Month: September 2016

Kim and Roy

“Are you mad?” Jayle asked.

“Mad no Angry yes. Interested to talk about it, no.” Kim replied curtly.

“He’s serious about this not cleaning up thing right?” Jayle asked carefully.

“Yes. He doesn’t even give me an explanation. He just walks right out of the house Jayle. I thought moving in together would be the beginning of our own firsts. He does a lot, but I don’t feel appreciated because it’s more like living with a roommate than my boyfriend. Cleaning up after someone is the biggest signs of love and he doesn’t show me that” Kim stopped breathless. Her hands flung in the air, almost as if she was too exasperated and frustrated to care. Two highlighters flew across the room and hit the glass walls of her cabin. They didn’t create any noise, but the small ‘tut’ of their impact raised the intern’s eyebrows outside. But Kim was too occupied to care. She looked at Jayle expectantly.

“So you’re saying that you’re this annoyed but you haven’t said a word to him?” Jayle asked speculatively.

“Well, Yes. What am I supposed to say? That, hey, Roy, I love how everything you do is so neat and tidy – but everything that you do is so neat and tidy only for yourself. Would you mind tidying up for me too?” Kim exclaimed. “I can’t do that. I’m not a baby. Besides, I don’t even know why this is getting to me so much.”

“Okay, Kim. I need to get back to work but sort stuff out before you go home okay?”

Kim nodded. This had been her third day at ranting and anybody would get tired listening to her. She went back to work but thoughts of Roy floated through her mind. When they’d decided to move-in together, everything seemed so simple, so in control. She didn’t have to set the alarm every morning because he did, and he didn’t have to buy groceries all the time, because she did. But, this whole cleaning up thing was getting to her nerves. Kim checked her reflection in the laptop screen, her brunette hair highlighted with red, her mauve lipstick on point and the collar of her blouse so well ironed – she was everything an accomplished 23 year old should be. Yet, something missed so profoundly.

She drove her Chevrolet to the apartment Roy and she had decided. They both keen on the specifications of the house. The architecture and space mattered more to Roy and the storage, Feng Chui and number of rooms mattered more to Kim. Kim didn’t miss her previous bedroom, there no sense of independence there. But here as she lay next to Roy, everything sort of fell into place. Her liberty, her zeal and her own wishes comforted so blissfully by the soft duvet and satin of their new bed sheets. Sometimes, they danced to jazz music he played from his phone; they danced bare feet on the wood and ate chocolate dipped strawberries for midnight snacks.

Some days like today. she sat in his white shirt, his arms wrapped around her. They stared at the city from their windows; the city lights bright and enchanting, his comfort so warm yet freeing.
“How was work, Kim?” He asked gently twirling her hair.

“I didn’t work much today.” She sighed. She wished she wouldn’t have to tell him about her conversation with Jayle. The dinner had been good, they had washed the dishes together, they had a soap water fight, they had a warm shower – life was promising good things and good times.

“Hmm?” He asked. She turned to him, “I was just preoccupied with your thoughts.” She placed her hand in his hair and massaged his scalp smoothly. He placed another strawberry in her mouth. The sauce dripped down her chin and Kim visualized this to be one of those Hollywood scenes. But Roy did nothing. He just sat there, eating.

“Well” Kim turned to him, a thick line of chocolate still dripping off her chin.

“Well?” Roy asked.

“Just hand me a tissue.” Kim sighed. She took it, cleaner herself up and walked towards the bathroom. Cool water splashed across her face. “This would be one of the worst reasons to break up with someone.” She spoke aloud.

“You’re thinking of breaking up with me?” Roy’s voice startled her. She saw his reflection on the mirror as she grabbed the hand towel. “What are you thinking, Kim?” He asked again.

“It’s nothing. Let’s just sleep.”

“No.” She turned to him. His expression angry, his eyes sad. “You haven’t been yourself lately. It’s been just two weeks since we’ve moved in, but you’re – so distant. You get offended by things I have no clue about. You don’t communicate. Today was one of those days when everything was going great and you just walked out.”

“You don’t get it.”

“I don’t get what Kim?”

“That you don’t care enough. You don’t do the small things for me.” He stared at her. She didn’t even realize what she uttered. True or not true, she was angry. And besides, this was the half-truth so there shouldn’t be any guilt confessing.

“How should I show you that I care? I do everything possible.” Roy accused.

“You don’t clean up after me.” Kim replied haughtily.

