October 6, 2016 § Leave a comment
true // love
What is this incessant melancholy that hangs around my spirit like stale smoke? I am contented, I tell myself. I have accomplished the things I set out to do this year. I’m poised for greater adventures ahead. With my birthday looming just a few days away, I have many things to be grateful for.
Why then is this darkness lurking just beyond my peripheral vision?
Simple. I mourn the things that played out strangely different from the countless rehearsals held in my head. I wrote the script but the actors didn’t like the lines. The props fell apart and the scenes… forever lost. No one would remember the original play, forever seeing only what unfolded. Would I ever dare pick up that beautiful script again, try again to make real my visions?
I strongly doubt it. I’ve grown cynical of true love, for what is true?
<blackout on stage; cue mournful violin solo; follow-spot on Woman #2>
I know love. I’ve tasted it. Shared it. Lost it.
I know passion. I’ve indulged in it. Felt its dying embers.
I know desire. Answered its call. And went home empty.
But what is true?
<blackout on stage as flickering images of random YouTube happy moments are cast onto backdrop, some random bittersweet music plays>
<follow-spot on Woman #3 centrestage>
True is what you are to yourself. True is what you do for yourself, to make yourself contented with who you really are and not for someone else’s acceptance. True is choosing to spend time with the people you want by your side when you die.
True… is not another human who brings happiness, it’s you. It’s me.
It’s who we are in the dark, down on our knees crying, wailing, moaning in silent pain before washing our faces and going out with a smile. It’s the choices we make when no one is watching or judging, but choices we make anyway because that’s who we are. True is not an experience to wait for. It’s an experience we make with ourselves.
<blackout; Woman #4>
Nevermind the man I fell in love with who ghosted on me months after.
Nevermind the man who strong-armed me into having sex with him.
Nevermind the man who, after hearing that story, cursed and left me.
Nevermind the affectionate bastard with the wittiest conversation who really was just looking for the next lay. And who I unfortunately developed feelings for.
Nevermind the men I dated. And dated. And dated.
Nevermind if after all these experiences I doubted myself, hated myself, wondered why I was so pathetic, stupid, blah blah blah… I knew deep within me that they just weren’t that into me. And for good reason.
I wasn’t ready.
Because I wasn’t yet true to myself.
<blackout; Woman #1>
I’m a mother.
<Woman #2> Writer.
<Woman #3> Lover.
<Woman #1> Teacher.
<Woman #4> Daughter.
<blackout; follow-spot on Woman #1>
When I can be true to all these different facets of myself, I will meet true love — every single day in the mirror.
But then, perhaps, just perhaps… I’ll also meet him at my regular coffee-shop around the corner. And this time, I’ll be ready.
April 23, 2016 § Leave a comment
“Promise me one thing?” Eric suddenly stopped walking, grabbing my hands. “Promise me you’ll start writing again. But not for me, work, or any other audience you might have. Write again for yourself because you need to. Don’t lose yourself hun.”
I nodded as he embraced me tightly, doing my darnest to hold back the tears. He was leaving and we knew better than to try anything but say goodbye. Watching him walk away, I chose to smile through the dull, throbbing ache that quietly engulfed me.
I remember the ride back home that night.
I remember the days that followed after.
I remember how he used to look up at me in the middle of whatever it was we were doing, that lazy smile spreading across his face.
I remember it all. But as the days pass, the intensity of what I remember fades, like a painting left out in the hot sun. Pain-filled or beautiful, every memory loses its colour, creating space for new ones. And I’m scared. I don’t want to forget. Who are we but the sum of every moment experienced? What happens when these moments disappear?
I need to remember. I want to remember. This is why I have decided to write again though putting these words down on a blank screen is a struggle. The words aren’t coming easily.
I didn’t date for a while after Eric left. There wasn’t the slightest inclination to do so. We were still chatting occasionally on Skype and I was honestly happy with my life; meeting friends who made me laugh, hanging out with Dean (my foodie-buddie) and hitting the gym.
The contentment with life though, was unsettling. I didn’t want to wake up one day in my 60’s, surrounded by cats and knitting needles, wishing I had a companion.
