“Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.” ― John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

I loved the year I spent on an island.

I was anonymous on that island. I was not going to be remembered for who I was, but for what I did. And that freedom of anonymity crushed and liberated me in ways I never could have imagined.

Sometimes, when anonymity got too hard to bear, I got on my bike. It was always a good day when I had the strength to fight the road’s indifference with destinations to distract me: somewhere to work, somewhere to eat, somewhere to break the sweat on my back, away from my moldy bed.

Sometimes, when it got late and I had reached the edge of the island on my bike, densely populated with catastrophic ghosts, I didn’t mind going to bed anymore. It was one of the good things about living there. That biking was enough to make comfy the bed at home.

I had a boyfriend then, but I was too numb or detached to realize that he was not meant to be. I might have felt it, but couldn’t understand why I ached for him even when he was attending me. And he attended me with indulgent kindness and, years later, that is how I remembered him.

On August 13, 17:14, I was home when I could not fight it anymore. Feelings, in every name and size, washed over me in spasmodic waves. I wept until my knees gave. I hiccupped through the text I sent him. I sobbed when I tried to tell him that I wasn't hurt and I was safe.

My clothes were soaked when he banged on my door, and his shirt and brow and eyes too were damp, and he pressed himself onto me, bearing with me the weight of everything that demanded its rightful name.

I loved the year I spent on that island. I was lonely and don’t want to remember anymore. But I do remember how his ashen face calmed me. I remember how he redressed and coaxed me out of the house for a drive. I remember that we stopped for food, and we  broke bread and we talked and we tried to understand the things we couldn’t name.

And even when we couldn't understand, we had a bed that we slept in till morning.

And I had the strength to get on my bike again, that morning.

"How can I lose faith in the justice of life, when the dreams of those who sleep upon feathers are not more beautiful than the dreams of those who sleep upon the earth?" - Gibran

On the road to my master's home, there is an old man who sits on his porch every afternoon. This old man has the most vacant look on his face. And every time, every afternoon we pass by his house, he's always there with that vacant look on his face, staring at a world that looks back at him with indifferent dismissal.

And I wondered out loud, "How could he do that every day?"

The Timekeeper, who is never idle and whose mind is never vacant even in his sleep, said, "With a lot of practice."

And the Timekeeper, through fractal images in Spartan but loaded sentences told me of the old man's life story. "His wife was the breadwinner. He was a creditor. He never really worked. He never did anything in his life."

If I ever had a TV show, I'd like to s̶t̶r̶a̶n̶g̶l̶e̶ ̶h̶i̶m̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶n̶e̶c̶k interview him. "What has he done with himself? How could he?! How dare he?! When so many of our best and most passionate mates have fought and lost so hard a battle to Live and Express and Become."

I'm too j̶u̶d̶g̶m̶e̶n̶t̶a̶l̶ shy to be on TV.

Though I refuse to let that vacant old man pass through my life unmarked, and demand to learn something from him, if only to soothe my own existential fears, in my defensive "I would have", in a story retold.**


* Latin: Thus (passes) Life

** Originally posted here.

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once. ~ Albert Einstein

If you listen closely, you might hear why I’m comfortable living in the Republic of Hermitdom.

A capella in My head

Naturally, the first time I heard my own voice in That Bloggeratti Episode on Nessie’s Podcast, it filled me with narcissistic pleasure.

Then morning came, and it started ringing in my head. Not in the patient, soberly tone that Qusay's voice sounds.

It rang in my own unintelligible, repetitive, and snobby voice, “Who are you to claim expertise on blogging or writing? Who are you to think that you deserve sharing the same platform with the people you idolize? Who are you…”

It went on and on. And that was a whole week spent on recuperating before I mustered the courage to face the demons and write this. 

Camouflaging Honesty

If everything I said was honest-to-God gushing, then why am I left with is this bitter taste of an overly-inflated-to-the-point-of-narcissistic-explosion toad?

This is probably why people put layers on their feelings. Why they sublimate love into flowers and chocolates and lace. Why emotional gushing, in polite societies, is tacky and cheapens the white heat of our personal revelations.

Who would have thought that there is so much self-reevaluation to take just from one podcast? I can’t imagine what it’s like for Nessie.

Labor Omnia Vincit

I can guarantee that none of us on that table was intentionally a presumptuous ass.

Saad had such a huge heart that it covered our need for gratitude. The Qusay who came was exactly the same Qusay who had been influencing the tone my writing voice. And Nessie and Souma, man, they’re the people I would go to if I ever killed anybody and needed someone to help me bury the evidence.

I can’t tell you all that without denting the truth with naiveté. I can show you, instead, how their work convinced me into trusting them. I can tell you that, someone who has the ability to pledge faith in anything as elusive as the satisfaction of posting, deserves a second evaluative look and respect.

For, it takes a colossal amount of courage and humility to do anything persistently for more than 30 months. And that courage and humility, if it was not fueled by something as colossally powerful and good, would have quickly lost footing and sunk in a cold sea of silent embarrassment.

A Posteriori

Hail to bloggers and podcasters and readers; for their solidarity and companionship to one another. Hail to the people who bothered to float their craft, even when it’s lonesome and scary. Like Ethar and Wafa and Dentographer. Like the voices I finally shared table with, on that Thursday afternoon in Jeddah, after so many years of living in each others’ heads.

Hail to everything that made it more painful to remain tight inside the bud than to risk posting blossoming.

 
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