Question You Can’t Ignore

We were having a quiet time watching dvd, Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, the one with Audrey Tautou and the stone dwarf lawn ornament. Just one of those nights when you don’t feel like going out and the perfect way to unwind is to put both feet up on the coffee table, sharing a red soft fleece blanket, two steaming mugs of poison of our choice (earl grey for me, black coffee for him) and our mobile phones on silent. The choice of movie wasn’t intentional. We just wanted something easy to ignore. It had been that kind of week, the kind that beats you and beats you and when you are down kicks you in the face til your eyes bleed.

We laughed and sighed at the appropriate moments. But otherwise we watched the movie wordlessly. It was past 3am.

Somewhere between the scene of the upside down pineapple cake and Amelie spying on the glass man, he broke the silence. Can I asked you a question? he said.

I turned to look at him. He was looking intently at the tv screen.

Sure, I answered, though I wasn’t sure at all.

When do you think you’re going to be fine? he asked.

What do you mean? I asked in return. I knew fully well what he meant.

He chuckled a little. Not the funny kind. The nervous, cheerless kind. The kind that makes you feel a little shamefaced about your roundabout ways.

How long have you wanted to ask that question? I said.

Long enough, he answered while taking a sip of his coffee, eyes still glued to the tv screen.

I bit my lower lip. You would think that after all that you’ve been through, after living on this side of 3 decades, after all the puppy loves, the unrequited crushes, the love so devastating ten years later you still tell yourself that you will be ok someday, the friendly loves, the quiet loves, the convenient ones, the unintentional ones, the ones that got away, the ones that you had to let go – after all that, you would think that you know how to handle these things better?

You don’t.

He didn’t push for an answer. I don’t think he was looking for one.

When the movie ended we went to the mamak restaurant nearby and had teh tarik. We laughed. Compared our mutually terrible work week. Made plans for the next. By the time we said our goodbyes, dawn was breaking.

Now that I had more time to think about it, this is what I wished I had told him.

The part of me that is not fine probably will not be for a long time. Mostly because I don’t know how to fix what is not broken. It occupies the tiniest corner of my heart; yet it is immobile, shapeless, voiceless.

I don’t ignore it. But I don’t feed its existence either. It doesn’t affect who I am. The person that I am is intact and whole, all my faculties working the way they should, all my senses sharp and impulsive.

What it affects is my perception of time. It makes my heart slows down till I can hear every beat, every intake of air, every tick of the clock. I hate it. I wish I could stop it. But at this point, I know time is what I have to go through in order to get to the other side.

Since you asked me when I am going to be fine, this is my answer. I won’t be, not for a while.

This, too, is a true story.


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