MadNoor's Weblog

Living a Malaysian Life

Everything

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“Is there anything about me in there?”, she asks, lifting her head from the pillow that she was nestling in, peeking into my journal.

“No, not really”.

A snap of her head indicated that wasn’t the answer that she was expecting, nor hoping for. I felt an inward sigh developing, then slowly flow through. Why now? Hasn’t she figured out that I write to relax, and there is limited time before we have to leave? Can’t we do this later?

“Nothing? Nothing at all about me?”. Her head was up now, arms providing arched support with the pillows now acting as foundation.

I lifted my pen from the page, thought about capping it to avoid the nib drying, decided against it, and turned towards the storm building in her eyes. This has to be done. The bridge is ahead and I pray it’s just a small stream that the tempest conjures and not a raging river this time.

“Well, it is my journal, thus it stands to reason that it’s my thoughts and feelings that are in here.”

Why do sentences that sound good, reflective and mature in your head, turn treacherous and enfeebled when they have birthed out the lips? Heck, which 90’s sitcom did that string of words got evolved from?

“So, it’s only about you in there, all those pages, everything is only you?”

Her hair falls over half her face now, lustrous and shiny, slivers of silver among the black.

“It’s the hair”, I answered to her question all those years ago to what I found attractive about her. “You remind me of a famous movie star when she was just a young actor in a TV series”.

Like magic, instead of Ms Zeta-Jones that gets imagined, what pops in my mind’s eye is that of a tiny TV room, crammed full of boys still turning to men, waiting expectedly for the next weekly installment of ‘Darling Buds of May’ on a 20-inch tube. The scent of old socks, sweaty t-shirts, and tangy Maggi curry flavor wafts in as well. Ahhh…those were the good times.

That was a lie though; it was the hair, but that wasn’t everything. How do you provide a response to a question that the best answer is everything? Your hair, skin, smell, the way you speak, eat, walk…everything. How can you define everything when you can’t know yourself what that means? It’s a lazy catchphrase, used to show totality when it’s too large to define.

“Well, it’s not everything about me. How do you define everything? Is there even a meaning to everything? You know how it is when you watch a TV report about a building fire? You see the almost eager reporter interviewing some poor soul whose home is currently a smoldering heap, with firemen at the background and onlookers on the periphery. The unlucky owners would invariably say ‘We have lost EVERYTHING!’, sobbing with tears and ash mixed with the disheveled impromptu ensemble that they have on.

And I wonder…really? Have you actually lost everything? You still have your life, hopefully, all of your family members. You still have friends, your job, colleagues and all that. What about money in the bank? Stocks? The stuff you have lent friends? The stapler at your office table with your name sticker on it? Isn’t that yours? Don’t those things make up part of your everything? “

Her eyes glazed bored. At least the clouds have drifted a little. My ruse with the soliloquy has worked. She is not interested in some human drama packaged for the public media. She just wants some reassurance. She wants to know and be told that even in my deepest thoughts, she is not far away. I know that, and it would be easy to mouth the words that she wants to hear, but I am selfish.

“You are selfish”, she echoes my thoughts. I nod my head.

I am no longer surprised that she knows my mind as I read hers as well. Not actually read, that would imply effort. I just know what she is thinking, without even trying. They just pop up, unbidden.

She shifts herself a little further away. I glance at the clock, mentally calculate the time it would take for us to get ready, dress up (an extra 5 minutes for her makeup) and leave in time. We are still alright; we still have time, not much, but enough. Enough time to have whatever is it we are talking about to finish, for now, that is.

Silence still. I wait, unsure if this respite means I can return to my words and thoughts or is this just the strengthening of the currents before the torrents are unleashed. The nib is dry now, the paper scratches without a mark. I should have capped the pen. Why is it the tissue box is always empty when you want it?

“It’s just that today is our anniversary”.

The wait proved prescient, there is still more water to cross.

“I guess I was hoping that you will write that down in your precious book or journal or diary or whatever it is you call that thing”.

After 18 years you find that you have the ability to read between the lines. You learn when a ‘Yes’ is a ‘No’, when ‘It’s alright’ isn’t and when ‘Don’t bother to go through the trouble’ is actually a command. Those skills aren’t required this time. The tone was enough, a ringing testament to the emotions that required no deciphering.

I give in. About time anyway. Otherwise, we’ll be caught.

“Ok, I’ll write something about you. I’ll write that today’s our anniversary and that we have been married for 18 years. And I’ll write that you are my everything!”.

“No, `I don’t want to force you to do something that you don’t want”, a whimper now. The river bank is in sight I think, the water flow trickling down. This bridge has done its job and the water crossing successful, till the next time.

I am no fool. I know that there are many more rivers to cross, storm to weather, bridges to build. I smile knowing that in some ways, I do look forward to it.

“We need to leave now, else we’ll be late”, I swung my legs off the bed. “You don’t have to come if you don’t want. I can pick the kids myself”. That’ll sweeten the deal, I thought as I head towards the shower.

“Bi?”

“Ya, what?”, I answered as I look for the towel.

“Did you mean it when you said I was your everything?”

Is it just me or does the shower sound like a dam overflowing?

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Author: madnoor

An expat family in Dubai.

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