It’s Going to Be Alright, Mother
A woman is seated at a table with a man and a child. She feels out of place. She feels like she would rather be anywhere other than where she is, playing a role she doesn’t know. She doesn’t know how she fits into any of it.
The man is charming, the child well-mannered. They make her uncomfortable. She is wary. She waits for her role to become clear. They will tell her who she is, soon. She hopes, as well, to find out who they are, and what the three of them are to each other. Because she doesn’t remember.
The child is darker than the man, whose skin color matches hers. The child’s hair has the appearance of a soft black cloud. She is mildly put off by it, although she isn’t sure why.
The child has something to give you, says the man.
The woman turns to the child, expectant, and receives the rolled up piece of paper held out to her. She smooths it open on the table and stares at it, unsure.
It’s a plane, the man offers when she’s been quiet for too long.
Thank you, she says to the child, and manages a smile that makes her skin feel like tissue paper, soft and crinkly and likely to tear if stretched too much. She doesn’t say that she doesn’t like planes. She’s sure they should know this. She expands her smile to give it authenticity.
The child’s smile is shy, the man’s indulgent.
The woman feels hot, suddenly. Hot like she’s outdoors on a blistering day. Hot like she’s burning from the inside out. And yet, not a bead of sweat dots her skin. She looks at the man and the child. Their skin is dry, and they seem fine.
Isn’t it a little hot in here? She wonders out loud.
No, no. The sun doesn’t shine in here, the man says, smiling at her as though she has told a joke that only the two of them know the punchline to.
Her skin tightens. She can’t see it but she can feel it, and it feels like stretching, except in reverse.
My skin is shrinking, she whispers, more to herself than anyone else.
If the man and the child heard her, they make no indication of it. She stares at her hand, the one holding the fork she’d forgotten about. She stares at the fork as though seeing it for the first time, before remembering that she’d meant to use it to eat the meal in front of her, which she had also forgotten about.
Your food will get cold, says the man, his voice gently chiding.
She looks from him to the child. Is this alright then? she asks, not talking about the food.
The food is wonderful. But you seem anxious. Are you alright?
I’m fine, she snaps. Instantly contrite, she softens. I’m feeling a little tired.
He nods in understanding. It’s to be expected.
She wants to ask him what he means but she is distracted by the child tugging on her sleeve. She cuts up the food on the child’s offered plate into small cubes and hands it back. There you go.
She watches the child eat. As she does so, a thought occurs to her. Am I your mother? she asks, picking up her fork without thinking and stabbing at her meal.
The child’s head turns left then right in the manner signifying the negative, with cheeks stuffed with food.
The man laughs. No, he says, you’re mine. He takes her hand, the one not holding the fork, in both of his, and it is then she notices, for the first time, that her skin is soft and papery. That she is clearly old. This fills her with sadness.
Are you alright? The man’s frown is concerned, his tone sincere.
I’ve become old, she says mournfully.
Yes, the man agrees sadly.
The woman nods, resigning herself to her current state. She addresses the child again: Where is your mother?
Wordlessly, the child reaches over and taps a finger on the drawing of the airplane by the woman’s hand. She thinks, When did that get there?
On the plane? she asks the child. Is she on her way?
She’s dead, says the child, speaking for the first time.
I’m sorry, says the woman, her skin tightening.
It was a long time ago, says the man. He brightens. Perhaps you’ll see each other soon.
I’m not sure. But any minute now.
The woman is despairing. I don’t understand anything.
That’s alright. I suppose I ought to tell you now, since there’s not much time left. The man’s gaze is soft and full of gentleness. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
She doesn’t know what she’s going to ask until she asks it. Is the child yours?
Yes. My child, and your grandchild.
So dark. Nothing like you or me.
The man’s smile never falters. No, nothing like either of us, not in that way. But very much a part of us. We are, after all, family.
If you say so.
Is that all you want to ask me?
You’ll tell me everything I need to know anyway.
The man leans close, gently prying the fork from her other hand and clasping it, so that he’s holding both her hands.
Everything you need to know, he repeats. Will you listen? Once and for all?
In that case, here it is: You were wrong about a lot of things. And I forgive you.
The woman waits for him to say something more, but that appears to be all.
Is that it?
Yes. It’s everything you need to know. You can let go now.
He grips her hands firmly when she starts to pull them away. No, not like that. You know.
She doesn’t fully understand yet, but she’s begun to realize that she’s losing something precious. Her skin feels impossibly tight, but when she glances at it, it appears fine. She’s worried she’s disappearing, that she’ll fold in on herself until she’s nothings. That she’ll fold out of existence.
I’m burning up, she whispers, inside.
But it’s over, isn’t it?
The man, her son, nods sadly.
