skim and scan

Showing posts with label brewing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brewing. Show all posts


the inadequacy

photo by Filip Gielda
source: unsplash

in the end, i left. because i realised that we both wanted different things. i wanted the Technicolor, pickett-fenced family life while M, well M just wanted me. me and nothing else. no plans, no moving on. just me, my scars, my jagged edges, my sorrow.

was that not enough, you ask.

it was. and it was not. i liked being the centre of M's attention, i liked the times we had spent together, exploring the depths of just how much you could want a person. and discovering that love did not come into that equation. like M always said in that matter-of-fact way that those words were always spoken, without remorse or sarcasm or delight, 'what's love got to do with anything?'

but M preferred only these ugly and sad versions of me, those cold, cold days when the world was too much for me. i only received terms of endearment when i was sad, when i was chasing a deadline, when there was a funeral. M treated me differently when i was not sad; we would still see each other but i was dispensable. there was no 'darling,' or kisses on my forehead, or just a hug out of the blue at the traffic light, at the bakery, at the water fountain. sometimes i caught M watching me when i was not in a bad state, and it occurred to me that M was just waiting, and bidding time for the next occasion that I could be offered consolation and needed someone just to hold me together. M didn't want to know about my future plans, my interest in glass sculpture, or anything more than what had upset me.

sometimes i think that M fed on my sadness, or any other people's sadness, whosoever close by at any particular time, and simply in need, desperate for consolation and attention; a hug, a kiss, a whole day spent indoors.

so i left and M just nodded at my decision that last day we were together. there was a look of familiar understanding, as if lovers leaving was a country of which M was native. i closed the door behind me and did not look back, because every limb on my body wanted to do exactly that; we, my limbs and i had grown addicted to M's attention and consolation that we had forgotten who we were, however better we could have been.

i moved to a different city, married Lisa, bought a house, ticked all the boxes i had drawn up in my head. and i was not wrong about what i wanted. i didn't miss M and we never met again. i heard that M went on to the regional branch of her office, i heard a lot of things and never bothered to check or asked for definite answers because i didn't need them. but sometimes by chance, i saw people who had known me and M when we were together; M's friends, my colleagues. sometimes i said hello first, sometimes they saw me across a restaurant and came to my table for an exchange of how-are-you's. and i enjoyed these moments, because these people were the only links i had to M without me having to ask for or about her. i was contented with this kind of proxy links, i was reminded of many good things -M's arm across my back, the way M gave me sudden hugs that were always at the right time, the sound of my voice on the phone frantically telling her that my distant dad had died, the sound that M's keys made as they were placed on the shoe cupboard by the door - and i didn't want more than that, as much as M didn't want more of me other than my sadness. i'd carry these memories and perhaps see traces of M and me in places we had been but i'd not relive it. i'd let it fade away.

because if i saw the very person of M again, i might want to be the centre of M's universe all over again, arms tangled, legs criss-crossing, skin to skin but never moving closer. and that frightened me.


them butterflies

nervous could not even begin to spell that disastrous feeling in Desmond's chest, waiting to explode. nervous could not. if you asked him right now how did he feel about going up that glorious stage to give an acceptance speech, he would puke.

literally. that was how darn jittery he was. he had lost count of the butterflies in his stomach. he stopped at one thousand, one hour ago.

Desmond paced the corridor behind the stage. his tie, his hair, everything down right to the lapel of his coat was perfect. perfect to the core. only that he was, well, nervous. at the point of no return.

the MC up front called up Desmond's name. he walked up to the stage. the whole auditorium applauded. Desmond gingerly took his trophy from the VIP's hands.

