Insomniacs.

Young adult old soul magical realism writing Pascal Campion
Art by: Pascal Campion

I am bathing in the comforting darkness of a late, late night, caressed by its sweet anonymity.

Beyond the window, leaves rustle, but no one save the insomniacs like me hear them. Somewhere out there, if you follow the dark long enough, you will find the light. Somewhere in this night, there is a daybreak. Not metaphorically. But very much in actuality. If you walk and walk along the deserted highways, if you are able to slip through the narrow pathways that open onto the ocean and if, after that, you reach the horizon, there will be a sun waiting — warm and glorious. A promised day.

Somehow, it is there that I find myself now. In this rising sun, kilometres away from this dark room and the cold circulating inside.

I’ve done nothing in particular to feel like this. At times, these thoughts catch me off-guard and I stay up waiting for the sun to rise, feeling eternal.


Note: So when I was little, I had really bad insomnia. Often I would just wake up in the middle of the night and sit by the window in the dark, waiting 3 or 4 hours for the sun to rise. I’ve tried multiple times to write about these weirdly formative nights but they were just that: attempts. Somehow, this 2-minute midnight scribble is the closest I’ve gotten to describing the feeling 🤷‍♀️

Beach days.

The sea salt is drying on my skin as I write you this, what once was the ocean leaving a taste of this morning’s swim on my lips.

Do you know what the beach is like when the sun has only just risen?

It is quiet, pacifying. New, as though the oceans hadn’t existed for light years prior to that morning.  There we all were, housing beautiful contradictions: we were star-skinned, yet pieces of a ticking clock, rewinding time yet moving forward.

I’ve known them for a very long time, these friends.

We were still tender when we met, eyes wide and cheeks plump, unaware of everything living entailed. We could never have known, 20 years ago, in between petty quarrels, skinned knees and games of tag, that we would ever reach here, now.

But there we were, making history, ignoring Time.

You know, Time is a mirror: when you ignore Time, it ignores you back. When you chase it, it chases you. When you check on it, it checks on you.

So because we did not care for Time, the morning passed slowly. The stories of our lives flowed like streams in the world we had created for ourselves, expanded the bubble that had unwittingly appeared around us. It is uncommon to feel both free and safe at the same time, but that’s exactly how I felt. Unchained yet protected. Another beautiful contradiction to add to the list.

Never let me forget this day, will you?


Listening to:

Note:
So apparently, you can add videos now, so I’m going to add a video just because I can. Did it have to be a vertical video though 😂

Good news!

Last year, I wrote about “taking my writing further“, beyond the safe space of this blog.

Well, guess what.

I received my first acceptance email 🥺😳

young adult old soul writing magic realism

It’s a fledgling local project, a prose and poem anthology, started by two twenty-somethings eager for change, passionate about the written word. So naturally, especially if you’re me, it seemed too good to be true.

But well, the book is being printed. All the proceeds are going to local NGOs, which elevates this already dizzying experience to heights that have me shaking from fear and exhilaration both.

And my name’s on it somewhere, among 49 other featured writers.

So thank you.

Thank you for reading, thank you for your kind words spread over 4 years now, according to WordPress. My writing would have forever remained between the lines of my notebooks without you.

young adult old soul writing magic realism

Note: I hope you’re all doing well, wherever you are.

Listening to:

Lingerer.

I’ve earned quite the reputation of being a lingerer.

I was always caught a little too long in the warmth of morning sheets, and I took hours steaming up the shower, only to emerge, skin flushed and thoughts nebulous. Voted most likely to run into a pole while staring at the sky. Serial latecomer, eternal late bloomer.

I settle too comfortably into moments — I melt into them like candy on a summer’s day: messy, gooey and all over the place.

I can’t help it though: I’m just so in love with the idea of being. It is magic to just be. To be able to create thoughts. To move your hand just because you want to. And feelings — how deliciously complex they are! Like scents, they have undertones and influences that make them unique. But there are always the classics,too: love, sadness, fear, anger. And how intriguing to have a place for your thoughts, for your dreams, for every unspoken part of you. Do you realise that every idea you have first existed as a spark of electricity in your brain? All of the world’s greatest inventions and art were born in that liminal space. Inexistant to the rest of the world, to MRI scans and brain surgeons but so vivid for you.

There are worlds inside my head always calling me. The worlds I knew first.

And then, there’s the world world.

How it is both overwhelming and small at once.

The sweetness of it amid its acridity. A flower bursting from the concrete, flocks of birds flying over industrial zones, the lullaby of the ocean, minutes away from the national reserve bank.

