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Fleeting Little Phenomenon

davidng
Art by: David Ng

“Aren’t you angry,” you asked “that we met only now, and we already have to say goodbye?”

I would have been grateful for even one day. For even the blink of an eye. Shooting stars and meteor showers are fleeting, too. Should we be angry that they couldn’t last longer? And yet, with these goodbyes, it’s so hard to focus. All I can think about are all the hellos they will bring with them. We have too little time to be upset. Whether it is a week or 60 years. It will never be enough time. Only infinity would ever satisfy us.

Am I angry? I haven’t given myself time to be.

It’s so rare, this. I can’t complain. My days are filled with thank yous to the Universe.

It is paradoxical, too.

That there will never be enough time. And yet however much of it we will get will be enough. Because this, this is like a comet we could have never caught at all. Something that only happens every hundred or thousand years. The requirements for this to happen were something along the lines of: to have been born on a Sunday at 13:03:56, gone to 3 different high schools, have had a friend called Dudley, seen a peacock every 2.5 years, worn green every other Tuesday, taken the bus 156 times a year and hated watermelon for half your life. If even one day had happened differently, could you honestly say life would have happened the same?

This thing we have is as beautiful as a meteor shower. And how lucky we are to have caught it. How lucky we are, that we do not have to spend the rest of our lives wondering.


Note: Ahhh, today is the last day. This is Day 30 of my little NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge. I wanted to end on something that said: “Ends are beginnings”. I’ve strayed a little from the intended goal, but I hope you liked it and that you’ve been enjoying these 30 days of writing. It’s certainly helped me understand my writing better. And with this, I guess this is the end of NaNoWriMo this year. Who knows, maybe next year…

 

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Centre of the Lost World

phazed1
Art by: Phazed

I’ve missed watching the world go round ever since I started working. These days, I’m the one always going around in an orbit, traveling up and down, across the country. I’m the one taming these rocky roads in air-conditioned buses, from morning til the sun sets.

I’ve been bustling around, always going somewhere, not taking enough time to notice how it is I’m getting there. I’ve been so caught up in my bubble, my little snowglobe of a life to realise that there’s something bigger out there. It’s a particular brand of narcissism, self-centredness. You never realise it’s taking place. It just unravels, and you are unaware.

Then, life happened, as it always does.

For a little while, for a little while, the bus broke down. The air conditioner fell apart, the cold air collapsing under the heat of the outdoors quickly spreading.

Imagine a tiny wooden figure, carved and paint peeling, emerging from a snowglobe, tottering around, toppling over into the heat, dwarfed by the blades of grass rustling overhead. That is what I imagine I must have looked like. Tiny, and a little wooden, at first lost, then in awe and fear of the sheer grandeur of this world. There really was nothing around, too. No buildings, no houses. The trees alone towered, as they must have so long ago. And the fields grew on one side of the crackled concrete to the other, showering the hot asphalt in small blooms smeared with powdery pollen.

The grass was quietly growing, soaking up the sun and the richness of the earth. And just like that, it was overtaking the place, making the small bus shelter look like something out of a dollhouse when compared to the rest of the scene. The grass grew, ignoring civilisation, uncaring of concrete. It just grew. It is all it knows how to do.

Quietly, quietly, I lowered myself onto the ground, peered into the unencumbered sky that seemed freckled in stars and deep, like the ocean. I watched the grass grow for a little while, thinking that it might overtake me too. Someday it will, someday.

But not now, I thought. Now, I live. Now it is time for me to watch the world go round, to stay still and let all things live and move and die and regrow. It is my time to appreciate, to contemplate life.

And if I left feeling more mellowed out, as though I had melted slightly under the sun, if I left feeling less wooden, my movements swifter, if I left, taller than the grass that surrounded me, I never really noticed.


 

Note: It has…been a while. But I’ve had the flu, so it’s been a little complicated. I hope all you lovely people have been doing well though! I should probably be resuming ‘normal’ posting this week 🙂

 

In the depth of winter I finally learned…

“Yet much as it is winter now, it is spring, too, in many ways…my soul bears patterns of flowers pressed in between the creamy pages of well-read books.”

