I think about the things I want to achieve before I die, the places I want to go, who I want to be before I die, but barely how I’m going to die. I imagine being old and wrinkled and happy, with pictures of my children and grandchildren beautifully framed by my bedside or tucked safely in a beautiful purse given to me by my oldest grandchild; and dying peacefully in my sleep.
When I was 16, after a continual bout of disappointment, I had written a letter to the maker of the New Year, complaining about how stale the supposed New Year was and how the only new thing was my beautiful niece, who cried louder than the bells of the Catholic Church have ever sounded.
After several days of waiting in vain for a well- muscled postman with illuminating wings to deliver the letter, I gave up on making New Year resolutions. Years down the drain, to appease my maturity gods, I make a list after 5 years.
How far doth the wind blow?
How high doth my voice go?
How fair has thy maiden fared?
It had been an overwhelming month. Starting up the ladder felt like stepping into an overcrowded bus, everything seemed impersonal, no one was concerned whether I got a good seat or no seat, or if I had something firm to hold on to through the ride.
I longed for familiarity, I searched hard, and whenever a known face came in sight it faded away before my smile could reach my eyes. That was hard for me to accept. I gave up my seat for another, why couldn’t they hold my purse while I stood?
Mother and I fought over everything. From the food I ate, the kind of boy I had to marry, the type of panties she did not want to see me in, to my unkempt hair. But God! How I love her! I remember one dawn, delirious from pain and entertaining thoughts of death. She lay with me and cradled me to sleep, singing softly to me as if I were 8 instead of 18.
Fast forward. She lay unconscious, as I dribble ‘I love you’ on her skin. Dying inside of me, wondering if I had been the perfect child, longing for her cheerful self for just one minute, so I could tell her I will strive to be who she wants me to be
I miss us ten years ago. I miss being a closely knit family and fighting with my brother across the hallway
And just when I feel like we’ve each detached ourselves from this big quilt, they somehow manage to wrap it tighter around me
Friends, love and tomorrow
I heard about her death in a bus home. And the pain I felt, clutching my phone hoping someone else would call and say it was a joke. Questions running through my mind, what ifs and whys
I remember the look of surprise I had when she had a baby, thinking to myself how I hadn’t even kissed a boy yet but she had gone ahead and had a baby. Never once thinking of what she must be going through. If remorse could reverse things, I would wear a case ash cloth. We never appreciate the people around us till they’re no more.
I was learning that even though we kept our heart’s door open, not everyone wanted it ajar. Sometimes we become so compact around other people; you are a fully laid out bed, but your potential could be compressed into a mat, and we become useful for only the things we need off of each other, fitting into a list of other people we know, in a hierarchy of value we’re not even aware we are auditioning for.
So we remain stuck in role playing and we continue to play it till the curtains fall down.
I need you for 13 months, 3 days and 2 hours
Take the cue baby, take the cue…
I’m learning not to let rejections and disappointments forge my personality, and just because I’m not inclusive in the decisions of the people I love, make them any less lovable.
And for today, just for today, my life is an incomplete proverb.
It’s only halfway through, but it still makes sense