Over Cups of Ginger Tea and Brandy

There is an odd gratification in the desire to go back to somebody’s past, not yours, to see how they laughed, lived and loved. The first few conversations leave you high and dry. You sit huddled at a table in front of them, your hands cupping your chin, listening with rapt attention to stories, to the way the details on their face change to match the stories being told, to moments they felt loved and hated, to the way they narrate moments of passion and boredom like they are one and the same.

Now they laugh and you wonder if the smile always was a happy curve like that. Now they sigh and you wonder if it always sounded like a cat meowing its way into your bed spread to curl up next to you. There are pauses that you fill with images of what you think they looked like back then, and the questions you ask imitate this curiosity.

‘When was this’ ‘How old were you’ ‘Where did you live’ as means of establishing a timeline and a younger face inside the timeline; a happier time? You don’t know and neither do they.

You look for signs of tiredness on their face, of having lived those stories, of reliving them now in accurate narrations and descriptions. Thankfully they are lovers of details, just like you are so you don’t have to prod for more. They are generous with their stories and you sit with your arms wide open trying to absorb everything you can.

Some days, you feel wiser because of their stories. Some other days you wish you were a part of their stories and imagine what you would be like at another time, sitting at the same table, the same waiters bringing you stronger ginger tea. You imagine these bits in black and white, they are ardently imagined but seem way more real than surrounding images – of color and traffic, of blue, green and white.

One round of questions and two rounds of brandy later, there is measured laughter. You don’t want to scare them away with all the loudness so you pace down and round back up again. More questions, more clarifications, more stories. Pause. An anecdote now and a funny story later, you are running after them trying to catch up to how they’ve changed. They draw you a canvas and you jump in, they make you a pensieve and you are sucked in.

You walk with them and revisit old shapes of familiar cities, old bookshops that are no longer there and old spaces that are written about in blogs you claim you accidentally found. You stumble upon a word and you try to arrange your life like theirs, you stumble upon a detail now and you aspire to make the same mistakes they made so at the same table tomorrow, you will have a story to tell.

Soon, their voice takes over your mind, walking you through your life. A still image in black and white keeps coming back and you hold onto it strongly. It’s you and them, sitting at the same table, a tablecloth today, and a pot of ginger tea, two cups and more conversation.

Over and out

It is difficult to admit to yourself when you fall out of love. There aren’t signs nor symbols to tell you when you do, unlike when you are in love where every tear drop is out of feeling lucky and blessed, every smile is a play of memory and desire and every morning is a prayer. Here on the other side, there is a void now which is slowly beginning to fill with everything you don’t say to each other. A pause that appears more than once in a conversation; it twitches and you want nothing more than to wrap it up and put it in your pocket; to let it out only when it is healthier and is sure to inspire thoughtfulness and shared smiles.

It takes longer to dress up now, you pick clothes you don’t find interesting. When you turn back at your door and see the light and warmth in the curtains and the slow, rhythmic rising of fumes from incense sticks, you sigh and hang on to the hope of another Sunday, when all of this will be yours to touch and feel.

You go to familiar places, hoping it will rekindle forgotten desires, now abandoned in limbos – neither here nor there. The walk from the parking lot to the escalator is the hope for a good day. Then you say something, he says something else. Your face freezes in an expression you know he detests but it’s too late to think of what he detests and loves. Or perhaps you don’t care. Within a minute, the promise of a good day goes grinning by, and all you can do is stand there and wait to finish your thought, the fight.

A warped sense of pity and gratitude beckons you to walk along with him and force conversations on him, like squeezing an empty tube for that last remaining blob of toothpaste. But all you get is a set of grunts to match your ridiculous questions. You are only checking to see if the day still has potential, and then in that little distance between discomfort and accusation, you will know.

As you stand in silence on the escalator, you wonder if it always took you so long to get to the fourth floor. It seems as though another floor has been added because it really is taking you longer than usual to get there. Ringing echoes of laughter and memories of stories that you once inflicted on this escalator, this mall whisper behind you as you finally reach that dreaded fourth floor. And then a faint feeling of loveless coma whacks your face and you are left wondering if you just fell out of love.

Two pairs of hands are lifelessly sprawled on the table – they look yellow and tired. Every movement the hand makes is a battle between a desire to end the bickering, yet to not want to reach out and grasp his hand. The food arrives and you feel relief raining all over your insides. Hours later you are fighting the urge to push his weight off your chest while your face appears to be as calm as the moon. Every touch is a memory that your uncle left burnt on your thighs, hips and breasts. You go through with it and wait for it to end. It ends and you go home.

C – Comfort

When I wrote in my journal, which was quite often when I was 16, I didn’t really need to have a sense of comfort to be able to write. I could write when I was mad, hurt, and happy as hell. I could rant for pages together and not worry about how it reads.

Blogging doesn’t allow me this liberty of comfort. I am mad at the world today and there are a hundred odd things I want to say but I cannot because then everybody will know I am a dumbfuck. That’s the only thing I really miss about writing in my journal. Only I knew that I was being a dumbfuck when I wrote in one of my fuck you sprees. Here, I have to watch what I say, make sure I don’t bitch much, avoid using too many exclamation marks: something that I exploited to a point of embarrassment in my journals. I kid you not, I cannot read my journal today without erasing a hundred emoticons and cursing my parents for having made me.

Clearly, blogging disciplines you in a way that even regular journal writing cannot. In this part of the world I am accountable for the metaphors I use, for the tragedies I weave and the drama that I miserably push. Back in my older world, metaphors were always found in Meg Cabot/ Judy Blume books or worse copied from them.Tragedies were an everyday drama and took up space like it was its grandfather’s house. Blogging screws with your comfort in ways that will only make you better at swearing, if nothing and eventually, writing, hopefully.

I am glad I blog. I am happy about the A- Z challenge. I am not sure if it has made me a better writer, but I am certainly happier and far more disciplined a writer. See? No exclamations.