“I need to start dating again,” I mumbled to Dean, my mouth filled with delicious burger. “I mean, what if I wait so long I forget how to even be with a guy?”
“That’s the way to go!” Dean whooped, “Because these muscles down here… you lose it if you don’t use it girl!”
I rolled my eyes.
“Dean… I’m talking about dates. Not one-night stands,” I reached for my milkshake.
“Yeah, that’s how you start. All I’m saying is, you never know where it leads you. And it’s great to hear you want to get out there again. I’m all for it!” Dean’s enthusiasm always made me laugh.
And that was how I got on Tinder.
Which was where I met George.
Believed I could actually try working at a relationship.
Only to be utterly disappointed again.
The limits of my language means the limits of my world.
― Ludwig Wittgenstein
“I want you to strip away everything you’ve ever memorized about writing. No more idioms, catchy phrases, adjectives you don’t use in daily life… lose all of them,” I explained to my student today. “Write from what you understand, but take care to spend time choosing the perfect word that describes what you see, feel, hear and feel.”
“So I just write what I feel or see in my head?” She really looked confused. Years of being taught to write fanciful prose in hopes of scoring a perfect grade had robbed her of a very important skill – she didn’t know how to frame her thoughts with words.
“I’m not going to grade you. You don’t need to fear failure. Just write,” I encouraged her. “Look for something in the story you can connect with and say what’s important to you. If you don’t have the word that describes what you’re feeling, that’s when you look for it. But it needs to be motivated by what you want to say, and nothing else. Most definitely not your audience nor your grades. That’s fake.”
“Okay, I’ll try that.”
And like her, I say the same thing too.
“Okay, I’ll try that.”
I’ll try stripping away every pretension, the need to impress or be perfect. If clumsiness mars my syntax, forgive me. Writing feels both strange and familiar at the same time. What I long to see appear differs greatly from what I had hoped. One day soon (after much practice and with good timing), I’ll nail it.
Much like love, really.
“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.”
I’m writing again, Eric.
I’m keeping my promise.
Not to you, I know. You wouldn’t want that.
But for myself.
I’m writing again.
January 9, 2012 § Leave a comment
A dear friend popped into my mind today.
It’s been several months since I last heard from that person and for the weirdest reasons I still can’t quite fathom, I began to recall the conversations we used to have, and the funny circumstances under which we first met.
Like the time we stood at the shop front and tried on different wigs…
The noodles we ate at a nearby Chinese food store, when we stopped being strangers…
Our waxing lyrical over the coffee we drank because it was comfort food…
How we began texting angry messages to each other when frustrations hit us at work…
And the day I got bright orange helium balloons as a cheerful gift but lost them as soon as I got out of the cab. ‘They untied themselves from my hand and flew off into the air!’ I fumed while you laughed. ‘God was watching over me!’ You declared because you knew I wanted to embarrass you with the absurdly bright balloons…
Two years have passed since that friendship first began, but we began contacting each other less and less as work and life got in the way. We were both seemingly happy, or at least, heading in that direction – one with a new love interest and the other, with work that grew interesting.
We still texted occasionally, but the last few messages I received felt a little darker than usual. I didn’t dare to ask too much, because I knew not much would be revealed… and yet, something bothered me.
And tonight, I just needed to ask:
My dear friend,
How are you doing? Is everything okay?
I hope the sun shines beautifully over you – wherever that is, and that you still skip a little, especially on days that feel grey. I wish you great belly-deep laughter and hope you have a lovely cuppa because remember: you are awesome and always remembered.
Your friend always,
December 8, 2011 § Leave a comment
As the year ends, it’s inevitable that some form of retrospection takes place. And tonight, as we watched some of our home videos taken just 4 years ago, it struck me how fast things changed in that short span of time.
There’s nothing that trumpets change more than observing a child grow.
I watched chubby faces grow lean, feeling a bittersweet ache settle in my arms because I can’t carry the not-so-little ones anymore.
I watched carefree laughter and impromptu dances turn into self-conscious walks and troublesome worries about school, life and friends.
I watched time relentlessly plough on through, disregarding my frustration at not being able to be home more, to be there for them often… and felt as if I’d missed a huge growing stage in their lives.
And that was when it dawned on me that 2012 may not be about the greater challenges I want to overcome, new mountains I want to scale or finishing lines I want to cross.
