“You Don’t have to do this”
“Why? If anything, I am the only person who should do this.”
“You can’t change the way the world works you know, things happen and trying to carry the whole weight alone isn’t going to help anyone either, I’ll stay for tonight.”
Tired, helpless and defeated after yet another conversation from the past, I decided to head home. These rigid conversations, they feel like a broken record player, repeating the same obligations, the same intentions in an unending loop, with a few scratches here and there. And Honestly, I’m tired of pretending they mean anything, if I actually wanted to stay I would’ve and this conversation would’ve meant nothing, Pfft what a monster of a human being I am.
My mom died that night.
Sherin decided to let Dad know first, obviously, not her brother who she practically forced to leave just an hour ago and of course Dad decided to not let any of the other two members of the family know anything and made the decision for them that they needed to rest for the night, as always.
Unbeknownst to me that my mother had just died, I walked home with the same amount of zeal I have any day to go home, It’s as if my mother being in the hospital left me unaffected and I couldn’t practically blame anyone for that but myself, that is, if there were any blame to begin with. I took out my phone, a blue Nokia G-36 and disappeared into my playlist, to take a break, maybe from everything. As the familiar indie of some contemporary Japanese band played inside my ears, every chord hitting on my eardrums made me feel more and more disconnected from the real world. It’s been 3 months since I’ve been able to do this, not listening to music obviously, did that most of the time but walking on a free road with the moon slowly fading shrouded behind the clouds, a dog howling in the background and some cars wailing through, honking and flashing, everyone’s busy. I tell myself that I’m busy too, got a lot of things to look forward to, that astounding opportunity of getting an internship for a semi international yet domestic tech company or that book by Haruki Murakami I was looking forward to reading or perhaps that game I’ve been wanting to play for some time now and finally have the money to buy. But I know, everybody knows, it’s just a ruse, a mirage of what I should be doing rather than what made me feel content, if anything ever did that is. I drowned into more of my own vague sanity as I walked down the dark alleyways, forgetting what neighborhood I’m in, forgetting what time it was and forgetting that there was a global plague going on.
Being born in a middle-class family, most things came in the form of a necessity for me rather than my want or aspirations for it. So accordingly, dissatisfaction came along too. Dad was never around for the most of it, he was busy trying to keep a roof over our heads and I don’t blame him for that either. As the years went along, his snide expectative remarks grew shorter and shorter, so did the hair on top of his head. The only thing that grew longer was the distance between our relationship with him and the blue bags underneath his eyes. School wasn’t any exception, all of us siblings got into above average tier schools and pursued our own things. With two sisters and me being the only son, expectations upon my back were always higher whilst mine being nil.
The constant need and inspiration to “Climb to the top” was persistent in my life. It was said to be the ultimate end that would lead to eternal happiness. Keeping my eye on the ball, I slowly lost sight of the wooden handles on the ladder. Studies, Extra co-curriculars, relationships everything became blurred together into this giant monstrosity of a machine. And I was the only worker there. I would always try to distract my self ever since I was a kid to now in my 20s. I would always try to escape.
But it wasn’t all that bad now that I think about it. The best thing that always kept me going on was none other than another human being, just like me. Who would do the same thing every day without a hint of discomfort or tardiness. Who would always be patient and always look at the silver lining of things. Funny thing is how another human who was basically born out of her turned out to be such an ungrateful and impatient person, me. But I really loved her, I still do, I can only hope she gets better soon from this god awful virus-I think to myself as I continue strolling down.
From trying to fulfill the expectations of my parents as well as mine for myself, I always felt tired and worn out. Having an exhausting schedule of going to school and returning to a perfectly calculated time table of tutors, ECAs and call-ins for various club activities as well as spending time with my friends, everything felt overwhelming now and then.
That’s why I distinctly remember buying my first phone, my first own thing, completely mine and no one would have any claim over it. It even had a special dark blue button to receive calls or ignore them, one of its kind back then. It felt liberating to say the least, it got me through so many things. You know phones get a bad rap when young people own them from when they were basically invented. Apparently they are huge sources of “Procrastination” and “Distraction from real-life validation, goals etc.” But that’s exactly what a 12 year old me needed, an interruption from what seemed the never-ending cycle of work, achievement or failure predicament. I used to maintain a personal journal on the notepad of that phone, I recorded myself singing to the most passionate of tunes and spent hours talking to friends like there was no tomorrow about our daily banter, other people, love, life, our deepest insecurities whatnot. I also made my first girlfriend through texting on a mutual friends group chat, I spent days trying to muster up the courage to text her. Damn, I thought we would spend the rest of our lives together, Haha like that’d ever happen.
Amidst following the #BLM movement on twitter and talking to concerned friends about my mother, that phone is still with me, the blue G-36.I still sometimes record myself singing, though now I do it as cautiously alone as I can, so that no one hears my silly screeching. I still talk to my friends, but most of them are too busy. I still disappear onto that little device, to disrupt my own train of thought trying to drown me in sorrow. That’s what my entire life feels like, in fact everyone’s lives around me feels like, an attempt to disappear, an attempt to drown in that abyss of disruption rather than drowning in the reality that they live in.
The reality is my mother is sick and there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t know if she’ll get through this, I wish I was nicer to her. I wish I could hear her voice without hearing the raspy pain behind it once again. The blue phone is still inside the pockets of my grey colored baggy pants. I sense a vibration, Like a vibration set from my own heart, traveling down from my heart onto my white t-shirt, making it warm and red with blood. No, It’s just my phone, Dad’s calling me. I decide to press the dark blue button and ignore it. I wanted to remain in the dark, to remain distracted.