So I linger. There is so much to take in, to admire.

A lifetime will never be enough for this purpose: there is too much out there.

The sun, the sky, the progression of the day, mountains, the rain, the unnamed stars that light up our nights. The people.

How am I expected to be on time when all these ideas orbit my head? How am I meant to just accept it all, to brush the world and myself under a carpet and pretend it’s all…normal?

It’s not.

It’s exceptional, all of it.

So I will linger, charmed by the world and its ways, entranced by the inner workings of my mind. And I will call the clock a liar for saying I’m late. Because I’m not, I’m always right on time somehow.


Note: Still alive! Very much enjoying it, too. I hope and pray you are all doing beautifully as well. Also, are you or someone you know also a lingerer? Please tell me I’m not the only one lol.

Listening to:

In the universe.

young adult old soul magic realism
Art by: 9jedit

I like to take guesses as to what the universe is.

Some days, I think of it as a shell, washed up on shore somewhere on an odd planet, safe beyond even the reaches of our imaginations.

Other days, I wonder if the universe isn’t held within a dewdrop pearling precariously at the edge of a leaf.

Perhaps the universe is a pair of well-worn boots hanging by someone’s door.

Or perhaps still, it is hanging between the pages of an unserialised tome, tucked between a paragraph and a dried wildflower in someone’s attic.

Would that be so strange? It’s an odd life, to be sure. Can it not be that the universe that contains all of us — all we’ve ever been, all we are, all we hope to be — is smaller than we thought? What if we are a world within another world?

What if nothing was as complicated at it seems?


Listening to:

Zealous.

young adult old soul magic realism writing

I’ve been accused of hardcore cynicism in my time.

But well, life’s like a cat. It scratches me and then wraps itself around my legs. It finds me when I am feeling low and sits with me. Life endears itself to me, again and again.


In my hurry to leave for work, I left some chia seeds at the bottom of a jug of water. Without even seeing the light of the sun or caring to obtain my permission, these little devils sprouted on the side of my vessel. On one side, their roots unfurled all the way down to the shallow water; on the other, their long, green necks stretched to catch a taste of that promised glory, the nourishing touch of sunlight.

Eager, eager, eager: to grow, to be, to take up space.

4 days later, returning from the earthly matters that take up most of my time, I need my jug. And I find this illegal arrangement.

But really, at this point, what else can you do?

When you see these roots clinging, these tender leaves already crawling to the sun — when you see such desperation for life and you consider the pains it took to be itself, just, what else can you do?

I got my hands dirty digging around for some fresh soil. Out of an old cup, I fashioned a plant-holder and very gently peeled back every transparent root and laid them out into some earth.

I gave them fresh water and their first taste of sunlight. And a name.

Zenith the Zealous.

Wasn’t I once like that before? Eager for life, fighting for it. And now, if I can help another life grow, won’t that just be beautiful?


Quote of the day:

“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

— J.R.R Tolkien

Note: So this really is the day when I get emotional about chia seeds huh? 😂

Perspectives, intersections.

young adult old soul magic realism writing

I understand more wholly now the little insights and accidental glimpses I have into people’s lives.

I must have been too submerged into myself to notice before, too busy exploring my own depths to contemplate others’. It must be that you miss these sorts of things when you jump headlong onto a moving train — the bullet train of a 9 to 5 fueled by your days, months and years.


Every other life flashed by as minuscule dots of colour; blinking lights in the darkness. Only I was in focus. Only I was real. Everything else was mist: the buildings, the people, the rhythm of life.

Other people were…ideas, intangible concepts. They entered my life too rapidly for me to seize them, to feel the weight of their words in my hands, to connect to their stories.

I caught a flash of colour.

I blinked.

When I opened my eyes, it was already gone.

I would shake myself off, clearing the last of these micro-second mysteries from my mind.

“That was strange.”

And on my way I would be again, drowning in my loneliness, surrounded by millions of unraveling stories, wheezing past them.

I couldn’t exist outside of myself. It was impossible for me to imagine someone not being the way I was. Life was the same for everybody, with no more or less enjoyment for one or the other. It was a tacit piece of knowledge, understood through the narrowing lens of my perceptions, the shriveling of my imagination, the drying out of once abundant streams of consciousness.

That’s what happens, I guess. Your mind is cut and dried, uniformised, squared off until it becomes one-track only — the track designed by those that came before you, a path well-trodden.

Only vaguely could I acknowledge the idea that people were different. Of course, it was just surface knowledge. Statements you have to agree to, like terms and conditions you sign without paying attention. A distracted agreement, a “Yes, yes, alright.” you dismiss a child with.


