I meant every word I fired at him.

Every possible bullet in my verbal arsenal skirred in calculated intervals. "You're a whining, annoying, unproductive failure. Nobody can stand you because your words sink them with embarrassment."

It was so easy to crush him. I took pleasure in it.  And the consequence was just as harsh.

I could have blamed exhaustion, KITAS renewal process, long travels. The underline was - feel free to call me superstitious - that I couldn't write for weeks after that exchange with David

Everything I said fired immediately back at me. My words, the only crutch to my pride and excuse for existence, sunk me with embarrassment the moment I misused them.

Words and words, in this language and that, verbal and physical, nevertheless only words and more words, deserted me.

Had they been said in anger, if passion may ever be an excuse, they would have been staggered and clumsy. Grammatically incorrect. But I still have the logs, and the words I used were so impeccable in form and delivery, that I could almost see the parts where I gasped for breath to italicize my cruelty.


If my words, after they had been said in variations, fall onto deaf ears and stiff extremities, I’d be the one to blame. It always felt like it's my fault, when I have had the opportunity to say the words, and none triggered a reaction.

I meant, "triggered the reaction I wanted". After all, I am a woman of words; if it’s not words that define me, then what good is there left of me?

Just words. My words. It's never about readers or listeners. Who cares about how they felt or thought? Whatever I say, no matter how I say it, I'm just trying to stay afloat with one more sentence. One more idea. One more quote to keep you interested. Lest I lose your attention and drown in my expanse of failures.

And the more I struggled to say the next eternally quotable phrase, the deeper the stink of fear soaked my letters.


Last night was climatic.

After three years of formal higher education in the most politicized region of the middle east, five years of blogging, all the eloquence and counting and, still, nothing prepared me for the humiliation that this writing assignment was going to deliver.

A former colleague asked me to be her referee. I have known her for years, professionally at first, then intimately. Yet there was nothing I could say about her that did not sound like a salesgirl high on immodesty and desperate to pay the rent by the end of the month.

Returning the blank referee form, I apologized for being worse than a failure. I apologized for being stupid.


I was nobody.

On the pavement of that busy street, under the naked afternoon sun, near the rush of destinations, I walked in the annual solitude of not having an identity. I was nobody, neither Indonesian or Saudi: my passport and residential permit at the immigration for renewal.

But, the afternoon! It was so sweet and unpretentious and golden that I relished being able to walk the street by myself, ignored and desperate to be happy when any day I could lose it all.

I am nobody. If I died there, nobody was going to know where to place me, even in a sentence.

"Who was the deceased? We don't know. Not really old, not really young. Though certainly alone and unknown."

What a perfect eulogy, I thought.

And that’s when he texted me.

"I have failed at things, but I'm not a failure. I have a life and it's rough, but you know what it's like. Your words hurt me, but I understand why you're hurt. And it’s okay, it’s going to be okay."

That's when my words flowed again. When his words forgave mine.

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