Never a ‘GOOD’-bye for me

www.inkriched.com

How can ‘bye’ be good? I have hated goodbyes since I was a chubby girl with unruly hair and a big appetite for ice-cream and tears. I cried hysterically every time grandparents left after a visit. I cried plenty when schools were changed every other year. That meant an addition to my list of friends  whom I’d vow to keep in touch with. I had a long list.

The mere thought of leaving a loved one makes all the organs in my body sink, like I am on the world’s most dreadful roller coaster. I feel my head swoon with dizziness. Loss of perception and speech defects materialize as I stand trembling. You’d think this was a case of a brain aneurysm. But no. This is just me waiting to bid farewell.

I remember when my brother left for higher studies in Canada. My mother and I were a hysterical wreck at the airport. Thinking about it, I feel embarrassed for Baba. But that’s just the way we were. Every year my brother would visit us for the summer and after three months of a ‘family reunited’, the entire sobbing episode would replay; like an insufferable sequel of the English patient.

Coming to Canada, I thought it better to work on my goodbye-phobia. I worked on it all right. If sniffing and a sulky face throughout the flight counts. Or when my parents came to visit last year. The dreaded time arrived sooner than I’d expected and there I was looking for my biggest prescription glasses so my  puffy eyes wouldn’t be too obvious. That’s how hopeless I am. A couple of days ago my mum-in-law went back to Pakistan after visiting us. The pounding head and the gulping-down-tears-so-hard-that-my-throat-hurts returned with a vengeance. It took me an entire day to go tidy up the guest room.

There is never going to be a GOOD bye for me. People are going to come and go. I will have to suck it up and brace myself. Some farewells will be sudden and catastrophic. There will be goodbyes where I won’t be able to say hello again. I will just have to make do with my incapacitated skills and a hefty tear-extinguishing device if possible. Because after all those years of creating tear-falls, my eyes can’t take it anymore. No exaggeration here because even a few seconds of tear spurting causes my eyes to swell up like a baboon’s behind. The itchiness and hammering headache that follow – well that’s another story.

In Islam, we use the words ‘Khuda-Hafiz’ of ‘Allah-Hafiz’ (may God be your guardian) in place of a goodbye. Even Goodbye essentially means the same – may God be with you. It should have remained Godby, Godby’e, Godbwye, God bwy yee or God be wi’ you; earlier versions that did justice to the true meaning. The etymology of Goodbye is flawed. You can only wish for God to protect the person leaving, but saying ‘good’ ? Seriously?

At least I can’t.


National Blog Posting Month - November 2014

I am participating in the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) – November 2014. This is an awesome venture of Blogher.com. In their own words:

“Every November, thousands of bloggers commit to posting daily. But it’s about much more than getting that post up—it’s about community and connection. It’s also about honing your craft, challenging yourself, and taking your blog to the next level.”

I will write every day of November. This is my eighth post.

#NaBloPoMo – Day 8

 

My words give me wings

I feel like a young kid again, tipsy and ridiculously in love. You know how everything looks less unnerving, more poetic, and most exhilarating? Yes, that feeling. That is exactly what’s going on in my over-cooked, writer brain. It’s my love for words, yet again. It’s my love for a profession I dare say is mine. All mine.

Sitting with family today, I realized how everyone has an interesting story to tell. I realized how consciously aware I had become the past year or so. I wake up each day in a living, breathing story. It’s never simple and it’s never not simple. And that’s the beauty of being a writer. It’s all in front of me, I just have to look deeper. From the way a person nods his head when pretending to listen, to the way a person twitches her mouth while watching television. From a crunchy leaf silently gliding in autumn, to the rhythmic breathing of my children sleeping at night. From an ecstatic mother with worried eyes, to a callous murderer with a soft corner. The world beneath the cracks. The universe beyond the light. It’s all magic.  Everything has more meaning than before. Every action tells a tale in someone else’s book, on some distant paper; a  spoken word, an unspoken thought, an imagined act, a lived dream. How can you not fall in love with life all over again?

I have gushing respect for people who love sharing stories and quirky anecdotes from their own lives and from others. We all know such people. A grandparent, a favourite uncle, a friend or a colleague. I could never do that. Not by speaking out anyway. So I took to written words as my LEGO blocks. I committed to a lifelong adventure.