But the bullet train has slowed down.

All these unknown lives are blooming in a million scents and textures: the mother who smells of baby oil, the couple that walks closely but doesn’t hold hands, the fastfood joint run by two bickering brothers, the papercuts on the newspaper vendor’s fingers, the spicy, taste-bud-burning noodle soup in China town, the dizzy children who fly kites come evening, the white-haired ladies bent at the waist to catch a glimpse of the life taking place beyond their doors.

Perspectives, intersections.

The train has stopped at an intersection, a cross-hatching of stories and identities, names and worldviews.

The world is large when viewed in its numbers, the summary of all it is: 195 countries, 7.5 billion people and counting, 6,500 languages — it’s impressive, awe-inspiring. But when you get into the details, when you stop to contemplate even a hundred of those 7.5 billion lives, well, the world becomes infinite.


Listening to:

Second Try.

It takes a night ride for a song to truly sink into your skin sometimes.

It is winter now and golden hour tickles the planes of my face at merely 5. An hour later, the sun sets. By the time I step out of my office building at 7, I am greeted by the stinging slap of dropping nocturnal temperatures, engulfed in the silks of night.

It’s a 4 to 6 songs-long route from there in H.’s bright red honda civic that’s lived very well indeed.

The thing about H. is he’s a mélomane. He loves music, understands it, composes it, lives it, could tell you the roots and influences of every musical genre, and explain the story behind every Beatles song. His guitar is named Lana Del Rey. Stars light up in his eyes when he speaks of auteurs-compositeurs-interprètes, artists who write, compose and perform their own songs. Because of that, he really doesn’t mind what music you put on, if you jump from genre to genre, if you swerve into a gentle indie song right after blasting an 80s electro-pop classic. He doesn’t mind because he loves it all. This kind of passion is rare, this love for art so pure.

So I feel comfortable enough to share my playlist with him.

And what a loaded gesture that is: playlists are so intimate. Songs become so personal they may as well be us, telling our stories, spilling our deepest desires as though we had written and sung them. Songs are tender spots in our otherwise hardened exteriors. They are windows through which the light comes in; windows that can also be shattered. It is a tremendous exercise in trust to give a song to someone else. You hold your breath as the first note comes out, watch the person intently for any sign of appreciation or dislike. Your heart hammers between your ribs, threatening to burst or flee. ‘Why did I do this?’ stabs your mind a thousand times in a few seconds.

And then, the first smile. The first ‘Wow’, the delight behind the ‘Who sings this?!’

Together, H. and I comment on lyrics, gush about vocal registers and hum to instrumentals. We sing, we wait a beat and then belt out songs in traffic jams. We ugly-laugh into the night.

It’s a budding friendship.

I had recently gotten a song from Kodaline — a band that never ceases to endear themselves to me with how simple and arresting their songs are, how natural they feel, as though they had simply come to be one day, like wild, seasonal fruits.

I’d carried this song around on errands all about the city, ears too sensitive after 3 months’ silence to bear the overwhelming allness of the capital: clangs and whirs, beeps and honks, shuffling feet, crashes, shouts, crowds… Occasionally, I’d flicked the song to the side, skipped it.

It’s something of a mystery how this song that had slipped past me took on new meaning in a speeding red Honda. The beauty I had failed to catch all of a sudden filled the air, something of a Big Bang: from nothing to everything, it expanded, hot, into every atom, every particle of dust and air, every bit of night that rushed through the open windows and then out.

And I wanted to ask myself why, why I hadn’t understood it before, why it hadn’t hit like it had in that moment.

But I couldn’t, you know?

When Life gives you music, you dance. When Life hands you a moment, you take it, no questions asked.


Note: I hope you are doing well, wherever you are.

Also, am I the only person this sort of thing happens to? I am usually fairly confident in my ability to understand something deeply, especially if it’s of an artistic nature. But every now and then, I’ll have HUGE blind spots and exhibit an astounding lack of taste. Case in point, this song by Kodaline. But also Moana. And the movie ‘Her’. For some weird reason, it just doesn’t hit the first time around??

 

 

The things people leave behind.

Rebecca Mock Young Adult Old Soul Magic Realism
Art by: Rebecca Mock

A mug with the face of someone’s fiancé on it, a pair of size 40 sneakers, a mini Buddha statue, an umbrella branded with the logo of a sports meet, summer festival stickers, cables, a Chinese piggy bank named Marge, waxy plastic leaves, an inflatable parrot that can fit on your shoulder, printed quotes.

What do all of these objects have in common?

Well, they are all things people have left behind in the small open office I work in.

