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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

The room at the rear of our old house never failed to ignite a spark of excitement in me whenever a conversation on ‘your most memorable experience’ pops up. It was a room I shared with my older brother. We would play soccer in the room, toppling down the table fan and shattering a couple of window panes, oblivious to our mother’s screams from the adjoining kitchen. She’d hurl threats, yelling in our family dialect, “I’ll break your limbs and shove them up your asses if you both don’t stop your nonsense now!”

Once, in a frenzy attempt to replicate Norman Whiteside’s curling-shot freekick, my brother sent the ball towards the pendarfluor tube by the side wall. As pieces of the tube came crashing down, we were certain that we had unleashed a curse upon ourselves. The ball finally succumbed to our mother’s chopping knife. The lights were never replaced for the subsequent months as a reminder not to test mother’s patience again. We foretasted what it’ll feel like to be thrown into the dark where there’s gnawing of teeth. 

Stepping into a pitch black room at sundown was no real big deal. At least not until we were greeted by the smell of rotting corpse one night. We ransacked our room, with X-files like flashlights in search of a dead rat but reported negative from our search. The cat was let out of the bag the following day, when we had maggots falling off the ceiling. Feline – as it turned out, there were a couple of dead, decomposing kittens lying up on the ceiling, hidden above the ceiling board – and probably been dead for days. Even as the carcasses were removed, the maggots had already navigated through the entire ceiling floor and waited to fall off like autumn leaves.

We never slept in the room until we moved out years later.

I was reminded of this encounter today when I overheard my colleagues commenting on the political coup in my homestate. The usurpers were likened to carcasses that were rotting to its core.

Yet, I was just thinking, unlike usual, where the eternal recurrence of retelling this story was one laughable matter, I was thinking of the whole enactment of the two siblings stood watching maggots falling off the ceiling. That someone deliberately left the carcasses up on the ceiling. And the thought of being locked up in that room, with maggots falling off the ceiling; that’s so fucked up.


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