I woke up this morning and I looked outside my window. I watched the Flame of the Forest in all her effervescence, dancing to the rhythm of the breeze, giving herself up to the wind’s cadence.
I felt peace. I felt serenity. I felt a rush of tranquility, but it was short-lived.
Soon the voices in my head, and the hurt of the past screamed, shouted and shrieked. A scythe of disquiet hacked my solace in two, and I, distraught and disturbed wandered corridor after corridor, groping in the darkness, looking for answers in a society of charlatans wearing Bauta’s and just hating each other.
Hate, hate, greed, greed, bitterness, bitterness, anger, anger – a theatre of mockery and psychosis, and here I am standing on the stage through the seasons, seething and broken, wanting to do something about it.
Why do you have to be like that?
Why do you have to screw me over?
Why do you have to fuck me up?
I wish someone would find me amidst the puke covered streets, and the stench of ditchwater. I wish someone would breathe life into me. I wish someone would love me furiously, ferociously and pull me down from the cross, nurse my nail pierced body, remove this crown of thorns and I wish she’ll show me more to belief and faith, and draw my anger out of me.
I wish she’d understand me. I wish she’d transform this barren room with half-smoked cigarettes, spilled coffee and broken bottles of wine into something worth living in.
I wish she weren’t like the others – the women who came and went, waltzed in and foxtrotted out. I don’t wish for just physical intimacy. I wish for commitment, sacrifice and this beautiful, amazing thing that exists in the chaos, burning incandescently despite the wintry chill, this crazy thing we call love.
You should know by now that I love you, even though I hardly say it. You should know by now that I’ll live and die for you, though my tears are dry. If only trial and circumstance didn’t make me hard, if only a cesspool of madness which fate baptized me in didn’t make me unpredictable, if only a vortex of apparitions didn’t carry me away and set me on a shore of agony, darkening each particle of my existence, making me unable to distinguish between reality and chimera, light and darkness, paranoia and angelic hope, I’d give you so much more, and love you with an intensity unparalleled. We’ve woven this story of togetherness and despite each inner window shutting, slowly barring my light, we’re clinging to each other: body to body, mind to mind, soul to soul. But if I’m gone tomorrow: a train wreck of a man with an arthritic mind, unable to grasp the simplest picture of you, I want you to move on. Life gives us hope, despair, recollections to cherish, and echoes of now to clasp and cling to with all passion and ardor, and in this moment, I’m crazy about you.
Jimmy bought a new moped. “I’mma ride it to the hills, brah!” He squealed, the effects of the skunk weed which landed him in an institution where he spent hours talking to the ceiling fan and calling it his ‘Big Momma’ still affecting him. He reverted to his Indian accent now and then, but I always kept my fingers crossed, scared he’d go crazy on me.
“What do you plan to do in the hills?” I asked Jimmy, but deep inside I already knew the answer. “I’mma find a bootleg pill man. They sell some fine quality hashish,” he whispered, bending low on his moped and there was something terrifyingly odd about the way he did that, but then again this was Jimmy. Everything was odd about him. He slept with his feet on the pillows and his head where his feet should be, he drank scotch with mixed fruit juice, he managed to get some old cuckold to film while he fucked the man’s wife, he joined a book club and turned it into a Wednesday swingers party. I don’t how he did it. I think he had this weird cult of personality. It never worked on me, but it certainly did charm a lot of others into giving into his twisted fetishes.
I always wondered if Jimmy made up his exploits until he introduced me to the old cuckold and his wife at a cafe. The old sleazebag asked me if I wanted to join Jimmy and plough his wife. I politely declined. The last thing I needed was an amateur porn video starring me, some older woman and Jimmy of all people, while a cuckold, jacking off shouted, “C’mon son. Fuck her harder!” I guess I’ve seen enough amateur porn to know how it worked. I’ve decided to stick to watching it; the monitor separating me from the actuality.
I also walked into the swinger party by accident. Jimmy’s mother asked me to fetch him one Wednesday and I said, “Yeah, he’s probably at the book club. I’ll fetch him.” I then called Jimmy and asked him where he was, and he gave me directions to some apartment complex. I could hear loud music in the background but didn’t make much of it. He couldn’t have possibly converted a book club into a swinger party, could he? I wondered. I finally found the place in some cul-de-sac and asked the watchman for directions to Room 125. He looked at me with disgust and spat: the red, betel leaf juice tainting the parking lot. I wondered what I’d done wrong.
I knocked on the door and Jimmy opened, clad only in his pajamas. I went in and the stench of weed overwhelmed me. I then heard loud music and ferocious moaning from the rooms.