9jedit6
Art by: 9jedit

The light summer breezes that ran swiftly down my forearms are turning cold, now. The chill nipping at ears and fingers and noses. Night comes earlier now, too. Overstays its welcome well into the early morning, and is too lazy to leave right away when asked to.

In the depth of winter I finally learned…

By the bus shelter on the other side of the street, tiny leaves, all yellow and orange, flutter about in the air, landing in curls of wild hair left loose for the wind to play with, insinuating themselves in hoodies and in between layers of clothing, trying to find home somewhere else, trying to draw out life as long as they can. There is a girl standing there, or so I imagine, right by the sign that reads ‘bustop’, leaning dangerously close to the curb, as though buses could be hailed. Wrapped in voluminous coats and scarves that brush the tip of a reddened nose, she shuffles around impatiently. Soft clouds of frozen breaths come in short bursts, hanging over her head like speech bubbles the world would never know how to fill. There she is, a young, frantic soul trying to escape an inexorable winter. But it won’t let up—slowly, it settles in, eating the mountains, the plains, the heart of the city bit-by-bit, like an infection, almost.

(Maybe I was that girl a few years ago)

Yet much as it is winter now, it is spring, too, in many ways. It is spring in the way that I feel. As though my soul bears patterns of flowers pressed in between the creamy pages of well-read books. It is spring in the way that smiles will sneakily stretch onto my face without prior consent. It is spring in the way in which I have never known spring—it has always been summer or winter, there have never been in-betweens— but know that this, this has to be spring, so inexplicable it is if it is not that. It is spring, even in the cooling depths of winter, because it could not be anything else.

…that there lay within me an invincible summer.


“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible summer.”

 — Albert Camus

 

Kraken of Consumerism

consumer
Gif by: Unknown

It’s strange how you realise you don’t want something until you have it.

I suppose it is the equivalent of “You never know the value of something until you’ve lost it.” that I never saw coming.

Lately, I feel like I am growing increasingly singular, that I am going waist-deep into larger-than-life concepts, espousing new ways of being that I don’t always know how to explain. What I have understood so far is this: I am growing tired of restless consumerism, of consuming for the sake of consuming, of always being hungry, always eating, and yet never feeling sated.

I am hating how consumerism is the default way of existing, that we consume as an automatism, never fully conscious of what we are doing. I mean, how many times have you bought something only to later realise you did not need or want it? That it didn’t fit you, that it would never serve you any purpose? Or the way we consume our time—haven’t you ever been idling about, and then somehow, found yourself waking up from a spell, realising that you’d been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram for an hour now and that, try as you might, you could not really say what it was you were doing?

And I don’t think it’s about consumerism itself, but rather about the way we consume things. Like an automatism. Without thinking. Without needing it, really. Or needing it just for the sake of having it, then moving on to greater things to consume.

I cannot help but feel that that kind of consumerism steals our consciousness away from us. Makes us black out and ignore the world and our natural selves as we become monsters, krakens of consumerism without knowing. We don’t know that we’ve changed or what we’ve become because we don’t know what we’ve been doing. And it’s such a vicious circle, this wanting. This hunger that is like a black hole, a void that can never be filled even as it sucks you in, even if it were to have the whole universe.

I don’t want that anymore.

I want my time back. I want to see where I am going.

Although at the same time, this revelation does not come alone. It brings with it other truths, uncomfortable facts that I do not wish to deal with. Not yet, at least.

Adventures in the City

“Saturdays are for leaving the house, then returning, not knowing what will happen in between, where exactly the city will take me, or which train of thought I will board that day.”

ayhamjbar
Collage by: Ayham Jabr

Saturdays, I have decided, are for lazy walks around the city.

They are for dilly-dallying, for wandering down all the roads with strange, wonderful names that I usually bypass during the week. They are for leaving the house, then returning, not knowing what will happen in between, where exactly the city will take me, or which train of thought I will board that day. It seems all I have on those days is a train ticket to anywhere and a pleasant, thrumming wanderlust.