Nearly 3 months have passed since I was last in this claustrophobic place and its garishly yellow walls, its comparably drab grey carpet.

During that time, life had seemed frozen, struck by an immovable force. But life finds a way, always, even during the most desperate situations. So in the midst of this great immobility, life managed to happen in defiant trickles and uncharacteristic daredevilry, as though people lusted for life, were consumed by desire for it. Disease and fear, closed shops and confinement held most of us back but still, still there were weddings and breakups, fights and reconciliations, people left their jobs, others became their own bosses.

Now, three months later, life is rushing back to all of the places it used to inhabit, still furious with the unspent energy of three months’ isolation, like a tide that had too long being held back from joining the sea. People are running again into the arms of the normalcy they had been forced to leave behind, eager again for the spell of habit, the comforts of routine and a life with as many pre-filled blank spaces as possible.

Two people have left  — the office, the job, the shared time and space vortex of a corporate position — and since they quit during the lockdown, it is as if they had disappeared suddenly or better yet, never existed at all. They have been erased, only the eraser dust that are these odd objects a testament to their ever having existed.

It is shocking to me how easily we picked up after that, how quickly we filled in their absences, like potholes on the road in a particularly well-governed country. Soon after, we went about as if nothing had happened.

It’s scary.

You can give so much of yourself over so many years, dedicate your time and weekends, sacrifice parties and dinners, give up relationships for it all to mean nothing once you leave. You can build the most elaborate sand castle, but someday the tide will come for it.

But these odd objects are there, reminders to us; to them, things they will not come back for.

It leaves me feeling incomplete, faced yet again with the realisation that life does not always end neatly. Circumstances do not tie off reasonably well, in line with any character arc or plot point. People come in and out of your life abruptly. There one day, gone the next. Life is jagged and out of control. You think you have mastered it, successfully tamed its waves into serviceable currents. But life, like the ocean, is wild at heart. It swells and falls through no will of your own and while you may navigate it, you will not overcome it.


Note: So, it’s been a month since I last posted, but let’s not dwell on that 😂

Listening to:

A revelation.

Young adult old soul magic realism writing
Gif by: Unknown

One unforeseen result of lockdown for me has been the stationery shortage, specifically of the pen variety, that I have experienced. Let me clarify now that by no means am I trying to complain here. I simply replenish my stationery stocks so often and so unthinkingly that the realisation I had run out of my preferred pens shocked me a little.

You see, in my country, we had a quasi-total lockdown for a while. This meant that you couldn’t even go shopping for food in grocery stores, let alone for stationery. The only places you were allowed to go out to were the pharmacy and the hospital. In that interval of time, and really, ever since lockdown regulations went into effect, there were many other commodities I had expected to run out of: flour, instant noodles (surprisingly intact now), conditioner. Miraculously still, my bottle of conditioner — only half-full two months ago — keeps giving and giving even now. It seemed strange that a somewhat luxury item like conditioner would endure and something as basic as a pen wouldn’t, even though they aren’t comparable like that.

But lo and behold, I soon had to make the switch from my preferred sleek gel pens with pointed nibs to somewhat rocky, awkward old pens with large nibs. You know, those ones you seem to have lying around for years and which still work, but which will only write in faded shades of grey or blue.

Yeah, those ones.

Needless to say, the writing experience just wasn’t the same. I loop a lot of my letters — no social distancing for my letters, no sir, no ma’am. Letters melt into each other, lines morph into curves and whole words are written in a single stroke. A non-gel, age-unspecified, large-nibbed pen does not allow for great looping, as you can imagine.

The thought crossed my mind for a moment:

“Why do you care?”

Why do you care that your letters loop, that your writing flows? What’s it to you if it does?

It was then that I took notice of the — frankly nice — notebook I am currently writing in. It’s a Harry Potter 9 and 3/4 notebook with pleasantly thick pages that don’t bleed through, a rustic, parchment paper effect covering the pages and beautiful, lush illustrations gracing a few pages. I have others lined up for succession too: an authentic Tibetan rice paper journal that reached me from, well, Tibet (through Thailand), a hard-cover, personal journal, my still plastic-wrapped Gryffindor one…

And it occurred to me then that I care about my writing. It is not something I do just out of passion but also, very much, with love. I had simply never thought of it that way. I’ve rejected writing for so long I had never come to realise that. I love writing, yes, this much I know.

I love writing.

I write with love.

They’re two very distinct feelings with distinct implications.

Strange as it may seem after keeping a blog almost regularly for 3 years now, it became an: “Oh, I never knew that about myself.” kind of moment.