They descended slowly, those white mists. The academics claimed that meanings are forged in binaries where one cannot exist without the other; yet that night, there was only silence between us and nothing more.
The absence of the other houses the embodiment of nihility. It fetters and in dry, frightened steps, it paces back and forth. The void tarries in its surroundings and, apart from the clean sheet of white mist, there was nothing it in.
The academics claimed that meanings only thrives in binaries but perhaps they are wrong. You see, it was not that stiff figure of detachment as it recedes and flees; there was more to it than exile.
Meanings, I suppose, reside in multiverse where one reality collides against your endlessness. Because, my love, in this topographical distance between you and I, there exist the hundred attempts I’ve tried to find you and the hundred years I’ve failed.
But, in broken spaces and dimmest worlds, there breathes my defiance to never give up and my unwavering resolve to always, always hope.
“Do tell. What happened?”
“You mean you two confined yourselves in the hotel room for 48 hours and just talked?”
“Yea. It was surreal.”
“And you talked about what?”
“Solipsism. Narratives of suicides. Past life regression. Mercury retrograde. Parallel lives. Politics in art. Emile Durkheim. Effects of various drugs on nervous system. Angel’s trumpets. Waltz of Chihiro. Myers-Briggs. Both of us are INTPs, you know?
“Yea. Nerds. What else?”
“Chances we took. Chances we took for granted. Chances we never took. Second chances. Third. Fourth. Labels. Social stigma. People we have hurt. People we loved too much, in our best capacities as emotionally detached individuals. People we have to forego. Obligations. Uncertainties. Dull inanities in life that made us question if these are all we actually have in this material plane. Secrets we have never told anyone.”
“Mind to spill a wee bit of those secrets?”
“Ah no. Maybe next time. Or ask her directly but gain her trust first. I’ll introduce you.”
“As if. And then? What did you do after the talking?”
“We slept. Ah, no. We went out past midnight and had ramen, all the while conversing about anything and nothing at all. She’s eloquent and well-read. You’ll love her.”
“I’m sure. She’s a bit renowned, yea?”
“She worked hard for it, like really hard. They dismissed her at first, debased her creations even.”
“What did you two do after the ramen escapade.”
“We lay on bed and talked some more.”
“About what this time?”
“I can’t remember. While she was saying something, I zoned out and found myself regarding the details of her face with delight. She’s otherworldly. With her, I realized how easy it is to lose yourself without rehearsals and inhibitions.”
“That was… intense.”
“Yea but it is more like.. I think this is what friendship actually is.”
“You mean what?”
“I mean, I think friendship is the most sublime affection of all.”
Perhaps it’s the blood-soaked moon that douses us tonight. People who barely know each other clutter the streets and fill the alleyways. Lovers sit on the seawall and revel at the sound of the breaking ocean. Friends on the rooftop set up their binoculars and drown themselves in brawl and laughter. The world has gone mad but right now all I can see is the undulation of your tousled hair.
Perhaps it’s the night blooming jasmine. The evening opened the flowers and allowed its scent to spiral in the air. It seeped through the spaces in my window and invaded the room — all corners, every inch. You spun around and there was your three-day old beard. I traced the lines of your jawline with certainty. I took a deep breath and you exhaled my name and there was sea-salt and midnight and tenderness in it.
Perhaps it’s the morning light: warm and yellow and soft. The curtains hum the crunch of our footsteps as we strolled round the ancient parks. We were surrounded by statues of gargoyles and elves, of courageous beginnings and guarantees. You told me that raindrops fell on the park bench like fallen friends. That day I constructed a home in a strange and unfamiliar place.
Perhaps it’s the map, each country content beside each other. Here are the white forests of Russia. Here are the golden sands of Mongolia. Here is China and New Zealand and the thousand gods of India. Here is Germany. Here is Prague. Here is Egypt, and, inches away, here is Japan with its still lakes and cherry blossoms.