‘I never believe parents when they say it’s all worth it,’ someone once remarked, after seeing a friend struggle with motherhood. ‘I mean, to give up all that you are for another smaller person? To let them dictate your life?’
I myself had devoted my early years to the little ones, waking up and sleeping when they did, socializing less because I needed to be with the kids. But once they started pre-school, I very purposefully started re-educating myself too, on who I was and what was important to me. And maybe I did neglect the family. Maybe I was selfish for several years, while I looked for my own identity. Maybe… I needed that.
Because tonight, I felt as if I’d finally come home to what’s really important.
2012 – it’s all about coming home to love.
October 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
July 24, 2011 § 1 Comment
I have a cracked reflection of things beautiful.
I lost the wonder beneath the things that once were.
Standing in the middle of my room, I begin to cry
Because of who, no, what I saw in the mirror.
I hate to admit this but I’m going to anyway. Realization is the start of discovery and maybe I’m hoping that by being honest, with myself, with you dear reader… I will start on the road afresh. I’ve been sitting by the side, wallowing in the dirt, heaping condemnation upon condemnation on my head. Not anymore.
Since a year ago, I’ve piled on the pounds. From a UK8/10, I now have to buy clothing in a size 12. It may not seem much, but it’s been enough for me to enter a state of horror and frustration because for the first time in my life, there’s nothing I can do about it.
I tried dieting. I tried exercising. I tried giving up. I tried to not care. I tried believing. I tried speaking. I, I, I. And each time I try something and it fails, I enter a deeper realm of self-disgust.
You’re pathetic, I said to myself. Others have more serious challenges to deal with, you have more important matters to concern yourself with. But faced with a closet filled with clothes I can no longer wear, comparing myself to the world’s lack or beauty only fuels the downward spiral.
‘I don’t think it’s just the weight,’ the Mother said. ‘When did the weight start to affect you so much? I remember when you first started putting it on, you were happy! You were fit and ready to do anything! You had a healthy self-image. You were running, and trekking, and going to the gym…’
‘I don’t know. I think it started in June. I have no inspiration to get out there, to care for myself anymore.’ I muttered at the computer screen. We were conversing via skype. ‘I don’t even write anymore. I don’t listen to music, I don’t read. I’m just… existing.’
‘It sounds like you’re mildly depressed,’ Mother said. Mildly depressed?
‘Was it after I left?’ Mother asked quietly.
‘I don’t know…’ I looked away because the tears were threatening to spill.
Mother was right. Ever since she left, I feel more alone than ever before. Yes, I am surrounded by love but nothing can ever substitute Mother’s caring for me.
And that’s when it dawned on me – I’m not facing a problem with my weight. It’s just a symptom.
I’d been eating to fill the hole inside my heart. I would walk to restaurants, just to order something that reminded me of her. I’d plan dinners that she used to plan. And every morning I’m alone, I’d sit at the dining table (where we used to sit together) and eat, eat, eat…
The oddest thing is, no one around me seems to understand how hard this is.
‘I miss my mom,’ I’d confide in my close friends. And after a nod, they’d change the subject to ask me how she’s doing.
Perhaps it’s hard for them to empathize with me. You see, it’s not just a mother-daughter relationship I have with Mother. She’s my best friend. She is my confidante. She’s the only person who senses my mood changes and is gutsy enough to go for the jugular and meet me heads on to question my belief system. She makes me a better person.
And without her… maybe I didn’t feel that good a person anymore.
‘You know I’m still here,’ she said. ‘I’m always here. You’re my daughter and I’ll still step in to help if you’d let me.’
And therein was the clincher. After she left, I thought I needed to be independent. I stopped updating her about everything in my life. I did my best to be her, to be like her as I handled the household affairs and family relationships. But I’m not her.
Deep inside, I was also struggling because I know why she needed to leave. I am in total support of her decision and at the same time, the selfish part of me was angry that she had actually left. That for the first time in my whole life, I had to face life without mother by my side.
‘I love you.’ Mother smiled at me, her face out of sync with the video feed. ‘I’m always here.’
‘I love you too.’ I whispered back, before logging off from skype and crawling into bed.
