The Story Behind the Story

This is the age of becoming. So many things i feel that i know; yet i will not pretend that i know enough.

On a morning like other mornings on my way to work, with the train crammed with people breathing down each other’s necks, with my music plugged in (Roy Orbison’s Only the Lonely), i made a half-hearted note to myself not to listen to sad songs too much. As Roy was belting away into the reaches of my brain, a scenario unfolded its delicate petals in front of me: an old couple was hunched down into their seats and having the argument of their lives with wild gesticulations (her) and a stony silence emitting from him. She had that perpetual, careworn frown the furrowed her brow into a menacing expression as she spoke agitatedly to her husband. She made no effort to rein in her voice; i could see that even though i could hear nothing else save lovely Roy.

Zipping and unzipping her purse, her mouth moving in that grotesque way humans’ mouths have the habit of moving when they’re twisted with anger – i could also read bitterness, disappointment, hurt – all in that emotion-wrangled face of hers. her hands fluttered violently like white handkerchieves in a brisk, cold wind.

But what did it for me was his utterly dejected demeanor – spectacles perched crookedly on the bridge of his nose, mouth drawn tight with rivers of resignation etched out on either side by years and years of tolerance…or something else, i don’t know, i’m not taking sides though. his eyes caught mine for a millisecond and darted away to land on something minuscule, blinking slowly as if in a dream. she tried several times to hit him in the face and he was visibly heckled but never raised a hand against her. he only drew his lips tighter and tighter, grimmer and grimmer.

When the trains stopped at BK she sprang out of her seat and hastened to get off, one affirmative hand on his elbow, egging him across the gap. as the doors closed i observed her begin to run off, not bothering to wait for him to catch up. my heart did a painful squeeze as i watched in helpless rapture her husband make an enormous effort to catch up with his limp, his arm outstretched in a silent plea, please wait up, but of course, she couldn’t see.

I cried. it was an immensely poignant moment for me, made all the more so with Roy still trebling away with his song. so many questions flowed through my mind, so many emotions waged war in my chest. sorrow, for all the things that could not be, for my sorry attempt in trying to make things work between myself and Johnnie Walker; because they reminded me of how – over the years – i have watched my parents struggle to bridge gaps and tide the bad times; because of this harrowing but detached fear of the impending loneliness that stretches ahead of me; pain of the acute tangibility of the mundane reality of life.

Why is it i cannot curb in me this need to find that perfect companion even though past experiences have taught me that there’s very rarely such a thing as sustainability? why do i make do, why do i yearn, why do i force myself to gloss over the ugly sides of things? for whose sake? why do i persist in chasing tail ends of rainbows when i know that it’s only going to reflect the current state of my self-esteem and make me hate myself more for it? why do i make it seem like desperation when it’s really a subconscious loss of self-respect?

My mother told me that she wanted to have kids because she thought it would be a permanent solution to her husband’s wandering-away-from-home habits. she thought that by having kids it would ground him to home. what i think she really wanted was for him to have eyes only for her and to love her unconditionally and on his own accord. what she did not choose to realise was that there was only a certain extent she could’ve brought him along as they grew together as a married couple.

Why do women long so much to have one man that would lay down his entire life for her? i refuse to theorise about it, though i would love to extrapolate some day on the image of feminine self-worth that has been formed over the centuries. i refuse to console myself with some cold philosophy that existentialism is a long, arduous and lonely path. i would just like to hold in my mind the idea of something simple and whole, something that has no ability to morph or grow but is on the other hand there for you to touch, to confirm your believing what you see in front of you and enjoying the simplicity of this feeling of holding this in your hands.

Everyday i see couples holding hands, kissing, smiling into each other’s faces; i see the intimate, easy way my colleague and his girlfriend fall into a cooperative rhythm only they have created and can possess…

…i believe it is important for a couple to grow and learn together and keep up with each other. i like ***er men because it is now i can see where they’ve grown into and gauge how much more they might grow and how i might fit into their learning curve so that we meet at the end together. some men just can’t grow up and i need to know that. with an ***er man i feel i can more realistically plot my curve coordinates so i can coincide with his…but i didn’t know that ‘X‘ doesn’t necessarily mark the spot and that calculating the tangent is only exact to three significant figures most of the time.

We all look for that ‘perfect‘ someone, meet them, lose them, encounter another, compare, declare that we don’t want to change them but secretly hope to for selfish reasons, don’t learn that we don’t learn from cautionary tales…and life still goes on.

Perhaps perfection can only occur in the distant view of pale hills – for how can there be perfection in details?

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    • john smith
    • June 24th, 2010

    its easy to find someone you can live with, you just settle…

    finding someone you can’t live without, now that’s a different proposition altogether…

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