But, more than that, here we are, months ago, surrounded by gargoyles and jasmine and morning light, loved by the birds outside my window. And there you were, laughing, worshipping the broken rain, your eyes in golden numbers, your beard with its lonely trees, sea-salt against my skin, the memory of you behind my pillow, your tousled hair undulating inches away from me.
I think we have silently harbored our reservations and contempt towards one another. I have heard yours, and in a way or another you have heard mine but completely missed my point in most cases.
Lately I find you inauthentic actually. Too pretentious in the social media; too pathetic almost, overtly craving the approbation of the online folks at the expense of integrity.
What I’m trying to say is it’s not just you alone who wants to walk away from this — I do too. I no longer want you in my life.
Sometimes I want to take back everything I have said, every idea that I’ve articulated, my words and phrases that you’ve mimicked and taken as your own. I wish you would stop doing that. It’s annoying as hell, this sheer absence of originality.
I silently rue ever introducing to you the people I know, those closest to me, unknowingly lining them on the road filled with your opportunism. I wish you would just leave them, really. You are rude beyond reason, beyond belief.
Take heart on this: more than anything, I want you out of my life and out of everything — and most especially out of every one — that I hold dear.
It’s a bit dim but there is a beautiful memory deeply lodged in the indented piazza of my childhood recollection.
Like all the other kids, I have godmothers and godfathers. One of them, my godmother, is a couturier. This explains why my clothes back in the 90s were specifically tailored for me. Her husband, on the other hand, is a photographer.
My mom normally commissioned their services each time there was an event in town wherein I was invited to participate.
One time, my mother left me in their house. I don’t remember much about that day but I do remember a long, tenebrous corridor lined with stuffed animals.
By stuffed animals, I don’t mean toys made of fabric and cotton. I mean actual animals, dead and preserved and striking in their haunting beauty.
The trick there, I noticed, was the chip of glass planted inside their eyes. This was what made all of them flare with life.
At the foot of the stair, there stood two white wolves. Their mouths were half-opened; the crinkles on their snout boasted its prominence. They looked as if they were about to jump and slaughter their prey.
At the top of it was a cat, curled and sleeping. Except the cat was stuffed, like the wolves so it was not sleeping but dead. There was an owl tethered from the ceiling, there were rabbits and guinea pigs and other species of birds and dogs, and they all inhabited that long, tenebrous corridor.
I do not remember if there was a window at the end of it, but I remember walking in that musty hallway, lined with dead, stuff creatures and feeling not a nip of fear but a burning fascination. I remember the creaks of the wooden floor and the echoes of my footfalls.
I was five years old, and at that tender age, I have discovered my love for everything that is strange and remarkable.
We’re literally verging on death and no one even bothered to properly orient us on what it would be like.
There’s the West Valley Fault, ready to strike a fatal blow that will make buildings crumble and set an entire city afire. There is always the Tokhang, a ruthless method that could practically annihilate and gun down anyone through gossips and word of mouth. There’s the brewing tension between the North Korea and the US, the possibility of nuclear war and bioterrorism breathing at the back of our necks.
Earlier today, a friend of mine witnessed an accident. A death, I hazard. Broken bones and crumpled body. A loud explosion, a worker coming face to face with electrocution. He fell from the roof of the footbridge, she said, near Session road. Mortality is easing up on us, she said.
So before any of these befall on us — any of these dooms — as it inevitably will, I would like to ask you to go out with me. We’ll go anywhere, anywhere at all. Everywhere, nowhere, wherever we want. We’ll talk and dance and scream and exist all at once. We’ll build bonfires and watch the stars and roll under the moon beams and in silence and anticipation, we will wait for the arrival of the morning light.
We will savour the last sliver of our days and we will hope. We will carry the splinters of our bones and we will find our way out of all these harms, into sea mists and sunsets in indigos and golds. We will never cease hoping. We will go on living and with each breath we draw against everything that happened to us, each beauty we make out of our sorrow and uncertainties, we will mock this grey, grey world.