Wednesday 26 December 2012


My Mays have mostly been mellow. Melting and flowing peacefully together in their own galaxy of stars and floodlights. It is in the arms of its world that I have lived, really lived. Warm liquid memories in unbroken pools around me. Some drops crystallized and framed up like misty mountains through velvet windows. Like Mona Lisa on a wall. Somewhere there. In a glass cabinet in the visitor's hall of my mind. My sleeve touched as I dusted one day. A glass bishop splintered and smashed to fine dust. I had fevikwik. But it only stuck my fingers together. I might have winced when the glass pierced skin. Red blood. Too warm to be mine. Then why does that fragment stick out? The one piece that breaks the harmonious flow of many Mays strung together. 

I squeezed my eyes as hot steam blew on my face. The red suitcase and brown shoes mingled with hawai chappals and attaché cases. An awkward hand stiffened on my shoulder pulling me back. It wasn’t really hot enough for a drink but he seemed insistent. I was impatient to get home but I knew I had time. Two leisurely months stretched yawning ahead of me. So I didn’t worry. I took one casual sip. Then another. I asked him why I had to stand in front of the shop and finish it. The car must be waiting. But he seemed distracted. So I didn’t bother him again. His hand in mine, he shuffled on reluctantly. His eyes glued to the top of turbaned coolies. An entire line of white ambassadors but we turned left. It was quieter here. A few straddling coolies. Some ragged children squalling. And a car. I was slipped silently into the front seat. Perhaps they imagined the glass would keep out the sound. It only managed an eerie hush. Blurring out the words. Enhancing the effect. Giving it a resonant, haunting quality. The banging on the roof went with the rhythm. The cries kept beat and I shuddered with the body of the car. It never stopped, that sound. The shrieks never wearied. It rings still in my head. The wailing never really died out. I trembled but the shivers weren’t mine. It was the car that shook me. I wasn’t scared. I had fallen too many times to be unfamiliar with tears. I was patient with sorrow. You stroke its head, pat its back, kiss its wet cheek and the lips will twitch. Smile then and see it reflected back. But I was alone in the car and the glass cut me off. So I waited. We drove slowly on afterwards. Leaving the dragging moans behind. But not quite. It was the broken voice on the phone that cut me. This time the blood clotted and froze. Mays had never been chilly before. It had always been a warm, friendly sweat that trickled slowly like lazy hours still half asleep, tumbling out of bed, combing, brushing, washing haphazardly with that rich leisure of having too much time. But still it wasn’t mine. Not really. The blood froze on walls. On doors. Tinted windows. Burst pipes. But I was accustomed to blood clots. Hold the head level and keep the nose pressed hard. As the bleeding ceases and the blood clots, release slowly. Use damp cotton on the inside to clean. The clot will come gently out as you wipe. Don’t worry if you accidentally sniff. It will only come out the mouth instead. Spit it out or the taste will bring on nausea. It may bleed a little again but it will stop soon. But this time the blood wasn’t mine. The red sun dipped as my stomach sunk and we took off. He is watching you from above, I was told reassuringly. It was then I realized he was dead. 

The rest of May lumbered on with bits and pieces of that day. The days flooded on, the sleepless nights never ended, the hushed silences broke with hiccups, rough voices remained hoarse, words boomeranged off peeling walls, the first cracks appeared on fresh paint. The house never quite stood up since. That day marked my mellow May mornings. It took many Junes and Septembers to make way for another May. A May that could not speak of another May gone by. It had no words. It knew not how. Perhaps it was best left unsaid. For that May holds her head up high. Her eyes stare into empty space and the others wonder why. That was the May I grew up and I’m still finding my way back. Back to that May when I was still a child. When I could smile at sorrow. When the blood wasn’t mine. 

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