Saturdays are for denim jackets that flap in the wind, for loose, wild hair that flies freely without care and for sneakers ready to follow the trail of urban adventures. Saturdays are for walking through the older parts of this ancient city, in those places where the trees grow so tall they become mountains that dwarf the sky into looking like flecks of blue idly passing by. They are for bathing in the honeyed light of the sun, for stopping at bridges just to watch the water flow by in rivulets.

Saturdays are for walks in forgotten gardens, those ones that are protected by trees  bending over them, standing as boundaries between the city and its gardens, accidentally creating havens and whole other worlds in the process.

Saturdays—this Saturday was for eating melting ice-cream while sat upon graffiti’d walls, looking over the city and its people while humming some happy song. Or trying to decipher the meaning of the message written in the skies. Today was for wearing a scent and letting it drift to the wind, to the city’s rooftops and to the harbour, even to the foot of the mountains.

Yeah, this Saturday was for taking blurry pictures of the sky, not to share or post on Instagram, but just to remember. To remember that this Saturday happened. That life can be good and beautiful without being complicated. That it’s always the simple things. In that case, maybe Saturdays aren’t for all those things after all. Maybe they’re just a day to breathe, to be.

 

Hello WordPress,

I’ve missed you. I’ve missed writing. And reading so many people’s works. I’ve missed interacting with really great bloggers, reading things that make me want to re-read them, the way you listen to a song on repeat.

But I guess sometimes life happens, and you can’t really help it.

I’m making this sound sad, but it really isn’t. I mean, I got a job!

A pretty nice one. In a pretty cool place. Doing one of the things I enjoy most: writing. Now, I’m not writing novels or editing them. But I’m writing still, so I’m grateful. I mean, for some perspective: I’m a millennial in 2018 and I got a job in my field of studies which also happens to be something I like. I’m really, really grateful.

I’m not sure why, but I felt the need to give an update. To write that I will be writing more. That hopefully, my writing will be able to get back to the way it was (in some way) before I stopped writing regularly this month.

Thank you for everything, all you cool people who make up WordPress. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for writing the amazing things you write and letting me discover them.

It’s good to be back. Hopefully, this’ll last.

 

 

 

 

Home, Away From Home

“Looking back, it is so much more. Life happens twice, I believe. Once in the moment, and again in retrospect.”

the_library_of_babel_by_owen_c
Art by: Owen Carson

Memories of my teenage years have turned into wispy little clouds. Something you could blow apart with your breath and yet something that still occupies space. I remember the greater themes, the main emotions, but the little details always escape me, out through a mousehole in my brain. I’ve always been a ‘bigger picture’ kind of person, for better or worse.

And in the ‘bigger picture’ versus ‘detail-oriented’ debate, I’ve always sided with my view of things. Though always secretly wishing that I could have both.

But how lucky am I, that I have time capsules buried around this earth. That memories are not just floating bits of data, that they are connected to scents and places, times and people.


I pushed open the doors to the library, and deeply inhaled the scent of books and summers past. It smelled of rainy Saturdays spent cooped up in a hushed library, of too-warm afternoons spent falling asleep, nose deep between the pages of an open tome. It smelled of extended lunch breaks spent reciting verse in the small school library.

It is home, this room filled with books.

It is lacking, yes. It lost its one copy of ‘The Little Prince’ and the floorboards are a little wonky.

But it is home.

It has been for a long time, now.

I’ve been borrowing books here ever since I was 12. Oh, back then, I was painfully shy and my nascent social anxiety did not make it very easy to be out in a cramped room with strangers. But I remember now, that first day. Even with all my fears lodged in my throat, I had been able to breathe in deeply the scent of inked pages, and then out.

As someone who did not fit anywhere else, who was still searching for some place to belong in, this was home.

My first home away from home. The kind of home you have to find when you grow up and your worlds, your circles expand. When you have to exist in places other than school and ‘home’. When you have to find yourself.