Desmond inched closer to the dreadful microphone. and opened his mouth to begin with 'hello.'

and out came ten thousands of them pitch black butterflies, in a flurry of such a delightful evening, fluttering about and around while the whole auditorium was thrown into a magnanimous ruckus, the sound of their wings deafening into nothing at all.


the thievery

"those clumsy, inexperienced but generous hands; how he gathers me in his arms, gently rocking side to side, resting his chin on my shoulder; the way he understands that i will have to leave soon and that there is no way we can be together other than these stolen afternoons.

the windows wide open, noise from the traffic downstairs drifting up to the 23rd floor, the sultry wind lazily spilling in.

my hands untangling myself from his embrace; my empty promises, my ravenous heart.

him sitting by the window, not once looking at me whenever i am leaving."


the morning

"sometimes i just lie very still in bed while Caspar goes downstairs to feed the cats and make our morning drinks (his black and mild French coffee and my milky but strong Columbian or Guatemalan coffee), listening to the creaking of the stairs as he reaches each one, to the sound of his sure footsteps softly padding across the carpeted hallway. i know i'd miss that someday, that familiar comfort of the sureness in the way he always knows where he is going, even when he mis-reads a map, even when we are in a town we haven't been before. i like to listen to every footstep, i store them away in my head so that someday, if i somehow become a wretched coward and run away from this commitment, i can look back and remember how it feels to feel safe with another person. it's a privilege nowadays, isn't it, to not feel compromised or at risk. with every new person you meet, you risk so much of yourself; your freedom, your comfort zone, your sense of self. but i guess that doesn't happen with Caspar precisely because he is content with what he has and sure of what he wants and which way to go, so much so that he isn't desperate for other people's opinion to validate his." 


The Importance of Courage

            I knew he was on his way, I knew he would arrive and I didn’t mean to spoil tonight but somehow in that one split second that it took for him to be late, I got the courage to do it and I took my own life.
            Was it painful? I think it was, if I remembered correctly. The knife was sharp and I had long studied which part of the wrist to attack. It was fascinating at first, to discover that I had finally done it, although I couldn’t actually tell how it happened, whether it was slow or fast, whether it was efficient or careless. But the blood kept rushing out, like it had been in a dam and today the dam had been breached.
            Caspar was coming for a chat, a snack, like all our casual hanging out sessions and we had had this arranged the night before. But I hadn’t been feeling fine for weeks, for years if I were honest. I hadn’t wanted to live for years. First there was the disease, then the repercussions, then just pure despair, just a shell living the futility of life. It felt like one day, I had fallen into a black hole, an endless abyss whose depth was unknown and I had been smothered ever since by a feeling of heavy emptiness, as if I were Atlas and the burden of the world's sorrow was on my shoulders. No matter what reason or excuse, I didn’t think anyone would understand. People would always suggest things and solutions, and I appreciated that people meant well but I didn’t want to live. I just wanted to leave. I was so tired.
            Caspar called to tell me he’d be a bit late. He had already hailed a taxi but saw an old man hobbling along so Caspar asked if he needed the taxi. The old man said yes, and Caspar being Caspar, simply offered him the taxi and that he’d take the next one. It was already raining, I could hear the rain as he spoke to me through the phone. And it was really all right, it wasn’t the first time either of us would arrive late.
            But as I put down the phone, and started to continue cutting the grapefruit I had been preparing for him because he liked it, there was an unknown surge of courage to do it this time, to end it. The knife was enticing, its smooth blade, smoothly slicing through the skin and the flesh of the fruit, the focused and standardised fluidity of its movement started to convince me that it could cut other things too. Like me, for instance, and that it would and could do it well too. Fruits and vegetables were just practice, and it was created for more profound endeavours. One smooth cut, one stab at the right place, more determination, that was all it was going to take.
            Had it been like that for people who had done it? Was it painful or was there just relief? The successful ones, sometimes I wish they could come back and recount their success stories. The irony of it all.
            And I only realised I was cutting myself when I slumped against the kitchen counter and onto the floor. The front of my shirt was drenched in blood and I looked down, amazed. How long did it take just now before my legs gave away, as my heart scrambled to replenish blood that was missing? I couldn’t see if it was a clean cut, or jagged and unsure. There was only blood gushing out from the wound, and the knife was still in my other hand. I let go of it. It took too much effort to keep holding.
            Dizzy now, and I wanted to sleep. In movies, the paramedics would tell the injured to stay awake so they would know that at least the injured was conscious. And I understood now how it would have been easier to just close their eyes and rest. In movies, in real life with real people, with real madness.
            Caspar was on his way and he would find me like this, although I was not sure whether I’d be already gone when he arrived. I wanted to apologise for this memory that would probably scar him for life, that what I had done would set him apart from his friends and their fathers. I didn’t do this to upset him, I did this because I could not go on, I didn’t want to and I finally had the courage.
            I would always remember the amount of blood I saw that day, that before that day, I had never thought a person could bleed so much with just one slit wrist. 
No one answered the door and I had to use my key, usually he would have been waiting. Taking off my coat and hanging it behind the door, I couldn’t hear him or see him anywhere.
I saw the grapefruit slices on the kitchen counter; there was another half of a fruit unsliced and I leaned over to take a slice. And saw him lying on the floor.
There was just blood.
Like someone had poured so much blood on the floor and he had chosen to lie in the pool. His shirt and jeans were soaked now. I could see the blood inching out on the floor, spreading over the hardwood floor, still endlessly flowing from his open wrist.
Open, gaping. A maw.
            And I couldn’t fight the tears. I moved around the counter and stood there just at the edge of the blood pool, looking down at him. Except for the dark red blood pool and the gaping wrist, he could have been just sleeping, but still with that usual tired look.
            I wondered if it had been painful, and how long he had remained conscious after he slit his wrist. Was there any ‘What to Do When You Discover a Suicide 101’?
            And I didn’t think I could have prevented him had I arrived earlier. I might have been able to postpone it but sooner or later this day, this moment, this closure would arrive. He had been waiting for it to materialise for years. I had watched him struggle to just live another day for years.
            I called out to him, in case he was still there and was just waiting for me to call his name. A whisper at first, and then in the usual fashion, as if I was just calling out to him because I had something to say. He didn’t move.
            I knelt down close enough to him without getting blood on me and I kissed him on his forehead. ‘Rest well. So long now.’ I said. I hoped he found peace. I hoped he found what he was looking for.
            I took out my phone and dialled his board of directors. However they were going to solve this, I didn’t think they’d want the world to know.
            This would probably affect me someday, this, what he had done to himself. I might miss him, I might be scarred by his leaving in this way but I’d deal with that later. Because all I knew at this moment was, I was okay with letting him go, I knew he was going to do it someday. And I would just wait here with him, until someone came to sort this out, just so he wouldn’t feel alone.       