“What the fuck’s happening here?” I yelled at Jimmy and he said, “Peace fam. Lighten up. We just havin a good time, that’s all.”
I needed to get the fuck out because nothing good happened when Jimmy started speaking thoroughly in his Indo-African American accent. But I’d promised Jimmy’s mom that I’d bring him back and so, I grabbed him by the wrist and started pulling him out of the door.
“Nigga, you need to lighten up,” Jimmy barked before screaming, “Help! Terrorist!”
And some butt-naked girl ran out of one of the rooms and screamed at me.
“Leave Jimmy alone! Leave him alone terrorist!” She shrieked, her tits bouncing while she hysterically jumped up and down.
“Calm down,” I said, “His mother needs him.”
“Jimmy’s got no momma,” she said in some bizarre Indo-Chinese-British- African American accent.
“No, he does, and I’ll call the police if you don’t go back to whatever you’re doing.”
“I’m doing Jimmy you fat tit! And I’m not letting him go until I’m done!” she yelled and slapped me, and Jimmy started crying.
“I’mma lose it brah!” He whined and I had a panic attack.
“C’mon Jimmy,” Big breasts said softly, “I’ll fuck yer brains out until you’re happy again.”
“For real! Bitch please! You don’t know what I’mma lose.”
The girl then started crying and I took the opportunity to cart Jimmy away.
We raced past houses and ramshackle huts, Ganesha processions and Hindu activists and gay parades and livestock and restaurants and finally reached Jimmy’s house.
“I’mma lose it,” Jimmy squealed as I bodily lifted him and carried him home.
“You’ll be fine Jimmy. Just think of the bootleg pill men and the hills,” I said, dropped him on his bed and went out and smoked a cigarette.
My love, life, dreams and fond reflections always meet November – the season of cinders, a period of transition between Autumn’s ripe melancholia and Winter’s mist and rattle. Didn’t I lie down beside you just yesterday, holding you in our nudity – skin and core? And here I am, walking the sidewalk and passing the throng – bearded, distinct, peculiar and still unnoticed. Walking on the mud, skirting the litter, and making sure I don’t step on that mongrel – sleeping, and oblivious to our lives that revolve around the clock – and pausing at the ramshackle cigarette shop, I pay the man for a few Marlboros. Didn’t yesterday give me lucidity? Didn’t each kiss shared, and the laughter that echoed in our space give me felicity? Well, I’m back in my zone now, the old inner ruckus – thoughts brawling like drunken football hooligans, and I guess a swig from the Old Admiral in the fridge lulls them. And then bloodied, they suddenly stop and erupt into rhapsodies of praise – a little bent, off-tune, interspersed with lilting and yodeling. Didn’t each sob when you took me in to our tempo, each sigh of euphoria when we reached that penultimate phase – before that deep moan of ultimate satisfaction, making us forget everything – tell me that here’s a woman to live and die for? But I’m just existing now, or maybe I keep regressing to some pre-existing state, huddled up in some fetal position, before birthing myself now and then for a smoke while the floor’s drenched with the blood of my brokenness, and the umbilical cord from this thing we call life lies severed and thrown in the dustbin.
I don’t know if I’m a saint or a sinner or if I’ve somehow transcended those notions through a nihilism that followed a dark night of the soul.
I’ve looked in the mirror a thousand times and I never find the same reflection. I’m like a song who can’t be played the same way twice, and once the musician discards me, I’ll fade into obscurity and oblivion, like a train entering an endless dark tunnel. Who am I? Where will I find myself after the apocalypse – on a barren land with a bloody moon, or some small redemptive corner where the Church bell still chimes and visions, gifts and prophecy endure?
The last time I looked in the mirror, I saw a disgruntled bearded man, having come to terms with the loss of youth’s vanity. No longer attractive, no longer possessing allure or personality, no longer finding solace in women. I never envisioned this man when I lived separated from reality in a city of romanticism, but bit by bit, the jade and sapphire turned into brick and rust, the smell of the earth gave way to a miasma of decay that singed my eyes and left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.
I then spat and vomited, knowing things will never be the same. I ran on roads coated with ash and blood under a dying sky and on some crag spotted Tennyson’s eagle waiting to swoop down like a majestic golden-brown monarch. I reached up hoping he’d land on my arm and guide me, but I was denied providential grace. The buildings looked like putrefied flesh and I ran on to find my house lying in ruins and I was left with two choices: To cling to shattered idealism or to forge the new out of what remained and I still don’t know what I’ve done.
