Maybe we will never know why life happens the way it does. I mean, how could we? Life happens to us all, with little input from us. Most times we decieve ourselves that we are in charge of the progression of our stories, that our choices, our efforts, our decisions, our human devices really matter enough to determine our narrative. It’s easy to believe this; which is telling, because the truth is never easy. And maybe, we get to affect our own stories just a little bit, maybe we contribute to the picture of our lives in some ways, a little colour here, a little highlight there. That is likely all there is to it. Because how can we claim to be truly in charge when we don’t even know how our stories start and we hardly have a say how they end? And the vast narrative between the beginning and the end merely dazzle as the winds of life blows, moving with every blow and every gust, more than we care to admit.
She was like the ocean. Calm on the surface, revolting tirelessly beneath and arches of magic in between. I on my part, never really had the soul for magic or any likening for the sea. When I first met her, she struck me as odd; large eyes that danced in the light, a mischievous smile, radiant face, full upper-lips, and a spirit so excited you could almost see the energy jolting from her being.
Life is so different from fairy tales; in life, stories start in the most ordinary ways. No “long long time ago”, no “there lived a princess”, or “damsel”, or “beautiful maid.” With life, stories start with your every day guy, living the average life, nursing modest dreams, running into an every day girl, in an every day town and finding the key to the extraordinary somewhere between living average and some 100 conversations. Our story was a little different. Every day guy, average life, messed up city, and an extraordinary girl with a tireless soul. I met her in a cab! Of all the places in the world. Although I first saw her in the party I was escaping from that evening.
I had first seen her while my friend introduced me to every other girl at the party, making sure to get them to notice my green suit and how it compliment my frame, trying too hard to keep to his promise of getting me hooked, telling whichever of them cared enough, which would make most of them, that I am an architect. Ladies dig that, he would tell me. I wasn’t much interested in the party, or the girls, or the wine he was forcing me to drink. I wanted to go home, and have a warm bathe, and watch a regular TV show or another anime, and sleep and wake up tomorrow, and head to work. He felt I needed a life, I felt I needed my solitude. But I humoured him anyways, and went to the party, and smiled, shook hands and drank white wine, and complemented the overly bourgeoisie hostess; one of those that entertained the urgent need to spend every moment reinforcing the notion that they spent a considerable amount of years in England.
I noticed her a couple of times after that, I caught her eyes almost every other time I looked at her. It was as though she could tell whenever I was looking at her, and each time I was, she caught my eyes and wouldn’t look away until I was forced to coyly withdrawn my gaze. Not once was she first to withdraw. At one point, she winked at me, and smiled. I could tell she came with a date, which was probably why we didn’t get introduced. I could tell she was different. I would find out later that I was dead wrong; not about the date – she did come with a date. She was not different, she was just more.
I finally wriggled away from the party and was about to head home. I waved down a cab and I was about to close the door when I saw her rushing out of the hotel, shoes in hands. She waved at the cab driver, who could only manage to get halfway through saying he was already taken, before she entered the cab. It wouldn’t have mattered anyways. She asked if I didn’t mind that she joined me, said that she was kind of in a hurry and I said I didn’t mind, that I wasn’t in any hurry myself, and that I was happy enough to be leaving the party. To which she laughed and asked if the party sucked that much and I replied with a shrug. Her next statement left me reeling with laughter.
“At least you get to meet me” she said. And to this I laughed. Not because it was so much of a joke, as much due to how she said it; like it wasn’t a joke.
“Well, I can’t say. We haven’t even met.”
“And you were going to leave without meeting?”
“I believe I was.”
“Well, seeing as you’re stuck in a cab with me, you’ll have no choice but to meet me now”
We spent the remainder of the evening haggling over the most insane things; she had the most unorthodox perspective on things, you see. This was after she single handedly requested the cab driver to take a detour and take us both to the fanciest restaurant in the vicinity, only to make us leave the restaurant minutes after, when she remembered that she could get better food from a road side vendor just down the street. We spent the night running between locations, eating in a tricycle, laughing, and finally getting chased by some guards after she made us jump into the little pond of sea beside the Oriental Hotel.
You know how they say we fall in love when we least expect? Well, my story was different in this regard too. I feel in love, knowing fully well that I was going to. I may not have admitted it to myself, but I knew, from that first evening, I knew I was going to fall recklessly and stupidly in love with that girl in the red gown, that ran down the stairs, hijacked my ride and held me hostage for a night. And love? Love makes a fool of us all. In her eyes, I saw the world anew. Yeah, it’s cheesy. I, of all people, should know. I am the kind of guy that used to think hugging a friend was cheesy, so yeah. But love made me the whole bowl of cheese. She taught me the names of stars, somewhere during the many saturday nights we spent star gazing at her request. She taught me the names of birds, the difference in their calls. She taught me beauties in the smallest things. She knew too much about the ordinary things; she could milk a whole world from the most mundane. In a way, she was as much art as I ever saw in living form. I guess that was what made her unique. My parents thought she was too wild, my brother thought she was too good for me, my friend finally realised that I wasn’t going to be needing a wingman anymore.
We got married in secret, because she felt it was more exotic. My parents were mad; they had planned to invite half the entire state. Her parents would have been mad too, if they weren’t, well, dead. My brother was my best man at the wedding, and promised my mother that the traditional wedding was going to be theirs to plan. That was 4 months before she died. You see, who could have told us at that point that we were stupid to be worried about things as base. Her death was my fault.
She was 3 months pregnant when she died. One evening, she told me about this exciting event she wanted us to attend; I told her I had work to finish and she would have to go alone. But she insisted and I bulged, and so we bathed and dressed, danced somewhere in between bathing and dressing, simply because she liked to dance, although she wasn’t so good at dancing; one of those rare things she couldn’t do well. We were almost at the hotel where the event was holding. We were coming towards an intersection when my phone rang. I had forgotten to Bluetooth it to the car, and in the split second I spent trying to locate the phone, a trailer ran into us, right out of nowhere, like a hand from the dark, sending our lives spiralling into nothing.
I should have died, not her. I spent four weeks in the hospital, underwent several surgeries and somehow clung on to life against my own wish. But what does it matter now? Death finds us all in its own way. I might not have died in that car, but I surely died that night. What I am about to do, has meaning only for the sake of concluding an ending that has lingered too long. Maybe we will never know why life happens the way it does. I, for sure, never will.
Mama, This is the last of me you will ever have As I write this, I am already half way dead And in a couple of minutes, I'll hang from a fan I'll be floating from dear life I understand that this sounds weak I understand it seems that I am giving in “Taking the easy route” as they say it The many corny things they say But I am not weak, I am merely tired Not of life itself, but of living it I am not weak, If I am strong enough to die But the world never understands They say there is beauty in pain Some sensuousness in suffering Some collateral sweets in sorrow Some aesthetic gift in hurt How convenient! Poetry is easy, philosophy is cheap When describing the things one doesn’t feel And aphorisms are their authors’ arrogance Simple minds, simpler quotes There is no beauty in the truest of pains It is raw and sharp and reckless Like a wretched ulcer of the soul What is the beauty in that? And sorrow as I have felt Is that which burns like mamba’s venom Suffering, as I have endured Has no limits, no damn tenure Sorrow, Oscar says, is one endless moment And this is the truth I know What folly is it to live in torment? When one can ease into death You see, It is not that I can no longer live It is that I have no wish for life Can you understand? That I have no appetite? By the time you read this, my flame would be out Not because I have lost my fire My light did not blow out Mama But candle has burn out Words never sound right when you need them to And emotions are like waves Washing up at will I apologize And this is goodbye forever.