tentang kita

orang-orang terkorban 
natijah para wali keramat berperang
dilempar diusir dilapah ditolak ke tepi ke tengah

perang selesai
yang terkorban jadi terbuang
pelarian di segenap ruang
kekok dan terlalu asing
kerana cuma tinggal serpih-serpih 
yang tidak disempat dimusnahkan tadi

antara sampah dan cerca 
para wali saling berpedang
antara gema genta perang
para wali saling bertempik
orang-orang tinggal mengutip
sisa-sisa jiwa, jantung dan mimpi
sisi-sisi carik yang takkan sembuh
merenung di kejauhan tentang gelap

telah jauh kita ditinggalkan,
sedang para wali sudah selamat pulang ke syurga. 

(copyrighted. an original work by author/owner of this blog.)


the unreason

            It's the same question I'd interrogate myself over and over again every time I watch Seth play his cello during orchestra performances. And it's always during these occasions, in the midst of solemn looking people in tuxedos, suits and evening dresses, in a solemn auditorium with padded walls and reflexive points for maximum auditory satisfaction that the question hits me worst and I begin to fabricate excuses.

            Perhaps it's the solemnness of it all, with all these prim and proper looking people attending a high-culture event that my conscience begins to taste guilt. Or the music itself, meticulously arranged and skilfully performed that the very neatness of it plays a stark contrast towards unkind behaviours, makes the guilt scream the loudest; I do wonder if people in my predicament also feel the most guilty during events like this, an opera, a play.

           Or perhaps, if the case is to be taken person by person, it's because that was how I fell in love with Seth for the first time many years ago. I saw him play in a recital during a state dinner and I was entranced with that stellar passion that he embodied when he was playing the cello, the fiddle gliding effortlessly to and fro, his fingers busy mechanically negotiating notes and chords, his head slightly cocked, his face in utter concentration but with a slight joyful smile, as if there was a secret paradise somewhere that only he knew and the key to it was that particular moment of playing his cello. I don't even remember what he was playing at that moment, it never registered in my head; I only remember Seth playing. He still plays like that, always has, through all these years, even at home when he practices in the home studio, at his favourite spot by the Manhattan window overlooking the back garden. Seth has had many cellos since then, but that cello I saw with him that first time, that's the one he always takes for performances, that's the one he'd tune and change strings over and over again.