“Excuse me?”

Kim folded her hands. A weight seemed to be lifted off her shoulders yet it seemed like a huger one was being placed right there. “Y-you come from work. We behave like a normal couple, we eat – but after we eat, you never clean up for me. You only do your thing. You only, only think about yourself.”

“I told you that this was how it was going to be.”

Kim’s mind drifted off to the times they discussed their moving in.  He had stated simply that he would never clean up after her. She had agreed to it without any bother; it was just one simple rule from his end, compared to the ten others she laid for him.  But now, in her zoned out state – she remembered all what happened the past few days. The day when a biker splattered brown blobs of dirt over and Roy just zoomed away, that day when she had to bake a cake for Jayle’s birthday and she came back to the same messy kitchen she had left with Roy’s dinner plates drying in the corner. The evenings when she came home to find only his side of the bed made, his closet tidily organized and his shelves so neatly arranged.

“It’s not a big deal, it’s not even a huge issue – but Roy, you need to understand that I feel so inferior and so unworthy compared to you. I feel like an imperfect slob.” Kim said. They exchanged expressions. She watched him climb into bed and sleep.

“I’m scared, Roy.” He didn’t reply. She walked down to where they were sitting, his plate and his side tidied now; her tissue, her share still untouched.

 

“It was when I was ten I realized how stupid my sister was.” Kim stared sleepily at Roy. Her eyes heavy from sleep as she realized that she had fallen asleep on the sofa. Roy sat next to her, dawn breaking on his face. His eyes and the sky, all so red.

“My mother would come home night after night intoxicated. Neither the bottles nor her behavior changed. It didn’t matter if she would drink Jack Daniels or Johnny Walker. It didn’t matter if it was tequila or Smirnoff. She would always be drunk.” Kim touched Roy’s hand to comfort his angry tears. She watched as he wiped them to continue.

“My sister, stayed up night after night cleaning her vomit. She would dirty the house, that house that always smelled like antiseptics and dirty blood. My sister was studying for her SAT’s that night. She had them three days later. She was brilliant, Kim. She was older, smarter and so in control. She never complained she always cleaned up.” He stopped. He looked her straight in the eye as he spoke the next words, “But that night, maybe big vocabulary words and algorithms got to her. She left herself lose as she tried one bottle after the next. M-mother had passed out, she didn’t even realize as she, her child died in an unwanted confrontation and stupidity.” Roy paused.

“I woke up next morning to them. They both looked like corpses, but only one woke up.”

“I’m so sorry Roy.”

“That’s when I decided I would never clean up after someone. I do love you Kim . . . but maybe I don’t love you enough or as much.” His truth rang like church bells in her ears. She nodded. She didn’t cry she didn’t say anything. She just comforted him as he hugged her on that sofa that smelled like home.

 

“Didn’t sleep last night?” Jayle asked mischievously. Assumptions were better than truth, she thought as she smiled tightly at Jayle. Kim worked the coffee maker, brewed the beans and filled a cup. Something had changed in Kim last night. Something that made her feel more free, more independent and definitely more proud. She sashayed around in her heels and finally replied,

“I will never let him clean up after me and not all red eyes mean sex-filled nights, Jayle.”

She gulped her coffee and walked right out. That cup needed cleaning.

 

“Nice people” aren’t cheated, “Naïve people” are.

Your first impression about someone is your first presumption about them. ‘Too many smiles’ from someone results in you equating them to ‘too much of a nice person’; ‘ A Blank expression’ equates to a ‘rude, arrogant personality’. Its human tendency, we all create assumptions and presumptions about people. Most people have their guard on at all times. They believe that it is extremely important to guard their emotional and mental well-being. Physical wounds heal, but emotional scars take time. This constant need to be protective and never letting their guard down makes some feel that, “we can’t be too nice”. A world filled with people ready to put you down, being ‘nice’ seems like the only way they can get to you.

Well, that’s the misconception.

“Nice people” aren’t cheated, “Naïve people” are. What do I mean by that?

By nice I mean well, you’re interested in goodwill – Someone who isn’t adamant on creating bad vibes for someone else, someone who fosters a ‘do good, get good’ mentality. That’s how I define nice. Everyone has their own definitions. But some believe that being nice creates trouble. Some believe that you’re sort of saying that “If I’m nice, I’m saying that it’s okay for someone to take advantage of me.” That’s too much negativity and you need to stop.