Because you know what, my words give me wings. And if you can fly, you can do anything.


 

National Blog Posting Month - November 2014
I am participating in the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) – November 2014. This is an awesome venture of Blogher.com. In their own words:

“Every November, thousands of bloggers commit to posting daily. But it’s about much more than getting that post up—it’s about community and connection. It’s also about honing your craft, challenging yourself, and taking your blog to the next level.”

I will write every day of November. This is my seventh post.

#NaBloPoMo – Day 7

Short-story: Playing Jenga for love.

Anna’s intense concentration stopped the habitual quiver in her fingers as she formed a tiny tower of wooden blocks. Tooth-less and teeth-filled smiles of her now,possibly decades old children gawked at Telsa from the surrounding walls of Anna’s room. Telsa nervously shifted in her seat when those infant eyes met her’s. Anna didn’t like that anyone stared at her children’s pictures for long. Telsa quickly averted her glance and checked her watch.

Herma’s usual spot across from Telsa was empty. “Telsa, let’s put baby powder in her pea puree this time,” said Anna with an air of accomplishment. Last time she had put  sugar in her lentils. Telsa never took part but just pretended to agree. Herma never noticed the changed flavours. She also never came on time.

Their favourite block-stacking-and-crashing game, Jenga, began in Anna’s stuffy nursing home room every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning like a sacred ritual; obsolete, staunch and oddly invigorating, much like Anna. Other days were reserved for bingo, exercise and Frank Sinatra sing-a-along programs. These women were wrinkly hamsters living on stolen time in their cages.

Anna punched her table as the door slid open and in limped the curly haired 80 year old Herma who secretly loved that she was the youngest in the room. “Dammit Herma! Get on with it will you!”, Anna shrieked.

Chairs were pulled up, blocks were set and ready to be pulled apart and toppled over.

Anna pulled first. She was the dominant one. It was just a game to Telsa, but she dare not say that out loud. Anna would bite off her lips with straight, ivory tinted teeth. Herma wanted to be the first one, but she was not in the mood for confrontation.

“Watch and learn!” Anna announced right before she grappled the loose block from the tower, akin to a cautious dentist at work.

“How I hate that bastard! Did I tell you two about my ex-husband?” Anna suddenly began her best-loved topic of conversation.

“Hmmm.” Telsa was sympathetic for the hundredth time, possibly even more.  Herma was busy burping.

“The platypus left me for that slutty duck! I am glad I never met her or I’d have been in jail now.” Anna continued.

“Well you certainly ain’t in no Palace right now Anna!” Herma couldn’t help herself.

Anna spat at Herma. Quite literally. The wide honey oak table in between saved the other two from the salivic shower. “You’re in my room, so my rules. Shut the hell up!”

It was Telsa’s turn. She braced herself as the wobbly tile tilted below the block she had just removed.

“I gift-wrapped my soul for him you know. ” Anna’s harsh tone mellowed and she took a pink napkin with white doves. There were no tears. But she wiped her eyes as if rehearsing for the real deal. The smeared crusted maroon lipstick made her look morbid. “I am beautiful aren’t I?” Telsa nodded.  Herma controlled her laughter.

“Then why?” This time her tears gushed. Telsa’s green eyes watered up, as if in a compulsion to join the teary river that gushed in the room. She had eternally damned herself to cry for others.

“I am sure he always loved you, and no other,” came Telsa’s over-rehearsed reply.

“What do you know?!” A raucous crow just replaced the mellow squeak in Anna’s throat. “You’re as wretched of a woman as I am.” Telsa bit her tongue. She could taste the bloody saliva.  The tower gracefully dismembered itself as an army of wooden soldiers rose on each side.

“Why you gotta talk like dat to her?” Herma defended Telsa.

Anna ignored Herma and continued. “He took my children and my dignity. Neither came back.” Telsa leaned forward to console but Anna screamed with blood in her eyes, “Why can’t you just do your turn?”  The game was almost over.