            But one thing that I am sure of, one thing that definitely would tear my conscience apart is when my eyes catch the shiny glint of Seth's wedding ring every time it catches the bright auditorium lights in an angle that would reflect straight to my eyes, even for a fleeting second. Depending on the composition he is playing, sometimes the glint would catch my eyes a hundred times, or probably just twice in other performances. I'd squint because of the shiny glint, and also because that glint off his wedding ring that legally, symbolically binds us together, feels like a punch to my guts, a stab through my horrid, horrid heart. Because I'd be reminded of the very being of Seth, of this kind, loving man I am married to; the years we have spent together, and the years I have tainted and betrayed.

            I'd ask myself that one question over and over again, I'd fabricate excuses to justify myself over and over again, and try not to think so much about why I am cheating on Seth.        


tangibles II

it was long ago. so long ago. and i have forgotten so many things. age, and time would do that to you. another number on calendars, another number you write in forms and questionnaires and then one day when you pile it all up, add it all up, the total figure, the curl of the eight, the complete closure of the zero, the stark concreteness of the one, you begin to wonder if the world had been made a better place with you in it.

i don't remember the exact spelling of her name, or even her real name for that matter. we never got to the stage where it was necessary to know that information. we had the names we knew each other by, and for that moment in time, that made up for everything else.

what i do remember, what i keep watching in my head, like a silent movie, is the form that i completed, requesting for a companion for that one last day before i left. one last day, i had assumed, because those sent to Sector 16 in Territory Lacmoore seldom came back. carnivorous plants, hostile lifeforms, poisonous terrains; poisonous land, how was that even possible? but they kept sending anyway, because that meant something was being done in the name of research and scientific advancement. because it gave something juicy for reports. because it gave them a reason to build memorials. sometimes you do wonder what your country has actually done for you.

the form. and she arrived on the day promised. i remember scrutinising her from the window upstairs while she waited outside after ringing the bell. these days you could never tell what people around you are made of. androids are more human than humans. they even smell like humans and that always makes me wince. what did we do wrong, that we at one point had wanted to duplicate our human nature?

but when i opened the door, it didn't matter. because here was someone for me at last, even if it involved a lot of paperwork, even if all of it was artificial. i made the most out of it. i carped the diem.

did we go to the circus? did we read a good book? what was it we had for lunch? what colour was her dress? did she smile with her teeth shown or was it tight-lipped? was this my set of memories with her or someone else? it was a rhapsody at times, but mostly it was a whirlwind of bits and pieces of things i had done, only that i have never been able to construct a complete picture of anything. devious indeed, those things you call memories.

but other than the form, what i remember distinctly about her is that when we hugged before she left at the end of that one day we had together, my arms had fit perfectly around her, and most remarkably, my chin had rested comfortably over her right shoulder, as if these parts of my body had found a home, a custom made counterpart, somewhere to belong, to rest, to grow old. it was so... human, so real that i thought i was dreaming in one of those facilities they set up for neurobiology.

and i wanted more of it, more time, more days like this. but it wasn't up to me to decide. and she was for me only for that day.

of course we parted after a while. i did nothing heroic; didn't disobey my superiors, didn't run away with her, didn't do anything to change the course of things planned for that one particular day in time.

but i kept those tangibles close to me through the treacherous days in Lacmoore's Sector 16. i lived. when the scheduled chopper came back after a month in case there were survivors to collect for reports and research, there i was, waiting for it to arrive, with another participant of the expedition. only two of us and that was a lot, when the number at the beginning was two hundred and fifty.

i have kept it through all the years. i did see her sometimes but there was no recognition from her,perhaps she was an android after all and they had her memories of me erased because it wasn't necessary. i was not exactly looking for commitment or anything from her. but whenever i saw her, my eyes always lingered to that one spot over her shoulder where i had found absolution.

