.

People are kind. They love me. I try to love them. But when you're a shadow, you can't love. There is nothing in you to hook a feeling and make it real. Do you know what I'm saying? Do you? Do you?

Do you understand?