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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness

Category Archives: random

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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“Monetarists claim that the upward trend in interest rates from 1950s to the 1970s was caused by a serious policy error”, the teacher declared before he went on to expound on the LM and IS curves that sent my head spinning imminently. I thought Economics itself was the biggest error the world has ever committed.

She turned to me and asked: You think you’ll be good in bed?

I flushed.

But that was certainly a more engaging question than me attempting to understand interest rates and inflation. After all, I was sure neither Monetarists nor Keynesians could get to a short term/ long term equilibrium at a given point of ri and explain the formulation of a Crush Theory, of course, the ceteris paribus assumption holds, nevertheless. Do I think I’ll be good in bed? What do you expect a guy to say to that anyway??!!

I still do not know the answer to her query till this day. She won’t either.

I’d like to think of myself as a person who could hold a conversation without hijacking it. I didn’t need assurance when we walked in the park one day. She asked some serious questions to which I gave calculated answers. Answers I have come to regret today. She spoke, but despite that, there were so much more to find out years later. The truth was, everytime we spoke, I was ‘hijacked’. Of course, at the park, like the birds there, we loved the undeterring space, and the cheery mood, casually inspiring one into new songs.

Instead of focusing on the examples of Integration by Partial Fraction worked out on the chalkboard, I was jerked by her “How would you feel if I’d say I like you?” She has a way of breaking into surprising questions like this one. I was glad she asked, though it was purely hypothetical, not any more real than the polynomial functions used by the teacher. Yet, unlike Math, it was all inexpressible in numbers, equations, values and worth. It was just…well, it just was.

Years on and I still fumble, expecting the unexpected queries, thus making myself look foolish sometimes, saying the stupidest things. But there’s something about appearing foolish and stupid. You are not in control and you don’t seem to be able to engage all the defense mechanisms that life has taught you. They just won’t work. You will be left naked and vulnerable. And what baffles you most – it happens over and over again and you keep coming back for more.

I went to the park today and walked for a while, still feeling liberated. As I closed my eyes and listened, it struck me that something was compellingly different. I gazed upwards and looked beyond the canopy. Nothing there. No cheerful songs. Because the birds don’t come here anymore.

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One tends to try too hard. That is, to make things far worse than they already are.

Sometimes, like today, I feel like telling people to stop trying so hard. Be irrational, just don’t try to fix things. Consider the minute possibility of the fact that all is fabricated. Of course, our own fabrication. Avoid words which probably only you understand, that only lead to systemics or metalanguage of concepts only you believe in. Don’t love. Don’t believe. Throw a die.

Perhaps, just try to look into a shot glass, and watch the cubes soak in your whiskey. Or just stop talking. Zip.