Naïve is usually defined as “lacking the wisdom to deal with worldly matters, lacking sophistication and tact to deal with important stuff.” That is why naïve people get cheated. Because they do not know how to process what’s happening around them and act accordingly. A rational approach is missing in their actions.‘Nice’ is not a synonym for ‘naïve.’ Being nice is a skill in its own way. It’s tactful and requires a lot of patience. I’ll give you an example.

Sometimes, we believe that when introverts come out, they’re ‘too nice’- they’re too nice in their approach towards life.  The presumption is that they don’t have practical people skills because of their lack of social interaction. Well, there’s the flaw of equating ‘naïve’ to ‘niceness’. Introverts are intelligent people. They listen to what people don’t say. They read body languages, ideologies and thought processes. They’re the masters of individualism. They will never directly tell you that, “Hey, this is something that you do and it’s sort of disturbing.” Instead, they will tell you what’s bothering them in such a way that will bring out the better person in you. It’s an subconscious act.

Contrastingly, if you observe extroverts, you’ll understand that they’re conveying so little by telling you so much. They’re outspoken, but very private about personal feelings and goals. They’re the intelligent ones again. Now, if you counter-argue and state that there are extroverted people who in the first meeting  narrate their life story, you  know that they’re the naïve ones and it’s not their niceness that makes you feel this way, but their naivete.

Why should you know the difference? Well, because there are times you hold yourself from being nice. Sometimes we conclude that goodwill leads to only self-destruction because we let our guard down. We won’t be wise enough if we do so. Humanity requires ‘niceness’. Humanity requires this tact, this skill of endurance and patience. Niceness leads to satisfaction; ‘Naivete’ leads to experiences.

You learn either way and it’s okay to be nice even when someone warns you against it.

 

“Touched.”

“We can’t do it.” Laia looked at him. He held her gaze with bold, nonnegotiable courage.

“They didn’t agree?” She questioned.

“I didn’t ask” he says.

She smiles sadly.

“Dance with me on this stage one last time.” He held out his hand and held her closer. He smelled her hair and nuzzled her cheek.

“Only if you promise, to never, ever fall in love with a hater of poetry ever again.” She said softly.

She twirled, laid her hand on his shoulder and dropped to her knees. He knelt beside her. He could see her tears. He lifted his hand to touch them, but she looked away.

“Don’t Roy. . .” She hesitated, before she drew herself onto him. Wrapping herself so tightly, that she wanted to believe that they could stay like this forever.

“I’m sorry, Laia.”

“It was not meant to be this way.”

He lifted her and effortlessly swayed with her.

“Do you remember when I didn’t like words – when I said they made me think too much?” he chuckled solemnly.

“You said, they were obnoxious and how in moments of your relief they reminded you that you weren’t supposed to feel ‘relief’.” She recalled.

“Yes, I remember. I always said that life grew hard for me because of words. They always forced me to choose between surrender and withdrawal.”

“But, when you fell in love with a poetess, it all changed.” They gazed at each other. He lovingly held her belly. Their hands clasped tightly, almost as if they were making love through nothingness.

“I fell in love with a poetess who was too scared to accept her love for me.” He put her down and they now tiptoed around the ballroom. As they waltzed, her blue gown twirled, and her lose sleeves brushed against his worn out coat.

“She denied her love because you were too rational for her. Words were all she had, and you played with them.”

“I played with them only to win her over.”

“It hurt.”

He turned her and pulled her close. Holding her back and tracing his finger down. She laughed at the mischievous play of his hands and sighed. “It doesn’t hurt now.”

“Yes, because one day I woke up tired and frustrated; almost as if all the small splinters of your memory clinked together.”

“You were so dismayed that day.” She said.

“Yeah, I remember. I never believed I could write – forget about directing a play!”

“I told you, I always believed you were meant for greatness.”

“Greatness and dark circles maybe.” He interlocked his arms around her, his neck resting on her shoulder. He breathed the strawberry scent of her hair and the raspberry whiff of perfume, taking in her aura one last time.

“You always smelt like a fruit salad.” Her laugh ricocheted through the empty theater. She pulled his arms closer. His presence comforted her. They moved in circles and squares, almost as if they asked why them?

“Remember the night I checked your purse and pockets?”

“You didn’t find drugs, nothing was out of place, Laia . . . Laia.” He laughed sadly.