But you don’t really notice when you do it, when you spend every Saturday at the city library. You don’t notice how it shapes you or your life, how it later turns into an elaborate explanation of why you are who you are now. You do not realise how later on, it will turn into ‘that summer when I was 14 and used to go to the library every week’. Looking back, it is so much more. Life happens twice, I believe. Once in the moment, and again in retrospect.

But that library was my first safe-place. My little treasure-box, my solitary island. A place where I had long, silent conversations with characters from other universes, where I befriended authors I would never meet.

To think I forgot all of those feelings at one moment in time, that I lived my life not remembering seems ludicrous. But how lucky am I that I have time capsules buried around the city. That memories are not just floating bits of data, easily lost to Time.


Listening to:

A Young Heart

cheriseharris
Art by: Cherise Harris

Do you ever feel like…home is not home to all of you? That yes, home is soothing and comforting—safe, but even between the toasty layers of your pajamas and blankets, there still hides the smallest ball of light, vibrant and tireless, restless to just go. Scratching at all your carefully arranged layers of warmth, emerging like a heartbeat that you try to quiet down after each thump.

It is a secret you hide from yourself, willing yourself into ignorance, into safety. Not wanting to partake in the destruction of comfort so painstakingly obtained.

It’s strange to feel that so constantly.

To have your quietude stampeded upon from the inside. Defied by a wild heart bathed in kaleidoscopic visions of ethereal worlds. I want quiet and solitude, reflection, meditation, but my heart is still so young. Unused to the ways of life, eager to find out more, more, more, as much as the world can give and more, more, more. 

So it stirs me up from peaceful sleep, taints my peach-painted dreams in colours of sky and ocean. It whispers of adventures and worlds to be visited, explored, created. And like an overexcited child on a sugar high, it will not go to sleep. Never, absolutely not.

So when it can no longer ignore its pull, my weary, wrinkled soul will take that young heart out to see the world. And there is something about that youth, that excitement, that makes my soul bloom anew. If only just a little.

The newness of discovery reminds me again of how beautiful the world can be. If only you look at it with the right eyes.

 

A Love Letter

aenami
Art by Aenami

I never realised how in love with the city I was.

My heart has been lost somewhere within its centenarian cobbled roads, scattered in crumbs that I must find to return home, wherever, whenever, that may be. Time has split me into halves and quarters and eighths; now there is always a part of me wandering, living within the city’s walls. Sometimes I run into those parallel versions of me (occasionally the 16 year old me after that bold haircut, at times the 7 year old me hiding behind my sister) and the world flips over, sucking me into thoughts of a past self. Just like that, the world is not what it used to be.

But the city, even though it changes, remains much the same. Its spirit only strengthens with time, and it does not matter how old I am, which parallel world I’m in, the city is always there. It endures. The city will still be here after I die. It will still have versions of me running around in it, or sitting quietly under the shade of a tree, bathed in the warmth of filtered light. The city will still be here even as it crumbles and burns. It is eternal. To have held so many interwoven lives over so much time, it has become immortal, almost.

I didn’t know I was in love with the city until I stopped trying to become something to it. Until I stopped trying to be some other self. I remember when it was that I fell in love with it: that day, I quietly slipped into a backstreet and heard the city breathe, a sound all car horns and fresh breezes carrying the scent of the sea, and without knowing how or when, I breathed with it.

 

A Lie Beautifully Told

“If reality were nothing but an agreed upon lie, childhood would be the most beautiful lie we would have.”

KazuhiroHori_flood
Art by: Kazuhiro Hori

It’s always so strange to see childhood friends being adults.

To see them in suits and beards, wearing 9-inch heels and nail polish when I’ve seen them eating glue, their hair a nest, some of their teeth missing or moving precariously in their mouths. It feels like a masquerade, like another school show they’re putting on.

Any moment now, the sticker-beard will fall off, the nail polish will wash off and they will all shrink back to their normal sizes. In this way, life feels so unreal. Like I will wake up from a nap and will find myself in that old classroom with the worn wooden chairs, the smell of flowering trees and summer wafting through the windows, chalk dust all over my hands. And my friends will be laughing at me while my teacher sighs and tells me to go wash my face.