Something changed after that.
This morning, I looked into the mirror waiting for that sense of disgust to well up but it wasn’t there.
I had time to meet up with friends, enjoy a funny movie with the family and for the first time in months, lunch and dinner passed without the strange appetite I’d been fighting against.
At night, I walked over to the mirror and, summoning all strength into my articulation, I worked my lips and tongue to shape words I hadn’t said to myself in a long time.
Thanks mom, for loving me even at my ugliest. I love you… with all my heart.
April 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
‘A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.’
– Leonardo Da Vinci
I scrolled through the text messages on my phone and pondered a while on the conversation that had just taken place. So many questions, so many statements, so many emotions underlined the simple words exchanged and I couldn’t help it. I needed to do something. Anything… that could possibly help the other person.
Have you ever been in that same place? Where you want to extend a hand but haven’t the faintest clue as to what your extended hand of friendship could possibly offer?
I recently found myself on the other side of the extended help.
In the centre of several productions that were beyond what I could cope, I had to pull together a storyboard, a detailed list of shots, shooting schedules and a whole new crew on my own. Then I had to fill in the director role. It was overwhelming. I probably teared once every day in silence, as I sat and stared at my computer screen. The tasks were simply beyond me. So much depended on these videos… too much depended on me.
I’d already asked Mr. Black to help with the edits and he willingly agreed, on top of his own productions. So I knew what was going to happen after. But during? With a heavy sigh and heavier heart, I picked up the phone and texted DigiBoy.
‘Hey… do you think you could help?’
I paused for a few moments before hitting send. My reluctance was largely due to the fact that he was already maxed out with work, had recently gotten married to a really good friend, and rarely had days off to relax. Calling on him was something I’d avoided as much as I could. Until the moment I knew I couldn’t go on.
And when he replied that he’d help, I teared a little again.
I can’t explain what it feels like when a friend puts aside his life to help you get on with yours. And when his wife offered to be on set too… I fumbled with the phone. Where could I start to say thank you?
And still the encouragement came pouring in.
Kitty baked some lemon tarts and GuitarMan’s wife bought me a box of macaroons.
‘Hope this cheers you up!’ they both said. And it did.
I’d been looking forward to some rest and was ready to work a little on my days off. But what I didn’t anticipate was coming home to a major family ‘situation’ where one of my full-time helpers has to leave with immediate effect. This throws a kink in my work schedule as the replacement will then need to go through several weeks of training (to care for my handicapped sister) and I cannot imagine where that time will come from.
I already have two scripts due this coming week, storyboards to complete, yet more crews to assemble, two videos to edit with Mr. Black and if that’s not enough… Both my son and I came down with the stomach flu today. Throwing up was never fun.
‘Typical story-writing technique’ I said with slight sarcasm to Kitty. ‘Just as the chapter ends, a new twist creeps in at the end and you find yourself reading on.’
‘I’d read that book,’ Kitty quipped in reply. So would I, actually. Just that I can’t as I’m too busy living it.
I was all ready to curl up in bed and whine to my pillow (a pathetic replacement to Mother) when Mrs. Couple texted me.
‘If you need me to come over at times to supervise things at your home, I can. Don’t be shy to impose okay? I’m just a drive away.’
What can I say? I could choose to complain about my work (which by the way, I love) but have decided instead to feel the comfort of my friends. Because in the past few days, I’ve been loved by some of the most amazing people on the face of this earth.
That’s what I’d tell the friend I had the earlier conversation with.
Because while it’s true that there are so many genuine factors that give you reason to sink deep in frustration and anger (I know I would if I were in your shoes), there are more reasons to lift your head up and walk proud.
Not for the work that you’ve done in the past – you aren’t defined by old accomplishments.
Not for the truth your life could tell – words are as flimsy as the people who hear or repeat it.
Not for the future you know you can shape – you aren’t the sum of your potential.
Stand tall and unafraid because like the moon, your light is a reflection of a greater power. You are untouchable because no man can rewrite your story – the past, the present, the future. How can they when the lines in your book was written before they were born? When the ink that shaped the words came from His very own veins? When the very idea of you was personally created by the Dream Maker?
No man can pull down what has been placed to shine in the sky.