these are big prizes for someone who hasn't been sure about the purpose of his existence. these are archive materials, these. these two things i gleaned from that one day i spent with a person who could have or could not have been destined for me. these two information, mathematical and angular, biological and physical, and most of all, priceless.

i have taken these two with me all my life, and on this deathbed, these are the things i will still take with me, these two reminders that i have known mankind at its best and perhaps there's hope somewhere.


notes on a train to the north

it's not funny when you make efforts to call because you care and people couldn't even let you know that they are unavailable via phone.

it makes you feel discarded.

you are not complaining. you just wish to be informed because you feel frustrated when you keep getting the voicemail; you thought you have called at the wrong time. especially when you don't even know that people's phones are busted. especially when you're making intercontinental calls. especially when you think people'd be happy to hear from you. especially when you think you are important enough to receive a message that lets you know of other options for contact.

you thought people would have figured out an act of courtesy as such.

you know this sounds petty. possibly offensive to people.

you stop hoping.

you discover that writing fiction using 'you' is annoying.

you have reached your destination.

you stop wri.....



Afterwards, after all had been screamed and done, with you and I standing at opposite sides of the room having run out of hurtful words to inflict on each other, you would just look at me and shake your head in regret. But you never said anything after that point, after shaking your head. You would just change into one of your dresses for going out, grab your car keys and walk past me. A moment later I would hear your car zooming away, an imaginary fury that I have come to understand after years spending my life with you. When you came back later, you’d come and sit with me, and still without words you’d kiss me on my head, amidst my hair and all the anger that I got for you and all the world fell away.

Afterwards, when whatever movie they played on TV had finished and we sat there staring at the credits because you wanted to know the songs, all I could remember was the way you hummed the music, the words running on your lips and leaping into the air into a symphony a rhapsody that I tried to grab with bare hands. When there was just the two of us, I forgot the list of a hundred things that I wanted, the world waiting to crumble outside. There was only you and I and this was my treasure that I selfishly kept from others.

Afterwards, when my flight had touched the ground and I knew you had come an hour earlier just to be safe, I would impatiently wait for my luggage and grumble to myself. At the moment that I saw you, waiting for me, that familiar look on your face garlanded by the years we have spent together, all that I wanted was to hold you in my arms, the curves of your body, your spine and flesh so close to my skin, your head at the nape of my neck and realized all over again that it was such a perfect fit that no one else could contest. As we walked to our car, you would take my arm and loop it around you and I never wanted you to let go of me.

Afterwards, lying here with you so still beside me, lying here in my blood your blood in a flood and all this wreckage was starting to make so much noise I had to strain to hear the beat of your heart when it was clear there was none, I thought of all the important ways you knew me and ways I never thought before. I heard all your words that you used for me alone and I was drowning in this sorrowful din, begging for all the power that be to let me go with you. For all my clumsy ways, my gloom and my dark days, who would want to know and still love me now there was no more of you.


unconditionally season finale

“I’ll see you after the surgery, okay?” She said to her father.
“Sure. Audrey.” He paused. “Audrey, you don’t have to, you know. I’m almost 60 already. It’s not like I have to go to work eight days a week.”
She smiled. “Don’t argue with me this time. I can’t take another fight with you.” She patted his hand and nodded.
“We fight so much.” He said and looked down to his hand, as if he was ashamed of this.
“Dad, has it ever occurred to you that we fight so much because we’re so alike? I shout, you shout, nobody's listening. And then we spend months not talking to each other...”
"Trying to remember what we were fighting about. " He said and smiled. Audrey bit her lip and then grinned.
“You’re my favourite kid.”
“Dad, I’m your only kid.”
“If I had ten or ten thousands, you’d still be my favourite. Do you see?” He softly said.
“That’s good to know.” She pointed out, kissed her father on both cheeks and left to her room. I followed Audrey.
“You two are really alike.” I said. Audrey gave me that half smile. Her eyes were moist.

The next time I saw Audrey was after the surgery, which was a success. She was coming out of the drug and the first thing she said to me was
“How’s my dad?”
“He’s good. Vitals all kicking.” She laughed softly. That was when something clicked in my head. I said ‘shit’ under my breath.
“Hey, I sort of have to take you away.”
“Okay.” She said. I thought she had misunderstood me.
“Audrey, you’re going to die in a minute!” I said urgently.
“Yes, I heard you.” She said. “Man, it’s okay, I’ve said all I have to say.”
“You haven’t said goodbye to your dad!” I said in horror.
“I don’t see the point. I’m always his favourite kid, ten or ten thousands, yesterday or always, alive or not. Do you see?” She pointed out.