I feel strongly and don’t feel at all. I love strongly and hate bitterly. I call myself out for my duplicity, but I can’t repair myself. I don’t possess the tools and the wheel of my existence is losing a new spoke each day, which I stick haphazardly with duct tape and glue, never knowing if tomorrow it’ll still run and there’ll be freedom symbolizing the now clichéd, ‘This too has passed.’
And hence, all I can offer you is abstract expression. I sit now in a coffee shop, smoking my last cigarette, and see faces pass me, some mute, some saying something like, ‘hello,’ and I know they’ve got it sorted out, and with each tick of the clock, they’ll progress while I’ll stay like the ash in the tray, never knowing what’ll happen next, until they clean the tray.
My mind is a post-apocalyptic wasteland, riddled with disproportionate, cracked pavement ideas, and a consciousness like a filthy graveyard or derelict buildings, burning and crumbling. There are no verdant valleys here. I’m plagued by trauma and guilt, and crude madness blaming me severely for pathos that isn’t always my own. I hear echoes of lines straight from The Fall by Camus telling me that I’m responsible for all the misery I’ve seen, caused or endured; asking me to confront my duplicity. I only see my reflection in concave or convex mirrors giving me an out of shape picture when I look within. But through it all, you hold me, and our insatiable passion for each other isn’t always delicate with a childlike charm. We often go through the throes of lovemaking – the pleasure and the pain – even when we’re not entwined, becoming one. It’s difficult to distinguish love. It isn’t just feeling, though without it, it’s just cold false zeal. Perhaps, love is feeling backed by severe effort: a struggle to find in each other what’s unsayable, irresistible and luminous. A fight despite sweat and blood, and angst and grief. Whatever it is, it creates a balance, helping us move forward through November’s twilight. And perhaps one day Gomorrah will lie, reduced to ashes, but I’m more thankful that I’m in love with you.
The moon with her muted, ashen light partially illuminates my path, filled with clinkers of despair and hankering – an off-time, off-tune sequence with a murderous coda. I pass withered Jacarandas, hoping that I’ll find you after this battered car or after walking past the smog that coats the splintered sidewalks. I look yonder and see the mist coated peaks with snowflakes cascading. I dust off the grime that clings to me and keep walking though I look grey and everything looks like cigarette ash. I fucking love you, and I ask myself if the recollections and echoes of memories are worth the effort. But I’ve flipped this coin so many times before, over the years and regardless of how it falls, I can’t rid myself of you. You’re the green, vivacious wine that creeps over each broken, disjointed wall that personifies a fractured me. When we made love, did you only think of the now and completely discard the after? Was it something transient, and did the nirvana to the rhythm of that soft snare, slowly building up with the double bass and tom-toms and hi-hats mean nothing to you? I often think I need an exorcism – strapped, while a priest chants and rids me of you, but having loved you with the unmitigated desire of the Flame of the Forest, dancing to breezes of togetherness, having kissed you and having slowly slid down your neck and having gently bit you with both unparalleled sorrow and the pleasure of maniacal ardor, having slowly and fiercely found us on that peak I finally met after a long taxing sojourn makes these tough moments worth it, and gives me a plethora of new dimensions to explore, hoping one day they’ll be mine.
Do you remember when we played football on that turbid field? You’d pass the ball to me, and I, lacking acumen would race past defender after defender, before being tackled. You’d laugh sometimes and sometimes – irritated – yell at me, urging me to play better.
After the match, you’d resort to your post-match ritual of stretching and warming down, while I’d puff on a cigarette analyzing my game. Looking back, I think we’ll both admit that football fuels some degree of narcissism, even though it is the beautiful game – celebrated by the rich, the poor, the loner and the winner. But then again, I often wonder if you even have traces of nostalgia drifting through your consciousness today.
How did you get radicalized? Was there always some aspect of your being that thrived on serving a wrathful deity using a sword? Sure, you loved discipline on the football field but championed liberty and freedom in life. You believed all men were created equal, and your identity lay more on the hedonistic side of the spectrum than the conservative one. You disdained acts of terror in the name of religion, cause or philosophy. You believed in empathy, forgiveness, and peace.
And then, you disappeared and came back aloof and troubled. But you were unwilling to share your problems. I tried, like any best friend would do. I firstly gently coaxed you before directly confronting you.
“Is it a woman?” I asked.
“You wouldn’t understand,” you dismissed me.
“You were never like this; never indifferent or callous. So, tell me, what happened? You know I’ll never judge you.”
“There are some things in life that we mustn’t speak off,” you answered cryptically.
Soon, you cut all ties with me. And then I heard about the beheading; about the gruesome, despicable way in which you’d robbed two children of their father. You said you did it in the name of God because the man was a blasphemer and an infidel. You said that you’d do it again.