“How was I supposed to know you were in love?” She turned to him, his eyes blazing like dark coals. Who would’ve guessed that death made every human seem exotic, that when death knocked every human action felt intricate?

“Our worlds turned that day, Roy.” She continued.

Silently, he removed a chocolate bar. “It’s melted, just the way you like it.” He unwrapped the wrapper, she touched her belly slightly. He slid his finger in the melted chocolate and sultrily lay his fingers on her lips. It was a naïve attempt, but they were facing unexplainable trauma and their kisses knew no bounds now.

“Nothing will ever make perfect sense again, Laia.” He whispered. His voice grew throaty as she pulled him down. They both sat, as she concealed his face in the layers of her hospital gown.

“As long as it makes sense, Roy, you’ll be fine: Nothing can be perfect.”

‘But you were.’

She didn’t know if he whispered that, or if the airs of the night were playing with her.

“Don’t die with me Roy.”

“Please live for me, Laia. . .”

Roy looked up. She was gone. He sat in the middle of an empty stage. His phone buzzed, he saw the image of his daughter. He replied and congratulated her for winning the spelling bee. He scheduled dinner at the fanciest restaurant.

“If only, I could’ve scheduled when you died Laia. I would imprint your life on immortality.”

She appeared again and asked him, “Didn’t you cure yourself of this Roy?”

“I tried Laia. I ate. I distracted myself. I ate and ate until I shooed my primeval fears away; until the unknown pages of the book ruffled and revealed themselves again.”

“Maybe you need to walk away.” She suggested gently.

“I needed to walk away.” He repeated.

“But instead of walking away, you cried.” She touched his elbow and rested her head on his shoulder.

“I cried with all my heart, Laia. I cried as the plastering tore down from the walls of our house, I watched the cement heave ash, the walls that once stood strong crumbled at the sight of sex and blood.” He grew thoughtful and then replied, “I’m sorry for having so much sex after you died.”

“Oh, Don’t worry. I took a vow of chastity in heaven. Carnal human desires don’t matter to me at all now.” She laughed cynically. The ghost now rotated around, dancing to celestial music as she created aerial dance movements.

“But, I cried because I believed that sex was all I craved for and I didn’t need love, and I cried the most at that thought, because love was all I had ever believed in.” He went on, almost as if he didn’t hear what she had uttered.

Pssh. Don’t lie. You began to believe in love only after you met me.” Laia commented.

“Well, that’s when I started to live. So yeah. For as long as I have lived.”

“But Roy!” She now moved closer to him. She bent down aligning their faces, “You can’t be this broken. Remember you were the practical one?”

“Do ghosts always need to sound so rational? Can a man not grieve?” Roy replied angrily.

“Well, actually. I am just a part of your imagination. It is happening in your mind – well, the rational part of it actually. Whatever you say. So grieve.”

Roy laughed. He continued, “I watched commercials of lust and pleasure, but what I saw instead was haunting cries for love, I mocked the anti-heroines and the adulteresses of TV serials, but what I realized instead was they were had never felt deep love. I was amazed at the world I grew up in.” She nodded empathetically. Yet, she kept dancing and moving around.

“But, then, today, when I sit by your funeral urn

I wonder and ask you, that while I try to cope with my pain,I understand how everyone is trying to cope with theirs.”

She didn’t say anything, almost as if she had begun her process of disappearing.“Maybe that’s why not everybody cares.”  She said quietly from distance.

He didn’t even look up, as he continued, “Because everybody is just young, and scared and sensitive. I will probably always sit by your funeral urn.”

“Wondering if the blazing fires of my heart had some uncouth lie in them, Wondering if the rusty breaths of my lungs had some lied bliss in them, Wondering if my love for a passionate life stood meek and timid in front of your coldness.” They repeated the lines of their first play. They wouldn’t look at each other, but the weight of their sorrow could be felt in the emptiness of that night.

Roy looked up. He stared at Laia, who was so kindly listening to his monologue.“Will you ever come back?” “Look around you, Roy. You’re sitting in a graveyard imagining this to be the theater where we met. Do you think I’ll come back?”

“Negative.”

“But, you have to put up the musical Roy.” He didn’t look up, he didn’t respond. “I command you.” Laia’s last words had a surreal impact on him. He watched her move away, he called out to her. He threw his hands and struggled with his legs.

But she was gone.

“She. Commanded. Me.”  He stood up just as the ashes flew away.

The urn shut once again.