Sometimes, life feels like this weird, far-fetched dream, the kind you have when you’ve had too much sugar during the day.

Other days though, it is childhood that seems too farfetched. Too perfect to ever have been real. Like something a younger version of you would go to a genie to wish for.

But it’s real. Or at least, it seems to be. If reality were nothing but an agreed upon lie, childhood would be the most beautiful lie we would have.

Interludes with Death

“It happens at twilight, always.
That moment when Death and Life finally crash into each other and Death, demanding as it is, states that it will take her soul.”

ottoschmidt
Art by: Otto Schmidt

It happens at twilight, always.

That moment when Death and Life finally crash into each other and Death, demanding as it is, states that it will take her soul.

“No!” protests Life sharply, “You have taken so many already, just today too, you have spread so much agony.”

“No, I will be the guardian of her soul.” Life says tenderly, “She is lost and tired and I shall make her whole.”

“And you?” seethes Death, “How many have you brought into this world today? How many souls have you sowed for me to reap?”

“No, she is tired and would rather not awake. I will take her soul and give her rest.” Death murmurs, and behind his hard gaze lies, for one moment, something soft.

“You cannot take her!” Life chirps furiously, “There is so much that she can do! So much she will be for others! You cannot remove her from—from fulfilling the truth of her own existence!” Life advances, comes in between her sleeping body and Death.

“What kind of truth is worth this much pain?! What kind of—of happiness is worth it?!” Death roars, and for one split second, something in Life’s brilliant gaze wavers.

Death approaches her but Life stands as a barricade between them. Yet, with a gentle shove, Life is quietly standing on the sides, watching as Death’s firm hands sift through her hair, her fitful dreams.

“Release her, give her back to me. She did not know pain when she was with me, before you took her away.” Death accuses.

“Nor did she know happiness at your side! She did not even know herself!” cries Life viciously, yet not making any move to push Death away from the innocence of her sleeping face.

Ignoring Life, Death recalls:

“She was weightless with me. She knew nothing: no darkness, no pain, no sadness, no anxiety, no hunger. She floated like mist, and went about existing in the purest form, in the most neutral way. She was a star, luminescent, such beautiful energy…

“And now!” Death sneers, spinning to face Life in a flash of fury, face now ugly and contorted in rage.

“Now look what you’ve made of her! You have marred her! Sullied her!” Death accuses.

“What should I have done then?!” Life cries “Leave her to you until the ends of Time, and never let her truth unravel? Never let her see the very light she is made out of?

“But you’ve never known that, have you?” Life silently accuses, something cold gleaming in usually warm eyes, “You’ve never seen her when she laughs or cries, when she sits there, grateful for another day. You’ve never seen her ties with Fate, never, never—”

Death is quiet, thinking of those things he cannot understand, and a certain frustration gains him then.

“But I know them and know she would rather be made to laugh in earnest again.” Life looks at Death, pleading.

“Let her, let her,” Life begs, chirpy voice now even more high-pitched as tears threaten to spill. “You will take her anyway, and I will never again look upon her.” says Life, although there is no bitterness in that voice;  Life has long since accepted that it will always hurt, that Life will always lose over those most cherished souls to Death.

It is all too quietly that Life speaks: “Let her, for her sake and mine, if you care for that life half as much as I do, let her live.”

Something flashes in Death’s light eyes at the sight of her, at Life’s words. There is inner turmoil boiling in Death’s eyes, and for a moment, Death is at war with his own self. His selfish desire to have her at his side again, but the need to protect that life that had existed so purely before… And her truth, her happiness, her ties with Destiny he knew nothing of, except that it made for more luminous souls, souls that lasted into the universe.

Finally, Death huffs in resignation, clicking his tongue at Life in annoyance.

“Fool. I care for that life more than you do; I was there when it formed.” Death sends a final, longing glance at her, not trusting himself to touch her, lest he glanced again through those nightmares, and decided to take her away.

Ruffling Life’s light-coloured hair, Death turns his back with whispered words.

“I will be back for her.”

And in a fog of grey, he disappears.

29.09.15