She glances down at their entwined hands, then at her grandchild, so silent. Her family. The first tear drops onto the back of her hand, followed closely by another.
Her son folds her in an embrace, which she returns. It’s going to be alright, he soothes. It’s going to be okay. When he pulls back his face is wet with tears.
He turns to the child. Say goodbye to your grandmother.
Goodbye, grandma, says the child.
Give her a kiss.
The woman presents her cheek to her grandchild, who gives it a soft peck. Thank you, she says to the child. Then, because it feels like the right thing to do, she says, I’m sorry.
It’s alright. I love you, says her son.
At this, her skin loosens, and she is no longer hot inside. Whatever needed to be done is done. It is then she notices the only doorway in the room, leading to a corridor. Her way out. She stands up slowly, uncertainly, trying to see what lies at the end of the corridor. She can’t.
Panicking slightly, she asks her son: Where am I going?
Hopefully somewhere good.
The woman squares her shoulders and nods. Alright then. Goodbye, she says to her family.
Goodbye, reply her son and grandchild.
She walks through the doorway and down the corridor, which has no doors lining it, and whose end doesn’t seem any closer or farther than when she went into it, even after walking for quite a while. The only way she knows she’s making progress is that each time she turns to look back at her son and grandchild, they appear smaller.
At last she reaches the end, where there’s an open door. She pauses with her hand on the handle and takes one last look at her son and grandchild, both of whom are now no more than specks in the distance. Then, bracing herself, she turns back to the door, pushes the handle, and steps beyond it into eternity.
black and white photographs, shot with your phone
was what our eyes did every night/ caught
in the dark & the shadows that play
it is beatle season & they creep in under the doors,
out of the damp/
I find the blur of my face again/
hued tones of youth's restless rage
back when I did not struggle wrapping my teeth around
we mute ourselves for the world,
& it is not the world's fault
but who have we become
in those silent spaces of light.
August does not know the word for easy
she blazes hot, feverish/
gets under your skin until you cannot stand it
where to go
The monsoons sweep in,
we dance in the rain.
They say that there is a small line between life and death.
But in reality there is no line.
Every waking day,
Everything you do,
tips the scale further,
towards death, or towards life.
Death toys with life, giving it hope,
and for a while there is peace,
But then death lean over,
and the weight slips,
and the pressure won't release
It may be slow,
It may be instant,
But death bores easily,
so the outcome is always the same.
And once the scale has tip
your life is death's to claim
This relationship is a toxic one,
Life can barely breathe
Death leaves poisonous kisses
Slowly spreading his disease.
This is difficult to explain.
Alright, I first thought of returning with an explanation for my frequent disappearances. Then, I thought an apology would be a better idea. But then, I realised that I wanted this post to have a positive tone. So, here we are!
I am not going to explain all the reasons that kept me away because, it's a bit complicated. And the reasons were different almost every other day, so I think it would be a colossal, massive waste of time. But I can assure you that if there was a way, I would have made it here the very next moment. Maybe, I had a way, but I got too caught up, and I am horrible in time management. If I had figured everything out sooner, I would have been here way earlier. This little place is too important for me now.
That's when I thought of a pardon. I owe it to this place. I cannot simply take off, and leave someone else confused. That's not fair. And it's a wrong thing to do. I am really sorry for that. But the more I thought about it, I felt it was worthless. My apologies are worthless. I am afraid I had been using them as more of an excuse rather than a pardon. Maybe, I didn't mean to, but does that change anything? I am sure it doesn't.
But I am sorry. I know I have come off as a disappointment to many of you in more than one occasion during the past few weeks. It wasn't what I wished for, but it was what I had to do. Or at least, that's what I believed so. And I can't run against time and do something different, so I guess the best thing I can do is to apologise. I was an idiot. I am sorry, and I will try not to do this again.
And that's another thing I am going to change now. Every time I use the word 'try' in an assurance, it seems like my mind always opts the weaker alternative. And I think I might have hurt someone with that word, no matter how much I meant and wished for those to come true. I am sorry, buddy. I will not do this again.
Well, it turns out that the post was not as positive as I thought it would be. That's on me. I am sorry about that. I will do my best to return to the always-energetic, way too talkative, mostly silly late teen as soon as I can. Hopefully, from the very next second. Wish me luck (: And slap me in the face if you ever see me do this again. I deserve that!
Lots of love,
Just one thing.
All you need is
one ray of light
to help you see
All you need is
one smile from a stranger
to help you walk
All you need
is the laugh from one baby
to put a smile
on your face.
All you need
is one cheer from a friend
to help you
finish the race.
All you need is
one cup of coffee
to help you
through your day.
So look out for that thing,
that one small thing
and you’ll always be okay.