At first, I was shocked, but after accepting that you’d become an animal, I wondered if I was asking the right questions. Is there a caged beast in all of us that we’re only unaware of because society’s norms keep him trapped? Can even the most educated men fall prey to the simplest deceptions, thereby throwing away their moral convictions? Are we prone more to violence, greed and a lust for power than kindness, beauty, and truth? Do we even know the truth or are we all living out internal postmodern realities where everything’s distorted, without insight?
They say education saves but does it? You find cruel men using inherently good technology to carry out ingenious but vile schemes. From gas chambers to the nuclear bomb to cyber-terrorism to identity thefts to Ponzi schemes to fake news to Facebook pages spewing propaganda; I can’t help but think if there’s something sinister creeping in our veins, threatening to break out and metamorphose us into terrifying, feral primitive beings, consumed by the wrong passions and pride.
I remember when you passed the football. You had such vision! You’d know the direction of the run, the striker’s speed and the defender’s positioning before your feet touched the ball. You played chess on the football field, calculating moves in advance, and knocking off pieces. If only you’d had that same insight in life. I wish you did and pray that I get it because that may be the only way to keep the beast caged.
I don’t want to place what we’ve built in a shoebox: parading our affection with embellishments like picture perfect Facebook lounge bar shots, or relationship statuses with a hundred likes, giving us reinforcement. No, I’d rather keep our little home, nestled in a reverie that only we know about, where passion echoes, and subtle grazes actually mean something substantial, carrying a depth like lines of well written poetry personifying the muted moon, and its soft reflections on the gentle tide – the ebb and flow stitching the iamb, and steadily building up the pentameter. You and I both know that what matters more than blood poured on a page is the actual give and take off-screen, the real absorbing and reciprocating when you’re sitting across me, and your laughter and your delicate smile giving me inner opulence and helping us both compose this ethereal sonata, notation after notation, bar after bar, and its beauty breaks dawn, makes the songbirds chirp, coats the leaves with dew, and scents the faint drizzle with petrichor. And with each tug of spring, the colors of effervescence bathe us, with each glow of summer, the waves of ecstasy overwhelm us, with each crunch of autumn, august serenity envelops us, with each mist of winter, a solitude of togetherness, keeps us huddled, comforted by blankets, naked but warm, skin against skin. I don’t want to constrain us to just the seasons or color though, because a plethora of underlying semantic makes this thing we call love, and yet when stripped of its bark, it’s vulnerable and simple, and I guess that’s a paradox we’ll never understand, and so, we’ll just keep loving each other, stripping our essences to bare minimums and yet finding in each other maximums.
When you read this, I won’t know if you’ll be shocked or just subdued. I won’t know if you’ll think I took the coward’s way out or had the courage to do something most people only dream or talk about. Life is filled with tragic curves and barely guarded hairpin bends and there’s only so much I could climb. You’ll ask yourself if what I did was the most selfish act someone can commit or if I said what I needed to, did what I needed to, left behind both rapture and devastation and quit on my terms.
Each day felt like an inner concentration camp, gripping my soul and squeezing hard, crushing my will and slowly and steadily I became a slave to forces beyond my control. I tried explaining this to you and if one person got me, it will always be you. But words are both spoken and unspoken and the latter always resides even after you think you’ve purged it all out. I felt like I was being a burden, a curse and a shame; thriving on my self-pity like a leech on blood; growing fat, drinking the blood of sorrow, and by and by I needed freedom and though I smashed the trapdoor with my fists, clawed at it even; it refused to open, and day became night and night became day and I lost sense of purpose like a walking cadaver doing his duty.
But I kept at it, until fate wrung me dry of emotion, and apathy kills darling, but also gives a man courage. I didn’t want to fake love, to fake sorrow, to fake that you meant something long after my heart grew cold. I wanted you to mean something always because nobody else gave a damn, nobody else fucking cared. I’ll remember your passion, vulnerability, elegance and fierceness if there’s an afterlife where sorrow lies defeated and we drink from the waters of beauty and rest on the shores of inner quietude.
Now, I don’t expect you to understand. And even if you do, I don’t expect you to forgive me. I love you and though they’ll say, “He never meant it because love translates into action,” and they’re right, I just want you to move on, to exorcise yourself of me if necessary. If what I did is cruel, then use it against me, but let me go right there. If what I did is difficult, don’t try solving that puzzle. If what I did is spineless, then remember me for being yellow and nothing else. I wish I could explain more but I can’t. I write this with dry tears and a dead soul and if that sounds harsh, remember me for being evil and for not walking hand in hand with you, and breaking ‘forever and always,’ even though paradoxically you are forever and always.