Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
The other day I received an email about the suicide of a writer friend of mine. At that moment I was just mopping around the office, fretting over a monster project that has been giving me a rough time. And the email was there: words from his sister, his last incomplete essay and select poems.
It was the last day of work for my co-worker Winnie, who was leaving for studies in the UK. In a futile attempt to stay calm, I continued working and went for a coffee with a few others. It didn't take much for me to lose it: someone who had recently taken up a bit of my time and sought my understanding or friendship, he gave me a blank look and walked off when I asked him to do a small and irrelevant thing, the reason being, I suspect, that he didn't want to comply with my wishes in front of others. Or some people are simply stuck in their self-centered universes where they reach out to you when they want to share parts of themselves. Other times they are blind.
After I stormed into the office and shed some tears at my desk, I sorted out some work issues and left. I drifted off to this open area outside a nearby shopping mall and lit a cigarette among strangers, half trembling in the early evening breeze. For a long while I sat on a bench and wondered: How would I deal with myself now as I headed home alone?
Back home I wrote, crying, remembering my friend who'd never known happiness in his life. He's a poet and an essayist. Most of his writing revolved around his depression and unhappy relationships at home. We met because of art journalism and soon we read each other's literary works. Earlier this summer he wrote a new collection of poetry and I promised to send him my thoughts after I finished reading it. I sent some notes but never got around to wrapping up the whole thing--it's the kind of thing you need a day or two to work on, and work got too busy, I could hardly keep up with myself.
Then he was gone. He took the most solitary path like he always did. For better or worse, I'm someone who tends to take promises seriously--if I promise to do something with or for you, it stays on my mind until it's over and done with. A failed promise is just one of those regrets in this life. Now I will never see him again, to talk to him about literature, art and our eternal solitude. I suppose he has reached the other end, but I don't know what that is or what it's like. The whole night I cried until I couldn't get to sleep. And I asked: Where was he now when I was here, thinking of him?
The one thing I don't understand: Why do people lack depth, or empathy, or understanding, or however you want to call it? In recent days I have been terrifically busy, so much so I have to murmur to myself 'Shut down. Get this off your mind. It has nothing to do with what you're doing now which is to sleep' when I'm lying in bed, trying to fall asleep. In one way or another I have mentioned to those around me my monster work deadline and my dead friend, that I'm obviously not happy. Even now when I think about the loneliness and grief my friend must have gone through to bring him to his end, it hurts.
And what the fuck do some of these people do? Show me a video they have proudly produced. Ask me if I am bored when I turn away for five seconds half way through. Expect me to be a part of their daily life after I've been off their radar so they can get a piece of something they want. And what they want, as far as I'm concerned, isn't me because I'm not what they see.