strong too long

red was the colour of your day
the undertones in your speech and the words that you said.
wet were the eyes that looked for an answer
biting hard on lips that tasted saltwater.
deep was the frown etched on your forehead
as you battled the pounding of your incessant ache.
quiet you were, as you sat in your place
while your soul exploded in your silenced day.

*

Dear little marionette,

Why were you so angry today? I watched you closely, as you sat huddled over in a corner, as if cradling your hurt. I reached out but your walls were too high. Did you hear me call your name?

No one knew what you were going through. No one, because… you didn’t utter a sound. Only your computer screen saw the real you, because each time someone asked you a question, you slipped behind a mask before turning around with the brightest, loveliest of smiles. It was terribly, achingly convincing.

You weren’t always such an actor.

Remember the time you were three, and life was too confusing to understand? You vented your frustrations with wild abandon, only to find yourself locked in a cupboard. They couldn’t handle you, so they put you behind doors where they didn’t need to deal with the tantrums. Is that why you now put yourself behind such thick walls? Is this your form of protection?

I would’ve admired your strength today, if you weren’t cutting yourself in the process.

But I’m glad you managed to gather enough sense to send a message out to a friend, asking for help. You didn’t need answers then… you just needed someone who would understand. Someone who wouldn’t judge you, but cared enough to let you be yourself. Those few minutes helped and when you stood up to meet your next appointment, you did it with such cheer, I nearly believed you were better.

Until I saw you between the moments.

You walked with the stride of a weary man, your face loosened into a frown.

And oh! How the tears fell when you thought no one was looking… but I was. And when you weren’t looking, I gathered the little saltwater droplets into my bottle. Every little tear that caressed your face before it hit the table, I found precious, I couldn’t let them dry up into nothingness. Because what you went through today, wasn’t nothing to me. No, it meant everything.

That was why I delayed you back in the office till everyone had left. I needed some time with you. Alone. Now weren’t you surprised when I turned up?

What are you doing here?‘ you hissed at me. ‘How dare you turn up?

I need you to understand…‘ I began. But you turned away.

I wanted to understand! I asked, but there were no answers. I cried but there was no comfort. I raged but there was no release. You’re too late.‘ You said, and I felt your pain.

I am never late’. I answered. ‘I was there before the pain entered. I was there in the cupboard with you, in the darkness, years ago. I was there alone, before you began to understand loneliness. I was abandoned before you were born. I am never late.’

You didn’t reply. But I saw you begin to cry again.
And this time, when I came over to sit by your side, you let me.
I entered your pain then as yours began to dissolve.

‘I know you don’t understand but is it enough if I do? Will you let me be the one to shoulder all that you’re going through?’ I asked you.

You reached out to hold my hand.

Will the day come when you realize how precious that one movement of yours meant to me? I don’t know… but I loved you all the more, when you were weak.

Because it was then that you allowed me to be your strength.

I will always be here. And I will never, ever, leave you.

With love,
The Dream Maker

*

JD Salinger once wrote, ‘She wasn’t doing anything I could see, except standing there leaning on the balcony railing, holding the universe together…’

I’ve been trying to be strong for too long. And the harder I try, the weaker I grow. I used to think that if I didn’t hold the universe together, no one else would, for me. So I held tighter to the strings, pulling things with just the right amount of tautness, careful not to disrupt the orbit of every demand, every responsibility, every role… until I couldn’t anymore.

But while the day was a tormenting one… at least, I have found a semblance of peace in the break down. Maybe my universe will fall apart, and maybe it won’t. But at least, I’m not alone.

[To Smiley: may you find your peace too, in being completely, entirely, unable to do everything. It is a beautiful letdown, when we can finally fall apart. And one day… we’ll have our wide open spaces.]

Advertisements

the existence of the solitary

‘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.

such a perfect day…

I had a day to myself and for once, I didn’t choke it with plans.

‘Is it normal to feel this lazy?’ I asked the Mother.

‘Lazy?! We just worked nearly 14 hours yesterday. I think it’s normal to feel exhausted,’ she sniffled in reply. The flu bug had just bitten her.

Her words eased the guilt.

I left the house for a quick errand and thereafter, decided to walk from the Botanical Gardens all the way into town. It was a long walk but I donned my shades, plugged in to Kim Walker/Jesus Culture and began, what I would call, my perfect day.

I watched people, browsed many racks of clothing on sale and walked even more, cocooned in my world of abandonment in worship. It was sheer freedom. No one approached me, no one bothered with me (save a few curious glances at the girl who bopped her head to music they couldn’t hear) and smiled when a song hit a raw, emotional note in me.

As I stepped in to Topshop (and got ready to actually buy something), a song that I’d already heard many times over suddenly rang out clear in my ears. As I think back to that moment now, I can still see each frame with crystal clarity.

A brightly lit place with pounding music…
I am watching the stylish ladies huddled around the clothes…
Do they feel self-conscious? I wonder…
I remember my battle against insecurity every time I’m in a crowd…
I recall using clothes to define me…
I feel again the emotions when I wear something wonderful…
I browse the clothes too, searching for that feeling…
I hold a yellow top…
I hear the song…
I stand still amidst the babble of humanity that blurs in movement all around…
I don’t move, transfixed.

Life hit the pause button and realized why it didn’t matter anymore if my personal style wasn’t up-to-date. These things didn’t make me beautiful. I stood there with that piece of cloth in my hands for the longest time, staring off into space with a quiet smile…

Words can never say the way He says my name. He calls me lovely.

Lovely! I looked all around at the people rushing for new clothes, new looks, new images… did they feel that loveliness too?

No one ever sees the way He looks at me. He sees me holy.

Right there in Topshop, no one was watching me. To them, I was insignificant. But not Him…

Words can never hold this love that burns my soul. Heaven holds me.

I felt my insides explode with warmth as my surroundings melted away and I found myself encircled in His arms…

You would not believe the way He touches me. He burns right through me.

I began to feel the stirrings of a new desire, a longing to get away from the noise, the busyness…

And I could not forget every word He said. He always knew me.

I can’t forget. He never lets me. Even when I try to better myself with new clothings, new habits, new ideals, new rules for living… the truth is, it doesn’t matter. He already knew me at my worst and continues to love me with His best.

Almost apologetically, I put the item back onto the racks and walked out, hugged by a Man who saw me so beautiful. The rest of the day passed in an exquisite blur. I was high. But made one final stop at Borders to grab some magazines before heading home.

*

It was exactly what I needed today. A hug.

The past weekend was one filled with a certain despair. Dark thoughts ran through my head when I least expected and I know it may sound weird – as I’m always surrounded by people – but I’d been feeling very weighted down by an inexplicable sense of loneliness.

With just one song, everything changed.

I tasted again, the sweetness of acceptance.

Can it be real for others, what was made real for me today? I feel as though I’m bursting with the call: Come hear the Dream Maker’s serenade! He makes it all worthwhile. He colours in the greys with His love saturated touch. He longs to hold us tight…

And suddenly, I want to tell a bewildered generation that He dances and sings over them with abandon… as He does for me.

Can you see it?

Can you hear it?

Can you feel it?

It’s His love… and He’s calling out for you…

[Words and music by Jesus Culture/Kim Walker]