You may never see me, and yet I may be the truest friend you have ever had.
You may never find me walking down the streets of some city you once visited, you may never find me sloshing down another mug of beer at that filthy pub you just walked by without raising an eye lest you wanted to witness something you wished you never had, you may never find me smooching that half naked and half drunk woman stumbling out of the dark corner near the city central park or following that pervert man. I can’t even tell if I’m a woman or a man if you care for the labels. I’m just a reverie. This is the only place I live. Here. These pages. When they flutter you will hear me whisper. When they close you will find company in thoughts. When you burn them you will feel as if you have returned from a funeral of someone close. If you read ahead be aware that I will be yours forever. I will never leave. A promise I always seem to have kept.
If you were still to know me I can only suggest I would look like someone you see in the mirror every day. You will see a pair of eyes which watch but often don’t see, ears which hear but not listen all the time and a mouth which says a lot but doesn’t speak the mind. I have no loyalty and no purpose. I see no night and no day. I breathe but I may as well not. What difference does this all make anyways? Don’t take offense. I was just speaking of my ways.
Taking all that you know of me now, I can begin my story from the day when I was conceived. Of how it was done, is beyond what I like to discuss. Of why it was done, is beyond what I can share. Before this, I floated away in the neverness of ignorant absence of being. I was happy if that word could suffice my mental state before that unfortunate incident. But two people decided to bring me into your world, and I was pulled and dragged into that cozy little space which I still bet is better than your last trip to Hollywood. I swam. I floated. I fluttered my newly formed eyes and even moved my limbs to shake up things a bit. And I heard her sometimes – she who called out to me in spite of the fact that she didn’t know my name. Hell, I didn’t know my name myself. I could have called myself Majong just because it sounded nice. I was excited to suggest the name once I had robbed her off her unoffended body and turned it into a piece of broken fortune cookie. I was the prediction. She was not ready to wait though. For some reasons, she never shared with me, she let some foreign and unknown people cut her open and let me out all at seven months. They were masked and had a team of nannies to handle someone like me. Yeah, I was the one. I was left in a prison of a crib, my body attached with wires and tubes. I cried for her and they stuffed my mouth with liquefied powdered milk. I waited for the day when she would pick me up, but that day didn’t come for a long while. That was the first time I realized what it was to live everyday in your world. I counted nevertheless. One. Two. Three. Four…Fifteen. She came and peeked at me. She twisted her face with disgust and asked something to the men there. They all looked worried as I waited to get out of that cage. Finally, with great discomfort she picked me up, and then put me in yet another carrier as if my touch would burn her a little more.
“Being dead is better than a life like this,” she must have said that first day as she had said multiple times from the times I started understanding what words can say. I’m not sure if she meant it about hers or mine. I’ve never cared to over-analyze it either as it fits the bill of most of the lives I have seen around. As I grew, something dawned on me– that growing up is an option we cannot do away with. And yet, it’s an option none of us would like to have. Otherwise, I do not understand so many people cooing over me and other similar mass of flubber and flesh who could do nothing besides poop and fart. In us, people saw the beginning they once had. In us, they saw the opposite of death. In us, they saw the freshness before the fungus grew; the kind of fungus that grew on my mom and dad.
I don’t like talking much of my childhood either. It was not mine anyways. I was born with an identity, perhaps that of Majong, but that altered as I was raised. I became an image of my father, my mother, my relatives, my brother, my friends, my neighbors, my teachers and the random people I met. As I grew a little more to the point where hormones kicked at all the wrong places, I twisted to another image again – an image of what I wanted other people to think of me to be.
To sum up, I guess I was never real. But who is to say that being real is important after all. If anything, being real puts you on a pedestal – people question you for all that you ask, they throw stones at you when you answer and earth you if you dare say you are the one. To be an image is to have a self preservation instinct. That image surpasses value of all the golds and money in the world put together. Anyone can kill anyone to conserve it; like I did that very first time. That only time. But is one murder different than committing a hundred.
It was a fine day just like any other. I had returned from nowhere, and was up in my room.
“Come and have lunch.” I heard her voice. To people it was all that mattered. Our stomachs should be full like some pit. Our bodies should be clothed as if they would be an ugly sight otherwise. And that day in and day out we should do the same mundane tasks of waking, going somewhere, return, eat, do something, go outside, return, eat, do something, sleep and begin the same day again.
I’m not hungry.” I laughed at my own reply. I loved that rumbling in my stomach. It made me feel alive. It made me feel as if there were some consequences of my actions after all. Otherwise, the whole world just seemed to rotate to a pre-orchestrated ugly symphony with no music to it at all.
Someone knocked at the door. I knew who it was. It could only be my brother. He was the only one who dared enter my room. Not that it was any replica of underground hell that you have seen in the movies. It was because he was the only one who wanted to know more of me than he was forced to see. He was kind, soft spoken, well mannered, well natured, helping, and you can add a bucket more of meaningless adjectives that a hopeless optimist like him could have. And yet, in spite of all his flaws, he made for some fine company if someone would me mental enough to crave that.
“Come in,” I said reluctantly.
It was him. He closed the door behind him, the way he knew he should when entering my world.
“Howzie boy?” he said in his trademark cheerful style.
I smiled back, not because there was any reason to, but rather at how naive he was in his optimism. It pained me as I waited for his demise. Optimists die sooner than pessimist, I thought to myself.
“Does it matter?” I replied to a question which epitomizes the apathy that humans imbibe. People ask each other this question in mornings, on road, in office, on phone and even when they would rather show the middle finger to the one they are getting busy with. They are not even remotely interested in the iota of what’s going on in other’s lives. And why should they be? When someone is busy carrying two ton of hot iron on one’s shoulder, should we expect such niceties from them?
“Yea, it matters hell yea. Now answer. Howz you?”
“Like I’ve always been and always will be,” I tried to appease him. It made me feel nice about myself.
“Don’t you ever have a straight answer?” He chuckled, “How about a good ol’ – I’m fine?”
“I guess I can say that,” I beamed at his suggestion, “I’m always fine.”
“And… you can add something to that. I came here to talk with you. So, talk. Say something.”
I laughed at what I wasn’t hearing the first time.
“OK. Let’s talk,” I caved in and propped myself on my pillow,“So what’s your makeup for today?” I asked.
“Is this some new drag queen joke you read on internet?”
“That was a handmade, sewn on genuine leather-backing, gold plated, authentic question. Everyone wears physical and mental makeup for a day. I just asked what’s yours for today.”
“And this is why I like talking to you. You amuse me in ways other can’t,” he laughed at what I definitely thought was not a joke, “My mental makeup is happy for today.”
“Bah! Do you not get tired of being happy? I know it doesn’t matter whether a person is happy or sad or angry or just feeling dragged. But, even I change clothes once in a while.”
With those words I shut what I had in my hand and in my mind; at least for those few moments.