‘You know what was the hardest part about traveling alone?’ Spike said, as we looked at his pictures taken in Greece. ‘It’s the moment when you see something so utterly beautiful and you turn around because you want to share it with someone, and realize there’s no one there.’
‘I saw a fat lady and wanted to criticize her, hear a laugh in response, only to remember that you weren’t with me,’ he said to his wife.
‘Are you going to be home tomorrow?’ the little girl asked, ‘Because it doesn’t matter if I’m reading or watching the television, I just want to know you’re around, that I’m not alone.’
‘You always loved to fall asleep within earshot of the adults,’ The Mother once remarked, ‘I think the sound of people talking, knowing that we were near as you closed your eyes, somehow comforted you.’
If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears, did it fall? And if a person exists in the world but lives disconnected, watches the sunrise alone, eats at a table set for one, laughs and cries in solitude… does the person exist at all?
Ojichan was a Brigadier-General in the Emperor’s Army and unlike his fellow men, didn’t like to play politics or challenge boundaries as he was samurai-like in his beliefs: he was ready to sacrifice everything in his life for the Emperor. Refusing the pat-my-back-and-I’ll-pat-yours relationships with his mates, he lived as an outsider – a man disdained, feared and respected at the same time.
His daughter – my mother – grew up isolated and alienated from her friends as she barely had time to deepen a relationship before she was shuttled off to another base with the family. It was only a matter of time before she decided to leave her country to pursue music, this time, choosing to be the outsider.
I carry their blood in my veins.
It comes almost naturally to me then, to stand alone, relishing this outsider mentality (perhaps as a form of defense) while the deep melancholia so evident in their personalities seems to be ingrained in my own. I don’t like it one bit.
I like to be connected and yet, somehow, from birth, I was always different.
‘I don’t want to be your friend,’ a child sneered at me on my first day at school, ‘You talk funny.’
‘That girl is so different from the rest,’ my father’s sisters would gossip, ‘It must be because of her mother. They’re different, you know?’
‘Why do you have to do things your own way?’ the school prefect chided me, ‘Can’t you be like the rest and follow the rules?’
‘She looks like one but doesn’t behave like one,’ the Husband’s parents commented, ‘She needs to learn about her roots, remember where she came from.’
I’m not strange. I listen to the same music that thousands of people around the world listen to. I read books that have settled on the bestsellers’ list. I dress like millions who have inducted the latest trends into their wardrobe. My ideas and thoughts are common, the paths I walk well-tread by many who’ve gone on before me.
And yet, I find myself in a world where oftentimes, I stand alone.
No one said that this would be easy
No one read the fine print underneath
Up ahead, danger is gleaming
On the edge of a lost memory
You have got to find the key somewhere
To unlock the mystery, if you dare…
– The Postmarks
There was another Man who walked the earth and knew He didn’t belong. He was never welcomed in His town and was both despised and loved by people He cared for. That same Man understood the loneliness of the fight in His pursuit of a dream. In His final hours, He pleaded for a way out and yet, in that moment, He looked through Time… and saw the faces of many individuals standing alone, isolated, disconnected, their very existence hanging on the balance of His decision. He did what He could. He changed history.
Today, that same Man stands by my side in my melancholic night.
‘You’re not alone,’ He whispers to me. ‘Your existence was acknowledged before you were born. And I loved you then. We were connected through Time and nothing changes that.’
The mystery of a story written before the ages.
I existed in those pages.
And I am, now.