A garden variety of terrible things have happened to me this year. So, when I write this, I am not coming from a place of cocooned comfort and sitting on a pink cloud with harps playing in the background. I feel it is important to say this because everyone has us believing that our capacity for coping with disaster has not reached its limit. Catastrophe after catastrophe has occured and somehow we have forgotten all about it. This is because they have us believing that there’s much more we can endure.
I’m just here to ask : what the flying potato, you guys? Just what?
Many weeks ago, I forget exactly when, I got myself 4 new plants. One of them was a Money Plant. After many days of deflecting my mother’s questions and superstitions about the Money Plant, I was asked to take it out of the house. If it withers, it will bring you bad financial luck, she said. One morning, after my resistance was worn down, I took it downstairs and planted it where I can see it from my window. I cried while doing it because I felt that it was being banished from its tribe, being deprived of its friends’ company all because of a superstition that was ascribed to it. I am absolutely certain that the Money Plant didn’t ask for this kind of othering. How did we just decide it brings good or bad luck? Imagine being a Money Plant and being told ‘you could bring bad luck‘. That kind of pressure is so hard, you know. Trust me, I feel it.
I try very hard to not believe in superstition but it does creep into my life. For example, if you would hand me a pair of scissors or a knife, I will not take it. I will ask you to put it down on a surface. It doesn’t mean anything except that my friend P once did this with me and said “I don’t want us to fight.” So, I grudgingly paid heed to my mother’s superstition and took the Money Plant out of the house. Until recently, when its sibling Spider Plant flowered and I took the flower down and planted it next to it. Money Plant now has company. It is not alone. But what do I know anything about being alone?
In the last two weeks, it has dawned on me how much I have neglected my life in during the pandemic. Before I (and you) feel sorry for myself, I knew it was a conscious choice. After all the hospital visits last year and the death in my family this year, I just wanted time off from everything. How could I write after so much hurt had come to pass? My mind asked me, what could a poem or a story or a blog post do to counter the unforgiving nature of life? I genuinely believe that one’s grief is one’s own. No matter if you’re married to a stardust-incarnate human, no one, and I repeat, no one can share your grief for you. So, what chance did I have at taking my grief and turn it into a sonnet to make myself okay? I did not. Besides, I am not married to a stardust-incarnate human.
I spoke to an old friend recently. We hadn’t spoken since she broke up with her partner in December last year. She needed her space and while she took it, may God be my witness, I prayed for her to heal every single chance I thought of her. She is such a scintillating woman, so full of courage that it would be a crying shame if her heartbreak consumed her. Lately, it seems like it has not and I am thankful for it. I told her what I had been doing all year and it was the first time I recounted my borrowed life to someone. When telling her everything I could remember, I realised how hard this year has been. No matter how many times I exclaim “How is it November, already?” I won’t know the impact of everything I have been through until we walk out of this place, physically and metaphorically. Until all of us walk out of this. So, it beats my already battered heart when people in positions of power sit around waxing eloquent about how much resilience we have shown.
Sit down, you spoiled eggyolks. You cannot carry an original though in your Salmonella infected heads.
Everytime we thought that the world was going to change, it did not. We just kept going without changing anything. It almost seems like we have the same ideas, same language, same actions and reactions that we did a decade ago. Did my younger self think she was going to be living in a world as deeply fragmented and so glaringly broken as this? Good God, no. So, how is it that we carry on as if nothing has happened, we don’t mend our world, and we think this is what we will bequeath to our children? How, exactly, are we going to hand down this world to the children? We want the world to change. We don’t want to be the ones who change it.
I have asked myself unceasingly, how was writing about something else or any of this going to change anything? I have been reminded me that that’s precisely what will change things : to write about a better world, to re-imagine our ideas, and to rally for a better world. I am convinced that we are here on this planet to fight for joy.
But more often than not, it becomes hard to keep the faith. This is because the things we believe in when everything is going well are different from the things we believe in when everything is going badly.