Anna suddenly sprang up as if the chair had developed canines. Her trembling legs dragged her to a wrought-iron night stand. A golden velvet pouch peeked through her pale hands as she took out an envelope, and from it a letter.

“His last words before sucking down those pills.” She stared at her only two friends. “He apologised, you know. Damn well regretted leaving me!” She smiled with hurt and contentment all rolled up in a bitter-sweet strudel. She took a minute to read the letter under her breath and carefully folded it back in its rightful creases.

Knock. Knock.

Someone was at the  half-opened door. Herma quickly called out, “Come on in, nothing to hide here!” It was  the new Nurse Wilma. She had joined just a week ago. A woman in her mid 50’s, with a surly air about her, like someone who’d been rudely stripped off her royalty and could kill for the lost title.

Anna had missed her morning medication for dementia. “Hello ladies,” said Nurse Wilma, uninterested in what was going on in the room. She handed the pills to Anna and waited for her to squeeze them down. Nurse Wilma turned to leave, but paused for a minute to look at the pictures on the wall. Telsa noticed and was about to comment when Nurse Wilma rushed out without another word.

Anna was trapped in a daze. “He gave my grandmother’s precious ruby bracelet to that wretch, you know. He never admitted but I know. That cut me real bad. Real bad.” She was scratching her left hand without looking up.

It was down to the last few moves. Herma complained about being hungry. Telsa scooped her arm over for her turn. Her hands wobbled and the patchy tower finally gave away.

“HA! You gals can never win from me!” Anna was back to her competitive self. She stood up to celebrate with some coffee.

“Anybody got anything to eat around here?” Herma spoke looking at the ceiling. She then leaned across and whispered to Telsa, “Why you gotta take her shit every day? See she never talks to me this way. I know how to set her straight. Why don’t we hide one of those kids’ pictures?!”

***********************************************************************

Nurse Wilma stepped out for a quick smoke. Those children on the wall. She knew those eyes. She’d know them anywhere.

“But how could it be?! He told me that his wife had died in an accident. Who was Anna then? Why did she have those children’s pictures?!” She started to sweat under her wool coat.

She rolled up her sleeves to cool down.Glistening red stones peaked from her wrist.

************************************************

National Blog Posting Month - November 2014

I am participating in the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) – November 2014. This is an awesome venture of Blogher.com. In their own words:

“Every November, thousands of bloggers commit to posting daily. But it’s about much more than getting that post up—it’s about community and connection. It’s also about honing your craft, challenging yourself, and taking your blog to the next level.”

I will write every day of November. This is my fourth post.

#NaBloPoMo – Day 4

 

 

To all hope’ful’ romantics

www.inkriched.com

There’s an inexplicable charm about all things old-fashioned. Vintage clothing, architecture and mannerisms. Then there is knee-buckling romance that steals the show.

Stuff they show you in mushy, heartbeat-skipping movies or scintillating words you devour in a timeless classic. Plots, actions and dialogues that mess with your head in ways unimaginable. And though you may think you have ‘grown out of it’ at a certain age, you never really have. Somewhere in the background there still hovers a floating universe with the perfect romance, enclosed in the perfect heart balloon. That’s what I realize when I see a 50-year-old woman smile with a coy ecstasy every time she sees the real deal. Not just love, but old-fashioned, boy-swooping-girl-off-her-feet giddy romance.

I love that woman’s smile. It speaks of love. It doesn’t speak of loss or regret. It speaks of a strange contentment with whatever form of love she found. It speaks of a shared history among millions of little girls who once dreamed of Prince Charming. And wrote their own version of a happy beginning and a happier middle – forever knowing that the end is never as important. It speaks of a woman’s innate desire to be loved to bits. It speaks of a realization that everyone has a different love story but an equally amazing one. It speaks of a lot of crazy in our over-imaginative heads.

I believe I’ll be that 50-year-old some day.


National Blog Posting Month - November 2014

I am participating in the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) – November 2014. This is an awesome venture of Blogher.com. In their own words:

“Every November, thousands of bloggers commit to posting daily. But it’s about much more than getting that post up—it’s about community and connection. It’s also about honing your craft, challenging yourself, and taking your blog to the next level.”

I will write every day of November. This is my third post.

#NaBloPoMo – Day 3