And as I touched her and her last breath went, I did see what she had pointed out to me.


Audrey’s dad lived for another 15 years. He cancelled his retirement and went back to his partnership in the company he had been working with. He went to visit Audrey’s grave every Sunday. He never spent long, he never brought flowers. I guess he didn’t see the point of bringing flowers when it was evident that he had already come. And he would just come, his hands in his pocket, lingered for a while as he looked down at the gravestone which simply read “Audrey Isobel Summers, favourite kid”, smiled and then returned to his car.

I still marveled at how alike they were- in the raise of his eyebrow, his half smile, his thoughtful opinions, the ear at which he put his Bluetooth device, how he said "Do you see?" when he was explaining something, his eyes looking out the window when he thought of Audrey. And especially the way he said “I can see you, you know” when on a Sunday afternoon, something clicked in my head and it was Audrey’s father time to go.


perhaps it is part 1


Have you ever noticed how warm is the shirt that someone has just taken off when he/she wakes up, the smell of sleep, dream dust of unicorns running through fire and jellybean as confetti lingers in every nook and cranny of the fabric, in each of the thread that makes it and the morning that someone is leaving you cling to it with your dear life as if the moment after he/she is gone, you would not miss them so much that the very being of you aches with a thousand pierces of emptiness, and you close your eyes fiercely that it hurt wishing all of these are unreal, because once you have gotten used to feeling complete, the void in your heart overwhelmed with him/her to the brink, the spaces between your fingers fit theirs perfectly, you would never want to be on your own again.

That was how it felt, how I felt the morning he had to go away. When he had taken off the shirt that he had worn to sleep last night, I immediately picked it up and put it on before his warmth there puffed into thin air, then crawled back under the duvet, eyes fixed on the bathroom door, not daring to blink in case he came out and I did not see him, that for these final moments of seeing him before my very eyes, I must not miss even one chance. And as if hiding under the whole weight of the cotton duvet that we shared so many days and nights would not allow him to leave.

This was too real, too physical to be a nightmare. This was happening but I could not stop it. He came out of the shower in that brown bathing robe, his hair wet, he smelled of the lime soap we found in Tesco last week. This was not going to work like every other day. This was leaving. I could not take this.

I followed his every movement. When he moved around the bend of the bed, I rolled over and hungrily gulped him with my eyes, afraid that whatever memories I had with him so far would not be just enough. He did not go to the closet to dress. Instead he got under the duvet and met me.
‘Hi.’ He said and tried to smile, there were little drops of water on his lashes. If I picked those lashes out and he looked like an alien, would he still have to leave?
‘Hi.’ I said, and I did not remember saying it. I wanted to sing out loud, I wanted to talk until my throat jumped out, because in a moment there would no more of him to talk with me. But my words had gone into mourning. They did not want to come out. My voice sounded like things that fell.
‘Are you writing in your head about me leaving?’

I nodded. This was the person who knew me, who heard me over a deafening night of fireworks, heard what I was not saying, found me when I was invisible, shook me awake when I decided to die. How was I supposed to live without someone who knew me this well? How was I supposed to be at all?

His hand, that strong hand that raked autumn leaves, reached for a cabinet too high, pushed my car and lifted chairs for me, reached over and gathered the ragged pieces of me into his arms. I put my hand at where his heart was supposed to be, its beats breathed into me and told me secrets only I knew.
‘Your hand is cold.’ He said and I could hear him smile, his smooth chin resting on my head, smoothly shaved now, last night it was like the bark of a tree when I ran my hand there. How could he look so flawless but he had to leave?
‘I hate to go. How do I wake up without you with me?’ He whispered. I closed my eyes and selfishly inhaled him until my lungs screamed, this was my reserve oxygen tank, these were my last breathes with him and I wanted everything else to disappear so no one would take him away, baby, please stay.

p/s: there are too many words in my head and i only want to write about one person.